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Compass Marine How To | all galleries >> Welcome To >> Universal Diesel Wiring Harness Upgrade > Engine Panel With Ammeter = Dangerous
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Engine Panel With Ammeter = Dangerous

If your Universal engine panel looks like this, and has an ammeter, you are due for some wiring fixes.

The factory wiring, with an ammeter in the panel, is flat out dangerous and this really needs to be addressed if it has not yet. It amazes me how many boats are out there still using this unsafe set up.

If you have an ammeter in your panel REMOVE it and jump your alternator 6" over to the starter post with heavy wire. Another alternative is to run your alternator direct to the house bank with a fuse or breaker within 7" of the battery and then add a combining relay or Echo Charger.

I have also measured voltage drops of 1.2+ volts or more at just 10A of charge current through these circuits. That means your alt is putting out 14.2V+ and the battery is seeing just 13.0 volts and is being chronically under charged.

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Al Voskian 04-Jul-2012 16:56
I have Sea Sprite 34 with a Universal 5424. The engine has a Balmar 90 amp alternator (installed before I bought the boat 9 years ago). The jumper from the alternator to the starter is in place, but so is the original ammeter (max scale is +/- 60 amp) with 10 gauge wiring. I note that the Balmar installation manual also states that the original ammeter should be removed, or replaced with a high capacity ammeter. If I remove the ammeter, do I just connect the wires (one wire goes to the ignition switch "Bat" terminal, and the other red wire goes to the "trailer" connector and into the engine compartment. The trailer connectors all look in good shape, but your suggestion to replace with bus bar is excellent.

Perhaps related, the solenoid does not always engage the starter- takes 2 or 3 presses- but it always starts.

Suggestions greatly appreciated.

Freeport, Maine