This is one of the simple Universal panels with only a temp gauge and ammeter. They also make them with a tach, oil pressure, water temp & volt gauge. This one has been re-terminated and has been upgraded to a new temp gauge, Teleflex Amega Series, and volt gauge which replaced the ammeter. I installed a Teleflex Amega Series gauge for the volts as well.
As you can see the key switch energizes the glow plug button first. There is then a "series jumper" that ensures the glow plug button is pressed in order to energize the start button. Personally I usually leave this series jumper in place as I have found owners will usually try to bypass the glow and not do it if they think they can get away with it. If you don't use glow, and the motor does not start, you are that much closer to filling your cylinders with water if the seacock was open.
If you feel brave and want to make the start button independent of the glow button simply move the jumper to the incoming side of the glow button, far right side, or jump to the outlet/on side of the key switch, far left. I don't advise this and do not even do this on my own vessel as I know I will try and take a short cut some day and it may cost me.
The yellow wire with red trace is the starter solenoid wire that energizes the starter. It is a tad undersized from the factory so with any resistance in the circuit, from trailer connectors or the in-line fuse holder, this can cause solenoid engagement issues. Once the trailer connectors have been removed, the wire re-terminated and new fuse holder inserted these problems often vanish even with the yellow/red wire.
As I mentioned there is an in-line fuse in the yellow/red wire close to the solenoid. This fuse holder is famous for disintegrating and ideally should be replaced when you do this upgrade. If you want to, feel free to run a new wire from the start button to the solenoid, 12GA is sufficient, and add a new in-line fuse holder.
It should be mentioned that the starter solenoid circuit is a low amp circuit. At max they pull about 2.3A +/- as measured on the "in-rush" or "peak current draw" for the circuit when hitting the starter button and capturing the in-rush with a Fluke DC clamp on DVM.. While the yellow wire can certainly handle the amp load for the circuit it is often the fuse holder or terminations that create enough resistance to cause even a low amp circuit like this some issues.
With some Universal engines I have seen the solenoid circuit wired with 14GA wire and some early ones with 16GA wire. The 16GA wire over a 20' round trip circuit, 10 feet one way, has about 1.6% voltage drop and the 14GA wire is about 1% voltage drop. If we extend the circuit to 20 feet one way, or 40' round trip we are at 3.2% voltage drop on 16GA wire and 2% voltage drop on 14GA wire. These are not bad voltage drop numbers but it you have the ability to re-use one of the other larger wires for this circuit, or run a new one, it will make your solenoid voltage drops even less.
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Teleflex Amega Gauges
These are the new Teleflex Amega gauges installed. This panel only had ammeter and temperature. It now has volts and temperature. Teleflex temp, oil & volt gauges will work with the senders on all Universal & Westerbeke engines. Of course voltage is not specific to any boat so that will always work but the oil & temp gauges do work well and these gauges are far less money than buying them direct from Westerbeke/Universal. Any of the Faria gauges will work too.
Please don't ask what that key and hunk of steel in the middle is. Someone added it to this particular boat somewhere along the way. It is not factory and it was long ago disconnected. It does however keep the holes in the panel sealed so I left it.
There are lots of gauge manufacturers out there including Faria, VDO, VeeThree, Teleflex, Stewart Warner, Sierra, SeaStar and more. Don't be fooled into thinking you need to pay 3-4X the price to buy a gauge through Universal/Westerbeke. If you want to match the Universal/Westerbeke gauges, let me know I can get a very good discount on the OEM brand gauge..
When re-terminating the panel and wires it is a good idea to clean any oxidation from the switches and stripped wires. I use a Dremel and stainless steel brush for this.
This is the Dremel brush I use, the stainless steel #530 wheel.
These Wires Had Been Fairly Oxidized
These wires from the factory wiring harness had been fairly oxidized. Cleaning them with the Dremel #530 wheel makes them clean enough for re-termination and creates a good, clean, copper to copper connection. The #530 SS wheel is stiff enough to get into the inner stranding, not just the outer strands. Occasionally you need to manually open or fan the strands out but it takes just a few seconds per wire, that's it. Be sure to get all copper stranding as clean as possible or just replace the wires.
Once clean I use adhesive lined heat shrink crimp on ring terminals. This keeps moisture out and creates a sealed connection.
In a perfect world every one of these wire would be replaced with new but not all owners can afford that. Cleaning and re-terminating can be a reasonable alternative.
Don't Forget The Starter End
Honestly I'm not kidding, I can't make this stuff up..... This is the sort of rats nest I see every day. It is amazing that electrical fires on boats only make up 55% of them. But I digress.
Everything you can see in this photo has to get fixed. None of it is suitable. The #1 issue with the starter on these engines is the yellow wire with the red tracer. Follow that wire from the starter solenoid over to the in-line fuse holder. These fuse holders were cheap junk. I often find them cracked, rusted and not allowing the engine to start. As I said the number one "no start" issue I see on Universal diesels is that in-line fuse holder. The fuse holder for starter excite in this location is not even needed. The only reason I ever replace them is because an ATC fuse holder makes great location for me to tap into the starter circuit with my remote start switch.
I replace these fuse holders with in-line ATC holders and they make a nice "emergency break" point for when a starter button sticks, and this can and does happen. Ideally the duration of a stuck starter would trip the fuse but they are often sized too large for this. I still often leave this fuse accessible just in case the starter button sticks or to use as a remote start switch tap in location for oil changes or service work..
All Cleaned Up
In this shot we can see the rats nest is gone. I have directly routed the alternator to the starter post where it picks up the large battery cable going back to the "C" post of the battery switch. Alternatively you can route the alternator output direct to the house bank and fuse the wire within 7" of the + post.
The crappy in-line fuse holder for the start switch circuit was replaced with one that is much more resistant to moisture, vibration & heat. If your start button sticks, as can happen, you will be glad you have this fuse. This fuse holder is also an ideal location for a hand-held remote start switch tap-in point, for oil changes, fuel filter changes etc. thus eliminating trips to the cockpit just to start the motor..
The panel feed wire, 10GA wire attached to large starter lug, is also fused using a MIDI fuse & holder not too far out of that photo.
I have also installed a neg engine bus bar on the engine bed stringer. A neg wire the same size as the alternator positive is connected directly to the alternator and then to the new negative bus bar.
The second wire from the left goes directly to the ear of the starter for the best possible negative return to the battery bank. I don't like running hundreds of amps through a rusty engine, paint, corrosion and multiple dissimilar metals before it can go back to the batteries. This direct wiring to the starter ear creates less voltage drop and makes for a happy starter motor.
The third wire from the left, under the hose, runs directly back to the negative battery post and carries the alternator and starting currents..
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