Going In Circles

Going in Circles

Where I found the solenoid…

And guess what?  They had the part.  Thank whatever God you’re inclined to believe in.  So I decide to make use of my time and pick up that two-person fishing kayak I wanted and price a Yamaha 2-stroke 15HP outboard for my dinghy.  Done and done.   Productive day.


Returning to Guido’s I held up the solenoid like a trophy.  We celebrated.  The next morning Guido came out and we installed the solenoid and connected everything.  It worked!  All gauges, the glow-plug, and starter worked like a charm.  Time to celebrate.  I think about kissing Guido, my savior.  Rather, I settle for a handshake and listening to some of his stories about his bike-gang days.

Guido wants a cold drink.  I only have cold beer.  He drinks cold beer, despite it being morning.  For this, I love Panama.   Then the starboard engine starts again.  F**k.  Again – we scramble, beers fly, and the cursing marathon begins in multiple languages.  For a solid 10 minutes we couldn’t get a sentence out without a healthy dose of profanity.  Mostly German and Spanish.

Well, we’re all out of guesses:

  • We were hyper-vigilant when checking the wiring harness as we attached each section, and then again before and after we installed it.  Can’t be that.
  • All the connections are fine.
  • The starter and glow relays are new.
  • The solenoid is new, and the starter is fine and we just serviced it.
  • It’s not the panel (or the switches on it) as the engine starts without it connected.

So we pull every piece of the wiring harness we just built and installed.  Then we push twelve volts through it, where we can get our hands on it.  And we discover that while it wasn’t shorting when we were checking it (Olms?), the harness was shorting (in the center, not at a connection) only when we ran 12V through it.  The chances of this actually being the problem are so damn slim, it’s near zero.

But then Guido and I both remember the previous owner had a lightning strike a couple of years ago – which is the only way a short inside of the wiring harness would really happen (says Guido).  The fact that this is just now becoming an issue makes little sense to me (it’s been two years).  But whatever – the proof is in the proverbial pudding.

Now I’m back to square one.  Rewire the starboard engine.  Guido can get the Volvo Penta parts, but it’ll cost me a pretty penny and delay me another two weeks.  He says he can build one for half the cost, and without any connections (far less failure points) through the boat, in a day or less.  Deal.

But Wait…

Of course it’s now afternoon again, and the store closes soon.  And I have to drive back to Colon for connectors and wiring.  Naturally, my car battery is dead.

There’s a fish-farm home-based here (Puerto Lindo) with a bunch of University of Miami guys there – so I get their attention to give me a jump.  No dice.  So I remove the battery and hook it up to a 110V charger.  While I was waiting I watched Germany kick 4 goals in like 10 minutes, and the Brazilians in the stands started crying.

Then I put in the battery again for some more white-knuckle driving to Colon.  When I get there the store (and the others in the area) don’t have the connectors I need.  Some improvisation needed.  I’m getting pretty good at that though.

And today, I wait on Guido to come out and hopefully, finally, help me install the wiring.

Going in Circles

How one eats breakfast before starting a day of wiring…

It’ll all be new, with no unnecessary connections, sealed appropriately, and likely as good or better than Volvo Penta’s.  At ¼ of the price of the parts alone, and an even smaller fraction of the original quote from the “mechanic” at Andromeda.

Wish me luck.

Going in Circles

Going in Circles

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