Victron Inverter Problem and Lightning Project Progress

Raymarine removal

Raymarine removal

As usually happens with big projects on a boat – like recovering from a lightning strike – we have had a mix of progress and setbacks. Our biggest setback ironically come from my biggest accomplishment at the beginning of this recovery project. You may recall (from this post) that I managed to find and buy a replacement for our most critical damaged component – our Victron Energy inverter. Then, only a week later, the new unit suddenly quit working (with no apparent reason).

New Victron Problems

The dealer we used, Springer-EMS of Singapore, told me he had one more unit of our unique inverter type (unique because we are 120V instead of the usual 230V found around here). So, last Tuesday I removed the old unit and put it in a large suitcase and wheeled it with me on my way to Singapore. The trip there was an adventure in itself. But, after many hours and lots of lugging the big suitcase, I got it to their office. I arrived, but got startling bad news. They sat me in their office and explained they had an inventory problem and did not have the new unit to swap with me like they said they would. I was dumbfounded. They promised the would make every effort to get a new unit in quickly since we would be incurring costs (running our engines to charge our batteries since we can’t use shorepower or our generator without the box). They tested the bad unit while I was standing there and the tech said that it was definitely malfunctioning. The generator size considerations were also taken in the assessment.  He even tried replacing the main circuit board with one from another unit and it still didn’t work. So, I left them the old unit with promises for the new one soon.

Well, by the weekend they still didn’t have a new unit. They were told by Victron to try replacing the circuit board – which I thought they already did. They said they’ll get it straightened out next week. This is a major concern because we can’t haul out either until we get this fixed (we wouldn’t be able to charge batteries since we can’t run engines out of the water).

New Parts ordered

After 2+ weeks of research, and lots of web site and tech manual research, we finally got all the parts and instruments listed to replace our entire boat network of navigation instruments, wiring, transducers, radios, etc. We sent the list as promised to the insurance, and then got quotes from two different suppliers. We ended up selecting a batch from each provider depending on price and availability. We were able to get about a 25% discount on most of the parts. On Friday afternoon, we got the orders made and payments sent. Some of the packages were sent out within hours and are well on their way this weekend. I also went to a bank locally to pay a dealer for our windlass parts and those were ordered as well.

Initial Parts Removal

Yesterday we were slapping ourselves on the back for a lot of progress made removing the old system. We were being careful to only remove broken/inoperable items, because our wind speed and depth sounder were still working. We started with the Radar which involved going up the mast and pulling a big fat cable out of the mast and through the boat to the chartplotter. This was the biggest single job, but we managed to get it done. We then removed several instruments such as sonar, AIS, autopilot remote, and associated wires. While we were at it, we removed some other wires we found which were not being used. The objective is to clear out wires to make room for the new stuff.

Unfortunately, we somehow managed to forget to keep testing that the speed/wind were still working as we completed the job. Late last night, we had a storm come in and I went to check wind speed. The instruments didn’t come on! Argh…we must’ve removed one too many wires. We’ll try to track it down, but I guess we can live without them for the two day trip up to Pangkor.

Here are a few photos of various parts we’ve been replacing. A photo of our VHF mount that was apparently bent by the effects of lightning and the antenna was knocked off in the process. Also a photo of the most visible damage of our two LED spreader floodlights just installed 3 months ago. And, some photos of the radar removal, and removal of other Raymarine systems.

View full-sized slideshow with descriptions

Departure for Pangkor

Since the big shipments are on their way to Pangkor, we need to get up there. So, Tahina and s/v Totem will be leaving at first light tomorrow. We have two big concerns for our project up there now. One, the Victron inverter issue, and two: we heard the boatyard is very full. I’ve sent a query to the marina about whether there will be room.

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