Active Active   Unanswered Unanswered

Westerbreke hookup

Your old Chris-Craft electrical system can be a challenge. If it runs on "juice" pose your questions and offer your advice here.

Moderators: Don Ayers, Don Vogt, Al Benton

Post Reply
Mark Moore
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:44 pm

Westerbreke hookup

Post by Mark Moore » Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:21 am

I recently purchased a 1965 Constellation, 36 feet, with two 327f engines. Love the boat but already had to rebuild the starboard engine. The boat has a Westerbeke genset and the PO showed me a problem with the setup. The generator is wired into the old Onan control box (?) where there is a relay or switch. The PO would tap on this switch to get the generator to supply power to the boat. He supplied a newer model switch to replace this one. From here the power goes to a switch on the helm that rotates to shore power, off, generator power. I guess my question is what function does the control box fulfill? Besides the relay there is a large bus fuse a metal capacitor? and several loose wires that are apparently left over from the onan. Can I remove this box and wire directly into the helm switch. The reason for this question is of course the switch quit working this weekend. No amount of pounding would get it to kick in. I didn't have a tester to see if the gen was putting out power and it will be a couple of weeks before I can get back to the boat.

Posts: 2062
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: Powhatan Courthouse Virginia

Re: Westerbreke hookup

Post by jfrprops » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:01 am

This is not what you want to hear or an answer to your question....but a cautionary comment:
That is really old stuff and combine that with the fact that some of it may be incompatible..... equals danger and trouble.
Ask yourself, do you really need that gen set and all that complicated electrical stuff? On a boat of that age? As a long time cruiser guy and one that has experience with all the items you are dealing with....I found that stuff more trouble than it was worth.....and scary since it was located in such close proximity to the fuel tanks and etc.
just mho
John in Va.
1980 Fairchild Scout 30
19?? custom Argentine Runabout 16'
1954 Whirlwind deluxe dual ckpt 16'
1921 Old Town Charles River 17' (founding Captain, James River Batteau Festival)

User avatar
Bilge Rat
Posts: 315
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:02 pm

Re: Westerbreke hookup

Post by Bilge Rat » Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:36 pm

When you say "No amount of pounding would get it to kick in", it's time to pay for a professional. My comment is from me, (a professional) and I agree with the jfrprops reply but would add to have a yard with an ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) certified marine electrical or gen set technician review the set up and make recommendations. Everything you wrote is a potential cause for an on board fire or the risk of someone getting electrocuted from a poorly managed power plant/shore power transfer design. I have seen much less severe problems turn into really bad situations.
1966 Lyman Cruisette 25 foot "Serenity Now!"
1953 Chris Craft Sportsman 22 foot "Summerwind"

User avatar
Posts: 376
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:18 am
Location: Eastern Massachusetts

Re: Westerbreke hookup

Post by mbigpops » Tue Oct 25, 2016 7:16 pm


Try googling Onan as it appears they make generators for motor homes as well and you might find some information there.

Keep in mind that every component of an electrical system is there for a reason and should not be eliminated unless you know it's function and can determine that the system will operate safely without it.

You should take the time to verify the generator output first and then if it is working properly examine the relay. These components can easily get gummed up by corrosion.

1953 CC Rocket Runabout "Rocket Man"

User avatar
Posts: 1865
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 8:46 am
Location: Grosse Pointe Farms, MI

Re: Westerbreke hookup

Post by evansjw44 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:40 pm

The Westerbeke is designed to be free standing. It doesn't need anything else to run. But it needs to have a start/run/stop switch.

I expect the Onan box is a demand start control as the early Onan and Kohler gensets would start and shut down automatically based on load demand. It could also be an automaic transfer control. Modern gensets don't operate that way. Your Westerbeke needs a output connection direct to the tranfer switch on the helm plus a remote start/stop switch located somewhere conveinent. The Westerbeeke manual would show how to do this.
Jim Evans

Mark Moore
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:44 pm

Re: Westerbreke hookup

Post by Mark Moore » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:48 pm

Thanks Jim, that's along the Iines of what I was thinking. And I appreciate the other comments. My brother is an electrician and I was planning on inviting him down for a cruise. I just wanted to gain some knowledge. It already has the westerbeke controls on the helm. I suspect the installer just took the easy way out and used the switch instead of wiring to the helm switch.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests