Monday, September 16, 2013

LED Running Lights

I have been doing quite a bit of night sailing this summer.  The nice warm summer nights have been so inviting.  I usually go out before sunset to witness the end of another perfect day. During my nightly cruises I was noticing the big drawn down of my battery due to the standard bulbs in my running lights. 

The original bulbs were rated at 8 watt at 12 volts.  There are two  bulbs in the bow for the red and green navigation lights. Another one for the white stern light.  If I ran the masthead light too, that was a total of 32 watts or about 2.67 amps.

That may not seem like a lot, but my boat does not have an alternator on my outboard motor, so I like to conserve as much battery as I can between charges.  The only other major electrical load is my Raymarine ST40 Bidata  Speed/Depth instrument display.   This is very efficient and only draws about 100 mAs.

LED light are the rage right now not only for general lighting but for colorful accent lighting too.  They are so popular because they are so energy efficient. Many marine manufacturer will sell you LED running lights for a premium price.  Prices have come down in recent years but they are still very expensive.  As you know, I am very thrifty, not cheap, but thrifty, there is a difference.  Thrifty is wisely allocating your assets. Cheap is not buying roses for your wife for her birthday.  So, I thought they must make LED lights that would fit my existing running lights so I would not have to fork out the big bucks for new running lights.  Attwood has a set below that will set you back $50 bucks.  This set only draws 2.4 Watts.

The existing Perko running lights on the S2 6.9 use what is called a festoon bulb. They look like a barrel with the connections on each end.  These existing 8 watt bulbs are about 1.25 inches long.  Make sure you get the right size.  You can go to any auto parts store and buy a pair for about $6-7 bucks.

I wanted to replace mine with LED lights so I went to my trusted source  I do all my shopping there.  Sure enough, I came across some 1.25 inch (31mm) festoon LED dome light bulbs.  These were even cheaper than the standard bulbs that I saw at the auto parts store. I purchased the four pack for $6.49 plus free shipping, what a deal!  They have 12 LEDs so they very bright.

They were simple to replace and they fit perfectly into the existing fixture without any modifications. Project done, and think of the amps I will be saving every time I go night sailing.

I could not find a wattage rating on the package so I do not know for sure how much energy they draw. It is probably in the range of a few watts a piece, significantly less than the 32 watts I was using. They are not marine rated so saltwater or moisture may affect them after a few years. At that price, I really don't care. They should last a very long time and save me many amp hours of battery use.

Pick some up yourself and get out and do some night sailing!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lewmar D1 vs Spinlock XAS Rope Clutch

One of the thing on my list of upgrade for my S2 was to replace the Shaeffer jammers for the lifting keel and the main and jib halyard.  I had read all the literature and blogs about the two most popular types. Lewmar makes a D1 and Spinlock makes the XAS model which are the best for my small 22 footer.  I have replaced the lifting keel line and the halyards with Sta Set 5/16 inch line.

Many people swear by the Spinlock brand and say that they hold better than any other rope clutch out there.  Spinlock uses a cam mechanism to clamp down on the rope.  This clamping mechanism does wear the rope point of contact because of the sharp teeth of the cam.  They provide replacement parts for this cam mechanism and are easily serviced. 

I purchased one of these and used it for about a month before I had problems.  I use a 5/16 line for my lifting keel. I went to clamp down on the line and the plastic housing holding the main pin in the handle cracked.  See picture at left.  I am not sure if this is a design error or a point of failure but I was not impressed. The other side of the housing had a crack on top also.  I think you can buy the two sides of the replacement housing for about $25-30.

Safe working load for the XAS is 990lbs. A single Spinlock XAS will cost you about $75 dollars.

One drawback of the Spinlock XAS is that you cannot open or release it under load. You have to use a winch to unload the clutch before you can open it. You can however winch a rope through the clutch while it is closed.

The Lewmar D1 used a domino style device that clamps down on several spots on the line so there is less wear and tear on your lines. They open easily and seem to be sturdier than the Spinlock XAS model. There is virtually no load on the opening mechanism. I think it is a much better design.

The Lewmar D1 can be opened under load and you can winch a line through the clutch while it is closed. The price for a single D1 clutch will cost you $60-65.

The Lewmar D1 has a safe working load of 1100 lbs.  Both clutches have the same bolt whole pattern so they are easily interchangeable.

Here is a picture of the Lewmar D1 that I recently installed on my retractable keel.  Keel weight is about 430 lbs.

I would recommend the Lewmar D1 and I will be buying a double Lewmar D1 to replace the double jammers for my main and jib halyard on the port side.

Has anyone else had any failures of the Spinlock clutches?

Sail On