Stow cord to pro­tect from mois­ture. Ex­ten­sive cor­ro­sion from sea­wa­ter ex­po­sure com­bined with high heat has taken its toll on this shorepower con­nec­tor, ren­der­ing it use­less

Passage Maker - - Troubleshooter -

in­stead of nickel, it is time to re­place the hard­ware. Cor­ro­sion in­creases re­sis­tance and must be avoided. Cor­ro­sion on any part of the shorepower chain of con­nec­tions must be ad­dressed: the cord ends, the ex­posed por­tion of the in­let, and the back­side of the in­let where the wires at­tach.

Fi­nally, the con­di­tion of the shorepower ca­ble it­self must be mon­i­tored. A cord that has been pinched against the dock or se­verely crimped prob­a­bly has bro­ken strands. With fewer con­tin­u­ous strands, the wire size has ef­fec­tively been re­duced. Un­der high loads the ca­ble might over­heat and melt with­out trip­ping the breaker, which is rated for the orig­i­nal con­duc­tiv­ity of the cord. Also, a ca­ble end that has been dropped into salt wa­ter runs a higher risk of cor­ro­sion. If this hap­pens to you, dis­con­nect both ends and flush the ex­posed end with fresh wa­ter. Af­ter it dries, ap­ply a cor­ro­sion block­ing spray and keep a close eye on the con­di­tion.

POWER PRAC­TICE

Given the crit­i­cal na­ture of the shorepower con­nec­tion and the risk of fire, you might be won­der­ing if there isn’t a bet­ter way. Most, if not all, of the fail­ures de­scribed above can be avoided by fol­low­ing the ba­sic guide­lines and vis­ually mon­i­tor­ing the con­di­tion of the com­po­nents. The stan­dard 30- and 50-amp plug de­sign was in­tro­duced by Hubbell Marine in the late 1950s and has been in use for more than half a cen­tury. The de­sign works well when prop­erly uti­lized and main­tained.

Nonethe­less, SmartPlug Sys­tems, based in Seattle, Washington, re­designed the shorepower con­nec­tion in or­der to min­i­mize the risks of in­cor­rect us­age. By elim­i­nat­ing the tra­di­tional twist­ing re­quire­ment, SmartPlug® can uti­lize flat straight blade con­nec­tions.

Although spring ten­sion still makes the con­tact, the con­tact sur­face it­self ex­ceeds the tra­di­tional style by a factor of 20. The phys­i­cal shape of the con­nec­tor means that it can only fit one way, elim­i­nat­ing the need to lo­cate and line up the lock­ing tab. Pro­tec­tion from mois­ture has also been im­proved and the lock­ing mech­a­nism is sim­ple and leaves no doubt when it is se­cure. SmartPlug® can also be retro­fit­ted onto ex­ist­ing cords, but you

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