Over the course of the first 2 years of owning the boat I had reason to add some electrical circuits and clean up old wiring runs that went nowhere. After several visits behind the electrical panel I knew that the birds nest that was the back of the panel had to go. It was impossible to tell where wiring originated from, what it was supposed to supply and almost impossible to close the panel against the bulkhead.
I wanted to reduce the amount of wiring that passed onto the back of the panel hoping that this would make it easier to close. To achieve this I placed a 20 gang common busbar on the bulkhead wall along with 2 x 10 terminal blocks (20A continuous rating). That took care of almost all the 12V wiring requirements. As the Navigation electronics were operated by one breaker on the panel I had to install a fuse block to allow for the different ratings of the circuits for each component. I then rerouted all incoming wiring so that the live wire went to the new terminal blocks and the common went straight to the busbar. As I no longer had any common wiring going to the panel, I was able to remove all the heavy gauge common wiring that joined all the 12V common bars on the panel. I ran one small gauge wire from the panel to the new busbar on the bulkhead to complete the circuits for the panel LEDs.
From the terminal blocks I ran neatly bundled groups of wires to the various breakers on the back of the panel. All these wires were clearly labelled to show their origin for ease of troubleshooting further down the line.
Although not perfect, it is a damn sight cleaner than it was before and hopefully less of a fire hazard. There are 2 LED’s that don’t work on the panel (they have been that way since I got the boat), but I am willing to put up with this instead of shelling out for an all new panel at considerable cost.
As a final note, I must have pulled out more than 200ft of wiring that either started at the panel and ended attached to nothing, or started elsewhere and never reached the panel. I can only presume this was contractor work where they saved money by not back-pulling old wiring when installing new systems.