Also DBA Northern Yacht Restoration

110 Cookson Lane | Whitefield, ME  04353 | 207-232-7600 |

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Phase 3:  Finish Work

Shop Home Page
Shop Planning
Phase 1:  Site Prep and Foundation
Phase 2:  Framing
Phase 3:  Finish Work
Phase 4:  Shop Setup
Electrical Installation

With a more or less dry roof overhead, it was time for me to begin the electrical installation.  I planned to do all the work myself, thereby beginning the series of major projects that I expected to take care of in order to complete the shop.

I began with some rough planning to determine what my circuits might be, and how I might go about running them. This also helped me determine generally how much wire, how many boxes, and what other materials I should buy.

I wasted no time getting ready, and the day after discovering that the roof was dried in enough for me to begin, I was onsite armed with materials and ready to go.  I began by installing the plastic boxes in the walls at all the outlet locations.  First, I used a chalk line to mark a line 48" above the floor in both boat bays and the shop bay (I left the office for later).  I planned to install all my outlets, as well as switch boxes, at 48" from the floor.  I located boxes about every six feet along all the walls, and nailed them in.

Next, I drilled holes through the studs in the eastern wall.  The main 200 amp load center would eventually be installed at the front of the building, on the eastern wall, near where the trench from the meter was located.  Therefore, all circuits would eventually need to end up in this location.  As it happened, the eastern wall had more studs in it than any of the others, thanks to someone's insistence on so many window openings.  Because of the myriad studs--often 3 or 4 immediately adjacent to each other, and often closely spaced--drilling was difficult, as the tool wouldn't fit into the openings between the studs.  This meant that I had to drill many of the holes at an angle. 

Perhaps I should have bored a couple very large holes through the studs, but I didn't want to drill out too much of the structure; additionally, I needed the length of a ship auger bit to get through the studs that were closely spaced, and a bit that large would have been prohibitively expensive.  Instead, I drilled a number of 1/2" holes (the only bit I had on the first day), and, later, 1" holes (after picking up a new bit the next day), which allowed me to pull 4 wires through one hole.

I chose to run all lighting and receptacle circuits using 12/2 wire, rather than the smaller 14/2 that is more common.  This allowed bulk purchase of the wire, and the initial cost for the superior wire was only slightly higher.  I purchased 3, 1000-foot reels of the wire.  In addition, I purchased 350' of heavy 10/3 wire that I needed to a couple dedicated 220-volt circuits (future tablesaw and compressor), and some 30 amp outdoor receptacles for RV hookup.


I soon found that my initial wiring plan was at best a general guideline.  As I proceeded, I continually discovered other circuits that I needed, or wanted, to run, so the plan was fluid, to say the least.   Fortunately, I had plenty of wire on hand, and pressed onwards with the wiring, running a circuit at a time, leaving plenty of excess in the boxes and at the future load panel location, and moving onto the next, drilling new holes through the studs as the old ones became filled to capacity.  I presently found that it was just easier to conceive and wire each circuit as the thought arose, and continued in this manner.




Running wires to the far reaches of the building presented logistical problems, as the ceiling height made working overhead difficult.  I concentrated at first on running as many circuits as possible through the eastern wall near floor level, as I determined that despite the difficulties in drilling holes through the studs, this was still the most efficient way to run the wires.  Eventually, however, I had no choice but to pull wires up to the ceiling and across the trusses to the other side of the building.  Happily, this was made easier by the appearance of some nice pipe staging, which Bob and the crew were using to install strapping on the ceiling and for other chores at the time, so I was able to use this to my advantage, along with some ladder work as required.

Pulling the wires was complicated by the fact that the weather was very cold, which made the already stiff cable even more difficult to handle.  During the two elapsed weeks that I installed the wiring, temperatures were often near zero in the mornings, and on several of the days barely warmed into the teens.

Over the course of seven full working days, I pulled the cabling for 24 circuits, including receptacles, utility lights, overhead lights, boiler, well, effluent pump, recessed lighting in the office, and the four heavier 10-gauge circuits mentioned above.  I carefully marked each wire in a few places, particularly at the panel ends, for future identification.  I used plastic staples to secure the wires near the boxes, along the studs and trusses, and in other locations as necessary, trying to keep the job neat and organized.

One day, with most of the bulk wiring completed, I spent the entire day running a number of home-run video, data network, and phone lines to the office from a central location.   I chose to run individual wires for each of several receptacle locations in the office (so-called "home run" wiring), and pulled enough of each type of cable for multiple hookups as necessary, anticipating the expected locations of computer and TV equipment in the office.  Because of the possibility of interference from electrical wiring, I chose to run the network, phone, and video lines through the ceiling, above the trusses and far away from the cables in the walls below.  To make this job easier, I first ran a pull line across the trusses, standing atop a ladder and throwing a pair of lines through as many trusses at a time as I could, then moving the ladder and repeating the process till I reached the paint room area.  With the two lines run, it was easier to then pull each set of three cables through the entire truss system to the back of the shop; the second line allowed me to ensure that there was always a line in place for pulling the next set of wires.  (I ran a new line through with each set of cables pulled.)

To each of three locations in the office, I ran a pair of CAT5e cables (blue for data, gray for phone) and a RG8U quad-shielded coax cable.  Choosing overkill rather than future regret, I ran a fourth set to a box near my main desk location, giving myriad potential options for computer and network hookups.  I dead-ended the cables at the front of the building near the future electrical panel; later, I planned to install a box to contain the hookups for these cables.


My electrician returned near the end of my bulk wiring phase to install the main service cable into the building, and to install the raw load center with 200 amp service.  This would transfer the power availability from some temporary outlets on the meter post to the building itself, and signaled the time for me to wire up the master panel so that some of the interior circuits could be used for the remainder of construction.  He did a beautiful job running the main cabling up into the building from the underground trench, using plastic conduit for a clean appearance and protection.

I purchased the circuit breakers required for the panel, and then spent the next day and a half working on the panel, first organizing and routing the 24 cables that I had coiled up above during installation, running them into the panel enclosure through a series of clamps (frustratingly, I had the wrong size on hand, and had to run several miles down the road to a lumber store to pick up more), and finally stripping the cable ends and wiring up the individual circuits.  I might have finished in one day, but the delays caused by having the wrong parts meant that I needed to spend an hour or two the next day completing the job.  For safety, I turned off the main breaker located near the power company's meter, so the panel was dead during my wiring.

With the temporary outlets disconnected, time was of the essence for me to finish the panel, as there was no power onsite during the process.  Bob used a generator during the period as required, but this was inconvenient, and we all looked forward to having "real" power inside.



With the panel completely wired, I installed about 15 receptacles in two separate circuits in boat bay 2 (the easternmost bay, which contained the load center), allowing for plenty of plug-in power for whatever needs were required.  Because the walls would not be drywalled or covered in other solid material, I could install the outlets at this early stage, and they would not be in the way of future construction jobs.

With that, the initial phase of wiring was complete.  I had completed all wiring jobs, including installing and wiring a number of recessed light fixtures in the office and bathroom, that needed to be done before the building could be insulated inside, which was scheduled for the next week or two.

Wiring Tally:

  • 2800' of 12/2 cable
  • 300' of 10/3 cable
  • 600' of blue Cat5e
  • 600' of gray Cat5e
  • 600' of RG8U coax
  • 40-50 hours' cable pulling/installing time
  • 875 +/- wire staples
  • 24 circuits:  2, 30-amp 110V; 2, 30-amp 220V; 22, 20-amp, 110V

A couple weeks later, some minor changes in the stair locations necessitated moving a few of the wires that I had run previously.  Fortunately, this was a simple matter and took about an hour to complete.  However, in the process I did run out the final spool of 12/2 wire, bringing the total used to over 3000' (not discounting the myriad scraps that I stored in a box for possible later use).

Later in the process, I'll complete the installation of the receptacles, lighting, and other devices, once the insulation and some of the wall coverings are complete.   Updates here when that happens!

To house the connections for phone, data, and video, whatever they end up being, I purchased an empty box designed for this purpose.  For the time being, I simply ran all the cable inside the box and installed the cover for protection; later, I'll make up whatever connections are required, but that's down the road a bit.




As time allowed, I began installing the outlets and switches in the shop bays.  Over a widely spread period of days, I eventually installed most of these outlets, and all were in place before the wall plastic was hung in late January.

Still, there was work to be done:  once the plastic was hung, forming the final wall surface everywhere but the office and bathroom, I began cutting the plastic out in way of each outlet and switch, where they had been covered during installation, and installing the plastic face plates on each.  I also finished installing the outlets and switches in the attic and paint room, completing all the installation except for the office, which would have to wait until drywall later on.

In the workshop, I installed a watertight box on the floor, directly above the conduit containing the 10/3 wire needed for the 220V tablesaw I planned to acquire.  To hold the metal outlet box in place, I splooshed it down in a heavy bed of spray foam, which, when cured, held it tightly in the right location.  After scoping out the saw I intended to buy, I installed a 220V receptacle of the proper type in the box, and covered it with a metal face plate.


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This page was originally posted on December 21, 2005.