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  #11  
Old 09-03-2012
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

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FYI ~ DIY



Marine Battery Switch





The marine battery switch is an excellent addition to any boat, allowing the use of two batteries. With a battery switch you can alternate between both batteries, or use both at the same time. This also allows you to charge the batteries independently or both together. You can turn the switch off to keep the batteries from discharging from accidentally leaving something on when boat is not in use. The best setup would be to wire the automatic float switch for the bilge pump direct to one of the batteries, thus allowing to turn the battery switch off when the boat is not in use. If staying overnight on the boat, this would allow the use of a deep cycle battery for lighting and other 12v cabin use and be able to isolate it from the engine starting battery. When it is in need of charging the battery switch can be set to recharge the battery from the engine.
This is the most common wire installation of a battery switch for a single engine boat. There are different ways to have a switch configured as well as using more than one switch in a dual engine install. With this configuration both batteries are grounded to the engine block. The use of one ground wire to the block from a battery and having a short cable tieing the grounds together between the two batteries is common practice. The positive leads from each battery connect to the number 1 and 2 posts on back of the switch with the common post attaching to the starter.
There are several different manufacturers of battery switches. The switches are also available with just an on and off for a one battery setup. Locking battery switches can be had also to help fend off theft or tampering. Some very common names in battery switches include Guest, Blue Sea, Perko, and Tempo
Note: Blue Water Marine is not liable for damages caused by improper installations or repairs. The information on these pages are for "information only", not to replace manufacturers instructions. These pages are meant for helpful knowledge for the do-it-yourself, if you are not confident in what you are doing please leave the work for the experienced.
Battery switches can be seen or purchased here.

Blue Water Marine 8690 S. Oceana Drive, Montague Mi. 49437




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  #12  
Old 09-03-2012
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

"For example with the engine running why no alternator voltage to the house? "

Good question. Did the PO wear big floppy sneakers, a fright wig, and a round red nose?

Usually, the alternator output is tied to the starter power and the common of the battery switch, so the only "switching" or changing of the alternator output, is also the same switch that switches everything else to the two batteries. Usually. I would question a bad battery switch--but that would affect everything, not just the alternator. Unless they did something creative in the switch or wiring. Maybe they set up charging using an echocharger or something similar, and that's the defective part?

Any odd little unlabelled boxes in your power wiring?

Take a big sheet of paper, a pencil with eraser, sketch out what you find so you wind up with a schematic while you are exploring. If you want to take same wire tags or white tape and add labels while you're exploring, that's good too.
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Old 09-04-2012
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"For example with the engine running why no alternator voltage to the house? "

Good question. Did the PO wear big floppy sneakers, a fright wig, and a round red nose?

Usually, the alternator output is tied to the starter power and the common of the battery switch, so the only "switching" or changing of the alternator output, is also the same switch that switches everything else to the two batteries. Usually. I would question a bad battery switch--but that would affect everything, not just the alternator. Unless they did something creative in the switch or wiring. Maybe they set up charging using an echocharger or something similar, and that's the defective part?

Any odd little unlabelled boxes in your power wiring?

Take a big sheet of paper, a pencil with eraser, sketch out what you find so you wind up with a schematic while you are exploring. If you want to take same wire tags or white tape and add labels while you're exploring, that's good too.
Capt Gary,
thanks, i'll take another look at it today; everyday is a new discovery and a new task. The alternator is the latest "discovery" and I'm getting the suspicion that the reefer is drawing off of the starter rather than the house. You have to work pretty hard to configure a mess like this. I think the mastervolt charges all night off of shorepower but is not able to offset the draw from the reefer whereas the housebank could handle such a load. As my departure date draws near I may have to get the experts at the marina here to fix these last little annoyances and spend the $$; I'll just eat beans and wieners for 6 weeks to offset the cost.
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Old 09-04-2012
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

Quote:
Originally Posted by F15EWSO View Post
Capt Gary,
thanks, i'll take another look at it today; everyday is a new discovery and a new task. The alternator is the latest "discovery" and I'm getting the suspicion that the reefer is drawing off of the starter rather than the house. You have to work pretty hard to configure a mess like this. I think the mastervolt charges all night off of shorepower but is not able to offset the draw from the reefer whereas the housebank could handle such a load. As my departure date draws near I may have to get the experts at the marina here to fix these last little annoyances and spend the $$; I'll just eat beans and wieners for 6 weeks to offset the cost.
The quick and easy check, short of having the testing equipment on-board, is to substitute a known good battery in place of the one that won't start. This utilizes the same wiring but replaces the battery thus eliminating it as a "suspect". The guys at auto-parts stores may not be as competent as they should be on testing batteries.. If it starts then it was the battery, if not then it is in the wiring, terminations or starter.
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

As others have noted, you have a connection problem. The fact that the engine started immediately with the jumper cables is proof.

Connection problems can be:

1. loose or surface-corroded connections;
2. loose or corroded connectors on the battery cables;
3. switch contacts...one or both of those Perko switches could be bad;
4. corroded or broken cables.

The starting circuit is a pretty important on on a boat, just as on an airplane.

In your stead I'd not hesitate to:

- replace the battery switch(es) -- these can and do go bad;

- replace the connectors on the battery cables and, possibly, the cables themselves;

- replace the start battery....it's pretty cheap insurance and then you'll know its condition.

- make absolutely sure every connection is clean and tight....no wing nuts.

If you have any hesitation in doing this, hire a competent marine electrician to do it for you. The cable terminations (lugs, crimps, adhesive heat shrink) are of particular importance.

Battery switches are cheap: the Blue Sea Systems 6006 is a good choice.

But FIRST, diagram out your existing system to see how it's hooked up. It may well be that it's not done correctly or logically.

Bill
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

As bill said.

Depending on the condition of your wiring, cables, terminals, it may actually make sense to just rip 'em all out and replace with new. Especially if there are problems like untinned cables showing green crud at their ends, indicating internal corrossion as well.

If the PO took a shortcut and used welding cable for battery cable, the strands are thinner and more likely to have internal corrossion, higher resistance, cause starting problems. Questions like that are taken off the boar if you just decode, hey, I'm going to redo the wiring.

Whether that's a gross waste of time and money, depends on what you've got in front of you. If there's lots of green crud, bad fits, etc...
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

You clearly have wiring problems and at 40 ft you have a reasonably complex system. It seems like wiring and electrical work is somewhat new to you and while you can learn a ton from this website there aren't likely to be any quick fixes here. You're going to have to trace through the wiring like hello sailor suggests and it's going to be time consuming. It sounds like you should pull out and replace everything between your batteries and the engine.

Think about whether you want to do this or whether you want to bring in a pro who can probably diagnose it in 1/2 or 1/3 the time.
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

Given the cost of an alleged pro, and the value of "I know we did it this way, I know where that is", I might disagree on trying to find a pro unless there was a time crunch.

The basics of good 12v boat wiring are documented so well, in so many books (which are way more comprehensive than poking around web sites) that they aren't hard to pick up. Similarly the tools are readily available. The only caveat there, is that a proper battery cable lug crimper is a damned expensive tool, the alternative to that is ordering cables premae from someplace like genuinedealz, who are a true bargain.
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

I kinda agree with that, Hello Sailor, but in this case it might well be that there's a time crunch, as the OP mentioned that he wanted to head south this year. That gives him about two months. If he had nothing else to do in that time he might be able to get up to speed on boat electrics by reading and asking questions and poking around, but if he's really heading south in a new-to-him boat I'd guess there are a ton of things to be done.

Replacing existing cables and switches is a pretty easy job for a professional with the right tools. And, if that were the only job to do IMHO that's what should be done. As you say, a good crimper costs a bunch of $$$ (like $300 plus), and other necessary tools aren't cheap. Nor is the wiring itself cheap and while I agree that genuinedealz.com is the place to buy it, you can't always use already made up cables because the lugs might not fit thru tight places, etc.

An advantage of having a professional do this is you'll have a much better idea of how your electrical system is set up, what to do and what not to do, what needs replacing/upgrading now, what can wait til later, etc., etc. A boat's electrical system is nothing to fool around with unless you are reasonably competent and understand AC and DC systems on boats. There are just too many ways to get into trouble, many of them potentially lethal to you, your boat, and your crew.

Problem is, as I see it (as a professional who does this kind of work all the time), we don't know how the boat is wired now and until we do it will be damned difficult to estimate what it will take to "fix it". It might be as simple as replacing cables and switches, but it might involve significantly more work, particularly if the goal were to come up with a simple, truly reliable system.

FWIW,

Bill

Last edited by btrayfors; 09-04-2012 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 09-05-2012
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Re: Enging/starter battery pretends to be good but....

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Given the cost of an alleged pro, and the value of "I know we did it this way, I know where that is", I might disagree on trying to find a pro unless there was a time crunch.

The basics of good 12v boat wiring are documented so well, in so many books (which are way more comprehensive than poking around web sites) that they aren't hard to pick up. Similarly the tools are readily available. The only caveat there, is that a proper battery cable lug crimper is a damned expensive tool, the alternative to that is ordering cables premae from someplace like genuinedealz, who are a true bargain.
Right I agree and I don't know if I've ever suggested going to a pro before but this guy splashed his boat and wanted to sail it away. He also appears to be pretty new with electrical stuff. I maybe reading into those two things incorrectly but it makes me think a pro isn't a bad option.

My own re-wire project spanned 2 years and 100's of hours in the boat and off it... I think I still have some issues with the engine harness that aren't presenting themselves right now and I absolutely dread having to debug them...so I feel for the op.
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