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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 08-26-2008
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Yikes- Smoke from the gauges

Went to go for a sail and when idling the engine at the dock smoke starting coming from the instrument panel in the cockpit. Of course, I tapped it which made it worse. After shutting down the engine I went below, more smoke, and found wires burnt and melted right behind the gauges. Problem now is finding someone to work on it. The yard will do it but I can not get it there.

I have called some mobile services but of the 4, I called only one called back and can not come till late Sept. I have NO experience in this area, can I fix it myself or by pass the panel to get it to the yard...Thoughts ? I really would like to sail this Month if possible, I think it is the best month on the bay...Thanks

Last edited by Duck401k; 08-26-2008 at 06:17 AM. Reason: identify reason for post
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Old 08-26-2008
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It is "possible" to run the engine without the panel though I would not recommend it as the normal ammount of power there is quite low and burnt cables etc here would suggest to me that there is a short somewhere on the engine itself sending a lots of unwanted extra current to your panel.

can you see which cables are burn't exactly? the guages take there reading from different parts of the engine and if it is a particular gauge which is the problem it will help narrow the search,

for example, if it is the RPM gauge this reads a half voltage from the altinator on most newer engines I have encountered (a sensor on the flywheel for older) and a dead short on the altinator "could" be the problem.

do you have any other information? make model of engine etc.?
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Old 08-26-2008
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It is a 10 year old 30 hp Universal (500 hours)- I noticed the voltage was reading way high which is what got my attention first. I am reallt bummed about it !!
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Old 08-26-2008
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Jeff,

You mention 'high voltage'; It sounds like your voltage regulator went away. .

That being the case, I suspect the wires that fried are probably the ones to your voltmeter and ammeter (if you have one).

Before you even think about starting the engine again, take a hard look at the battery cables all the way from the battery posts to wherever they terminate. Take a hard look at your main DC wire run to your circuit breaker panel, also, and the wiring on the back of the panel to make sure nothing else is fried.

Once you've checked all of the other wiring, you can go about taking a look at your engine control panel or whatever. Those are usually color coded, and someone here probably has the color codes for your Yanmar. Find out what fried. You can remove and replace the wires, but unless and until the real problem has been fixed, they'll just cook themselves again if you start the engine.

Like I said, I suspect your alternator/regulator have failed. You should never see more than about 14.4 Volt DC coming from an alternator, so that's where I'd start.

Good luck. If I were closer, I'd be happy to come and help, but the Chesapeake is a fur piece off for me, and I don't have any friendly contacts in that neighborhood.
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Old 08-26-2008
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How high was the voltage reading exactly?
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Old 08-26-2008
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Duck,

How far are you from the Yard that could do the work? Could you sail it there?

If you can't sail the entire distance, can you re-start the engine? On our Yanmar, after starting the engine, we can shut down the alternator and all charging by turning the key back to the off position, yet the engine will still run. Maybe this would work with your Universal, enough that you could get out of your slip and into the Yard, and sail the rest of the distance.
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Old 08-26-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck401k View Post
Problem now is finding someone to work on it. The yard will do it but I can not get it there.

I have called some mobile services but of the 4, I called only one called back and can not come till late Sept. ...
You're finding out why it's best to have at least a rudimentary understanding of How Things Work.

I wish we were neighbours. I'd be more than happy to come over and help out. Alas: Michigan and Maryland are a bit too far apart to make that feasible.

You might consider: Boatowner's Mechanical & Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems (Hardcover) (amazon.com) by Nigel Calder, along with something like this: 3-1/2" LCD MULTIMETER WITH TACHOMETER KIT (Harbor Freight).

Troubleshoot and fix it yourself. You'll learn some things about your boat, you'll gain the satisfaction of having done it yourself, and you'll probably do a better job.

Jim
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Old 08-26-2008
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Don't know how far it is to the yard but could you use a dinghy with outboard tied in a hip tow to get out of your slip and into the yard? Other than fixing it yourself which doesn't sound too difficult, join BoatUS and have it towed.
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Old 08-26-2008
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With no experience in the area, I assume you mean marine electrical and or diesel related.
The bottom line:
You can bypass the alternator and regulator, and you can completely disconnect your panel, you can't do either without a firm understanding of both.

The ignition circuit must be intact or bypassed, some systems allow that and some folks in the trade have special setups to do that, some don't. If you have high temp or high oil pressure shutdown circuits they must be bypassed or the engine will not start. Most engine manuals come with schematics to show where and how those circuits operate, but with no experience I'd postulate that no, you are better off not going in and monkeying with the wiring. You really don't want to start adding to your repair bill by making a mess.
Post pictures of the back of your instrument panel, altenator etc.. it might help.
Do you have any friends with a passing knowledge of marine systems?
Where, on the east coast of the bay are you? Someone might donate some time to helping you get moving again; at least as far as the yard. I just rewired my friends C30 panel last weekend while sailing around (loose wires and a bad switch to bypass) - it can be a real mess, made worse if your panel is really melted up.
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Old 08-26-2008
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I'd have to agree with CHuckles... you can make things a lot worse if you don't have a very good idea of what you're doing. Also, trying to bypass the safeties can have other bad consequences... like forgetting to re-connect them and having the engine blow because of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
With no experience in the area, I assume you mean marine electrical and or diesel related.
The bottom line:
You can bypass the alternator and regulator, and you can completely disconnect your panel, you can't do either without a firm understanding of both.

The ignition circuit must be intact or bypassed, some systems allow that and some folks in the trade have special setups to do that, some don't. If you have high temp or high oil pressure shutdown circuits they must be bypassed or the engine will not start. Most engine manuals come with schematics to show where and how those circuits operate, but with no experience I'd postulate that no, you are better off not going in and monkeying with the wiring. You really don't want to start adding to your repair bill by making a mess.
Post pictures of the back of your instrument panel, altenator etc.. it might help.
Do you have any friends with a passing knowledge of marine systems?
Where, on the east coast of the bay are you? Someone might donate some time to helping you get moving again; at least as far as the yard. I just rewired my friends C30 panel last weekend while sailing around (loose wires and a bad switch to bypass) - it can be a real mess, made worse if your panel is really melted up.

Chuckles-

He's down your neck of the woods...sorta... Eastern shore of MD... you're alot closer than a lot of us.
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