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Old 12-13-2015, 04:53 PM   #1
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I'd like you to meet my friend Murphy.....

As some of you know we experienced a runaway starter motor while transiting the lock at Ice Harbor Dam last September. I wrote about that in this thread...
A bit of a scare this weekend

We thought we had all the issues taken care of but then this happened...
All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go...

So rather than continuing that thread I figured I'd start a new thread and deal only with the problems and the repairs/corrections to those problems.

To bring you up to date, here's what we found right before the parade...
"Well, by way of an update, this has turned into a MUCH bigger mess than what any of us first thought. Let me explain, and forgive me if some of this doesn't make sense. I'm relating what the mechanic told me, as best as my feeble old brain can remember it......

We all know this involved a runaway starter motor in September. The mechanic pulled the starter and had it rebuilt. He reinstalled it and to ops check it he turned on the switches and hit the start switch (momentary switch). When he heard the starter motor kick in and the engine start to turn over, he released the switch, figuring all was good."



Here's what we have found out since....
When the starter motor ran away it burned out a solenoid that is involved with feeding fuel to the engine. Had the mechanic followed up with his test to see if the engine would start he would have found that it wouldn't start due to the lack of fuel.

At the same time there was a lot of wiring on the boat that was overloaded and burned the wiring. That includes the electronic controls on the 24VDC charger. The charger then boiled dry a new set of batteries we had just installed in the spring. So charger and batteries are tits up.

Also, there's a wiring harness that runs from the engine up to a "Y" where it splits the signals, sending them to the upper and lower helms. When that happened some of the starboard gauges at both helms got burned up.

Sea Ray doesn't make that wiring harness any more so it's going to have to be built from scratch. The gauges aren't made any more so not only are the gauges that got burned up going to be replaced, but all new gauges at both helms are going to be replaced so they're all the same at both helms. That also means that since the new gauges have digital sending units, the sending units from all gauges have to be replaced.

We've already had the insurance company involved. They sent a surveyor to meet with the mechanic and the two of them spent over four hours crawling around the boat checking everything out. The surveyor was going to write up his report to the insurance company and it was his opinion that the insurance company would not balk at picking up the cost of this claim.

I'm going to meet with the mechanic on Tuesday to look at gauges to pick the ones I want to go with. The mechanic is going to put together his estimate of the cost of the new wiring harness, the gauges, charger, new batteries and all the other stuff that's going to have to be replaced.

It's good that we found all of this crap at this time of year. We're headed back to AZ right after Christmas and will be down there about 2 months. He'll have all that time to get it fixed and it will be all ready for the summer boating season.

Keeping my fingers crossed here!


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Old 12-13-2015, 05:01 PM   #2
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Are you still using the same mechanic for all this?

I find his failure to start the engine when replacing the starter to be a rather serious oversight. Maybe you've had him do previous work and been satisfied.
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Old 12-13-2015, 06:20 PM   #3
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Old 12-13-2015, 07:20 PM   #4
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BandB, that's a valid question. When he installed the starter he knew that all of the sea cocks were closed and that's why he didn't continue cranking to start the motor. The starter turned the engine over and that's what he was looking for.


I've used this mechanic for about 3 years. When I speak of him as a mechanic that may be underselling him. He's the owner of Columbia Marine Center, a full service marina and repair service. He's been in the biz since Christ was a corporal, knows what he's doing and I have full confidence in him and his crew.
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Old 12-13-2015, 07:21 PM   #5
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Egad. When it rains in your world, it pours!
Like I said, I'd like you to meet my friend Murphy!
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Old 12-13-2015, 08:21 PM   #6
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It has an expensive ring to it, this mess. I hope the insurance will cover it. I wonder why there were not fuses/breakers to prevent the secondary damage which is quite extensive.
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Old 12-13-2015, 08:21 PM   #7
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Like I said, I'd like you to meet my friend Murphy!
No thanks! I have enough to do without your friend helping me.

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Old 12-13-2015, 08:28 PM   #8
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Like I said, I'd like you to meet my friend Murphy!
Not only have you had a run-in with our old friend Murphy, who works overtime in the boating arena, but your initials are also somewhat prophetic, are they not..?
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Old 12-13-2015, 08:35 PM   #9
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It has an expensive ring to it, this mess. I hope the insurance will cover it. I wonder why there were not fuses/breakers to prevent the secondary damage which is quite extensive.
The story makes me glad of the simple but functional arrangement in my boat, where the motor starter battery is entirely separate from the rest of the system, although can be linked in if need be by a robust selector switch. Otherwise, it powers the starter motor only, via another robust selector switch, (so I can use the house batts at a pinch, but never do), so the only link to the the house system is the small amount of draw via the ignition switch to close the solenoid that triggers the starter batt. Any sign of trouble, like starter over-run, (in itself a strange phenomenon), and I can de-couple that batt pronto at the selector.
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Old 12-13-2015, 11:30 PM   #10
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Brian, that is something that the mechanic and I will discuss. The wiring harness that burned up is one that sends engine temp/oil pressure/etc. signals up to the helms. I'm still not sure how the runaway starter caused that wiring to burn up and as we have more time I'll discuss that with him and also about adding fuses.


Pete, your comment...
"Otherwise, it powers the starter motor only, via another robust selector switch, (so I can use the house batts at a pinch, but never do), so the only link to the the house system is the small amount of draw via the ignition switch to close the solenoid that triggers the starter batt. Any sign of trouble, like starter over-run, (in itself a strange phenomenon), and I can de-couple that batt pronto at the selector. "


It sounds like your system is set up similar to mine. I have 2 separate 24V batteries that power the starter motors for the engines. I have a cross-over "emergency start switch" that I can momentarily engage if I need power from the house batteries to get an engine started, and that sounds like your "robust selector switch".


Re: your comment " Any sign of trouble, like starter over-run, (in itself a strange phenomenon), and I can de-couple that batt pronto at the selector", I suspect that if you had a runaway starter motor you would not be able to diagnose the problem and remove the power ("decouple") that battery before the wiring harness burned itself up.


In our situation it probably took me less than 30 seconds to get from the upper helm down to the engine room. That short time period was for me to (a) recognize what my wife had said and had it register; (b) climb down from the flybridge and open the engine room hatch and see the smoke; and (c) get into the lazarette to shut off the battery switches. By the time I got there the damage was done.
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Old 12-14-2015, 12:08 AM   #11
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But Mike, how was there electrical connection from the start batt to the rest of the wiring harness in the first place, if it is set up as you say..? The activation of the starter solenoid solenoid from the ignition just causes the solenoid to connect start batt to starter. Otherwise, that circuit goes nowhere as I understand it. It does not, or should not, also have electrical connection to the rest of the wiring...the ignition circuit itself is not heavy duty for that reason, surely..?

Could it be a PO, or 'other' person, had made some electrical connections that should not have been made, for this whole wiring harness fiasco to occur in the first place..? Incidentally, my selector switches are up near the helm, so I don't have to get floors up or enter the ER to switch them.

By the way, has anyone been able to explain the mechanism of a runaway starter motor satisfactorily? In my experience, the most common problem with starter motors is not running, rather than not stopping...

On another note, this sort of thing is why I (and many others, I suspect), prefer to use the lower helm for start-up, (and close down, for that matter), so we are nearer those important controls, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, etc, until certain all is well.
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:34 AM   #12
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A hung starter is a rare hassle , but as you found out stuff happens.

Why replace the gauges with more electric gauges that can go south so easily?

Mechanicals work frequently for decades , , even with no electric .

Since you met Murphy ,install his switch-gauges and you have a full time engineer monitoring for you .
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Old 12-14-2015, 07:06 AM   #13
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Mike

On older vessels many refit with a Maretron (or similar) backbone to upgrade data from ER to bridge. I'd guess this setup to be well beyond your local guy though.

A quick trip to Seattle to talk with Harris Electric and Emerald Harbor may provide some guidance. There are several others that could do this as well out of Seattle area. And they can work with your insurer to ensure new setup is done cost effectively to industry standards - ABYC.

See you next year.
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Old 12-14-2015, 08:24 AM   #14
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The extensive damage appears to be a result of a mechanical failure. Does marine insurance cover damage from a mechanical failure? Or is there another theory for the insurance claim?
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Old 12-14-2015, 08:45 AM   #15
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I hate to oversimplify, but could it have been an intermittent short?..... Chafed/loose wire(s) up/down stream, especially with regards to the starting relay. The starter may very well have been doing what it was told to begin with. Next round things got shorted out properly. Hard to tell after the fact.
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Old 12-14-2015, 09:04 AM   #16
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The extensive damage appears to be a result of a mechanical failure. Does marine insurance cover damage from a mechanical failure? Or is there another theory for the insurance claim?
While all policies won't, a good policy does cover resulting damage from such a failure. That's why selection of policy shouldn't be based simply on price.
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Old 12-14-2015, 12:29 PM   #17
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Think you've got problems, Mike? Here's one with Murphy aboard from nearly day one.

The Navy‚€™s New $362 Million Ship Needs a Tow to Get Home

Hope they get your boat fixed right, soon.
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Old 12-14-2015, 02:58 PM   #18
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It would be my guess that the starter was running because of the burned and shorted harness, and not the cause of it.
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Old 12-14-2015, 07:53 PM   #19
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At this point it may be impossible to determine which came first, the chicken or the egg, or in this case if the starter went first or the wiring harness went first. I'm not sure it makes that big a deal.

I'm not sure how or why there was any electrical connection between the circuits that start the engine and the circuits that feed signals to the gauges at the helms and the circuits that the battery charger operates on. Maybe Mr. Murphy can shed some light on this.




On another forum someone mentioned using Public Adjusters who work much like the insurance company's adjusters except they represent the insured, not the company.


Has anyone on here had any experience with them?
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Old 12-14-2015, 08:47 PM   #20
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On another forum someone mentioned using Public Adjusters who work much like the insurance company's adjusters except they represent the insured, not the company.

Has anyone on here had any experience with them?
They can be beneficial or just costly. Typically they're only hired for claims over $10,000 and property claims are the majority of their knowledge.

If you lacked the knowledge you have or if you didn't seem to have the inclination to stand up to the insurance company, then I'd recommend the public adjuster. But for you, I see it only as a last resort if you're getting nowhere with the adjuster you're dealing with. The idea is to make you hold and you should be able to achieve that on your own. The damage is all quantifiable and you're not going to get more than the cost to repair. I'd believe you could battle enough to get the cost to repair. So the only difference I'd see in your situation is you'd give 10%-20% to someone else.

Reread your policy so you know everything you're entitled to as that's one of the first things a public adjuster would do. People often don't do that and don't know their policy.

In business we had the equivalent as we had our own risk management people. They essentially fulfilled the role a public adjuster would. I think public adjusters are good for the little old lady or man who would get run over by the insurer. Also good for the person who doesn't have the time or energy to deal with a claim. I've also seen them and lawyers fulfilling a similar role bust into major tragedies like hurricanes and start signing clients up who don't really understand what they agreed to. The house is totaled so the insurer pays the full covered amount and the homeowner is out the percentage they agreed to pay.

I must say too that I don't in general like contingency arrangements. I'm far more willing to pay a reasonable hourly rate for professional services. I'm not going to agree to turn over the percentage of a recovery or litigation when I have no idea if the party is really increasing my award at all. Guess it's fair to say I'm not a gambler.
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