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Old 07-10-2012, 05:23 PM   #21
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Dude, could you come up to Alaska and help me fix my 12 volt system I have a ghost or is it a gremlin in my system somewhere.

I can't even talk about it becaus I don't know where to start.

I know at one point my entire hydraulic system became electrified to the tune of softening the petro wrap on the fittings and they are connected by hydraulic hose . No wire.

Another story.

Sd
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:30 PM   #22
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It's hard to do good work if you don't have good tools.

Granted, one tenth of a volt accuracy is not usually needed, but judging voltage drop with a lightbulb is about as redneck as it gets.

My brother in law claims he can test nine volt batteries with his tongue. He is a redneck and proud of it.

Me, I use a meter when diagnosing electrical or electronic problems. They used to pay me quite well for my expertise and skill.
Ditto here. $1.50 a minute and in my industry productivity and proficiency is very important. Let's don't split hairs here. All I'm saying is that in a situation like the OP had, a test light- in my opinion- is much more productive. I use to joke around that I could read voltage with my test light too. Most folks wouldn't / couldn't prove you wrong any way . As you and I know, reading all these voltages are great, but it really gets down to whether or not the circuit can hold up under a load. The OP saw his panel go to 0 volts under a load (bilge pump turned on) so that's why I suggested to use this as the "load" as he tested the circuit. IMHO the multimeter comes in later when you have voltage to check !
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:37 PM   #23
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Thanks for all the input. I do have actually have 2 multi-meters on board, but do like the low tech lightbulb technique. I will get down there later this week and start checking it out.
Pulling the anchor by hand does make me appreciate the windlass even more! Glad we were only in 24' of water
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:10 PM   #24
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Ditto here. $1.50 a minute and in my industry productivity and proficiency is very important. Let's don't split hairs here. All I'm saying is that in a situation like the OP had, a test light- in my opinion- is much more productive. I use to joke around that I could read voltage with my test light too. Most folks wouldn't / couldn't prove you wrong any way . As you and I know, reading all these voltages are great, but it really gets down to whether or not the circuit can hold up under a load. The OP saw his panel go to 0 volts under a load (bilge pump turned on) so that's why I suggested to use this as the "load" as he tested the circuit. IMHO the multimeter comes in later when you have voltage to check !
If you want to find out if you have the proper voltage to a load, the best and most accurate way is by using that load. For example, you could be testing the power circuit to a bow thruster that draws 60 amps. That little test light could light up just fine as a load but the thruster still wouldn't work. Measure the voltage at the thruster as you try to operate it and you'll know if there's a drop and how big of a drop there is.
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:05 PM   #25
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RW, I think the point here is that Max had no voltage most of the time. Even when he tried to run a bilge pump. This- to me- says that his problem was probably a poor connection. AND back to my original point. Don't start screwing with wires and terminals and components until the poor connection has been isolated. Clean and test is not a dependable troubleshooting process for a wiring issue IMO. The process is the same for 1 amp bilge pump and a 50 amp windlass. We dont carry a battery load tester on our service vans. We have a starter or electric hydraulic pump motor for the "load" which is part of the machine we are repairing. Again, there are several ways to locate a problem. I fool with this stuff all of the time and if we get it wrong, we lose money the second time. This inspires us to approach it in the most effective manner!
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:34 AM   #26
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After you find the problem , perhaps an upgrade that takes time and almost no bucks might be in the cards?

Simply take one sample from a circuit breaker to discover the size of the screw used.

Usually #8 but ,,,.

Then get a box of 100 copper flat washers and a box of 100 bronze star washers, either or both can be tinned ..

Install the copper on the terminal end and then the star washer.

As most circuits will at times get warm the star washer will maintain tension after the terminal cools.

The copper is to upgrade the ampacity of the terminal, copper is better than bronze, MUCH better than SS or common steel.

Cheap, not fast to do , but with a scotch brite pad , at least a rain day wont go down the boob box black hole .

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Old 07-23-2012, 11:59 AM   #27
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OK, Finally had some time to do some checking on this. All of the connections at the windlass looked good. No corosion and all snug. I did find significant corrosion on the main battery terminals. I have 3 8-D's. 2 for the house and one for starting. The corrision was limited to the 2 house batteries. The starting battery had none. Interestingly, the 2 house batteries are the two I recently replaced. The starter battery is at least 7 years old and still going strong.
I removed and cleaned the cable ends. I have not yet been able to try the windlass under load, but I sure think this is the problem. Now, shy would these corrode so much?
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:36 PM   #28
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Always start with the simplest thing to check!!! No meters, no fancy tools, just common sense!! Your thruster draws between 300 and 500 amps (really that much!!) depending on model/size. I would guess the terminals were not tight enough, dirty or you have a low-conducting stainless washer in there. The thruster draws enough current to find the weakness in the connection and to arc/burn if not well connected. Your other current draws are probably much lower and could probably get by until you hit the thruster button!!
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:38 PM   #29
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OK, Finally had some time to do some checking on this. All of the connections at the windlass looked good. No corosion and all snug. I did find significant corrosion on the main battery terminals. I have 3 8-D's. 2 for the house and one for starting. The corrision was limited to the 2 house batteries. The starting battery had none. Interestingly, the 2 house batteries are the two I recently replaced. The starter battery is at least 7 years old and still going strong.
I removed and cleaned the cable ends. I have not yet been able to try the windlass under load, but I sure think this is the problem. Now, shy would these corrode so much?
Good question. Wing nuts or clamps? Is the battery box well ventilated? Or other terminals ok besides the main ones? I am convinced that most corrosion problems on post type batteries are created by us. New battery installation And the clamp bolt and clamp are in poor condition. During the install the clamp takes excessive force to try to close. We don't support the post and crank down on the old bolt followed up by a few shots with a hammer connection made, but the seal between the lead post and plastic case is now cracked and when charging the gasses like to slip there and begin corroding our new battery post. And the first time you pull the clamp It takes even more force to turn the clamp nut and so the cycle continues. Snap makes a great set of battery pliers that helps with battery work.
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:35 PM   #30
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One of My Best and most often used tools in my tool bag is called a Power probe.
If you do a google search you will see what it is, but It was the best $100 I have ever spent, besides my divorce. (who woulda thunk she would EVER tell me I couldn't have a boat).

The Power probe is usually the first thing I reach for when I have a DC system that isn't working properly, and is the cats meow for troubleshooting a system.

Michael
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:05 PM   #31
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Power Probe? That's the kind of nickname that could get you a divorce!
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:15 PM   #32
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Right On Max!
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Old 07-24-2012, 01:12 AM   #33
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Power Probe? That's the kind of nickname that could get you a divorce!

Mine was more like an anal probe.
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