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Old 05-16-2021, 11:37 AM   #1
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Vetus bow thruster not turning on/activating

Hello all, about a year ago my Vetus BT started working intermittently - usually fine, sometimes not at all - nothing in between. Recently, not at all. No clicking solenoids - nothing. I was getting 12v at motor and at the end of remote wire harness so bought new control panel as mine was 20 years old and wasn't lighting up. New control panel doesn't light up either (pressing power twice.) Plugged in new panel directly into Molex outlet at the motor (bypassing remote wire) and still nothing - although I do get a faint beep about every 5 seconds. Still showing 12v at the plug on side of motor. I have tried a jumper wire within the Molex plug to activate the solenoids individually (positive to the blue, then positive to the white) but nothing. Any ideas? Thanks.
Nick
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:29 PM   #2
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We have a Sidepower thruster and they have a very good troubleshooting guide, have you asked Vetus if they have one?
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:52 PM   #3
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I did and they emailed one. I'm sure it's good but doesn't address the issue of no light on at the control panel or the faint beep every 5 seconds. And they have not answered that specific question. Have gone through what I can considering I'm not able to get the red issue light to light up in the first place. Looking at bypassing the solenoid (which I imagine will also take the CP out of the equation) to see if that makes a difference.
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Old 05-16-2021, 04:44 PM   #4
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What year and model vetus? Where is the reverse solenoid? That is where control the control power source begins with a fuse on mine.
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Old 05-16-2021, 09:02 PM   #5
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I believe 2000 BOW50 model. Not sure about the reverse solenoid. There is the 5amp fuse near bottom right front of solenoid box but that is good and I am getting 12v through the remote cable.
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Old 05-17-2021, 02:21 AM   #6
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I'm struggling to remember, but I think there are three forms of circuit protection involved with that control panel.

My first thought is to make sure all are happy. My totally wild guess is that the problem is the over temp protection down on the motor, which interrupts the ground, not the power.

I think that, in a typical install,, there is usually a fuse or circuit breaker between the battery and a main on-off switch. So, i'd check for power into that switch, and while there, power out when it is on. That would check the main circuit protection and the main switch.

I think that switch leads down to the motor's solenoid pack, which is down on the motor. So, I'd check for power there next. If there is a problem, that wire and its connections are my next suspect.

From there, I think it goes to the controller. So, I'd check there. Here is the fun part. If there isn't power going into the controller, my next suspect is the controller fuse. But, that is no where near the controller. To protect that wire and the solenoid, they put it all the way down by the solenoids, not up by the controller.

If the controller is getting power but not working, which seems to be what you described, my next guess, which is actually my best 1st guess given the reported gradual failure and +12v at the controller, is the over-temp protection, which is down on the motor and interrupts the ground, including, I think, to the controller's internal logic.

If not the over-temp cut off, I'd check the ground wiring back from the panel to the temp cutoff and the temp cut off to ground.

If the controller logic isn't getting a ground via this path, the press-and-hold to activate might not work. If that doesn't work, no controller and no controller light, even though there is +12v coming in and the light has an independent ground path.

I think the light is directly grounded, so it will stay on once turned on, even if an over-temp condition occurs. But, I think an initial over temp condition, or problem with that ground path, might prevent the controller from working and turning it on initially.

My last guess is that, on the back of the motor, I remember a unit that includes both the motor solenoids. I think they are along the same ground path as the controller and the over-temp shutoff. A problem there could conceivably interrupt the ground, but, given how they work and how they are mounted, it i
Is much, much harder for me to imagine than a problem.with the over temp device.

I guess where all of this is going isnthat if you have +12v into the controller, and have replaced the controller but still can't even get a light, I'd check the ground path, but not the one for the light. And, my primary suspects would be the over-temp cut-off by the motor and the connectors.

As for the faint sound, maybe the ground isn't totally open.

But, these are just total wild guesses and estimations from memory.

Happy hunting!
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Old 05-17-2021, 12:59 PM   #7
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Sheesh gkesden, that was awesome. I will search for the thermal cutoff, do some testing, and get back to you - very much appreciated!
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Old 05-17-2021, 01:54 PM   #8
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Well, doing a little research here it appears to be no thermal/temp cutoff on the 2000 model. Next up is checking ground connections around the solenoids when I get back down there tomorrow.
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Old 05-17-2021, 01:56 PM   #9
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So you happen to have a wiring diagram for the one you have?
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Old 05-17-2021, 03:06 PM   #10
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Old 05-17-2021, 04:58 PM   #11
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Whmm. I'm still hunting for a little more details can you maybe post a link to the manual you found that in.

That figure doesn't show a break our of the solenoids or relays and I'd be a little surprised if there weren't some time of ocer-use protection, if not just for the warranty period!

Thanks!
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Old 05-17-2021, 05:25 PM   #12
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Mine is newer and have electronic controls. I had a control module get wet and go bad. It gave me a beep of some sort which meant no communication. That diagram doesn't show any electronics. Check to see if you have a small black box with electronics in it between the switch panel and the motor contactors
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Old 05-17-2021, 09:11 PM   #13
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That is a picture that the Vetus rep I've talked to to sent me along with the troubleshooting pdf which I am attaching.

4fun1, I have not seen a black electronics box around the motor other than the solenoids box.
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File Type: pdf Thruster trouble shooting.pdf (938.2 KB, 15 views)
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Old 05-22-2021, 08:51 PM   #14
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Gkesden, so last straw before I took the engine off and had it bench tested, I went and bought a standard 12v car battery and hooked it up to the thruster and viola...it fired right up. The thruster still says it's getting 13.3v from the house bank but no go. Hook a new 12v car battery and works like normal. Obviously, there is an issue with the house bank itself or with the connections. Everything else on the boat seems to be just fine and gauges are showing both batteries right around 12v. I've tried house batteries selected to #1, #2, and both - still no go at the thruster. Though, I am getting clicking at the solenoids, now. Any ideas why that would be? Thanks
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Old 05-22-2021, 09:25 PM   #15
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Hey Nick,

Okay. That is really good information.

Let me ask you this...exactly...how, when, and where are you measuring the 13.3v?

Basically, there are four possibilities.....bad battery, bad negative conductor or connector; bad possitive conductor or connector; or bad switch, over current protection device, or other device along the way, or connector thereto.

While waiting for more detail, I can offer another easy test. Shut off all chargers, including any solar. If, and only if, you have an existing switch, isolate to only the normal battery (bank) for the thruster. Measure the voltage of the battery where it is connected to the thruster across the positive and negative connections /immediately/ before and after /briefly/ attempting to exercise the thruster. See if, perhaps, it starts out at ~12-14v and then drops to something much lower, e.g. 6-9v with the attempted use. You want to do the test during or very promptly after use especially because, if there is a parallel battery bank with one bad battery, it can possibly (though not super likely) surface charge the bad one enough to fool you.

One possibility is that the battery is bad, but this is being covered up by the charger(s). In other words, although it is bad, it is getting a very ephemeral "surface charge" to a normal-looking voltage, but use quickly reveals the real level of charge.

I was known a boat last week where this happened with a wjndlass. The owner had been working on things and, when done the windlass made a clicking sound but would not budge. He measured ~13.8v immediately before and after (but not exactly during) use. I showed up, saw the same thing, killed the charger and solar controller...and bad battery was revealed: 13.8v dropped to 6.3v after <3s of use. New battery fixed it.

Good progress! Hang in for the rest of the ride!

Cheers!
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Old 05-22-2021, 10:20 PM   #16
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The CONTROL circuits could still be working which is why you hear clicking.
The fact the extra battery ran the motor means the motor is OK.

It sounds like the problem is in the POWER circuit. Bad connection, loose connection, blown fuse or tripped Circuit breaker, so even though the controls work the actual drive motor, which needs high power , cannot get that power.

you need to go through all the connections and clean and tighten them.
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Old 05-22-2021, 10:34 PM   #17
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Rudder post leak

Hey Nick,

To C Electric's question (and my earlier one) it would be great if you can provide more details of your testing procedures. As a for example, he and I may have made different assumptions and/or left your email with different questions about whether you powered the motor directly with your new battery, or if you powered it by connecting to the usual terminals.
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Old 05-23-2021, 10:27 AM   #18
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Thanks guys. So, my testing was just below the main black battery switch. Then below the red Blue Sea switch that is designated for the thruster. Finally tested at the thruster, itself. I will say that when I went to turn the Blue Sea switch at the very beginning of my trouble shooting it wouldn't turn. I did what I probably shouldn't have done and forced it. I think I broke as it turns freely now but won't turn off the power supply. But this was after the thruster stopped working. Anyway, I was getting inconsistent readings below the Blue Sea for a bit but it is and has been consistent 13.3 for a while now. With the new car battery, I used jumper cables to connect it directly to the thruster. I have attached a picture of the switches. I will try and get down there today and do some testing. I will also try and borrow a load tester.
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Old 05-23-2021, 12:38 PM   #19
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Take the lead off one terminal on the battery switch and temporarily put it on the terminal with the other lead. Now you have isolated the battery switch. See if the thruster works, if it does replace the battery switch. If it doesn’t then there is another problem besides the now broken switch. Do NOT leave both leads on one terminal after troubleshooting since you will not be able to cut off power in case of an emergency.
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Old 05-23-2021, 12:47 PM   #20
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Another thing to try is to use jumper cables to jumper from the existing battery to the same test points on the thruster as worked with the new battery.

I guess what I am having trouble understanding is if, during your testing, you bypassed the solenoids on the back of the motor or just bypassed the control, or bypassed neither.
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