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Author Topic: Strange starting/electrical problem WIRING HARNESS FIRE HAZARD  (Read 26872 times)

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hump180

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Strange starting/electrical problem WIRING HARNESS FIRE HAZARD
« on: September 13, 2008, 10:36:45 AM »

I had a strange problem on my 1990 yesterday. I went to start the engine, the blower ran, the key buzzed, the buzzer faded as typical with glow plug engagement (normal?), then when I pushed the starter button there was a fraction of a second of engagement or click, then nothing; no power at all to the engine panel. I pushed the circuit breaker at the panel and it was engaged, so I turned the key on so that I could listen for the buzzer and went below and moved some wires around and the buzzer started intermittently activating then stayed on. I started the engine and it ran fine, then I turned it off and the same problem happened again except monkeying with the wires did nothing, so I removed the panel to look for something obvious. After looking at the wiring on the engine panel I put it reinstalled it and thought I heard an arc or two. I tried again to start and this time the circuit breaker was popped. I pushed it in and started no problem. This whole experience was unnerving to me because I am a novice sailer who may depend on that engine starting in lake Erie (shallows, freighter traffic) to bail me out of trouble or increase my comfort level. I am new here and eventually I want to know my boat inside and out, but right now I am scratching my head. Perhaps I need the upgraded wire harness that everyone speaks of?? If so I will move it to my priority list. So far my main priority had been a chainplate moisture issue that I am going to fix, thankfully with the helpful info collected here.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2009, 08:34:03 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Bill, Grace Under Pressure, 1990, M-25XP #1026
Western Lake Erie

Stu Jackson

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2008, 01:29:17 PM »

hump180

"Perhaps I need the upgraded wire harness that everyone speaks of??"

You're kidding, right?

You NEED to make this change now because it is a   FIRE   hazard.

That's one of the reasons we keep mentioning it.

Just recently responded to another "starter starts when motoring" thread here: http://c34.org/bbs/index.php?topic=4529.0


From the May 1997 Tech Notes (by Ron Hill):

Engine Harness Upgrade Do It NOW!
Our November ‘96 Mainsheet article on electrical systems really stirred up some
interest. Hank, Duane, and I have all received a number of requests for our electrical schematics. But, I still am hearing from people who have not made the engine harness upgrade. So much has been written and talked about that modification, I surely hope that nobody really wants all of the power from the alternator going direct to the key switch in the rear of the boat, then coming back to the battery selector switch, and finally (the few amps left) to the
batteries.
A few years ago Bill Beck, “Prosit”, hull #1186, had just anchored and took
their dog ashore in the dinghy. His wife, Dot, was on the boat by herself when all of a sudden the engine started itself. She tried to shut the engine off but it kept restarting. Dot dove overboard to get off that “crazy” boat. One of the harness connectors had shorted out keeping the starter engaged.
Fortunately the starter burned out before it started a fire. Bill had NOT modified any of his C-34 electrical components and had NOT upgraded the harness.
In the spring of 1991, I installed my high dual output alternator (each output
goes to a battery bank bypassing the battery selector switch). I had the engine
harness upgrade but had not installed it. I did, however, take the harness connector at the engine apart, inspected the terminals, and disconnected the old alternator lead to that connector. Everything looked good so I rewrapped and wire tied the connector. I thought the upgrade installation could wait as  only low amperage would be passing through the connector. The next spring I added Bob Bierly’s (C’Mon Wind, hull 913) VHF radio modification in the cockpit (Mainsheet article May 1995). Had to take out the engine instrument panel anyway so decided to do the half of the engine harness upgrade at that end.  Maybe a month later I got around to the other half of the modification at the engine. To my surprise, when I took the connector apart, the side with the male pins crumbled in my hand.
If you haven’t made the engine harness upgrade, you may want to reconsider.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 12:19:57 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Stephen Butler

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2008, 01:58:53 PM »

Hump180,

Cannot over stress Stu's recommendation for installing the new/upgraded wiring harness.  When we had our 1990 boat surveyed, one of the first items checked by the surveyor, was whether this electrical upgrade was done.  This is a major "must-do now"...not too expense, nor too time consuming.   

Also, there is a fuse in the engine enclosure that will from time to time, cause starting headaches.  It is in the wiring bundle and you need to locate it, and if possible, place it in an easier location to check.

Finally, the glow-plug circuit upgrade and having a separate starting battery are well worth considering for a winter project.

Hope this is of help.

Steve

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hump180

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2008, 03:49:44 PM »

Guys, just got back home from the boat. I was going through some old paperwork from the boats archives in the chart table and found a receipt from 1995 from seaward for an updated engine panel and a I believe it said a non-A wiring harness upgrade (unfortunately I forgot the receipt when I came home just now). So maybe I do have the upgrade in the boat. Is there an obvious way to distinguish the updated one from the old one?? The only thing I can say from memory that stands out is the long two sided plastic strip that the wires go into and screw down. The strip is just suspended in the engine compartment by the wires going into it. I can try to take a digital pic later tonight and post it so you guys could see the wiring. Also, I could not find the notorious fuse in the in the wiring even after following the wires under the exhaust. Thanks

« Last Edit: September 13, 2008, 03:57:18 PM by hump180 »
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Bill, Grace Under Pressure, 1990, M-25XP #1026
Western Lake Erie

Stu Jackson

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2008, 07:31:08 PM »

Is there an obvious way to distinguish the updated one from the old one?? The only thing I can say from memory that stands out is the long two sided plastic strip that the wires go into and screw down. The strip is just suspended in the engine compartment by the wires going into it. I can try to take a digital pic later tonight and post it so you guys could see the wiring. Also, I could not find the notorious fuse in the in the wiring even after following the wires under the exhaust.

Voltmeter?  Then probably yes.  Black thingy with wires going in and out, screw down.  Probably yes.  Have you checked behind your panel to see if there's another black thingy there, too?  Just takes a mirror to peek around the corner under the lazarette.

The "notorious" fuse is on the wire TO the starter solenoid from the start button on the panel -- use the wiring diagram in the engine harness link to Projects to find the color coding.  That end of the wire at the starter solenoid should have a female quick connect fitting on the end of the wire which slips onto the quick connect male fitting on the the internal side of the starter.  Perhaps a PO took it out, I recall a 15A should do it.

A search on "fuse" finds this: http://c34.org/bbs/index.php?topic=1637.0, and http://c34.org/bbs/index.php?topic=997.0

A search on "starter fuse" finds:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php?topic=4247.0
« Last Edit: September 13, 2008, 07:37:18 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Ron Hill

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2008, 08:41:28 AM »

hump : Your 1990 should not have an ammeter, but check to be sure.
The best way to check if you have the upgrade is to look for the 8 pin trailer connectors. There is one on the port side of the engine and one at the engine instrument panel.  Both are wrapped in black electrical tape.  Unwrap the tape and you'll find a wire tie holding the two ends together.

The old wiring harness in not only "unnerving" but it's a FIRE Hazard .  We (Mainsheet and this web site) have been preaching to change it since 1991!!!!!!!!!!!
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hump180

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2008, 10:00:29 AM »

Ron, Stu, Steve, Thanks for the replies. I have the updated harness and I have been going over the wiring and found something very disturbing. I disconnested some wiring at the engine to pull it out from under the exhaust and I found two wires(larger black and larger red wires that were spiraled attached to NOTHING) these wires had connectors on them just no attachment. I traced them to the engine panel in the cockpit and the black one is connected to the left forward stud on the tachometer and the red one is the lower stud on the ignition switch. There was also a small orange wire with I think a blue/black strip from the alternator to nowhere also hidden under there. Can anyone help or help me find a wire diagram??
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Bill, Grace Under Pressure, 1990, M-25XP #1026
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hump180

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2008, 10:01:50 AM »

Here are the pics at the panel of the same wires.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2008, 10:24:47 AM by hump180 »
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Bill, Grace Under Pressure, 1990, M-25XP #1026
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2008, 12:52:10 PM »

Please read the Engine Wiring Harness thread in Projects (see: http://www.c34.org/projects/projects-harness-upgrade.html).  It has the complete wiring diagrams.  Only you can trace the wiring on your boat.

PS -- That's because, if it was my boat, I would examine and identify EACH of those wires and determine what they were by a process of elimination based on all of the wires that are supposed to be down there.  For instance, some boats have two wires from the 1-2-B switch: one to the starter and one from the alternator, OR only one wire which serves both purposes but then has a small orange wire connecting the alternator output and the starter.  Trace and label and then it might become obvious.  I really hesitate to tell you about something I cannot personally see and identify.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2008, 05:21:26 PM by Stu Jackson »
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hump180

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2008, 02:42:45 PM »

Your correct Stu, I am working through the wires and have found the spot for the black ground wire on the side of the port block. Embarrassingly, this is where I removed it from earlier. I will use the diagrams and my multimeter to try and figure out the rest. I just wish the diagrams were more detailed at the engine end. Thanks, Bill
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Bill, Grace Under Pressure, 1990, M-25XP #1026
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2008, 06:22:23 PM »

Try this in addition to the last suggestion:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php?topic=4548.0 [Alternator Regulator and Harness Wiring Diagrams]

It's the Alternator Regulator Wiring Diagrams post I made with the sketches of the wiring.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 11:12:40 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Ron Hill

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2008, 07:14:40 PM »

Hump : Don't place too much value in the wire colors, trace each to where they go/are attached.  Seaward/Catalina were really bad about keeping the same color into and out of the "trailer plugs".
Trust only your multi meter!!  Good luck.   
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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2008, 10:53:19 PM »

Bill, you last wrote: "I just wish the diagrams were more detailed at the engine end."

How so, because by a process of elimination, most of them are pretty straightforward.  For instance, eliminate the thermostat signal/wire, find the ignition, find the rest of the obvious ones, and then go from there. 

Only problem is the one Ron mentioned, but if you use temporary jumpers you can easily work on those with a helper in the cockpit.  There are only 7 wires...
« Last Edit: September 15, 2008, 10:54:52 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2008, 01:18:39 PM »

Bill, maybe this will help.  Try page 5 of this: http://www.c34ia.org/manuals/Operators-Manual-2of2.pdf
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Re: Strange starting/electrical problem
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2008, 08:59:10 PM »

Bill's saga continues at: http://c34.org/bbs/index.php?topic=4553.0

But for the rest of the thread on WIRING HARNESS FIRES, go to page 2 on this topic!!! :D  Please, it could save your life.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 06:52:15 AM by Stu Jackson »
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