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Author Topic:   Running Lights
pmccrodan posted 01-13-2002 07:16 PM ET (US)   Profile for pmccrodan   Send Email to pmccrodan  
Hi! I have a 1980 17' Montauk that I bought used last spring. Unfortunately, I didn't check to see that the running lights were working and of course, they aren't. Now with little knowledge of boat electrics or electrics of any kind, I would like to trace the problem to its source and repair it. I've had the buulbs out of the bow and stern lights and visually inspected them. They look like they're OK but its hard to tell. I don't know if the fuses in the panel with the ignition switch have anything to do with the lights but they look OK too. Anybody got any guidance? A book would be useful. By the way, I bought a circuit tester for the job but I don't know where a ground wire is on the boat to attach the clip to so I'm a bit afraid to use it.

Thanks,
Peter.

bboeri posted 01-13-2002 09:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for bboeri  Send Email to bboeri     
If your boat still has the push/pull type of switches, my guess would be corroded switches. Thae were notorious for not working due to water intrusion into the mechanism which caused them to corrode. I replaced mine with splash proof switches bought at West marine. Works great now. Start there. There have been several threads on this subject over the past year, so check there too.

Bob

pmccrodan posted 01-13-2002 11:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for pmccrodan  Send Email to pmccrodan     
Thanks Bob. They are the push pull type of switch. I looked in behind the panel they are mounted on and they look to be inquite clean and good shape. At least the terminals do. How would one go about testing to see if the switch is working? Short out the incoming and outgoing terminals on the switch and see if the light goes on? Or try connecting the circuit tester to the two terminals to see if it glows?
ratherwhalering posted 01-14-2002 12:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for ratherwhalering  Send Email to ratherwhalering     
Peter- I would try the basics first. If both lights are out, try the breaker switch in the stern (if you have one) it is a little white (4" x 5") box with a black, plastic push switch. Check the connectrions in the buss bar while your there too. Then toggle the switch, and try the lights.
Next try replacing the bulbs. Mine looked fine, but were in fact shot, and this fixed my problem. If not, at least you have some spares on board.
Next, it is a matter of finding the short. I'd begin by simply using a test light on the stern. This tool is cheap, and available everywhere. It looks like a pen with a wire out the top. You can use the existing lighting ground. If both bow and stern fail, then it is most likely the switch.
Jerry Townsend posted 01-14-2002 02:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
pmc* -- a few more basics. Use your circuit tester or multimeter and see if you have voltage on the powered side of the switch. If you don't the problem is "upstream" of the switch. If you have voltage, fine and the problem is not between the battery and the switch. Toggle the switch to the on position and check the voltage on the "downstream" side of the switch. If you have voltage, your problem is in the wires, bulbs or ground. If you do not have voltage, your problem is in the switch. Realize that your problem can be in the "hot" side or the ground. Jerry/Idaho
Taylor posted 01-14-2002 06:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Its always a good idea to look for the simple things first: breaker, bulb... and don't forget the fuse. If the just checking simple things does not solve the problem , start tracing, looking for power and ground continuity at different points. For a ground point, you could of course start with the battery negative terminal. A length of wire attached to that allows you to carry the ground around to different places on the boat for testing.

On my Montauk (1988) there are two pull switches with associated fuses on the console. One controls the lights, first position is stern light, second postion is the bow and stern lights. The other switch is wired to the accessory, in my case a depth sounder. My ignition switch has nothing to do with the lights.

Last thing... testing 12 volt systems with small gauge wires is not *particularly* dangerous. But make sure you have not just fueled up or anything.

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