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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Smoking battery and wires HELP
|Author||Topic: Smoking battery and wires HELP|
posted 06-13-2008 01:58 AM ET (US)
Hi I just got a lil 14ft boat with a Chrysler outboard motor (45hp).
The battery was dead when I bought it, so I replaced the battery and tried to start her.
The last owner had one of the wires for the battery labeled as positive so, it hooked it up accordingly.
The motor started to turn BUT the battery began to smoke , the wires became extremely hot, and some wires near the motor also started to smoke. It did not totally start, just started to turn over. The boat has not been started in a few years.
please help, this is my first boat.
posted 06-13-2008 09:23 AM ET (US)
Are you familiar with electrical circuitry? Do you have a multi-meter?
posted 06-13-2008 10:22 AM ET (US)
I am pretty familure with basic electrical knowledge, and mechanically inclined. I do not have a multi-meter
posted 06-13-2008 11:19 AM ET (US)
You are quite lucky that battery didn't explode on you. There is a hot and ground wire touching somewhere on your motor, which in effect is the same as running a wire from the ground post to the positive post of your battery. This would explain the smoking and heat.
You can buy a cheap Multi-meter at Habor Freight, or even Sears, for that matter. Set the dial on the continuity function and put the leads on each of your battery cables. If there is a short, the meter will go to "000". Then it's a matter of tracing your wiring to find the culprit. If the "smoking" issue didn't occur until you tried to start the motor, there could be a shorting occurance in the starter motor.
posted 06-13-2008 01:49 PM ET (US)
Bethhint - As seabob mentioned - you have a short - and it has to be somewhere along the large/big cables between the battery and the starter solenoid.
But first - disconnect your battery - before using a multi-meter. And connect the multi-meter across the cables at the battery location. Then wiggle/move the cables until you loose continuity - that is the location of your problem.
Search/look for somewhat recent discussions regarding electrical problems - as there are some good ideas frequently posted.--------- Jerry/Idaho
posted 06-13-2008 05:03 PM ET (US)
I think Jerry nailed it.
45 hp engine needs a battery to start. OK...there must be a start switch.
Start switch ignites the starter solenoid and the engine cranks over, fires and you quit trying to start the engine...you return back to the on position and the bats smoke.
I agree with Jerry, likely the starter solinoid or relay or ign switch is froze closed.
Disconnect the pos bat cable. Disconnect the fuel line.
Spray electrical lube inside the ign switch, toggle back n forth. Tap the relay or solenoid with a screwdriver handle several times as hard as you can without denting the case.
This ign switch will have 3 poles...
Use the continuity tester leads.
If the meter does not peg,
The cleaning and tapping might have cured the solenoid problem temporarily.
If there is NO SPARK, ok, slide the pos cable end over the bat terminal loose. Dont tighten.
I just got a call and I have to split, no time to clean this mess up and conclude...sorry Beth, take your time to decypher.
Better yet, most auto elect shops will diagnoss your problem very quickly and safe.
posted 06-14-2008 12:15 AM ET (US)
Thank YOu Guys so very much.
I will surely check it out.
I'll get back to all of you soon with the diagnosis.
posted 06-14-2008 12:37 AM ET (US)
I only changed out dead battery for a working one. I did not touch any other wires.
The owner told me last time he used it was running.
Is there any other possibility besides what is mentioned?
(Like maybe simply an old set of wires...or something?)
It seems like I have a little investigating to do.
Either way I am still going to purchase a multimeter, and check out the ignition.
posted 06-14-2008 03:21 AM ET (US)
Please remove the spark plugs before you start electrical testing using the method I have suggested. Spray some WD-40 in the cyls. Do your electrical testing.
Once your engine turns over nicely without plugs or elecrical issues, consider the following;
Installing NEW plugs is very important. Weve put a lot of time into this so far, dont let a old fouled plug become a issue. Tell the parts counter you need plugs for the year/brand/hp of your engine. Dont assume the ones you removed are the right/best ones, but, dont throw em away yet.
posted 06-14-2008 09:34 AM ET (US)
Beth--It is a very common situation that in small boats the primary battery wires are not clearly identified as to their polarity, and all too often the battery is connected in a manner which causes a great deal of damage due to poor identification.
There is no possible way in which we can have any understanding of how your boat is currently wired. You will have to investigate the wiring yourself. I suggest you develop a schematic or pictorial diagram. Then clearly label all of the wires so that the chance of a mistake in connecting them in the future is reduced. Using red electrical tape to mark the positive leads is suggested. Mark the negative leads with yellow tape. Also clearly mark the battery terminals with red and yellow tape.
The smoke and heating your reported is due to flow of excess current. As other have suggested, such excessive current flow is generally indicative of a direct short circuit across the battery terminals. You may find that the actual arrangement of wiring in your boat included more than one conductor that was intended to be connected to the battery positive, and you may have inadvertently connected this conductor to the battery negative, creating a short circuit.
It is difficult for me in envision a connection in which the short circuit would occur only during engine cranking. It is also difficult for me to understand from your narrative of events exactly what action produced the smoking wires.
If the wires began smoking only during engine cranking, you may have omitted an important wire, and in that process forced current to flow on smaller wires not intended to handle the high current of engine starting.
Also, connections which have high resistance will tend to heat when high current flows. So a loose connection could cause the results you describe.
I suggest you make a close visual inspection of the wiring and using your familiarity with electricity deduce the function and polarity of all the wiring. Then compare the connection you made with your new understanding of each wire's function. You may find you made an error in connecting the wires to the battery.
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