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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Dauntless 15 Electrial Power Distribution
|Author||Topic: Dauntless 15 Electrial Power Distribution|
posted 07-28-2012 07:41 PM ET (US)
On my 1995 Dauntless I have a 1995 Mariner 60 hp, OG161293, 3 cylinder outboard. My starter failed so I replaced it. It failed due to a wire breaking off the armature, not common, according to my alternator man.
I put the new starter in and everything appeared fine. The only accessory on the boat is a fish finder that doesn't work but the base and wiring are there and the running and anchor lights.
I taped together the three wires that go to each (just bought new) battery terminal, connected the positive first then when I went to connect the negative I got a little spark.
This tell me something is drawing power from the battery.
When I turn the ignition key to run the ammeter shows a draw on the battery as I think it should but I'm real sure on that point.
I disconnected the positive wire to the fish finder, same results. I then disconnected the postive wire to the starter since that is what I just worked on, same result.
I checked to make sure there was no power going to the starter and there wasn't.
I checked under the black cover where the positive wire from the battery connects and there was 12.87 volts coming out of that wire and none going out of the wire going to the starter.
I think that eliminates the starter as the cause of this.
I said there are three wires to each battery terminal. One is a thick cable, one is to the fish finder, very thin and the third is a little thicker than that. When I disconnect that wire the bow lights don't go on, didn't plug in the stern light, but the sparking is still there.
When the boat is running the speedo works as does the tach. The trim guage does not work.
Does anyone have an idea as to what I could check before I take it to a mechanic?
I've given all the details I can think of for this situation.
Needless to say many other people here have problems a lot bigger than this but it's very frustrating for me to finally get my dream boat and not know what's going on.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
posted 07-28-2012 07:56 PM ET (US)
A wire is a conductor. If there is voltage at one end of the wire, there should be voltage at the other end
posted 07-28-2012 08:04 PM ET (US)
The thick red wire goes into the selenoid I think. There is voltage where the cable connects to that selenoid. On the other side there is a wire leading to the starter and there is no power coming out there.
This is as it should be I believe. This was all checked with the ignition switch off and the key removed.
posted 07-28-2012 11:48 PM ET (US)
I don't think your narrative did a good job in describing the circuit and your measurement points. Please draw a schematic diagram, scan it, and post it. Annotate the diagram with your voltage measurements.
posted 07-29-2012 08:03 AM ET (US)
There are many places in the engine starting circuit where a problem can occur. I have written an article on this exact topic, and it describes about fifty locations in the electrical circuits where a problem could occur. I recommend you read the article. See
Engine Starting Circuits
If you are familiar with electricity and have experience in diagnosing electrical circuit problems, the article will be a good guide for you. It will give you about fifty places to look for trouble.
posted 07-29-2012 08:05 AM ET (US)
You might also find another article I wrote will be helpful. It describes in general terms how electrical power is typically distributed on a small boat. See
Boat Electrical Circuits and Wiring Practices
posted 07-29-2012 11:43 AM ET (US)
Thanks for the links to the articles Jim. I will read them before I do anything.
I may be creating a problem where none exists. Perhaps there is something energized when everything is turned off and I should get a little spark when connecting that negative battery cable.
I went here. I clicked on electrical components (50/60) The solenoid is #34 in this diagram. The positive cable from the battery connects to the left termimal where I am getting a voltage reading of over 12-VDC. I am getting no voltage at the right terminal and subseqently no voltage at the starter positive connection.
My thinking is that there is nothing wrong with the replacement of the starter.
Thank you again.
posted 07-29-2012 05:00 PM ET (US)
The solenoid is a relay. There is no voltage on its other terminal until the coil is energized.
To measure the parasitic current you suspect is being drawn, insert an ammeter.
posted 07-29-2012 05:05 PM ET (US)
Here is a link to exploded view part diagram you are making reference to:
Yes, the solenoid is call-out #34.
posted 08-02-2012 11:07 PM ET (US)
Your narrative is confusing , you say there are three wires on your terminal, you pulled off fish finder, and there was still a spark at negative when touching it ,IT'S NOT FISH FINDER! You have also pulled the very large wire off, and still had a spark when touching negative to terminal, IT'S NOT THE STARTER OR MOTOR CIRCUIT. You now take off the last wire which is your accesories and lights, no lights on and it still sparks? Are all three wires off now? Do you have an auto bilge pump, AM/FM radio? My stereo on my boat has a clock in it and settings which are maintained when radio is off, my battery terminals spark when hooking up, some bilge pumps have auto sensing, which will show a spark. You can find the problem using your eyes and the spark.....Jack
posted 08-10-2012 08:41 AM ET (US)
Thanks for responding Jack, sorry about the confusing narrative.
So far there doesn't seem to be a drain on the battery when all cables are left connected. I'm slowly reading through Jims's posts on the electrical circuits.
I did disconnect the fish finder, the lights, and the positive wire at the starter and still get a small spark when I initially touch the negative battery cable to the battery.
I discovered that on initially touching the cable to the battery I get the small spark but if I take the cable away from the battery post and re touch it, I get no spark until I wait a short period and touch it again.
With the battery staying charged after a few days I'm thinking there is no significant power drain.
I have no accessories other than the lights and fishfinder. Just a small, self bailing fun little boat. I'm wondering if there is some sensor in the motor that may be causing this. It's a small 60 hp mariner and I wouldn't think it would have something like that but you never know.
Bottom line is I can get on the water and not worry about the battery going down while I'm out there so I'm looking at this as time allows. Thanks again.
posted 08-12-2012 10:32 AM ET (US)
Measurement of current flow by visual observation of a spark or arch on contact is one method, but insertion of an Ammeter usually provides higher accuracy.
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