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Author Topic:   Successful bad primary cable diagnosis
russellbailey posted 08-03-2012 09:41 AM ET (US)   Profile for russellbailey   Send Email to russellbailey  
I just got back from a week of boating on South Holston Lake on the VA/TN border, a beautiful mountain lake at about 1700 ft above sea level. At Cliff Island the bow was hearly touching the island rock face and the stern was in nearly 200 ft of water - a fun place to jump into the water.

One day my port Optimax 150 would not re-start, but instead just the solenoid would click. I knew I had good batteries (1 year old Sears AGMs) and voltage at the battery terminals was good at about 13V. I measured voltage then at the connections on the engine and found the same, and measured again at the starter positive connection and the engine ground and found essentially the same. However, when I had someone turn the key switch, voltage at the starter positive connection fell substantially and the solenoid just clicked. I was fairly sure I had a wiring problem at this point.

Since I have twin engines, I did the same test on the starboard engine, and while voltage did drop on starting it was much less than on port.

I inspected the wires. My boat was wired with two Perko 1-2-off switches so you could combine the batteries. The short positive cable connecting the battery to the Perko switch had one connection that looked suspect . I bypassed the Perko 1-2-off switch by connnecting the engine positive battery cable directly to the battery, crossed my fingers, and the port engine started right up.

I'd had on my list replacing the cables, but had not done so yet, so that a cable might have gone bad was not hard to believe. It appears that the crimped connection had gotten bent at some point and some of the individual strands may have been broken - not sure.

I was pleased that the problem only cost me about 30 minutes, nearly half of which was figuring out where the negative battery ground on the engine was located.

Chuck Tribolet posted 08-07-2012 03:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
If you have jumper cables, you can jump from the battery
to the motor as a quick test of the primary cables.


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