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Thread: Engine panel electrical troubleshooting

  1. #1
    Principal Partner Kenneth K's Avatar
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    Engine panel electrical troubleshooting

    First startup of the season today. Cranked up on the first try! Start switch and glow plugs switches work, panel lights work, low oil pressure light and buzzer work, lift pump works. However, shortly after engine starts, the 30 amp fuse at the engine panel blows. Happened twice. Doesn't happen at all when the engine is not running.

    Any hints for a quick troubleshooting shortcut? I'll buy you a beer......

    (The old charging circuit running through the ammeter has already been removed.)
    Last edited by Kenneth K; 03-17-2019 at 07:34 PM.
    Ken
    '85 E32-3 "Mariah" #641
    Universal M-25

    "Saltwater is the cure; sweat, tears, or the sea......"

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    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    I had an old diesel truck that had been driven on one too many bumpy and salty roads and developed a lot of electrical gremlins that seemed like pure voodoo. The various ground connections were going bad, and when a high-current load was switched on, the voltage would go back up the common ground connections to other devices, instead of to the chassis. I.e. the glow plugs would activate the windshield wipers. Switching the headlights to highbeam would let all the smoke out of the stereo.
    So... I’d suggest tracing the ground wires and cleaning up the connections as needed. Couldn’t hurt.
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  3. #3
    Principal Partner footrope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth K View Post
    snip ...

    Any hints for a quick troubleshooting shortcut? I'll buy you a beer......

    ... snip
    Troubleshooting Shortcut: Find out what that 30A blown fuse is protecting.

    Where do you want to meet for that beer? I'm close by ... and I'll be at the Harbor tomorrow.
    Craig Davis & Ellen Le Vita

    1980 E38 "Pilot Project"
    Hull #20, Universal Diesel 5432
    Gig Harbor, WA


    In Puget Sound there are only two directions to go - North and South. That applies to the boat and the wind.

  4. #4
    Principal Partner Kenneth K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by footrope View Post
    Troubleshooting Shortcut: Find out what that 30A blown fuse is protecting.

    Where do you want to meet for that beer? I'm close by ... and I'll be at the Harbor tomorrow.
    The 30 amp breaker is in the line that powers the entire engine panel--which indicates a short in the panel somewhere. The confusing part is it only shorts out when the engine is running. The panel works fine off battery power.

    Are you in the Harbor all week?
    Ken
    '85 E32-3 "Mariah" #641
    Universal M-25

    "Saltwater is the cure; sweat, tears, or the sea......"

  5. #5
    Principal Partner Kenneth K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddster View Post
    Switching the headlights to highbeam would let all the smoke out of the stereo.
    Nice special effects....

    Your scenario does describe the possibility of why it would only happen under alternator charging current. The electrical panel is due for a rewire anyway. I can only openly see about half the connections behind all the spaghetti as is.

    Maybe I'll just disabled everything, (which is what I get when the circuit breaker blows) and only rewire the essential items one at a time. I'm thinking all I really need are the low oil pressure light and the temp gauge.
    Ken
    '85 E32-3 "Mariah" #641
    Universal M-25

    "Saltwater is the cure; sweat, tears, or the sea......"

  6. #6
    Principal Partner footrope's Avatar
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    Thirty amps sounds pretty big for an engine instrument cluster. I wonder if your glow plugs run through that fuse. Your idea of disconnecting everything and re-connecting one-by-one is a good one. If you've done any electrical or near-electrical work since last season, or since you last ran the engine successfully, then that is an easy place to start. If you have a tachometer in the panel, you might take a look at your alternator connections. If a 30 amp fuse is blowing you might look for melting insulation …

    I live on the Key Peninsula now and keep the boat at Murphy's. I recall you have a mooring somewhere?

    Craig
    Craig Davis & Ellen Le Vita

    1980 E38 "Pilot Project"
    Hull #20, Universal Diesel 5432
    Gig Harbor, WA


    In Puget Sound there are only two directions to go - North and South. That applies to the boat and the wind.

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    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Here's my clean-up of the 32-3 engine panel. Contains several links to related issues, and photograph of my original panel wiring.

    http://www.ericsonyachts.org/infoexc...Cockpit-Gauges
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
    Table of Contents for Thelonious Blog here
    Videos: http://www.youtube.com/c/ChristianWilliamsYachting

  8. #8
    Principal Partner Kenneth K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by footrope View Post
    Thirty amps sounds pretty big for an engine instrument cluster. I wonder if your glow plugs run through that fuse.
    Yes, I don't have a separate relay for the glow plugs, so all the amperage runs through that one breaker. Glow plugs, starter, panel lights and gauges, fuel pump, monitor lights. Thus the 30 amp breaker.

    I'll p.m. you with my phone number. I have to run to WM and Ship-to-Shore to shore tomorrow for electrical connectors
    Ken
    '85 E32-3 "Mariah" #641
    Universal M-25

    "Saltwater is the cure; sweat, tears, or the sea......"

  9. #9
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Electircal

    Perhaps the Universl engine panel had changed by late 80's, when ours had a (stock) separate momentary-contact push button for the glow plug activation. I have heard of others (earlier model?) with a requirement for hold down the glow plug button at the same time as the starter button.
    Given the amps involved, maybe Universal made some running changes.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
    Sail # 28400
    Betamarine 25 (new 2018)
    Fresh Air
    Portland, OR USA

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    Principal Partner bigd14's Avatar
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    Maybe rewire the whole panel?

    I suggest you might want to rewire the whole panel. Wiring up the panel (new panel I constructed) was one of the more enjoyable boat projects, probably because I could do most of it at home and not curled up in the lazarette. I made up a terminal strip behind the panel so I could easily remove it to work on it without taking out the whole wiring loom. Gives me great peace of mind knowing its all brand new.

    Here is a wiring diagram I used (note the momentary start button that must be pushed while glow plug button is pushed, and the tachometer, oil pressure and water temp are remote mounted on the bridge deck instead of the panel). Also a picture of the back and front of the panel. The taped up extra alarm buzzer didn't work as intended and I have since replaced it with a dual tone buzzer, one tone for the oil pressure and the other for exhaust water overtemp.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    1984 Ericson 30+
    Hull #651

    Formerly 1972 Ericson 27

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Beach View Post
    ...I have heard of others (earlier model?) with a requirement for hold down the glow plug button at the same time as the starter button...
    The panel diagram in my Universal manual from 1986 clearly shows that you have to keep the glow button depressed while activating the starter button. Not a bad thing IMHO. Forces the user to always do the right thing.

    As for the troubleshooting tip - if wiring is still original, rip it ALL out and replace. Otherwise the gremlins may come back at the most inopportune moment. I had that 30A fuse blowing on me too. Never was able to figure out why. Intermittent short somewhere. New wiring and gauges fixed that along with many other problems.
    Still Crazy, E32-3, 1987

  12. #12
    Principal Partner Kenneth K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigd14 View Post
    I suggest you might want to rewire the whole panel.
    Quote Originally Posted by sharonov View Post
    As for the troubleshooting tip - if wiring is still original, rip it ALL out and replace. Otherwise the gremlins may come back at the most inopportune moment. I had that 30A fuse blowing on me too. Never was able to figure out why. Intermittent short somewhere. New wiring and gauges fixed that along with many other problems.
    You guys did not read my first post. I said "shortcut." Stop trying to twist my arm into a new full-blown project.

    The boom is in the garage waiting to be repainted, as is a large piece of the cabin sole. Half of the deck hardware is in a small drawer in a kitchen cabinet waiting for reinstall before sailing season. Now this? If I re-do the whole panel correctly, anyone will be able to operate my boat. As it is, I'm never quite sure whether the engine will crank on the first push of the start switch or the fourth. Then, with MacGyver-like precision, I know precisely where to jiggle the proper wires and when to kick the panel to get it started. It's one of my proudest displays of salty seamanship before my awe-inspired guests.

    And you guys would take that all away from me?

    BigD, that is one sweet looking engine panel.

    Thanks for the tips.
    Ken
    '85 E32-3 "Mariah" #641
    Universal M-25

    "Saltwater is the cure; sweat, tears, or the sea......"

  13. #13
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth K View Post
    Stop trying to twist my arm into a new full-blown project.
    Whatever. Just so you get it all done in time to bring Mariah to the Rendezvous....

    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

  14. #14
    Principal Partner Kenneth K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bgary View Post
    Whatever. Just so you get it all done in time to bring Mariah to the Rendezvous....

    My chances of getting off work long enough to bring the boat up are minimal so I haven't made a reservation. Might try diving up for a visit though.....
    Ken
    '85 E32-3 "Mariah" #641
    Universal M-25

    "Saltwater is the cure; sweat, tears, or the sea......"

  15. #15
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth K View Post
    My chances of getting off work long enough to bring the boat up are minimal...
    (shakes head, sadly...) That's not the right set of priorities. Just sayin'.

    If you do decide to drive up, let me know. I can bring extra blankets/pillows so you can stay over on Makana if you want.
    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

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