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Old 12-08-2014, 16:47   #1
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What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

Hi all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. Hopefully this post is in the right forum.

I have a 'new-to-me' boat with a Nilsson V700 windlass, which as installed should operate with a single foot switch on the deck through a solenoid (like pictured below) in the chain locker.

The windlass itself works. When I bypass the solenoid and foot switch by simply connecting the high amp cables to the windlass, it runs.

There IS low amp 12v 'switching power' available to the foot switch and solenoid as expected. When I bypassed the foot switch and connected the low amp power directly to the switching terminals on the solenoid, no click was heard. OK, bad solenoid. I removed it, took it home with the idea of cleaning it up, and bought a replacement just in case.

Before going out to the boat again, I decided to test the old solenoid with some higher current from a car battery and a test light on the high amp connections. "Click!" Old solenoid works properly. Hmmm, maybe I "broke it free" or something.

Back at the boat. Connect the old solenoid to switching power. No click. Connect the NEW solenoid to switching power. No click.

Now I'm confused. I now have my old solenoid as well as a brand new one, both of which test good at home. But neither will work when connected to the boat's switching power. My only remaining conclusion is that the switching amperage isn't sufficient to trigger the solenoid. But why? It was installed like this originally so presumably it worked at some point? Is corrosion somewhere killing my available amperage, thus not providing sufficient power to trip the solenoid? I didn't see any corrosion, but that's my only possible explanation. I forgot to test the switching power amperage last time I was at the boat, but will do so next time. In the meantime, any other thoughts? Thanks to all.
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Old 12-08-2014, 17:06   #2
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

I think the relay in your picture needs an external ground. Does it have one?
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Old 12-08-2014, 17:25   #3
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseflyer View Post
Hi all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. Hopefully this post is in the right forum.

I have a 'new-to-me' boat with a Nilsson V700 windlass, which as installed should operate with a single foot switch on the deck through a solenoid (like pictured below) in the chain locker.

The windlass itself works. When I bypass the solenoid and foot switch by simply connecting the high amp cables to the windlass, it runs.

There IS low amp 12v 'switching power' available to the foot switch and solenoid as expected. When I bypassed the foot switch and connected the low amp power directly to the switching terminals on the solenoid, no click was heard. OK, bad solenoid. I removed it, took it home with the idea of cleaning it up, and bought a replacement just in case.

Before going out to the boat again, I decided to test the old solenoid with some higher current from a car battery and a test light on the high amp connections. "Click!" Old solenoid works properly. Hmmm, maybe I "broke it free" or something.

Back at the boat. Connect the old solenoid to switching power. No click. Connect the NEW solenoid to switching power. No click.

Now I'm confused. I now have my old solenoid as well as a brand new one, both of which test good at home. But neither will work when connected to the boat's switching power. My only remaining conclusion is that the switching amperage isn't sufficient to trigger the solenoid. But why? It was installed like this originally so presumably it worked at some point? Is corrosion somewhere killing my available amperage, thus not providing sufficient power to trip the solenoid? I didn't see any corrosion, but that's my only possible explanation. I forgot to test the switching power amperage last time I was at the boat, but will do so next time. In the meantime, any other thoughts? Thanks to all.

I recognize that solenoid. Its the starter relay on my 1964 Mustang.

If the leads to the coil test 12 volts or higher and the coil will not cycle then you have a nearly open or otherwise faulty circuit. I keep a 50-foot cable with alligator clips for bypassing everything if I suspect a bad wire run. Use this to find the bad stuff.
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Old 12-08-2014, 17:36   #4
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

I would check all terminals for corrosion and then for voltage drop. It sounds to me like you are not quite getting enough voltage to the on/off side of the solenoid (small wire)
Had this happen on a powerboat recently, starter worked about 1 time out of ten. Found a dirty connector mid wire from key switch to the solenoid. Cleaned connector and ouila! works every time now.
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Old 12-08-2014, 18:26   #5
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

Ok so do this test. Looking at the picture above, imagine the terminals numbered 1,2,3,4 from left to right, like 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock.
1=Positive from Battery
2=Positive from footswitch
3=Negative to battery or ground
4=Positive to motor.

#1 Place a jumper from 1 ->2 if it runs Go to #3 If not Go to #2

#2 you have a bad negative to battery. Place a jumper from 3 to the NEG on the motor, go to #1

#3 there is nothing wrong with the solenoid or the ground your problem is with the positive from the footswitch.

Replace any test wire with a permanent one.

Switches can conduct 12v at meter level amperage, but fail at higher amps.
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Old 12-08-2014, 18:39   #6
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

Thanks for the reply's fellas,
Guy, no ground is installed that I noticed. I doesn't appear there is a connection for one, but I'll check again. Nicholson, lol, yes it does look like some old school equipment. I'm definitely getting 12 volts (12.1 or 12.2 IIRC). Good idea about the long cables and alligator clips. And thanks Cheechako, I will chase the wires to check for corrosion.

Next time at the boat I plan to do testing with the generator running and batteries fully charged to make sure I'm getting full power. I'm not sure how much amperage I SHOULD be getting to trigger the solenoid, but I'll test and report back what I AM getting.

One note I found in the specifications for the solenoid: "Rated at 750A make, 100A break, 80A continuous. Insulated ground." I have no idea what that means, as it can't be referring to the trigger power - too much juice.

Thanks again, Moose
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Old 12-08-2014, 18:43   #7
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

Great idea Sy, I hadn't thought of that. I'll definitely give it a shot.
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Old 12-08-2014, 20:52   #8
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

Instead of throwing $ at replacement parts, check with a multi meter. And 12.1 volts is not good.

Also some boats are wired such that the engine has to be running for the windlass to operate (uses an oil pressure switch to close the circuit).
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Old 18-08-2014, 20:57   #9
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Re: What's wrong with my windlass electrical?

Thanks for your troubleshooting idea Sy. Per your suggested method, the problem turned out to be the positive lead, which had quite a bit of resistance. I didn't find any obvious damage to the wire, so just replaced it - problem solved. Thanks again.....
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