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Old 29-08-2018, 03:45   #1
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Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

I have a 2009 Beneteau Oceanis 50. It uses E-T-A circuit breakers for both the Anchor windlass (125A) and a 100A one for the electric winch (for raising main, etc).

The problem seems to be that the circuit breaker is stopping the flow of DC, but is not tripping. Typically I hear a shorting sound while using the winch, which sounds to be coming from the winch itself. Then the power will stop, from the circuit breaker onwards. There is not excessive load on the winch - typically it is just lifting the chain from 5-10m. If I move the power leads a little, the power comes back on, but will go off again once I use the winch. If I toggle the on-off switch a few times, the power generally comes back on again, but again will not sustain any real current draw. The CB never trips to the off position.

I am currently in a remote area and a few weeks away from services where I can order new circuit breakers.

I have had the circuit breaker apart, it appears to be fine apart from some cracking on the external case. The connection from one pole was partly seperated, so I soldered it up very strongly. There were a few small marks on the internal terminals where the switch connects, from shorting I guess, which I sanded smooth.

I have also tried to switch it to the 100A circuit breaker, but with the same result.

Finally, I have had to disconnect the CB and wire in a standard rotary-type battery switch. The windlass operates flawlessly like this, but obviously there is no circuit protection.

My question is -

Does anyone else have experience of this?

Is it likely to be a winch issue, or the circuit breakers?

If its the circuit breakers, should I replace them (~160 Euro each) or with a rotary swich and in line fuse?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 29-08-2018, 04:22   #2
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Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Would appear from your subbing in the switch that the breaker is at fault. I’d probably break out the multimeter and test the wires just to be sure but I suspect you’ve already done that since you went to the trouble of autopsying the breaker. That said the sound coming from the windlass is concerning and I’d not run the windlass without a breaker or fuse installed.

I’d but I’m a breaker out of simple convenience. I’ve tripped my windlass breaker a few times when trying to break out a well dig in anchor...not the time you want to be messing with fuses.
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Old 29-08-2018, 05:12   #3
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Thanks for your comments - it seems like good logic, esp on the part of having to switch fuses if it was to blow. I will have to run without any breaker for a couple of weeks, but should be OK. I always let the boat break out the anchor anyway, but will try to be gentle...

By the way the sound only occurs when the power fails....never heard it since installing the simple switch...I would get worried about the winch itself if I did.

Its just that the CB is not that complex inside, and everything seems to be fine.

I guess its an easy fix if it works.
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Old 30-08-2018, 05:25   #4
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

"If I move the power leads a little, the power comes back on, but will go off again once I use the winch."

Does anybody else think this may be an issue?
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Old 30-08-2018, 06:20   #5
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

I should probably clarify, that the point at which the power is stopping is the circuit breaker. If I move the cable directly below the load terminal of the CB, this is when it will come back on again, as visible using a test light (and at the winch).
On reflection I think it is probably moving the terminal, and in turn the parts inside the CB, not a fault in the cable itself. There is probably a bad connection being made for some reason inside the CB, and moving it a bit reseats the contact.
I'm going to buy a new CB and see if it resolves.
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Old 30-08-2018, 06:51   #6
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Can you open the control box? It sounds like it could be corrosion on the relay contacts. That creates a lot of resistance which can break/connect the circuit. Sometimes just whacking it with a hammer can help as it can break away some of the corrosion and might explain why you have this inconsistent behavior. In the end you likely need a new box though.
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Old 30-08-2018, 07:14   #7
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Yes, agreed...its looking like I need new breakers.
There isn'tany corrosion, but for some reason when it comes under even a small load it breaks the connection.
I suspect there is a bad connection in there, perhaps because the case is a little damaged, and the contacts are not seating well.
I'm going to get the new breakers as soon as I get to a decent port and will advise what happens.
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Old 30-08-2018, 07:28   #8
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Just to be clear on my prior post ... I’m thinking it’s the control box (the relay that switches high power from your low power switches) and not the circuit breaker.
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Old 30-08-2018, 07:31   #9
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Sorry, would you mind explaining what you mean in a bit more detail?
I'm not sure what you mean by control box, or high and low power?
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Old 30-08-2018, 07:45   #10
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Sure! A windlass requires a lot of current (hence your 125A breaker) to run. Those are big wires from the battery, thru your circuit breaker, to a “control box” (which contains a couple relays) to the windlass. The buttons you depress to go up/down run on very low current and hence small wires. The connect to the control box to switch the relays that in turn power the winch/windlass. Those relays are electromagnetic mechanical switches - when you press a button the magnet is charged and the physical heavy duty power bars on the relay connect allowing high current to flow. If those connection points between the source (battery) power and the windlass get corrosion on them, they start to work poorly and deliver low voltage and fail at high current. Often the symptom is the circuit breaker popping, but it can also result in the windlass stopping as the switch fails to deliver sufficient current.

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Sometimes you can open the control box and use sandpaper and clean the contacts and all is good again. Then again, YMMV.

Here is an control box - though make sure you get the right current and features for your windlass.

https://www.defender.com/product3.js...0057&id=188155
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Old 30-08-2018, 08:41   #11
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

He means the solenoids. Usual failure is sticking magnets.

Your failure mode does not point to problems with the control box or the foot pedals.
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Old 30-08-2018, 09:38   #12
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by pandw View Post
Is it likely to be a winch issue, or the circuit breakers?

Breakers.


Quote:

If its the circuit breakers, should I replace them (~160 Euro each) or with a rotary swich and in line fuse?

There is very little question that fuses are more reliable than circuit breakers. Fuses can become weak and blow for no reason with repeated loads close to their rated maximum, but so can breakers. The only advantage breakers have over a fuse and a switch is that they can be reset when they trip.
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Old 30-08-2018, 09:50   #13
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
He means the solenoids. Usual failure is sticking magnets.
Doh! I have been done a bunch of work with relays recently and had them "on the brain"! Yes, solenoids are used at these higher power levels. However, they still can get corrosion and stick... magnets not engaging or connection not seating due to corrosion. I have that failure mode right now with one of my powered deck winches - and "whacking" the control box with a hammer (to shed some corrosion) bought me some time while waiting for the replacement control box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
Your failure mode does not point to problems with the control box or the foot pedals.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pandw View Post
I have also tried to switch it to the 100A circuit breaker, but with the same result.
I assumed, maybe incorrectly?, that if a second circuit breaker had the same failure mode that it was unlikely to be a circuit breaker. The other major place that power is managed is the control box, hence my assumption. Wrong?
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Old 30-08-2018, 10:36   #14
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Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unity View Post

I assumed, maybe incorrectly?, that if a second circuit breaker had the same failure mode that it was unlikely to be a circuit breaker. The other major place that power is managed is the control box, hence my assumption. Wrong?

I overlooked that part, you may be right. However, since he talked about moving the wires near the circuit breaker causing it to trip that points to a wire issue near the breaker.

That aside, a bad, partially closing soleniod could cause the tripping. It would also explain the noise at the windlass, assuming the control box is close to it.

When control boxes start to fail it’s usually intermittent at first, and if they get “exercised” that can give them a bit more life. So him playing with it while troubleshooting may have loosened it up for the time being.
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Old 30-08-2018, 14:07   #15
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Re: Circuit Breaker / Windlass issue

I guess another possibility are the crimps on the wires going to the circuit breaker not being solid... if this problem is very reproducible then turn off the breaker, remove the power line in the control box that goes to the battery and jump it onto one of the power lines to the winch (meaning, unscrew and move the wire over to the other bolt). This will bypass the control box and the switches. Turning on the breaker will immediately start the windlass - so make sure you are ready for that! Get the chain off the windlass before doing this - as it may go in either up or down depending on which you wired up.

If problem goes away, failure is control box. If problem stays,it’s either crimps or circuit breaker.

But PLEASE keep someone at the circuit breaker ready to pop it if anything goes wrong with the windlass / chain - your switches will do nothing. And make sure you move the battery wire over else if you accidentally press the opposite button will will cause both directions to be energized - bad things can happen... you can always remove that other wire but if so, make sure to tape it off with electrical tape to ensure it can’t short onto anything.
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