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Old 02-03-2013, 08:00   #1
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Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

When I attempt to start the starboard engine on our 1998 SeaRay 330 Sundancer, all I get is a clicking noise. The starter does not appear to engage. If I start the port engine, and then bridge from that using the "emergency start" switch, I can start the stbd engine. This suggests to me that the starter is fine, and it's just a power issue.

I figured the stbd engine battery was just drained, despite having had the charger on shore power constantly. The battery is an AGM, about a year old, maybe a bit more, but certainly should still be ok. I spotted a blown inline fuse that I thought was coming from the charger, and I replaced that. (Thanks to advice from this forum about fuse type!)

So I come back to the boat after a week, and try to start the stbd engine first, and again, just clicking. (The clicking seems to be emanating from somewhere near the helm, rather than the engine compartment, but I had the hatch closed, so maybe that's just the only place I could hear it.)

Again, starting the port engine and bridging over from that, I can start the stbd engine.

What steps can I take to trouble-shoot this?

Am I correct in assuming that I can eliminate the starter as a cause, since it starts when bridged?

Before attempting to start, I checked the voltmeter on the distro panel, and both port and starboard showed good voltage, but now in retrospect I realize that I still had shore power on and the "AC converter" on, so perhaps I should have turned that off before checking?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:08   #2
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

I am sure you have already thought of this, but I have found it is always best to eliminate the simple and obvious culprits first. Have you removed the terminals from the offending battery, cleaned them thoroughly, and replaced them firmly, with a bit of vaseline or deoxit?
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:11   #3
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

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Originally Posted by robillard View Post
When I attempt to start the starboard engine on our 1998 SeaRay 330 Sundancer, all I get is a clicking noise. The starter does not appear to engage. If I start the port engine, and then bridge from that using the "emergency start" switch, I can start the stbd engine. This suggests to me that the starter is fine, and it's just a power issue.

Yes

I figured the stbd engine battery was just drained, despite having had the charger on shore power constantly. The battery is an AGM, about a year old, maybe a bit more, but certainly should still be ok. I spotted a blown inline fuse that I thought was coming from the charger, and I replaced that. (Thanks to advice from this forum about fuse type!)

So I come back to the boat after a week, and try to start the stbd engine first, and again, just clicking. (The clicking seems to be emanating from somewhere near the helm, rather than the engine compartment, but I had the hatch closed, so maybe that's just the only place I could hear it.)

Again, starting the port engine and bridging over from that, I can start the stbd engine.

What steps can I take to trouble-shoot this?

Start by reading the voltage on the stbd battery when you are attempting a start from it. It should be >10 Volts.

Clearly it isn't >10 Volts at the starter motor. Somewhere along the line from the battery to the starter motor is the problem. You may have a bad connection, a bad terminal, another crook relay (perhaps the one that might be clicking). Remove and clean every terminal from the stbd battery right though to the stbd starter motor including all the negative ones


Am I correct in assuming that I can eliminate the starter as a cause, since it starts when bridged?

Yes

Before attempting to start, I checked the voltmeter on the distro panel, and both port and starboard showed good voltage, but now in retrospect I realize that I still had shore power on and the "AC converter" on, so perhaps I should have turned that off before checking?

Yes

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
Good luck
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:22   #4
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

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Start by reading the voltage on the stbd battery when you are attempting a start from it. It should be >10 Volts.
Forgive the ignorance, but is a standard multimeter the right way to go about this? Or do I need some kinda of automotive battery checker?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:46   #5
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A standard DVM should do for this. A clamp meter will tell you how much current your starter is pulling. This would also let you know if the starter is drawing too much current.
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Old 02-03-2013, 14:08   #6
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

robillard, typically there should be two contacts on the starter. One heavy cable, which is the actual power, and one lighter wire, which is the starter relay connection. If that's what you find, the thin wire carries voltage to tell the starter "engage!" and the heacy cable actually supplies power to the starter motor. So if you hear clicking, that is probably the starter relay kicking in when it is told to engage. But if there are any loose contacts, dirty contacts, problems with the heavy cable?

The starter won't spin up.

I would look at the heavy cable, make sure you have good connections and full battery voltage on it. If you can run a jumper cable from the "known good" battery to that contact on the problem starter, that will also confirm whether the problem is the starter, or the cabling to it.

Do bear in mind that heavy power cable is direct battery power, and if you don't disconnect it from the battery first, be very careful with it. One little "oops" and you can do a lot of damage with a live starter power cable.
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Old 02-03-2013, 16:19   #7
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

HS, don't forget that his both his starter motors work fine when he selects his "emergency start" switch, which is presumably a cross feed from the port side. His stbd one fails when this is emergency start switch is not used.

I guess there are several relays in each starting circuit.
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Old 02-03-2013, 16:54   #8
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

Yes, I'm not forgetting that. It could be that the "emergency" crossover is giving him a routing past a loose connection, or enough extra amerage to let a weak starter kick over. Or simply a bad connection on the one battery. Typically just one starter relay, but some systems don't use relays at all, while others get more complicated. No idea what he's got there except "a starter problem".<G>
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Old 02-03-2013, 17:09   #9
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

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Yes, I'm not forgetting that. It could be that the "emergency" crossover is giving him a routing past a loose connection, or enough extra amerage to let a weak starter kick over. Or simply a bad connection on the one battery. Typically just one starter relay, but some systems don't use relays at all, while others get more complicated. No idea what he's got there except "a starter problem".<G>
Yes, its tricky trying to second guess the more exotic installations over the internet without knowing just "how they dunit".

So it's back to basics, disconnecting the batteries, taking apart each and every connection in the starter motor circuit, checking for looseness, signs of heat or corrosion, cleaning and tightening each one and try again.

If no improvement take the trusty DVM and track down where the voltage is being lost.

Note to OP, the voltage readings should be taken while trying to start motor and you should begin at the battery terminals. When attempting to start, you should have >10 Volts there. If possible, put the meter lead right on the battery posts, not the battery cable terminals, then read at the cable terminals and so on until you get to the starter motor terminals, somewhere along this path you will notice some significant drop in voltage; your problem will lie around this point.
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Old 02-03-2013, 22:44   #10
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

If you know how to read a wiring diagram check your starting cct. diagram and it will show you how things are wired up. If you are unsure of that maybe someone in your marina could help you figure it out. But it sure sounds like either a bad battery, bad battery connection or a bad relay...not the starter solenoid itself but another relay near the console. I'd be interested in knowing more about the crossover start feature you have.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:21   #11
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

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If you know how to read a wiring diagram check your starting cct. diagram and it will show you how things are wired up. If you are unsure of that maybe someone in your marina could help you figure it out. But it sure sounds like either a bad battery, bad battery connection or a bad relay...not the starter solenoid itself but another relay near the console. I'd be interested in knowing more about the crossover start feature you have.

It's a Searay, the factory wire is Stb starts Stb engine and Prt, starts Prt engine. And the House/Hotel is either the Stb.or Prt.

The Emg start Sw, just does a parallel during crank, it's a monetary Sw.

So it's easy to figure the hotel bat.

It could be a high Resistance connection, but most likely its a bad bat.

Lloyd
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Old 03-03-2013, 15:20   #12
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Re: Diagnosing battery/charger/starter issue?

OK, it turned out that the battery was dead after all. I was getting 10.8 v at rest, and 6.94 v when I tried to crank it. Replaced with a new AGM, and she starts right up. Turns out the battery was a 2007, but since I bought it at west marine, and got the replacement there as well, I got a whopping $14 towards the new battery... :-/ Ah well, all's well that end well (at least for now)... Thanks, everyone!
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