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Old 06-29-2015, 07:40 PM   #1
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Unhappy Wiring Problems/Short

Hey I've got a 1972 Carpenter/Chevy bus. I rewired the interior Dome and exterior Marker lights, the exterior upper lights (I turned them into flood lights-yes I know I can't drive with them on) and the reverse lights to the switch box which I'm running off an interior battery that I installed. I paid $300 to a retired bus mechanic to wire up the turn signal assembly and still had to spend more time and shots in the dark before it worked.
Thought I had it all worked out so I linked the inside battery to the main battery and every time I turned a switch on or hit the horn I noticed my volt gauge dropped to 0. After a while it would come back up then drop again if I used a switch. Also, front and rear flood lights work fine when one or the other is on but when they're both on they blink. (all new wiring from load to switch)
I separated batteries which seems to have solved switching problems but in about 2ish weeks the main battery (brand new deep cell) is dead. I can only think there is a short but, at this point, I have no idea where or how to even start looking.
Please please someone help me!!!!

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Old 06-30-2015, 12:31 AM   #2
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It's hard to diagnose wiring problems remotely, especially one-of-a-kind custom wiring. Photos do help. I'll try a couple of suggestions.

If you separated the two batteries, and one went dead in two weeks, it is possible that you no longer have a charging source for that one, and you simply "emptied the tank." Or if the bus was parked, there may be some instrumentation that is always on. I have a camper with an "always on" propane leak detector, and it will run the battery down over time if not disconnected or recharged.

As far as the flashing lights, I have two possibilities. One is that the mechanic wired them to the turn signals. I have found that a majority of good mechanics really don't understand wiring, which is not "mechanical." This would be a faster flash.

The other possibility is that the lights are powered through a self-resetting circuit breaker. These breakers are usually in a rectangular silver metal can with a black top, or in a black plastic block. There will usually be two studs for the hot and protected wires or buss bars to connect to.

If the two light sets together draw more current than one breaker can pass, either due to size or age, then it may trip and then reset and then trip and reset again. This might be a slower flash or have different off and on times. Use a meter or test light to see if the hot wires to the two switches go "cold" as the lights flash off. If this is the case, power the switches from separate sources

Self-resetting breakers are usually used for important circuits like headlights and windshield wipers that you need to safely get off the road. Occasional interruptions of excess power draw may prevent a wiring fire while you search for a safe place to stop. They also can save wiper motors when the blades are stuck in ice from freezing ran. Other circuits usually but not always have fuses or breakers that must be manually reset.

The voltmeter issue would have to be looked at. I am assuming you mean the meter in the instrument panel. It could just be how the indicator is wired versus the added wiring. Most vehicle meters are "damped" so they don't dance all over the place with instantaneous variations in what they are measuring. Instead, they move slowly to show trends as opposed to instant status. So something might have affected the leads in a way that would remove the sensing variation from the panel, either making the ground reference hot, or the hot reference low by drawing power away from the sense wiring.

On the other hand, something could be connected backwards that drains down the battery, and the delay you are seeing on the meter is the time it takes for the battery to recharge . . . . .

It really sounds like you might be drawing power for some of your wiring from undersized sources. Finding a good source can be tricky sometimes. My favorite "oops" was a professional radio installer who needed a power source in a semi tractor fleet that went on and off with the key. After a week or two in service, the dispatchers complained they could talk to their trucks fine when at delivery sites, but not going down the road. It turns out the installer had wired the two-ways to the brake lights.
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Old 06-30-2015, 02:03 PM   #3
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WOW, Redbear THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking so much time to help me out. Your suggestions are awesome. I've had a feeling about a small silver 'box' that I removed from the switch box thinking it was related to the heating unit which I had removed. I and several others have been stumped by the inability to get the windshield wiper to work without heating up the resister almost immediately and this sounds like it's related.
Unfortunately it is really, unusually hot here in Northern California so it may be a week or so before I can work on it.
I'd like to send you some pictures and figure out how to 'friend' you if that's o.k..
Again, THANK YOU!!!!
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Old 06-30-2015, 03:06 PM   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Nanaimo, British Columbia
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The book "Managing 12 Volts" by Harold Barre is worth picking up as you continue your wiring adventures... It's all about electricity in RVs and boats (which are just floating RVs, as he puts it).
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BusGirl View Post
I'd like to send you some pictures and figure out how to 'friend' you if that's o.k..
Just post the pictures here, so more sets of eyes can chime in with different experience backgrounds.

And no offense, but I don't Tweet, Facebook, LinkIn, pin, like, or friend. It's not personal, just my choice.
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