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Old 10-07-2009, 09:48 AM
gmilburn gmilburn is offline
 
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Jumpy Tachometer

Hi all,

A few weeks ago, I installed all new gauges for my Atomic 4 on my 33 year old Ericson 29. I rewired all of them from the cockpit to the engine. I was thrilled when the engine started and all my gauges produced readings. However, my tachometer reading is jumpy, but does not necessarily coincide with an engine miss (but it is hard to really tell!). I have posted a short video of the tach problem on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWirmCPQVeM

It happens at all speeds, but does not seem to affect either the power (boat speed) or starting (it has always started within a second of engaging the starter). Any idea what the problem is? I believe it is a momentary short or electronic glitch that I would like to identify and fix--before it perhaps leads to bigger problems.

Any help or advise would be appreciated.
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:33 AM
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jumpy tach

It looks like you are getting readings on the tach of about twice what they should be. Idle speed should be less than 1,000 and it doesn't sound like you are winding it up to 2,500+ . make sure that you have the connections correct for a 4 cylinder engine.

I agree with you that it must be something other than fluctuating engine speed making it jump. Your engine sounds great.

Good luck.

Mike
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:27 PM
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I would just second what Mike wrote. From the sound of your engine (great video, it really helps) you are indeed far from running at 2000 rpm. I would suspect the "jumping" of the tack readings is also due to a wiring problem or adjustment problem in the tack.

Kelly
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:43 PM
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Did you run NEW wiring or use existing wires?
14 gauge wire? Good solid connections on the coil?

If you bought the ISSPRO gauge from MMI they usually come pre-set for the A4 (4 cyl) but I agree you should double check that jumper on the back.

Nice gauge package, BTW!
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Old 10-09-2009, 06:18 AM
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Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and comments.

Yes all gauges came from Moyer Marine--and I am fairly confident that I checked the jumper and made sure it was set on 4 cylinders rather than 6 or 8--but will check again. I agree it seems that the rpms seem high.

I used new 10 gauge wire for the ammeter and 12 gauge for all others. I will check the terminals and connections again--and perhaps use a jumper (outside the cockpit) from the tachometer to the coil to make sure that the new wire is good.

I'm beginning to think the tachometer itself might be bad.

Any other thoughts?

Gary
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:42 AM
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archived advice

Gary,

Please bear with the "obvious" advice but this might help in your trouble shooting. Don explained in a previous post "The red wire connects to switched DC power (like the ignition switch), the black wire to ground, the white wire to the negative of the coil, and green to the switched lead from the light switch."

If all that checks out, then perhaps you are correct in thinking your gauge has an internal problem.

Kelly
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:16 AM
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If you have a distributor with points I would look for contact bounce or a bad capacitor. The tach would show multiple make/break cycles that the coil or engine would not respond to. The same effect may also be occouring with an electronic ignition system.

Alberg.
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Old 12-26-2009, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmilburn View Post
Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and comments.

Yes all gauges came from Moyer Marine--and I am fairly confident that I checked the jumper and made sure it was set on 4 cylinders rather than 6 or 8--but will check again. I agree it seems that the rpms seem high.

I used new 10 gauge wire for the ammeter and 12 gauge for all others. I will check the terminals and connections again--and perhaps use a jumper (outside the cockpit) from the tachometer to the coil to make sure that the new wire is good.

I'm beginning to think the tachometer itself might be bad.

Any other thoughts?y

Gary-
Did you ever solve this issue?
The reason I ask is that I replaced my small TACH with the exact same one you have (I wanted the larger face) and guess what?
It's jumping too. Exactly like in your video.
My RPM's are reading correct (almost exact to the previous gauge)
It doesn't "jump" until the alternator kicks in. Before that it is smooth.
The moment the voltmeter shows the alt start up, the jumping starts too.
(Also, I have electronic ignition)

I'm going to run some voltage readings and various re-wiring experiments today, but thought I'd revive this thread and stir the pot while everyone is home too full of turkey and nursing hangovers...
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:26 AM
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Ok, need some opinions and help from you guys...
I ran some tests and checked wiring on this and I can't figure it out.
Voltage readings at the battery, starter, coil and alt all seem right.
I ran jumpers to bypass NEW wiring, still the same issue.
Triple checked the wiring. It's wired correctly.

The 'jumping' is for sure starting the moment the alternator kicks in.

Any ideas of something I'm missing?
Faulty tach or should I start suspecting the alternator?
(Rigs, Steve you out there?)
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:44 AM
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Jerry,

I've been suspicious of the fact that your tach becomes jumpy only when the alternator comes on line, but with your voltage indications remaining normal I fail to see how that fact relates to your situation. Pending a more reasoned response from Rigs or Steve, it's probably time to consider another tach. If you give me a call at our tech service line (410-810-8920) we can work something out in that regard.

Don
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:28 AM
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jumpy tach

make sure your alternator belt is the correct tension,otherwise you will get random voltage fluctuations that can cause your problem
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailbristol View Post
make sure your alternator belt is the correct tension,otherwise you will get random voltage fluctuations that can cause your problem
Hmmm, good point. I doubt it's loose, but I'll check it today.

Don,
I'll check the belt and give you a call tomorrow.
That might give Rigs and Steve (or others) a bit more time for any ideas.

Thanks guys!
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadnsky View Post
That might give Rigs and Steve (or others) a bit more time for any ideas.
Don't interpret my posts to suggest I'm any kind of expert. The only time I've encountered a jumpy tach was on on a twin-engined powerboat we used to have. One of the tachs started jumping like that intermittently one season, very infrequently. A couple of years later the engine cut out during the jumping, which had become more frequent. Tore my hair out (figurtively) chasing that gremlin down. Several hundred dollars and year later, it turned out to be a $30 slave starter solenoid. There was a cold connection inside that failing unit: the engine would cut out after about 45 minutes of running when the solenoid got warm, and then restart after it cooled, then quit again.

I guess based on that experience, I'd start looking at any devices in the circuit like a solenoid or something else with hidden electrical connections. Just because I have no idea, I might take that alternator to a shop and see if they can detect any irregularity in its electrical field while running, but any part in the circuit could be contributing. If you get into swapping parts, start with the cheapest ones.

I presume you've done googling on jumpy tachs. I haven't done that in the past few years, but back then there were lots of stories for boats and cars, and there were lots of different causes. But there are principles for tracking it down.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:58 PM
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Thanks Rigs.
You're still one of our resident experts whether you like it or not...

I'm gonna try the belt today, 'cause the more I ponder it, the more it makes sense.
I'll report back...
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:26 PM
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compare?

Jerry, I have a spare alternator that I got from a Catalina 30 buddy that foolishly swapped out the A-4 for some noisy diesel years ago....I'd be happy to send it to you for testing and run a comparison on your engine..I'd like it back some day though...I don't expect to fire up the boat again until March or April.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:34 PM
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Jerry,
I second Shawn's offer. If shipping gets pricey, I believe I'm closer.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:03 AM
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Talking

Shawn & Neil-
Thanks guys, great offer. I really, really appreciate it.
(Man, I'm tearing up here )

I think I'm close though...
I checked the belt tension and it was good. So not belt slippage causing the jump. (Thanks for the suggestion though, SB)
I'm almost certain it's not the alt now. Nor the tach gauge.

I ran a jumper from the ALT output (Orange Wire) to the positive side of the starter (bypassing running to the ignition) and ran her up. When the alt kicked in, the Tach "jumped" once and then settled in. I didn't see another jump.
Problem is, I ran out of time.
I was running late for a big "Family" (spelled In-Laws) Dinner, so I had to button her up before finishing my testing.
I'll go back tomorrow and finish running thru some paces and report back...

PS - Don, I may still call you in the morning to discuss and tap your wisdom, if that's ok.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:25 AM
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Man, that's screaming loose connection to me.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndutton View Post
Man, that's screaming loose connection to me.
Neil-
I KNOW it wasn't a loose connection because I've been through those connections with care and prudent circumspection.

What I really think it is/was...
The Orange wire may have had a short or bad conductivity. (best bet)
I've replaced almost all of my wiring, but was reluctant (yes, and cheap) to replace that beautiful Orange wire because I didn't want to buy a roll to replace a 4-foot run.
Another possibility, which I will look into tomorrow, is that by leaving the output of the ALT running UP to the Ignition (sorta old style wiring) instead of going straight back to the charging system (starter post) there might be something going on resistance-wise in that ignition/coil path. (Steve, were are you?!)

The good news is that I feel like I'm really close here...
AND I'll end up with a new and improved wiring from the ALT.
I promise to report back tomorrow with findings as this may help a lot of other wiring issues yet unknown out there...
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:20 AM
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Jerry..my thought on the comparison was to get another alternator in there to see if yours may have some issues and causing undesired interference. I have an aftermarket tach on my boat and it is rock solid, so hence the suggestion...no worries though - I know we all like to tinker.

[off topic question]
Since you mentioned cheap and wiring..
I am just beginning what will ultimately be a complete re-wire of my boat. Neil and I have been chatting offline regarding mast re-wiring, which is my current winter project and one he tackled a few years ago. Anyway, when you guys buy your marine wire, are you buying entire rolls? I guess in the long run that would be cheaper for most projects than buying "x" feet for each application. For example..I am not currently planning to re-wire the entire boat this winter, but I am thinking now, why would I only buy 50 feet of duplex & 50 feet of triplex wire to re-wire the mast, if someday I have to make new runs all over the boat anyway? Spend money now to save money later?
OK, I think I just answered my own question...off to genuniedealz.com! Carry on.
[/off topic]
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:42 AM
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Shawn-
Yes, you did answer as I would have advised.

Go and sin no more my son...
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sastanley View Post
[off topic question] Since you mentioned cheap and wiring.. I am just beginning what will ultimately be a complete re-wire of my boat ... when you guys buy your marine wire, are you buying entire rolls?[/off topic]
I should have bought whole rolls three boats ago. Finally woke up and smelled the dollar signs. I also gave up trying to find marine wire colours other than red, black or white and learned how to label wires carefully.

This all applies to DC wire. When I rewired AC I bought two rolls of good marine triple cable because I could not find a custom length supplier of the stuff around here. Thought I could sell the rest at cost to someone else rewiring a boat locally - no luck.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:52 PM
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rigs, thanks for your feedback...I have NO AC in my boat so it is not a factor..but I still appreciate it.

I research and research and research, so much so I am sure I over research..sometimes I just need to pull the trigger....maybe by next week, I'll have ordered some DC wire. I am re-researching the Moyer PDF of DC A-4 wiring tonight, so I can maybe get some of that in my next order too...
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:34 PM
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Thumbs up Done

Ok. Done. Success.
Did the tests and have solved the jumping problem.
Also, by tracking this down, I solved a problem I wasn't even aware that I had.

First thing I did was fire up and watch the volt gauge to know when the Alt kicked in and crossed fingers and toes that that pesky jump wouldn't start.
Watched that damn gauge for 5 minutes. Yippee! No jumping! Move on...

Hooked the old Orange wire back up (going thru the ignition) and fired back up.
Alt kicks in and bingo. Jumping disco tachometer!

Re-wired a permanent jumper (Alt to Solenoid) and went out for an extended 45 minute engine run. There was never a jump at all RPM's.

Some interesting voltage readings to ponder...
At the ALT Output Terminal - 13.68
At the IGNITION post at the end of the Orange wire - 13.20
At the Positive POST of the SOLENOID with the Orange wire run to Ignition - 13.18
At the Positive POST of the SOLENOID Bypass the Orange wire and use ALT to Solenoid jumper - 13.68

So, I'm theorizing the Orange wire had enough resistance (or even a short) to cause enough voltage drop to effect the tach?
Or possibly the length of the run from Alt to Ignition and back to Solenoid?
The Ignition switch and positive feed from Solenoid to Ignition are new (within the year)
The ORANGE wire is the only old original wire left in the ignition circuit for reasons I mentioned earlier.
(Sorry Don. Should have taken your advice about replacing all of that old harness )

The real value in tracing this down is that I feel I'm getting a better Alt to battery voltage AND possibly avoided a short (or worse?!)
causing a shutdown or non-start. (Most likely in a 30K gale on a Lee Shore)
Sure hated to throw away that pretty Orange cable but decided a red one in the proper gauge with an easy path to follow does the job too.
(Yes, Rigs. I'm also slowly giving in to labeling instead of color coding too)
The "Purist Devil" on my left shoulder still keeps whispering to go buy colors though!
Anyway, I'm ruling success and will enjoy my shiny new tach.

Can't officially close the thread (it's not mine anyway) until Gary (gmilburn) hopefully reports back to us if he solved his jumpy issue from October.
AND I'm sure you sparky geniuses may have a better theory of what was actually going on in that old Orange path...
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Old 12-31-2009, 12:32 PM
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Lightbulb One more...

After a conversation with Don I thought it necessary to post one more time with a little more explanation/info and a thought...

Don asked if I had an ammeter...
No, there isn't an ammeter in the cockpit gauge cluster. It's very possible there was one originally with the boat and it was removed.
The gauge of that Orange wire leads me to believe it was there at some point. That might also explain why it was wired that way when I bought the boat.
(That Orange wire terminated at the Ignition post with the Red positive wire from the solenoid)

Don... "I can't recall what kind of boat you have, but your voltage readings are reflective of the "Catalina 30 syndrome". The Catalina 30 has an 18 foot wiring harness between the engine and the cockpit which means that the charging circuit has a total run of 36 feet in the round trip between the alternator and the battery bus on the starter solenoid. This unusual length alone will frequently result in voltage drops much more than your 1/2 volt. Add to this unusually long distance the fact that there are three eight-pin Medallion disconnects in the harness through which the charging circuit must pass two times (for a total of 6 male/female pin connections) before getting back to the battery bus, and you can easily see why the Catalina 30 has chronic charging issues."

My boat is a Ranger 30. And it is interesting how the original wiring was. The wiring harness is somewhat similar to the C30...
It's approximately a 12-foot cable run with TWO Multi-Pin disconnects. The interesting part is that it could easily be a 3-foot run as the crow flies!
Those cables were even "wrapped" in a back-n-forth loop and wire-tied together to hold the excess wire.
Maybe the original run was designed to go to a more aft/port position, since that is where my original Depth Gauge was? (It's where I have the new Tach now)

Anyway, I mistakenly left that Orange wire run (Alt to Ignition) in when I re-wired (and put in fuses) using the MMI Drawing.
I mistakenly thought that was how it was supposed to be. (Although I questioned why alt power would need to go up and then back)

When I was troubleshooting the Tach, I read the instructions for installing the (MMI) API 55A alternator because I'm planning to go with the larger alt soon.
In those instructions it's noted that "If you do not have an ammeter, or the ammeter does not work, you can connect the output terminal of the API directly to the big battery cable on the starter solenoid."
That gave me the idea to try the jumper and the rest you know from my long-winded explanation above...

So, my reason for posting is to make sure some of you understand that the long run from Alt-Ignition and back to Solenoid is un-necessary IF you don't have the ammeter. I know this wisdom is mentioned in other threads but thought it bears repeating since some may also mis-interpret (as I did) the MMI PDF Drawing that we use to re-wire.

Again, the DC experts could certainly give us better explanations...
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