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Old 04-30-2012, 06:19 PM   #113
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Does anyone here have a motorhome with a Chevy 454 around a 1989? I need to know how many wires are going to your starter/ignition relay and their colors. I keep burning up my negative battery post. I just found a yellow wire (about a 16 gauge) wrapped in that blue protective plastic. It doesn't have an end to it. It looks as if it broke, or it came out of its connector. In any case, if it was still its original length I could surmise where it came from and hook it up. Since it is broken I'm only guessing that it may be from the relay and since it isn't hooked up that could explain my post melting. I traced it back to a box mounted on the firewall called a "battery isolator controller." Thanks.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:41 PM   #114
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It's hard to give advise without being there and seeing what you are seeing. I don't think that a 16ga. wire is your root problem. To melt a battery post you need some serious amperage, sounds like a dead short somewhere.To find the issue regarding the melting battery post I would disconnect every large gauge wire that you disconnected during the engine swap. Then start putting each one back on where you think they go, one at a time till you find the one that causes a very large spark. That will isolate the wire/ circuit that is causing the issue then you can trace that wire to see where it goes. Then move on to the smaller issues.

A battery isolator is simply a large set of diodes that acts as a one way current valve to direct the alternators current to your batteries while isolating them from each other. To isolate the starting battery from your house batteries, but allow the alternator to charge them.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:44 AM   #115
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I have a 1987 chassis but they should be the same. I'll try to get under mine and post my finding tomorrow.
A large spark can also be caused by a load that is not a short, but just some normal things like the blower motors, etc. Very unusual to get enough load to melt a post though.
If you have a 12 volt test light put it in-line on the positive battery post to the positive battery cable. If you have a short or a load the light will light. Then you can pull fuses or disconnect items until the light goes out. If you have a digital radio with memory disconnect or pull the fuse since this will light the light, but is not a problem.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:03 AM   #116
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The test light bulb will burn out instantly when the wire causing the short is reconnected unless you protect the test light with a fuse or circuit breaker.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:35 AM   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonS1985 View Post
Does anyone here have a motorhome with a Chevy 454 around a 1989? I need to know how many wires are going to your starter/ignition relay and their colors. I keep burning up my negative battery post. I just found a yellow wire (about a 16 gauge) wrapped in that blue protective plastic. It doesn't have an end to it. It looks as if it broke, or it came out of its connector. In any case, if it was still its original length I could surmise where it came from and hook it up. Since it is broken I'm only guessing that it may be from the relay and since it isn't hooked up that could explain my post melting. I traced it back to a box mounted on the firewall called a "battery isolator controller." Thanks.
If you are saying that the battery post melted, it got over 600 degrees to do it! Try to turn the motor over by hand with a breaker bar on the crank or with a flywheel tool. She may be very tight.
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:40 AM   #118
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The motor turns over fine. There is something wrong electrically and I can't find it.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:51 PM   #119
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The test light bulb will burn out instantly when the wire causing the short is reconnected unless you protect the test light with a fuse or circuit breaker.
No it won't. Just ask yourself what happens when you put a piece of metal between the positive and negative battery posts?......it has a insane spark then melts. What happens when you connect the ground clip to the negative battery post then put the probing tip of the test light onto the positive battery terminal? The test light illuminates.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:12 PM   #120
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Battery post melt requiers a very large current draw or a bad connection at post creating excessive heat.
1. Battery cable not making proper connection to post connector (high resistance creating excessive heat).
2. Starter not disengaging. Solinoid coil sticking (on top of starter) or mechanical starter clutch hanging up.
3. Aux Battery solinoid staying ON such that chassis battery is being used to constantly attept to charge house battery.
4. A section of battery cable has rubbed through shorting out to chassis.

Typical Chevy starter circuit:


Aux start solinoid is inserted into the positive battery cable line between starter solinoid and battery.

Make sure you check that negative cable closely. The cable down inside the post connector could have a corroded connection (not visable to naked eye). Clue: Is cable downstream itself cool but terminal hot? Note: to melt terminal we are talking really hot as in 600 degrees.

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Old 05-01-2012, 03:29 PM   #121
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Do you get a spark at all when you connect the battery cables to the battery? How long did it take till the terminal started to melt? If you leave the ignition completely off would/ does it still happen? Do you have access to a multimeter and amp clamp?
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:58 PM   #122
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Do you get a spark at all when you connect the battery cables to the battery? How long did it take till the terminal started to melt? If you leave the ignition completely off would/ does it still happen? Do you have access to a multimeter and amp clamp?
This is embarrassing to admit considering my current (no pun intended) problem but, I'm an electrician. Just not an automotive one. When my ignition (key) is off all is good. When I turn on all is good. My lights work...my radio works...all is normal. It's when I turn the key to engage the starter when all hell breaks loose. That's when it melts. The motor turns but not efficiently. And not every time. I know I have a major wire where is doesn't belong. I just don't know which. I guess I need to break out my meter and start tracing. It would be helpful if I had ignition wiring diagrams. Thanks for your input. Keep it coming!
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:36 PM   #123
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If it doesn't do it in the on position, but does when you try to start it, it sounds like the starter motor or solenoid is partially grounded to the case/block. If it was a dead short, I don't think it would even try to crank over.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:22 PM   #124
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The test light bulb will burn out instantly when the wire causing the short is reconnected unless you protect the test light with a fuse or circuit breaker.
Not true. It will simply ground the circuit. Electricity 101.

To the OP: Your starter motor is drawing way too much current. Replace it.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:51 PM   #125
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Not true. It will simply ground the circuit. Electricity 101.
No it won't. A light bulb has resistance. Resistance is not a ground. Common Sense 101.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:38 PM   #126
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If you are a electrician then then look at things this way:

The solinoid does 2 things. 1) It acts as a high current relay (starter motor supply) and 2) acts acts as a coil to push a plunger that engages the pinion gear into the flywheel ring gear so the starter motor can turn the engine. When the engine starts and you let the key return to RUN position power to the coil is removed and the plunger returns back to home position.

High current draw is either a defective starter or the starter is not mounted correctly resulting in it binding up. Defective starter can be shorted/grounded field/armature or defective bearings. Please note that a starter pulls around 200-300 amps when starting. I would say you are drawing more than that. Here is the cheapest Clamp-On DC Amp meter that I know of: Digital Clamp-On Ammeter- Craftsman-Tools-Electricians Tools & Lighting-Multi-Meters & Meters
Measures both AC and DC amps up to 400 amps plus AC/DC volts, ohms, Frequency, Capacitance, and temperature (probe included). Handy little meter.
There really isn't anything else that can draw that much current when you place the key in START position.

Dave
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