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Old 05-26-2013, 12:40 PM   #1
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Here's one for all you 12 volt electrical engineers

So my Kwikee step has decided to stop extending. Intermittent buzzing sounds come from the control box. With nothing else on my to-do list (not) I begin troubleshooting. I'll skip the gory details & get straight to what I've found:

1. The step motor runs fine when hooked up to a 12v source on my bench.
2. The step motor won't run at all when connected via jumpers to the (good) 12v supply at the step. (This is coming from the chassis, NOT thru the controller.)
3. Aaaand, the kicker: #2 was killing me, so finally I hooked up my voltmeter to the jumper ground & 12v that I'm using at the rig. I get 12+ volts when the jumpers aren't hooked to the motor leads. As soon as I touch a jumper to the motor lead, my 12+ volts goes to zero. HOW? The motor runs fine on the bench.

Somebody, please put me out of my misery! HAAAAALP!
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Old 05-26-2013, 12:50 PM   #2
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Maybe the ground wire needs a good cleaning. This is the usual suspect.
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Old 05-26-2013, 12:58 PM   #3
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Ground is the best place to start.
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Old 05-26-2013, 01:07 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. Ground's good. But here's an update:

As a last ditch Hail Mary, I disconnected the Trik-L-Start engine battery charger that I installed a couple of weeks ago. Why? I'd had some other weird electrical problems after installing it, but could not replicate them & had reconnected it.

According to the wiring diagram the main step power lead does connect with a terminal associated with the Trik-L-Start. Sure enough, once I disconnected the TLS, the step motor runs fine with the test leads, and the 12v doesn't vanish like it did before. Weirder, when I hooked the TLS back up, the step motor continued to work fine.

It's like the TLS somehow causes some sort of partial failure in the 12v system. I just don't get it. I need an electrical engineer, evidently.
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Old 05-26-2013, 01:13 PM   #5
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I'm guessing there is a weak connection. You can read 12V by voltmeter but when you try a load- suddenly you have insufficient connection (the volt meter takes a teen tiny load to read the volts, the motor a coupla amps or so) to operate the gizmo.
Or it could be electrical Freaky Friday. But bad connections or overstretched wire, corrosion, etc. are way more common than anti-gravity & relativity.
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Old 05-26-2013, 01:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EngineerMike View Post
I'm guessing there is a weak connection. You can read 12V by voltmeter but when you try a load- suddenly you have insufficient connection (the volt meter takes a teen tiny load to read the volts, the motor a coupla amps or so) to operate the gizmo.
Or it could be electrical Freaky Friday. But bad connections or overstretched wire, corrosion, etc. are way more common than anti-gravity & relativity.
Since my rig came out of Florida, I wouldn't be at all surprised at corrosion. My dilemma is where to start - the problems aren't consistent, and so far are proving difficult to replicate once they go away. Makes it hard to logically troubleshoot why the Trik-L-Start seems to be causing weird side effects...
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Old 05-26-2013, 02:02 PM   #7
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If I can give my two cents, when checking any 12 or 24 volt systems I agree with engineer mike, a volt meter can give you false readings, I suggest you also have a test light probe to create a load, if the light comes on you know you have voltage ,
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Old 05-26-2013, 03:45 PM   #8
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This is why you need to sneak up on the problem.

Carefully making proper measurements before making changes.

Now start at step, open each connection on every wire, one at a time, inspect, clean, add electrical grease where needed, tighten (slightly squeze with pliers or bend with point), then reconnect.

Do all wires and connections starting at step and work back to Battery and ground.

You have a loose and or rusty connection(s) that are causing a high resistance connection that reads fine until load is applied.

If it stops working check voltage without disturbing things, use pin to poke into wire away from connection.

Also make sure you have good ground point for meter.

If checking voltages make sure meter ground is NOT the steps, use shiny frame or at Battery, if issue is dirty connection of step ground the ground wire will increase in voltage to clean ground under load.

Good luck
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Old 05-26-2013, 04:28 PM   #9
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Get rid of tricklestart.?
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Old 05-26-2013, 05:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Get rid of tricklestart.?
Sounds more than reasonable to me......
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Old 05-26-2013, 05:25 PM   #11
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You had a very common problem, your supply line was resistive. In other words, just a bad connection. A voltmeter will read full scale with a microscopic amount of current. As suggested using a test light is an excellent way to help avoid this. If you want to prove this just put the negative lead of your voltmeter on ground or negative terminal of a battery. Then put the positive lead probe between your finger tips on one hand and touch the positive lead of the battery with the other hand. I PROMISE you, you will not feel a thing and the meter will read voltage. Not enough current to do wany work but enough voltage to drive a very sensitive meter.

The trik-l-start device should have absolutely no bearing on weird issues. Mostly dirty connections. Your battery and wire connections must be spotless at 12 volts. 12 volts has very little pressure/push and just cannot drive through a bad hose connection.

Pictures are very helpful on this forum and easy to post.

Oh, Im a Certified ET with 40 yrs working on 12 volt electrical systems and more. Own a telecommunications service center. Lights, sirens, radios, oh my. Dispatch centers, fire trucks, planes tranes and things you can't drive on the road.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:39 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone for taking time to respond.

I appreciate the advice of the test light vs. the voltmeter. I had wondered if load might be an issue, but didn't think about the ultra-low load of the digital voltmeter. Lesson learned.

I'm taking your words to heart with regard to corrosion, clean connections & thoroughness. It will take some time, but I'll be methodically working my way through the chassis checking every connection I can find.

Happy to post pics (and have done so elsewhere), but for this one, there wasn't much to see...

Oh, does anyone have any favorite contact cleaner / corrosion dissolver? I do have the spray-on battery terminal cleaner stuff. Any other recommendations, especially for smaller connections, crimps, & terminals?

Thanks again, I really do appreciate the help!
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:51 PM   #13
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Baking soda and water for Battery, also spray stuff from supply house.

Dawn in a squirt bottle mixed 10 to 1 works well to wet and scrub, then rinse well with water.

For Battery posts use reamer type cleaner, makes perfect fit.

Cannot clean green wires, best to cut end off and place new connection, solder better then crimp, but crimp okay if clean, can add electrical grease to keep it good.

Denatured alcohol and a scrub brush best contact cleaner, absorbs any water, but ventalate the fumes because it can burn.

POLISH contacts with plain paper, about 6000 grit, will polish Relay and switch contract without damaging the metal.

Look for "fat wires", acid from Battery gets into wire via pinhole, eats the wire from inside and it get a bump.
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Old 05-26-2013, 08:02 PM   #14
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In 1998 I purchased a brand new Vectra Gran Tour DP and ended up spending 6 days at two Winnebago dealers to try fixing a 12volt issue that caused everything DC to run weird. They replaced the steps and the backup camera and video monitor, they added a couple of 12 volt noise filters here and there, never really fixed the problem. Steps were intermittent and the camera kept flickering. 6 months later on an outing, my rear TV just went dead. I pulled it out and realized it ran on 12 volts and was plugged in to a ‘cigarette lighter’ type plug that was all corroded. It turned out the plug was backing on to the shower and every time the shower ran, it sprayed the connector a little bit from inside the wall. I took out the connector, soldered the wires et voila, everything worked fine forever after… Was just lucky the TV died, otherwise would have been very difficult to repair. If I had a similar situation today, I believe the only way to isolate the problem is to disconnect some 12 volt circuits until the problem goes, you would need a good diagram…
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