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Old 09-17-2021, 10:20 PM   #1
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Clicking when I turn the ignition key? Bunch of old circuits next to the battery.

1980 Winnebago Brave 23'

I sometimes get one click, but much more often get rapid-fire clicking when I turn my key the first time. The second or third turn, the engine starts up and runs normally.

It seems like the most common cause of this rapid-fire clicking is low battery voltage, so I've been keeping track of voltages. Starter and house batteries are three months old. My starter maintains battery level around 12.6, so I don't think that's the problem. My headlights are still dim, but have always been pretty dim, even the day I bought a new starter battery. I've had the house and starter batteries tested at O'Reillys and Walmart, and both bateries say recharge okay, no bad battery signs.

I've checked the connections and wires that I can see, they are tight, and not very corroded, I saw a few blue spots not on the batteries but on the components I mention below, that I sanded off.

So the next issue here is that in the process of taking out these batteries I finally noticed extremely old circuit breakers and a small cylinder smaller than my fist sitting next to my house batteries.

Pictures of these components are attached. I identified the circuit breakers and want to replace them but they are rust-welded onto the metal panel behind them so I haven't yet.

As for the small cylinder, is this likely some sort of remote starter relay? And what exactly is a starter relay? Delivers juice from the battery to the starter motor? Are these ancient circuit breakers and relay impeding proper starting voltage getting to my starting motor?

Any other reasons I could be getting these rapid-fire clicks on my first turn?

Thanks for any help.
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Old 09-18-2021, 08:25 AM   #2
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I have a similar arrangement on my Coachmen, but it is on the firewall. It is also connected to my house battery disconnect...

Either way, that cylinder device is also a type of relay and what happens when it is energized is the low amp circuit coil "pushes" a high amp contactor to make the connection between your batteries and where ever it is supposed to go. After a while, the arc from the initial contact builds up with carbon to create more resistance for the contacts. So, when you first energize the unit there is a lot of resistance. But, because you are running so many amps through the contacts, the arc will burn through the carbon and make a better contact the next time...

If the circuit breakers are still working, leave them... But, definitely replace the starter relay... it's old and unreliable.

To get the old one out, spray the bolts with a penetrating oil over a couple of days. Or, just relocate the relay...

Also, for the cost, I would be inclined to make new cables as well... I just buy 2/0 red and black cable in bulk and use a plumbers torch to melt the solder into the terminals. For particularly (Like from the starting battery to the house battery relay...) I might use 1/0 cable.
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Old 09-18-2021, 09:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bobphoenix View Post
I have a similar arrangement on my Coachmen, but it is on the firewall. It is also connected to my house battery disconnect...

Either way, that cylinder device is also a type of relay and what happens when it is energized is the low amp circuit coil "pushes" a high amp contactor to make the connection between your batteries and where ever it is supposed to go. After a while, the arc from the initial contact builds up with carbon to create more resistance for the contacts. So, when you first energize the unit there is a lot of resistance. But, because you are running so many amps through the contacts, the arc will burn through the carbon and make a better contact the next time...

If the circuit breakers are still working, leave them... But, definitely replace the starter relay... it's old and unreliable.

To get the old one out, spray the bolts with a penetrating oil over a couple of days. Or, just relocate the relay...

Also, for the cost, I would be inclined to make new cables as well... I just buy 2/0 red and black cable in bulk and use a plumbers torch to melt the solder into the terminals. For particularly (Like from the starting battery to the house battery relay...) I might use 1/0 cable.
I'm inclined to spring for new wires while I'm at it, I definitely want to replace that relay. Thanks very much for the advice. I have no idea how to check if the circuit breakers are good or not, can I just use a multimeter on the two bolts sticking out to check voltage?
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Old 09-18-2021, 11:40 PM   #4
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Those are auto-resetting breakers. No real way to test them without taking them out and putting them in a device built to deliver too much current. They're pretty reliable given they aren't called on often.

If you buy the cable from a welding supply place it's a lot more flexible than auto cable, and you can generally get the right amount since it's sold by the foot.
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Old 09-19-2021, 08:33 PM   #5
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Hi
Just to add a thought that may or may not have been mentioned I would try running an additional clean ground wire to a clean ground source given every thing looks pretty rusty.
I've had similar issues and found that the ground although everything was tight wasn't giving good continuity, I ran a separate ground wire to a clean part of chassis and problem solved in my case.
Good Luck
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Old 09-20-2021, 12:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by VanDiemen23 View Post
Those are auto-resetting breakers. No real way to test them without taking them out and putting them in a device built to deliver too much current. They're pretty reliable given they aren't called on often.

If you buy the cable from a welding supply place it's a lot more flexible than auto cable, and you can generally get the right amount since it's sold by the foot.
Good idea. I know the True Value near me sells welding supplies, but have never seen a welding supply store in the wild. Is that just because since I don't know anything about welding I wouldn't know what to look for? I probably won't mess with the breakers, then. Auto resetting sounds good to me.
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Old 09-20-2021, 12:09 AM   #7
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Hi
Just to add a thought that may or may not have been mentioned I would try running an additional clean ground wire to a clean ground source given every thing looks pretty rusty.
I've had similar issues and found that the ground although everything was tight wasn't giving good continuity, I ran a separate ground wire to a clean part of chassis and problem solved in my case.
Good Luck
Onebrit
I don't understand ground wires. I know they transmit electrical current into the ground or vehicle chassis in the event of overload. That's the extent of my dubious knowledge(learning as I go along). So do I identify the ground as whatever wire is attached directly to the chassis and replace that fellow?
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Old 09-20-2021, 03:42 PM   #8
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Just follow the negative battery terminal leads they should attach to the Chassis at some point in essence the Chassis is a wire and completes the circuit if the area on which the ground is attached is really rusty it won't allow for good continuity. Its a quick and easy way to eliminate that being the cause of your problem by just running a temporary heavy ground wire that you know is good from a clean part of Chassis back to battery negative termination points.
Hope this helps
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Old 09-20-2021, 04:37 PM   #9
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For welding cable you can find it at Tractor Supply, Praxair, etc. Just search for "welding supplies near me" on google maps.

I haven't found red stuff for a long time. to identify positives, I put red shrink sleeve or friction tape on the ends.
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