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 Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!

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milkman
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Home City : london
Model and year : LH113V 1992 Composer
Registration date : 2010-06-15

PostSubject: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Mon May 12, 2014 9:46 pm

Hi all.
For some time I've been smelling burning but on stopping and opening engine could never find it.
Well now I've found it.
A wire going into the leisure battery has fried. It's a thinner connected splice between two fatter wires.
A translation of the Japanese tags on this wire (goes to the positive terminal) says its the 'isolator' which I think would mean the split charge relay. The other wires are a cabin light, the supply from the 240v charger and the dash switch.
I've connected the wire back up with a fused connection but couldn't match the wire gauge of the fatter wire.
So far it's fried 10,15 and 20 amp fuses and I'm up to 30amp.
Is this right? Is 20amps+ from the alternator what one would expect?

Anyone any idea why this might be happening?

Silly question, should I be able to run the cabin services while the engine is running? I always have but now this has got me wondering.

To complicate things more I have a solar cell and regulator that were connected into this but have never been convinced they were plumbed in right. The regulator instructions reckoned the battery and services both had to be run through this box. I could never think of how to do this what with the split charge supply and 240v-12v supply so didn't do it.
Don't know if this could have a bearing on things.

This is very complicated for me to try and explain but I hope someone can see something in here they can advise on.

Best
Mark
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WGWarburton
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Home City : Central Scotland
Model and year : 94 2.8 Noppo HiTop Super-Long
Registration date : 2012-02-07

PostSubject: Re: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Tue May 13, 2014 11:30 am

Hi,
    Sounds like a fault is pushing more current through this wire than it's rated for (stating the obvious, I know...).

You should be able to run cabin services with the engine running- they are controlled by the dash switch, which activates everything, except the cabin light, via a big heavy duty relay near the fuse/control panel (mine's inside the "wardrobe" that the control panel is mounted on- see earlier post from me regarding replacing it).

I don't know how your solar cell is hooked up- is it only connected to the leisure battery?

There should be a feed from each of your charging sources to the battery- normally only one will be active at a time but they should all have a "regulator" connection that senses the voltage at the battery and connects the power source to the battery, using a relay, when there is demand. This is typically a thinner cable, as it's for voltage sensing rather than current carrying, so subceptible to overloading.

My guess would be that the fault is somewhere there, so that with the engine running the alternator is charging the battery (as it should) but that the control circuit for the mains charger or (more likely?) the solar panels is also activating its relay and hence is getting alternator-level voltage (~14V) fed to it's "output".  I'm basing this on the assumption that if your alternator was the faulty item then your starter battery would be flat and you would be asking different questions!!!

 One of those thick cables is carrying charge from alternator to leisure battery- it could easily blow a 30A fuse if your leisure battery is flat (your alternator is probably rated at 70A plus and a flat lead-acid battery will draw a lot of current). It seems odd that the thin wire connects two thick ones...  have I misunderstood your description?

Do you have a wiring diagram for the composer electrics? Was the Solar panel "factory fit" by Noppo, added in Japan or after import?

Cheers,
         W.
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milkman
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PostSubject: Re: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Tue May 13, 2014 10:44 pm

Cheers W.
I don't have a wiring diagram for the electrics. As mentioned there are some tags attached to some of the + side wiring on the leisure battery and the culprit was labelled 'isolator'.

Yes behind the cabin switch/fuse panel there is a small box with a morass of wires coming out of it, none of which look like the gauge of wire that appears at the leisure battery so I don't get where that goes to. There's a diagram on the box which could represent a switch type component.

I put a fuse on the replacement wire as a precaution (blew a 30amp on my journey today) after removing the solar panel from the equation. Perhaps I should splice in an unfused wire and see how that goes.

Cheers
Mark
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WGWarburton
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Home City : Central Scotland
Model and year : 94 2.8 Noppo HiTop Super-Long
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PostSubject: Re: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Wed May 14, 2014 8:06 am

Hi,
The box with the morass of wires is the master relay for the cabin power. When you switch on the system at the dash switch that relay is activated and supplies power to the control panel which should have switches and status lights for each of the circuits.
That's the output side of the system and there will be a thick cable connecting the leisure battery to that relay... It's interesting that you can't recognise it and might suggest that someone's put in different cabling at some point, a potential source for your problem?

My working assumption is that your problem is on (our at least connected to) the charging side, as it seems to occur when the engine is running and trying to charge the leisure battery(?)
Have you removed the solar panel connections?
What is not working? Do you have any cabin electrics at all? Can you switch all of the cabin circuits off from the control panel and, if so, does the problem still occur?
What happens when the engine isn't running?
Need more details to diagnose!!!

I will try and scan a copy of the composer wiring diagram that came with my van but I have a lot on at the moment v and don't know when I'll get time, sorry! (I'm typing this on the train to work, BTW)

When you say your thin wire is between two thick ones do you mean it connects them or just physically sits been them?

Cheers,
W.
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milkman
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PostSubject: Re: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Thu May 15, 2014 10:03 pm

W thanks for your offer of your wiring diagram. I almost certainly wont understand it but it might be useful if I decide to pay someone to help with this.

Split charge relay Is it this? Its at the rear of the switchboard cupboard which is at the top of our van

Untitled by markuspalarkus, on Flickr

WGWarburton wrote:
...it's interesting that you can't recognise it and might suggest that someone's put in different cabling at some point, a potential source for your problem?

Our camper was imported by a camper company and had some further mods such as conversion to 240v so I wouldn't be surprised if tinkereing has occured.
I'm trying to figure out where the cabling goes when it leaves the leisure battery compartment, and indeed where it goes to from the back of the switchboard cupboard. Not least as they are on different sides of the van.

Untitled by markuspalarkus, on Flickr



WGWarburton wrote:

My working assumption is that your problem is on (our at least connected to) the charging side, as it seems to occur when the engine is running and trying to charge the leisure battery(?)
I think there was a problem between the solar panel regulator being on at the same time as the engine was trying to charge the leisure battery. Since disconnecting the solar its been fine.
WGWarburton wrote:

Have you removed the solar panel connections?
Yes.


WGWarburton wrote:

What is not working? Do you have any cabin electrics at all? Can you switch all of the cabin circuits off from the control panel and, if so, does the problem still occur?
Originally the battery wasn't charging from the engine which I finally realised was because the relevant cable had simply burnt through and broke the connection.
In every other respect the cabin power worked fine.
I've reconnected the relay charging cable minus the fuse and its working, and the cable shows no sign of heating up yet.
My concern about fuses blowing on this was my ignnorance about what amps are typically running through the charge relay. After you said you thought maybe around 70amps I ditched the fused wire connection.


WGWarburton wrote:

What happens when the engine isn't running?
Nothing, the mains charger charges okay, and the solar panel charged okay 'ish when I had that connected.
I haven't tried running the engine with mains charger connected


WGWarburton wrote:

When you say your thin wire is between two thick ones do you mean it connects them or just physically sits been them?

Untitled by markuspalarkus, on Flickr
As you may be able to see in this photo three of the wires to positive have connectors interrupting them.
The fused reddish wire is for the over-the-door lamp.
The pale brown wire with a thin red wire connecting them is to the main switch, and the green wire with yellow crimps is from the charge relay. That originally had a thin red wire between the yellow crimps and it was this that burnt.
(the fourth thinner continuous red wire is from the 12v mains charger.)

Heres a view of our cabin layout, don;t know how it compares to yours but I would be interested.

Thanks very much for the info you've provided.

Mark
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WGWarburton
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PostSubject: Re: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Fri May 16, 2014 11:40 am

Hi again,
            OK, so it sounds like you are sorted, now, apart from getting the solar panel working?

I don't think there is normally a split-charge relay, as such, on the Composer. Looking at the wiring diagram the leisure and starter batteries are both connected to the alternator via  a pair of diodes which allow charging current to flow to both but prevent the batteries discharging into each other

I believe the relay you have photographed above in the cupboard behind your switch panel is the master relay for the cabin electrics I described earlier. It's not the original one, which would have been an American one (probably a can with screw terminals if mine was anything to go on). What you have looks like a UK sourced replacement (Maybe a Durite 0-727-16?).
If so there should be a pair of coil connections, one to the dash-switch and one to ground- these activate the relay when the cabin electrics are switched on from the dash. The other two terminals are the supply from the leisure battery (Red, 30A fuse, on mine) and feed to the switch panel.

If you want to get the panels charging again, there should be some sort of regulator, and maybe a diode(?) to connect them to the leisure battery positive- Just a mechanism to ensure that the supply from the panels is only connected (or can only flow) when there's enough voltage coming from them to add charge (I guess around 13-14V) and to restrict flow if there's too much (over 14.5?). The restriction bit may not be needed if the panels don't produce more than that, anyway???

            (Can't see the cabin layout, BTW).

Hope this helps... I have photos of the wiring diagrams on google+ but can't work out how to find the URLs to post here at the moment. Will try again another time- let me know if you are in urgent need of them!

Cheers,
         W.
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milkman
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PostSubject: Re: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Fri May 16, 2014 9:07 pm

Cabin layout:

Untitled by markuspalarkus, on Flickr

Thanks for the reply, I shall have to look at this at leisure and try and absorb it. Electricity, voodoo, star signs = interchangeable for me I'm afraid!

Will Pm google + address as I'd like to see the diagrams/astrology charts if possible.
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milkman
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PostSubject: Re: Problem with cabin power: fried a wire!   Fri May 16, 2014 9:11 pm

Oh extra info, when I first got the panel I hooked up to the battery and it fried it, so I now have the regulator which seems to work, on its own at least. The only snag being there's an input for the appliances which I haven't connected as I can't figure out how to integrate that with all the other circuits already wired in.
The panel has a diode in it already, I remember that. It's a 14w panel from memory. How that equates to a page I don't know.

Mark
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