Author Topic: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload  (Read 7349 times)

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Offline Daximus

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PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« on: July 01, 2014, 06:35:57 PM »
Hey all,

I keep popping this main breaker (I think that's what it is?) on the back of my engine. When I pop it, I have to wait 5 or 10 minutes, and then I can reset it and go on about my way. I'm pretty sure it's my audio system that keeps killing it. It only happens when I suddenly drop the throttle (rider just fell) with the stereo cranked. It doesn't happen all the time, but those are the conditions under which it does happen. I'm guessing that breaker operates off of heat, and once the boat is good and warmed up the stereo's amp draw puts it over the limit. It never happens without the radio on, so nothing on the boat is broke, just in need of modification to accommodate the extra amperage I draw.

Question: Anything I can do/upgrade to resolve this? Bigger alternator? Bigger wires? Maybe the breaker is getting old? Reroute some wires…etc?

I'm sure that 100+ amp stereos were not even a reasonable consideration during the wiring development stage on these wonderful old boats, so I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas or input on how I can bring things up to speed. Or any general information on the breaker's operation so that I may develop a plan of my own, lol.

Thanks!

1986 Advance

Offline RonT

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2014, 06:49:32 AM »
Your right, the boat was not designed for that load, that breaker feeds the main harness going up to the dash panel and will be a 40 or 50 amp breaker and the wire size in those harness's are only 10 gauge. You need to feed your thirsty amps directly from the battery with an independent fuse at the battery and correct gauge wires leading to the amp(s) It is ok to run the stereo head off the main dash circuit and they will have a "remote" trigger lead typically blue wire that can pull the remote powered amps fed direct from the battery.
NOTE: please reroute your battery cable away from the sharp edged, moving shaft arm on the transmission.

Offline backfoot100

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2014, 07:41:58 AM »
+1 on what Ron said. Its kinda hard to see if its a shadow or the cable sheathing is discolored right under the shift linkage. Either way that can't be good. Move it away from there.
When people run down to the lake to see what is making that noise, you've succeeded.

Offline Daximus

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2014, 10:23:08 AM »
Thanks for the input fellas, but I think we are barking up the wrong tree. While I don't know a great deal about inboard boats, I'm very well versed in mobile audio. I used to be an installer. There is no way I'd attempt to power these amps from the 18 gauge frog hairs at the instrument panel.

Each amp is independently fused and wired with 4 gauge (battery cable) on both power and ground sides. Ground goes directly to negative terminal on battery, hot comes off the common on the Perko switch. Nothing...not even the head unit is running off instrument panel wiring harness. I never run the batteries together (dual on Perko), and I never charge the deep cycle off the alternator. It exists for the sole purpose of cove parking, and it get's charged at home.

This is why I'm a little perplexed about why I keep tripping that breaker...I shouldn't (in my mind) be pulling any power through it.  My only theory is the amperage draw in total is overwhelming as the alternator tries to keep up? I checked for grounding issues on the main, it does run close to the trans linkage, but mine is secure and clear.

Here is a quick diagram...Paint is all I had to work with, lol.

1986 Advance

Offline RonT

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2014, 04:48:55 PM »
The more details you provide the better answers you will get, there are some really knowledgeable guys on here, and I can't really recall the last time I disagreed with anyone on an objective question here, opinions, yes everyone gets to voice theirs. That breaker whether 40 or 50 amp is to protect the wire harness and is usually similar in size to the alternator output. I would measure the amperage under the conditions when it fails to better determine what is really going on.

Offline Daximus

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2014, 05:52:56 PM »


Much appreciated, as always Ron, I mean no disrespect. You are my go to guy on this stuff, lol. I was hoping maybe someone had run across this before and had an easy fix, that's all. I understand I'm an anomaly here, most American Skier owners don't wakeboard, have towers, or stupid huge stereos, lol.

Been doing some reading today on the Natique forums (wakeboarders love them old 2001s)...here is my theory. Under normal operation (no big ass stereo) there honestly isn't a huge load on the alternator. So the voltage regulator is spitting out maybe 13-13.5v with no serious load. Then I drop the throttle, voltage spikes a bit for a second, but the voltage has everything under control. No external load other than the radio.

Now, add a huge amperage draw (my amps). Running along, the voltage regulator is probably maxed out at 14-14.5v trying to keep up. I dump the throttle, but instead of the voltage needs dropping of like they normally would simply powering the engine, mine still exist. For split second, my electrical system is generating max (cause the stereo still pulls it), but the engine is no longer consuming...so that spike nails the breaker with more amperage than it was designed to handle.

That's my theory.

What I'll probably do is replace the breaker, and upgrade the main heading to the instrument panel, and grab a modern alternator.
1986 Advance

Offline backfoot100

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2014, 06:17:28 AM »
I think you're on the right track. Keep in mind to sure you get a marine alternater. A new modern unit will be a 100A one wire vs. your existing 35A (I believe) three wire. I know there would be some rewiring to do but it should be pretty minor stuff with your abilities. I'm not positive what those wiring changes would be right off hand but I do know it's been documented on that other CC site before.

Keep us updated.

When people run down to the lake to see what is making that noise, you've succeeded.

Offline backfoot100

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2014, 06:24:37 AM »
I'm sure that Ron or Dan could probably tell you what would need to be changed too. Might even be here someplace already.

When people run down to the lake to see what is making that noise, you've succeeded.

Offline RonT

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2014, 07:44:27 AM »
Your breaker is a thermo activated switch, the more amps or current flow the more heat is generated inside the device, voltage is not a "practical" factor, however as voltage goes down, amperage goes up to compensate, and as voltage goes up, amperage goes down. Your system voltage should never hit 14 volts if the regulator is working correctly, 13.5-13.8 is the desired system voltage when running. Multiple breaker resetting can & likely will diminish the rated trip heat/amperage. Excessive system load (which you have) will cause the OEm charging system to work overtime to keep everything in balance, anytime you overwork the system you shorten component life. if you are measuring system voltage above 14 VDC that would tell me the regulator is struggling & beginning to fail.
Old school ski boats have a starting/charging system designed around a 35-46 amp capacity alternator to keep (1) cranking battery charged and provide a peak auxiliary load of 40 amps for lights, pumps, blowers etc. and normal load of 10-15 amps while running.
Modern Cars (1990+) have much more robust charging systems and much improved regulators to keep spiking voltage from entering onboard computers.
This is something the GA aircraft fleet is dealing with as well, old school open contactor voltage regulators trying to maintain clean even voltage with new computer driven nav panels don't mix well.
I have not retro-fitted any of the bigger alternators (yet) in my shop to accommodate cases like yours but if your boat were in my shop I would install a new single wire, internal regulated, Marine Alternator, in the 100 amp range like noted on the above post.   

Offline backfoot100

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2014, 12:34:47 PM »
Seeing as Ron and/or Dan hasn't done this yet, I'll assume it's OK for me to mention that SkiDim sells the alternators and wiring kits for this upgrade, although the instructions have been known to be somewhat confusing for those who have done it.

I apologize in advance for not directing a potential sale to Ron or Dan but I'm making assumptions based on Ron's replys and trying to help out the OP.

Again keep us posted on the outcome.
When people run down to the lake to see what is making that noise, you've succeeded.

Offline Daximus

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2014, 05:32:45 AM »
Still haven't made the "fix" yet..waiting until off season. Temporary fix, run both the amps to the deep cycle (separate circuit) while towing hard.
1986 Advance

Offline PaulM

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2014, 05:44:01 AM »
Would it be cheaper to just buy some hearing aids.....???

Offline Daximus

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Re: PCM main breaker (big red button) overload
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2014, 08:29:10 PM »
Would it be cheaper to just buy some hearing aids.....???

I've yet to find a waterproof hearing aid. I like to hear my music at the end of the rope. :)

1986 Advance