Reading Is Fundamental

BONEHEAD BLUNDER: Dissing the diagram
THE BONEHEAD: A commercial client
BONEHEAD RATING: 4
WHAT HAPPENED: I was beginning to despair that there were no more boneheads in our area, that they’d followed the Gulfstream and left all the bright folks here, when, Boom!, one dropped right in my lap.

I have a client who builds piers and moves his barges around with a smaller steel barge. He’s gone through several engines because of the load, and this one, a 150 hp Honda, sounds as though it’s next. There are times I’m sure he’d rather drink strychnine than ask me to get his engines moving, but this time he had no choice.

The basic problem was salt spray blowing up and under the hood where the cowl didn’t join properly. The barge made it to the jobsite, then sat until needed again, when the Honda wouldn’t do anything because the cable between the engine and the controls had some rotten pins in the engine-end connector. They figured that was the problem and purchased another harness that went from the engine to the connectors at the controls. Sometimes the tilt would work from the controls, sometimes not. Sometimes the engine would spin over, sometimes not.

Starting by separating all the connections, and using my knowledge that W/B is 12v constant, while B/W is the source for everything to work from the 12v source, I traced voltage everywhere until I saw a meter waver. I found the three-way connection — wrapped deep in the console connection — had rotted from salt water and carried only a few volts, if you held the wire just right! That repair made a lot of functions work, but no fuel pump, etc. Prior to checking the fuses, I was told they were all clean and perfect. That made me look even more closely. What I saw on the fuse block was Blank-Fuse- Fuse-Fuse-Blank-Blank-Fuse-Fuse. What I saw on the outside of the fuse cover was B-F-F-B-B-F-F-F. Apparently, somebody had reinstalled one in a wrong hole. I took a 15A, installed it in the third blank B. The fuel pump came on and shut off, the tach worked and the owner was delighted, as was I. With all that joy, I started the engine. Ain’t it great when a plan comes together?

LESSONS LEARNED: You can always make electricity go where you want it to (thank you, brother John). Electric passages are always better if supported by diagrams. Don’t modify wiring diagrams. The cheapest tech might not have the experience. In some instances, an aging tech’s experience can slam- dunk a handsome tech’s newfound abilities.

Bonehead Blunders

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