View Full Version : Switch Panel??

06-18-2008, 12:13 PM
Here's my current issue--89 TriStar 190 w/ 351..... I've tried searching the site and found a few things similar but still different than what's going on with my boat. The switches on to the right of the steering wheel(blower, bilge pump, lights, etc) all seem to be working correctly. When the key is on they light up with the amber light and when switched on the light turns to red. The problem is, whatever the particular switch is supposed to be controlling doesn't turn on(blower, bilge pump, etc). I obviously have power to the switches but no power past that. I've tested w/ multi meter at the blower only(easiest wires to reach) and there is no current. I've looked behind the dash and all the wires are intact and look good. I've also taken the panel out of the dash to look at the connections there. All seem to be good I haven't found any inline fuses and have tried resetting the individual breakers for each thing.... no dice.

I've been having issues w/ my kill switch(old and worn out) and should be receiving my replacement today and get it swapped out tonight. Could a bad kill switch be causing this?

If anybody has any ideas or wisdom for this, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.

06-18-2008, 12:22 PM
I'd start by taking the panel off, and check to see that the switches work. If they do, they must either not have power to them, fuse/breaker, or something got in there and ate up your wires. I've herd of mice going in and having a field day.

06-18-2008, 12:32 PM
Anything that is fed by a purple wire is after the kill switch, so yes, that can cause the problem as long as that device is fed by the purple wire.. If the device isn't working when the switch is flipped, bypass the switch, or look at how it's wired. If the wires were removed, it's possible that it was re-wired in a way that the device is getting the current through the light and a light bulb will limit the current going through it.

06-18-2008, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the quick responses guys. I should know alot more about the issue after getting the new kill switch installed this evening.

It just seems odd-- even with the key off all those things(blower, bilge pump, etc) would all still come on--before, but now won't work in any situation.

06-18-2008, 12:48 PM
Are you using a meter or test light? For this kind of thing, I would use a test light.

06-18-2008, 03:45 PM
Are you using a meter or test light? For this kind of thing, I would use a test light.

I was using a meter. Don't have a test light. Probably should go by and pick one up.

06-18-2008, 04:01 PM
Test lights are great for diagnosing lights, switches and motors. I would avoid using one on sensitive electronics like ECM and other low current circuits. You don't need to spend much on one, either.

06-19-2008, 09:47 AM
Thanks for all the help guys, I really appreciate it.

After doing some more testing last night, I think I'm dealing with bad switches. I've got six switches on the panel--blower, nav lights, anchor lights, manual bilge, auto bilge, and accessory. For some reason the accessory switch still works where the other 5 don't.

I tested and the switches are all getting power but the accessory switch is the only one moving that power through the switch to whatever it powers. I hooked up the blower and bilge pump to the accessory switch and both things fired right up.

What's is strange is that these switches are all just a little over a year old. I replaced them all last spring and they worked fine all last summer.

Does the conclusion of bad switches make any sense at all? Any flaws in my line of thinking? I kept telling myself "it can't be bad switches!!". But, that's the only conclusion I can draw.

I think at this point I'm going to order some more switches and go back to work. If the new switches don't do the trick, I don't know what to try next.....

Atleast I've got the one operational switch. That'll keep me on the water until I can permanently fix the panel.

Keep the good ideas coming guys!

06-19-2008, 09:51 AM
Doesn't really seem right that all the switches would go out an the same time. Are you just looking for power somewhere, or checking for continuity on the switch itself?

06-19-2008, 10:27 AM
The wire that feeds the switches is daisy-chained, right? If the switch closest to the source works and the rest don't, I would look at the terminal that slides onto the first switch. If the wire going to teh rest of the switches is broken or not twisted well enough, it may make contact to make the test light go on but not enough to drive the current. Leave the test light on, probe the tab for supply voltage and flip that switch. If the light goes off, bypass the jumper wire and go direct to the source. If it works, it's the wire's fault.

Test each device with a separate voltage source (not the dash wiring) and if they all work, check the daisy chained wires. If they're bad, replace them.

If you suspect the switches, use the meter to check continuity.

06-19-2008, 04:17 PM
Doesn't really seem right that all the switches would go out an the same time. Are you just looking for power somewhere, or checking for continuity on the switch itself?

I thought it was pretty weird.....

I am checking for continuity on the switch. I know they are all getting power b/c all the indicator lights are working fine.

All the switches are daisy chained togeter. The accessory switch should be the first in line. But, the thing I don't understand is how the switches are getting power(lights working on switches) but not passing that power on, unless it's a bad switch? Are the power sources seperate i.e. one power source for lights and another for the actual device the switch powers?

I appreciate ya'll bearing with me here. I'm learning on the fly!! :)

09-12-2008, 05:55 PM
I just discovered last week that my 89 Tristar is doing the same exact thing. Looks like it will be in the shop soon. Huge bummer.

09-12-2008, 06:20 PM
Sorry- I never saw the last question to me.

If the voltage is getting to one gauge/light but the rest don't work, the voltage is stopping at that gauge/light, either because of a bad wire or terminal. That's where a continuity test comes in. If you go to the ignition switch when it's off, check from the purple wire to each gauge, from the first, to the last. If you find that continuity stops at one gauge, it can't be present at the next one down the line.

If the gauges all have voltage and still don't work, the ground is bad.