Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby timtimtim2000 [OP] » November 16th 2016, 8:20pm

So, first things first: in April, I bought a 1999 Chevy Astro van with 290,000 miles which I promptly cut the roof off of. It's been a really fun and mostly reliable ride. I've driven nearly 6,000 miles in this state with minimal problems. It's been one of the most fun projects I've ever attempted and I'd like to keep it going.

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I store it outside with a big car cover (the garage in the photo is full of motorcycles). The cover leaks a little but does a good job of keeping water out for the most part.

I've had a lingering electrical problem for the last few months that I've tried to solve but it keeps rearing it's head. Every now and then when I go to start the van, the battery is dead. Sometimes as low as 4 volts. It will always start with a jump and sometimes it will start again without a jump.

I know the problem is related to my ridiculous convertible mod, but I'm not sure how to fix it.

When the battery is so damaged that it won't start again after running with a jump, I replace the battery. I've replaced the battery 3 times (all under warranty, but that was my last free battery according to the autozone guy). I've also replaced the alternator as the previous one was on the way out.

I park on a slight incline (the back is lower than the front), so I drilled holes in the floor in the back in order to drain any water that might pool in the back.

I recently installed a battery kill switch to disconnect the battery when I park the van. This has helped reduce the frequency of the battery issues, but not entirely solved the problem.
https://www.amazon.com/Cllena-Battery-Disconnect-Cut-off-Terminal/dp/B01IQRMFWY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1479322223&sr=8-2&keywords=side+post+battery+master+disconnect+switch

Yesterday, I attempted to fix the issue by checking for a parasitic draw.
http://www.wikihow.com/Find-a-Parasitic-Battery-Drain
However, I was only reading roughly 11mA of current with the van off - which to me indicates that I don't have an issue. I did go ahead and pull every fuse (under the hood and under the steering column) one by one and still had 11mA of current - unless I pull the battery fuse (which, duh, is normal).

When checking for a parasitic draw, I decided to leave the following fuses out in order to disable the circuits which are not necessary and presume could cause a problem:
RR DEFOG, RR WIPER, CTSY, HTD MIR, AUX PWR.

1. Do you have any other suggestions for further weather proofing the van?
2. How can I solve the problem of the battery going flat and being damaged to the point that it needs to be replaced once a month?
3. Does anyone see an issue with running with the RR DEFOG, RR WIPER, CTSY, HTD MIR, AUX PWR fuses pulled?

Thanks,
Tim
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby chevymaher » November 16th 2016, 8:38pm

timtimtim2000 wrote:
When checking for a parasitic draw, I decided to leave the following fuses out in order to disable the circuits which are not necessary and presume could cause a problem:
RR DEFOG, RR WIPER, CTSY, HTD MIR, AUX PWR.

1. Do you have any other suggestions for further weather proofing the van?
2. How can I solve the problem of the battery going flat and being damaged to the point that it needs to be replaced once a month?


Thanks,
Tim

1) Roof works for mine. Indoors works. But no roof outside I am not sure what your asking here.
2) Find the wires you chopped off and left crossed. I would be guessing dome light.

It is a fantasy island vehicle.
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby TurnNburn » November 16th 2016, 8:44pm

Based off the link you posted which doesn't actually show you in any of those pictures how to properly wire it into the circuit to test for parasitic draw and the really low amp readings when you obviously have a draw I would double check how you have your meter plugged in.

Should look like this
http://www.fixkick.com/drain/parasitic/ ... acitic.gif

If you EVER put your black wire to the negative terminal and the red wire to the positive terminal while in amp mode, then your meter is dead (at least for reading amps, voltage and resistance will still work) and will no longer read amps.
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby timtimtim2000 [OP] » November 16th 2016, 8:45pm

chevymaher wrote:1) Roof works for mine. Indoors works. But no roof outside I am not sure what your asking here.
2) Find the wires you chopped off and left crossed. I would be guessing dome light.

It is a fantasy island vehicle.


Thank you for the reply.

1. Haha. Yes, but I'm so far down this path, putting a roof on it would be no fun. Inside isn't an option as I live in the city and a garage is extremely expensive. I agree I have an unrealistic goal, but the whole project has been unrealistic and that's what has made it really fun.
2. Very good insight. I do seem to recall just hacking away the dome light without regard for how it grounds. I'll look into that and report back.
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby timtimtim2000 [OP] » November 16th 2016, 8:47pm

TurnNburn wrote:Based off the link you posted which doesn't actually show you in any of those pictures how to properly wire it into the circuit to test for parasitic draw and the really low amp readings when you obviously have a draw I would double check how you have your meter plugged in.

Should look like this
http://www.fixkick.com/drain/parasitic/ ... acitic.gif

If you EVER put your black wire to the negative terminal and the red wire to the positive terminal while in amp mode, then your meter is dead (at least for reading amps, voltage and resistance will still work) and will no longer read amps.


Thank you. Yes, I believe I did it properly like in the picture you provided. I connected the meter in series between the negative battery post and the negative cable.
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby WoodButcher » November 17th 2016, 1:24am

timtimtim2000 wrote:


1. Do you have any other suggestions for further weather proofing the van?
Follow San's lead or keep an umbrella handy!
viewtopic.php?f=127&t=14892

3. Does anyone see an issue with running with the RR DEFOG, RR WIPER, CTSY, HTD MIR, AUX PWR fuses pulled?
No issue I know of if it starts, goes and stops. May have some issues with the safety cops but that don't bother me!

Thanks,
Tim

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby chevymaher » November 17th 2016, 2:55am

timtimtim2000 wrote:

1. Haha. Yes, but I'm so far down this path, putting a roof on it would be no fun. Inside isn't an option as I live in the city and a garage is extremely expensive. I agree I have an unrealistic goal, but the whole project has been unrealistic and that's what has made it really fun.


I actually like it. I did the same thing to a 4 dr 65 Chevelle in college. Cut the roof off with a cutting torch. Guy I knew had access to the shop there.
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby timtimtim2000 [OP] » December 16th 2016, 9:35pm

Just wanted to give an update:

I've had no problems with the converti-van since my last post. I've been following a simple protocol of disconnecting the battery every time I park it. With the quick disconnect screw, it takes about five seconds to open the hood and turn the screw. I can do it in the dark now without using the hood prop.

I'm not sure if it's even necessary to disconnect the battery, but hey it works - don't change it. Totally worth the five second hassle to have it running reliably.

It's sat in tons of rain, tons of cold, and driven tons more miles around town. We took a few friends around in it last week when it was 37 degrees, but everyone was new to the van and thus all smiles.

And yes, to chevymaher's comment, the dome wires were completely bare and open to the elements. I sealed them up, but since I removed the CTSY fuse, they are unpowered anyway. :ty:

Thanks again for the help. I'll post back if I've got more problems. Until then, I'll be cruisin. :driving:

Tim
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby Lumpy » December 16th 2016, 10:46pm

I installed one of those $12 onboard trickle chargers. Haven't had a low battery related problem since, either accidental or ghost caused.


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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby Leeann_93 » December 16th 2016, 11:43pm

I have a cheapie solar charger from HF plugged in all the time. Battery is always ready to go, even if it's been 2 weeks since I last drove it.

That, however, assumes you park outside and not in a garage...
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby AstroWill » December 17th 2016, 3:56am

Leeann_93 wrote:I have a cheapie solar charger from HF plugged in all the time. Battery is always ready to go, even if it's been 2 weeks since I last drove it.

That, however, assumes you park outside and not in a garage...

I have two of the HF ones, I also have a 7.5W job from Amazon, $20 and much better build quality than the HF unit. Throw it on the dash and forget about it.

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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby timtimtim2000 [OP] » December 20th 2016, 4:24pm

Leeann_93 wrote:I have a cheapie solar charger from HF plugged in all the time. Battery is always ready to go, even if it's been 2 weeks since I last drove it.

That, however, assumes you park outside and not in a garage...


Great idea. I think I'll pick one of those up and see if that helps keep the battery happier.

Thanks again for the help.

Tim
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Re: Burning through batteries on a Sawzall convertible

Postby TurnNburn » December 20th 2016, 5:51pm

My wife just saw a picture of your astrominio on instagram and sent me a picture of it. Now she wants a chopped astro... :doh:
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