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Farmall & IHC Tractors Discussion Forum
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Farmall 230 battery drain

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RandyM

11-08-2019 14:07:21




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I have consistently had a battery drain on the Farmall 230 for as long as I can remember. It something that I just lived with. When I refreshed the tractor several years ago, I replaced the entire wiring harness with one from a known vendor. The tractor is still 6-volt positive ground and I don t plan to change this one to 12-volt although I know it would be less troublesome.
Recently I replaced the old generator with one I had on the shelf (the one I had on it was from an old 6-volt truck, it was replaced with a a generator from a Farmall tractor). I had the replacement checked and rebrushed, then it run on the machine by a trusted local shop with the voltage regulator that I had on the the tractor (he was given both of them). The battery was new in early October. A few days back it would not start and I found the battery to be low. So following the advice here, I started tracing the wires to check for voltage drain. I used a digital multimeter.
First without disconnecting any wires and using a charged battery, each terminal was checked to ground and was consistently 6.4 volts (neg battery anode - starter - ammeter - VR Batt - VR Load - ignition switch - fuse - light switch terminal #1). So, I m concluding that there are no broken wires?

I went on to remove the wire at each terminal and check voltage between the wire and the terminal it was taken from. Between the battery anode and the starter cable I measured 5.1 volts so my thought is the circuit is drawing 1.3 volts someplace. This was consistent (+/-0.05 volts) all the way through the circuit up to and including at the Batt terminal of the VR. With the load wire disconnected from the VR, I read 0.0 volts between the wire and the L terminal. This changed to 6.4 volts when I turned on the light switch.
When I installed the VR I wire brushed the mounting holes and used star washers to be sure I had good grounding between the VR and the tractor. I have also been checking the charging output. I don t always get the 7-7.5 volts I would expect. At one point it was not producing any output at 2/3-3/4 throttle, but jumped to 7.3 when I idled it down. Then after charging it from this last non start, the output was running at 8 volts. My guess here is that I have an internal VR problem.

Next I continued to trace by this method after the ignition switch to the coil. With the switch ON, and the wire off the negative coil terminal I read 5.8 volts. Is this an indication of a switch issue? With the distributor wire off the coil, and the ignition switch on, I had a reading of 5.65 volts across the coil terminals. Does this indicate a coil problem?

Thanks in advance for your insight and assistance. If there are other checks I should make, please let me know.

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RandyM

11-10-2019 10:33:27




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Dave - I did verify the amp readings were mA.
Jim - battery dropped from 6.35 to 6.31 volts overnight.
With the VR replaced and finding no amp draw today, I rechecked the voltage as in my original post. There was no voltage loss. After polarizing the generator, I started it and was getting plenty of charge - now I m at 8-volts. I believe I can have the generator 3rd brush adjusted to address that.
Thanks again to everyone for the help.

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Janicholson

11-10-2019 13:05:02




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-10-2019 10:33:27  
Sounds good to go. Jim



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RandyM

11-10-2019 04:42:56




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Dave, No insult here (lost my ego a long time ago). I m sure of the 0.05 mA. I started with the lead at 10A, moved it to the 1A post then worked my way down through and including the uA setting. I wrote each measurement down on a wiring diagram I printed out. However, it will only take a minute to reverify that when I get out there this afternoon.
We can rule out others leaving things on. Our sons are raising their families in other towns and there are no other operators here. I also keep the tractor inside the barn with the doors locked.

As to grounds and wire connections, I believe I have removed and reconnected each wire several times now through this process. Understanding that paint causes bad grounds, any place where I connect a ground, is now wire brushed to shining metal. I have also done this at the VR mounting bracket.
Thanks again to everyone for your help.

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RandyM

11-09-2019 13:46:06




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Thanks Jim. I thought the amp draw was low, but I was not confident in my understanding. I did disconnect each wire from the battery through to the VR and continued to see the 0.05 mA draw between the wire end and terminal. Then I removed the battery wire from the VR and went back to check for draw at the battery to find a 0.00 reading.
I removed the existing VR and replaced it with an older Delco Remy VR that I had acquired along the way. After I installed the Delco, I checked and found no amp draw.
As to the battery charge, I had put it on the charger when I started this process. it had not been fully connected to the tractor for a couple of days now and it is at 6.35 volts. I have nothing connected to it and will check it tomorrow. I ll likely try to run it then.

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RandyM

11-09-2019 09:50:33




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Thanks for all the input. I appreciate the help and the lessons. I do not think I have resolved the issue yet, but have done the following today:

Put three different flashlight bulbs between the negative battery anode and the cable to the starter working progressively down from 6 volt to 3 volt to 1.5 volt (based in the number of AA batteries each used). None of these lit up.
I did use the multimeter working from the highest amp setting down. I found a draw of 0.05 mA between the battery and the starter cable. I have not gone beyond that yet.

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Dave41A

11-09-2019 16:14:57




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-09-2019 09:50:33  
I find it difficult to believe that a battery that was new last month would already have deteriorated to the point where it is self-discharging. But it could happen. However, you stated that the tractor has always had a slow drain, so I think we can rule out the battery as cause--more likely a symptom. Also, that you can swap out VR's and make your battery drain go to zero is a good sign. This would also be consistent with the erratic charging behavior you described.

A few ideas:
You stated that the meter read 0.05 mA. Not to insult you, but are you sure this is mA? What setting is your multi-meter on, and where are the leads connected? Also, just to rule things out...are there kids around that could play with the light switch, ignition switch, etc? Another operator who might leave the ignition on?

I also suggest trying again at a different time of day, or after wiggling things a little. Grounds are often intermittent.

A VR drawing 0.05A (not mA) could pull down the battery enough to make the tractor turn over slow on a cold day after a month. The problem is the starter draws so much current that the coil is effectively "starved" of electricity. The engine will turn over but not spark in these situations. I changed my H from distributor to magneto to avoid this.

Good luck (and there is a fair dose of luck involved in this!) Dave

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Janicholson

11-09-2019 12:23:17




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-09-2019 09:50:33  
.05 ma is an irrelevant amount. 1/1000 amp is a ma, so .05ma can be drawn for a year. Cars can draw 100 to 150ma to keep electronics alive. I have seen self discharging batteries (new) that were hard to diagnose. I would disconnect the battery, charge it, measure the standing voltage after an hour (still disconnected) then wait a day or two and measure again. After an hour it should be 6.3 (or a tiny bit more) It should not be below 6.25 after a week! Jim

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LPakiz

11-09-2019 07:49:27




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Dave, You are absolutely right in that certain small wattage bulbs will not glow with a small amount of "leakage" and that a digital AMP meter would be better for really small battery drains. But you would need to understand electrical terms and theory to effectively use a digital AMP meter to find the leak. The bulb just makes it simple and foolproof, especially if you use a bulb with the correct voltage rating.
I use a dash light bulb (194?) and will progress to smaller and smaller bulbs, even bulbs of less than rated voltage. All that matters is that the bulb glows without burning out.

It just seemed to me that the OP wasn t tracking down the problem correctly.

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LPakiz

11-09-2019 06:20:22




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to see

I just reread the whole thread. If you are searching for a current leak from the battery, there is no point in looking at what voltage values are showing up where. That s irrelevant in this case. If your ignition switch is shut off, there should be no power anywhere in the ignition system, unless your switch is still allowing current to pass.
You need to insert a device into the circuit that visibly SHOWS the leak, when the leak is active. (See my rather lengthy post elsewhere in this thread)

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c.amick

11-08-2019 19:14:45




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Does the needle on there ammeter show a discharge after you shut the tractor off? I suspect the points in the voltage regular are sticking.



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RandyM

11-08-2019 18:30:20




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Dave and Al, I ll measure amps later this weekend as you have suggested.
I ll post back when I have it done.

Thanks for the help



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Dave41A

11-09-2019 07:23:45




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 18:30:20  
I should add that be sure to work from your highest amperage scale *down* to the lowest. The 10A scale usually requires that you move the COM lead on your multi-meter to a different socket on the meter. If you get no reading on 10A then switch your leads over to the 1A scale and work down from there until you get a reading.
You probably already knew this but someone reading this years from now may not.

For an absolute level of safety, using 6V bulb for the initial test (to see if there is enough current to light a bulb) as LPakiz suggests, will work to see if you have a drain as high as 3-4A. However, if the bulb does *not* light, that does not mean you do not have a drain. Rather, it only means that drain is too weak to light the bulb. For anything smaller than 0.3A or so you'll need a meter.

I cannot over-emphasize that grounds are hard to chase down. It is a frustrating process, especially as some grounds seem to open and close on their own with vibration, humidity, etc. Good luck. Dave

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RandyM

11-08-2019 18:24:30




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Jim, to clarify, I hope,
with the ignition switch in the on position and no wire to the coil connected, I measured 5.8 volts to ground on the coil side of the switch.
I then connected the coil wire to the switch and disconnected it from the negative coil terminal. Between the wire and the terminal, I measured 5.72 volts. Finally, across the coil terminals I measured 5.65 volts.



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Janicholson

11-09-2019 05:44:48




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 18:24:30  
Interesting. If the last sentence indicated 5.65 volts, everything must have been connected switch on. I think there is too much resistance in the switch or wires to the switch. With the coil disconnected at the distributor terminal, switch on, the entire supply side should read battery voltage (about 6.3 volts) every where you put the meter to ground. From the starter switch to amp meter, to switch from switch, and to the coil on both sides, and finally to the wire terminal at the place it was disconnected at the distributor. When all connected and points closed the supply side should still be at 6, till the coil, then near nothing from coil to distributor. Jim

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AlinMO

11-08-2019 15:48:44




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Instead of using the volt scale, try it using "amps". I'd set your meter at 10 amp to keep from blowing your meter fuse. Disconnect your main wire at battery. run 1 lead of meter to battery post, other to disconnected wire. If this is only wire on post, you should show an amp reading. If not try the lower amp setup. If it shows a draw, yuu need to find which circuit is drawing current. Hook up main wire then start same process with each wire connected to main wire.

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LPakiz

11-09-2019 05:58:49




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to AlinMO, 11-08-2019 15:48:44  
Digital Volt meters can be a great tool for some things, but their sensitivity makes them susceptible to errors in other uses.
I suggest using the smallest light bulb/socket/pigtail you can find. If the leak is really small, even a flashlight bulb would work.
Unhook one of the battery cables and connect the bulb between the battery post and the disconnected cable. All the leaking current must pass thru the filament, making the bulb glow. If the bulb glows with everything shut off, you will start to unhook things one at a time. On a Class 8 semi, I would usually start at the fuse box, removing and replacing one fuse at a time. When the bulb goes out, you have found the faulty circuit. If you suspect the voltage regulator, unhook that wire first. BTW, a light bulb makes a great (UNBLOWABLE) fuse for finding dead shorts. A headlight bulb will carry about 4-5 amps and NEVER any more. Wire it in place of a fuse or between the battery post and cable terminal. When the short is active, the headlight will illuminate. Unhook or wiggle wires until the bulb flickers or goes out. You will be very close to the fault. This worked great under a semi trailer, with the sealed beam pointed at the wall, or some place where it was easy to see.

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Dave41A

11-09-2019 06:44:48




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to LPakiz, 11-09-2019 05:58:49  
Using a light bulb is an option to using a digital ammeter, but the smallest 6V bulb commonly available (1.8W) draws 0.3A to illuminate--that's 300mA. However, even a discount tool store ammeter can read down to the micro-amp scale. My $6 model has a 200 microamp scale and can "measure" to the 0.000001 of an amp. I make no claims as to the accuracy at that scale (although some cheap meters are surprisingly good), but for trouble shooting purposes all that is required is a "zero" or "not zero." The digital meter will work just fine in this situation, and will be more sensitive than a lightbulb.

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Dave41A

11-08-2019 16:05:05




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to AlinMO, 11-08-2019 15:48:44  
AlinMO beat me to it. Voltage is a tough way to check for a slow drain. Disconnect one connection at a time and work your way through the system, using the ammeter to complete the circuit. With everything off, you should show 0 amps everywhere. Do *not* test amps to ground--that will blow the meter instantly! Test the amps between the terminals you just disconnected from.

I would start at the negative terminal and verify that there is amperage flowing from the battery with everything off as follows: Connect one ammeter lead to the (-) battery terminal and the other to the battery cable clamp. This should show zero if everything is right--but a few milliamps if you have a drain. Then put things back together and go to the next spot, and so on.

Another way to do it is to put the meter between the (-) battery terminal and the clamp as I described, which again will show a few milliamps if you have a drain. Leave the meter there, then one-by-one disconnect the lights and other components, re-checking the ammeter each time. When you have disconnected the leak, the meter will drop to zero.

Battery drains are tough to find if there are multiple, intermittent leaks. Jiggle things a little and one will stop, but another will start somewhere else. Can be frustrating. Good luck, Dave

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Janicholson

11-08-2019 15:26:03




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 Re: Farmall 230 battery drain in reply to RandyM, 11-08-2019 14:07:21  
Your middle paragraph points to a new regulator. The last Paragraph is in need (to me) of an explanation. Switch on volt meter grounded, wire off of the distributor side terminal, the voltage should be battery voltage, not less, at both terminals of the coil. With wire reconnected and points closed, there should be battery voltage at the switch side of the coil, and no voltage (less than .25v) at the distributor side of the coil. Jim

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