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Electrical problems?

I just bought a 1984 dodge pick-up. Has a 318 motor w/ only 25k miles on it. It was in pretty good shape… records of oil changes, belts and hoses were in decent shape, I changed the ones that weren’t. I left for the weekend and the vehicle isn’t winterized ( I live in Fairbanks Alaska) When I came back the battery wouldn’t turn over. I jumped it and let it run for a little while to juice up the battery and the relay was glowing red hot. I unhooked the cables and let it all cool down. then I hooked it up to a trickle charger and the next day she fired right up. I let it run for 30 minutes to warm up the insides and all of the sudden it died. When I came back out it was dead, all the electrical was dead, starter wouldn’t turn over. I put it back on the trickle charger and 15 minutes later she starts back-firing. I shut it down, and again all the electrical was dead. New relay? New wiring? Alternator checked out great. Help?

“…the relay was glowing re hot.” WHAT relay?

starter relay

I was gonna say “Your battery probably froze.”, but I don’t know what to say about the relay good luck.

Your story is a bit confusing to me. You say the relay (starter relay) was glowing red hot, so I’m guessing the relay has fused contacts, I.E. stuck together. That alone could be draining your battery. But, it sounds like the second time you started it this wasn’t a problem? The following sentence really confuses me:

I put it back on the trickle charger and 15 minutes later she starts back-firing.

Are you saying it just started back firing all by itself? That again sounds like the starter relay has fused contacts and the battery got enough charge to start cranking. Or, are you saying you tried starting it after 15 minutes and it backfired?

I think for sure you have a dead battery, but I’d want to do some basic tests to make sure everything else is OK. Are you really sure the alternator is OK? I’d probably replace that relay just to be safe. If it was glowing it’s certainly damaged.