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One big problem I have seen that may explain the 12v on the engine block would be loose engine mounting bolts. Now the engine would have a floating ground. 4 bolts from underneath should be very tight but you can strip or break them. Some mfg's will ground the battery to the engine thus really relying on the mounting bolts to transfer it to the reset of the machine. Not good at all. Adding a ground strap from the engine to the chassis would be a good idea.
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