Sprinkler Valves Gone Silent

My valve controller went bad, so I bought a new one. It was controlling 3 valves/stations. They're located about 15 yards from the controller. Coming out of the ground into the controller were 3 black wires connected to stations; 4 red wires, one connected to common, the other tree had their ends wrapped with electrical tape. In addition there were two white wires that were capped together. As I was threading the wires out of the old controller, the tape came off the ends of two reds, so I have three reds with bare copper connector at the end. I installed the new controller (a Champion) and got power to it. But the sprinklers won't activate in either program or manual mode. I've checked the voltage across the stations and common in the controller, and it's 24 VAC. When I check continuity from any black to any red, I get an open circuit. When I check continuity across any two blacks, I get 40 ohms, which I believe is what the resistance across a solenoid should be.
I went into the vault and dug around. I found the two white wires, but I can't find where they are coming from. (I really don't think they are players, since they are capped off.) I found a connector that has one solenoid wire coming in, and a wire coming out. I couldn't dig down deeply enough to find where the other solenoid wires are going. I've followed the wires from the controller back to the earth, and can see nothing amiss about them.
So summing up: the valves were all working, i.e., opened when power got to them before. I cannot see that there is anything that I messed up when I disconnected the old controller. (BTW, I reconnected the old controller the same way I am trying to hook up the new ones, and it does NOT activate the valves.)
With these clues can anyone guess as to what my problem might be?
Thanks.
Ken
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Ken Kast wrote:

Where are your valves? Not exposed in the vault?
What I would do is to disconnect all wires at the controller and measure continuity.
If working the way you describe you should measure a resistance from three of the black wires to one red.
The resistance between those three blacks should be twice what you measure between one of the blacks and the red. Each black has a coil to the red and there would be two coils between blacks.
You say you see only resistance between blacks. Appears that the red common is open.
Black--------------------------- Coil Black-----------------Coil | | | Black-------------Coil | | | | Red-----------------------------
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The valves are exposed in the vault, but all I have are the leads coming from sealed connectors on the solenoids and disappearing into the soil below.
I show an open circuit between the various reds, and between the blacks and the reds, when everything is disconnected. Since two solenoid "hot" sides show a resistance, I'm guessing that they in fact have commons commoned somewhere in the ground. And it seems that none of the reds is bringing a common to the box. The think is, unless I had rotten bad luck, I can't see what I could have done to disrupt the common that was there before I started my rehab effort.

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As you can see from my diagram you will have continuity between blacks even if the return is missing. But it will be the resistance of two coils.
Somewhere quite close those leads from the solenoids must connect to the black and red wires. I am very surprised they are not visible. In mine the valves and all wire connections are above the soil.
This is especially necessary on mine because the wire harness connects to another set leading to another vault and set of three valves about 40 feet away. Total of six stations.
I think it would be worth the effort do dig down and find out where those solenoid wires connect to the blacks and reds. I don't think it could be more than a foot or so.
What brand valves? Mine are Rainbird like these.
http://www.rainbird.com/landscape/products/valves/dv_series.htm
And note that the coil resistance is 38 ohms.
Ken Kast wrote:

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