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Old 07-03-2013, 10:04 AM   #1
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Another starting issue

I recently went to the storage facility to start my coach (2001). The starting batteries were changed 3 months ago and the coach was run at that time, but had not been started since. When I turned the key 'On', all the dash lights went thru the normal cycle but when I turned to 'Start', nothing happened. Back by the battery bay, when the key is turned 'On' I can hear the lift pump running, but when turned to 'Start' I do not hear the normal solenoid click. I put the meter on the Input side of the solenoid in the service bay (the one labeled Starter Solenoid) and it only measures 8.8v When the key is turned to 'Start' the output side also then measures 8.8v.

Any ideas on why the input voltage here is below battery voltage (measured at 12.5v)? Is there a fuse or something in between that could have this effect? Any other thoughts?
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:22 AM   #2
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3 months of storage will deplete a start battery or batteries in most cases. There is a lot of small drain components that add up over time on the chassis side. Suggest unhooking start batteries for storage over two weeks. Charfe them up and you should be fine. Hit the booster switch to start. Rkl
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:25 AM   #3
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I'd think , dirty or loose , connections at the battery. Doesn't take much in the way of amps to give your voltmeter a 12+ reading , but as soon as there is a load the poor connection rears it's ugly head.
And I see that RKL types faster that I do.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:27 AM   #4
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When you try to start the engine several devices pull power from the battery. The 8.8V could be what is left of the dead battery under load or draw. Not enough to make the starter even try. You could get the same results with the headlights or any hi-draw device. Bottom line is most likely dead battery (s).
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:49 PM   #5
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If the 12.5 is simultaneous w/the 8.8 (and the 8.8 is on the load studs of the solenoid) then I'm w/Skip- it is a connection or broken wire.

Is the load input stud constantly hot? If yes, then the solenoid is wired similarly to the later year Vansco chassis's and the feed comes off an unfused hot stud some place. The pre-Vansco wiring diagram shows the 10ga wires both come off the starter Bendix unit, one blue 10ga goes thru a 12ga fuse link to the solenoid, and the other white 10ga goes uninterrupted.

Before putting any wrench on or near the starter connections, IIWMI'd insulate the tool against accidental strike between the hot 2/0 wire & ground or disconnect the battery ground wires at the battery box (note that turning off the chassis disconnect DOES NOT disconnect the hot feed to the starter).
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:17 PM   #6
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My guess is when you activated the starter you had 8.8V everywhere in the system. The battery can show 12V on a volt meter, but when loaded not have the amperage needed and then the voltage will drop also. Put the meter on the battery and try to start it.
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Old 07-03-2013, 05:21 PM   #7
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Thanks all for the input

All good points that I'll act on ASAP. To Engineer Mike: the input side of the solenoid is always hot (or, at 8.8v, just warm). I didn't check battery voltage while turning the key to 'Start' yet, but I'll do that next. Both batteries were just replaced in March, but it's certainly possible one could be bad. I'd probably be inclined to think a poor connection is the culprit.

I'll appreciate any other ideas and will post an update when I've done some more research.
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Old 07-03-2013, 06:22 PM   #8
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Marty, your response doesn't sound right. Engineer Mike made the point that the hot side of the Starter Solenoid is always hot & connected to the chassis battery. Not sure what you meant by "warm" but the hot lead to the solenoid SHOULD read the same voltage as the chassis battery especially sitting idle. If you have 8.8V on the solenoid and some other voltage (such as 12V) at the chassis battery then there's a problem just sitting idle (unless I'm missing something!?).
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Old 07-04-2013, 11:07 AM   #9
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Bob-

Yes, only 8.8v on the input lug of the starter solenoid when sitting idle. There appears to be a voltage loss between the batteries and the solenoid.
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Old 07-04-2013, 11:21 AM   #10
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Check for volts at the battery posts , then move your volt meter - to the cable clamp while keeping + on the battery post , see if you have any drop in volts, then - post and + clamp, this checks your cable connections . Then chassis frame to + post.
Could be your ground cable at the frame needs to be cleaned.
Also follow your positive cable from the battery , if there is only the single large cable then you need to find the split where that cable feeds power into the rest of the chassis circuits , could be a power stud , part way to the starter , could be at the starter, If 2 cables start at the + terminal clamp, check for 12+ volts at the starter; the large cable; then trace the smaller cable looking for splices and junction terminals.
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Old 07-04-2013, 11:46 AM   #11
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Skip brings up a good point. Any time you have voltage problems, battery connections are suspect. Only way to tell for real is to clean them. Takes maybe 20 minutes to remove, scrub & remake connections at the batteries. This is especially problematic on lead post connections, as the dark gray lead oxide coating that forms cannot be easily distinguished from the lead base. And while conductive at low amperage, lead oxide is highly resistive so large volt drop is experienced at high demand.

Marty's problem appears more definitive, but battery connections are spooky. The fake connection could be battery posts, starter, ring terminal on the remote solenoid. Could also be a corroded fuse link between the starter & the remote solenoid. Here is the early Alpine starter circuit:

The rectangular box above the starter I believe is the bendix unit. Note that the remote solenoid circuit is from the bendix unit back to the bendix unit, w/the fuse link spliced in (note to Vansco chassis owners: our rigs are completely different). 1435 BK goes to a ground stud, should be black & attached to the ground side of the remote solenoid coil; 1555 should be white going to other side of solenoid coil, activates the coil w/+12V & comes out of the wire loom from position T on the chassis/engine connector.

So by my (usually errant) wreckoning, Marty's problem is likely at the batteries and therefore easily solved by cleaning connections, at the starter so ditto, or its in the remote solenoid circuit. If isolated to the latter, all available connections can be cleaned, retightened & checked, and the fuse link can be obviated by a separate test #10 wire from bendix to remote solenoid. If the 8.8 volts persists, the high resistance would be from within the bendix unit.
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:41 AM   #12
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Another starting issue--RESOLVED

In response to my original post, the consensus opinion was that bad batteries and/or poor connections were the culprit. Oh if it were only so easy! After thoroughly cleaning and re-attaching all terminals, there was no change in the original symptoms. So much for 'low hanging fruit'.

Further testing indicated a problem in the Bendix unit on the starter. It was removed, rebuilt and reinstalled. While working around the area of the starter, my mechanic noticed what looked like either chaffing or possibly rodent chewing on part of the wiring harness. He corrected the suspect wiring and put everything back together and Voila!, the coach starts as per normal. I can also tell you that the 'Hot' side of the Starter Solenoid now shows battery voltage. I didn't get to see the Bendix unit off the starter, so I can't describe the problems within. I suspect the contacts on the plunger were shot. I don't honestly know if the wiring harness correction was part of the 'fix' or if it was all down to the Bendix rebuild, the cost of which (not counting labor for R&R) was $75.
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:54 AM   #13
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Thanks for posting that you got things fixed.
So many posts don't get closed, because the OPs don't get back with the fix.
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Old 07-20-2013, 08:56 PM   #14
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So a bad relay inside the Bendix will cause the high volt drop.
Good thing it went as bad as it did. If it only went half that bad, it would have pulled high amps thru the starter and burned it up also.
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