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Old 03-22-2010, 02:39 PM   #1
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Electrical Problem

Just found this forum....and I need some help. I have an 03 Alpine Coach and was preparing for a road trip. Drove it home from storage, plugged it in to get batteries to 100%. Next day, turned the key on to start...but there was nothing.....no power to the dash, nothing. Was able to jump start it, went to the battery store....batteries checked out OK. Made the short trip without problems.

Now, expecting to go on a longer trip I'm having the same problems. My friend from the local RV shop came over Sunday......he found a broken 12 ga. wire which ran from one battery back up to the battery isolator (I think). Repaired that and she started right up. Every thing shows that the alternator is charging the batteries. Ok, good to go.

This morning....again no power to the dash, etc. Start the generator and with the help of a jumper get it started again. Leave it running to let it charge more while we're loading the refrig., hook up the tow and start to leave. No Go. Now the transmission is showing a strange symbol and will not shift in D.

My friend has been back for 2 hours today but we haven't solved the problem yet. He went back to the shop and was going to try to call Western RV, but I now know that they are closed once again.

We're looking for any help we can find. Who can we call or does anyone have any ideas?
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Old 03-22-2010, 03:19 PM   #2
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BullD,

Based on the intermittent nature of starting and confirmation that the chassis batteries are okay, the problem sounds suspiciously like a loose ground somewhere. Start checking grounds in the battery compartment and work your way up to the ignition switch. It could also be a bad starter solenoid that is intermittently failing, so check it out.
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Old 03-22-2010, 03:22 PM   #3
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Does the 03 Alpines have the Vansco modules? If they do then try turning the disconnect switch off to reset them. For the chassis side you want to cycle the one in the battery compartment. Not the one by the front door. Next I would check the charging solenoid.

Alos everything Dale said.
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:03 PM   #4
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BullD, in our 05 we have a solenoid between the house batteries & the engine batteries. In our case the charging system has to bring the house batteries up to proper voltage & then the solenoid lets the charge go to the engine batteries. If you have this solenoid in yours it could be defective.
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale777 View Post
BullD,

Based on the intermittent nature of starting and confirmation that the chassis batteries are okay, the problem sounds suspiciously like a loose ground somewhere. Start checking grounds in the battery compartment and work your way up to the ignition switch. It could also be a bad starter solenoid that is intermittently failing, so check it out.
Dale has it.....most likely a loose connection..
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:56 AM   #6
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Dale's suggestion of loose ground (or hot) would explain all the symptoms. If just the starter solenoid I wouldn't expect loss of lights-camera-action at the dash, but bad ground could do that. There is a main dash hot & ground on the front firewall lower right; could be one of those: remove the plastic panel in front of passenger and check there, then check on the gen slide side of firewall (these two studs go thru the firewall w/an isolator fitting).
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:39 AM   #7
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Electrical Problem

Thanks to all who replied. We were able to get started again by jumping the house batteries to the chassis and was able to drive it about 2 miles back to the shop.

Ted's comment about a solenoid between house bats. & chassis sounds like a place to look, as does Engineer Mike's info. We had that panel off and checked fuses etc, but didn't know to look on the gen side of the firewall.

I'm sending all these tips to the service manager. I'll post the info. when we find the problem.

Sure glad I found this group.

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Old 03-23-2010, 11:42 AM   #8
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Bull- if you are not a member, join Alpine Coach Association, and check out their Technical Library which has all sorts of good info for maintaining your rig.

If you need the chassis electrical schematics, I have hard copies which you can get for the price of the copies & mailing. They consist of 4 sheets of 18"x24" with all the running gear relays, wiring, switches, etc. These apply to the 2003 and earlier coaches that are not multiplexed (non-Vansco chassis'). Sadly, we have never located the Vansco chassis schematics to date, but at least we have the earlier rig's chassis data. You can PM me for further info if you would like the schematics.
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:58 PM   #9
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BullD:

Though the problem does sound like a bad ground, I had a few similar problems initially. First the Echo Charger (2003 and earlier) had a bad fuse, keeping the engine batteries from getting a charge after the house batteries were full and secondly the main fuse blew when a mechanic worked his evil magic on it and then denied being the cause.

Either way, they were repaired and everything worked.

I am assuming you are using the dash switch to jump the battery banks? If the solenoid is kaput, it will not work, but otherwise saves lots of time and energy (pun included).
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Old 03-24-2010, 12:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EngineerMike View Post
Bull- if you are not a member, join Alpine Coach Association, and check out their Technical Library which has all sorts of good info for maintaining your rig.

If you need the chassis electrical schematics, I have hard copies which you can get for the price of the copies & mailing. They consist of 4 sheets of 18"x24" with all the running gear relays, wiring, switches, etc. These apply to the 2003 and earlier coaches that are not multiplexed (non-Vansco chassis'). Sadly, we have never located the Vansco chassis schematics to date, but at least we have the earlier rig's chassis data. You can PM me for further info if you would like the schematics.
EMike sent me the 4 sheets of schematics and I am deeply appreciative of the fact that I have them. No owner should be without.
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Old 03-24-2010, 05:52 AM   #11
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EMike

I have an owner's manual that has several pages of fold out schematics in the back but I'm guessing that what you have is much more detailed. If that's true then I would definitely like to have copies.

BullD
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:43 AM   #12
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The schematics for your model year may help. A word of caution here, the forum is great place to find informaion but owners with newer coach will offer advice and counsel on things that dont even exist on the older models. Still think the starting solenoids behind the last compartment door PS and/or the switching solenoids [power or grounds] on the inside firewall[behind plastic] in front of passenger seat is where the problem is.
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Old 03-24-2010, 09:44 AM   #13
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....... A word of caution here, the forum is great place to find informaion but owners with newer coach will offer advice and counsel on things that dont even exist on the older models. .....
AMEN to that....

When WRV added...Vansco, adjustable pedals, etc...after 2003 the systems became WAY more complex....

The 2003 and earlier coaches are much simpler (but they do have their peculiarities!)
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Old 04-12-2010, 02:22 PM   #14
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Bull- I'm mailing the chassis electrical schematics to you today.

Before diving into the schematics, a full battery wiring & battery condition check is in order- check cabling and ends for corrosion, and all connections for clean & wrench (not hand or wiggle) tight. You mentioned batteries checked by shop/store, so cabling is first. Then:

On Sheet 1/4, lower right, you'll see the front Battery (red) and Ground (black) studs which you find on the firewall ahead of the passenger seat behind the plastic removable (velcro strips) panel @ passenger's feet, and also on the forward side of the firewall as these studs pass thru the firewall with isolator assemblies. One of these may be loose inside or outside. Fast to check; don't short the red stud to anything w/your wrench and don't short the black one to the red.

About 5" to the left of these studs on Sheet 1/4 you'll see a vertical strip of smaller studs; you'll find this strip interior side of firewall just below the main Batt & Gnd studs. Again, check all for tight.

Sheet 3/4, below & to the right of the Alternator- chassis Ground on frame rail; this should be visible at the electrical wiring on back wall (frame) of batter compartment. There might be another red isolator thru-frame stud next to it. check tight here. IIWYI'd pull the ground cables off the batteries before doing this between the frame & engine for safety. In the Batt compartment I do this w/a realllllly long extension taking great care not to allow it to short to anything else, but the tween-frame-&-motor area is unsafe for this type of work while studs are live.

These are quickie checks, take maybe 45 minutes including battery check w/a load meter (assumes you have a load meter or you are @ the shop and if they don't have a load meter, find a real shop), and form the basis for the major system connections that rely on good power/ground for reliable operation. These should always be performed first before replacing anything, and in my view form part of any good PM routine at least biannually.

Before starting random traces off the schematic, I'd check the two big fuses shown on Sheet 3/4 between Chassis Battery Disconnect and the upper Chassis Battery 12Volt, and labeled Cab Power Fuse with a "105" on it and a 1/0 RED to the Front Positive Stud (straight to fuse's left on diagram). First check connections, then continuity, then with key on check volt drop across the two studs on fuse (need a good digital volt meter for volt drop, the sweep type analogs are usually not easily read for this type of work). You can check stud1 to stud2 for the drop, or stud1 to ground then stud2 to ground and subtract. If you have continuity, checking for resistance thru fuse is inconclusive as resistance & therefore volt drop (if it is a problem) may only show under a load; this is a not very common problem w/fuses but when it is your problem & fuse has continuity the only good tests are volt drop or replace w/a known good fuse.

After that you will need a good electrical diagnostician to start w/some necessary function list, start at what seems most likely and follow thru till all checks OK. Hope this helps.
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