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Old 06-19-2012, 04:20 PM   #1
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Ignition Cluster

Went to pick up our coach yesterday, did the walk-through and then when it was time to go, the coach wouldn't start! I sent DW home (350 miles) in the SUV while I stayed as it seemed the issue might be something simple. The coach had been starting fine up until then. They replaced the chassis batteries, checked all connections and then they thought is was the ignition switch. Parts supplier sent the wrong switch, mechanic goes to parts supplier to match up correct part. I got a call this morning from the salesman saying that they now believe the issue is the ignition cluster, which is found back in the battery compartment. They have sent it off to the manufacturer (I will find out who that is) and they will send a new one back (configured for Alpines) in three days. I'm posting this in case there is something else we should be looking at. I presume this issue is unrelated to the "Malfunctioning Dash warning light cluster" thread elsewhere in this forum, but just want to make sure. Any insight would be appreciated.

Ian
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:08 PM   #2
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What's an ignition cluster? New one on me.
How doesn't it start? For example,
Is the tank empty?
Starter engages & spins engine but no cylinder ignition? (if so, probably fuel delivery)
Klick in back end but no starter action? (could be bad solenoid, bad ground, bad hot connection)
Do you hear the lift pump kick on @ PS of engine when key is turned on?

I'm wondering if they took the Vehicle Data Computer off the rear side of the rear battery compartment bulkhead and sent that to Medallion. On an 04, that gizmo reads the engine, trans & ABS computer info & translates it into stuff the gauges & warning light clusters can interpret & show (e.g. RPMs for tach). If they did, this could take a while.

FYI- on an 04, there may be a label on the back of the plastic kick panel in front of passenger's feet with the Vansco multiplex module LED light circuit diagrams, or there may be decals on the firewall by the front Vansco VMM2820 module (number is on it, ~8" high x ~14" wide gizmo w/red LED's). The rear VMM2820 in the battery box (I hope they didn't send that back to the mfgr either) has some ignition related circuit outputs that would be helpful to check to eliminate possible causes.
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:19 PM   #3
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Nothing, no sound at all. The starter is fine and now I have new chassis batteries. When you turn the key on, you get nothing from the instrument panel or anything else to indicate it is on. It's as if the ignition is not connected to anything. But it did start once when I was there yesterday. And they can start it from the battery compartment (the mechanic didn't want to be bothered with my questions at that point so not sure how he did started it as he was not near the starter at that point).

In reading the manual I found that you are suppose to turn the key on and wait for the "wait to start" light to go off. But the time that it did start the instrument panel did not light up when the key was on. I waited for about 15 seconds anyway and started it. But that was the last time it started....

The tank is a little under half full.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:17 PM   #4
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If it was my tank, it'd be half empty But I digress.

1) is the chassis disconnect switch off? not likely, but possible.
2) sounds to me like the problem is in the front end, not the back. The VDC isn't involved in start cycle (pretty sure), as I knew a guy who let the smoke outa his; gauges didn't work but he could drive across the country. The ignition initiates in the front, so if not a peep at the back, I'm thinking grounds, etc. in the front.
3) there are two Vansco panels up front. Upper one is a Power Distribution Unit PDM. Is there power indicated on PDM? It has three connectors, one has fat red wires to it & disconnects by bayonet style connector (twist). Check to see if there is power in at that point; if not trace from there to 12V source. If yes, need to check out what shows on PDM LED's. Inputs 1-6 should light when key is ON, Outputs 13 & 14 should also light w/key ON.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:59 PM   #5
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Have them check that all the wires were reconected back to the correct batteries or a battery cable is broke inside the insulation. I have seen this before. Good luck.
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:11 PM   #6
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FYI,
Back in 2005 while inspecting connections found a very loose gnd connection @ starter location, resecured with a 3/4" socket.
In 2008 STOPPED FOR FUEL, WHEN READY TO LEAVE STARTER WOULD NOT ENERGIZE. BATTERY BOOST HAD NO EFFECT, CHECKED 13V+ ON CHASSIS BATTERIES, SHUT CHASSIS SWITCH OFF, CRAWLED UNDER COACH, VERIFIED ALL CABLES & WIRES WERE IN PLACE & SECURED ON STARTER SOLENOID AND STARTER. TURNED CHASSIS SWITCH BACK ON, NOTED "J1939 DATA LINK ERROR" IN SILVERLEAF HISTORGRAM. TRIED STARTING ONE LAST TIME AND STARTER ENERGIZED THEN AND SEVERAL TIMES AFTERWARDS.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:02 PM   #7
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I quizzed the salesmen further and it sounds like it is the Vansco module. From reading your response Mike, and listening to their description it sounds as if there are two modules. One went bad, and the manufacturer had them send the good one to them so that they could program the replacement module correctly. They weren't sure if Vansco was the vendor but they have assured me I will have all of the details when I pick the coach up.
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:59 PM   #8
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This probably has no bearing on this but we were with another couple picking up their new 2006 in 2006 when all heck broke loose when nothing on the motorhome would work. Salesmen and techs had tried for over two hours to get something to work. The factory experts were on the phone when someone mentioned to see if the parking brake was on. It was not and as soon as it was engaged everything started working.

Still betting that it's the Vansco but thought we would mention this just in case. We have learned the hard way that no two Alpines are exactly alike.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck & Marca View Post
see if the parking brake was on. It was not and as soon as it was engaged everything started working.
Ayup!
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:02 PM   #10
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Well as it turned out it was the same problem found here (Dead Coach).

It appears to have been a defective PDM. They are installing a new one that has been sent to JCA for programming. Better it happened on their dime than mine, but I'm anxious to get my new (old) rig and take it for a drive!
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:58 PM   #11
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I'm not sure these guys know what they are doing, (per the User Manual): "The PDM is analog in nature and contains no microprocessors or firmware/software. The enable inputs are designed to drive the appropriate outputs directly when external signals are applied to the enable inputs. There is no user programming required. No diagnostics are available through a network such as J1939." Sending one somewhere to be programmed is not likely to be swift (in any sense of the word swift).
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:23 AM   #12
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Just to be clear, the dealer only told me who they made the check out to (JCA). I then did a search on these forums for "JCA" and found the "Dead Coach" thread which described the exact symptoms that I had. So I assumed it was the same problem and the same solution as described in the Dead Coach thread. I am hopeful that when I go down to pick up the coach I will be able to talk to the mechanic that did the work. I have only been able to talk to sales reps to try and determine what they are doing. The dealer is 300 miles south of me so I haven't been able to get any more detailed information as of yet.

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