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Old 08-18-2016, 07:52 PM   #1
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McGyver Solution... if anyone cares

I had an alternator failure the other evening on the way northbound over the Grapevine in California. Of course, this happened on a Friday evening, away from any maintenance facilities, after business hours and at a time when I had another 300 miles to go with a back-end "must get there" time pressure for work.

The first indication of the failure (1991 CC Concept) was the tachometer dropped to zero RPM's. After about ten more minutes the "Alternator Not Charging" light came on and the warning systems announced "Alternator Failure". The "boost" switch was not working properly and as a result I could not use the domestic batteries to supplement the chassis batteries via the boost switch. I continued down the grade to the town of Grapevine. My initial plan was to swap the domestic and chassis batteries (they are the same type and are all useable as starting batteries) since the domestic batteries had been charging all evening via the generator which had been running to keep the central AC on as it was 93 outside. My wife and kids shopped at the outlet mall there while I made the battery swap, which was plenty of motivation to get the job done quickly. After the swap I starting thinking how I wish I could find a way to charge the chassis batteries using the alternator on the generator. Then, it occurred to me I had purchased some jumper cables some time back thinking it would just be a good thing to have on hand. I was able to connect the jumper cables to the generator battery (located just in front of the drivers' side front axle) to the chassis batteries (located just behind the same axle) via the large openings in the Gillig frame and through the wheel well. I tested everything with a multimeter and then secured everything with zip ties. I was then able to run the generator the entire drive home, which kept the chassis and domestic batteries charged (and the headlights on) for the duration.

All this to say, fixing the boost switch had been on my "to do" list for several months, but since I had just replaced the alternator eight months ago I figured the odds of a failure on this system were slim. Obviously my procrastination came back to bite me and needless to say as soon as I got home I replaced the alternator AND all of the solenoids (4) for both the generator and chassis boost systems. Additionally, I've ordered the Echo charger which will allow for automatic 15A trickle charging when on shore or generator power and the domestic batteries are already charged.

This post is not to pat myself on the back but rather say don't be a dumba** like me and make sure your systems are 100% before leaving on a trip. The second point of this post is to emphasize the importance of reading and reviewing your chassis and house manuals in order to thoroughly understand your coach systems.

Some may also ask why I waited until the day before a "must be home" date to make the long drive back. However, we had planned on heading home a day and a half earlier, but were delayed due to a blown tire on our car dolly which wiped out the dolly fender and tail/signal light assembly. Of course, those are special order items and I don't carry spare fenders. We left the dolly in So Cal for repairs and had a fantastic tow bar system installed on our Jeep Wrangler.

Safe travels everyone!

Russ


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Old 08-18-2016, 08:06 PM   #2
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Had an alternator failure on Thanksgiving weekend on trip back from Arizona about 15 years ago. Took my boost switch out tied both leads together and drove home to Orange county with the generator powering the electrical system. Sometimes you do what you have to do.
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyKathyM View Post
Had an alternator failure on Thanksgiving weekend on trip back from Arizona about 15 years ago. Took my boost switch out tied both leads together and drove home to Orange county with the generator powering the electrical system. Sometimes you do what you have to do.
This is where to connect a jumper cable since both chassis and house batteries are at the boost solenoid.

Good job.

Dan
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:19 PM   #4
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Could you remove the chassis cable from the chassis side of solenoid and put it on the house cable connection on the solenoid??


If you didn't have jumper cables
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:20 PM   #5
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After my alternator failed, I now carry a jumper in my battery compartment, just in case.
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by CJ7365 View Post
Could you remove the chassis cable from the chassis side of solenoid and put it on the house cable connection on the solenoid??


If you didn't have jumper cables

I think that also would have worked but it would have to be done on both solenoids as there are two solenoids per boost system.


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Old 08-18-2016, 10:52 PM   #7
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Had an alternator failure while in the mid west. Cranked up the generator to charge the batteries and made it back to a west coast repair facility. No need for jumper cables, boost switch
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Old 08-19-2016, 01:19 AM   #8
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I set mine up so when the ignition is on the boost relay is turned on. This way the house batteries are charged by the chassis alternator so I can run the inverter. It would also work in reverse, if the engine alt were to fail I could run the gen to power the house charger. It's like this, I'm lazy and want to fool proof my old RV.
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Old 09-13-2016, 12:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dons2346 View Post
Had an alternator failure while in the mid west. Cranked up the generator to charge the batteries and made it back to a west coast repair facility. No need for jumper cables, boost switch

Had I replaced my boost solenoid relays when they failed some months earlier I would have done the same. Instead I spent the rest of the drive home kicking myself for leaving the new solenoids on the workbench back home. 🤔 I can tell you, they are now installed.


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