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Old 06-25-2014, 11:27 AM   #1
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Engine Alternator charging problem!

Alternator on my 94 Monaco (8.3 Cummins) is charging ok, problem is after unit warms up (say 20 miles) charging voltage starts to drop and in a minute or so will show no charge no charge at all. Alternator has 3 small wires, RPM feed, Ignition feed and battery sensing feed. At start up when everything is cold 12V can be read at the battery sensing connection, but for some reason as unit warms up this voltage drops off to zero and thus no charging. I can create a direct jumper from battery to battery sensing connection and it will go back to charging normal (can't leave jumper attached engine won't shut down by ignition switch) I'm assuming I must have a faulty relay in the system some place. Has anyone else had this problem or know which relay might be the problem?
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:44 AM   #2
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Is yours an alternator and voltage regulator together in one? For our 1993 Monaco they are 2 different pieces.

We thought on a trip that we were losing volts .... turns out it was NOT the alternator but the voltage regulator that was coming unplugged. Thom plugged it back in all the way and zip tied it. No more problems with volts disappearing that way.

Oh by the way .... IF you do need a new voltage regulator or alternator make sure you look up the part numbers for them. The previous owner spend $100 on a voltage regulator 2 years before we bought the RV from them from an RV shop. We got a new one from O'Reilly's for about $25. You really don't want to spend more than you have to. These things are expensive enough
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:33 PM   #3
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My voltage regulator is built into the alternator. I took the unit to an electric shop that could preform all sorts of checks. Alternator and regulator are fine.The tech wasn't familiar with different makes of rv's and how battery voltage that's constantly needed and monitored by the alternator to determine voltage output is routed. But stated if system charged ok with a jumper wire connected directly from the battery to the alternator there was a break down some place in the wiring/routing system in my coach.
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:50 PM   #4
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alternators

I have a 94 that has had several episodes of alternator trouble. Sometime before I bought my unit a previous owner had a failure in that they changed out the original alternator that had a external regular for what is know as a single wire alternator (this alternator has an internal regular)

So if you have the original or original style alternator--- it's probably a external regulator type. you'll find the regulator to the left kind of low in the engine compartment.

You could have a loose wire or a plug on the alternator dirty or corroded. My guess is the brushes in your alternator are wearing out or they could be a bit dirty and sticking in their holders to cause the symptoms you are describing.

So if you are handy you might do an inspection of all the wires to the alternator and the regulator. If that doesn't help you could pull the alternator and pull it apart to see if you have good brushes in there. In my old alternator there was a bit of carbon powder, rust and dirt all combining to make the brushes not work part of the time. But the alternator was only rated about a 100 amps, so What I did was order a 160 amp single wire alternator from the internet and replaced my old set up. So far after a year I find this is working just fine. There are thousands of school buses using this same alternator.

So the previous owner eliminated all the wiring to the external regulator as a potential problem, but they didn't didn't remove it, it just sits there and does nothing. It's pretty easy to change over to this style of alternator -- the tach still works everything is pretty normal.
Hope I didn't add too much confusion.
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:52 PM   #5
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IF someone did a change over from separate alternator and voltage regulator then you may not have the correct sized alternator installed. Give Monaco a call to talk to tech. Better yet email them with the problem and everything you have tried. Give them the part number on the alternator that is there now. They have helped us with things even upto a just a few months ago.
Monaco Coach - Home I would not hesitate to ask questions of them as they do answer. I know for alternators they do have an "older" guy working there that has been working on them for a lot of years. Unfortunately I misplaced his name and number or I would pass it on to you. I do know that we happened to catch him as he is real busy and Thom talked to him for a good half hour for information on if we wanted to change to an all in one what we might need to do/add.
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Old 06-26-2014, 09:28 AM   #6
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Thanks for the tips and info. I do believe my current alternator to be original type that came on coach due to way wires are in bundle with other wires, routing and tie down. My alternator 160 amps. I had it rebuilt and all diodes in built in regulator replaced. This was done by a professional company that rebuilds starters, alternators, and electric motors for large construction equipt. I was allowed to observe output test preformed after the rebuild. It works fine as long as there is voltage available from that wire that is constantly suppose to let alternator know what the current state of the battery charge is. My problem is as coach is driven for a while 12 volts that can be read from that wire (battery sensing voltage)when unit has been setting gradually drops to zero after it runs a while. That voltage should always be available even if you removed alternator from the coach and it has always worked well in the pass just as it is. Which leads me to believe there is a faulty relay, diode or something of that type somewhere between battery and alternator since it will go back to charging normal if a jumper wire is placed between the two.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:55 PM   #7
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Ron, a wise man on this forum, HappyCarz, once said that Monaco's are like snowflakes--no two are alike. So it is possible that your coach came with an alternator that had an internal regulator. But in the era your coach was made, I've never heard of one that had anything but an external regulator originally. So, I think there is a fair chance your coach has had its alternator replaced with one that had an internal regulator and the wiring changed to accommodate the internally regulated alternator. If you look on your build sheet (posted in a closet somewhere, usually) it will list the part number of your alternator. From that you can determine if it is the original one.

I say that because almost everyone who bought a used coach which had an alternator replaced, rather than rebuilt, has had problems associated with mis-wiring. I can tell you that my 93 Dynasty (Hehr Powerline alternator) was changed from an external regulator/alternator to an alternator with internal regulator. It took me some time to sort out some odd problems associated with that change. As it relates to your installation, one of the things I learned was that the "Voltage Sense" terminal had to be connected DIRECTLY to the positive post of the chassis battery. It could NOT be connected to any other place, no matter how heavy the connecting wire was or where it was located, or the charging voltage would "pulse" at a rate of about once per second. So, when you say that if you connect a jumper from the battery to your Voltage Sense terminal, the alternator charges correctly, but you cannot stop the engine with the ignition switch, it makes me wonder if someone switched the Voltage Sense and Ignition wires on your alternator. You can check by disconnecting both wires, and seeing which one is switched on and off by the ignition switch.

Regardless, for your alternator to charge your batteries properly, the Voltage Sense terminal has to be connected DIRECTLY to the positive battery post.
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Old 06-26-2014, 04:08 PM   #8
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more on my alternator experience

I had wrestled with wither to restore my alternator at the time I mentioned in my earlier post back to the original style with external regulator. But this alternator was way more expensive than I could purchase a new single wire alternator. These single wire alternators can be converted to a external sense if you want. I was thinking that would be best-- but time prevented me from doing that back then. I planned to finish a trip and if it was a problem make that mod then. But it turns out that it works just fine. The reason one might want to do that is if the voltage at the positive post of the batteries is low. when that much current is passing through even just 5 or 6 feet of heavy wire--it's still possible to drop a volt. So you might not reach the crucial charging voltage. When you study the Monaco wiring diagram the alternator sense voltage tap is at a terminal on the rear running board (that area just ahead of the engine) you access that by raising the cover inside your coach. At this point you'll find a heavy wire from the alternator makes connection to cables that go to the batteries, and other wires to feed power to the coach.
In studying a wiring diagram put out I think by Monaco they show an isolation relay that is energized by the ignition sw. So you're right there probably is some extra wiring and a relay that could possibly be causing your problem. They probably use this relay so that the sense voltage is taken off the terminal where the starting batteries are connected. that means the sense voltage is taken within 5 feet of the alternator instead of traveling 40 feet forward (though the ignition sw) and then 40 feet back.
I reread your first post and you mention your alternator starts to charge normally when you introduce 12 volts to your alternator. So my earlier thought about brushes sticking or dirty I think is disproved.

In studying This pdf I have, shows a relay on the rear run board, This relay could have a bad contact in the relay or a corroded, loose or frayed wire in any of that circuitry, including your external regulator.

I by staying with the single wire alternator ignore all that stuff, and that is pretty much what you find in vehicles of the last few years. So I believe that is a satisfactory way to go, but your system has worked for years-- it should be able to be repaired

Good luck in that, Hope I've helped more than hindered.

Loren
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Old 06-26-2014, 04:10 PM   #9
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Thanks Vanwill, you bring up some interesting points. I did verify which wire was ignition and which one was sensing. (continuity check) with ignition on and off. Sensing wire showed 12V in either position. But it's not connected directly to the battery post. I'll have crawl under coach and see if it is connected at terminal battery connects to starter.
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:21 PM   #10
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Ron, I am also in the camp that suspects that your original alternator did not have a built in regulator. I also suspect that this alternator that your coach now has never has worked correctly.

My coach originally had the Powerline Hehr alternator with the external regulator. The previous owner had replaced it with a Leece Neville alternator with a built in regulator, which is an excellent choice. However, it's a trick to figure out how to wire the coach for that alternator to work properly. The previous owner had not figured it out.

I guess I was lucky. It took me a couple of years working at it off and on, but I got it, and now the alternator works perfectly. However, the wiring in my coach for the alternator is now unique to my coach, and I'm not sure that any future owner would be able to figure it out in the event of any problems.

It might help us to know what make and model of alternator you presently have.

Also. Can you trace the big positive cable from the alternator to see where it goes? It should go to a box that distributes the alternator output to the coach and house batteries as needed. I forget the name of that box. The joys of getting older. I had to replace mine when it failed. Some of them had a terminal for the alternator sensing wire. Maybe that's where your sensing wire comes from. If so, you need to replace that box. I'm sure that someone with a good memory will help us with the proper name of that box.

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Old 06-27-2014, 12:05 PM   #11
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I don't know where to start thanking each of you for your input. I do a lot of my own work, so your inputs have been very helpful. My coach also has leece Nevell alternator, I'm not sure what brand it came with originally. I blew an engine turbo this pass week end on a 150 mile trip out from home. I guess it was somewhat of a blessing as the trip was nothing special and I had my wife come pick me up while it was shopped. my next trip is 1600 miles and a break down would have been a major set back. Total cost to replace turbo was $3500 due to it having been installed with bolts that were too long and running out of threads before it was tight and causing seal failure also (bolts had to be machined out) My wife always complained of fumes in back area when she was in the bed and I was driving. (didn't bother me). The excessive hot exhaust air has taken some toll on things. There are several small relays and a solenoid associated with the ignition close by also. I will have to determine which one of them is giving up after that area warms up. I just replaced my battery isolator although the old still worked good it has an unused connection point coming off it which is not used. I check if it can be used as a connection point for battery sensing volyage.
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbstewart View Post
I don't know where to start thanking each of you for your input. I do a lot of my own work, so your inputs have been very helpful. My coach also has leece Nevell alternator, I'm not sure what brand it came with originally. I blew an engine turbo this pass week end on a 150 mile trip out from home. I guess it was somewhat of a blessing as the trip was nothing special and I had my wife come pick me up while it was shopped. my next trip is 1600 miles and a break down would have been a major set back. Total cost to replace turbo was $3500 due to it having been installed with bolts that were too long and running out of threads before it was tight and causing seal failure also (bolts had to be machined out) My wife always complained of fumes in back area when she was in the bed and I was driving. (didn't bother me). The excessive hot exhaust air has taken some toll on things. There are several small relays and a solenoid associated with the ignition close by also. I will have to determine which one of them is giving up after that area warms up. I just replaced my battery isolator although the old still worked good it has an unused connection point coming off it which is not used. I check if it can be used as a connection point for battery sensing volyage.
Ron
It could be the coil in the relay is sensitive to heat and releases the contact that your alternator sense wire is connected to. So that would certainly let your alternator stop charging. Think I'd check that next.
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Old 06-28-2014, 09:32 AM   #13
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You gentlemen were right on with your tips and comments. In taking a closer look I found the wiring had been some what altered. the wiring bundles had not been changed, but the end connectors on several had in a very professional way. + battery cable connects directly to starter. A cable from that supplies current to power strip located on front wall of engine compartment under the bed. That strip has 6 or 7 20amp auto reset metal fuses that feed to other components. The top one was a direct feed to sensing connection on my alternator. Very simple and easy to change ($3.36 at Auto Zone) a 5 min replacement job and units charging fine. It's as you say a lot of these older coaches have under gone modifications that one might not be aware of that can make you loose a lot of time and sleep over something that's a simple fix. This site is great because sooner or later you'll come across someone who's been there and done that. Thanks to all who replied.
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Old 06-29-2014, 10:39 PM   #14
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Glad to hear that you have the problem solved.

Happy trails.

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