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Old 06-28-2015, 08:37 AM   #1
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Unhappy Lightning damage to engine controls

Anyone had this problem?

June 10th, 2015 minding our own business in Colorado and lightning struck very close. Damaged some electrical equipment on a nearby power pole.

Wife was inside our 2006 Monaco Camelot. I was in a building about 100 yards away. Just after the very LOUD crack of the lightning hitting something, she called and said we lost some electric in the coach. Also something smells like its burning.

We were lucky in one respect we were located at an RV Repair Center in Colorado Springs waiting to get our motorhome serviced, when this happened. They do more then just RV Chassis Service. They have fixed a lot of other Chassis, engine, etc. type problems. I say 'lucky' because the only way this thing can be moved is with a large tow truck.

So far the problems are: Took out our Magnum Inverter, the 300 Amp Inverter fuse, the rear A/C unit, the Dash radio (this was the burning smell), and worst of all the engine won't start. First thing we found was the Allison TCM (Transmission Control Module) was DOA. We found this because when I tried to start the engine the ignition key would light everything up in the ON position but nothing would happen when turning it to START. The Shift indicators showed only gibberish (instead of NN, for neutral) on the two indicators. And the Economy light was on when it shouldn't be. We could press any of the shift buttons but nothing changed. According to Allison the gibberish we were seeing on the display was what they refer to as 'CAT EYES'. This means there's a problem with the TCM.

The shop sent my Allison TCM to Denver to have it tested, sure enough it was toast. The shop ordered a new Allison TCM and swapped it out. It did make a difference, in that the engine does crank over but it still won't start. The transmission shift indicators are showing something different from before and when we press any of the shift buttons the display goes out, but still doesn't show 'NN' like its supposed to.

So at this point were stuck. We'll be calling Allison back on Monday to see what they say. Could be the Shifter Display unit is bad also.

Wasn't planning on being so detailed and chatty but, I was just wondering if anyone has had a similar issue that might help guide us to a solution. Any assistance will be appreciated.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:52 AM   #2
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At least you are both ok. If the motor is turning over then it is not the Allison unit that is stopping it from starting. If the Allison TCM is bad then it stops the motor from turning over. The Allison TCM still sounds like it is bad. You should take the Engine ECM to a Cummins dealer and have them bench test it.
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:42 AM   #3
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FWIW - Cummins can only bench test the ECM by seeing if it can communicate. There is no function test off the engine. Quicker to find a diesel shop nearby and have them try and scan the ecm. 2nd best is taking the coach to the dealer and having a test ecm hung on it and rule out the whole enchilada. Chances are that several diodes or ICs in the "system" were damaged from either high voltage or backfeed. You need a competent cummins dealership to systematically t/s the nostart issue. Other wise you are going to do a lot of tail chasing.

The worst electrons are the wild ones!


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Old 06-28-2015, 02:44 PM   #4
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Thanks Allen, I agree. Problem is I'm setting where I'm at with no way to move the coach except towing it. The closest Cummings Shop is in Denver about 70 miles from here. Monday I will be calling around to see who else can read the ecm. Hopefully someone locally can do it.

I agree with you on tail chasing. I'm a retired Electronics Specialist who worked on all types of computers, computer circuits both analog/digital, and about any type of electronic circuit made.

I've turned in the damage to my Insurance Company, and so far it looks like they'll pickup some of the tab. At least that's what they tell me.
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Old 06-29-2015, 10:23 AM   #5
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I would have to agree that the engine ECM is probably been damaged, too. I had a lightning strike where I worked, and the ECM on our 200 KW Diesel generator got fried even though it was not actually hit. No backup power that day. If anyone has a scanguage or VMSpc you could attach to the ECM port and tell quickly if the ECM is working or not. Good Luck. Lightning damage is hard to find and fix.

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Old 06-29-2015, 10:32 AM   #6
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These places are someone to check with
GoECM Diesel | GoECM Diesel | Rebuilt Diesel ECM & ECU Products
AUTO ECM ELECTRONICS | Welcome to Auto ECM!
Welcome to Diesel ECM Source - Home
ECM King - Heavy Duty Truck ECM Rebuilders & Remanufacturers


Maybe better than towing it is just to replace it with a rebuilt one.
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Old 06-29-2015, 06:22 PM   #7
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Bob
Just wondering if your metal jacks were extended to the ground?
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Old 06-30-2015, 07:00 PM   #8
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Thanks for the ideas. And yes my jacks were down. Although they were sitting on wooden pads, but they're only about two inches thick.
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Old 06-30-2015, 07:09 PM   #9
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JeepTJ5...
You say ScanGuage or a VMSpc. Where can one find either of these. Are they Cummins Readers or generic readers?
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Old 07-01-2015, 05:47 AM   #10
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Did you have the Progressive surge protector? Or were you dry camping?
Progressive Industries RV Surge and Electrical Protection industry lea
Was there enough water puddling on the parking lot for the lightning to enter your coach via the extended jacks?
I ask these questions because we had a similar situation, but not nearly as serious. Progressive insurance could not have been more responsive. Watch for additional items to fail and do not close out your claim immediately. Progressive keeps them open and when I started the coach to drive to a shop to get the step motor replaced, I discovered no gauges in dash worked--speedo had taken a hit, too and it has the 'brains' for all the other gauges.
Sorry this happened to you and wish you luck.
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Old 07-17-2015, 07:25 AM   #11
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Thanks for the info... Frank. I did not have a Surge Guard installed. But the line coming in did have some type of commercial surge protection device installed at the main breaker box. It was installed there to protect the plug-in lines as well as protection to a standby generator. The lightning took out the starting circuit to the generator as well. The only 110VAC items the it knocked out on my coach was the Inverter and the rear air conditioner. Everything else was 12VDC powered. It's thought a stray finger from the lightning entered the coach through the jacks or just jumped in somewhere near the bottom of the coach. In researching and talking with some of the Surge Protection folks, no one would say their units can protect 100% from a direct lightning strike. Which is understandable, I guess.

In anycase, if anyone is interested on the outcome of the lightning strike, it's been a wild ride. It's been more then a month with the Motorhome being out of commission.

The Allison TCM was indeed toast. A new one was ordered and installed. It didn't cure the engine not starting but it did change the symptoms. The shop here had the engine ECM scanned and it showed no errors. Yet the engine still wouldn't start, so they removed the ECM and took it to Cummins to have them check it. It checked out okay. After reinstalling it the engine did start. This Shop nor Cummins could explain that. It seems as though the ECM was shocked by the lightning and by unplugging the power to it when it was removed and re-connected it forced it to reboot itself and all was well. Good info... to know.
The next problem was some of the dash gauges aren't working. This was traced to a Instr-Link Controller Module. It too was toasted. It converts the digital signals from the engine ECM to analog signals to the dash gauges. A new one is on order from Monaco but don't know how soon we'll get it because they had to special order from the manufacturer.

I truly hope know one else ever has to go through this. It's been a nightmare. It's been a month and a half since the lightning hit and the coach is still sitting at the repair shop. But we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:23 PM   #12
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Hope it gets 'right' for you all soon. Biggest takeaway from our experiences are to maybe retract jacks (or never extend them) when summer thunderstorms threaten.
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