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Old 09-11-2014, 06:12 AM   #29
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Thanks for considering this. I measured across the twisted pair of data wires between the VDC and MC. Across those wires there was about 1.5 to 2.5v dc. In a conversation with the tech at Freightliner last evening, he could not say whether there should be voltage there or what it should be. He did give me the name of another tech who, he said, was more knowledgeable about this, so I’ll try to talk to him today. At any rate, a check of the ground wires at the VDC showed good. There was good continuity from the three wires that stretch from the VDC to the MC. With the spider harness removed at the spider connection, there are three wires: a ground (it tested good, but I added an additional ground just to remove that issue), a 7v dc wire that checked in at about 6.78v on my VOM, and a data wire that checked in at a fluxuating .3 to .7v dc. It is the third wire that I question since the service bulleting says that it should check in at 3 to 7v dc. Here I’m only getting a fraction of the voltage. I see the point that if it oscillates between .3 and .7 then the average would be somewhere, say, about .5v dc, still nowhere near what the spec sheet calls for. The Freightliner tech said that the gauges were manufactured my Kaiser Medallion, so I plan to call them and see if I can talk to a tech there about testing the gauges or sending one to be checked—whether it is cost beneficial or not. Again, thanks for looking at this.
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Old 09-20-2014, 10:47 PM   #30
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I have been watching your ordeal. I have at least 20 hours in diagnosing the reason for intermittent gauges going off and on. I bought a new vdc 6 months ago and now the problem is back. You ever wonder if you bought a faulty VDC that is causing the problem? I understand that there are a lot of problems with those years of VDC's. I would like to know if there is a Freightliner service center that can check the VDC on their diagnostic computer to see if it functions. This problem has consumed a lot of time and $$ You have gone farther than I have on this. When you get it fixed please post the solution.
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:34 AM   #31
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Yea, I know what you mean about time and money. I've checked everything that the service bulletin suggests. I've talked to the Freightliner help desk a half dozen times and done everything that they suggested. It's come down to their recommendation that I have bad gauges. To check that, I'd need a new gauge, so I called Freightliner and they wanted $250 for one of the 2" gauges. Well, needless to say, I don't want to throw that kind of money at this without being real sure, so I began checking around and found a third party who has the same gauge (part number and all) for a small fraction of the Freightliner cost. As I read through the service bulletin again I saw one more test to try, a test that would isolate one-half the system. That I will try today or tomorrow. No one at the Freightliner help desk can explain why I'm only getting .3 to .7v dc at the data line to the gauges when I should be getting 3-7v dc. Nor can they explain why the tach and seedo work and the same outlet plugged into one of the smaller gauges does not work--outside, of course, of there being faulty gauges. Well, when the new gauge arrives, I'll be able to determine that. What I don't want to do is take this to a Freightliner service center and have a tech educate himself/herself on my dime, or many dollars as the case will probably be. As of today, that's where I stand on this problem. I'll send along more info as this progresses.
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Old 09-23-2014, 01:31 PM   #32
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I had a '93 Chevy van that the fuel gauge worked erratic then quit working altogether. I pulled the gauge cluster out, it had a flexible circuit that attached to all of the gauges. I removed the circuit card and cleaned the exposed copper with an eraser then alcohol. Re-installed and it worked fine. I would clean all connections at the cluster even if they appear clean.
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:57 AM   #33
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Thanks, Don. I’ve used the technique of cleaning the connections on computer cards, and it worked. However, in this case six of the small gauges do not work while the tach and speedo do work. The gauges are connected by pins, and I’ve changed all the connections because, according to the spec sheet, one should be able to take a connector from a working gauge and switch it with a non-working gauge and it will work. But that does not happen in this case. I’m still puzzled by the fact that the data wire gives nowhere near the voltage specified in the spec sheets and the people I’ve talked to at the Freightliner tech desk do not have idea why outside of the fact that I may have six bad gauges—maybe, they offer, killed by a voltage spike. I’ve checked for continuity from the VDC and grounds and everything checks out. (I’ve replaced the VDC, but that had no effect.) I’ve a new gauge on the way so I should be able to tell whether it is a gauge problem or something in the electronics. If it’s in the electronics, I’ll have to call in the experts; I can do electricity some—checking continuity and voltages, but when it comes to electronics, that’s beyond me.
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:14 AM   #34
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The latest on my gauge saga: After checking out all the wiring according to the wiring diagram and Service Bulletin 54-12 of 6/04, I’ve concluded that all the wiring is within spec—voltage, grounds, etc. I contacted Medallion, the current name for the company that makes these gauges for Freightliner, and talked to a tech there, and we went through all that I had tested. He thought, as the techs at Freightliner concluded, that for some reason I must have given the gauges a shot of 12 volt, more than they can stand since they word off 7 v dc. As to the question why the two larger gauges, the speedo and tach, still work, the tech said that they have a greater tolerance for a voltage spike. I guess that if there’s anything for which to be grateful its that bit of information—its hard to imagine the cost of those gauges.

I was doing much of the testing with a small Harbor Freight VOM. I was not, however, getting any reliable information for the fuel line to the MC which does not go thorough the VDC; it should read between 33 - 243 ohms. So I hauled out the Simpson VOM; and sure enough, the fuel line measured 34 ohms since the tank is full. So I ordered a fuel gauge, plugged it in, and it functions correctly. Again the Medallion tech suggested that everything was back to normal. As to why all this would have happened, the tech again suggested that I must have given the system a 12 volt shock when I was trying to trace down a problem with the horn—eventually to find a broken wire that had be reconnected—soldered in this case. I’m, of course, concerned that this never happen again. To this the tech suggested that it’s a good idea to always disconnect the current—batteries and/or land line—when working on the wiring.

I’ve contacted a large motorhome salvage yard to see if they have any of these gauges, but I’ve not heard anything back from them. I plan to make a direct call this week.

I secured an appointment with a Freightliner service center that also does work on motorhomes, but I cancelled that appointment, because I can’t imagine a tech doing anything that I have not already done but at $??? per hour. That is, in fact, what the Freightliner helpdesk tech said: that the shop tech would use the same service bulleting that I am using to start tracing down the problem.

Now I’ve got to secure some new gauges either from Freightliner, a parts supplier, or other source. More as this issue spins itself out.
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Old 10-12-2014, 11:59 AM   #35
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Thanks for the follow up. Several of us were following this thread to see the final outcome.

I think you said you have a new fuel gauge. Have you considered opening the old gauge (might have to destroy the shell) to see if you find any burned components?

I sure hope you can find some of those small gauges from a salvage yard.

If unable, you might want to consider replacing the two air pressure guages and then run VMSpc on a small tablet/laptop for all the other guages. VMSpc will give you so much more info, and will give you everything that is on the dash except for the two air pressure gauges.

The two air guages are about the only thing on the dash panel I look at anymore with the VMSpc running.

Fred
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Old 10-13-2014, 07:40 AM   #36
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Thanks Fred,
I'm not sure what the VMSspc is. Could you explain a bit more. I know how much Freightliner wants for these gauges--over a 300% markup. I may end up with F & R air gauges and let the MC lights do the rest--though I'll never be comfortable with that.
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:37 AM   #37
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VMSpc is a program/interface that runs on a windows PC or tablet. You have to buy a wiring/data interface box to feed the data to the pc/tablet. The program is free. You can arrange all of the data from the data bus of the motorhome on the screen as you like.

Look at this thread for more info:

Installing VMSpc using inexpensive Windows Tablet

If I had to give up either the dash guages or my VMSpc, I would do without the dash guages.

I'm running the VMSpc on a very old Fujitsu tablet running windows 2000. It boots and goes directly to running the VMSpc, and it becomes my substitute dash panel with a lot more info being displayed.

If I can help, just ask.

Fred
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Old 10-29-2014, 09:43 AM   #38
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Another page in my gauge saga: I was able to secure replacement gauges from Colaw rv salvage located in Carthage, Missouri, on I 44 about fifty miles west of Springfield, Missouri. Iíve picked up several things from Colawóa set of kick-down jacks for a previous Bounder mh, fan, and some other things. Iíve been to the business; and the last time I was there, they let people walk through the lot if they wanted to shop for a particular item. Itís a sobering experience to see the way many motorhomes end up. I guess the most surprising thing is how many of them are damaged by fire of one sort or another. But there are also rigs there from one disaster or another. Given liability and such, I donít know if they still allow access to the lot.

An any rate, I sent the specs to their parts department and sure enough they had the exact replacement gauges for much less than Freightliner charges for one gauge, and they offer a generous warranty for the products. They arrived a day or so after I place the order and I installed them; but since I was in the midst of putting new belts on the mh I did not start up the rig as soon as they were installed. The belt job finished, I started the engine. All the gauges work as they should. I really didnít expect anything else since I had checked out every possibility, but it was comforting to know that they worked.

The techs with which I talked and my own analysis led me to conclude that I caused some sort of voltage surge that fried the gauges. I plan to cut a couple of the ruined gauges open to see if I can spot any damage. The lesson for me is that if I do any work on the chassis harness, I need to disconnect the current.
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