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Old 07-12-2016, 04:03 PM   #1
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Scratching our heads... Intermittent Problem

Hi Gang - (Admin - Posted this here, as most Hydro Hots are in Class A's and this board gets the most traffic.)

We've have a Hydro Hot and have had an intermittent problem with the diesel firing up for about 2 1/2 years now.

Normal yearly service has been done since we bought the coach used, ~6 years ago now.

I've had help from Roger Berke's Forum, always nice to respond in ways a layman like I can understand!

He has referred me to two different tech's over the years. And I've had the following done by them, and then also a repeat by a third tech I called while in Yuma.

1) Taken a part and cleaned the combustion chamber, and reset the points (I call them points, as they spark to ignite the diesel.

2) Had the points replaced, just because we still had problems.

3) Had the little laser gismo light reader replace twice.

4) Again, normal yearly service by competent techs.

I've had two items suggested that may still be causing this problem of intermittent firing of the diesel:

1) I'll call them 'brushes', as it was described as a motor that needs to turn. Possible we have a bad spot, and by intermittent luck, the motor stops on one of these bad spots(?). Though I wonder if 'It's a bad spot.' - why does it then sometimes 'Start up?'.

2) Control Board could be going out.

Both of these are pretty high ticket items, but form the money I've tossed at this replacing items that were less expensive, and more likely to cause the problem - I think I could have had a new Control Board by now!

I want to assure you, that two out of the three tech's that were involved, did methodical as possible trouble shooting. Watching them, the both checked the same things, but in different sequences. They also both gave me their opinions on what 'It could be, and then suggested a path of repair.'. (I mention this, as I do feel that two out of these three tech's were as capable as their reputations and referrals indicated. The third came and looked at what I asked him to, validated it was a bad part (One that I had bought used from a previous tech. As it was all that he had with him, and he sold it to me at 20% of what new part would have cost.), and replaced it with a new one.

But here we are again, 5-6 months more of intermittent diesel firing. Will work great 3 to 5 times, kicking back on multiple times as needed based upon hot water demands. But then maybe that same day, or the next week, I'll hit the diesel switch. It will make the start up noise, but not fire, and then the light above the door will go out again. You can hear the unit still running to clear the chamber of any fuel, just as it does when the burner shuts down after reaching temperature. I've learned to wait a good hour or longer after this, to let the chamber dry out all the way, before trying it again.

Sometimes it will not fire back up for two to three days. Then magically, it fires again, and always smokes heavily for the first good 'burn off' of accumulated dried diesel. I'll run hot water in the coach when it has fired up for the first time again, to let it run good and long and burn off the gunk.

OK - That's my long wandering story. How about it? Any of you ever have intermittent diesel firing problems on a Hydro/Aqua Hot? Would appreciate the unusual ones that you may have found, as it might point us in the right direction!

Best to all,
Smitty
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:09 PM   #2
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Have they put a new nozzle in ?
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:20 PM   #3
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Have they put a new nozzle in ?
Yearly service includes that as part of the routine.
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:56 PM   #4
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Weak pump that doesnt allow enough pressure for a good spray pattern from nozzle ?
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:10 PM   #5
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Might be out there, but do you have a flat spot on the aqua-hot motor?

We ran into a situation similar to yours and that was the cause. We replaced the motor and no additional issues.
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
Yearly service includes that as part of the routine.
Yes to both. New nozzle, and always replaced at yearly service. I even swapped out a spare one I take with us, in case we had a bad one... But still the same.

Thanks!!!
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jbialy View Post
Might be out there, but do you have a flat spot on the aqua-hot motor?

We ran into a situation similar to yours and that was the cause. We replaced the motor and no additional issues.
Very possibly, this is what I was trying to describe when I said 'brushes'. Still can't quite figure out if it's a bad spot, what it is that 'Wakes it up.' to start working again...

The first tech that we worked with in Colorado, suggested this might be the next likely item to swap out.

Thanks,
Smitty
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:46 PM   #8
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It sounds to me you have a flat spot.
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Old 07-12-2016, 07:12 PM   #9
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Get sneaky...

Most intermittent issues require a lot of time and cleverness to sneak up on them.

We have no clue what you have but are well versed in working on these kinds of issues.

First walk away and forget about it as it will make your brain kramp.

Now locate the service manual and do NOT go to the troubleshooting sections.

DO read the theory and operations pages many times.

If like the manual on our home HVAC it will explain how the unit works including details such as thermostat calls for heat on terminal W1 which causes device to do something followed by something else and so on.

Repeat reading until it is comfortable reading.

Now remember the symptoms when it is not working then quickly review the troubleshooting sections to determine which part of theroy to read again.

Usually things that involve fuel and combustion have system interlock conditions that must be met before a following action can take place and if any of those fail it shuts down.

By learning how it works you can check those steps and by using clip leads have a voltmeter in place to confirm voltage so if a required voltage can be measured without disturbing things and then you can determine which way to go.

Yes it takes time but yours is free.

If you have motors with brushes a brush can be bad or a dirty commutator.

If there is a blower fan then there could be a vane switch that moves when air is flowing and common is the little wire could have a bad weld that allows vane to move without turning switch.

Bearings in blower motor could be drying out causing slow motor rpm causing almost correct air flow resulting in what you have.

A voltmeter connected to the wire from that switch would show if that was causing it.
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:28 PM   #10
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(No internet for a few days...)

TQ60 - Like the get sneaky, but real campers don't need no stinkin manuals! (Good tip to go back to basics... and be sure I understand all of the systems and check and balances of this specific Hydro Hot.)

Funny the intermittent way this is. For three days last week, could not get the Diesel to fire off. We moved to a dry camping site in Apgar Campground West Glacier area. And dang if the Diesel has not fired up every time we've needed it. Even so, any time we run the generator in the allowable hours, we have the Electric element on... So we'd have some hot to warm water, depending upon the time of the day.

And for heating, we have our Heat Buddy if needed. But so far, we've been able to use the Hydro Hot for coach heating too.

Fingres crossed that the unit keeps firing up as we need it!

Hoping to stretch this out to the end of September, when we'll stop in at Oregon Motor Coach, and have them help us debug the mystery. Suspect we'll replace the motor as the next step, unless they spot something else.

Best to all,
Smitty
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Old 07-15-2016, 02:25 PM   #11
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Great.

If you know where test point a are such as a vane switch or other interlock test them now along with taking photos and measuring voltages at assorted places that have connections or solder joints.

Document them as working.

Then next time it fails look for any that are different.

Yes we can go to he!! For reading the manual as it is against our religion. ..

Needing to swap out egr and oil cooler on a 6.0 soon so reading lots now...
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Old 07-15-2016, 05:01 PM   #12
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My thought would be a miss firing ignition coil. When they get weak they fire sometimes, and sometimes not. There is a way to test it, and out of a hundred trials it must fire every time.
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