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Old 09-08-2015, 07:02 PM   #1
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What's that thing above my alternator?

1987 Establishment P30
I've decided to replace the failing alternator. As I was making a plan of attack, I noticed something I wasn't expecting in the way. It's mounted on a bracket directly above the alternator. I took 2 fairly good pictures:
In one picture you can clearly see the alternator below. The other is more of a close-up of the mystery device. What is it? Surely that's not a voltage regulator??!! Whatever it is, I've got to remove it to get to the alternator. Should I replace it also? (depends on what it is I suppose)
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Old 09-08-2015, 07:08 PM   #2
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Starter solenoid? Follow the wires to the starter me thinks. Some kind of solenoid.

-Chris
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Old 09-08-2015, 07:15 PM   #3
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That is a solenoid. Starter or accessories? I have one like that for accessories on my Bucket truck.
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:18 PM   #4
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No, probably no need to replace it. Looks like starting solenoid.

Make sure to disconnect your battery before you start!
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan7361 View Post
1987 Establishment P30
I've decided to replace the failing alternator. As I was making a plan of attack, I noticed something I wasn't expecting in the way. It's mounted on a bracket directly above the alternator. I took 2 fairly good pictures:
In one picture you can clearly see the alternator below. The other is more of a close-up of the mystery device. What is it? Surely that's not a voltage regulator??!! Whatever it is, I've got to remove it to get to the alternator. Should I replace it also? (depends on what it is I suppose)
Ryan,
Yes, that is a "solenoid". Now, yes, in yesteryears cars, mainly Fords but, not always, that was mounted on a side fenderwell, usually close to the battery and, it was used to link the "Big juice" from the battery to the starter.

But, for some reason, I sincerely doubt that, that particular solenoid is used for starting your coach. It could be but, I doubt it. I'm not all that familiar with P-30 Chassis coaches but, in many coaches, that kind of solenoid is or, has been used extensively for "dual battery solenoid" setups. It basically links the charging by the alternator, to go to both the chassis batteries and, the house batteries.

Normally, it's mounted some place away from the engine to decrease potential damage due to engine vibration. But, is this for sure what that unit above your alternator is for, not really sure. Maybe other P-30 pilots can chime in here with better info.
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Old 09-09-2015, 12:50 PM   #6
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FIRE UP is correct looks like an isolation solenoid for duel battery system. The cables don't look like the correct gauge for starter current. GM starters have the starter solenoid mounted on the starter. They were know for having problems starting when the solenoid got hot from the exhaust. A hot start kit with a remote solenoid could be installed. The remote solenoid would be installed in a cooler area, not on top of the engine. Trace the cables to find where they go.
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Old 09-09-2015, 06:03 PM   #7
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I too will support the SOLENOID, Do not know if it is accessories, or Isolator., Doubt it is the starter's but.. Well I'd not rule it out either.
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:55 PM   #8
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Ryan,

Yes, it is a solenoid.
There is no reason to replace it unless it has malfunctioned.

A solenoid is merely a description of a physical type of contactor.
A contactor is just a name for a BIG relay. A magnetic coil and contacts to control where current goes and when.

GM vehicles all have the starter solenoid as part of the starter motor and there may be some that aren't but I have yet to see said. So, it is not at all likely to be a part of the starting system.

This should be remembered. As it is not likely to be part of the starting system, if you get it replaced with something is intended for such duty, it will probably fail again in short order. If it is as I suspect, it is a continues duty part and starting solenoids are not that.

It is very likely to be as was said above to be the charging isolator for your house bank. If you have a switch that says something like "Boost" on it, that may be a manual control to cross the house bank with the main engine start battery in the case that one of them is down.

I would suggest that you get a hold of some of the vehicle documentation and find out that this is precisely what it does so you can recognize the problem if it does fail.

Matt
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Old 09-09-2015, 08:19 PM   #9
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Not sure of it's purpose either, but it does look like the main alternator output is routed to ones side of it. One of GM's "better" ideas is a "hot start" circuit designed to insure the starter gets full voltage on the motor home chassis. My best guess is this may be part of that circuit.

So you mentioned "failing" alternator. As the alt. power is being routed to/through that solenoid, it is possible that the solenoid could possibly be the source of your evil. The only way to know is through further trouble shooting.

Also, not all solenoids are created equal. There are some, like you might see used for a starter, that are only engaged briefly, like just long enough to start the engine. If engaged for more than just a few minutes, it will overheat and burn out. Other solenoids, like you might see in a circuit to charge or isolate batteries, are designed for constant duty. These are called a "constant duty" solenoid, and can be engaged indefinitely without fear of overheating. Though each may look identical to the other when held side b side, they will have way different prices as a rule. -Al
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