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Old 01-11-2015, 06:02 PM   #1
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Won't Start

We have a 1985 GMC Coachman 454 Chevy. We had some problems getting it to start when we got it (we've had it for about 6 weeks). Got that problem fixed, or so we thought. It would start right off the bat for a couple of weekends. Had a real cold snap this week and tried to start it this weekend. It kept stalling and wouldn't start. Now it won't even turn over. No headlights, no power anywhere, except for the house lights. Any ideas anyone? Thank you in advance for any suggestions.
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:12 PM   #2
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Sounds like a dead battery. Had it been stored on shore power? Check voltage of the chassis battery, if it's O.K. then remove and clean battery cables. What was the problem that corrected the starting issue the first time?
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:57 PM   #3
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Thank you for replying. We haven't had it on shore power since we got it. He always hooks up the jumper cables from the pickup to the rv to help keep the battery charged. He will keep it hooked up for about an hour each time. The first time the screws that held the carb on weren't tight when we took it off because we thought the carb was the problem. Then people said it was probably the starter, so he put the carb back on and tightened it down. Started right up with no problem. Haven't had a problem since until now.
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:27 PM   #4
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If you can connect to shore power in storage, your batteries will last longer. There are enough phantom draws on the battery to kill it without regular running or on charger. While in storage, I disconnect both house and chassis batteries and never have issues when I use RV.

If the battery is charged and/or jumper cables added, the issue could be with the fuel system. Bad gas, lots of sitting can cause the auto choke to malfunction, carburetor passages or float to get 'gunked' up. (technical term) If you spray out carb, run some SeaFoam through it and some fresh gas it might stay running.
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Old 01-12-2015, 05:19 PM   #5
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OK, You better get your head right in this now.

For starters, what you have is a Coachman body on a GMC chassis and the two are little connected and it is all thirty years old. You should think of it as a thirty year old camper on a thirty year old truck. It will all have thirty year old issues (and I know whereof I speak on this).

Part of what the above means is that the house power and the vehicle power have little if any connection. There may be systems in place and still functional that charge the house battery from the main engine. There also may be a boost switch that will couple the two together, but do not use that until you understand what all the options are.

Another thing you should know is that charging any lead/acid (typical) battery that has gone dead for an hour will get you to maybe - MAYBE - 30% of charge.

Yes, it does sound like you have an issue with the main engine battery, but it may just be that it has never been fully charged in your use. That should be easily remedied. But you will have to do the whole thing or you get nothing.

It sounds like you have little experience and less documentation. Apart from Pennsylvania that I got from your partial profile, I do not have much information to go on here. But, you don't have or can't use shore power - right??
Fix that one of two ways, either find some place to connect or buy a little (it will not take much) portable generator, a decent battery charger (shop, might be 80$) and even a cheapo meter. The generator almost does not matter as long as it makes about 1000Watts of AC. The battery charger should be multistage and maybe even labeled "smart". The meter is just so you are not in the figurative dark about what is happening.

Once you get that and get both the house and vehicle batteries charged, then try to sort out your other issues. Maybe people here can help, but we need to know more about the systems.

It is cold in Pennsylvania right now. (News Flash?) You can charge batteries now, but you may have to wait until you can use your hands in the cold before you do much more.

A 12V battery below 10V is toast. It may not recover completely.
12V is about as low as one can go without damage.
A sitting still, not charging and not being used battery should be 12.6V.

Have you approached one of the Coachman groups about manuals?

Come back went you have the lights back on and know more.

This is not new, I did a lot of boat work before the depression and saw a lot of people with similar problems.

Matt -
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Old 01-12-2015, 06:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattC View Post
OK, You better get your head right in this now.

For starters, what you have is a Coachman body on a GMC chassis and the two are little connected and it is all thirty years old. You should think of it as a thirty year old camper on a thirty year old truck. It will all have thirty year old issues (and I know whereof I speak on this).

Part of what the above means is that the house power and the vehicle power have little if any connection. There may be systems in place and still functional that charge the house battery from the main engine. There also may be a boost switch that will couple the two together, but do not use that until you understand what all the options are.

Another thing you should know is that charging any lead/acid (typical) battery that has gone dead for an hour will get you to maybe - MAYBE - 30% of charge.

Yes, it does sound like you have an issue with the main engine battery, but it may just be that it has never been fully charged in your use. That should be easily remedied. But you will have to do the whole thing or you get nothing.

It sounds like you have little experience and less documentation. Apart from Pennsylvania that I got from your partial profile, I do not have much information to go on here. But, you don't have or can't use shore power - right??
Fix that one of two ways, either find some place to connect or buy a little (it will not take much) portable generator, a decent battery charger (shop, might be 80$) and even a cheapo meter. The generator almost does not matter as long as it makes about 1000Watts of AC. The battery charger should be multistage and maybe even labeled "smart". The meter is just so you are not in the figurative dark about what is happening.

Once you get that and get both the house and vehicle batteries charged, then try to sort out your other issues. Maybe people here can help, but we need to know more about the systems.

It is cold in Pennsylvania right now. (News Flash?) You can charge batteries now, but you may have to wait until you can use your hands in the cold before you do much more.

A 12V battery below 10V is toast. It may not recover completely.
12V is about as low as one can go without damage.
A sitting still, not charging and not being used battery should be 12.6V.

Have you approached one of the Coachman groups about manuals?

Come back went you have the lights back on and know more.

This is not new, I did a lot of boat work before the depression and saw a lot of people with similar problems.

Matt -

Well said Matt.
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Old 01-13-2015, 03:34 PM   #7
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Thank you to all who replied. The battery is not nor has it been dead since we got it. He puts the jumpers on it to make sure it stays charged.
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Old 01-13-2015, 04:25 PM   #8
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Is the pick up running for the hour that he has the batteries connected? A couple of hours after the chassis battery has rested from being charged, what is the voltage reading? It should be 12.6 v or so. That's a partial test of battery health. To learn more, specific gravity should be measured in each cell. If you take the battery to an auto parts store you can get a free load test that is the best way to tell if the battery is the issue.

The reason to let the battery rest after charging is to allow the surface charge to be absorbed into the lead plates. Immediately after charging it's easy to get a false high reading.
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Old 01-13-2015, 06:20 PM   #9
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Like everyone already stated, you need to have the battery load tested to see if it past it useful life
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Old 01-13-2015, 06:36 PM   #10
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Owner's Manuals for 1985 Coachman RVs are available on line. I didn't know if you have a Sportscoach or Sportscoach Pathfinder, but both are available.

Coachmen RV - Manufacturer of Travel Trailers - Fifth Wheels - Tent Campers - Motorhomes
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Old 01-15-2015, 10:47 AM   #11
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Thank you to all who responded. We have read all of your comments and suggestions. As soon as it warms up and we can get to the RV, we will try these. Thanks again
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Old 01-15-2015, 04:48 PM   #12
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One more thing I would like to add. On old gas chassis they use a fuseable link on the hot wire from the battery,it powers the chassis fuse block,it's the smaller wire of the two on hot battery cable. If trying to crank for long periods of time with low battery it will blow the link and kill all chassis power.
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Old 01-27-2015, 06:06 PM   #13
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With a dead or close to dead it will take a lot more than an hour with jumper cables to fully charge it. Clean the connections, put the battery on a battery charger (if you don't own one, buy one, you'll need it). Take the battery to the auto store and them check it under load. This sounds like a dead battery or dirty terminals, or possibly a blown fuse. You can Take the battery out of your truck and put it in the RV and try to start it also.
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