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Old 06-02-2011, 03:20 PM   #15
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RKettle, I once owned a 1990 Pace Arrow with the 454 Chevy engine. I had a similar problem you are having. Open up the engine compartment on the inside of your coach and look to see where the main wire loom crosses over the air conditioning compressor bracket on the left side front of the engine. On my coach the wire loom was pulled so tight over the bracket, that it wore thru the insulation of some wires inside the loom causing the alternator to stop working. Once the wires were taped up the alternator worked fine.

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While not necessarily the problem in this thread, I found the same potential problem in our '88 Winnie with the 454 setup - headed off problems by providing an appropriate section of rubber hose around the wire loom at that location...
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:24 PM   #16
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Regulator that may have been the problem to start with
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:33 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Gary - K7GLD View Post
While not necessarily the problem in this thread, I found the same potential problem in our '88 Winnie with the 454 setup - headed off problems by providing an appropriate section of rubber hose around the wire loom at that location...
I agree that it may not be the problem, but I found that with the engine running I could jiggle the wire loom at that point and watch the alternator gauge go from charge to discharge and then back to charge again. I got lucky I guess cause I found the problem by accident. I also ended up wrapping a piece of rubber hose around the loom at that point. I also saved my buddy from having a similar problem with his 1989 Pace Arrow/Chevy. We caught his before it actually wore through the loom.

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Old 06-02-2011, 07:36 PM   #18
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There is such a thing as a bad brand new alternator.. I had an alternator replaced on a car once, only to be back within a month to have it replaced due to a faulty part in it's re-build.

However, the advice to check for shorts, and such is very very good.

Voltage regulation, now days, is often internal to the alternator by the way.. NOT ALWAYS, but often. I know some FORDS have a "Single Wire" alternator.. ONLY the battery wire hooks up to it, nothing else. (The other wire is the frame of course)

Temp fix.. Run generator if your house charger charges the chassis batteries.
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:16 AM   #19
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1st generation Dodges used external voltage regulators up till 1993 (Dunno if it holds true past then). The difference was they put the external voltage regulator in the PCM vs as an independent unit on the fire wall. I have both, the one on the firewall is for in the event that the PCM based one goes out again (Had to replace the PCM a while back).
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:17 PM   #20
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Bigsky, NO isolater on my 83 Itasca but I do hear a relay click when the "Dual" is pushed on.....
The ".7 VDC" might not be a bad idea since my coach batteries are charged from the alternator around 14V, The "13.3" at the coach batteries might be a perfect charge.
While running the rig yesterday I walked into the main office to snoop and looked at those battery isolaters, They have the 3 pin and 4 pin isolaters....First of all why burden your altenator constantly and #2 is they look awfully small to handle that much amperage..

Jim
Aren't these isolators designed to pass charging current rather than starting current? For comparison, look at the size of the cables from the battery to the starter and the biggest lead coming out of your alternator for charging....
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:41 PM   #21
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Nuge: You're correct. The alternator output goes to the isolator input. It isolates the house from the chassis.
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:50 PM   #22
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Aren't these isolators designed to pass charging current rather than starting current? For comparison, look at the size of the cables from the battery to the starter and the biggest lead coming out of your alternator for charging....
Yup, That they are and when the batteries are low that overworked alternator is breathing pretty heavy.....

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Old 06-03-2011, 06:09 PM   #23
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There is such a thing as a bad brand new alternator.. I had an alternator replaced on a car once, only to be back within a month to have it replaced due to a faulty part in it's re-build.
There is a big difference in quality between a cheap 1-3 year warranty re-built alternator and the lifetime warranty re-built unit that you get at your local auto parts store. With the cheaper unit the re-builder took your old core alternator and found the one reason that unit failed fixed that one problem and called it fixed......where the more expensive unit the better re-builder would replace all the parts that could wear out and actually re-build the unit.
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Old 06-03-2011, 06:35 PM   #24
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I once went thru *3* Grand Auto "lifetime warranty" GM alternators before getting a decent one - the "free" part was OK - but the swapout and return bit was a pain!

The units I was being given looked like they had been dropped into a dirty parts cleaner tank, then merely painted on the outside and put out for sale - they were FILTHY on the inside, and didn't even show evidence of having been taken apart for rebuilding...
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:21 PM   #25
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There is a big difference in quality between a cheap 1-3 year warranty re-built alternator and the lifetime warranty re-built unit that you get at your local auto parts store. With the cheaper unit the re-builder took your old core alternator and found the one reason that unit failed fixed that one problem and called it fixed......where the more expensive unit the better re-builder would replace all the parts that could wear out and actually re-build the unit.
Years ago after replacing so many of them in our shop testing them on the vehicle for output and replacing them again before they even left the shop be they 1, 3, or 5 year warranty, then they started the lifetime warranty bit I became a very firm believer they rebuilt them all the same, boxed them for what they wanted to call them and sold them at different price levels and sold them. It got to the point that there was no profit in selling starters and alternators when it took 2 or 3 of them to get the vehicle out the door then after they were on the road for a while come warranty time the excuse was we no longer carry that line anymore.

Ford at one time (mid to late 80's or so) had a "lifetime warranty" on all rebuilt electric motors for cars and light trucks, after about 4 years or so they backed out of the program while offering to replace whatever motor it was that came up for warranty one time as a "goodwill" gesture. That goodwill gesture was good for ONE time only and at the time I had several F350 tow trucks not to mention family cars. Very disappointing to say the least.
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:53 PM   #26
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I know older Fords had an external regulator and even some newer alternators have a chip sized regulator you can change out. I have also just changed out the alternator brushes. There is an easy voltage check that can be done on the vehicle that just may help someone out sometime if you have a volt-meter. Starting with a charged battery, read the battery voltage (At the battery) with the ignition off. Write this down as your Battery Reference Voltage. Have your co-pilot start the engine and run engine at a fairly high speed with all accessories off. If this voltage is 2 volts or more higher than your Reference Voltage, your regulator is probably bad. If it's between 0 and 2 volts, proceed to step two... With all lights and accessories on and engine running at a high speed voltage should increase by .5 volts or more above Battery Reference Voltage. then the alternator and regulator are most likely OK. If voltage increases by less than .5 volt, There's one more test to do. Turn off engine and connect meter directly to your alternator with the positive lead to the large BATT terminal (Usually the largest wire on the alternator, and often red) and the negative to a good chassis ground. Start engine, turn lights and accessories on and engine running at a high speed and read this voltage. Again, if voltage does not increase by more than .5 volts above Battery Reference Voltage, turn off everything and inspect alternator for defects. If voltage increases by more than .5 volts your regulator is probably defective. This is a test I've used for years directly from an old Readers' Digest Car Care Manual. It's a great book that I've used to teach my kids all about how cars work and how to repair them!
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:24 PM   #27
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I just went through all of this. The early GM's used Lesteck (not sure of the spelling) alts and regulators. They are dual mode. Lesteck is out of business. You can't replace them with regular GM parts. I had to get the Alt. rebuilt because there was no cross over one available. The regulator is also dual and the only regulator that would fit was a Pentack (not sure of the spelling. It took over a month to get it right.
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Old 06-13-2011, 07:17 AM   #28
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Here is a followup to finish out this thread. Thanks everyone for their input.

We replaced the alternator and chassis battery. ($460) Everything was fine for 500 miles, then loss of power again. Roadside service to get started and limped into Alma OK for the night. Mechanic found the starter wire had pushed up against the manifold and melted, causing a dead short. ($125 for roadside service and $425 for new cable and another new battery.) 100 miles later the alternator failed again, probably caused by the dead short of the starter cable. ($400 - wish the mechanic had load tested the alternator in Alma)

So, $1400 later, clear sailing home. Lesson learned, not all mechanics are created equal.
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