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Old 06-01-2011, 09:05 PM   #1
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No battery charge. Stranded in Wichita

1987, 28 foot, Pace Arrow Fleetwood 454 engine.

Last night the alternator went out in Burlington CO. New alternator and engine battery installed. The deep cell batteries were replaced last month.

Everything seemed fine for the next 500 miles but then as we stopped for gas in Wichita KS, the batteries are all dead.

What would cause the new alternator to stop charging?
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:16 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Rkettle View Post
1987, 28 foot, Pace Arrow Fleetwood 454 engine.

Last night the alternator went out in Burlington CO. New alternator and engine battery installed. The deep cell batteries were replaced last month.

Everything seemed fine for the next 500 miles but then as we stopped for gas in Wichita KS, the batteries are all dead.

What would cause the new alternator to stop charging?
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.

Good Luck
Sammie
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:24 PM   #3
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If your alternator was replaced once already maybe when they installed it they didn't tighten the belt enough.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:31 PM   #4
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If you have a "DUAL--MOM" switch on your dash area just fire up the genny and push down on the "DUAL" switch...
That will charge all batteries.

Jim
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:32 PM   #5
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Last night the alternator went out in Burlington CO. New alternator and engine battery installed. The deep cell batteries were replaced last month.

Everything seemed fine for the next 500 miles but then as we stopped for gas in Wichita KS, the batteries are all dead.
By all means check the alternator wiring and drive belts first.
Sometimes a rebuilt alternator can go bad quickly, depending on the quality of the builder. Also if the alternator needed max rated output amps, charging low batteries is a great way to see if you got a good one or not.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:41 PM   #6
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Did a shop do the replacement? If so, did they load test your system? Does your unit have an external regulator?? Finally, are all your battery connections clean and tight? I especially would check your negative/ground connections. I don't know your particular vehicle, but have worked on quite a few charging systems...
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:57 PM   #7
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Unfortunately, I am in Colorado and my daughter is driving the RV and is stranded in Wichita. I am trying to troubleshoot via cell-phone.

The alternator replacement was done by a shop in Burlington CO and I don't know if they did a load test on it.

I'm wondering is a voltage regulator is bad.... or the battery isolator solonoid. Any input on that train of thought?

My daughter said everything was fine and all of a sudden the battery voltage dropped to nothing.

All the belts are tight. And this is a new NAPA alternator.

Thanks so much for all of your input.
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:25 PM   #8
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Rkettle,

As Wanabee FTer stated, check alternator by driving to a Napa store and let them test it for free.


Steve
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:26 PM   #9
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If you have a "DUAL--MOM" switch on your dash area just fire up the genny and push down on the "DUAL" switch...
That will charge all batteries.

Jim
On that year Pace Arrow, it is probably called "Emergency Start".

A bad isolator relay (solinoid" should not keep the alternator from charging the chassis battery, it would keep the alternator from charging the house battery(s). If you have a bad isolator relay, then pushing the "emergency start" button will not do anything, because that is what the button activates.
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Old 06-02-2011, 10:22 AM   #10
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PKMesser: on that vintage coach they use a diode isolater and solenoid for aux start. Depressing the aux start button engages the solenoid thus adding the house batteries to the chain. A bad isolator (open diode) would prevent current from reaching that battery bank.
Rkettle: on your coach the voltage regulator is internal in the alternator.
Assuming all your cables and connections are correct your daughter should be able to depress aux start and start the engine.
If she's handy with a DVM, or you're really good on the cell she should be able to troubleshoot this.
The battery isolator should be mounted on the firewall behind the front cover/cowl opening. The center post is input.
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Old 06-02-2011, 11:43 AM   #11
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Bigskymt, you are right, I had an 83 Pace Arrow, forgot what type of isolator they used, (memory now tells me it had a blue base with aluminum fins for cooling the diodes) but doesn't the alternator still charge the chassis battery if that diode isolator fails?
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:10 PM   #12
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PK: You're right on the blue heat sink. The black epoxy with three terminals mounted on silver heat sink is what I remembered. The center terminal is input and the other two are output.
I had mine fail (open diode) on the engine side and ended up moving that cable to the center tap to continue my trip.
If your isolator had two taps with the alternator output hard wired to the chassis side and only the house batteries isolated from the system then charging the chassis batteries would never be an issue.
Considering the failure rate of isolators and the fact that you lose .7vdc through the diode the three terminal isolator seems like a poor idea.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:41 PM   #13
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but doesn't the alternator still charge the chassis battery if that diode isolator fails?
The isolator is between the alternator and the batteries. On a 3 post isolator the alternator comes in on the center post, the house batteries are attached to one of the other post and the engine batteries to the other post. The purpose of the isolator is to be able to charge two banks of batteries and not allow the batteries to connect to each other. The diodes ONLY allow the output of the alternator to reach each bank of batteries. It is a one way street. When using the solid state isolator you will also have a selenoid attached to each bank of batteries and the output combines the two banks. This allows you to press the boost button and use the house batteries to start the engine. In short, if the isolator is bad on the engine side the batteries that are hooked to the engine will not start. Also, if the isolator is bad it could cause the alternator to fail. I had a alternator rebuilt to the tune of $475.00 then after installation found the isolator to be shorted... which caused the alternator to burn out again

If an isolator is bad and the alternator is good then you could take the alternator output and put it on the engine battery bank post and head on down the road. Just make sure you disconnect and tape up the house battery cable.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:54 PM   #14
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PK: You're right on the blue heat sink. The black epoxy with three terminals mounted on silver heat sink is what I remembered. The center terminal is input and the other two are output.
I had mine fail (open diode) on the engine side and ended up moving that cable to the center tap to continue my trip.
If your isolator had two taps with the alternator output hard wired to the chassis side and only the house batteries isolated from the system then charging the chassis batteries would never be an issue.
Considering the failure rate of isolators and the fact that you lose .7vdc through the diode the three terminal isolator seems like a poor idea.
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
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