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Old 02-18-2012, 05:23 PM   #15
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As far as the not starting after sitting, checking the battery and finding 12.5 volts doesn't really tell you much. A battery can have 12.5 volts but not have anywhere near the amperage it needs to crank. You need to check the amps or check the voltage while trying to crank the engine. If the voltage drops significantly once you try starting it then your battery could be bad or the alternator isn't charging.
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Old 02-18-2012, 06:00 PM   #16
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All good advice above. I had a 454 and it would never start warmed up. My friend who owns a bunch of Corvettes told me the 454 uses an insulated starter with a shield to keep it from binding up. He got me the shield and starter and no problems after that. Good luck!
I'd second this. Especially with headers, that starter may be getting very hot. If I remember correctly, this was a common problem back then. I think many made up some kind of a heat shield, someone may have even offered one on the aftermarket but as its been a long time since you could buy a 454 that may be impossible to find anymore.
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Old 02-18-2012, 06:25 PM   #17
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Both the dieseling and the hard starting could be caused by the timing being too advanced. It sounds like you may have other electrical problems, and those can be real misery to solve for an amateur.

Before you go anywhere very far, I would check the manufacture date on the tires, by the way.
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:40 PM   #18
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My wife wanted a motor home ,A BIG motor home so I found one on Craigslist( funny neighbor of my sister) there were no pics only a description,I liked what I read so we went and looked at it and of course she could not say no so " we " bought it.For $1900.00
It is a 1989 Fleetwood Southwind 36' with Tag axle 55,000 miles 2 owners.454 with Banks Power Pak,Unknown brand of tri-Y headers and dual flowmasters ,475 a/t with a gear vendor under/overdrive, has 3 solar panels a 6.5 Onan genni, and so on( ask if you want to know more ).
Ok one of the two PO mickey moused alot of stuff,so I will askin alot of questions.
When we went to leave the PO house I checked all the fluids and tires all looked real good but was leaking gas had to replace the fuel pressure reg by the tank or behind the rear wheels after that drove home fine turned it off and it dieseled and coughed.next day tried to start and was hard to very slughish and then very loud clunk noise and starter had fallen out was hanging by the battery connector, so replaced that also and it fired right up.Last night went to put gas in it,filled the tank went to drive out and nothing would not start,had 12.5 on volt meter still nothing but loud clicking or electrical switching noise from under the dash or hood maybe under dog house.After waiting 30 min or so got a jump and it fired up drove it back to its spot and had 13.3 on volt meter so i decided to shut it off.It dieseled for a bit then backfired very loud and kids said fire shot out of muffler tips.
Mykill,

As a multi-decade automotive professional, it is MY considered opinion that there is nothing wrong here that you cannot repair for a reasonable investment.
An 1989 CBB truck could still be an open loop carburetor. (No computer, no EGO sensor, no catalyst). You will be hard pressed to find a mechanic these days that can do a diagnostic without OBDII (you don't have that). You write as you are literate. If that is the case, (you can work from written instructions), you are already ahead of many of those you might end up paying to do work on this coach for you. So, Get the P30 chassis book that covers that time frame, read it and go to it. If it is not a P30, that does not matter as that will probably be as close as you can get. You will not a dwell meter, but you will need a tachometer and a timing light. A vacuum gauge is good to have too. Many shops in California get 100+$/hr for shop time, so look at any books or tools you have to buy through that lens.

The dieseling and all that ugly stuff is probably because the main engine has not been run enough to clear the combustion chambers of carbon. I bet if get the other stuff fixed, you can deal with that.

Start by making sure that all the starting power cables are good (they corrode away sometimes) and the connections are all clean, shiny and coated with di-electric (not lubricating) grease so they stay that way. Remember that ground side is part of the starting power circuit, it has to be good - too.

Three big issues remain: Water leaks, brakes and tires (in exactly that order).
- If the coach has water leaks, it will be absolute junk in sort order. Do what ever you have to do the locate and stop any water leak first.
- Brakes, the brake fluid is certainly over age (5~8yrs). Think about getting a power bleeder and a friend or two (remember this will cost 3~400$us at a shop) and purge the brake system. This one move has the potential to save you several thousand dollars of parts/labor (assuming you survive the failure).
- Tires, another place to not mess around. Tread looks good, no sidewall checks....
Nice, but that does not mean a blessed thing...
Learn how to read tire date codes. (Google - DOT tire date codes) I would not be surprised if most or all of yours are three digit - that means made before 2000. As RV tire life is 5~7years, they are probably on borrowed time right now. If you can't afford to replace the entire set now, make sure the the fronts are good before you even go out to buy gas. If a tire self-destructs on the road, it can do a whole lot of damage - Right Now!

Now that you are educated and safe, go for it guy.

Matt
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:23 PM   #19
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Heat shield can be made from thin aluminum. Diesling,, Some motors of that vintage had an idle set solenoid. Elect solenoid would open throttle to idle speed when ignition was on. When ignition is shut off butterfly in carb closes completely. Carb stop screw is only to keep butterfly from sticking. i.e. no air, no fire, no dieseling. Suggestion from Matt X2
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:40 PM   #20
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I had a 1984 motorhome with a 454 that would not start after replacing the starter. It turned out to be a grounding problem. Try grounding the starter motor to the chassis using a set of jumper cables and see if that works.
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:58 PM   #21
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Congratulations! I paid more than that for my first RV, an 8' homemade teardrop trailer with nothing inside.

Other posters have mentioned mostly engine stuff. I just want to add that you should check carefully to make sure there are no leaks where water can get in -- especially if the previous owner kept it covered and you don't. Nothing will ruin your project faster.

Have fun!
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:24 AM   #22
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Had a 79 GMC 350 with the hot start problem. It was cured by replacing a spring in the starter with a stronger one. I think it was the spring that caused the starter gear to engage the flywheel but I'm not sure now.
It was a known and very common problem with GM engines.

It sounds like you may have a weak battery or a battery cable problem. Clean the cables and put a trickle charger on it for 24 hours.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:06 PM   #23
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your story sounds a bit like mine: i drove from Charleston SC to the middle of Florida to look at one unit and was so .... disgusted... that i called a seller whom i'd seen a week earlier and asked them if theirs was still available, four hours back towards SC... got there right at dark, bought their '84 Southwind and drove it back to Charleston losing one rear tire somewhere around Beaufort around midnight.... losing the alternator belt somewhere near the seller's house and not realizing i was running on the battery (ONE battery) until i had no headlights.... buying a new battery and installing it in a parking lot in Savannah..... still not aware that i'd lost the alternator belt, i thought the alternator itself was bad.
i do not regret buying ours AT ALL, regardless of all of these issues, as i feel that i got a very good deal on a nice old coach.
sooooo.... NO; you didn't make a mistake! besides, your rig seems to have a lot of high-cost very desirable add-ons....
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:19 PM   #24
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:21 PM   #25
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Not sure about the Banks kit either. I don't think they used tri-Y headers nor flowmaster mufflers. And the exhaust system and carb and advance mods make up pretty much the whole kit.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:29 PM   #26
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I think you did great. In 94 I traded a lawnmower for a 1979 winnie brave. My wife was in hysterics. She said if only that bed could talk hahaha. Anyway darn near everything worked but the generator. Drove that thing all over fl and it never quit. Laugh about it and make it reliable and enjoy. Dont be impatient!!
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Old 02-24-2012, 02:29 PM   #27
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I think you did great. In 94 I traded a lawnmower for a 1979 winnie brave. My wife was in hysterics. She said if only that bed could talk hahaha. Anyway darn near everything worked but the generator. Drove that thing all over fl and it never quit. Laugh about it and make it reliable and enjoy. Dont be impatient!!

Now that is what I call a trade there.

That must have been a big mower?
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