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Old 04-13-2021, 09:03 AM   #1
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Ghost trying to start our Alpine

We were sitting in our winter house in Lake Havasu City this morning with our 2005 Alpine 34FDDS Cummins ISL 400 sitting just outside our patio door when I hear the Alpine starter motor start cranking, not starting, just cranking away on its own. (the ISL Cummins not the Onan generator)

I grab the keys and open the battery compartment and everything looks normal, chassis disconnect switch is off...starter is still turning...I flip the chassis disconnect switch on and off a few times to make sure its off and it seems to be.

I open the bay with the tool box and grab some tools to manually disconnect the batteries from the main control panel in that compartment...

I finally get the batteries disconnected and the starter stops turning. The starter is smoking and the main wires are HOT.

I have never replaced the starter, or the ignition switch, and have never had a problem with either one.

Of course my question is, have any of you ever had a similar problem?

This has me seriously concerned as it appears two major problem occurred at once, and more than likely one problem caused the other?

I am going to call Cummins today, and maybe a local mobile diesel mechanic.

We have owned our coach for 11 years and it has 65,000 on it and it has been a great motorhome.

Thank you for any advise or knowledge you may have related to this problem.

Mike Francis.
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:22 AM   #2
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That is a strange occurrence indeed. I believe there is also a starter relay on your coach as well. That's where I would look first.
Probably a good idea to replace the starter and solenoid,inspect the cable also, but only after the root cause has been determined. Starter solenoids seldom fail "closed" at rest.
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:55 AM   #3
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Agree with Paul, most likely a relay in the start circuit but not the solenoid on the starter itself. Could be a varmit chewed wire as well.

Not sure what the two problems are that you mention. If it’s the hot wires and smoking starter, that is a function of a normal starter action that has been extended for too long, exactly what happened to you.

Your main issue is finding out why the starter engaged on it’s own.

Clue. If the engine was turning over, the solenoid on the starter was being energized by some source, not just the motor itself. Since the engine didn't fire, the ignition switch was not passing power to any other system and likely not to the start circuit either. Like Paul, I believe there is a relay between the ignition switch and the starter solenoid.

I don’t know if the Vansco is involved, but Engineer Mike may know. If so, swapping back with front may help, but wait for more info before messing with the Vansco.
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:23 AM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions!

After first crawl under...discovered the main hydraulic hose from the gear driven pump to the radiator fan had rubbed the main red large battery line to the starter exposing raw wires, and also same hose rubbed the two smaller wires to the starter, apparently all touching together and thereby engaging the starter.

I am not sure why with the chassis and coach battery shut offs in the off position this could happen. In many ways it is better it happened in the driveway than many other more inconvenient places.

I will drop the starter, repair all wires and relocate the hydraulic hose as best I can. I will try to take some pictures later and post before and after.

While the starter is off I will get the numbers off of it and order one.
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike and Amy View Post
In many ways it is better it happened in the driveway than many other more inconvenient places.
Yeah, that would be rather freaky if you were sleeping in the bed !
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:41 AM   #6
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Your shut off switch must shut off everything except the starter motor cables.

If the starter was run thru the switch, that should have been hot too. Was it ?

Started can draw 700 plus amps. Every connection adds resistance, going direct makes sense.
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:01 AM   #7
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Our Alpine main starter cable comes directly off the battery to the starter, it does not go thru the chassis disconnect switch. If so, that switch would need to be rated at about 1500a, so I understand why they don't.
Good job diagnosing the cause. I'm going to be under ours today repairing the dragging rear brakes :(...definitely going to do a thorough inspection of those wires.
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:03 AM   #8
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The main cable to the starter is not through the battery disconnect .
As twinboat , says too big an amp draw for any fuse or disconnect relay to handle .
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:31 AM   #9
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There’s a thread on this forum “Solenoid Identification ???” that may explain what happened, or could happen, if it wasn’t the frayed wires mentioned previously. There are a couple of modifications offered that would identify if a problem exists and a quick way to cut power in the event of a problem. Here’s a schematic of the starter and starter relay.
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Old 04-13-2021, 12:34 PM   #10
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Starter out and damaged wires out for replacement. Does anyone know of a quality source to order a new starter?
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Old 04-13-2021, 12:43 PM   #11
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Lightbulb

With all the hot rodders there from anti-car states like (Kalif) and the boat builder(s), I'd look into an excellent reman shop. I find so little of anything new, that bests a quality repair.

My good pal Dale lives there, having moved from Pagosa years ago; knows nearly everyone in town (LOL) has a 40" Monaco and a car hobby. He and his wife did a lot of work on the redone women's shelter. I'll check with him or have you two speak.
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Old 04-13-2021, 12:57 PM   #12
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That's a pretty scary thing to have happen. You can prevent, or at least significantly reduce chafing by slitting some rubber tubing and putting it over the wires where they chaffed. Then tie wrap them in place against whatever they were rubbing against with some black zip ties (don't use white they aren't UV resistant). The rubber tubing helps to hold things in place and the tie wraps keep things from moving around and wearing through the insulation. Good luck.
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Old 04-13-2021, 01:14 PM   #13
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my cell is 970-749-5o82
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Old 04-13-2021, 03:47 PM   #14
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Many Years ago a similar problem happened to another Alpine Owner and it was the Starter. It may be a another solenoid/relay which is the problem but I would first have the Starter checked.
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