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Old 09-17-2021, 06:27 PM   #1
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loss of 12v was NOT the "salesman switch/solenoid"

My hope is to put my experience here so that it may save someone else the time I wasted looking, AND having to cancel a trip. It was a 20 minute fix... but took a solid 2 days of researching, tracing cables/wires, and checking voltages before I "stumbled" on to the fix. Background... The coach is stored indoors connected to a 30amp service when not on the road. We were about to leave for a trip, and I had turned on the fridge to pre-cool before filling, and turned on a roof fan and opened a few windows because it was actually cooler outside than in. The next day (trip day), we take the cold items to put in the fridge, and find the coach completely dark. No house lights, no 12v to the dash, no fridge, no Gen. The only thing working is the 110v wall outlets, and the inverter. 99% of 12v loss posts/threads, on every message board, point to the "Salesman Switch/Solenoid". Mine had been bypassed. So, now I fall into the 1%. Which translates into less that 1% remaining applicable information. In checking voltage at the battery banks, I find the house at 13.2v and the chassis batteries at 8v. Keep in mind the house is charged by the inverter, which IS working. Since the chassis batteries were dead, I had them checked and they were good, but needed to be charged. Im puzzled by this because there is a maintainer, and the coach is on shore power. I charged the chassis batteries. I now have ignition and dash lights but engine will not turn over. I decide to work on one problem at a time. I start checking voltage at the rear power distribution bay. Im getting the same volts, as at the house battery bank. When I check the chassis side, I get multiple false voltage readings. In the power dist. bay, negative leads for both sides, come in between the 2 main disconnects, and are connected by a fused block. The fuse is intact, and I was using it as the ground to check voltage at every terminal in the bay. The false readings prompted me to look in the direction of a ground issue. After tracing main cables and wires, front to back, I found no smoking gun. I took a piece of Romex and connected the ground wire directly to the chassis and touched the other end to the neg post of battery bank... all systems came up! A trip to the auto supply and about $15, 12v problem is"neutralized". But, the engine still will not turn over. 😠! After a short mental break, I realized that when it wouldn't start before, I had tried to do a rear start... thinking it might be the ignition tumbler causing the start problem. I had left the switch set to "rear". Flipped to front and all is right with the world. I spent a lot of time tracing bundles of cables and wires. Many of them are impossible to follow as they disappear behind frame and shields and have way too much excess. Its been my experience, grounding is the most common component of a 12v circuit to fail. I knew this, but overthinking the issue clouded my thought process. KISS(keep it simple-stupid)
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Old 09-17-2021, 08:01 PM   #2
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Sorry for your experience. If I have two or more issues with the 12V devices/lights, I always look to a grounding issue. It is one of my baseline checks when I perform a 6 months inspection.
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Old 09-17-2021, 08:12 PM   #3
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What cost $15 ?
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Old 09-17-2021, 08:18 PM   #4
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Good info/extensive troubleshooting
What is missing is the exact reason/resolution

A trip to the auto supply and about $15, 12v problem is"neutralized".

Please explain so others following/doing searches can read WHAT the issue was
Negative cable, ground connection to frame, 'neutralized'???
*that word doesn't fit as DC has no Neutral......just POS & NEG
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Old 09-17-2021, 08:32 PM   #5
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Congratulations!!!
Seems like you did a good job tracking down the problem.
Many would throw their hands up and called a mobile tech.
Nearly everyone would jump first to the solenoid, it's just what we automatically do.
As others have asked, we could use more details.
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Old 09-18-2021, 10:08 AM   #6
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loss of 12v was NOT the "salesman switch/solenoid"

Sorry folks, I didnt mean to be so vague. My post was more aimed at reminding others not to get tunnel vision when trying to diagnose a problem. Also to inform that the salesman switch is not always the problem, just probably the first thing to eliminate. In searching threads and post, I found that ground issues were not queried to "loss of 12v" in the search engines. In other words, if you search "loss of 12v", 99% of the search results will be related to the salesmale switch.

The problem was that I had lost the main ground to the chassis.
The $15 dollars was for a ground cable, 3/8 tap and bolt. I drilled and tapped the chassis, removed the paint to get a good bond to the metal, and bolted the cable, and connected to the Neg on the battery bank.

Old-Biscuit: 'neutralized'???
*that word doesn't fit as DC has no Neutral......just POS & NEG
My attempt at dry humor, It was tongue in cheek / a pun
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Old 09-24-2021, 10:59 AM   #7
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A few pictures would sure help the great report.

I highly recommend looking for ground connections in the dark with a headlamp and flashlight, and a helmet. The bright light of the day or lights can wash out places.

Any grounds found should be noted and then taken apart and cleaned properly.
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Old 09-24-2021, 11:36 AM   #8
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Thanks for the heads-up! You never know when information like this will be needed in the future!
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Old 09-26-2021, 03:49 PM   #9
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A little share ...This little wire brush cleans grounds on steel frame ,studs ,nuts washers ect. like nothing short of a sand blaster . I have wire wheeled for probably weeks of my life through all the years . Little bad boy cleans most small stuff for grounds faster and better than wire wheel. I use a softer tooth brush type one as not to scrape all the tin coat right of a cable lugs instantly.
I need to get a few more believe from McMaster Carr.Click image for larger version

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