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Old 01-15-2014, 08:36 PM   #1
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DonL's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Tri Cities Washington
Posts: 144
Flashing Battery Light

I have to share this story because Iíve read of others with the same problem.
About six weeks ago we bought a slightly used (160,000 miles) 1996 Holiday Rambler Imperial on a Spartan chassis with 8.3 Cummins power plant. We are the second owners. On the drive home to eastern Washington the battery light started to flash on and off. It seemed to coincide with the movement of the dash volt meter that cycled around 15 to 16 volts. The battery light went out when I turned on the headlights. Battery voltages showed that both chassis and coach battery banks were being fully charged. Fortunately the first owner had provided meticulous records. After returning home the weather took a turn for the worse so I had lots of time to study the problem and search the IRV forums.
I learned that others had experienced the same thing without posting a resolution. And I learned that this coach had undergone seven alternator replacements or rebuilds. Oh, and I learned that this 96 coach was built on a 95 model year chassis. In several of the repair orders it was noted that the battery light continued to flash even after alternator replacement and check of the batteries and charging system. The Leece Nelville 160 amp alternator is still used on many applications, so I doubted that it was an alternator design problem.
Letís jump to the final page. This alternator has an external but integral voltage regulator that has two inputs. One is the excitation voltage provided by an ignition switched relay. The other is an always hot battery voltage sensing line connected to the battery side of the starter relay. After chasing several mistaken theories, I found that the two leads were switched, not at the alternator connections, but in the wiring harness. The assembly plant and apparently each of the succeeding repair shops had hooked the red to the Battery terminal of the Alternator and the other lead to the ignition post as indicated on Spartan wiring diagrams.
After correcting the wiring mistake, the battery light is out and the volt meter holds a perfectly steady 14 volts, the setting of the Leece, Neville voltage regulaor.
If you own a mid 90ís Spartan chassis and are experiencing the same problem, do not try changing the leads at the alternator posts. You will likely end up removing the alternator to repair one or both posts. Donít ask how I know. I recommend cutting the leads beyond the two pin alternator connector and splicing the exchanged wires.
Hope this helps somebody like the people on this forum has helped me.
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Old 01-16-2014, 03:58 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,043
Nice find Don! I find it amazing that so many service centers missed this - especially since it's fairly common to accidentally reverse the wires. It was always easy to tell as the alternator would put out full voltage if they were reversed. I wonder if Spartan ever issued a TSB on this or they figured it was common sense to fix this? Glad you found your problem.
94-Newmar Kountry Star 40-KSDP
Spartan/Cummins 8.3C-300HP/Allison 3060 WTEC-II/25yr RV Tech RVIA Certified/Onan-Cummins Certified
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