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Old 01-16-2005, 03:26 PM   #1
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1989 37' Airstream 370
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Cool 370 LE won't start

I have a 1989 Airstream 370 LE with a Ford 460 on a Gillig chassis. I went out this morning to fire it up for its weekly running and I discovered that it wouldn't start as if the battery was dead. I charged the battery and tried again with no luck. I have a spare battery I know is good so I replaced the battery. It still acted like it was a dead battery and would not start.


I had the entry door open, so I decided to close it. Voila... It started, but it acted like the battery was very weak. It ran for about 5 minutes ok. I then shut it off and tried to restarrt it. The same thing as before happened.

However, when I opened the main door to exit, I noticed the steps lowered very slowly. I stayed in the coach and shut the door and I could hear the steps closing, but they sounded like they were stuttering as they closed. I opened the door and verified this. Eventually, they retracted. I have a switch on the inside of my coach that allows me the option of having the steps automatically open when I leave the coach. I had the switch set for this, but now the steps won't lower at all. Nor will they lower when the switch is in the other position.

Obviously, I have a minimum of two problems: My engine won't start and my steps won't go down. I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience and had a fix. I am wondering if the steps are causing some type of lockout so the engine won't start. The steps are Kwikee steps.

Any help, thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 01-16-2005, 05:35 PM   #2
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As far as I know (at least on a 345) there is not a lock out when the steps are down. Having said this I don't get a 'steps' warning light when the steps are down and the engine is on, so its possible mine was hot wired.

Did you try "jumping" the chassis battery from another running vehicle to get the steps up? Seems like a low battery condition or loose/corroded connections to me.

Anyone else have ideas?
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Old 01-16-2005, 05:40 PM   #3
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I would check voltage. The battery may not be putting out enough, or you may have a corroded or shorted wire somewhere making intermittent contact. like at the starter.
I had that issue, and it drove me nuts trying to figure out why my MH would start sometimes and other times it seemed like the battery was dead.
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Old 01-16-2005, 06:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swebster
..... I don't get a 'steps' warning light when the steps are down and the engine is on, so its possible mine was hot wired.
On my 345, if the switch for the steps adjacent to the door is left in the "on" position a warning light appears on the dash (even with the ignition in the "off" position......this could be a significant "parasitic load" (do a search here within the forums) - and could certainly discharge a battery in a week's time.

Luck
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Old 01-16-2005, 06:55 PM   #5
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Another thing that can happen, as per my mechanic, is that the alternator is draining the batt as well. He said a diode is supposed to prevent this but when it's old, the batts drain out the way a charge comes in. I'm not sure how accurate this is, but eventually he told me that I didn't need a new alt after all, just had to tighten the belts and turn off the radio!
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Old 01-17-2005, 07:13 AM   #6
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Your steps could run off the chassis battery, maybe you will get lucky and only one problem. As suggested check voltage at the battery and for corrosion, both on the battery and ground. Ford uses a starter solenoid seperate from the starter and it is often a junction point so make sure the terminals are clean. If the battery voltage is low and the engine will start check the voltage again, it should increase from the alternator output. If not check for corrosion there.

John
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Old 01-17-2005, 09:05 AM   #7
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Sounds like you have a power problem, either power or ground. The battery is most likely good, check for a corroded battery terminal, bad engine and chassis ground, and make sure the positive cable to the solenoid is good, and attached firmly to the solenoid. The Ford solenoid is mounted remotely, not like on GM's where it hooks to the starter. Since you are having other electrical problems I would not think it is a bad starter, or the wire that goes from the solenoid to the starter.
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:44 AM   #8
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1989 37' Airstream 370
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Can you tell me where the solenoid is located? I would appreciate it.


Thanks
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Old 01-17-2005, 11:16 AM   #9
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Follow the hot lead from the battery, it should go to the solenoid, most likely bolted to the frame. Usually they are on the inner fender, but you don't have an inner fender.

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Old 01-17-2005, 11:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Danger
Can you tell me where the solenoid is located?
Nick:

Don't know how much "Chevy Build" would transfer to your Ford, but on the 345 (P-3X) the "Intermediate Solenoid" is mounted on the curbside engine upper support - remove the doghouse, and (on the Chevy's, anyway) a rod type support runs from the top center to the curbside engine rear just on top of the engine, and just under the floor - the solenoid on the 345 is mounted on that "support rod", just about the second cylinder from the front, just on top of where the intake manifold and valve cover "come together".

Luck
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Old 01-18-2005, 10:20 AM   #11
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Smile

Thanks for everyone's input. I have to wait for the weekend to work on it, but I'll report my findings.......
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Old 01-30-2005, 10:58 AM   #12
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1989 37' Airstream 370
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Talking

After spending a lot of time searching for the starter relay and not finding it or solving my problem, as Kenny Rogers said, "You got to know when to fold 'em". I had the coach towed to an Airstream service center in Brooksville and they are going to fix it. I decided to also have them do some other preventitive maintenance work.


FYI.....

When the tow operator disconnected the rear drive shaft to tow the coach, he showed me the U joints. There wasn't a drop of grease in them. I have 38,000 miles on the coach so I'm having the service center replace all of the U joints from front to rear. I thought I'd mention this because I never would have thought they would have been in such bad shape with so little mileage.
Has anyone else experienced this?

Thanks again to everyone for the tips.
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Old 01-30-2005, 12:48 PM   #13
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There should be zerks, if you haven't greased them it is no surprise. There isn't much cavity to hold the grease so it should be done every time the chassis is serviced. They are sometimes hard to see and you might have to move the mh a foot or so to get at them.

As long as the drive shaft is out have them check the carrier bearing. Not many miles but age will get the rubber that supports it.

If you trust this outfit have them lube the whole chassis. There are a lot of lube points, if the u joints were dry chances are a lot have been missed or ignored. Any zerk that doesn't take grease needs to be dealt with, the zerk could be frozen and needs replaced or the part it is lubricating could need replaced.

John
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Old 01-30-2005, 01:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 74Argosy24MH
There should be zerks, if you haven't greased them it is no surprise. There isn't much cavity to hold the grease so it should be done every time the chassis is serviced. They are sometimes hard to see and you might have to move the mh a foot or so to get at them.

John
A lot of OEM U-Joints don't have any provision for lubing after installation, if they run dry the only recourse is replacement. Most of these MH's are "on the fence" between a genuine heavy duty truck, and a 1 ton step van, a lot of step vans from GM don't have grease fittings like the heavy duty trucks do.
Terry
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