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Old 03-19-2006, 10:10 AM   #1
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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Intermittant no start

Lately, every third of fourth time I go to start the motorhome it cranks but does not fire. Hooking up a timing light confirms there is no spark. Then, after a few tries, for no reason, it will just start.

Today I put a test light on the battery feed into the coil. Here is what I found:

Key in ignition 12V on
Key to RUN position - 12V on
Key to START position - 12V off.

I also noticed that while cranking I would show 60psi of oil pressure but my oil pressure light remained on. Any thoughts on this? Is there an ignition cutout on the oil pressure switch? I thought it would be time delay to allow for starts. I'm headed to NAPA to get the switch ($5)....but I hate it when I don't know why something isn't working.
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Old 03-19-2006, 10:32 AM   #2
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Some models had a BULB TEST position in which the circuit to the bulb is tested every time the engine is cranked. You might find other warning lights being tested at the same time.-----Pieman
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Old 03-19-2006, 12:14 PM   #3
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Ignition switch problem?

Maybe be obvious but have you traced the circuit from the switch to the coil?

I have the P30 manual, let me know if you want me to scan anything and email it to you. Although, if it was my rig, the manual would be showing how it USED to be rather than how it IS.
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Old 03-24-2006, 11:01 AM   #4
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Steve, try a new coil. My no start turned out to be a bad coil. Usually they fail but don't do the intermitant routine you're getting.
I also agree with the ignition switch as that was the first thought I had. Seems to me I remember in another lifetime a switch that would crank but once turned back to the run position would actually be in an off mode.
Let us know what you find. Good luck.
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Old 03-24-2006, 12:30 PM   #5
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Steve,
I have just gone through the wires from the ignition to each gauge and the oil pressure gauge is not connected to the ignition other than for it to be turned on and off in a series with the other gauges. There is a tan wire which runs up from the sending unit to a junction and then a blue/white wire which runs into the gauge. Power to the gauge is brought in from a separate wire. The ignition is wired through the amperage gauge. Since I am working with a diesel and the actual ignition switch is a little different I can not answer your question why the switch reads off, mine always does but then I have a cut off switch.
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Old 03-24-2006, 06:41 PM   #6
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Steven, you need 12v to the coil in order for the coil to fire. An ignition switch (I am guessing dash-mounted) is pretty cheap, and if it works, it will save you diagnostic time. I have hed more than a few vehcles that would not start, but if you left the key in the "on" position, they would run in you jumped the starter.
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Old 03-25-2006, 07:20 AM   #7
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I agree that it is probably the ignition switch. Most 12v vehicles run with a ballast resistor in the coil feed in run to lower the running voltage to about 8 volts. During cranking, the ballast resistor is bypassed so that full battery voltage (which may be as low as 10 volts or less with the starter load) is fed to the coil for better spark. You might try disconnecting the start circuit (the small wire at the starter solenoid ) to prevent the engine from cranking, and then try the ignition switch repeatedly with a test light on the coil feed. If the light doesn't come on every time the switch is in crank, it is the switch. Replace it. Good luck.

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Old 03-26-2006, 01:44 PM   #8
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I put a new coil in today and it started right up on the first crank...I'll check it this week and replace the switch if necessary. I decided to go with the coil as the last few times it has started it stumbled a bit and blew rich exhaust then would clear up almost like a switch was thrown. Felt like ignition to me.

Anyway - cheap parts rule!
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Old 03-26-2006, 06:46 PM   #9
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Very cool... I get lucky every once in a while. Now I wait with baited breath to see if this really is the solution to the problem and not just luck!

Cheap parts are so very cool.
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:40 PM   #10
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After many decades doing this stuff, I tend to be a little (?!) pessimistic, but sometimes you do get the bear, before the bear gets you.
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Old 03-27-2006, 08:34 AM   #11
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Terry,
I've not been doing this for very long at all...but I agree with you. The concept of "getting lucky" on an easy, accessible part and "classic motorhome ownership" never really do seem to go together.

In thinking through this a little more last night....this will be the third coil replacement in four years (40,000 miles). I think the first two fried due to under voltage situations (wiring chaffed and grounding to the headers near the started leads) so if it was the coil, I don't know what this one was all about.

Besides, the ignition switch is another cheap part. If course if I added up all of the $15 parts I've bought for this thing I would realize that I would realize that I can afford a brand new diesel pusher.

Time will tell.
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Old 03-27-2006, 09:43 AM   #12
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Mr. Webster,
I have a 1979 24 ft MH and if it sits around very long without getting some attention it turns over and no spark
I have replaced all that stuff you have but still had the problem turns out it was a bad harness from the ign module to the plug on the outside of distributor at least check that make sure you have the voltage there if you got that and fuel it's got to run or at least try.

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Old 06-09-2006, 08:13 AM   #13
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Bfrank,
Thanks for the tip. I do have voltage to dist. and since the coil replacement this problem seems to have gone away.
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