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Old 07-28-2007, 02:19 PM   #1
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Chantilly , Virginia
Join Date: May 2007
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345 Fuse block went 3/4 dead

Recently we purchased our wonderful '89 345. When we were on our maiden voyage(after almost 2 weeks of repairs & replacements), we lost all power going down a steep hill. Luckily there was an equally steep hill going up so we cruised to the side. The 3 right sides of the the fuse block were dead. after checking all possible wires for an hour with a multimeter. I decided that the trucks flying by were not good for our health, and would just bridge the wire from our new Steibel air horn(the Best) to the ignition switch. The horn wire was 10 gauge connected directly on one of the circuit breakers on the outside firewall, which I had to run to the dash since the steering wheel horn doesn't work.
Anyway, I installed an inling fuse holder and found that a 25 amp would keep the lights and engine running.
Yesterday, I unscrewed the main wiring harnass above the engine where it goes inside the firewall to the fuse block and low and behold, the waterproofing sealer had melted, and migrated inside all the connector junctions. It is a oily black sludge that was a pain to scrape off. I used a flat exacto blade and lots of q-tips and brake cleaner. I plugged it in and poof, had power at all legs of the fuse panel. The outside harnass connector is in 3 parts. I think it is best to separate them and plug them in separatly. first the one with the bolt, then the next two. I have to remove it again and make sure the contacts are aligned, as the ignition circuit is still dead from the panel. I will post pictures when I remove the works again.
Cheers, Peace and happy Trails!
Peter
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:23 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Peter.

Excellent first post! Karma coming your way for sharing useful information. I had a similar problem on my '84 Suburban, but never shared the fix like you did.

Tom
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:26 PM   #3
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Chantilly , Virginia
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Well, as it turns out the cleaning I described did not fix our problem. But I am sure it will keep us from being roadsided some day. I did take pictures though when I recleaned all the contacts with a small dremmel type tool, which worked great.(note: I took about a tablespoon of oily black melted crust out of the contacks before I took these pictures!) Make sure you use a nylon brush and some good electrical cleaner, but make sure it is plastic safe.
We use "corrosion block" which is really a life saver. you can get a 32 oz bottle with sprayer for about 25 bucks. It has fixed cell phones that have taken a swim and a laptop that got a full glass of water spilled on it. It did have to be fully disassembled but it works! BTW, I have no affiliation with them, I am just an enthustiac anecdoter.
Anyway, Our problem is that the Fuse panel in our '89 345 is 3/4 dead. But it does get fully powered when I put a wire to the hot wire on the back of the ignition switch. Funily enough the Ignition circuit fuse on the panel still is dead even though I am back wiring it. I think I may have answered my own question. I think it is a bad wire between the fuse panel and the ignition switch, but is there a wire that energizes the 3 right columns of the fuse panel?
Thanks and Happy Trails!
-Peter
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:42 PM   #4
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Chantilly , Virginia
Join Date: May 2007
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Cleaning Terminals and Contacts

I forgot to put the picts of the tooling I used. I cut one brush down to fit inside the female contacts. But make sure you put it on a very slow speed or it will spin the brush into a useless knot. I did think if you could twist some steel wool into a small thread you could use it to get inside vey well. I also think if you have a xacto blade holder, you can put a few strands into the notch and twist it into a great terminal cleaning machine. Use a holder that is the size of a pencil so you can spin it easily.
The can in the picture is Seafoam Deep Creep, it is an excellent marine grade carburator cleaner and general lubricator.
Cheers, Peace and Happy Trails!!
-Peter
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:14 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forums and the wonderful world of classic motorhomes. You have entered the realm of the by gosh and by golly. When I purchased Chummy all I knew about wiring was that there was a plug and an outlet. Today I can talk intelligently about fusible links, double fused circuits, dead shorts, and faulty grounds. Not to mention my full command of a volt meter. Our coaches were wired by a psychotic individual who is continuing to get great pleasure by reading these postings of ours as we try to figure out just what is going on. If you did any searches on the subject you may have read that I surrendered this past winter and had Chummy rewired. I consider it the best $2500 I have spent on him so far. Recently I re-installed the dash AC and when I pulled the dash to see all those neatly placed, labeled wires tucked into and wired up to my two large fuse boxes all I could do was smile.
Now to your problem. You have three fusible links running off of your ignition. One of them could have blown. Please be cautious using choke cleaner around electrical contacts, it is very flammable. The oily black gunk on the contacts was put there as a waterproofing method. Check to make certain that your box has the rubber seals in place and seats properly. The way those boxes are made it is possible to get contact on only part or one third of the box. When I still had that old box with the bolt in the middle I found that I often did not get all fuses contacted when i put the box back together.
Last, good luck and again welcome to our group of happy classic owners. there is no better way to camp.
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Old 08-02-2007, 01:50 PM   #6
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
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99% of problem fixed

Thanks Kent, You are right that it was the fusable link. If only Airstream's manual showed schematice of the most important part of a motorhome's wiring- the thing that gives it motion. It was after going throught the wiring harnass, removing almst 2 linear feet(10 feet wrapped) of 20 year old electrical tape, and tracing the wire to the fusable link above the alternator. It was very strange, there was a small tear in the wire 1 inch after the fusable link and then after the tear the line was dead, even though the wire looked connected, but corroded.
I would have thought that there would be a solenoid to handle all the amps, but I guess as it was built it was ok. I think it may be some aftermarket stuff that killed the wire. Also it was strange that the wire going to the fusable link was a 10 ga wire and coming out was a 14 ga. I replaced it with an inline fuse on 10 ga wire and have the fuse holder I bridged from the circuit breaker on the front firewall as backup if I have to up the amperage in the future. I think the fusable link was a 30 amp, but in case it was a 50, I can have the 30 in place of the fusable link and add a 10 to the bridged fuse holder.
I think the person that rewired our 345 did it out of a mixture of desperation and trial and error. When we got it there was only one battery for the engine, but it was wired to run the coach as well, so the battery went dead very quick when driving with anything on in the back, even after putting 2 deepcycle batteries where they should have powered the Coach. Lots of fun but luckily it conked out on a light highway, and we had a battery booster pack that fit nicely in the battery compartment to get us back.
I can't wait until everything is up to par and you can just hop in and take off.

I agree that Carb cleaner is flammable, so definitly unplug the batteries and shore line, but more importantly it is a very strong solvent. So if you are going to use any strippers, non "organic-type"(citrus) cleaners, etc. it is good to use a respirator labeled for such. Because you don't want to breath that stuff in as it gives you many health problems over the long term. Spray oils are ok as they are not particularly volatile(evaporating quickly).

Now the 1% remaining problem with the electrical is that the fuse labeled "Instr Lps" is still dead which is in position 5-c or c-5 in the schematics. I looked on the back of the fuse panel, but without any luck tracing it as of yet. I have found 2 fusable links above the alternator, do you know where the third is?
Thanks, Cheers, and Happy Trails!!
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Old 08-03-2007, 07:10 AM   #7
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Peter, if you still don't have inst. lps. check the headlight connector at the switch. I found my "block" melted down in the center. I've not had time or gumption to attack this problem but as most of my driving is daylight am no troubled by it.

Your posts are very detailed, we who have not been there yet thank you and Kent for your input.
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Old 08-04-2007, 02:53 PM   #8
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
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Re headlight switch

Hello Glen, Thanks for the info, I just removed the headlight switch to order a replacement(ours had a broken rheostat), so that must be the problem. They are very easy to swap out. I use 2 bungees to keep the dash panel raised up, so it doesn't bend any lower terminals(one hooked to the cabinet door handle going to the right side, and the other hooked on the visor bracket going to the left side). All you do is remove the wiring harnass on the bottom, then you will see a small button on the top with a spring coiled around but underneath it. with the headlight switch pushed in fully, push the button and pull the knob and rod out(you may have to jiggle it a bit, or do the push pull thing a few times). Unscrew the huge looking screw where the knob was and put the replacement in. make sure you put the index tab back in the slot at the bottom of the hole, then screw it in and hook up the harnass and you are back in business. We ordered ours from rockauto, but I think you could pick one up at any parts supply. For our 88 chevy chassis p30 it is AC Delco part number D1506A, about 18$. There are 2 different arrangements on the rockauto site, so take yours off and look at how many terminals there on the bottom, ours had 7 on the bottom and 2 on the side.
Thanks, Cheers and Happy Trails!!
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:06 AM   #9
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Chantilly , Virginia
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Headlight Upgrade

I just found a great site with a detailed and easy DIY for upgrading your headlights. It is for a Chevy Camero, but the bulbs should be the same as they are 1a1 and 2a1.
Upgrading Headlights For Your Third-Generation F-Body - ThirdGen.org
Cheers, And Happy Trails!
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Old 08-07-2007, 06:07 AM   #10
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Peter, I went the switch replacement route first and then found the melted connector at the headlight switch. I've got to find the connector to fix my short. Lucky for me the headlights work just fine.
I'm not certain if this is a part I can find or if I'll have to scavange the wrecker yard for one?
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Old 08-07-2007, 10:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterKnop
Now the 1% remaining problem with the electrical is that the fuse labeled "Instr Lps" is still dead which is in position 5-c or c-5 in the schematics. I looked on the back of the fuse panel, but without any luck tracing it as of yet. I have found 2 fusable links above the alternator, do you know where the third is?
Thanks, Cheers, and Happy Trails!!
Peter,
I am doing this from my shaky memory and believe if you have found three fusible links you have found them all. Now I am really going to stick my neck out here and repeat what I was told is the difference between a fusible link and a fuse. A fuse will blow quicker than a fusible link. A sudden jolt of electrical current will blow a fuse but the fusible link will blow, or melt only when that current remains high. Replacing a fusible link with a fuse and then increasing the rating of the fuse will only cover up your problem, you can put in a maxi fuse and melt all the wires before it blows. Sadly, this is a lesson I learned from experience.
Now as for your dash lights you did not mention if the new headlight switch corrected the problem. I doubt that it did. What else is not working? Your levelers, horn, gauges, cruise control, running lights, spotlight, etc. There are too few fuses in that panel to have one dedicated to just the dash lights. When I first started with my dash project all the light wires were pink. (see photo) What you can do is first identify what else if anything is on that circuit. Then isolate each of them and check for shorts.
I think the biggest problem we have with our electrical systems is that in 82 or 86 there were no computers, GPS, cell phones, satellite radios, DVDs, and what else we demand to work today. Then add 25 years of tinkerers, like myself and you get a disaster.
Good luck and keep up the perseverance.
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:55 AM   #12
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
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Hello Kent, I did find 2 more fusable links at the starter, but hopefully those are all. The switch change helped, but now my guage lights aren't lighting, the headlight and marker lights are fine, but the dash lights are gone. We just got back from the Outer Banks, so now I have some time to go through the wiring a little more.
We did have our alternator kick the bucket 3 days into our Vacation, but luckily Napa had the replacement(a 105 amp, not the 120 amp for motorhomes, but that was what was in there so it worked fine.) So, only 3 hours lost to mechanical problems. Definitly keep an extra set of belts on hand, when the alternator went, it locked up and cooked the belt.
I think that may have been a major part of the problem, but we also have a few other issues. I know we have a short in the circuit to the backup lights, sometimes when we go into reverse the circuit blows for the turn signals! Luckily we have a 25 pack of 15 amp fuses so I can swap it out quickly when it happens.
Everything else is working fine, I will definitly reverse engineer the wiring when we convert our MH to diesel this summer. Thanks for the Info!
Cheers and Happy Trails!
-Peter
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