Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 01-13-2003, 01:23 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 96
Images: 3
Aaaargh!!! Motorhome won't start!!!! AGAIN!!!

I am getting so frustrated! After a few weeks in storage (WITH THE BATTERIES DISCONNECTED), I went to go start the motorhome up. Nothing. It would not turn over - I kept trying to start it, then the batteries drained down to nothing.

WHY OH WHY does this keep happening? I fear I can NEVER take it on a trip because of this. My husband calls it a piece of s____t and tells me he is sick and tired of trying to fix the same problem over and over. I am starting to agree.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to why this keeps happening?

As of today, I still have not started it up because I have not reinstalled the battery after charging it. I am a bit apprehensive about doing so because I think it will only be a waste of time and another drain on the batteries just trying to start it again. I haven't talked to my mechanic (I'm wondering if I should ever talk to him again!) about this recurrence. I will call him tomorrow first thing and ask him his opinion.

In the meantime, I am very open to advice and/or suggestions . . .
__________________

__________________
eraffety is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2003, 05:41 AM   #2
Rivet Master
 
LOST , Hawaii
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 2,193
It would not turn over - I kept trying to start it, then the batteries drained down to nothing.

Is it turning over (cranking) but not firing (starting)? You need to be very specific on what it is actually doing.

How old are the batteries, how long did it crank before the batteries died? Batteries will discharge even if they are disconnected. If they are old and weak they will not crank for long. They also need to have enough power to run the ignition while cranking. Most of the time the terminal on the starter solenoid is a distribution point for power and the location leads to a lot of corrosion. I would check the wires there. Do this after disconnecting the battery because it will be hot and easy to blow a hole in the oil pan.

The gas will drain from the fuel lines and evaporate from the carb after several weeks. It takes time to refill these. If you have an electric pump and turn the key to ignition and let it run for 10 seconds before starting it will give it time to refill. If all you have is the mechanical pump the engine cranking will have to refill and if the batteries are bad it might not make it.

An engine needs spark and fuel to run. You need to figure out which it is not getting. If you pull a plug wire and have a nice hot blue spark, the fuel system is probably the problem. Pour a couple of teaspoons of gas in the carb and see if it will fire (put the air cleaner back on in case of backfire). Isolate the two and you will know where to start.

John
__________________

__________________
74Argosy24MH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2003, 09:14 AM   #3
Rivet Master
 
ALANSD's Avatar

 
1966 26' Overlander
Woodstock , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 8,463
My battery requires a charge when sitting for awhile.
I bought a charger that maintains the charge when plugged in, and it seems to solve this problem.
The drain from radio memory, and other similiar drains, although small...after a week or more the battery is showing a charge level on a volt meter of under 12v. I have a disonncet blade on the battery, but the cold weather contributes to the discharge anyway even when "disconnected".
Als of the battery is sitting on a metal surface it will discharge sooner. Plastic battery trays help this. Stored batteries will discharge if left sitting on concrete floors also.
I would check the fluid levels, charge them up and then
If you have access to a meter you can check the charge levels / and get a maintenance charger to keep on the battery when not in use.
Talk to any boat owner they deal with the same issues.
Also - I wanted to mention that its a good idea to start up your generator once a week or so if you can, and that would charge your batteries as well if you let it run an hour or more.
__________________
ALANSD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2003, 10:10 AM   #4
2 Rivet Member
 
striker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 60
Images: 14
a good idea

after owning a motor home for over 10 years i have learned that it is a good idea to hook up the batteries ever two weeks or so and start it. let the motor home run for 15-20 min. and the unhook the batteries again. this keeps all of the fluids mixed,such as the trany fluid and antifreeze,oil and power steering fluids.that way you will not get dead gas in the carbs. replace your batteries ever 3-4 yrs.
__________________
striker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2003, 12:40 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
Chas's Avatar
 
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 949
Images: 22
maybe?

This may sound weird and is probably not your situation but I had a bass boat that did exactly the same thing. I kept it outside and tried to keep it covered the best I could. The way the batteries were stored in the usual RV plastic battery cases was the problem. When it rained the case would fill with water and mysteriously drain the power from the batteries. I guess somehow it would conduct votage and suck them dead in a few days. I drilled holes in the bottoms of the case and no more problems. Kinda like in the old days when you put a battery on the ground it would go dead, but heard they won't discharge like that anymore.

Chas
__________________
Chas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2003, 01:17 AM   #6
2 Rivet Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 96
Images: 3
It is not the solenoid. Had that checked. The battery was not dead when I first tried to start the motorhome, but did drain rapidly as I tried to crank the engine over.

The engine will crank - but it does not turn over. Does that make sense?

I am literally at my wit's end!

Alan - you said the cold weather contributes to the drain of the batteries - but I live in Southern California so that does not seem to be an aggravating factor. I will take your advice about starting the generator once a week or so (- that should be easy to do?). I've never started the generator. I've never started the gas/liquid propane either (I am a bit scared to do so!).

John - I did not let the ignition "run" for a few seconds to refill the fuel lines and the carb - perhaps this is the problem? If this is the problem - would it drain the battery that much just trying to turn the engine over? I will try to let the ignition "run" as you suggest when I reinstall my battery (which is brand new) once it is fully charged.

I have put in a call to my mechanic and he will be out on Sunday to check on the problem.

Thanks for your suggestions! I will let you know what the problem was . . .
__________________
eraffety is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2003, 08:35 AM   #7
Rivet Master
 
LOST , Hawaii
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 2,193
Starting a big old carburated gas engine 101 (this is assuming the internals on your engine are all relatively good and timed as they should be and it is tuned properly):

There is a difference in starting a fuel injected engine and a carburated engine. FI uses a higher pressure system and will pump gas into the intake if the engine is revolving and a few other parameters are met. Carburators use vacuum to draw gas into the intake. At cranking speed there is not a lot of vacuum. If this sits for a long time it will take more time to get fuel, the lines will drain back into the fuel tank and the heat from the engine will evaporate gas from the carb.

It is a long way from the fuel tank to the carb, I have seen posts here where members put 2 electric fuel pumps in line to get the gas they need. Turn the key to ignition. If you have someone outside listening underneath, they should be able to hear the fuel pump run for a few seconds while it fills the lines and builds pressure. Pull the air cleaner and pump the accelerator (carburators have an accelerator pump which gives the engine a shot of gas every time the accelerator is depressed) there should be 2 good streams of gas from the middle of the carb toward the front. If this is ok, pump it one more time, going all the way to the floor to set the choke and put the air cleaner back on.

Turn the key to start. The engine should crank (turn over, they are the same). You also want it to fire, the gas will burn when the spark plug fires. Only one or two cylinders might fire, the engine is cold and you are using the vapors from the fuel on the floor of the manifold, but you should hear a difference in the rpm. Only crank it for 3 or 4 seconds if it does not start. Pump the accelerator 2 or 3 more times, you will need more gas. You may have to do this 3 or 4 times before it runs. Don't go crazy on the accelerator, you can pump so much gas in that it will flood and won't start. Don't go crazy on the starter, it will kill the batteries and cook the starter.

If you have gas and it still won't start you have an electrical problem. Bad batteries, corrosion on connectors, bad solenoid/starter or cables, ignition problems, or tune up time. It takes a couple of hundred amps to crank a big engine, that makes the voltage drop and the ignition has less power. Everything has to be in decent shape.

John
__________________
74Argosy24MH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2003, 10:01 AM   #8
2 Rivet Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 96
Images: 3
John-

I guess I've been starting the engine incorrectly. Since I do have a carbuerator (and two fuel pumps) your advice will be taken to heart!

I will do as you say and see what happens. I'll keep you informed!

Thanks so much - you've all given me hope!

-Emily
__________________
eraffety is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2003, 10:55 AM   #9
Rivet Master
 
ALANSD's Avatar

 
1966 26' Overlander
Woodstock , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 8,463
Emily- remember this is all new to you, as it was to me, and many others here, not so long ago. Once you get familiar with the methods and systems you will feel a whole lot better about all of it.
As for starting the generator, I would suggest that you do that and let it run as we said, it will improve the operation of it overall.

The other systems need occasional use to keep it all operative. I even run my a/c in the winter once in awhile to keep the seals and all working well. If it sits to long things dry out. Just like people!
__________________
ALANSD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2003, 11:20 AM   #10
Rivet Master
Commercial Member
 
ViewRVs's Avatar
 
1977 20' Argosy 20
Charleston , West Virginia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,226
Images: 9
Send a message via Yahoo to ViewRVs
Emily,

To add to Alan's comments, check to see if your generator (manuals) feeds current back to the engine battery. That's what my Kohler unit does. If it does, always run your generator while trying to start your engine. The power coming from the generator will give you extra starting power and assist the batteries.

The generator will usually charge both batteries. When my batteries went bad/dead, I jumped the generator with my Honda and used the gen set power to start the engine.

My first sixth months were no fun as I had trouble after trouble and could not use the unit. That's all behind me now and I'm having a great time fixing other things like the toilet!
__________________
Fred H.
1977 Argosy 20' Motorhome
Fred's Airstream Archives @ ViewRVs.com
ViewRVs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2003, 10:01 AM   #11
1 Rivet Member
 
Happy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 6
batteries

Batteries do not drain down when disconnected for two weeks. If they never cranked your engine, there would never have been enough draw on them to drain the batteries flat. Get your batteries load tested. They may have an internal short and register 12 volts but put out almost no amps, at least not enough to kick the solenoid in the starter into life.

Fred
__________________
Happy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2003, 06:56 PM   #12
2 Rivet Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 96
Images: 3
Fred (Happy)-

By "getting my batteries load tested" do you mean check to see if it is a bad battery? (Forgive my ignorance!) I just replaced my old battery for a brand new one.

Fred Hinds -

Thanks for the advice about the generator - now if only I knew how to start it. Is it difficult? Could it be dangerous? I am so, so new to all this I feel so inadequate and . . . stupid.


Alan -

I agree wholeheartedly about running things periodically to keep them from getting "stiff" (just like people); however, I am unsure about how to start a lot of things (like the propane, the generator, the heater, the a/c, etc.). I do have the owner's manual and I have browsed through it, but it seems overwhelming and confusing to me at times. I wish there was a videotape of someone going through their airstream systems (water, electrical, gas, etc.). I, for one, would buy one in a heartbeat! (Perhaps someone will videotape and offer to sell it to those less fortunate in this area of knowledge? I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one to buy this tape! Perhaps one could be made for trailers and one for classic motorhomes? Just a thought . . . ).

As always, your insight and knowledge are greatly appreciated!
__________________
eraffety is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2003, 07:37 PM   #13
Rivet Master
 
ALANSD's Avatar

 
1966 26' Overlander
Woodstock , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 8,463
Well I was lucky when I bought mine the p.o. walked around it with me and showed me most of the systems, and I videotaped her doing it so I would be ok later on my own. The most useful was the awning operation which was confusing at first, and how to winterize.
Maybe you can find an Airstream club member, or someone with a similiar motorhome that you can video tape doing all the basics, like emptying the tanks, starting the gen, turning on the propane, and so on. The tape will be good for those forgetful moments.
Hang in there! It will be worth it...
__________________
ALANSD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2003, 07:21 AM   #14
Rivet Master
 
LOST , Hawaii
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 2,193
Given your starting problems a load test is a good idea even on a new battery, it is not really uncommon for them to be weak. This will also start breaking out the components in your starting system for trouble shooting.

Most of the systems are very similar from motorhome to trailer. The locations of wiring, plumbing, etc. change, but the operation is the same. Ask specific questions and you will get answers.

John
__________________

__________________
74Argosy24MH is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Argosy Motorhome Manual & Brochures WANTED Rik Argosy Motorhomes 28 05-22-2017 12:45 PM
Help!! Engine Won't Start!! eraffety Mechanics Corner - Engines, Transmission & More... 41 07-05-2006 08:01 PM
2003 Motorhome Problems Marks Airstream Motorhome Forums 9 04-05-2005 08:56 AM
Generator No Start jim8860 General Motorhome Topics 6 05-03-2003 05:43 PM
Motorhome Mechanix Motorhome Mechanix Airstream Motorhome Forums 1 10-27-2002 01:17 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:43 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.