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Old 06-11-2009, 10:42 PM   #15
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How much does a new alternator hurt?

We've never used this mobile guy, so what should I expect for a new alternator?
Thanks,
Audrey
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:54 PM   #16
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I can't venture a guess since I have no idea what the prices are where you are. The simplest thing to do is call the shop tomorrow AM and ask. Also, I don't know for sure if it is an alternator. Sounds like it to me and it would be good if he had one with him rather than having to go back to the shop and maybe order one, etc., etc.. You get the idea.

John
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:02 PM   #17
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16volts=bad battery

Hubby just informed me that it was running at 16 on the ride home. I think we have a winner. I'll take the battery up to an auto shop and see what they say, and probably come home with a new one. I'll keep you posted.
Thanks to all for your help.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:35 PM   #18
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Start simple.

Hi, I see this is not a brand new unit, so I would start with checking the batteries first. A bad battery and/or bad connections can cause all sorts of problems. If the batteries are bad and/or the connections are bad, the alternator and regulator won't work properly nor will anything that runs on these batteries. Start with the basic/simple things first.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:23 AM   #19
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Audrey, I merged your threads... this is one of those issues where all of the responses should be together. The suggestions you get will be more accurate if there aren't two groups of folks trying to diagnose the same issues.

That said, I'm not a mechanic, nor an auto electrician, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once...

it could be a million things... fortunately, in the older mohos, you're dealing with straight mechanical and wiring... there's little that's computer controlled.

As ROBERTSUNRUS suggested, this is going to be a matter of troubleshooting right down the line. Could be a shorted-out battery; could be a bad ground; could be, could be, could be. It's interesting that the problem is affecting both the coach and chassis systems though... The only place they're tied together is through the ground(s) and charging systems. Otherwise, they should be isolated, so that perhaps gives you a couple of places to look.

Presuming that you have nothing obvious (burned wires, smoke, dangling wires)...

I'd start with the battery cables; and particularly the grounds. Make sure the cables are in good physical condition and that the contacts on BOTH ends are clean and securely fastened. Then check the batteries and charge them fully. Most alternators now have the voltage regulator built in, and I'd presume that to be the case in yours. You may need to pull the alternator to have it tested if you don't have the equipment to do it yourself. If the cables, alternator, and batteries are all good, then my best guess is that you have worn wiring that's causing a short somewhere... and that's probably going to take you a while to troubleshoot. You could have a dash switch that is shorting (lights or wipers or whatever)... you'll just have to track it down a piece at a time. Good luck!

Roger

on edit... it's also interesting that it started when you were driving in the rain and had the wipers going... I wonder what would happen if you pull the wiper circuit fuse...
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Greetings Audrey!

I would be more confident if the power plant was Vintage Chrysler/Dodge, but it sure sounds like a voltage regulator on its way out. That is the classic way that my older Dodges always acted when their voltage regulators were about to die. It could also be an alternator with a diode series beginning to fail.

Good luck in locating the Gremlin!

Kevin
chrysler stopped using mechanical regulators in cars around 1970. i don't think that they'd keep using them in trucks but you never know.

as mentioned, the problem is in both systems which should narrow the possibilities. since the vehicle won't turn over from a weak battery, i'd start by disconnecting that battery, charge and test it and cintinue checking to see if it is being charged by the alternator. if it is then it would seem there is a heavy intermittent short, drain on the battery or a bad ground from one of the battery sets.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:40 AM   #21
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The gauges and lights dimming for a few seconds is a sure indication that an auto-reset circuit breaker is tripping. If you can find the one that's clicking, you will probably find a wet short somewhere down the line. Might be a headlight wire that is frayed and rubbing against a ground, or it could be the wipers as Roger mentioned.

Don't bother pulling fuses though, it's a circuit breaker that's pointing to the problem.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:42 AM   #22
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All new electrical last fall...

(engine generator, wiring, battery isolator and voltage regulator) and receipts to prove it. It sat over the winter, properly--no worries there--so I bet it's a really simple fix, once I find it. As soon as someone will watch my little guys, I will dive in checking voltage and all that, pull batteries, uncross my fingers, etc.

Thanks for all the suggestions and advice--I think I"m on my way. I will post as soon as I have found the Gremlin! The bigger boys just want to sleep in it tonight so I'm shooting for that. Thank you all again!

Audrey (swanky)
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:52 AM   #23
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that's a lot of electrical things to have changed together. it sounds to me like there is an old problem that is still waiting to be fixed.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:10 AM   #24
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I agree. It looks like the PO got tired of throwing money at the problem and decided to let you try fixing it.

Don't follow his example. You have a simple short somewhere.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:16 AM   #25
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Audrey,

Not sure what model motorhome you're working on but here are a couple of other things you can check for. On our 1984 310 motorhome there is an isolator relay on the backside of the slide out battery drawer. This relay looks a lot like a starter motor relay. There should be several large battery cables connecting to the relay. On our motorhome the cables had loosened up where they bolted to the studs on the relay. This will cause erratic behavior. If they are loose be very careful tightening them down as it is in a confined area and it would be easy to short the wrench to the frame.

The other thing that some of us have been experiencing on these older motorhomes is the power contact on the ignition switch. The contact is apparently only rated for 30 amps and when Airstream built these motorhomes they tacked a lot of high current devices onto this connection. Over time the contacts start to fail and you get among other things intermittent connections and low voltage readings. The volt meter on our dash shows low voltage when we have our headlights on even though the voltage at the battery is ok. I am planning on replacing the ignition switch contacts with a higher current rated relay to over come this problem.

Good luck!

Brad
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:50 AM   #26
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I doubt it's the alternator, in my experience they just fail, period. The gauges quit working, not flickering. It's a wiring problem, possibly at the batteries. The battery condition gauge is a good indicator the starting battery is heading south. Remember, with the diesel, all three batteries are used to start her. That clicking seems like the relay. Pull the fuel filter behind the curbside front tire and replace it, it is a NAPA 3796.
There is also a fuel filter on the engine, but let's not go there, yet. Let us know.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:32 PM   #27
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Ok, see pictures. I decided that staring into the front compartment might help and eventually saw a loose black wire (the one being pointed to in the picture). The thingy on the end was loose so I cut it off, put on a new one and plugged it back in. Nothing. Then I jumped the engine to the house battery and plugged into the 110 from the house and VOILA! the engine battery went from poor to good and after a few minutes I got it started--turned right over. I am so happy. Hubby left this morning for a quickie meeting and still isn't home so the hardest part was trying to get my infant and toddler to cooperate so I could poke around, do the battery stuff, etc. The 280 really is in excellent mechanical shape. The kind PO did a wonderful job and most things you would think of have been replaced within the last 1000 miles or less. So, a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who gave me suggestions and led to to find the loose wire. Now, what is it? I am including some pictures.
THANKS A MILLION TIMES OVER, I really wanted to handle at least the first problem on my own.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:15 PM   #28
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Well done, . I can see from your pics "someone" has had wiring problems there before.
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