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ScrapIrony-2 01-04-2007 03:55 PM

345 starting/power problem(s)
Hello all and HELP!(please, oh please!):
Our 1989 345 has been in a covered storage unit this winter, but the temperature has been in the single digits a few times. I went to start it last week, and the house batteries were dead, and I thought the start battery was, too, so I jumped it, and after a few problems keeping the cables clamped in place, it fired up. Initially, there was no power showing on the control board, and I was not able to get the generator to turn over, either.
Yesterday, I went to fire it up, again, and it was dead. I tried jumping the start battery, and that didn't work, this time. I pulled the battery so I could take it home(50 miles/2 mountain passes) and throw it on the the process of removing it, I painfully discovered that the start battery had a full charge. I reconnected it, and still had no power to the control panel, and neither the engine or the generator would turn over. The ingnition fuse in the glove box is not blown. As the temperature was about 16 degrees and I had reached my level of maximum competence in motorhome trouble-shooting, I came home, drank a beer, and began composing this plea for enlightenment. I should be assumed to be novice, but willing, and any suggestions and/or help would be greatly appreciated...Tracy's old man, Michael.

ViewRVs 01-04-2007 04:14 PM

I'm no expert but I did have a 345 once before.

1) See if you have a battery disconnect switch. My 345 had a disconnect switch in the battery drawer. It might have gotten switched off (never overlook the obvious). I flipped the switch off (disconnect) when I left her in storage.

2) I usually jumped the gen set rather than the engine. I then started the engine from the gen set power. I just thought it was easier with my weak mini-van.

3) The other common failure point is the starter soleniod. Mine was failing and made starting difficult.

ALANSD 01-04-2007 04:15 PM

check the starter wires and all near there, mine had a short from the manifold burning thru the wires and nothing would work, although intermittently. I ended up replacing the wiring and covering everything in heat proof wrap, including the starter...just a place to begin your check anyway. good luck

ScrapIrony-2 01-04-2007 06:13 PM

Thank you for your prompt replies. I did not mention that I do have a disconnect switch on the starter battery. I also know about the two battery switches located on the inside wall to the right as you enter, behind the chair. Also, the wiring will be a focus of attention next viewing, as I will be better dressed for COLD cement slab temperatures. I do not understand why the control panel won't show a good battery charge level on the starter I need to have the house batteries charged to operate the control panel? Last week when I somehow got it started, I immediately started the generator and I ran everything for about an hour to charge things up...the control panel showed full charge on all batteries after shut-down. Does the solenoid somehow act as a sort of relay for power to the generator? Also, how do I jump-start the generator...I mean, WHERE do I hook up the wires? I have one of those 12V power packs with jumper cables, and I'll have a set of jumper cables(20ft) that I can run from the truck. I also have an EU 2000 portable generator left over from the '68 Overlander days(which are becoming fonder as the mechanical frustrations occur). Could I plug in the landline to the generator and maybe that would help...? I don't want to sound really as stupid as I feel, but I'd rather SOUND that way than fry something by ACTING that way. I'm sure I'll have more questions as I get help, and one of the reasons is that I have to drive a long way to get to the storage unit, and any solutions left at home won't be solutions. I wish I had WiFi at the location, but I guess that would be too easy......................Michael

str8strm 01-04-2007 06:33 PM

keep the faith!
We had a whole bunch of electrical problems which were all solved by replacing the 3 batteries.. a lot of frustation problem solving which was gone with new batteries. We were told no more than 2 years on the batteries is realistic. We are coming up on that date now and will see if it is true.

buckwheat 01-04-2007 09:26 PM

Not sure about your '89 control panel, but the one in our '87 345 runs solely from the 2 house batteries (or Univolt) and monitors only those 2 batteries. Even though it has a switch to show the chassis battery level, that indication is actually wired to the 12v output of the genset and only shows that the chassis battery is being charged when the genset is running.

1. Get yourself a digital voltmeter (even a $12 cheapie from Radio Shack is adequate for most purposes). Use that as your basis for battery levels and forget the control panel (unless yours is digital!). You should have 12.5 volts (75% charge) or higher (12.75 is fully charged).

2. Physically disconnect the house batteries if necessary to jump start the engine. If the house battery levels are below the chassis battery level, and somehow connected in series (such as through the emergency connect solenoid) then they will suck the juice right out of your chassis battery and anything used to jump it.

3. If it still won't turn over, verify that you're getting 12v to the starter solenoid and start troubleshooting from there.

4. Something is draining your batteries, I would physically disconnect them while your unit is in storage. Better yet, remove them and take them home and keep them on a good trickle charger. As inconvenient as it is, it's better than what you're facing now.

herrgirdner 01-04-2007 09:42 PM

Quick Check
If your "start" battery is OK, it might be worth trying this:
When you try to start the engine, have you turned on the headlights? If the battery has enough energy to light them, it should run the starter motor.
It also indicates that the ground lead, etc is OK. If no light then you have either a dead batt or bad wiring. I remember when I lived in New Mexico some corrosion would form between the batt posts and the clamps. Had something to do with the dry climate. Removing them and using a wire brush fixed this.
And, don't forget to whack the starter solenoid with a rubber mallet. Sometimes it sticks.
I see it is too late to try this tonight. "Morgen Fixit"

ScrapIrony-2 01-06-2007 11:17 AM

OKAY...I'm loading the generator, chargers, power pack, jumper cables, rubber mallet, and portable heater. I will stop at Radio Shack and buy a meter. I will pack my thermal pull-overs, and I will practice holding my tongue 'just so'...I'll let you all know what does ar does not happen, and I thank you, again, for all yopur help............michael

cooperhawk 01-06-2007 01:45 PM

I was having similar problems a year ago so I pulled the entire battery compartment out and sand blasted it and then refinished it with undercoat and black paint. I found that the ground strap from the battery compartment to the frame was badly corroded. I cleaned it up to a bright shine, and my problems went away.

The cut-off switch kills all power to the coach. The engine still starts. If I leave the cut-off switch on, the batterys will drain from different sources. One is the TV signal amplifier, another is one of my thermostats won't fully disconnect and when the temp drops below the lowest setting it will try to start the furnace even though I have the furnaces turned off. (I need to replace that one). Another drain is the co2 detecter and also the smoke detectors. Each of these use a small amount of power, but over a period of time they will drain the coach batteries.

ScrapIrony-2 01-07-2007 12:59 PM

Going prepared was just barely enough...I started the portable generator, plugged in BOTH battery chargers and put one on coach batteries and one on the atarter battery. After about ten minutes, the engine started. I let it run while I put away all the stuff, and then tried to start the onboard generator, and the engine dide, and...I had to hook all that stuff up again. I drove it around on the highway for about 40 miles, parked it, turned it off, and wouldn't start...SO...since we were planning on leaving for Arizona for 2 plus months on Monday, I will pack it all up, start it as I know it will, and drive it to Farmington and add the electrical to the tune-up/oil change/fuel pump replacement list at the repair next, and probably last post to this board will be to let you all know what they found. I thank all of you for your help and sharing of experience...we'll see you down the road.......michael

ScrapIrony-2 01-17-2007 10:25 PM

Okay, well, 8 days(and nights) in Farmington, New Mexico IN A MOTEL, and the problems that were fixed were:
1.) BOTH solenoids behind the battery drawer were fried.
2.) The Power Off Battery Disconnect circuit board(inside the door to the right as you face the door from the outside^^^behind the chair)was fried.
If anyone knows where I can find a spare board, I would appreciate knowing...luckily, the place I went to(Sweetland's Auto/Truck Repair)was able to fine-solder the burned spots back to life.
She now starts, runs well, and all systems are GO. They were even able to fix the dash heater-the drive TO Farmington was really c-o-l-d. We're on our way to Tucson...thanks, again, for all the input.......Michael

str8strm 01-17-2007 11:06 PM

Thanks for the update. Good luck with the rest of your trip. Ron

GlenCoombe 01-18-2007 07:14 AM

Sure sounds like somebody reversed polarity to fry that much stuff. You picked a very cold time to do your trip. Hope the rest is uneventful.

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