Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 04-01-2020, 05:24 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
 
1988 32' Excella
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 9
87 345 with starter issues

Howdy folks -

I have a 1987 345 that has been a dream except for one ongoing issue...

I CANT keep a starter in the damn thing.

Id say in the last 30-40 starts Ive burned through about 3 starters.

And now, Im having this issue where Im getting power to instrument cluster, but the starter doesnt even begin to engage. As in I dont even hear it click, things just buzz when I turn to ignition.

These starters are brand spanking new, not rebuilt. They have lifetime warranties, so I just keep trading them around, but something else is wrong.

Im currently dead in the water at a campground until I can figure this one out. Im planning to change my starter over in a few days to see if that fixes it, but still, Ive gotta figure out why these keep going - this isnt sustainable!

Anyone experienced this before? What advice might you have for a newbie like me?
__________________

345 MoHo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2020, 05:40 PM   #2
Rivet Master
 
bobmiller1's Avatar

 
2005 34' Classic S/O
2006 39' Land Yacht 396 XL
north blenheim , New York
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,168
Check your ground, if the ground is OK work your way backwards, the starter positive wire. Also check for what voltage you have in the start battery with a multi-meter, then check the voltage at the starter on the large positive wire. They should be within 1/2 of a volt between the 2. Also, you make sure that the transmission is in park or try to start it in neutral.....if it starts in neutral then you have a problem in the steering column. Regards, Bob
__________________

bobmiller1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2020, 05:57 PM   #3
Rivet Master
 
bkahler's Avatar

 
1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,092
Are you using the OEM style of starter or a high torque mini starter?

The high torque mini starters use less current than the older original style of starter and in general start the engine faster because they spin faster. Even better they are cheaper the the OEM starters.
__________________
Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
bkahler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2020, 05:58 PM   #4
1 Rivet Member
 
1988 32' Excella
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmiller1 View Post
Check your ground, if the ground is OK work your way backwards, the starter positive wire. Also check for what voltage you have in the start battery with a multi-meter, then check the voltage at the starter on the large positive wire. They should be within 1/2 of a volt between the 2. Also, you make sure that the transmission is in park or try to start it in neutral.....if it starts in neutral then you have a problem in the steering column. Regards, Bob
Thanks Bob.

Tried the neutral fix, but didn’t start. I’ll try the ground test tomorrow. But, I’m going to ask a rookie question...where/how do I check the ground? Is that one of the wires into the starter?

Also, I flipped the switch to start off the house batteries and same issue. We’re plugged into shore power, so would that answer the question regarding power from the start battery?

Thanks again.
345 MoHo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2020, 06:05 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
Waipio Rim's Avatar
 
1984 31' Airstream310
Honokaa , Hawaii
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 884
I went through several starters and an ignition switch on our 310 before giving up and taking it to a mechanic. At that point I was starting it with a push button switch and two heavy wires connected directly to the starter terminals. The mechanic found an unexpected and faulty relay in the circuit. It was located in front of the air cleaner.
Waipio Rim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2020, 06:14 PM   #6
Rivet Master
 
bkahler's Avatar

 
1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,092
Something else just came to mind. I have a Cushman Truckster that I use around the property that has a 22 hp motor with an average size starter. For about 4 years I was replacing the starter and the battery about every 8 to 10 months.

Then one day I took a close look at the battery cable clamps. The looked a little dark where the clamp contacted the battery post. I have one of those tapered reaming tools for battery clamps so I scrapped the inside of the clamps until they were nice and shiney inside.

It's been 3 years now and I haven't had to replace a battery or starter since. I believe the issue with the poor contact between the clamp and the battery post was causing an excessive current draw from the starter.

Anyway, something that might be worth checking.

Good luck!

Brad

PS, I think Bob is referring to the battery ground cable. You want a really good connection at the chassis. Which reminds me, there should be at least one ground cable running from the back of one of the engine heads to the chassis, two cables are even better, one from each head.

Something that most people don't think about is the ground grid that is made between the battery, engine and body. What most people don't realize is the chassis is made of up of frame members and rivets. As the rivets corrode the connection between chassis members becomes also corrodes which deteriorates the ground grid.
__________________
Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
bkahler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2020, 06:49 PM   #7
1 Rivet Member
 
1988 32' Excella
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkahler View Post
Are you using the OEM style of starter or a high torque mini starter?

The high torque mini starters use less current than the older original style of starter and in general start the engine faster because they spin faster. Even better they are cheaper the the OEM starters.
Id definitely be game to try it as I think mine is OEM.

Do you have a particular type youd recommend for an 87 345 with a GM 454?
345 MoHo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2020, 05:00 AM   #8
Rivet Master
 
bkahler's Avatar

 
1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by 345 MoHo View Post
Id definitely be game to try it as I think mine is OEM.

Do you have a particular type youd recommend for an 87 345 with a GM 454?

This High torque mini starter is like the one I bought a on ebay.

I bought one on the recommendation of a forum member. I don't drive mine much and my electrical system is all new but so far no issues.

Brad
__________________
Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
bkahler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2020, 05:41 AM   #9
Slide Out Society #001
 
GCinSC2's Avatar
 
2007 30' Classic S/O
Somewhere , South Carolina
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 3,479
First, no hands on with your exact problem. But something isn't right. I only have two ideas and one has been mentioned but having a guide on how to might be helpful.

I have a magazine that I have managed to save, IMPORT SERVICE Jan 1992 and the article titled Sixteen Minutes. This article uses a DVOM and goes thru with pics step by step what to check and what to expect for starting and charging tests. Including voltage drops.

And to my disappointment after buying a newer clamp on meter finding out that I didn't get the model that measures DC amps which I think would be a good thing.

345MoHo if you'd like a pdf scan send me a PM with your email, I'll send it to you.

Gary
__________________
S/OS #001
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L 6 Speed
16" Michelins, Hi Spec Wheels, Max Brake, Carslile Actuator, Equal-i-zer, Dill TPMS. Campfire cook.
GCinSC2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2020, 06:35 AM   #10
2 Rivet Member
 
1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Glencoe , Oklahoma
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkahler View Post
Something else just came to mind. I have a Cushman Truckster that I use around the property that has a 22 hp motor with an average size starter. For about 4 years I was replacing the starter and the battery about every 8 to 10 months.

Then one day I took a close look at the battery cable clamps. The looked a little dark where the clamp contacted the battery post. I have one of those tapered reaming tools for battery clamps so I scrapped the inside of the clamps until they were nice and shiney inside.

It's been 3 years now and I haven't had to replace a battery or starter since. I believe the issue with the poor contact between the clamp and the battery post was causing an excessive current draw from the starter.

Anyway, something that might be worth checking.

Good luck!

Brad

PS, I think Bob is referring to the battery ground cable. You want a really good connection at the chassis. Which reminds me, there should be at least one ground cable running from the back of one of the engine heads to the chassis, two cables are even better, one from each head.

Something that most people don't think about is the ground grid that is made between the battery, engine and body. What most people don't realize is the chassis is made of up of frame members and rivets. As the rivets corrode the connection between chassis members becomes also corrodes which deteriorates the ground grid.
I had this same issue on a Chevy truck but the corrosion was on the battery cable where it bolted to the starter. It was a cheap cable and it corroded inside the crimped on end. I replaced the end and all was good after that.
JJ1965 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2020, 08:54 AM   #11
Rivet Master
 
bkahler's Avatar

 
1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by JJ1965 View Post
I had this same issue on a Chevy truck but the corrosion was on the battery cable where it bolted to the starter. It was a cheap cable and it corroded inside the crimped on end. I replaced the end and all was good after that.
That makes sense. High resistance connections play havoc with batteries and components.
__________________
Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
bkahler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2020, 12:17 PM   #12
2 Rivet Member
 
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Auckland , New Zealand
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 95
As others are pointing these machines have bad ground points!
Bkahler described some reasons chasis rivits ect.
So very quick fix get one jumper lead connect directly to the neg terminal on the battery and other end directly to the starter body.
A bad earth will kill your starters.
I have made a permanent fix by attatching a new ground from battery to bolt on bell housing.
Spirilas ellectrical probs rear gas pump ie point to bad earths through the original aged chasis earth points.
Rus
Voltair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2020, 01:15 PM   #13
1 Rivet Member
 
Termite748's Avatar
 
1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
Spring valley , Illinois
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 9
Images: 1
Maybe starter is binding on flywheel.might need to add shim.
Termite748 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-02-2020, 02:19 PM   #14
"Space A" S/O Registry 11
 
guskmg's Avatar
 
2006 34' Classic S/O
Fort Worth , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,054
I remember in my mechanicing days that starters use to get killed by engine heat from sustained high loads. Hence, heat shields were added. Make sure yours are still in place even if the starter has been updated.
guskmg
guskmg is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2020, 08:16 AM   #15
Slide Out Society #001
 
GCinSC2's Avatar
 
2007 30' Classic S/O
Somewhere , South Carolina
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 3,479
Josh,

Scans sent, check email.

Gary
__________________
S/OS #001
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L 6 Speed
16" Michelins, Hi Spec Wheels, Max Brake, Carslile Actuator, Equal-i-zer, Dill TPMS. Campfire cook.
GCinSC2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2020, 10:56 AM   #16
1 Rivet Member
 
1988 32' Excella
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkahler View Post
This High torque mini starter is like the one I bought a on ebay.

I bought one on the recommendation of a forum member. I don't drive mine much and my electrical system is all new but so far no issues.

Brad
Thanks so much for all the insightful info here. I'm currently working on checking all electrical points and such. Should know more within a few days (getting a new multi-meter delivered because the one I have is a POS

One question - I'm assuming you put that starter in your Argosy? Is that a GM 454 or something else in there?

Thanks
345 MoHo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2020, 10:56 AM   #17
1 Rivet Member
 
1988 32' Excella
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by GCinSC2 View Post
Josh,

Scans sent, check email.

Gary
Thank you sir!
345 MoHo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2020, 10:57 AM   #18
1 Rivet Member
 
1988 32' Excella
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 9
Thanks y'all for all this helpful insight. I'm currently holed up at a campground and waiting on a few other tools to get delivered. Thankfully, I don't have to move for a bit so will be working on this on and off over the next bit.

I'll be sure to report back on what I figure out and how the fix works out for me.
345 MoHo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2020, 07:02 AM   #19
Rivet Master
 
bkahler's Avatar

 
1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by 345 MoHo View Post
Thanks so much for all the insightful info here. I'm currently working on checking all electrical points and such. Should know more within a few days (getting a new multi-meter delivered because the one I have is a POS

One question - I'm assuming you put that starter in your Argosy? Is that a GM 454 or something else in there?

Thanks
Yes, 454.

A good multimeter is definitely a must have for one of these rigs.

Mini starters are also known as gear reduction starters.

mini starter threads

another mini starter thread
__________________
Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
bkahler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2020, 02:06 PM   #20
1 Rivet Member
 
1988 32' Excella
1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 9
[UPDATE ON 345 STARTER ISSUE]

Hi again, y'all and sorry for my delayed response on this post. The wife and I enjoyed some quarantine time so I didn't wind up in a rush to get the starter fixed.

At any rate, we decided to roll out of the campground a week ago so I needed to get the starter figured out to move the Motorcoach.

Thanks to all who offered suggestions and guidance. It was super helpful and appreciated. Here's a bit of what I did to figure out the problem:

1.) I grabbed the starter I replaced that I thought was faulty and bench tested it using this video as a guide:

With that test, I was able to get the starter to fire on the bench. This led me to conclude that the starters I was replacing were actually good. The reason we kept replacing them is that new starters seemed to fix the issue. But after it kept happening, that led me to believe that to be a simple coincidence. Perhaps that I had jiggled wires enough in replacing starter to create a momentary connection.

2.) Once I confirmed that my starter was okay, I set about testing power with a test light. While I know I'd need a multimeter to truly see how much power I had going, I wanted to first eliminate a total lack of power at a certain point before going forward.

3.) The test light showed that I had power going to the starter pole and that I could get a ground off the normal starter ground.

4.) I had my wife in the coach turn the key to ignition with my test light on the small nut on the starter that receives the signal from the ignition wire and creates the connection that causes the starter solenoid to act. I tested several times, but could not get the test light to light up when I had it touched to the ignition pole.

5.) Next, I wanted to be sure I had power in my ignition fuse in the glovebox. I put my test light in there and turned it to ignition and WHAMO - it lit right up.

6.) Based on those tests, I concluded that there was a short in the wire from my ignition switch down to the starter.

7.) To temporarily resolve the issue until I could get a more permanent fix, I wired a push-button ignition switch (around $15 at AutoZone) to the starter's ignition pole and up through the doghouse. To power the switch, I wired a flat metal connector to the non-starter end and plugged that directly into an open fuse in my glovebox panel. (I confirmed this panel had power before plugging in).

8.) Once that was all done, I simply turned my key to the on position and then held the starter button.

9.) The starter kicked right over and the engine fired up right away. I've duplicated this several times without fail.

While a temporary solution, this has been an effective way to get on the road for the time being. MoHo is back in storage for a few months and I'll have mechanic do a more proper fix in the meantime.

It was hugely rewarding to diagnose and fix this issue myself - especially after all the trouble we've had. But I couldn't have done it without you folks. Gary - your email of that old magazine was a crucial step by step that helped me eliminate potential factors. @Waipo Rim -- it was your experience hard wiring a switch to your starter that first inspired me to this being a potential solution.

Thanks to all who helped and I hope this thread will once again help others along the way!
__________________

345 MoHo 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
345 -454 Starter replacement raveson Classic Motorhomes 4 03-01-2010 10:11 AM
Help - starter solenoid ViewRVs Mechanics Corner - Engines, Transmission & More... 23 02-27-2004 07:58 PM
Portable Jump Starter joshua32064 Batteries, Univolts, Converters & Inverters 6 10-12-2003 12:13 PM
Starter heat problems ALANSD Mechanics Corner - Engines, Transmission & More... 0 02-15-2003 02:51 PM
Ode to a starter ALANSD Mechanics Corner - Engines, Transmission & More... 9 01-07-2003 10:55 AM


Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:53 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.