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Old 07-28-2021, 02:29 PM   #1
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1983 30' Airstream 300
Minnetonka , MN
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1983 Airstream 300

Hello All,
Happy owner of a 83 Airstream 300 for a couple of years now and have been updating and restoring it in my retirement years. The last time I had it out it ran like a top to our destination, on the way back after about 20 miles it just stopped dead going down the highway, so its and electrical bug. No power to ignition or any engine components. Was a hot day so started the generator for cooling while I was checking circuits. Once generator started the dashboard lit up and the engine started. So I stopped the generator and headed down the road all systems go. When after about 10 miles it did the same thing stopping dead. So I started up the generator and the power to the ignition came back and needless to say i left the generator on and got home without problem.

I have checked the alternator and it is running fine. Am going to check for loose grounds next.

What else should I be checking?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or comments

Jedibee
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Old 07-28-2021, 04:18 PM   #2
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1982 31' Airstream 310
champaign , Illinois
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Checking, removing, cleaning, and reinstalling the ground straps is always a good place to start with all things electric on our rigs. Might want to add some dielectric grease while they are apart. At least you’ll know your grounds are good for this problem solving and for the future.
In THEORY, the generator should have nothing connected to the “chassis electrical system”.
It does send 120v power to the converter that powers your “coach” 12v system. Correct me if I’m wrong fellas. Never heard of this particular situation before with a Classic.
Since you didn’t mention anything about which motor you have, I’m assuming you have the 454 gas powered and not the Isuzu diesel.
There have been discussions on whether the generator sends a charge to the chassis battery or not. I’m not exactly sure if it does or not. If it does, then you may have something as simple as a bad chassis battery. When the generator is running it may be supplying enough charge to the battery to keep it running….but once again, that would be assuming that the generator does indeed send a charge to the chassis battery. If you had the dash ac running, along with the fan on high and other various 12v electrical demands of the 454, then maybe the alternator wasn’t keeping up.
Total guess. But like I said, never heard of this particular problem on one of our Classics.
WTH, check you chassis battery under load. Another thing to eliminate as part of the problem.
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Old 07-28-2021, 05:53 PM   #3
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I'm wondering if you could crank the engine over even when it wouldn't start. If that's the case, then it's not a dead battery problem.
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Old 07-29-2021, 05:04 AM   #4
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More info needed. Independent voltage readings from the 2 battery banks at various times would help solve this problem. My guess is intermittent alternator output along with some wiring issues.
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Old 07-29-2021, 05:14 AM   #5
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Ahh……wiring issues ??? Or should we say concerns ???? Regards, Bob
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Old 07-29-2021, 07:43 AM   #6
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1983 30' Airstream 300
Minnetonka , MN
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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions, my responses are as follows:

Yes it is a 454 gas engine

Coach batteries are new

Engine did not turn over or even make a noise until i started the generator.

Chassis battery is fully charged reading 12.45 v and voltage meter read it was charging while the engine was running.

Motor started just fine after sitting for a couple of days

Working on the grounding straps will keep all updated on progress.

Thanks so much for everyones input.
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Old 07-29-2021, 03:59 PM   #7
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1974 20' Argosy 20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhagen11 View Post
....Engine did not turn over or even make a noise until i started the generator.
This is where my head starts to hurt. I'm struggling to figure out what the connection could be for the engine not turning over until the generator is started.

Quote:
Chassis battery is fully charged reading 12.45 v and voltage meter read it was charging while the engine was running.
When you were reading the 12.45 volts, was that with the engine running? If yes then I would say your alternator is not charging. If the engine was off then that is slightly low for a fully charged battery but not anything to worry about.

Quote:
Motor started just fine after sitting for a couple of days
And now my head hurts even more.....

Quote:
Working on the grounding straps will keep all updated on progress.
Ground straps are always a possibility and I've found plenty of bad grounds over the years. In this case I can't figure what device could be losing it's ground connection and then regaining it a few days later after sitting. Especially one that can cause the behavior you're experiencing. Even more so since it will start with the generator running.

With the generator running it will typically charge the two coach batteries but not the engine battery. I am not all that familiar with the 1983 models so I don't know if there is a relay that can temporarily tie the two battery banks together via a toggle switch on the dash. If this relay exists it almost makes me think the +12 from the generator is activating the relay. The problem is this seems really far fetched so I doubt it could have anything to do with the problem.

I will suggest that you check the two battery terminals on the engine battery. I've found two different issues with the battery cable clamps. The first one had to do with a terminal that did not pass current from the battery cable to the clamp. So even though the clamp to battery connection was clean it didn't actually provide a connection between the cable and the battery post. That one was a bugger to figure out.

The second problem I encountered was the inside of the battery cable post clamp was corroded just enough that it would work sometimes and other times it wouldn't. The inside of the clamp looked clean but after I did a good scrapping job with the proper tool that solved a problem that was killing the battery every nine months or so. The other symptom for this condition was not wanting to start when there was high humidity during and after a rain storm.

I'll keep thinking on this problem but there's not doubt you have an odd problem you're dealing with!

Good luck!

Brad
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