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Old 05-25-2021, 01:58 PM   #1
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1984 32.5' Airstream 325
Gainesville , Florida
Join Date: Jul 2020
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325 no electrical power

Hi all - well, I posed the whole drama of getting the ol girl home but now she's there I've been working to get things up and running.

Aside from the engine being in trouble, I'm doing a general survey to see what it might cost to get a semi reliable RV on the road.... before I commit the bigger $.

We managed to get most of the electrical systems working, but then they started flickering - off for 10-15 seconds then back on for awhile. Eventually the rate of flickering got shorter (less and less time on) until I have no shore power, no house power and no generator power.

There appears to be breaker box's and junctions box's everywhere... I originally had power at the main breaker box (I think the main one) at the very back up top on the right side (facing back). Now there's no power anywhere (except ending start).

Any ideas? I've uploaded some images of the different box's I've located. There's really only two breaker box's (1 top back) and the other which I think it for the generator) there are several others. I can't up load the last one that was under the rear bed (left side face back).

Thanks!!

Pete
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Old 05-26-2021, 05:07 AM   #2
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1974 20' Argosy 20
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Pete, welcome to Airforums

I just read both of your posts about your new acquisition. You certainly seem to have the right attitude about owning one of these old Classics.

On the pictures you posted, the first one is for the generator. The second picture showing the box near the water heater is probably a transfer switch. The third picture with the hinged door hanging down is your 12 volt DC distribution panel and the last picture is the shore power entrance panel.

I've attached four different sketches of my old 84 310 that I made when I was trying to figure out how the electrical system was supposed to work. I would think your 84 325 would be similar.

My 310 had two transfer switches, one right next to the shore power entrance panel and the other was located close to the generator breaker panel. Somewhere here in the forums I believe I created a write-up on how the electrical system works. I'll see if I can find it and post a link to it.

Hopefully the sketches I've attached will give you an idea on where to start looking for issues.

Good luck,

Brad

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Old 05-26-2021, 05:54 AM   #3
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To "translate" Brads great post into simple terms:
Get someone knowledgeable to check out your transfer switches.
Their operation is simple, they sense who is sending the power and set internal switches accordingly. Nothing to mess around with and not something real expensive to have fixed.
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Old 05-26-2021, 11:20 AM   #4
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1984 32.5' Airstream 325
Gainesville , Florida
Join Date: Jul 2020
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Fantastic - thanks Brad - it certainly is a fun project...so far

I'm still trying to figure put why I loose 12v supply sometime and other times 110v. Occasionally the lights all go out and the converter seems to be functioning correctly. I'm hoping it's one (or both) of the transfer switches. Might be worth just biting the bullet and replacing them if they aren't too expensive.

I just don't; want to go too far down the path of replacing things when I don't know what the problem really is. Having said that... a few hundred $ and an hour or two is money well spent if it solves it. When I picked her up there was no power at all, so at least we're heading in the right direction - thanks!!
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Old 05-26-2021, 11:23 AM   #5
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1984 32.5' Airstream 325
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Thanks Peter H - I'll see whose around, electrics are tricky for sure. I've been trying to find someone that can work on the 454 and it seems no one wants to (in a MH). Can't say I'm looking forward to pulling it out myself. Have 2 cylinders with compression ~40 so that's not a good sign.

Cheers-
Peter M.
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Old 05-26-2021, 07:48 PM   #6
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1984 32.5' Airstream 325
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Well it got a bit more confusing- point taken I might need a pro.

1. All power off, then turn on generator, about 30 seconds later a click from the Change over switch under the sink and all systems are running. Then after a few minutes the 12v circuit starts playing up.

2. Generator off, house off then shore on. Same thing, all good for a few minutes then 12v goes down, or starts flickering.

3. As the power is flickering I’m getting a constant 120v going into the converter (under the stove) with a constant 13.1 v coming out...

I was pretty much convinced it was the IOTA DLA45 converter that was the problem... now I have no idea.

The only other (I say that very loosely) oddity is that on occasion when hooked to shore power I loose all power, not even anything at the main breaker box. When that happen the shore line trips the shore breaker.

I did notice all the transfer switches looked new so I wonder if this has been someone else’s thorn... surely it’s not a short in the main power coupling/real???

Ideas from yee knowledgeable folks?
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Old 05-26-2021, 08:00 PM   #7
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1994 30' Excella
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinytoaster View Post
Well it got a bit more confusing- point taken I might need a pro.

1. All power off, then turn on generator, about 30 seconds later a click from the Change over switch under the sink and all systems are running. Then after a few minutes the 12v circuit starts playing up.

2. Generator off, house off then shore on. Same thing, all good for a few minutes then 12v goes down, or starts flickering.

3. As the power is flickering I’m getting a constant 120v going into the converter (under the stove) with a constant 13.1 v coming out...

I was pretty much convinced it was the IOTA DLA45 converter that was the problem... now I have no idea.

The only other (I say that very loosely) oddity is that on occasion when hooked to shore power I loose all power, not even anything at the main breaker box. When that happen the shore line trips the shore breaker.

I did notice all the transfer switches looked new so I wonder if this has been someone else’s thorn... surely it’s not a short in the main power coupling/real???

Ideas from yee knowledgeable folks?

Check your 30 amp plug, the one you plug into shore power. If it has been replaced , a wire may have worked itself loose and causing the intermittent, breaker throwing conditions.
not so sure about your 12v situation, but I would strongly consider going to a PD-9260 3 stage converter.
https://www.amazon.com/Inteli-Power-...61941901&psc=1


Edit, I looked up the Iota 45 and seems to be a decent charger with over charge and over heat protection. I have seen flickering of the 12 v system, when the batteries and the converter were not able to keep up with the demand. In my case it was a stuck leveling jack that tried to extend without success.
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Old 05-27-2021, 05:59 AM   #8
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1991 25' Airstream 250
Oxford , Oxfordshire
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinytoaster View Post
Well it got a bit more confusing- point taken I might need a pro.

1. All power off, then turn on generator, about 30 seconds later a click from the Change over switch under the sink and all systems are running. Then after a few minutes the 12v circuit starts playing up.

2. Generator off, house off then shore on. Same thing, all good for a few minutes then 12v goes down, or starts flickering.

3. As the power is flickering Iím getting a constant 120v going into the converter (under the stove) with a constant 13.1 v coming out...

I was pretty much convinced it was the IOTA DLA45 converter that was the problem... now I have no idea.

The only other (I say that very loosely) oddity is that on occasion when hooked to shore power I loose all power, not even anything at the main breaker box. When that happen the shore line trips the shore breaker.

I did notice all the transfer switches looked new so I wonder if this has been someone elseís thorn... surely itís not a short in the main power coupling/real???

Ideas from yee knowledgeable folks?
Transfer switch? Isolator? Loose grounds?
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Old 05-27-2021, 07:58 AM   #9
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1984 32.5' Airstream 325
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The transfer switches seem to be working okay and I’ll take a look at the earths. The ‘isolator’ is a new on for me, any idea where/what that is?
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Old 05-27-2021, 02:33 PM   #10
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Honokaa , Hawaii
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My isolator is under the hood, attached to the firewall on the driver's side. Due to be replaced with one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...T5SHP48A&psc=1

I'm not electrically inclined, but my understanding is that it somehow keeps the house batteries separate from the chassis battery and allows all to be charged by the alternator.
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Old 05-30-2021, 05:18 AM   #11
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1984 32.5' Airstream 325
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waipio Rim View Post
My isolator is under the hood, attached to the firewall on the driver's side. Due to be replaced with one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...T5SHP48A&psc=1

I'm not electrically inclined, but my understanding is that it somehow keeps the house batteries separate from the chassis battery and allows all to be charged by the alternator.
Hi - I think that half my battle. I need to learn a bit more on these circuits. Pretty sure I located the isolator and pretty sure it’s wired wrong as every wire is attached to just one terminal ... see, told you I know nothing about this
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Old 05-31-2021, 06:39 AM   #12
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https://www.airforums.com/forums/f31...ns-187057.html

Suggest you follow 12v signal from battery, check voltages as you go and while you are there, clean all the main grounding terminals. You might want to replace the solenoid on the back of the battery tray with something more modern. I used one of these and it seems to work. Sure Power 1314-200 - Uni-Directional Battery Separator - 12V 200A and check whether the solenoid, isolator are supply to 12v fuse board is working as intended.

How to test and Isolator
https://rvlifestyle.com/how-to-test-a-battery-isolator/
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Airstream_310_Service-Manual.pdf (6.22 MB, 6 views)
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Old 05-31-2021, 08:48 PM   #13
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1984 32.5' Airstream 325
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This could be the issue with weird electrics...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boom Sounds View Post
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f31...ns-187057.html

Suggest you follow 12v signal from battery, check voltages as you go and while you are there, clean all the main grounding terminals. You might want to replace the solenoid on the back of the battery tray with something more modern. I used one of these and it seems to work. Sure Power 1314-200 - Uni-Directional Battery Separator - 12V 200A and check whether the solenoid, isolator are supply to 12v fuse board is working as intended.

How to test and Isolator
https://rvlifestyle.com/how-to-test-a-battery-isolator/
Hi ... and thank you!

The service manual will be huge, especially with so much to do. Thanks!!!!

I've read a little more about the issue and am beginning to think (hoping at least) the engine failure might have something to do the a combination of these switches and a faulty alternator.

I'm still figuring out how to get the alternator out without pulling the radiator out. Looks a bit of a bear with all the plumbing around it.

Anyway, I've not tested the solenoid behind the battery tray, but the battery isolator switch looks like it's wired all wrong. See images.

Thoughts?
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Old 06-01-2021, 04:40 AM   #14
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1994 30' Excella
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Austin , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinytoaster View Post
Hi ... and thank you!

The service manual will be huge, especially with so much to do. Thanks!!!!

I've read a little more about the issue and am beginning to think (hoping at least) the engine failure might have something to do the a combination of these switches and a faulty alternator.

I'm still figuring out how to get the alternator out without pulling the radiator out. Looks a bit of a bear with all the plumbing around it.

Anyway, I've not tested the solenoid behind the battery tray, but the battery isolator switch looks like it's wired all wrong. See images.
Thoughts?


Do NOT use that vehicle until you get the wiring mess in the front sorted out. You have non fused circuits. Besides the wrongly wired Isolator the three fuse blocks are either wired wrong or connected with the wrong size wire.
I would disconnect all batteries and not use shore and/or generator power, while you are still alive to do so.
The alternator is the easiest of the front end appliances to replace, without pulling the radiator.
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Old 06-01-2021, 08:30 AM   #15
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Whoa...

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterH-350LE View Post
Do NOT use that vehicle until you get the wiring mess in the front sorted out. You have non fused circuits. Besides the wrongly wired Isolator the three fuse blocks are either wired wrong or connected with the wrong size wire.
I would disconnect all batteries and not use shore and/or generator power, while you are still alive to do so.
The alternator is the easiest of the front end appliances to replace, without pulling the radiator.
Well - noting ambiguous there, thanks. It certainly looks like it's been had at by someone that thought they knew what they were doing.. and clearly didn't. Which is why I thought it was a good idea to post here.

The plan is to drive her 200 m to a shed (being built) and start a rehab. It's certainly a can of worms. Having worked with cars from the 1900's though 1950' for the past 25 years, nothing surprises me now with electrics.

I have recently down loaded a service manual for a 310 so that'll be the place to start, unless a manual comes up for a 325/345... or an auto electrician. I'd prefer a AE but finding decent folks is tough.

thanks again.

Pete
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Old 06-01-2021, 10:25 AM   #16
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My first reaction to the pictures of the Isolator is that it's probably bad and the PO did what he did to make things run. There are plenty of alternatives for replacement Isolators. Pick a good one and get it installed. That will likely solve a lot of your 12 volt problems.

The 120 volt system is pretty much isolated from the chassis electrical so if you get your 12 volt system sorted out you should be able to drive.

Personally I went with a Blue Sea Charging Relay to replace the type that Airstream installed. There were a variety of reasons why I chose the one I did. Just do you research and find one you're comfortable with and install it.

So, sort out your 12 volt system and drive the coach the 200 miles you need to and then start sorting everything else out.

Good luck!

Brad
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Old 06-01-2021, 03:15 PM   #17
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https://www.airforums.com/forums/f31...ml#post1895608

1984_Chevrolet_Light_Truck_Service_Manual
http://www.73-87chevytrucks.com/tech...ice_Manual.pdf

Light_Truck_Unit Repair manual 1981
http://www.73-87chevytrucks.com/tech...air_Manual.pdf

Wiring manual 1983
http://www.73-87chevytrucks.com/tech..._30_and_ST.pdf
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Old 06-01-2021, 03:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinytoaster View Post
Well - noting ambiguous there, thanks. It certainly looks like it's been had at by someone that thought they knew what they were doing.. and clearly didn't. Which is why I thought it was a good idea to post here.

The plan is to drive her 200 m to a shed (being built) and start a rehab. It's certainly a can of worms. Having worked with cars from the 1900's though 1950' for the past 25 years, nothing surprises me now with electrics.

I have recently down loaded a service manual for a 310 so that'll be the place to start, unless a manual comes up for a 325/345... or an auto electrician. I'd prefer a AE but finding decent folks is tough.

thanks again.

Pete

Yes, Pete, you summed it up (looks like it's been had at by someone that thought they knew what they were doing.. and clearly didn't.)
The question i would asked is what else did that person mess around with, what is now your Motor home.
I think my post made it clear that I have a pretty solid dislike for people, who have no clue about what they are doing and consequently endanger themselves and innocent others.

When I decided to buy my latest project, the 1992 350LE, I had plans to fly to Florida with a suit case full of tools and drive it back to Texas. I even shipped a starter and an Alternator to the PO. In the last minute I decided to change to a round trip ticket and check it out.

Make the story short, I later found out that I would have been stranded for a dozen different reasons, not even related to each other. The hot wired fuel pump lead laying on top of the exhaust wasn't the worse of it.

I only own it now, because the PO offered to pay for most of the shipping charges to Texas.
Yes, you can get yourself a good isolator, like waipio Rim suggested above, and make sure its wired correctly, and then understand that those breakers need to act as breakers and not terminals.

The question remains, what else is lurking to cause you to break down on the 200 mile trip. Would it not be cheaper to have it trucked (all wheels of the ground).
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Old 06-02-2021, 04:44 AM   #19
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a simple isolator schematic and the more complex wiring on the early 90's rigs with an abundance of electrical circuits. Some I added with the luxury of being able to decide which battery supply I want to use.
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Old 06-02-2021, 12:55 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterH-350LE View Post
.... Some I added with the luxury of being able to decide which battery supply I want to use.
Peter, which battery are your electric steps connected to? I stewed on that for days before finally connecting them to the coach battery. I figured I would rather have the coach battery go dead than the starting battery.
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