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Old 07-17-2002, 03:50 PM   #1
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1966 26' Overlander
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electrical problem

I did an overnighter this week to a State Park. All was fine until my dash area fans( 2 small 12v air movers) stopped. This would have been ok, except i noticed then my horn was out, as well as my headlights.
Everything else is working fine. Wipers, radio, turn signals, brake lights, gauges, dash air fan all ok.
I spent an hour plus laying under the dash (oh what fun)...tracing wires trying to find fuses. The dash fans seem to be wired to a plug which goes right into the fuse block..and has no power. This is not fused, at least i did not see a fuse. The horn and lights I had less luck tracing.
The book says the headlights are fused at the switch, but i saw no fuse there. The fans don't seem to be wired to the headlights switch , as I assumed when only a few items were out.
I pulled every fuse out of the block one by one, and replaced only one small 5 amp one, that did not look right...all the others are intact.
Any ideas?? What is the "sylvania" can in the bottom of the fuse block for.. it's not the flasher. Part of the problem is that the label lettering on my fuse block is mostly worn off.
I don't seem to have any grounds disconnected, and all other electrical functions seem to be functioning.
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Old 07-17-2002, 06:05 PM   #2
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Alan,
Have you check for juice at the switch?
Besides fuses and circuit breakers (inside of your light switch), there are several fusible thermal links. One of them on 12 gauge red wire is located a few inches away from a junction block above the alternator. You may want to check that link.
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Old 07-18-2002, 11:01 AM   #3
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thanks for that tip- I have no juice at the switch. The link sounds like a likely source as I replaced the alternator and all recently as you know. No juice to the horn, headlights,and the fan accessory.
I will check for this link to be the problem.
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Old 07-18-2002, 04:18 PM   #4
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Alternator Options

I don't know if this is the right place for this post, (but) This 345 Airstream Motor Home, as we bought it, was equipped with (an orignal equipment) faulty "Lestek 105 Amp" Alternator - we were faced with replacement or re-build. Fortunately there is an alternator shop in our communicy that re-builds alternators, so rather than replace the Lestek with a lessor alternator (65-70 amps) our mechanic recommended re-building the Lestek. This is what we have done. His indication was that we would have a lost less electrical problems using the original equipment Lestek than a substitute. We are very happy indeed with present performance of the electrical system of this motor home under operating conditions. According to our Airstream Manual "Lestek is very popular for use on vehicles with high amperage requirements such as police vehicles and emergency vehicles".
It was certainly worth the cost of re-build in our case.
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Old 07-25-2002, 02:59 PM   #5
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still not juicin'

I put another few hours into this electrical bug. No headlight, horn, and one dead accessory(fans). The fans are plugged directly into the fuse block. I did not get a reading on voltage from the plug receptacle. I took out the headlight switch, don't find a fuse on it ( unless it is internal)....traced wires.....looked at where the wires pass through a junction box which is mounted generally above the alternator area..and has a few wires connected? How do I recognize the fusable links?Are they easily replaced? I am unfamiliar with theseI guess. I have brake lights, radio, a/c fan, etc working fine..
Any suggestions are appreciated. I don't see any loose grounds either.
Next step is the (gulp) repair shop.
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Old 07-25-2002, 03:17 PM   #6
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Alan,

I don't want to send you on a wild volt chase. Nor would I want to spend as much time with my head under the dash as you have lately but the list of non functiong stuff seems to be things that should not pass through the ignition switch? Just because it should not doesn't mean is does not. Have you checked to see if you have any loose/broken wires in this area? Even if not loose or broken wires you could have a faulty contact.

Also you mention no reading from "the plug" receptacle. What plug are you referencing? I think I know what you are describing on the alt. bracket. It has a center bolt with a plastic protector and many wires under the bolt . I do not think this is a fuseable link, I think it is just a common tap for the + side of the 12 volt system.

A fuseable link can take many shapes. Some look like patches in a wire rum. Others plug into a socket. Most of them are coated with a softer rubber feeling covering and are usally color coded as to the amperage they can handle. If the link has melted it looks like melted solder. Usally the covering melts as well. A fuseable link is usally used between the charging system and the accessorys. The headlights draw a signifigant amount of amps and would more than likely be protected by one of these or an automatic resetable circuit breaker. If the breaker failed that could be you problem too.

Does anyone have a fuseblock layout for Alan's MH?

This would help to determine if the headlights are on a circuit breaker or not. I know someone has the P30 wiring diagrams and has posted them out here somewhere. I have been attempting to post the 12 coach wiring for reference as well.
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Old 07-25-2002, 07:13 PM   #7
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Alan, fusible links are wires that several gauges sizes smaller than the main wire.
If your lights used to work without the ignition on, the headlight switch is wired straight to +.
See if you have a junction block/solenoid similar to the one in the picture.
There are two fusible links. One (the lower) goes to the alternator on one side and the isolator on the other side.
The upper one that is connected to the always on + terminal on the junction box is the one you should
find and inspect. It connects to two 12 gauge red wires on my coach and very well could be the source for your missing voltage.
Also check if the right connection is hot with ignition on.
A quick fix for your headlights would be running a 12 gauge wire from the + terminal (with a 30 amp breaker fuse installed right there) to your red headlight switch wire.
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Old 07-26-2002, 04:22 PM   #8
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Thanks Peter!! I had checked my schematic for wiring earlier, and found the junction box, no problem, just couldn't figure out what to check after that. I will put my volt meter on the wire and see what happens. The thing that is confusing is that the 3 items not getting voltage are not connected to each other. The fans are plugged directly into the fuse block, and there is no power at their plug in point. The lights and horn are on another circuit. I will check further tommorow.
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Old 07-26-2002, 05:17 PM   #9
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quote>>>>The thing that is confusing is that the 3 items not getting voltage are not connected to each other. The fans are plugged directly into the fuse block, and there is no power at their plug in point. The lights and horn are on another circuit.
<<<</quote
Alan, the confusing thing you mention above is a clue. All those things used to work with the ignition key off, right?
So, they all get there source at the same place.
Like I said before, my fusible link in that location splits into 2 12 gauge red wires.
I think you may be drawing to many amps with those two fans.
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Old 07-27-2002, 03:04 PM   #10
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FIXED

I fixed it!!! Ok I am excited. I was about to give up....had traced all my wires again, could not find anything wrong, but no juice still in the abve mentioned areas.
I was getting ready to shower, greasy, sweaty, etc....when I decided to give a look underneath my coach one more time. I had been above the engine, under the dash, all day again....
I checked all the underneath wiring, and the ignition to starter wires were almost burnt through!! Hanging by a thread, its a wonder the motor started at all. I had checked these before my big trip, and they were fine...looks like the heat got to them and that is probably what fried my isolator.
I redid the wiring, new 10 gauge red, new connectors, cleaned and taped after crimping----went to start it up, and my fans came on, my horn honks, and my lights are all ok. Hallelujah!!! What this wire has to do with the other things i don't know, but it all is back to normal, and a tall cold one for me.
I am a religious guy so I will thank the Lord for making me try one more time!!
And thanks to all my Airstreamin' buds for your ideas.
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Old 07-27-2002, 03:12 PM   #11
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Thumbs up

good for you, Master Alan.
I just came in to report to you that I removed the fusible link from the junction block/solenoid and the lights/horn stayed on. Was going to apologize for sending you down that road, but now I can congratulate you instead!
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Old 07-27-2002, 04:23 PM   #12
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muchas gracias mi amigo. I enjoyed every sip of that cold Coors ...I can tell you that........I think I will go for a drive, and let the fans blow in my face.
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Old 08-04-2002, 02:31 PM   #13
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addendum to story

Ah the RV life!! Went to the mountains for a weekender...no problems going up. Enjoyed the lake, the cooler air, and a nice couple of nights. Headed to the dump station on my way out today....all fine so far. Dumped my tanks, got back in to go, click...click...click.....not starting. Hit starter assist button for more power....click...click....
Checked battery connections.....click...click....
Crawled under fornt wheel....crap... it's hot near that manifold!!
Checked my new wires....all looked fine, but then....I see that the terminal to the solenoid has sheared off!!!! !@#$%^&*)(* and every other word!!
The heat got to it, and broke it off the starter.
Had my wife turn the key while I jumped the terminals on the solenoid with a pair of insulated pliers. Stareted up on the third try, and drove on home.
Green Starter( total heat resistance) at Camping World 250 bucks is starting to sound better.
Anyone use heat resistant wire? Is there any out there?
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Old 08-04-2002, 03:05 PM   #14
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Alan,

was the selinoid terminal one you replaced?

There are many diffrent types of crimp on ends. I would not reccomend the kind with the plastic shield. I would go with a solid copper one. The one in the middle and the red one are for the same size wire. The copper ones will cost in the $2.00 each range at an electrical supply place like grainger.
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Old 08-04-2002, 04:33 PM   #15
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good idea, I will change it out...but the plastic crimp I put on was fine, it was the terminal on the solenoid itself that burnt off! The whole plastic cover on the solenoid is now gone...a plasticky ceramic thing that couldn't stand the heat.
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Old 08-06-2002, 11:40 AM   #16
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While I am on the subject, it looks like I will be rebuilding or replacing the starter and related wiring.
Anyone using the heat proof starters? Also what options for heat resistant wiring are out there? I would like to be able to use the copper crimp on ends, and wiring which will hold up longer under the manifold heat proximity.
Thanks
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Old 08-06-2002, 05:38 PM   #17
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Alan,
before you spend the $$$ on the starter, you could consider wrapping the exaust with insulation to protect the starter from the heat. Just a thought. 74 Argosy24 has pictures posted of the wrapping he did on his headers.

http://www.airstreamphotos.com/photo....php?photo=360
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Old 08-06-2002, 09:30 PM   #18
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Starter

My motor has one of the small heat resistant starters on it, works great (not from CW). You can also get HD starters as rebuilds, they are about 1/3 the price and seem to hold up better than standard.

They make insulating blankets and metal heat shields for starters. If you are going to make new cables, there are fiberglass insulating 'tubes' that you can slip over the cable, similar to what are used on plug wires. I would mount them off the oil pan bolts with cushion clamps, that will keep them tight and as far from the exhaust as possible.

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Old 08-07-2002, 11:25 AM   #19
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Great advice....I have seen some of these smaller heavy duty starters for sale, on EBAY, also. Any problems installing them?
Flywheel considerations? I will have to do this real soon.
As for the wrap---your engine looks terrific. Is that stuff available at auto parts store, or is it a Hot Rod or tuner type thing....thanks
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Old 08-07-2002, 01:23 PM   #20
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Starter

There are different flywheel sizes. The one I got the starter nose could be changed to account for this. I still had to shim it quite a bit, but no hot start problems.

The wrap is pretty common, any hot rod shop will have it. Maybe Pep Boys, there are none around here so I am not sure. A good parts store might have it or should be able to order it. It is some nasty stuff to work with, be prepared to get full of it. After I was done I sprayed it with high termpeature paint to try and keep me more clean when I change plugs, etc.

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