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Old 06-27-2005, 12:43 PM   #1
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1984 31' Airstream310
Dunsmuir , California
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Help with diagnosis

Hi all, yesterday I drove my 1984 310 Limited MH over about 150 miles of county gravel roads. Started on US 395 at Goose Lake State Recreation Area on the California/Oregon border and headed for Tule Lake and from there on to US 97.

Mostly I was traveling between 35 and 25 MPH. Midway through the trip we stopped for lunch. After approximately 1/2 hour I got in to resume the trip and nothing happened when I turned the key, nothing, no clicks, whirs, or buzzes. I got out and crawled around under each side of the MH looking for things that didn't look right and trying to get access to the starter but I had no luck. I next removed the dog house and felt around the starter and assorted wiring, found nothing amiss. I should also say that everything including the exhaust was cool enough to touch.

I then asked my wife to turn the key and the MH started and we completed the trip without shutting the engine down. When I reached home I shut down and then restarted with no issues.

This was potentially a very bad experience since I was 50 miles from the nearest paved road, there was no cell service, and we didn't see another vehicle for most of the trip.

So, what was wrong? What fixed it? What should I replace/repair to avoid a repeat.

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Old 06-27-2005, 01:03 PM   #2
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1994 36' Classic 36
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first guess

Okay, my first shot at it that your tranny shifter was slightly out of position. Kind of like having the shifter in a postion other than neutral or park.

If your shifter is slightly pulled towards the reverse postioin the ignition will do nothing.

Maybe your wife "bumped" the shifter back into place befpre turning key??????

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Old 06-27-2005, 01:09 PM   #3
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1984 31' Airstream310
Dunsmuir , California
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I suppose this is possible BUT I did wiggle the shifter when I was first attempting to start the vehicle.

Also, I tried battery boost, and I started the generator.
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Old 06-27-2005, 01:16 PM   #4
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dash mounted ignition

I have seen igniton switches that are mounted in the dash (as compared to being on the column) have problems comparable to the situation you describe.

The answer, I do not know but I have seen problems with these switches.
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Old 06-27-2005, 01:43 PM   #5
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2003 25' Safari
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I have experienced this with other vehicles when the starter solenoid, or an upstream relay, was sticking open.
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Old 06-27-2005, 01:46 PM   #6
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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Hard to tell for sure from the behavior described. As Ken suggested it certainly could be a "design" issue or lockout. I've had similar issues with mine in the past but it was always related to wiring into the remote switch on the alternator bracket. Sometimes, jiggling things would reconnect a wire and it would start. I ended up pulling off and eventuall replacing each wire....not fun but now it's reliable.

One little tip. If you have one of those solenoids (like I described) and with the ignition on, if you are getting 12V to one side of the solenoid you can "hot wire" the starter circuit by jumping the two large posts with a piece of wire or other metal something of other (I used channel locks in a pinch). It sparks a lot but in the middle of nowhere it can get you running again.
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Old 06-27-2005, 04:58 PM   #7
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1966 26' Overlander
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i had this same experience, it in my case was a starter wire that was overheated. It eventually burned through. You would not be able to tell it was hot until it finally did burn. I wrapped the replacement wires in heat wrap , and later ended up replacing the starter with a heat proof model which is also wrapped in heat protection. Might not be your situaiton, but it sure did have me confounded for awhile. I would get nothing when I turned the key...freaked me out a few times!
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Old 06-28-2005, 07:00 AM   #8
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1994 30' Excella
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I hesitate to tell this story but assume I am among friends. I once turned the key and had no response from the engine. Knowing my penchant for leaving the lights on I checked the switch and found them to be off. I tried the starter again and again nothing. Bowing to my limited knowledge of what is beneath the doghouse I called for a jump. When the gentleman arrived I showed him where the battery was and he hooked up his cables. I climbed into my seat put the transmission in park, that's right it was in drive before. Of course the engine sprang to life and I went and thanked the man for his good work. Fact is I may still be in that parking lot if he had not come to allow me to discover my error.
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:27 AM   #9
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I've been there and it is not a good place to break down, you could be there for days without help.
This problem could be troublesome to find and correct.
Items to check that could cause this problem.

1. Neutral Safety switch out of adjustment or failing.
2. Intermittant ignition switch.
3. Intermittant starter solenoid. Maybe heat related.
4. I doubt there is an interposing relay between your ignition switch and the solenoid but it is possible. Need to look at the schematic for this circuit.
5. Failing or intermittant ground wire to the engine.
6. Bad connection or frayed connection to the solenoid power or ignition wires.
7. Battery connections.
Hope this check list helps in your repair persuit.
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:37 AM   #10
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
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Very frustrating, because it's one of those problems that just went away, so you'll never know if you fixed it or not - you just hope it never happens again! Gary gave you a good list to start with. You'll know your engine pretty well by the time you check all those things over. I'd keep a spare solenoid in the MH, just in case, but I'm used to driving Fords - that's probably the number one replacement part on the Fords I've owned.

BTW, the Tule Lake region is one of my favorites. I spent a lot of time exploring the lava caves in college. The main thing I remember is that it the only place I've ever been where the silence was overwhelming - not another car, plane, or any sign of human life for miles and miles. Not a good place to break down! Glad it started right up again!

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Old 06-28-2005, 02:21 PM   #11
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If your getting nothing at it , it makes me think it's a bad ground connection. Especially after the gravel roads.
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