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Old 09-06-2017, 03:34 PM   #1
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1987 29' Airstream 290
Los Angeles , California
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 74
Stranded Drivable Airstream - engine not turning over


We have a 1987 Airstream 290. It's a Chevy 454 engine on a P-30 Chassis. Her engine has worked beautifully for the most part. Today I went to start it up and the power came on but the engine wouldn't turn over.

In the past occasionally it won't start up, but shifting it out and back into Park has done the trick.

We had jumper cables on it and that didn't do anything. But when we tapped on the starter while turning it over, the engine came back to life. Awesome!

My question is, does a part or some wires sound like they needs to be replaced?

Thanks in advance for the advice!

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Old 09-06-2017, 03:39 PM   #2
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2007 30' Classic
Oswego , Illinois
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Sounds like a bad starter. They behave like that when there are bad brushes, dirty or damaged commutator.


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Old 09-06-2017, 03:59 PM   #3
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Byron Center , Michigan
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Agreed. And an easy (albeit heavy) repair. The tapping on the starter and having it come to life is the indicator.
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Old 09-06-2017, 04:27 PM   #4
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1962 24' Tradewind
Buffalo , Wyoming
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Posts: 630
Agree that it is likely a bad starter, but it could just be a poor connection at the starter. See if the wires are loose.
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Old 09-06-2017, 04:29 PM   #5
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 8,676

It's highly unlikely to be anything *other* than the starter. The only other thing to check is the wiring to the starter. The check is pretty simple, either it's loose or it's ok ....a tug is about all that's needed.

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Old 09-06-2017, 05:39 PM   #6
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1987 29' Airstream 290
Los Angeles , California
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 74
No longer stranded, and we're def going to get a new starter. Wires were tight. Many thanks!
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Old 09-06-2017, 05:41 PM   #7
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2012 19' International
Southeastern MI , Michigan
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Don't overtighten. Sometimes the bolt is copper. They strip easy.

The solenoids can be taken apart and the disk rotated to a clean spot. I've had them go for years after that "fix". The new solenoids are cheap junk.
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Old 09-07-2017, 10:58 AM   #8
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1965 24' Tradewind
almena , Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 121
Won't start!!!

It may be the starter. Sounds more to me that if you have shifted it in and out of park to get it to go it is more likely the safety switch that keeps it from starting in gear. It may be on the trans itself or more likely it is part of the key switch mechanism. On GM vehicles the the key switches are notorious for going bad and they are quite a job to change!!! Some folks (me) choose to run a hot wire to the starter solenoid from a momentary toggle switch. Find the smaller wire hooked to the solenoid and follow it to the firewall. I believe it's a fatter purple one. At the firewall splice into it with a Scotchlock.Then find an electric buss bar, probably under the hood somewhere and wire to the main buss supply, a fatter red wire always energized. Run both wires through the firewall to your momentary toggle switch. May want to put a 30 amp fuse in the hotwire close to the buss bar. Be carefull because the engine will start in any gear so be sure you have it park. Motor on!!!!
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Old 09-07-2017, 04:21 PM   #9
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
Milton , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1
Had similar problem on my 1979 class A 454

replaced the wire from the battery to the starter completely. The wire gets corroded in the strand with age. Will ring out 12volt but can't handle the amp draw. Was not visible till I took starter off.

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