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Old 05-24-2006, 01:19 AM   #1
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1996 28' Excella
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Headlights on the fritz

This seems like such a simple problem.
My low beams went out coming back from the beach last weekend. Both at the same time.
At this point the brights work, the dimmer works, and I think the right low beam is out. (with the brights on, 3 lights come one; all but the R Low beam)

Quote from my AS service manual:
"The headlamp circuits are protected by a curcuit breaker in the light switch. An electrical overload on the breaker will cause the lamps to go on and off, or in some cases to remain off. If this condition develops, have your wiring circuits checked immediately."

My interpretation:
"There is a breaker in the switch, but it really isn't apparent even if you take the switch apart. If there is a problem, your lights will take on a life of their own, and if they are really mad at you, they'll stay off. If this moody attitude persists, see if you can trace every wire on the coach, because they go everywhere. Oh, BTW, we decided not to give you a fuse or diagram, good luck!"

I took apart the light switch, but I don't see any breaker. I pulled the Hi-Lo foot switch, and it seems to work fine.

I'm getting confused, frusturated, and worried that I have to find another manual for the P30 chassis (I've already bought the owner's and the Service manuals from AS)

Is there something simple I'm missing here?

-Kevin
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Old 05-24-2006, 05:11 AM   #2
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Sounds like you have a bad dimmer switch, unless you blew both low beam headlights.
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Old 05-24-2006, 07:23 AM   #3
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No need to check every wire I have done that and it takes weeks. Several things to check First is your fuse box. It attaches to the fire wall with a single bolt through the middle if this loosens one side of the box will separate and you could loose your headlights. Does your horn work? Second have you checked all of your fuses. They are really hard to see several are hidden behind switches and wires and other things. Get yourself a strong light and search. How long has it been since you replaced your headlamps? Are the sockets clean? One with corrosion could affect the other. If you have never replaced your headlamps now is a good time you will be amazed at how bright the new ones will be.
Good luck to you.
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Old 05-24-2006, 07:34 AM   #4
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I agree with Terry. I was an automotive electric technician in a former life and the dimmer switch is the probable cause. The two lights going out at the same time is rare but if there was a surge they could blow at the same time. Maybe they burned when you turned on the lights. Same as what happens at home when you turn on the lightswitch. Anthony
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Old 05-24-2006, 09:32 AM   #5
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why not bypass the dimmer and see if they work then. at least you would know if the low beam filament is still good.
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Old 05-24-2006, 09:56 AM   #6
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I can tell you from personal experience that both low beams can burn out at the same time. In the late 50s, I was ride grouping to college. When I pulled up to park at our meet location, both low beams were on and reflecting from the fence just ahead of the vehicle. When I came back that evening and turned on the lights, no lights. I hit the dimmer switch and the hi beams came on. While I didn't think that it was likely that both low beams failed at the same time, I pulled one bulb and checked it when I got home. It was burned out, as was the other one when I checked it. Check the simple things first.
As to the circuit breaker in the headlight switch, there is normally only one for both the high and low beams. If the high beams work it is not the breaker or light switch.
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Old 05-24-2006, 01:00 PM   #7
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Thanks so much.

Such good info again, and prompt too! You guys are great.
I don't think I would have bought this RV with out knowing that I had this super valuable resource to accompany it.

Another simple question: When the lights are on ďbrightĒ do all four headlamps light up? Or just the bright ones? For some reason, when I was purchasing this coach, I thought either one set or the other were on, not all four at the same time.

Just to compound my frustration, the screws that hold the lamps in the housing are totally rusted/stripped/stuck. Iím trying to swap lights around, test circuits, get a gripÖItís raining. I'm going crazy.

I think part of the problem is these old fog lights that someone put on (looks like 15 years ago) that donít work, but are spliced into the headlights. Someone used wire nuts to power them. I also found a new unidentified button and what looks like an air horn compressor Ė no air horns; Iím thinking they are related. CB power lines, extra back-up lights (donít work), cut ground lines (unknown). The end result is several owners adding accessories, with unidentified wires running all over under the dash, and under the hood.

I think Iím going to strip all the non-working accessories and re-do all the connections and splices that were done in the past. Nothing works better than soldering and shrink-wrap (and labeling all accessories) If not for future owners, but for myself.

Iíve learned from past experience to check the places that have had human interference first; thatís usually where the trouble lies.

Thanks again for all your imput. I'm going to battle tonight again armed with some better knowlege!

-Kevin
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Old 05-24-2006, 01:11 PM   #8
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Kevin,
Welcome to the world of PO (Previous Owners). I think everyone spends a fair amount of time chasing self inflicted injuries out of these old rigs. I blew both lows and one high on a trip to Florida two years ago. I used it as an opportunity to replace everything with new "cool blue halogen" replacements ($70 for all four).

It was worth every penny on the way back going through the moutains in Tennesee at night. I could actually see the road. Since then I've replaced most of the running lights, fixed a bunch of splices and am now looking into replacing with LEDs all around.

FYI - high beams are all four on
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Old 05-24-2006, 04:24 PM   #9
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LEDs are cool

By thinking logically, if three lights work on "High Beam" and none work on "Low Beam", I should have one bulb (headlight) out, and a bad dimmer switch.

I'm just confused because I pulled out one Low Beam head light and the socket had no power (multimeter tested) Then I hooked the headlight up to a 12V source, and it was burnt out. This makes me think that maybe there's a short where someone spliced in, and it took out the switch and the bulb?......Now that I think about it, I had the foot switch on "Low Beam" when I tested the socket. If the dimmer switch is bad, it wouldn't have power anyway.

This is where I get in trouble thinking too much. I have to just give myself some time and trace things out logically. Thanks for the support.

I think I'm going to upgrade all the lamps, because they are pretty dim anyway. I think I'm going to replace all the running lights too. It took me a couple hours of tinkering to get them all to work. It was all just bad sockets for the little bulbs. Filing and sanding the contacts made them all come to life. Looks like you can buy 10 (5 red/5 amber) "double bullet?" LED fixtures from Ebay for around $100

-Kevin
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Old 05-24-2006, 07:41 PM   #10
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Kevin, if you're just replacing the double bull running lights with LED's you can do better. Check out the long post on LED replacements.

FYI all, the prototype LED boards are on the way from CA to me!! My Korean partner has returned from China with samples!!
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Old 05-24-2006, 07:48 PM   #11
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another riddle

Our 345 runs great, BUT my husband hit the high beam switch and the engine started cutting out? How can the switch affect the motor? No problem with the headlights on low beam
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Old 05-24-2006, 07:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by str8strm
Our 345 runs great, BUT my husband hit the high beam switch and the engine started cutting out? How can the switch affect the motor? No problem with the headlights on low beam
Maybe a bad ground. The extra load of the extra lights overtaxes whatever wire is just barely good enough to ground the system.
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Old 05-24-2006, 08:59 PM   #13
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The first place to check for any electrical problem is the grounds. Remember that the 345/350 has 2 ground straps. One runs from the engine to the frame. The second runs from the battery box to the frame. They are woven copper and should be replaced regularly, as flexing and corrosion take their toll. Work back from there. You'll be amazed at what you find--or don't find.

Also, if you have lots of corrosion (rust) on your light bulb sockets, consider replacing any which have significant corrosion. Although you can make them work (mostly) when rusty, iron oxide is not really a good conductor, and once started, rust doesn't stop until the corrosion begins to exclude air and water vapor from coming in contact with the metal--which means the corrosion is protecting the metal from further oxidation. Cleaning away the corrosion to provide electrical conductivity simply provides a new surface to corrode.

You can get the stuff that the power company uses to protect switches from corrosion at electrical supply houses (I forget what its called) and wipe it over your new sockets when installed. Works great. Doesn't last forever, but nothing does. I sometimes spray clear Krylon on the exterior surfaces to slow down corrosion before I put bare metal sockets in, because it costs little and saves me work in the long run.

Rob
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Old 05-24-2006, 10:39 PM   #14
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I can't see the light...

2 new low beam lamps
1 headlight switch
1 dimmer switch

Still no lights.

With the floor mounted dimmer switch on "Brights" all four lights come on.
Press it again, and nothing.

3 wires come out of the dimmer switch:
1. big fat yellow - always on when lights are on
2. green - "high beam" lead
3. brown - "low beam" lead

Those go into the big black box that houses most of the fuses.
Now I'm trying to figure out what color feeds what on the other side. It's hard to tell what feeds running lights, brights, lows, but I'm getting there. I just haven't found something obvious yet. It's killing me....

I'm about to either hot wire the low beams to a rocker switch or take it to a mechanic.

-Kevin
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Old 05-25-2006, 05:27 AM   #15
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Kevin,
Do you have the wiring diagram for the fuse block? It should be in your manual. It's one of the things that was surprisingly accurate on mine.

If you need it let me know and I'll fax it.
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Old 05-25-2006, 10:49 AM   #16
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Ok, I found a fuse that was blown. 20amp - I think it was labeled stop lights, but my stop lights worked before, and they still do. I replaced the fuse, but still no lights.

I have been poking around with my multimeter trying to get a better grip on this, and both the connectors for the Low beams have continuity (grounded) with the frame when they're on "low". But they work when they're on "high". What?

I took apart the fuse box last night looking for something wrong, but nada.
I really thought the dimmer switch was the culprit.

When we lost the lights there was an electrical storm a few miles off. I wonder if we got hit by lightning?

Is there a chassis manual (chilton/haynes) that has detailed wiring diagrams?

-Kevin
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Old 05-25-2006, 11:14 AM   #17
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Sometimes a test light is your best friend. Grab your test light, and see if you have power at the dimmer switch like you should. (the light will light) Then follow the low-beam wire out to the headlights, checking for power at each connection. You will find the problem this way, if the bulb has power, and ground, it will light.
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Old 05-25-2006, 11:56 AM   #18
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Yea, that's what I need to do. I'm using my multimeter that way. I just loose it when it goes behind the fuse block and into the headlight harness under the hood. (what do you call the hood on a class A?) it's more of an access hatch on the front.

Steven has again stepped up and faxed me the wiring diagram for his coach. I've attached it for anyone else to use as well. The only thing that irks me about it is that my $75 AS Service manual that I just bought doesn't have any of this kind of stuff in it. Maybe they forgot to copy a section for me.

I'm still expecting to find a burnt wire, a hidden fuse, or a loose connector.
thanks for all your help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
Sometimes a test light is your best friend. Grab your test light, and see if you have power at the dimmer switch like you should. (the light will light) Then follow the low-beam wire out to the headlights, checking for power at each connection. You will find the problem this way, if the bulb has power, and ground, it will light.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf dash wiring diagram.pdf (181.8 KB, 158 views)
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:23 AM   #19
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Someone take my tools away, Please.

One time when I was 15 I took apart a whole lawnmower to finally figure out that it was just out of gas.

Tonight I decided I wasn't going to bed until I had lights. I dove into that thing. I found my sharp pointy testing light, and I took apart the whole fuse block; I traced that wire all the way to the light fixtures.

I looked at the fixture trying to figure out why the low beam lead (wire) was going into the bright lamps...

D'oh!!!

That's when the light went on in my head, and soon thereafter, the lights were lit on the coach.
This is so simple, someone should take my tools away; the low beams are on the top, I'm such a dumbass.
Turns out I blew 3 filaments at the same time; the two smaller filaments in the top lamps, and one of the lamps on the bottom. I think thatís what threw me off. I'm going to blame the lightning for taking out the lamps, and hitting me so slightly that I didn't feel it, but it zapped part of my brain.

I can't say it was a total waste of time. Just like when I was 15, I learned a lot about what I was working on, and I was able to clean a lot of mess up along the way. I even got the fog lamps to work, and there's some extra back-up lights the work too.

-Kevin
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Old 05-26-2006, 05:12 AM   #20
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Kevin, I usually don't say "I told you so", but please seee post #2 in this thread.
Seriously, I'm glad we could help. And I won't tell you the number of times I, an alleged "professional", have done things like that...
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