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Old 12-03-2007, 07:40 PM   #1
4 Rivet Member
Paul Dobbin's Avatar
1994 35' Land Yacht Diesel
Franklin NC , North Carolina
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 327
Electrical Problems?

Here is a thread that I hope I can learn something from and in the process make RVing less of a threat to others.
While Iíve never been much on electrical problems, I hope after you read my story that you can suggest some ways to make electrical malfunctions less of a threat. Our 1994 Airstream Land Yacht is a diesel pusher, but I suspect its problems are shared by other coaches who need specific grounds for anything to work.
In the beginning the problem was that when I turned the key, sometimes nothing happened. On our maiden Voyage it happened in a campground in Birmingham. I assumed that it was a starter problem and replaced the starter in the campground and kept going. Again it happened once in a while and I discovered that if I switched the key on an off many times, that eventually it would start. When I got home we put a new starter switch in. Again it worked most of the time.
Next the A/C didnít always start when the bus did. I took it into a truck shop I knew and the suggest a new A/C controller which I bought at a salvage yard as it was the same as a Chrysler control.
On a trip to the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte it failed to start again and a friend suggested we direct wire the starter with a remote push button from the battery, so of to the parts store again and we wired up a dandy switch with
Good heavy gauge wire. Now my horn wouldnít work.
When I got home I took it to a starter place and they said I needed a new starter because they never heard of the brand I had purchased in Birmingham. They didnít like my wire and said it should run all the way to the switch, but they couldnít find anything wrong and it worked perfectly with the new starter while they had it.
Again we hit road and the problem returned.
Back to the truck place and they ran a wire to the switch. Now it started but the A/C and horn were sometimes.
Next trip my new Wal-MART coach battery (one of two) had a broken plate and burned up my Alternator and Isolator Box. At least the Wal-Mart battery was a free replacement.
When My A/C wouldnít hold a charge I had it fixed and the blower ran until I left the parking lot and then failed. The technician traced it back to a faulty 25Amp relay, now the A/C works great.
Next trip my Allison electric shifter started to get no electrical signal, meaning it would shift. But If I switched it on and off, it would make a connection and work fine.
Did I replace all this stuff for lack of a good ground?
How do you find an intermittent bad connection?
Is there a common ground that I should find? Where is it in all that spaghetti?
Any suggestions? We do about 90 nights a year on the road and this is getting old
and the Mrs. is starting to think we should consider other forms of travel.
I need so good electrical advice
"The Roadhouse" our Land Yachts name
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:16 PM   #2
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1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,300

It sure sounds like ground problems to me. I'm no expert but on our 1984 Classic I've had (actually still do) ground problems that drove me nuts. Its amazing how many ground connections there are on a motorhome. My first suggestion would be to go over your coach with a fine tooth comb and look for ground connections. When you find one take it apart and clean the connection point and then reassemble.

If you ask me your biggest one seems to be the ground between the engine and the chassis. You could also try running additional ground wires such as between the engine and the chassis and from the battery to the engine or chassis.

Keep us posted on your successes (or failures ).

Good luck!

Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
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Old 12-09-2007, 07:51 PM   #3
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1987 32' Excella
Nepean , Ontario
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,360
Hi Paul,

Here's my experience with my '94 LY Diesel Pusher . .

First off, I had a problem with the air conditioner - it would sometimes work, and sometimes not. One of the mechanics at a Midas shop I did the network for went over the wiring under the hood on the road side - that's where you have most of your connections. He found that some of the crimped ends were loose. So he went over all of them - those that were loose, he refit the connections. He also showed me that there is a correct way to crimp. That corrected the problem with erratic airconditioning and heater/defroster.

Then, in October, I suddenly found that when I switched on the ignition, nothing happened. This occurred while I was camping and connected to 50-amp service. I found that when I pulled on the headlight switch, the ignition switched on.

There were several issues here, which I believe were linked. The first was that the main solenoid packed in. This solenoid is what provides the power to the switched buss from the always hot buss.

The other issue is one that resulted from improper modifications made at the time the unit was imported into Canada. Canada has a requirement for daytime running lights. When automotive equipment is imported, there is a requirement that the auto/truck/bus have daytime running lights installed immediately; once done and a Transport Canada sticker is affixed, then the GST tax is paid and the vehicle is now ready to be licensed. The garage which did this modification tried a real "Mickey Mouse" approach, and simply put a jumper between the headlights and the switched buss. Naturally, this was not documented, so the diesel shop spent many hours trying to diagnose the problem. The correct fix is to install a "daytime running lights module" which consists of a headlight relay that is activated by the ignition switch and derives its power from the always on buss, so that it does not overload the main solenoid.

The legal wrangling on this unsafe repair is soon to start, as the bill the diagnose this and repair it was mucho dinero.

One thing to note, Paul. There is a lot that vibration could do, so check that all your connections are snug, and that all wiring that had a crimped fitting is snug as well.

AIR 12148
1987 Excella 32-foot
1999 Dodge Ram 2500HD Diesel
WBCCI 8080
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Old 12-11-2007, 08:04 PM   #4
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Paul Dobbin's Avatar
1994 35' Land Yacht Diesel
Franklin NC , North Carolina
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 327
Electrical Problems

Time for an Update!

I took it to a highly recommended electrical shop and naturally everything worked perfectly. That's just the way it always works.
They went over all connections and tested everything, took about an hour.
What they found was one common ground connection to be loose. They cleaned and tightened it and charged me $58.50. (one hour)
Now I'll go an test it frequently before the next trip in the spring to make sure all is well on the Airstream front. It's the best $58.50 I've spent yet. Our motto is get it right before you leave on a trip because you never know who you will have to rely on out on the road. This has worked well for 18 years of RVing, so I think I'll keep using it.
Thanks for your thoughts confirming my suspicions of a ground problem.
If it comes back, I'll let you all know.
"The Roadhouse" our Land Yachts name
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