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Author Topic: 1991 chieftain starting issues  (Read 4620 times)

bowarr

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1991 chieftain starting issues
« on: May 18, 2014, 12:48:20 PM »
Hello all... I am a new owner of an RV and have never operated or owned an RV before purchasing this one, and needless to say, I have many questions on the systems.  I have one issue that has gotten worse involving starting the engine.

Here is a rundown of what has happened since I bought this RV about a month ago:
Since I have owned this RV I have not been able to get the house batteries (installed two new 6 volt in series with 240 amps) to operate the lights in the house, only by using the generator or external power will the house lights work.  I tried every combination I could with the switches on the dash in order to try and get the lights to operate but to no avail.
When I started the engine previously, there would be a slight hesitation in cranking over once the key was turned to start, but it would crank fine after that initial hesitation.  I thought the starter may have had a flat spot on it.

So... I have not attempted to start the engine the last couple of weeks and when I went to pull the RV out of the garage yesterday it wouldn't start... no dash lights, horn... nothing!  I figured it was the battery, so I hit the "MOM" switch on the dash and the engine started as normal.  Moved the rig into the driveway and hit the brake to stop... engine conks out!  Restarted with switch and hit the brake... conks out!... same thing happens when I attempt to shift into gear without the brake.  So I changed the engine battery, cleaned the grounds and terminals... checked the fuses... have 12.6 volts to the relays behind the fuse panels... and still no power when turning the key to start or on or acc....
The only way to  move the the RV is to start it with the "MOM" switch activated and then put the switch to "Dual" and then I can drive it without it conking out... if I leave the switch in the middle then the engine conks out when attempting to shift or brake.
I have also noticed that when I turn the radio on I get some sort of interference crackling in the radio that was not there prior to this engine/battery problem... sounds like electrical interference.

Note: I now have power to the house lights using only the house batteries and when I start the engine using the "MOM" switch using the house batteries I do not have any hesitation in the starter when the key is turned to start as I did before this problem reared its ugly head!  :o  Two problems solved... for now!!

Researching on the internet leads me to think that it could be a bad ground, a start solenoid, or relay battery disconnect gone bad..????

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks in advance!

Warren


Edit by staff: changed message icon to Topic Solved


« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 04:44:04 PM by John Canfield »
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

John Canfield

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2014, 01:19:12 PM »
Please edit your signature in your user profile to include the year, make, model and floorplan of your rig - that would be a huge help. Oh, I just noticed the year /model in the subject - please add it to your signature so it doesn't get overlooked

.. it wouldn't start... no dash lights, horn... nothing!  I figured it was the battery, so I hit the "MOM" switch on the dash and the engine started as normal...
When you had to push the MOM switch, you bridged the house and chassis battery banks together, so your house bank was essentially providing the current to start the engine.

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...So I changed the engine battery, cleaned the grounds and terminals... checked the fuses... have 12.6 volts to the relays behind the fuse panels... and still no power when turning the key to start or on or acc....
When you say you changed the engine battery, I assume you replaced it with a new one?  Do you have one or two chassis batteries?

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.. if I leave the switch in the middle then the engine conks out when attempting to shift or brake...
You have 12V chassis battery issues of some sort.  You need to look at your wiring diagram and run the chassis battery 12V wiring down lug by lug, wire by wire starting at the chassis battery and working out (assuming your chassis batter(ies) are new.)

Quote
Note: I now have power to the house lights using only the house batteries and when I start the engine using the "MOM" switch using the house batteries I do not have any hesitation in the starter when the key is turned to start as I did before this problem reared its ugly head!
You are essentially starting and running the engine from the house batteries in this situation.

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...Researching on the internet leads me to think that it could be a bad ground, a start solenoid, or relay battery disconnect gone bad..
A bad ground is always a likely suspect with this kind of problem.  Start solenoid - not likely since the engine starts fine from the house batteries.  Battery disconnect - unless you have a late model diesel pusher, there is no chassis battery disconnect, only house battery disconnect/connect solenoid.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 01:21:06 PM by John Canfield »
--John
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John Hilley

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2014, 05:54:30 PM »
You likely only have 120 amps on the 6 volt house batteries. Series connection doubles the voltage, but only has a total amp capacity the same as one battery.
2003 Winnebago Adventurer 38G
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1999 Winnebago Brave 35C
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bowarr

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 09:59:24 AM »
"When you say you changed the engine battery, I assume you replaced it with a new one?  Do you have one or two chassis batteries?"

I have one new 12v chassis battery installed. I will attempt to locate a wiring diagram for this RV and go from there.... thanks for the input.

Warren
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

bowarr

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2014, 08:01:55 AM »
Update:  I was unable to download the wiring diagrams from Winnebago, so I did some further research on my starting issue and after some troubleshooting believe it is the battery disconnect relay located behind the fuse boxes.  I have ordered one and will report my findings when I replace it.  Wish me luck!
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

John Hilley

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2014, 10:07:46 AM »
I don't think that relay would be the cause. You can verify, by connecting the large terminals of the relay together with a heavy wire.
2003 Winnebago Adventurer 38G
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1999 Winnebago Brave 35C
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bowarr

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2014, 06:35:02 PM »
You're correct John... it was not my relay or my starter solenoid.   I am stumped at this point.  I can start the engine by using the house batteries with no issues, but when I attempt to start the engine with the chassis battery the dash lights come on when I go to "on" but as soon as I go to "start" with the key, you can hear a click at the starter and then all is dead.  I have to disconnect the chassis battery and reconnect it in order to regain power to the key switch.  I have checked all of the grounds, disconnected the starter wires and the alternator wires and have found no issues..... the problem remains.  It shouldn't be the starter because it starts normally with the house batteries and both batteries use the same wire going to the starter.  I have also disconnected the switches at the panel one by one and it makes no difference.  So I assume that the switches are not causing the problem. 
I am unable to download the wiring diagrams from the Winnebago web site... just get blank pages.  There has to be something only unique to the chassis battery connection that is causing this problem... I just can't find it.  I am getting to the point of just driving the rig to the scrape yard and sell it for metal!  I haven't even used it yet and still have other issues to contend with if I can ever figure this one out.   
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
Thanks.
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

John Canfield

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2014, 07:13:54 PM »
Winnebago should be able to mail or email your wiring diagrams to you.
--John
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bowarr

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2014, 07:26:39 PM »
Thanks John, I plan on contacting Winnebago directly and hopefully get some possible solutions.
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

John Hilley

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2014, 08:23:46 PM »
You're correct John... it was not my relay or my starter solenoid.   I am stumped at this point.  I can start the engine by using the house batteries with no issues, but when I attempt to start the engine with the chassis battery the dash lights come on when I go to "on" but as soon as I go to "start" with the key, you can hear a click at the starter and then all is dead.  I have to disconnect the chassis battery and reconnect it in order to regain power to the key switch.  I have checked all of the grounds, disconnected the starter wires and the alternator wires and have found no issues..... the problem remains.  It shouldn't be the starter because it starts normally with the house batteries and both batteries use the same wire going to the starter.  I have also disconnected the switches at the panel one by one and it makes no difference.  So I assume that the switches are not causing the problem. 
I am unable to download the wiring diagrams from the Winnebago web site... just get blank pages.  There has to be something only unique to the chassis battery connection that is causing this problem... I just can't find it.  I am getting to the point of just driving the rig to the scrape yard and sell it for metal!  I haven't even used it yet and still have other issues to contend with if I can ever figure this one out.   
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
Thanks.

I was able to get to the wiring diagram. Which model do you have. I can download the diagram and email it to you.
2003 Winnebago Adventurer 38G
1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport
1999 Winnebago Brave 35C
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gwcowgill

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2014, 08:34:25 PM »
You're correct John... it was not my relay or my starter solenoid.   I am stumped at this point.  I can start the engine by using the house batteries with no issues, but when I attempt to start the engine with the chassis battery the dash lights come on when I go to "on" but as soon as I go to "start" with the key, you can hear a click at the starter and then all is dead.  I have to disconnect the chassis battery and reconnect it in order to regain power to the key switch.  I have checked all of the grounds, disconnected the starter wires and the alternator wires and have found no issues..... the problem remains.  It shouldn't be the starter because it starts normally with the house batteries and both batteries use the same wire going to the starter.  I have also disconnected the switches at the panel one by one and it makes no difference.  So I assume that the switches are not causing the problem. 
I am unable to download the wiring diagrams from the Winnebago web site... just get blank pages.  There has to be something only unique to the chassis battery connection that is causing this problem... I just can't find it.  I am getting to the point of just driving the rig to the scrape yard and sell it for metal!  I haven't even used it yet and still have other issues to contend with if I can ever figure this one out.   
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
Thanks.

Click at the starter sounds like you have a bad connection in the engine battery circuit.  You need to get some battery voltages and post them both static and cranking. The engine battery should be at or near 12.6 volts static and above 9.6 cranking or with the key in the start position. Once you get it running you need to see if the alternator is charging the battery. Running should be above 13.6 volts at the battery. With this info we should better be able to help.
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driftless shifter

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2014, 08:41:42 AM »
Check the other ends of the ground cables.

Take a set of jumper cables. Use just the negative cable, clamp one end to neg terminal of chassis battery, other end to engine block, or one of the starter mounting bolts. If you get more of a reaction out of the starter it's definitely your grounds. Not all ground cables are at the battery. You might have 2 or 3 between engine/transmission and the chassis frame rails.

Bill
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bowarr

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 03:08:13 PM »
Finally fixed it!  :D 
I had everything torn apart looking for the bad ground wire.... I was wondering what I could use as a replacement cable to test the battery pos and neg wires and thanks to Bill (driftless shifter's) suggestion of using battery cables, I found the problem!  I disconnected the wires from the the ground location and just used the jumper cable as a ground from the battery to the chassis ground... and the engine turned over normally.  I ohm'd the cables and they checked good, but the interior of the cable must have corroded badly and restricted the amperage going from the battery.  It caused all sorts of problems with the electrical system, that's for sure. 
I appreciate all the assistance from the forum!  I should have more questions as I finally get the chance to check out the other systems in this RV. 
Thanks again!
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

John Canfield

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2014, 04:42:10 PM »
Congrats!

That's the funny thing about cables and high amperage situations - you can look at them and never know what's under the outer sheath.  You can check resistance and they seem fine, put it under a very high current load and it breaks down.  The ohmmeter is putting maybe a milliamp (or less?) into the test leads depending on the selected scale and a cable could exhibit low resistance and look nominal.  Put 150 amps on it and most of the current will be dissipated as heat at the bad spot (high resistance) in the cable.

Thinking to self here... I wonder what a non-contact (IR) thermometer would have revealed if you scanned the cable?
--John
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John Hilley

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2014, 04:50:05 PM »
John, you probably wouldn't need the non contact thermometer. Just touching it with your hand would indicate it was getting hot. It probably didn't get that hot because enough current wasn't flowing.
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gwcowgill

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2014, 05:34:38 PM »
Why don't you just do a voltage drop test and find your problem quick and easy? 
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John Canfield

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2014, 05:48:18 PM »
.. It probably didn't get that hot because enough current wasn't flowing.

Yeah, that's probably right.  It would have been great to do a few tests with that situation.

Why don't you just do a voltage drop test and find your problem quick and easy? 

That would work and work well assuming you had a metric beforehand, i.e., you knew about how much voltage would be present at the starter when you first turned the ignition to the start position and the starter engaged. I have no idea how much voltage that starter needed to turn the engine over at an acceptable rate.
--John
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driftless shifter

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2014, 06:01:46 AM »
I think the ground test with a jumper cable is quick, easy and can be done singlehandedly. Nothing wrong with identifying the problem with shadetree troubleshooting. Voltage drop tests would either require a helper, a rats nest of leads reaching to the drivers seat or a remote start switch.

Bill
Bill & Nan
(o\_!_/o)
93 bounder 34, chevy chassis
couple of aircooled vw's, 1 fast(sold), 1 reliable(sold).  Dubless : (
USN '76-'80, 1 boat, USS Blandy, DD 943.
I'm an analog guy in a digital age.

bowarr

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2014, 07:29:08 AM »
I voltage tested the system prior to finding the bad cable..... I had 12.3v from battery prior to turning the key to "start".  Then when I turned the key to start the voltage went directly to approx 1 volt, but if you waited about 2-3 minutes the voltage would creep back up to around 10 volts and stay there until the ground lead from the battery was removed and reinstalled on the battery.  Then the voltage would be back at 12.3.  When the alternator was running the battery was reading 14.1.
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

bowarr

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2014, 07:32:53 AM »
Btw... I did the check myself by connecting one voltmeter lead to the battery neg and one lead to the start solenoid pos and then put the voltmeter against the windshield and held it in place by the wiper blade so that I could read the meter from the drivers seat while attempting to start the RV....
1991 Winnebago Chieftain

John Canfield

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2014, 12:09:11 PM »
I voltage tested the system prior to finding the bad cable..... I had 12.3v from battery prior to turning the key to "start".  Then when I turned the key to start the voltage went directly to approx 1 volt, ..
Ah, the smoking gun.
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gwcowgill

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Re: 1991 chieftain starting issues
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2014, 07:41:03 AM »
Remote start switch and a voltmeter is all that is needed to do the voltage drop test and a little knowledge. It is one of the easiest ways to identify high resistance in circuits. BTW, the starter being the customer in this case should be the biggest consumer of voltage not the ground or battery post etc.....
2009 Bounder 36B, 2014 Honda CR-V, various grandchildren when school is out. KG4LHS
2014 Honda CRV Toad,
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Toad