“It wasn’t Beauty that killed the Beast” after all!
Usually I find that after a coach has major renovations that even with doing a shakedown that there is a second tier of issues that could create possible problems. Those are the items (sometimes original parts but not always) that were not involved in the work in any way, that are checked to be good to go– but are they really? I have found it the most difficult thing to do in any renovation is to figure where to stop– where to say “those parts will be OK”. Leroy and family took off yesterday headed back to Kansas– everything checked out AOK, all the work that was done was together and in a test and shakedown — everything looked “nominal”.
About and hour or so after they left– the shop line rang. I was on call for them through my cell number as they headed out so I figured the call “Benny don’t loose that number– I’ts the only one you have”! Said he had pulled over cause his Brake Buddy alarm came on and the motor died when he stopped– battery was dead! Yep, the battery was dead– His generator was on so the AC could keep them cool while I saddled up the horse and got some tools. BTW I always tell people in times of trouble with their coach, fire up the generator, get safe and give me a call— and that is where we were at— Cool, we’re on a mission, half pac of cigarettes (not really), 1/2 tank of gas, it’s dark (not really) and we’re wearing sunglasses— Good hit it, lets go! So Janie & I got some lunch and headed out there. There is some imaginary line where I can look at a run like this as “entertainment” or too far and this fell right at the edge, Leroy was about 40 miles out so hey, lets roll.
Tried to talk him through “boosting” to the back battery but it did not seem to do anything— Hmmm another anomaly, OK more valuable information— Hmmmm what are we dealing with? As I drove I worked the problem in my head thinking about what I would check first, where that test would take me and what the end issue could be. This was Leroy but I get calls with issues like this most weekends so I’ve grown used to it. Hey, it’s great, I get to hone up my “pull it out of the air” ideas.
No power to the starter means no power to the ignition or a problem with the ignition or start circuit– could be bad alternator and a drained battery, a failed battery, bad cable or something—- what will we find, you see the excitement—- the solve it on the spot situation I have myself in. Options could include an expensive tow or shuttling for more geer– maybe we will have a smoke test, I hate it when that happens. OK, I see them, just after the toll booth on the side– no flashers. Looks like a dead fish laid up on the beach and the Love Bugs– they were thick — they liked white maybe or just wanted to give us a taste of Hell but it was bad– Looked like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown! Misery I guess DOES love company because they were giving us big company and it was pretty miserable!
Out of the truck with my Black & Decker doctors bag– Felt like one of those Coast Guard guys landing by Hilo into a situation to assess, adapt and overcome! Lifting the hood I went for the battery with my DVM— 9.5 volts— we’re flat line! Checking the living area battery test point I had 13.14— Ahhh, I STILL HAVE A HEARTBEAT! The Troll was back there pumping out that lifegiving AC power and Leroy’s converter was on and doing it’s job. Why didn’t the boost work??? Wait, the boost solenoid input was tied to the engine battery which was flat. This is an early year coach that had only one trigger. OK, we know our assets—
Now we need to adapt to overcome—- Yanked out a piece of 12 ga. wire from my bag, stripped it back with my Leatherman and tied it across the boost solenoid— got a big spark, great! Checked the DVM to see I had current flow. Went up inside to Leroys dash, pushed the boost circuit– heard the “click” and grabbed the key & fired that mother up! You betcha– we have throttle up!
Leroy was following me around as I was talking to myself, fiddling and figuring. Looked over at him and saw that big smile that comes with a running motor within 2 minutes. His dash voltmeter showed 12. something so I was feeling like we had a pulse. Janie was back there with Elizabeth and Brandy in the bedroom of the coach– all were smiling– so there we all were with smiles—- what just happened and what happened to put us in on the side of the road— is my question now. We have to stabilize the patient and rig for transport.
OK, we have power now so lets pull off that jumper I made and work the problem— it was hot– Hmmm, thats significant. I checked voltage on the engine battery— it was down—- Ahhhhhhhhh Baccccccccch! Now I know what happened! Do you? Think a minute before you read farther, what was the problem read back and come up with an idea.
Was it a loose wire, a blown fuse, a bad part— come on, what was it!!!! The leg of the battery isolator to the engine battery was open– the living area side was fine but the engine battery was not getting replenished — so it died. It was that simple, an original part finally decided to die. Probably the stress from sitting for a time then being put into service was too much trauma for that old part. See, even with thousands of dollars in building slides and all of that, nothing was done to the charging system—- Woooda Thunkkk—-Perfect reason why you should not rely on critical parts like this that have not already been replaced. The fault was of the original isolator– nothing more.
I pulled off the charge wire on the isolator going to the engine battery and put it to the center (alternator) leg of the isolator. I bypassed the bad leg of the isolator and the alternator shot a good spark as I made the connection— you didn’t really think I would turn that motor off after it graced me with a perfect light up! Tied that in and did some voltage checks to assure the engine battery was getting oats. Good to go so I went over with Leroy the issue and gave him a prescription for a new isolator when he got home, I slapped that heifer on the tail light and called it done. It’s a great feeling to solve the issue without fan fair– no lawyers, guns or money– nothing hit the fan! All was good and as Leroy pulled back on the road and following him to the next exit I thought to myself– I love this job!