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Old 07-04-2006, 10:21 PM   #1
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Killed the battery... should I jumpstart?

I have an 86 International Harvester. I recently drained the battery down by accident (not all the way, but enough so it wont turn over). Is it ok to jumpstart it? It has two batteries wired in paralell.


The batteries look kinda old, I should probably replace them soon. But for now, id just like to get my bus started again!
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Old 07-05-2006, 12:51 AM   #2
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Jump away. I know this is going to sound counterproductive, but turn on the blower motor in both the vehicles when you do it if the vehicle doing the jumping has EFI. This prevents voltage spikes from damaging anything. It's a rare occurance, but I'm sure the last thing you want is two dead vehicles.
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Old 07-05-2006, 03:23 PM   #3
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No vehical could jump my Bus. Its a diesel and has two pretty big batteries in it. I took it to an autozone, and they said they would have to trickle charge them.. so I have no choice but to let them try.

sigh.. stranded for the moment.
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Old 07-05-2006, 03:34 PM   #4
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I had to jump start my 91 International (2 large batteries, also) on a few occasions. It takes a good sized battery (my pickup battery worked) and about an hour and a half, but it can be done.
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Old 07-05-2006, 03:58 PM   #5
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Jump starting your bus is not rocket science. It's really no different than jump starting any other car, it just takes a little longer....Assuming your bus is 12 volts. In the unlikely event that it's 24 volts, let me know and i'll adress that.

I jump started my ford 6.6 liter bus with my volkswagon fox once. Any 12 volt (nominal) vehicle with an alternator can be used to jump start your bus. Using a good set of jumper cables will help a lot. A standard GM alternator is prob ~65 amps. that's almost enough current to weld with, so it is plenty to start your bus. Alternators don't make their peak current at idle, so i like to put a dime or penny under the throttle return screw on the running vehicle to hike up the rpms. I call this "high idle mode", you could also use your foot or a stick on the gas pedal. Leave the vehicle running with cables connected, then go eat a pop sickle. Make sure before you walk away that all of the electrical loads are off in the bus including the ignition headlights ect.

After you finish your pop sickle, leaving the other vehicle running and cables still connected, try to start your bus. If you bus doesn't start, somethign else is wrong. Perhaps your jumper cables are not making good contact, or there is something wrong with the starting system on your bus, or the bus batteries might be no good.

There are various opinions on where to attach the ground clamp from the jumper cables during such an operation. I prefer to connect it directly to the battery terminal, especially if the terminal connectors are also lead. Lead makes it really easy to get a good connection as it is very soft and if you move the jumber cable clamps back and forth a few times they really dig in providing an excellent connection. It makes no difference if you connect the bus or the car first, and also makes no difference if you hook up the ground or the hot cable first, although the preferred method is to connect the hot wire first, then the ground. This provides less chance that you will cause a short circuit when you accidentally touch the hot clamp to some random piece of metal connected to the vehicle. As a side note, there is nearly zero chance that you can be electrocuted while jump starting a vehicle, since 12 volts (realistically closer to 14.4) is not enough current to overcome the resistance of your body. You can touch both terminals of a battery with your bare hands and you won't feel a thing.

I heard click and clack the car guys from NPR discussing turning on some sort of electrical load ie the blower motor when jump starting a vehicle to prevent damage, and they believed this to be an urban legend. The more accessories that are using current, the less current is going to the dead batteries. If it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, feel free to turn on the blower motor in the running vehicle. I'm quite certian your bus does not have a computer, so it wouldn't be necessary on that end.

Taking the batteries out, transporting them to autozone, and waiting a day for them to trickle charge them sounds very unattracive to me.

My batterie gets low enough to not start my bus several times per year. I have a 40 amp comptuer controleld battery charger and a generator i use to quickly jump start my bus. It usually takes less than 5 minutes. You can buy all kinds of "smart" battery chargers for very reasonable prices. That would be the best thing for your batteries. Then you could leave them in the bus, and do the entire operation at home.

Have yo uchecked the water level in your batteries?
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Old 07-05-2006, 08:55 PM   #6
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I have jumped my bus with my 22re powered Toyota truck. That thing has a 550 cca battery and an alternator rated at 60 amps, but I'm pretty well convinced that's when it's struck by lightning. Unless you have a cylinder just a few degress before top dead center, it should start readily.

As for the blower motor thing...what I meant is that it should be on when you hook the batteries up. You can then turn it right off. The only reason I recommend this is because I know of atleast one person that cooked their car jumping it. Now granted it was an 80's vintage GM with their rather problematic EFI system, it still is a rather simple means of insurance. In fact, Jason...if you read the owner's manual that came with your 6.6 you'd see that FoMoCo even recommends jumping it in this fashion


I digress....leave the jumping vehicle on the bus for a while. It takes time to charge those batteries. If it still doesn't work you might just need to buy new batteries. They are, afterall, a "consumable" part of the bus. I'm currently looking at getting an el cheapo 15 watt solar charger to keep my batteries topped off.
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Old 07-05-2006, 09:34 PM   #7
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I've jumped my bus with my F150 before. It cranked over within just a few minutes of "high idle" with the F150. After that I got a $10 trickle charger, which I leave on all the time. I haven’t had a problem starting the bus since.
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Old 07-06-2006, 12:09 AM   #8
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I jumped mine in minus 30 degees celcius with my jeep cherokee. Took about 15 minuts on a high idle.

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Old 07-06-2006, 12:10 AM   #9
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If I need new batteries, how do I find out what kind I need? The old ones the label has worn all off and everything.
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Old 07-06-2006, 12:35 AM   #10
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Bring them with you


Chances are something else will fit. From the factory my bus was supposed to have four group 31 batteries providing enough amperage to light Las Vegas. Now it has a single group 27 battery that hardly throws out any power yet has only failed to start the bus once and that was ok with me. It was -10* atleast that night and I didn't have the block heater plugged in or the webasto running and without glowplugs or an intake grid heater....well......
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