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Old 02-17-2020, 12:20 PM   #1
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Starting Woes on Cummins 5.9L (Battery Issue?)

Hey everyone,

I'm hoping someone may be able to help me out. I've scoured the threads already to see if someone's had the same problem, and I haven't found a solution. Honestly not positive where to start.

I bought my 95 Bluebird TC2000 last summer, and it had bad batteries (3 group 31 batteries with 950 CCA) when I bought it. I kept meaning to get to the batteries sooner, but it ended up just sitting without being cranked until this month. I finally got around to buying new batteries. I got 3 group 31s with 760 CCAs, thinking that should be plenty even though the originals were 950 CCA.

I tried cranking the engine and it turns over fine, but won't catch. The dash says "Check Gages" with a battery symbol. I tested the batteries and they are fully charged and putting out over 12V of juice. By my calculations, I think I should have plenty of juice to fire it up, but it's just not igniting.

Any ideas of where I should look to troubleshoot? Do I just need to spring for the 950CCA batteries? Any help is much appreciated!
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Old 02-18-2020, 04:56 AM   #2
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I did find some corrosion on my battery leads, as well as on the cables that connect my 3 batteries together. I did my best to clean them with baking soda, but there's still some green visible. Could that be throttling my amperage. My dash needle is showing just over 9 when I turn the key to on, and then dropping into the red when I try to crank it. Does anyone know where that needle should be? I should have a total of over 2000 Cold crank amps from these batteries.
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Old 02-18-2020, 05:03 AM   #3
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Clean it up with a wire brush till its shiny copper again. Then apply a bit of battery dielectric grease.
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:45 AM   #4
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Use Coca Cola to clean the green up. Stick the end into a bath of the stuff for a while, pull it out, and reveal a clean connector. That's what I do at the shop for them.

Second off, your gauge might be reading wrong, so it's best to take all voltage measurements with a good voltmeter.

Your 3 batteries should work fine. I only have 2 group 31's on mine, and I know people on here who get by with just one.

When you say it turns over fine but won't catch, I'm going to assume you have a fueling issue that is causing your engine not to run. Being that you have a 95 cummins, I'm going to assume it's a 6bt, so my guess is that your fuel shut off solenoid is likely not working. It's a common problem with dozens of google hits and youtube videos on it that you can look at.

Finally, the check gauges and battery symbol should always illuminate when the key is on and the engine isn't running. Check gauges is for not having oil pressure, and the battery symbol is because the alternator isn't charging.
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:46 AM   #5
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Oh, and welcome to the forum!
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:55 AM   #6
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Fuel issue for sure. There's a prime button, I've had to use mine a few times, it's not a fun job but it will prime the system up. Might be worth replacing the fuel filters (one you see next to the motor, the other is near the back of the transmission) as well.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:02 AM   #7
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Thanks for the tips everyone!

I'm not sure where the prime button is. I found this diagram in an online manual. Does this look like the right spot? I just need to get down in there from the engine hatch and press the button a few times?
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:21 AM   #8
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It should be right near that filter, yeah. You'll have to press it way more than a few times! Press it until it's hard to press, not because you're worn out but because you're not moving air any more.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:31 AM   #9
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I don't believe that diagram is from your engine. That shows the primer pump on top of the fuel filter. On your engine it should be on the lift pump, which is down on the side of the block.
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Old 02-18-2020, 01:52 PM   #10
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Thanks again for the tips. I found the fuel priming button and pressed it about 100 or so times until it started to feel quite difficult (but I was also tired...). This time I also pressed the throttle while starting. It sounded a little different, like it was "trying" to ignite but still didn't quite get there. I'm going to try priming it some more and try again. How difficult should the primer be to press?
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Old 02-18-2020, 02:20 PM   #11
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I always used a combination of the primer button and running the starter to get it going. I don't recall if it ever got too hard to push. Are you somewhere cold that you might need the block heater to help? Your bus won't have a glow system and a cold start from a prime loss could be tough.
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Old 02-19-2020, 08:54 PM   #12
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I also have a 1995 TC 2000 with a 5.9 Cummins. My batteries look pretty old. New batteries are gradually working their way to the top of my wish list. I don't know anything about a primer button. I will have to look until I find that.

But I have noticed that when my Bluebird has been sitting for a while. like over a month, it will not start unless I hold the throttle pedal down a ways while I am cranking. Otherwise the cranking speed gradually slows down and then it won't fire at all before the batteries are too low to crank anymore. But if I push the pedal down a little when I first try to start it, it catches early on and fires right up. If I have had it running recently I don't have to hold the throttle down to get it to start. I think it's just kind of quirky, not a real problem.
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Old 02-21-2020, 02:53 PM   #13
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I got the fuel primed up. it bubbles up through the bleed Valve over the filter when I press the primer. Still not igniting, although it will sort of "stutter" while turning over if I hold the throttle down while cranking. It sounds like it gets close to firing if I keep cranking for 10-15 seconds but then I always stop because I assume it's bad to crank it that long. Any other ideas? Thanks again for any help.
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Old 02-21-2020, 03:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
so my guess is that your fuel shut off solenoid is likely not working. It's a common problem with dozens of google hits and youtube videos on it that you can look at.
Did you check this? It's simple to check and verify the correct operation before we dig too deep into anything else.
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:19 PM   #15
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Can you post a photo of the top side of your engine? I have a 6BT (12 valve) and it doesn't have a fuel solenoid. It has a mechanical fuel shut off control lever in the area of the dash and if it is still pulled out the engine will not start.
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Old 02-22-2020, 10:44 AM   #16
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Perhaps the mechanical fuel shut off valve, or the lack of it, was a part of an option package. I say that because my 1995 TC2000 does not appear to have a mechanical fuel shut off.

I specifically asked the guy I bought it from, who knows a lot more about buses than I do, if there was a mechanical fuel shutoff and he told me there was not, only electric.

He went on to tell me that if I shut the main electrical switch by the battery off while the engine was running, I would not be able to stop the engine unless I turned that switch back on, and then used either the key or the shutoff switch in the engine compartment to stop the engine. Like everything else he told me about the bus before I bought it, that statement has stood the test of time.
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Old 02-22-2020, 12:16 PM   #17
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Here's the top of the engine. Looking for the shut-off solenoid now. Haven't tracked it down yet. I also don't see any fuel shut off control in the dash area.
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Old 02-23-2020, 12:22 AM   #18
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Sounds like you have not really driven this beast before?
If so, I can mention... I have a 1992 and a 1994, and both require that I goose the accelerator pedal a little while I crank it.

Did anybody mention leaky fuel return hose? When I bought Millicent, air was getting in, even though no fuel was leaking out. I still do not know how that air interfered with the supply side, but I replaced that hose and vroom ever since. This hose comes from the left front top of the engine and runs rearward.
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Old 02-23-2020, 06:19 AM   #19
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Post a pic of your dash.
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Old 02-23-2020, 07:54 AM   #20
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I have driven it, but the place I bought it from already had it running when I arrived (they said they had to jump it) so I haven't started it myself. I'll post a pic of the dash this afternoon.

By goose the accelerator, do you mean pressing it in and out, or do you just hold it in?
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