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Old 10-14-2007, 06:08 PM   #1
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Location: Michigan
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starting troubles when coming home today.

My family and I loaded up and camped with our bus this weekend. Last night, the temperatures were dropping fast. I had put my ten moth old daughter down to sleep and started the heater up. I did not have my little led flashlight ( my wife took it to lead the night hike at the campground) so I used the interior lights to see the heater lcd. I was worried about whether the heater was performing right and I used those lights maybe five or six times(but never for more than five to ten minutes at a time.

Today, after packing up I went to start the engine. All I got was a click. All I could think of was how am I ever going to get my kids home safely. Well I tried two more times and once it started to turn over. I thought it was starting when I let go the key and it died. I tried the key again and we were back to the click. A fellow camper offered to jump start my bus and the offer could not be refused as I felt stranded. We got the jumpers hooked up and I felt that something wasn't right as there was no draw on his engine. Putting my thoughts aside, I tried to start it again. Again, click........ I happened to bump an interior fan and it had plenty of power. I got under my bus to start tracing power lines to find the starter and realized that my effort is in vain as I know nothing about what to do. Again, I got back into the bus. I turn the key and it starts to turn over. It fails to start. I turn the key again and ........Click. One more time I turn the key, it start turning over and then success.

My family and I got home safely and I have started to ponder what problem I have. I think that my batteries had plenty of power. I think some control problem was failing to engage my starter. Any ideas from all you experienced skoolies?
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Old 10-14-2007, 07:54 PM   #2
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Re: starting troubles when coming home today.

The very first thing I would be looking for is a loose connection. Intermittent starts without any common connection (like fails to start after getting warm) can often be traced back to a lose wire. Sometimes it makes enough contact to supply the current the start needs. Sometimes it doesn't. It can be pretty frustrating, but atleast it's a cheap fix.

The second thing I would be looking for is the starter solenoid. It serves essentially as an electric switch for the starter. When you turn the key it will energize a coil and close the high current side to actually supply power to the starter motor.

The clicking SHOULD be indicative of it being functional, but it can click without completely closing the high current side. I'm not sure where it would be located on your bus. It might even be internal in the starter. Start at the starter motor and work your way back towards the battery on the heavy power cables. It should look like a round plastic box of sorts with a pair of screw type terminals on it. If it is in fact external and you can find it do this.

1. Turn the key to the "run" position

2. Climb under there with a wrench or heavy screwdriver. Make sure you're clear of moving parts and put that wrench or screwdriver across the two terminals. Be ready for it. It's going to spark (you won't get zapped...I promise) and the engine should start cranking.

3. Once it starts turn it off. You can try having a partner crank the key over while you lightly tap the solenoid to see if that works. If it does it's time to unbolt stuff (disconnect the negative battery cable first!) and bring it in for a replacement. It should be $5 for a Ford truck starter solenoid.

Now if the solenoid is not the issue you may want to start thinking about a new starter, but you should be able to get the old one tested first.
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Old 10-15-2007, 12:36 AM   #3
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Re: starting troubles when coming home today.

If you get to step 2 above and the solenoid clicks but still no joy with the starter motor turning it's usually worth giving the starter motor a little whack with a hammer or something heavy.
If the brushes are stuck or you have a dead spot this'll sometimes bump it enough to get the brush to spring back or jostle the starter enough to get to a good spot and turn.
Worked for me quite a few times in the past on several kinds of starters and on my bus as well. If this works it's not a solution, it's just enough to get you home, you need to take a look at the starter.
Took mine off the bus and one of the brushes was jammed up in it's holder, there was plenty of brush left so I just blew out the copper dust and put a little silicon on it so it slid OK and it's worked OK ever since.

Good luck with yours ...
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Old 10-15-2007, 10:54 AM   #4
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Re: starting troubles when coming home today.

The answers above are excellent. I'm willing to bet that it's the silenoid though. I've encountered this problem about 4 or 5 times before on different vehicles. Every time, it's the silenoid. On my bus, the silenoid is mounted on the firewall. I think. I haven't had to work on it so I'm not for sure. But it's either on the starter, or on the firewall or wheel well somewhere I'll bet.
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