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Old 03-25-2019, 12:00 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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1998 Diesel Cummins Bluebird Wont Start— Need help troubleshooting

Hey wonderful bus humans—

My bus has been sitting all winter (I was actively living in it however) and I finally was ready to move it for some spring festival kick off and when I tried to start it—tried to turn over the first couple of times I tried. Then nothing.

But the battery wasn't dead because beeping and headlights were still strong.

So I've spent the past week doing the following things:
  • Tried to Jump start. Tried to trickle charge. Took battery out and to an autoparts store where they finally checked it, gave it the A-OK and charged it for me before returning it.—I'm assuming it's not the battery.
  • I took out the starter, checked the starter at home, took starter to autoparts store to get it checked. They A-OK'd that too. Probably not the starter.
  • My cousin helped me turn the starter over from underneath the bus and we finally got it running but it was running pretty strangely. While it was in Park, the bus thought it was in neutral (the back up horn was beeping—will give more details in the bottom about this part)
  • Once running, I left the bus running for about half an hour to see if it was just a matter of making sure the things all needed to run together for awhile. Once I turned it off and tried to reignite—nothing. However, now my Check Engine light is on when I try so that seems not great.

So back to more details about how it was running once I got it started.
Like I said, it thought it was in reverse when it was in park—which would partially explain why it wouldn't want to start. However when I tried to change gears, there was a lot of clunking going on. Particularly when I actually DID go into reverse. There as a large lurch and the RPMs went from floating around 15 to 20-25. Again, Like I said, I let it idle in Neutral for about half an hour before turning it off.


So. I'm assuming I have a sensor problem where the bus is having difficulty telling what gear it is in. However, I've never dealt with this problem before and I dont know where to start looking how to fix it. Any leads would be great!

Additionally, if I'm off base and this sounds indicative of something else, I'd want to know that too to check it out.

I dont NEED the bus to move before May 1, but I was hoping to move it sooner rather than later. So I'm in no rush, but certainly stumped and need some help

Thanks!
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:05 PM   #2
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Bus needs a lot more juice to start than it needs for lights and horn. You should have fully charged batteries for starting to turn it over fast enough. If it's been sitting all winter with no starts, like that is the issue.
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Old 03-25-2019, 01:54 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Bus needs a lot more juice to start than it needs for lights and horn. You should have fully charged batteries for starting to turn it over fast enough. If it's been sitting all winter with no starts, like that is the issue.
Yes, but I physically took the battery out, went and had it charged by an industrial charger, and put it back into the bus. After which, I then got the bus to turn over at least once?

So I'm assuming that is not the issue. Right?
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Old 03-25-2019, 02:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagnythedoodle View Post
Yes, but I physically took the battery out, went and had it charged by an industrial charger, and put it back into the bus. After which, I then got the bus to turn over at least once?

So I'm assuming that is not the issue. Right?
I was referring to the initial cause of not starting. It did work better after charging, but you still have other issues.
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Old 03-25-2019, 03:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I was referring to the initial cause of not starting. It did work better after charging, but you still have other issues.
Correct.
It still will not start by turning the key in the ignition.
Do you have any troubleshooting advice on that aspect of my problem?
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagnythedoodle View Post
Correct.
It still will not start by turning the key in the ignition.
Do you have any troubleshooting advice on that aspect of my problem?
In a car the next thing I would check is the solenoid and all connections to the battery to the switch. On a bus there are so many other things that prevent the starter from working if they are tripped.
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Old 03-25-2019, 05:10 PM   #7
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My 1999 Cummins won't start with one brand new fully charged 810 amp-hour (biggest one Wal-Mart had on the shelf) battery if the temp is below 60° or so. It must have two of these in parallel.
My bus started within 5 seconds of cranking after sitting for months this winter. It started within 1 second yesterday at 74°.
Two batteries. I had the same problem when I only had one.
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Old 03-25-2019, 05:12 PM   #8
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Next is: you need to find out what the check-engine-light code is. Or are you saying the tranny may be trashed internally?
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Old 03-25-2019, 06:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Gnome View Post
Next is: you need to find out what the check-engine-light code is. Or are you saying the tranny may be trashed internally?
I'm unsure. Today/tomorrow I was going to pursue checking out the engine light code, then go from there. But I was just trolling around to see if anyone had anything similar happen to their bus with these types of bizarre symptoms. Mostly just to give me some hope that it's nothing really terrible.
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Old 03-26-2019, 08:26 PM   #10
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Update

So, It now turns on just fine....but only if I put it in Reverse....because it thinks Reverse is Neutral.


I have no idea where to start troubleshooting that. Would that be an electrical problem? Transmission? Any ideas?
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Old 03-26-2019, 09:06 PM   #11
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Any mice chewed on your wiring during the winter?
Good luck. J
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Old 03-26-2019, 09:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagnythedoodle View Post
So, It now turns on just fine....but only if I put it in Reverse....because it thinks Reverse is Neutral.


I have no idea where to start troubleshooting that. Would that be an electrical problem? Transmission? Any ideas?
Sounding more like a park/neutral switch on the transmission.
Let us know what transmission you have.
And get the engine trouble code.
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Old 03-27-2019, 04:09 PM   #13
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Is your shifter mechanical or push button electric? down on the transmission itself there may be a “detent selector switch”. They’ve been called XYZ Switches before also. It’s a switch that tells the TCM what position the shifter is in and when it fails the TCM won’t know what position your in. I don’t think it’s Neutral safety switch. Those fail and you can usually start a vehicle in any gear. The fact that you can’t start unless the trans is in neutral means it’s something else. Let us know how it goes!
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Old 03-27-2019, 04:53 PM   #14
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Engine: 6BTA 5.9 Cummins Diesel AT545
Rated Cap: 25 ft
Thanks for all of your input everyone! It's been super helpful.

I have a AT545 tranny.

The engine light has since gone off and has not yet come back on, but I'm going to try to get a error code reading regardless. My next idea is to pull off the dash and make sure there are no electrical obvious electrical problems. I BELIEVE my shifter is electric but I actually don't know the difference so I need to do a little research on that.

Work has been slowing down a little bit this week so hopefully I'll have a little more time in the coming days to slog through these troubleshooting pieces. I know for sure this weekend I will spend most of my weekend dealing with it
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Old 03-27-2019, 05:26 PM   #15
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What year model bus?
The at545 is not an electronic shift transmission.
And it has in all I know about a T-handle shifter.
For me if my bus sets for a decent amount of time without starting I have to wiggle the shifter around in the neutral position while turning the key to find the sweet spot. Once it's started and ran/used/shifted like on a day/weekend trip the shifter has no problem but let it set for a month or two and I gotta wiggle it.
The 545 neutral safety and reverse light switch are in the side of the transmission and are pressure operated.
Will try to post a pic of my shifter for the 545
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Old 03-27-2019, 05:31 PM   #16
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Sorry? Didn't pay attention to the thread title to much?
98 blue bird with a cummins.
Here is a pic of my 545 shifter.
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Old 03-29-2019, 01:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
Sorry? Didn't pay attention to the thread title to much?
98 blue bird with a cummins.
Here is a pic of my 545 shifter.
Wow awesome!
Thank you, this is very wildly helpful. I appreciate you!
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Old 03-30-2019, 12:03 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
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Year: 1998
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Chassis: 1998 TC/1000 Bluebird Handybus
Engine: 6BTA 5.9 Cummins Diesel AT545
Rated Cap: 25 ft
Okay this morning I took various pieces of my dashboard off to see if there was any obvious electrical problems. Nothing that I could see. Followed the cord from the shifter all the way down and under the bus and everything appears fine.

Now I'm having trouble figuring out how to scan engine codes? I'm not seeing any obvious places that an engine code scanner could plug into. Im sure this is dumb and potentially obvious but I assumed it would be similar to my car and so far I haven't been able to locate it.

Any thoughts?
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Old 03-30-2019, 12:26 PM   #19
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The ECM might have codes for the enginebut the AT545 is a mechanically operated trans. You’ve gotta be old school with your troubleshooting methods for it. I’m still leaning towards something being misadjusted. Have you tried starting the bus with the shifter in “1” or “L”? You should be able to hop under the bus, disconnect the shifter cable and operate the shift detents manually. All the way one way should be “R” all the way the other should be “1”. Try it and see what happens.
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Old 03-30-2019, 03:54 PM   #20
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the neutral safety switch on most AT545s is internal to the transmission.. its a switch that screws into the trans... if you are putting your shifter into R to get the engine to start, it very well may be your shift linkage cable slipped.. any change that it was pretty harsh to move the T handle the firsttime this season? those cables like to bind up when sitting a long time.



the shifter linkage goes into the driver side of the AT545... there is a threaded rod at the end of the cable which allows you to adjust the linkage.. the transmission itself has "clicks " on it.. if the T shifter binds the cable between "clicks" it will cause the trans to not function or to be very sluggish as its essentiallt got the valve body caught between positions..



its all rainy and cold here or I would get under one of my busses and snag some pictures of what the shoft linkage looks like.

-Christopher
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