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Old 10-08-2018, 02:45 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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What is this this called?!?

Hi guys, I'm new here, but have been lurking for a while. Now I seem to need advice lol. I am buying a 1997, Thomas International 3800 with a DT466E diesel in it. This bus has been running fine, then we made the long trek up to her yesterday and she wouldn't start.

Now, I know WHERE the problem is, as my Dad had an old Satellite Sebring that this thing would go out on him every few months, so he kept a handful of them in his glove compartment lol. It's cheap, but without it, the vehicle won't start and you think you have a bad battery connection or even a low battery. But I can't remember the name! So here is WHERE it is

Driver's side, side access panel beneath the driver's side window. LOOKS like a starter relay, ignition relay, etc but all my searches are saying those are on the engine, firewall, etc and I cannot for the life of me find ANY diagrams, pictures, and labels that tell me not only what all those switches DO, but also the other components under there. The solenoid should be on the starter itself, correct?

What it DOES (and the battery is charged) is... when you turn the key to start it, you hear a ...not really a click as this is louder, deeper and meatier than a girly little click lol. It's more like a clunk but comes EXACTLY from that round, metal device attacked under the access panel that has... oh God if I can remember... 2 red and a black wire (I THINK) going to it. You can FEEL the click/clunk sound every time you turn the key. It's frustrating to not remember what it is. It's an easy switch and cheap, but I have to remember what it is called, as I in no way trust auto parts stores. I may be female but I drove trucks coast to coast over 20 years and always worked on my own cars and trucks etc and KNOW better than to assume they have a clue what you are talking about lol.

As an aside, I will mention that this mounts on its side, right up next to the outer wall, is maybe 6 inches in length, maybe 2, 2 1/2 inches across and the wires connect on the end facing the passenger area. So it attaches parallel with the outer wall of the bus.

Can anyone help, and does anyone know where to get a nice color picture of that access panel inside and out with everything labeled? Thank you all in advance. Her name is Zerah and she is to be our home, so I need to do this right.
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:50 PM   #2
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sure sounds like you are describing this

https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/...FVF0wQodOEMBdQ

the link above is a picture... it is a starter solenoid, the kind used on fords in the 60's, 70's, and 80's

william
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormravyn View Post
Hi guys, I'm new here, but have been lurking for a while. Now I seem to need advice lol. I am buying a 1997, Thomas International 3800 with a DT466E diesel in it. This bus has been running fine, then we made the long trek up to her yesterday and she wouldn't start.

Now, I know WHERE the problem is, as my Dad had an old Satellite Sebring that this thing would go out on him every few months, so he kept a handful of them in his glove compartment lol. It's cheap, but without it, the vehicle won't start and you think you have a bad battery connection or even a low battery. But I can't remember the name! So here is WHERE it is

Driver's side, side access panel beneath the driver's side window. LOOKS like a starter relay, ignition relay, etc but all my searches are saying those are on the engine, firewall, etc and I cannot for the life of me find ANY diagrams, pictures, and labels that tell me not only what all those switches DO, but also the other components under there. The solenoid should be on the starter itself, correct?

What it DOES (and the battery is charged) is... when you turn the key to start it, you hear a ...not really a click as this is louder, deeper and meatier than a girly little click lol. It's more like a clunk but comes EXACTLY from that round, metal device attacked under the access panel that has... oh God if I can remember... 2 red and a black wire (I THINK) going to it. You can FEEL the click/clunk sound every time you turn the key. It's frustrating to not remember what it is. It's an easy switch and cheap, but I have to remember what it is called, as I in no way trust auto parts stores. I may be female but I drove trucks coast to coast over 20 years and always worked on my own cars and trucks etc and KNOW better than to assume they have a clue what you are talking about lol.

As an aside, I will mention that this mounts on its side, right up next to the outer wall, is maybe 6 inches in length, maybe 2, 2 1/2 inches across and the wires connect on the end facing the passenger area. So it attaches parallel with the outer wall of the bus.

Can anyone help, and does anyone know where to get a nice color picture of that access panel inside and out with everything labeled? Thank you all in advance. Her name is Zerah and she is to be our home, so I need to do this right.
Most buses have two big "body" solenoids in the electrical panel compartment. They do fail regularly. I've had to replace one on a couple buses I've owned now.
Thes two in the center here-

One is for the starter and one is for all the accessories, IIRC.
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Old 10-08-2018, 03:32 PM   #4
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ECCB is correct: solenoid is the word you're searching for.

Yes there's a solenoid on (built into) most starter motors. But "solenoid" is a general term in the same way that "switch" is (toggle switch, rocker switch, pushbutton switch, knife switch, etc). They come in all endless shapes and sizes. That clunk-making cylinder in the electrical panel is a solenoid too.

If the solenoid in the electrical panel has failed it's important to choose a replacement that is rated for continuous duty (notice the abbreviation "CONT" on the white label in the photo ECCB attached). Some solenoids are rated for intermittent duty. The solenoid for a starter could be likely to be for intermittent duty, for example. You wouldn't want that kind for this use because it would overheat and then fail prematurely. The solenoids in the electrical panel are turned on continuously while the ignition key is in "run."
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Old 10-08-2018, 04:08 PM   #5
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The body solenoids are easy to replace and easy to test.

I now keep a couple new ones laying around in my parts collection.
FWIW- Josh can fix a sticking one with a rock and some spray lube!
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:39 PM   #6
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The one with the bigger wires is the starter solenoid.
With everything connected.
With key switch on to run (not an extra hand turning the key to start).
Go outside to the solenoid.
Use a screw driver to make contact between the positive post and the I(ignition) or S(starter) post.
If the starter turns then replace the solenoid.
If it doesn't I would look at the key switch and wiring between the two.
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Old 10-08-2018, 07:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
The one with the bigger wires is the starter solenoid.
With everything connected.
With key switch on to run (not an extra hand turning the key to start).
Go outside to the solenoid.
Use a screw driver to make contact between the positive post and the I(ignition) or S(starter) post.
If the starter turns then replace the solenoid.
If it doesn't I would look at the key switch and wiring between the two.
If the ignition is in the on position and jumping with a screwdriver engages the starter, isn't it working correctly. What you have done with the screwdriver is what would happen when the key is turned to the start position. If it starts with the screwdriver, but not the key, I doubt it's the solenoid.
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:41 AM   #8
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Actually your basically bypassing the solenoid or bridging the connection and taking the solenoid out of the equation. That's why when the solenoid went bad in my old chevy truck I would just bridge the connection until I could replace the starter solenoid...
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
If the ignition is in the on position and jumping with a screwdriver engages the starter, isn't it working correctly. What you have done with the screwdriver is what would happen when the key is turned to the start position. If it starts with the screwdriver, but not the key, I doubt it's the solenoid.

Nice try but WRONG!


The way you state it is wrong.


The solenoid has 2 parts, the coil and the magnetic contacts.
When the coil isn't working the magnetics don't either. Manually crossing those terminals will start things yes. That doesn't have anything to do with the coil being good or bad.


Turning the key on a working solenoid makes the contact to power up the starter solenoid A bad coil will not move those contacts period.
What you are doubting is completely wrong in my mind.
Please don't lead people astray like that with limited understanding.
Sorry folks, had to step in here and add this.


John
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
Nice try but WRONG!


The way you state it is wrong.


The solenoid has 2 parts, the coil and the magnetic contacts.
When the coil isn't working the magnetics don't either. Manually crossing those terminals will start things yes. That doesn't have anything to do with the coil being good or bad.


Turning the key on a working solenoid makes the contact to power up the starter solenoid A bad coil will not move those contacts period.
What you are doubting is completely wrong in my mind.
Please don't lead people astray like that with limited understanding.
Sorry folks, had to step in here and add this.


John



Perfect answer right here.
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Old 10-09-2018, 06:47 PM   #11
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Manners ladies....
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:52 PM   #12
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The implication that only women have disagreements or miscommunications is not particularly sensitive to OP, who identified as female in her post.

Surely I'm not the only one who noticed a possible misunderstanding:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
Use a screw driver to make contact between the positive post and the I(ignition) or S(starter) post. If the starter turns then replace the solenoid.
The way I read it, the I post is the one that goes to the ignition switch. It's the control input. The S post is the one that goes to the starter; it's the load/output. If shorting the I post to the + post causes the solenoid to trigger and the starter to run then the problem is upstream in the direction of the keyswitch. If that doesn't work, but bypassing the solenoid by shorting + to S does, then the solenoid is probably faulty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
If the ignition is in the on position and jumping with a screwdriver engages the starter, isn't it working correctly. What you have done with the screwdriver is what would happen when the key is turned to the start position. If it starts with the screwdriver, but not the key, I doubt it's the solenoid.
Marc is correct, but only considers the case of shorting + terminal to I (or keyswitch) terminal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cdimples67 View Post
Actually your basically bypassing the solenoid or bridging the connection and taking the solenoid out of the equation. That's why when the solenoid went bad in my old chevy truck I would just bridge the connection until I could replace the starter solenoid...
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
The solenoid has 2 parts, the coil and the magnetic contacts.
When the coil isn't working the magnetics don't either. Manually crossing those terminals will start things yes. That doesn't have anything to do with the coil being good or bad.
Cdimples67 and John are correct too, but they consider only the case of shorting + to S terminal.

Both of the tests Jolly Roger suggested are important to the troubleshooting of a starter solenoid, and all three commenters further explained what each test does and why either test alone is inconclusive.
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Old 10-09-2018, 11:39 PM   #13
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Join Date: Sep 2018
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Grateful

Thank you, all of you, so much!
I did not expect such a quick reply and so much of it; I was unprepared for that much support.
I've been traveling a lot the last few days and have not been able to check my post but boy I have a lot to read through tomorrow! I skimmed through tonight and will read more when I get comfy in bed, but most of what I saw made good sense. I was correct apparently, that these things go out a good bit and are cheap and easy to replace, so that will be my first order of business. Then I will familiarize myself with all of these gauges, toggles and extraneous parts. I drove trucks coast to coast and all over Canada for over 20 years, but a bus never made it onto my resume.
Thank you all for so much welcome and appreciated information.
I'll be sure to comment on them individually tomorrow when I have time.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:05 AM   #14
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That sure looks like it

Quote:
Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/...FVF0wQodOEMBdQ

the link above is a picture... it is a starter solenoid, the kind used on fords in the 60's, 70's, and 80's

william

That certainly looks like it, or VERY close to it. I tried to get the guy to tap on it but he was at an awkward angle I guess. He fiddled a bit with the wires, but no luck. I had no tools with me or I would have tried harder lol. Thank you!
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by family wagon View Post
ECCB is correct: solenoid is the word you're searching for.

Yes there's a solenoid on (built into) most starter motors. But "solenoid" is a general term in the same way that "switch" is (toggle switch, rocker switch, pushbutton switch, knife switch, etc). They come in all endless shapes and sizes. That clunk-making cylinder in the electrical panel is a solenoid too.

If the solenoid in the electrical panel has failed it's important to choose a replacement that is rated for continuous duty (notice the abbreviation "CONT" on the white label in the photo ECCB attached). Some solenoids are rated for intermittent duty. The solenoid for a starter could be likely to be for intermittent duty, for example. You wouldn't want that kind for this use because it would overheat and then fail prematurely. The solenoids in the electrical panel are turned on continuously while the ignition key is in "run."
Yes exactly. Now THAT I knew of, depending on what the little alien critter was lol. Now I know that it is one that needs to be continuous duty and not spending most of its time watching the scenery go by lol. Thank you both
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:24 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cdimples67 View Post
Actually your basically bypassing the solenoid or bridging the connection and taking the solenoid out of the equation. That's why when the solenoid went bad in my old chevy truck I would just bridge the connection until I could replace the starter solenoid...
Yes Dimples I've had to do the exact same thing off and on over the years. The guy that owns the bus tried to jump this little solenoid too haha..shocked the merry bejebus out of him too...I just caught the sparks out of the corner of my eye; he said he had done it while turning the key too far into the starting position. I backed up, lol!
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:34 AM   #17
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So last message before I pass out. It IS a solenoid, but not the starter solenoid, which is actually attached to the starter itself. This little one I am having trouble with...besides taking it lose and taking it in, what is its proper name? Oh wait, I think the first response will tell me that. And make sure it's continuous duty. Gotcha.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:44 AM   #18
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Yep confused again lol. It sure looks like the fender mounted starter solenoid linked in the first response. But that would be an intermittent solenoid. Most of the other responses were talking about a continuous duty body solenoid. I'm going to hope the guy takes it off and takes it with him and that the auto parts store knows its assigned duty. Lol, this should get interesting. But thanks guys; you've helped out it all back into perspective in my head properly.
Good night
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:23 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormravyn View Post
So last message before I pass out. It IS a solenoid, but not the starter solenoid, which is actually attached to the starter itself. This little one I am having trouble with...besides taking it lose and taking it in, what is its proper name? Oh wait, I think the first response will tell me that. And make sure it's continuous duty. Gotcha.
Starter solenoids are not always attached to the starter. Many Fords have the solenoid bolted to the upper fender under the hood, making these easy to jump in a bind without going under the vehicle to access it. I hadn't seen Williams link before now, that's a typical Ford solenoid.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:08 PM   #20
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Thank you, that does make sense. So I am looking for an intermittent duty starter solenoid. Now all I have to do is tell the guy to carefully jump between the Positive pole and the Starter pole and see if she starts then. The back door was wide open, so that thing can't be the Interlock. And remind him of course, to do it with the key ON, not in start, lol. Should I pick up a couple more of them to be safe?
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