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Old 10-01-2020, 12:04 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Telluride, CO
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Flickering Dials and no start, Ford E450

hello folks,

I've got a Bluebird '05 Ford E450 6.0L diesel, and yes I do know about the mechanical side of things that can be highly problematic but this is not about that. I haven't actually driven it for a just over a month, been working on demo and the like.

And now it won't start....
Here's the Story

Once demo was done I came to the wiring and after much searching on here and across the inter-web, and with some helpful information from an informed and electrically inclined neighbor, I began stripping it down. A lot of it came out and it started fine. I started the engine periodically throughout (obviously not as often as I should've) to make sure that I hadn't fudged something.

Then, one fine day, I went in and removed all of the light's system, stop sign, wires for the top flashers, etc, and the solenoid connecting to them. Now it won't start. I believe that's the extent of what I did but I may have been a bit more ambitious with my removing...

Here's the Current Situation

I left it to it sit for a few days with the batteries charging and disconnected. Then I connected it up, put the key in and turned it. The dash lights came on as did the fuel pump. But when I turned it to crank the engine I just got a click and nada, all the dash lights went out (even the digital odometer). Then i turned the key to off and even the odometer stayed dark and all the dials on the dash fluttered and made a little noise (not sure if the noise is just the high speed dial movement or not).

Re-trying turning the key to on the dash lights come, flickering like a dying flame then, yes, they die; often pretty quickly. Most of the time, on a second turn of the key to the on position, the dash doesn't even light up and the fuel pump doesn't run, then when turning the key back to off the dials always flutter.

My question is.... (surprise surprise) What's my problem?
It's been this way for just over a week (I've been avoiding it whilst simultaneously kicking myself) and now I need/want to concentrate on it and get it rolling again.

Oh, and if anyone else does have one of the same shorties I'd love to connect with you about them
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Old 10-01-2020, 01:47 PM   #2
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Location: Philadelphia
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
How old are the batteries?
Rusty 87 build thread
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Old 10-01-2020, 02:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
How old are the batteries?
One is brand new the other one I can't say. I had to replace one two hours into my maiden voyage with it because it was shot. Not the greatest of starts there...
It took a full charge, is there a way I can test it with the standard style meter I have?
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Old 10-01-2020, 03:46 PM   #4
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First, try pouring Coca-Cola on the battery terminals. Oxidation is sometimes hard to see and can compromise the connections. Coca-Cola is an easy way to dissolve it. If that doesn't help, you should check battery voltage at the terminals, once by both terminals, and a second time by grounding at the body or chassis. Full charge should be 12.25-12.5 not running. If not, you should pull both batteries and have them load tested.

If you get different voltages on either battery at either source, you may have a bad connection or cable. It's getting cooler in most parts of the country now, so cooler weather can manifest a bad or weak cell. Also, (doesn't sound likely) check to be sure you haven't disconnected, cut or knocked loose any grounds or safety interlocks.

It kind of sounds like oxidation compromising conductivity or possibly a ground wire knocked loose or accidentally cut. Worst case, a short created in demo has zapped the incomplete chassis' body control module or blown a fuse, fusible link or relay somewhere.
"Cheese Wagon" <>

Former owner - 1989 Ford B700 64-pass Blue Bird (Rest In Peace, Cheese Wagon)
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Old 10-01-2020, 03:49 PM   #5
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Location: Swansboro,NC
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Year: 86
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i just went through the same issue with an 03 chevy express.
i usually disconect a set of wires and then start it,shut it off and then move to the next set.
anyway? not this time.
while trying to diagnose turn signal problems i removed an interior rear door panel that had the switch for the rear door latch button on it.
before removal
the spring in the switch was broken and the switch was pushed in and the bus always started with the door open.
got side tracked on another project for a few weeks and when i got back to the bus it wouldnt start?
exact same symptoms as yours? of course i didnt think it was anything i had done so i went at the battery charge,fuses battery cable cleaning both ends and of course at the starter and body grounds and still nothing and everything ohmed out tested good.
so i went and got me a few beers and climbed in the bus and just set down and started looking at the wiring hanging and what has been deleted/ disconeccted,just left hanging? any bare wire touching metal? and then i looked at the panel that i had removed to access the rear turn signal lights that has some vanda lock stuff in/on it like the child check button so went to look at it and it was still connected and then noticed my door latch switch was only a single wire which meant the screws are the ground and it screwed to the panel.
put it back on the panel and put a few screws in the panel back to the bus body and the bus fired right up..
hope this helps.
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Old 10-01-2020, 10:54 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2018
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Year: 2007
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Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
Test the voltage on the batteries disconnected, separately. The voltage should be the same.

The batteries should match. If one is older or of different characteristics, one can draw down the other.
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Old 10-01-2020, 11:01 PM   #7
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Year: 2007
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Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
And Cheese is right about connections, though I’m partial to Diet Coke or baking soda in water. Nice clean connections are important. Look at all your connections.

Make sure you know which cables are positive. It’s pretty common in buses for the cables to all be black, so get yourself some red electrical tape and put a few wraps around the positive cables near the terminal.
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Old 10-02-2020, 04:53 AM   #8
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Engine: Ford Triton V-10
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Turn the key to ON (not start yet), foot on brake pedal, shift to Neutral. If dash doesn't light up, remain in Neutral with foot on brake, cycle key back to OFF, wait a few seconds, then ON and see if it will turn over. Fickle Ford park interlock sensor.
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Old 10-14-2020, 09:01 PM   #9
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Location: Telluride, CO
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Thank you all for your responses, my electrically inclined neighbor came over to help (read "fixed it for me") just as I was starting to work on this problem.

For those that are interested it was a problem with an overly corroded lug. I had removed the wheelchair lift and the power cable to it. The lug that this was attached to was heavily corroded -I didn't think much of it- but I must have interrupted the only flow of voltage through that connection as we discovered the starter wasn't getting enough juice through to it from this point. A good sand and she started right up.

I haven't done a build thread, as I'm spending all my time working and then working on this beauty. I'm planning on having it ready for thanksgiving and then driving back to Colorado and spending the winter snowboarding far and wide across -hopefully- North America; but it currently seems like I won't be getting to Canada.

But I know how much we like build pictures here so here're a few current ones! I am, infrequently, posting pictures and time lapse videos to instagram: @welshiewelshie
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_20201009_173940.jpg (343.9 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20201003_115914.jpg (243.7 KB, 1 views)
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