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Engine/Electrical Shut-down on Beaver Contessa with CAT Engine


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#1 jgoubeaud@yahoo.com

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 11:42 AM

Engine/electrical shut-down on 1999 Beaver Contessa with CAT 3126B engine   330 hp -- On three different days in the last 22 months, and travelling 16,000 miles, we have had our coach totally shut-down, all gauges quit, engine stopped running and we coasted to a stop.  Bought coach in Meridian, ID with 58,400 miles on it in Sept. 2011 First shut-down in Gainesville, FL in Nov. 2011 at 62,000 miles.  Second shut-down in Centralia, WA in Aug. 2012 at 69,000 miles. Third shut-down in Townsend, MA in June 2013 at 74,400 miles.     In each shut-down, all gauges and engine quit.  Pulled over, waited a bit, then it would restart, then stop.  After several attempts, it would stay running.  All connections on batteries and main terminals were cleaned at RV Performance shop in Centralia, WA.  Ignition solonoid in electrical bay was replaced, as it showed some discoloration. They test drove coach and it would not fault for them.   While in Boise, ID in Oct. 2012, Caterpillar dealer ran diagnostic test which showed  a  Key switch fault   (43-2)   had occured several times in the past.         Does anyone have a clue as to what the problem is?  Could it be a bad ignition key switch?  Thanks, John from MA                                                                                                                           


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#2 wolfe10

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 11:50 AM

John,

 

Welcome to the FMCA Forum.

 

Yes, sounds like either an ignition switch OR the ignition solenoid.

 

Easy to diagnose.

 

Next time this happens (if it does) go to your ignition solenoid with  voltmeter.

 

Check for 12 VDC positive to the signal wire (small terminal) from the ignition switch.  If no power, ignition switch or wiring from it (or fuse) bad.  If power, but only one large lug of the solenoid is hot, the solenoid is bad.

 

To test if no 12 VDC positive on the signal wire, connect a jumper (can be small-- only carrying less than one amp) between the large lug with 12 VDC positive to the small signal terminal that comes from the ignition switch.  The solenoid should snap shut and you should have 12 VDC positive on both large lugs.


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#3 jgoubeaud@yahoo.com

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for the info. regarding loss of electrical power to engine/gauges. I put a test light on large terminal on solonoid [left lug] which had power when key in 'off' position. With key "on", I put test light to ignition terminal [ small terminal ,left ] on solonoid and it had power along with the other large terminal on the solonoid [right side].  ran engine awhile with no faulting. I'll have to just use it and when it shuts down, test the terminals as you suggested to determine if ignition switch/wiring to switch is bad or solonoid bad. We're planning to leave late Aug. to head to olympia , WA .Thanks again for the info.     Have a great summer.          John and Joyce from MA.


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#4 hermanmullins

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 03:47 PM

John, I just had the same problem on June 10 while in Cheyenne, WY. Got the solenoid at NAPA. P/N ST85, $44.93. My suggestion is to get one to carry with you just in case. My ignition switch did the same thing. One time power then no power.

Hope you get your problem solved.

 

Herman


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#5 jgoubeaud@yahoo.com

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 11:34 AM

Thanks for the response to my electrical issue ( 12 VDC ) Mr Mullins and Wolfe and Rich.

 

We took coach out for a test drive on the 4th ; less than five minutes out, we had a total shut-down again. I got out and ran a test light to ignition wire on solenoid--NO POWER, battery lug on solenoid had POWER. Soon the solenoid clicked, my wife said all gauges were powered ON. Test light shows POWER to ignition wire, then soon it clicked OFF. Did this a few times.   

 

Got back in coach, waited a few minutes, then started engine, let it idle a bit; then continued to drive. Less than a mile down the road, shut-down again. got out-- same issues. This time I used a jumper from battery lug on solenoid (live all the time) to the small ignition wire on the solenoid.

 

It clicked and POWER ON again. Started coach and ran it a bit, but jumper seemed to be HOT to the touch. Shut off engine at this time and waited a bit. I jumped ignition a few times in rapid succession , clicking solenoid ON an OFF . Shortly thereafter ,started the engine, idled a bit, then continued our drive, going 10 miles or so, with no problems.         

 

I seem to think the solenoid needs to be replaced. What do you gentlemen think?                

 

Mr Mullins said he had same issues, and suggested new solenoid     NAPA   P/N ST85 ;  it should be a continuous duty solenoid---correct?       

 

Thanks again,         

 

John  from  MA


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#6 wolfe10

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 12:50 PM

John,

 

Excellent diagnostics and description.

 

The operative here is your statement: Test light shows POWER to ignition wire, then soon it clicked OFF. Did this a few times. 

 

Assume you mean you have 12 VDC positive from the ignition switch when tested at the small terminal on the ignition solenoid.  If, indeed this is what is getting 12 VDC positive and then loosing it, then the problem is "upstream" of the solenoid.

 

The only fly in the ointment is that you said the jumper wire from battery lug of the solenoid to the signal terminal was getting hot.  This should be only carrying about ONE amp (it doesn't take much power to close the contacts).  Guess it is possible that a high amp draw by the solenoid could adversely affect the signal from the ignition switch.  For example you could have a resettable breaker that is making/breaking because of excessive draw. If you have an ammeter, would be interesting to compare draw on the signal wire with specs for your solenoid.

 

And, if you do replace the solenoid, yes, it needs to be CONSTANT DUTY  and rated for well-more than the load it will be carrying.

 

Many of us have gone to a more expensive and MUCH more reliable electronic switch such as this million cycle rated switch capable of 450 amps continuous and 1500 amps for one minute (cranking):  http://www.bluesea.com/products/9012

 

On our last coach we went through 3 "regular" constant duty solenoids in the first 70,000 miles.  Replaced it with the electronic switch and zero issues for the next 100,000 miles.  And expect it to go for at least the life of the coach.

 

Brett


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#7 jgoubeaud@yahoo.com

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:44 PM

Brett,Herman and Rich,            

 

I Had a problem with multimeter--would not record any readings--thought the battery was bad, bought a new one and still no reading-- guess it's burnt out. Picked up another one, and checked volts and amps on connections.   I checked amps at ignition wire and read 1 amp with key "ON". 12vdc  at both large terminals on solenoid. 

 

Should the solenoid heat up a bit when engine running a while. Mine seems to get quite hot to the touch. That's what I was referring to the other day when I said jumper wire was getting warm. Is there something else to fault between the ignition switch and the solenoid?            

 

John from MA


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#8 wolfe10

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 03:51 PM

John,

 

Check VOLTS, not amps at the solenoid.  With key off, you should have 12 VDC between one large lug and ground.  With key on (and only with key on) you should also have 12 VDC to the other large lug. 

 

Also, with the key off, the small signal terminal from ignition switch should show zero volts.  With key on, 12 VDC.


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#9 Jiminypipit

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 09:59 PM

Brent

I am having a similar problem. 2004 Winnebago Vectra, model S36GD, Cat C7 engine. With key off, I have 12 VDC between large lug and ground and with key off the small signal terminal shows zero volts. With key on the other large lug has zero volts, it has no voltage either way, key on or off.  I also have no power to the light bar across the dash, nothing lighting up on the transmission selector pad, no gauges. Any ideas?

Jim


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#10 desertdeals69

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 10:59 PM

Brent

I am having a similar problem. 2004 Winnebago Vectra, model S36GD, Cat C7 engine. With key off, I have 12 VDC between large lug and ground and with key off the small signal terminal shows zero volts. With key on the other large lug has zero volts, it has no voltage either way, key on or off.  I also have no power to the light bar across the dash, nothing lighting up on the transmission selector pad, no gauges. Any ideas?

Ji

Do you have a latching relay on the battery.  Check to make sure it is passing current when on.


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#11 jgoubeaud@yahoo.com

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:53 AM

Brett,        Yes, as you stated in your last reply;   When checking VOLTS,    key OFF, 12 VDC to one lug on solenoid only,  key ON,  12VDC to both lugs on solenoid and also small ignition wire.         But when I was checking AMPS on ignition wire, multimeter showed 1 AMP current; I  started engine with meter still connected, engine quit after a short time; I got out and checked 12VDC on solenoid with key still ON, 12VDC to ignition wire and only one lug on solenoid, nothing to the other. ( that signifies bad solenoid) , because ignition had 12VDC.         Got back in coach and turned key OFF, then reconnected ignition wire onto solenoid , removing meter.        Turned key ON again, and 12VDC showed okay on both solenoid lugs and ignition wire. Started engine and ran okay.    What is going on with this solenoid?                                                                 By the way, what is that small solid wire between the two small terminals on the solenoid,(ignition and ground terminals) ?


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#12 wolfe10

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:36 AM

John,

 

Replace the solenoid.  And 1 amp at 12 VDC is about right for the ignition signal wire.  Remember, it is only used to close the contactor in the solenoid.

 

But, another test that will verify that it is the solenoid and not the ignition switch or wiring from it would be to use a small jumper wire from the hot large lug to the positive signal wire terminal on the solenoid.  That takes the ignition switch and wiring out of the equation.  If it fails now, absolutely it is a bad solenoid.


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#13 Jiminypipit

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:07 PM

Brett

I am I am having a similar problem. - 2004 Winnebago Vectra, model S36GD, Cat C7 engine. I  have no power to the light bar across the dash, nothing lighting up on the transmission selector pad and no gauges, and there is power to most other things. I have checked my fuse panel (Freightliner) and found four fuses that have no power to them. - Ing. 1 Power, - Ing. 2 Power, - Ing. 3 Power and MMDC Battery Power. I don't know know where next to check to find the fuse or whatever supplies power to those four fuses. Any help is appreciated. Also I checked my key switch, it has 12VDC to the acc.side and the run side. The only way I can see for 12VDC to get to the solenoid small terminal is switching key to start, no power when key is turned to on. Also there is 12VDC to one large lug only. I tried what you posted and get no power to the solenoid. I am probably missing something. Again any help is greatly appreciated.

Jim


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#14 wolfe10

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:12 PM

Jim,

 

Wonder if you are checking the START solenoid vs IGNITION solenoid to have power only when key is in the start position.

 

STRONG SUGGESTION:  Contact your chassis maker (Freightliner) for schematics and troubleshooting assistance.

 

Brett


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#15 Jiminypipit

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:24 PM

Thank you Brett for your information. I found the problem, it was a fuse that supplied power to a relay. The fuse looked good, tested good, but did not pass the power. I sprayed contact cleaner into the fuse holder, slid the fuse back and forth a few times and presto - POWER to everything that was dormant. Thanks to everyone who supplied information because it all helpes. - Jim


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#16 jgoubeaud@yahoo.com

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 11:27 AM

Brett,Herman and Rich,            

 

I located a distributor of BLUE SEAS solenoid nearby in Salem, N.H.;ordered it and received it yesterday afternoon. Installed it on coach, tested all connections and all okay. Started engine and let run awhile----- unlike other solenoid, new one stayed cool to the touch. Sometime soon we'll have to take a test run.

 

Hopefully the issue is solved,

 

THANKS for all the information; this FMCA forum is sure a helpful site.      

 

Thanks again,            

John in MA           

FMCA      # F428484


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#17 hopendick

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 01:54 PM

I have a similar problem in my 2006 Beaver Monterey with a CAT C-9. The problem started a few days ago when driving in rain. When I activated my windshield wipers, they stopped in motion and then my ignition system stopped, all gauges to zero, ATC light lit on display. Ignition reset and was able to continue without wipers; thanks to Rain-X. A while later when in slow traffic and idling, ignition went off again and then reset; able to start and continue for 70 miles to campground. Next AM, I turned on wipers when in gear, wipers stopped in motion and engine shut down. Then able to drive to next stop, approximately 20 miles. Yesterday I moved a few miles and engine stopped five or six times when idling while stopped; reset and able to start again.

The windshield wipers are apparently a problem with Beaver, and I did see that there was a recall to replace the circuit breaker with a 15A.

I am in the CO rains now and wonder whether the rain could affect the switches. Replacement of the solenoid is a viable and easy option. Any input would be helpful.
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#18 wolfe10

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 02:59 PM

If all the items that only work with the ignition ON are what failed, look carefully at your IGNITION SOLENOID. That and the ignition switch are the points they all have in common.


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#19 hopendick

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 10:09 AM

Thanks for your advice. The part that confuses me is that the problem seems to start with the wipers. I have had an ongoing problem with the wipers stopping; apparently the load on the wiper motor caused the circuit to break; then would reset after a period of time. If this is correct, does an overload in the wiper system put additional strain on the whole electrical system?
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#20 wolfe10

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 10:54 AM

....does an overload in the wiper system put additional strain on the whole electrical system?

Yes.  All circuits that are "fed" by the ignition solenoid add to the load (and therefore heat) on the ignition solenoid. 

 

As to whether this additional load is the cause of the problem is less certain.

 

Locate your ignition solenoid and we can walk you through an easy diagnosis if you have a simple digital voltmeter (starting under $10).


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