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Old 10-09-2013, 12:30 PM   #1
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Hard- to Non- Starting

Not sure whether tis goes here or on the Ford Forum...

I have a 1996 Itasca Suncruiser 37RW motorhome (460 engine) which we are selling to a couple of our daughters. For years it has had a problem whereby I have had to turn the key on anywhere from 1 - 100 times before it cranks and starts the engine. Usually it has been 1-5 times, but occasionally many more turns. I had it in the shop for some other work until yesterday when I brought it home. They had wanted to work on the starting problem, but I declined because of the amount of money I had already spent on the other work, and the fact that the starting has not been that much of a problem.

I parked partly in the driveway and when I later went to move it, it would not start. The dash and radio lights go off just as they should when I turn the key, but it does not start. I don't hear a solenoid clicking, but I do hear a click under the dash or engine compartment. I don't tend to blame the battery, but i am charging it just to be sure. So far, no change. I had a new starter put on a few years back when I was stranded in a relative's yard. I've tried shifting through the gears and back to Park, and I've tried cranking in Neutral, all to no avail.

I'm told the problem could be in the starter solenoid,the key switch, or some electronic switch somewhere down the steering column.

I would appreciate any rapid responses/suggestions since it is now blocking the driveway and new owners are planning to come from out of town to pick it up this weekend.
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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If the starter doesn't respond to the key, it is most likely a bad solenoid. You can jump past the solenoid with a heavy bit of jumper wire to test. You must be very patient to have put up with this for so long, but before turning vehicle over to daughters I think you should get it fixed.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Retired and Happy View Post
Not sure whether tis goes here or on the Ford Forum...

I have a 1996 Itasca Suncruiser 37RW motorhome (460 engine) which we are selling to a couple of our daughters. For years it has had a problem whereby I have had to turn the key on anywhere from 1 - 100 times before it cranks and starts the engine. Usually it has been 1-5 times, but occasionally many more turns. I had it in the shop for some other work until yesterday when I brought it home. They had wanted to work on the starting problem, but I declined because of the amount of money I had already spent on the other work, and the fact that the starting has not been that much of a problem.

I parked partly in the driveway and when I later went to move it, it would not start. The dash and radio lights go off just as they should when I turn the key, but it does not start. I don't hear a solenoid clicking, but I do hear a click under the dash or engine compartment. I don't tend to blame the battery, but i am charging it just to be sure. So far, no change. I had a new starter put on a few years back when I was stranded in a relative's yard. I've tried shifting through the gears and back to Park, and I've tried cranking in Neutral, all to no avail.

I'm told the problem could be in the starter solenoid,the key switch, or some electronic switch somewhere down the steering column.

I would appreciate any rapid responses/suggestions since it is now blocking the driveway and new owners are planning to come from out of town to pick it up this weekend.
Ken,
I'm certainly no expert on this type of issue but, tracking this type of starting problem should not be too hard. The first thing is, make sure all grounds in the starting system are in flawlessly perfect condition. That means, the ground on the battery, and, the other end, where it attaches to the engine. Then, make sure the positives are in the same, flawless condition and that any cables, like the main positive battery cabel has no signs of corrosion traveling up the insulation from the battery terminal.

Now, the next thing I might try is, find the starter solenoid. In the old days, the Fords used a remote starter solenoid that was usually mounted on a fender well some place under the hood. And, hot wiring a Ford could be done by a 5 year old. And, jumping that era solenoid was cake, you could to it with a pair of pliers etc.

But, on your coach, I'm not sure if the 460 of that era used a remote solenoid or not. It they didn't, then it should be like GM units and, mounted right on top of the starter. A jump across the appropriate points should turn that big boy right over, even without the key in the ignition. If that should work, than the starting system, at least from direct jumping, is intact and is not the problem. That would aim the troubleshooting at key side of the triggering of the solenoid.

As the steering column travels down from the steering wheel towards the firewall, there's usually a multi-pin plug at or near the dash support for the column. At times, that plug has been known to come loose, but, not very often. There's usually "barbs" that keep it together just so it can't come apart. That plug, carries all the electric signals from the upper part of the column down to the fuse box and other destinations.

And, in most cases, there is "NO" electrical contact in the rotary key switch on the column. That rotary movement, moves a rod, that enters the actual ignition switch, down on the column. That particular ignition switch DOES go bad on quite a few cars/trucks/motor homes. So, hope some of this info helps. Let us know what you find out so that others may learn.
Scott

P.S. I forgot to mention, I was assuming that you have a steering column mounted key switch. If you've got a dash mounted key switch, then there is contacts inside that unit and they definitely go bad. Not sure which one you have.
Scott
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:30 PM   #4
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There is no voltage on the small starter I-post when the key is switched to crank. The solenoid is mounted on the starter. I think this limits the problem to somewhere from the I-post, back to the key switch. I have been unable to trace this wiring back to determine where the voltage is lost. I have tested the starter with a remote starter switch connected to the I and + posts and the engine cranks and runs.

I found the multi-pin connector in the steering column, but have not seen a rod moving as the key switch turns. I haven't found a diagram of the wiring to the connector to be able to check it, but it is firmly seated.

There is a solenoid on the inside of the engine wall that has one small push-on wire and two large wires connected. When I turn the key to crank, this solenoid clicks, but if I remove the small wire it does not click. There is 12v on one large terminal, but not on the other. I need to get an extra hand to help check this out, and to check for volts on the small wire when the key is turned to crank. I'm not sure if this is a starter relay or not.

I quit for the day.
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Old 10-12-2013, 07:42 AM   #5
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Here is an easy way to test the system EXCLUSIVE of the solenoid and starter.

Locate the solenoid. There is a BIG wire or two and a SMALL wire

Hook a test lamp to the terminal along with the SMALL wire (Other lead of test lamp to ground)

IF the light comes on and the starter fails to engage. IT is not the key switch, or any relay (And yes there may be a pilot realy which is a good suspect by the way) or anything ahead of the solenoid.

If it only comes on when the starter works.. Problem is NOT the starter or solenoid, look for a pilot relay.

Next. IF the solenoid has an "output" terminal (2 big wires or a flat metal strap to the starter motor) move test lamp to this lead. (it should not light, if it does you got the wrong big bolt).

If it comes on but the starter does not engage. Bad starter

If it fails to come on UNLESS the starter engagges, Bad solenid.

This is one of those issues that is actually easier to find with a couple; dollars worth of test lamp than a thosand dollars worth of meters.

To make a test lamp:

Get a license plate lamp socket and bulb from your local auto parts store

Some wire, Heat shrink tubing and a pair of algator clips (all sold in the same store)

Extend at least one lead of the lamp using the wire, if you know how solder the wires (socket lead and extension) together, otherwise twist together well, Heat shrink over the connection to insulate and protect.

Extending the other lead is optional.

Algator clips on both leads

(I usually ground the short lead)

I also have an "Ice Pick" test lamp sold at auto parts stores

But the home made is better for this job.
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:12 AM   #6
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I had a similar problem with my coach. Short end of it. There is a 2nd, 12 volt terminal post between the battery and starter solinoid that has the starter and solinoid power cables crimped together that was corroded and caused the same starting problems. Pictures and posts under me.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:56 PM   #7
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This may close out this thread. I worked on the Suncruiser for several days and isolated the problem to somewhere between the starter and key switch. Our daughters were anxious to get their "new" motorhome home, so they came this past weekend and received a couple days crash course on not crashing the MH....and a little bit about the RV systems, too. They left yesterday with the remote switch wires coming up around the doghouse, routed to avoid the exhaust manifold. I got several text messages later in the day saying they had successfully navigated a dump station at the state line, and everything is clean (unike Robin Williams in RV). They later reported getting home to Mobile safely around 10 p.m. I don't know when they might get the starter problem fixed, but if they do, they are to return my remote switch. If I hear further, you will be the first to know. Thanks for the info and suggestions.
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Old 10-15-2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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Suggest you make sure the shifter it firmly in park position. If it is loose, turn the switch to where it should start to turn the engine over and wiggle the shifter back and forth gently
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:03 AM   #9
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Suggest you make sure the shifter it firmly in park position. If it is loose, turn the switch to where it should start to turn the engine over and wiggle the shifter back and forth gently
doc,
You most likely know what you're talking about but, since it's not normally an issue in todays cars/trucks/RVs and more, for those that don't know what he's talking about, it's called the "Neutral Safety Switch". And, yes, in the "old" days, they (the switches) came with slots for the screws that mounted them to the side of the transmission shift shaft. The switch, only allows for vehicle starting in either the "Park" or, "Neutral" position. And, in many occasions back a while ago, those switches could either ware, or, become out of alignment and, there would be a "NO START", in either park or neutral.

So, by moving the shift selector on the column slightly in either direction, you were, in effect, moving the trigger inside the neutral safety switch to make contact with the correct points to allow for engine turn-over. Once you realized that, the slight movement in the shift selector was allowing you to start a "hard to start" vehicle, all that was needed was to get under the car and loosen the screws and move the neutral safety switch to the correct location to align it in park or neutral for correct starting position.

Just some added info to the thread.
Scott
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