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Old 10-16-2021, 07:17 PM   #1
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New with 1983 Itasca & Generator issues

Hey folks! Iím from central Texas. Resurrected 1983 Itasca when COVID came along so all I had to touch was a gas pump on the way to MN. New grandkid.
Rig Only had 80k or so but it is old. Almost everything attached to the motor is new. Made it to MN and back twice. Had a few issues along the way but able to sort through them. Another story altogether.
Today I decided to go to San Antonio to pick up a part and exercise(exorcise) the old girl. Pulled into parking lot and the strange noise I noticed turned out to be the generator. I didnít turn it on... wouldnít shut off at cab switch. Wouldnít shut off at the gen. Yanked the plug wires and fuel line ( quite a scramble) before I realized that the gen was turning the gas engine. Pulled the fuses and it shut down. Please direct me to the help isle. Iím out of my depth....Thanks in advance
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Old 10-16-2021, 08:10 PM   #2
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Thank you moderator for clarifying my title
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Old 10-17-2021, 03:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 83Itasca View Post
Thank you moderator for clarifying my title
No problem.

I would have tried to clarify your problem/question but I don't really understand what you are saying here:

Quote:
Pulled into parking lot and the strange noise I noticed turned out to be the generator. I didnít turn it on... wouldnít shut off at cab switch. Wouldnít shut off at the gen. Yanked the plug wires and fuel line ( quite a scramble) before I realized that the gen was turning the gas engine. Pulled the fuses and it shut down.
If this was clearer you might get more responses. But maybe not because the extreme age of your RV is not common among our members.
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Old 10-17-2021, 04:41 PM   #4
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For clarification
1) the gas engine part of the generator was NEVER turned on.
The stop switches would not stop it because it was never started.
Pulling the spark plug wires off and pulling the fuel line did not stop it because the gas engine was not the driving force....

2) the electric part of the generator system was turning the gas engine part of the generator.

3) the system would not stop turning until I pulled a fuse on the out-put side on the control box.
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Old 10-17-2021, 04:54 PM   #5
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When I shut the vehicle engine off, I realized the generator was “on”.
Tried the generators STOP switch and moved the dual charging switch to neutral before going to the gen itself and trying the STOP switch on the control box.
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Old 10-17-2021, 05:21 PM   #6
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So, you are saying that power was flowing back through the generator and spinning the internals like a motor.

Woah! That's pretty much unheard off. No wonder that didn't make any sense. Even cleared up - thank you - it still makes no sense.

So, you where plugged into shore power at the time?

Do you have an Automatic Transfer Switch?

On a 38 year old RV pretty much everything is a mystery.

Does the RV
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Old 10-17-2021, 09:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
So, you are saying that power was flowing back through the generator and spinning the internals like a motor.
Correct

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Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
So, you where plugged into shore power at the time?
No. Driving....

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Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
Do you have an Automatic Transfer Switch?
Don’t know. Need schematic. Rocker switches on/off and to charge house batteries in motion by the alternator.

Quote:
Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
On a 38 year old RV pretty much everything is a mystery.
Younger than I am and I can still work on old tech. I am not too familiar with generator systems, conversion and inversion. At least I have forgotten more than I know. Looking for competent input from you folks on where to look for answers. I have some suspicions but don’t want to lead your answers.

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Does the RV
?? I lose a thought every now and then too....
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Old 10-17-2021, 10:18 PM   #8
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Sorry, but you lost me with the answer that you were driving.

The description makes no logical sense to me - or I'm not smart enough.

You are saying that:
The generator was running

BUT

The generator's motor was not running
Sounds like an impossibility to me. Sorry, but I cannot see that there is any way that this could occur.
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Old 10-17-2021, 11:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 83Itasca View Post
For clarification
1) the gas engine part of the generator was NEVER turned on.
The stop switches would not stop it because it was never started.
Pulling the spark plug wires off and pulling the fuel line did not stop it because the gas engine was not the driving force....

2) the electric part of the generator system was turning the gas engine part of the generator.

3) the system would not stop turning until I pulled a fuse on the out-put side on the control box.
Don’t know how I can make this more clear...
The generators gas engine was turning over even with the plug wires off and fuel line disconnected.
The only answer was that the batteries were backfeeding electricity to the part that normally generates said electricity as it would normally be spun by the gas engine.
The “back feed of electricity turned the “ generating” section into a motor which in turn cycled the “dead” gas engine. It was cycling the pistons and valves (pumping the lungs so to speak) sucking fuel ( before I disconnected the fuel line) in to the carb and flooded the piston chambers and out the exhaust. It was messy and thank God there was no fire to the spark plug..... I was praying for it to Not blow up in my face.
Your telling me it doesn’t make sense which is exactly why I am looking for answers.....
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Old 10-17-2021, 11:40 PM   #10
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I understand what you are saying. I can not be of any more help to you. Because as far as I know this is not possible. It’s not that I don’t believe you, but perhaps you are mistaken. All I know is I surely cannot help you.
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Old 10-18-2021, 07:55 PM   #11
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83Itasca, what fuses did you pull? Without a AC source I do not see how the generate could be motoring and driving the engine.
My gut feeling is something when haywire in the control wiring for the generator start circuit and the starter motor was driving the generator.
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Old 10-18-2021, 10:33 PM   #12
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Copy from pm to grtharris-
I didn’t “feel” at the time that the starter was turning the motor but the first fuse I pulled was the F2 fuse on the on an generator control box. Which in the owners manual says protects the start circuit. I just found that today. Will dig into the control box this weekend ( I hope ).
It would have had to been engaging starter without ignition being on. There is no key or dedicated on switch. Just the rocker switch start and stop so I assume the neutral position is the on/run.
There are two start/stop switches. One in the cab and one on the control box on generator.
Will be taking voltmeter and tester to the wires in control box checking direction of electrical flow. I believe I will Isolate the starter and make sure the circuit is working properly. If indeed the starter was “motoring” the engine, how did it not start with rocker in the on/run position….
ALL input is appreciated and considered from All parties. It will help me work thru the problem.
A few things I will have to address is checking the oil making sure no gas pumped in to the crankcase, allow the fuel to dissipate out of exhaust and check that the alternator isn’t damaged.
Leaving the dual charging switch engaged while generator running or hooked up to shore can damage alternator. Thinking aloud here…
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Old 10-19-2021, 08:58 AM   #13
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I'm one that goes to the schematics and drawings first to see how any specific item might differ from other years, etc. but in this case we don't get much info at all on pre 1990 RV, leaving me pretty much blind!

We are mostly folks who like to help but that is not getting us far on this one as what appears to happen is really hard to imagine!

So this is what seems to be happening? The genset is running backwards due to AC feeding back from some soucre, rather than it making AC?
But there is no AC source, except possibly if there was an inverter on board to use the coach batteries DC to make AC. But that is a real stretch and I'm not sure there were large enough inverter installed on the older RV to get that done even if theory would let it happen?

So we get down to more questions than we can explain! Not saying it COULD NOT because weird is pretty common!

Some other questions also come in. Not used to a "dual charging switch", so maybe there is a different name or can you tell us what you mean there? Perhaps the one I know as the mode or boost or aux switch which uses the mode solenoid to tie both battery strings together to charge? That one is normally a momentary switch to push when wanting to jump start a weak chassis battery, though. More info , please?

But for the best shot I have now, these two snips from the drawings for a 1990 model "may" still be the same for your model year?? Check that if it doesn't look the same!

This info comes from this drawing and chart:
Sheet 1 frame 3 of this https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...990/098929.pdf

Wire ID chart here:
https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...ical_guide.pdf

If you find the codes stamped on the wires, then referr to the chart, it can lead to finding some info on what each wire might do?
Click these to get a better view!

I did spot a second generator switch on the dash but it is the same as this one.

You have a bear cornered, so be careful and good luck!
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Old 10-19-2021, 10:09 AM   #14
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Thanks Morich,
Every little bit helps.
The DUAL switch is incorporated is the same switch as the one that uses the house batteries boost or jump the vehicle to start. Rocker switch is left of drivers ear on door post. Temporary engagement to the front to boost and retained to the rear when depressed back so your alternator charges house batteries as you’re driving. Running gen while this is engaged is a no-no. Rocker must be neutral.
To boost left hand has to depress front of rocker while right hand turns key.

Gen switch and meter is above center of windsheild.
Volt meter is next to it where you can check battery status and you can tell when your altinator is charging house.
Ok, so that’s a lot of info you may not have wanted but it relates to system…
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Old 10-19-2021, 11:00 AM   #15
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Okay, sounds logical on the switch and they have likely made a few changes over the years but I understand the dual charge idea you have. On the newer RV, there is a setup using a solenoid often called mode solenoid which has two functions.

One is to tie the chassis battery together with the coach batteries when you need to jump start the engine using the switch as a momentary connection that disconnects when released. It also has a connection from a section of the ignition when the key is on that ties the batteries together as we drive from site to site as a way to get a little charge back into the coach batteries we may have run down.

Your setup sounds like a bit less complex setup that needs more thought to get it right as it sounds like they are concerned that the generator running would power the converter and it would be putting out 12volts to the batteires at the same time your alternator was. I'm not sure of what the harm would be to have two sources trying to charge the same battery but I'll take their word for it is they say not to do that!

One good thing about Winnebago is that they HAVE been doing it for a longtime and that experience has led them to lots of small changes to make things work better, so I go with most of what they tell me!

You may need to dig into the manuals for the genset model you have and it might lead to finding a plug or connection where those four wires from the two sets of start switches connects at the genset and unplugging them might be a start to clearing whatever seems to make it run without being started?

But you seem to be chasing some phantom that is hard to see happen, so maybe worthwhile to just leave any plug wires and fuel line off and connect the electrical parts to see if it jumps up and turns now??? That number 1 gauge black wire they show has to be the incoming positive battery to crank, so taking it off, just about has to kill the starter? I would expect to finding that big cable going to some form of relay or solenoid that is controlled by the switches, pretty much like we find on a car starter.

I'm a cripple when it comes to those older gensets and not much good on newer ones, either! Maybe a call to find an old hat at the generator folks who might know more?
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Old 10-19-2021, 09:26 PM   #16
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Sounds like on the newer models they found a way to do away with the possibility of human error and also automating part of process so we don’t even have to think about it. I personally like thinking of the process and don’t mind shifting gears and throwing levers.
I have the owners manual. It has limited info on generator but what it has has been helpful. I also have a rv repair and maintenance manual of the era. Original owners were very thorough. Last owner did some mods and hmmmm.. engineering that I had to restore to original function. Generator was not messed with thank God.
I appreciate that in the owners manual they went to some ends to explain how and why things work the way they do and they make sense. They had to I suppose because if you’re out in the boonies, a wrong move can go south in a hurry. You have electricity and gas which can be deadly. It doesn’t hurt a bit to read thru the manual and take safety protocol to heart…. Be safe.
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Old 10-19-2021, 09:30 PM   #17
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I want to reiterate how much I appreciate the feedback. Very helpful in clarification and perspective. Also helps putting it down in black and white.
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Old 10-23-2021, 05:08 PM   #18
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SOLVED!!

Remote Start Switch broken. When I pulled it out it came apart. The toggle portion was stuck in the start position. (Internally). Pulled it back to what was supposed to be neutral and still had current at the fuse. The remains of the switch were still making contact. Pulled the hot from the switch and current went away at fuse. Start Switch at gen still works. Changed oil and reconnect fuel she started up (after belching a bit of smoke from exhaust). Took a few minutes to clear the plugs and exhaust but she’s purring now.

There is no separate starter motor on this genset. Current is fed to generator series field which cranks engine. Current was coming from start switch. Can only surmise that engine did not run on it’s owns because the remote start switch was stuck when it broke. I hit the start switch on when checking voltage switch next to it. Half a second to see it was wrong switch then rocked it to stop even though it takes a couple second to start. I think this is where it broke internally. The run indicator light was not lit that I remember. No fuses blown or breakers tripped.
Original owners were kind enough to have bought a parts catalog apparently in the first decade and I found the remote switch w/part# (in the old catalog). It remains to be seen whether it’s a Winnebago part# or Onan part#. It a start
Switch is disconnected. Can still use all systems. Can start gen at the gen.
Waiting on part.
Thanks again for all input. Hope to upload old catalog to Archive.
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