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Thread: 1997 Spartan / Darley electrical issues

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    Default 1997 Spartan / Darley electrical issues

    Can anyone give some guidance on some issues we have been having with our 1997 Darley / Spartan pumper. First this past fall when returning from a call, the truck lost all electrical power and had to be towed. The repair shop said the batteries and charging system tested okay and that they found corroded terminals and cleaned them up and everything was ok.

    Just a couple of nights ago when responding to an MVA with entrapment, the lights died over a bump but came back a few seconds later and the truck performed fine at the scene. On the return trip, the truck died again, this time the dash lights and such would come on but very dim. The truck was towed again, but this time the shop said the truck powered up fine when it arrived there. I instructed them to replace the batteries anyway because they are over 5 years old. They have tried to replicate the problem by driving it and playing with the harnesses with no success.

    I hate having to rely on this truck without a definitive repair taking place, but also know intermittent problems are tough to troubleshoot.

    It sounds like a ground issue to me, and I'm just wondering if anyone is aware of areas that are prone to trouble in this regard. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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    87% of the time it is a ground issue.
    ?

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    I agree it's probably a ground issue, however, I did have something similar to this on a brand-new rig that I was delivering for a dealer. It turned out that the battery cables simply weren't tightened enough at the factory, and hitting a bump would cause them to loosen enough to lose contact and then power.
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    Get under the truck, find every ground connection on the chassis, remove, clean and tighten. Spartan has some in out of the way places. If you haven't done this one already, remove the left headlight assembly. There are several important ground connections behind the lights, and not just for the lights. The wires there are stacked up on studs. Disassemble and clean them, too. Make sure each individual wire termination is clean and tightly crimped to its wire. Depending on what engine you have, there may be one running from the block to the frame. Look for it, too. If there isn't one, check the engine manual. Our Caterpillar manual showed one in a specific location, but I couldn't find it. Granted, Spartan might have duplicated it somewhere else, but I couldn't identify it so I added one where Caterpillar called for it.
    Last edited by chiefengineer11; 04-19-2014 at 05:03 PM.

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    The Chief Engineer is getting senile in his old age. He forgot to add that after thoroughly cleaning any electrical connections exposed to the atmosphere (especially ones that may be exposed to road grime and salt in snow/ice areas) they should be coated with a dieelectric anti-corrosion compound such as Truk-Lite or an equal product.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    The Chief Engineer is getting senile in his old age. He forgot to add that after thoroughly cleaning any electrical connections exposed to the atmosphere (especially ones that may be exposed to road grime and salt in snow/ice areas) they should be coated with a dieelectric anti-corrosion compound such as Truk-Lite or an equal product.
    OK, probie for life.
    npfd801 and islandfire03 like this.

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    If the cables are clean and tight, test the Ignition relay (solenoid) its generally mounted on one of the battery boxes. They catch alot of water and dirt and are always corroded , if it fails, it will kill the electric to everything. Check it to see if electric is passing thru it with a voltmeter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIRMAC206 View Post
    If the cables are clean and tight, test the Ignition relay (solenoid) its generally mounted on one of the battery boxes. They catch alot of water and dirt and are always corroded , if it fails, it will kill the electric to everything. Check it to see if electric is passing thru it with a voltmeter.
    That's an indicator, but it's not conclusive. Remember, it only takes a few milliamps to get a reading on a voltmeter. If you get a reading of 12+ volts, get another reading from the load side of the solenoid with it loaded (i.e, someone operating the starter. If there's a major drop in voltage, then the solenoid certainly is suspect.

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    I'm not sure if this is the solution to the overall problem, but we did find that the area around the main stud on the primer pump solenoid had completely corroded away, allowing the stud to have a direct intermittent short.

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    There's a brief but good article in the April, 1014 issue of "Heavy Duty Trucking" by Equipment Editor Jim Park. Mr. Park quotes Bruce Purkey several times in the article. Mr. Purkey is the president/owner of Purkey's Fleet Electric and one of several true electrical system gurus that I have had the privilege of meeting. Mr. Purkey notes that electrical systems have to be treated that way - as systems rather than a bunch of individual components. Try to get a copy of that trucking industry magazine and read his article. Remember, until we get to the fire, our trucks are just that - trucks. They're made out of the same stuff as highway trucks. So cultivate your knowledge of trucks as you go about your job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefengineer11 View Post
    Remember, until we get to the fire, our trucks are just that - trucks. They're made out of the same stuff as highway trucks. So cultivate your knowledge of trucks as you go about your job.
    Hence the truk-lite compound. How many blue trucks have you seen on a hook?
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