Thread: Pump Issues

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    Default Pump Issues

    I'm curious if anyone else has ever had, or might have some insight, on a situation we encountered with our engine at a structure fire this morning.

    Without going into a long, drawn out explanation, here's what we ran into. When we put the pump into gear, niether the "Ok to Pump" lights in the cab or on the pump panel lit, but you could hear the shifter "clunk" into pump gear. We could get a little pressure when we wound up the engine, and at about 1600 RPM it felt like the transmission shifted and we'd pick up pressure.

    Now here's the kicker. After the fire, we were messing with things at the station. We had a battery charger hooked up to see thinking the alternator wasn't pushing enough to charge the batteries. All of the sudden the "OK to Pump" lights come on and the primer starts whining. Got the primer shut off (you have to give it a whack to get it to disengage) and tried pumping it, since pressure kicked up at idle. Pumped like nothing was ever wrong with it!

    Any clues as to what might cause this? We're looking into the alternator and the primer control as possible issues, thinking that maybe it's an electrical issue. Thought I'd see if anyone might have some insight before we tear into it hard and heavy.

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    Without looking anything up or doing any checking, one question comes to mind. Hale (including ALF), Waterous or Darley? The Hale primer switches are notorious for hanging up. I won't say it's impossible with Waterous, but their system is different. Darley I don't know anything about.

    Anyway, if the primer switch was stuck in the "on" position resulting in the primer motor turning or trying to turn, I could see something weird like that happening.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    It's a Hale, an an '89 model. I kind of wondered about if it was a hanging up issue. Sounds like a place to start at least. Thanks!

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    I'd be interested to learn from you how this plays out.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    What happened with the pump was the switch that closes when the pump shift engages did not actuate for some reason, or a wire is broke, loose connection, etc. This prevented the transmission from going into high gear "lockup" mode and allows it to shift the gears which as you discovered does not work that well when pumping, though it can be made to work.

    As for the primer, I would guess that whoever was operating it when that happened was trying to get it to work, and pulled the primer, but that the primer is wired such that it will not operate unless the engine is in pump gear. (Tell me if that is true.) With the primer not operating they did not need to whack it to get it to disengage so it stayed engaged.

    Finally when whatever fault caused the electricity not to flow fixed itself, the transmission went into lockup mode, and the primer found power and engaged itself until its customary whack was given.

    That's my take on the situation.

    Birken

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    Birken, I think we're taking two different approaches to come to the same conclusion. Definitely agreed that his transmission didn't go into direct drive and/or lockup mode. But I feel like it might have been a result of a low voltage caused by the primer motor being powered up. The clue I'm following is 22's statement that he heard the shifter "clunk." I don't think that would have occured if he had a loose wire, unless he has a pure air shift. Even then, when they cleared the other fault, the rest of it should only operate intermittently, if at all.

    In my experience, Waterous primers will operate anytime, even sitting in the station with the engine off. I won't speak for Hales, except for our '78 Hahn. I put an electric dry primer on it to replace the transfer case driven rotary gear primer. I wired it to operate the same as the Waterous.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BirkenVogt
    What happened with the pump was the switch that closes when the pump shift engages did not actuate for some reason, or a wire is broke, loose connection, etc. This prevented the transmission from going into high gear "lockup" mode and allows it to shift the gears which as you discovered does not work that well when pumping, though it can be made to work.

    As for the primer, I would guess that whoever was operating it when that happened was trying to get it to work, and pulled the primer, but that the primer is wired such that it will not operate unless the engine is in pump gear. (Tell me if that is true.) With the primer not operating they did not need to whack it to get it to disengage so it stayed engaged.

    Finally when whatever fault caused the electricity not to flow fixed itself, the transmission went into lockup mode, and the primer found power and engaged itself until its customary whack was given.

    That's my take on the situation.

    Birken
    You guys aren't going to confuse me, are you?

    Are you talking about the switch on the actuator? We did confirm the actuator fully, is "actuated" the right word? Anyway, it was all the way out. That's something I'll put on our list to check connections on.

    One thing I did leave out, when it felt like it shifted at the 1600 RPM range, there was a noticable change in driveshaft speed. We first thought it was acting like it was low on trannie fluid.

    Part of the problem may be that we've got me as a pump mechanic and another guy as a diesel mechanic that don't know much about the other's end of the spectrum. The electrician wasn't there or we might have figured it out!

    I appreciate you guys' help!

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    Gotta love all these computer operated trucks!!

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    Default a bad ground can cause all kinds of intermittent problems.

    Check all your ground connections, a bad ground can cause all kinds of intermittent problems. They get dirty, corroded and are over looked. @12 volts all connections must be clean & bright.

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    Look, I am no mechanic....but all electrical devices need a certain amount of power to make them work. It seems to me if the problem was solved by hooking the battery charger up then the problem is either a battery or batteries going bad or a bad charging system.

    If it was a bad ground how does boosting the battery power solve that? If it was a loose wire how does the boosting the battery power solve that?

    My other guess is the electronic pump shift is going bad. With the addition of the extra juice from the battery charger it worked.

    My suggestion is to shift the truck into pump using the manual override and see if it engages properly. If it does the problem is simple it involves the electronic pump shift.

    Give that a try and let us know if the problem still exists.

    FyredUp

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    It is just good practice to clean & tighten battery connections before you load test the batteries & charging system. If the batteries are 3 years old chuck them. The booster charger razed the voltage above normal (about 14 volts with the engine running to as high as 15-16 volts) overcoming a low voltage problem & correcting the problem temporally. If the alternator, regulator & batteries test “good” you will have to find the cause of the low voltage else ware in the circut & loose or dirty connections are the #1 cause of problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22
    You guys aren't going to confuse me, are you?

    Are you talking about the switch on the actuator? We did confirm the actuator fully, is "actuated" the right word? Anyway, it was all the way out. That's something I'll put on our list to check connections on.

    One thing I did leave out, when it felt like it shifted at the 1600 RPM range, there was a noticable change in driveshaft speed. We first thought it was acting like it was low on trannie fluid.

    Sorry 'bout that. I have a bad habit of calling the primer operating device a switch, because it turns electricity on and off. Some of the stuff I grew up on, you actually had a separate switch and a prime valve that you had to operate simutaneously. Today it's all done with one device, so actuator may be a better word. But the part of the actuator that I'm concerned with in your case is the switch portion of the actuator.

    Your comment about the driveshaft changing speed reinforces what I think - the transmission never got the message to go into direct drive/lockup mode. It could be from what I think or what Birken thinks. RFDLou's points are also very well taken. The number of problems that bad grounds, dirty/loose connections have caused could fill an encyclopedia. I ran into that just two days ago. I was working on part of the ignition system on a '26 ALF in the Phila. Fire Museum. Had everything connected up and tested under the hood. Went to start it from the driver's position - no go. Turns out the ground wire was off of the push switch and the other wire was loose.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefengineer11
    Sorry 'bout that. I have a bad habit of calling the primer operating device a switch, because it turns electricity on and off. Some of the stuff I grew up on, you actually had a separate switch and a prime valve that you had to operate simutaneously. Today it's all done with one device, so actuator may be a better word. But the part of the actuator that I'm concerned with in your case is the switch portion of the actuator.

    Your comment about the driveshaft changing speed reinforces what I think - the transmission never got the message to go into direct drive/lockup mode. It could be from what I think or what Birken thinks. RFDLou's points are also very well taken. The number of problems that bad grounds, dirty/loose connections have caused could fill an encyclopedia. I ran into that just two days ago. I was working on part of the ignition system on a '26 ALF in the Phila. Fire Museum. Had everything connected up and tested under the hood. Went to start it from the driver's position - no go. Turns out the ground wire was off of the push switch and the other wire was loose.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!
    I'm sorry man, I'm going to get confusing too. I was actually referring to the actuator in regards to Birken's reply. Assuming he meant the actuator in the gear box that shifts it from pump to road gears. I call the primer device a switch, too. Sometimes the "primer puller onner" or something like that.

    I appreciated all you guys' ideas, we're going to mess with it a little more in the coming days to start ruling some things out. Especially since I'm starting to get a nice list of things it might be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rfdlou
    It is just good practice to clean & tighten battery connections before you load test the batteries & charging system. If the batteries are 3 years old chuck them. The booster charger razed the voltage above normal (about 14 volts with the engine running to as high as 15-16 volts) overcoming a low voltage problem & correcting the problem temporally. If the alternator, regulator & batteries test “good” you will have to find the cause of the low voltage else ware in the circut & loose or dirty connections are the #1 cause of problems.
    Batteries are only about a year old, if that. One thing we're looking at in a big way is the alternator. We've had some issues as of late of the lights dimming after being on scene for a a while. Truck's old enough (89) it doesn't have have a high idle setting, and it doesn't seem to help when we've got it wound up pumping. We're going to get the alternator pulled of and tested and d/c the batteries and check them, along with whatever other components we have.

    I'm half afraid as I read everything it might be something loose or corroded. We got the truck from Pennsylvania (north central), so I'm not sure how much salt is present or how much issues that would cause. Including causing the primer pull switch to act up.

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    We have an 87 Hale pump here in Alberta Canada. We have had problems in the last few years with the "ok to pump lights" not coming on either, although you can hear the pump engage and it will pump. A good pump operator listens to their pump and can usually tell what it's doing. As for the primer, ours likes to stick as well when being used. Not sure to as why but it does, but we don't use the primer that much either since we don't ever draft with this truck.

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    Catch 22, if that engine came from north central Penna., fighting salt and corrosion is a way of life, especially if it came from anywhere around I-80 or US 6. That really reinforces RFDLou's points. Look for corrosion everywhere, even to the point of loosening and cleaning ground wires where they bolt to the frame or engine. Maybe even go to the extent of running a heavy wire (battery cable size) from the engine block to the truck frame.

    A truck of that age may still use those big old 8D batteries. They're a pain in the gronkus to change out but if they're taken care of, they give great service. I changed the last set in our '78 Hahn a few months ago. One was 11 years old and the other was 13 years old. We keep them on charge in the station and they work well. But you do have to add water to them once in a while. In this day of maintenance free batteries, that's becoming a forgotten item.

    I made the statement earlier that the Hale switches (combination switch and prime valve) were notorious for hanging up. Mikey, is that maybe your problem, also? The quickest fix would be to replace that switch. I don't know if Hale has a later, improved version of it or not. I could offer some other alternatives that would take some work and Hale definitely wouldn't approve of. chiefengineer11@earthlink.net

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Here is the sequence on most trucks of that vintage

    1. Transmission neutral
    2. Manual shift from road to pump (air or electric, does not matter)
    3. Shift completes and closes a switch on the shift bar that verifies that the shift has indeed been completed. This is what lights the green lights and also sometimes energizes the Skinner valves that cause the transmission to go to direct lockup.

    What I think happened is number 3 did not occur completely for some reason, either the shift bar did not move all the way or the switch or wiring is intermittently faulty.

    What the transmission did is definitely the result of not being in direct lockup. The cause is open to interpretation.

    This has nothing to do with computers, this is the way it has been done since before I was born. Just a series of valves and switches.

    Finally I speculate that the primer did not run because it may have been wired to not actuate unless the green light was on (pump engaged). Chiefeng11, the wiring of the primer has nothing to do with the manufacture of the pump, it is all done by the truck manufacturer.

    From my swively chair, it all seems very straightforward to me, the way you explained it is very concise and fits my theory exactly. But I have to make several assumptions to get to that point and if any of my assumptions about how this truck is wired or plumbed, because there are many variations, are incorrect, then my whole theory is shot.

    However I do not believe this is due to low voltage because then you would have gotten a dim bulb, not no bulb, and a whole host of other symptoms.

    Birken

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    Birken: Just so I'm sure I'm talking about the same thing you are, you're talking about this switch pictured here, right? When the shifting rod moves out towards the front of the truck, it moves out of the switch and opens it.

    Maybe there's a short, corrosion, sticking switch, or maybe the switch is just bad type of thing, right?
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Birken, I agree that the truck builder wires the primer circuits just as they do many others. I believe that the most common way is as I described. To wire it as you describe is certainly not difficult, but I believe that it would require an additional relay and associated wiring, all of which would add to the cost. If someone spec'd it that way, surely they'd do it, but absent that, why would they?

    On the low voltage situation, I don't know that I completely agree that the light could not go out. In any event though, a very possible scenario is that the light could be on dimly as you point out, but not noticed because of the density of the green lens.

    All in all, to me, a most instructive discussion.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Adding onto Chiefengineer11's comments about corrosion of exposed electrical connections....(After all, he taught me everything I know.....well, him and the Fleet Maintenance Department of a LARGE trucking company that is known throughout the industry as having the lowest amount of lost-time breakdowns.......)

    Anytime you dissasemble any exposed electrical connections, whether it be for a repair or preventive maintenance, it gets a thorough cleaning with a wire brush. Thats a given. What isnt a given, though, is that all connections should be given a light coating of a dielectric anti-corrosion compound/grease such as TRUKLITE or the equivalent. Anytime I work on batteries, cables, etc on my personal vehicles, I use Truklite. I had a 98 Toyota 4-Runner (before wifey dearest totaled it) that had a battery that I installed 4 years ago- no corrosion in 4 years!
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 08-17-2006 at 09:14 PM.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Default master battery switch?

    How about the master battery switch? The marine type with 1-2-Both- Off settings. They control the accessory and charging loads only. You will not have hard starting as the starter solenoids are connected to the directly to the batteries not through this switch. “Catch” states that they have had problems with the lights dimming in the past.

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    Anyplace there's a switch or a connection, there's a possible source of the problem, Lou. A good test there, while not 100% conclusive, would be to see how the system performs at each switch position.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22
    Birken: Just so I'm sure I'm talking about the same thing you are, you're talking about this switch pictured here, right? When the shifting rod moves out towards the front of the truck, it moves out of the switch and opens it.

    Maybe there's a short, corrosion, sticking switch, or maybe the switch is just bad type of thing, right?
    Yes that is what I am talking about. Usually on older apparatus there is just one pair of wires, not two. And the switch closes (makes connection) rather than opens (breaks connection) usually.

    Birken

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    Default Driver

    I have read most of the posting but not all. I saw that you were looking at electrical issues. We have an 89 Pierce with a Waterous pump. We had some issues one day that sounded very much like what you were going through. We put it in pump gear and did not get the lights. Went to the pump panel and tried to pump. We got a little pressure but it was not correct. We did some research and found the the pump transfer case was in a situation called a "butt-tooth". The colar that switches from drive to pump does not fully move into place. The way to resolve it is to take the engine out of drive to neutral and then into reverse slowly. Keeping it in pump gear the entire time. Then from that point you go back to neutral and then back to drive. This is directly from the operators manual. This solved our situation.

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    That is true as well but the symptoms did not exactly line up with it.

    I have a 93 Pierce with a waterous pump that butt-tooths almost every time you shift it. And you have to do the reverse-forward thing to get it in. The problem was the little electric motor/spring thing that they adapted from a 2-speed rear end on their pumps in the 80s and 90s is too wimpy to slam the gears to where they need to be. Hale does not have this problem so much because they have always used air shift which applies a lot more force. Waterous makes an air shift conversion for these older units for this reason.

    Just FYI. Like I said it does not make sense with what he said because if you are butt-toothed you will get grinding gears and no pressure when you engage drive and try to pump, or else it will drop into gear and then pump normally. I suppose there is an off-chance that it could only partially complete the shift though and then these symptoms are in line.

    Oops I just looked and he has a Hale. Again it is still possible but with the Hale setup very unlikely.

    Birken

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