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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

Motorhome on 1998 Boxer Mk1 2.5TD. Bit of a long story, just looking for thoughts rather than any definitive answer.

Turning ignition key gave a loud click but no turning of the engine, turn it again..same, turn it again starter spins and engine starts. I decided the solenoid was being actuated but the problem was with the start itself.
I fitted a new starter motor. Fired up each and every time.
We move on.
I went out the other day and turned the key and the motor turned veerry sloowly. I presumed the battery had run down, as it does, and set it to charge from the on-board charger. Went out today and it still was very slow, like as fast as you could turn the engine with a socket set on the crankshaft..that slow.
Went for multimeter as I presumed the battery had not been charging.
It was 13.8 volts so looking OK. I started the slow crank process again with multimeter still on the battery and it was about 10 volts while turning. I know this sounds low but this is with the starter cranking very slowly, so it is one hell of a load. I kept the key turned for quite a while watching the multimeter. All of a sudden the starter ran at full speed and the engine fired up. I released the key and left the engine running. I had had the key in the cranking position for maybe 8 to 10 seconds.
Now the bad bit.
After about 2 to 3 seconds a whisp of smoke came up out of the steering column surround, near the ignition switch. I turned off and tried again and again and all fine every time.
I removed the column surround and the insulation tape off all of the wires and no sign of burning on any wires which is a relief.
The switch itself does smell a little so at face value it looks like a bad connection to the switch or the ignition switch itself.

What worries me, though, is that I think that if the starter was turning at all then the solenoid must have been engaged and there would not be a reason for it not spinning at full tilt. This sounds to me like the starter I fitted is faulty. Possibly a ground connection.

The whisp of smoke I cannot account for at all.

Whilst still starter related, the original fault was different to what I have seen today.

Any thoughts at all appreciated.

andytw
 

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Hi, don't have any real experience with Boxers but do have a lot of autoelectric experience. I assume the replacement starter was one of the usual exchange units you can buy from car shops and motor factors? It wouldn't be at all unusual for one of these to go wrong because depending on who recond it, it may have only had the minimum of repair to make it serviceable again. I would definitely check the earthing particularly between the battery and the engine, or the battery and the body/body to engine strap.it wouldn't hurt to take it off and clean up the connections as corrosion can hide and cause a bad connection, (I normally either grease or paint over an earth connection once remade to try and protect it from corroding), which in motor vehicles can cause currents to flow where you don't want them. The smoke is most likely to have come from the switch which would indicate a bad connection as anything else would probably show as bubbled insulation on the wiring although not necessarily. I think my comments probably reflect your thoughts on the subject, hope you get it sorted, if I can help any further please ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi,

Thanks for the reply. The motor, I think, is a new build but budget at that. It is an RTX non-exchange from Euro. I read mixed reports about them maybe not lasting very long but on my MH I felt that would be OK as it gets minimum amount of use. At this time the starter has been on there only a couple of weeks and has started the engine max 10 times.
Will attend to all of the grounding points before contacting Euro.

andytw
 

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.... I would definitely check the earthing particularly between the battery and the engine, or the battery and the body/body to engine strap.it wouldn't hurt to take it off and clean up the connections as corrosion can hide and cause a bad connection, (I normally either grease or paint over an earth connection once remade to try and protect it from corroding), which in motor vehicles can cause currents to flow where you don't want them....
Just to add a little to this (which is implicit in Renegades post but I thought I'd spell it out) when you have a bad earth between the engine and body this will cause the current to take the easiest path to earth, which could well be a wire running through the steering column. I had a similar problem many years ago and the choke cable (that's how long ago it was!) started to smoke and glow with heat as it was acting as the earth point between the engine and body.

As stated by Renegade, remove and clean all main earth points, scraping off paint if necessary, to get a good clean earth connection. I use greae or Vaseline to protect the bare meatl connection from further corrosion. Shake-proof washers that dig into the paint are also an excellent idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi,

Yes, all understood, thanks. I have now removed and cleaned the -ve battery to chassis connection and both ends of the gearbox to chassis strap. Everything was made shiny and bolted up really tight. The battery connections themselves are new and were fitted a few weeks ago. After doing the work I have had no issues.
Also understood re some grease to keep the weather out. Will attend to this the next time the bonnet is up.

andytw
 

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Ha Ha funny you should mention that Steve I remember a mate of mine burning his throttle cable out on an old Cortina because he left the engine earth strap off after changing the engine, the alternator warning light used to come on when the ignition was off if the body earth was faulty too. Remember those days, was when I first started in the world of auto electrics. Also you used to get excessive galvanic corrosion in some engines if the earths were faulty. Nowadays they seem to have multiple earths I guess to minimise electrical noise for the on board electronics. Hope all is sorted Andy.
 
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