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  #1  
Old 02-25-2011, 05:11 PM
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Western Unimount troubleshooting help please

Hi,

I have a 7'6" Unimount pro plow. A few days ago I thought the motor was sounding a bit different, everything was working good and thought it was just me hearing things..lol. Then while plowing everything was going good until I got the truck stuck against a snowbank on ice. Got a tug backwards and then went to resume plowing. Plow would not make any noise. Got out and noticed some connections were lose on the solenoid. No tools in this truck since I left them in the other one. Only had to finish that driveway and was done so I snugged them up a bit with a pair of pliers. Everything worked great after that. Yesterday went and had to plow a cousin out. Plow worked fine until I got home. It would not move again, raised the hood and seen the solenoid was melted by one of the power cables. Went to the local garage and bought a solenoid and returned home to install it. Cleaned connections for the solenoid and also took the positive off the pump motor and cleaned that as well. Now this is where it gets goofy. When moving the joystick left, right, or up, I hear the solenoid kicking in but the motor only sometimes kicks in. Then on occasion, the solenoid seems to be stuck and will not cut power off to the motor when I move the joystick to the neutral position and even turn the joystick off. I tap my hand on the solenoid and it stops. I figure that the solenoid might be part of the problem, yet was wondering if the motor itself might be part to blame since it seems to only work when it wants to. Maybe the motor has a bad (dead) spot in it? Besides the connections that go to the solenoid, battery, and motor, the only connector in the line of wires is at the controller. So in conclusion I am thinking I might have to change the motor and solenoid. Does this sounds about right or am I overlooking something?

Any suggestions or guidance will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Matt
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:17 PM
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a melted solenoid is from a loose connection usually. a loose connection will also make the solenoid stick even if it is new. hook jumper cables to the batter then the motor. of it runs every time the motor is fine.
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:28 PM
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Thanks for the reply.

Another thing I was wondering is does the solenoid have to be grounded to the fenderwell? If so that might be part of the problem and will have to run a ground wire for it. Otherwise all wires going to the solenoid are tightened decent. I also wonder if the new solenoid might not be as good as it should be since it does not always kick the motor in.

I will work on it more when the sun comes up tomorrow. Right now it is a bit cold outside and no garage.

Matt
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattR View Post
Thanks for the reply.

Another thing I was wondering is does the solenoid have to be grounded to the fenderwell? If so that might be part of the problem and will have to run a ground wire for it. Otherwise all wires going to the solenoid are tightened decent. I also wonder if the new solenoid might not be as good as it should be since it does not always kick the motor in.

I will work on it more when the sun comes up tomorrow. Right now it is a bit cold outside and no garage.

Matt
I would use a genuine Western solenoid.
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:35 PM
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Of course the relay coil must have a ground but it is built into the wiring harness and uses the main ground wire at the battery negative post for this. As long as both the small wires are connected to the two small connections on the solenoid you should have a good ground, that is as long as the wires aren't cooked. Point is if all is good you don't need a seperate ground for the solenoid, you can actually have it dangeling by the wires and it will still work.

As for the motor... I agree with the suggestion to "hotwire" the solenoid or just use a booster cable from the battery positive straight to the motor positive terminal. Touch it and release it a few times, if it starts and stops reliably then the motor should be fine. If there is in deed a dead spot then it will happen there too. Sounds like it could be brushes or a commutator problem. The commutator is kinda like a roulette wheel. If there is a dead spot it will only fail when the armature stops with a brush on the dead spot. Often you can verify this problem by getting someone to hold the controller in the up position and then hit the motor (when it doesn't respond) with a dead blow (sand filled) or soft hammer. This will usually move the brushes closer and then it will spin up.

Your solenoid sticking problem could be the solenoid itself or a controller / electrical problem. Unplug the plow first. Then I would disconnect the two small wires from the solenoid and then jump one to ground and the other to battery positive. It should click on and off at the same time you touch and remove the positive wire. If it doesn't then it's your solenoid but if it does not stick then you have perhaps a sticky button on your controller. That is how you could break it down.
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:57 PM
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While your at it, check the grill connector..Water might of gotten into it when you got stuck in the bank..
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mishnick View Post
Of course the relay coil must have a ground but it is built into the wiring harness and uses the main ground wire at the battery negative post for this. As long as both the small wires are connected to the two small connections on the solenoid you should have a good ground, that is as long as the wires aren't cooked. Point is if all is good you don't need a seperate ground for the solenoid, you can actually have it dangeling by the wires and it will still work.

As for the motor... I agree with the suggestion to "hotwire" the solenoid or just use a booster cable from the battery positive straight to the motor positive terminal. Touch it and release it a few times, if it starts and stops reliably then the motor should be fine. If there is in deed a dead spot then it will happen there too. Sounds like it could be brushes or a commutator problem. The commutator is kinda like a roulette wheel. If there is a dead spot it will only fail when the armature stops with a brush on the dead spot. Often you can verify this problem by getting someone to hold the controller in the up position and then hit the motor (when it doesn't respond) with a dead blow (sand filled) or soft hammer. This will usually move the brushes closer and then it will spin up.
That is what I figured with the grounding of the solenoid. It has been a while since I had to fix one of my older Fords that use them, so just wanted to make sure regarding that. One thing I might as well do also tomorrow is replace the connector fittings since they look like original equipment and may have loosened up enough to have sporatic connection.

As far as the motor. It does act like a vehicle starter that is ready to go completely out. Have to keep tapping the key, in this case the joystick, in order to get it to start working. I will be checking the motor out with a set of booster cables when I wake up in the morning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mishnick View Post
Your solenoid sticking problem could be the solenoid itself or a controller / electrical problem. Unplug the plow first. Then I would disconnect the two small wires from the solenoid and then jump one to ground and the other to battery positive. It should click on and off at the same time you touch and remove the positive wire. If it doesn't then it's your solenoid but if it does not stick then you have perhaps a sticky button on your controller. That is how you could break it down.
From what I have noticed, I do not think it is the controller sticking. Reason I say this is because when the motor keeps running, I try to move the joystick in other directions to get it to shut off. Unless if the direction that it is stuck in would over-ride any further direction change? I did remove the controller screws and each of the direction switches seemed to move in when pushed in and also release right away. When the controller is put back together, the joystick does not seem to catch on anything, moves like it should in all directions. Now when you say "unplug the plow first", I do not have a connector plug after the solenoid, only connector is for the joystick controller. Would the same be achieved just by disconnecting the positive on the plow motor?


Quote:
Originally Posted by twinman326 View Post
While your at it, check the grill connector..Water might of gotten into it when you got stuck in the bank..
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattR View Post
Hi,
Besides the connections that go to the solenoid, battery, and motor, the only connector in the line of wires is at the controller.
Guess I did not clarify that well enough. The only pull apart connector is at the controller. Nothing at the grill. Plus when I got stuck it was mainly due to the fact that all four tires were on ice and facing downhill towards the bank. I did remove the plastic box and check the conections at the directional coils and they all seem to be firmly in place.


Thanks for all the replies and I will post results and hopefully the fix in order that it might help others as well.

Thanks,
Matt
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Old 02-26-2011, 09:30 AM
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Don't use a cheap aftermarket solenoid. Just because it's new doesn't mean it's good!
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Old 02-26-2011, 04:26 PM
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So far I tested the motor by using a set of jumper cables. Motor DOES have a dead spot in it. Still does not explain why the motor will not shut off at times. Would it be possible that since the motor is going, that it might be wanting to stay engaged as well at times?
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Old 02-26-2011, 05:09 PM
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The motor cannot be responsible for not turning off, has to be the solenoid or related wiring / controller. Also, hitting the other direction buttons on the controller will not help make it stop running because all the other buttons, except the down, make the motor come on in the same direction. You might try tapping on the solenoid when it won't shut off? I have used a made up test light for troubleshooting this problem, I put a wire on the positive (feed) side of the solenoid coil. That is the small screws. And then just ran it to a 12 volt lamp socket and let it hang out of the hood. The other side of the bulb must be grounded too. What this does is it lights up where you can see it when your controller sends a signal to the coil on the solenoid to engage. The light will come on when you hit any button except down. It should go out as soon as you let go of the button. If the light does go out but the motor continues then it must be a bad solenoid. If the light stays on then the solenoid is fine and is just doing what it is told. The problem is in controller or wiring.

Keep in mind that if the solenoid had a loose connection, like buddy said above, the heat from the amperage passing through that resistance can make the solenoid stick. Another thing that can do this is twisted mounting. If you fasten the solenoid to an uneven surface and contort it when you tighten your screws it can make it stick too.
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Last edited by mishnick; 02-26-2011 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 02-26-2011, 09:00 PM
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TY mishnick.

I do have to tap lightly on the solenoid when it does not turn off. I will have to make me a test light with a spare trailer light I have. I am thinking it is the solenoid though because when it does stay on after moving the stick to the neutral position, I can even turn the power off to the joystick and it stays running. I will test with the light also to make sure.

As far as mounting, it is on a flat surface and both screws only snugged up before tightening enough to ensure they would not come loose. Connections cleaned, yet have to get one replacement terminal for the small ground wire. New parts will have to be bought on Monday.

Thank you for all the help so far.

Matt
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:40 PM
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Buy a new solenoid and your problems will be resolved I belive.
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  #13  
Old 02-28-2011, 01:11 PM
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Sounds like your having the same problems I had. First the motor started to go and the higher draw on the failing motor caused the solenoid to start sticking and adventually cook it self. got a brand new solenoid and it was bad outta the package, worked for 20 min then started sticking changed that and teh controller started acting up. Turned out that being that its located near my window moisture got into it and corroded the circuit board, cleaned it and good as new now. Someone on here mentions an easy way to check teh controller, when the plow is acting up... ie stuck running put the plug on teh controlled to see if it stops, if not its the solenoid.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mishnick View Post
Buy a new solenoid and your problems will be resolved I belive.
Yep that was the final problem.

So to sum it up, problems were more than likely due to loose solenoid connection(s). That melted solenoid and made the plow motor stay running. Normally I probably would have heard the plow motor, yet my muffler blew out a week before that. So one set of brushes for the plow motor, and two solenoids later, and the plow is running great once again.

Thanks everybody for the replies and assistance with troubleshooting. I probably would not have went and bought another new solenoid if it was not for mishnick's testing tips.

Good thing it went out after the last customer for the last snow storm, and got it working in time for the snow coming tomorrow.

Thanks again,
Matt
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:31 PM
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Well done Matt, perseverance always pays off, and when that doesn't work I usually resort to violence and profanity! Now go make money with your plow!
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:31 PM
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Well done Matt, perseverance always pays off, and when that doesn't work I usually resort to violence and profanity! Now go make money with your plow!
Believe me, this event did happen to include some profanity as well, especially when it first happened...lol.
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