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Old 07-07-2014, 04:27 PM   #1
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Kwikee "Level Best" retracting issue

We have owned our 2005 Sightseer for just over 4 years and had a new issue this weekend- our levelers would not retract after a week long camping trip.
No lights, seemingly no power. Motor was running, parking brake engaged.

Found our manual and followed directions to use the "control panel jumper" and successfully retracted the levelers.

Since they retracted without a hitch it would seem the hydraulics are working. Should we plug the system back in and give it a try? The levelers extended without a hitch when we first arrived at camp last weekend.

This panel was "new" in November of 2011 and the rig was put away for the winter - the leveling system wasn't working and no lights at that time - repair shop supposedly "replaced" the panel (meaning they seemed to take shortcuts on several things that were covered under warranty and we were not happy with their service)

So the panel is only 3 seasons old and not used more than 6 times a season - do these things typically go bad that soon? We have been noticed a drain on the chassis battery every week and wondering if there is a short somewhere in that system.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:48 AM   #2
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Unfortunately the level-best system is fussy, both the electronics as well as the hydraulics. DAMHIK

Actually the boards are fairly robust and if it was replaced in '11 in reality it should be fine, not claiming for sure it is. But if there's no power at all to it then check the plug connectors on the back side of it to make sure they haven't come loose. There is a wiring diagram for the loom - locate the power lead and test for 12v power - perhaps there's a fused power issue or something.

My board was unnecessarily replaced when the coach was new for malfunctioning jacks - turned out to not be the board, but metal shavings in the switching valves on the hydraulic pump unit. I had to disassemble several of them several times and clean them out in order to get them working properly. The symptom was one jack continually moving regardless of which button pushed - so that indicated a stuck switching valve. Have not had this issue again since the coach was new.

My latest issue that started last year some time is the jacks-down indicator never goes out, or is intermittent even when they are all the way up. I have traced wires from the reed switches at the top of each cylinder as well as the park brake switch. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. We can be going down the hiway just fine and then when I roll down the driver door window the jacks-down indicator will come on and beep. So I have covered over the beeper on the panel (it's annoying) and traced and checked wires to no avail.

Additionally Kwikee has sold to PowerGear and they have no live-person tech support, only online docs. Parts are available though so if you can troubleshoot your issue you can buy replacement parts. Seems to me some are on ebay as well.

Hope this helps. Post back if you have other troubleshooting questions and I'll do my best to help. You did find the online docs, right?
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:56 AM   #3
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If the control panel gets a transient it sometimes goes off into lost land. It may be worth trying the following to reset it.
Remove the four screws on the control panel, remove the power plug and replace it after waiting 60 seconds or so.

That worked for me twice. Once when the engine battery had discharged to a very low level while we were on a three week dive trip and the control board got confused and another time it got confused for no apparent reason.

The control board on mine failed in Jan 2005 12 months after we bought our Sightseer new in Jan 2004 then again in Feb of 2010. Been okay since.
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Old 07-08-2014, 11:38 AM   #4
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Thanks Chris and Clay

Chris - yes we have downloaded schematics and an old troubleshooting guide from Kwikee that I found. I agree that the board is only 2 seasons old and shouldn't be the problem but who knows? Testing the 12V is a good idea and will have DH do that tonight. We have been chasing a "drain" on the chassis battery and maybe this is related somehow.

Clay - yes we have done that - we actually pulled the connectors on the unit to use the built in jumper per our directions in the manual. After we got the jacks up we left the unit disconnected for our ride home.

Plugged the connectors back in last nite and the levelers seem to be working okay now.

Will keep tracing the various 12V lines to find that drain on the chassis battery - it drops just enough after a week of camping that we have to use the MOM switch to start up again...maybe we tried to use the levelers too soon after starting the motor and there just wasn't enough juice.

DH also sheepishly admitted last nite he didn't try popping the brake and resetting it when I asked him to when the issue was happening - it may not have been fully engaged.... but I'll keep him around anyway

Thanks for the suggestions I love these forums!
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cinbol View Post
>snip

Plugged the connectors back in last nite and the levelers seem to be working okay now.

Will keep tracing the various 12V lines to find that drain on the chassis battery - it drops just enough after a week of camping that we have to use the MOM switch to start up again...maybe we tried to use the levelers too soon after starting the motor and there just wasn't enough juice.

>snip
It is likely it simply needed a reset - disconnect from power and reconnect. If they're working they are likely to continue to work. If your battery got completely discharged that is likely what caused the issue in the first place.

Now, on the 'power drain'...
There are a lot of systems that rely on 12v so there is always a drain unless you shut down the master switch. There's the fridge board, propane sniffer, there could be basement lights on, any number of things. So keeping it plugged in during storage is suggested but only if you've upgraded the 12v converter - the unit that converts 110 to 12v and charges your house batteries. If you still have the old Parralax unit you need to get a IOTA or Progressive Dynamics one in the same amperage capacity of what you take out. It's an easy conversion, can DIY, and cost is under $150.

Next, while camping, depending on the coach batteries and their capacity, age, and condition, it is unlikely that you can even go 24 hours without a charge source. Even a small unit like ours it's common to consume about 100ah of power over 24 hours, so two RV deep cycles or a pair of golf cart batteries, are going to be sufficiently discharged as to require a charge source or they are going to be dead the next day. Worse, discharging them so deeply like that ruins them - likely way shortening their life. It is quite probable that your batteries are already weak and cannot hold sufficient charge. If they are more than a couple of years old it's highly likely they need to be replaced and better cared for. Discharging past 50% really takes a toll on them - they will get to where they won't fully recharge and won't hold a charge. Sounds like this is where you're at.

Let us know if we can of further help on the subject of 12v power and batteries. I have more than 30 years experience, marine as well as RV.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:39 PM   #6
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I had the same problems you describe in my 2005 Sightseer this past winter, including the power drain. Like you I used my jumpers to retract my jacks.

I found the trouble in the control panel. If I moved the control panel around I could get an open circuit to make a connection and my control panel would work. At first I could get eveything working and then screw the control panel back in place. After awhile it would only work if I removed the four screws and moved the control panel around till it would light up.

I contacted Power Gear who now owns Kwikee Level Best jack system. They were in the process of redesigning the control panel and told me that I would have to wait 4 to 6 weeks for new repair parts. After about 4 weeks I contacted Winnebago Parts and they had restocked their control panels. I installed the newly designed control panel and all has worked so far.

I am assuming the redesigned control panel is because of the failures in the old design.

I found Power Gear to be very helpful. They answered my e-mails and help me with my jack system.

Safe travels.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:20 AM   #7
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I'm going to try removing my control panel from the dash mount and see what I get as well. Maybe a new one would fix my issue as well. Gee, that would be peachy. LOL.
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Old 07-11-2014, 06:04 AM   #8
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[QUOTE=Yellowboat;2130977]I had the same problems you describe in my 2005 Sightseer this past winter, including the power drain. Like you I used my jumpers to retract my jacks.

QUOTE]

Thanks JD - we lef the panel disconnected for the drive home, and reconnected it after we arrived. We have tried the levelers and they seem to be working now but we will be keeping a close eye on this for sure.

Once you replaced the panel did the "power drain" stop? We will try leaving the panel disconnected and measure the voltage on the chassis battery for a few days - it would be nice if we could locate that power drain!

Thanks for the tips! We may be calling for the newer panel in the near future.
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Old 07-11-2014, 06:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJBROWN View Post
It is likely it simply needed a reset - disconnect from power and reconnect. If they're working they are likely to continue to work. If your battery got completely discharged that is likely what caused the issue in the first place.

Now, on the 'power drain'...
There are a lot of systems that rely on 12v so there is always a drain unless you shut down the master switch. There's the fridge board, propane sniffer, there could be basement lights on, any number of things. So keeping it plugged in during storage is suggested but only if you've upgraded the 12v converter - the unit that converts 110 to 12v and charges your house batteries. If you still have the old Parralax unit you need to get a IOTA or Progressive Dynamics one in the same amperage capacity of what you take out. It's an easy conversion, can DIY, and cost is under $150.

Next, while camping, depending on the coach batteries and their capacity, age, and condition, it is unlikely that you can even go 24 hours without a charge source. Even a small unit like ours it's common to consume about 100ah of power over 24 hours, so two RV deep cycles or a pair of golf cart batteries, are going to be sufficiently discharged as to require a charge source or they are going to be dead the next day. Worse, discharging them so deeply like that ruins them - likely way shortening their life. It is quite probable that your batteries are already weak and cannot hold sufficient charge. If they are more than a couple of years old it's highly likely they need to be replaced and better cared for. Discharging past 50% really takes a toll on them - they will get to where they won't fully recharge and won't hold a charge. Sounds like this is where you're at.

Let us know if we can of further help on the subject of 12v power and batteries. I have more than 30 years experience, marine as well as RV.
Thanks CJ - our Coach batteries are not the issue. We were told our unit does have the capability of charging the house batteries when we are on shore line and those batteries are stable and have not been discharging at all while we are docked. They are brand new this season - so no issues with the coach batteries yet.

Our power drain is on the chassis battery (also brand new this season and the former one was only 2 years old - Sears did a swap for us because we thought the battery was bad when we started seeing this issue). This battery goes from a full charge typically around 12.51 (after a 3 hours drive) down to around 11.80 in a weeks time while docked and on shore power. While not being fully discharged, that drop is enough to cause us to have to use the MOM button for a start. Our mechanic told us that typically Ford just doesn't like anything less than 12V to start the motor - GM will start with less. So we are not completely draining the chassis battery but enough to cause an issue starting the motor. We expect to see some drop as you mentioned there are several things running off this battery - the dash radio clock, the propane dectector, etc but in the last 4 years we have never dropped to the point of not being able to turn the motor over.

Question: In your experience, is it better to have the motor running to operate the slides and levelers? DH tends to just turn the key to "accessory" and I think he should start the motor first (or leave the motor running when we arrive)...the manual says either is acceptable but I think he's draining the battery further by not starting the motor first... it is a topic of discussion on every trip

We will also look into a new control panel for the levelers. We are running a test with that panel disconnected to see how quickly the battery drains without it...could it be something just that simple? Wouldn't that be nice!
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Old 07-11-2014, 09:13 AM   #10
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My Winnebago owners manual says to run the engine while operating the slides or levelers.

My engine battery will discharge in about three weeks. If yours goes down in a week it sounds like you have an unusual drain.
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Old 07-11-2014, 09:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cinbol View Post

Question: In your experience, is it better to have the motor running to operate the slides and levelers? DH tends to just turn the key to "accessory" and I think he should start the motor first (or leave the motor running when we arrive)...the manual says either is acceptable but I think he's draining the battery further by not starting the motor first... it is a topic of discussion on every trip
Absolutely yes. Not only does it keep the chassis battery from getting a severe workout - the slides are powered by the chassis batt and the slide motors are a big drain - but the extra voltage from the alternator makes them run faster.

Our bedroom slide is a different mechanism than the kitchen slide - the extra power just makes it run a lot faster.

Same for the jacks - they draw quite a lot of power so should be operated with the motor running.

Recently I found the 6W solar panel that was an option on ours came from the factory connected to the coach batteries. Well that's not enough to even maintain 220ah of batts, so I found the lead in the terminal blocks and moved it over to the chassis batt. I always had a chassis batt that would go dead in a couple of weeks as well, so now it stays peaked up.

With the new converter properly caring for the coach batts, and now the solar panel on the chassis, it's self sufficient while plugged in for storage. Should have addressed this stuff years ago.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:34 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=cinbol;2132646]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yellowboat View Post
I had the same problems you describe in my 2005 Sightseer this past winter, including the power drain. Like you I used my jumpers to retract my jacks.

QUOTE]

Thanks JD - we lef the panel disconnected for the drive home, and reconnected it after we arrived. We have tried the levelers and they seem to be working now but we will be keeping a close eye on this for sure.

Once you replaced the panel did the "power drain" stop? We will try leaving the panel disconnected and measure the voltage on the chassis battery for a few days - it would be nice if we could locate that power drain!

Thanks for the tips! We may be calling for the newer panel in the near future.
Yes, my power drain stopped. I did find that a wire to my brake controller had chaffed against the parking brake release and was sparking. I fixed the wire. I also unplugged my jack control panel and only plugged it in when I wanted to use my jacks.
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:04 PM   #13
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Regarding batteries, in my 2008 sightseer/ workhorse the chassis battery is not charging when connected to shore power. For storage purposes I use a battery charger set on maintain & plugged into the coach AC circuit to charge the chassis battery. I also use a knife switch to disconnect that battery. Regarding level best leveling systems, can they be calibrated? Mine sometims will say I am level I the floor is sloped one way or the other like a navy boat. Also do you auto level or manual level. What works best? I always auto level but have tried manual operation with no success.
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Old 07-18-2014, 06:35 AM   #14
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power drain not from the levelers

[QUOTE=Yellowboat;2133189]
Quote:
Originally Posted by cinbol View Post

Yes, my power drain stopped. I did find that a wire to my brake controller had chaffed against the parking brake release and was sparking. I fixed the wire. I also unplugged my jack control panel and only plugged it in when I wanted to use my jacks.
Thanks - we disconnected the panel and left it that way for over a week - the power drain has slowed but not stopped - 8 days later I am using the MOM button to start the coach. We will keep looking for that miser!
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