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Old 12-06-2013, 07:42 PM   #1
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No 12 volt power to coach

Our 2005 Itasca Meridian diesel pusher has been plugged into shore power for the last 10 days. Today, I was taking it back to storage and when I arrived at the storage place I turned on the generator before turning off the engine as we have done numerous times. It's hot here in Florida and I was going to putter around for a few minutes and wanted the coach air running. When I shut off the diesel engine the generator died and I heard the squealing noise the lp detector makes when it loses power.

Everything in the coach was dead. No 12 volt power anywhere. I check the coach battery switch and it's not working. Turn it on, nothing! Turn it off, nothing!

I check the push button circuit breakers above the generator and find two that say coach power. They don't appear to be popped, but I push on them anyway. Still nothing.

I feel the battery isolator and it's hot enough that I don't want to leave my hand on it. I check the voltage on one side of the isolator and get a reading of 12.7 volts. I check the other side and get a reading of 5 to 6 volts. The coach batteries are fully charged and even the Trimetric meter is reading 100 per cent.

As I'm standing there scratching my head, I begin to hear the lp detector squealing intermittently. I turn on the 12 volt ceiling lights and they are flickering on and off. Starting to sound like an intermittent connection.

I'm not sure where to go from here.

I forgot to mention that I can still start the diesel engine, and when I do so, I get all the 12 volt coach power back. I can also start the generator while the main engine is running. But as soon as I shut off the diesel, everything dies.

It similar to turning off the the battery isolator switch. Only that switch doesn't appear to be functioning under these conditions. As it was getting dark, and I was ready to go home, I disconnected the positive lead from the coach batteries so that the intermittent connection wouldn't end up frying my coach.

I am doing what research I can but no one on the forum seems to have experienced a similar problem. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 12-06-2013, 08:39 PM   #2
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I have never had that happen but I understand my electrical system well. It sounds to me you have a failing latching solenoid. I am not sure where yours is but mine is behind a panel in the electrical bay on the drivers side. When you operate your coach power shut off switch it triggers the solenoid and it either shuts off the 12V power or turns it on. I would check the 12V battery cables for bad grounds or corroded cables all the way back to the latching Solenoid. When you locate your solenoid you can have somebody operate the switch and check for 12V in and 12V out. You should have equal power coming out as going in. You should hear or feel the solenoid when somebody operates the switch from off to on and vice versa. If you have 12v coming out than check from that point to your 12V fuse panel. I hope I have at least given you something to check on. Please let us know what you find as we all learn from each other when these things happen.

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Old 12-07-2013, 10:22 AM   #3
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Frank, I tried to find your AUX relay location and battery wiring. This thing can also be called a B.I.R.D. relay. It it a 250A continuous duty relay that most automotive electrical shops carry. Remove the ground wire from both the coach and start batteries before you change this thing. That hot relay is the one I believe.

Mine failed in my '05 Vectra. Once replaced all worked fine again. Some folks go with the Trik-l-start system but this thing costs about $45 and gives a good charge to the batteries when working correctly. In short, it is a differential relay. The hot battery pushes the relay (charging) contacts to the weaker battery.

Hope you get things back up and running soon.

Rick
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:02 AM   #4
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Thanks for the ideas. The coach is in the storage lot and we're spending the weekend concentrating on Christmas decorations, so it'll probably be Monday before I can try your ideas.

I was also thinking about using a jumper cable to connect the hot side of the solenoid to the load side and essentially bypass the solenoid just for a test. If that works, that should indicate either a faulty solenoid or a faulty relay.

I also have a request for price in to Litschinn in Forest City for a replacement solenoid.

Isn't almost always the case that these problems pop up just when you are planning a trip? Ours starts the day after Christmas, provided I can fix this issue.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by fputnam View Post
Thanks for the ideas. The coach is in the storage lot and we're spending the weekend concentrating on Christmas decorations, so it'll probably be Monday before I can try your ideas.

I was also thinking about using a jumper cable to connect the hot side of the solenoid to the load side and essentially bypass the solenoid just for a test. If that works, that should indicate either a faulty solenoid or a faulty relay.

I also have a request for price in to Litschinn in Forest City for a replacement solenoid.

Isn't almost always the case that these problems pop up just when you are planning a trip? Ours starts the day after Christmas, provided I can fix this issue.

Thanks again.
Check with the factory service center also. The price may be better. If you have an automotive electrical shop handy they might do the job for you. Won't hurt to ask.

Merry Christmas and safe travels,
Rick
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:05 AM   #6
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Agree with the others..... likely culprit is your domestic power solenoid, latching solenoid, whatever Winne calls it. Mine failed on my Allure and I just used a jumper for a while until I could replace the solenoid.

Get a good one.... Blue Sea makes a great 400 amp continuous duty solenoid. Got mine on Amazon for $100 less than the price quoted by the folks at Country Coach.
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:15 AM   #7
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Check with the factory service center also. The price may be better. If you have an automotive electrical shop handy they might do the job for you. Won't hurt to ask.
No sense in checking with the factory service center. They don't sell direct. You can purchase from them when you are there and even get a 10% discount if you are a WIT member.
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Old 12-09-2013, 06:20 AM   #8
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No sense in checking with the factory service center. They don't sell direct. You can purchase from them when you are there and even get a 10% discount if you are a WIT member.
Hi John. I thought these folks were going to FC, that's why I suggested the factory. You are correct in saying that they don't sell direct. I wish they did. The folks at the desk are great and can find any part for "your" coach. I have a couple of crown moldings I want to replace. Getting them through a dealer is not a happy thought. I may try when I am in the Austin area. The dealer down there seems to be OK by some. But I still trust the folks in FC more.

Happy trails,
Rick
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jerichorick View Post
Hi John. I thought these folks were going to FC, that's why I suggested the factory. You are correct in saying that they don't sell direct. I wish they did. The folks at the desk are great and can find any part for "your" coach. I have a couple of crown moldings I want to replace. Getting them through a dealer is not a happy thought. I may try when I am in the Austin area. The dealer down there seems to be OK by some. But I still trust the folks in FC more.

Happy trails,
Rick
When we had our Winnebago, I always got my Winne parts from Lichtsinn Motors in FC. David or Lonnie in their parts department were always able to get what I needed and their shipping was quick.
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Old 12-09-2013, 05:28 PM   #10
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Well don't I feel especially smart tonight. I spent the afternoon working on what I thought was the disconnect solenoid only to suddenly realize it was a actually the battery combiner solenoid. After it suddenly dawned on me what I was doing I put everything back together and went back to the condo and called Winnebago.

I should have done this in the first place, but I was anxious to be doing something (even though it was apparently wrong). The tech in Forest City patiently explained that I was looking in the wrong of the coach and that I would probably have much better luck if I would check in the electric compartment where the 50 amp cord is stored.

So tomorrow I will check where he suggested and see if I can find the elusive solenoid.

This is what I spent the afternoon dissecting, testing and reassembling. (Wrong end Frank!)

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Old 12-09-2013, 09:16 PM   #11
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You found it!

The relay/solenoid that is controlled by the house battery disconnect switch is right there in front of you, behind all that foam sealant. I'm glad you took a picture. In the bay where your power cord comes in would be 1.) Your Automatic Transfer Switch which switches your 120 volt ac between shore power and generator power, and MAYBE 2). Your 120 volt ac to 12 volt dc converter. Here is how I would proceed: GENERATOR RUNNING: with your coach battery disconnect switch in the on position, you should have 12 volts on both of the big terminals of the solenoid. If you don't have 12 volts on either side you need to check the output of the converter. If you have 12 volts on one of the big terminals only, then you probably have a bad solenoid. But to check for sure, you need to make sure that the solenoid is getting the signal from the switch. But the signal is only applied while the switch is being pressed.
You are very close to solving this. Hang in there. Make the checks above and let us know what you find.
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Old 12-10-2013, 06:59 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by fputnam View Post
Well don't I feel especially smart tonight. I spent the afternoon working on what I thought was the disconnect solenoid only to suddenly realize it was a actually the battery combiner solenoid. After it suddenly dawned on me what I was doing I put everything back together and went back to the condo and called Winnebago.

I should have done this in the first place, but I was anxious to be doing something (even though it was apparently wrong). The tech in Forest City patiently explained that I was looking in the wrong of the coach and that I would probably have much better luck if I would check in the electric compartment where the 50 amp cord is stored.

So tomorrow I will check where he suggested and see if I can find the elusive solenoid.

This is what I spent the afternoon dissecting, testing and reassembling. (Wrong end Frank!)

I don't know what you told the guy at Winne but he certainly is sending you off on a wild goose chase. Like post #11 says. Stay out of the 120V bay!

The relay with the yellow control wires is the one you want. Did you locate a replacement yet? The replacement may be all metal. Not to worry. The keys are "continuous" duty, 200A (400A inrush) and silver contacts. I am certain a truck parts store will have this if you can't find a automotive electrical shop near by.

Your installation is, literally, straight forward. My relay was in a tight spot on a side wall. Those big cables have strong wills.

We all look forward to your final fix.

Rick

You have a lot of digging to do to get that old one free. No mice coming in those holes!
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:32 AM   #13
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Jerichoric, the OP is looking for the battery disconnect solenoid, not the battery isolation solenoid. It is a latching relay, but is right there in front of him.
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:49 AM   #14
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RV's have two different types of battery solenoids that do different functions.

There is the Battery Isolator Solenoid that is used to combine the two battery banks, House and Chassis, when needed in emergencies to either start the engine or start the generator.

The second type is called the Battery Cut-Off Solenoid. This one is located on the HOUSE battery circuit only. Sometimes, RV's will have two of these however, mine only had one.

If you lose 12 VDC House power then it is generally the Battery Cut-Off Solenoid that has failed. Most people who don't use that switch and solenoid just bypass the solenoid and be done with it. I did 9 years ago and I haven't had any more problems since then.

Those solenoids are a high failure item and generally they fail at the most inconvenient times when it's cold dark and raining outside.

Bypass the stupid thing and you won't have to worry about losing all of the 12 VDC power to your house again.

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Old 12-10-2013, 01:05 PM   #15
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To the best of my knowledge, here is the real scoop. On our Itasca Meridian DP there is no battery disconnect in the electric compartment where the 50 amp cord is stored. So maybe I misunderstood the Winnebago tech. After going back to the condo last night and studying the wiring diagrams again I found a page that clearly identifies the "Battery Disconnect Relay". It was the use of the word relay that was confusing me. In my experience a relay is used to control other devices such as solenoids. And you were right, it's sitting in the right hand side of the picture I posted. However, it turns out that's not the problem!

As much as I think I do a pretty good of maintaining our coach I have failed miserably on this item. Squeezing four 6 volt batteries into a space formerly occupied by two twelve volt batteries means space is very tight, probably too tight. But I wanted the capacity of the four 6 volts.

This means it is very hard to see the cables attached to inner most batteries. Even thought I can fill batteries with distilled water when necessary, that rear cable remains invisible unless I remove the batteries.

So, what happened is the rear cable that was hidden, corroded so badly it broke off from the lug connected to the battery. Thus, no 12 volt power to the coach.

However, I was still getting a 6 - 7. volt reading at the battery disconnect relay! Where was that coming from? My theory is that it is coming from the small solar panel installed by Winnebago. When the sun is shining it produces just enough electricity to cause interior led lights to flicker when the light switch is on.

After I get this cable repaired I'll report back with the final results.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:49 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by fputnam View Post
To the best of my knowledge, here is the real scoop. On our Itasca Meridian DP there is no battery disconnect in the electric compartment where the 50 amp cord is stored. So maybe I misunderstood the Winnebago tech. After going back to the condo last night and studying the wiring diagrams again I found a page that clearly identifies the "Battery Disconnect Relay". It was the use of the word relay that was confusing me. In my experience a relay is used to control other devices such as solenoids. And you were right, it's sitting in the right hand side of the picture I posted. However, it turns out that's not the problem!

As much as I think I do a pretty good of maintaining our coach I have failed miserably on this item. Squeezing four 6 volt batteries into a space formerly occupied by two twelve volt batteries means space is very tight, probably too tight. But I wanted the capacity of the four 6 volts.

This means it is very hard to see the cables attached to inner most batteries. Even thought I can fill batteries with distilled water when necessary, that rear cable remains invisible unless I remove the batteries.

So, what happened is the rear cable that was hidden, corroded so badly it broke off from the lug connected to the battery. Thus, no 12 volt power to the coach.

However, I was still getting a 6 - 7. volt reading at the battery disconnect relay! Where was that coming from? My theory is that it is coming from the small solar panel installed by Winnebago. When the sun is shining it produces just enough electricity to cause interior led lights to flicker when the light switch is on.

After I get this cable repaired I'll report back with the final results.
Holy CRUD Frank!

Have you read the discussion on using mineral oil in the batteries? Edison did this to reduce maintenance. Pure mineral oil will not mix or react to the electrolyte. The folks I have read that have done this for years do not use battery watering systems. They fill the battery as usual and then add enough oil to cover the surface. It cuts down on the corrosive gasses and slows evaporation greatly. You can't use too much oil (within reason), but use enough to have a bit more than just a film.

I think you can get it at any pharmacy. It is considered a laxative. It will certainly sooth your pain!
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Old 12-12-2013, 06:08 PM   #17
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Problem Solved and Lesson Learned

Once again the coach has 12 volt power. The tried and true method of "Follow the Power" is what led to the solution.

At the MOM solenoid there was 12 volts on the chassis side and 6 - 7 volts on the house side. It was the 6 - 7 volts that was throwing me. That and a less than clear understanding of the main 12 volt cable wiring diagram.

I still think the 6 - 7 volts is coming from the solar panel and several nights of studying the Winnebago wiring diagrams finally resulted in the "aha!".

The wiring diagram finally made me realize that both sides of the MOM solenoid should be seeing 12 volts and that the Battery Isolator Relay had nothing to do with the problem the coach was experiencing.

The next step was to trace the 12 volt main cable from the battery compartment to the MOM solenoid. I was reading 12.65 volts at the batteries and 6 - 7 volts at the MOM. That meant the problem had to be between those two items.

I pulled out the battery tray and other than it being dirty, I could see nothing obvious. Remember though, with the battery tray pulled out, I can only see half of the inner most batteries. So I crawled underneath the coach to see where that long cable (to the MOM) went, hoping there was a fuse in the run that had blown.

Much to my dismay, when I started to trace the cable what I found was a green fuzzy mass at the end of a cable just hanging there, not attached to anything. Well, that certainly doesn't look good!

I drug out a support to hold up the battery tray, necessary to prevent the tray from collapsing when I remove the stops on the tray slide. This is necessary to allow me to see the back half of those two inner most batteries.

This is what I found...

http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blo...0;src=postname

There was a lug, but no battery cable.

I had to cut several inches off the cable and crimp on a new lug. I won't be able to do that again as the cable is no longer long enough to sacrifice any length. While I was in this deep, I removed and cleaned up all the batteries and made a new cable to replace one that looked suspicious.

Everything now works as it should, and those of you that said "It's the batteries", were correct. Thank you.

So, twice a year, I will now include removing the slide stops so I can see the back side of the inner most batteries as a maintenance item.

Lesson learned.
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