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Old 09-29-2011, 02:11 PM   #1
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Chassis Battery

Neither my hubby or I are mechanical AT ALL. We have new batteries all around in our 05 Itasca Meridian. Ten days ago, rig started. Last night we tried to start it and battery was so weak that even with the boost from the Mom, it would not start. Moved some switches on the dash to on (main and auxillary) and unit is plugged in and went up this morning and is deader than it was last night! What the heck are we doing wrong?????! House batteries seem fine!
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:24 PM   #2
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I'm not familiar with your coach but on my coach I have a feature Called the B.I.R.D that charges the chassis batteries while the coach is connected to shore power. The B.I.R.D controlls a solenoid that connects the coach and chassis batteries together when it senses the chassis batteries are below a certain voltage. Sometime these solenoids go bad. My solenoid is located in the power compartment where the power cable is stored, I'm not sure where yours is located. I would also check your chassis battery connections.
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Old 09-29-2011, 03:42 PM   #3
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Your coach was built around the tme that they started having a lot of problems with parasite drains on the chassis batteries. Winnebago added a chassis battery disconnect and TrikLstart to resolve the issue. I believe that they provided a retro installation on coaches that had the problem.

If you don't have the disconnect by the radiator, you might want to check the above mentioned items. If you do, you should make sure that the TrikLstart is working by checking the chassis and coach batteries. Voltage on both should be over 13 volts when plugged into shore power.
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:08 PM   #4
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The wiring diagrams for your coach do not indicate you have a BIRD system nor a Trick-L-Charge system. It is possible one could have been added. Like ernieh indicated, if one was added it most likely would have been installed in the front electrical compartment accessed via hood under front winshield. Sounds like either your chassis battery has been completely discharged, the cables may be corroded or both.

In order for the house charging functions (converter, inverter/charger, solar, generator, etc.) to work, the Aux Battery switch (dash right side) must be in the ON position.

Suggest you place Aux Battery ON and then start the generator so it is supplying additional charging voltage to the Aux battery. That charging voltage will either come from a converter or if you have the Diminsions Inverter/Charger option then it will come from that. Select and hold the Aux Start switch for about 5 minutes to allow the chassis battery to accept some level charge before attempting to start the engine. You have to keep the Aux Start switch in the ON position while trying to start the engine. Once started, the engine alternator will start charging the chassis battery but it takes a fairly long while if the battery has been completely discharged. I would let the engine run for 15 minutes or so to let a partial charge occur then drive the rig for 30 minutes or do. That way it is not just ideling for an extended period.

Please understand that not only are their parasitic loads on the chassis components (i'e dash gauges and such) but the automatic steps are also connected to the chassis battery. If you leave the step switch (left of main entry door) ON when coach is stored, it will place a large drain on the chassis battery. It needs to be OFF when coach is stored. All of these parasitic loads most likely drained the chassis battery down and you will have to recharge the battery.

If you have the Dimensions Inverter/Converter option (remote panel would be on the wall), then it has a built in 3 stage charger system which is ideal for charging/maintianing the batteries. You can add a Trick-L-Charge or BIRD system however your coach does need to be connected to shore power while in storage to use the charging function. Both systems use the house battery charging system to charge/maintain the chassis battery. When the Aux Battery switch is in the OFF position, the coach battery system is isolated from the house charging systems.

Caution: Now matter what type of charging/maintainer system is used, you should check battery condition monthly to ensure the batteries do not boil dry.

Try using a dry spray silicon lubricant on the battery drawer slides. You need to get them moving freely so you can perform periodic battery maintenance. The periodic battery maintenace is the reason the manual suggests you not to leave the rig plugged in while in storage. In effect they are saying people are to lazy to peform the periodic maintenance. Problem is, the more toys we want means a little more care has to be applied.

Dave
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:34 PM   #5
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Dave,

Thanks for sharing so much helpful detail. Darn things aren't worth a lick without starting power!

Joopy
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JanineG View Post
Neither my hubby or I are mechanical AT ALL. We have new batteries all around in our 05 Itasca Meridian. Ten days ago, rig started. Last night we tried to start it and battery was so weak that even with the boost from the Mom, it would not start. Moved some switches on the dash to on (main and auxillary) and unit is plugged in and went up this morning and is deader than it was last night! What the heck are we doing wrong?????! House batteries seem fine!
i see that you are located in centralia, wa.
call brazels rv at 559.855.7300. they are a sponsor of this forum.
here is some basic info electric system info that may help you.

Electrical Tutorial
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:35 AM   #7
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As I understand it Winnebago did not begin installing Trik-l-start until 2006.

Most likely the relay that isolates the chasis battery from the house battery is dead. Teh older cheaper ones are famous for failure. Newer better ones have silver contacts. The house battery charger does not charge the chasis battery and if the relay is bad, holding the boost switch will do no good.

You can use good jumber cables to charge the chasis batteries as a temp fix until you can have the relay replaced. Of course if the engin is started it will charge both sets of batteries.

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Old 10-01-2011, 09:12 AM   #8
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JanineG,
While most of your question has been answered, what you really need to do is, check and verify that your coach does OR DOES NOT have a charge that is SUPPOSED to be going to the chassis batteries while plugged into shore power. When I had this same kind of problem a few weeks ago, it was debated on here, just like your answers are, and based on what was said back then, and, other resources, our '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the 330 CAT, HAS NO CHARGING CIRCUIT TO THE CHASSIS BATTERIES when plugged into shore power.

It was set up that way from the factory. It is true that the later Winnies and Itasca's, are set up with the "trik-l-start" charging circuit for the chassis batts in what appears to be '06. My fix was very simple. I had a Napa battery charger sitting around so, I permanently hard wired it into the system to charge the chassis batteries when plugged in. I tied it into a new breaker in my electrical panel at the foot of the bed. That way I can shut it off if need be. A cheap and effecient fix. The "Trik-L-Start" I think is around $55.00 or so and would have been a fairly easy install in the electrical compartment near the Dimensions Inverter, if I recall.

I'm certainly no electrical genius here, I fix what I can fix. If there's and actual system for charging the chassis batts in my coach, that's set up from the factory, I've yet to find it.
Scott
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:20 AM   #9
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Here's the Winnebago Service Tip with instructions for installing the Trik-L-Start: 2006-04 Trik-L-Start . It's a very easy install.
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:14 AM   #10
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As Mentioned in prior posts; Some motorhomes DO NOT cross charge. When pluged into shore they will NOT charge the chassic/engine batteries. And when Running the Main engine That will NOT charge the coach Batteries; Is is good or bad I'm not one to say; That's just the way it is; Life is good. I just Installed a good Tappering Battery charger. $100.00 or so bucks. No more problems; Life is better
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Old 10-01-2011, 04:59 PM   #11
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I've been thinking of adding a trickle charger for the starting battery on our motor home, this looks like an easy way to do the same thing and for about the same amount of money as a trickle charger.

Ultra TRIK-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magumba View Post
I've been thinking of adding a trickle charger for the starting battery on our motor home, this looks like an easy way to do the same thing and for about the same amount of money as a trickle charger.

Ultra TRIK-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer
Magumba,
If I had it to do over again, I'd do the TRIK-L-START instead of doing it the way I did. My way was easy and it works but, this appears to be even easier. I stated how I did mine, I added a breaker in my 110V A/C panel (I had spare spaces) and tied my NAPA battery charger/maintainer to the new breaker and then hard wired it to the battery posts. I now can turn off that charger if and when needed. It's a good charger and we used a zillion of them in the fire department.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why, a coach manufacturer like Winnebago/Itasca, can charge $217,000, (Sticker price for ours when it was new ) and IT CAN'T EVEN CHARGE THE CHASSIS BATTERIES WHEN PLUGGED IN!!!!!!!! I mean, what gives with that?????? You'd think they could throw in a charger for the chassis batts for that amount wouldn't ya think? Geesh!

Anyway, with the TRIK-L-START or even my way, it's remedied. And life goes on and gets better.
Scott
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:26 AM   #13
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As I suggested in the other forum, unplug the coach, hold the aux on the dash in and start the engine off the house, then your alternator will charge the chassis(engine) You can buy a heavy duty Battery Minder or Tender or Trickle Start for about $39.00 at a sporting goods store and put it on the chassis battery to keep it charged while plugged in. Your Dimensions inverter will charge the house batteries.

We have Battery Tenders on the coach for the chassis battery. We also have them on the tractor and motorcycle to keep the batteries from freezing over the winter. Easier than removing them. Good Luck
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:21 PM   #14
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In our Fleet; We installed the Trickel/batterytender, Will I still have a hand full of them on the shelve;; They will maintain a Fully battery while in storrage; If you have a dead battery and wait for that thing to charge the battery. You'll be dead Before the battery is charged... Install you a good charger Hard wire it in.. NOT all coaches are wired to charge both batteries; Life is good;;
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Old 10-06-2011, 01:50 AM   #15
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A great big thanks to all of you who took the time to help us. We put a charger on the chassis batteries overnight and we were ready to roll the next day. We had no further battery issues over the weekend. From what I was able to read in our manuals, it definitely does not look like our chassis batteries are charged in any way while connected to shore power. We will definitely be putting a battery minder on. Oh and one more thing.......Imagine my surprise when my phone rang the morning after my post and on the other end was a fella from Winnebago!!!! He called to try to help us! I could not believe it! Now THAT is service above and beyond!!!! WOW!!!!!!!
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:56 PM   #16
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After a few more months of dealing with a starting battery that is being eaten up by phantom loads I installed a TRIK-L-START today. I intalled it directly to the batteries. Cost was $50 with shipping.
I'll still start the engine every few weeks so it starts when I needed.
Merry Christmas.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:05 AM   #17
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The problem with all the tricle chargers and battery minders is that the coach has to be plugged in for them to work. Even the trickle start now installed at the factory only works when 120V is present. While it doesn't directly use the house current it has to sense that the house batteries can be charged before it will activate itself to charge/maintain the chassis batteries

We did 2 things to prevent the chassis battery from discharging. First of all we installed a chassis battery disconnect. Anytime the coach is in storage the chassis battery is disconnected so there's little possibility of it going dead.

Secondly we changed out the original MOM switch for a 3 position switch. When the bottom of the switch is depressed toward the dash it works just like the original MOM switch in the "off" position. Both the chassis and the house batteries are charged only when the engine is running. When in the center or neutral position there is no current going to the solenoid and the house batteries are not charged when the engine is running. When the top of the switch is depressed toward the dash all the batteries are charged by either the engine alternator when driving, or the house charger when plugged into shore power. (This change was suggested by a Winnebago Rep at the 2006 GNR. I installed it shortly after the rally and it's worked flawlessly for the last 5 years)

While camped I occasionally check the chassis battery state of charge at the One Place monitor. When is shows some state of discharge I just activate the switch and the house battery charger takes over.

Older coaches (I believe 2005 and prior) do not have a factory installed trickle charger. Also all the 12 volt outlets are connected to the the chassis batteries. If you have a GPS system cell phone charger or the factory family radios they all work off the chassis batteries. Newer coaches either come with or have an option for the trickle charger. The wiring was also changed so that the 12 volt outlets work off the house batteries.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:21 AM   #18
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We are always plugged in so the TRK-L-START works well for us but I can see an advantage to another setup if your motor home is not plugged in. One thing I like about the trickle start is it will not allow the house batteries to be discharged by phantom loads on the engine battery if we are unplugged from shore power.

Interesting idea to add a function to the momentary start switch. Our first camper was an 89 Coachman which was not set up by the factory to charge the house battery when the engine was running. I added a continuous duty solenoid and a lighted switch to allow the engine to charge the house battery. This worked both ways. We had an alternator failure once and I drove home using the generator to charge the house and starting battery. You could do the same thing with your setup. I had to be sure to turn the switch off when we stopped or all the batteries would be discharged, why I used a lighted switch.
Could you post a diagram of how you wired the switch?

Also interesting that the FRS radios are charged by the starting battery, so that is where some of the power is going. Also explains why the radios are not fully charged when we break camp.

Merry Christmas and happy camping.
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Old 12-23-2011, 01:14 PM   #19
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Sorry Magumba, I didn't make a diagram at the time and the motorhome is 30 miles away in storage. To complicate things I also added a pilot light that would be lit when the batteries were linked together. That way I wouldn"t leave them connected when there was no shore power or have them disconnected while driving down the road
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:21 AM   #20
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JanineG,

You don't have a TRK-L-START in the 05 Meridian I installed one in my 05 39k in about half an hour. The installation in done in the DC panel loacted over the Onan gererator. Pull the metal cover off, 4 quick turn releases and you have easy access. You will need to drill two holes to mount the unit. The rest is wrenches for nuts.If you have it, some dilectric grease is a good idea.

Before installing mine the batteries were down in two weeks.
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