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Old 08-09-2012, 01:13 PM   #1
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Checking House Batteries Water Level

I am looking for some do's and don'ts when I inspect the water level for my house batteries. We are leaving next week on our first big trip from Cali to Texas and I am checking fluid levels. When I pulled out the battery tray I found the battery cables covering the cell caps. See my pictures below.

I know where the main power disconnects are on my coach besides turning them off is there anything else I should insure is off before disconnecting any of the battery cables?

Any thoughts on pulling the cables off to gain access to the cell caps? Seems pretty straight forward but I did not want to be surprised by a rookie mistake.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:04 PM   #2
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Wow, that is not nice. Just be careful not to allow the cables to touch anything when you remove them. It looks to me like if you switched the cables end for end they would go around the battery caps when you reinstall them. I'd do something different to make it easier next time. No matter what the photo will help when reattaching to make sure you get it right.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:08 PM   #3
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You don't want the batteries feeding anything when you start pulling cables to avoid sparks.

I see you have four 12v in parallel. Just remove the NEG cable from the ground or the first battery the groung goes to. That will take the whole bank down and then do what you need to do. If you take the main POS cable off the bank, just make sure when you are finished, connect the POS first and the NEG very last.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:24 PM   #4
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Chief,
I had the same problem with just two batteries but I cannot pull out my shelf and I have to fill in the crowded space. I remembered in my younger days doing preventative maintenance on military vehicles a "battery filler" we used for those tight spaces. If you do a search on the words "batter filler" without the quotes it will come up with the pictures of them. You just push the nozzle down and it will automatically fill to the proper level. If it is already full it just doesn't do anything. And yes to all the others I know there are other systems out there, but this one only cost me $7.

Also Chief, I had to reroute the cables to give me access. A couple I noticed on yours could just be pushed aside. As stated, no problem in rerouting them just be careful. You may also want to consider the spray on battery terminal protector you can pick up in any auto store. I sure saves on acid corrosion if there should be any attempts to act up.

Happy trails.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:35 PM   #5
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Yeah, that's not nice at all. I just finished my annual battery maintenance yesterday and it's not fun under the best conditions.

If you can work in the 3 hours it's probably going to take, I'd sure recommend removing, cleaning and rerouting all cables. When you re install them, obviously you'll do it in a way that makes your battery caps accessible in the future.

Another suggestion: I see you have the same type of battery hold down straps I have and your cables rub against the threaded posts.

We recently had a member who posted about their coach catching fire because of this. While traveling, the positive cable had become shorted to ground and it didn't take long for flames to be flying out of the back of his rig.

Frankly, that scared me to death and I've just covered all of the posts with short sections of 1/4" fuel line, added additional insulation in key areas, and secured all cables with heavy duty tie wraps.

Travel Safely

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Old 08-09-2012, 04:11 PM   #6
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Get 2 sets of these to make it easy the next time. Don't forget the pump.
Flow-rite RV Battery filling systems, Quick Fill, Qwikfill, profill, pro-fill, battery water level Camping World - Flow-rite RV Battery filling systems, Quick Fill, Qwikfill, profill, pro-fill, battery water level - Product - Camping World
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Old 08-09-2012, 05:26 PM   #7
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I think you will find those are maintenance free batteries (despite having caps). Hence why the cabling is as it is.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickO View Post
We recently had a member who posted about their coach catching fire because of this. While traveling, the positive cable had become shorted to ground and it didn't take long for flames to be flying out of the back of his rig.

Frankly, that scared me to death and I've just covered all of the posts with short sections of 1/4" fuel line, added additional insulation in key areas, and secured all cables with heavy duty tie wraps.

Travel Safely

Rick
Thanks to everyone who posted some great tips. I am going to tackle this first thing in the AM before the temp climbs above 100.

Rick thanks for pointing out the posts rubbing on the cables. Fire is one of my biggest fears. I will make some changes to make sure that does not happen.

Thanks to all. Stay Safe
Doug
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:06 AM   #9
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If you are going to take it all apart, take a few pictures first to help you get it back together correctly.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
I think you will find those are maintenance free batteries (despite having caps). Hence why the cabling is as it is.

FAQ at Interstate
Interstate Batteries FAQ :: How do I maintain my battery?
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Vince thanks for the link it was most helpful. I found a significant number of cells that did require water to raise them to the proper level according to the FAQ.
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:26 AM   #12
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I found a Don't. Don't mess with the small white cable that is attached to the last battery negative lug. When I took the cables off of this last lug the white cable pulled free of the connector. I attached a picture below of the cable and connector.

Not knowing what cable was for I called the service person at my dealer who was totally useless. Not sure if this was on purpose, since his only response was bring my RV into him so he could charge me a labor fee, or he really is just dumb. I called Winnebago service line and I spoke with a rep who brought up the same wiring diagram I had from the internet. We talked and compared the different wires until I was sure he was looking at the same cable that I was. He had difficulty identifying what the wire was used for but after a bit he came back on the line and said that both wires connected to the negative terminal. While professional and polite he also was completely wrong.

I put everything back together, connecting the white cable to the negative battery lug and had a error message on my Inverter panel. Using the error message I found that the end of the cable is actually a temperature sensor for the Inverter. To late to help me since by then I had damaged it beyond repair. The local RV supply store could not identify the cable to order a replacement so I will be calling the manufacturer in the morning.

My DW is not happy with me as we have not been able to recharge the batteries all weekend and I am sure the repair bill is going to be large.

What frustrates me is that the cable was not marked, the wiring diagrams did not identify what it was for or any sort of caution flags and neither support person I spoke with had a clue. So far my full time RV experience has been less then what I had hoped for.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne M View Post
Chief,
I had the same problem with just two batteries but I cannot pull out my shelf and I have to fill in the crowded space. I remembered in my younger days doing preventative maintenance on military vehicles a "battery filler" we used for those tight spaces. If you do a search on the words "batter filler" without the quotes it will come up with the pictures of them. You just push the nozzle down and it will automatically fill to the proper level. If it is already full it just doesn't do anything. And yes to all the others I know there are other systems out there, but this one only cost me $7.

Also Chief, I had to reroute the cables to give me access. A couple I noticed on yours could just be pushed aside. As stated, no problem in rerouting them just be careful. You may also want to consider the spray on battery terminal protector you can pick up in any auto store. I sure saves on acid corrosion if there should be any attempts to act up.

Happy trails.
A real "watering" system is even easier, although expensive (but you do it once).

The picture below shows the watering system I installed well before I got tired of the clutter on the the battery and rewired the entire thing.

Either way, you grab a jug of distilled water, the bulb hose, snap onto it's mate shown on the hose and pump away until they are all full and shut off. I pull the tray only once a year to rinse the filler caps and make sure no crud is in them.

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Old 08-15-2012, 11:18 AM   #14
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Doug: I don't know if it will do any good, but personally I would argue the fact that the thermocouple was grounded to that lug in the 1st place. My Dimensions, and my Magnum are both floating as they should be. That lug is simply a mechanism to solidly attach the lug to the battery for readings. While they say it should go on the negative post, I would question why it matters?

Maybe Gary will stumble across this and comment from Magnums side?
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