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Old 09-21-2017, 04:35 AM   #1
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Coach batteries NOT charging

I just now joined this great forum and would like to contribute what solved my "no charging" problem.
This will only affect a small number of us, but it is vital for the ones it does.
First, I bought my 2007 Winnebago Adventurer 33V two years ago from a knowledgeable retired engineer.
Being stored for months this cold winter, I found the chassis (engine) battery too weak to start the coach. When I tried the "battery boost" switch, I heard a click but still not cranking. The coach batteries were low, at 10.8 volts, but should provide something, so I suspected the battery boost solenoid. I started the engine by jumping the coach and chassis battery positive terminals with an open pair of pliers.
Stay with me, it gets worse!
With engine running, chassis battery was charging, but coach batteries were not. Must be the solenoid!
Bought a new solenoid from Camping World (same price as ebay, amazon, etc). On installation, it was strange to find a Ford starting solenoid there. Must have had the problem before.
Installed correct solenoid and checked operation. Good, it clicks and works when the boost switch is pressed, but, OMG, it still is NOT charging the coach batteries!
Is that normal? After scouring the manual and much internet research, I found that it should be charging them.
Started diagnosis by removing the, very difficult, battery boost switch. Using an ohm meter, found the switch was good. Checked the switch socket and there was voltage on one terminal, as there should be. Manually jumped the voltage to each of the other two socket terminals, and the solenoid would kick in. So why didn't it work with the switch.
A close look and another, bigger "OMG". The small spade socket on top was installed in the wrong slot!!! Most likely that way from the factory, which means the coach batteries NEVER charged from the engine alternator.
I inserted a very small nail to free the spade terminal from the plastic housing, bent its holding tang back up again, and pushed it into the next opening lower (the proper one). Reinstalled the switch and now all works as it should. I was very happy to see the same charging voltage on all the batteries.
I can't imagine that this could happen anywhere, except where the wiring harness was assembled.
I wonder if there are any others like this?
I have attached before and after photos of the switch and socket. You can see the top connector, in the wrong position, in the first photo and fixed in the second photo.

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Old 09-22-2017, 11:42 AM   #2
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Welcome to irv2. Thank you for your post.

I have seen this charging problem many times over the years. I have never seen this as a fix. I am wondering. Did you consulted your wiring diagram during your troubleshooting process? The most common cause of one bank or the other not charging is the failure of the Aux solenoid. Under normal operation either the house or the start battery are being charged. Not both at the same time. They are isolated form one another because the batteries have different design purposes and loading/charging specs.

The normal chain of events for charging our batteries, in my experience, is the lower charged battery is the one that gets the charging attention. When it is satisfied the solenoid switches to the other battery. In the applications I have been exposed to this happens from the engine alternator while on the road or from the inverter when on shore power. I have not experienced both the house and chassis battery receiving charging simultaneously.

I hope your fix is the correct one for this type of operation.

Happy trails,
Rick Y
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Old 09-22-2017, 02:11 PM   #3
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Rick,
As you can see in the photos, it did fix the problem. As said, this situation existed since the motorhome was new.
I don't know if it was a one time mistake at the factory or if many were affected.
Of the 3 Class A's we had, all charged the batteries on the same circuit, when the engine was running. If one or two batteries were more run down and had lower voltage, more charging current would naturally go to them, until their voltage equaled the others. I don't see any reason to do it another way.
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Old 09-23-2017, 09:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyking View Post
Rick,
As you can see in the photos, it did fix the problem. As said, this situation existed since the motorhome was new.
I don't know if it was a one time mistake at the factory or if many were affected.
Of the 3 Class A's we had, all charged the batteries on the same circuit, when the engine was running. If one or two batteries were more run down and had lower voltage, more charging current would naturally go to them, until their voltage equaled the others. I don't see any reason to do it another way.
I do understand that your "fix" "worked". My caution to you is, are you charging the batteries in the correct sequence or simply shotgun charging all of the batteries in your rig? If moving the switch to keep the Aux relay energized all the time is your fix, as I understand it, you may be doing more damage than good in time to come.

As I read your OP my first thought was about time. Did you allow enough time for the battery bank being charged to be satisfied? It's your rig so I will not second guess you. I may be misreading your post.
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Old 09-23-2017, 12:30 PM   #5
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As designed by Winnebago the system connects both banks of batteries whenever the engine is running (via the Aux Start Solenoid) so that they are charged by the alternator. The Aux Start switch allows you to connect the banks together when the engine is not yet running to aid in starting the engine when the chassis batteries are low. Winnebago's typically start the generator from the house batteries and this switch can also allow you to use the chassis batteries to help start the generator when the house batteries are low (assuming the house bank is still charged up enough to activate the solenoid).
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Old 10-02-2017, 01:31 PM   #6
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Thumbs up Era house not charging either

Though electronics are my Bain (AC, not so much D.C.), I have a positive experience outfitting a sailboat with both solar and wind power (as well as a water maker) and lived "on the hook" for a couple of years successfully with complete capabilities.

Meanwhile, I have just purchased a 2009 Era, and am a bit perplexed. I admit, I haven't adequately checked out the systems or taken a shakeout cruise, but my one measly house battery is only charging off the generator. Though I only current have a 30 amp converted down to 15 amp, is the shore power just going to the starting (chassis) battery 1st, then will take on the house? Same with the alternator when engine is running? Or is the 30-15A the limiting factor.

I will be adding solar panels in the future, and would be most interested in others who have been successful with such, but feel one house battery is totally inadequate since I have no desire in ever being in an RV park (no offense).
Anyone have a good solution adding a 2nd house battery in the same location on the Era.

I want to hear from you!
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Old 10-02-2017, 02:38 PM   #7
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Can't help with a class B. They may be very different from the Class A's.
Though I would think the coach battery would charge from the chassis engine alternator.
Others on this site will probably know. Sorry.
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Old 10-02-2017, 03:20 PM   #8
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The switch on the dash is just a bypass to link the batteries for emergency starting so what was fixed with the spade move in the switch was the emergency starting bypass at best. There should be an battery isolation device that automatically once the engine battery is charged then flips over to charge the house batteries and flips back when the engine battery needs attention so you won't be cooking the engine battery by charging it at the same duration as the deep cycle house batteries.

Many won't notice this delay since they will start the generator to run the fridge and house AC while their driving so they won't have to deal with more than killing the generator at fuel stops and not have to deal with shutting down the propane on the refrigerators burner while fueling.
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Old 10-02-2017, 03:47 PM   #9
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Neil,
In my case (original post) the "battery boost" switch did work, for "Boosting", but the coach batteries NEVER charged while driving. I found that the boost switch is a "double throw" switch that enables coach battery charging from the alternator, when it is RELEASED. The one female connector was in the wrong place, so the coach charging feature never worked. Works as it should now.
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Old 10-02-2017, 03:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilV View Post
The switch on the dash is just a bypass to link the batteries for emergency starting so what was fixed with the spade move in the switch was the emergency starting bypass at best. ...
Actually, this isn't true. The Winnebago configuration has engine Run-Only power going through that switch to the solenoid to connect the battery banks. When the momentary switch is depressed from its normal position the Run-Only power lead is disconnected and an always-on power source is connected in its place.
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Old 10-02-2017, 03:53 PM   #11
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Current Winnebagos all have Bi-Directional Isolator Relay with Delay (BIRD) that controls the large solenoid operated contactor that can tie the coach and chassis batteries together, based on the voltage seen on each side of the contactor. It also has inputs from the chassis so it can tell if the coach engine and alternator are running, and inputs from the coach so it can tell if the generator is running as part of its logic to decide when to tie all the batteries together.

The newer Winnebago's dash switch that ties the batteries together for starting also feed into the BIRD.

Your 2007 may not have been manufactured with a BIRD but something dumber. If you have your Winnebago bag with manuals you should have a manual for whatever the coach was built with. It would tell you what is "supposed" to happen for your particular coach.
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Old 10-02-2017, 04:02 PM   #12
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Kirby (BTW: Kirby Grant was one of my childhood favorites in SkyKing while other lads thought Penny was cool),

Its possible that they changed that after 2005 however going back to the flood that's not been the case. Hey the new engineers have to change something to prove their worth however I am not sure changing the switch to a double throw and making it part of the charging system was that good an idea as you found out. Didn't see Randy's post until afterwards telling us about the BIRD.

Still I have a vague recollection though of the ghosts of forum posts past of that lug always being there in the other position unused. You may have just found a workaround that bypasses another failed component. Some actually after the engine battery has been charged wedge the emergency start button in the engaged position to charge the house batteries while driving.
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Old 10-02-2017, 04:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jefscott View Post
Though electronics are my Bain (AC, not so much D.C.), I have a positive experience outfitting a sailboat with both solar and wind power (as well as a water maker) and lived "on the hook" for a couple of years successfully with complete capabilities.

Meanwhile, I have just purchased a 2009 Era, and am a bit perplexed. I admit, I haven't adequately checked out the systems or taken a shakeout cruise, but my one measly house battery is only charging off the generator. Though I only current have a 30 amp converted down to 15 amp, is the shore power just going to the starting (chassis) battery 1st, then will take on the house? Same with the alternator when engine is running? Or is the 30-15A the limiting factor.

I will be adding solar panels in the future, and would be most interested in others who have been successful with such, but feel one house battery is totally inadequate since I have no desire in ever being in an RV park (no offense).
Anyone have a good solution adding a 2nd house battery in the same location on the Era.

I want to hear from you!
Here are the 2009 Era 170XL Wiring Diagrams. Looking at the Body, 12 Volt Wiring Diagram you can see that the Battery Mode Solenoid should be energized (thus connecting the battery banks together) when the engine is running (via the Run-Only power supplied to the Battery Boost switch via the wire labelled KE). If this isn't happening then the Solenoid probably needs to be replaced.

I don't see any indication that the chassis battery will be charged by the generator or shore power, however, so it might be a good idea to add a Trik-L-Start (inexpensive and easy to do) to keep the chassis battery up.
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Old 10-02-2017, 04:06 PM   #14
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No the inverter is not used to charge the engine battery. One usually installs a SafeStart or other trickle charging device in order to have that function.
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