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Old 09-04-2005, 04:31 AM   #1
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Just picked up my new Itasca 40AD yesterday. We were parked at the Lazy Days dealer for two days while we transferred our stuff and went through everything.

When we arrived at our home park and plugged into power the 12V system went dead. All the lights were very dim. The coach voltage display was reading low numbers, some negative. The generator would not start. Most of the 110 seemed fine except for the TrueAir AC. Since this is FL it was pouring rain.

We started to panic because LD had just closed for the day and Winne in Iowa is closed on Saturday. After powering down several times and back up, I started the engine and everything came up. I shut off the engine and all is still fine.

Any ideas about what could have happened?
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Old 09-04-2005, 04:31 AM   #2
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Just picked up my new Itasca 40AD yesterday. We were parked at the Lazy Days dealer for two days while we transferred our stuff and went through everything.

When we arrived at our home park and plugged into power the 12V system went dead. All the lights were very dim. The coach voltage display was reading low numbers, some negative. The generator would not start. Most of the 110 seemed fine except for the TrueAir AC. Since this is FL it was pouring rain.

We started to panic because LD had just closed for the day and Winne in Iowa is closed on Saturday. After powering down several times and back up, I started the engine and everything came up. I shut off the engine and all is still fine.

Any ideas about what could have happened?
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Old 09-04-2005, 06:45 AM   #3
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When at the dealer transferring items was your coach plugged into shore power?..if not and your inverter was on attempting to power your coach while you were transferring items it could of run down your batteries...if that was not the case then it is possible that your alternator was not charing your house batteries while you were driving meaning that the transfer solenoid may not be working properly. To check that, first look at the house battery charge level at the control pannel without the engine running. Then start your engine and see if your charge rate is above 13 volts. If not that is probably the problem. Also I don't know how far you drove from the dealer to home but a couple of hours of driving should of brought the batteries up high enough to last a couple of hours once home. Also check to see which house batteries you have...if they are the Interstate Work a Holic series 31...they have been a problem and interstate will authorize them being replaced with the series 29 that are more reliable.
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Old 09-04-2005, 06:54 AM   #4
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We were plugged into shore power for those two days, so I figured the house batts would have gotten an ample charge. Is it possible that if the coach batts were very low and since we were using lights and things, that the charger never had a chance to catch up? We didn't run much at night.

If low coach batts could be the problem I will check them when I get a chance.
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Old 09-04-2005, 07:03 AM   #5
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I do have the U31TMX model batteries. This is a brand new coach. Was there a recall on them? Link?
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Old 09-04-2005, 07:38 AM   #6
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When I disconnect from power (turning off the battery charger) the coach batteries read 10V. I tried to start the generator it did not make a sound. I went back and checked the level: 7V.

I guess checking the coach batteries never made it to the dealer PDI list. I'd better check my tires while I'm at it.
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Old 09-04-2005, 07:52 AM   #7
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There was not an official recall of the batteries. I will give you the shortest version I can. I ordered a 2005 Vectra 36 RD that was delivered in December 04. I had nothing but problems with the house batteris going dead. I contacted Interstate Batteries home office and talked with the Customer Service Rep who was suprised that I had the Series 31 Work A holic batteris in the coach. He said they had problems with them and was suprised that they were in my coach as new. I told them the dealer replaced them with the next largest size which was the series 29 and he told me I would be must happier with them. They are not making it a recall but are willing to swap them out for anyone who is having problems with them. The series 31 was a design that Winnebago and Interstate came up with that looked good on paper but was not working well in practical application. I got that from the horses mouth and ended up in a 3 way conversation between the President of Interstate Batteris and Winnebago Customer Service when I was at the factory for service and was suprised to see that they still had them on the self for sale in the customer service area.
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Old 09-04-2005, 09:27 AM   #8
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Welcome fellow 40AD owner

Here are some scenarios for your low voltage:

- Inverter/charger is not charging the batteries for some reason

- Inverter/charger is charging the batteries, but they have one or more bad cells

- Maybe a bad disconect solenoid?

Are the batteries gassing (acid bubbling out)? What battery voltage are you seeing plugged into shore power? With the engine running?

My factory-issued Interstate house batteries are on their way to battery heaven. I replaced them about three weeks ago with Lifeline AGMs. You can pick them up at Batteries Plus in Altamonte Springs (on 436) - about 200 bucks a pop. Do yourself a favor and junk the lead-acid house batteries.

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Old 09-04-2005, 10:03 AM   #9
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Hey John. I saw your posts on the RV.net forum regarding your MH purchase process.

I think the charger is doing its job since the coach battery level is up to 13.6V with it operating. I think one or more of the cells is dead or going bad.

I used to work on electric golf carts yeras ago and I recognize the problem. I just hope I don't overwork or overheat the charger before I get those batteries out. Right now they are like one big resistor.
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Old 09-04-2005, 12:34 PM   #10
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Sounds like a loose connection in the wiring going to; from; or within the converter itself.

If there was a short in one of the batteries, the voltage would drop to around 10.5 volts. But with a reading of 7 volts, it doesn't seem as if your batteries were getting charged at all! The possibility of a bad solenoid doesn't really fit the symptoms, since your converter, if working correctly, will supply ample power to all of your 12 volt appliances even if the batteries are disconnected. 'Course, the converter won't supply enough power to start your generator.

The fact that everything suddenly sprang to life after turning the system on and off a few times, suggests an intermittent connection somewhere between the power supply to to converter, and the batteries.

The 13.6 volt reading you are now getting, is consistent with a converter attempting to charge depleted *new* batteries; and will probably rise to around 13.8 volts once the batteries have been mostly charged. New batteries really don't tend to charge all that well, and tend to be a tad charge resistant until they've been cycled a few times.

If the converter starts to give you trouble again, you always have the secondary option of charging the coach batteries from the vehicle alternator.

With a new rig from Winnie, it might be prudent to check the integrity of the battery connectors. When Winnie completes a new rig, and relegates it to the back lot; they don't know if it's going to be sitting there for 3 days, or 3 months. So disconnecting the battery leads for units in storage is a common practice. Then when the rig has to be moved, the battery cables are only connected with a mere temporarily workable slip-on fit. At some point along the way, the battery connecters have to be appropriately torqued; but not something that always gets done when the rig is running just fine the way it is.
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Old 09-04-2005, 01:27 PM   #11
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by John_Canfield:
I replaced them about three weeks ago with Lifeline AGMs. You can pick them up at . . . 200 bucks a pop. Do yourself a favor and junk the lead-acid house batteries. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
I can't imagine any valid reason for paying twice the price for compromise inferior-battery-technology that serves no useful purpose in any kind of a Winnebago scenario.

The singular benefit of ultra expensive AGM batteries, is that they can be placed in unvented compartments. While that attribute might offer a solution for Class B owners who are forced to locate their batteries in less than ideal locations; it all comes with a somewhat unattractive price tag. After paying twice the price for these batteries, you might reasonably expect to end up with less than half the service life! Like . . . if you can coax these these AGM thingies to perform for a full two years in an RVing environment, then . . . .

While I would NEVER for a moment consider buying AGMs for my rig; perhaps that can be merely attributed to lack of experience in buying new batteries; since the current flooded wet-cell stuff just seems to go on, and on and on!

While you advocate stuff like: "Do yourself a favor and junk the lead-acid house batteries;" Perhaps you could expand a bit on this so-called favour.

As veteran boondockers, who abuse their "inferior" flooded wet-cell batteries without mercy; after a full SEVEN years with the very same inferior flooded wet cell batteries; we figure that they're still good for another couple of years! Hardly an experience that would lead us to consider an alternative storage source.

But, what the heck John; do you have any empirical evidence that would even remotely suggest that AGM batteries, in an environment already stated (supra), will in any way out-perform traditional wet-cell configurations??
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Old 09-04-2005, 01:41 PM   #12
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Is it possible tat the "battery disconnect" switch is turned to off at the dash. his could explain the problem....RKL
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Old 09-04-2005, 02:35 PM   #13
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Stan Birch:
But, what the heck John; do you have any empirical evidence that would even remotely suggest that AGM batteries, in an environmenbt already stated (supra), will in any way out-perform traditional wet-cell configurations?? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Stan - I have been a 20+ year user of batteries on boats and have gathered quite a bit of real-world experience in deep discharge situations. If you think that lead acid batteries are about equal to gel or AGM batteries, then I suggest that you do a little more research before you get so didactic with me.

I was an early adopter of gel technology back in the early 90s- I got far better performance from them. They could withstand deeper and more frequent discharges. They lasted longer - fact. There was no concern with gassing. My "deep cycle" Interstates (4 or 8Ds) on the boat would last a couple of years. Then I discovered gels - I was still on my original set of gels when I sold my boat - they must have been four or five years old.

You stay with wet batteries.

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Old 09-04-2005, 03:58 PM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Is it possible tat the "battery disconnect" switch is turned to off at the dash. his could explain the problem....RKL </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Actually I did try to swith the disconnect on and off a few times as part of my troubleshooting. I have since been able to reproduce the problem at will. As soon as I go off shore power without the battery charger operating, the coach battery level drops below 10V.
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Old 09-05-2005, 05:10 AM   #15
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by resqguy:

Actually I did try to swith the disconnect on and off a few times as part of my troubleshooting. I have since been able to reproduce the problem at will. As soon as I go off shore power without the battery charger operating, the coach battery level drops below 10V. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

This would seem to suggest that there are one or more failed batteries, and that the battery pack is not charging.

If there was a bad connection between the batteries and the inverter/charger, then the problem wouldn't correct itself when the inverter begins to charge, making up for the weak/dead batteries.

As others have suggested, it is very common for the batteries to be abused in the post production/delivery/flooring (sitting on the dealer lot) processes. While most deep cycle batteries can withstand a one or two complete discharges, it generally damages them.

The batteries should be seperated, and then tested/charged to determine which one(s) are damaged.

If this was my new unit, I'd demand an entirely new set of batteries, all being the same make, size, and production month.
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Old 09-05-2005, 05:26 AM   #16
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Stan Birch:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by John_Canfield:
I replaced them about three weeks ago with Lifeline AGMs. You can pick them up at . . . 200 bucks a pop. Do yourself a favor and junk the lead-acid house batteries. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
I can't imagine any valid reason for paying twice the price for compromise inferior-battery-technology that serves no useful purpose in any kind of a Winnebago scenario.

The singular benefit of ultra expensive AGM batteries, is that they can be placed in unvented compartments. While that attribute might offer a solution for Class B owners who are forced to locate their batteries in less than ideal locations; it all comes with a somewhat unattractive price tag. After paying twice the price for these batteries, you might reasonably expect to end up with less than half the service life! Like . . . if you can coax these these AGM thingies to perform for a full two years in an RVing environment, then . . . .

While I would NEVER for a moment consider buying AGMs for my rig; perhaps that can be merely attributed to lack of experience in buying new batteries; since the current flooded wet-cell stuff just seems to go on, and on and on!

While you advocate stuff like: "Do yourself a favor and junk the lead-acid house batteries;" Perhaps you could expand a bit on this so-called favour.

As veteran boondockers, who abuse their "inferior" flooded wet-cell batteries without mercy; after a full SEVEN years with the very same inferior flooded wet cell batteries; we figure that they're still good for another couple of years! Hardly an experience that would lead us to consider an alternative storage source.

But, what the heck John; do you have any empirical evidence that would even remotely suggest that AGM batteries, in an environment already stated (supra), will in any way out-perform traditional wet-cell configurations?? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Wow Stan, what's with the tone?

It's great to disagree with someone, we all learn. Perhaps you might consider a little more generous approach to dissent. Many members here make some significant efforts to help others. Few of us are truly qualified to dismiss others experiences.

If you disagree, I suggest you consider saying so politely, and without the undertone.

Now, on to the issue at hand.

Certainly, your experience with flooded batteries is unusual in the RV arena. Perhaps it's due to your handling them responsibly, and that's great. I know of one or two others that have also had long life from a good, well maintained set of flooded batteries. My experiences in replacing batteries in RV's in a commercial enviroment for many years suggests that your experience is rare, but not impossible.
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Old 09-05-2005, 06:41 AM   #17
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">If this was my new unit, I'd demand an entirely new set of batteries, all being the same make, size, and production month </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I intend to do just that once I evaluate the ones that I have.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content"> The batteries should be seperated, and then tested/charged to determine which one(s) are damaged.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

If I had the time I would let the dealer go through their trouble shooting process but sometimes you can't tell if they are delaying things because they don't have the manpower or the parts in stock.

I would like to do some on this myself. I don't have a load tester, but I do have a DVM. I was planning on connnecting each battery by itself and trying to start the generator, to simulate load. I would check the battery voltage before and after.

I was also going to run each battery on the MH charger to see how it reacts to a charging.

How well do charger/inverters work for charging the batteries? Would it take hours or days for a charger/invertor to bring a single, healthy battery from a 10V level up to a 12V level?
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Old 09-05-2005, 07:17 AM   #18
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by resqguy:

How well do charger/inverters work for charging the batteries? Would it take hours or days for a charger/invertor to bring a single, healthy battery from a 10V level up to a 12V level? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Generally, the Dimensions unit should be able to bring a marginal battery back to at least 80 - 90 % full charge within 4 hours, provided there are no large 12V loads on in the MH that would consume power that would otherwise be used for charging. The fridge, and a few lights are just fine. A healthy battery could be up to par in just under 2 hours, depending on its size (I think you have group 30 or 31's)

You might want to check the water levels first, as well as the voltages of the individual, disconnected batteries, prior to begining this process. If only one of them is low on water, especially in one or two cells, or has markedly lower standing voltage, it is suspect. Try the other batteries first. Consider not connecting any battery that appears suspect.

Another consideration is that the inverter/charger has a rather robust charger, somewhat more charging current than should be applied to the batteries individually, if you plan on keeping any of them for any other uses (though I suspect you may have to surrender them to the dealer to get the replacements).

For the purposes of testing, this might be ok, but I would remove the caps on the battery I was testing, and place a rag over the filler holes to allow gases to easily escape. Also, you will want to wear safety equipment (gloves and protective eye wear, at the very least) in case there is a bad battery, and you find it in an unfortunate manner (explosion).

You indicated you have worked around batteries so I assume you know all of this, and likely much more.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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Old 09-05-2005, 01:38 PM   #19
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I looked at the coach batteries. Between the three batteries it took 1 1/2 gallons of (distilled) water just to get the electrolite level a little above the plates. Two of the three were reading around 7V on the DVM and the third (it had the most electrolite) was reading about 8V.

I imagine the plates are fried. I am going to insist on replacements.
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Old 09-05-2005, 01:47 PM   #20
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BucknJeff:

Wow Stan, what's with the tone?

Certainly, your experience with flooded batteries is unusual in the RV arena. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
And what exactly is wrong with the tone???

From my perspective, I figure that I've managed to envoke considerable restraint in addressing a totally daft idea! And fer sure, John's apology is totally devoid of facts or merit.

And as for your observation that my "experience with flooded batteries is unusual in the RV arena"; I can't imagine where you are getting your information; but anywhere I hang out, a mere seven or eight years on a set of coach batteries is not only a reasonable expectation, but the norm. Anyone that can't manage to coax that kind of service from their coach batteries, really doesn't have the remotest clue about storage battery technology!

It's not as if the entire matter is a big deal. Batteries are SO inexpensive, that for even the most inept, replacing them every year or two, is hardly an issue.

But suggesting that AGM batteries at double the cost, represents some sort of magic, is at best misleading. The only RVer I know of that paid big dollars for AGM batteries, expecting some sort of magic, never managed to get them beyond the second year before they were consigned to the trash heap.

For sure; anyone who can't manage to keep their ultra-fault-tolerant flooded wet cell batteries going for a full 6 or 7 years, is doomed to be disappointed with the significanlty less fault-tolerant characteristics of AGM batteries.

From the outset, the entire AGM recommendation has emmanated from an "electrial guru" who admits that he lacks the smarts to even keep standard flooded wet cells operating for a mere two years!
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