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Old 02-10-2024, 03:18 PM   #1
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Location: Lake Havasu City, AZ
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1999 Minnie not charging batteries while on the road

I have been reading the threads on this blog for sometime and found many of you are very experienced indeed. I spent some time filling out my own profile and have learned alot from just reading others that have posted similar problems. Thanks to everyone for giving their advice.

But... I still cant figure out why my RV no longer charges the batteries from the RV cab battery while it is running down the road.

In 2022, I replaced the Solenoid down by the two coach batteries. It had been over 20 years and that fixed the initial problem. I went back out on the road and it was charging the batteries fine. Months later... it happened again... did not charge the batteries so I bought another solenoid. It appeared to fix the problem but only a few weeks later it stopped charging again and this time sometimes it would work and sometimes not. Now not working again.

Also... noticed my back up lights now dont work and my RV step no longer automatically comes in when I start the RV. All of this appears to be connected somehow. Could it be the F-450 Super Duty Automatic Trans Sensor Assy? Part number I have is F7TZ-7F293-AA. I have checked fuses and nothing else seems to be an issue.

Thanks again to anyone who can help!!
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Old 02-11-2024, 02:49 PM   #2
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I think you may have two different problems rather than one single but maybe we can start with working one and it will help on some of the other?
One area I understand pretty well is the solenoid and operation. It also shares a power source with the steps, so solving one might solve the other?

Click this snip for better view or go direct to the drawings here on sheet 1 frame 2 (S1F2)
https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...999/131178.pdf
Click image for larger version

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I marked this up in red for the coach battery feed and green for the chassis battery to the solenoid. Both cables are red but I used three colors to make it easier spot. This solenoid is where the two get connected and I feel the transmission is not involved!

The idea is the two battery are connected on the two big lugs, just as drawn here. Then there are two places where battery from the front feed down to operate the solenoid. I drew that in blue.
When we push a dash switch it sends 12volts down to the solenoid on wire LR. OR when the engine is running there is a connection to a point often called ignition hot and it feeds LR down to the solenoid!
When 12volt gets to the little lug on the solenoid, it runs through a coil inside and comes out to ground two ways. FM brings ground in but it is also laid on the mounting screw for a second ground path!
When power is on LR, it makes an electro magnet move a big thing like a washing inside to connect red and green together. It does it when pushing the switch or running the engine.

An easy test if you have a helper, is to put a meter on the coach battery connection to read that battery voltage. Then when the helper pushes the dash switch and the two batteries connect together, you expect to see the coach battery voltage change!
Or if the helper starts the engine and revs it up, you should see the coach voltage go up and down with the engine speed!
If you see this , it is because the alternator is putting higher voltage on the chassis side and it is connected inside to show up on the coach side as well!

If you are standing close, you may also hear the solenoid "clunk" as it moves.
If you have bad contacts inside the solenoid, you may hear it thump but not see the voltage change if the contacts are burned/worn too bad!
Good solenoid, you hear it move and the coach voltage will change.
Bad solenoid contacts, you may hear it move but the voltage may not change.
If the solenoid or wiring is bad, it doesn't move!

What I am afraid may be the problem if intermittent, is that the chassis wiring may be loose/intermittent! Harder to fix as we get less info on how it's wired!

Reason for this though is that the step also uses the same power wire KE!
See how power comes in at the top goes left to the dash switch for the solenoid but also goes to a connection at the steps?
There may be two problems but if KE is intermittent before it goes to the switch or the steps, it could make both solenoid and steps come and go!

The problem is that there is an old saying on electronics.
If it isn't broke, you can't find the problem to fix it!

Can you get lucky enough to find it when it is broken, so you can fix it OR does it hide every time you get close?

I have no info on where those two KE wires connect on the chassis wiring, so no help there!
I would guess they come from different points on the automotive end but no info to prove it! It ""might" turn out that KE has power on one but not the other until the engine runs? No real help there, so guessing is needed!

I think the backup lights may be a totally different problem involving the chassis wiring!
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Old 02-11-2024, 02:54 PM   #3
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Some help on ID of the wires? They should be labeled on the small wires!
Click image for larger version

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Chart to decode the ID here:
https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...ical_guide.pdf

Tape markers "may" still be on battery cables???
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Best of luck in the chase!
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Old 02-12-2024, 02:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morich View Post
I think you may have two different problems rather than one single but maybe we can start with working one and it will help on some of the other?
One area I understand pretty well is the solenoid and operation. It also shares a power source with the steps, so solving one might solve the other?

Click this snip for better view or go direct to the drawings here on sheet 1 frame 2 (S1F2)
https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...999/131178.pdf
Attachment 188350

I marked this up in red for the coach battery feed and green for the chassis battery to the solenoid. Both cables are red but I used three colors to make it easier spot. This solenoid is where the two get connected and I feel the transmission is not involved!

The idea is the two battery are connected on the two big lugs, just as drawn here. Then there are two places where battery from the front feed down to operate the solenoid. I drew that in blue.
When we push a dash switch it sends 12volts down to the solenoid on wire LR. OR when the engine is running there is a connection to a point often called ignition hot and it feeds LR down to the solenoid!
When 12volt gets to the little lug on the solenoid, it runs through a coil inside and comes out to ground two ways. FM brings ground in but it is also laid on the mounting screw for a second ground path!
When power is on LR, it makes an electro magnet move a big thing like a washing inside to connect red and green together. It does it when pushing the switch or running the engine.

An easy test if you have a helper, is to put a meter on the coach battery connection to read that battery voltage. Then when the helper pushes the dash switch and the two batteries connect together, you expect to see the coach battery voltage change!
Or if the helper starts the engine and revs it up, you should see the coach voltage go up and down with the engine speed!
If you see this , it is because the alternator is putting higher voltage on the chassis side and it is connected inside to show up on the coach side as well!

If you are standing close, you may also hear the solenoid "clunk" as it moves.
If you have bad contacts inside the solenoid, you may hear it thump but not see the voltage change if the contacts are burned/worn too bad!
Good solenoid, you hear it move and the coach voltage will change.
Bad solenoid contacts, you may hear it move but the voltage may not change.
If the solenoid or wiring is bad, it doesn't move!

What I am afraid may be the problem if intermittent, is that the chassis wiring may be loose/intermittent! Harder to fix as we get less info on how it's wired!

Reason for this though is that the step also uses the same power wire KE!
See how power comes in at the top goes left to the dash switch for the solenoid but also goes to a connection at the steps?
There may be two problems but if KE is intermittent before it goes to the switch or the steps, it could make both solenoid and steps come and go!

The problem is that there is an old saying on electronics.
If it isn't broke, you can't find the problem to fix it!

Can you get lucky enough to find it when it is broken, so you can fix it OR does it hide every time you get close?

I have no info on where those two KE wires connect on the chassis wiring, so no help there!
I would guess they come from different points on the automotive end but no info to prove it! It ""might" turn out that KE has power on one but not the other until the engine runs? No real help there, so guessing is needed!

I think the backup lights may be a totally different problem involving the chassis wiring!
Thanks for ALL this information... I will get to working on this later today or tomorrow. I did not know how the small wires were hooked up to the solenoid or where they went so that helps me alot along with the fact knowng the step probably has something to do with it as well. I least I know where to start... Thanks and will keep you posted.
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Old 02-12-2024, 03:03 PM   #5
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I often get too involved and miss a few simple things that might also help when looking testing the solenoid.
I mentioned that 12 volts for the switch or the ignition hot come to the small lug on the solenoid to make it operate? I mentioned a helper to test?
But if we want to test only the solenoid and not the wiring from the dash area, we can do that without a helper as it is a pretty simple thing.
When looking at the solenoid, there should be 12Volts from each of the two battery groups already right there on the big lugs. So if you someway connect the 12volts from either of the big lugs over to the small LR lug, it operates the solenoid.
Turns that part into a single person job if you add your own strap to get the 12volts on the small lug! One way you might use this if working alone is easy.
Normally the chassis and coach batteries are not going to be exactly the same. One higher and one lower, so if you short the chassis battery to the small lug and have a meter on the coach lug, you should hear it thump but also see the coach battery change as the two connect together!
Another way to test alone is to put a meter on the coach battery, somewhere you can see the meter and then start the engine. Rev it up and you should see the coach battery jump up and down as you rev the engine.
That proves out that the alternator is charging both battery groups!
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Old 02-12-2024, 05:18 PM   #6
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Thanks again.. I have done alot of what you suggest and some of this I kinda knew.. but you definitely reinforced and I appreciate the different things to try.
1) Turned off all shore power... let house batteries "settle down" and they then stayed at about 12.65 volts
2) Checked volts on Chassis side of Solenoid... 12.9 volts Checked Cab battery direct after we were done testing it was 12.69 but went to 14.10 Volts when RV was running... Appears Alternator is good.
3) Started testing... House Batteries 12.65v... If we "hit" the aux switch in the cab it goes down to 12.62v and if we hold the aux switch it goes down to 12.54v... then goes right back to 12.65v Definitely can hear the "clunk" each time we hit the aux switch. Switch was 3 purple wires going to it.
4) With the RV running.... Chassis side of solenoid is 14.3v and if we hit the aux switch goes to 14.15 and if we hold it 14.07v.
5) After we did all this house batteries were at 12.7v.

I am not sure how this aux switch is supposed to work but the only thing in my manual says that it is an emergency start switch and you should "press" the aux switch while starting the vehicle. I have hardly ever used that switch and my solenoid worked fine for 20 years... kinda stumped.
Your drawing calls it a battery mode switch... Do I have something different? I filed out the signature Info as you suggested.
Thanks again...
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Old 02-12-2024, 08:08 PM   #7
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Sounds like maybe things are working close to right at the time you were testing. Part of the tricky side of batteries is the way they are kind of slow, when we are charging or discharging.
What we can often get into and it can confuse us if we don't keep it in mind is that we read the voltage right at some point like the post and that says what we are putting in right now or what WAS put in not too long ago. But the battery is a group of cells and it is a slow chemical reaction when we charge or discharge them.
Sometimes called "surface charge" as we are reading what is happening at the surface or posts and that doesn't tell us what may be true way down in the battery chemicals.
You are correct to let the battery set for a while to get stable after a few hours if we want the best reading for the whole battery!

So I think what you may be seeing is this? So checking may be needed as my answers are not much more than trying to see what you are doing and I can be missing the idea completely!
When you check the voltages after letting things set for a while, you are likely to get the voltage from coach being a little higher or lower than the chassis. Just the way they usually work as they are different? One thing to keep in mind is that a fully charged and fully good lead acid battery like any the normal older style car batteries will never hold a charge higher than 12.7-12.8 just because of the way the chemicals work!
Any time you read the voltage higher than that on this type battery, it tells us, you have been charging them and they are not settled down yet!

When you read 12.9 on the chassis side, that says they were not fully settled yet. No big problem, just a detail to help understand why we get funny readings, sometimes.
Then when you saw 14+ on the chassis side with the engine running, you are good from the alternator to the chassis side!
But if you shut down the engine and pushed the switch, it uses power from that battery to operate the solenoid.
So if you see the chassis side going down a little when you are pushing the switch, it likely is just that you are using some of the voltage to operate the solenoid! Part of the reason for it to look like it is going down is that you are reading right at the point where power is taken out and it dips, even when there is still plenty of power down in the battery. Let it set for a few hours and likely the stable battery will have popped back up to where you started!
Kind of like looking in a big barrel of something slow like syrup? You take a cup of syrup out and look in a little hole and you may see the level has gone down but if you wait a bit and look, the level gets stable and it doesn't look like you took any out!
When we charge we put a little "pile" of power right at that point or if we use a battery, we make a little hole? But if we wait and look later both the hill or the hole may have leveled out and we can't see we have used any or added any!

Goofy sounding but we can't see electrons, so we have to talk about something we can imagine better. I did classes for clerks, typists, secretaries that were coming into craft jobs for a while and I had to tell them about chocolate syrup for them to get it!
Sorry about the goofy stuff!

The name of the switch on the dash has gone through several different names for the same switch. Boost, AUX, or battery mode, are all the same switch!
Most are momentary and only connect while we are pushing them. A better name might be automatic jump start? If the chassis battery is weak (say we left the radio on?) we can get a jump start from the coach battery and without getting out jumper cables!

The thing that needs checked is that the battery on the left side gets connected to the right side, both when pushing the switch and when the engine is running without pushing the switch!
Push the switch for a convenient jump start!
OR expect the solenoid to connect them together automatically when the engine is running! The second part is where it should pump some power back into the coach as we move from one campsite to the next.
But keep in mind that it is a slow process and if we only drive a couple hours, it may not be near enough to go through a second cold night running the furnace.

Not knowing what made you think it was not working but if you camp and run the coach batteries pretty low using the furnace and then drive a hundred miles, that may not be long enough to get them fully back up to normal.
So if you do that several nights in a row, things can get lower and lower each night if you are not driving a pretty long way each day!
And that can be where we get tricked if we look at the voltage and forget about the hill and hole ideas!
We often get the problem of folks who have missed that part. They have the batteries run down, put a charger on for 15 minutes and see the voltage says 13.5 and think they have good fully charged batteries. They're happy to know their batteries are so good and charge up so quick! WRONG!
They go play and come back to find the batteries are only 9.5 and that's nearly dead!

So the one I might want to verify for sure is that when you check the coach battery voltage, it should come out somewhere 12+/- but when you start the engine and rev it up above idle it should run the coach voltage up near 14! When running faster or slower, you can see the rise and fall with the engine speed.
But keep in mind that is looking only at where you are putting the power in and NOT really the true battery. You may put it in at 14 but after a few hours, it will never be higher than 12.8 if it has settled fully!

One hazard of boondock camping is that it is harder to figure what the batteries are actually doing.
So simple that they can fool us every day!
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Old 02-12-2024, 08:24 PM   #8
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Everything you have said makes sense and I have read some of your other posts and it all makes sense... It appears I have another bad solenoid...(3 in less than 2 years). When the RV is running the Left "Lug" on the solenoid is over 14 volts. But the lug on the right side is the same as the house batteries about 12.6-12.7volts.
Back when I first changed the solenoid in June 2022, when I installed a new solenoid and started the RV... the house batteries were over 14 volts... and the chassis battery and house batteries were about the same. Now... not even close. I have a collection of Solenoids now (3 of them) since June 2022... I think I will switch them out again before I go invest in a new solenoid again. I have bought one from AutoZone and two from NAPA Auto Parts... All three look exactly the same.
Thanks again... Sorry for having you write so much... but your a big help!!
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Old 02-12-2024, 08:42 PM   #9
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No problem on taking the time. It is a product of having RV and then going full time at one point and now being "grounded" due to a family type issue.

We have quite a lot of mental pressure around here for the last few years and I duck in here to let my mind wander around on other folks problems!

Right now, I'm kind of into thinking about problems---as long as I'm not the one that has to do the work to fix them!

On the solenoid failures, there may be a chance that the solenoids are not rated the best? They definitely need to be rated for "full time" as they stay pulled all the time we drive. Then there are ratings for the amount of current they are expected to carry.
What often goes wrong is the contacts are something like a big washer on the end of a metal shaft. When it operates the washer slaps up against the ends of the two big lugs and as they close there is a fair amount of arcing which gradually burns a spot that corrodes and stops making contact!
They open and close every time we start the engine so that can put lots of wear on them but they should last at least 5 years?
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Old 02-13-2024, 10:16 AM   #10
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Another issue with the solenoids is which way is up. If the washer has to "jump" upwards to close against a spring versus dropping down or sliding sideways against the spring they may wear out faster.

Aaron
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Old 02-13-2024, 08:35 PM   #11
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Thanks... The one's I have been buying looks exactly like the original which lasted more than 20 years. I put it in the exact same position so that shouldnt be the problem. But we shall see.... thanks again for your input.
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