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Old 11-01-2002, 09:29 AM   #1
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Angry Battery Dead - Again & Again

I read a comment from Dr. Joe about electric steps draining the battery. My auto battery keeps going dead and am wondering if this has anything to do with it - ?

I have shut-off devices for the coach batteries - I shut them off whenever I don't "use" the motorhome (by "use" I mean checking on it, cleaning it, etc. - we have not yet gone on our maiden voyage in it - this situation is one which makes me scared to take it out!) - but the steps I leave in the "on" position because they are connected to the coach batteries and don't work if I shut off the coach batteries so I assumed it is okay to leave them "on". But now I am wondering if it drains the auto battery even though they don't work when the coach batteries are "off"? I apologize if this is such a stupid question - but I am ignorant of how an almost new battery loses a charge just sitting there.

Can I start the coach using the coach batteries? If so, then how do I switch it to do it?

Thanks for any help!

-Emily
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Old 11-01-2002, 09:46 AM   #2
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Emily,

The steps may not work when the coach batteries are switched off, but they are still connected to the ignition switch. This connection is a drain on the batterty even when the key is off, if the step switch is left in the on position. If you have the steps out but the step switch in the off position, they are supposed to retract when you turn on the key to start the MH. This is a safety feature to stop you from ripping the high dollar steps off as well as damaging your coach. The other option is to install a battery disconnect switch (this is what I did) so you can completly remove the possible drains from the engine battery and niot have a wild goose chase on your hands trying to figure out what is killing the battery.
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:51 AM   #3
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I know the frustration. It was 4 months before we took our maiden voyage and the battery died on the first trip. I now keep an extension cord and a battery charger/starter in the storage drawer so I can jump myself (assuming I have 110v access).

I replaced the batteries and have not had any trouble. I do flip the disconnect when not in use. I will also buy a solar charger soon to trickle charge the engine battery. I probably won't have any more trouble until I removed the cord and charger.
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Old 11-01-2002, 03:18 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys. . .

It just never occured to me that the steps would be a drain on the auto battery . . . now I know.

I do have disconnect switches for the coach batteries - I will install for the auto as well.


Fred - what solar charger are you getting? I heard that the solar chargers only maintain to a slight degree the existing charge - they do not add to the battery - ?

Is it worth it?

Also (forgive my ignorance) - how do you jump yourself with 110v access? Can you jump from the coach batteries to the auto?
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Old 11-01-2002, 04:06 PM   #5
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I guess it all depends on the amount of drain. It does add it trickle of electricity to the battery. If it adds more than the drain, you're in good shape.

Here's an example. I haven't got one yet but there are some nice ones on ebay with a protective shell.

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/rodi/powpsc808.html
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Old 11-01-2002, 05:01 PM   #6
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You may also want to do what I am working on, Getting one of these off e-bay. Price is about the same, but I bet they put out a few more watts.

Solar panel
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Old 11-01-2002, 06:28 PM   #7
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Caution on the disconnect

eraffety,

Make sure that if you are going to disconnect the engine battery that you are not going to lose the memory in the engine control.

You could find the source of your battery drain by going to the fuse panel and, after turning off everything that has a switch, pull one side of each fuse out of the holder. Remove the battery connection on the coach battery and connect a meter between the battery and the disconnected wire. If there is voltage passing thru then there is something still on. (This might be the memory for the engine computer, you can pull the harness to this and try it again)

If there is no voltage passing through reconnect the wire and start checking each fuse to see which one is the culpret.

I had a Pace Arrow MH and it took me the better part of the day to find that I had a light in a storage compartment still on. Check the water in the batteries every two weeks. While I was guessing about my battery drain problem I was constantly charging the batteries and forgot to check the water. I had to add the cost of two new batteries to my solution.

Ciao, Brian
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:05 PM   #8
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Brian,

How do I disconnect the battery without losing engine control memory? I just read your post and have already removed the battery to have it charged.

What happens if the engine control memory is gone? And how do I get it back?

I will take your advice about finding the source of the battery drain, but I am guessing I already found it (the steps were always left in the "on" position).

Also, my boss told me that I can start my motorhome with the coach batteries if ever the auto battery goes dead - how do I do that? He said there is usually a switch underneath the dash for this purpose (that's where it is in his motorhome) - I looked but found nothing.

Guys, I sincerely apologize for my sometimes stupid comments - I know absolutely NOTHING about the mechanics of motorized vehicles - all I know is where to put the gas. So please bear with me as I gather more knowledge . . .

I prefer to "lurk" and get my knowledge that way so I won't seem like such an airhead, but I just had to ask for help on this one.

Thanks, again!

-Emily
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:23 PM   #9
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Emily,

Post your questions, you may not be the only one wondering what, why, where, and how.

I am not sure what engine settings would be lost in the disconnect of the starter battery, but most automotive computers reboot on each start other than for error codes. I would find it unlikely that your unit has a computer that this would hurt, but I would ask an expert. Or you can go with the try it method. If you reinstall the battery and it fires right up then we have to assume( I hate this word ) that it would be ok to install a disconnect.

As to the starting of the MH with the house battery there should be a push button switch in your glove box. Most of them are not labled. With a dead starter battery you turn on the key and push this button and the engine will crank. The technical description is that the 12 VDC from the house battery is fed thru a selinoid that you activate by pushing the button and the voltage is fed directly to the starter.

I will also jump in and answer the question you posed to Fred. Since most motorhomes carry an AC Power source with us (The generator). You start the generator, plug in a regular battery charger and charge up the batteries to the point where you can start the engine. Then you let the alternator take over.

I have actually considered wiring a charge switch in that would allow me to do a quick charge off the univolt, or limp into a shop on hose batteries/univolt should my alternator fail ( Of course I would size it to handle the current!).
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:34 PM   #10
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How do I disconnect the battery without losing engine control memory?

nine volt battery wired to a cigarette lighter plug (then plug it in)

get the parts from radio shack

the nine volt battery will provide just enough voltage to keep the computer and your radio presets while you are working on your vehicle.

just remember to put the + to the center of the lighter plug and remove/disconnect the dome or under hood light when you remove the main battery from the circuit.

john
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Old 11-02-2002, 12:03 AM   #11
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got it!

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