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Old 11-01-2003, 11:19 PM   #1
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Question Chassis/House Battery Charging 4 Motorhomes

When the 86 345 is plugged in to shore power, does the Univolt only charge the coach batteries and not the start battery? I think that is the way it works thru reading threads, manuals, voltmeter, etc, Is it possible to charge start battery with Univolt if it is not set up to do this? When on shore power, I checked isolator and 13.6 VDC @ top connection (coach batteries), 0 VDC @ center connection and 12.2 VDC @ bottom connection (start battery). I believe this should be correct. Thanks for any replies/help. Jim
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Old 11-01-2003, 11:29 PM   #2
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you got it right, Jim.
The univolt only charges the coach batteries.
Your voltage reading at the isolator indicates it's properly functioning.
The motor battery gets charged from the alternator and the generator when running.
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Old 11-01-2003, 11:40 PM   #3
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Whew!!!! I was hoping that was correct. My start battery had dopped charge over couple weeks or so and had not driven, working on odds/ends. I will check a little deeper for reason to discharge. all batteries are setting on metal bottom of pan and think should have some type of isolation. Could be reason for discharge but may have leakage in some circuit. Thanks for the reply. Jim
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Old 11-02-2003, 01:47 PM   #4
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Jim, I've had a 310 and 345. On both of them the the starting battery would go dead when it sat. Seems to be characteristic of most motorhomes, not just Airstreams. One way to prevent it is to disconnect the starting battery when it sits. I kept a plastic bag in the battery box of the 345 to put over the pos terminal when I pulled it off the battery. (If you use the booster switch to start off the house batteries with the starting battery cable off, it will be hot) Another alternative I've used is to get a little trickle charger for the starting battery and use it enough to keep the battery up. You can hook it to the battery, or you can open the hood and clip it on to the starting battery terminal of the isolator. You can tell which one that is by disconnecting the battery and see which one is dead. Unless all three batteries are identical (age, capacity, condition etc) they won't charge properly if they are jumped together for the univolt to charge.
A lot of the big motorhomes like the Bluebird that a previous employer had, have one set of batteries to do everything. Seems like an Airstream could be rewired for that. You would just have to be careful when dry camping not to run them all down. If you had a toad you would have a source of a jump start.
I wonder if it is possible that the isolator has enough phantom load to kill the battery? That's the only thing that stays hooked up on a mh that a regular truck doesn't have. I know that you have a voltage drop thru them, so they use some power.
Neal
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Old 11-02-2003, 06:32 PM   #5
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Phantom Loads

Jim:

Check the age of the start battery, it just may be that "Its time is up".

Things that I usually check:

Hydraulic system (make sure switch on floor is "off").

Various light switches (glove compartment, engine bay, etc.)


In addition;

There was a significant amount of corrossion on almost all of the contacts and terminals on my unit. This is to be expected in a vehicle 17+ years old. I took a day, disconnected a bunch of the terminals and contacts, and brushed them clean. Not sure if I got all of them or not, but most had a goodly amount of "crap" on the terminals and stud connectors.
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Old 11-07-2003, 04:12 PM   #6
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check grounds and stray power devices

Jim,
I'm also getting many things resolved by cleaning grounds. Also, things like the radio clock, bedroom clock, etc. are usually still "on" even when you turn "off" the coach.

The PO installed two marine battery disconnects in the battery compartment in my 345 (you can get them from West Marine ). If I leave her for more than a week I'll disconnect the batteries completely.

I also like the idea that if someone wanted to try and steal my coach they would have to figure out where the batteries are and break two locks on the battery locker to get at them. (unless they travelled with a battery)
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Old 11-07-2003, 07:46 PM   #7
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Steve- the disconnect is a good idea, my 280 came with one as well. I also have the blade switches that disconnect the individual coach batteries.
Unfortunately leaving mine plugged in too long killed them anyway. This prior to me learning the correct care fro them.
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Old 11-11-2003, 10:04 PM   #8
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I really appreciate all the feed back on the batteries, both the coach and start batteries. After I finally got the MH started (had to put charger on start battery, it was so low, that it would even pull down the coach batteries), took short trip and start battery is now up to "snuff". When I switched to coach batteries with monetary contact switch, the lever broke off so I had to pull dash loose and replace( not too bad a job, easily reached). It seems like it is time to replace the coach batteries due to will not hold charge and I checked to ensure they were getting charge voltage( 13.4 VDC with digital Fluke meter). Have ya'll found any paticular batteries that seem to hold up better than others? A little info about my first trip from Louisiana to Tennessee. On the way up, had a flat on drivers side rear tag axle that really destroyed itself, bent area were flap was attached to inside of wheel well, broke off grey water dump vale extension,bracket & missing and cap on outlet went also. No jack so luckily had AAA RV Plus and changed to spare after 2 hour set on interstate. All went well until last day before returning when Onan started hunting when started that AM ( still working that one). On the way home in Alabama after short stopat a resturant, came out to a completely flat passenger side rear tag axle flat, lost all the air and could not get to hold air due to tire seperation from rim. Another call to AAA RV Plus, wrecker service got it aired up and could not find any leaks( still holding as of today). Very eventful trip!!!! I checked in manual and it said that rear tires should have 60# and front tires should have 70#. Wrecker service said most RV's running 90 to 100#. How much are you guys running? Sorry for the length of reply but thought ya'll may be interested in my first trip. Jim
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Old 11-11-2003, 10:24 PM   #9
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Had the same problem Jim after sitting for several weeks without use, it's the first time my batteries have discharged and need to start and run gen. and engine at least this often....lesson learned.
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Old 11-12-2003, 07:12 AM   #10
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Tire Age?

Jim:

You may want to check the age of your tires. There is a code on the side of the tires that will indicate the build dates.

I believe that most of the Forum will recommend tire replacement after 5 years, regardless of remaining tread.

On the Onan - have been experiencing similar dificulties. I rebuilt the carburetor, but only got a few hours of good time out of it. I have purchased a new Nikki carb (only 140 bucks), and hopefully will have it installed this weekend.
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Old 11-12-2003, 07:47 AM   #11
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Tire Pressure

Michelin recommends 70 to 90 psi in the 8R19.5's, high side for their 225 X 19.5 tires varies from 85 to 95 psi max, and allowable load is dependent on pressure.

You might want to get an actual weight on your unit and get a recommendation from the manufacturer of your particular tire.

AccessMaster, a forum member, presented an excellent dissertation on proper inflation here:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...&threadid=4300

and here:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...&threadid=4519
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Old 11-17-2005, 01:12 PM   #12
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I have since found that keeping my batteries disconnected with the aid of the blade switch had really improved thier life. I also use a small charger as necessary to top them if, but they rarely drop in voltage much.
It does mean you lose your radio memory.
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Old 11-17-2005, 06:43 PM   #13
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Alan,
Thanks for the pointer to this thread. The only outstanding question I have is whether the Chassis (starter) battery should be charged by the genset? My MH has a water cooled Honda installed by the PO. When the genset is running the house batteries are charged, but not the chassis battery.

When the genset is running is it charging the batteries via the converter or through some other circuit?
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Old 11-25-2005, 08:00 PM   #14
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Chassis/House Batteries on Motorhomes

General question for anyone about disconnecting the batteries on the MH when not in use. I've trailered for over 30 years and have always left my trailer plugged into shore current when not in use. The trailers have had converter/chargers just like the one that was installed in my "new" 370LE several years ago. It charges at a constant 13.8 volts when plugged into shore power, charging BOTH sets of batteries. I've never had any problems with the batteries in the trailers, but would like to know if I need to start disconnecting the MH batteries, and what the advantage might be. I've not had the MH long enough to have experience with this particular issue. Anyone with an experienced opinion? I'll be happy to do the disconnect if there's an electrical benefit.

Thanks,

Noiva (Tim)
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