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Old 08-16-2012, 12:24 PM   #1
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1992 29' Excella
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Water Tank Monitor Issues 1992 29' Excella

I've just purchased my 1992 29' Excella about 17 days ago. It's my first AS, so I'm quite a nooby. I've got a problem with my Water Tanks Monitor. The same one that also monitors my batteries.

I've read through a number of posts and have come to the conclusion that the Water Tank Monitors are an issue on all models and years since they were introduced.

My monitor is built into my range hood. I'm including a couple of pictures below. Here are my issues:
  1. When I push the test button generally nothing happens. It does not light the LEDs. It doesn't work. That is normally it does not work.
  2. It did surprise me and work two days ago (since stopped working) it showed incorrect readings for the Waste and Gray tanks, as both are empty but it shows the black as 2/3 full and the gray as 1/3 full. The fresh does have water in it so I'm not sure if 2/3 full is correct or not.
  3. I think getting the LEDs to light consistently when the button is pushed (it's a spring loaded rocker switch) would be the first order of business. Then trouble shoot the sensors them selves.
I will appreciate any advice that can be sent my way on this little issue. I do own a voltage meter and I am handy, but I always like to increase my chances for success by asking for help.

Thanks,

Pete
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:45 PM   #2
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1989 25' Excella
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Your panel is a little different than our 89'...but I believe the "system" is the same.
Take a look at this repair I did a few year back...you will have to read through a few pages...but it may help

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...e-41002-2.html

Good luck...and welcome,
Bill

Edit; oh yeah...the panel is still working today!
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:47 PM   #3
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I used to own a 1989 29' trailer and had troubles with the monitoring system. The monitoring panel in the 1989 trailer was different than what you have. I'm not sure about the sensors.
I would check all the grounds, along with the connections behind the panel and the connections at the tank.
The sensors on the 1989 model were a foil type that adhered the the side of the tank and no longer available. Find out what type of sensors your trailer has. There should be an inspection plate under the fresh water tank and probably one plate for both the black and gray tanks.
I ended up retrofitting a "See-Level" system in place of the old one. It worked great! I was able to use all the existing wiring in the trailer so installation wasn't bad.
Check this link:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f444...led-78854.html
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Old 08-16-2012, 04:10 PM   #4
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BillTex and crispyboy, thanks for your links I've already scanned them both and will read them both with great interest. As you both mention, and from your pictures, I can see that your monitor panels are definitely different than mine. Mine is more of a molded metal like a conventional range hood, so I'm not sure yet what I'll need to do to get it apart. If anyone with a 92 has taken theirs apart and reads this thread within the next day or so, I'd love see some pics. I'm not even sure this range hood is stock as you'll see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillTex
The system uses a board manufactured by Larson Electronics... The manual outlines several causes for gauge readings of E; lost connection at foil pads on tank, bad board, and bad wire, lost ground, etc.
BillTex, I lifted this quote from the thread you you linked me with. Which manual does this refer to and can I get one. I have the 92 AS owners manual. Having seen your thread I looked through my 92 OM, (still need to read the entire book). Directly under the Monitor Panel it mentions

Philips Products
Vent Line/LVS Division

No mention of Larson, but there is a nice wiring schematic (I love this AS owners manual) just past the trouble shooting guide. This schematic and rendering show a slightly different set up than I have. For instance mine does not have LPG monitoring and the buttons are spaced differently. Hmmff.

So one additional question... for now. Are the sensors on the inside or the outside of the tank? From the pics saw on your thread crispyboy, it appears they are external or at least your new ones are.
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Old 08-16-2012, 08:24 PM   #5
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1989 25' Excella
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The manual I reffered to is our AS owner manual...yes they are very detailed!
Or at least they were back in the day...

I suspect you will also have foil pads in your system...a call to AS service might confirm this.
I don't know what year they changed from the foil...

Resistance between the 2 foil pads determined the signal strength returned from the tank and therefore the level on the gauge. Pretty simple.

The bad news is there really is no easy way to upgrade the foil pad system..at least no easy way I ever found...
The newer style can be upgraded IIRC to "see-level" I believe is the name.

So first thing is determine what type of sensors you have...and then start hunting for a short.

Have you filled the fresh tank yet?
Try that too...

Then give your grey and black tanks a good "geo" cleaning...maybe a couple of them...and see if those readings improve.

Ultimately...you may have gauges that work...but very few RV's of any type have "accurate" gauges.
After a while you get a feel for what level your tanks are at...if you are a boondocker.
OTH...if you frequent RV parks...it doesn't really matter...

Stream on, Bill
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:13 PM   #6
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Thanks Bill,

That's a very good suggestion, I had not thought to simply call AS. about the foil pads and the Monitor Panel.

I may try the next to last PO as well. He may be able to shed some light on why the Monitor panel is different from the one in the manual. He's the one who made many improvements to this baby and maybe he did some work on the Monitor.

The Fresh tank is partially filled. The gray and black were emptied as we left the CG we stayed at on the way home.

Not sure I understand "geo" cleaning, do I want to know?
My manual has a brief paragraph and a diagram describing something called a Black Tank Flush. There is supposedly a place to connect a water hose which will eccentrically spray water into the black tank through a built in spray head, to help flush it out. I haven't had a chance to look for that connection yet. I guess I'll get to that tomorrow.

I do understand what your are saying about gauge accuracy and have had experience with it. Stuff like this is not especially accurate, but you get a feel for it.

We do a lot of boondocking. We prefer it. That was what initially caught our attention to the ad for this AS. The solar system and inverter.

We had a couple of Pop Ups before this (actually still have one) and we did a lot of boondocking. Most of the National Parks we've stayed in were dry camping as well.

This AS will be the most luxurious camping we've ever done. Hahaha

Pete
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:35 AM   #7
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1989 25' Excella
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Quote:
That's a very good suggestion, I had not thought to simply call AS. about the foil pads and the Monitor Panel.
If you ask nicely...you may be able to get a Tech right out on the floor...I have...several times...they have always been helpful. Have your manual, serial #'s, and a list of questions prepared...
Quote:
I may try the next to last PO as well. He may be able to shed some light on why the Monitor panel is different from the one in the manual. He's the one who made many improvements to this baby and maybe he did some work on the Monitor.
Yes...good idea
Quote:
The Fresh tank is partially filled. The gray and black were emptied as we left the CG we stayed at on the way home.
Fill it all the way and check the gauge...

Quote:
Not sure I understand "geo" cleaning, do I want to know?
My manual has a brief paragraph and a diagram describing something called a Black Tank Flush. There is supposedly a place to connect a water hose which will eccentrically spray water into the black tank through a built in spray head, to help flush it out. I haven't had a chance to look for that connection yet. I guess I'll get to that tomorrow.
Geo method= water softener and some laundry detergent. Disolve in a few gals hot water and let it slosh around your tank while you drive to your next destination...try to pick a place where you know you will have a sewer hookup/dump station. The water softener decreases surface tension=slippery tanks!
FWIW I don't put bleach in our tanks...
If you have the "tank flush system" that is great...I never had one (my manual says we do...but we don't?). I would find a dump station with h2o and let it rip...

Quote:
We do a lot of boondocking. We prefer it. That was what initially caught our attention to the ad for this AS. The solar system and inverter.

This AS will be the most luxurious camping we've ever done. Hahaha
Yep...boondocking...and yes...this will be the "most luxurious" camping you ever do. I suspect you will soon be addicted.
While AS are luxurious...they are also robust...we use ours pretty hard (use...not abuse) and she has held up well.
Big tanks, dual batteries, etc...made for boondocking!
IMO the 80's-mid 90's were the best. They are heavy...but well built and have all the latest gadgets (solar,TV-if you need that).
I think you got a good one!

Bill
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Old 08-18-2012, 12:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillTex
Geo method= water softener and some laundry detergent. Disolve in a few gals hot water and let it slosh around your tank while you drive to your next destination...try to pick a place where you know you will have a sewer hookup/dump station. The water softener decreases surface tension=slippery tanks!
FWIW I don't put bleach in our tanks...
If you have the "tank flush system" that is great...I never had one (my manual says we do...but we don't?). I would find a dump station with h2o and let it rip...
Thanks for all of the edjumication your providing me Bill. It's really a big help.
BTW my manual played the same trick om regarding the flush system. Must have been an option. Your GEO cleaning sounds good. The Woodruffs (an AS couple in Ohio told me another trick where you dump about a five pound bag of ice in through the toilet before you drive around allowing the ice to both scourer and dissolve possible dried and stuck to the bottom of the tank gunk (to put it nicely ).

I got so busy repairing both my patio barbeque grill and the ASs Front sofa drawer today, that I did not get to work on the monitor panel.

This afternoon after I finished with the sofa, I did check to see if I could get the panel to light up. After many attempts (pushing on the rocker button) it finally lit, then it didn't again for many more attempts and then it did.

From the way the lights are behaving, I'm suspecting the switch may be the culprit or the way the switch is grounded, but because it works off and on I'm suspecting the switch it self may not be closing completely. Of course that does not explain the strange behavior of the indicator lights, so I'm really expecting to find more than one issue.

The AS has been sitting in the same place for over a week, with no changes to the water tanks, which is why I'm leaning toward the switch as part of the problem, faulty sensors or dirty tanks may be another. I'll post the answers when I find them or questions if I get stuck.

It looks like I may have to drop the entire hood to access the monitor wiring. I can't see any other way to get to it.

Regards,
Pete
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Old 08-26-2012, 09:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Re-Pete View Post
...I'll post the answers when I find them or questions if I get stuck....
I promised to return and post about my efforts to fix this problem. I finally got back to my Tanks Monitor issue and I'm happy to say the rocker switch seems to be fixed. Some pictures are included.

After taking the range hood down I discovered that the front panel just pops out. I didn't want to force it before that, but once I had the hood down it became apparent that the front panel must come out, as the compartment concealing the back side of the panel is sealed closed.

To remove the panel, slide the panel up first by pushing either the opposite upper corners or the lower corners. Then from the bottom of the panel use a flat bladed screw driver to aid you in carefully popping the bottom out of the opening. Once the bottom is out pull down and the entire panel is slides out exposing the backside with the circuit board, wiring, switches and connections.

Once the back was exposed it was just a matter of disconnecting the wires from the switch (kill the batteries first) and pushing it out from behind through it's opening in the panel. Then I cleaned the wiring contacts on the switch. I used electronic contact cleaner I purchased from Radio Shack and a small metal nail file to clean the contact tabs (thanks Don you were right ).

Since the switch is a sealed unit, I sprayed the contact cleaner around the rocker portion of the switch to reach the contact area within the switch. I reinstalled the switch tested it and it worked immediately and properly.

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The entire panel popped out with the
backside exposed and open for business.

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The first switch on the left was the
problem child.

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I did not take pictures of the panel removal, but here are a couple showing how it goes back.

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Tabs like this lock in the top of the Monitor
Panel.

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To reattach the panel I just reversed the
process pushing the top into place first sliding
it up and then pushing the bottom in and
sliding the entire panel down.

As long as I held pressure on the switch the LED lights remained on. So, that issue was fixed, but that did not guarantee the remote monitors themselves were working properly.

Here is where I am with that at this point. I inspected the black tank with a flashlight through the toilet. I could clearly see an uneven surface in the light, which I will call crud. As Bill had informed me my Black water tank was crud-ed up (my words).

Because I already had them, at this point I'm soaking both black and gray tanks with digestive enzymes that claim to digest this type of problem in about 12 hours. I plan to give them about 48. If that doesn't get it pretty clean, and if my Black tank sensors do not seem to be working properly then I'll do the Geo-clean Bill recommended when we trek to a small informal rally in mid September.

More good news so far is, the black tank, the gray tank and the fresh tank all registered the additional water I added. I used a bucket so I could roughly measure the amount of water I was adding, except to the fresh tank.

The black tank which was empty took approximately 30 gals to fill, the moniotr had read 2/3 full before I began filling and never changed until I began nearly the tanks capacity, which then it went from flickering on full to solidly lit.

Next i did the same thing with gray tank. Even empty it was reading 1/3 full. Bucket by bucket I filled the tank until the 2/3 full light lit, then until the full light lit. (same as the black tank, both the 2/3 and full lights flickered as the water level approached them and then turned solidly lit as those levels were reached, corresponding with the amount of water I was measuring in.

The fresh tank was reading 2/3 full and I assumed that was about right as i had filled it but not completely before. I topped of the fresh and the full light lit.

I intend to drain the tanks, over the next couple of days beginning with the fresh tank and monitor the lights as I go. I'll post my results.

Regards,
Pete
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Old 08-31-2012, 04:02 AM   #10
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See my new thread Cleaning the Waste Tanks / Fixing Sensor issues. I've begun a new thread because I felt that really this one was veering off track from where it began.

Short and sweet, I've been able to get all of the black water tank sensors working, and I'm working on the gray water sensors, really just the 1/3 full sensor, which stays on all of the time. Since this really became more about cleaning sensors and thus cleaning my neglected waste tanks I have begun the new thread linked above. Thanks to everyone for their help thus far, especially BillTex.

Pete
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