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Old 04-10-2012, 10:59 AM   #15
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Do you have access to a DMM? How about a DC clamp meter?
Wayne
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:14 AM   #16
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Just plugged the coach in and the batteries were flat. Haven't checked the antenna yet.
Serious bummer! If the battery level is below about 9 volts, don't even try to charge the batteries using the inverter/charger, which is more suited to trickle and float charging. As a general rule, if the batteries are drained too far to start the generator, they're drained too far for the el cheapo factory-installed inverter/charger to restore them. I recommend that you remove the batteries and charge them on a bench using a charger designed for AGM batteries.

In order to remove the batteries for charging on a bench, you have to remove the sofa bottom cushion (unless you have the twin-bed version, of course). Not an easy task when you've got no power to the power recline function. I went through this not long after getting my Interstate, before I knew about that darned propane solenoid.

Easiest way I can suggest is this: Open the rear doors. You'll have to do most of the work from outside.

Remove the back cushion and set it aside. Only requires undoing four nuts. If you can't recline the sofa, you'll play heck getting the bottom cushion out while the back cushion is in place, so getting it out of the way first helps.

Remove two nuts on the bottom cushion rails; you'll see them if you bend down, but actually removing them requires doing it by feel, just due to the ergonomics of it. These nuts should be the same size as the ones on the back of the sofa's rear cushion.

Now comes the hard part. You have to reach forward almost to the front of the sofa, where you will find two flathead machine screws, with the screw head facing down, and the nuts facing up. The nuts are one size smaller than the nuts you've already removed so far. Do be careful not to drop your wrench, unless you have a spare; the nuts are far enough forward that if you drop a wrench, it will land inside the box under the cushion where you can't reach it until the cushion is off. Trust me, I know.

The problem here is getting a Phillips screwdriver into the screw head while getting a box-end wrench onto the nut. If you can't get the screwdriver onto the machine screws, then use a wedge under the front edge of the sofa seat to force the seat upward and put the machine screw under tension; this should allow you to turn the nut without the screw turning as well. You'll have to reset the wedges as you go to keep the screw under tension.

Once you've got the bottom sofa cushion out, go have a beer and cool off. You'll need it. When you come back, make sure the battery disconnect is disconnected, the inverter is completely off, and the propane solenoid switch is off. Make sure you're unplugged from shore power while you're at it. Open the battery box. Disconnect the negative post where it's grounded to the battery box, not at the battery post. Both batteries are grounded to the same place, so this disconnects both at once. Then you can disconnect the positive wires, at the post. After you disconnect the top battery, remove it. Then remove the false floor to expose the second battery. Risconnect the postive post of that battery, and remove it as well.

Putting the batteries back after you're done charging will be easier. Reverse the steps above, except when you reconnect the bottom sofa cushion, do the nuts in the rear first, to ensure proper alignment. Then extend the sofa far enough to expose the holes where the machine screws go. You'll be able to put them back in properly with screwdriver and box-end wrench, while lying on the floor of the coach.

Note that you don't need to even switch the battery disconnect to "connect"; the power recline for the sofa bypasses the disconnect, so it will work as soon as you've got the batteries hooked up.
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:24 AM   #17
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Good writeup. This is another reason why I'm glad mine is a twin bed model. Lift the mattress, remove the plywood cover and presto, you're looking at the battery box! Remove one battery box cover holddown and everything is exposed in about 1 minute from start to finish.

I'm guessing that these batts have been severely damaged by these repeated deep discharges. I hope the problem can be found and fixed before new ones are installed.

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Old 04-10-2012, 11:42 AM   #18
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Yeah. Once I had the batteries back in I stored my Interstate with the sofa extended far enough to reach those machine screws, just in case, until I confirmed that the problem wasn't going to reappear. Once was enough for me.

For BL1996, I also recommend that after you remove and recharge the batteries, let them sit for a couple of days before putting them back in. If they're still holding a charge, they're probably still usable, though you've probably shortened their usable life. If they don't hold a charge, replace them before you try putting them back in.

The ones in my Interstate are Group 24 Discover Energy EV24A-A traction batteries, meaning that they're designed for deep-cycle applications like powering electric forklifts. They'll stand a deeper discharge without damage than some AGM batteries, but they're not indestructable.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:09 AM   #19
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I believe the batteries are ok as when they are charged the stay up for a good time.

It sounds like getting to the battery box is a task and a half. They would have been better located if placed in the storage area in the rear. There is usually stuff piled on top so its hard to use it anyway.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:08 AM   #20
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I believe the batteries are ok as when they are charged the stay up for a good time.

It sounds like getting to the battery box is a task and a half. They would have been better located if placed in the storage area in the rear. There is usually stuff piled on top so its hard to use it anyway.
Not necessarily okay. Depending on how far they were drained, you may have turned a five-year battery into a three-year or four-year battery. I expect that's what happened in my case, but time will tell.

The extended Interstate with an under-floor storage area in the rear is new this year; Interstates have been around since 2004 and the battery box has been in the same place since the first one rolled out from Jackson Center. For those without the under-floor storage, the present location of the battery box is pretty much the only place they could put two batteries without taking away from already-skimpy storage areas. It's also the only location that works for all floor plans more-or-less equally, since it's either under the sofa or under a twin bed. Having the batteries in the same place on every Interstate minimizes the number of different wiring harnesses required, and minimizes the number of different structural modifications made to the base Sprinter. Both of which save money.

Yeah, it's awkward to reach if the batteries are dead, less so when you have enough battery power to work the sofa. Storing the Interstate with the sofa partially reclined so the machine screws are accessible from inside is now part of my routine. so I can remove the cushions even with dead house batteries. And of course, ever since I started taking that precaution, my batteries have stayed fully charged and it's been a non-issue.

Airstream owners are nothing if not innovative, and I would not be surprised to learn that sometime in the future you've moved your house batteries to your under-floor storage area, probably about the time the house batteries are due for replacement.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:34 AM   #21
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Well, consider all yourselves somewhat lucky.

Our Interstate is an 06, and the coach battery is under the passenger seat in the front. Requires removal of the seat to access. When we replaced this a year or so ago, the seat had to be elevated slightly to accommodate the new battery.

Part of the price we willingly pay for traveling small.


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Old 04-11-2012, 11:44 AM   #22
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"....the present location of the battery box is pretty much the only place they could put two batteries without taking away from already-skimpy storage areas. It's also the only location that works for all floor plans more-or-less equally, since it's either under the sofa or under a twin bed. Having the batteries in the same place on every Interstate minimizes the number of different wiring harnesses required, and minimizes the number of different structural modifications made to the base Sprinter"

It is my understanding that the battery installations on the twin and lounge models are actually quite different. My twin has both batteries on one level with the box mounted roadside. I thought lounge models had the batteries stacked one atop the other with the box mounted curbside. Am I misinformed?
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:02 PM   #23
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"....the present location of the battery box is pretty much the only place they could put two batteries without taking away from already-skimpy storage areas. It's also the only location that works for all floor plans more-or-less equally, since it's either under the sofa or under a twin bed. Having the batteries in the same place on every Interstate minimizes the number of different wiring harnesses required, and minimizes the number of different structural modifications made to the base Sprinter"

It is my understanding that the battery installations on the twin and lounge models are actually quite different. My twin has both batteries on one level with the box mounted roadside. I thought lounge models had the batteries stacked one atop the other with the box mounted curbside. Am I misinformed?
Wayne
No. I am misinformed. Both you and Doug&Maggie have pointed out flaws in my statements about battery box locations.

What can I say? I'm an idiot.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:39 PM   #24
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What can I say? I'm an idiot.
That might be a little harsh! I think the mounting under the front passenger seat is relatively unusual. These things change all the time as AS finds new (hopefully better) ways of doing things.

Are your batteries mounted in stacked fashion curbside?

Wayne
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:00 PM   #25
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That might be a little harsh! I think the mounting under the front passenger seat is relatively unusual. These things change all the time as AS finds new (hopefully better) ways of doing things.

Are your batteries mounted in stacked fashion curbside?

Wayne
It's only harsh when someone else says it; when I say it about myself, it's just self-deprecating.

They are stacked, curb-side. The bottom half of the battery box is below the floor, and there is a plywood false floor inside the battery box, level with the van's floor, to support the upper battery.

After Doug&Maggie said theirs was under the passenger seat, I downloaded a copy of the 2006 Interstate manual out of cutiosity. The 2006 manual says that the house battery (singular) is either under the seat or under the roadside lounge.

Just goes to show that I really do need to be more careful about making sweeping statements, so the "idiot" comment stands.
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Old 04-11-2012, 03:30 PM   #26
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In the 06 a second battery can be placed inside the storage compartment accessable when the sliding door is opened. Mine had the open up sofa and the convertable dinette, allowing full walk through with both beds opened. jim
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:21 PM   #27
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we have an 05 in need of a new house battery. How much did you raise the seat and are you OK with it. Also, what did you replace it with?
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:03 PM   #28
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we have an 05 in need of a new house battery. How much did you raise the seat and are you OK with it. Also, what did you replace it with?
We purchased our 2010 Interstate in May and 1 month later come to find out batteries were bad.

I replaced with (2) blue top optimas. I think they were group 24.

So far 6 months later running strong.
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