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Old 09-07-2015, 09:06 AM   #15
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Sigh. I probably wouldn't have bought this rig if I had known that it was going to be such a hassle keeping it ready and available. Or is this just the world of RVing?
It gets easier once you get on top of the learning curve. And every problem you have now is a campfire tale later…

When I first bought my Interstate, the Airstream Interstate community on AirForums was a lot less active or numerous than it is today, and I spent literally months learning the ins and outs of storing and using mine, the hard way. Now the things that I used to pull my hair out over— as you can see from my Forums avatar at left, there were many— are mostly routine.
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Old 09-07-2015, 11:35 AM   #16
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FWIW, your dryer uses 220 volts AC so you do not want to connect to it obviously. Most extension cords will not carry 15 amps. However you are not going to be drawing 15 amps with just charging your battery.
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Old 09-07-2015, 11:50 AM   #17
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OK, so showing my ignorance of electricity (especially volts vs. amps), is plugging into a normal 110V outlet 15A? If yes then I guess all I would need is a 15A adapter and make sure my extension cord is rated to 15A (not sure how I would do that, it does have three prongs, but I don't have any documentation on it).
Rule of thumb, when using an extension cord on shore power, make sure the extension cord is as large, or one wire gauge larger, than your main shore power cord. You do not want to add resistance in your cord by using too small a cord, lest it overheat and melt the insulation. You can get a 30-amp extension cord at places like Cabela's or Camping World, and it doesn't hurt to have one anyway. I've stayed at older State Parks where the service pedestal was too far away from the campsite for a single cord to reach, and on the wrong side as well.
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All of our breakers are rated 15A with some combined for things like the dryer to 30A. So I guess technically I do have a 30A connect behind my dryer
What 73shark said. 30-amp 220vAC is not the same as 30-amp 120vAC, even if the plugs do look similar.
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Old 09-08-2015, 04:56 AM   #18
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For OP's application of battery maintenance, any standard house plug along with a 14/2 or 12/2 regular extension cord will work. Connecting to a true 30A three -prong twist lock would only be necessary if you're running everything like the AC.

So yes, the adapter and a regular extension cord is all you need to maintain the batteries. I've upgraded our inverter to the Magnum along with 2-6CT Lifelines and leave it plugged in with the adapter and extension cord.
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:44 AM   #19
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Yep, that looks suspiciously close to what we have. Maybe not quite that much bulging, but there is a definite bulge on the side of the battery.

Sigh. I probably wouldn't have bought this rig if I had known that it was going to be such a hassle keeping it ready and available. Or is this just the world of RVing? We owned a boat for a few years, had some typical boat issues, but never had this type of issue in storing it...

Brian
Two comments, both of them intended to provide some perspective.

To some degree, this is indeed the world of RVing. They tend to be complicated, twitchy little buggers even at the best of times. When my husband and I bought our Interstate, the first thing my snickering father did was lob his favorite RV joke at us: "My buddy told me that he had exactly two happy days with his RV - the day he bought it, and the day he sold it!"


As to how the Interstate stacks up problem-wise compared to other choices, many people believe that it has certain quality control issues unique to Airstream. The battery issue is, of course, a known problem. When I relayed to my husband your statement that Airstream will no longer warranty bulging batteries, he glared at me and retorted, "Well, if they are not prepared to stand by their builds, then they need to make public their entire electrical schematic so that the rest of us can finally figure out what the F is going on!" Because what's happening in cases such as yours just doesn't seem right.

But with or without bulging batteries, RVs are very much subject to the "use it or lose it" principle. So are trailers, so are stick houses. Let a stick house sit empty and unused for any amount of time, and you'll start to see unexpected issues cropping up.

With that inescapable reality in mind, have you evaluated the potential to incorporate your Interstate into your professional life? That way it would be subjected to more "use it" and you'd be staying more on top of its condition without expending much incremental effort. You appear to have used realname in your profile, so I can see what you do for a living. You already have some impressive presence in some rrrreally cool market segments - if I were in your shoes, I'd write another book and take the Interstate on the resulting tour!!


I've done something similar myself. I've run my own consultancy for many years, but it was only when I slapped a couple of magnetic business signs on the side of my Interstate that I began to perceive the potential for taking my professional life to another level. That was NOT my original plan - my husband and I bought the Interstate assuming it would be for recreation, duh. But the Interstate makes an *exquisite* mobile office. I can park it on client sites without consuming half their parking lot. I can use it to combine out-of-town meetings with mini-explorations of nearby areas that I would not otherwise have the time or the logistical resources to see. I have a state-issued professional license with mandatory continuing education requirements, and rather than traveling to an approved seminar and staying in the Same Boring Hotel I've been looking at for the past 20 years, I can instead take the Interstate and turn the trip into a discovery adventure. Here is an example of that last possibility:
THE INTERSTATE BLOG: PECAN GROVE RV PARK AND URBAN HIKING IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

It's killing two birds with one stone. As I'm doing these types of things, which are breathing new life and a new facet of enjoyment into my perception of my own career, my Interstate is being properly exercised and monitored for incipient issues. I'm not sure if your livelihood would offer similar potential, but maybe it's something to consider. AFTER you get your battery issue resolved, that is.
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Old 09-08-2015, 12:21 PM   #20
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Reply to the two comments

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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
Two comments, both of them intended to provide some perspective.

To some degree, this is indeed the world of RVing. They tend to be complicated, twitchy little buggers even at the best of times. When my husband and I bought our Interstate, the first thing my snickering father did was lob his favorite RV joke at us: "My buddy told me that he had exactly two happy days with his RV - the day he bought it, and the day he sold it!"


As to how the Interstate stacks up problem-wise compared to other choices, many people believe that it has certain quality control issues unique to Airstream. The battery issue is, of course, a known problem. When I relayed to my husband your statement that Airstream will no longer warranty bulging batteries, he glared at me and retorted, "Well, if they are not prepared to stand by their builds, then they need to make public their entire electrical schematic so that the rest of us can finally figure out what the F is going on!" Because what's happening in cases such as yours just doesn't seem right.

But with or without bulging batteries, RVs are very much subject to the "use it or lose it" principle. So are trailers, so are stick houses. Let a stick house sit empty and unused for any amount of time, and you'll start to see unexpected issues cropping up.

With that inescapable reality in mind, have you evaluated the potential to incorporate your Interstate into your professional life? That way it would be subjected to more "use it" and you'd be staying more on top of its condition without expending much incremental effort. You appear to have used realname in your profile, so I can see what you do for a living. You already have some impressive presence in some rrrreally cool market segments - if I were in your shoes, I'd write another book and take the Interstate on the resulting tour!!


I've done something similar myself. I've run my own consultancy for many years, but it was only when I slapped a couple of magnetic business signs on the side of my Interstate that I began to perceive the potential for taking my professional life to another level. That was NOT my original plan - my husband and I bought the Interstate assuming it would be for recreation, duh. But the Interstate makes an *exquisite* mobile office. I can park it on client sites without consuming half their parking lot. I can use it to combine out-of-town meetings with mini-explorations of nearby areas that I would not otherwise have the time or the logistical resources to see. I have a state-issued professional license with mandatory continuing education requirements, and rather than traveling to an approved seminar and staying in the Same Boring Hotel I've been looking at for the past 20 years, I can instead take the Interstate and turn the trip into a discovery adventure. Here is an example of that last possibility:
THE INTERSTATE BLOG: PECAN GROVE RV PARK AND URBAN HIKING IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

It's killing two birds with one stone. As I'm doing these types of things, which are breathing new life and a new facet of enjoyment into my perception of my own career, my Interstate is being properly exercised and monitored for incipient issues. I'm not sure if your livelihood would offer similar potential, but maybe it's something to consider. AFTER you get your battery issue resolved, that is.
Hi InterBlog, thanks for the feedback. Funny, I had heard the same context joke about our boat: "The two happiest days in a boat owner's life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells the boat." We owned the boat for about 3 years, had our share of joys and sorrows during that time and eventually decided to move on. For whatever reason, I thought that owning an RV would be less complex than a boat. I'm so far finding more similarities than dissimilarities. Although I never really had any battery issues with the boat (we could run down the house battery overnight and just charge it again in the morning by running the engine on idle when docked off connections), so this is a new one.

Interesting that you looked me up based on just my name. You do know there are quite a few people with the same name, right? But yes, you've apparently found the me who is me. And I have thought about using the RV as part of my professional life. Unfortunately, the prime time for use would be during the college school year, specifically during the winter months. That doesn't seem very doable with this RV, given that it runs down the house batteries in 4 hours when running the heating pads. Most college campuses would not have hookups. Nor are they setup for dealing with a large vehicle anywhere outside the football stadium tailgater lot. So it would usually mean parking somewhere off campus or at an RV park and then finding a way to campus. Not very doable logistically, at least in most circumstances. So, for now, it will be just recreational.

And I will probably learn a lot along the way (and some things that I never really wanted to learn about), own RV for a few seasons, then sell it and move on with another season of life.

Thanks for the input. I'm still learning...

P.S. I liked your blog article about Austin.
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Old 09-09-2015, 12:16 AM   #21
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So it would usually mean parking somewhere off campus or at an RV park and then finding a way to campus. Not very doable logistically, at least in most circumstances.
Some of us-- not many, but some-- take the boat analogy a step further by towing a dinghy. Or as the less pretentious call it, a toad. This allows parking the Interstate at a campground and still visiting nearby locations in a smaller and more maneuverable vehicle. My toad is a 2013 Honda Fit hatchback. The difference in Airstream Interstate fuel economy towing versus not towing is only one mile per gallon.
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Old 09-09-2015, 08:50 AM   #22
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What is the brand and model of solar charge controller used in the 2014.5 Interstates?
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Old 09-09-2015, 06:02 PM   #23
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I'm a newbie to the AI world and this blog - and with the same problems with our 2013 as this original post. I'm in the process of deciding to stay with Lifeline batteries or not. My nearest AI dealer wants almost $1200 to replace both batteries. That ain't going to happen!
With regard to the generator, don't they require a certain voltage? Too low and no propane flow - it's a safety thing.
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Old 09-09-2015, 06:17 PM   #24
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I'm a newbie to the AI world and this blog - and with the same problems with our 2013 as this original post. I'm in the process of deciding to stay with Lifeline batteries or not. My nearest AI dealer wants almost $1200 to replace both batteries. That ain't going to happen!
Lifeline Batteries have their own dealer network, and you may get a better price going direct to the source rather than going through your Airstream dealer. Besides which, while Airstream doesn't warrant the batteries, Lifeline does, and you might be eligible for a prorated price since the batteries you are replacing are only two years old.
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With regard to the generator, don't they require a certain voltage? Too low and no propane flow - it's a safety thing.
The main supply valve on an Airstream Interstate's ASME propane tank uses a powerful mechanical spring to hold it closed, and an electromagnetic solenoid to open it. When the house batteries get too low, there isn't enough power for the solenoid to overcome the spring, and the valve closes even if the solenoid switch is turned on. The need for the solenoid to work against the spring is one reason why it has such a high electrical draw, about 0.75 amps (about 18 amp-hours per day)
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:18 PM   #25
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House batteries/generator issue

Best to call Lifeline directly a 1-909-599-7816 and discuss the issue with their warranty administrator. They are in CA.

It might also be a good time to upgrade to golf cart batteries. A pair of GPL-4CT Lifelines at 220 amp/hours will give you about 40% more battery reserve. They should be available for about half of what your dealer quoted for the Group 24 size.


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Old 09-10-2015, 05:30 AM   #26
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Do the two GPL 4CT's fit in the existing battery enclosure? Comparing the dimensions of them vs group 24 it looks like it will be real tight. Or does one need to fabricate a new (or modify the existing) enclosure?
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Old 09-10-2015, 07:04 AM   #27
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I'm a newbie to the AI world and this blog - and with the same problems with our 2013 as this original post. I'm in the process of deciding to stay with Lifeline batteries or not. My nearest AI dealer wants almost $1200 to replace both batteries. That ain't going to happen!
With regard to the generator, don't they require a certain voltage? Too low and no propane flow - it's a safety thing.
In my earlier replies which included a pic of our own bulging battery, I forgot to mention --

Our generator issues self-resolved once we got the battery situation sorted out. We had a generator non-starting problem but it was simply a knock-on effect. The bulging beauty had moments when it looked like it was theoretically able to still function, but it was not happening in actual fact. With the new battery plus a more protective electrical converter installed, I have been able to start our Onan generator on every attempt, without the Sprinter engine running. And we have just one Lifeline coach battery in our Interstate model year.
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Old 09-10-2015, 07:33 AM   #28
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So to the problem(s) at hand.... There seams to be two problems with your situation as they relate to your battery and generator... First the charger that Airstream put into your unit is most likely a single stage charger or what I call a battery destroyer rather than a multi stage charger that Lifeline batteries must have!

The second issue is the placement of the battery to the generator or the size cable that is running from the battery to the generator is not correct. Your battery if correctly charged should start your generator... I have run across the cable problem in two solar installations I have done on these units. Its my opinion that the positive cable is half the sizes it should be for the length of the run. I increased the cable size to 4/0 and the generator started right up....

hope this info helps
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