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Old 10-29-2005, 07:47 PM   #1
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Batteries not charging while driving

After a 3 night dry camping trip, we departed for home with very low batteries (as expected). The problem was that after 3 hours of driving (and a wee bit of help from the 55 watt solar panel) we still had very low batteries when we arrived. I don't think the batteries are charging off the TV.
Any help on trouble shooting?
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Old 10-29-2005, 07:55 PM   #2
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wildwood

lets start with the basics, what kind of trailer do you have?

do you have 12 volts at the trailer recepticle on your tow vehicle?

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Old 10-29-2005, 08:01 PM   #3
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Yes.
First, check to make sure the charge line from the tow vehicle has power. If you aren't getting power through the plug, it can't get to the trailer. All you should have to do is use a test light, and make sure it lights when you touch the lug for the charge line in the tow vehicle plug. If you have power there, the next thing to check is if it is getting to the battery. Using the same test light, touch the corresponding lug in the trailer plug, and make sure the test light lights. If it does, chances are the charge line is doing all it can to charge the trailer battery.
The best way to describe this, is to equate your battery to a milk jug. The milk jug (battery) holds, for example, 500 amps, and it is almost empty. Now you are going to fill this jug with a straw (charge line) capable of putting 10 amps per hour in the jug. It will take 50 hours to fill the jug at that rate.
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Old 10-29-2005, 08:16 PM   #4
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Hi wildwoodrver -- Welcome to the Forums. Why don't you fill in your personal data so we can at least see if you have a newer or vintage AS?

How far was the drive from your camping area back to home? Terry points out the same issue I will address -- your tow vehicle's alternator is built only a bit larger than the charging demands for its own battery. Terry's example suggests that it takes a goodly trip to recharge a significantly discharged battery. Lead-acid batteries get worn out if discharged to less than 30-40% with regularity. A continuity tester is a fair start but it is most useful to get a VOM multimeter. ... ... uhh, try the Search function, keyword 'Sperry' is just a thought.
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Old 10-29-2005, 08:24 PM   #5
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wildwoodrver,

What year and model of tow vehicle do you have. My 2003 GMC did not have a fuse in the fuse panel for charging the trailer. Even though I paid for a tow package on my new truck, they forgot to install the fuse. You have to look close because they put in a dummy plug in place of the fuse?
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Old 10-29-2005, 09:01 PM   #6
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Another consideration, are the trailer batteries low on electrolyte or are they at the end of their useful life?
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Old 10-29-2005, 09:42 PM   #7
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Thanks for quick response to a vague question!
The AS is a 2005 CCD. It turns 1 yr old next week. TV is a 2005 GMC Yukon XL. I watch the battery water like a hawk. It is fine. Batteries should be fine. To get more specific, which pin in the 7-way plug carries the charging current? I can test it with a multi meter. If that is ok, any hints on where I can trace it to? I've been under the couch to hook up the solar panel....I should find a charging wire there, no?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-29-2005, 09:52 PM   #8
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"which pin in the 7-way plug carries the charging current?"

easy!

look on the cover of the recepticle, it has a diagram showing what is what.

look for the +12 pin.

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Old 10-29-2005, 09:57 PM   #9
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These pictures show the pins of the connector and what they do. The power line to the trailer is pin 4.
The left one is the car end of the cable and the right one is the trailer end.
Attached Images
  
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Old 10-29-2005, 10:00 PM   #10
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az,

the center pin on your diagram should be backup lights.

john
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Old 10-29-2005, 10:03 PM   #11
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If I recall, the owner's manual for my 05 Bambi has a wiring diagram for the plug. Did you check there? I noticed you said you have a 55 watt solar charger. Same here, but mine came with those maintenance free glass mat batteries and they work great so far. The lowest they have been discharged is down to about 70% after a night of using the lights, CD/radio, and reefer (on gas), but the solar panel charged them back to 100% in about 4-5 hours of sunlight the next day.
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Old 10-29-2005, 10:06 PM   #12
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Opps

Quote:
Originally Posted by john hd
az,

the center pin on your diagram should be backup lights.

john
I would rather move ahead. Did you ever notice that bad things happen mostly while in reverse?
Thanks for the corection!
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Old 10-29-2005, 11:02 PM   #13
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Thanks for the great picture, az (with John's additon). I've printed it for my "collection". I wish the Airstream manual were as clear.

Cam
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Old 10-30-2005, 07:34 AM   #14
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3 hours might not have been enough to charge the battery if it was really low, as your charging current is limited. Plug into shore power for 24 hours and see how the battery condition is after a good charge.
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