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Old 02-08-2012, 06:31 PM   #1
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Shore power/battery

We are new to this experience with our 2006 Airstream 19' Bambi SE. Trailer was used once and I purchased it last December. I am getting confused and I haven't left the driveway yet. First of all, I located the breakers next to the oven, near the floor, but cannot locate the other fuses I keep reading about. I have looked under the couch and all that is there is a speaker, waterpump, and electrical connections going to? They are backed up in the left corner and I see no way to check anything in that spot. I am speaking of the four type 2 thermal breakers located under the front bed and riveted to the inside skin front plate (couch in my case----I think). We have the couch instead of a table and seats. I found out the hard way that the batteries do "go lo." Because....I was working in the trailer, plugged into the house and the lights dimed and the radio went off. Looking through the book and reading this forum, I see I can leave unit plugged in or hook up to car for tow to keep the batteries charged.

One other thing.....Replaced 2 tail lights today.......little pricy.....any suggestions on where purchases can be made a little cheaper. Also, a parts catelog or website would be nice to know about. I have found out one thing in this short time.....your a great bunch.......sorta like the Labrador Retriever rescue bunch...a rare breed.
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:45 PM   #2
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Mocus,

I'm not familiar with the fuses/breakers that you are looking for, but I will throw out something that I learned the hard way regarding the batteries. For my 2010 Sport 22 (and I would assume your Bambi to be the same), you must leave the battery switch ON or in the USE position to charge the batteries, regardless of whether it's hooked up to shore power or the tow vehicle.

When we first picked it up and I went through the orientation for the trailer, I misunderstood and assumed that we were supposed to leave the battery switch OFF until we were ready to use battery power. As it turns out, that completely isolates the batteries from the electrical system, including the charging unit. Ooops...
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:48 PM   #3
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The breaker box to the left of the oven, near the floor, also contains the "converter" that converts 110 VAC to 12 VDC. In that same panel, near the breaker switches, you will see various-colored, removable, automotive-type, 12-volt "blade" fuses.

If you are plugged into 110v shore power and the breakers are ON, your battery shouldn't be discharged; because the converter is also a battery charger. Are you sure that your 110v line is hot? You can check by plugging a night light or something similar into one of the 110v outlets.

Also, your tow vehicle WON'T charge your batteries unless the engine is running (assuming your car/pickup is wired properly). There should be a relay that disconnects the 12-volt charge line from your vehicle battery circuit to the trailer connecter when the ignition is turned off.

If the previous owner installed a battery isolation switch, you should check to make sure that it is turned to the ON position. Otherwise, your batteries are disconnected and won't charge.

Note: See other threads on this forum for details on overcharging and boiling your batteries dry, which will ruin them.

Please provide more details on switch positions, continuity for fuses and voltage measurements, and we can assist further in troubleshooting.

Also, check that the connections are tight on the buss bar under the front seat, near the fresh water tank. Ours came from the factory with loose connections on the 12-volt line coming from the batteries. This created an intermittent connection that caused flickering lights and poor battery charging. However, be careful not to short these connections together with the screwdriver. While they are only 12 VDC, they are coming directly from the batteries and some may carry current equivalent to creating a direct short across the positive and negative terminals and can throw sparks like arc-welding.

You can use Google or other search engines to find "rv parts online" or "rv parts stores". Also, some Airstream parts can be found at marine parts places, e.g., West Marine (www.westmarine.com).
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:57 PM   #4
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Good suggestion about power line...installed myself so "know," it is operational (but, I did check that out first). Truck professionaly installed so believe it is correct. It has worked thus far correctly. I will absorb your information and check it out tomorrow. I have left Bambi plugged in tonight with the USE turned on...."the 12-volt distribution panel will receive power from the converter and the batteries will be charged through the converter charging system".....Thanks alot for information and advice on ordering parts.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:05 PM   #5
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Suburban Umbilical

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
The breaker box to the left of the oven, near the floor, also contains the "converter" that converts 110 VAC to 12 VDC. In that same panel, near the breaker switches, you will see various-colored, removable, automotive-type, 12-volt "blade" fuses.

If you are plugged into 110v shore power and the breakers are ON, your battery shouldn't be discharged; because the converter is also a battery charger. Are you sure that your 110v line is hot? You can check by plugging a night light or something similar into one of the 110v outlets.

Also, your tow vehicle WON'T charge your batteries unless the engine is running (assuming your car/pickup is wired properly). There should be a relay that disconnects the 12-volt charge line from your vehicle battery circuit to the trailer connecter when the ignition is turned off.
If the previous owner installed a battery isolation switch, you should check to make sure that it is turned to the ON position. Otherwise, your batteries are disconnected and won't charge.

Note: See other threads on this forum for details on overcharging and boiling your batteries dry, which will ruin them.

Please provide more details on switch positions, continuity for fuses and voltage measurements, and we can assist further in troubleshooting.

Also, check that the connections are tight on the buss bar under the front seat, near the fresh water tank. Ours came from the factory with loose connections on the 12-volt line coming from the batteries. This created an intermittent connection that caused flickering lights and poor battery charging. However, be careful not to short these connections together with the screwdriver. While they are only 12 VDC, they are coming directly from the batteries and some may carry current equivalent to creating a direct short across the positive and negative terminals and can throw sparks like arc-welding.

You can use Google or other search engines to find "rv parts online" or "rv parts stores". Also, some Airstream parts can be found at marine parts places, e.g., West Marine (www.westmarine.com).
As an FYI, my 2001 Suburban has a factory installed trailer tow package. The engine battery is connected to the house batteries in our Airstream regardless of whether or not the engine is running or the ignition is on / off. I know from sad experience when I drained the engine battery by leaving our TT porch light on over night with the umbilical still attached. I'm not sure this is true for all GM vehicles. I think it's wise simply to check your particular vehicle to make sure.

As it happened, the next morning I charged both the engine battery and the house batteries using my Yam generator connected the our TT using the shore power cable. So everything turned out OK after all ...
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:24 PM   #6
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I try to make sure that my "umbilical" is always disconnected from the TV when we are parked and set up for the night - just a simple preventative measure - in case other relays are not doing what the engineers designed ... so far, no dead TV batteries in many years.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
Also, your tow vehicle WON'T charge your batteries unless the engine is running (assuming your car/pickup is wired properly). There should be a relay that disconnects the 12-volt charge line from your vehicle battery circuit to the trailer connecter when the ignition is turned off.
As others have noted this varies widely from one tow vehicle to the next. There are three possibilities:

1) 12 volt charge line not connected to anything
2) 12 volt charge line connected in a fashion such that it only provides power while the engine is running
3) 12 volt charge line is connected continuously.

Any of these are possible from the factory. In some cases situation #1 prevails by virtue of the factory deliberately omitting the fuse. Hitch/wiring installers and previous owners may have changed the wiring among any of the three alternatives.

I have situation #3 on both my tow vehicles and believe it's ideal. I disconnect the cable from the trailer to the tow vehicle if I stop overnight in a situation where battery drain is a concern.
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mocus View Post
We are new to this experience with our 2006 Airstream 19' Bambi SE. Trailer was used once and I purchased it last December. I am getting confused and I haven't left the driveway yet.
...
Welcome to the forums....

Another fact to consider is that given the history of your trailer you probably have the original battery. Even with flawless care and maintenance it would be reaching end of life by now. You should plan on replacing it, being sure to get a true deep cycle battery that bears a rating in amp-hours instead of or in addition to a cca rating.

Quote:
One other thing.....Replaced 2 tail lights today.......little pricy.....any suggestions on where purchases can be made a little cheaper. Also, a parts catelog or website would be nice to know about. I have found out one thing in this short time.....your a great bunch.......sorta like the Labrador Retriever rescue bunch...a rare breed.
Parts specific to Airstream have to be obtained from an Airstream dealer or authorized service center. In my experience they all have the same prices and they are all willing to ship, so deal with whoever you find to be the most organized.

For non-Airstream specific parts and accessories, I have used and recommend:

etrailer.com - brake and hitch parts, tow vehicle electrical connectors and cables, and those tennis-ball-on-a-magnetic-stick things for hitching up
amazon.com - often the best prices for common accessory items like chocks, hoses, electrical cords, and water filters
westmarine.com - plumbing and electrical. They also ship the smaller size bottles of Aqua Kem, which is what I use, less fuss than the quart bottles
sailboatstuff.com - hinges, hooks, latches (nice ones)
vintagetrailersupply.com - propane parts, Vulkem, Parabond, levels
dwincorp.com - furnace duct and registers
ablifestyles.net - bed linens

Though I have not had the occasion to use them, pplmotorhomes.com has on-line prices for complete appliances and parts.

For batteries you are better off going through a local dealer unless you want AGMs ($$$). Batteries Plus has stores everywhere and has good prices and fresh inventory, and can order whatever you want if you want something unusual.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:12 AM   #9
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Shore power/Battery

Ok fellas, checked trailer lastnight, so thought I would leave unit plugged in all night (24+) to see what happened. Checked this AM and found:
1. Use/Store switch light constant red regardless of ON/OFF position. Can hear relay click when moving switch.
2. Lights dim ceiling (voltage is 110 all outlets).
3.trailer plugged into 110 all night with switch in the USE position. Nothing else on in the trailer. House outlet checked/cable checked/voltage 110 at all outlets in trailer.
4. Batteries new September 2011, AutoCraft Deep CycleMarine, cold crank 550.

Thinking about hooking up and pull trailer around for a while and see what happens. If trailer plugged in and switch in the USE position, batteries should have taken on some charge, right?

I ain't too technical inclined, boys and girls. Thank you much, Tom
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:19 AM   #10
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Shore power/Battery (addendum)

Oh, by the way, I tried everything suggested to best of my ability (which doesn't mean much)....still working on it...
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Old 02-10-2012, 11:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mocus
Ok fellas, checked trailer lastnight, so thought I would leave unit plugged in all night (24+) to see what happened. Checked this AM and found:
1. Use/Store switch light constant red regardless of ON/OFF position. Can hear relay click when moving switch. ...
The operation of the Use//Store switch isn't intuitive and many don't understand it.

In Store mode, the batteries are disconnected from the trailer's 12V loads and the converter. The exception being the LPG detector, emergency breakaway brake circuit and the tongue jack are still connected to the battery.

In Use mode, the batteries are connected to everything. Note: If you have the factory Parallax converter, it can overcharge the batteries if left in Use mode while connected to shore power for extended periods of time, so many choose to put the switch in Store mode and then turn it to Use for a day or so now and then to top off the batteries.

Now for the red light:

In Use mode, the light will always be on regardless of shore power if the batteries have any charge.

In Store mode the light will be on if there is shore power or the TV is providing 12V to the trailer. It will be off in the absence of shore power or the TV's alternator/battery is not providing 12V to the TT.
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Old 02-10-2012, 11:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mocus
Ok fellas, checked trailer lastnight, so thought I would leave unit plugged in all night (24+) to see what happened. Checked this AM and found:
...
2. Lights dim ceiling (voltage is 110 all outlets). ...
The ceiling lights are 12V fixtures, 110V at the outlets indicate you are connected to shore power... The converter is suspect, either it's not turned on, or it's inoperative if your lights are dim.

If you have a way to measure your 12V either at the batteries or one of the 12V sockets in the trailer, fully charged batteries should read around 12.6V. If the converter is operating you will typically see a voltage around 13.2 - 14.4V.

The converter is supplied by a 110V circuit breaker, you may have 4-6 breakers in the panel. The 1st one is usually the main, the others supply the branches. One should operate the converter, there should be a label on the cover identifying which is which. Near the circuit breakers is a 12V fuse panel. Newer TT have a row of 10A or 20A blade type fuses for the various 12V branches. Above that row are a pair of (usually) 30A fuses. These must be good to charge the batteries. They will blow if a battery was somehow connected backwards or the battery cable was grounded when swapping batteries out.
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Old 02-10-2012, 01:59 PM   #13
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shore power/battery

Shore Goose....Thank you. A lot of information for me to check out. I really appreciate your efforts to get me "ON" the road for the first time. I did just get back from hooking the trailer up and pulling it around for a while and quickly checked the switch when I got home and it is turning on/off now......Progress? Ya know, this last week makes me wonder if I did the right thing in purchasing our Bambi or not. We already love the little girl but she sure is demanding thus far...Thanks again...Tom
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Old 02-10-2012, 02:16 PM   #14
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Been following this thread since we have the same trailer. I can't add anything new to the conversation, other than to offer moral support...and urge you to not get so frustrated that you are sorry you bought it. It's a great rig and once you have this blip figured out, you will have a blast.

BTW, you did not mention if you have factory solar or not. Just wondering. If you do, you will have AGM batteries which require lot less maintenance and behave a bit differently than regular batteries. We do have solar and AGMs so we leave our Bambi plugged in 24/7 when we are at home with the battery switch in "use" ...

Hang in there!
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