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Old 10-05-2011, 09:20 PM   #1
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What's That Smell??

We have had a smell in our trailer (2005, 30' Classic) that began about a month ago. I have been unable to find the source... Until yesterday.

I was at work yesterday and called home to talk to my wife at lunch as usual. She said; Oh, by the way, the propane detector in the trailer was beeping this morning, I want in and the smell was terrible, I could only stay for a little while; and Seth (our son) noticed smoke coming out of the front compartment.

Smoke!!??! That sounds serious!

The only front compartment I could think of was the two battery compartments. I asked if this was the compartment. "Maybe." OK, have someone go down to the trailer and unplug the (shore) power from it.

When I got home, I went to the trailer and opened up the battery compartments. The one on the left (port) side was noticeably warm (still). I looked at the battery and it was bulging on the ends. One of the top caps was popped lose too. Well, I think replacing this battery will solve our smell issue too.

I do keep the trailer plugged into shore power when not in use. Is this OK? I suspect that sinced the other battery appears to be OK, that this battery just wore out (they are two different brands), and that the converter/charger is fine. We have only had this trailer since this summer, so we do not know the history.

David
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:34 PM   #2
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Did it smell like rotten eggs? That's propane. If the propane alarm was going off, you could have a gas leak.
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:35 PM   #3
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when replacing batteries they need to be replaced at the same time and must have the same specs. A battery that is bulging has been over charged/failed.
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:37 PM   #4
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David, it would be a good idea to replace both batteries at the same time with a pair of the same, usually group 27 marine/RV. Having them mismatched, even by age, will seriously shorten the life of both batteries, since they will be "pulling" unequally.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:05 PM   #5
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Same Thing Happened To Me

Several years ago I walked by my 2002 ASCL 31' and smelled the same acrid odor. One of my batteries was so hot I had to use gloves to remove it.

The problem is the OEM converter isn't smart enough and WILL overcharge the batteries if left on shore power while in storage.

I now use a small motorcycle intelligent charger clipped into the 12 volt breaker panel to keep the batteries topped off when the AS is being stored.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:20 PM   #6
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It turns out I misunderstood my wife, the alarm was the Carbon Monoxide detector, not the Propane Detector. Yes, it is an "acrid" smell, not propane. Thanks for the responses... Yes, I will replace both batteries. At this point it has just one battery which should be fine for a short while. I need to check the electrolyte level though.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:39 PM   #7
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Batteries can and do fail as a result of a shorted cell. When this happens the remaining cells overcharge. There is nothing the converter can do to detect this.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:43 AM   #8
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IMHO....replace the Para-lax converter, it will ruin any battery plugged in 24/7.
Ruined ours while still on the dealer lot.
It's an easy upgrade in your Classic. Did ours three years ago with no regrets.

Bob
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:44 AM   #9
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Yes, the stock converter will almost certainly "cook to death" any batteries you have in the unit, if you leave it plugged in all the time. If you decided not to upgrade to a better converter, then just don't leave it plugged in. Just plug it in for a day or so before a trip. Then, check the electrolyte level regularly, and DO use batteries of same age, type, charge history and even lot number (if you can get it).
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:31 PM   #10
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Another warning thread

This thread should be a serious warning to all who already have or are contemplating installing a battery in the interior of their Airstream.

Without a vapor proof box that is independently vented to the exterior ANY battery (AGM, sealed, gel, or no maintenance can and will off gas, burn, or explode if overcharged.

H2S will kill at as low a level as 100 ppm and deadens the nose recognition (smell) with concentrations as low as 10 ppm. How much warning will you get if the battery fails while you are sleeping?

I walked into a two year old trailer with dogs in it about 2 hours after the owners had last been in it - the H2S concentration was EXTREMELY high (didn't take long after the battery started to boil off).

It truely amazes me that this safety hazard is not taken more seriously.
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Old 10-06-2011, 01:17 PM   #11
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One of the first modifications we made when we got our '71 TradeWind was to build an airtight metal battery box that vented out the bottom (H2S is heavier than air). We did this before we even thought of sleeping in it.
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Old 10-06-2011, 01:42 PM   #12
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One thing you can do is put either the airstream or the converter on a timer. just have it on for an hour a day.
I have been stubborn and am using the original converter. After this and other posts I am considering changing.
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Old 10-06-2011, 03:56 PM   #13
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The one I used is on sale now...great deal!!!

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Old 10-06-2011, 09:10 PM   #14
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It turns out the "smoke" was actually steam. It's interesting how things get turned around. It was raining that day and some water must have gotten into the battery compartment. I am actually glad this happemed since it pointed me in the right direction to find the bad battery as well as eliminate the source for the odor.

I may just have to invest into a new converter/charger. The one that Robert has a link to above is tempting.

David
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