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Old 01-26-2015, 02:32 PM   #1
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1961 22' Flying Cloud
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12V battery power drain

I have a 1961 Flying Cloud. When I got it the owner said he never messed with the 12 v system and it had no battery. I put a new long and skinny NAPA battery in the battery box outside behind the propane tanks. Most of the 12 stuff was working. Only the 2 outside lights by the door weren't working. Took it to the shop for a few minor things but they had it for 3 months. When I got it back the battery was DOA and would not take a charge. I took the battery back and NAPA is getting me a new one this afternoon.

Wondering what might have drained the battery so completely while it was setting? There is what looks like a battery charger hooked up under the seats with a household light switch. There is no name or other text on this "charger". When you turn on the "light Switch" the "charger" hums. I am assuming this is an old trickle charger. Could this thing be draining the battery when I'm not hooked up to 110v service?

Also wondered if the 4 prong plug on the outside of the trailer should be unplugged when storing?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-26-2015, 02:35 PM   #2
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I believe that CO/propane monitor will place a small demand on batteries, even when the batteries are set to 'store'.
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Old 01-26-2015, 03:35 PM   #3
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I don't think there is a smoke ,co,or propane leak detector on a 1961 airstream unless was installed as part of a renovation and yes the propane detector will discharge the batteries if it has one ,on my 2015 16 sport I remouved the inline fuse for the propane detector under the roadside dinette bench seat and now there is no parasitic draw on the battery that's with the trailer battery switch in the store position, the battery will self discharge if just sitting there even with no cables on it ,flooded batteries have a higher discharge rate3-20% per month then (AGM batteries 1%-3% per month at 25 celsius )
Also when you had the trailer at the shop maybe something was left on (lights )or they used lights and never charged the battery.
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Old 01-26-2015, 05:06 PM   #4
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Yeah no co detector yet and no store switch. Thanks for the ideas though. I'm putting the new battery in tonight. I guess I'll just keep checking the charge level and try it with and without the trickle charger and with and without the exterior plug in.
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Old 01-26-2015, 05:10 PM   #5
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Don't suppose there is a wiring chart around for a 61? Airstream doesn't go back that far on their site.
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Old 01-26-2015, 06:17 PM   #6
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When you put the new battery in place hook a cheap digital ammeter (wal mart, harbor freight, sears) in series with the + line and measure to see if there is any current flowing. Use the 10 amp DC scale on amps.

Yes, the "charger" under the bed might be causing the issue but so could a lot of things. There were no parasitic draws on the old trailers but some of that vintage had a built in circular fluorescent light with a kind of a crude 12 volt ballast converter. If it was switched on, but didn't light the light, it could still draw power. I have had a couple of dead 12 volt fluorescent lights which did that. Defective and did not light, but if the switch were left on, they still took power.

The battery you got (long and flat) will most likely not be a deep cycle one. You are lucky to find even a starting battery in that shape. Consider looking for another location for the battery so you can put a deep cycle type in the next time you replace it. You also should consider a modern 3 stage converter/charger such as a Progressive Dynamics PD9245 to keep the battery properly charged.

And certainly someone in the shop could have turned on some item and never turned it off, killing the battery.

A fully charged battery, in Oklahoma winter months will not self discharge to dead over a 6 month period with no load on it. I leave mine, totally disconnected, for 5 winter months with no recharge, in place, in both of my trailers with absolutely no issues.
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Old 01-28-2015, 11:01 AM   #7
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Thanks for the help. I'm gonna try the ammeter tonight.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:01 PM   #8
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12v power drain confirmed

Ok I hooked up the ammeter in series and found that I do have something drawing power. I don't know what this thing is under the water tank meter. I'm about to tear into it. Can anyone tell me what this is? Thanks.
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