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Old 09-05-2009, 10:00 AM   #1
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Battery Meltdown!

'08 international 25SS. Still under factory warranty. About 30 nights out since we bought it in March.

I left my trailer Wednesday night, plugged into 120V 30A at the camp site. Came back Friday around 6p to discover battery acid on the ground and 2 deep cells that were actively cooking. They were hot, terminals were black, plastic casing was a little warped and there was a small amount of steam oozing out of one of the fill caps.

Disconnected 120V, disconnected and removed batteries. The steel battery tray is now badly corroded. I think I will need to be cut out and a new one tac welded back in...

I think I (fortunately) arrived not long after the meltdown began - The presence of steam was an perhaps an indication that there is still water in batteries, and hence hadn't been cooking for 2 days strait. I also had the trailer on 120V for the past week before shifting to the camp site with no issues.

I thankful my trailer didn't burn to the ground or injure anyone.

I am theorizing that the isolater in the trailer failed on a continus carge was delivered to the batteries, effectively cooking them.

So I do have a question about getting home safely - do I need a 12V coach battery to run the brakes or is that accomplished via a simple voltage feed from my TV? I know the breakway switch obviously won't work without a coach battery...

If I do need 12V I will have to go home and grab a spare battery then come back - is a single 12V enough to run dual axle breaks?

........To top things off the mounting screws on one of my dinette benches pulled out of the floor (same day as battery failure) so I had to remove the entire bench and stick it in the back of my TC! doh! hahah my wife now wants me to build a custom extension of our sofa area...

Thanks in advance for any advice RE the journey home and what could have caused the issue.

-P
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:06 AM   #2
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The running lights and brakes on your trailer are run on 12 volts supplied from your truck. You should be fine to travel.
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:10 AM   #3
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Wow! Glad you did have a fire and lose everything!!

The trailer battery would only be used for the breakaway switch. Your electric brakes will work just fine without a trailer battery, as they are controlled by the brake controller in your tow vehicle. All of your 12 volt systems will work when connected to your TV (except the breakaway switch).

Sounds like the charger in your converter died, and fried your batteries.

Good luck!!!

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Old 09-05-2009, 10:50 AM   #4
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'08 international 25SS. Still under factory warranty. About 30 nights out since we bought it in March.

I left my trailer Wednesday night, plugged into 120V 30A at the camp site. Came back Friday around 6p to discover battery acid on the ground and 2 deep cells that were actively cooking. They were hot, terminals were black, plastic casing was a little warped and there was a small amount of steam oozing out of one of the fill caps....I also had the trailer on 120V for the past week before shifting to the camp site with no issues.

...what could have caused the issue.

My first suspect for the cause would be a boiled battery.....when did you last check the water level?

Keeping a low water level wet cell on a charger could easily cause things to run amok in a couple of weeks.

The primary reason I have a Lifeline AGM in the Sovereign is my usual failure to timely check the water level in the batteries.
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:17 AM   #5
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running without a battery for emergency braking could be a legal problem but I haven't heard of anyone worrying about it.

Do check the output voltage of your converter as loss of electrolyte is an indication of overcharging. With AGM's, such overcharging will quickly destroy the battery. With wet cell batteries it can take longer. A friend just recently replaced the converter on his 2005 because it destroyed 2 brand new batteries in under a week.

It is also possible to have a battery suffer a shorted cell which can create an overcharging situation. The key is to find out what caused the meltdown so you can do something to avoid it happening again.
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:53 AM   #6
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Wow! Glad you did have a fire and lose everything!!

Sorry!!!!! That was supposed to say "didn't have a fire...." Kay pointed that out just now.

Chris
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:54 AM   #7
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well I checked the batteries a couple weeks ago and topped up the water... They have been on 120V since... I'll drag it back to the dealer next week - needs to go in for a leak anyway...

next time I am going with gel cell ....
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:03 PM   #8
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Just had the same thing happen to us while plugged into 120v 30a service. We did smell the rotton egg (Sulfur) and finally connected to the battery going bad. I had recently checked the water level in the batteries but now one is burnt and will need to be replaced. The other battery got hot, from the cooking battery but seems to have survived. The output voltage from the built in charger is right at the 13.58v that is the specified output voltage of the charger. I think I will go with a pair of 6 volt batteries for replacement (may need to modify the battery box) and consider a true 3 stage charger with a battery monitor system. Any thoughts on new power supply/charger.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:44 PM   #9
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Is it possible that I put too much water when I topped it off? Could that have caused the meltdown?
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Old 09-05-2009, 05:13 PM   #10
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When you fill each cell with distilled water you should fill each just above the internal plates. DO NOT fill each to the top.
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Old 09-05-2009, 05:24 PM   #11
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Is it possible that I put too much water when I topped it off? Could that have caused the meltdown?
Not likely. Defective battery or a defective converter are the prime suspects
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Old 09-05-2009, 05:33 PM   #12
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if you look down into the hole you'll see a notch on two sides of the filler hole. when the water hits the bottom of the notch, the water will form a circle in the hole. don't fill past that point. and ALWAYS wear eye protection!
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Old 09-05-2009, 07:14 PM   #13
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Richinny is correct about the filling 'level' your battery with distilled water - just to the BOTTOM of the notched tube you look down into - hard to do with the battery installed...a battery refilled to the top of the 'vents' will ALWAYS overflow fluid and make a mess of the battery compartment during the next charge cycle! DON'T OVERFILL...

The converter/charge is designed to operate properly with a 12 volt deep cycle battery...each of the six cells in your battery are rated at about 2.2 volts...when one cell shorts internally, you now have essentially a '10 volt battery', and your charger keeps trying to bring it back up to a full charge of a '12 volt battery' - which effectively insures that the '10 volt battery'' is being highly overcharged - boiling the fluid away in the remaining good cells...

This is a dangerous situation on several fronts, as hydrogen gas is being emitted from the battery and could cause the battery to 'explode' if there's a source nearby to ignite it, or could even be ignited from within the battery case...nothing to fool with - you should turn off the charging source and let the battery cool before trying to remove it!

The extended running of the charger could also damage the charger as it's usually running full tilt trying to recharge the battery...and may overheat the unit and it's components...

As to the damage from the battery fluid on the tray - battery electrolyte is actually a weak form of sulfuric acid and is easily neutralized with a baking soda solution mixed with plain water - apply it liberally in the battery compartment - giving it time to reach the entire area - then flush with clean, clear water and allow to dry completely - you may wish to do the flushing process with the baking soda several times - I would then try to use a quality paint, maybe Rustoleum to coat the tray surface, maybe several coats...I wouldn't think the corrosion was that far along in your new trailer to really damage it structurally...

I also believe you had a defective battery - when it's replaced, you should check the voltage at the battery terminals with the charger running to insure the voltage isn't too high, indicating a problem with the charger itself...check your manual on the converter/charger for the correct voltages and specs...

Good Luck...
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:28 AM   #14
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Thank you all for the great advice. I think I may have overfilled the battery... but I am having hard time believing that alone caused the issues.

I am going to replace with no-maintenance Optima blue tops. I run one in my land rover for deep cycle winching applications and it has served me well.

...and thank you very much for the tip on baking soda, I wiped down the box yesterday but I'll clean again with baking soda and water.
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