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Old 04-13-2013, 09:40 PM   #1
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Nixa , Missouri
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Maiden Trip Cut Short: Converter or Batteries Failure

I purchased a 2008 Classic 25fb two weeks ago from an AS dealer. I had a local Airforums inspector and what I thought a pretty good PDI/orientation and was pretty confident with all the systems. This AS has been lightly used to where it appears not much was used in it. The stickers on the shower walls are still there!

We took or maiden trip this weekend to a nearby state park. Everything seemed fine. At about 2am in the morning I woke up and could see a flashing light in the corner of my eye. It was the Atwood LP Gas detector. The light was flashing amber every 8 seconds. I turned on the lights and saw on the face plate it meant a fault. I figured I would read up on it in the morning and after several minutes the flashing amber turned to flashing green.

In the morning I found the Atwood LP Detector manual and it explained the amber flashing light it due to low voltage. I had a voltmeter and checked the battery posts and the voltage was under 10v! I was hooked up to power and the microwave worked. The converter is under the bed in this 25FB and I measured the voltage across the outputs for the battery and the voltage was 9v.

I cut our trip short and drove back to the dealership service department today and have left the trailer there for them to work on it. Luckily the purchase included a 90 warranty.

If the batteries are old and failing would this cause the converter readings at the outputs to be this low? The readings should be 13.8v to 14.1v according to the AS manual.

I noticed a few days ago when we were loading the rear 3 light dinette lamp would change intensity, lower then brighten occasionally. The 4 Thin-lite fluorescent lights where steady. Was this a symptom of converter failure?

I think I have a Magnetek. If the dealership decides to replace the converter and batteries should I opt to spend the extra money and upgrade the converter to a 3 stage converter?

I'll probably replace the batteries irregardless. I believe the batteries are probably the original batteries, Interstates.

Driving the AS to the dealership was about a 90 minute drive and the batteries didn't seem anymore charged. How do you test if the tow vehicle is charging the batteries. If you hook it up can you measure the change in voltage on the batteries or on the converter panel.

Thanks for any assistance.


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Old 04-13-2013, 09:57 PM   #2
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I will wait for the electrical guys to chime in, but I would say that new batteries and a new 3 stage converter would be a no brainer. Especially if you do any boondocking.


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Old 04-13-2013, 10:04 PM   #3
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A lot of us have found that towing doesn't charge the trailer batteries very much.
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Old 04-13-2013, 10:59 PM   #4
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Getting the obvious question out of the way. Is the switch for the converter in the "on" position? Is the 120 outlet the converter is plugged into actually getting 120v?

I'd go for a 3 stage converter. Better for the batteries. (Though we somehow have gotten 2 bad batteries from Interstate. Can't see it was anything I did to screw em up)

Speaking of batteries.. How old are they? How long was the trailer sitting on the dealers lot? Wouldn't hurt to get them load tested.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by NevadaGeo View Post
A lot of us have found that towing doesn't charge the trailer batteries very much.
Ours recharges well on an all-day drive. Not so much during a short hop.
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:10 AM   #6
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In the two weeks since delivery we have spent a couple of evenings with it in its covered storage with the electricity plugged in while we were there. The day before we left on this trip we had the trailer plugged in for 24 hours to run the fridge. When hitching up in storage to leave the power jack ran normal, unhitching at the state park it was normal. During the evening of the first night in the trailer we had the Thin-Lite ceiling lights on from about 7:00pm until about 10:30 when we went to bed. I didn't notice if the dinette light was fading in our out. None of this should've drawn done the two batteries.

I'm not sure I'm confident to attempt to swap out a converter to a 3 stage converter.

Do you have to make major modifications to the footprint of the existing space to switch to a 3 stage converter? I'm thinking get the current one fixed/replaced under the warranty to get me by then figure out what it takes to switch to a 3 way. In the mean time get a new set of batteries.

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Old 04-14-2013, 06:25 AM   #7
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You can test the batteries for cell failure. You can test the converter/charger,as well. Could be something as simple as a bad connection.......rusty washers/ionization/moisture will cause that. I don't see the reason for cutting your trip short. One thing to remember....camping was here long before the discovery of electricity.
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:05 AM   #8
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Sounds like a classic case of worn out batteries since they were charged up before you left on your trip.
Until I changed to a 3 stage converter charger new batteries lasted only about 2 years.
The three stage converter from is a "plug and play"--it is the electrical guts and goes into the Paralax box. If you can't decide what you need on line, call technical support. They are responsive and well informed.
Lots of handy people have changed their own. I had the shop change mine as I am big and old, don't bend that way any more and my converter is in an awkward place in between the twin beds.
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:15 AM   #9
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If the trailer is plugged in to shore power, it doesn't really matter how good or bad, or even if, the batteries are. It should work just fine with new, or old batteries, or missing batteries. Make sure the use/store switch is in the "use" position. Check the voltage at the terminals with a volt meter, it should read at least 13 volts when plugged in. Make sure the use relay is functioning, if it isn't, the converter will not charge the batteries.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:06 AM   #10
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Convertor swap is easy,new one about $200. Best Convertors. Learn how to check your batteries for dead cells.

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Old 04-14-2013, 09:29 AM   #11
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The kit that handn refers to is probably going to be the easiest route for you to get to 3-stage charging, because your converter is in that integrated "power center" under the bed with the 12V distribution panel as part of the same assembly. I don't know how hard those are to fix, since my trailer has a separate fuse block and floor-mounted converter. The challenge would be getting a dealer to replace with an aftermarket converter under warranty, but since it's a 90-day dealer question vs. the manufacturer warranty you may have a shot. It looks like they're price-competitive at retail, though I've no idea what wholesale prices are like.

The converter may have been on its way out when we inspected the trailer... at the batteries when plugged in it was over 13v but it wasn't pushing 14. I should have considered the fact that it's a one-stage charger at the time, I chalked it up to the fact that the trailer had been plugged in before they moved it to where we could get up to see the roof, etc. and plugged it in again. I don't know if a bad battery would reduce the voltage while charging that much, but it seems possible... and I'm sure I didn't unplug the trailer and watch the battery voltage over the time we were looking over the trailer. That would have given us more of an idea of the battery condition.

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Old 04-14-2013, 09:36 AM   #12
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Changing out the OEM converter for a 3 stage unit from Best Converters took about an hour. Fortunately on the 25FB, the converter is under the bed at the end of the short hallway, so I could lie down to see things with a flashlight.

Just be sure the shore power is unplugged and the battery wires are are lifted off the battery terminals before starting.
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Old 04-14-2013, 09:41 AM   #13
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My philosophy is always check the simple stuff first. Are your battery connections clean and tight? How do the cables look?

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Old 04-14-2013, 10:52 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by daveswenson View Post
My philosophy is always check the simple stuff first. Are your battery connections clean and tight? How do the cables look?
The battery connections look good at the terminals and the terminals have a mild coating of anti corrosion spray. My inspector checked all this but we can't find everything. The weekend trip was a shake down cruise and we are glad we found out about this issue before leaving on a longer trip in a couple of weeks. I'm learning more about this stuff also.

Thanks for everyone's comments.


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