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Old 05-17-2018, 11:58 AM   #1
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2017 Classic Converter / Charger

Hi

There has been a lot of chat about just what sort of converter / charger is in the 2017 trailers. This is a front view, inside view, "spare part" view and a shot of where the LM317 on the heatsink really *should* go on the board..... No ID on the board that classifies it in any way in terms of the PD number series. The board is a generic 4400 series layout.

Bob
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Old 05-17-2018, 04:24 PM   #2
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Hi

After spending some "quality time" with a microscope and the LM317 that sheared off .... I don't see any way for it to survive in a normal trailer environment. If the other converters out there are built the same way, it's a time bomb. Since it's loose metal when it breaks, who knows what the result could be.

Here's the only "quick fix" I can see for the problem.

1) Pull the converter out ( involves disconnecting all the wires )

2) Drill out the pop rivets that hold on the top. Yes, wave goodbye to your warranty

3) Grab a tube of electronic grade RTV silicone glue ( Dow 738 ). ( Yes it needs to be "electronics grade" ).

4) Build up a pile of RTV around the bottom of the heatsink / LM317 combo. Let it dry.

5) Repeat the process with another layer. This likely will cover the two electrolytic caps next to the LM317. Let that pass dry

6) Buil up a final layer and let it dry.

Yes that's not what I would call an easy fix. The net result is a mountain of RTV covering up past the rivet in the heatsink. The reason for all the layers is to fully harden. Go to big in one pass and it stays liquid forever .... I've done that ...

Lots of fun !!

============

( Yes, Randy at Best Converter has a few *much* easier ways to fix the problem )

Bob
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Old 05-17-2018, 05:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

After spending some "quality time" with a microscope and the LM317 that sheared off .... I don't see any way for it to survive in a normal trailer environment. If the other converters out there are built the same way, it's a time bomb. Since it's loose metal when it breaks, who knows what the result could be.

Here's the only "quick fix" I can see for the problem.

1) Pull the converter out ( involves disconnecting all the wires )

2) Drill out the pop rivets that hold on the top. Yes, wave goodbye to your warranty

3) Grab a tube of electronic grade RTV silicone glue ( Dow 738 ). ( Yes it needs to be "electronics grade" ).

4) Build up a pile of RTV around the bottom of the heatsink / LM317 combo. Let it dry.

5) Repeat the process with another layer. This likely will cover the two electrolytic caps next to the LM317. Let that pass dry

6) Buil up a final layer and let it dry.

Yes that's not what I would call an easy fix. The net result is a mountain of RTV covering up past the rivet in the heatsink. The reason for all the layers is to fully harden. Go to big in one pass and it stays liquid forever .... I've done that ...

Lots of fun !!

============

( Yes, Randy at Best Converter has a few *much* easier ways to fix the problem )

Bob
Or, Uncle Bob, since you have the outdated technology apart, you could just replace that old unreliable technology from AS with a new multi-stage unit which will help keep your batteries in good condition. As you stated, Randy has a few "better" long term suggestions on this topic...like a new 4 stage converter/charger from Boondocker or Parallel Dynamics...just saying...pay me know or pay me later...
Pictures below of chassis with old converter and new Boondocker I mounted in same chassis...I used same chassis for new Converter so everything fits back together with front panel and circuit board. Pretty easy.
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Name:	6 Boondocker mounted in old Paralex chassis; allows fuse circuit board, enclouser, and panel cov.jpg
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:32 AM   #4
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Hi

Ok, if you look at the "before" picture, you can see the giant heatsink on the LM317 sticking up just under the main blue wire. It's right towards the "front" of the pc board. You can also note that there is absolutely nothing in that picture to support the heatsink at all. It just flops around. If it falls to the left when it breaks, it goes across the 110V incoming line .... wow !!!

Hopefully the Boondocker Randy is sending me will fit as well as the one you used.

Since I'll be running lithium's the whole yack about "how many stages" pretty much goes away. You hit them with a bit over 14V all the time and they stay happy.

Bob
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Ok, if you look at the "before" picture, you can see the giant heatsink on the LM317 sticking up just under the main blue wire. It's right towards the "front" of the pc board. You can also note that there is absolutely nothing in that picture to support the heatsink at all. It just flops around. If it falls to the left when it breaks, it goes across the 110V incoming line .... wow !!!

Hopefully the Boondocker Randy is sending me will fit as well as the one you used.

Since I'll be running lithium's the whole yack about "how many stages" pretty much goes away. You hit them with a bit over 14V all the time and they stay happy.

Bob
I just removed the entire circuit board assembly and discarded. I then used the Boondocker as a template to drill mounting holes through bottom of old chassis. I installed longer screws with spacers between chassis and boondocker to raise it up off floor. I also widened the original air hole the fan was on the old circuit board was facing, by cutting the hole in the side wall sheet metal a little bigger...not sure it was needed, but I did it anyway...

Not sure which Lithium's you have? I know at least one of them (maybe Battleborn?) said they will work fine with the newer 4 stage converter/chargers...but I also have heard others say there are a few that need special model? Anyway, good luck with the retrofit...I have more pictures if you need them.
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Old 05-19-2018, 04:37 AM   #6
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I put the Boondocker in a year ago at Randy's suggestion. Did not use the cabinet that the original AS converter was in. I built a shelf in the area, mounted the converter to the shelf and wired it up. So far so good. Pretty simple as well. I don't use the brown front door either although I did adapt the platform I built to accept the door, I put it on and then took it off. My covering Classic door has a large hole in it to permit better air circulation. In hot weather the fan runs fairly often, in cool weather or cold hardly at all.

Plug into campground, she spikes at 14 for a while, starts dropping slowly over a period of time and then floats at around 13.0-13.2 until lots of use and then goes up to 13.6 and back down to the float area.

Do not have Lithium batteries, AGMs that came with the trailer and solar package.
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Old 05-19-2018, 08:40 AM   #7
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Hi

Needless to say, I was a bit surprised at the part clunking around inside the box when I pulled it out. The open question is - when did it fail ? With the solar on the roof, it could have been a while back ....

The lithium decision was mainly driven by the "fun" of pulling the AGM's for the winter. My storage location does not have power. Leaving them to die in the cold did not seem like a winning strategy. We also moved to an indoor storage location and the solar setup will no longer keep the AGM's topped up in the summer.

If I have to tear things apart to do this or that, I might as well upgrade the whole system. Yes, that's a *very* long leap from putting in a $10 battery disconnect to ordering in a bunch of lithium's

Thanks for all the ideas about what to do with the magic shelf. I'll probably wait until the converter gets here from Randy before I make any major decisions.

=======

Maybe a little more on this heatsink thing. To me it's obvious it's a problem. That's after a lifetime spent designing this kind of stuff. It may not be quite so obvious to others:

The heatsink and regulator form a resonant structure. Think of it as a spring and a weight. Tweak it and it "rings" at some frequency. That resonance is the problem. Put a little energy in and the resonance amplifies it a lot.

Swinging back and forth on the leads of the regulator will break them. They aren't designed for that sort of thing. They actually fatigue pretty quickly.

So, run down the road and hit just the "right" vibration in the trailer and the little beast goes nuts. I drive down this road at that speed and it breaks. You drive somewhere else and it's fine. The magic technical term is "dwell at resonance". If you want more info check out Mil-Std-202 ..... lots of bedtime reading there

Indeed the problem is not uncommon. I ... errr .... have seen it before ...

Fun !!!!


Bob
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:38 AM   #8
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What brand Lithium batters are you putting in Bob? I pull our batteries when we get back from FL and back in when we head out at summers end. A pain.

Thanks

Bud
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Old 05-20-2018, 07:42 AM   #9
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What brand Lithium batters are you putting in Bob? I pull our batteries when we get back from FL and back in when we head out at summers end. A pain.

Thanks

Bud
Hi

I'm getting four of the the Battle Born 100AH units. The only stuff I seriously considered were the BMS built in designs. I also didn't want to import stuff directly from China. They at least have some presence here on the forum. Assuming their spec sheet is correct, their BMS does a pretty good job.

None of these battery manufacturers seem to have a long track record other than Victron. The size of my wallet and the size of my trailer will not handle doing it with their batteries. We'll see how it all works out. If they die in a couple of years ... it was a bad choice. If I get more than eight years out of them, I'm happy. Only time will tell.

There are indeed warranties on this or that battery. Some are pretty straightforward others have a lot of fine print. That only seems to sort out when you *use* the warranty. Using it assumes that the battery outfit is still in business. Some of these importers may not be here next week. We'll see how Battle Born does over the next few years...

In some ways it's a catch-22. If the product is good, no warranty claims and the company survives. If the product is crap, lots of warranty claims and they are history. There's also the case of a good product and a poorly run company. Unless you have a Tardis, working that all out is pretty hard.

Some math:

You are out off grid. The batteries see a discharge cycle of some magnitude every day. Typical adventure is 5 days. Typical season has twenty weeks in it. You get 100 heavy cycles a year. In eight years you should see 800 cycles. That's *well* below the claimed lifetime on lithiums. Indeed, if they hit the claimed life 3X that long should be possible.

I pretty much know that the stock AGM's aren't going to hold up for years and years in the same conditions. For one thing, I have 4X the usable capacity on the lithiums. The depth of discharge on the AGM's will be *much* more than on the lithium bank as a result.

Yes, the same math says I could buy brand new AGM's every two years for ten years and come out way ahead on cost. I would not have the 4X capacity though.

Time will tell ....

Bob
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Old 05-21-2018, 04:32 AM   #10
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Bob:

Thanks
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:09 AM   #11
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Bob:

Thanks
Hi

No problem. I very much do *not* claim that my solution should be the one everybody goes with. It fits what we want to do and what we can afford. Everybody has a different budget and set of meeds.

Bob
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