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Old 10-07-2019, 05:24 AM   #81
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In our case, given the continuing dead battery problems we have, AND across a timescale of years now, AND with two different engines (!), we are going to install a direct chassis voltage readout in the cab of the van, in addition to carrying a portable multimeter. So we will add that permanent tool to our list as well.

Yesterday I could not seem to get the 7-day-old battery charged up using a 30-day-old 200 A alternator despite hours of driving around (during which I did some van photography in the context of really cool street art in Houston's urban core - might as well make lemonade out of this present lemon).

OK fine - came back home, put the van on the smart charger that we have. Charger detected no problems with the battery, and within a few hours, stated that it had reached 100% charge.

Except the OBD then declared that same condition to represent an 80% charge. And when dealing with a battery that should not be allowed to fall below 50% SOC, 80% is a problem - it's danged near half dead by that point, if one believes the readout.

Which, for whatever reason, cannot be believed. Terminal-to-terminal external voltmeter confirmed what the smart charger had initially said - it was actually at 100% SOC.

I can't figure out why batteries keep dying if I can't get accurate data in real time. And I can't pop the hood each and every day to manually measure the battery - that's stupid. So we need another tool that helps in this regard.
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:03 AM   #82
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I can't figure out why batteries keep dying if I can't get accurate data in real time. And I can't pop the hood each and every day to manually measure the battery - that's stupid. So we need another tool that helps in this regard.

Have you considered the possibility of a phantom load draining your battery, or a short somewhere in the system (perhaps caused by insulation rubbing off a wire)? The ohm meter setting on your multimeter can be used to track these things down, but it takes time and patience.

Take both battery terminals off the battery, and turn off everything in the coach. Then read the Ohms (resistance) between the two battery terminals. If it's not infinity, then something in there is what's causing the battery drain. If that test tells you that there is a fault somewhere, isolate and measure resistance on each individual circuit until you find the culprit. Remove each fuse in sequence and measure between the "hot" side of the fuse holder and ground. Once you've found the bad circuit, it's a wire by wire check to locate the fault.

Of course, this is all being done on unpowered circuits. Multimeter fuses usually blow because someone set the meter to Ohms and then applied the probes to a powered circuit. Measure Ohms only with the circuit dead.
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Old 10-07-2019, 11:31 AM   #83
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all of above (oh well most of stuff)

I would like to have the race car tire changing kit! Change flat tire in a zip!
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Old 10-07-2019, 02:26 PM   #84
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...
Have you considered the possibility of a phantom load draining your battery, or a short somewhere in the system (perhaps caused by insulation rubbing off a wire)? ....
Yes. The problem might be that it's intermittent or otherwise somehow conditional. We've tried measuring amps most recently to find a possible sneak circuit and there was zippo, zilch, nada.

As I mentioned on the security thread, it also could be a malfunctioning security device. We are testing that on the bench right now. Initial tests indicated proper shut-down as designed, so as to not drain the battery, but we haven't finished all tests. The device we use (Owlcam) has a 72-hour unconditional time-out, plus a conditional low-battery time-out. The latter seems to work. The former is still a test in progress.
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Old 10-07-2019, 02:26 PM   #85
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all of above (oh well most of stuff)

I would like to have the race car tire changing kit! Change flat tire in a zip!

Spin off center lugs would look neat! Of course, your pit crew would have to follow in a separate bus.
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:03 PM   #86
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Fluke 87 True RMS multimeter. The best there is. When you absolutely positively got to measure every [redacted] circuit in the room. Accept no substitutes.

The "True RMS" functionality probably isn't all the important for the RV crowd, but the unit is indestructible (ask me how I know) and uses standard 9V battery and "regular" easy-to-change fuses.

Bonus points to the first person to catch my allusion....
I have a Fluke 87 at home but for the Airstream it really is overkill unless cost is no object. The Fluke 15B or Fluke 115 is fine for anything I’d do on the road and is a fraction of the cost.
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:34 PM   #87
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Talking

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Spin off center lugs would look neat! Of course, your pit crew would have to follow in a separate bus.
or follow me in Airstream Touring Van.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:29 AM   #88
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I installed a voltmeter on mine (2006 AI) that I can switch between the starting battery and house battery. It is available all the time, but the ‘neutral’ position has it turned off. I use a factory switch.

Once a AGM or flooded is ‘dead’ (or mostly dead) it never really comes full back. At least in my experience. I have a good load tester- the type that puts a real load (not extrapolated) and gets darn hot! I think the only good way to test a battery.

I have an inductive ammeter I can clamp on that will read in the mili-Amp range. It is important to check down that low for something that may sit awhile. 50 mA adds up to quite a bit when drawing 24/7. Those meters that will read DC that low are expensive, but sure great for finding little issues like that. Especially since you don’t know to disconnect anything.

A smart charger can easily be faked out by a bad battery. yeah, the battery is up to full charge voltage- but will not have capacity. So the first load drops it way down. That has been my experience anyway.

I know you have stuff in the location I have my voltmeter- but keeping an eye on it is handy. I the the original owner had some issues with batteries, since it had a Voltmeter that was on all the time when I got it. I didn’t like how they did it though, so replaced it with this setup.

(Sorry for the dust in the pic- sure makes it show up!)
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:42 PM   #89
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Just bought me Craftsman Allen wrenches with ratchets (on sale) to replace those Pittsburg Allen Wrenches from HF. probably an overkill but want to do this.
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Old 02-05-2020, 09:35 AM   #90
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Quick - look at the mystery tool below and guess what it is.

Hint: It costs less than ten dollars, but could save you thousands if you get caught in the wrong circumstances on the road.

It's a manual device intended for cutting off rings in an emergency medical situation. Such as, if you accidentally smash your hand and your finger swells and you must cut your ring off to restore circulation.

It happened to me in the early 1990's, when I had to have my big thick college ring cut off. I didn't have my own cutter and I was poorly insured at the time. A trip to the ER saved my finger, but cost me big bucks in meeting my deductible.

LB_3 and I are DIYers and ring-wearers, each with rings on both hands. We bought two of these - one for home, and one to be kept permanently in the Interstate.

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Old 02-06-2020, 08:19 AM   #91
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I pictured coming at someone who doesn't know what it is. I can imagine the thought of finger amputation being the foremost scary thought in their mind.
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Old 05-17-2020, 07:12 AM   #92
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It took five years for conditions to conspire against me, but it finally happened, and I wasn't prepared for it:

A straight-line horizontal wind-driven deluge of rain penetrated our Interstate at the refrigerator ventilation side cut-out and probably the top cut-out as well. It was not forecast, I was on a business telecon when it hit, and I didn't get outside in time to stop portions of the interior from getting wet. What an unholy mess. I was thankful that I had elevated the lithium cells above the floor on a thick rubber insulating mat.

So, I am now going to craft rain shields which are held in place using very strong neodyms so that I can temporarily cover those areas the next time something really bad roars through (pre-pandemic our Interstate lived mostly in its off-site storage garage, and this was less of a concern). The idea being, the covers do not need to be waterproof - they just need to stop water projectiles. These will be one more tool, of sorts, for the toolbox.

On my jog this morning, I saw that I wasn't the only one frustrated with horizontal rain. Our city library had taped this fresh atrocity over their book return slot, almost certainly because Friday's storm blasted water into the interior of the library, probably ruining books in the process. I think the idea is that you lift up the plastic to access the return slot.

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Old 05-18-2020, 07:05 PM   #93
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It took five years for conditions to conspire against me, but it finally happened, and I wasn't prepared for it:

A straight-line horizontal wind-driven deluge of rain penetrated our Interstate at the refrigerator ventilation side cut-out and probably the top cut-out as well. It was not forecast, I was on a business telecon when it hit, and I didn't get outside in time to stop portions of the interior from getting wet. What an unholy mess. I was thankful that I had elevated the lithium cells above the floor on a thick rubber insulating mat.

So, I am now going to craft rain shields which are held in place using very strong neodyms so that I can temporarily cover those areas the next time something really bad roars through (pre-pandemic our Interstate lived mostly in its off-site storage garage, and this was less of a concern). The idea being, the covers do not need to be waterproof - they just need to stop water projectiles. These will be one more tool, of sorts, for the toolbox.

On my jog this morning, I saw that I wasn't the only one frustrated with horizontal rain. Our city library had taped this fresh atrocity over their book return slot, almost certainly because Friday's storm blasted water into the interior of the library, probably ruining books in the process. I think the idea is that you lift up the plastic to access the return slot.

Wow, sorry to hear that. Why does Houston always get the worst of it?

What a difference being about 150 miles South of you. That same storm gave us some Thunder, no wind to speak of, and 1-1/2" of rain. We're still 5 inches below normal this year.

Let us know what you come up with (and I know it won't be painter's tape and plastic sheeting).
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:20 AM   #94
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This perhaps is more of an accessory than a tool.

Three things inspired its purchase:

(1) Last week's horizontal rain through the fridge vents. There were no electrical shorts resulting from that, but there could have been. Short circuits can sometimes start fires.

(2) The camp shack we are renovating... we are ripping it down to the studs and replacing everything. In the process, we found at least one historical fire behind the walls due to faulty electrical, which did not escalate to burn down the whole place, but it was clearly an open-flame fire. We found two other locations where penetrated wiring could have led to fires (in one case, frying a lizard that came in contact with the bare wire).

So, you see, fires have been on my mind.

(3) We are very big on campfires - have them everywhere we can. This is one more tool to have handy just in case it is needed if embers get out of control.

It's a small fire blanket, about fifteen bucks, with the rip cord removal method. I will probably mount it next to the fire extinguisher that was installed by Airstream, so that both options remain in the same place, within reach.



One example from the demolished camp shack:

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Old 05-21-2020, 09:39 AM   #95
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Yikes!

Link for the fire blanket?
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:26 PM   #96
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Yikes!

Link for the fire blanket?
Let me give you the description because Amazon annoys me with its tracking code in its URLs. There are various manufacturers, all of whom seem to be selling pretty much the same product.

I got one for the Interstate, one for our house:

Deke 2 Pack fire Blanket Fiberglass Emergency Blanket Suppression Blanket. Flame Retardant Blanket Emergency Survival Safety. Cover for Kitchen, Fireplace, car, Office, Warehouse (39x39”)
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Old 05-22-2020, 07:28 PM   #97
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Many thanks. The description pops right up!
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