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Old 05-09-2007, 10:07 PM   #1
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1970 27' Overlander
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Battery/Shore power problem

Hi all,

My partner and I just bought a 1970 Airstream Overlander and have spent the last week cleaning it out and sprucing it up ready to use. Before we towed it home we had an RV place check out and replace the brakes, install a breakaway switch, change the gas tanks and check all the gas lines out.

There was no battery in the trailer when we bought it, but the towing lights worked just fine running off the truck when we towed it home. The electric jack at the front also worked just fine when hooked up directly to a battery.

Today we tried connecting it to shore power for the first time. All the 120 V outlets and the original air conditioner kicked in and worked just fine, but none of the 12v lights are working.

I'm wondering if this is because the battery is not connected and so there is an "open" in the 12V system, or should it be working and I should look at the univolt or fuses?

Help?????
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:12 PM   #2
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You may not have a converter that makes 12vdc out of shore power. Or, if you have one it may be connected. First thing to do is try a battery and see if that gets the 12 volt stuff going.
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:13 PM   #3
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The univolt may not work properly with out a Battery. EIther way you will hear a lot of throw the uni-volt away and replace it with a modern multi-stage converter.
Hook up a good battery and try the 12V functions without the shore power plugged in. if they work the uni-volt is suspect.
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Old 05-10-2007, 03:17 AM   #4
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First thing to do is check the fuses and power connection for the univerter. It is located on the curbside on the left of the only small service door. You should do that even before you install a battery as the voltage regulater if working properly should run everything 12 volts. That way it will be easier to tell the condition of the univolt. the output should be around 13.6 volts. If it is over 16 volts like my 70 overlander was it means the output regulator is shorted and putting out full secondary voltage. Fix or replace univolt before installing a new battery in this case
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:01 PM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions!

Thanks guys - we'll have another play with it today
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Old 05-12-2007, 02:56 PM   #6
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Updates....

Hi guys,

Well we bought a new battery and plugged it in. The light above the stove works and the one in the bathroom works, but none of the other interior lights. The power jack at the front isn't working either.

I'm thinking the next stop is to check the fuses but at the risk of sounding completely incompetent, I can't find it! I can find the circuit breakers in the cupboard in the bathroom.

The manual I have seems to indicate the fuses might be inside the cover of the Univolt but I don't want to pull it apart if I don't have to.

Where should I look for the fuse box?
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Old 05-12-2007, 05:23 PM   #7
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follow your manual, the 12 volt fuses are inside the front door of the univolt.

is it humming when you are on shore power?

john
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Old 05-12-2007, 08:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie70
Hi guys,

Well we bought a new battery and plugged it in. The light above the stove works and the one in the bathroom works, but none of the other interior lights. The power jack at the front isn't working either.

I'm thinking the next stop is to check the fuses but at the risk of sounding completely incompetent, I can't find it! I can find the circuit breakers in the cupboard in the bathroom.

The manual I have seems to indicate the fuses might be inside the cover of the Univolt but I don't want to pull it apart if I don't have to.

Where should I look for the fuse box?
Hey Aussie,

Don't send me hate mail for this, but have you checked the BULBS ? Either put a volt meter on the light sockets that aren't working or replace the bulbs with a known, working one. It might save you a lot of time in the fuse box and besides, you can still check them after checking your bulbs.
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Old 05-13-2007, 06:23 PM   #9
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A/C works...everything DC is out

Guys,
I saw this thread first thing, thank goodness! I recently replaced my old univolt (it was humming and whining like crazy) with an Intellipower 60amp converter and everything was fine. Today I was working in the camper and had the Air Conditioner running (it's 90 down here in La.) and I noticed all the DC lights were either very dim or out completely including the digital clock. Up until this time I had not used the A/C and the DC was fine. The battery is new and the Intellipower was a two wire hookup that I double checked before powering it up. I disconnected shore power and nothing changed. The clock came back on, but if you turn on a DC light, the clock fades out! Oh yeah...when the shore power is on, I can turn the fridge on and it goes to auto and then shuts off.... Any ideas? I need help! We are leaving June 29th for our first trip after a year long refit. Either reply here or email me at djantie@cox.net .. Thanks guys.
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Old 05-13-2007, 06:51 PM   #10
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Cobra93,

When my PD9180 failed the symptom was that while plugged in, gradually the batteries discharged. I checked the voltage with (most) all 12V shut off (didn't turn off refer or disconnect the clock or detectors) it read 13.1V as soon as I turn on a light the volatge is down to 11.8. The PD9180 was putting out the correct voltage with minimal load but couldn't supply any amps when a load was added, so the voltage dropped.

Sounds to me like your converter is not putting out any useful power and your batteries are dead.

Do you have a volt meter?
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Old 05-13-2007, 07:18 PM   #11
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Power Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by guy99
Cobra93,

When my PD9180 failed the symptom was that while plugged in, gradually the batteries discharged. I checked the voltage with (most) all 12V shut off (didn't turn off refer or disconnect the clock or detectors) it read 13.1V as soon as I turn on a light the volatge is down to 11.8. The PD9180 was putting out the correct voltage with minimal load but couldn't supply any amps when a load was added, so the voltage dropped.

Sounds to me like your converter is not putting out any useful power and your batteries are dead.

Do you have a volt meter?
Guy,
Thanks for the reply. I left everything turned off for about 30 minutes and just went back out there. The lights were very dim on battery but better than they were a few minutes ago (which was almost dead). I then plugged the shore power back in and everything came on bright as day and the fridge was back. So yes, the batteries were low and it's been on shore power for weeks... Maybe I hooked up the Intellipower wrong? I mean there was only a power and ground wire from the old one and I noted where they came from and put them in the same places on the Intellipower. The battery is only 2 months old, I would think that should be good. Any other ideas I can try?
-Don
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Old 05-13-2007, 07:20 PM   #12
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Power Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by guy99
Cobra93,

When my PD9180 failed the symptom was that while plugged in, gradually the batteries discharged. I checked the voltage with (most) all 12V shut off (didn't turn off refer or disconnect the clock or detectors) it read 13.1V as soon as I turn on a light the volatge is down to 11.8. The PD9180 was putting out the correct voltage with minimal load but couldn't supply any amps when a load was added, so the voltage dropped.

Sounds to me like your converter is not putting out any useful power and your batteries are dead.

Do you have a volt meter?

Guy,
One more thing of note...the A/C was running and the lights went out...why would it do that? Shore power was on and the A/C was fine. Thought it was odd.
-Don
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Old 05-13-2007, 08:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by lewster
Hey Aussie,

Don't send me hate mail for this, but have you checked the BULBS ? Either put a volt meter on the light sockets that aren't working or replace the bulbs with a known, working one. It might save you a lot of time in the fuse box and besides, you can still check them after checking your bulbs.
Thanks Lew! Most of the light fittings were trashed we so wired in new ones with new bulbs. At least one of the new ones I wired works so I'm hopeful I didn't do anything too weird with that, but I'll certainly go back and check!

Thanks all for the directions to the fuse box - I'll have a look!

I can't hear the Univolt humming when we are connected to shore power so I thought that could be part of the problem, but if it was toast would any of the 12v lights be working at all???
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Old 05-13-2007, 08:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobra93
Guy,
Thanks for the reply. I left everything turned off for about 30 minutes and just went back out there. The lights were very dim on battery but better than they were a few minutes ago (which was almost dead). I then plugged the shore power back in and everything came on bright as day and the fridge was back. So yes, the batteries were low and it's been on shore power for weeks... Maybe I hooked up the Intellipower wrong? I mean there was only a power and ground wire from the old one and I noted where they came from and put them in the same places on the Intellipower. The battery is only 2 months old, I would think that should be good. Any other ideas I can try?
-Don
I would think that the batteries went dead because the converter was not charging them. When you later plugged the shore power in, the converter was putting out power and running the lights (and hopefully charging the batteries). Did you by any chance reset any circuit breakers in the 120V AC box? On my rig the converter plugs in to a duplex outlet which is on the same circuit as the outside outlet so it is protected by a GFI breaker. While we were in Mexico, this breaker failed (would not stay in the "on" posiiton even when there was no 120V AC power). Had to replace it before I could recharge the batteries.

It makes perfect sense that the AC worked when you were plugged in to shore power since the Air Conditioner runs exclusively on 120V AC. It will work fine without battery or converter.

As to why the PD didn't work and then did, the only things I can think of are a tripped 120V circuit breaker or some kind of bad connection. Grounds are notorious.
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Old 05-14-2007, 05:23 AM   #15
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Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by guy99
I would think that the batteries went dead because the converter was not charging them. When you later plugged the shore power in, the converter was putting out power and running the lights (and hopefully charging the batteries). Did you by any chance reset any circuit breakers in the 120V AC box? On my rig the converter plugs in to a duplex outlet which is on the same circuit as the outside outlet so it is protected by a GFI breaker. While we were in Mexico, this breaker failed (would not stay in the "on" posiiton even when there was no 120V AC power). Had to replace it before I could recharge the batteries.

It makes perfect sense that the AC worked when you were plugged in to shore power since the Air Conditioner runs exclusively on 120V AC. It will work fine without battery or converter.

As to why the PD didn't work and then did, the only things I can think of are a tripped 120V circuit breaker or some kind of bad connection. Grounds are notorious.
Guy,
I did reset all the breakers now that you mention it. I also wonder if having only 1 battery could have anything to do with it. I just never got around to putting the second one in. -D
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Old 05-14-2007, 05:31 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie70
I can't hear the Univolt humming when we are connected to shore power so I thought that could be part of the problem, but if it was toast would any of the 12v lights be working at all???
The voice of recent experience here. Check to make sure the Univolt is turned ON, there may be a switch somewhere to turn it off.
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Old 05-14-2007, 08:47 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobra93
Guy,
I did reset all the breakers now that you mention it. I also wonder if having only 1 battery could have anything to do with it. I just never got around to putting the second one in. -D
If everything continues to work, I suspect the breaker was tripped, and since you reset them, everything is good.
I suggest you get some kind of volt meter (You can get a digital meter from Harbor Freight for $3.00 on sale, and RV places will have one that plugs into a power point - cigarette lighter). Keep an eye on it, if it ever goes below 13.1V when you are plugged in, check your breakers.

Having only one battery won't cause any problems other than the battery running down more quickly when you are not connected to shore power.
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Old 05-14-2007, 06:27 PM   #18
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Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by guy99
If everything continues to work, I suspect the breaker was tripped, and since you reset them, everything is good.
I suggest you get some kind of volt meter (You can get a digital meter from Harbor Freight for $3.00 on sale, and RV places will have one that plugs into a power point - cigarette lighter). Keep an eye on it, if it ever goes below 13.1V when you are plugged in, check your breakers.

Having only one battery won't cause any problems other than the battery running down more quickly when you are not connected to shore power.
Thanks for the tips man. I really appreciate it.
-Don
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Old 05-14-2007, 07:55 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john hd
follow your manual, the 12 volt fuses are inside the front door of the univolt.

is it humming when you are on shore power?

john
On the '70, the front panel of the Univolt probably folds down, like my '73 (but I am not sure). Here are two pics as I worked on it. The Univolt is in a compartment under the range (actually, it is on the floor now 'cause the galley is completely torn out).

Like John said, it hums noticably when on shore power. I did not have a battery at all.

Here is a pic closed, and a pic with the front cover folded down.
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