Battery Issues and Generator Cover - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-28-2011, 08:52 AM   #1
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Name: Toni Montana
Trailer: 1986 Bigfoot 17 ft ('The Sea Glass')
Posts: 78
Battery Issues and Generator Cover

We have a 1986 Bigfoot 17.5 that came with a working battery (we have tested the battery, which is under the protective cover on the tongue, and it has plenty of "juice".) However, we can't get it to power the camper. We have looked all over for a switch that would "turn on" the battery. Everything works fine when we are plugged in at a campground to electricity. It also works fine when it is still hooked up to the tow vehicle, but is draining its power from the truck battery. However, we dry camp quite often in places where you wouldn't want to drain the truck's battery and get stuck. Do any of you Bigfoot Owners have any insight on how to get the battery on the tongue to work? (the cables all seem to be hooked up so I am assuming it is something internal). I am "electronically challenged" and although I printed the Owner's Manual off this website (thanks!) after reading it I still don't understand how it works.

On a somewhat related note-I recently purchased a generator to help power the trailer off the grid. I couldn't afford one of the nice Honda Generators, so mine is on the LOUD side. Does anyone here have a cheap and easy (preferably pre-made) noise dampening cover they could recommend?

Thanks!
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:02 AM   #2
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Trailer: 1986 Bigfoot 17 ft ('The Sea Glass')
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One of the reasons I am trying to troubleshoot this myself is that after I bought it I took it to an RV repair place to get the broken valves on the water system fixed and the bearings repacked which set me back about $1,700 (they found and fixed several other things on the Trailer), and now I am kind of afraid to go back there again!
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:16 AM   #3
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 1993 Bigfoot 17 ftCB / 2011 Toyota Sienna
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Bigfoot Fuse!

Toni,
There is a 30 Amp fuse located in the cable bundle where it just enters the trailer from the tongue. It is under the drivers side front dinette seat at the front end of the compartment. It is probably corroded (or blown). It is in an inline fuseholder and separate from the converter fuses. I'll bet that's where the problem is, since that fuse separates the front battery from the system.
Good luck.
Mike .....>


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Originally Posted by Toni M T View Post
One of the reasons I am trying to troubleshoot this myself is that after I bought it I took it to an RV repair place to get the broken valves on the water system fixed and the bearings repacked which set me back about $1,700 (they found and fixed several other things on the Trailer), and now I am kind of afraid to go back there again!
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:33 AM   #4
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Toni,
It is hard to diagnose your problems with the limited info in your post, but I would offer a few things to check out first. At least it will give some more info to help try to figure out what's wrong.
First, you will need a good DIGITAL voltmeter, not one of those analog meters with a sweeping needle dial, because they are not sensitive enough to tell you accurately what voltage you have. If you don't have one, maybe one of your friends might. It is important to get an accurate at-rest voltage reading on the battery while it is disconnected (at least 1 terminal unhooked). You should have a "no-load" voltage reading of at least 12.5 volts. If you are reading less, you have a dead battery, or worse, a battery which may be completely shot. By the way, just fyi, a battery that only reads 12 volts is dead. (Of course anything less is also not good). The difference between a charged battery and a dead battery is really only about 1 volt! While charging (I assume you have a converter in your trailer, but this is an assumption). If you do, and you are hooked up to "shorepower" 120vac, you should be reading about 13.5~14.3vdc across the battery while the charger is on. I also suspect that you may possibly have a bad battery based on your comment that it was drawing your truck battery down. A dead trailer battery will tend to do this, so this is why I suspect it may be shot. If you put your battery on a charger overnight, but the charging voltage still remains very high (over 13.5 volts) when you check it the following day, again I would suspect a bad battery. It is not uncommon to find a battery which has been allowed to be severely discharged several times to have a condition called sulfiting, which occurs when particles of lead sulfate form on the lead plates in the battery during discharge. These eventually flake off and collect inside the base of the battery casing until they build up enough to short out the lead plates together. If this occurs, the battery will have to be replaced. Also, have you checked the water level inside the individual cells. If the water was allowed to get low (not fully covering the plates) it too would ruin the battery. Simply adding water to an already ruined battery will not rejuvinate it. It would still be ruined. Let us know what you find, and we'll go from there.
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Toni M T View Post
One of the reasons I am trying to troubleshoot this myself is that after I bought it I took it to an RV repair place to get the broken valves on the water system fixed and the bearings repacked which set me back about $1,700 (they found and fixed several other things on the Trailer), and now I am kind of afraid to go back there again!
$1700 is an awful lot of money for repacking bearings and replacing some water valves, lets hope the other things they found and fixed were expensive items to make the cost justified. If a place "finds" problems and repairs them without first getting your OK, you should not have to pay for those things that you did not authorize. You might want to look for a different repair place.
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:03 PM   #6
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I agree with Michael, its more than likely the fuse. I would check that prior to loading up all of the tools. If it is working from your tow vehicle and you have 12 volt from your shore power, that is the only thing it could be unless you have a break in the wire from the battery to your converter. Probably just a 20 cent fuse.
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:07 PM   #7
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As for your generator, with the loud unit you have, you are sure to make a few friends at the camp ground. You can find muffler extentions on line that fit over or inside your generators muffler and extend the exhaust about 12' in the air so that the sound is above everything, or you could just build a collapsable insulated box. Nothing worse than camping in a primitive area with quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am and hearing a loud generator fire up at 7:01am.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mark Shaffer View Post
...Nothing worse than camping in a primitive area with quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am and hearing a loud generator fire up at 7:01am.
Hearing them fire up about 6:55 would be worse
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Old 04-13-2011, 02:02 PM   #9
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Bigfoot 25B25RQ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toni M T View Post
One of the reasons I am trying to troubleshoot this myself is that after I bought it I took it to an RV repair place to get the broken valves on the water system fixed and the bearings repacked which set me back about $1,700 (they found and fixed several other things on the Trailer), and now I am kind of afraid to go back there again!
Hi Tony, I don't blame you after feeling like you might have been burned a bit.
Here's an old trick that you might want to use the next time you bring anything in for repair. Be clear with the service person what you want, have them write it on the work order in your presence, then take a pen and draw a box or circle around what you want done. From the box or circle draw a line down to your signature and add the comment "additional repairs require customer's pre authorization"

Good luck on your battery, I think Michael nailed it.
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mark Shaffer View Post
As for your generator, with the loud unit you have, you are sure to make a few friends at the camp ground. Nothing worse than camping in a primitive area with quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am and hearing a loud generator fire up at 7:01am.
I certainly agree with this. I suggest that you save your pennies and buy a solar panel, and change the lights to LEDS. Then you won't need to watch every try to move to the other side of the campground when you start up that generator. My solar set up cost me less than half of what a Honda generator costs.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:35 AM   #11
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Send a message via AIM to RSchleder Send a message via Yahoo to RSchleder
We're all wondering --WHAT did you find?? Most of us really appreciate the poster "closing" a subject as it helps us all for future problems/issues as well as satisfying our curiosity.
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