I give up..... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-20-2013, 11:54 PM   #1
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Name: Francois
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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I give up.....

my newly purchased Bigfoot has turned into a bit of a nightmare....I paid a premium price for a unit that was advertized as "everything works" and "comes with two brand new 6 volt batteries".....that second quote should have raised a red flag.....

turns out, after having it parked and plugged in my driveway for ten days (assuming that the power center was charging the batteries, as it should)....I took it for a one night test run....I decided to check the voltage in the morning and got a reading of 11.82 (this is about 25% power left!) I was surprised at this because all I ran was a couple of lights and a radio in the evening....and the furnace cycled a few times during the night. I thought the whole point of having two six volts was to have gobs of reserve power...and that was not a lot of use in my book.

So I plugged the truck back in and drove off....some time later the voltage went to 12.4 then 12.6, that sounded promising, even though that is only 75% power or so.....so I decided to turn the fridge on DC power mode....mistake, twenty minutes later voltage had dropped to 11.45 (about 25% power)....so I turned the fridge off and continued along my way.

I got home plugged the trailer in and commenced to dig into this the next morning. The first reading I got was 11.84, after sitting plugged in all night all I had was 50% power? It only took a little more investigating to figure out that the charging side of the converter was not putting out any juice!

Somebody had gone to the expense of installing 2 six volt batteries....that never saw any charging time other than when the rig was being towed down the road, assuming that the TV was putting out current to the trailer, and I can't be sure of that.

I tried to charge the batteries back up but to no avail. I even used two different chargers, just to rule out the outside chance that the first one was defective! The highest voltage I was able to attain was 12.25...or about 50% power.....and as soon as I ran a few lights for an hour the voltage started to plummet.

Two or three cycles/attempts at charging now have given the batteries the "coup de grace" I'm afraid.....coming home tonight after four hours of charging at 4 amps.....and the voltage is down to six and change.....the fridge has quit, will not run in any mode (I suspect is has a low voltage cutoff of some sort,.... I hope)

So tomorrow it's off to the RV Service place I go....I guess.....then probably to the bank to get a second mortgage.....bummer.

I have one more option I suppose....I could go down to the battery store and buy a good old, tried and true, 12 volt deep cycle battery....then get a garden variety three stage battery charger, plug it into the AC system and hard wire it to the battery.....monitor the thing myself.....the converter is still putting out good power AC and DC when it's plugged into "shore power"....and I know my truck it "putting out" when I'm driving down the road....

I'll have to sleep on that one......but a word to the "lurkers/shoppers" around here...if you're looking at an RV and the seller says something like: "Don't know much about RVs but everything seemed to work ok for me....." RUN, RUN AWAY VERY FAST....find a seller that knows his rig intimately (lesson learned the hard way). F
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Old 10-21-2013, 12:07 AM   #2
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Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
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If you were running your fridge on DC while traveling, there was not enough power left over to charge the batteries.
A fridge on DC sucks power, which is why I opted for a two-way fridge, AC and propane. And, I shut the fridge off while traveling.
That might not be your only problem, but it is one of them.

When I was considering a 3-way fridge, I was advised to make sure I had a #10 gauge ground in my wiring harness from the vehicle. If your ground is smaller than that, it can't send enough power to your fridge, never mind the trailer batteries.
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Old 10-21-2013, 12:23 AM   #3
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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2 articles worth a read:
http://www.trojanbattery.com/pdf/TRJ...UsersGuide.pdf
http://www.artecing.com.uy/pdf/guias...uide_en_LR.pdf
I'm not knowledgeble in this area but your estimates of "power" seem lower.
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Old 10-21-2013, 12:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franswa View Post
my newly purchased Bigfoot has turned into a bit of a nightmare....I paid a premium price for a unit that was advertized as "everything works" and "comes with two brand new 6 volt batteries".....that second quote should have raised a red flag.....

turns out, after having it parked and plugged in my driveway for ten days (assuming that the power center was charging the batteries, as it should)....I took it for a one night test run....I decided to check the voltage in the morning and got a reading of 11.82 (this is about 25% power left!) I was surprised at this because all I ran was a couple of lights and a radio in the evening....and the furnace cycled a few times during the night. I thought the whole point of having two six volts was to have gobs of reserve power...and that was not a lot of use in my book.

So I plugged the truck back in and drove off....some time later the voltage went to 12.4 then 12.6, that sounded promising, even though that is only 75% power or so.....so I decided to turn the fridge on DC power mode....mistake, twenty minutes later voltage had dropped to 11.45 (about 25% power)....so I turned the fridge off and continued along my way.

I got home plugged the trailer in and commenced to dig into this the next morning. The first reading I got was 11.84, after sitting plugged in all night all I had was 50% power? It only took a little more investigating to figure out that the charging side of the converter was not putting out any juice!

Somebody had gone to the expense of installing 2 six volt batteries....that never saw any charging time other than when the rig was being towed down the road, assuming that the TV was putting out current to the trailer, and I can't be sure of that.

I tried to charge the batteries back up but to no avail. I even used two different chargers, just to rule out the outside chance that the first one was defective! The highest voltage I was able to attain was 12.25...or about 50% power.....and as soon as I ran a few lights for an hour the voltage started to plummet.

Two or three cycles/attempts at charging now have given the batteries the "coup de grace" I'm afraid.....coming home tonight after four hours of charging at 4 amps.....and the voltage is down to six and change.....the fridge has quit, will not run in any mode (I suspect is has a low voltage cutoff of some sort,.... I hope)

So tomorrow it's off to the RV Service place I go....I guess.....then probably to the bank to get a second mortgage.....bummer.

I have one more option I suppose....I could go down to the battery store and buy a good old, tried and true, 12 volt deep cycle battery....then get a garden variety three stage battery charger, plug it into the AC system and hard wire it to the battery.....monitor the thing myself.....the converter is still putting out good power AC and DC when it's plugged into "shore power"....and I know my truck it "putting out" when I'm driving down the road....

I'll have to sleep on that one......but a word to the "lurkers/shoppers" around here...if you're looking at an RV and the seller says something like: "Don't know much about RVs but everything seemed to work ok for me....." RUN, RUN AWAY VERY FAST....find a seller that knows his rig intimately (lesson learned the hard way). F

It sounds like you have two problems. One the converter isn't either turned on or not working.
Two you haven't let those batteries charge long enough to get a full charge. You mentioned 4 amp of charge current. Two 6 volt batteries is probably 220 amp hours or better. 1/2 of that would be 110 amp hours usable current when fully charged. 50% of that 55 amp hours would take about 15 hours at 4 amp to bring the batteries close to full charge. Four hours at 4 amps is only 16 amp hours.

When you take a lot of current out of a battery you have use a lot of current to recharge the battery. A lot of extra battery power means a lot of extra charging power is needed.
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Old 10-21-2013, 02:20 AM   #5
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Name: Daniel A.
Trailer: Bigfoot 17.0 1991 dlx
British Columbia
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I really think your under estimating the charge time or the batteries have been left discharged for an extended period.

The converter may very well not be working I know mine does not but I'm on shore power so have never bothered fixing it

I just use a 2.5 amp battery tender solar panel.

Your fridge and fan will suck the life out of a battery.

If the only real issue is the converter I'd say your doing well.
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Old 10-21-2013, 08:10 AM   #6
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Another crital item to check is that many RV, deep cycle batteries is the fluid level in each cell, if the top of the cell plates are not covered with electrolite the battery will not fully change. remove the cell caps and top up the fluid level in each cell to cover the plates with distilled water.
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Old 10-21-2013, 08:58 AM   #7
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Name: Francois
Trailer: Bigfoot
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thanks all....and details....

I tried to charge the batteries way more than four hours over a period of three days....one time was sixteen hours at 6 amps. They never budged very much at all. My gut feel now is the PO had them and used them for months and they were never recharged....as long as the lights came on he thought everything was fine....... and they are now "boat anchors"

yeah I knew about the fridge on DC thing....you'd have to be on a yacht with massive batt. banks to use it that way but I just wanted to check that out one time to see if the truck's charging system could keep up. It can't.

I found this great article on Magnetek power converters....and the situation sounds a lot like mine....the fix is a big operation...leading me to favor abandoning the charging part of the converter for a stand alone charger.



Repairing Magnatek RV Power Converter




"What doesn't kill ya makes ya stronger"


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Old 10-21-2013, 09:13 AM   #8
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Trailer: Scamp 16
Florida
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We don't have dual 6s but have no trouble charging our batteries from 80 watts of solar or our 35 amp convertor. I've leave them on the convertor for a couple of days before I turned them in anchors. We had 2 Trojan we fully discharged and they recovered just fine but it took a while.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:25 AM   #9
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Name: asdf
Trailer: asdf
Alabama
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It does sound like your batteries may be dead. With 6v batteries you need to test each individually. The converter (charger) may have blown a fuse, check for that. If it is dead, my advice is to abandon that and go get a third party smart charger. I also advise to NOT go back to a 12V deep cycle solution. The 6v "golf cart" batteries are much more robust.

I have a PD charger which does a fine job as far as it goes, but it simply will not charge to 100%, topping out about 85% charged.

From what I have read, when a battery fully charges, the solution becomes pure water, with all of the sulfuric acid pulled out into a fluffy chemical coating on the lead plates. Discharging pulls that back into the water, more and more sulfuric acid the further discharged. It is the presence of this sulfuric acid SITTING in the solution which causes large hard crystals to form on the plates, instead of a fine fluffy coating. The hard crystals become a permanent coating and are what literally "kills" the battery.

So when a charger (my PD in this case) only charges to 85-90% of full, there is sulfuric acid left in the solution and that starts crystallizing on the plates. So even at 90% charge, if left sitting at that charge, the batteries start to die from the crystallization.

There is no real fix for the PD problem, that is just the way they work. They are basically a generic "kinda sorta works" solution.

I went out and bought a third party charger which knows how to do it right, including using a remote sense to adjust the charge voltage to what the sense wires say the voltage is at the battery, and temperature sense to adjust the charging curve for changes in temperature. With winter coming on, this is particularly important.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:30 AM   #10
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Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
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Sorry this is soooo long, but I am addressing three issues
----------------------------------------------------------------
Not to Nag (But I am!):

Whenever a seller feigns ignorance about something it usually means either: a) It doesn't work or b) They are flipping the rig and really don't know. In either case it's time for those walking (or running) shoes.

And always, always, always make your first trip in a new rig no further than your front driveway. It's a lot easier to find things at home than when you are away.

Now to the problem(s):
My first thought was to check the water level in the batteries, those symptoms are typical of very low electrolyte (water) levels and, unfortunately, also symptomatic of batteries that were overcharged a lot.

The phrase "Repairing" Magnetec Converters should read "Replacing" Magnetec converters as, in this case, it is a very crude and trouble prone box, known for both over and under charging batteries, not to mention that it is now over 20 years old.

But, just leaving a Magnetec converter ON for 10 days is a sure fire way to fry the best of batteries, like my ex-wife with a credit card, it doesn't know when to stop.

The cost of having a technician troubleshoot and "Maybe" getting it to work is often money down the drain and is better spent on renting a case of beer.

It might be a good idea to pull the batteries out and take them to an Auto supply store that has the ability to give them a full charge and a load test to rule them out as the problem. (down here that's a free service) If the batteries are still good, then attack the issue of the converter. But you, and everyone else hereabouts, knows what my solution to the converter problem would be....

It may sound a lot like Brussels Sprouts, but it is still food (for thought)
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:36 AM   #11
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
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Just like tires, batteries have a code date telling you when they were made. Your batteries should have a round sticker on the top or side about 5/8 " in diameter with 2 numbers on it. These numbers represent the month and year the battery was made. There is also a date code burried in the numbers on the side of the top lip or edge of each battery but usually the sticker is all you need. Your "new" batteries might be not so new.

I personally would prefer 2 six volt batteries over a 12 volt because they have a much larger reserve. I wanted to do this in my trailer but space and weight limitations made this impossible.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcolby54 View Post
The converter (charger) may have blown a fuse, check for that. .
happens more often than one might think. Especially if the trailer just had new batteries installed & as a friend found out last month even when its done by a reputable RV shop! Same issue brand new batteries - charged fine while towing but not so when plugged in.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:53 AM   #13
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More Food:

The Magnetec Converter uses a change over relay to charge the battery when it's connected to shore power. That relay is very problematic as it has exposed contacts that, after 20+ years, can get very corroded.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:59 AM   #14
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I worked in a truck shop for 32 years and we would work on motorhomes too. I would see two 6volt set ups all the time that was hooked up wrong from the charger to the batteries. They would have the charger hooked to one battery. I'm not saying yours is but check that from the charger to the batteries the pos goes to battery one and the neg goes to battery two.
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