weird battery issue - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-18-2016, 06:07 PM   #1
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weird battery issue

'tis a puzzlement ....

Our trailer is a 2014 16' Deluxe Scamp, bought new from the factory. It probably has 12-15k miles on it now.

Just before I unplugged the shore power for a trip this week, the battery (while charging) read 13.7 volts- normal on-the-charger reading. I didn't check it when I unplugged, but when we got to our first overnight spot (about a 2 hour drive), the battery was dead flat - maybe 8 volts! Dang! I figured maybe the battery had boiled away on the charger (it had been a couple months since I parked it), but it had plenty of fluid in the cells.

So I plugged it back into the car and ran the engine for a half hour or so and the voltage slowly climbed to 13.1, which is about normal (maybe a hair low) for the car alternator. Hoping that the battery was alive enough to get us through the evening with a couple of lights, I shut the car off and watched it slowly go down to about 11.5 during the evening. We changed camp sites the next day, and the battery got even more charge as we drove another couple hours. When I stopped, with the car disconnected, the voltage read about 12.7, again, about what I have come to expect. That night the voltage never went below about 12.3, even with the exhaust fan or the water pump running.

I haven't taken the battery anywhere to have it checked, but it seems to be fine.

So how in the world would the battery come off the charger, be dead flat two hours later, then slowly build back to its normal self? I recognize that running the battery down to 8 volts ain't good, and don't want to do it again.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

cg
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Old 08-18-2016, 06:40 PM   #2
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Where are you reading the voltage? How long was it charging before you unplugged from shore? When you checked the voltage the second time, after the 1/2 hour run, was the trailer still hooked up the the TV? Don't forget surface charge. The battery always looks better right off of the charger. Surface charge can dissipate very quickly.

Actually, except for that initial failure, the fact that the battery held under a light load that one night sounds hopeful. So, the question remains, why wasn't it charged before.

Are all the terminal nice and shiny. If not, even a low level of corrosion, when the power tries to pass, the resistance causes the connection to heat up. As the heat rises, so does the resistance.

We need more info to help you with your problem. By the way that voltage you were reading before you unplugged the first time was likely just the charger voltage.
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Old 08-18-2016, 06:46 PM   #3
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Did you run fridge on 12V while driving?
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:00 PM   #4
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That's a good question.
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:03 PM   #5
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Panel voltmeter is mounted next to the power controller. I also checked it on the battery terminals, they pretty much matched.

Fridge only has a 110 and propane option, not 12 volts. It's too big to run on 12 volts. And no, I don't run it while driving.

As far as I know, there was no load on the battery, unless something was shorted or something. The weird thing is that the battery seems to have recovered. It would make more sense if it stayed dead, or quickly lost a charge.

cg
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:18 PM   #6
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Battery posts are bright and shiny and tight. Yes, the initial 13.7 volts was the power controller - I wish I had noticed the reading after it was disconnected.

Yes, I expect the surface charge to bleed off pretty quickly, then settle in around 12.5 volts, give or take. That seems to be the behavior I'm getting again.

It is possible, unlikely, but possible, that I didn't have the TV fully connected. But the battery shouldn't have gone from full charge to dead flat in a couple of hours, even if it wasn't connected to the TV. (I *always* check the turn signals and brake lights, so I think I would have noticed the TV wasn't connected.)

If the break-away brake cable was shorted, and the battery was supplying full voltage to the electric brakes, I would have noticed the trailer wasn't rolling very well, unless the brakes are so far out of adjustment, or worn, that they provide no stopping power. Again, possible, but unlikely.
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:20 PM   #7
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Oh, and it had been plugged in for several weeks before I initially unplugged.
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:45 PM   #8
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Driving and wires jiggling could you have had a short of some kind that got restored back to normal during the trip? This is a case for a multimeter to see if there is a drain. Also, once it is charged, disconnect the - side and check it after an extended length of time.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:06 PM   #9
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I had a similar problem. The battery posts looked fine but I found that the terminal connection ring was corroded where it crimped to the positive wire. The corrosion was hidden beneath the plastic insulation. I had to cut back the wire and attach a new terminal.


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Old 08-19-2016, 09:53 AM   #10
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plug lose?

Hi,
We had a similar issue with our Scamp when it was new. With the 110 VAC plug, that is under the bench seat by the table and behind the fuse panel.

This plug is from shore power to the inverter that charges the battery. It has come loose a few times on the road and fails to charge the battery when plugged in.

Scamp is aware of the issue and claimed they were bending the prongs on the plug for a tighter fit.

I duct taped ours into place. and seems to have helped but the tape gave up on our last trip a month ago and out it came.

HTH
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Old 08-19-2016, 04:41 PM   #11
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update

Ken, how old is your trailer? Ours is barely a couple years old. I checked the terminal crimp connections (which were way lighter gauge than I'd have thought), and they are a little corroded (wee bit of green patina under the electrical tape), but they looked ok under the crimp. The nut on the positive side was a little looser than I would have left it, but seemed (to me) snug enough for a connection.

I took the battery into an auto parts store and had a quick check done, and the lunk behind the counter looked a bit puzzled by the readings (it skipped around a bit, but finally settled on about 12.7 volts), and he pronounced it ok.

So I have it re-installed in the trailer, and I've left a light on for the night to see how resilient the battery might be now.

Chuck
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Old 08-19-2016, 05:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beardrum View Post
Ken, how old is your trailer? Ours is barely a couple years old. I checked the terminal crimp connections (which were way lighter gauge than I'd have thought), and they are a little corroded (wee bit of green patina under the electrical tape), but they looked ok under the crimp. The nut on the positive side was a little looser than I would have left it, but seemed (to me) snug enough for a connection.



I took the battery into an auto parts store and had a quick check done, and the lunk behind the counter looked a bit puzzled by the readings (it skipped around a bit, but finally settled on about 12.7 volts), and he pronounced it ok.



So I have it re-installed in the trailer, and I've left a light on for the night to see how resilient the battery might be now.



Chuck

Chuck,

Ours is a '98. We were not the first owners so I'm not sure if our terminal connectors were original.



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Old 08-19-2016, 06:15 PM   #13
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I should have added that we found the trouble by turning on one of the 12v lights and started wiggling wires. The light flickered when we wiggled the wire between the front of the Scamp and the battery.


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Old 08-20-2016, 03:45 PM   #14
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Checking for battery drain

An easy way to check for a battery drain is to connect the positive lead of a volt meter to the voltage source, either trailer battery or the Tow vehicle, and put the negative lead to the trailer wire. Set the volt meter to 12vdc and if you are checking from the tow vehicle make sure the trailer battery is disconnected.
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