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Old 04-16-2019, 12:33 PM   #1
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House batteries not charging while driving

I have a 2001 Dutch Star With a Spartan chassis and the Cummings 8.3 liter diesel. I have been having problems with the house batteries going dead. I thought it was bad batteries, they were five years old, which may have been part of the problem. This morning I woke up and the new ones were at 12.35 V, after five hours on the road they are still at 12.35 V. I called Newmar and they said to contact an RV technician when I get to my next campsite. That technician could talk to their technician. He also said he suspects the bird solenoid isnít working correctly.

Iím an engineer and think I can trouble shoot and repair this with some guidance. I have some tools and my VOM. Can someone give me some pointers? He said that the bird solenoid is in the electrical cabinet with the 50 amp cord. What does it look like and how can I test/troubleshoot it?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:39 PM   #2
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Find the isolator. Likely it has died. Possibly a blown fuse or burned wire.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:45 PM   #3
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Here is a typical setup.

Push boost switch on and off to locate it.Click image for larger version

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Old 04-17-2019, 03:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Here is a typical setup.

Push boost switch on and off to locate it.Attachment 242294
Is there a place where I can get a better copy of the schematic? Iím try to read the labels on it and they are fuzzy. From the schematic it appears itís either the relay or the bird controller. The connections appear pristine in the coach. When I get to the campsite today Iíll be able to get at it and start figuring it out, thanks for the help guys, Iíll let you know how it goes.

Jim
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Old 04-17-2019, 05:23 AM   #5
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Old 04-17-2019, 06:23 AM   #6
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House batteries not charging while driving

First thing I would check is the water level in the house batteries. Second thing I would check is the resistance across the isolation relays contacts when 12vdc is applied to said relay. Third thing I would check is for a clicking sound in same relay when the boost switch is pressed and held. The relay is in the center of the first picture on a 1999 madp and the contacts can be cleaned. A temporary work around can be to place heavy jumper cables across the relays (studs) contacts to connect the battery banks together ONLY if you are comfortable with electronics and understand the bypass ramifications. On a side note 2 of these same relays are used to provide power to the Cummins intake heater grids located in the engine compartment and are subject to corrosion of the wire connections producing a fault on my 1999 MADP. Click image for larger version

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Old 04-17-2019, 01:40 PM   #7
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Iíve tested the resistance across the contacts and itís about seven homes. There must not be much current flowing through it right now because there is only .004 V drop. While debugging this the wire from the solenoid was connected to the terminal label the ignition. The wire that was hot all the time was connected to the terminal labeled solenoid, and the third wire was connected to the terminal labeled coach battery. I moved the wire from the solenoid to the terminal labeled solenoid, I moved the one that was hot all the time to the coach battery terminal, and the one that goes on and off with the ignition I moved to the ignition terminal. It bring in the relay, but the issue Iím having now is with the ignition off the relay is still pulled in. I would think that with the ignition off that relay would isolate the house and the coach batteries. Am I correct? Or will it disconnect the house and coach batteries if the power goes down?
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Old 04-17-2019, 02:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by edgesbyrohde View Post
Iíve tested the resistance across the contacts and itís about seven homes. There must not be much current flowing through it right now because there is only .004 V drop. While debugging this the wire from the solenoid was connected to the terminal label the ignition. The wire that was hot all the time was connected to the terminal labeled solenoid, and the third wire was connected to the terminal labeled coach battery. I moved the wire from the solenoid to the terminal labeled solenoid, I moved the one that was hot all the time to the coach battery terminal, and the one that goes on and off with the ignition I moved to the ignition terminal. It bring in the relay, but the issue Iím having now is with the ignition off the relay is still pulled in. I would think that with the ignition off that relay would isolate the house and the coach batteries. Am I correct? Or will it disconnect the house and coach batteries if the power goes down?
Not if you have shore power plugged in or a surface charge still on the batteries.

Its a bi-directional system.

You could test thst, by loading down one of the battery banks, and see if the solenoid opens at about 12.6 or .7 volts.
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Old 04-17-2019, 03:58 PM   #9
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Known problem area. I'm having the same issue. Relay coil good, contacts open. For Canyon Star (2015) relay new P.N. 122684.
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Old 04-18-2019, 06:49 AM   #10
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I did some fairly extensive troubleshooting thanks to everyoneís help and called Newmar a couple of times with questions as I went and the guy said ďman youíre in pretty deep, Iím not a tech, I just know some basic troubleshooting!Ē I asked him if I put power to the ignition terminal it should pull it in, right, and not damage it? He said yes it should. It did pull it in. So now I know the module is working correctly. So I started tracing The wiring.

Believe it or not the control module was wired incorrectly.

Ground Was correct

Solenoid had the battery wire

Battery had the ignition wire

Ignition had the solenoid wire

It must never have been right, I didnít appear as if anybody ever messed with it. The previous owner had installed a box to hold his cable tv box, so this had to be removed just to get to it. This also leads me to believe never touched it. I switched the wires and it fired right up.

Then I couldnít get it to disconnect, but I called and got the sequence for the ďBIRDĒ ie: battery isolation relay diesel controller and I think it has an off delay so the engine batteries can charge from the house chargers. After a few hours I checked and sure enough they were isolated. I tested the boost switch and that works fine now too.

The solenoid shows about 7 ohms resistance across the connections. I thought it should be closer to zero, but the problem seems fixed now. And if the relay wasnít ever being tripped then maybe the contacts are a little tarnished.

I believe this is working correctly now from the description on how the bird is supposed to work.

Thanks everyone for the help! If I find out additional information Iíll post it later!
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:03 AM   #11
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That's weird that the bird wiring was all wrong.

In your pic (I think it is rotated CCW 90 degrees?) the heavy black wire coming through the back wall and connected to the smaller relay (and is jumpered to the left side of the big isolator relay) is connected to your house bank and the heavy wire on the right hand side of the big relay connects to your chassis bank. The BIRD senses voltage on the house bank and if it's above 13.3v (charging voltage) for a short time the bird will send 12V out to the big relay to trigger it (and combine the two banks for charging) and then drop the voltage to around 3.3 volts to maintain the relay on. Then the chassis bank will get the charging voltage too.
If you measure a different voltage on each of the big lugs of the big relay, then the relay is not activated. When activated you should read the same voltage on each lug.

I had a problem where my chassis bank was not charging. I did a lot of troubleshooting and found that the PO had landed the wire from the big relay that was supposed to connect to the chassis bank, to the house bank. So both sides of the big relay had house bank on it.
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Old 04-19-2019, 03:30 PM   #12
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Rick,
Yes, it's rotated ccw 90 degrees. I thought I took it right, but when I posted it, it came out rotated.

Nice find on the chassis voltage being landed on the wrong contact!

I have a question, my intelletec voltmeter above the door always reads the house battery voltage in either the up or down position. Where do I find the tap for the chassis battery? I think it should read chassis in one position and house in the other, correct?

Jim
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