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Old 09-22-2018, 03:41 PM   #1
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Apex problems

OK, bought a 2006 Alpine APEX 40FDQS and on the maiden voyage blew the 250 amp fuse between the house batteries and the inverter/charger. Jumped the fuse to swap to shore power & then engaged the emergency house-to-chassis battery cross-connect to get the slides out (and back in again when we left).
When we got home, I repeated the fuse bypass process to connect to shore power and then used the manual battery disconnect switches to isolate both battery banks while the rig was stored for a month. BUT - at the end of the month - ALL batteries were COMPLETELY discharged (0.75 volts on the house, 2.5 on the chassis).
Tried recharging the chassis battery pair with jumper cables from my Land Cruiser but - after more than 4 hours - they don't seem to want to recharge (11 volts max).
What the heck??!!
Any ideas/suggestions?
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Old 09-23-2018, 12:29 PM   #2
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Did you find out what blew the 250 amp fuse BEFORE you jumpered around it? Bypassing a fuse that big can lead to really big problems!

First, there are multiple parasitic draws even when the battery disconnect switches are open. They can draw a battery down quickly. Second, if those batteries were at 0.75 and 2.5 volts respectively there is a good chance they are toast and you will need to replace them.

I will speculate here, you bypassed the fuse, extended the slides and then disconnected the batteries. If that is correct you drained the batteries excessively. The HWH pump motor draws 100 amps when it is running, then disconnect the charger, the only thing you had left was the solar charger so I am not surprised that your batteries are shot.

Clean all your battery connections including grounds and coat with no-ox, there are multiple threads on this forum about doing so.

Have you checked fluid levels in the batteries (assuming they are lead acid flooded cell batteries), have you load tested them, what is the specific gravity of that water? Lots of questions, no short answers.
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for your thought-out reply, Doc!

Time and some experimentation have begun to reveal some "whats and whys" of this debacle but I still have no confirmation of what blew that fuse.

The previous owner was very proud of the fact that he had had the inverter upgraded from the original 2000 watt unit to 2800 - however - whoever did that did NOT upgrade the fuse from 250 amp fast-acting to the mfr's recommended 400 amp slow-blow (probably because slow-blows have a different form factor/won't fit in the mounting space). I am uncertain how or why 1) it never blew before we bought it or 2) it blew now BUT - according to my trusty volt-ohm meter - there is no "short" in the system presently AND everything is running just fine on shore power w/all batteries disconnected.

Using simple, "linear math" the 250 amp fuse at 12 volts should top out at 3000 watts which - without taking efficiency losses in the inverter into account - would translate to roughly 25 amps at 120 volts. IF the oversized 120 volt residential fridge was running & even one of the AC's went into "call" the load could easily exceed 25 amps. Writing this out has made me realize that (DUH!) I need to do some simple checking to see exactly which loads will run off the inverter BUT I'm banking on that (or some variation of it) being the explanation and NOT some mysterious, intermittent short!

So far, I haven't replaced the fuse which would allow the inverter to recharge the batteries but have bought a fancy "smart Charger" and desulfation system to "recover" the batteries...it"s slow going...took 3-4 days just to get the 2 engine/chassis batteries up to 100% and I'm still at 25% on the 8 house batteries (had to break them up into 2 groups of 4 and alternate which I charge because the charger is only rated up to 500 amp-hours and the 8@6 volters - even when connected series/parallel to get 12 volts - are rated for 880 amp-hours all together). I am hopeful that they will turn out to be OK because it's about 3 grand to replace them.

So far as why the batteries were so discharged, your explanation makes good sense. When I say I "jumped" the fuse, I mean only for a second in order to get the automatic transfer switch to swap over to shore power. (Apparently, the system relies on the house batteries for power to operate the ATS.) However - without the fuse - the inverter/charger can't drive power back into the batteries.

Again, I need to do more research (or connect with one of you who knows) to discover whether the engine-driven alternator will charge the house batteries while driving...there IS a relay that obviously links all batteries together when you operate the emergency cross-connect switch but I don't know if that is automatically operated by the coach's automatic systems when needed to bring the house batteries up when needed or not...if not, those batteries went without charging for quite a bit longer than the month plus I was thinking.

SO much to learn about this new rig AND its SilverLeaf monitoring/control system!
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Old 09-25-2018, 09:27 AM   #4
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You seem to be comfortable with high current 12v and your multi-meter and are likely a DIY type. I can't explain the full logic of how the house battery charging is controlled but the short answer to your question is -- yes, the alternator will charge the house batteries. When that happens is determined by the progammed logic of the Vansco system and the voltage readings of the chassis batteries. The two battery banks are connected by the large relay in the battery bay. When the vansco is energizing that relay the output LED 19 on the rear vansco will be lit.
If you are going to tackle this yourself you can find technical information on the ACA (alpine coach assoc.) web page. Link to it in top sticky of this forum. You will find loads of good information in this forum too and the best way to find it is google search rather than the search function on the forum.
Type into any google search box the string - site:irv2.com/forums/f104 followed by a space and then the key words you want to search for.
Good luck with your new to you APEX.
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:00 PM   #5
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All – When the coach was repaired after the lady hit it in the radiator stack, and while it was at the repair facility, the Zantrex inverter went out. It was changed out with a Magnum 2800 watt inverter.

No fuse replacement was done, it is not needed, and if someone told you that, I believe unless it was engineer Mike, they are trying to sell you something you don’t need. A slow blow fuse might allow serious overcurrent’s to occur and burn out all the little computers in the HWH and other subsystems.

Here is what you did, why, because, ALL MOTORHOMES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL, and Alpines are the bast*r*d in the lot.

In your apex, and maybe other SE models, with the smart beds, or other high end electrical/electronic toys built in, WRV put in a 3-master switch panel. If my memory serves, they are arranged as follows:
1. – Top Location (if switches are top to bottom) Master House Switch – allows all 12VDC house systems things to work
2. – Center Switch (middle position) ties (binds) the starting batteries & the house battery’s bank together*-Bad things happen if this switch is turned on and you operate any 12VDC components or try to start the coach. **Read Below.
3. – Bottom or Chassis Master Switch, allows all chassis things to operate, starting main engine, starting diesel generator, etc.

** Bad things explained here. The center switch is to allow both battery banks to equalize for a time. This will allow the house bank (6 or 8 house deep cycle batteries) to overfeed (read charge up) the 2 starting batteries (12VDC each) and again, NOTHING IS SUPPOSED TO BE OPERATED WHILE THIS CIRCUIT IS ENGAGED (READ IN THE ON POSITION). My dealer told me when doing the coach training thing, to NEVER USE THIS SWITCH, and if I did to NEVER TRY TO OPERATE ANY items in the coach until I opened (turned to off position) or guess what, THAT BIG 250/300 AMP IN MY CASE FUSE WOULD FRY, and they are almost gold in price.

I put black electrical tape over this switch in the off position, and NEVER TURN IT ON.

Disclaimer-Other folks on this forum, who are Original Owners, may, I repeat, May have had other experiences. However, in our 10 years of owning our coach, we have never had to use the battery boost switch, or engage the house/starting switch I am discussing here. When parked and plugged in, the charger keeps the batteries in both banks charged, yeah, we hear that annoying solenoid clicking, so I disable the charger in the evening so it does not click all the time, turn on lights for a few minutes to take them down a bit. During the day the solar panel with the aid of the Shore power circuit can and does keep the batteries charged. When in storage, weekly, I run the generator to keep the batteries charged up, because no shore power is available where it’s stored.

First, get the correct type fuse, not what some tech, who don’t know his backside from the top side told you, buy exactly what was in there before. Replace the fuse with ALL SWITCHES OFF, and the BATTERIES DISCONNECTED AT THE NEGATIVE CABLE to make sure there is not Power coming into the circuits at all. Trust me, 12VDC can kill you if you are across the 250 Amp circuit. Then make sure that center switch is in the OFF position, tape it down in the OFF position, and never use it again. Things should be right after this, however.

Because you not knowing any better, and using someone’s who don’t know alpines are not like other MH’s told you how to get crap working, or you used the Columbus method (discover method-not knowing where you are going, and not how to get there). You have most likely burned out several diodes on the HWH motherboard, and possibly toasted several relays so my guess there are other things which won’t work. I will not buy your motorhome from you when you go to sell it because now it’s a nightmare electrically, and only god knows what will work and what won’t. Good Luck, you are going to need it. If I sound critical, I AM, Experience with RV’s and other motorhomes DOES NOT make you an expert with alpines, which in my 10 years on this forum I have repeatedly stressed. Some people just know it all, and trying to help them does not work.
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:57 PM   #6
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Lightbulb

Well, sort of comfortable...40 years a union inside wireman...not precisely the same as automotive electric although that background does give me a clue where to look sometimes (i.e. that's how I deduced/located the blown fuse and devised the temporary workaround).

Thanks, very much for the confirmation and Vansco info...crucial to that understanding is HOW the house batteries are charged/connected by the alternator...that is, NOT via the fuse but by the cross-connect relay. Presumably, the same method is used when the coach is connected to shore power and the house bank reaches "float" voltage and/or the chassis set drops below a preset level

Thanks also for the tips on the ACA and how to search these forums...have to admit, though that I don't find the ACA "sticky"...unless you actually mean the drop-down menu for Alpine Owners.

The wife (who signs me up for things and whose fingerprints are on this too) has been threatening to sign me up for the FMCA as prerequisite for an "official" Alpine association membership. Is that what you are referencing?

Here's a hoot:
I could probably figure a lot more out by reading the manuals BUT they are all in the "smart bed" that won't open w/o the battery banks charged/engaged!

LOL...

Anyway, the first 4 house batteries are approaching being 100% charged now so a few more days should see the second group recovered and me ready to reconnect everything, install that infamous fuse & fire off the rig for a test run.
I appreciate your input and the well-wishes!
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Old 09-26-2018, 09:12 AM   #7
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The "sticky" is the very first thread in the Alpine owners forum and the link to the ACA technical information is in the first post. Same link as this:
Alpine Coach - Technical Information
Loads of good reading there.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:01 PM   #8
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Thanks!
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:10 PM   #9
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@ Old-RVer


WOW..a genuine specialist...Welcome aboard, sailor!

I hope you will stick with me...I've interjected a few comments/questions into your post below...here goes:


It was changed out with a Magnum 2800 watt inverter.



(Great, identical equipment to mine!)


No fuse replacement was done, it is not needed, and if someone told you that, I believe unless it was engineer Mike, they are trying to sell you something you don’t need. A slow blow fuse might allow serious overcurrent’s to occur and burn out all the little computers in the HWH and other subsystems.


The 400 amp slow-blow is what I found on the manufacturer's spec sheet for the Magnum 2800 BUT you are correct in that 2800 watts translates to roughly 233 amps @ 12volts.


Here is what you did, why, because, ALL MOTORHOMES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL, and Alpines are the bast*r*d in the lot.


We've been wrestling for a name for this 'new' coach..."Bastard" might just be a fit...LOL!


In your apex, and maybe other SE models, with the smart beds, or other high end electrical/electronic toys built in, WRV put in a 3-master switch panel. If my memory serves, they are arranged as follows:
1. – Top Location (if switches are top to bottom) Master House Switch – allows all 12VDC house systems things to work
2. – Center Switch (middle position) ties (binds) the starting batteries & the house battery’s bank together*-Bad things happen if this switch is turned on and you operate any 12VDC components or try to start the coach. **Read Below.
3. – Bottom or Chassis Master Switch, allows all chassis things to operate, starting main engine, starting diesel generator, etc.


Yep, that is the arrangement...center switch (cross-connect) is identified as "Emergency"...I figured that was exactly the situation I was in!


** Bad things explained here. The center switch is to allow both battery banks to equalize for a time. This will allow the house bank (6 or 8 house deep cycle batteries) to overfeed (read charge up) the 2 starting batteries (12VDC each) and again, NOTHING IS SUPPOSED TO BE OPERATED WHILE THIS CIRCUIT IS ENGAGED (READ IN THE ON POSITION). My dealer told me when doing the coach training thing, to NEVER USE THIS SWITCH, and if I did to NEVER TRY TO OPERATE ANY items in the coach until I opened (turned to off position) or guess what, THAT BIG 250/300 AMP IN MY CASE FUSE WOULD FRY, and they are almost gold in price.


Definitely expensive but not quite gold: $40 on Amazon for the 250 & $29 for the 400 (why is more amperage less $ ?!)
In regard to the equalization function, that is one of the "stages" of the 5-stage Magnum inverter/charger (according to the mfr) and could be accomplished also through the automatic function of the house-to-chassis battery bank interconnect relay via the Vansco controls, right?



I put black electrical tape over this switch in the off position, and NEVER TURN IT ON.

Disclaimer-Other folks on this forum, who are Original Owners, may, I repeat, May have had other experiences. However, in our 10 years of owning our coach, we have never had to use the battery boost switch, or engage the house/starting switch I am discussing here. When parked and plugged in, the charger keeps the batteries in both banks charged, yeah, we hear that annoying solenoid clicking, so I disable the charger in the evening so it does not click all the time, turn on lights for a few minutes to take them down a bit. During the day the solar panel with the aid of the Shore power circuit can and does keep the batteries charged. When in storage, weekly, I run the generator to keep the batteries charged up, because no shore power is available where it’s stored.



I really WISH this rig had the solar option...may have to add that...still not enough to keep the system fully charged at no load when off the grid though? Also wondering if they installed the Magnum control panel when they swapped your inverter or exactly how you are turning off the charging function of your inverter at night.


First, get the correct type fuse, not what some tech, who don’t know his backside from the top side told you, buy exactly what was in there before. Replace the fuse with ALL SWITCHES OFF, and the BATTERIES DISCONNECTED AT THE NEGATIVE CABLE to make sure there is not Power coming into the circuits at all. Trust me, 12VDC can kill you if you are across the 250 Amp circuit. Then make sure that center switch is in the OFF position, tape it down in the OFF position, and never use it again. Things should be right after this,


Definitely ALL good procedural advice. Certainly, 250 amps DC can boil your blood, cook your flesh and weld your jewelry no matter if it is "only" at 12 volts. In fact, DC can be much more dangerous than AC in my experience. (Since there is no sine wave fluctuation, it won't let you go.)



however.

Because you not knowing any better, and using someone’s who don’t know alpines are not like other MH’s told you how to get crap working, or you used the Columbus method (discover method-not knowing where you are going, and not how to get there). You have most likely burned out several diodes on the HWH motherboard, and possibly toasted several relays so my guess there are other things which won’t work. I will not buy your motorhome from you when you go to sell it because now it’s a nightmare electrically, and only god knows what will work and what won’t. Good Luck, you are going to need it. If I sound critical, I AM, Experience with RV’s and other motorhomes DOES NOT make you an expert with alpines, which in my 10 years on this forum I have repeatedly stressed.



Now that is very concerning! Since Alpine is out of business, how does one find qualified repairs at all?. I am beginning to regret having bought this Bastard and wonder who - if anyone - should EVER own one of these!?

I see in your profile that you are a retired computer/RV tech and wonder if you were factory trained by Alpine? Can you tell me specifically what features of the Alpines' electro-mechanical systems are unique, please? That is, what exactly do I need to KNOW to deal with an Alpine Coach's inevitable problems?

As you said, I am going to need some luck and - perhaps - finding you on this forum will prove fortunate, indeed!?



Some people just know it all, and trying to help them does not work.


Yes, I've run across people like that in my career and just life in general. It CAN be very frustrating BUT - in general - I have found that if I can put aside my ego and patiently offer proven, reliable, factual information without resorting to confrontation, emotion or character assassination, MOST individuals and certainly the Columbus-like inquisitive, creative thinkers can be influenced; sometimes empowering them to discover whole new worlds I didn't even imagine.


I look forward to your useful feedback!
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:19 PM   #10
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OK--I have been around Alpines in general, and a few APEXs in particular, over my 15+ years of ownership. Overall, I find Alpines to be well-designed and pretty well built vehicles--of course as compared to other RVs of a similar price and style. Arguably, the APEX model was a slightly different "breed of cat" from the std. Alpines built to that point. The significant increase in electronics use and Silver Leaf interfaces results in some unique challenges for owners. Sorry you are having issues with your APEX but many of your issues are not relatable to Alpines in general. No offense taken, just expressing the facts--IMHO.
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:12 PM   #11
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Maryfaith Mo, we purchased our 06 Apex in 2013. We were bewildered with it as first but now that we've learned it's quirks, it's our trusted friend. Hang tough through the learning curve and you, too, will be delighted with it too. Also try to attend the Desert Rat Rally in Quartzsite, AZ in January. It is well worth the trip for the help and knowledge you will receive.

When we purchased ours, the batteries were shot and when they replaced them, they fried the inverter. Oh well, new inverter on them. They put in a Xantrex SW 2012 so I can't help you with your Magnum issue. I do know that even with the battery switches off, there is a parasitic draw on the batteries which will eventually drain them.

The Apex does have a 100 watt solar panel on the roof.
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Old 09-28-2018, 12:55 PM   #12
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@ Janet & Todd


Thanks for joining in!

See interjected comments/questions below:
Maryfaith Mo, we purchased our 06 Apex in 2013. We were bewildered with it as first but now that we've learned it's quirks, it's our trusted friend. Hang tough through the learning curve and you, too, will be delighted with it too. Also try to attend the Desert Rat Rally in Quartzsite, AZ in January. It is well worth the trip for the help and knowledge you will receive.
That is encouraging...let's see '13-'18...5 years. How long have you been delighted with your APEX? I'm hoping at least 4 years already. LOL
So, yours is the identical year/model we bought. Which color, any extras, etc?


When we purchased ours, the batteries were shot and when they replaced them, they fried the inverter. Oh well, new inverter on them. They put in a Xantrex SW 2012 so I can't help you with your Magnum issue. I do know that even with the battery switches off, there is a parasitic draw on the batteries which will eventually drain them.
Any idea HOW they fried the inverter?
I currently have all the batts disconnected during the "recovery" process which means I am in essentially in the same spot someone replacing batteries would be in for re-connection.
That's kind of scary...managed to squeak by having to replace the batteries only to possibly blow the inverter...where does this end?!


The Apex does have a 100 watt solar panel on the roof.
That's curious because ours definitely does not have the solar setup...Hmmm...the previous owner (original purchaser) told us he had had a roof leak which he got "cured" at an Alpine rally (at Quartzite, if I remember right) by having a roll-on roof painted over the whole top of the coach...I'm wondering if maybe the leak was where the solar panel was mounted/cables entered and the honyok re-roof guy didn't safe them off adequately when he cut them and stuffed them back down inside WHICH could be why my fuse blew inexplicably.

Wouldn't that be "special"...removed the solar system, rolled white rubber over the gorgeous paint job AND set up for an intermittent short in the whole electrical system ALL just to fix a minor leak...I HOPE that isn't what's going on!
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Old 09-28-2018, 01:17 PM   #13
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@ Old RVer:
Posted a reply w/further questions/comments and am looking forward to our further communications. Thanks!
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Old 09-28-2018, 06:20 PM   #14
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Delighted? 4 years
Color? Extras? Cinnabark. No extras.
Fried inverter? We weren't there when it happened but it was after they agreed to load test and replace the batteries. The inverter was working before that. Do you know how old your batteries are? Perhaps they are shot and should be replaced right now?
Solar Panel? Check the breaker panel in the hallway to see if the solar panel controller is still there. The roof connection for the solar panel should be pretty close to the bathroom window.
The leak you speak of might have to do with how WRV routed the tubing for the air horns. They ran it across the gasket for the front AC unit. It was a lame way to do it.
I forgot to ask if your thermostat is a Dometic or Coleman Mach. Ours is the Coleman Mach.
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