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Old 03-31-2008, 03:18 PM   #1
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Our 2006 Alpine came with the battery fill system where you press and hold a button while a pump in the water reservoir circulates water to all the battery cells. For the last three years I have used this system to fill the batteries. I would hold the button and watch the reservoir until I saw water returning to the tank. I would also clean off the individual fill caps and verify that the white floats were at the top. Yesterday I took off the 24 fill system caps and found in eleven of the 24 cells the water was BELOW the tops of the plates. In four cells there was no water at all. The cardboard separators between the lead plates in those cells were DRY and it took over one quart of water per cell to fill. I had preformed the normal battery fill routine right before removing the fill caps. Tyler at the Battery Fill System company told me that he is well aware of the problem and that he had talked to WRV engineers and Alpine owners several times about the problem over the last year. It seems WRV's closed loop plumbing installation can create a "vacuum head" (my words) which holds the cell cap float in the up / closed position. Apparently the design of the fill caps does not allow the pumped water to force the valve open and as long as those floats remain closed the cells will receive no water. Tyler said he thought WRV had corrected the problems on the newer coaches. I asked if I could cut either the supply or return water lines and install a "tee" fitting and a shut off valve on the third tee. I figured that when I open the valve the cell caps will be exposed to atmosphereic pressure and the floats should drop. He said it sounded like a good idea to him. I haven't as yet done it but thought I'd try it....Any first hand experience out there?
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Old 03-31-2008, 03:18 PM   #2
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Our 2006 Alpine came with the battery fill system where you press and hold a button while a pump in the water reservoir circulates water to all the battery cells. For the last three years I have used this system to fill the batteries. I would hold the button and watch the reservoir until I saw water returning to the tank. I would also clean off the individual fill caps and verify that the white floats were at the top. Yesterday I took off the 24 fill system caps and found in eleven of the 24 cells the water was BELOW the tops of the plates. In four cells there was no water at all. The cardboard separators between the lead plates in those cells were DRY and it took over one quart of water per cell to fill. I had preformed the normal battery fill routine right before removing the fill caps. Tyler at the Battery Fill System company told me that he is well aware of the problem and that he had talked to WRV engineers and Alpine owners several times about the problem over the last year. It seems WRV's closed loop plumbing installation can create a "vacuum head" (my words) which holds the cell cap float in the up / closed position. Apparently the design of the fill caps does not allow the pumped water to force the valve open and as long as those floats remain closed the cells will receive no water. Tyler said he thought WRV had corrected the problems on the newer coaches. I asked if I could cut either the supply or return water lines and install a "tee" fitting and a shut off valve on the third tee. I figured that when I open the valve the cell caps will be exposed to atmosphereic pressure and the floats should drop. He said it sounded like a good idea to him. I haven't as yet done it but thought I'd try it....Any first hand experience out there?
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:00 PM   #3
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Be aware that many systems were installed on our coaches with the wrong length floats. The long floats actually sit on top of the cell elements and will not let any water flow into the cell ever. There were/are replacement floats that are the correct length and when installed make the system work as designed. The correct floats have the number 29 molded in the bottom of them. I think this is the length in mm. Check out yours and if htey are not 29's, talk with Mark at WRV to get the correct ones.
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Old 03-31-2008, 07:20 PM   #4
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Again I ask, Why do we need to discover these things for ourselves and then try to contact WRV for the replacement parts???????????

In my opinion, we should automatically be notified by WRV and the necessary replacement parts should be sent to us. My title is not Quality Control.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:10 PM   #5
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We have an '04 and we were notified by WRV that the floats were the wrong ones for the batteries in our coach, and the correct ones were sent to us. We didn't have to contact WRV. At least in our case, they did their job.
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:30 PM   #6
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I haven't got to the point yet where I see the need for floats in the battery cells. This is not meant to offend but, there is so much to be learned by pulling off the caps and observing the over all level of the acid and the acid level to the next cell. Also, the comparsion of the discoloration on the bottom of the caps. A failing battery gives a lot of indicators if you check in on the fluid level once in a while.
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:32 AM   #7
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I'm in a greement with what Beagle says.

In another lifetime I was an Electrician serving on Diesel-Electric Submarines having 504 Exide Lead-Acid batteries. Each cell contained 55 gallons of water and weighed 1800 pounds (quite big for something that delivers only 1 & 1/2 volts).

All these cells had to be watered manually and Specific Gravities taken randomly every hour.

The point is that because we had to be in the battery well frequently, we had the opportunity to have a look-see at the general condition of the system. Problems with the Buss-bars, insulation, spills, etc. were detected early on and addressed immediately. Consequently, these boys were like a Mars Bar; they lasted a good long time. Which was a good thing considering the pressure-Hull had to be cut away to remove and replace them (not a real good thing for a Submarine).

While a reliable watering system would relieve a little work, I believe it better (and less expensive in the long-run) to periodically take Hydrometer readings and water the cells (distilled water always) manually. Also, a good monthly cleaning with a Baking Soda solution is a good idea because the Acid film that develops on the battery's tops conducts electricity and will drain a battery if left long enough without external influence.

Yes, it's a pain in the patoot, but it kinda reminds me of my early years. The smell of Diesel, battery acid eating your clothes away, Hydrometer readings, the itching..........Ahhhhh, for the "Good old days".

Make sure you wear safety glasses when you do anything with, or near, the batteries!
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Old 04-01-2008, 03:23 AM   #8
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I was notified from WRV about the caps and they sent all the correct replacements. The problem I have encountered is that the fill system does not work properly. I believe this is what C & H is indicating with his system. It does look like the way to go is back to the manual style system.
Rmmpe, keep in mind (unless you have made a change I believe you have 2 or 4 coach batteries). We have 8. Lot more caps. My batteries are shot so my thought is to go with AGM batteries.
That comment should start a battle.
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Old 04-01-2008, 04:38 AM   #9
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No battle from me. I am tired of cleaning the batteries every couple of months. I will install AGM's when I replace my batteries.
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Old 04-01-2008, 03:44 PM   #10
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No battle with me either. I replaced my batteries with AGM's last year, and so far have been very happy with them.

I agree with Ted. Even with the replacement floats a few cells went dry. As it is not easy to check the water level with the tubing on the caps, I only checked a few cells to see that they were full. They always were. When I took out the batteries, quite a few were dry. I would not rely on the fill system.

As a side note, about this time last year I went to fill my batteries using the fill system, only to find blue solution in the tank!! The service guy had been kind enough to fill my "windshield reservoir" with windshield washer fluid!
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Old 04-01-2008, 04:34 PM   #11
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Well, I'm with you as a ret-Coastie, I enjoy doing the maintenance taking readings,cleaning and just looking around. However, Your Right!, nothing better than the smell of diesel and battery acid.
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Old 04-01-2008, 06:05 PM   #12
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After following this discussion I decided that I would take a close look at my battery fill system. I also have the push button system. Probably 18 months ago WRV sent me the new shorter floats which I installed at that time.
I just checked all my cells and they were all filled well above the plates. I use the auto fill at least once/week pushing the auto fill button on and off several times to insure the water gets to all the cells.

So far so good with the WRV auto fill system installed at the factory.
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Old 04-02-2008, 01:46 AM   #13
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Hi Dave.
Another thing I miss is Deep, or Blue, water. But, of course, you wouldn't know about that, would you?
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:17 AM   #14
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Bob,
Which boat or boats were you on?

Brad
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