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Old 07-17-2014, 12:44 AM   #1
M&J
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Battery Fire

We had a battery fire that severely damaged the wiring harnesses on our 2007 Apex 40FDQS. Does anyone have the wiring info for this coach? Guaranty RV in Junction City Oregon is working on the coach and is in dire need of the wiring info so they can build replacement harnesses. As we all know there are a lot of wires inside the harnesses and they are having to trace out each and every wire to see where it goes. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I had replaced the original batteries with AGM's of which one apparently shorted internally and melted down completely which started the fire. The coach was parked inside our shop and luckily it smothered itself out as it could not get enough oxygen to continue to burn or the building and all the contents would have been lost. The clean up of the building, vehicles, ATV's, Snowmobiles and the rest of the contents took almost a month and is still being completed. The caustic soot was a real problem to deal with and caused a lot of damage to aluminum surfaces etc.

When or if I get a copy of the forensic investigation of the cause I will share it on the forum. I was just told that it was definitely the battery that caused the fire which I felt was the case from the start.

Thanks,

M&J
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:21 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear. This is an article that may be of interest to those with AGM's..
http://www.cdtechno.com/pdf/ref/41_7944_0712.pdf
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Old 07-18-2014, 12:19 AM   #3
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I have paper copies of 2005 wire loom schematics. Email me at Mike at Fleming dot cc with your mailing info. I'd suggest a wire for wire check against another 07 vs the schematics prior to the work.
Did it fry the Vasco module, ABS brain or transmission brain?
How about the fuse panel on back wall of batt compartment?
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:32 AM   #4
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Thank you 94-Newmar. The manufacturer of the batteries also talks about the thermal runaway condition but not to the extent the C&D Technologies link you supplied does. We had just returned home from a week long trip and stored the coach at 6 PM in the shop to find it the next morning with the issue. It was plugged into shore power and it definitely was one battery that caused the issue. It was not a short of any of the cabling etc. Just a battery that completely melted down and caused the fire. The fact that the battery compartment was sealed so well around the door saved the coach and building with all the contents. The plastic case melted off the battery and sealed off the vents holes in the bottom of the battery shelf. We were very lucky that we didn't lose the building and all the contents.

Mark
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:39 AM   #5
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Engineer Mike,

Thank you for the wiring diagram offer. I will email you separately on this. The Vansco, ABS and Transmission modules are all being replaced. It melted the hydraulic line to the slide equalization cylinder as well as disconnects etc. and the wiring harnesses that go to the engine, transmission and coach. We were just lucky it smothered itself out. The caustic soot has been a real problem for the rest of our ATV's, Snowmobiles etc since it attacks aluminum in a very aggressive manner. Painted surfaces and steel fairs much better than aluminum does.

Thanks,

Mark
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:46 AM   #6
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Send me private message, I have the 07 Owners Manual with all the wiring charts on my PC. They are not good copies, but I can send it to you via e-mail, if that helps. I am in Vancouver, WA so close to where the work is going on. I can also mail you the file on a cd. Let me know.
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Old 07-21-2014, 12:18 AM   #7
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Thanks Monty I will email you.

Thanks,

Mark
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Old 07-21-2014, 12:39 AM   #8
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AGM Battery Fire

in 2008 when I had solar panels added to my RV by AM Solar in Springfield OR, I replaced my pair of 6v wet cell with 4 six volt Lifeline GPL-6CT 300 Amp Hour AGM's. AM Solar installed a huge fuse in line, monitor and controller to prevent such a melt down.
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Old 07-21-2014, 01:06 AM   #9
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Thank you Dog Daddy. It seems that one battery shorted internally and caused a thermal runaway or meltdown. Lifline states on there website that there is a possibility of it but they have never seen it. I talked with Lifeline before I installed them but they never mentioned anything about it. Their websites states that in high ambient temps and a high rate of charge there is a possibility of a thermal runaway but it was parked in our shop in moderate temps and unless the xantrex overcharged the batteries that would have been fully charged after a 6 hour drive home I don't think those conditions existed.

I appreciate the help and info. I will talk with Guaranty RV about it. There are large fuses in line to protect against a large or dangerous current draw from the coach but I am not sure about the charge side.

Thanks again,

Mark
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:38 AM   #10
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Mark, we had one or more batteries blow up on our way home after buying the coach thus igniting a battery compartment fire. We have no way of knowing at this point exactly what caused the problem. The shop found one scorched cable with a 1" strip of bare wire showing which could have been a dead short on the hold down bracket.

How did the spot become bare?

One possibility is that the cable could have been just too long and allowed to lay on the bracket (which is a no-no!!!).

A second possibility is that the previous owner had the original wet cells replaced with AGM's and may not have changed the Xantrex Inverter/Charger configuration (via the SCP) which could have caused over charging.

Is your Xantrex system configured for AGM's? There IS a difference!
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Old 07-22-2014, 12:39 AM   #11
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Bob,

Yes the Xantrex was changed to the AGM type for the batteries. All our cables were intact as far as not having the strands of the cables melted. Just the coating melted off of them from the fire. The hold downs had rubber hose over them and the hose was still in place....burned to a crisp but still there. The forensic investigator stated that the one battery definitely started the fire. The case was completely melted off that battery and a portion of the ones next to it. Nothing but plates left on it. This of course melted the disconnects and all the wiring harnesses located on the left side of the compartment and most on the right hand side. Just lucky it didn't end up being a total loss along with the building and the rest of the contents.

I appreciate the info and support from you and everyone else on the forum.

Thanks,

Mark
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Old 07-26-2014, 01:09 AM   #12
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All - Here is my suspicion on how our batteries catch on fire. If you are looking into the battery compartment (2005 and newer w/o battery cover)(see picture-No Longer have the lead/acid batteries, now have AGM type), at the rear left inside (next to the frame rail) the rear most battery can get lose from it's hold down brackets. If this happens, there is enough post exposed that it will arc to the metal in that corner, (note large nuts showing in picture) and immediately cause a runaway voltage and high amp discharge. It will cause the batteries to heat and catch fire. This can happen to lead acid & agm as well.

When I replaced my batteries, we figured this out, and I placed a large piece of thick cardboard behind that battery so it could not move close to the inside rear wall of the coach. It never gets wet, so the cardboard is holding up well. I believe there are better ways to space out this battery, 1/4 or 3/8 inch plywood sheets would also work old rubber floor mats cut to fit that space, or some other non conductive spacing material. The brackets WRV used in holding down the batteries also can cause a problem and currently I don't have any bars or anything else holding down my batteries. It would take a heck of a bump to cause them to jump up and move around especially with the cables tight.

The other cause is the positive cables going over the metal bracket which angles down and provides a space between the battery banks, those cables could rub against that bar enough to again cause a direct short, and battery runaway condition. I placed some semi-rigid foam pieces below each one of those cables as they cross that bar, and this will keep those from going to ground.

If you take the batteries out to do maintenance, take a picture of the compartment first so you have a reference on how they are supposed to go back in. I took out one bank and placed them on a board in the same direction and position they came out from. Then I took out the other bank again keeping the same location and orientation as they are in the battery compartment. I cleaned out the compartment with baking soda & water mixture until it quit foaming, and rinsed it out very thoroughly. I made sure my spacing on that battery as mentioned above was good, and replaced all them back just like they came out. I double checked my wiring versus my picture and the diagram on the wall of the compartment. Hooking up batteries backwards will cause them to explode, another source of fire and mayhem. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:17 AM   #13
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Monty,

That is great info for everyone. When I put my AGM's in I put 3/8" rubber matting around the back left corner that you are describing. I was very uncomfortable with the proximity of the head of a bolt in the frame to the positive post on that battery. I went approximately 4 inches in each direction around the corner to make sure there was no chance of a short in that area.

On the hold downs I slipped 1" heater hose over the hold downs and after the fire I could see that the rubber hose was burnt but it was intact so there was not a short in that area either. All my cables looked good other than the fire melting the jackets off of those close to the left front battery. The strands of the cables looked normal and not burned or melted together from high amperage. I actually had an Assistant Fire Chief look at it before the coach was moved out of the building the day of the fire and he concluded the same thing I did that the battery must have internally shorted as the cabling was intact and showed no signs of a dead short that would have damaged the cabling itself.

I am wondering if the inverter continued to charge at a high rate and one battery just failed. I have not seen the report as of yet but I was told it was one battery that caused the issue so I believe it shorted internally which caused the thermal runaway that the manufacturer states is a possibility but they do not know of it ever happening.

I also had new cables made for the very back area of the compartment as the last two cables were a bit tight and I didn't like how they fit. I took my time and made sure I left no possibility of a short. I believe I just simply got a bad battery but I have asked Guaranty to make sure and check the Xantrex Inverter to make sure it wasn't part of the issue.

I am looking into a wireless smoke alarm to put into the coach so I will know of a problem when it first starts if I am in the coach. I will also be adding a smoke alarm to our shop and a separate smoke alarm on a cable that I can put in the compartment when the coach is stored. Both will be tied to my house alarm so I will know if this ever happens again and possibly be able to put it out before there is much damage. Of course if I do that I will never have a problem again most likely.......but the peace of mind is worth it!!


Thanks,

Mark
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:28 AM   #14
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Mark-One other thing, it might be helpful to know the brand of AGM's you used and if the manufacturer was notified so they can see if they had a bad batch. I would let the NHATA know about the fire so they can track this to see if there is more issues.
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