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Old 06-10-2010, 12:06 AM   #1

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Wenatchee, WA
Posts: 66
Dead chassis batteries

I am a new owner of a 2008 Alpine Coach Limited SE 40MDTS. After not driving it for about a week I found that the chassis batteries were dead and I could only start with the boost from the house batteries. The next time I went to start it, again about a week, I found that I couldn't start it and there was no response from the boost switch to use the house batteries. I was able to get it to start by turning the middle knob in the battery compartment to the on position. (I've forgotten the labels for those 3 knobs)Two questions: What could still be on to drain the chassis batteries as I had everything shut down including the inverter? Secondly what would cause the boost from the house batteries to fail to provide any power to start the engine. Help!

Dave Weber
Wenatchee, WA

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Old 06-10-2010, 01:19 AM   #2
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Alpine Owners Club
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Ontario, CA USA
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Hello & Welcome Dave:

I would like to welcome you the IRV2 form and to Alpine Owners Form.

Even if you turn the battery disconnect switches to off the chassis batteries are still connected to the engine and Engine control module (ECM) so there is a patristic drain on the batteries.

If the coach was sitting for a period of time before you purchased it the batteries will loose voltage over a period of time to a point they will not start the engine and the coach batteries may also be in need of a charge. A short drive will not completely charge all of the batteries.

First I would take the coach to a battery shop or a good repair center and have the batteries recharged and load tested to insure they are not your problem. I would also have the Alternator checked to insure that it is working and able to charge the batteries.

After the batteries are charged and tested I would than look for something like a Light left on, radio etc. that will/can cause the batteries to discharge faster than normal from just sitting around.

Since you live in Washington State there are two Alpine Owners Clubs one in your area and the other an International club. NoWACA and the Alpine Coach Association (ACA) http://www.alpinecoachassociation.com/ .

ACA also has a technical library for its members. Both Clubs have Rallies and the next one is in Salem Oregon in August held by ACA. I hope you can attend and meet with other owners and they can be of great help.

Dave Fernandez
2001, 38ft FDDS, 350 ISC, Tow 2004 Yukon
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:30 AM   #3
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Dave W.

You can not completely shut off all of the power to the inverter without disconnecting it's large fuse. This would not affect the chassis batteries.

When the chassis batteries are too low, the Vansco will not operate and it is what activates the boost relay. You should not use the center (jump) switch to start the engine, the load is too high for it. Turn it on long enough to get the Vansco operating, turn it off and immediately use the dash boost switch to start the engine.
Dale Gerstel
2007 Limited SE 40fdts
Las Vegas, NV
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:47 AM   #4
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I am not a post-Vansco coach owner but there is an extensive thread on this forum about post-vansco coaches, battery issues, and the likely causes--faulty bat charger relay[s]. Use the search option to investigate--good luck...
Old Scout
2003 40' MDTS
Garden Ridge, Texas
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Old 06-10-2010, 08:07 AM   #5
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The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

This is a great web site that will teach us all we will ever want to know about batteries for our rv's... Enjoy
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Old 06-10-2010, 09:59 AM   #6

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Location: Wenatchee, WA
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Good morning and thank you for all your helpful and quick responses. I sense a real community spirit of helpfulness among the forum members.

As an aside I have to say that, as a newby to motor coaching, I have learned a ton just by reading through the forums. I'm impressed with the huge knowledge base that is evident among owners.

Your responses are very helpful and I will begin to pursue the possible causes. I also ask if anyone has had experience with either of the 2 RV shops here in Wenatchee, All Seasons or D & L RV. We bought our coach from Guaranty in Junction City, OR and it's a 6-7 hour drive so I'm not anxious to go back for every small problem.

Thanks again. I truly appreciate your help.

Dave Weber
2008 Alpine SE Limited 40MDTS
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Old 06-10-2010, 10:54 AM   #7
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Location: Auburn, CA, Havasu, AZ & Mulege, BCS
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Dave- NorCal Alpines have a rally coming up in Bend, OR July 8-12 and if there is room you will find out a lot about your coach. If you want the full-immersion/waterboarding introduction to motorhoming and all things Alpine, there is a large Pre-Rally/FMCA rally coming up August 5-10/11-14 in Salem/Redmond OR. IIRC there are 55 spaces reserved at Salem w/more coaches joining a caravan to the FMCA rally.

If you have a voltmeter with an amp-probe loop (and you should), you can loop it on the red chassis battery cable going to the red stud on the lower right of the panel at rear of battery compartment to check the actual amp drain w/key off (or key on, or engine running; ditto w/house batteries). Knowing the actual drain will tell you if there is something wrong or if the drain is ordinary (a coupla amps). If you have an ordinary drain, but the coach is going dead in a few days, the batteries are not getting fully charged. If the coach sat for long periods letting the batteries go flatline, they may have been worn out prematurely and not take a proper charge (see Dave's post above). The alternator check is precautionary (i.e. not likely a problem, but if you leave that out you don't know whether it will do its job and diagnosis isn't complete).

The boost switch lights LED 19 on the rear vansco (right hand bulkhead in battery comparment), but as Dale notes it takes voltage to run the Vansco and a minimum voltage to snap on the solenoid. So if the chassis batteries are too dead, you can't close the contacts on the solenoid. Once familiar w/the system, you can run a jumper from the house batt's to the coil on the solenoid to hot wire it (its the big black cylindrical gizmo on the back panel of batt compartment w/the two red cables on top; coil is run by the two small studs. Again w/your voltmeter (aka multimeter or ohmmeter) check the resistance from each small stud to ground. One stud should have zero resistance and the other about 100ohms or maybe a bit less. The 100ohm stud gets the jumper. If you connect the zero ohm stud w/12V and no in-line fuse you will melt the wire and maybe cause yourself some trouble, hence the WARNING about gaining some knowledge before getting this clever w/work-arounds.

You have a lot of great adventures ahead w/your new toy. Hope to see you in Salem, or at another rally soon. Welcome to the Big Beer Drinking Brotherhood of Kissing Goodbye to a Big Sweaty Wad of Money! and a lifestyle of adventure and relaxation.

Baja-tested '08 2-slide 36'
Alpine: The Ultimate DIY'er Project
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