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Old 03-07-2015, 06:10 AM   #1
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12 Volt Problems

I have a 2004 Fleetwood Flair that developed a problem with it's 12 volt house system. Digging through past threads I found that this has been addressed before but thought I'd put the various parts together in one post. A while back, we noticed the 12 volt house lights would dim and brighten on occasion. I was concerned that the 110 volt to 12 volt converter was failing but the batteries always seemed charged. Occasionally the generator would refuse to start on the first push of the button. As things got worse, we'd notice that the fridge, water heater, and water pump had shut themselves off and would have to be restarted. What I learned about those 3 was that they have a protective self-holding circuit that, once 12 volt power is lost, even if it comes back on, you have to turn the device back on again to restart it. At least the furnace appeared to be able to restart without intervention so we never did wake up freezing. The intermittent nature of this problem was making me crazy. The source of this misery is a solenoid in the battery control center. On most Fleetwood products over a long span of years, this device is made by RV Custom Products. Do a search for 'RV Custom Products troubleshooting guide' for a great manual for them. Probably many other RVs also use this unit. On most Fleetwood coaches it's under the hood on the driver's side. Inside it's a complex looking thing with a large circuit board and solenoids. In my case, activating the battery shut off switches made a comforting clunk noise so I THOUGHT there was no problem with the solenoids. Wrong. They can mechanically work fine but the contacts fail and stop conducting electricity. On Fleetwood coaches I have seen, 'Main' battery is the one under the hood and 'Auxiliary' is the house battery/ies under the coach floor/entry steps. If you begin to have a similar problem, you can follow the steps in the manual to locate the trouble. I fiddled around turning things on and off until the no 12 volt problem appeared then, with both solenoids supposedly on, I took my meter and found both solenoids had 12 volts being applied to the small coil input terminals but the auxiliary battery solenoid had 12 volts on one of the big terminals (input) but no 12 volts on the output side. Knowing which one is which is not necessary since, with the solenoid turned on (that nice 'clunk' sound), BOTH large terminals have to show 12 volts or the solenoid is bad. If you dissect the bad one after replacing it, you will find that the heavy duty terminals inside have gotten burned and 'crusty'. When replacing it, keep in mind that there are two versions of these heavy duty solenoids that physically look identical. The difference is one type is intended for short-term use like engaging a starter on an engine, the other is a continuous duty one. Be sure you get the continuous duty one. Another post pointed out the mounting bracket may be different on the solenoid you get but when the solenoid terminals are hooked up, the solenoid is well-supported and it's not really necessary to use the mounting bracket holes. I hope this post helps someone with a similar problem and saves them some time correcting it. When you determine which solenoid is bad, be sure to unhook ALL the coach batteries and be unhooked from shore power before you start pulling the control center apart to replace the bad solenoid.

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Old 03-08-2015, 10:35 PM   #2
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Re: What I learned about those 3 was that they have a protective self-holding circuit that, once 12 volt power is lost, even if it comes back on, you have to turn the device back on again to restart it.

I believe Dinosaur Boards resolve this issue.

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Old 04-22-2015, 07:04 AM   #3
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Thanks for the great synopsis.

I presently have a 2006 Fleetwood Bounder, so I was very interested. And, I learned a couple of things, specifically the "self Holding circuit" explanation you gave.

But, I do know that I and others I know have had solenoid problems that required their replacement. It is understandable when you realize that these solenoids are opening and closing circuits that can have up to 50-AMPS going through the contacts.

A maintenance guy once told me (while replacing one of my solenoids on another Rig we once owned) that you should always check that you are getting the NEW DESIGN of the solenoid to help not having this problem in the future. The new design costs more, but it is made with contacts that are "Gold" and not "Gold Plated". This alone will give the solenoid a longer life.

Homebase: Ruskin Florida
Rig: 2006 Fleetwood Bounder
TOAD: 2015 Kia SOUL
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Old 04-22-2015, 08:30 AM   #4
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50 amps sounds like a lot but it actually really is not. I do not have this circuitry but have worked in industry on cranes that had 250 vdc and a thousand amps at different points. If you can get to the solenoid contacts look online for a contact burnishing tool. It will clean the contact so that it will make better connection. At some point you have to change the solenoid but using the tool to clean it will help prolong the life. The other thing that happens to contacts is as they make and break contact the arc causes them to wear. If you get a contact file and just lightly file them flat will make a huge difference. I was suprised to see someone mention they were gold plated or even made of gold. I have not seen that in power contacts. Gold is a great conductor of electricity and used to make contacts where the are not pulled apart under load. Gold is fairly soft and the arcing would demolish it pretty fast I would have thought. Most of the industrial contacts I have seen are copper covered with silver. If yours are silver or gold plated be very light filing them so that you do not file through the plating.
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Old 04-22-2015, 08:39 AM   #5
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Paper is about 6000 grit on soft things and cleans contacts well.

A strip of cotten tshirt also works.
Tony & Lori
1989 Country Coach Savannah SE
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:38 AM   #6
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gemini5362- Good points, but I presume that the Solenoids you are talking about are industrial grade and are designed to be maintained.

With RV's they are designed to be replaced and the contacts are sealed. I would never recommend that these relatively cheaply made solenoids be damaged by opening them. They only run for $75 to maybe $125, and they are easy usually easy to access and replace (at least mine were).

Also, you're right, Gold is soft, but I guess I should have said that they were "gold-filled" which is infinitely better than plated.

But, I do know what you are talking about, maintaining large capacity solenoid contacts. Many decades ago, I worked in a factory where there were replaceable and maintainable solenoids. I quickly found that it was an art in itself to clean contacts and end up with a nice flat, unpitted surface.

Have a nice day,

RIG: 2006 Fleetwood Bounder
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:52 AM   #7
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You have checked all your ground terminations for battery cables, under screws of converter, transfer switch in your load center and fuse panels.
A 2004 coach has had a long time to loosen up wire connections from road vibration and corrosion on chassis frame which is common ground point on your coach for many items.
That a look at this link for added info.

98KSCA, 99MACA, 03 KSCA-3740- 8.1 Chev-- ALLISON Trans, now in good hands
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12 volt

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