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Old 09-29-2011, 12:34 PM   #1
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We have an 05 Itasca Meridian. Planned to take it out this weekend but engine would not turn over to start. Husband is a non-mechanical so when it will not start, he just gets frustrated because he does not know the reason for the battery drain. He is concerned that by keeping it plugged in that the batteries are over charging. We have 2 switches on the dash....one is for main and the other is for auxillary. We have read the manual about this stuff so many times, we are sick of it and just plain frustrated. The house batteries seem to be fine but despite new batteries all around 6 months ago, just went out to try to start it and is deader than it was last evening!!! It started on the 17th but here we are 10 days later, and it won't start. WHAT THE HECK???!!! Our batteries are absolutely horrible to access....despite taking it to a local RV shop to try to remedy that problem a year ago. The connections get hung up when we attempt to slide the battery tray out. My husband refuses to try to charge them without removing them because there is a warning that tells you NOT to charge them without removing them......not sure if that is just a beware notice or if we really can charge the engine batteries while still connected. My hubby wishes now that we would have bought a 5th wheel or travel trailer!!!! Can we just put a battery charger on the chassis battery without disconnecting either the coach battery or chassis batter. Warning printed sez to disconnect all before attaching an outside charging source.....our battery tray is HORRID to try to slide out to disconnect!!!!

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Old 09-29-2011, 03:08 PM   #2
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I assume you have kept hour coached plugged into shore power when not used. Your Itasca may not be set up to charge the engine batteries except when running the engine. I believe late model Winnebago products now have a Trik-L-Start or something equivalent that keeps the engine battery charged while plugged into shore power. Your coach may be old enough not to have one of these devices.

Check on the Winnebago portion of this forum and see if someone there knows if the '05 Itasca's have one of these. If not, they aren't much money and may well solve your problem. This of course assumes you have your coach plugged into shore power when parked.

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Old 09-29-2011, 03:12 PM   #3
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Hi JanineG,
First things first. Consider posting this problem in the Winnebaggo Owners Forum on iRV2. Some of the answers to your problem may be unique to Winnebaggo. Other owners can let you know what your coach is wired to charge and under what circumstances.

Generally speaking, I see no reason why one can not install a portable charger on batteries installed in a coach. I do it all the time. Just make sure you understand where the 12 VDC +/- terminals are.

If the charger has a meter, watch it. When it gets to 1/2 the charger's rated AMP capacity the batteries are at full charge. If it fluctuates there is a drain on the batteries or the batteries are failing. For me it matters not how old the batteries are. There can always be a problem. If you need to know how to check the batteries, please send me a PM.
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Old 09-29-2011, 03:18 PM   #4
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JAnine, welcome to irv2!
Pete and Gary have it nailed. Find out if your itasca is supposed to charge the chassis batteries while plugged in, if it is, fix it. if not, get an auxiliary charge system that will. Even a battery tender will do the job. Yes, you can hook chargers up without hurting anything.

There should also be a "boost" switch on the dash that connects the house and chassis batteries. If you hold it down, you should be able to crank and start the engine if the house batteries are charged up.

Dead batteries are commonplace in rv's...
No matter how "un-mechanical" anyone is, this is something all rv owners should be able to deal with. If your DH can't or won't, no reason you cannot learn how.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:27 PM   #5
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Thank you so much to everyone who replied! I am so excited to tell my hubby what I have learned. I just tried to start the coach again AND used the boost switch.....which I tried last night and at least got some noise indicating it was trying to start. Today despite being plugged in since at least last night (don't know if hubby had it plugged in before that or not, when I tried the boost switch...absolutely NOTHING. I checked the voltage info on the battery and the house batteries register 13.4 no nothing at all showing for the chassis batteries. I am beginning to think that the chassis batteries do not charge when it is plugged in but the house batteries do. Thanks so much for the tips .....I will see what we can do with the info!! First stop Winnebago on here!!
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:00 PM   #6
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I now keep a boost charger, a battery charger that does both full charge and trickle charge), a meter, and a pair of jumper cables on board.... no more dead battery and hours of mucking about for me. I recommend the same. everything I purchased came to a couple hundred and gave me back peace of mind.
I feel your pain.

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Old 09-29-2011, 11:38 PM   #7
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My coach does NOT charge the engine battery when on shore power.

Mine has a battery disconnect switch for the engine battery so when I'm at home I disconnect the engine battery so it doesn't run down.
The steps are powered by the engine battery so I make sure they are out before I use the disconnect switch.

Sometimes I forget to disconnect the engine battery so I have a trickle charger in the coach that I use to charge up the engine battery on those special occasions.
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Old 09-30-2011, 01:11 PM   #8
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Well. when it comes to overcharging the batteries.. If by '05 you mean 2005, (And I'm sure you do) then the odds are it has an "intelegent" converter and those will NOT overcharge a battery unless it has a shorted cell (and if it has one of those it needs repalcement)

Some converter facts:
Back in the "OLD" days, The most popular in small low end rigs was something called a Magnatek 6300 series, (this is a breaker/fuse box and converter in one) and yes, it overcharged..

This was a "Single stage" converter.. not like an old time automotive battery charger. and it is well known as a battery killer.

Magnatek was bought out by Parallex, who made some improvements in the design and now the parallex 7300 (NO letter "T" on the end) is also a single stage, however it has better regulation. I don't know how hard it is on batteries.

The Parallex 7300T is a 2 stage (T for 2 and 2 for T and so on)

Many companies make true "Smart" chargers

Iota with IQ-4 technology

Progressive Dynamics 9200 (with built in charge wizard)
Progressive Dynamics 9100 (with optional charge wizard)
Xantrex (more models than I care to list)
and many more all make intelegent 3-stage chargers.

Recommendation: You should have about a 10 pound bag or folder that came with the coach, inside are manual after manual. Find the one for the converter/charger and ... See if it is a 3-stage.. If it is (it will talk about Bulk, Absorption, Float) then .. Leave it plugged in full time.
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:04 PM   #9
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OP could have a converter or the Dimensions Inverter/Charger option. Only the OP can answer that. As indicated in post #5, OP also posted this over in the Winnebago forum per post #3. Still waiting on them to respond over there.

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Old 09-30-2011, 09:14 PM   #10
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Plugged in will not charge the engine battery. You need a Battery Tender or Minder connected to the chassis batteries to keep them charged. there are so many small draws on the chassis battery that they will go dead in a few months. We have a Battery Tender on ours and still have the original batteries. Did you switch over to Aux (house batteries) and start the engine? If you do your engine will charge up those chassis batteries. Hate to tell you, a diesel requires a lot of maintenance so you will need to read all these posts, the Winnebago rooms, the Freighliner rooms and CAT or Cummins whichever engine you have forums. You probably have a Demensions inverter and it will take care of the house batteries. If it is set correctly it will not overcharge the house but you need to top off the water every month or two. Hang in there, it will get better, it's just a lot to learn all at once.
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Old 10-01-2011, 04:55 AM   #11
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As mentioned, this is a common problem. Starting in 2006, Winnebago started installing Trik-L-Start' s in a lot of their coach's, including the Meridian. Providing you keep the coach plugged in, this will maintain the chassis batteries at full charge, and regardless of what you hear, the little solar panel on the roof will not.

It's a very easy install, but you need to be comfortable working around high current because it will be a fireworks show and probably ruin your day if done wrong. You can buy Trik-L-Start online and have a competent mechanic install it, Winnebago did it up front instead of next to the batteries.

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Old 10-01-2011, 04:59 AM   #12
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PS- you can start the coach if necessary from the house batteries, BUT...... If you HAVE to do this, hold down the switch for at least 5 mins and let the chassis batts get a little current in them before starting it, still keeping the AUX switch pressed. Also make SURE that the shore charger is unplugged.

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Old 10-01-2011, 02:14 PM   #13
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wa8yxm, you to know a lot about converters. I have the Parallax 7455, and the manual says with the "T-Battery Saver" option it charges at 14.2V for 31 hours, then drops down to 13.6V.

It also says that the option is on the label. If my option is 8717, I can't find any reference to it. What do I have. With the Disconnect off, I see 13.76V going to the batteries on shore power. Batteries are all new and mine DOES charge the chassis battery when on generator or shore.

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Old 10-01-2011, 04:58 PM   #14
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I have a 2005 Meridian. Neither shore power nor generator will charge your chassis batteries UNTIL you install a Trik-L- Start. About $30 and 30 minutes. I put mine up front in the gen compartment mounted on the firewall. All the hookups are right there.

To move the battery trays out lift up on the front of the battery tray and it will pull out. Keep in mind there is 100+ pounds there so it takes a bit of a tug. Look at some other setups where there is no tray and the batteries have to be lifted out.

If you leave the rig sit without hookups I flip the battle switch on the dash and also disconnect the ground cables from the batteries. That way parasitic loads like clocks, alarms, etc won't drain the batteries.

The ground cables are the black ones. ALWAYS disconnect the black cables first and re-connect them last with the battery switch OFF. That the prevents almost all sparking.

Check the water level in the batteries on a regular basis. I check mine monthly.

You need to realign the battery cables. Simply loosen the nuts and aim the cables straight back toward the motorhome. It is okay if they go over the top of the battery. Pull the top tray out as if like mine it is the one that hangs up. Have hubby lay down and look up at the cables as you slowly push the tray back in. He'll see where the cable protector is hanging up. Adjust the cables as necessary.

I understand your frustration but a bad day ring is better than a great day mowing lawns or shoveling snow!

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