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Old 07-23-2016, 02:49 PM   #1
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Battery charging problem

Have a 2008 Winnebago Vectra. The house batteries will charge when connected to shore power and when the generator is running but they run down when driving. It's like the alternator isn't producing juice except the gauge shows 14 amps and it keeps the coach batteries up but nothing going to the house batteries. Could it be a wire problem from the alternator to the batteries or something else?
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Old 07-23-2016, 03:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robt View Post
Have a 2008 Winnebago Vectra. The house batteries will charge when connected to shore power and when the generator is running but they run down when driving. It's like the alternator isn't producing juice except the gauge shows 14 amps and it keeps the coach batteries up but nothing going to the house batteries. Could it be a wire problem from the alternator to the batteries or something else?
Have no fear, robt. Your problem is curable and not expensive to fix. I don't see your model so I used the FD drawing to show you what you are looking for. You can find these in the Winnebago site under resources/wiring diagrams. I used the 12V wiring diagram and chassis wiring diagram.

Happy trails,
Rick Y
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:55 AM   #3
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Had the same problem on my 2005 Adventurer. Never worked for two years and I didn't believe I had an aux relay to charge the house batts. After about 6 people told me I was wrong, we (well Redland RV) found that the boost relay had an intermittent action. Enough that they replaced it, not enough that the maintenance insurance covered it. :-(
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Old 07-24-2016, 04:57 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum. There is plenty of great information and someone that knows your system should be able to tell you exactly what component to check.
These systems can be a bit intimidating even for seasoned veterans. I am posting a picture to show you how to search the forums and find days of reading on your exact subject. I'm not trying to brush you off, just trying to show you tons of information.
Use the little Google box highlighted and forget you ever saw the one below. Type in the word, BIRD. Yes, bird. bi directional relay delay. It will then take you to a list of threads on the subject. You will find pages of excellent reading.
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:46 AM   #5
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robt,
Ricky's done a good job of showing you pretty much what your system entails in the house battery charging system. Now, I don't know just how much the '08 Vectras have changed from the '04 versions and the Itasca Horizon which, is pretty much the same identical coach. But, mechanism that's involved in keeping the "coach" batteries charged while driving, is actually very simple. It's nothing more than a heavy duty solenoid. You see it in the electrical plans that were provided.

Now, in the '04 era versions of the Vectra and the Horizon, that solenoid was found in the shore power compartment, behind a removable panel. No biggie, a few screws removed and it, along with the Coach battery disconnect are revealed. And by the way, just for clarity, "Coach" batteries are also typically known as house batteries. Whereas, Chassis batteries are also known as Engine batteries.

And, you mentioned your alternator was showing "14 amps". Well, I'm pretty sure you meant 14 VOLTS, not amps.

Anyway, a short brief explanation.

That solenoid, is a dual duty unit. In that, in duty one, when you press the toggle on your dash that says "Battery Boost", you MANUALLY engage that same solenoid so that it couples the COACH batteries, to the Chassis batteries, to provide additional voltage and amperage, to start your engine, if the chassis batteries are too low to provide engine cranking power.

Then, duty number two, after your engine starts, through specific wiring, that same solenoid will close which, will then allow the charging from the alternator that goes to the chassis batteries, to also go to the house batteries. There is no THINKING involved like the "BIRD" systems used on other brand/make coaches.

It's simple, a solenoid closes and, you have charging.

But, here's where it gets a bit complicated. The contacts in that solenoid, can become corroded or carboned up. They do that because of the arcing that occurs during closing and opening and, the high voltage that passes through them. Those solenoids can last many, many years or, they can go bad in a matter of less than a year. Ours went for 11 years before it gave up the ghost.

When that happens, you've got four options.
1. Replace it with one just like it
2. Replace it with one just like it only, with SILVER CONTACTS
3. Replace it with an alternate, sometimes cheaper version
4. Do what I did and a few other and, that is to dissect it and, clean the contacts and re-assemble it and reinstall it. Your choice.

Now, here's another scenario. To test that solenoid to hear if it's working, (the action of closing is loud enough to hear), you can get into a quiet environment and, by yourself, open the drivers window and, without the engine running, push that "Battery Boost" toggle. You should be able to actually hear that solenoid close, even all the way back in that compartment.

But, just because it's closing, doesn't mean it's conveying the voltage and amperage across the contacts. They could be so carboned up that, there's no voltage getting through them. That's happened to many of us. You get a false impression that the solenoid is working just because you HEAR it close.

So, a small and simple test is required. If you feel that solenoid is working but, is also faulty, do this.

Without the engine running, using a volt-ohm meter set on the 12VDC scale, check each large terminal and note the findings. Then, start the engine and, do the same test and, note the findings. If you don't see the high voltage coming from the alternator AFTER the engine is started, but you heard the solenoid close, your contacts are corroded or carboned up.

So, hope this has helped some.
Scott
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:54 AM   #6
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Fireup "2. Replace it with one just like it only, with SILVER CONTACTS"

Right on, brother.

I found this on Amazon. Can't say that it is silver contacts but it is continuous duty at 200 amps so it is a good EXAMPLE of what you could use. https://www.amazon.com/Cole-Hersee-2...duty+solinoide

Some folks are the clever type. If the OEM relay is of the component assembly type (often more $ to replace) they remove and clean the contacts.

When I did the replacement in my '05 Vectra, mechanically speaking, it was a job. Everything was packet in tight and hard to move. Those battery cables are thick and non-pliable.

Just remember to disconnect the batteries (house and start) before you remove any wires from the relay. Label what goes where and take a before picture or two.

Happy trails,
Rick Y
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