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Old 01-09-2011, 03:54 PM   #1
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Battery issue on 2006 Southwind 32VS

My wife and I just purchased the unit from a local bank as a repo. We had it fully checked out before purchase by McLains RV dealership. I took it out for the first time this past weekend and noticed 3 issues that all appear to be battery related.

1. The main battery had to be jumped everytime in order to start.
2. I can not locate the coach or Aux batteries.
3. The generator will not start (or even attempt to start) unless the engine is running.

When we arrived at our destination and started the generator I flipped the main battery disconect switch. However, 2 days later the main battery was dead. After getting a jump the engine ran for 3 hours and when I shut it off and tried to restart it 5 minutes later, it was dead. I do not believe it is the alternator b/c the panel showed the battery charging @ 14V.

I also noticed when the generator and engine are off and you flip the Aux battery disconnect switch the lights, TV, radio all remain on. However, when the main battery disconnect is pressed everything goes off. Can this RV have only 1 battery?

I have a request into Fleetwood for a new owners manual since it was not in the papers from the bank. In the mean time I would appreciate anyones feedback.

Thanks in advance,

John
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:05 PM   #2
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You didn't say if you have a Ford or Workhorse model.I would guess that you have found the chassis or engine battery,and maybe think that most house batterys are under a step.If the batterys are completly dead it will take some time to recharge once you plug the main power in,which will charge all of them hopefully.I would take the batterys out and have them checked out,recharged if possible or replace them.If you have a Workhorse there is a forum for those and one for Fords as well.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:16 PM   #3
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ccook129,

It is the Ford model. The main battery was charged by a plugin charger for 72 hours before we took it out. I am taking the battery to autozone or batteries plus to have it tested this week. I will check under the steps for the house batteries.

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:31 PM   #4
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Look under the step for those house batteries. They are dead, or don't have any water in the cells, or maybe even are missing. Get that squared away before thinking too deeply on the other oddities.

The manual from Fleetwood won't be much help - it is generic RV stuff, like how to wash it.
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:31 PM   #5
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I'll vote for missing.

And your chassis battery is bad.

Mine (a few years older) has an "RV Custom products" box under the hood that manages the batteries. The disconnect relay is in there, so is the "AUX Start" relay, as well as a lot of the DC fuses, and some circuitry to control which bagttery gets charged when.

Do you have one of those? 6" square, black, with RV Custom Products label.

You can follow the big red cables from there to the batteries. Mine are in the first basement compartments behind the front tiresd, chassis on the right, coach on the left.
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:52 PM   #6
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A dead batteries issue was not discovered by your inspecting dealer or discussed after their inspection was made?
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:53 PM   #7
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Agree.. the start batt is most likley bad and the coach ones are prolly missing.. Just replace the start batt for piece of mind..
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:25 AM   #8
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John,

I take it you found your house batteries under the step with the two screw heads. All 3 of your batteries are probably toast and need replacing. We just replaced our two house batteries this past summer. Yours were most likely not taken care of, ours were simply worn out in our 06'.

But you might want to disconnect all battery cables and hit them with a wire brush first and see if that helps. But the water level in the house batteries probably went low enough to expose the plates which basically kills them.

The genset uses your house batteries to start. So if they are dead the genset will only start when the engine is running or you use the aux start and have a good chassis battery (you don't if you are jumping it to start it). Likewise the aux start will allow you to start the engine when the chassis battery is dead and you have good house batteries (it ties all 3 together for a short period).

Because you can start the genset with the engine running, that tells me that your alternater is trying to charge your house batteries (it should). Likewise your converter charger should also charge the chassis battery after the house batteries are fully charged.

One concern is your use of the disconnects, they are only for storage. Sounds like your flipping them on and off ad hoc. Since we bought our 06' Bounder, I have never used the disconnects, but we are full time. It is best to keep your Southwind plugged in when not in use and forget all about the disconnects. Not always possible I know.

Once you replace the house batteries, keep on eye on them. You probably have a WFCO converter charger as that is what Fleetwood put in our Bounder. They have been known to have problems, I replaced ours with a unit from Progressive, a PD-9280, which is highly recommended by folks who have them.

Also, if your unit is like ours, the LP detector is wired to both the house and chassis battery. Using the disconnects does not stop it from drawing off the batteries. So the disconnects will not keep the batteries from discharging.

Good luck,
Bob
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:51 AM   #9
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Once you have confirmed that the batteries are fine, and you still have the discharging problem with the Chassis battery, you will need to search for a phantom discharge on some circuits. On my 1999 Southwing 32 the generator/converter would not charge the Chassis battery, so I had to install a trikle charger.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:24 AM   #10
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Thanks for all y'alls help! I found the coach batteries and will be replacing them this weekend. I am taking the chasis battery to auto zone to have it tested as well. Hopefully this will resolve the issues.

On a side my wife found an article that when we store the unit we want to disconnect the main battery b/c the unit has a solar panel on the roof which helps charge the battery when the unit is turned off. We keep it stored in a covered spot & the article said the solar panel will actually drain the battery if you keep it in covered storage. Not sure of the logic...
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John-n-TX View Post
On a side my wife found an article that when we store the unit we want to disconnect the main battery b/c the unit has a solar panel on the roof which helps charge the battery when the unit is turned off. We keep it stored in a covered spot & the article said the solar panel will actually drain the battery if you keep it in covered storage. Not sure of the logic...
It could it not installed properly, like missing the $.50 diode that prevents it
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:44 PM   #12
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I'm with the others who feel that it is quite likely that the batteries are shot. Fortunately, replacing all of them isn't terribly expensive, and you're better off to replace them and be done with it, then experience a failure out on the road.

I recently posted that my engine battery (I think they call it the 'chassis' battery) goes dead after about 30 days of sitting in storage due to parasite drain, so I installed a heavy-duty BEP Marine battery-disconnect switch, allowing me to turn off the power immediately at the battery. The switch, additional cable and screws were less than $40, and I installed it on the 'positive' side, not the 'negative' side, in the battery compartment under the stairs. This should eliminate all parasite drain, where hooking up to the negative side might not solve the drain completely: anything with a drain that is actually grounded can still drain the battery, even if the switch is turned off.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTegarini View Post
I installed a heavy-duty BEP Marine battery-disconnect switch, allowing me to turn off the power immediately at the battery. The switch, additional cable and screws were less than $40, and I installed it on the 'positive' side, not the 'negative' side, in the battery compartment under the stairs. This should eliminate all parasite drain, where hooking up to the negative side might not solve the drain completely: anything with a drain that is actually grounded can still drain the battery, even if the switch is turned off.
No it can't.....
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Old 01-12-2011, 10:28 AM   #14
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Complete circuit...

Disconnecting the ground only can still allow a discharge...in a different battery.

If there are more than one batteries in use, and the ground is disconnected on ONE, then that battry is removed from the system a nd this it cannot discharge.

But the other batteries may still have a path.

Further, depending on how things are wired up there could be instances of current flows in the wrong direction that could cause damage, this has been seen on some of the older CAT equipment where the disconnect was on the ground side of a 24 volt system and connections were made mid string at the 12 volt point.

There must be connection to both sides of a battery to have a path for discharge, period.

Disconnecting either side will stop the discharge, but the positive post is the better choice.

An isolator can be added this way, connected to the positive post of the battery, this provides a common connection for a single charging source that can charge all batteries in an isolated configuration even if disconnected via the disconnect.
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