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Old 05-17-2011, 10:16 PM   #1
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Challenging charging problem while in storage

Hi,
I have a '97 Holiday Rambler Endeavor with a CAT and Freightliner chassis. I've only had it about 5 months and this last winter my coach batteries, which were pretty new, apparently froze and both cases split open and the electrolyte leaked out. I had been taking the coach out every 5-6 days and driving it for at least 30 minutes and hoped that everything was being sufficiently charged.

Have replaced the two 6 volt batteries with new ones (that is the sum total of the coach batteries) and decided that the short drive probably wasn't enough and that I would need to charge them beyond just a weekly quick trip.

In the storage facility, I first tried hooking up the Coach external power to the storage power source, but it is GFCI protected and keeps popping. I flipped breakers and isolated the "problem", and couldn't find anything wrong with that circuit. I finally called a master electrician who told me that I didn't have a problem...you can't plug into a GFCI protected plug with a circuit that has a GFCI in it...the GFCI will pop every time. I don't know if he is right, but I immediately took the coach out and plugged it into a "normal" plug and everything worked fine, with the converter charging the batteries liekk normal. So I drove back to the storage area and figured out that I could unplug the converter from the coach circuit and plug it directly into the storage pole that has the GFCI, and it worked fine! Guess it is after the GFCIs in the coach. Anyway, it worked fine and all seems well and the batteries started charging. Long winded, I know, but my question is two parts:
1) the storage facility allows us to "trickle charge"...with nothing else on, am I legal using the coach converter as my trickle charger? I think the converter is only using a little power just to keep the coach batteries charged...as long as I keep everything else off, right?
2) I also have a automatic trickle charger that automatically determines the voltage and charges to full and then switches to trickle. If I hook this charger up INSTEAD, will I be fooling it into thinking that it is charging a 12 volt battery since the 2 six volt batteries are in series...will I overcharge EACH of the batteries to 14 or so volts? There is no guage on this thing...it just does it all automatically. Seems like I should disconnect the batteries and maybe charge them separately, but I would rather not, if I don't have to. I don't really understand this stuff as much as I would like. Thoughts?
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:27 PM   #2
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Keep the batteries connected as they are and use the converter to charge the batteries you should be fine.
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:40 PM   #3
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Have replaced the two 6 volt batteries with new ones (that is the sum total of the coach batteries) The two six volt batteries that are connected in series sounds like the house system batteries only. You should have a 12 volt battery to start the enigne also. JMHO

1) the storage facility allows us to "trickle charge"...with nothing else on, am I legal using the coach converter as my trickle charger? I think the converter is only using a little power just to keep the coach batteries charged...as long as I keep everything else off, right? Maybe......depends on the converter/charger as to whether it automatically senses battery state of charge and reduces input voltage to "trickle". Suggest you google your brand/model of charger to get the specifications
2) I also have a automatic trickle charger that automatically determines the voltage and charges to full and then switches to trickle. If I hook this charger up INSTEAD, will I be fooling it into thinking that it is charging a 12 volt battery since the 2 six volt batteries are in series...will I overcharge EACH of the batteries to 14 or so volts? There is no guage on this thing...it just does it all automatically. On the two 6 volts batteries that are connected in series you will see that one battery is connected to the other by a cable that connects the + on one to the - on the other.....the other two posts (one on each battery) is connected to your coach 12 volt house system. So, your two 6 volts when connected in series are really ONE 12 volt battery. If you connect your "automatic trickle charger " to the same posts that the system is connected to then you will be charging both batteries as though it is a single 12 volt battery.
I hope this helps you
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:51 AM   #4
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Keep the batteries connected as they are and use the converter to charge the batteries you should be fine.
r jay is correct i have the same coach as long as your plugged in your ok keep an eye on your water level on the batteries when no elect is avail turn the dissconects off youll be good for a long time ! believe me ive learned this the hard way !
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:14 AM   #5
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If your going to store your coach for an extended period of time without a trickle charger connected to your batteries, be sure to open the battery disconnect and remove the 1 amp fuse feeding your LP detector. The detector is wired before the disconnect and can discharge your coach batteries after a while.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:33 AM   #6
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Instead of using the coach charger all winter, Get TWO Battery Minder (TM) or Battery Tender(TM) devices at your local auto parts store or automotive department.

Hook these up, one to the HOUSE system, one to the CHASSIS and when you come back in the spring.. Those suckers will be topped off and ready to roll.

Also, I assume you have a generator in the 5,000 watt size range.. If you do then show up every month, plug in a pair of electric space heaters (SEE NOTE) and run it for 30 minutes, Do not worry about the Battery minder/tenders they won't mind.

NOTE: I find the wiring in a motor home may not like 1500 watt heaters all that much.. I have one outlet that I've now taped out of service as it overheated with one plugged in. I put in a pair of 20 amp dedicated outlets.. (Well, one has a 15 amp breaker cause that's what I had open, the other is a 20) these are a different color (Black) and are the classic 20 amp type (T-shaped neutral) with 12ga wires (The one with the 20 amp breaker has less than 2 feet of wire between it and the breaker) these do NOT overheat with a 12 amp load.
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:07 AM   #7
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I hope this helps you
Thanks...think I understand. I'm thinking that this means my charger which will automatically detect what voltage battery I have and try to charge it will, in fact try to charge them up to 12-14 volts, right? That would be a bad thing since they really are 6 volt batteries, right?
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:09 AM   #8
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If your going to store your coach for an extended period of time without a trickle charger connected to your batteries, be sure to open the battery disconnect and remove the 1 amp fuse feeding your LP detector. The detector is wired before the disconnect and can discharge your coach batteries after a while.
Thanks RJay! There are actually three wires connected to the house batteries direct (that bypass the cutoff). I didn't know what the one with the fuse connected to....I don't have an electrical manual for this coach....your info was very helpful!
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:11 AM   #9
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r jay is correct i have the same coach as long as your plugged in your ok keep an eye on your water level on the batteries when no elect is avail turn the dissconects off youll be good for a long time ! believe me ive learned this the hard way !
Thanks fxdave. Since Holiday Rambler is no more, I have had a hard time finding source information on my coach. It is good to know there is someone out there with the same one...hope you don't mind if I pick your brain from time to time! (I did join the HR club, but their site isn't nearly as good as this one!).
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:15 AM   #10
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If your going to store your coach for an extended period of time without a trickle charger connected to your batteries, be sure to open the battery disconnect and remove the 1 amp fuse feeding your LP detector. The detector is wired before the disconnect and can discharge your coach batteries after a while.
BTW, thanks again! You posted twice, and both pieces of info were important to me. I have the basic owner's manual, but little else, and it doesn't really tell me things like when to turn on and off the battery disconnects. I hesitated to do so for fear of loosing all the computer stuff (like in a new car). Please keep offering up the tidbits...nothing is too small for me!
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Old 05-19-2011, 02:20 PM   #11
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Another way to solve your problem is simply to pull the negative lead off of the batteries. Alternatively, if you have a battery disconnect switch, turn it to off. Unless your batteries are bad, they can go for months without any problem. When you start up again, the engine will recharge the batteries. I leave my boat batteries disconnected for 9 months out of the year over the winter in Connecticut, and they seem to be unaffected by freezing conditions. For a battery to freeze, it has to be pretty well discharged.
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:03 PM   #12
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Another way to solve your problem is simply to pull the negative lead off of the batteries. Alternatively, if you have a battery disconnect switch, turn it to off. Unless your batteries are bad, they can go for months without any problem. When you start up again, the engine will recharge the batteries. I leave my boat batteries disconnected for 9 months out of the year over the winter in Connecticut, and they seem to be unaffected by freezing conditions. For a battery to freeze, it has to be pretty well discharged.
Thanks. That is a great idea. I couldn't get past the either/or idea...either I had to take them out and charge them individually, or figure out a way to keep charging them while they sit. Your idea is better!
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