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Old 01-04-2015, 03:17 PM   #1
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Diagnostic Help needed

Hi All,

I have a 2005 National Tropi-Cal T 396. The batteries do not have enough power to turn the engine over, but it will crank it for a stroke or two. The Emergency Power Boost toggle switch on the dash does not flash so suspect I can not use the coach batteries to jump it.

I've researched the various threads and I believe I may have a bad emergency boost solenoid.

I've had it on 120v shore power for the past month so there should be plenty of power. I ran the diesel generator for several hours and there is no difference in the cranking power.

I should mention that the coach sat unused for several month before I moved it into my new storage area. I had to run the generator for at least an hour to get it running at that time. It then sat for another month while plugged in to shore power.

In my research I read about battery maintenance...The coach batteries were very low on water, I added about a quart per battery two days ago. The chassis batteries are maintenance free units. Still no difference in cranking power.

I connected a Schumacher battery charger to the chassis batteries and it read 100%. I set it to "Emergency Start" mode and the starter just clicked (less power than without the charger connected?), so I figured I was doing something wrong. I am not familiar with multiple battery systems.

The Motorhome did not come with a manual. I've read enough to know that I should be able to use "Emergency Boost" mode to start the coach. The last time I needed to use it, I thought I remember the toggle flashing, which it no longer does. I managed to actually find the solenoid in the rear passenger side compartment behind the wire mesh cover. It is a White-Rodgers Model 70-111224.

Am I on the right track on diagnosing this issue? Can anybody offer some suggestions? I am mechanically inclined but fairly new to this.


Steve Smyczek

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Old 01-04-2015, 03:29 PM   #2
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Jumper aroud the solenoid with a jumper cable, if it starts the solenoid is stuck open..

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Old 01-04-2015, 03:34 PM   #3
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I'm not sure how to do that..I assume I use a pretty heavy cable and attach the post for the Chassis side directly to the post for the Coach side, but I don't want to fry anything outů

Is it that simple?

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Old 01-04-2015, 03:37 PM   #4
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Do you know what the voltages are for both the chassis & coach batteries, I would start there. Check to make sure you have a good ground and also check the ground on the starter.

Your boost should be able to jump the coach off. Something else is going on and you be on the right track.

My wife was driving up to the UP from Tennessee and called me, walked her through the boost procedure. She was able to get coach up to Ironwood Mi and I changed batteries out.

Doesn't make sense that you had your coach plugged into shore power for a month and the batteries are dead, do you have a battery tender for your chassis battery, some coaches don't.

Good Luck
Jim J
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Old 01-04-2015, 03:50 PM   #5
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Jim J,

The battery check on the control panel says both systems are above 12 volts. The Coach batteries seem to be charged, and the chassis batteries seem to not be taking a charge.

I have a Xantrex inverter, and there are 4 buttons on the interior control panel; Setup, Charge, Invert and Power Share. The Battery State is green, but when I press both "Setup and Charge" to "equalize", the DC Volts drop to around 10. I don't have any manuals so I'm flying blind.

I have no idea where to find the starter on a Cat Diesel, but I'm sure its easier than finding something in one of the several electrical compartments.


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Old 01-04-2015, 04:03 PM   #6
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Sounds to me that your chassis batteries are fully charged from the 100 perc reading of the charger. I would remove the chassiss cables clean up the connection s try start the coach if that doesnt work find the stater and give it a little tap with a hammer.
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Old 01-04-2015, 04:26 PM   #7
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Did the charger say the batteries are fully charged as in it was not adding any current or the battery was heavily discharged and the charger was putting out 100% of it's capacity? Without knowing the charger and based on your comment about your knowledge that is a fair question.

In the first case there will be no sparks and it may indicate a poor connection from the charger to the battery. The problem can be the charger clip or a bad contact between the post and the battery cable clamp.

In the second case the batteries are low.

If you added a quart of water two days ago I would suspect the state of charge of the batteries.

It really comes down to taking some voltage readings and see what you get.

Unless the lamp lights when the ignition switch is turned on so I know the bulb is good I do not trust pilot lights. They fail. I would not change the relay until I knew what the state of battery charge was and had tested the relay for power and ground to run the coil. If the coil has power and the heavy contacts have different voltage readings when the coil is energized then you have a bad relay.
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Old 01-04-2015, 07:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Steve in WI View Post
Hi All,
The Emergency Power Boost toggle switch on the dash does not flash so suspect I can not use the coach batteries to jump it.

Steve Smyczek

Did you try to use the switch?
Or just 'suspect' it won't work?
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Old 01-04-2015, 09:57 PM   #9
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I would consider swapping out your chassis batteries with loaners from another of your vehicles, and/or a friends. Then you will solve the riddle of the chassis batteries being beyond recharging. If your Schumacher charger is indicating 100pct charged as quickly as it sounds, the batteries may be fried from 7 months storage without any recharge at all. Batteries can go bad quickly if they remain discharged for a long period. As for the house batteries, just a guess but if they needed 1 quart of water each to fill them up, after also sitting for 7 mos, you may have the same problem there. With a bad battery your monitors may show that you have 12 volt power but as soon as you apply any load whatsoever they crash. Good Luck in your search for the culprit. Swapping the chassis bats should be a fairly easy DIY test of what you have to work with.
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Old 01-04-2015, 10:02 PM   #10
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Suggest to attempt to charge starting batteries by having the charger on and engage the boost switch, wedge it to stay in the engaged position and it should allow the charger to charge those batteries. This was a common issue I had in a Winnebago. It was not charging the start batteries(12V).Hope it will help get you started.
This is done with shore power attached to RV and Ignition off, engage the assist boost switch and leave it on. The on board charger should apply power to your starting batteries.
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Old 01-04-2015, 11:16 PM   #11
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A fully-charged 12V battery should read a minimum of 12.6VDC. The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
Scroll down 2/3 page to these readings.
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Old 01-28-2015, 10:45 AM   #12
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could have dirty terminals from sitting. Just because your battery charger says 100% doesn't mean your battery is good. I have charged batteries until my charger shut off and they still wouldn't start my vehicle.
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Old 01-28-2015, 01:06 PM   #13
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Pull the coach batteries, after taking 27 pictures of the wires and go to an auto parts place to test them. If it cranks some, probably not dirty connections.

As far as the house batteries, if you saw the plates exposed, before adding water, damage was done.

Give it a shot
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Old 01-28-2015, 02:34 PM   #14
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trouble shoot

First test = turn on head lights try to start the engine. If the head lights dim then look at the batterys and/or connections. I the light do not dim look to the starter and/or solenoid. Maybe a easy test.

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