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Old 12-26-2015, 11:17 AM   #1
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Failed "aux start" relay

12/26/15

Our Trombetta Bear Model #114-1211-010-03 “AUX START” relay (“solenoid”) failed. The solenoid operates, but does not close the contacts. We took it apart and found the contacts look good, but the coil appears to have overheated. We’d been using “AUX START” to occasionally top up the chassis battery while parked for extended periods. We assume this practice fried the coil even though the manufacturer claims this model is “continuous duty”. We found:
“NEW TROMBETTA 12 VOLT 4 TERMINAL SOLENOID 200 AMP CONTINUOUS DUTY 114-1211-020 114-1211-010 586-902 15-550 SBJ4201”
on:
http://www.amazon.com/TROMBETTA-TERM...3CCAFQFMDY91R3
but it looks suspiciously identical to ours. Forum research tells us many RVers have had problems with this relay, but no one has offered a remedy beyond simply replacing the defective relay with another inadequate duplicate. We’d like to hear from anyone who has come up with a permanent solution.

Thanks

RH
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Old 12-26-2015, 11:51 AM   #2
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The auxiliary start button (boost) is usually a momentary contact switch. When pressed, it temporarily connects the House and Chassis battery banks together to give maximum cranking power to start the engine. It's often not intended to be used to connect the battery banks together for continuous duty as in charging.

A B.I.R.D. (Bi-Directional Isolator Relay Delay) module connects the two battery groups together whenever a charging current is detected, either from engine alternator or you converter/charger (inverter/charger) being energized by shore power or generator. The boost relay must handle the heavy currents for starting, the charging currents are usually not as heavy as starting.
Products - DC Power Management - Intelligent battery charging - The BIRD

The failure of your solenoid might be because you're using it for more than it's intended job. More details on exactly what RV and it's systems might help with better advice.
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Old 12-26-2015, 11:57 AM   #3
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Actually, your "boost solenoid" may be designed to be in operation while the engine is running to keep the house batteries charged. My Itasca was set up exactly that way, and you did not specify the type of coach this is on. Not all coaches have a BIRD system and some use it as a continuous duty solenoid to act as a charger. An easy way to test this is to check the voltage on the solenoid activation circuit (small terminal) while the engine is running. If there is voltage on that terminal, then it is supposed to be in continuous operation.
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Old 12-26-2015, 12:44 PM   #4
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OP has a Winnebago product....

You mentioned searching. You should have found more than threads about direct replacements.

Some upgrades to a direct replacement are possible. Couple things people have done:
- Silver contacts - often folks pull theirs apart and find burned/carboned contacts. There's Trombetta replacements with them.
- Higher voltage rated coils. Notice yours was rated at 12 volts. There are 15 volt rated ones available. Typical alternator output is in the 14.X volts range. As you have seen this could be too much for a 12 volt rated coil. (An alternative to higher rated coils is a resistor to insure the coil never sees more than 12 volts.)

This threads talks about the above and mentions what seems to be the best place to buy Trombetta solenoids, Murcal.com
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Old 12-26-2015, 12:56 PM   #5
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The solenoids are not the most robust products. In your application (trickle charge in long periods of parking/storage) I'd opt for a 120vac trickle charger (if 120vac is available), or a solar charger. You didn't mention whether the RV was occupied during these long periods.
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Old 12-26-2015, 01:54 PM   #6
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If I had a $1 for every bad Aux. start solenoid driving down the road I'd be driving a Lexus toad!

If you do decide on Consignment it BETTER be priced low.
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Old 12-26-2015, 03:47 PM   #7
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Our response to questions raised by the above:

The BIRD: This sounds good, but, correct or not, we’ve always favored an overnight boost from the coach battery whenever the chassis battery drops below 12V rather than continuous float alongside the coach batteries. Not sure which is best for the chassis battery. Some words on this would be appreciated.

We’ve confirmed the relay is energized with about 13.7V whenever the chassis engine runs.

Our rig is a 2004 Itasca Meridian 39K on Freightliner, 330 Cat, 6 speed Allison

We’re in our 12th year of full-timing.

Sounds like this problem is epidemic. Lucky our relay lasted 10 years!

BIG Thanks to all…
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Old 12-26-2015, 04:32 PM   #8
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I like the kissling relays. Very well built.

Kissling 29 214 11 Power Relay 200A 12VDC Single Coil New | eBay
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Old 12-26-2015, 04:47 PM   #9
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Failed "aux start" relay

I have been using a Blue Sea relay to provide the functions of a BIRD as well as Aux Start relay for a year now.

It has operated flawlessly and I like the choice of manual or automatic operation.

In my case I replaced a failing battery isolator and the Aux Start relay with this unit.

Blue Sea Systems ML-ACR 12V DC 500A Automatic Charging Relay with Manual Control
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001VIXLRO..._iIXFwb5X3SN92

Paul
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Old 12-26-2015, 05:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tderonne View Post
OP has a Winnebago product....

You mentioned searching. You should have found more than threads about direct replacements.

Some upgrades to a direct replacement are possible. Couple things people have done:
- Silver contacts - often folks pull theirs apart and find burned/carboned contacts. There's Trombetta replacements with them.
- Higher voltage rated coils. Notice yours was rated at 12 volts. There are 15 volt rated ones available. Typical alternator output is in the 14.X volts range. As you have seen this could be too much for a 12 volt rated coil. (An alternative to higher rated coils is a resistor to insure the coil never sees more than 12 volts.)

This threads talks about the above and mentions what seems to be the best place to buy Trombetta solenoids, Murcal.com
Read this referenced thread and then replace solenoid with the silver contact Trombetta with some resistors or diodes to reduce the voltage to the coil a bit, as described in detail in the above thread (or the one linked to by the above thread).

Then install a Trik-L-Start to keep the chassis batteries charged up whenever the coach batteries are being charged. Here's Winnebago's Tech Tip on doing that: 2006-04 Trik-L-Start -
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Old 12-26-2015, 05:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmeusborn View Post
Our response to questions raised by the above:

The BIRD: This sounds good, but, correct or not, we’ve always favored an overnight boost from the coach battery whenever the chassis battery drops below 12V rather than continuous float alongside the coach batteries. Not sure which is best for the chassis battery. Some words on this would be appreciated.
The passage in red puzzles me. If you're on shore power,(the "overnight boost"?) don't both coach and house batteries get charged? What's drawing the chassis batteries below 12 v while parked?

I also don't understand your comment, "...rather than continuous float alongside the coach batteries." What does that mean?

A B.I.R.D. or even a Trik-L-Start http://www.lslproducts.net/TLSPage.html charges both groups of batteries whenever charging is happening. When not charging, the groups are NOT connected so one group can't discharge the other and leave you stranded. If chassis or coach batteries are too discharged to start the engine (chassis) or the generator (coach) then I'd clean all connections and think about replacing some batteries. Repeated discharge to 12 v (50% of full charge) is a sure way to shorten battery life.
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Old 12-26-2015, 07:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmeusborn View Post
12/26/15

Our Trombetta Bear Model #114-1211-010-03 “AUX START” relay (“solenoid”) failed. The solenoid operates, but does not close the contacts. We took it apart and found the contacts look good, but the coil appears to have overheated. We’d been using “AUX START” to occasionally top up the chassis battery while parked for extended periods. We assume this practice fried the coil even though the manufacturer claims this model is “continuous duty”. We found:
“NEW TROMBETTA 12 VOLT 4 TERMINAL SOLENOID 200 AMP CONTINUOUS DUTY 114-1211-020 114-1211-010 586-902 15-550 SBJ4201”
on:
http://www.amazon.com/TROMBETTA-TERM...3CCAFQFMDY91R3
but it looks suspiciously identical to ours. Forum research tells us many RVers have had problems with this relay, but no one has offered a remedy beyond simply replacing the defective relay with another inadequate duplicate. We’d like to hear from anyone who has come up with a permanent solution.

Thanks

RH

RH,
Well Sir, getting around 11 years out of an electrical solenoid that basically designed to do dual duty is, in my opinion great. WE also have an '04 Itasca but, it's the Horizon 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT. And our dual duty/aux. start solenoid lasted for very close to 11 years. I call that phenomenal in the electrical world. And yes, that particular solenoid is designed for continuous duty. As you've found out, it closes once the engine is started and that's what handles sending charging to the house batteries.

It has nothing to do with charging both sets when on shore power. As has been stated, you should have installed a "Trik-L-Start" or, "Amp-L-Start" as an augmentation to get your chassis batteries charged when on shore power. Winne and Itasca did not start setting up the systems so that both banks of batteries were charged on shore power 'till around late '05, early '06.

I also disassembled my solenoid. Yep, I found barely burnt contacts. So, I figured what the heck, I just dremmeled them with the correct bit and, all were clean and shiny. I put it all back together and, it's been working just fine now for well over a year. I can hear that solenoid click all the way from the drivers seat when testing it.

I suppose some day I'll need a replacement but, for now, it's performing flawlessly.
Scott
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Old 12-26-2015, 09:44 PM   #13
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That relay is a decent one as things go. I have used thousands of relays for controlling vehicle 12 volts for forty years. That relay is on my RV and failed in a year. I found it growing green stuff inside and decided they had mounted it upside down for best contact life. I also drilled a couple of tiny weep holes on the premise that the heating up of it during the day due to my solar panels turning it on via the BIRD system and then it cooling off. I surmised it would cool and draw in moisture with now way for it to get out.

I rebuilt mine and it has been running for years. Yes they can get very hot to the touch and seem burned inside when taken apart.

These things probably should be on the maintenance replacement list every few years. Heck, change them out when you get new batteries.

These devices have cause thousands of issues with Rvers based on watching this forum and others.

My BIRD circuit board died a couple of years back and there does not seem to be a drop in replacement. I didn't want to mess about rewiring because I am lazy, not that I lack the ability. I installed a Yandina device that was cheap and has done fine. The big relay is still in place to use as an aux start.
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Old 12-27-2015, 11:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbeierl View Post
Read this referenced thread and then replace solenoid with the silver contact Trombetta with some resistors or diodes to reduce the voltage to the coil a bit, as described in detail in the above thread (or the one linked to by the above thread).

Then install a Trik-L-Start to keep the chassis batteries charged up whenever the coach batteries are being charged. Here's Winnebago's Tech Tip on doing that: 2006-04 Trik-L-Start -
Bingo! Trik-L-Start or Amp-L-Start is the way to go. This is what these devices are designed to do and they do it automatically in the background with no interaction from you. Best $50 you will spend IMHO.
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