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Old 08-09-2014, 05:58 PM   #1
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House Batteries Do Not Charge from Alternator

Hi,

We've recently had service at both Cummins and Freightliner shops (including an alternator replacement). Now that we are back on the road I've discovered that the house batteries are not getting changed when the engine is running. Is there something simple that I can check to fix this?

2004 Winnebago Vectra 40AD on a Freightliner Evolution chassis

Thanks in advance,
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:11 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BandBRetired View Post
Hi,

We've recently had service at both Cummins and Freightliner shops (including an alternator replacement). Now that we are back on the road I've discovered that the house batteries are not getting changed when the engine is running. Is there something simple that I can check to fix this?

2004 Winnebago Vectra 40AD on a Freightliner Evolution chassis

Thanks in advance,

If you can get gen-set started, you could connect a standard automotive charger
to your house batt bank for a temp solution.


Have you played with the battery boost switch? I wonder if it works in reverse,
power from chassis batts to house batts?


Do you also have a combo inverter/charger unit like this one...

ME-RC Remote Control


There are a number of setting within in that factory tech support
can help you adjust to match your coach.
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BandBRetired View Post
Hi,

We've recently had service at both Cummins and Freightliner shops (including an alternator replacement). Now that we are back on the road I've discovered that the house batteries are not getting changed when the engine is running. Is there something simple that I can check to fix this?

2004 Winnebago Vectra 40AD on a Freightliner Evolution chassis

Thanks in advance,
I think your Vectra has a BiRD system and a large solenoid that combines the two battery banks. That solenoid is likely an INtellitec brand. It's likely in the basement compartment under the drivers seat. The contacts in the solenoid may be the problem. To help locate it have someone activate the "battery boost" switch on the dash while you listen for the click.
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:23 PM   #4
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You should download a wiring diagram from Winnebago. If it originally charged the house batteries on the alternator, your battery isolator could be bad. They often delay charging the house batteries until the chassis battery is at full charge. Check that the chassis battery is good. Also be sure all connections to batteries and ground are good.
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:24 PM   #5
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Off hand I would trace the wiring from the house batteries to the alternator. It would not surprise me if somebody disconnected a cable to isolate the two systems during troubleshooting the problem that resulted in replacing the alternator. If that did not get put back... :-(
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:29 PM   #6
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Just to let you know when depressing the
boost switch and you hear a click. This is not
an indication that it is working. Hook up a batter y
charger or amp guage and measure the voltage
of the house batteries before and after you depress
the boost switch and of course also while engine is running.
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:31 PM   #7
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Off hand I would trace the wiring from the house batteries to the alternator. It would not surprise me if somebody disconnected a cable to isolate the two systems during troubleshooting the problem that resulted in replacing the alternator. If that did not get put back... :-(
There wouldn't be a wire from the alternator to the house batteries. The charging wire would go to the chassis battery then a wire from there would go to the battery isolator. At that point a wire would connect the two batteries through the battery isolating relay.
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:09 PM   #8
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Above your converter is a metal box that has a side panel held in place with a couple of screws. Remove the screws and side panel. Behind this you will find two contactors. I can't remember which one but one of those two is responsible for charging your house batteries from the alternator. It is also operated by the M.O.M switch on the dash so by operating that switch, you should hear a thud. That is the contactor you are looking for. It is not uncommon for it to go bad. Some people have replaced it more than once.
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Old 08-10-2014, 11:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BandBRetired View Post
Hi,

We've recently had service at both Cummins and Freightliner shops (including an alternator replacement). Now that we are back on the road I've discovered that the house batteries are not getting changed when the engine is running. Is there something simple that I can check to fix this?

2004 Winnebago Vectra 40AD on a Freightliner Evolution chassis

Thanks in advance,
I don't know how much different your 04 Vectra is from my 04 Journey. Last fall I had the alternatory replaced and the house batteries would not charge. With help from guys on this site I found the solenoid. On mine it is in the front compartment above the generator. There is a panel over fuses that is held in place by four T bolts. Remove that panel and to the left is the solenoid. You can test it with a volt meter. Start the diesel and test both sides of the large posts. The input from the engine should show 13 plus volts and the one to the house batteries should show about the same. At least that's the way it worked on mine after I replaced the solenoid. Facing the box the input to the solenoid was was the left terminal. I bought a replacement on line for about $50-60. If you want I can send a photo of the solenoid.
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BandBRetired View Post
Hi,

We've recently had service at both Cummins and Freightliner shops (including an alternator replacement). Now that we are back on the road I've discovered that the house batteries are not getting changed when the engine is running. Is there something simple that I can check to fix this?

2004 Winnebago Vectra 40AD on a Freightliner Evolution chassis

Thanks in advance,
BandBRetired,
Youre '04 Vectra should ( I always hesitate to say "should") be very, very close to the same setup as our '04 Itasca Horizon, with a minor difference. Ciderdogs description of your house battery charging is right on. But, here's where the differences are in some of those models.

In the units with the SLIDE OUT GENERATOR, the two major solenoids for battery controls, both charging/momentary and, disconnect, which include both Winnebago Vectra and, Itasca Horizon, (both top of the line for '04) are located in the compartment just behind the left set of dual wheels. Once that compartment is opened, as you're looking at it, the upper right side (at least in ours) houses those two solenoids but, a small steel panel must be removed with some screws, in order to see them. But, in models like the next step down, like the Journey and the Meridian, those two solenoids are just exactly where Ciderdog tells you they are. They are much easier to access in the Journey and the Meridian. And, in the later Journeys and the Meridians of, about late '05 or early '06, that's also where they install the "Trik-L-Start" chassis battery charging addition from the factory.

I don't believe it's a "BIRD" system. I'm pretty sure it's a much simpler system than that. It's just a mechanical system that engages when the engine is started. But, as you've been told, you can take a volt/ohm meter and do a couple of tests prior to opening up that compartment and removing that panel. Test the voltage of your house batteries with the coach at rest. Now, start the engine and test them again. Obviously if there's a higher reading when the engine is running, then the house batteries are getting charged by the alternator.

But, if on the other hand, there's no voltage difference before and after the engine is started, then OBVIOUSLY, the alternators charge, is not getting to the house batteries. But, to locate the fault for the charge not getting to them, may be a bit frustrating. If the same tests on the chassis batteries reveal a large or, even small, voltage increase after start up, and based on the condition of the chassis batteries just prior to startup, then it's a sure bet your alternator is doing its job and putting out a good charge.

Now, to determine where the break down in communications between where the charging is emanating from and, the house batteries, a step by step set of checks must be made. Good luck.
Scott
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Old 09-03-2014, 01:28 PM   #11
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OK, I'll give you guys my story;

Purchased an 07 Discovery 39V on Freightliner chassis. Discovered that the house batteries where NOT charging while driving down the road. I located the Aux Start solenoid & ordered a new one, around $70.00

All this solenoid does is connect the positive terminals of the house & chassis batteries. So, when your driving down the road the solenoid is energized, both banks positive posts connected = battery charging. Some systems will give it the full 12VDC to pull the contacts closed then drop the voltage to lets say 7VDC just to keep the contacts closed (& heat down). No on my Fleetwood I "believe" the solenoid will energize thile plugged in so the converter will charge the house batteries.

As posted above, pushing the Aux Start switch is NOT how to verify it's working. I'd say over 50% of the solenoids I have seen are bad. I opened mine up after removal and WOW..those contacts where toast! I did clean them up & reassembled. Awaiting the new solenoid!


REMEMBER
When working around these solenoids make sure you disconnect ALL power. You get a wrench in their and you could pocssibly short someting out. As you know these house batteries pack a punch so you could end up welding the wrench between the hot post & ground then you will have a REAL mess.!!
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