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Old 09-13-2016, 09:49 PM   #1
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1978 Chevy Country Cruiser - Battery advice.

Just got my first RV and I'm just fixing things one by one and learning as I go.

I'm a little confused at the battery setup. There's 2 battery trays under the hood. Is that supposed to be one starter battery and one deep cycle RV battery? I can't see a 400ci gasoline engine needing 2 starter batteries.

It looks like someone has this thing set up with 2 starter batteries under the hood, and a large deep cycle battery tossed into one of the side hatches, that's unhooked and looks like it hasn't been hooked up in forever. I also see no isolator or anything like that.

I'm just trying to figure out a) how this thing was supposed to be set up, b)how it's set up now, and c) what's the smartest way for me to set it up for myself.

We're mostly planning on using the RV for travelling and road trips. Not so much on the camping. So I'm thinking the best setup is one starter battery, and then deep cycle battery or batteries with some sort of isolator to charge the deep cycle off the alternator while we're driving.

Am I at least on the right track with that?

Thanks for any guidance you can offer.

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Old 09-13-2016, 10:18 PM   #2
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Likely, and I use the word carefully, your new wheels had one battery to start the coach and the one in the bin was the one that ran the RV. Sounds if someone has put in an extra and left the other dead. Most MH had an invertor to provide 12 volt while plugged in and charge the coach battery. Look for the invertor and perhaps then the wiring may make sense.
You can also plug the coach into shore power and check if your chassis batteries are charging.
Good luck

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Old 09-14-2016, 06:12 AM   #3
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Location: South Jersey
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I had a 79 Ford chassis that had two batteries under the hood. One was starter and one was for all the stuff. Water pump, over head lights, heater fan, exhaust fan, you get the idea. There was a transfer switch to connect batteries for emergency start. There was some kind of charging connection that kept both batteries charged. This was before I was educated and can't provide many details. There was no inverter, but there was a converter type battery charger for when on generator or shore power. Modern life demands larger battery banks for the house along with inverters to provide a bit of 120 volt from the house bank. My latest has 6 six volt golf cart batteries for the house with a 2000 watt inverter to power the microwave, coffee pot, and toaster.
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Old 09-14-2016, 08:06 AM   #4
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Our Cayo Dodge came like that. I use the extra battery tray to store spares. I wanted to do it like my cousin's GMC, with an isolator and big house bank. I couldn't rig the remote voltage sense lead for the Mopar alternator. I couldn't find one. So, I got a dealee called a Combiner. The best is by Yandina. Get one that is rated at least as the alternator. This will automatically charge the house bank when ever the main engine is running. It will also allow the converter to charge the main engine battery as well.
Then, see if you can fit a pair of golf cart batteries where the house bank is now. Maybe you will be as lucky as I was and have good electrics.

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Old 09-14-2016, 08:56 PM   #5
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Marion, in my limited experience with isolators, the one with the voltage sense lead was for a GM alternator. The Mopar should not have needed one.
I don't like isolators as there is always a voltage drop that seems to keep the battery at top charge. We finally got rid of them and went to constant duty solenoids.
My 2005 Silverado had a trailer charging wire in the light plug that was powered by a Maxi fuse under the hood ,no isolator or solenoid.
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Old 09-15-2016, 09:05 AM   #6
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Thanks guys, from what you guys are saying, I at least have an idea of how this thing is supposed to work, and I can start trying to figure out how it's currently set up.

It seems like there's some sort of isolator under the hood that both batteries are hooked up to. I may look into putting in a more modern solution.

Just have to figure out how this is hooked up now, and get it working. I think the last owner only used the plug in system.
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Old 09-15-2016, 09:54 PM   #7
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I put two batteries in, the interior power seems to work. I turned the head lights on, and only the starter battery dropped in voltage, so the batteries must be isolated. I'll fire everything up in the house part tomorrow and see if it's isolated the other way too so I can't kill my starter batter by accident. Then when I get it started up I'll make sure the alternator charges both batteries. I don't have much experience with these things, so I kinda have to do everything by trial and error at this point.

So far everything's looking good though, and making more sense thanks to your guys explanations.

Thanks again.
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Old 09-16-2016, 12:50 AM   #8

Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Burien, WA
Posts: 90
Read the aux battery voltage before starting the rig. After you start the rig and while it is running, use a volt meter to read the voltage on the Aux battery. The reading should be above 12.5 volts and higher than the first reading.

Tim in Burien

Tim Bowman
Burien, WA
1994 Fleetwood Montara
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advice, battery, chevy

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