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Old 02-24-2016, 06:16 PM   #1
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88 Pace Arrow driving me crazy

Picked up this 88 pacearrow back in October and have been living in it full time off the grid on the streets of Portland Or. as ive been doing for two years now, this being my 3rd MH. Shes a great MH im very happy especially for what i paid. Here's my only issue... Being that im off the grid having good charged batteries is a must considering i plug into shore power once a month if im lucky and my genny needs a fuel pump which ive not gotten time for yet. Ever since i got the MH though the batteries have not charged right. Ill drive around all day park and the lights kill them in a couple hours to the point it wont start. Thought there may be a draw since my first MH a 78 Fleetwood Avion (yes Avion made a class c that one year, looked like youd think it would) had that problem due to the tweeker who owned it before trying to re wire things he should not have messed with, looked like a giant rats nest behind the dash with un fused wires going everywhere. After a ton of work the wireing harness burned and that was that. Tested everthing and no draw. Bad batteries? Nope replaced em all with new ones and problem still there. So i start looking at the connections. I have one 12v regular chassis batt and two deep cycle batt. House batteries on the right have two cables to the pos terminal that come from under the electrical control center box on their right and a very long ground coming from a simalir location on the right side house batt neg. Pos on same batt which is connected to the left house batt pos to pos the neg is not conected. The chassis batt on the left side has three cables on the pos. Two from under the fire wall and one that streches over from where the other cables are coming from the controle panal. Nothing on neg. Then from its pos it is connected to the pos on the right house batt. Ive always been told never the connect these two types of batteries. But thats how i got it. The other day i took a multimeter and tested with the motor running after getting it jumped batt are dead. The altanator is charging the house batt at 14.5 - 15ish. The chassis batt is reading in the 11 range. So i switch the ground to the chassis batt and its now switched. To the one with out the ground is not charging at full power. Incidently i left it like this and im having better luck starting it in the morning but its still not like it should be. My other MHs had a + & - on the chassis and on one house and the two house bat conected. Why does this have only one ground? I assume thats the issue, or their hooked up all wrong. In my situation the police show up in the middle of the night and want me to move because someone in the neighborhood called saying i was up to something besides existing and usually sleeping at that time. Which i understand tweekers and junkies ripping off peoples stuff have f'ed it up for the honest people like myself that just choose to live differently then most. Its no big deal to move it. If i cant start it though the situation with Portland's finest starts to go bad real quick so you see my issue here. I have to get this working right before my home gets towed away some night. I know this has kinda been discussed here before but not this exact issue. Ive spent lots if time googling with no answer found. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-24-2016, 08:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SGladney View Post
Pos on same batt which is connected to the left house batt pos to pos the neg is not connected.
So the battery isn't in the circuit at all. Current can only flow when there is a complete circuit from positive to negative.

Did you replace the light bulbs with LEDs? Not that it's the problem but will go a long way in preserving battery power. I left the interior lights in my RV on all last night and when I went in today my batteries still had virtually a full charge.

Helpful hint: Please put some carriage returns in your text to make paragraphs for easier reading. I was getting lost trying to read what you wrote and picture the setup at the same time.
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Old 02-24-2016, 08:44 PM   #3
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As I understand your post you have one standard battery and two deep cycle batteries. With this combination, the standard battery should be used to operate the engine and accessories while the two deep cycle batteries supply the coach. If these were installed correctly using the coach lights should never deplete the chassis battery.

In addition you note that one or more batteries do not have a connection on the negative posts. For a battery to supply power it must have a connection to both posts.

Assuming that all the batteries 12 volts.

The standard battery should be the engine battery. There should be one large black wire from the negative post of this battery to the frame. There should be one large red wire going to the starter solenoid. There may be other wires to accessories attached to either end of this wire.

The deep cycle batteries should be the house batteries and should be connected in parallel as follows. A large black wire between the negative terminals and a large red wire between the positive terminals. One of the negative terminals should have a large black wire to the ground terminal on the coach. This is likely the frame of the chassis. One of the positive terminals should have a large red wire that goes to the positive terminal on the coach.

Now you need a way to charge the coach batteries. This is usually accomplished by a large solenoid between the positive engine wire and the positive coach battery set. This solenoid is energized by a separate signal wire from the engine alternator. Thus when the engine is running the two battery sets are connected together and the alternator charges both sets. When the engine is not running the solenoid is disengaged so the battery sets are separate thus allowing you to run the coach batteries down without draining the engine batteries.

It is OK to interconnect standard and deep cycle batteries. The difference is the deep cycle batteries have a larger storage area at the bottom. You should no interconnect batteries of different age, but you do not have any control of that unless you spring for new batteries.

Because of the age of your rig, you may find there is a diode bank in this position instead of a relay, but it performs the same purpose. NOTE: if there is diode bank, the direction of the connection matters. Look for labels on the device and install it so the current flow is from the engine generator to the batteries.

Finally, when connected to shore power, there should be a battery charger that charges the house batteries independent of the engine and in my rig there is a trickle charger that runs off shore power to keep the engine battery topped off.

Hopefully this description will allow you to find and fix your problem.
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Old 02-24-2016, 09:10 PM   #4
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Do simple things first.

Connections to both posts of batteries need to be large or same size.

Ground all battery negative posts to good clean spot on frame for cabin batteries and engine block for starting battery.

Next locate large red wire on alternator and follow it until it connects to a large device with 3 posts and fins.

It should be connected to center and the outside posts are connected one to each battery system, one to starting and other the cabin.

There may be large wires from converter routed to battery and one goes to positive other to negative, the ground or negative wire is often left off so look for bot positive and negative wires from converter and get them connected to the cabin battery.

If yiu have a disconnect switch then determine if it is working as well.
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Old 02-25-2016, 08:57 AM   #5
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I understand how the batteries are supposed to be hooked up as described above. This is how they were in my two previous rigs. What's getting me is the fact that this only has one cable that is ground. All the others go on a POS post. Also why is the one for the starter short and on the left and the neg long and on the right? Also I also was under the impression all had to be grounded. But with the ground on the house battery not on the one connected to the starter it will still start. Only the battery with the ground will charge properly though.

So what I'm getting is this: I should leave everything how it is now ground on the chassis battery, and bolt a new cable to the frame and connect it to the house batt which are in series.

After doing that do I remove the cable from the POS post on the chassis battery to the POS post on the house batteries. I assume this is how it was still able to start with no ground on the chassis battery. Being connected to a grounded battery somehow grounded it too? With the new ground that wouldn't be nessasary any longer, or is it.

What happened to the other ground then I wonder. Why would someone have it set up like this. I got it from the original owner why kept it in a garage and only ever brought it to a Chevy dealer for anything. Had extensive records of every funny noise he heard and brought it in to check it out. It was extreamly well taken care of is my point so how could this have happened? Or why?

Thanks for the help. Just joined but I've solved many problems over the last two years reading this site. Your all awesome.
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Old 02-25-2016, 10:03 AM   #6
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I had trouble with a very weak starter for quite some time. During that period I first had the starter rebuilt, but it still gave me problems so I replaced it (in the middle of a truck stop parking lot on a windy 30 degree day) it still gave me problems. The thing was it worked, sort off… just not very well. It couldn’t be counted on to vigorously crank the engine every time. Finally, after several months and about 1,100 miles of cross country travel I bolted a dedicated ground cable from the frame directly to the starter. For $8.00 I finally solved the problem which was a nothing more than a weak ground.

I do hope this helps.

Steve
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Old 02-26-2016, 12:29 PM   #7
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I had trouble with a very weak starter for quite some time. During that period I first had the starter rebuilt, but it still gave me problems so I replaced it (in the middle of a truck stop parking lot on a windy 30 degree day) it still gave me problems. The thing was it worked, sort off… just not very well. It couldn’t be counted on to vigorously crank the engine every time. Finally, after several months and about 1,100 miles of cross country travel I bolted a dedicated ground cable from the frame directly to the starter. For $8.00 I finally solved the problem which was a nothing more than a weak ground.

I do hope this helps.

Steve
My starter also is very slow, like it's about to die. Tested it and its fine. Checked the records from the original owner and its actually new only two months before I bought the MH. Will try installing the new ground today if I get out of work while there day light still. Will post the results. Thanks
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:08 PM   #8
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I noted in your comment that the house batteries seem to be hooked in series. That is positive post on one to the negative post on the other. If that is true then you must have 6 volt (3 cell) batteries. Hooked this way they act as one large 12 volt battery. If you DO have 6 volt batteries and you hook all three grounds to the frame you will be in for a surprise.

First I would look at the house batteries. Are they 6 or 12 volt? If they are 12 volt they should be hooked in parallel as I suggested above. If they are six volt they should be hooked in series by connecting one positive post to the negative post on the other battery then using the remaining positive and negative posts as a regular 12 volt battery. In this case, connect the negative post to the frame and the positive post to the load.

As for how they go this way I can only surmise, but I have had my batteries in such a state when one set failed and I still needed to travel. Suppose the batteries are 6 volt and one of them failed, how could you get power to the coach. You could disconnect the grounds and move the positive wire to the engine battery. Now everything will work except that you will drain the engine battery with the lights and you will have much lower lighting capacity. This was a good solution when I regularly stopped where there was shore power, but not so good the way you are tying to use the rig.

I would proceed as follows. (Make a diagram or take a picture of what you have so you can go back if all else fails.)

1 -Check the voltage on all batteries. I will assume that they are all 10 volts are higher. That means there are no 6 volt batteries.
2 -Disconnect all wires from the positive post of all batteries.
3 - Tie a large black wire from the negative posts on batteries to the frame ground. This wire can jumper from battery to battery, but you will eventually want to have a separate connection for the engine battery.
4 - Pick one large red wire and connect it to the battery with the highest voltage.
5 - Turn on the head lights. If they come on - try to crank the engine. If it cranks you have identified the wire that feeds the engine. The other large red wires either feed the coach or are part of the charging system.
6 - If the lights do not come on then try a different large red wire until you find the right one.

This will identify which wire goes to the engine. The other wires are either the coach feed or part of the charging circuit.

7 - Pick another large red wire and connect it to the bank of house batteries. Do the house lights work? If they do you have found the coach feed. If the lights do not work, try another wire until you get the right one.

You now know which wire to connect to the house batteries. The only step remaining is to identify the connections for the charging system.

The charging system for the engine battery is likely already tied to the starter solenoid. You can test this by starting the engine and looking for a voltage rise at the engine battery. If it goes up to about 14 volts it is charging. If it does not rise, check the voltage on the smaller wires. Sometimes they wire the alternator directly to the battery. If you find one with 14 volts connect it to the engine battery positive post and see if the battery charges.

All you need now is to discover how to get the charging voltage to the house batteries.

One less than elegant method is to clip a booster cable between the positive posts on the two battery sets while you are moving and remove it when you are stopped. The negative posts are already connected together because they are both grounded to the frame) Otherwise, I am sorry to say you are on your own as there are so many ways to accomplish that trick that I can not help without seeing the setup and measuring the voltages.

I have ignored any small wires connected anywhere. They go to a charging system, or some small load like the water pump, etc. You can reconnect them to the positive post on the proper battery set as you find something not working.

Hope this helps.

- Jerry
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:26 AM   #9
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I meant in parallel then sorry. They are 12volt
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:12 AM   #10
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Did you try the dedicated ground cable yet? The symptoms you describe are exactly what I was going through! Just bolt one end of the cable to the frame and the other end to one of the bolts that hold the starter on. Make certain you have a good ground connection, I sanded the frame where I bolted it up and I used lock washers on both ends because they dig into the attachment when they lock the bolt.

Steve

BTW a year later I had to replace my engine and found that the original factory ground was in place and hooked up but over the years it had corroded and that's why it was making a poor ground.
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:32 AM   #11
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Starting battery needs to be grounded to the engine block.

Any other connections between block and body are either to supply accessory power to body or engine noise suppression.
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