So you can't just take a 22 year-old camper on a 1,400 mile road trip without a few
The driveline was replaced when the transmission was rebuilt. Just south of Salt Lake, we had some pretty bad driveline noise. One of the carrier bearing bolts was loose. We stopped at the Autozone in Price, UT and bought some Grade 8, 1/2" hardware and bolted it back in. We had to use the tire jack to lift it back in place to get the bolt in. As I mentioned, I used to be heavily into 4x4's, so it was really no huge issue for my fellow 4x4 aficionado buddy and I to fix in the parking lot. It could have meant a tow or a mobile mechanic to the unprepared.
Had a split in the polybutylene plumbing supply under the lavatory sink. Easy fix, but not during the trip. We're well used to tent and dry camping, so we just didn't use the fresh water system and filled our wash pans from the spigot outside. We had carried separate jugs of drinking water anyway for our water bottles and cooking.
We also noticed that the invertor wasn't seeing much power. After 10 hours of driving, the coach batteries were only at 12.3 Volts. This began a lengthy investigation process that I only solved last night. Our first step was to get the batteries charged and tested. There were 2 Kirklands and one Interstate. While we were fixing the driveline, the batteries were charging at Autozone. We found out the Interstate was dead and recycled it there. The Kirklands were good.
We drove to Goblin Valley, hiked Ding and Dang canyons, then on into Moab. The batteries still weren't fully charged. After hiking to the Windows and Double Arch, the kids were grabbing lunch and my friend and I started investigating more. We saw that from the contactor switch on the driver's side firewall, there were a couple of 12ga wires that were cobbled together with self-resetting circuit breakers. That was the only feed to the batteries. We removed the 12ga wires and connected the 8ga feeder directly to the contactor. We now had 14.8v at the starter battery and 13.8v back to the charger/convertor/distribution panel under the bed.
The bad news is that there was only 12.8v to the coach batteries. Enough for now, but I promised myself to investigate further after the trip.
When I got home, I started chasing cables. There was an 8ga + cable from the contactor to the charger/convertor. There was an 8ga cable from the contactor to the passenger side battery under the hood. Duh. I thought I had 2 starter batteries and three coach batteries (now minus the Interstate). Turns out I actually bought the rig with 1 starter battery and four
coach batteries. Minus the Interstate, I still had 3 coach batteries--one under the passenger side hood, and two in the box under the passenger dinette.
There were 8ga + and - cables from the pair of coach batteries to the invertor, and there were 8ga + and - cables from the pair of coach batteries to the underhood coach battery.
Here's where it gets strange and where all my voltage drop came from. In Thor's infinite wisdom, they apparently built the coach with no ground conductors. The passenger side coach battery was grounded only to the inside of the radiator support next to it. That was grounded to a similar ground cable on the starter battery. That's it. :
The entire coach ground consisted of an 8ga cable from the charger/convertor to the steel plate on the bottom of the coach floor. :P
I added a 6ga cable from the alternator to the underhood coach battery (where the existing 8ga cable would carry the ground back to the pair of coach batteries) and added another 6ga cable from the charger-convertor to the pair of coach batteries. Now I have a continuous ground path with CABLES
connecting the coach body, the charger-convertor, the under-dinette coach batteries, the under-hood coach battery, the alternator, and the chassis body. 8)
With the engine running, alternator voltage is 14.85V, charger-convertor voltage is 14.83V, and coach battery voltage is 14.83V. 8)
If you're having charging issues, it might be your batteries, it might be not enough alternator, it might be an antiquated unregulated transformer charger/convertor...or the issue might be MUCH simpler. Check your ground path!