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Old 05-22-2012, 06:15 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Summerville, SC
Posts: 53
Battery Question

I am having some battery problems and this led me to a question. First the problem. I was under the motor home at the rear where the batteries are located. It was very quiet and I could hear a battery “cooking.” By this I mean a very low sizzle sound. I checked and it was one of the three house batteries. They are old and I plan to replace them… but, anyway it was the last battery back (read “hard to reach”) so I check the water and it was dry. The other two were OK. I filled it up anyway and it continues to sizzle. Is this because it is shot and will always try to take a charge but cannot? This is a question that might be important because if something is wrong, it will probably destroy the new battery in that position too. That battery is warm to the touch and the other two are cool.

Now, the finding that was new to me. The batteries are, of course, all hooked in parallel negatives to negatives and positives to positives. What is throwing me is that there are two red cables, one from the first battery and a second from the third battery. The large red cable from the front or outside battery runs into the guts of the motor home. However, the large red cable that is attached to the inside battery runs in a short loop and it appears to be connected to the frame. I have attached a picture of this connection. It makes no sense to me at all. The negative cables (black) also have two cables just as the positive side. The front one goes into the guts and the rear cable (off the back battery) goes over to the motor area. Hopefully the photos are with this post.

I thought I understood a little about hooking up batteries but this is new to me ! I purchased the Winnebago Journey DL 34 used a little more than a year ago. We love the motor home but it is a 2001 and a few (very few) things have had to be fixed. I knew the batteries were old but so far have only used it in campgrounds.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:35 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum!

I'm sure some of our electrical experts will be along soon to give you answers but I'll chime in with my thoughts.

That pictured connection is present in my coach too and I believe it is some sort of fused link... I assume to protect the batteries and/or electrical system in case of a malfunction.

I assume you were hooked up to shore power when you heard the batter cooking?

It's not recommended to replace only one battery so hopefully you're planning to replace them all at the same time.

Best of luck to your and let us know what you find out.


Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:39 PM   #3
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My Itasca (Winnebago made) has red cables on the some of the negative connections also. Sometimes they wrap a bit of black tape around them, but not always. I guess they got a good deal on RED.

To properly diagnose your cooking problem, the batteries would have to be disconnected from each other and indivdually charged and tested. Probably not worth the effort if they are more than 5 years old and need to be replaced anyway.

After the new batteries are installed, check the charging system both on engine and converter/charger to make sure that everything is in spec. Trying to test the charging system with one or more bad batteries will give wrong results.
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Old 05-22-2012, 08:40 PM   #4
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Yes, I am hooked up to shore power. And I do plan to replace all three batteries soon.
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Old 05-22-2012, 08:42 PM   #5
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The cables are from the positive side. I am sure this two cable hookup is meant to be, but I would like to understand why. Thanks .... Dan
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Old 05-23-2012, 07:58 AM   #6
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That's a major fuse shown in the picture - not a connection to the frame. Probably a 150 or 200 amp fuse - that's what they look like in that size range.

The sizzling battery is shot. The replacement will be fine - nothing to worry about except wiring the new ones back up exactly as the old ones were.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:39 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info. It looked like a connection to the frame to me. I will feel better now replacing the batteries. BTW, this is a great forum site!!
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Old 05-23-2012, 04:51 PM   #8
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One thing I will stress.. As someone pointed out above, Colors, as they are TODAY do not mean a whole lot, I too have had the red wire on the Negative, cost me an alternator when some idiot tow truck driver giving my wife a jump start assumed (I was taught to remember the spelling of that word by the -U- method, Think about it).

I recommend paint or nail polish or heat shrink tubing or plastic wire loom or something that YOU personall put on ALL the wires hooked to the positive terminals (RED) and optionally the negative terminals (use black here) BEFORE you disconnect.

If you are not sure which is which. Use ye-old volt meter.

Reversing the batteries is not a good thing.
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:35 PM   #9
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You have gotten good input so far, but one thing to be certain of is to get that "sizzling" battery disconnected NOW! It could melt down, explode from the hydrogen gas released, dump acid everywhere and just be unpleasant.

Disconnedt the positive wire from the next battery in line, trying to avoid touching the "hot" battery. After it all cools down (tomorrow, maybe), then take it out and decide what to replace.

Good luck!
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:10 PM   #10
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OOPS! I'm a little brain dead here. If you are in any kind of metal area, DISCONNECT THE NEGATIVE SIDE FIRST!

The danger is that your wrench or pliers could touch a metal chassis part and short the battery to ground. BAD IDEA. Disconnect the neg. side first to eliminate that danger. Sorry about that.
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Old 05-23-2012, 09:00 PM   #11
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Just had the same battery issue. I did by pass the bad battery until I decide if I want to go with 6v instead of the 3, 12vs. I believe I can get 6, 6v batteries in the slide out trays. I will post a comment after I get it all figured out.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:32 PM   #12
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Did you have the Rv plugged into shore power. Like in another thread I posted that having my Rv plugged in constantly while in storage it can over charge and boil your batteries. I now have a timer hooked up and it only charges for 1 hr a day and the water level stays where it should and the batteries stay charged. I don't know if that was your problem but I had to constantly add water to my batteries before.
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Old 05-24-2012, 12:23 AM   #13
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dlboarman......Generally, those large fuses (busbar) are inline between the battery cable and your inverter if you have one.
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Old 05-24-2012, 11:03 AM   #14
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According to the wiring diagram for your rig, thats a 300 amp fuse for your 1500W inverter/charger.

PDf page 2 of http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/2001/136412.pdf

Wiring Diagram TOC for WKP34BD rig: Table of Contents


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