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Old 02-20-2015, 04:12 PM   #1
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Dutchstar 1999 Electrical Mystery

Hi, I don't know if this is the best place to post my question but here goes!

We have a 1999 Dutchstar Diesel Pusher. It is 38 foot on a Freightliner chassis. It is a model 3884 with all the bells and whistles on it.
We have added three 75W solar panels a few years ago and usually can go for weeks without having to plug into shore power.
We have a Freedom 2000W inverter/charger.
Recently, we had been having problems starting the coach - and thanks to this forum we found out the Battery Disconnect was the issue. So not too long before heading south this year, we changed the BDRelay (Intellitec 01-00055-000 30298).
My husband changed it himself.
The motorhome would not start so we needed a boost. It was 10 below zero.
My husband cleaned off the two post of the coach batteries and with a quick boost the motor started all looked fine.
The only problem is that we have absolutely no autonomy whatsoever. The batteries are charged by the coach when we drive, we can use the generator which runs everything perfectly, we have been plugged into shore power at campgrounds and everything works great. Unplugged, without the generator, the lights in the Freedom Heart Interface in the front panel starts going wild, we can hear a clicking and buzzing sound coming from the back (battery bank?) and the two bars for dc volts and dc amps go up and down until they both come down and the battery and inverter lights stay on. Nothing works. The lights in the motorhome light up and then start getting weaker and weaker until they shut off. All this within 1 or 2 minutes at most.
Any ideas what our problem could be?
We appreciate any and all suggestions! Thanks!
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Old 02-20-2015, 04:56 PM   #2
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Hi RBlrb,
Welcome to iRV2 and the Newmar Owners Forum. Gut feel says you have a short circuit. The question is what is different for the 12 VDC when there is no outside (generator or shore power) coming into the coach.

If these things started after replacement of the disconnect relay, consider returning to that component and ensuring it was installed correctly. The clicking you hear may be the this relay, which is what your husband replaced.

Are the coach batteries being drained? Is the chassis battery(s) being drained? Please check with a meter. Knowing the state of charge before disconnecting from outside power and the state of charge after all the lights go out could be important.

With no outside power the BIRD should be isolating the chassis and coach batteries from each other.

An easy test is to disconnect the Relay and see if the problem goes away. One can not leave the relay disconnected, but it will focus you on the relay or we can move on to another part.
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Old 02-20-2015, 06:15 PM   #3
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Hi Gary, thanks for your reply.
I also think it is a short (or that my husband missed something when he installed the DR). He assures me that it is installed correctly and that the coach batteries are not being drained.
I tend to agree with you, either a short somewhere or that the issues result from the new install (that should be an easy fix, once my husband doesn't feel so touchy about his technical talents). The short is a bit more tricky to find.
I also read up in our owner's manual.
Maybe you know where the resettable breakers are? I looked and looked and can't find them. These breakers (2) are between the battery and the inverter. My idea is that the boost may have tripped them. Would that make any sense?
Thanks again. Will try more tests in the morning and try to get some actual battery readings for you.
Rachel
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Old 02-21-2015, 07:10 AM   #4
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Hi,
Approach the return to the installed part task from the view that the new part could have been installed perfectly, but the new part might be defective. Disconnect all wires from the new part and see if the problem goes away.

The resettable breakers are a new item to me. I do not know where they are located. Locating components on a coach is usually quite an adventure. All I can suggest is to follow the positive wire from the inverter back to the batteries. The breaker should be close to the batteries. I do not know what they look like or if they reset automatically or manually.

Interior lights use 12 VDC power directly from the batteries. There is no inverter in the circuit. If the problem is a short circuit, the short is before the main 12 VDC fuse panel. Once those fuses blow, one must replace them for anything to work.

The difficulty, for me, is determining what is different about the 12 VDC circuit (lights for an example) when the coach is on battery power or connected to an external power source. In both situations, power is being supplied by the batteries. The only difference is when connected to an external power source the batteries are being recharged by the converter part of the Freedom Inverter/Converter.

Consider, once everything goes dark, measure the incoming DC voltage to the Freedom (this would be power coming from the batteries). Also, consider taking a reading directly from the batteries, after everything goes dark. I believe in tracing a problem from the last change and then from the very beginning (batteries) and moving forward from there.

There are many components that could be causing the problem. Because it is a hard failure, A certified tech should be able to trace the problem rather quickly.
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Old 02-21-2015, 12:28 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum.
Here is a Brochure and Owners Guide for you.
Below in my signature are links to many others for your Newmar.
When you wire the BIRD are you using the older model for your year coach or a newer one BIRD 2 or Precision Circuits for a newer DP coach?
Your wiring may not support the newer versions, you may need to add wiring or wire as the older version.
All links can be found in my signature.
Enjoy the forums.
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Old 02-21-2015, 12:55 PM   #6
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Hi and thanks for all those great tips and suggestions. Thanks for the owner's manual pdf version is great. We have both but in paper form and they are showing their years!
the Resettable Breaks located within 18 inches ofthe source of power. It says (on page 7-7 in the Electrical Features section of the 1999 Dutch Star Diesel Pusher Owner's Manual: To find the breakers, follow the line from the battery or converter approximately 18 inches. This may lead to a junction box or to a cabinet inside the unit or similar location.. We can't find these!
After a whole bunch of testing, here is what we have:
Batteries
Coach batteries read 13.90 in all situations (except after the fail.. will do that now).
House batteries
motor running : 7.28, 6.24, 7.54, 6.47
shore power on: 7.42, 6.24, 7.67, 6.48
no power at all: 7.45, 6.24, 7.67, 6.48

My husband replaced the new BIRD with the old one and there is no change at all.
Also, there are two large cables going from behind the battery bank to the motor compartment. One of them looks very corroded. My husband will take a picture of this and hopefully I will be able to post it here.
More in a few moments.
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:08 PM   #7
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Pictures of corroded cable

These cables are located between the motor and the battery bank.
Between the two big ones, one of them has red tape on it, and the other one about two inches a way with a whit tie-wrap that looks really corroded, there seems to be a space where a fuse could have been? Not sure...in any case, there is nothing there now...
Could this be creating our electrical problems?
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:13 PM   #8
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If you have the old version BIRD wire as the diagram shows, you need to clean all battery cable connections on batteries and the chassis frame the Bird will operate as shown for diesel as described in the new link and trouble shooting should help apply also.
Bird will charge the house batteries first than switch over to chassis batteries when on shore power or Gen. It will work in reverse when you are driving coach off your alternator.
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:13 PM   #9
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Pictures show you need some cleaning. I would tag all cables and small wires and where they should be placed and maybe tie bundles of wires in groups.
Before removing to clean.
Those smaller wires need to be controlled as to where they go they are always the ones people mess up when placing back after working on battery systems.
Need to check the wiring for Bird also as to what you have in old wiring diagram.
If you ever remove batteries take pictures as to the placement of them as to the positions on positive and negative terminals as they lay in trays.
After the cleaning may find its been the problem all along keep the fingers crossed but you have some work to do. Do not rush no mistakes.
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:44 PM   #10
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Hi RBlrb,
The voltage reads on your batteries have too much variance. Do nothing about this now. Follow 007's suggestions and then we will go from there.

Disconnect the batteries negative cables first then positive cables before diving into the cleaning.
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:52 PM   #11
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Cleaning to do

Thanks for all help.
Yes, battery readings looked weird to me but my husband did not seem worried.
I pretty much freaked out when he showed me those pictures.
Guess I'm going to have to start cleaning the outside of this thing on top of the inside
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:55 PM   #12
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Inside looks better

Things are under control in my domain!
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Old 02-21-2015, 02:04 PM   #13
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Hi RBlrb,
Based on what you have posted in this thread, if you are ever single, there will be a line of guys competing for your hand.
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Old 02-21-2015, 02:19 PM   #14
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BIRD pic

Thanks for those kind words...

I am now posting a pic of the BIRD house (that is my name for that little box with the main power generator supply and those three little solenoid/relays)
Last year, our coach wouldn't start and (thanks to what I discovered reading up on this forum!) we managed to start up the truck when we realized that the Relay was jamming cutting off all power to the truck. A 1A fuse was burned out.
The thread in the forum lead us straight to the problem.
That solenoid on the right was the culprit.
My husband replaced that one last year and put in a 2A fuse instead.

The White & Rogers coil in the middle is the one that my husband thought was creating our problem this year. He changed it but that did nothing to help.
So he put the old one back in.
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