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Old 07-17-2022, 02:09 PM   #1
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Dutchstar - no chassis power

Hello all - Please be easy on me. I am very much a novice in the RV world. Due to my job, we own an RV and my knowledge is minimal. I am very comfortable working on automotive, but my skills in the RV world is lacking. So we own a 1998 Newmar Dutchstar. It is on a Freightliner chassis with a Cat engine. Single axle, single slide out. Not sure how much of this is important. I put the RV away last winter in storage and all was fine. Winterized and plugged in the power. This Spring when we decided to get it out for the first time this year, my chassis batteries were dead. OK..no problem. They were getting old and figured they were finally shot. I replaced the (2) BCI 31 chassis batteries and replaced (1) of the jumper cables between the 2 batteries. After this, we were up and running again and no problems. So, after our first camping trip, I put the RV back in our storage building and plugged it back in, just as we typically do. I went to check things out today after sitting about a month and I believe the chassis batteries are dead again. Or, I have something funny going on. I have absolutely no power to the dash, radio, or the starter engine. With the RV plugged in, I do have house lights and the fridge is operating. But as soon as I unplug from the wall, everything is 100% dead. Nothing at all. So, I am really confused. What or where should I even begin to sort this out? Why is the house lights dead when I unplug from the wall? Shouldnt the house batteries be keeping them on? Again, I apologize. These things are switches, relays, convertors and all kinds of things I have never had to mess with before.
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Old 07-17-2022, 03:51 PM   #2
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My 2000 Dutchstar freightliner/cat 3126 chassis batteries were trickle charged be the solar panel on top and the house batteries were charged by the converters. What is your charging source for the chassis batteries? Also do you have a power transfer switch left to the steering wheel on dash to transfer power from house to chassis batteries? Best of luck
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Old 07-17-2022, 05:51 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I unhooked the (2) chassis batteries (1 month old) and (2) house batteries (5 years old) and verified that both are drained. Less that 4 volts in all four of them. So...something drained them, although I had the RV plugged into the wall power while in storage for the past month. To answer your question, the only switch I have on the dash pertaining to batteries is a battery boost switch, which I have never touched. I will attempt to attach some pictures that I suspect that might be involved in what is going on here. If somebody would have any insight of anything I could check (voltages, amps, fuses), please chime in. We are in the middle of no-where Kansas and I am kind of on island by myself when it comes to these kind of repairs. Thank you. Lastly, I noticed the little internal fan on the silver box labelled "Power Source Model 75" is not spinning. Honestly, I don't know if I have ever seen it activated, but I am not sure. Not sure if that is a clue to the problem, but thought I would include the info. Thank you
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Old 07-17-2022, 10:31 PM   #4
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That plug in next to the power switch is the motor heater core in my Dutchstar. But being plugged in to electricity shouldn't drain the batteries. If that's the same for you, it doesn't need to be plugged in till freezing Temps. Yes power booster is your transfer switch from house to chassis. Finally, look at the bottom of your wires coming out of the power source converter. I would say that you had a power surge and it's probably blown. It happened to me, that's got to be the culprit. Need to find out if it charges both house and chassis batteries. There should be a fuse on there, may be as simple as that. Check the breaker box as well.
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Old 07-17-2022, 11:14 PM   #5
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Welcome to iRV2 and the vintage Newmar owners family.

Th internal cooling fan in your converter is thermostatically controlled so it doesn't run continually .
The BIRD system control box and the large " White Rogers " continuous duty solenoid above it should connect the chassis batteries to the house batteries and keep them charged when on shore power and gen set power , the solenoid also joins both battery banks together to charge from the alternator with the engine running .
The 120 volt outlet between the converter and the ATS Power switch is the power for the converter, your block heater outlet is on the back wall under the corner shelf ; just visible bottom of the first picture.

Is the outlet you were plugged into GFI protected , our RVs don't play well with GFIs.

On the passenger side frame rail , above the muffler , behind the battery tray , only visible from under the coach, you'll find a number of 12 volt circuit breakers some Freightliner some Newmar and the starter relay . The Freightliner C/Bs , one for the cable that provides chassis power to the dash the second power for the Cat engine heater grid . Newmar added there own for their power to the dash installed items and gen set starter power.
I've found fuses and C/B in 10 locations on my DS and in my 12 years of ownership I'm not sure I've found them all .
Some pictures and files that may help.
Red and green arrows Freightliner C/Bs , yellow arrow Newmar manual reset C/B blue arrow , starter relay . Sorry the picture is so close up , limited space for a camera above the muffler.
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File Type: pdf Bird sytem diagram.pdf (784.8 KB, 3 views)
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Old 07-17-2022, 11:31 PM   #6
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Another picture that may help .

The yellow arrow is a cable from the house batteries . The blue arrow is cable from the chassis .
Yellow circle the constant duty solenoid . Green circle the BIRD controller .

And a file on the coach battery disconnect.
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File Type: pdf Intellitec_BD1_Battery_Disconnect_Service_Manual.pdf (330.3 KB, 6 views)
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Old 07-17-2022, 11:55 PM   #7
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The 12 volt circuit breaker , yellow box , is the circuit protection for your converter output , if the converter is working you should have between 13.2 and 14.2 volts at the terminals .

Note in RV systems as opposed to automotive white wires are ground , and the converter output wires are black.

Todd engineering , manufacturer of several components in your coach , went out of business in 2008 so exact replacement parts are not available.
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Old 07-18-2022, 06:09 AM   #8
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Thank for for the suggestions/tips. It really helps to have a better understanding what I am dealing with. I will check into these items and report back. Thank you again.
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Old 07-18-2022, 08:02 AM   #9
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Check at the storage facility to see if their outlets are GFI protected .
If you were plugged into a 15 amp outlet with adaptors they probably are .

When you are in storage with GFIs , you'd be better off using a trickle charger (s)direct to the batteries to maintain charge , rather than plugging in the coach and running the risk of tripping the GFI.
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Old 07-18-2022, 11:02 PM   #10
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Skip426 - excellent pointers. Thank you. I will check into these items and report back. I do not believe my building is wired with GFCI outlets, but I will double check. My storage building is our farm building built in the 70's. So I doubt its GFCI. Your assumption however is correct....I am running the 50 amp Newmar plug to a 110v standard house adapter, then to the wall outlet. Which just made me think of something. Between the RV and the wall outlet, I have been running a 100 foot 110 volt extension cord. Not that I really needed a extension cord that long, its just what I had handy at the time. It has never caused a problem before, but this might be a consideration.

Also, I have removed the (2) chassis batteries and have been trickle charging them independently with my shop battery charger. While I have the batteries unhooked, I checked the heavy + and - leads that would typically hook up to the chassis batteries and my volt meter is showing they are receiving 4 volts from the ?bird? controller. My cheap tester I had with me this evening only shows volts (not capable of amps). Does 4 volts sound correct?

Thank you
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Old 07-19-2022, 09:52 AM   #11
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Your adaptors at going down to a 15 amp wall outlet , and that outlet may not be alone on a breaker ; so you have to find and check for power from the breaker , there may not be a GFI in the circuit.

The coach is set up for 50 amp power , that is two legs of 120 volts rated to carry a 50 amp load ( total 100 amps ) adapting down to a 15 amp outlet and using a long extension cord your suppling the coach systems about 13% of the power it would get in an RV park .
So you have to be very careful what systems are turned on . My coach is in the back yard hooked to a non GFI circuit in the garage using a 100 foot cord , so I know to be careful .

Was the coach plugged in when you registered 4 volts at the battery cables ?
Bird system should be providing same charging voltage to the chassis batteries as the coach batteries ; if the converter is operating and the coach batteries are close to full charge.
4 volts sounds like the output of the small roof mounted solar panel inside a building .
The solar panel is wired to the front Newmar fuse panel ; mine is behind the black plexiglass panel to the right of the throttle pedal , I don't know if your 98 would be the same ; protected by a 5 amp fuse marked " Solar " remove the fuse and see if the voltage disappears.

Plexiglass panel is hinged at the bottom and Velcroed at the top .
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Old 07-19-2022, 10:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccole View Post
With the RV plugged in, I do have house lights and the fridge is operating. But as soon as I unplug from the wall, everything is 100% dead. Nothing at all. So, I am really confused. What or where should I even begin to sort this out? Why is the house lights dead when I unplug from the wall? Shouldn't the house batteries be keeping them on? Again, I apologize. These things are switches, relays, convertors and all kinds of things I have never had to mess with before.
Back to your original post , "With the RV plugged in " the lights work , this is a sign that the convertor is operational

Now what we have to look at is the condition of the coach batteries as they relate to the BIRD system operation .
Have you checked the electrolyte level in the coach batteries and charged and load tested them ?
There is a logic to the BIRD system that will not allow the converter to charge the chassis batteries if the converter isn't able to charge the coach batteries to above 13.1 volts .
So next step is proper testing of the coach batteries .
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Old 08-03-2022, 10:15 PM   #13
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Thumbs up

I just wanted to say thank you for all of the helpful insight in my battery/charging issue. What a great resource you folks have been assisting our family. I do believe I have the problem corrected. I think there was a couple of issues that contributed to my problem. Mostly was the house batteries weren't above 13.1 volts, therefore the BIRD system wasn't charging the chassis batteries. And, I think other possible considerations was the 100 ft 110v extension cord, the extreme heat in our storage building, fridge being left on and some corrosion issues. Again, thank you for the help. You guys are great.
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