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Old 06-20-2018, 09:42 AM   #29
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I don't know if the BigBoy and Trombetta are interchangeable, but the B.I.R.D. unit does something tricky with the activation voltage that may not work with a Trombetta - both the B.I.R.D. and BigBoy are made by Intellitec.
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Old 06-20-2018, 09:49 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by distaff View Post
I don't know if the BigBoy and Trombetta are interchangeable, but the B.I.R.D. unit does something tricky with the activation voltage that may not work with a Trombetta - both the B.I.R.D. and BigBoy are made by Intellitec.
good point
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Old 06-20-2018, 09:55 AM   #31
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Here is a 600 amp model. Comes with a BIRD type control.

https://www.yandina.com/c600Info.htm
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Old 06-20-2018, 06:50 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Here is a 600 amp model. Comes with a BIRD type control.

https://www.yandina.com/c600Info.htm
For $170 and 500 amps pretty neat. Not sure you could trick it into being a boost switch.
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Old 06-20-2018, 07:14 PM   #33
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For $170 and 500 amps pretty neat. Not sure you could trick it into being a boost switch.
It lists, as a feature, remote " ON " for combining battery banks for starting.
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Old 06-20-2018, 08:07 PM   #34
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I posted this a long time ago. These rv's are showflakes so do not assume I mean this applies to every situation. I am aware of lots of variations. If this helps anyone, enjoy the reading. There are hundreds of pages on Birds, Bi-directional relays, Trombettas, Big boys. Just put any or all of those words in the little green google box above and you will have a weekend or reading.

First let’s clear up the "Big Boy" question. It is like calling all tissues Kleenex.

To be specific there are several variations of the "Big Boy" solenoid. The solenoid is a very simple electric switch controlled by a 12-volt source. See, even the Big Boy is not always called that. As an electronic tech I will refer to it as the relay. How's that for confusion.

So, Big Boy, Solenoid, Relay, and often because of the mfgr of these they are called Trombetta relays.

How these relays are activated can be complex or as simple as sending 12 volts and ground to them.

You will notice on your relay in the battery compartment that there are two wires. One is likely purple. In any case one is ground and the other is switched 12 volts. The purple wire is the switched voltage in most cases.

Again, 12 volts is sent to the purple wire and the big relay goes clunk and makes contact between the large wires thus combining the batteries.

That relay under normal working conditions will get very warm or even hot to the touch if it runs for several hours. For example, if things are working properly and you are using shoreline it will be working 24/7 and get hot to the touch. This is normal.

So, the heart of the system is that relay on the back being controlled by 12 volts. How and where that 12-volt control comes from can be the tricky part to understand...

We will get to the BIRD part shortly.

First, if the engine is running and after a few minutes of warming up and the grid heater stops loading down the battery voltage on the chassis batteries should rise enough to engage the BIRD device and send the 12 volts to the relay. This is the “Delay” part of the bird. It would not make sense to combine the batteries without the alternator having brought up chassis batteries a bit.

So, let’s take the situation where your chassis batteries have been run down for some reason. You left the radio on for two days etc.

Pressing and holding the Aux start button bypasses the fancy “BIRD” circuitry and sends 12 volts directly to the relay in the battery compartment. This combines the battery banks just as a set of jumper cables would.

Part 1:














Part 2.

Now that we understand how the relay functions let’s begin managing when it is turned on. We already discussed how the “Aux” start button controls it. That is a manual function and can easily be tested by listening to the relay as someone presses the button. If no clunk is heard, then the relay is most likely already activated. To test this without a meter, simply remove the purple wire. Wear some gloves because there will be a tiny static like discharge that can surprise you. If you have a meter you can measure the voltage on the little terminals. You can also carefully feel the relay to see if it is warm or hot IF it has been engaged for some time.

Here is how the Bi-Directional Relay Delay functions to control that purple wire.

Keep in mind the “DELAY” part as you are troubleshooting. It can take a couple of minutes for it to activate. No sense in combining batteries if the first bank being charged is not up enough.

Parked with nothing running and no shoreline the bird is asleep. No combining. However, if you have solar that is indeed a charging source and may be enough to activate the bird.

Now you plug into shoreline. The little circuit board in the front run panel wakes up and sees that your converter is doing a fine job of charging the coach batteries. The converter is connected directly to them via cutoff switches and fuses or circuit breakers. The BIRD now sends voltage to the relay and engages it, thus combining the batteries.

Time to leave, shoreline is disconnected so the BIRD drops out the control voltage. You fire up the big engine and in a couple of minutes the BIRD sees a nice alternator doing its thing. Time to send voltage to the relay again.

We have just discussed the BI-directional part of the BIRD. This demonstrates how it can work from one set of battery banks to the other depending on which one is getting the charge.

Arriving at your favorite boon docking place you decide to fire up the generator to run some heavy loads. This generator is the same thing as having shoreline power, so it works as described before.

So, you spend the weekend without the generator running anymore and enjoy the quiet along with
some tv and perhaps running the microwave on the inverter. Inverter of course not the converter. They can be combined in one box and I can address that more if needed. Inverters are real battery hogs so now you have a very low set of batteries.

You are packed, and the big engine is started, thus providing a big enough voltage to activate the BIRD. You are now charging 6 batteries or more and the alternator is straining. This is rough on the alternator, so you follow the manufacture and my advice and fire up the generator so the “converter” comes alive and supplies voltage to the dead batteries.

At this stage you have two sources of charging voltage. The converter via the generator, and the alternator. This poses a bit of an issue with the alternator and can cause it to show a fault. However, the BIRD is rather smart and knows the engine is running along with the generator. With these two competing charging sources it simply turns the Relay off and allows each battery bank to be charged separately.

Now that you understand how it works, here is a scenario that could get you home if your alternator dies. Just start the generator and prop the AUX button up so it forces the banks to combine. Since your alternator is offline there will not be any conflicts. This will easily get you any distance you wish to travel.

Of course, you could put a small jumper from 12 volts to the purple wire and do the same without pushing the button.

Now you understand how, when, and why the relay is activated. What you don’t know is if it is actually working. The relay is a very simple device inside. It is a magnet that pulls a contact across the two large wires connected to it. Very often these contacts burn and fail to make contact. This can be intermittent and drive a technician crazy.

If the relay is activated there is either a charging source or the AUX button is being held down. When it is activated it is like placing a nail across the two large terminals. So you should see the exact same voltage on each of the large terminals and at the batteries. If you do not see the exact same voltage across the large terminals, then the relay is bad.

This can be a bit tricky if both banks of batteries have been fully charged and the relay is making contact but a poor one. You will see the same voltage on each large terminal and think the relay is ok. You need to run one bank down a bit so there will be lots of current trying to charge for an accurate assessment.

If you are having one bank of batteries low after having a charging source for several hours and you find voltage on the purple wire then the relay is bad.,

These relays are a known source of problem and I had a heck of a time understanding how the system works. I am a senior certified electronic tech and extremely qualified to work on such a simple system as long as I know how it is supposed to function. I did not have that information in 2008.

Replacing the relay is easy and cheap as things go on these things. Be sure to turn both battery banks off and I would highly recommend removing the negative leads of each bank for additional safety. You can weld with these battery cables so do be careful.

Once you replace the relay do yourself and us a favor by taking it apart and posting pictures of the insides.

The actual BIRD control board is a common failure item too but has become difficult to source. I found one on e-bay.

Don’t despair if that is the problem because there are plenty of other solutions available.

There is another relay that has nothing to do with the charging system but gives plenty of problems. It is the “Salesman” switch/relay. It is the relay controlled by the switch by the door or nearby. The relay is in the box up front near the BIRD board. The BIRD board is a small board. The relay is on the bottom left.
This thing controls lots of functions and can go bad anytime. Simply bypassing it with a jumper is easy and permanent fix if it fails.

Whew. Sure glad I saved this. I wouldn't have the energy to do it again.
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Old 06-20-2018, 08:20 PM   #35
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YC1, that is a great write up! I have to read that a few more times!
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:41 PM   #36
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Myron,

I'm not sure I understand, could you try saying that in different words?

Ok, kidding aside, I do disagree with conflating the BigBoy and B.I.R.D. both made by Intellitec, with any other cross charging system. Personally I pretty much limit my advise to this specific system since it is what I have and I've spent many hours on it.

To my knowledge there are several part numbers for the Intellitec BigBoy but there are only two types of BigBoy. The thing you need to pay attention to is that our coaches use the NON-LATCHING version. The B.I.R.D. system from Intellitec does not work with the latching BigBoy.

Even when you are talking about a B.I.R.D. and BigBoy there can be differences in the implementation - on my coach I have a cheap relay between the Boost switch and B.I.R.D. and the BigBoy. It combines the two signals into one, and mine failed at one point. Symptoms were no cross charging AND the boost switch didn't work. I assumed it was the BigBoy at first, but a little testing showed it wasn't getting an activation voltage (tech documents and a multimeter are my friends).

There is also the inverter, and it can cause issues. In my case the battery temp sensor connected to the inverter went bad and sent very high temp signals. It meant that the inverter would cycle through bulk, absorb, and finally settle in float charging. To avoid boiling the batteries it lowered the float charging level to around 12.6 volts, not enough to trigger the B.I.R.D. and charge the starter batteries.

This problem was tricky because it only caused a discharge of the starter batteries on shore power. On generator power you cycle through bulk, absorb, and float several times a day, and the starters will charge when the inverter is in bulk or absorb mode.

Theses systems are complicated, and it is very important we don't conflate BigBoy with alls charging systems. Before I offer help I always make sure the OP has been specific, and that I can actually offer useful insights. Unlike you, I'm not a trained tech and I can only comment on things I've seen.
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Old 06-21-2018, 01:20 AM   #37
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I too have had the start battery fail to charge due to same situation as Distaff's. Seems to only happen when stored and plugged in at home. I chased that one for a year.

Now I have a $15 Battery Tender WiFi voltage monitor #081-0172 from AutoZone. (Amazon $19.99) It comes with an Android/iPhone app. Click on the app and see the voltage, to 2 decimal places.

Myron, the BIRD on mine and many others uses a less than 12 volts to hold the coil in. But I think you know such and didn’t want to throw it into the mix with your "essay." Using a RMS meter, I see that the BIRD drops to 3.6-4.0 hold in volts. In your scenario above, I don’t know how long the coil would last with battery voltage applied. distaff referenced such in post #21.

And to complicate matters, or maybe elaborate, on the BIRD, is the solar/boondocking issue. When I am camp in the National Forest, I run off my batteries from sundown to sunup. In the morning when the solar fires up, I have deep cycle batteries at 70% state of charge and starting batteries pretty close to full charge. When the BIRD kicks on I have 14.8v thrown at the staring battery, YUK. I installed a inside switch and a relay by the BIRD to turn it off when charging deep cycle batteries. If I want to top off my starting batteries when finished with deep cycles, I turn the switch back on. But, I may be in a situation where voltage isn’t high enough to switch on the BIRD to energize the Big Boy. The BIRD just emits the 3.7 hold in voltage, not enough to engage the contacts. Then I just push the dash battery boost switch and hear the Big Boy clunk and close the contacts

Using the boost switch takes care of the scenario that both distaff and I had when the BIRD cut the voltage to the Big Boy and then never saw sufficient charging voltage to send the battery voltage to re-engage it.

So, this is a good test for those that have a BIRD/Big Boy system and wind up with discharged starting batteries. Hit the boost switch and listen for the clunk.
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Old 06-21-2018, 02:30 AM   #38
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Repairing a Big Boy

On our 1994 Signature I installed a Blue Sea ML-ACR. https://www.bluesea.com/products/762..._-_12V_DC_500A.

It replaced the diode based battery isolator and the large battery boost relay and was a trouble free solution with an automatic mode to decide when to connect the batteries and a manual remote switch to manually connect the batteries or disconnect the batteries. It operated flawlessly for the 12 months we had it installed before we sold the motorhome.

Now that we have a 2005 Signature, we have a BIRD/Big Boy setup. We have not had any issues in the 12 months we have owned this motorhome, but at the first sign of issues, I am replacing the BIRD/Big Boy with the ML-ACR.

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Old 06-21-2018, 05:03 AM   #39
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Awesome job on that explanation, Myron!



Sure wish you had written some of my college-days EE texts. Might have had more time to chase girls insteada study .
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Old 06-21-2018, 11:18 AM   #40
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Happycarz, does your battery compartment look something like this?

Zoom in and look at the large Trombetta mounted on the back.

This is a very common failure item so is the device that controls it. They can be intermittent and drive you crazy by sometimes charging the engine batteries and sometimes not.

As for my post, yes it is more specific to my unit and the monster "big boys" solenoids are often run by a circuit that drops the control voltage once energized.

The one in the picture is driven by a small circuit board in the compartment below the driver.

That thing gets blistering hot to the touch. It took me a long time to diagram the setup on my rv without schematics which I have had now for many years.

The purple wire is the control wire.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Battery Compartment.pdf (369.0 KB, 46 views)
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Old 06-21-2018, 08:55 PM   #41
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On our 1994 Signature I installed a Blue Sea ML-ACR. https://www.bluesea.com/products/762..._-_12V_DC_500A.

It replaced the diode based battery isolator and the large battery boost relay and was a trouble free solution with an automatic mode to decide when to connect the batteries and a manual remote switch to manually connect the batteries or disconnect the batteries. It operated flawlessly for the 12 months we had it installed before we sold the motorhome.

Now that we have a 2005 Signature, we have a BIRD/Big Boy setup. We have not had any issues in the 12 months we have owned this motorhome, but at the first sign of issues, I am replacing the BIRD/Big Boy with the ML-ACR.

Paul
Like Paul, I have replaced my solid-state isolator, Big Boy, and Lambert charger with the Blue Sea ML-ACR. Those of you with marine experience know the reputation of Blue Sea. This simple all-in-one device replaces all iterations of “multiple battery bank chargers/isolators”. It does so with one device that is rated for more amperage than any Big Boy I’ve seen.

It has a VISUAL unmistakable indicator on the device itself that shows whether the two battery banks are combined or not. It allows a manual override to force it to connect or isolate the battery banks. It provides an optional remote control that fits into the same slot as the Carling “Battery Boost” switch in the cockpit.

It has integrated electronics to combine the two battery banks any time a voltage is sensed as “high enough” to be a “charging source”. So, it combines both battery banks anytime the engine alternator voltage is high enough to charge the batteries OR when you are plugged into shore power. When you kill the engine, in a short time the battery voltage drops below “charging level” and the ML-ACR separates the two battery banks unless you are running the genny or plugged into a park pedestal.

The device is inexpensive (got mine for about $200). That is cheap enough that I carry a spare for trouble-shooting purposes. But perhaps the best endorsement for the quality of the device is Blue Sea’s warranty—“We stand behind this device for as long as you own it.”---Can’t beat that.

Mine has operated flawlessly for about a year, and 15,000 miles. Although my coach is an older one (2000 Dynasty), I have friends who have experienced problems with BIRD-type devices. If they asked me to help, I would simply replace all that failure-prone, high-priced, overly complicated equipment with the Blue Sea ML-ACR.
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:38 PM   #42
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Based on what I have read on this and other threads, next time my B.I.R.D./BigBoy combo give me some grief I'll change over to the Bluesea set up.
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