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Old 10-14-2009, 09:08 PM   #1
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Location: Upper Mich, but I move around
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Coachman - House Battery Charging

I have a 1999 Coachman SportsCoach on a Freightliner chassis with the Cummins 5.9 ISB engine which I've had for about eighteen months. The Optima house batteries have never charged from the engine alternator but the Optima chassis batteries charge just fine. The house batteries charge only when plugged into shore power or when running the generator. Is this normal or do I have a failure of sorts? I'd hate to start chasing something if this is the way the thing was built.

If this is a normal condition, then I will probably install a combiner - -any experience or recommendations as to which make and model might be appropriate?

Thanks in advance for your help. Ken B

1999 Coachman Sports Coach 38
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:23 PM   #2
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Also, the engine/chassis batteries will not charge when using shore power or when using the generator. I spent last winter at a single campground in Florida and found they will run down after a few weeks when hooked to shore power. Is this normal Freightliner electrical operation?

Again, TIA. Ken B

1999 Coachman Sports Coach 38
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Old 10-15-2009, 04:26 AM   #3
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Probably has to do more with Coachman design than Freightliner.
I recently purchased a 2006 Winnebago pusher and learned the hardway that my engine battery did not recharge when running the generator, by design. The dual action of the shore power charger/inverter does so, but not the generator: surprise!
There's a lot of options to compensate; to start with, using a small 110 ac charger plugged into either generator or shore power can charge anything you want.
I've been reading these forums for a year now and everyone seems to trip across battery and/or charging issues eventually.
Jay & Teresa
Capt. (Ret) USAF/MiANG
2013 Itasca Navion; Toad: Jeep Liberty
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Old 10-16-2009, 07:55 PM   #4
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Not a Freightliner issue at all. Coachman designed the charging systems, other than charging the engine (chassis) battery from the engine alternator.

Coachman probably provided a battery isolator that allows charging of the house battery via the engine alternator and there may be a problem with the isolator or an inline fuse. You may or may not have a house charging system that also charges the chassis battery - some coach makers provide it and others do not. Perhaps another Coachman owner can help with that.

I'm moving this post to the Forest River Owners forum (Coachman is now a Forest River brand) in hopes that somebody there can help.
Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition and several other RVs
Home is West Palm Beach, FL
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:01 AM   #5
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My Damon Ultrasport has an interconnect between house and chassis batteries that connects them when one is being charged and it reaches a voltage of 13.4V as I recall. If the alternator is charging the chassis batteries and they reach 13.4V the house batteries are then connected so they can charge. If the house batteries are being charged by the converter the same process connects the chassis batteries when the house batteries reach 13.4V. If you have the interconnect which is a relay it will be located near the house or chassis batteries since heavy gauge wires are used for the charging. Look for it. You can install one if it isn't there. I find it to be very handy and was lucky Damon included it.
Jim Walker
N Virginia
2014 Palazzo 33.2
Cummins 6.7 ISB, Allison 2100 6 Speed
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:20 PM   #6
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Thanks to all who replied. I've been asking around and everyone says the house batteries should be charging when the engine is running so I probably have something wrong here. Like RV Roamer Gary says, chances are it is an isolater or a fuse. Any thoughts on what kind/size isolater I should be looking at? The alternator is a Delco Remy unit that suposedly has 175 amp output so I'd think the isolator must be sized accordingly? Any experience or advice what brands might be the best value? It's going to be a Florida project - just too cold here in upper Michigan.

1999 Coachman Sports Coach 38
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