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Old 08-06-2011, 06:52 AM   #1
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Workhorse Chassis Owner
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Location: Panama City, FL
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Chassis Battery Discharging....

My Motor Home:

Winnebago Brave (2004) 32V on a Workhorse W20 w/ GM 8.1. Approx 16K miles. Purchased used by me in Jan, 2008.

The Problem:

My chassis battery won't keep a charge. When a VOM, set to a 10A reading, is placed in series in the negative battery cable and everything I can find turned off, I have been getting a reading of around 3A. This reading isn't exact every time I take it with different meters and does seem to change but stays in the 2.2 to 3.3 amp range. I take the readings by removing the neg battery cable and hooking the VOM leads between the neg battery post and the end of the cable.

The History:

I have owned my Brave for a little over 3.5 years and replaced the original battery immediately after buying the motor home in Jan of 2008 as a precautionary measure. Our motor home spends too much time at our home and not on the road but even after a few weeks of sitting, has always cranked except for a couple of times when the starting battery had to be charged and was replaced after a load test on the newly charged battery showed it to be defective.

I had a dash air conditioner problem back in June. It was diagnosed as a bad compressor and the compressor and dryer were replaced and the system evacuated and recharged. I fractured my knee on the day I brought it home (long story (RV related) I might share one day) and was unable to even get up into the MH for a few weeks. My wife went out to start and run it about 2 or 3 weeks after bringing it home and it wouldn't start. Checked the chassis battery and it was discharged. This battery was new in Dec 2010. Charged it and it went down again in less than a week. Tested it on my load tester and it showed bad so I got Sam's to replace it with a new one in mid July. This newest battery was also drawn down to a discharged state within a few that is when I started looking for an amp draw on the battery. Talked with the air conditioning and of course they deny that they could have done ANYTHING to cause the problem. If I can't find the problem over the weekend I will be down there on Monday or Tues to have an in person discussion with them.

I have, with an amp meter in the negative line, pulled every fuse I can find on the coach without getting the 2-3 amp draw to go away. I can understand a slight draw or a few miliamps due to the engine computers, radio (if set on chassis and not house battery), etc but not 2-3 amps.


Does ANYONE have any thoughts or suggestions as to how to proceed with finding this battery drain? Anything I have overlooked?
I am headed out in a bit to buy a new meter to double check the amp readings and hope I get an inspiration as to a solution by then.

Right now I am most interested in solving this amp draw problem and not in adding things such as a Battery Tender, Trik-L-Start, disconnect switch, etc. While I can see the benefit of such devices and may add one later, I feel like I do need to correct the problem instead of compensating for it.

Capt Joe
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2004 Winnebago Brave 32v on W20 w/8.1L and Allison
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:15 AM   #2
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First off, you don't say whether this is a NEW problem that started recently or an OLD problem you have had since owning the coach. The answer makes a big difference in where to start troubleshooting.

Repairing the Dash A/C system, I highly doubt whether this repair had changed anything but need more information as to exactly when you first noticed your chassis battery not holding a full charge.

Dr4Film ----- Richard.
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:42 AM   #3
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Hi Richard,

This is a new problem that has just started since I got it back from the air conditioning repair. I thought I had mentioned in my original post that I had never had the bad battery/failure to crank except for a couple of bad batteries.

I will probably be going by the air conditioning shop early next week to get them to double check their connections, etc. Also hope to try to find out exactly how they went about the repair to see if there could be a crimped/damaged wire or something. They had to remove the dog house and I have seen tech lay a piece of carpet over the engine so they can sit on it while working...something like that could cause a wiring problem (IMO) at least give me a start as to where to look.

It looks like it is going to be a long process to find the guilty component....especially still having to limp around using a crutch and a brace on my left leg. Makes it a bit more difficult and slow to get up/down and crawl around under your MH....

Thanks for your reply. Hope you will have some ideas for me.
Capt Joe

2004 Winnebago Brave 32v on W20 w/8.1L and Allison
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Old 08-06-2011, 08:02 AM   #4
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If you follow your positive battery cable to it's first connection, there should be several smaller wires bolted up to that connection. (Fusible links) After taking that connection apart, put your meter between the main cable and those smaller ring terminals. Hopefully just one of those will have a draw on it and you will be able to begin isolating your problem from there. Having or getting a chassis wiring diagram would be extremely helpful at that point..
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:50 PM   #5
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Capt Joe,
In order to troubleshoot a problem of this nature you will need the wiring diagrams for both the chassis and the coach (portion Winnebago built).

The Winnebago drawings for your rig are located here:
Table of Contents

Not sure if Workhorse provides their diagrams but the first step would be to register your chassis at the workhorse site: Login From there I suspect you access the Engineering Documents under the service menu tab.

Find the chassis battery on the Workhorse drawing then, with the amp metere connected, start disconnecting plugs that lead from the positive battery terminal until the drain is removed. Reconnect the plug then go follow the drawings back to the source disconnecting/reconnecting as you go. You basically isolate the offending part by back tracking to the source. You may have to jump back and forth between Workhorse and Winnebago drawings.

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Old 08-07-2011, 09:07 AM   #6
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Just a thought
My Kiwi steps were powered directly from the Chassis battery. Not sure what but they draw a few milli amps plus the step lamp, which can draw as much as a few amps (changed mine to an LED). I changed the 12Vdc power connection to the other side of the latching battery disconnect relay, now when the battery is turned off it is really OFF.
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:21 PM   #7
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Some of my 2 cents on the issue. As it started with the AC repair, it is only prudent to start there as a causing factor. The big question is did they make ANY modifications on power connections. Did they pull power off continuous hot when it should have been off an ignition switch on position?
Had a rear view camera installed a few months age, afterwards the chassis battery would go dead in a few days. Power was pulled from a continuous hot supply instead of an ignition on supply. Even though the monitor was off, power was sill being supplied to the camera. Very small draw but enough to kill the battery in a few days.

Good luck, please let us know what the final resolution is!

Greg, Karen and the kids (Lab, Retriever, and 2 generally strange cats).
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Old 09-12-2011, 11:20 PM   #8
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Well, after a lot of trials and tribulations, I am fairly certain that I have solved my problem. A couple of things had occurred that helped to lead me to the solution.

We went down to Port St Joe last week to stay at the state park for a few days and I had found, at times, the blower for the dash AC/Heat was running while the engine was shut down and the ignition turned off with the key removed. The AC repair people, actually the lady at the desk, had tried to insist that they ALL did that.....yeah, right.... Then after I had gotten set up, I looked at the HWH panel and after the jacks had been extended and the panel turned off with the key removed from the ignition, the 4 red lights on the panel were still lit up. I started looking for a loose connection, pinched wire, etc and found when I raised the dash (mine is hinged across the rear so you can pick up the instrument panel to get to the wiring) the lights went out. Tried the same with the blower motor and it would do the same. When the dash was lowered again, the lights went back on and the blower blew....

That, of course, spurred me on to look in greater detail for a short or something...which is no easy thing in that mess or wires, hoses, air vents, etc, etc but I finally, this morning, was successful in finding up under a dash air vent hose and a bunch of wiring bundles, a plug with 3, approx #10 wires coming out of the top that was bent over with the number 3 wire laying over the other 2 and being pressed down by a wire bundle when the dash was closed. This wire had actually rubbed the other two down to bright copper wires being exposed. The number 3 wire had a small place where it had broken insulation too. I couldn't find any replacement ends to crimp on so I had to temporarily use some real good thick tape to seal up the wires and also rerouted them so they no longer rub or get bent over. Checked the amp draw and saw a reading of about .18 amps.....later I did notice the antenna power booster was on as was the radio still switched over from the house batteries to chassis so I imagine I can get that down a bit more without much problem.

Thanks for all the help and ideas helping me with this problem. I just wanted to let everyone know how it turned out.
Capt Joe

2004 Winnebago Brave 32v on W20 w/8.1L and Allison
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Old 09-13-2011, 09:40 PM   #9
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Another happy ending.............great work...........I am looking for a small amp draw on my house batteries also...............and I hope your knee gets better...............ronspradley
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battery, chassis

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