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Old 07-04-2020, 09:09 PM   #1
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Difficult Electrical Issues

Hi everyone, I hope I have this post in the correct place, but I'm new so I hope I have this in the correct place.

I recently bought a 92 Winnebago Elante 37RQ, it's got the P30 chassis with a 30 amp hookup.

It made it home without any troubles and I have been able to take it out for short trips here and there, but a few months back, my nephew decided to climb in and may have been playing with some switches without my knowing. Shortly after, but it could be coincidence, the electrical system started acting up.

Problems:

key off aux batteries off, parking lamps on - midship markers dimly lit, all other exterior lights illuminate fully, one fluorescent tube on the ceiling light is dimly lit, the parking brake indication lights up, the aux battery connected light lights up, low pressure light for air suspension dimly lit.

marker lights remain off for the following.
Key off, aux battery on - low pressure indicator for air suspension dimly lit, the midship markers on the exterior are fully illuminated, but no other marker lights are on, power steps have power when door is closed, but when door is opened they have no power.

key on, engine off, aux battery off - ceiling light is dimly lit (one fluorescent tube), power step is receiving 4.67 volts, no voltage to other lights in the coach, the midship marker lights are dimly lit as well.

key on engine on, aux off - ceiling lamp dimly lit, midship markers dimly lit, same problems with steps and other issues.

key on engine on, aux battery on - midship marker lights at full intensity, ceiling lights fully on for both tubes, low pressure light on - no compressor running like it did 4 months ago. however, if I turn on the parking lamps or headlights the midship marker lights dim to half the power and the other marker lights are at full intensity.

These are a few of the problems I have been having.

I decided to change out the aux battery switch (the switch was pretty soft on the contacts), changed out the solenoid, and isolator relay on the driver firewall.

It is the 30 amp system, but I have no place to hook up for shore power, but I have been taking it for short drives to keep the batteries charged or near to charged.

the batteries have 12.9, 12.4v on most batteries, but I have one that is 11.9 so I don't know if that could be part of the problem.

I have been trying to get an electrician out to install a 30 amp service to plug in the rv and hopefully keep the batteries charged, but with the outbreaks most of the electricians seem to be reluctant to commit to anything.

I plan to check some grounds on the rv tomorrow and see if I can locate any circuits with possible shorts.

I'd be grateful for any advice or suggestions on what to try or if you have some ideas on what could be a possible cause I'd truly appreciate it since I have to get the rv ready for an important trip coming up in the near future.

I do have the generator onboard, but I'm too nervous to start it until I figure out the electrical issue in case it could be a fire hazard. Also, I don't even know if it's working or if the batteries will be charged from it.

Once again, thank you for any advice!!
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Old 07-04-2020, 09:32 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forum! I hope you find the answers you are looking for, there's lot's of experienced people here, unfortunately, I'm not one of them. I can tell you that the one battery at 11.9 volts is dead, and is probably dragging the others down with it, as a group.
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Old 07-05-2020, 12:04 AM   #3
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I would suspect ground issues. Loss of a good ground will cause devices to ground through other devices on the circuit causing all sorts of strange operation. This can be tested with a volt drop test on the ground side of affected circuits.
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Old 07-07-2020, 11:43 AM   #4
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Thank you for the replies and the kind welcome.

I removed all the batteries and found 2 additional batteries which a previous owner must have installed possibly for more storage on the coach or on the chassis, but I have not been able to determine that just yet.

I tried to do a continuity test, but my meter was saying everything had a short even the air itself with no leads attached... I'm waiting on a new voltmeter since my other meter is probably in desperate need of an overhaul, but once it arrives I will try the continuity test again

the 2 added batteries were down to 11.6/11.7 volts, but slightly smaller storage than the other 3 standard batteries so the onboard charger must have only been charging to match the smaller storage capacity. I'll try to decide what to do with them later, but they seemed to work for the past several months. I'm also suspecting that the onboard charger is going bad since it was still the batteries were fully charged even on the 11.6v battery after all cables were removed. Perhaps the low power wasn't enough to fully isolate the coach and chassis.

Also, one puzzling thing was that the 2 batteries have terminals which seem to be heading towards the rear of the coach from the under the passenger floorpan, but then there are 12g wires from each terminal (1+ and 1- in the series) to the chassis battery as well.

I can't imagine why it would be tied into 2 different points, so should I remove the two 12g wires from the link between the chassis battery and these unknown batteries?

so far only 2 batteries are fully charged, it's about a full day for each battery to charge so it will take me another 3 days at this rate, but I hope once I install them the electrical issues will be gone.
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Old 07-07-2020, 12:09 PM   #5
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First off, are you connecting the 30amp cord to a house outlet (with an adapter) so the converter will supply charging amps when parked?
Then I am not understanding the 12ga wires running to the chassis battery? These would burn up the first time you start the engine, as it would still try to draw a portion of starter current from those batteries.
But the odd operation of the lights does point to a bad ground connection somewhere. Cleaning all the battery connections is a good start.
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Old 07-09-2020, 06:00 PM   #6
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FWIW over 80% of all 12V issues are the result of a poor/missing ground. When one circuit has a poor/missing ground the electricity will seek the best ground source. This may results in dim lights on the first circuit with bad ground, and regular lights on other circuits .
To check for a poor/missing ground, temporarily run a separate ground wire from said circuit directly to the battery ground terminal.
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Old 07-09-2020, 06:04 PM   #7
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I agree you have a ground isssue.
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Old 07-09-2020, 07:36 PM   #8
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Your best bet would be to remove and clean all the ground connections you can find. There should also be a cable that goes from the motor to the frame . Check the connections from the converter and fuse panel as well.
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Old 07-10-2020, 09:26 AM   #9
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Good morning and welcome to the forum,

Here is one of the most important things you need to know: an RV outlet is 30 amp 120 volt. It looks almost exactly like a 3 wire welder outlet or an older dryer outlet. Both of those are 240 volts! If you get an electrician to wire up an outlet, they will probably wire it wrong and put 240 volts into your system, frying everything! The outlet must be 120 VAC for your 30 amp service.

Now, if you are wiring up your garage or back yard, you should really wire the outlet with the 4 wire 240 VAC that most RV parks use. That's the same as a modern 4 wire dryer connection. Use a "dog bone" adapter to connect the 3 wire plug to the 4 wire outlet, and you're done.

For the short term you may be able to reach your dryer outlet from wherever you are now parked. The dog bone will allow you to plug into that.

With regard to the batteries, I agree, the other comments here are correct, you will need to check for corroded connections, bad grounds, loose wires and anything else that looks iffy. Batteries are a bit costly, but relatively cheap. I suggest you track down the grounds/loose/wires/corrosion problems first and then get the batteries fully charged. Any that don't come up to correct level should be replaced.

Running the generator should allow you to charge the batteries from the converter/charger. If that doesn't work you will need to check out the converter. If you have been using the generator, it should still be safe to use. It's very unlikely that a kid playing with dashboard switches could have messed that up.

OK, you have things to think about and check out. Good luck and keep in touch.

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Old 07-11-2020, 07:40 AM   #10
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Thank you for the replies!!

Regarding the shore power hookup, I still have no hookup available and can't locate any electrician willing to do the job - it's a large yard and we have many trees around. The house has no more space available in the breaker box for an additional breaker, nor does the main service breaker box. One of them will have to be swapped out with a larger box and the service box happens to be located on the opposite side of the house which would mean a conduit run maybe 280' to the spot where the rv is located.

I'm not opposed to renting a ditch witch or other trencher and doing the work myself, but I doubt my abilities to do the work right and I have no idea what codes I'd have to follow for the city and all. It's a small city with aspirations to be the next major city in the country so the have several rules pertaining to every little detail.

The easiest route from what I was told would be having the power company come out and install a second meter at the opposite side of the property, but to me sounds like a costly undertaking so I may just have to wait until I can find some affordable company to do the job or just make do with the generator once I get the electrical issues fixed and make provisions for it at the next property in the future.

I did manage to get all 5 of the batteries around 12.8 volts to continue troubleshooting, but once I manage to get the electrical issues sorted out I can see if they will charge further. I'm still puzzled why the rv shipped with 3 batteries, but mine has 5 installed.

I did leave off the two 12g wires that were tied in to the automotive battery and removed the dead trickle charger for the rv. I'll have to add a new one to my shopping list.

I'll start it up and move it onto the street today so I can use a creeper to move about under the rv to check and clean all the grounds and hopefully find what could be shorting out or if any wires got snagged on something.

Thank you once again for the advice, I do appreciate it and I'll let you guys know if I find anything today.
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