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Electric anomaly at the Allegan County Fairgrounds
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Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 8/16
Picture of Kevin
posted
Barb and Lou, Thanks, for putting the meeting of the minds group together. Barth minds were open for sharing a wide range of information. Ideas, input, and results is what Barth members are all about.

I did not consider the electric input that Pgh. Pirate (Ted) mentioned until Lou sent me the Private message. Ted if you can remember, exactly what your finding was, please refresh our memories on this electrical gremlin.

The electrical problem I had with dead chassis batteries was a first time for my Barth. I am not sure if my chassis batteries could have anything to do with your findings Ted.

In my quest to figure this out I have spoke with Steve VW. We agreed isolating the chassis batteries after charging them was one thing to do. I will check them collectively this weekend. I have switched the coach chassis batteries to the off position near the rear run box. L78 Steve has told me this switch breaks the circuit to the chassis. While this does not separate the two 8D batteries it appears to disconnect them entirely from the chassis. I did this before removing the terminal connections. Removing the actual connections is the next step.
Besides L78 steve there is Ham Radio HF Mobile, who I would specifically like to enlist in the thought process here. All members with having electrical knowledge please post or call me.
Some other information will be useful to solve this electrical problem.
1. Batteries are 5 years old and have never gone dead before.
2. The solenoid to attach the batteries for auxiliary start was not working, per Steve VW
3. We jumped the solenoid with 6 gauge jumpers after charging about 15 minutes with a standard 6 amp car charger.
4. That night I had to charge the batteries for about an hour to get the chassis batteries to start the Barth.
5. After four days at home they were low enough to not crank the Caterpillar over.
6. A charge brings the batteries to 12.5 volts.
 
Posts: 2562 | Location: Northeast , Ohio | Member Since: 07-29-2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 12/15
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I use a portable surge protector which is plugged directly into the site's outlet, and into which my coach's electrical cord plugs into. A series of LED lights indicate whether a problem exists with the site's wiring. The LED's indicated an "open neutral" condition existed. I used the site's electricity and experienced no ill affects, to my knowledge.


'92 Breakaway
Diesel Pusher, Cummins 190hp,
No Modifications
Allison AT542
Floor Plan 30-BS-11B
9205-3798-30BS11B
 
Posts: 176 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Member Since: 11-07-2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good morning, all;

Kevin, thank you for "rattling my cage" and waking me up to the fact that I have not been here in a while.

Kevin, also, that last comment about being able to bring the battery up to only 12.6 VDC is something that bothers me. That is the normal "resting voltage" for a fully charged lead/lead-dioxide/sulfuric acid electrolyte battery with no charge or load on it. On charge, you should see at least 13.6 VDC or up to about 14.4 VDC. The only time you should see anything higher than that is when the battery is going through an infrequent short duration "equalizing charge" when it will be around 15.0 to 15.5 VDC. If you are only getting up to 12.6 VDC on charge with that battery, there is a problem somewhere.

Look at the 120 VAC power going to the battery charger with an AC voltmeter. If it is low, that will have the effect of a lower output voltage also.

And it is also possible that the voltmeter is not in calibration. Check with another meter.

Finally, there may be a problem with the battery itself. One thought is taking the battery to a shop for a load test. In any case, the "on-charge voltage" for the battery should be higher than just 12.6 VDC.

Ted, Pgh Pirate, good morning also. I am impressed with people who can closely relate to a sports team. I was never very good with any team sport involving a moving ball. Anyway, you said that your "surge guard" protector plugged into the RV campground electrical pedestal produced the indication of an "Open Neutral." That is not good.

Contact the campground telling them the space number for the RV electrical pedestal that you were plugged into, and the indication of the problem that you saw displayed. To be quite honest, you should not have had any 120 VAC power going into your Barth. That is an open circuit, and nothing should have worked. The Ground wire and the Neutral wire in your Barth should not be connected together; that connection is to be made only at the "point of electrical service," or where the campground has their electrical meter located, just as with your house.

This legal requirement for wiring is why your Barth does not have a direct connection between the Neutral wire and the Ground wire in the Barth. At least it should not. When it is plugged into an RV electrical pedestal, that connection is made at the "point of electrical service."

If your 120 VAC electrical system in the Barth worked for you, there is something else wrong also, and that is most likely a short or connection between the Neutral and the Ground wiring in the 120 VAC wiring in the Barth which then would allow the return current for the 120 VAC circuit to go back through the Ground wiring in the campground. However, that is not supposed to be the way that the system works, and there are some real hazards that can be presented in such a system.

Also, you should have a special 120 VAC type power plug that can be plugged into your AC power generator only when you ARE NOT connected to a commercial 120 VAC electrical power source, and this special plug will make that direct connection between the Neutral and the Ground terminals just for tying together the Neutral and the Ground wires in your Barth, but only when you are running the 120 VAC generator. When the generator is running, that is your "point of electrical service." When you turn off the generator, pull out the special "Neutral-Ground" shorting plug. Paint that plug an obviously different color, so that you know that it is a "special" plug, and not something for normal 120 VAC electrical power use. Keep it with the generator.

Recreational vehicles are a slightly different kind of an animal. There are so many things with our homes that we just take for granted. But with an RV, all the things that the water company does and the electrical power company does for us at home, suddenly shift to us and become our responsibility in our motor homes. Just as with our water system and our propane system, we also need to know how to work properly with the electrical systems in our "home on wheels." Ideally, we should be pounding in a ground rod for our motor home when parked and running the AC generator. That also brings up the "Call Before You Dig" people.

OK. That is something for "boondocking" or operating the AC generator away from commercial AC power. We still have the problem with your "Open Neutral" at the Allegany County Fairground.

Again, Ted, contact the fairground with the information about the problem you saw displayed and the space number where you were parked. That electrical power problem needs to be checked, and in such a location, it should be done by a currently state licensed electrician who will then correct the problem. It could be something as simple as a loose Neutral wiring terminal on the back of the TT-30R electrical power socket in the electrical pedestal. It could be a spring contact that is tired and no longer makes a good snug connection to the prong on the RV AC power cord TT-30P plug. The fairground people need to know about this so they can have an electrician check it.

OK, Kevin. You said that you wanted me to post some comments. How was that?

Enjoy;

Ralph
Latté Land, Washington
 
Posts: 49 | Location: Latté Land, Washington  | Member Since: 12-03-2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 12/15
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My wife's looking for the Advil. Let's start where you lost me - first sentence ... ROTFLMAO

Lou, please indicate that you've read Ralph's recommendation about the the campground notification.

Ralph, thanks for your thoughts. BTW, actually I don't relate to professional sport teams at all, I just like to drink.


'92 Breakaway
Diesel Pusher, Cummins 190hp,
No Modifications
Allison AT542
Floor Plan 30-BS-11B
9205-3798-30BS11B
 
Posts: 176 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Member Since: 11-07-2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 8/16
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quote:
How was that?

Thumbs Up PERFECT! Thumbs Up

The battery issue is what has spurred my thoughts now with more information to think about.
quote:

Finally, there may be a problem with the battery itself. One thought is taking the battery to a shop for a load test. In any case, the "on-charge voltage" for the battery should be higher than just 12.6 VDC.


Could it be the batteries were overcharged and shorted? I was running the coaches generator. Could the generator have been charging the "house" batteries and the "chassis" batteries? The alternator on the engine was also charging the "chassis " batteries? This could have caused an overcharge for my time on the highway. Overcharging might have shorted the 5 year old pair of lead acid chassis batteries?
 
Posts: 2562 | Location: Northeast , Ohio | Member Since: 07-29-2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Captain Doom
Picture of Rusty
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Both the alternator's voltage regulator and that of the converter would have disconnected at full charge. That is, if both were operating properly; the chances of a failure of either one without your having experienced prior issues is very slim.


Rusty


MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP; built-to-order by Peninsular Engines:  Hi-pop injectors, gear-driven camshaft, non-waste-gated, high-output turbo, 18:1 pistons.  Fuel economy increased by 15-20%, power, WOW!"StaRV II"

'94 28' Breakaway: MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP

Nelson and Chester, not-spoiled Golden Retrievers

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not.
In either case the idea is quite staggering.
- Arthur C. Clarke

It was a woman who drove me to drink, and I've been searching thirty years to find her and thank her - W. C. Fields
 
Posts: 8200 | Location: Brooker, FL, USA | Member Since: 09-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good morning, Rusty;

Yes, I agree with you. When talking with Kevin on the telephone, that is one of the things that we talked about, and that exact subject was discussed. If they were working properly, that should not have been a problem.

One thing I can say is that a 6 Ampere battery charger will take a llllooooonnnnnggggg time to charge 8D batteries. I believe that the 8D is roughly a 190 Ampere-hour rated battery, and he has two of them. That is about 370 to 380 AH for those batteries. With an average current output of about 4 Amperes from the 6 Ampere battery charger, that is pushing toward about 100 hours or four (4) days to do that. I do not know what the Barth 75RC RV 12 VDC power source or power converter puts out for the battery charging current, but even the full 75 Ampere capability of that device is something that 8D batteries will just lap right up. Even at an average of probably about 40 Amperes from the75RC at full power (normally the charging current will slowly taper back as the battery charges), it will still take a long time to charge those batteries; at least 10 hours with the full output. But the 75RC has a separate battery charging circuit, but I do not know what battery charging output current it provides, so all those calculated estimates are just a hypothetical exercise at this time. I only know that it will take a while to charge them.

Enjoy;

Ralph
Latté Land, Washington
 
Posts: 49 | Location: Latté Land, Washington  | Member Since: 12-03-2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 10/08
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Many times if connecting to the shore power by using a 30 amp to 50 amp conversion plug or cable you can loose either Neutral or ground. It gets worse if the 50 amp cable from the RV is connected to a 30 amp plug or cable and then to a 20 amp duplex plug and then connected to the shore power.

It may not be the camp ground connection or service.

It is safe to say, "all RVs are different" but most of the RVs built in the '80s and certainly in the '90s and later, do not require plugs to operate the generator. There is a transfer relay that will automatically switch between shore power or generator power. On my Breakaway, the generator has priority so when the generator is running even if it is plugged into shore power, the RV load will be supported by the generator. no plugging or unplugging of the generator is required. It switches automatically.

Most battery chargers, again if made in the '80s and newer are not "BUZZ BOXES" therefore, input line voltage variations will not effect the battery charging operation. These are high frequency switching devices and will regulate the output voltage/current closely.

The more modern battery chargers or inverter/chargers are multi-stage chargers and they will charge a battery system according the the state of battery charge, time of charging, and external loads. They usually can be left on indefinitely without battery damage. They also will not change the charging routine even if the A/C input varies. Most solid state high frequency charges will accept an input of 90 VAC-140 VAC without change of output or damage to either the charger or batteries.

If the neutral is not connected correctly, perhaps no A/C is present and the charger will not see any input. Other A/C operated devices should not be working either.

Running both the A/C charger and the engine driven alternator will not cause any battery damage as long as both devices are in good operating condition. Higher than normal charging usually results in boiling water out of the battery but generally will not cause the battery to short out.

Batteries that have been run low on water with "sulfate" and this conductive material can break off the plates and can short the battery on a cell by cell basis. Checking the water on a regular basis (no need on a maintenance free battery) is always recommended. If battery use is heavy, then a good 3 or 4 state charger with a de-sulfate operation is highly recommended for longer battery life. To de-sulfate batteries, the charger will elevate the output voltage to 15.5+/- VDC for an extended period of time to boil off the sulfate.

If batteries are charged over night with an appropriate charger, they should be capable of sustaining a usable load and starting the engine. After charging, remove the loads and measure the voltage. Should come off 13.5 VDC +/- coming off the charger and settle to 12.7-12.6 VDC and stabilize there. if the voltage continues to drop the battery is defective. Another test is to put a high current load (>=50-100 amps) measure voltage during this test and should not change much for a minute or so.

The other test is to measure the acid with a hydrometer for each cell if possible, This is probably the best and most reliable test to determine the battery condition on a cell by cell basis.


Ed
94 30' Breakaway #3864
30-BS-6B side entry
230 Cummins, Allison 6 speed
Spartan chassis
K9DVC
 
Posts: 1893 | Location: Los Gatos, CA | Member Since: 12-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
The other test is to measure the acid with a hydrometer for each cell if possible, This is probably the best and most reliable test to determine the battery condition on a cell by cell basis.

I found nice hydrometer in the battery compartment of my rig. The previous owner never went second class. It is glass and has a glass weighted float inside. Two cells in one battery were good green. All the cells in the second battery were BAD, floating like the picture below.

One six hour drive and my batteries got toasted? I still suspect over charging was from the coach engine alternator and the Diesel generator charging the engine batteries at the same time.

quote:
Running both the A/C charger and the engine driven alternator will not cause any battery damage as long as both devices are in good operating condition. Higher than normal charging usually results in boiling water out of the battery but generally will not cause the battery to short out.


"...as long as both devices are in good operating condition. Key phrase here ED. When I get new Engine batteries I will be monitoring chassis batteries more closely.

Could it have tricked the voltage regulator in either the house or engine because the house batteries are Advanced Glass Mat batteries and the engine batteries are standard lead acid batteries?
 
Posts: 2562 | Location: Northeast , Ohio | Member Since: 07-29-2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Captain Doom
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A note about dual-output and single-output converters may help.

Older RVs may have a dual-output converter. On AC power, one section charges the battery, the other, separate section, powers the house 12VDC. Typically, a 60A converter would devote 15A to the battery charger and 45A to the house circuits.

The single-output converter connects only to the battery, keeping it charged while the battery powers the house 12VDC. Dual-output converters are rare today. An owner upgrading from the old dual-output to the single- has to join the two circuits, and to ensure the cables are large enough.

Obviously, the single-output has the advantage of directing its full capacity to battery charge, important if the battery has been depleted.


Rusty


MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP; built-to-order by Peninsular Engines:  Hi-pop injectors, gear-driven camshaft, non-waste-gated, high-output turbo, 18:1 pistons.  Fuel economy increased by 15-20%, power, WOW!"StaRV II"

'94 28' Breakaway: MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP

Nelson and Chester, not-spoiled Golden Retrievers

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not.
In either case the idea is quite staggering.
- Arthur C. Clarke

It was a woman who drove me to drink, and I've been searching thirty years to find her and thank her - W. C. Fields
 
Posts: 8200 | Location: Brooker, FL, USA | Member Since: 09-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 8/16
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Thanks Rusty for your input. The previous owner replaced the convertor with a simple power supply. It is a Battery charger - power supply. It is called power source. I do not have 110 in the coach unless plugged into shore power or generator is generating 110. It charges from 110 while either generator is running or the Barth is plugged into shore power.

Here is a closer view of the specifications.

I have yet to find the real answer why the batteries became toasted in a 6 hour ride. I generally need heat not air conditioning while driving. Since this was a summer trip I ran the generator to power the roof air conditioning. As posted earlier I think the voltage regulator in either device was tricked since the batteries are not the same type. House Batteries are AGM and Engine is standard lead acid.
 
Posts: 2562 | Location: Northeast , Ohio | Member Since: 07-29-2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 10/08
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quote:
Originally posted by Kevin:
Could it have tricked the voltage regulator in either the house or engine because the house batteries are Advanced Glass Mat batteries and the engine batteries are standard lead acid batteries?


If the regulators on both the main engine and the generator charger are original, They would be set up for wet cell or flooded battery type. Not likely that the regulators would know the difference.

However, it is generally not advisable to charge AGM batteries and Wet cell batteries tied together. The charging profile for AGM batteries is quite different than wet cell batteries. Wet cell batteries would probably be OK but AGM batteries would not have ideal charging and could be damaged or shortened life.

If either regulator would have gone crazy and the voltage going way out of limits, you should have seen other symptoms or had other trouble.

Sustained alternator voltage above 14.6-16.0 could damage other components. Incandescent lights would be much brighter, (LEDs will not be brighter as they are internally regulated) water pump would run faster would be the two obvious signs of high charging (alternator) voltage. If you have a dash volt meter, it should have been indicating a higher than normal voltage during your return run.

If voltage was really, really high, other gauges would not be reading normally either.

Typically any 12 volt unit would or could be damaged if more that 15 VDC is applied or sustained for a period of time.


Ed
94 30' Breakaway #3864
30-BS-6B side entry
230 Cummins, Allison 6 speed
Spartan chassis
K9DVC
 
Posts: 1893 | Location: Los Gatos, CA | Member Since: 12-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ed, I was reading your post again and thinking about the open neutral, at the campground afain. Could the entire campground have been like that? The electrical was all new at the Allegan County Fair Grounds. Could I NOT have had enough power to close the link that I thought will charge the engine batteries, while plugged into shore power along with the coach batteries?
 
Posts: 2562 | Location: Northeast , Ohio | Member Since: 07-29-2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of MWrench
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Do you have 50 amp service capability? I assume so. If you do and did connect with a 50 amp cable, you would have had to have a good neutral connection for your AC equipment to function correctly

50 amp service is generally:

120-0-120. It is two 120 volt circuits with a common neutral. Between the two 120 volt lines you would b measuring 240 vac. Without a neutral, nothing should worked in the RV that required AC.

Now having said that, if the neutral was missing and either you or someone else on the same circuit had the neutral tied directly to earth ground then perhaps you may have seen no difference and AC things would have worked. Should not have affected battery charging.

Even so, after a 6 hour run with both engine and generator systems charging your batteries, that should have brought them up to a reasonable level.

How big is your main engine alternator? what is the charging capability of the generator?

AC power issues are very isolated from battery charging issues. As I said most chargers are very tolerant of input power problems (buzz boxes excluded) so I think your batteries are end of life. I know nothing about your coach and chassis power, or how you maintain the batteries during down time, so that is my best guess.


Ed
94 30' Breakaway #3864
30-BS-6B side entry
230 Cummins, Allison 6 speed
Spartan chassis
K9DVC
 
Posts: 1893 | Location: Los Gatos, CA | Member Since: 12-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 8/16
Picture of Kevin
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quote:
so I think your batteries are end of life.

Thanks for your input ED. I agree, after doing the hygrometer test. This is also the conclusion of several other electrical geniuses. I just do not want to replace the batteries in a short time again because I have overlooked something in the system.

Would it be still ok replace the lead acid with new lead acid batteries, even though the coach house is AGM. AGM batteries do not seem to have the high cranking capacity that the Lead acid batteries can put out for the engine. My engine batteries are 8D 1400 Cold cranking AMP now. There are two of them.
 
Posts: 2562 | Location: Northeast , Ohio | Member Since: 07-29-2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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