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Author Topic: 2004 Suncruiser 35u - house batteries not charging from engine  (Read 853 times)

willh2o

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Papa and I are out in the boonies. Yesterday discovered the generator wouldn't start. Called the mechanic and figured out probably needs a new fuel pump on the generator when we get home.

Ok, so not a problem, we'll keep the house batteries charged w/ the engine.

PROBLEM: the batteries won't go above 9.2 and won't power the frig, water pump, etc.

I am trying to research and see there's lots of info, but does anyone has a 'simple' suggestion on what we might do to get the house batteries up? Harvey has a Chevy Workhorse Allison transmission.

As always THANK YOU so much for your kind assistance!!

Oh, just a side note, the friendly ranger requested we move from our 'ideal' spot yesterday and as we were driving out made a sharp turn and somehow the driver tire caught the edge of the step wheelhouse and we had quite a time pounding it back the 2" so it wouldn't continue to cut the tire... :( Plus I got our Pup (2001 Chevy Tracker) stuck when I got concerned and tried to do a u-turn on the side of the cliff where the road was a wee bit wider...

Yesterday was an interesting adventure day to be sure! We did keep the coach warm w/ running the engine heater part of the night in spite of snow and frost outside.

Sandra and Papa

edit by staff - changed message icon to topic solved
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 07:46:46 AM by John Canfield »
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

Howard R

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2017, 12:17:44 PM »
Not overly familiar with the Itasca, however the generator usually uses the house batteries for starting.

There are a couple of things you can try.  There should be an "AUX Start" or such switch on the dash.  This switch should pull in a solenoid connecting the 2 battery systems together. 

Start the MH engine

Push and hold the "AUX" start switch.  While holding the switch in, crank the generator.  With the batteries reading that low you may have to hold the switch in for a while to get some charge in the house batteries. 

Once the generator is running you can release the AUX switch.  You should now have 12v for water pump, furnaces, battery charging etc.

It sounds like you have a DC meter to check the voltage at the house batteries ... with the generator running, you should see 13 to 14 or so volts across the house batteries.   If not and the lights, water pump etc now are working, check the "Battery Disconnect" switch, usually near the entry door.  It disconnects the battery for long term storage and if inadvertently turned off your batteries will not get charging voltage from generator or shore power via the converter.

Plan B - If the generator does not start there is one other possible work around.   

Your engine alternator should charge the house batteries ... (accomplished through the same AUX start relay on my Fleetwood), something similar on your Itasca. 

If you are reading around 14vdc at the house batteries with the mh engine running and the spring loaded AUX start switch held in you can make it work.  The solenoid the Aux start switch pulls in should be a continuous duty type, therefore if you can secure the switch in the on position with tape  or in my case I used a toothpick wedged in to hold it on.  In my case on my fleetwood the circuit to pull the solenoid in was bad, but the Aux switch does the same thing manually.  So I used the toothpick method until I could get home and replace the bad circuit board.

Hopefully that will get you going on house battery charging.

Also if you haven't, check the fluid level in the batteries, add distilled water only,  if needed.  If the tops of the plates are visible they may or may not take a charge and recover.

In any case when you get back home I would have those house batteries load checked ... if they are down to 9.2 volts they are very dead and may or may not recover.  In my opinion a good wetcell set up for the house batteries are 2 6-volt golf cart batteries hooked in series ... Trojan T-105's or CostCo or Sams GC-2 batteries which are a little less expensive and work well.

Hope this helps.

In any case there should be a Itasca/Winnebago person along soon to provide correction or better info on your problem.

Come back and let us know if it works. 

John, feel free to correct or clarify.   :)
Howard
2001 Fleetwood Southwind 35R
V10   F53
2003 Jeep Liberty Toad
Minnesota

willh2o

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2017, 07:35:24 PM »
Thanks for the post. We have tried several things to no avail. Wondering if it is a 'solenoid' issue. We are in an RV Park now so have electricity. We'll test out a few more things while we are here. We haven't found the solenoid or the converter--possibly those 2 items would help us identify the problem. I have been taking lots of pictures to help us identify parts and pieces.

Sandra
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

John Canfield

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 07:43:43 AM »
Very good advice from Howard but the generator might start from the chassis batteries.

Papa and I are out in the boonies. Yesterday discovered the generator wouldn't start. Called the mechanic and figured out probably needs a new fuel pump on the generator when we get home.
So the generator cranks normally but just won't start?

Quote
PROBLEM: the batteries won't go above 9.2 and won't power the frig, water pump, etc. ..
Hate to tell you this, but those batteries for all intents and purposes are completely discharged and will never regain their full capacity. Like I always say, if those batteries are three to five years old, they are at or near end of life.

The reason they aren't charging from the engine alternator could be due to a bad alternator -or- the alternator is putting out max current and voltage but the batteries are absorbing the current resulting in heating.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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willh2o

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house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2017, 10:24:52 AM »
Last night we had a new 400 watt inverter running. This morning I turned on the heat, and the house batteries dropped to 9 something. We decided to try to charge them up by running the engine, and the batteries didn't charge, in fact, they went below 9.

The solar is slowly trickling the batteries up now. We will want the batteries in good shape tonight.

Hopefully someone can help us figure out why the batteries aren't charging when the engine is running. I couldn't find any answers when I searched.

Any suggestions?

Sandra

edit by staff - changed message icon to topic solved
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 07:44:09 AM by John Canfield »
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

John Canfield

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2017, 11:18:02 AM »
This is a very common problem. Search the Winnebago board for battery mode or solenoid or Trombetta.
--John
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IslandGuy

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2017, 12:05:21 PM »
As John mentioned more than likely your aux start solenoid has malfunctioned. On our latest trip I did not realize my solenoid had failed until we had some cloudy weather while on the road...I have 960 watts of solar and I run my refrigerator off my inverter while traveling...usually my battery gauge would show 100% capacity due to the solar but on this cloudy day it was down to 87%! That is when I discovered the house batteries were not being charged by the engine alternator....so long story but it was my aux start solenoid...which serves two purposes...bridge the engine alternator current to the house batteries to charge them and if you find your chassis batteries weak and are not able to turn over your engine, you can push the button for the solenoid somewhere on your dash and it will bridge the house batteries to the chassis batteries allowing enough current to start your engine...fairly easy replacement about 1 hr of my time!
Jim

2009 WGO Tour 40TD
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Saddlebrooke, AZ

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davismills

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2017, 01:46:58 PM »
I agree with John and Islandguy too.   

My 2011 Winnie had a three position aux switch that was not documented as a three way switch.  When I first got the RV, I stopped at a gas station and had to use the aux switch to start the engine and it worked like a charm.  A few months later I noticed my engine was not charging the house batteries.  Long story shorter...I found that Winnebago had installed a three position aux switch.  I pressed it back down to the six o'clock position and voila...engine started charging the house batteries.

It's worth a look-see before you start changing out the solenoid.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 01:49:07 PM by davismills »
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blw2

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2017, 01:55:04 PM »
yep, happened to me back in April.  Woke up in the AM after a long road trip and after barely any drain on the battery through the night....and didn't have enough juice to start the furnace.  The constant duty relay in mine had a good bit of rust on the terminals.  I happened to be at the Sun N Fun fly-in, so while I couldn't find an exact replacement, I was able to find a constant duty contractor form an aviation parts supplier selling stuff at the show.  I coated my new one with that red spray (I assume a lacquer of some sort) sold to protect battery terminals.  Anyway, my point is I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't find a replacement at an autoparts store that would work.  Just need a constant duty relay contractor with an appropriate amp and volt rating

If you can locate it, it's easy to verify with a multimeter, and you can even jumper it over using regular jumper cables, right at the contractor terminals. as a temporary "fix"....  Might be hard to find though, if you can't follow your ears to the "clunk"
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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youracman

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2017, 05:57:51 PM »
yep, happened to me back in April.  Woke up in the AM after a long road trip and after barely any drain on the battery through the night....and didn't have enough juice to start the furnace.  The constant duty relay in mine had a good bit of rust on the terminals.  I happened to be at the Sun N Fun fly-in, so while I couldn't find an exact replacement, I was able to find a constant duty contractor form an aviation parts supplier selling stuff at the show.  I coated my new one with that red spray (I assume a lacquer of some sort) sold to protect battery terminals.  Anyway, my point is I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't find a replacement at an autoparts store that would work.  Just need a constant duty relay contractor with an appropriate amp and volt rating

If you can locate it, it's easy to verify with a multimeter, and you can even jumper it over using regular jumper cables, right at the contractor terminals. as a temporary "fix"....  Might be hard to find though, if you can't follow your ears to the "clunk"

Just so as to not confuse the OP.......... the contractors referred to above are actually "contactors" AKA "solenoid relays" (or just "solenoids" for short.)  We all know what is meant (so not nit picking) ............ but maybe not the OP?   Be safe, all ............................
Ed Sievers/Denver, CO
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John Canfield

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2017, 06:19:19 PM »
^^ Yup ^^ Solenoid usually implies there's a set of contacts involved (but not always, could be a mechanical device), also known as contactor.  For low voltage scenarios they are usually referred to as relays.

Bottom line: an event causes an electromagnetic device to electrically connect two points.
--John
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Howard R

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2017, 06:28:23 PM »
While I'm not familiar with Winnies, something you might try.  Monitor the battery voltage with the engine running, have someone depress and hold the Aux Start switch.  If you are now getting about 14VDC the solenoid is good, a blown fuse or control circuit is bad.  At least on a Fleetwood that would  the case.  A temporary fix until you get home or to parts is to hold the Aux start switch in the on position ... a toothpick worked on mine.

Do remember to remove the toothpick when you stop for any length of time, as any draw on batteries will affect all batteries, including engine battery.

I had to use this procedure for getting back to home base to replace a bad circuit board.

Again John, you're the Winnie expert so please correct me if I'm wrong.   ;D  Thanks.

Howard
2001 Fleetwood Southwind 35R
V10   F53
2003 Jeep Liberty Toad
Minnesota

blw2

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2017, 08:43:57 AM »
Just so as to not confuse the OP.......... the contractors referred to above are actually "contactors" AKA "solenoid relays" (or just "solenoids" for short.)  We all know what is meant (so not nit picking) ............ but maybe not the OP?   Be safe, all ............................

I swear I was typing 'contactors'..... ugh.  I do work in the construction industry so maybe it was muscle memory.... sorry about that.
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
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former tent campers

Bill N

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2017, 08:58:27 AM »
Just fixed mine - a battery mode solenoid, available from any parts dealer, and a pretty simple installation but be sure you have all power isolated (including the solar panel input).  I just unhooked the batteries and removed the wire from the back of the solar panel circuit breaker (could not trip it) and the whole job took 30 minutes.  Be sure and get the continuous duty solenoid. Good luck.

Bill
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
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2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
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John Canfield

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2017, 09:02:20 AM »
While I'm not familiar with Winnies, something you might try.  Monitor the battery voltage with the engine running, have someone depress and hold the Aux Start switch.  If you are now getting about 14VDC the solenoid is good, a blown fuse or control circuit is bad.  At least on a Fleetwood that would  the case.  A temporary fix until you get home or to parts is to hold the Aux start switch in the on position ... a toothpick worked on mine.

Do remember to remove the toothpick when you stop for any length of time, as any draw on batteries will affect all batteries, including engine battery.

I had to use this procedure for getting back to home base to replace a bad circuit board.

Again John, you're the Winnie expert so please correct me if I'm wrong.   ;D  Thanks.

Howard
Exactly correct Howard except there's no circuit board involved as far as I know. Winnebago calls this a battery mode solenoid which operates from the battery boost switch on the dash or when the engine is running. It is a continuous duty solenoid so there's no problem with the toothpick trick.

Brad - LOL, I noticed that  :).

Edit: Bill, good show. Here's my write-up when I replaced mine with a 'smart' version.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 09:04:16 AM by John Canfield »
--John
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Jim_Lou

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2017, 01:10:36 PM »
After having replaced the contactor once with a Winnebago part that failed within a few months I contacted Trombetta about the failure and learned that Trombetta makes a contactor identical to the one they sell Winnebago except that the points are silver plated instead of plain copper.  I got that one and it's been working fine for several years.

Also I think I found the reason for the failures - my house batteries had gotten very run down after a stretch of dry camping.  When the engine started, the contactor engaged, which lashed the fully-charged chassis batteries to the dead house batteries.  The current apparently overwhelmed the 200 amp contactor because the points were the dull gray color of overheated copper.  I installed a 125 amp Blue Sea Systems marine breaker (which Winnebago is now putting on some of its big coaches) into the circuit, which has tripped a couple times under similar circumstances.  Under those circumstances, if I think of it, I'll start the generator and let it bring the house batteries up for a while before starting the engine which avoids the problem altogether.
2007 Winnebago Vectra 40TD

John Canfield

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2017, 08:41:05 AM »
That's a pretty good postulation about your failure. I did a postmortem on my last Trombetta solenoid that croaked and there was no obvious failure point except the insulation tape around the coil was discolored due to heat. The contacts looked fine. My Horizon is always on shore power or generator (if dry camping) or the engine is running so my batteries are always topped off. (I think I have some pictures of it in a thread in this board.)

My theory about my failures is the battery mode solenoid and the house disconnect solenoid are enclosed in a metal 'box' in the electrical bay and when we off shore power, the inverter is operating generating quite a bit of heat which isn't vented - a design failure in my opinion. After I replaced the Trombetta with the Blue Sea intelligent solenoid I cut a 3" hole to the electrical bay (conveniently accessed under the bed) and installed a marine bilge blower. Whenever we are running on the engine, the blower is running forcing air in the bay. The Blue Sea solenoid has been operating fine for five or six years. Previously I was replacing the Trombetta every couple of years.

The other point somebody raised was the Trombetta coil was rated for 12 volts, when the engine is running the alternator is cranking out about ~14 volts. I don't think my Trombetta coil went open, as I recall it did measure very low resistance but without a new one to measure I have no idea if it was nominal.
--John
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willh2o

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2017, 08:12:31 PM »
Ok, we got the generator working, and things were working. This weekend we lost power. We bought 2 new Interstate batteries and thought everything was fine.
1.  Problem is we drove 60 miles today, and it didn't charge the batteries.
2.  We start the generator and it doesn't charge the batteries.
3.  The generator will start w/ the engine Battery Boost--but it's not charging the new batteries.

I will try to get Papa to explain everything he's checked out. Personally I am wondering about a solenoid (whatever that is) somewhere.
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

John Canfield

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2017, 08:07:09 AM »
A few things for you to consider:

- With the engine running, you should be reading around 14V on both the house and chassis banks
- If the chassis batteries are reading about 14V and the house bank is reading 12-something, your battery mode solenoid is bad
- If the chassis bank doesn't read about 14V with the engine running, then you probably have an issue with the engine alternator
- The generator doesn't directly charge batteries, it powers your battery charger/inverter (assuming you have an inverter) which charges the batteries
- Unless you or a previous owner installed a device (Trik-L-Start or Echo~charge) to siphon some charging current from the house bank to the chassis bank, the chassis batteries will not be charged while on shore power or generator

And finally about replacing batteries, all batteries in a bank need to be replaced at one time with the exact same kind, hopefully that's what your hubby dad did.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 03:54:06 PM by John Canfield »
--John
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willh2o

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2017, 02:55:59 PM »
Thanks for the response John,

My Dad and I were careful to put all the cables back the way they were when we replaced the 2 6V deep cell, golf cart house batteries with Interstate batteries from CostCo.

Your comment about If the chassis batteries are reading about 14V and the house bank is reading 12-something, your battery mode solenoid is bad is where I think our current issue is.

What is the battery solenoid? Where do we find it to replace it?

Last night we used jumper cables from the house batteries to the engine battery and that got us through the night. But it would sure be nice to have the house batteries charge from the engine when it's running and the generator when it's running!

Sandra

Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

John Canfield

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2017, 03:52:46 PM »
Here's an article on my website when I replaced our battery mode solenoid with a 'smart' marine version. I have no idea where yours is located, you can call or email Winnebago Owner Relations and ask the guys. You should also install a Trik-L-Start so your chassis batteries will charge while on generator or shore power. There's a Service Tips article a few years old about installing one - look in the Winnebago and chassis resources post near the top of this board. There's a ton of valuable information in that thread and in the Service Tips bulletins.

For more background on the solenoid which we've discussed many times, search the Winnebago board for Trombetta or solenoid.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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willh2o

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2017, 08:14:10 PM »
Finally had mobile RV tech, Montey Davis, from Overgaard, AZ in the summer and Quartzite, AZ in the winter, come over and spend an hour + discovering that we needed a new mini-fuse under the dashboard to fix the batteries not charging from the engine. It was marked something about step light or something.

He also found and solved the problem with the generator not charging the batteries. It was a toasted converter that was cleverly hidden under the bottom drawer under the stove. He replaced the 45 amp with a 60 amp.

We should be in good shape now until the next thing...

Thanks for all the input and suggestions. Thought it might be helpful to let everyone know and have access to research the solutionS.

Sandra
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

willh2o

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2017, 08:17:04 PM »
 ;D Yeah, solutionS found!

Finally had mobile RV tech, Montey Davis, from Overgaard, AZ in the summer and Quartzite, AZ in the winter, come over and spend an hour + discovering that we needed a new mini-fuse under the dashboard to fix the batteries not charging from the engine. It was marked something about step light or something.

He also found and solved the problem with the generator not charging the batteries. It was a toasted converter that was cleverly hidden under the bottom drawer under the stove.  :o ??? He replaced the 45 amp with a 60 amp.

We should be in good shape now until the next thing...

Thanks for all the input and suggestions. Thought it might be helpful to let everyone know and have access to research the solutionS.

Sandra
Sandra
"Harvey" '04 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
"Pup" '01 Chevy Tracker

John Canfield

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Re: house batteries not charging from engine
« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2017, 07:43:09 AM »
Finally had mobile RV tech, Montey Davis, from Overgaard, AZ in the summer and Quartzite, AZ in the winter, come over and spend an hour + discovering that we needed a new mini-fuse under the dashboard to fix the batteries not charging from the engine. It was marked something about step light or something.....
That fuse most likely controlled the battery mode solenoid operation when the ignition switch was on (or engine running.)  I hope he installed a good three-stage charger. We have a couple of links in the Winnebago and chassis resources thread about replacing the charger.

Glad you got it fixed, thanks for the update.

Edit: I merged two threads by willh2o about batteries not charging that are essentially the same
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 08:07:40 AM by John Canfield »
--John
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Bill N

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Re: 2004 Suncruiser 35u batteries
« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2017, 08:14:00 AM »
 
We should be in good shape now until the next thing...

 

Rest assured Sandra that with an RV there will ALWAYS be a next thing....................lol

Bill
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret)
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
Workhorse W22, 8.1L Chevy V8
2013 Chevy Sonic Toad
Furbearers:  Heidi-17(Forever), Grace-10 & Squeak-4, Winnie - 5 months

 

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