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 1/11/2013 7:51 PM
 Modified By MikeDesch  on 1/11/2013 7:59:10 PM

Hi there RVA gang:

This old man could really use some help, and might also aggitate the brain cells of our esteemed moderator.

Even some of the stated symptoms seems really odd to me, but the description is what has been happening.

So, here is the scenario:

- - - - -

Itasca Electrical Problems (first noted 01/07/2013)
2006 Itasca IPV33, with 2006 Ford F-53 chassis

Picked up coach at CWRV after having air conditioning compressor 
replaced and left bank oxygen sensor replaced.

Drove home and parked RV for apx two weeks.

Went to start it and battery was totally dead (no lights anywhere, nothing). Battery voltage was too low to accept a charge (from a smart battery charger).

Removed battery from coach and measured across both battery terminals; 
voltage was non-existent (i.e., 0.0 volts).

Bought new battery and re-installed it in RV.

Coach fired right up and was driven from Grass Valley about 30 minutes 
to my other residence in Auburn (Linda's house).
RV sat overnight, and started right up the next day.

Drove RV for about an hour to downtown Sacramento. RV sat there for 
about two hours while tires where changed.
RV started right up and was driven down the highway for about six hours.

Stopped at a rest stop and turned off engine.
After about a ten-minute stop, tried to start engine again, but engine, 
dashboard, and exterior lights were all non-functional (i.e, not getting any battery voltage from the engine battery).

Used Winnebago Battery Boost switch to parallel engine battery with the 
two house batteries. Dashboard cluster lit right up and engine started without a problem. Checked the charging voltage on both the House batteries and the Engine battery with the engine running. Both battery banks showed a charging voltage of about 13.8 volts.

Drove RV for about another two hours to an RV park in Bakersfield. 
Turned off the engine and noticed the same symptom of no (electrical) response when the key was turned back on almost immediately.

Did some initial electrical checks on the battery (still installed).  
Voltage across the batter terminals was 0.0.
Removed the Positive engine battery connection and remeasured the 
battery voltage (using the battery posts as the contact points). The battery voltage still measured 0.0 volts (with the Negative battery terminal still connected).

Removed the Negative battery terminal connection, so the battery was 
totally disconnected from any RV wiring. Interestingly, the voltage across the two battery posts was 12.85 volts! 
(At this point, the 0.0 battery voltage reading with the Negative terminal still connected, makes no electrical sense to me at all!)

Left the Engine battery totally disconnected from the RV overnight (so 
as to not totally discharge the battery).

The next morning, again checked the battery voltage (disconnected), and it was at about 12.85 volts. When reconnecting the battery, carefully watched the post terminal connections for any sparks which would indiate a large
current draw--and saw none (no sparks, either large or small, were noticed.)

Interestingly, when attempting to start the RV, the same dead dashboard 
and no engine start symptom was evident as soon as I turned the ignition key to the On position. Used the Battery Boost switch to bridge the battery banks, and the engine fired right up.

Drove the RV about four hours to a campground in Acton, and same dead 
battery symptom was evident as soon as I turned off the engine, and immediately tried to re-start it.

Removed both Engine battery connections, in order to not totally 
discharge the Engine battery while we are parked for two
weeks in Acton.

With the Engine battery removed, there is obviously no power to the 
dashboard or the starter, but also there is no power to all exterior lights, the hydraulic pump for the slides, the entry steps, the driver's power seat, the electrical window, or the Tank Status gauges on the Winnebago Monitor panel.

Interestingly, with no Engine battery connected but with the ignition 
key On, depressing the Momentary Contact Battery Boost switch caused all functions to come alive, including the dashboard and all the functions which were dead. For some reason, even tho the Battery Boost is a Momentary Contact switch, the dashboard and functions continued to
remain activated (without the Engine battery being connected) until the 
ignition switch was turned off.

- - - - - -

Sure hope there is an easy solution, since we are planning on a two-week 
excursion down to Baja.

I appreciate any help that you can shed on this rather perplexing 
problem.  Obviously, I can live with it for awhile, but disconnecting 
the battery every day at a new camping spot can be a real pain.

s/Mike (and Linda, too)

- - - - -

OK, guys--put your thinking caps on and lemme have it.
Sure wish there was a way to get a Ford tech to chime in without me wasting tons of $$ on techs chasing something that they are not sure about.

Thanks for any help you might bestow on this tired, and frustrated, old man.


Cheers and happy travels, Mike www.backroadtravelers.com
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 1/11/2013 8:51 PM
 Modified By RVA  on 1/11/2013 9:06:44 PM

Mike - I'll take a stab at this one. Connect your voltmeter to the negative battery cable and the chassis. I'm guessing you're going to get a reading. The only way I can see you getting no battery voltage reading with only the neg cable attached is if voltage is being fed into the neg post, which would cancel the voltage from the pos post, resulting in a zero reading. When you disconnected the neg cable, you were able to get an accurate reading. If I'm right, the likely cause is a wiring mistake during the AC Compressor repair. You do know how to stir the brain cells! Good luck - Dave

PS: Make sure the battery was installed correctly and not backwards.

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 1/12/2013 6:41 PM
 Modified By johnchurn  on 1/12/2013 6:41:55 PM

I'm with Dave. What is the last thing that was done before you starting having trouble. It appears the installer has made a wiring error which is causing a draw on the chassis battery.

Just to be sure of another cause, you need to look at your battery cables very close. There could be a corrosion build up on the wiring where you cables are connected to the the battery posts. Even though your battery cable terminals appear to be clean, they could not be making connection at the battery cable connection itself.

Believe it or not, that just happened to me on the VW Bus. I went to start it to go some where and it made a couple of groans and quit. No dash lights or anything. I cleaned the terminals. Same thing.

I pulled the battery out and found it was 5 years old, but it was an expensive Optima battery which should have gone more that 5 years. I purchased another Optima battery and installed it. Nothing, NaDa. I put the tow bar on the bus that we used to tow it behind the motorhome and towed it to the shop with the Lincoln Town Car.

They called me to come get it the next morning. They replaced the positive battery cable end that connects the cable to the post. Runs and starts like new.

I lean to the wiring error because that is what changed since your last use, but father time could be working on one of your battery cable ends. Put you glasses on and make a through inspection

Big Bad John & Runaround Sue & Paris *Hammock,Florida* *97 Dutch Star Diesel* *76 VW Bay Window Bus* *91 Classic Harley Davidson* *1949 Ford Lead Sled* *2012 HD LSV
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 1/13/2013 12:55 PM
 Modified By RVA  on 1/13/2013 1:01:22 PM

John - Your suggestion that the problem could be caused by a bad cable connection is probably right if Mike connected his voltmeter to the cables instead of the battery posts themselves. In fact, many years ago I had a similar situation with an old Caddy. When I removed the battery, I tested it once more and it was fully charged. The problem turned out to be a bad cable. Hopefully, your solution is correct; it'll be an easy fix. Good luck. - Dave

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 1/14/2013 8:39 PM


Peskie problem now solved.

Turned out to be a wrench operator error resulting in a "less-than-optimum" terminal connection to the Negative battery post of the Engine battery.

Who wooda thunk that all those various symptoms could be the result of a lousy connection!

Part of my problem was that I was, indeed, checking voltages from the battery posts only.

(It is now evident that I have lost most of the mental capability that I thought I possessed when I was younger.)

Thanks for all the good advice.

Cheers and happy travels, Mike www.backroadtravelers.com
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 1/15/2013 7:12 PM


I was having just the opposite problems with my Ford diesel pickup. I began having starting problems with it like the batteries weren't being charged. They were giving up to early when cold starting. Of course I checked the voltage at both batteries and of course they showed to be the same. A voltage check when running showed the alternator was charging?? I wasn't checking at the terminals but on the connectors. For what ever reasan I happened to check the battery voltage directly on the terminals and got a different voltage reading?? Dirty connection on one connector had one battery isolated. Live and learn. Too bad we didn't write some of these lessons down. Hey have a fun trip down to Baja. Which part?


Later Frank
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 1/16/2013 2:53 PM

Hi Frank:

Thanks for the info. Sharing knowledge (even when it is Oh S**t) can be beneficial to others.

We are joining some friends on an RV caravan down into Baja for whale watching. In past years, the boats got close enough to actually pet some of the baby whales.

We are not too keen on being in a caravan (always someone else's schedule), but we will give it a try at least once.

Cheers and happy travels, Mike www.backroadtravelers.com
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