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PostPosted: May 19th, 2017, 10:24 am 
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I have been the proud owner of a 2004 Chinook (Cascade) for 18 months. I found it in Texas and brought it home to Kansas. The vehicle was used for two trips and then it sat through the winter. This spring I attempted to start it and the vehicle battery was dead. After a jump start, our local parts supply store ran a test and determined the battery was ok. I did find that one of the two house batteries was bad and replaced it. However, I find that after a day, the main vehicle battery still goes dead again meaning there is a short somewhere.

I have checked the obvious and do not anticipate someone being able to determine what is the cause of the short via a blog. However, if anyone has seen this type of issue and can provide guidance from experience as to where I should start, I would greatly appreciate any helpful hints.

Many thanks in advance for any help you can provide.


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PostPosted: May 19th, 2017, 11:19 pm 
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Welcome to the forum.
I wonder how your battery separator is doing since it seems to be a weak link in my experience. Are you familiar with these things? RV or boat in the past? Do you have a volt meter handy?


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PostPosted: May 20th, 2017, 4:37 am 
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Thanks for your response. I was concerned about the separator and disconnected the ground at the separator to determine if this was the problem. I had a disconnect installed that disconnects the main battery in an attempt to prevent a possible leak to the house batteries. The model I have is old compared to what is available. I do have a multi-meter.


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PostPosted: May 20th, 2017, 9:29 am 
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Anything plugged into the always-powered front cigarette lighter socket? (I moved mine to a run-accessory position fuse position so my GPS wouldn't kill the engine battery.)

Otherwise, maybe pull all the fuses that are set to be on all the time, until you find the culprit. By 2005 wasn't there a second fuse box added by Chinook as well?

Kev

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PostPosted: May 20th, 2017, 3:06 pm 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Hi and welcome!

i'm going to guess you have a parasitic draw and not a short (although of course anything is possible at this point).

Have you put a meter in line on the house battery cable to see if there is any amperage showing when you are parked? If you have the Surepower 1315 separator I believe that's bi-directional, so you could be sharing any charging that's happening with the house (solar/shore/etc.). But with that disconnected you should be able to get a pure start battery reading.

Sounds like you already know your way around a meter (and I'm no expert either), but to measure amps you would want to disconnect one of your start battery cables, then put the meter "in line" along the path and have it set to amps (so in other words you "insert" the meter cables in the gap you created by taking one start battery cable off - this is as opposed to reading voltage where you put the meter leads on the two battery terminals).

A friend of mine with a 2003 E-450 "other brand" motorhome just had a similar problem (although it took a few days) and we think we have it narrowed down to somehow his OBD reader was waking up and drawing amps. Not sure about that yet but since we disconnected it all is well. But if you are lucky it will be easy and be something that's drawing all the time and so you will get an amp reading on the meter.

One note is that if you are running the coach (not dash) stereo while parked, that will draw some from the start battery (at least as the ones around my era were wired - I changed mine to draw only from the house bank).

Oh boy, a mystery! Always satisfying to get to the bottom of it.

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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2017, 6:05 am 
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I apologize for being tied up with community and church activities all weekend. It is Monday and I am back with the RV. I appreciate both responses with great suggestions. I wish I had something simple like a radio left on or something left in the cigarette lighter. I don't listen to the radio and I always remove my GPS from the Cigarette Lighter port when the RV is parked so I don't have an easy fix that could be pulling the power from the vehicle battery. I did contact Sure Power Industries who made the Battery Separator Model that I have on my RV. As the vehicle sits in the sunlight and I have the 'battery disconnect' engaged for the vehicle battery, the battery separator clicks on and off every 5 to 8 seconds. Checking the voltage at each side of the separator, I can see that the solar panel is charging the house batteries to a point where it is ready to share the charging with the vehicle battery. However, with the vehicle battery disconnected, the separator clicks on and off constantly. I removed the ground connection on the seperator and the clicking stopped. My guess is there might be something within the separator that is slowly draining the vehicle battery so I am headed out to the RV to disconnect the 'vehicle battery' connection to the separator all together. I will then jump start the RV and run it up the road for about 30 minutes to get a good charge on the vehicle battery and then wait until tomorrow to see if I still have a draw on the battery.

Thanks to everyone who is participating in this discussion. I took my RV to a RV shop in Wichita and after it sat for three days, I realized that they had done nothing in the way of trying to troubleshoot the draw and only installed the battery disconnect which is still not enabling the vehicle battery to stay charged.

I will report back tomorrow after disconnecting the vehicle battery from the separator and recharging the battery. I wanted to add that one task I performed was to removed the negative cable from the vehicle battery and then connected my multi-meter to the battery and the cable. I was getting a voltage reading telling me that the positive lead was connected out to the vehicle and somewhere, the power was hitting ground causing the circuit to be completed. I pulled each individual fuse and checked the voltage reading in hopes that removing one of the fuses would prevent the presence of any voltage. That activity took over 30 minutes and it did not provide any help in identifying where the leak is. Thus, I am leaning towards the battery separator as being the culprit. Should this be the case, there is a newer model that I will purchase and reconnect the house and vehicle batteries to the new separator to insure I am able to keep the house batteries charged when the vehicle is running down the road.


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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2017, 7:25 am 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Hello again,

I'm sure no-one minds that you were busy over the weekend. What I think is great is when someone (you in this case) comes back with reports and then tells what was done and what the results were. Then we have a good chance of solving the mystery together.

I'm sure there are fantastic RV shops and mechanics out there, and for those who have them it's wonderful. However I have found time and time again that it pays to figure out how to do it oneself, and to buy whatever tools will make it easier. There are times I WISH I could just take it someplace, hand them money, and make the problem go away, but..... it's not that common. To the good though, knowledge and tools stay with you!

So okay, here we are:

1) No radio (coach or cab) on, nothing in cigarette lighter or OBD port in cab.

2) Sure power wasn't totally disconnected, so possible culprit, you're testing that now.

3) Amp draw reading .... see below

clydevasey wrote:
I wanted to add that one task I performed was to removed the negative cable from the vehicle battery and then connected my multi-meter to the battery and the cable. I was getting a voltage reading telling me that the positive lead was connected out to the vehicle and somewhere, the power was hitting ground causing the circuit to be completed. I pulled each individual fuse and checked the voltage reading in hopes that removing one of the fuses would prevent the presence of any voltage.


Maybe I'm misunderstanding here, or you accidentally said "voltage," but I think you would be wanting to put the meter in line and then check for amperage, not voltage. The battery should always be somewhere between, say, 12-14 volts, and that can change slightly with a draw, but that's not really a good way to look for a draw. If you set the meter to read amps, then put the meter in line between one of the posts and the removed wire (so you are "inserting it" into the circuit, not just reading the circuit, if you know what I mean), then look for amps. There should be no or little draw. If you want to test it out, have it like that and turn the cab radio on. You should then see some amp draw on the meter. Then turn it off and you should be back to zero, or darned close.

Some people/vehicles just seem to have/accept a small parasitic draw and use a charger or disconnect to mitigate it. I prefer to find and eliminate it. I've had my Chinook parked for up to three months without starting or charging it (was stored indoors, so no solar, and I hadn't planned to be gone that long, so no-one started it or anything). Got back and turned the key and it fired right up like nothing had happened. So it's definitely possible to not have any parasitic loads. (I do keep the coach completely disconnected at times like that, and also disconnect between coach and cab; but cab battery was left in place (although had I known I'd be gone that long I might have pulled the negative cable). OTOH, I routinely leave it for 14 days when camped, and I don't want to have to pull the cable then (like to be able to start up and go with minimum of fuss), so I'd still want to seek/eliminate any parasitic load if I had one. (I don't have a bi-directional separator/combiner so by design none of my coach charging automatically goes to the start battery, although I can make it do so.)

Okay, onward in the game of Chinook Clue (or maybe it's Ford Clue in this case - or is the Cascade on a Chevy chassis?) :D

BG

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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2017, 8:32 am 
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I’ll chime in briefly with my source of parasitic current draw off the engine battery that turned out to be the Kenwood KDC-316S Radio/CD Player in the coach, passenger side. I assumed, incorrectly as it turned out, this would draw off the coach batteries and was completely switched off after a simple press of the on/off button. Turned out this only put it in “standby” mode continuously drawing ~ 20mA. That adds up during long-term storage. My particular unit could only be fully turned off after a press-and-hold operation. Should have read the manual, I guess. So I ruthlessly disconnected this along with TV and VCR tape deck so no more electrons can scurry loose in the big overhead bin without my knowledge.

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"The Blue Chook" 2002 Concourse Dinette on 2001 E-350 chassis w V10


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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2017, 10:12 am 
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Wow - two good replies while eating lunch. Many thanks

I looked at the radio in the 'house' and found that it showed that it was turned off. However, I was suspect that it might not really be off but in stand-by so I removed the guts of the radio with the push of a button. Something bothersome is a red light that flashes in the mounting in the lower right corner. The red light comes on and back off about every five seconds. Not sure if this could still be pulling power but again, I had no problems last year. I did remove the analog television from the system by disconnecting the cables and removing the television. Since everything is not digital, I did not want the weight or space taken by something that will not work in the digital world. I now wonder if by unplugging the television, there might be something else that needs to be done to remove any chance of leak. I thought the television, radio and VCR were connected to the HOUSE system so I did not even think of this before. Perhaps when removing a component, I need to do something else to insure I did not introduce a leak.

I completed the disconnection from the Battery Separator. I disconnected the positive lead from the battery to the separator completely and disconnected the house cable and tied it off away from any contact which could cause a short in the house system. I will wait overnight to see if the culprit was the battery seperator

I found something else worrisome that I will describe. There are two leads coming from my negative battery connector. One goes to ground on the side of the chassis that also held the ground cable for the Battery Separator. The other drops down under the engine and my assumption is that it goes to the engine block. The RV service center provided a disconnect switch that breaks the ground line that heads to the lower portion of the engine. Thus, when I turn the knob on the battery disconnect to disconnect the battery, the line headed below the engine is broken. The ground wire going to the chassis is still in place. I thought I might have found a problem with the installation of the battery disconnect and removed the line from the chassis. I found that with the battery disconnect turned off allowing power to flow, the engine would turn over but would not continue to run. So I reinstalled the cable to the side of the chassis and the vehicle starts fine. Thus, it seems that the battery disconnect does NOT actually disconnect the negative side of the battery allowing for some leak to pull the juice from the battery. (most interesting)


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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2017, 11:40 am 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
As mentioned above, (at least in the Concourse installations I know of including mine), the coach (not cab) radio will often (not sure if always) have a slight draw from the start battery. It's natural to wonder why it would be connected to the start battery at all, as this is a weakness in the "start battery is always sacred" construct.

From what I can tell, the reason is that this wire is what keeps the pre-sets and that sort of thing alive. So, they figured you may put the coach in "store" position, but not lose your pre-sets. I found that to me it was MUCH more important to not "lose" my start battery. Also, since I travel in the Chinook, it's not like I just keep one set of presets anyway. So what I did (following Bob Will's example) is take the wire that went to the start battery (the radio typically has two wires, more on this below*), and I powered it from the house breakers. Now I might lose my presets from time to time (when coach battery switched off), but I can NEVER run down my start battery with that radio. I think this is something folks might want to consider.

Do you have a Ford or Chevy chassis? If Ford then the stock negative battery wires (at least on my '99 and a buddy's other brand 2003 Ford chassis) go to two places. One, as you mentioned, is a short lead to ground/chassis. The other drops down and goes back and then connects to the starter, which is slightly off center and toward the coach/cab junction area (you find it by crawling underneath). I found that mine had a split in the insulation/green wire just before the starter because Ford had too sharp a bend (or that contributed). I put a new end on and ran it with less of a "crink" in it. I posted photos in another thread but not sure yet if you have a Ford (not as familiar with the Cascade).

I'm temporarily ignoring your other worrisome find just until we know if you have a Ford or Chevy chassis (if I missed that info, sorry!)

BG

*The two wires come out of the back of the radio. The main power wire connects to the house bank (brown box fuse panel) via a green wire (15 amp fuse, 14 gauge wire). The other wire is the "keeps the presets" wire and goes to the start battery through the overcab. I disconnected it and capped it off behind the radio, and in my case used the black (20 amp fuse, 12 gauge) wire that formerly fed the VCR (which I removed). (Not that one would need to use that wire - no need for a 12 gauge wire for that, and in my case I later found an unused 14 gauge yellow going up to each side of the overcab that I could use, but that's extraneous detail for now).

When I read how Bob Will did it, he mentioned that it did not work to run both of those power wires to the same circuit, which is why I used the former VCR wire for the former start battery wire. I didn't test it to see if I could put them both on the same circuit because I had extra usable wires on other circuits. So I don't know for sure it has to be on two separate circuits, but it seems believable since it's normally on two different ones in typical cab use.

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