Bought a Lemon, But Not Giving Up - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 01-06-2015, 04:01 AM   #1
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Bought a Lemon, But Not Giving Up

I bought a new 2012 Island/Aspen Trail 2500BH and have had many issues with it. In the warranty year the water pump, kitchen tap, power jack, stereo, guage panel and door and frame had to all be replaced. The trailer has a very nice layout and we really enjoy it so I am not giving up on it. In August I noticed the batteries (2 6V GC) were not charging, either by truck charging or by shore charge. No big deal, I started using a portable battery charger. I last used the trailer in October and everything seemed to be working fine (except charging) when I parked it at home and plugged it in for the winter. I went to pull something out of the freezer early December and it had stopped working as well. So now having lost a freezer full of meat I need to figure out my new wiring issues. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.
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Old 01-06-2015, 12:38 PM   #2
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Converter????
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:20 PM   #3
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I agree sounds like the converter.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:47 PM   #4
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OK, the converter for sure. Without his additional charging, the 12v went to zero. I get that. Now, about the freezer. Does it need 12v for control circuitry, even when running on 120VAC? If it doesn't, then he has another problem, most likely a 120VAC heating element in the freezer.
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:04 PM   #5
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If the batteries won't charge by truck charging OR the converter, then the issue sounds like the batteries and/or connections and not the method of charging. Check battery connections and fuse/circuit breakers. The batteries sound completely dead, but put your stand alone battery charger on them and verify with a multimeter that you have the same voltage at the battery posts as at the power distribution system in the TT. You mention 2x6V batteries, are they (still) wired properly in series to make 12V?

MartyG, I do believe that the refrigerator needs 12V for the control circuitry even though it may be using 120V AC for the coil. Although I assume the OP verified it was working as expected when initially parked and plugged in for the winter? Was the portable battery charger not also in use during storage? Maybe the assumption was that the 12V battery wasn't necessary to run the fridge on 120V AC; however, it may in fact be necessary and things worked until the 12V batteries died.
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:34 PM   #6
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You have to go back quite a ways to get a RV fridge that doesn't need 12v to operate. The converter needs 12v to operate. If stone dead battery or no battery you will have no 12v in the RV even if plugged into shore power. Another thing is the charge circuit on the converters only put out about 4 amps. So if you have a dead battery it's going to take quite a long time to charge it up.
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:37 PM   #7
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My 2012 Aspen Trail came with a WFCO 8955 converter which is claimed to put out 55 amps of 14.4V DC for boost/bulk charging. However, the WFCO's are known for never actually going into 14.4V boost/bulk charge. I think the 55 amp rating still applies at the 13.6V normal/absorption charge. I've never actually measured the amps that my converter puts out, regardless of the batteries' state of charge. In theory it should start out at 55 amps and then the amps taper down as the batteries become more charged, right? A typical 3-stage charger would do this; however, the WFCO manual makes no mention of this.
Power CentersWF-8955PEC, WF-8955 55 Amp Power Center
http://www.wfcoelectronics.com/Image...erDocs/9-3.pdf

It also says to check the converter output voltage, disconnect the battery from the converter and you should get a 13.6V reading. So does this imply that even with no battery in the circuit, this particular converter should supply 13.6V to the TT?
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Old 01-07-2015, 03:21 AM   #8
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It also says to check the converter output voltage, disconnect the battery from the converter and you should get a 13.6V reading. So does this imply that even with no battery in the circuit, this particular converter should supply 13.6V to the TT?
It would, but I wouldn't! I think they mean you can check no-load output to verify the converter is working. But two problems come up running without a battery. 1., the battery is a stabilizing bank which help prevents surges which could damage components, and 2., without a battery, the converter is running full charge and voltage, i.e. 13.6V, which is on the high side, could cause damage and burn out bulbs.
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:42 PM   #9
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I agree that the manual is referring to a no-load output check. A depleted battery would be acting to drag the voltage down, so I can see now why they recommend removing the battery for the check.

I wouldn't worry about 13.6V being high though, well within the range of 12V devices. Most 3-stage chargers operate at at least 14.4V in the bulk mode, including the WFCO if it actually did enter bulk mode. Many with golf cart batteries charge them at 14.8V as recommended by Trojan. The only high voltage concern I've heard mention is harm to refrigerator control boards at much above 15V, which can happen pretty easy with a temperature-compensated charging system with a 14.8V setpoint.
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Old 01-09-2015, 12:10 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
I agree that the manual is referring to a no-load output check. A depleted battery would be acting to drag the voltage down, so I can see now why they recommend removing the battery for the check.

I wouldn't worry about 13.6V being high though, well within the range of 12V devices. Most 3-stage chargers operate at at least 14.4V in the bulk mode, including the WFCO if it actually did enter bulk mode. Many with golf cart batteries charge them at 14.8V as recommended by Trojan. The only high voltage concern I've heard mention is harm to refrigerator control boards at much above 15V, which can happen pretty easy with a temperature-compensated charging system with a 14.8V setpoint.
Not to worry so much about a higher voltage to a circuit board since most boards have an onboard voltage regulator. It's just a small discreet component that offers cheap board protection.
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Old 01-09-2015, 06:00 PM   #11
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Thank You all for the input. I have had the batteries charging for three days now and I will try to figure some things out this weekend.
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Old 01-09-2015, 07:08 PM   #12
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If it is the converter (wfco8955pec) should I replace it with the same or should I upgrade to maybe an 8965 or a different converter all together? Any recommendations?
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Old 01-09-2015, 08:02 PM   #13
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Different altogether, based on my previous comments about the WFCO rarely being able to deliver on its claimed bulk mode capabilities. If you don't boondock or use a generator for battery recharging, you may not have a need to address this fault. But if you're replacing the unit, may as well upgrade. I'd stick with a 55 amp model though, unless you're planning on expanding your battery bank. I know if my WFCO ever goes out, I'll replace with something like what can be found in the following links.
Boondocker Main Board Assembly for WFCO 8955
4600 series Upgrade Kits

The only reason I haven't is that my solar has been enough for us to stay on top of 12V needs while camping.
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Old 01-09-2015, 08:31 PM   #14
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So I have checked with the batteries charged, the volt meter on the batteries is 12.3 and the power from the converter reads the same 12.3 volts with shore power turned off as well as with it turned on. Am I correct in assuming that the power coming from the converter should increase when the shore power is on and that my converter is pooched? My fridge/freezer seem fine with the batteries charged and shore hooked up. Is there a surge protector that could be used to help with this problem.
I have only ever been to one sight that had power and that is when the problem started. I am usually boon-docking and should maybe look at solar also. No generator either. I was getting 6-7 days out of my batteries as I have changed the majority of my lights to LED.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:19 PM   #15
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So I have checked with the batteries charged, the volt meter on the batteries is 12.3 and the power from the converter reads the same 12.3 volts with shore power turned off as well as with it turned on. Am I correct in assuming that the power coming from the converter should increase when the shore power is on and that my converter is pooched? My fridge/freezer seem fine with the batteries charged and shore hooked up. Is there a surge protector that could be used to help with this problem.
I have only ever been to one sight that had power and that is when the problem started. I am usually boon-docking and should maybe look at solar also. No generator either. I was getting 6-7 days out of my batteries as I have changed the majority of my lights to LED.
I would say the converter is not charging. A fully charged battery in good condition should read 12.6 volts, or even a bit higher. Your batteries may be losing capacity. I would get a load test done on them to see if they can actually hold a charge. With the converter hooked up you should be getting more than battery voltage, especially if there is a draw. Have you checked the main fuse on the converter?

How old are they?

As far as protection against crappy campground power I use the TRC portable one, it guards against low voltage, high voltage, and voltage spikes.
Cheap insurance IMHO.

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Old 01-09-2015, 10:28 PM   #16
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TracyCess,
If you've had those batteries on the charger for 3+ days and they are only showing 12.3V, then they are not properly recharging. Wahoonc makes a great point that you should have a shop test them, but it sure sounds to me like they are shot. If your portable charger has an equalize or desulfation mode, try that too.

You are correct that when you are running on shore power, your WFCO converter should be running at 13.6V and that is what you should see at your battery posts. As wahoonc says, it sounds like your converter is not operating. Before deciding that the converter is toast, you should check that you are actually getting power to it. My Aspen Trail did not have a dedicated A/C breaker for the converter; however, it was tied into the breaker labeled "GFI". So check your A/C breakers and make sure they are all switched to ON. Depending on how far you want to dig into things, you can remove the cover of your A/C panel and confirm the wiring or see if something has shaken loose and disconnected. But heck, I personally would jump on the legitimate reason to upgrade my WFCO so maybe just do that!

Since you primarily boondock and don't use a generator or solar, how do you recharge your batteries while out camping? I ask because if you hook up the trailer plug and run your vehicle for charging, this really provides very little charging current and it would literally take days to bring a low battery back up to charged. If this is what has been happening, it has been really hard on your batteries and is likely the culprit behind their short lifespan. Well that on top of a non-functioning converter! The rule of thumb is to not run you batteries below 50% charge (roughly 12.0-12.2V), although true deep cell batteries like your 6V are designed to deal with deep discharges. Ideally you would have a way to quickly bring them back up to 90%+ charge (~12.6V+). Batteries can relatively quickly and easily get back up to 90% charge; however, it takes a lot more work (time) to get them all the way to 100%. You could conceivably run a generator for a few hours and your converter could recharge them back up to around 90%. The charge voltage has a big impact on how quickly they recharge. This is where my discussion of a 14.4V bulk charge rate comes in. The 13.6V of a WFCO works fine if you were plugged into shore power for days, but if you've only got a few hours for recharging then you want to be charging at more like 14.4V (or even 14.8V for a pair 6V in series, as recommended by Trojan). Once you get back home, plug into shore power for a couple days to get the batteries topped off to 100% (~12.7V+).

That was a long winded way to say I concur with getting some solar! I love ours. While I do have a generator, I almost never use it. Only if we want to run the microwave or air conditioner. Solar is not a quick recharge; however, it is charging every day all day when the sun is shining and your batteries will love it. Also keeps them bursting full during storage if you're stored outside uncovered.
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Old 01-10-2015, 01:18 AM   #17
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Thanks EWARNERUSA. I mainly get out for weekends and long weekends only So the shore power is hooked back up when I get home. I thought the GEN on the panel was for the converter. It sounds like I need to go a little deeper and pull the converter out and look for a fuse as well.
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:36 AM   #18
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"Gen" on mine is for the general outlets. As in all the non GFI outlets. My converter may have been tied into that breaker rather than the GFI one, I can't remember. Regardless, now I have it on its own individual breaker.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:57 AM   #19
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The converter is not working. 3 possible causes. No input power, check input cord, and circuit breakers and wiring. Or, Output not getting to battery. Check fuses, and all wiring between converter and battery. But if you know you have input (120vac measured at input to converter) and no output (0vdc measured at output of converter) then, and only then, are you in the market for a new converter. Forget fancy-schmanzy. A regular converter meets the needs of 93% of campers)
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:31 AM   #20
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As boon dockers, they'll appreciate the benefits of the fancy schmantzy!
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