Monday, September 26, 2011

Backlogged Projects: Heavy Duty Charging Circuit–Camper End

Backlogged Project To-Do List:

1.) Charging System needs to be rewired (Again), converter relocated from under the kitchen sink to under the dinette, right next to the batteries (Something I should have done when I rewired the charging system back in 2009, but didn’t). Plus, a new Battery Disconnect needs to be installed, the original 75amp Pollack switch is falling apart.

Also, I need to incorporate my battery voltage meter center that I fashioned into the electrical system so I can actually watch my battery charge.

2.) The two Trojan SCS225 Deep cycles on the camper that I bought for a steal back in 2006 also need replacing, they no longer hold a good charge anymore, odds are one of the batteries is shorted.

3.) New Camper plugs need to be installed, replacing the under-rated RV 7 pin hook up with a 100amp Lift-gate plug for the charging wires and a separate 4-pin round plug for the running lights. Charge wiring coming from the alternator needs to be fully scrapped and replaced with a good 4 gauge run instead of the under-rated 8 gauge system I put in back in 2006.

4.) Front of the Camper’s tub needs to have a bolstering frame built onto it, it has always flexed and moved too much whenever the camper has been lifted for loading and unloading.

5.) The 3 year old Shurflo Extreme Smart Sensor 4.0 water pump needs to be replaced (fortunately, Shurflo replaced this as a “Good Will” warranty exchange, since I bought the pump in ‘09, but it was manufactured in 2007) as it has started leaking water around the body and is pushing pressure back towards the tank.

6.) Replace the broken down intermediate steering linkage on the truck to tighten up the steering for improved handling.


I’m moving full steam ahead now, the truck’s been rewired, and now it’s the camper’s turn.  

On the camper end of things, there wasn’t quite as much complete rewiring needing to be done, rather it simply needed some poor choices rectified. 

Case in point, when I bought the camper, the onboard converter wasn’t even designed to charge a battery, you actually switched between the convert and the battery using a switch on the wall.

P7080221 When I decided to wire the camper for its first onboard battery set, ever, and got a free Todd electronics Converter from Mjgcamper, I decided to reuse the original location of the converter, which happened to be underneath the kitchen sink, quite a ways from where the batteries were actually located, underneath the dinette. 

The original wiring was done, of course with more of that wonderful under-sized 8 gauge wire that I loved so much (mostly because at the time, it was $0.46 a foot, where as the heavier stuff was closer to a dollar a foot and I took the penny smart and pound dumb approach to my wiring) and believe it or not, this actually worked just fine for a year or two, before I tinkered with it here and there and it eventually stopped conducting a clean current to the camper’s systems. 

In 2008, I replaced the Todd Converter, concerned about the batteries being over charged if left connected all the time (the told Todd had two options, 13.6 or 14.4, and no automatic circuits, you selected one or the other by flipping a switch).    In its place went a WFCO 35amp deck charger, right into the same under the sink location.

This also worked fine for a year or so on that old 8 gauge wire.

The turning point where I said, “enough is enough”, was on a camping trip in 2009 where the electrical system was in such bad shape that the batteries weren’t charging properly and we had to use the generator more often than not just to get the camper through the day and part of the night. 

At that point, I rewired the camper using the right gauge of wire, 4 gauge, and cleaned up the connection points use they used proper joins and wiring blocks, but, in my infinite genius, still left the converter where it was.

“But it had proper heavy duty wiring running to it, why should that make a difference?” you might ask. 

Well, the distance does make a difference, even with that heavy wire, as the converter cannot properly sense the state of the batteries as the distance seems to lessen the loading effect of a discharged battery or even a charged one when sensed by the 3-stage converter I have. 

So, doing what I should have done back in 2006 when I first put a battery on the camper, I pulled the converter out from under the sink, and relocated its switched outlet to a dinette cabinet, just on the other side of the wall from the batteries, where I also added a heavy duty battery disconnect switch, replacing my old 70amp pollak push-pull style that had been original under the fridge. 



Now, I still need to get back to Home Depot and get a piece of soffit louver to use on my compartment door that the converter is now housed in to improve its ventilation, but till then I just leave the door open a crack, that little part of the project will be wrapped up come this weekend (The 1st of October).

Sadly, I ended up having to make a patch board out of a piece of scrap plywood to mount the switch through, the original opening I cut for the switch to pass through the outer facing on the partition wall got chewed up too much to directly attach. 

The little face plate just above it is to hide a hole I cut in the paneling to route a piece of trailer tow light wire I had left over (only 2 of the original 4 wires, 14 gauge) from the battery connection to my new battery gauge.


I bought the ready-made 8v-30v rated voltage meter from a dealer off ebay in 2010 when another poster at a forum I was reading showed it as an electrical upgrade they had done.   The meter only cost around $15 at the time, and making an enclosure for it was simple.

I merely used a large surface mount outlet box to which I attached and wired two switches, a moment switch and a basic single pole on-off switch.  Using a file, I widened a light switch face plate to accommodate the meter and then fastened it all together. 

The camper batteries have also been replaced in all of this, to the tune of $404, but I really didn’t feel like taking pictures of the batteries, they look exactly the same as they did back in my first project, Mo’ Batteries. 

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