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Old 04-26-2011, 01:46 PM   #31
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

Update: We are keeping the two starting batteries for the above mentioned reason, also the battery box is the pre-existing battery box, same as on most of the front engine busses I've seen lately, on the drivers side, below the first set of seats. It will JUST fit the two starting batteries and the 2 T-105 Trojans, we'll be running 4g welding wire from the 135 amp alternator, to a 200amp isolator, to the battery bank via a (for now) 150amp breaker/fuse. Coming off the battery,2/0 welding wire, a blue seas 300amp fuse, to a 2000w inverter will be powering our house loads. I plan on running a length of square tubed Iron under the battery box, just to help support the extra 124 pds from the 2 trojans. Welding or bolting that bar to the under frame. Whatdaya think?
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:30 PM   #32
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

Quote:
Originally Posted by headin2MT
...Whatdaya think?
The battery box on my bus has a slide-out tray to facilitate servicing the batteries. I assume yours is the same. Do you intend to slide out your batteries to service them? Because the weight of four batteries will make that nearly impossible, not only due to the limitations of human strength, but also the structural integrity of the slide will not hold up to that weight. So if you are going to put all 4 batteries in there, you should probably make sure you have enough room to check the acid/water levels of the batteries (use a mirror?) and top them off (maybe a funnel with long hose?) without haveing to pull them out.
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:44 PM   #33
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

Thats exactly the type of tray we have, its tough, and with batteries on both sides, it will sorta equal out the weight, on the tray, which someone reinforced with a bar under it at some point. But I'm a big guy, over 6ft, and weigh in at over 250 pds, so if push comes to shove, I'll just throw my fat assed weight into it and pull it out. But your right, its obscenely heavy, thats why i was figuring the reinforcement under the whole battery box would help the weight.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:57 PM   #34
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

and......done. All batteries fit (barely) into battery box, still think I need to reinforce the box, but the inverter is showing 12.8 -13 volts. Dont know if the isolator is allowing a charge yet, and if anyone has an economical way of testing this, I'm ALWAYS willing to listen.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:50 PM   #35
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

Anyone?
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:56 AM   #36
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

Since your Trojans are not sealed, the best way to measure the charge is by sampling the fluid in each cell with a specific-gravity meter. The best ones have a clear tube with a floating thermometer in them, inexpensive ones have a pointer that swings across a scale marked with specific gravity and state of charge. Be careful when you are drawing the liquid. If you get air bubbles, they sometimes will stick to the indicator, and may float it to point differently than it should. Tap either style to convince the bubbles to let go of the indicator, so it can sink to the proper level to give a true reading. All cells in a good battery should be at nearly the same specific gravity. One cell way off, or a wide and scattered range of readings, indicates that the battery is bad.

The best way to monitor the activity of your batteries is to install a Bogart Tri-Metric meter. You install a shunt between battery minus and ground. A calibrated resistance develops a minute voltage when current flows through it. The shunt is wired to the main unit, which uses this voltage to watch current go in and come out, and calculates your remaining charge like a fuel gauge. (Side note: you could buy an inexpensive shunt only, measure the voltages from it, and make your own calculations as a high-current ammeter. But it would not store the history and calculate the state of charge like a Tri-metric would.

Inexpensively, you can watch the voltages, but sometimes you can misinterpret what you are seeing. Voltage is electrical pressure, and you have to have a higher pressure than the batteries in order to push current backwards into them. An alternator topping off a fully-charged or nearly charged battery will usually show 14-15 volts. But if there are other loads on the alternator, or the battery is deeply discharged, the voltage measured from a good alternator will be dragged down. Seeing 12.5 volts on the electrical system while the engine is running is not a good thing, but without measuring current flow it is not enough to decide the alternator is bad.

Look at the voltage on the batteries when the bus has been idle, and then start the engine. If the voltage goes up at all, it is an indication of some charging going on. Clipping a clamp-on meter around a wire will sense the magnetic field created by current flow, and indicate how many amps, but it cannot tell you if it is going or coming like a shunt meter could. When the battery is near full, the alternator should be putting out over 14 volts. If you are not seeing this at the alternator (output stud to case), an adjustable voltage regulator may be mis-adjusted, or a sealed voltage regulator may be bad, and limiting the alternator output too soon.

Many charging problems are due to bad connections. If you suspect problems, use the voltmeter and compare the voltage out of the alternator with the engine running (output stud to case) to the voltage across the battery posts. Make sure you "grind" the meter tips in past any surface dirt or corrosion to get a true reading. If you have 15 volts at the alternator, and only 12.2 at the battery, the rest of the voltage is getting lost somewhere. Measure from the alternator stud to the battery positive. If you are seeing more than 0.5 to 1 volt lost, you have a bad alternator cable, switch, isolator, or battery cable. Any point that you see significant voltage measured, such as switch input to switch output, or one end of a wire to the other, tells you the component has a problem. The bad connection should also be getting warm or hot to the touch.

Don't forget to measure the voltage from connection studs to the wire terminals on the same post. They sometimes do not make a connection. We once had a new Freightliner die from lack of electricity, because the cable from the alternator output was not making a connection to the terminal stud it was bolted to under the cab.

After checking the positive wiring for any voltage loss noted, then measure from the alternator case to the battery negative. If you see several volts there, you have either a bad battery cable, or the ground strap from the engine to the bus frame is bad.

I hope this helps.
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Old 05-02-2011, 01:20 PM   #37
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

Very much, thank you, we'll be looking into it!
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:07 PM   #38
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

If you haven't already done it, buy the book RV Electrical Systems by the Mollers. It will teach you how to figure all this stuff out. Even if you're already into your electrical project, it will help you greatly. It explains things like the ampacity of wires, which is critical to understand.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:59 PM   #39
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

well, we moved everything up north just fine, and now we're sitting up by redlodge. Batterys all worked, and we ended up getting an air conditioner right before we left, which we hooked up, it didnt work, so we went for a bigger converter. Well that did it and I only ran it for 5 minutes before calling it good. My mistake, after we got into texas, and actually needed air conditioning, it kept dying on us after 10 min. Eventually I realized it wasnt the converter, or batteries, but yes, the alternator. It wasnt pushing back enough for what was being used. Next step......bigger alternator. Thanks everybody, for all your help
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:30 PM   #40
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Re: noob here, help with electrical

Red Lodge [thumbs up], I used to cowboy just north of there. Great country.
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