This is Awesome!

I can’t believe I’m boondocking and working on my main computer while surfing the net. If I could only get my generator back on line life would be perfect! My batteries are holding up well, but are definitely due for a good charge. Tonight I need to ration my battery usage to ensure I’ll have heat throughout the night (I have to wonder if the weather is ever good in Dawson Creek!).

Before anyone comments, I’m still having the same issue I’ve been having with the generator–no gas is getting to it and it looks like I’ll have to change out not only the fuel filter but also the entire line. The project is too daunting for words and I’d rather focus on finding a tiny portable genset, something with just enough juice to recharge the batteries but not actually run anything. I don’t need or miss 120V power when I’m boondocking and can’t bring myself to sink money into the onboard generator without knowing that it’ll definitely pay off. I’ve seen several possibilities for less than $100 on Craigslist, but I’m always too late. I’ll keep checking.

At any rate, thanks to Google (and Telus!), I have plotted my way to Banff, concentrating on getting to Jasper. I’d really like to get to an RV park near there tomorrow because the batteries need charging, but the distance seems a bit ambitious on an unknown route. I have lined up where I hope to stay and made a note of the distances between the major centres so that I can decide mid-afternoon whether I need to stop or keep going.

The weather forecast for the next few days isn’t promising. The prairies have been hit with a cold snap and there is a snowfall warning for Jasper. So, I’m highly motivated to get to a place where I can justify paying for hookups in case I need to hang out for a few days. But I am not wavering on my itinerary. It took longer than I thought it would, but I am finally making my way back to places I thought I’d see in the spring of ’09!

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  • Rae, Long time listner, first time caller 😉

    When I had genset problems I hooked up a pair of jumper cables between the house battery and the car battery and was able to juice things up by leaving the engine running for a couple of hours. Might try that if you’re desperate – I was at one point, when a breaker blew and isolated the charger from the battery set. Just a thought.

  • I am not sure why your batteries are not being charged up by a day’s driving. I am sure they should be…

  • We got a little generator at Canadian Tire a couple of years ago for $120. I think it’s about 1000w. We never used it in the RV but it was there ‘just in case’. It’s now been moved to the house again ‘just in case’.

  • Croft, I am seeing a bit of charge by the end of the driving day, enough to get me through to the next day, but it’s not enough for me to be able to recharge my other devices. I used to charge the laptop while driving with no ill effect–I think I was getting enough from the solar panel to negate what the computer was getting–but it’s been cloudy and nasty since I left Watson Lake.

    Sandra, that’s just about my price range. Glad to know they exist. 🙂

  • Check to see what the house battery voltages are before and after the engine is running. With the engine running your batteries should read over 13 volts, if not you may have a problem with the charging circuit. Compare the voltage of the Ford battery to that of the house battery after the truck has been running a while. I think they should be about the same.

  • Croft has a good theory there, the lines running from your truck battery should be of a good size to ensure that your rv onboard batteries are getting enough of a charge rate. Typiclaly in rv’s they undersize the wiring, this could be one of the problems that you are having.
    Replacing a fuel line and filter, and a general tune up of your onboard generator would likely be cheaper than the proper portable generator that you do require, which would be a Honda 2000 watt style inverter, yes they are expensive but easy starts excellant fuel economy and great design ensuring a long trouble free life.
    Typically I have seen on sale via Kijiji in the Toronto area, these units going for around 1200.00. I know a bit out of your price range.

    Likely repairing your onboard unit would be much cheaper, if you were in the Toronto area i could help you out with that.
    Enjoy posts girl, keep at it and all the best.

  • Coal, back in the spring of ’09 I posted that I seemed to be having issues with the truck battery not charging the house battery. I thought I solved the problem, but I obviously didn’t. Yay, another thing to fix. 🙁

    I really think that a 2000W genset is overkill for my needs. I don’t need a genset to run anything, just to charge the batteries. I barely use any 12V power when I’m boondocking unless I need to run the furnace, and that’s always on low.

  • what you want to be able to do is recharge your onboard battery bank generally from 50 % capacity to full charge in roughly three hours. That would mean a charging system capable of performing that, and would require a 2000 watt generator.

    This of course depends on your system and what you require of that system.

    My system consists of four 6 volt batteries, Crowns, with two Iota converter chargers pushing 45 amps each total 90 amps into the battery bank. My batteries in the dead of winter can run the fifth wheel and one inverter for the upstairs tv and dvd player along with the lights and propane furnace, for a period of 24 hours. Fire up the Honda 3000 watt inverter generator, and the battery bank is pretty much fully charged after 3 hours.

    Seems to me if you are not requiring a ton of power,. that you could run the engine in the motorhome to recharge your battery bank, you might want to check your onboard batteries, for connections, wiring size, whether the batteries can hold a proper charge etc. A system overview should be performed, and then relate that to what your requirements are.

    It is critical in our weather climate to have power available at all times, and different sources of power. Ie, from a battery bank, from a onboard or portable generator as well as your motorhomes engine electrcal system. Adding solar will help too.
    It brings peace of mind, once a adequate and properly sized system in in place, realizing your boundaries within the system will allow you to boondock and carry on trouble free.

    My system consisting of the four deep cycle batteries, two converter charges with three stage charging, associated wiring and one 1000 watt inverter ran me around 1100.00. factor in the genny at 2500 and yes it can get a little expensive.

    i have had the fancier and more expensive Xantrex converter chargers, but they are prone to failure, hard to get repaired either warranty or not, I prefer a two converter charger setup, as these items do fail, and once one does there is always another one to back you up. Critical when your away from the big city and out in the boonies.


    came across this after i posted on kijiji, i know a little out of your area, this guy has it figured out

    just some food for thought for you

  • Coal is obviously the expert on charging systems, you are lucky to have her advice!

    You will know for sure after taking your voltage readings but right now I am beginning to suspect that the house battery charging circuit from the Ford inverter has failed. It cannot be the inverter itself because it seems to be charging the Ford battery so it has to be the cable from the Ford inverter to the house batteries. With any luck it will be a loose connection or a blown fuse. You should be able to find the problem by checking along the line with your voltmeter. If you cannot find the points to check or cannot come to a conclusion, you may have to take it to an expert.

    Basically, whatever voltage you find on the Ford battery with the engine running should also be present at the house battery. Probably a fraction of a volt lower because of voltage drop over the length of cable.

  • If you cannot get at a connection to check the voltage, you can stick a pin into the cable and check there. Just be careful and be sure to remove the pin after.

  • the thing todo is

    pull the house batteries and load test, check connections
    check the output from the inhouse converter charger
    check the output at the battery end for the alternator charging wire
    then check what the voltage is at on the truck battery
    ideally you want a very low voltage drop

    now she might have a old style converter charger in her rv, meaning that the converter charger will charge the batteries but will also overcharge and ruin the batteries. it is best to have a three stage converter charger, this will charge your batteries and float them at the proper voltage so to not overcharge them when you are parked at a site on regular hydro

    also good batteries, at least two 6 volt deep cycles, i prefer Crown, Trojans are very good. those are the only two that I would consider outside of Lifeline batteries which are very expensive.
    two 6 volt batteries wired in series will give 12 volts

    oh by the way, i go six foot four and 265 pounds with a goutee and most of the time pretty unshaven, yea I’m a guy. lol.

  • You sound like a copy of myself Coal. I’m 6′ 4″ 264 lbs. Sorry for the mis-assumption. :

  • heh Croft no problem, wish this little girl was closer to me, i would take a look at her system, concerned for her being in the cold and not having a system that is up to snuff.

    i lived in winnipeg and edmonton way back, still shivering lol

  • LITTLE GIRL?! Coal! Horrible! Just when I was starting to respect you! 😀

    It hasn’t been that cold, actually. Just hovering around zero most nights. I’ve been able to heat every night. I’ve always had at least 11.8V on the inverter, which is 12.0V at the battery itself. Low, but more than enough to stay safe.

    The word fuse is an important one. I know I very badly need to check the fuses that are located inside the cab since many of them are corroded. That’ll be the first thing to do. I checked for loose connections last year and all as good, but I probably need to do it again.

    I do have an older style converter, but I monitor my batteries regularly and know when my converter is charging (it’s noisy as hell and I only notice it on nights like these, when I’m plugged in for the first time in a week). I don’t think the converter is causing any damage. Wouldn’t over charged batteries be dry batteries? I only have to add water once every six months and it’s only a teeny amount each time.

    I know I need to invest in my boondocking systems at some point, but right now I don’t do enough of it to justify the expenditure.

  • If it is a fuse problem it will not be one of the little dash fuses. Coal will probably know better, but if there is a fuse in the line it will be a huge 30 amp or larger variety. Maybe in-line.

  • If that’s the case, then I’m going to check all my connections first since it seems that something is loose.

  • lol, ok little girl in the most sincere affectionate way.

    a sign of overcharged batteries is water consumption beyond normal, if your adding water every six months, sounds like your system is working normally.

    yes, if your not doing alot of boondocking, save the money, but have what you have now serviced and inspected and brought up to standard if possible.

    What are your plans this winter, heading south to take advantage of the warm weather?

  • I get testy when people call me child. 😉

    Good to know the battery water consumption is normal!

    I’m going to be in southern BC again this winter, plugged in 99% of the time at RV parks.

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