Battery and Brake Controller not working

Discussion in 'Wiring' started by JAprilson, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    I have a '09 Starcraft RT pop up camper that I leave in storage when I'm not using it. The last time I used it was mid June and had no problems. I went to check on it tonight and noticed an alarm going off inside the camper. Well it had just enough juice in the battery to get the roof to lift about 1/2" enough to get the door open and noticed it was the propane alarm which has never happened before when the battery was about to die or was dead. I plugged the 7 way in to the plug on my truck and all the running lights came on because my headlights were on...normal...brake lights worked, blinkers all worked. When it's plugged in it usually charges the battery but not this time...the alarm kept sounding until i disconnected all the cables then it would stop and when reconnected it would go off intermittenly. When i went to check the brakes on the trailer I noticed that the brake controller in my truck was no longer lit up at all...even when I pressed on the brake the controller still didn't light up and it's on all the time. I fooled around with the wires to see if something wasn't connected...there are 2 - 30 amp fuses on 2 of the 3 red wires that looked fine. Does anybody have an idea of what's going on? Did I blow up my brake controller? Is my electrical system shot? I don't know anything about electrical systems so any advice would be helpful.
     
  2. pej

    pej Member

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    There are many potential issues, but i'll focus on one or two.
    The brake controller and battery charger line are separate wires in your TV harness so it may be two problems. I would start by looking for blown fuses. If there is no power to your brake controller then it is not going to light up. The unit itself may be fine.
    On my controller there are two wires that are thicker. The blue wire connects to the trailer harness and the black wire connects to a circuit breaker an on to a battery connection. I would start by tracing the wire from your controller towards the battery. Test for 12 volts at each connector or crimp lug. If you find a problem on this path, it may also relate to the lack of battery charging. If you do not have a multimeter it is time to buy one. They are cheaper the an hour of technician time so it pays for itself quickly.

    Related points.

    I would not assume you battery charger system is not working simply based on a CO detector beep. You may not have run the TV long enough for the battery to take a charge. Again a multimeter would help prove that by watching the voltage change once the TV has been started -or not.

    The brake controller is not supposed to be protected by a simple fuse that can blow, leaving you without brakes. It should have a self resetting circuit breaker. No power to the controller may be a safety issue. I wonder if you have blown a main fuse in you vehicle the is feeding both systems and other items.

    Let us know what you find.
     
  3. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    I will try what you suggested. At about 4 am this morning it hit me that it could be a fuse so I am also going to check that. I don't understand why my brake controller would be on one minute and not working at all the next.
     
  4. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    Ok...I checked the fuses and there is a, I believe, a blown 20 amp inline fuse for the brake controller that is close to the positive terminal on my TV battery. Why would that fuse blow? Could it be a grounding issue? Please forgive me for not knowing a whole lot about wiring/electrical. If it is a grounding/short, how would I go about finding the issue? Would the issue only be on my TV or could the issue be on the trailer...the running lights came on when I plugged in the 7-way.

    As far as the battery charging, I don't think I left the battery charging long enough to do anything today.

    Does the propane detector also have a 9 volt battery that needs to be replaced like a smoke detector in the house? I think that could be the issue with the propane detector because the propane tanks were tightly closed. Does anyone know for sure if this is the case?

    Thnaks for the suggestions PEJ! [:D]
     
  5. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

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    The battery on your camper is all but dead. Recharge it for 24 hours and then see if the beeping and other troubles go away. Respond please in any event because there other things you need to do even if the problem goes away
     
  6. pej

    pej Member

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    If that fuse is blown then something between the controller and the brakes is unhealthy/shorted. Remember when you go to replace the fuse, replace it with a breaker like this one found at every automotive shop or RV centre.

    Before you replace it you need to look for the problem. It could be a wire shorted, a harness/connector issue or the electric brakes themselves. It may have been a one time poor connection and all is well. I am not near my trailer to measure, but lets guess cold popup brakes draw 10 to 15 amps maximum under normal conditions. Resistance = Voltage / current. So for easy math 12v/12amp = 1 ohm. Switch your new multimeter [:D] to Resistance and measure at your trailer harness. On those with 7 pin connectors it would be pins 1 and 2 - check HERE for details . If it measures around 1 ohm or greater then the trailer cables and brakes are likely okay. If it measures only around 0.5 ohms then they will try to draw 24 amps and blow a fuse. Further work would be required to solve the problem.

    My CO detector does not have battery backup and like yours, it does start to squeal when my trailer battery is low. Remember to pull the fuse at the battery box before storing so the CO detector does not drain the battery. I have been caught by this. I am confident that once your trailer battery is charged up, that issue will disappear.

    Look forward to your update.

    Peter
     
  7. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    Well PEJ, I didn't get a chance to read your post before going to the automotive store and bought just 20 amp fuses. Then I went by the Storage place and put the new fuse in re-connected the trailer battery and plugged the trailer in to the TV...The fuse didn't blow, the propane detector sounded like it reset itself with 2 quick beeps and then stopped. Last night I just loosely attached the latches to the roof and left it because I couldn't get it to lower and today I lowered it without any problems. I'm going by after work and picking it up and play with it tonight, hopefully if I have time, if not this weekend for sure. We are going camping next weekend and need it in tip top shape. You put alot of effort in to that last post and I really appreciate that. Alot of what you were talking about was out of my league. What would I need that breaker for? Wouldn't the fuse do the same thing as that breaker? What is the purpose of it? Again, i'm sorry for my ignorance when it comes to wiring/electricity! [:D]

    Jamison
     
  8. pej

    pej Member

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    The breaker I posted is an auto reset breaker. The idea is that if you blow a fuse on your brakes you are out of luck until you replace it - that is a safety issue. If you trip this breaker like last night, once it cools down it automatically closes and your brakes are operational again.

    Have fun!
     
  9. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    Here are a few other things to consider. Do you disconnect the negative wire from the PUP battery when the PUP is stored? You should, to prevent parasitic draw downs from the LP CO and smoke detectors.

    Are you taking proper care of your PUP battery, i.e., charging it to 100% before and after each trip and at least once a month between trips as well as checking the electrolyte regularly? Be sure the plates are covered and if not, add distilled water.

    Are you only discharging the battery to 50% of its amp hour capacity? For example, if it is an 80 amp battery, do you recharge it when you have used 40 amp hours and have 40 left? Regular discharge of a deep cell battery below this point shortens its life.
     
  10. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    PEJ....I will look into getting one of those breakers installed. I would hate for the breakes on the pup to go out especially when we head out to Terlingua for the Chili Cook Off in October. That could be trouble go down those long hills on I-10 heading west.

    Unstable Tripod...I sometimes disconnect the positive wire's from the pup battery. SHould only disconnect the negative? I'm not taking proper care of the battery either. [:(] It usually dies completely in storage then it charges as we are on our way to our destination and that's the only charging it gets. So I guess, technically, it goes to 0% juice to 100% juice on the weekends we take it camping. I'm going to get a battery charger and completely remove the battery when not in use and take it to the house and keep it charged until next use. What do yall think?
     
  11. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    Well, it happened again. Went to show the father in law the pop up and blew another fuse. Not sure what is going on now. Could the lift switch cause the fuse for my brake controller to blow? I don't even know how to even search for a short...not sure I would even know what a short would look like if i saw it. [:(] [?:~{]
     
  12. pej

    pej Member

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    I wonder if the fuse is providing power to multiple things. If so when they run at the same time the total is more than 20amps. Determine what else, beyond the brake controller, stops working when the fuse blows. If there two or three things, then the TV needs some rewiring.

    Peter
     
  13. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    Ok...I will check that out. When I blew it last time, I looked at the exterior lights on the trailer, blinkers, brake lights and they were still working. I couldn't get inside becasue I couldn't get the roof up, but I will check everything a little more thoroughly. Thanks!
     
  14. capy235co

    capy235co Member

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    My best guess based on what you said about your battery on the pup. You have killed the battery and it needs to be replaced. My guess is that a new properly charged battery will solve your problems.
     
  15. JAprilson

    JAprilson New Member

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    Well I got a much needed battery charger and charged it Sunday and took it over to where I storre the pup. Hooked up the battery and it worked like a champ! [:D] After going over eveything in my head for the last couple of days and talking to the DW, I started thinking that I've never raised the roof while the pup is hooked up to my truck. I've only raised it with the battery or while plugged in to shore power. I think the combo of having a dead battery and hooked up to the truck caused all of the problems. We'll see...fingers crossed! I appreciate everyone's help!

    Jamison
     

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