Not enough power for electric lift

Discussion in 'Lift Systems' started by Dont slow down, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

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    It's not tied directly to the battery. The battery is connected to the converter/power distribution center, and power is distributed from there.

    There is a fuse panel that has several fused circuits going to your DC appliances- lights, water pump, lift.

    And herein lies the problem. The wiring running from its fused location on the panel is undersized. On my unit, it was 12g. It also had a short, 14g pigtail where it exited the back trailer wall under the trailer and to connect to the current limiter. The 14g pigtail was scotchlocked to the 12g main wire, further reducing its ability to carry current. The scotchlock was also completely exposed to the elements under the trailer. It is my opinion that the combination of undersized original wire, coupled with the scotchlocked 14g pigtail, exposed to the elements, caused a significant enough voltage/amperage drop to cause the lift to not work.

    " I confirmed this and It won’t raise, the motor just clicks but never turns."
    This (IMHO) is the key to your problem. This is the exact symptom I experienced. I could raise and lower the roof when connected to the truck, but not on its own. The fix was to get more volts/amps to the current limiter/motor setup. By wiring directly from the power distribution center to the current limiter, I bypassed the undersized/corroded original wire with fresh, bigger wire and no interruptions between the power supply and the current limiter. A simple job at minimal cost.

    Don't be so convinced that the motor is bad- the wiring on these things isn't perfect (or even good). And if this is the problem, and you don't address it, and you spend $250 on a new motor...it still won't work.

    I was like you- I was convinced the motor was bad.
    See this thread:
    http://www.popupportal.com/threads/lift-motor-going-bad.117298/#post-1192852
    I wouldn't spend a lot of time chasing wires. You could do a simple test:
    Bring the battery back to the back of the trailer. Get some jumper cables and connect the battery directly to the current limiter and see if that solves the problem.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  2. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    Either that or the PO is trying to pull a fast one. Maybe they got it on a steep discount with the knowledge that it didn't work.
     
  3. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    Why go to all the trouble of chasing wires through the trailer. Run an unbroken single 10 gauge wire from a 30 amp fuse at the battery positive post, under the trailer, directly to the input connection of the winch control.
     
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  4. Dont slow down

    Dont slow down New Member

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    Hey everyone, well unfortunately it’s taken me a year to dive back into this. Since I originally posted we have taken the pop up camping 4 times and each place we went had electric hook ups so the electric lift worked each time.

    A quick recap: electric lift works on shore power but not on battery alone. After testing the battery I did end up replacing it with a new deep cycle marine battery, that battery is now a year old and did not make any difference when it came to my electric lift.

    I spent a bit of time going through the electrical system yesterday since I have another trip coming up in two weeks and I will not have electric hook ups. Here is what I found.

    The wire running from the battery to the power distributor is a 10 gauge wire for both positive and ground. It should be plenty for the lift, I’m not concerned with it anymore.

    The wires for the motor and lift control box are 14 gauge.

    The positive wire for the motor control box was in fact wired to the power distribution panel. The wire coming out of the power distribution box appears to be a 10 gauge as well and was connected to the 14 gauge motor wire.

    The circuit that the motor was on from the power distribution box had a 30 amp fuse in it.

    I found multiple poor connections that had questionable taps and wire nuts. I cleaned some of them up by either replacing with a crimp connector or redoing the wire nut to ensure contact inside.

    First I swapped the fuse from the 30 amp to 40 amp just to make sure it was getting enough amperage, however 30 should have been plenty. Result was no joy. I checked voltage at multiple spots to verify 12v present at the motor wire connections. Checks were good. I disconnected the motor wires from the power distribution box and wired straight to the wires coming from the battery. The motor worked, although slowly I would question its ability to raise the roof a full cycle (I only lowered and raised it about a foot). This does however prove it can be done. With the motor still connected directly to the battery wires I plugged into shore power and the motor worked at full speed and capacity. Unplugged shore power and it was back to slow moving.

    This is where I have stopped. Motor is still wired to the battery wires and for now and bypassed the power distribution box. I plugged my battery into my trickle charger and the charger kicked on so maybe my battery isn’t fully topped off. I’ll try it again tomorrow and see what happens however I’m not hopeful. If it fails to raise the roof on a topped off battery then there is nothing else it could be. Then I’m looking at a different battery, but what kind? I’ve always been told deep cycle for RV use.
     
  5. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    Boy this is an old thread. Let me say this, my electric winch is wired directly to my battery. The winch and the battery are both mounted on the tongue of the camper just 1 foot apart. I have never had a problem lifting my top.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
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  6. bheff

    bheff Well-Known Member

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    This is how mine is as well.
     
  7. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

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    If you haven't had your battery tested or replaced it with a new one, that could be the issue. measureing the voltage of the battery with no load won't tell you much. As the issue is the amps that the battery can deliver under load - seems like there is an issue there.
     
  8. Dont slow down

    Dont slow down New Member

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    My battery is at the front and my motor is at the back.
     
  9. Dont slow down

    Dont slow down New Member

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    The battery is only one year old, I replaced it and even when it was brand new it did not make a difference.
     
  10. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    It does sound like the distance between the motor and the battery is the problem. Would there be any possibility of mounting a second battery on the back of your camper? Maybe on the bumper? You could run a charge wire from the first battery to the Positive post on the second one and just connect the negative to the frame ground. A second battery is always a nice thing to have.
     
  11. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

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    Going to ask a dumb question, but I don't see it addressed in any of your posts - how are you charging your battery?
    If you're aren't using a relatively modern smart charger, your battery may not be charged correctly. My Niagara is very sensitive to the voltage, even after I re wired the run from the power distribution panel.
    I still think the wiring is the issue, even after you "cleaned up" the wiring you still have multiple points of resistance/failure, but other things to check:
    Battery state of charge- what kind of charger are you using? New batteries are not necessarily "full". Do you disconnect you battery from the trailer when not in use? How do you maintain the battery when not in use?
    Clean and re grease your whiffle tree.
    Lube lift posts.
    Lube all cable pulleys
    Check/clean the connections between the current limited and motor.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  12. Dont slow down

    Dont slow down New Member

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    I'm using a battery tender charger, usually disconnect the battery when the trailer is stored, keep in the garage during winter, charges while trailer is being towed via the truck.
    10 gauge wire should be sufficient to run this motor. I can grease the whiffle tree, but this trailer is only 3 years old. Pulleys and cables look clean.
    I can't inspect the control box wiring without basically destroying it. It's riveted together and sealed.
     
  13. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

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    What's your battery's resting voltage (after an hour off of the charger)?
    What's the output of your battery "tender" (amps)?
    How often is the battery on the charger? For how long?
    How long is it off the charger?

    If you don't always disconnect the battery, you propane and or CO detectors can deplete your battery in as little as a month.

    The tow vehicle won't "charge" your battery much. I've tested this. My Tacoma with tow package (bigger alternator) with the trailers battery at 80% SOC only returns about 1 amp per hour. Tested and verified with my Bogart Engineering TM230 battery monitor over a 7 hour drive last year. 80% full when I left the campground, 86% full when I got home over 7 hours later.

    10g is what I am using, but I have an uninterrupted 10g wiring straight from the power distribution center. You don't. Wire nuts don't have any place on a trailer.

    Inspect the connector between the current limiter and the motor. It's exposed under the trailer, and could be dirty/corroded. Spray the contacts on each side with contact cleaner.

    Your trailer is exhibiting the exact symptoms mine did. After by passing the original wiring with 10g wire directly to the current limiter, the symptoms immediately stopped. You can see this yourself when you plug into shore power- it works just fine (BTW- a no-no according to Coleman/Fleetwood).
    The question then is:
    What is the output voltage while connected to shore power? My guess is that it is significantly higher than your battery's voltage, and the battery's voltage isn't high enough to do the job (undercharged battery, undersized wiring, too much resistance along the run, length of run).

    I completely clean and re grease my whittle tree every other year.
     
  14. Dont slow down

    Dont slow down New Member

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    I will have to find the specs on my charger but I usually put the charger on at least 2 weeks before a trip. It is only a trickle charger and doesn't put out very many amps, its more for maintaining, which is what I thought I would be doing. Today its been on the charger for about a week. Took off this morning and let it set an hour disconnected. Voltage at the terminals read 12.6v with no load.

    My trailer has a electrical cut off switch inside, so if something is left on, when I lower the stove it releases the cutoff switch. Doesn't that kill everything inside the trailer? Including the CO2 detector? If not then that's pretty useless. I usually disconnect the battery if we wont be using the trailer for more than a month or two. A battery cutoff switch has been on my list of things to do but I haven't done it yet. I understand the tow vehicle wont provide a large charging current. It should however be enough to maintain a charged battery as I drive. I usually have the shore power connected until the very last minute before we leave to keep my fridge cool.



    I located the direct battery lines at my power converter and attached the lift motor wires directly to it, with nothing else connected, and it barely worked. Again my charger said the battery was full. I may need to get a better charger it sounds like just to rule that out. The connectors from the current limiter to the actual motor were already replaced 1 year ago with aircraft grade environmental isolating crimp connectors. I agree that wire nuts do not belong in a RV and are by far not the best choice, however they should be able to handle this motor.

    I'll need to take some more voltage measurements in certain configurations to find some of those things out. It sounds like I need to start looking into redoing everything in and around my battery and power converter. I was really hoping to get it to work at least for my trip next weekend. Looks like I'll be cranking it up. If this is going to require much more I'll probably start looking at going at if from a clean start. Replace all the connectors with correct ones, put in a power distribution buss block, new terminal lugs everywhere to make future maintenance easier, proper fuse protection, possibly rebuild the current limter with larger gauge wires, and clean everything up with adel clamps (I'm an aircraft electrician so I'd do it to aviation standard, that'll do it! lol) I'll have to revisit this after my trip most likely as I closed the trailer up today. I'll try to get out there and clean the whiffle tree before I leave, that looks easy enough to do. I do appreciate your input a lot, so thank you for trying to help me figure this out.
     
  15. Adam H

    Adam H Active Member

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    These are experiences and fixes I have done with my Fleetwood Avalon. Same lift system as yours.

    Use the on board charger / converter and plug it in for 24-48 hours. Much easier and probably more effective. They do work pretty well....

    Nope, the Propane detector is still powered, fridge too. I put a battery cutoff switch on the tongue of my camper. Battery into the switch, everything else out.

    Check for a crappy little plastic connector on the tongue that connects the battery to the camper. That's were I had my largest voltage drop on my Avalon. Cut it out and properly splice the wires.

    That seems like a lot of extra work. Other than the crappy camper wiring, these lift systems work as designed and work very well. Don't run the lift wire from the converter if you haven't addressed that crappy little main connector at the tongue (mentioned above), better yet, just run it to the battery. I ran my lift 10ga wire from the battery cut off switch near the battery to the lift controller.

    Remove the rear cover and clean the whiffle tree. Knowing how these things are built, there is probably very little grease on it. Don't forget to grease the cover plate you removed for access as the coupling slides on it and don't operate it without the cover installed.

    My Fleetwood advises against using the lift while plugged in.
     
  16. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

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    Nope.

    Your original post doesn't say how big your trailer is, but I would guess 12ft? 14ft? Do you have A/C on the roof? My 14' Niagara lid has got to be heavy...I have an a/c on the roof. It takes over a minute and a half to raise the roof, and it's a Highwall so the distance to lift is less than a regular pup. Perhaps "barely working" is in the eye of the beholder?



    It's your trailer, but Adam H and I have solved the same issue by simply bypassing the original wiring. I had a 15a DC slot left in the power distribution center, ran 10g landscape wire out through the original hole in the floor and ran it back to the current limiter, and connected it to the current limiter. Zip tied and wire loomed, took less than an hour. Adam H ran his directly from the battery.


    These maintainers do a poor job of charging the battery. I would guess that the voltage never gets above 13.4. Battery gurus now say you need 14.6-14.8 volts to fully charge your battery.

    I also agree with Adam H about the on board charger. Leave your trailer plugged in, it will do a far better job of charging the battery than a maintainer.
     
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  17. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

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    Just keep it plugged into your tow vehicle while it's idling. You'll have enough juice to get the top up.
     

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