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Old 10-02-2015, 08:03 PM   #1
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Default Recommendations of Class B repair shops

Any suggestions for a RV repair place that is good at electrical problems? This forum has a lot of information about repairs, many of which are most suitable for DIYers. That's great if you are a DIYer. But, I am not, nor is my husband. We need a really knowledgeable repair ship experienced in electrical problems, and I expect that there are many other readers of this forum who would also benefit from such suggestions.

We purchased a GreatWest Van/Sterling 2015 Promaster this May, shortly before Great West closed. We have problems with the solenoid charging the coach batteries, and cannot get any factory help, because they closed. Although our dealer has tried to help us, their service department says that the the wiring in this van is very strange. It was likely among the last vehicles off the GWV factory line, and may have been either hurriedly or incompetently wired (lots of other things on this vehicle clearly were done in a hurry, or by inexperienced people). So, we want to find a shop who can look at the problem over all, and do serious rewiring if necessary. We are not knowledgeable enough to do it ourselves. We'd love to find one in the Northeast, as we live in Massachusetts, but are heading cross country to the west coast in a month, and will stop anywhere along the way, including making a long sidetrip, to get this problem really fixed. In the meantime we have no choice but to rely on campgrounds with shore power most of the trip, which is a bummer. We will appreciate any suggestions.

The problem: The second solenoid, which some shop guys are calling a battery switch, is causing problems. It sits up front under the hood, installed by GWV to charge the coach batteries. We have 2 AGM batteries beneath the floor in the rear, a 3000 w. inverter that runs the frig, electric cooktop, microwave and coffeepot.

We are about to replace the problem solenoid for the second time in 4 months. First one was declared inoperative and replaced in June, because the coach batteries did not recharge while running the engine. The second was declared inoperative in September. It, or something, causes the 20 amp fuse that sits right next to it to blow. We have now replaced that fuse at least 3 maybe 4 times. That is making us nervous.

The solenoid may never operate, or only operate sometimes. During a couple of sunny days it is difficult for us to tell when the batteries are being recharged from the solar panel (one 100 watt panel), and when from running. It seems unlikely,though possible, that we happened to get 2 bad solenoids.

Suggestions, please!
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:29 AM   #2
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Hopefully you'll get some recommendations soon.

In the meantime, if you can post a photo of the troublesome part we might be able to help you or at least give you some info for your repair person. Also post a photo of the fuse and the size printed on the wires connected to the fuse.

20 amps is a small amount of current when it comes to charging a battery. It possible the wrong size fuse was installed. I'm not suggesting you change it right now though. The fuse is there to protect the wiring from burning up so that's why some photos and more info would be very useful.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archeogal View Post
........... We have 2 AGM batteries beneath the floor in the rear, a 3000 w. inverter that runs the frig, electric cooktop, microwave and coffeepot.........
Also, something could be missing in that info. 2 AGM's to run an electric cooktop is likely not enough or barely enough if they are standard size AGM's.

Are you meant to run the van engine when using a high draw appliance like that?

Great West had announced an all electric RV prior to closing.
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Old 10-03-2015, 04:44 AM   #4
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We also had problems with the original solenoid in our 2014 GWV Legend EX built on the MB Sprinter Chassis. It may not be the same as your problem but perhaps our "fix" can help you with your "fix."

We replaced the original solenoid with a White Rodgers Model #124-105111-3 solenoid. It's rating is 12V DC continuous with a contact rating of 100 amps. This is a similar physical sized solenoid but much higher rated capacity.

This is a heavier duty solenoid so when you activate you will hear a "clunk" when it engages, but that's ok. You should have a certified RV mechanic install this as you are dealing with a high current capacity battery system. This particular brand of solenoid is available through Amazon and runs $40-$60. You may find it elsewhere.

Like you, we previously tried replacing the original solenoid with a similarly rated solenoid but both failed. Then we replaced with the White Rodgers 100 amp solenoid and have had no failures in the 15,000 miles we've put on the EX.

We hope this information helps you.
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Old 10-03-2015, 05:01 AM   #5
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You might try Lake Region RVs in Ramsey Minnesota. They were a GW dealer for many years and may be familiar with some of their issues... although the Promaster is a pretty new format. Their tech is experienced with electrical issues.
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Old 10-03-2015, 07:23 PM   #6
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Thanks to everyone who answered above. Our GWV Promaster 2015 van is currently in the shop, so I can't provide any photos right now. I will try to do that in a few days, and will appreciate any advice. We also wondered if a 20 amp fuse was too small.

Thanks to IndyTraveler for the information on the solenoid that worked for them. We didn't get this information in time to talk with the mechanic yet, but will do so on Monday.

In regard to the number of batteries markopolo commented on above; no, we are not supposed to have to run the engine when using the cooktop or other appliances. We presume that the 3000 watt inverter was supposed to do the job?

Dave DeBraga, GWV president, did tell us, the one time we got to talk with him shortly before they closed, that it was likely that we should have a larger converter if we intended to dry camp frequently, so that the batteries would recharge faster. We have a 45 amp converter. He said that had they known we wanted to boondock much, that it would have been better to put in an 85 amp converter. We may do that eventually, and may add more solar capacity, but it seems to make sense to solve this solenoid problem first.

Our GWV Promaster is almost all-electric--only having a propane water heater. We are not sure that we like having the frig not be a 3 way though, as when we have these electrical problems, the frig goes off, and we then have no backup, except shore power. Prior to this, we have always had propane as a backup for the frig system.

Our dealer is Lake Region, thanks. We think they are great, and that they have tried hard to help us. The problem is that they are 1500 miles away. Still, we may return there on our trip west. At the time we were there in July they were addressing other problems with our van, and thought that changing the solenoid might do the trick. They also seemed somewhat overwhelmed then with the closing of Great West, as that left them holding the bag with several vehicles, and being asked to do repairs that normally might have been sent to the factory.
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Old 10-03-2015, 08:43 PM   #7
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The 3000 watt inverter is adequate or even more than adequate.

Two house batteries are great in an RV that uses propane for the fridge, cooktop, furnace & hot water.

Two batteries, if they're the typical size seen in RV's, is likely not enough in a mostly electric RV used mostly off grid. The fridge alone will use a fair bit of your capacity over 24 hours.

Does your Great West have a generator?

If not, I think you'll be happier with the performance if you have four batteries instead of two.

I'd spend the money on batteries before upgrading the converter.

Does your Promaster have a gas or diesel engine?

If gas engined and no generator then you should consider configuring the setup to better allow running the engine to assist the batteries when powering things like the electric cooktop, microwave oven, coffee maker, hair dryer etc.

(the Promaster diesel supplent to the owner manual warns about idling the diesel engine)

With enough batteries you won't have to always run the engine for power but might choose to aid in battery longevity & system performance.

The solenoid / relay / isolator (whichever you chose to get) should be sized to accommodate the maximum output expected from the alternator. The wiring on that run should be sufficiently sized to handle that current and needs to be appropriately protected by fuses or circuit breakers.

It may sound complicated but it is actually simple 12v wiring.

In my RV for example, the relay/isolator is rated 140 amps and it has a 124 amp alternator. Some info here: http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f5...ence-3420.html

If you sufficiently size the solenoid / relay / isolator and wiring and fusing then that will be the fastest way to charge your batteries.

Alternately you could go further with the upgrades and add a second alternator. Avanti has completed this on his Great West Sprinter.

You'll get all this sorted out soon and it will be a great RV.
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Old 10-04-2015, 12:42 AM   #8
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I don't think you will regret having a compressor fridge once you get your electrical issues sorted. They work SO much better than absorption fridges. Plus, modern absorption fridges need some electricity to run their electronics, so they don't really provide a backup if you have a total power failure.

I do agree that trying to use one with only two batteries is marginal. We did it successfully for a year, but it took constant attention. We upgraded to four batteries and the issue went away. As Marko said, we finally went the whole way and installed a second alternator. Best thing we ever did to the rig, but it is a bit pricy.

FWIW: After a year of ownership, we totally love our GWV, and I bet you will, too. Hang in there.
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Old 10-04-2015, 05:46 PM   #9
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Thanks to both markopolo and avanti for the information, and the encouragement.

Our Promaster is a gas engine, so can be idled for a while without too much worry, though we don't like to do that. We do not have a generator in this van, by choice. We had one in our previous Born Free, and it was so noisy that we never used it, except to exercise it so it wouldn't rot. But, it did anyway, since we didn't use it! We're birders and nature lovers, and don't want to drown out the natural sounds. We don't like idling the engine for the same reason.

It is quite possible that we may want to go to 4 batteries eventually. But first we want to see how it goes with the 2 (not sure of the battery size, since the van is in the shop, and no info on the batteries in our info packet) on the first extended trip in it, coming up in a month, for much of the winter. We'll know better after that, but must have the solenoid issue solved before we start, I think.

A question--I certainly understand the advantage of four batteries, but do not really understand the advantage of the second alternator, if you mean 2 in addition to the engine alternator? Or, 2 including the engine one? What we have, as I understand it, is a second alternator (counting the engine one as the first), which is also being called a battery switch or a solenoid by various people. I believe that the box for the part called it an alternator. Frankly I don't know the difference, but expect our RV mechanic to know. This alternator was installed by GWV, and appears to be part of if not the source of the problem. We may try the White Rodgers solenoid, 100 amps, recommended by IndyTraveler.
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Old 10-04-2015, 07:24 PM   #10
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It would be either 1 or 2 alternators in total. (not 3)

A van alternator is fairly large - bigger than a grapefruit but smaller than a bowling ball.

alternator.JPG

It should be easy enough to visually confirm 1 or 2 in the engine compartment of your van.

Here's another possibility: http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f5...tric-3540.html

3.0 KW MEPS Engine Driven Generator

Could you have one of those? That would be 1 alternator (12v DC) (normal van alternator) and 1 actual generator (110 volt AC) under the hood.
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Old 10-04-2015, 08:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archeogal View Post
A question--I certainly understand the advantage of four batteries, but do not really understand the advantage of the second alternator, if you mean 2 in addition to the engine alternator? Or, 2 including the engine one? What we have, as I understand it, is a second alternator (counting the engine one as the first), which is also being called a battery switch or a solenoid by various people. I believe that the box for the part called it an alternator. Frankly I don't know the difference, but expect our RV mechanic to know. This alternator was installed by GWV, and appears to be part of if not the source of the problem. We may try the White Rodgers solenoid, 100 amps, recommended by IndyTraveler.
No. Alternators and solenoids are two different things. A "solenoid" (in this context) is simply a relay that closes when the engine is running in order to connect your coach batteries to the chassis charging system.

An "alternator" is a 12 volt generator--it is connected to the engine by a belt and produces the power that charges your battery. Your vehicle comes with an alternator that charges your starter battery and provides power to other devices while the engine is running. Most RVs use the chassis alternator to charge the house battery. There is usually a solenoid used to separate the two systems, so the house loads don't discharge the chassis battery when the engine isn't running.

Some high-end RVs have a second alternator. As Marko says, it should be obvious if you have one. Great West started to install separate alternators near the end of production, so you MIGHT have one. If you do, let us know--that would be a whole different discussion.
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:41 PM   #12
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As far as a place to take it, I can recommend only 1 place. Ocean Breeze RV, formally Bobs RV. I just brought my Chinook in and they did a fantastic job. Its right over the border in North Hampton NH. All of my systems, Stove, shower, furnace ect, ect were not working when I purchased this rig in july. I took it in there and they got all the electrical systems up and running by changing fuses and replacing corroded ones ect, ect, fixed a leak I couldn't find over the ladder, filled up my propane and then gave me a very detailed walkthrough showing me how all the systems work. All this for 400 bucks!!! I kept hearing about leaks in RVs costing thousands to find and fix........not with these guys. Peter Flanders is the owner. He is just like Flanders on the Simpsons TV show Lol. He is so polite as to border on being nerdy, but the man runs his shop honestly and goes above and beyond to help you. BTW, they had done the work and I requested they give me a walk through to show me how all the systems work and I said I would pay them for this. No, Free of Charge. When I picked up my rig Peter was not there but another guy gave me the walkthrough. He didn't have to do it, he could have said "Wait for Peter". He even let me record it as my memory is bad. Worst of all is I was so excited to have my rigs systems up and running I forgot to tip the guy!!!! He shook my hand and wished me luck and never mentioned anything. I called Peter on Thursday and told him I am bringing my rig in on Saturday and how I forgot to tip the guy due to my excitement. He laughed and said "No problem". I live in Mass myself and everyone recommends Ocean Breeze RV and now I know why. I do not work for them, I am just so happy with the service I got and if you live in the Northeast take your rig there. They literally could have said "hey, to get all the systems running its $2,500! I had no clue what was not working and what was. All I know is NOTHING was working in my rig. They could have screwed me and that was what was so scary. Ocean Breeze RV. I cant recommend them enough. 121 Lafayette Rd. North Hampton NH 03862. Ask for Peter and tell him Captain Chinook sent you.
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