The Best Laid Plans

 Posted by at 12:31 am  Nick's Blog
May 162017

Something I learned early in my Army days was that you can plan an operation down to the last detail and spend weeks talking strategy, but it can all go out the window the minute you put boots on the ground. That’s why you should always have a Plan B. And it doesn’t hurt to have a Plan C and a Plan D, too, just in case.

That strategy has served me well not only in the military, but in business as well. And it extends into every aspect of life. As I said a while back, I knew our Winnebago motorhome’s coach batteries needed to be replaced, but rather than do that before we parked it for six or seven months, I planned to buy new batteries right before we hit the road.

The motorhome is parked in a fenced storage yard here at our little community, and I wasn’t surprised when the coach batteries were real low when I checked it a while back. My plan was that when we were getting ready to hit the road, I would start the rig’s Onan diesel generator and let it run for a while to charge the coach batteries, and if that didn’t give them enough power to start the engine, I could use the Battery Boost switch to bring the house batteries into the circuit and give me enough juice to start it.

But when I checked on the motorhome yesterday, my digital voltmeter showed that my house batteries are very low. Like 7.7 volts. This even though I had turned off all of the circuits with the battery disconnect switch. When I told Greg White about them yesterday, he said certain things like the CO2 alarms and propane alarms are still engaged even when you hit that battery disconnect switch. Apparently over the months, they have pulled the house batteries down

Fortunately, they are two year Lifeline AGM batteries, and I am pretty confident that they will come back up once I charge them. We had the same batteries in our MCI bus conversion, and when Lifeline supplied them to us they encouraged us to use and abuse them as much as we could, running them down to seven or eight volts routinely before recharging. Sort of a torture test, because they wanted us to tell our readers just how much abuse they could take. We did exactly that, and after eight years of fulltiming, the batteries were just as good as they were the day we put them in. Back in those days we did a lot of dry camping. Our longest stint without being hooked up to any kind of utilities was over seven months.

The easy thing would be to jump the batteries, but that’s a problem because there is another motorhome parked right next to us, and there is not enough room to pull a vehicle in and jump the batteries. And there’s no power in the storage yard, so I can’t run a cord to a battery charger and charge them up that way. So Plan B is to see if I can jump the generator itself with my Ford pickup. It’s in the front of the motorhome on a pull out tray and easy to access. If I do that, I can plug my battery charger in and charge the batteries.

And if that doesn’t work, Plan C is to connect two or three sets of jumper cables together and see if they will reach the battery bay. But since it’s right in front of the dual wheels in the rear of the motorhome, I don’t know how well that will work out. The longer the run of wire, the less power you’re going to get at the other end.

In which case, we have Plan D, which is to go ahead and buy the new starting batteries and install them there in the storage yard. Instead of crawling around in the dirt in the storage yard, I would have preferred to wait to install them until I pulled the motorhome over here at the house, where we have a huge concrete apron to park on. But that was way back when we were still working on Plan A. I will let you know how things work out.

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Thought For The Day – When I’m finally holding all the right cards, everyone suddenly wants to play chess.

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Nick Russell

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  5 Responses to “The Best Laid Plans”

  1. Twice before I became a winter snowbird and parked my coach free from shore power over winter I experienced the same problem. Both times I successfully jumped my generator let it run about 15 minutes then started my engine. My starting batteries came back up and all was well. Even though I’m on shore power in the park here I just had to replace both my 7 year old 8D starting batteries as they shorted out and began to boil and bulge the cases.

  2. Nick, do you have Coach Net? If so you could call them and have them come out and jump start your rig. I own one of those emergency start boxes with a battery which I can use in such an emergency, bought it at Sams Club and it has come in very handy.
    Good luck.

  3. When we parked our rig in the storage “corral” at our home here in Tucson, our solar panels kept our house AND engine batteries at “float” with no problem. I am wondering why yours did not. I am certain that with some minor modification of your solar current manager, you would no longer have any issue.

  4. Looks like the ghosts on your battery have been working smoke detector battery voltage meter as you know I’m not far from you I have a 4000 W generator in the back of my pick up truck if you need help let me know
    One reader suggested (coach net ) RV mobile service to come and jump you
    Most Tow trucks Carry a portable booster pack. Just for that purpose

  5. Get one of those lithium ion jump starters off Amazon. One large enough to jump start your vehicle and the motorhome generator. Should be under $100. Then you will have it for other issues and it will also double as an external battery pack for your phones and such.

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