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Old 07-12-2019, 11:28 AM   #1
Dave Gamble
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Cougar 26RBS battery dead after driving

Everything is fine when we're out & about and have shore power. The last two times we went back home, we arrived with a nearly dead battery.

My first thought was the converter, but there are a couple of things that argue against it, the primary of which is that when I disconnect the battery from the cables, the two thick cables show 13.7 VDC.

There is also a set of thinner wires (see attached photo) that I assumed were the DC power feed from the TV. With the truck running and the trailer umbilical attached to the truck, I get 0 VDC on the thinner wires.

My question is this: are those thinner wires what I think they are? Should I be seeing voltage on them when the trailer is plugged into the TV?
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:24 PM   #2
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No. The TV voltage will come in on the big black and red cables.

With the TV connected (and running), and the cables off of the battery, what voltage do they show? If nothing, then you're not getting any voltage from the tow vehicle.
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:50 PM   #3
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You can start your tow vehicle (most have a relay that disconnects the battery/alternator in the tow vehicle when the ignition is off.

With the tow vehicle running, you should get around 13.6 VDC between pins 4 and 1. You can determine the location from the diagram below.

If you have voltage on these pins, then you'll need to troubleshoot the trailer wiring to determine what is interrupting voltage to the battery while towing.

If you do not have voltage on these pins, it's probably a fuse in the "high voltage fuse panel" located under the hood.
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Old 07-12-2019, 05:25 PM   #4
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And the little wire is most likely power to the tongue jack.
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Old 07-12-2019, 05:27 PM   #5
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Those two other wires are probably for the solar plug. The TV power comes in to a terminal box on your tongue on the 7 pin cable and then it goes to the battery through an auto reset breaker on the tongue.
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Old 07-12-2019, 05:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steveo57 View Post
Those two other wires are probably for the solar plug. The TV power comes in to a terminal box on your tongue on the 7 pin cable and then it goes to the battery through an auto reset breaker on the tongue.


I only saw the one smaller wire, your probably right.
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Old 07-13-2019, 06:27 AM   #7
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Update: the pin chart provided by is identical to the one embossed on the plastic cap on the back of the F150. I tested the RH brake/stop light and it worked. I got nothing from pins 1 and 4, where I expected to see voltage. It didn't matter if the truck was running or not.

Next step was to test the related fuse. Ford does not make that easy at all. With the fuse out, I was able to see the diagram on the side - I'm not used to these big high power fuses. The diagram included what looks like a relay. I found continuity between the pins depicted as a fuse.

Figuring that there might be a need to actually have to the trailer attached (these Ford trucks think about things I would never have expected) I went ahead and did that. I had already found voltage provided by the converter, so I disconnected shore power and tested the terminals on the thick cables. It wasn't zero VDC - it showed .1

I plugged the trailer into the truck, started the truck, and tested again. I got 13+ VDC.

So, the battery seems to be getting everything it needs to not die.

Now I'm starting to question the battery again. It was a suspect early on, but it takes and holds a charge and has been deemed A-Okay by the smart charger I use, but perhaps I am putting to much faith in the charger and the fact that the battery is less than a year old. I'm also wondering how it could die in a less than 2 hour drive home with practically no draw on it. Perhaps it had been slowly dying during the five days we were out and just coincidentally died once we got back home. That would be quite a coincidence as this is the 2nd time it has happened. And with shore power and a working converter, what would deplete the battery during those five days?

It doesn't matter. I need to do a stress test on the battery - is that a thing, and how would I go about it, assuming this is the last possibility? Or, since it's an Interstate and they don't seem to have a lot of customer loyalty, should I just replace it with something better?

And before I forget, thanks to all of you for your advice.
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Old 07-13-2019, 06:46 AM   #8
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Just take the battery to any auto parts store. They have a tool to load test the battery.

Also, consider that what you probably have is not a true deep cycle battery, but a hybrid "starter/deep cycle" combo battery - these are commonly installed by RV dealerships. These type of batteries can work, but are not as good as true deep cycle batteries. If your current battery includes a cold cranking amps (CCA) rating, then it is not a true deep cycle battery.

Just to be sure, with shore power connected and no truck, your battery cables measured 13.something volts? I guess the converter/charger on the trailer could still be bad, but if it's measuring 13.something volts when plugged-in to shore power it sure looks like it's okay.

While you were camping, you had the trailer connected to shore power? And then you just drove home and by the time you got there the battery was dead? How much time elapsed between disconnecting from shore power and getting home and noticing the battery was dead?

Is it possible you turned off the battery disconnect switch for the drive home? This (I'm pretty sure) will disconnect the battery from the truck's charging wire.

Something just doesn't sound right here. It could be a bad battery, but I'm wondering...
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Old 07-13-2019, 07:22 AM   #9
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Here's the story:

We have recently made two 5-day trips to a full service hookup. Everything worked fine, with the exception of another piece of my camper departing while on the highway (weather stripping around the front door, this time) with no indications of any kind of power problem. We unhook in the morning and are home within three hours.

I back the trailer in and plug in shore power. I use the tongue jack for the up-down-up ballet of detaching the load distribution and lifting from the hitch pin. I move the truck and hit the Auto Level button. I get a beep and an error that says LF JACK ERROR.

That cost me quite a few debugging hours before I realized that's just Ground Control's way of saying Low Voltage.

This, by the way, was mysterious in its own way: even if the battery was nearly dead (which I determined later when trying to use the tongue jack again), shouldn't the shore power have been enough? Or would it somehow opt to send some or all of it to the battery? I think the Ground Control is pretty thirsty - it doesn't like low voltage. It's kind cowardly to blame it on the left front jack, but there ya go. I was a coder - sometimes all you can show a user is your best guess as to what went wrong.

I should also point out that it takes a surprising amount of force to manually raise or lower the gear, even with a breaker bar. This is important to know because once the Ground Control gets in that fail mode, the only way that I have found to clear it is to manually lower and raise each leg.

So, this all called the health of the converter into question - maybe we had been living off of battery power for those 5 days, not the converter. That wouldn't have been much drain, but it would have likely been enough to weaken the battery enough to not be able to run the jacks.

The converter is very easy to get at in the 26RBS, so I checked its fuses and both were fine.

To check both the converter output and the applicable wiring, I disconnected the battery and tested for voltage at the battery cables. I also detached the umbilical to the truck. I had 13.7 VDC.

Today I hooked the cable to the trailer and disconnected shore power. I again had 13.7 VDC.

At this point I'm entertaining buying a new and better-suited battery and seeing how it goes.
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:06 AM   #10
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If there is CCA/CA (cold cranking amps/cranking amps) numbers on the battery label, regardless if it's a very big number, they installed/sold you the wrong type battery, you will not be starting/cranking anything with it. The only number that should appear on the battery needed is Ah (amp hours).
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:09 AM   #11
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First of all look at my number of posts to determine how much experience i have with this stuff....

I have found that disconnecting the motor from the hand crank allows me to manually crank the gear easier. From what I have read in trying to troubleshoot related stuff, (note that means not experienced), the battery should really power the jack motor and the slide motors. Reliance on shore power to do so is hard on the converter.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:49 AM   #12
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Are you sure the battery disconnect was on (connected) while you were towing?
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Old 07-28-2019, 07:13 AM   #13
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FYI: It is not unusual for fake deep cycle batteries (Marine) to only last 6 months to a year. That is why many people replace it with 2 6v golf cart batteries or 1 12v golf cart battery right away.
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Old 07-28-2019, 10:31 AM   #14
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Eliminate battery as themproblem

You can eliminate the battery itself as the problem. Disconnect it completely then check the voltage. Leave it disconnected for several hours (overnight) and check the voltage again. There should be very little drop in the voltage. If it is the problem and it went dead in just a few hours you should see that same phenomenon this way.
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Old 07-28-2019, 03:01 PM   #15
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Anyone question why the red wire is connected to what would appear to be the ground terminal of the battery ? Just a thought.
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Old 07-28-2019, 03:07 PM   #16
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I'm on my 4th season with my 12v hybrid battery

Just sayin'!
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Old 07-28-2019, 04:49 PM   #17
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For the OP, there is a big push for 6V golf cart batteries on an RV by some that use them and in the process the 12V marine/RV deep cycle hybrid seems to get maligned a lot, and, to a new person, it sounds like it's "the wrong kind of battery for the job". That's not the case...

The hybrid batteries have been installed on RVs since I can remember. The push for "golf cart" batteries on everything is a fairly new phenomenon to me. In your case, as in mine, it doesn't sound like you need the extra cost/weight if you are always in an improved campground. The hybrid will work for years (probably many) just fine. I would install 2 but that's me. If you did a lot of unimproved camping (dry) then I would definitely be considering the 6v batteries. For me, I don't dry camp but every once in a while for a couple of days and 2 12v hybrids do fine. If I were to extend that then 6v would be in the picture even though I would have to fabricate mounts since they won't fit in the existing framework/enclosure.

So as you're thinking about upgrading the battery remember: 6v vs 12v in batteries is exactly like gas vs diesel in trucks. They each serve a purpose and the individual's needs is what will dictate the battery requirement. Keep that in mind as you resolve your problem and IMO don't hesitate to get another 12v battery given my understanding of your usage....and, Interstate's are good batteries. AND....the increased amp hours of a 6v might let you arrive with a battery that's not dead, but you still might have a problem so find that. Plus, you have to have 2 6v batteries (large/heavy/space) to replace one 12v battery - it's not just drop one in and go but 12v golf cart batteries, group 24 are available also I believe - I think Trojan makes one.
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Old 08-07-2019, 01:42 PM   #18
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Maybe the battery needs water? Speaking from experience...
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:01 PM   #19
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Batteries in General

Used to be that batteries lasted quite a while 5 years.. Just put one in another truck I own after 7 years before it failed... recently I've noticed that battery life is NOT what it used to be... Even the name brands like Interstate and Die Hard and such seem wimpy at best..
I've been told that Johnson Controls, Exide and East Penn make 99% of all batteries... And multiple persons who sell, install and stock all brands of batteries have said that the quality is poor.... Our fleet comes with Motorcraft which normally last about 2 years if we are lucky... we switched to Interstate and had more failures with Interstate than with Motorcraft. So we've moved back to Motorcraft... with all that said, I've noticed a number of RV'ers who put two 6volt batteries in series for twelve volts... are these deep cycle golf cart type batteries more powerful in Amp hours than a regular 12volt deep cycle? Maybe I'm not looking at this from the right perspective...
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:32 PM   #20
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True "deep cycle" batteries are a "breed all their own"....

Most "hybrid" batteries are called "deep cycle" but really aren't. Most are "marine/RV deep cycle" which means they are required to provide both "cranking capacity" (high amp draw) and "continuous capacity" (slow steady discharge). The "hybrid" will always have CCA or Cold Cranking Amps listed on it. The "deep cycle" battery will not have that designation.

What makes them different? The "true deep cycle" battery has thicker plates which can withstand repeated deeper discharges without failure. The "hybrid" has thinner plates so it can deliver higher "cranking amps" (not needed in a true deep cycle battery) but because of the thinner plates, is more subject to damage and failure when discharged deeply.

The batteries in my truck are 5 years old (Motorcraft) and I just replaced the battery in my DW's Escape (2008 model) last year, after 10 years of use (also Motorcraft). I have not experienced the early failure that you say your fleet is experiencing.

As for "true deep cycle" 12 volt batteries, they are available, usually cost slightly more than two 6 volt batteries of similar 20 amp discharge ratings. That's why most people (IMHO) buy 6 volt batteries: Easier to handle due to weight and cost a bit less.
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