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Out with the Old. In with the New.

My 1993 Dolphin 32D was kept in great shape by the previous owners. They were meticulous in their maintenance regimen and kept immaculate records. I received 2 huge accordion file folders chock full of manuals and receipts. They had added several nice cosmetic features like encased awnings on every window, upgraded interior lighting and things such as that. I suspect they were older and not so much the handyman/tinkerer types. The reason I say this? It looks like every addition and upgrade and fix to my recreational vehicle was performed at a prominent Ft Worth RV dealer for mucho $$$$. One of the recurring class of receipts was “vehicle wanders on the road”. Tons of receipts for front end alignments and ultimately the installation of a steering stabilizer, then more alignments, then new shocks……. I suspect driving the Fish Bus in all of its’ lumbering, swaying, wandering glory was just a little much for the Seniors. I have not touched the front end on the RV in the almost 5 years I have owned the Old Girl.

One of the things that never gave them any problems seemed to be the motor home electronics. In 15 years there have been many great advances in technology and I set out to upgrade many of the original systems on my diesel pusher  to take advantage of the improved technology. An overview of all the changes to my RV can be found here.

One of the items that quickly made it to the top of the upgrade list was replacement of the  old MagneTek  6325 converter/charger.  This old dinosaur was so exasperating.  Back in the day, it was cheap and long lived and the RV industry installed thousands of these units I would guess.  Hey, it was still working!  What can I say?  The aggravating part was that it was a single stage charger and charged the batteries at a constant dismally low and slow charge rate of 4-5 amps.  All the time.  MagneTek set the charge low so it would not boil the RV house batteries.  But if you were hooked to shore power all the time or stored the RV for long periods of time hooked to a shore power umbilical it certainly would boil those batteries. Cook ’em right up and ruin them.    The first weekend that I went boondocking, I found (to my horror) that the rv generator could not charge the depleted 12v house batteries in a reasonable time.  I do not know how many hours I ran the Generac propane generator but I was just not getting anywhere!  I later did some calculations and discovered it would take 120 hours to fully charge the rv house batteries with the old MagneTek 6325.   Holy Crap!  To top it all off, the MagneTek charger emitted an annoying hum — all the time.

About a month after purchase, the dealer where I bought the Fish Bus called and said the previous owner had dropped off some components to the satellite system and some more documentation and receipts.  ( I told you they were great folks!)   I had inspected the house batteries and thought they looked to be in good shape.  They were huge Universal UB8d 12 volt batteries x2.  170 lbs each and a total of 950ah, they had been installed professionally and with all new cable it appeared. I was going through the new pile of paperwork when I discovered to my pleasure AND horror that the recreational vehicle house batteries were a scant 90 days old at a cost of almost $1000 installed.  Holy Cats — again!  No way I was going to chance ruining those beautifulyl massive new batteries so I got on the fast track to replace that old MagneTek charger/converter.

I soon discovered the new smart chargers were the way to go.  They monitored the battery voltage and adjusted the charge rate accordingly.  Starting out a a high voltage fast charge of 14.4 volts they the dropped back to 13.6 volts to finish the charge.  Once charged, the  intelligent charger dropped back to a “float” charge of 13.2 volts.  Exactly what I needed!  No more fried house batteries.

I settled on a a Progressive Dynamics 60amp charger with this neat little remote pendant  that flashed to indicate the current stage of charge. Plus you could press a button on the pendant and change it to any charge mode you wanted.  I calculated that the new Progressive Dynamics 9200 series charger could charge my house batteries in as little as 4 hours.  Now wouldn’t that be an improvement!

I was more than a little intimidated when I thought about doing this upgrade. I was going to rip the brains out of the Old Girl and I was not confident I was that good of an RV brain surgeon.  Then an interesting thing happened.  I was shopping for the Progressive Dynamics 9200 series converter/charger and I ran across Best Converters and they had some good prices and I liked their attitude. I was reading down the links at the side of the page and I saw this …………. MagneTek to Progressive Dynamics Upgrade. I quickly clicked the link and Eureka!. The exact article with tons of pictures that I needed to do the MagneTek upgrade and the best part, the very best part, was it showed you how to gut the old MagneTek Chassis and insert the Progressive Dynamics 9200 series in its’ place. The most professional and neatest installation imaginable! Now, I would estimate you need average mechanical ability to do this upgrade simply because the pictures which take you step by step through the process paired with some great instructions make it a snap! Paired with the Trimetric 2020 Battery Monitoring system, it is a winning combo!

So here I am 4 years later and the Progressive Dynamics 9200 series is still hard at work- with no annoying bumblebee hum. I still have the same set of humongous house batteries and while they might, just might, have lost a little ooomph they are still plenty good. Good stuff folks!

You know it is a funny thing. When we mobilize and pull off the jobsite, I usually stop at a fuel stop close to my destination to top of the Old Girls’ diesel tank. I prefer to have a nearly full tank to cut down on condensation in the tank when we are sitting for weeks or months. Sometimes the Fish Bus looks sorta bedraggled and aged when one of those newer, “improved” coaches pulls in to the next set of pumps. Black streaked and dusty, front end bug splattered and towing a very businesslike and utilitarian looking Suburban, I am sure those people in that fancy dan Monaco or Tiffin or Travel Supreme motor home look down there noses at me just a teeny bit. No matter! I know those full body paint, low ground clearance, all electric, multi slide, in motion satellite equipped beauties probably would not survive the first week of Fish Bus reality.

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Out with the Old. In with the New., 9.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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