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OCD Behavior in the Boondocks

Wednesday morning I woke up in my RV and the  gray light was just starting to seep in the windows. An insistent beeping had awakened me…  the Norcold refrigerator yet again!  WTF?  Deja Vu.  This sucked!  Shaking off the sleep, I  looked at the Trimetric and it showed 11.2 volts.  How could that be???  I had gone to bed the previous night with adequate ( I thought) amps banked in the batteries.  Obviously not!

Rain spatters the camera lens. The Old Girl at home in Calvert,TX as a new day starts.

Rain spatters the camera lens. The Old Girl at home in Calvert,TX as a new day starts.

I pulled on my Red Wings and went outside to do the jumper cable routine and the Generac generator was running in short order.   Rainy days are made for sleeping in and here I was wide awake at 6:30am.   What an absolutely crappy way to start a day!   Man oh man, I just could not live like this.

Let me make an aside here.

Take a look at the photo of the Old Girl.  See the black Camco Gen-Turi exhaust pipe connected to the Generac generator on the front of the Old Girl?  See the exhaust fumes/condensation coming out of the TOP of the Camco Gen-Turi?  You see any fumes coming out down by the bumper?  At the bottom?  There are beaucoup idiots who say a Gen-Turi is not necessary.  Check any internet forum and you will read their flawed arguements about why they don’t think they need a Gen-Turi.   This photo should blow their arguments all to hell and back.  OK, rant off 🙂

I put on a pot of coffee (an unusual event – my caffeine source is normally Diet Pepsi) and sat down at the dinette to mull things over.   I knew what the underlying problem was and I had refused to acknowledge it since I arrived here in Calvert.   My Trimetric 2020 was partially FUBAR.   The Trimetric is a wonderful tool for the serious boondocker and I recommend it heartily.  It accurately monitors your battery voltage and also keeps track of the amps you are consuming – and replenishing.   The amps are the thing you see.  Amps withdrawn from the battery bank have to be replaced.   If you know how many amps you have used, you can intelligently recharge with your generator.  It all revolves around the amps.   The problem was I had been getting erratic amp readings on the Trimetric gauge since I got here.  The battery voltage readings worked just fine.   It was like I was trying to drive the Old  Girl to a specific destination but I didn’t have a road map to show me the way.  I just couldn’t continue to experience these problems and plus it was hard on my batteries to deplete them to these low levels.   Things had to change and today was the day.

When I have a problem like this I get totally OCD.  The kids and the GF call it “going on a mission.”   I will not stop or let up until the mission is completed.  OCD all the way!  I am glad I am not like that all the time because I am a bear to live with.  I am anal about electrical installations like the Trimetric.  That is from the days of building race cars.  Electrical problems are a bitch to resolve so you always take special care during installation to ward off  problems down the line. So where had I screwed up?

The brass bar is the Trimetric shunt. Ummmm- The Home Depot bag is plugging the hole where the electrical cables exit the battery compartment. Not pretty- functional.

Without getting technical, the Trimetric 2020 installation is an intermediate skill level task.   You wire a brass shunt into the negative side of the battery bank.  Wires are then connected to each side of the shunt. Through some sorta Electrical Engineer Magic Stuff, the resistance between the two sides of the shunt is translated into stuff that means something to me when I punch the buttons on the Trimetric.  Don’t ask me how it works beyond that.  I paid good money to the Trimetric folks to figure it out for me.  Even this much detail makes my brain start to hurt just a little.

The Trimetric gauge hanging out of the wall, a flashlight, Multi-meter and jar of peanut butter.  You don't sit down to a full meal when you are on an OCD mission.  Just doesn't work that way.

The Trimetric hanging out of the wall, a Multi Meter, flashlight, instructions and a jar of peanut butter. You just don't sit down to a meal when you are on an OCD mission!

So during my mulling session at the dinette, I had to come up with a plan of attack to figure out the problem before I died of OCD overload.   In previous days, I had checked and double checked to make sure the connections to each side of the shunt and the connections to the gauge were wired correctly. So the only other thing it could be was a continuity problem. I either had a wire broken or a bad connection somewhere. But how to check 25 feet of wires that ran through a shielded cable down through the belly of the bus? Hmmmmm, time for another mulling session at the dinette.

I pulled the 2amp fuse on the Trimetric to prevent any voltage spike issues while I fiddled with it. I unhooked the numbered wires at the shunt and at the Trimetric. I was dealing with 3 different wires, any of which could be the cause of the problem. Next step was to take the first wire and touch it to the 12v positive side of the house battery in the battery compartment. A quick trip inside the Old Girl and I hooked the Multi Meter to the wire to see if it read 12 volts. If it did, I was golden. The first two wires checked out good and I was beginning to wonder what my next step was going to be. The third wire failed. It was a bad crimped connector on the shunt end. Glory be!

The Trimetric showing amps flowing into the battery banks on the Old Girl

I buttoned everything up and turned the Generac generator on with my fingers crossed. BINGO! The Trimetric showed a positive flow of amps flowing into the battery banks on my RV. Oh happy dance, happy dance! No more guessing how bad I had depleted my batteries, No more beeping ‘fridge and no more early morning jump starting forays in my jammies and work boots. /OCD mode off.    🙂

End Note: A satisfying day with a sense of accomplishment.  Kicking back listening to Pride and Joy by Albert King ( with Stevie Ray Vaughan) from the In Session Album.

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