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Old 06-15-2017, 09:32 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: ACE 30.1
State: Colorado
Posts: 388
THOR #5190
ACE 30.1 - Generator Start without House Batteries

I took my 2-month old Interstate 6V batteries to my local Interstate location to have them tested - They were not holding voltage at all well. It turned out one had a cracked shell (hence all the white powder in the battery compartment and the need to add more water than I though should be necessary) and the other tested OK. They replaced the bad one at no charge. They are now both tucked back in their home with a newly cleaned and painted battery compartment. I also just received a couple of neutralizing battery pads to put under them too.

While I had the batteries out I was going to do a bit of maintenance and found that when the house batteries are removed, I had no power to the generator starter. I was thinking (falsely) that the chassis battery would start the generator.

I was tempted to try the emergency switch next to the driver's seat, but wasn't all that dedicated to getting the generator started. I'm not sure that would have worked as to my understanding the emergency switch connects the house batteries to the coach engine starter and I think it requires house battery power to drive the solenoid.

Any one else had this opportunity? Seems a bit of a Catch 22 as if your coach batteries get discharged, you can't start the generator to recharge them. I suppose if I was really in a fix, I could pull the jumper cables out of the Mini we use as a toad and start the generator off the Mini (or the chassis battery).

If it is a wiring error, it wouldn't be the first for the coach. I found 3 of the 120 VAC circuits were wired to the wrong breakers
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:49 AM   #2
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THOR #2829
The emergency start switch is a two way street - it ties both batteries together.

I've used the emergency start switch to start the genny when the coach batteries were run down... I'd expect it would work if the coach batteries weren't present - but be sure the vacant positive lead is secured away from any metal parts....
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Old 06-16-2017, 03:08 PM   #3
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THOR #5190
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Originally Posted by gmc View Post
The emergency start switch is a two way street - it ties both batteries together.

I've used the emergency start switch to start the genny when the coach batteries were run down... I'd expect it would work if the coach batteries weren't present - but be sure the vacant positive lead is secured away from any metal parts....
Good to know. I'd already taped up the positive leads before I discovered that I couldn't start the generator as I expected to get voltage from the converter. I have three positive cables coming to the battery. I haven't tracked them down but suspect that one is from the converter, a second is from/to the emergency switch and I'm not sure what the third is - possibly main 12V feed to the store/use relay. I've got a 4-post terminal/bus on order and am going to mount it on the battery compartment wall so that I only have one cable under the positive battery terminal.
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Old 06-16-2017, 03:20 PM   #4
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THOR #5196
If your engine battery is still good you can start the coach engine and get power to start the generator. Engine alternator charges the the coach batteries, if they are present, when its running.
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Old 06-16-2017, 03:43 PM   #5
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THOR #6411
As for positive leads in the battery compartment. The one with the 50 amp fuse is from the charger. The one going to the 150 amp circuit breaker (located on the battery compartment wall) is for the inverter (1,000 watt) and the third one supplies power to the 12 Volt power center (where the fuses are located). Mine power center lead has a 100 amp circuit breaker in the lead. I have a positive lead for the bi-direction relay which has no fuse or circuit breaker in the lead.
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Old 06-16-2017, 05:06 PM   #6
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THOR #1765
[QUOTE=SuperD;72531]If your engine battery is still good you can start the coach engine and get power to start the generator. Engine alternator charges the the coach batteries, if they are present, when its running.[/QUOTEi

I have always wondered if it is OK to have the engine running if you try to start the generator using the engine battery. Usually you want to do that when you are out in the middle of nowhere and I am always afraid that I will run the engine battery down, not start the generator and then not be able to start the engine. If you have the engine running and the generator starts, you will have two charging systems charging the batteries at the same time - not a good thing. However, since there is a built in delay in the generator after it starts and before it turns on the 115v power, it seems to me that you could have the engine running, start the generator and then turn off the engine before the generator turns on its charging system. I have been too chicken to try it and prefer to start the engine, charge up the house batteries a little and then try to start the generator. Any comments?
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Old 06-16-2017, 05:50 PM   #7
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THOR #1150
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Originally Posted by Oneilkeys
I have always wondered if it is OK to have the engine running if you try to start the generator using the engine battery. Usually you want to do that when you are out in the middle of nowhere and I am always afraid that I will run the engine battery down, not start the generator and then not be able to start the engine. If you have the engine running and the generator starts, you will have two charging systems charging the batteries at the same time - not a good thing. However, since there is a built in delay in the generator after it starts and before it turns on the 115v power, it seems to me that you could have the engine running, start the generator and then turn off the engine before the generator turns on its charging system. I have been too chicken to try it and prefer to start the engine, charge up the house batteries a little and then try to start the generator. Any comments?
Interesting point--I've already posted today about someone asking if its ok to run two charging systems on one battery: my thought was that one or the other would break--however, I often drive down the road with both running which means that the converter charger is charging and the alternator is charging.

Perhaps in that instance the BIRD (in your case) opens up disconnecting the two systems preventing the chargers from fighting? (Mine has the RV Custom Products board which would do the same thing)
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Old 06-16-2017, 05:59 PM   #8
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THOR #5196
You can run the engine and generator both at the same time, we do it all the time on the road so we can run coach AC to keep it cool.
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Old 06-16-2017, 07:59 PM   #9
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THOR #6040
I can easily understand starting the gen with a dead house battery using the running engine and or the engine battery. But, are we sure disconnecting all house battery connections will not break the circuit between the engine and generator?? Wondering.
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Old 06-16-2017, 09:52 PM   #10
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THOR #1765
Good point JamieGeek and SuperD. It must be OK since people run their generators while underway.
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Old 06-16-2017, 09:57 PM   #11
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THOR #1765
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Originally Posted by wredman View Post
I can easily understand starting the gen with a dead house battery using the running engine and or the engine battery. But, are we sure disconnecting all house battery connections will not break the circuit between the engine and generator?? Wondering.
I don't think so. When I worked on problems with my BIRD it seemed to me that the battery wires from the two battery banks met at the coach disconnect switch next to the door. That means there is a direct line from the generator to both battery banks. I am not positive, but that is how it seems to work in my Axis.
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