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Old 09-03-2018, 02:41 AM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 2015 Vegas 24.1
State: Pennsylvania
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THOR #2601
Winter Storage & Battery Shutoff Switches

We recently moved from Tampa FL to Mount Joy PA (don't ask).

When I'd store my 2015 Vegas in Tampa during the winter every 2 or 3 months I'd visit the storage lot & run my generator to top off the chassis & house batteries. There was enough parasitic load to drain down the batteries slightly (on the house batteries) that the battery charge would degrade a bit. I know the chassis battery keeps a constant load on the radio to keep the clock time current and maintains the radio preset stations.

Now that we are in PA I'm storing the RV at the Mechanicsburg Naval Depot. The MWR Auto Hobby shop has an unheated warehouse where the RV is stored (good deal for only $40 a month). The warehouse is not heated so it is going to get cold inside. I'm assuming that will cause the battery charges to degrade faster than they did in Tampa.

I'm going to have cutoff switches installed on the chassis battery as well as the house batteries. That way I can physically disconnect them completely from any load.

Is there any problem with the engine ECU after you reconnect the battery? Is there any problem starting the engine because the ECU might need a reset? I know several of you storing in cold climate have installed battery cutoffs. I'd like to hear your experience after you connect the chassis battery in terms of any problem or anything special that needs to be done before attempting to start the engine.

I don't believe I have this mod in my manual. I'll take pictures and provide a write up in the manual as a revision after I have the mods complete.
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Old 09-03-2018, 03:42 AM   #2
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No issue at all. I always store our coach (all year round) with both batteries (only 1 house battery on ours) disconnected. Connect the batteries and fire it up. Whatever the ECU needs to learn it does it when you start it up.

In colder weather I do run it more often and when I do I make sure both the V-10 and the genny are up to operating temperature before shutting them down. That is all: disconnect both batteries, lock it up, and drive away.

Sounds like a great place to store it: Indoors to keep the UV away which will keep your outside nice and also prevent fading inside.
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:35 PM   #3
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Model: 2013 31L
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not in a cold climate but I disconnect mine always. I have noticed the chassis engine turns over for a bit longer before it turns over that first time .... I've always assumed it might be something to do with the computer...but that could just be from sitting a while....and regardless it's not that long, no big deal.

I disconnect mine even if parking in storage for only a short time if not plugged in. I've had to replace too many batteries over the years in boats and toys, from self discharge damage. they'll loose several % each month even with nothing connected at all.

During some of my longer periods in storage I've played around with running the genny periodically to recharge. Just a gut feel, not analyzed or confirmed, but after some experience doing this I feel like that running for close to an hour or so doesn't even recover the energy lost from starting the engine...
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:42 PM   #4
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I top off the fuel tanks, load them and the fuel system with fuel stabilizer...
Then I tackle the batteries!
The coach batteries are disconnected, the Use/Store switch is set to the "Store" position.
I leave the chassis battery alone. So far: so good!
About once a Month: I plug into the garage, hook the batteries back up, and let them take a drink of juice for about 4 days...
While I'm at it: I'll start the V-10, and let it run for about 20 minutes. The same thing goes for the generator as well.
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Old 09-04-2018, 10:23 PM   #5
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I no longer store the RV for the winter, but when I store it between uses, I disconnect the coach batteries and connect them to a battery maintainer. I do not disconnect the engine battery, but leave it on a battery maintainer. If you cannot use battery maintainers, you need to disconnect all batteries for long term storage. When I used to store my RV in the winter I didn't like starting the engine or the generator during storage. I think the strain of starting a dead cold engine is harmful, and I don't think that idling for long periods of time in cold weather is good for an engine.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:10 PM   #6
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When I warm up the V-10 in the winter I don't let it idle: The alternator won't charge anything when running at idle. I warm it up at about 2000 RPM until the temp gauge gets to operating temperature--usually takes about 15-20 minutes that way.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:21 PM   #7
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How do you hold it at 2K rpm?

Do you sit there with your foot resting on the loud pedal?
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Denman View Post
How do you hold it at 2K rpm?

Do you sit there with your foot resting on the loud pedal?
yup and watch the tach not that difficult at all--just like driving without the cruise control on.
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Old 09-05-2018, 12:34 AM   #9
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It sounds like a good way to listen to my I-Pod: uninterrupted!
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
When I warm up the V-10 in the winter I don't let it idle: The alternator won't charge anything when running at idle. I warm it up at about 2000 RPM until the temp gauge gets to operating temperature--usually takes about 15-20 minutes that way.

That is interesting about the alternator charging. I remember when alternators started to replace generators in cars back in the day and one of the touted advantages of alternators is that they produced their maximum output whenever they were operating as opposed to generators whose output varied with the engine rpms, from low to high. Has something changed in the last 40 - 50 years regardiing alternators?
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metalman View Post
I no longer store the RV for the winter, but when I store it between uses, I disconnect the coach batteries and connect them to a battery maintainer. I do not disconnect the engine battery, but leave it on a battery maintainer. If you cannot use battery maintainers, you need to disconnect all batteries for long term storage. When I used to store my RV in the winter I didn't like starting the engine or the generator during storage. I think the strain of starting a dead cold engine is harmful, and I don't think that idling for long periods of time in cold weather is good for an engine.

I think there are a lot of people that live in the Northern half of the Continent that might question whether starting a dead cold engine is harmful. I believe the engines are designed to operated in even the coldest climates and I have started various cars and trucks routinely at temps considerably below zero, even if the vehicles sat outside all the time. I have not experienced any major issues. It is important to maintain the vehicles as appropriate for the climate however.
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:27 PM   #12
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That is interesting about the alternator charging. I remember when alternators started to replace generators in cars back in the day and one of the touted advantages of alternators is that they produced their maximum output whenever they were operating as opposed to generators whose output varied with the engine rpms, from low to high. Has something changed in the last 40 - 50 years regardiing alternators?
Interesting; not sure where I heard that--perhaps it was an "old wives tale" that isn't necessary anymore.
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Old 10-01-2018, 12:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USTraveler View Post
I think there are a lot of people that live in the Northern half of the Continent that might question whether starting a dead cold engine is harmful. I believe the engines are designed to operated in even the coldest climates and I have started various cars and trucks routinely at temps considerably below zero, even if the vehicles sat outside all the time. I have not experienced any major issues. It is important to maintain the vehicles as appropriate for the climate however.
I lived in northern and central New Hampshire for sixty years and have dealt with starting vehicles that were left out for extended periods of time in below zero weather. Even when multi viscosity oil became available, starters, solenoids, and batteries struggled to turn the engines over fast enough to get them to start. I've used dip stick heaters, block heaters, light bulbs, heat lamps, covered engines with heavy canvas, and I even brought batteries in the house for the night in order to get the vehicle started in the morning. Starting a dead cold engine requires a tremendous amount of battery amperage and it takes time for the oil to flow over some of the moving parts. Idling a vehicle will not boil moisture from the oil and it can accumulate over time if the engine is not run on the road long enough for the moisture to boil off. I say do not start an engine in the winter unless the vehicle has to be driven a considerable distance.
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Old 10-01-2018, 02:21 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Metalman View Post
I lived in northern and central New Hampshire for sixty years and have dealt with starting vehicles that were left out for extended periods of time in below zero weather. Even when multi viscosity oil became available, starters, solenoids, and batteries struggled to turn the engines over fast enough to get them to start. I've used dip stick heaters, block heaters, light bulbs, heat lamps, covered engines with heavy canvas, and I even brought batteries in the house for the night in order to get the vehicle started in the morning. Starting a dead cold engine requires a tremendous amount of battery amperage and it takes time for the oil to flow over some of the moving parts. Idling a vehicle will not boil moisture from the oil and it can accumulate over time if the engine is not run on the road long enough for the moisture to boil off. I say do not start an engine in the winter unless the vehicle has to be driven a considerable distance.
With what you said, is it best to start the generator for an hour to allow for a recharge to the batteries if you don't have power to the RV? I understand the idea of not "idling" the V10. That has never been a good idea, you got to burn off the moisture in the engine.
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Old 10-01-2018, 03:02 AM   #15
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We live in northern Vermont where temperatures can get way below zero for extended periods of time. Our 2 cars are parked in an unheated garage. Much of out winter driving is to the local village, about 5 miles and the local ski area, a little less than 5 miles. We don't let the cars idle for extended periods and we never have a problem with the batteries. Knock on wood.
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Old 10-01-2018, 04:33 AM   #16
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[QUOTE=JamieGeek;142308]When I warm up the V-10 in the winter I don't let it idle: The alternator won't charge anything when running at idle. QUOTE]
Unless there is something wrong with your alternator, It should be putting out over 14 volts at Idle. Generators had to have speed increased but alternators do not.
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Old 10-01-2018, 01:35 PM   #17
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Don't forget that Ford V-10 engine is the same one in thousand (probably hundreds of thousands) operating in commercial delivery trucks all over the northern tier of the US and Canada.
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metalman View Post
I lived in northern and central New Hampshire for sixty years and have dealt with starting vehicles that were left out for extended periods of time in below zero weather. Even when multi viscosity oil became available, starters, solenoids, and batteries struggled to turn the engines over fast enough to get them to start. I've used dip stick heaters, block heaters, light bulbs, heat lamps, covered engines with heavy canvas, and I even brought batteries in the house for the night in order to get the vehicle started in the morning. Starting a dead cold engine requires a tremendous amount of battery amperage and it takes time for the oil to flow over some of the moving parts. Idling a vehicle will not boil moisture from the oil and it can accumulate over time if the engine is not run on the road long enough for the moisture to boil off. I say do not start an engine in the winter unless the vehicle has to be driven a considerable distance.

Like you I have lived in the North (Central US) for more than 60 years and have experienced the same things you referred to and used the same devices you mentioned. One of my "fondest" memories was having an Oldsmobile 442 in an unheated garage during 32 degree below zero temps with a 1500 watt space heater directly under the oil pan and the darn thing wouldn't start. My experience has been that the main reasons for a vehicle not starting in cold weather is either a weak battery, bad spark plugs, or incorrect lubrication. In the last couple of decades the technological advances in batteries, solid state ignitions, fuel injection, computer controlled engine electronics, and synthetic oils have reduced cold starting problems considerably. I agree that short trips in cold weather is a definite strategy for problems. I used to drive about 6 miles to work and parked outside. Maybe 4 miles to the grocery store or other shopping. As a result I would have my oil changed monthly during the long winter months to keep it from starting to resemble a latte rather engine oil. Engines have to run at their operating temp to be most efficient and burn off the condensation that accumulates in the oil when the hot engine cools down or the cold engine heats up and my experience has been that is at least 10 miles. Even now when taking my motorhome out of storage I will drive it 8 to 10 miles on my way home just to keep it healthy, even during the summer months. It is also a good idea to run the generator for 20 to 30 minutes pretty regularly. Just my input and express my appreciation for the advances in vehicle power train technology.
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Old 10-01-2018, 11:00 PM   #19
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There's no doubt that it's best to let them stretch their legs a bit during the off-season.

But how do you deal with it; when that's just not an option?
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Old 10-02-2018, 12:59 AM   #20
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There's no doubt that it's best to let them stretch their legs a bit during the off-season.

But how do you deal with it; when that's just not an option?

Good question. No real answer other than usual stuff: disconnect the batts, put fuel stabilizer or premium gas in the tanks if a gas rig, spray Home Defense all around to keep the bugs at bay, crack open a roof vent or two to minimize condensation, check the tires before you are ready to move it again.
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