Jump to content

Need Advice: Failure of Trojan AGM Batteries and Wanting to Replace with Lithiums


Spike
 Share

Recommended Posts


CALLING ON THE EXPERTISE OF TECH-SAVY OLLIE OWNERS

Our about-five-years-old Trojan batteries failed us last night in an alarming way. My wife, Liz, noticed an electrical odor and then heat radiating from the battery compartment under the pantry. I checked the Zamp solar controller. No error message was displayed, and all else—voltage, amp hours, amps being use—looked normal. Upon sliding out the battery tray, we noticed one of the batteries was oozing fluid and the top was distorted with something like a bubble. That battery was very hot, and the others also more than warm.

I have very little knowledge of batteries and electrical systems in general, so I was very fortunate to have met, a couple of hours earlier, a fellow camper who had described building his own solar system on his own home-built travel trailer. With his help and an alarming warning that a battery this hot could explode, we disconnected all four AGM batteries, removed them from the tray, and sealed all exposed wire connections well with electrical tape. 

We are now on shore power at an RV park in Escalante, UT. (We are here to perform at the festival this Friday.) It is now Sunday, and the one auto-parts dealer/auto-mechanic shop in town is closed. My fellow camper suggested that—with assistance of someone from this shop—we might be able to temporarily install an inexpensive 12-volt battery to suffice for the couple of boondocking stops we had planned to make before returning home in Southern AZ. He also recommended eventually replacing the blown AGMs with Battle Born lithium batteries, which I think I would like to do. 

I sure would appreciate any advice and answers to these questions that occur to me now:

1. If the local auto-parts dealer/auto-mechanic shop has a 12-volt battery that could suffice before I find someone to sell me and install the lithium batteries, would that temporary fix work with my solar-electrical set-up? If so, what things do I need to consider when dealing with the mechanic who may be able to help? (The octopus of wiring after the disconnect baffles me, but perhaps a good mechanic familiar with 12-volt-solar-converter set-ups like mine would be able to install the battery efficiently and safely until I get to a larger metropolitan center where I could have the lithium batteries installed. We plan to be in Flagstaff soon.)

2. When I DO find an outfit—I hope in Flagstaff—that could sell me the lithium batteries and install them, what things do I need to consider? Will my current equipment suffice to handle the new lithium batteries, or will other things need to be changed, like the solar controller, the inverter, etc.? All suggestions concerning this lithium battery replacement of my AGMs will be appreciated. 

Here is the list of components in our 2017 Oliver Elite II that I hope will help those who may be able to offer suggestions and answer any of my questions:

1. Four Trojan T-105 6v AGM batteries
2. Zamp solar Package 
3. Progressive Dynamics converter
4. Xantrex 2000W inverter

I thank all respondents in advance for any suggestions offered. I have previously received great advice on this forum and hope to receive some now. (Our Ollie had been, before this trip, more or less stationary for almost two years.) Also, please, if you can, avoid technical terms that a non-tech-savvy guy like me will not understand—or please define such terms. Thanks!
 

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

I'd say go for the cheapo battery to get you by.  It will work with everything you've got, though the zamp controller has a separate setting for lead acid vs AGM, which you should change - choose the WET setting for traditional lead acid.  It's in the manual how to do so, which is in the Oliver University section if you don't have it with you, but I think it's just pressing the battery type button until it displays the right type.  The PD converter doesn't have a separate lead acid setting.

As for the Battleborns - I'd call them in the morning to verify this, but I'm pretty sure they'll tell you that you will be fine at least temporarily hooking them in to your system without making any other changes.  The charge profiles between AGM and lithium aren't that different.  Your PD converter will eventually need a new board that has a lithium specific charge profile, which Battleborn may have in stock, and I don't know for sure if the Zamp controller from that period will have a lithium setting or not.  I think it does, but hopefully someone else will know for sure (or just flip though the battery type setting and see if it shows up).  Regardless, the nice folk at Battleborn will walk you through everything you need to do - I've found them to be extraordinarily helpful and patient.  They'll also be able to help you find a good installer in the area.  Or maybe just drive over to Reno and let them do it, lol.

Sorry for the issues - best of luck getting everything sorted.  It might be a good idea to ask the electrician if he can run through the very brief  troubleshooting instructions for the converter, which you'll find in the manual.  Just to be certain that the battery issue was't caused by the inverter.  

  • Thanks 2

❄️

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I am cheaper than Overland, I’m retired and he isn’t, I vote for a Battleborn battery or two or three.  If you do decide to buy a "cheap" battery, try Walmart.  Buy buddy swears by their deep cell lead acid batteries.  Reno looks like a 10 hour trip so I don’t think it’s that convenient if your heading to Flagstaff, but as Overland suggest, call Battleborn first.  You are in their neighborhood and they should be able to provide some guidance.  Your Zamp charge controller should have lithium and lead acid settings, my 2017 LE2 did.  Your PD charger may support a lithium setting with a jumper change, you need the serial number and confirm that with PD.  Their support team is top notch and will steer you in the right direction.
Did your camping neighbor check for voltage in the battery box during battery removal.  You may need to turn off a breaker or two if there is still voltage on the battery cables.  And post some pictures of your battery box wiring so we can offer wiring support for your new battery choice if you need it.

I attached a Zamp manual below.

Mossey

ZAMP SOLAR ZS-30A Charge Controller.pdf

  • Thanks 2

Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Mossemi. 

I have tried to attach a photo of the octopus wiring in the battery compartment. I've also attached photos of what might be relevant control panels.

My camping friend did not enter our Ollie. I

Is the button or switch in the attic marked "12 V DC" what needs to be shut off? If so, is it a button that needs pushing or s switch that needs moving? 

IMG_2477.HEIC IMG_2476.HEIC IMG_2478.HEIC IMG_2479.HEIC

Edited by Spike
correction of typo

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m not sure if the progressive dynamics charger is 45 or 60 amps. Regardless I would probably disable that function and rely on solar to get you home. 60 amps is a lot for a single 12v deep cycle battery. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Hey Jeff, glad you and Liz found the issue before something bad happened.  We had the same issue, our four AGM batteries were also in bad shape.  The hold down straps had worn holes in a couple of them and one was visibly swollen, two were leaking.  I replaced all four with two Battle Born lithium batteries, their basic model at 100aH each.  We’ve been on several trips since then (January) and so far the two batteries have been plenty, even when we’ve been out with no hook ups for long periods.  If you call Battle Born they will work with you and give good advice/guidance.  You probably will have to replace a board in the fuse panel underneath the dinette.  Battle Born has those also.  I had a fellow Oliver owner and general smart technical guy help me with the replacement and cleaning up the cabling.

Here’s a link to the thread I started in January - LINK.  It has a lot of information, maybe too much.  Keep us posted on your progress/solution.  We’re going to be at Kartchner Caverns in January, maybe we can drive down to Sierra Vista for a coffee or something.  Mike

 

  • Thanks 1
  • Like 1

Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

ALAZARCACOFLGAIDILKSKYLAMDMSMOMTNENVNMNYNCNDOHOKSCSDTNTXUTVAWVWYsm.jpgALAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the information, tips, and link, Mike and Carol. We will indeed call BB. It's good to hear from you now that we are back on the road after a too-long hiatus. Yours was the first Ollie that we got to touch and see in person. Yes, let us know when you get down to our corner of AZ.

 

  • Like 1

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Spike said:

I have tried to attach a photo of the octopus wiring in the battery compartment. I've also attached photos of what might be relevant control panels.

The picture of your PD panel label shows you have a 45 amp charger.  
If you turn of breaker 6 in the PD panel which is labeled charger, it will kill all of your 12v in the trailer as well as the charger circuit.

Your battery box looks pretty typical for a LE2.  Just make sure that the 3 red cable terminals coming into the battery box are taped up very well before traveling.  You don’t want cables flopping around while you are driving.  I believe the cable coming into the box on the bottom right is the 3rd red cable, but I can’t see it to be positive.

Good luck and let us know if you have any more questions,

Mossey

  • Thanks 1
  • Like 1

Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, mossemi said:

If you turn of breaker 6 in the PD panel which is labeled charger, it will kill all of your 12v in the trailer as well as the charger circuit.

 

Thanks, but doing that disabled lights, fans, etc. that we need--as we are connected to shore power. I WOULD like to disable shore and solar that formerly went to the batteries if possible. What switch or button might I need to turn off to do that?

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Spike said:

Thanks, but doing that disabled lights, fans, etc. that we need--as we are connected to shore power. I WOULD like to disable shore and solar that formerly went to the batteries if possible. What switch or button might I need to turn off to do that?

I believe I said breaker 6 would kill all 12v in the trailer.  It is powered by shore or any other 120v AC input you connect to the trailer.  You can turn the solar charge controller off via the button on the face plate.  And also try the breaker under the street side bed by pushing the red button.  See the picture attached.

Do you have a multimeter, test light or anyway to test voltage?

Mossey

B81D88ED-4790-4D24-83BD-7CB143F4D8EA.thumb.jpeg.91bcc8d7182374cb4235ff75d90a135d.jpeg

 

 

   

 

  • Like 1

Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I finally connected with Mike from Oliver, who said, after putting me on hold to research the issue, that there was no way on my trailer to cut off the power to the battery compartment. I then asked if the best thing for me to do was to just make sure all of the wire ends were covered with electrical tape. He replied, "Yes, Sir." 

I'm a bit concerned about his answer; it seems that there should be a way to easily cut the power to the batteries.

Yes, I do have a way to test to discover whether there is electricity in the wires. Thanks. I will try that soon. 

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Spike said:


I'm a bit concerned about his answer; it seems that there should be a way to easily cut the power to the batteries.

You should be concerned, that is the function of a battery master switch, it completely cuts off the batteries in case of catastrophic failure or for service safety. Unfortunately it also kills every 12 volt device inside the hull, there is no way around that. In your shoes I would buy the cheapest single 12 volt battery I could find and install it until you get all this figured out. Good luck.

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/5450-how-to-battery-master-cutoff-switch-under-the-rear-dinette-seat/

John Davies

Spokane WA

  • Like 1

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators
3 minutes ago, John E Davies said:

You should be concerned, that is the function of a battery master switch, it completely cuts off the batteries in case of catastrophic failure or for service safety. Unfortunately it also kills every 12 volt device inside the hull, there is no way around that. In your shoes I would buy the cheapest single 12 volt battery I could find and install it until you get all this figured out. Good luck.

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/5450-how-to-battery-master-cutoff-switch-under-the-rear-dinette-seat/

John Davies

Spokane WA

Agree with John.  If I was in this situation on the road I would find a Walmart or auto parts store and get a cheap 12V battery.  Hook the reds to positive and blacks to negative and continue on my trip - fix once I got home.  Mike

  • Like 1

Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

ALAZARCACOFLGAIDILKSKYLAMDMSMOMTNENVNMNYNCNDOHOKSCSDTNTXUTVAWVWYsm.jpgALAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Oliver is right and wrong about cutting power to the batteries. Yes, there is no ‘easy’ way to do so; but if you or your mechanic are at all comfortable with a screwdriver and 12 volts, you can cut the power by simply removing the charger section from the converter. The instructions on how to do so are in the manual.

But I agree that it should be easier.  Not to be a thorn in Olivers side on this point, but with Victron equipment, you just turn charging off from the control panel, and as always, a premium trailer should have premium components. 

  • Thanks 1

❄️

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Yes, covering the wires with tape, and securing, is a "possible" answer. Not one I'd like to travel with.

If I were traveling, I'd want wires attached to "something." A single inexpensive  group 26 or so battery will give you 12v for lights, pump, fans, etc. Just make sure wires are all connected,  properly.  Not a huge deal to change charger settings, for a short time,   if you are boondocking, and working off solar. 

How far are you traveling,  and how long would it take you to get the battleborns you want? Can you stay that long?

The single cheap 12v flooded could work. Wired correctly.  

Either way, you need something,  imo, in that cavity, to receive and deliver power, and eliminate loose wiring flopping around. And, give you a minimal 12v source for getting home with power for your 12v systems-- lights, fans, control board for 3way fridge,  etc.

I'm guessing there is only one positive and one negative in the whole octopus of wires that really makes a difference,  in your original setup. It's now to determine what's what, if you go to a single 12v battery.  The rest will be superfluous,  because it was all connecting 4 x 6v  batteries into a 12v  bank, 2 x2. 

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

34 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

I'm guessing there is only one positive and one negative in the whole octopus of wires that really makes a difference,  in your original setup. It's now to determine what's what, if you go to a single 12v battery.  The rest will be superfluous,  because it was all connecting 4 x 6v  batteries into a 12v  bank, 2 x2. 

Well, sort of, all the smaller wires should connect to the temporary battery positive and negative, with the exception of the two big inverter cables. Those can be taped and secured out of the way with some nylon ties. He can figure stuff out in detail later when he gets the trailer back home. A battery with eye type (drlled) terminal posts

0E912BB6-6056-4E27-9ACE-F379E24BD38C.jpeg.ffa5dceadac1e1f7fc5d849765e5c87a.jpeg

will be able to support all the cables, but it might require purchasing a couple of longer bolts. All the extra jumper cables can be stored away in a safe place, AFTER neutralizing any battery acid!!! Here is the 2017 schematic:

DA93EE1A-0424-449C-A8B6-CD87AA6EE5DA.thumb.jpeg.7061c292a1011bcbb0fd66b46efa2881.jpeg

On MY trailer #218 some ground wires were yellow. I have the optional (at the time) side solar port and that adds to the confusion.

John Davies

Spokane WA

  • Thanks 1

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to all who offered advice. Most of you seem to agree that a cheap 12-volt battery, properly connected, would suffice for the short term--getting us home. Mike at Oliver, however, did not agree, saying that we would drain the battery to uselessness within an hour or so. As I wrote earlier, he told me the best temporary solution was to tape up the ends of the cables and secure them until I could get new high-grade batteries.

I decided that I wanted to upgrade to the Battle Born lithiums, thinking I might find someone along the route home from whom I could purchase the batteries and who could install them with the needed components. That turned out to be a fruitless search, as those I contacted either could not get the batteries or were scheduled way into the future with other repair jobs. 

My solution was to order the batteries and needed components-- BBGC2 Battle Born 100Ah GC2, PD4045LICSV Progressive Dynamics Replacements 4000 Series 45 Amp Lithium Converter, and BAM030712000 Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor--from Battle Born. If their shipping promise holds true, I will receive them after we return home. I have contacted my local RV repair shop in Sierra Vista, AZ, and they assured me that they have the ability to install the batteries and components, having done so before with a couple of other rigs. The downside is that they too are swamped, and will not be able to do the work until the beginning of December. 

In the meantime--since we are committed to staying in Escalante, UT till Tuesday, performing in the festival here--I have made an appointment with a mechanic for Tuesday at what seems to be the only auto repair shop for many a mile, who says he will try to install that cheap battery to help us get home. (I understand that we will have to be very conservative with our power consumption on that trip, hoping that Mike from Oliver might not have had it exactly right.)

Despite all of the worry, hassle, and time, I am looking forward to eventually having an upgraded solar/battery system. I received the sale price on the batteries and a reduced price on the components. Folks who said Battle Born had good customer service seem to be correct. 

Thanks again for everyone's help.

Edited by Spike
correction of typo
  • Thanks 2
  • Like 1

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...