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RV converter problem


Kirk W
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I just discovered that my RV has lost all 12V-DC power to our stored travel trailer. It was discovered by the wife when she had no lights so I just plugged it in, thinking that the battery had discharged. A few days later I went out and flipped on a light and still nothing! I lifted the cables from the battery and it was indeed discharged but with both leads lifted and the 120V supplied to the converter there is still no 12V. The converter is from World Friendship Co. and is a model WF-8735-P and according to the operating instructions under troubleshooting, there should be 12V at the battery leads when lifted. (makes sense) Mine do not have power. This model has the 120v circuit breakers on the same panel face and is the WF-8735-P.

WF_8735PB_right_faced_closed_450x450.pngWF_8735_front_straight_open_450x4501.png

In doing some testing I discovered that if I cycle the circuit breaker for the converter off, then on it will have 12v long enough to cause the interior lights to flash on, not when you first turn the breaker on, but for a couple of seconds when you turn it off!  I am wondering if anyone here has any experience working on one of these and if they know where I might find a schematic for one? I have some suspicions about what may be happening, but at this point they are only guesses. 

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Thanks, John. I didn't have it but in looking at the 8700 testing, the picture of the fuse board isn't the same as I have so I'm going to have to figure out a few things, but it can't hurt. Looks like that one came from 2005 and mine is 2012 so that may be the reason. I'll let you know if it helps any as I did save it just in case. Still looking for a tech manual as well. 

EDIT!   In doing some more searching on the internet, I found this troubleshooting guide, but it sure doesn't tell a person much! The page seems to be pointed at dealer techs and has several others, for what they are worth.

Edited by Kirk Wood
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You're welcome I bet you will figure her out and hopefully its fixable. I'm more experienced in AC power distribution and maybe a little straight 12 volt stuff then anything electronic like your unit. I even took a course in Vacuum Tubes is how long its been since I was at Purdue lol

Happy New Year to you and all

John T

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8 hours ago, Kirk Wood said:

I am wondering if anyone here has any experience working on one of these and if they know where I might find a schematic for one? I have some suspicions about what may be happening, but at this point they are only guesses. 

I've never seen a schematic of the converter itself, and it may not be available due to liability considerations.  I have heard of a couple of people having success by replacing the capacitors on the converter board.   

If it was me, I'd probably just replace the converter with a Powermax Boondocker direct plug-in replacement or an equivalent Progressive Dynamics model since WFCO doesn't have the best reputation for reliability.

Edited by Lou Schneider
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I'm not going to insult you with the "minutiae" I'm quite sure you've already checked... including the fuse to lug connections. You've been around the block a few times. ;)

Moving past the usual culprits it "may" be a bad capacitor, but it sounds more to me like a short in your transformer. To note... you "may" still be reading continuity but not be getting current to the secondary coil. If you're not getting readings on the outputs you'll need to test the center taps.

If you're handy it's not all that difficult to switch out the transformer (or capacitor for that matter), but I tend to agree with Lou. I would call myself lucky on the WFCO... got my moneys worth and it certainly wouldn't hurt to upgrade the converter and charge profiles.

The other route would be a drop in control module replacement. For many of those WFCO's it's likely to run somewhere in the $110-$150 range (new). A new PD could be had for not much more though (~$150-$170).

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11 hours ago, Lou Schneider said:

If it was me, I'd probably just replace the converter with a Powermax Boondocker direct plug-in replacement or an equivalent Progressive Dynamics model since WFCO doesn't have the best reputation for reliability.

I was kind of thinking the same thing as I am not fond of WFCO products and in fact bought this RV in spite of it. The catch is that the link lists direct replacements for the WFCO 8900 series and mine is an 8700 series. It doesn't look to be a direct replacement. I did send them an inquiry to see if there is something for what I have now. After 30+ years of RV ownership, this is my first RV with WFCO and it is also my first converter failure, I'm not inclined to replace with what I have. 

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 Take a look at a progressive dynamics 9200 series conver . They have worked good for replacements and only seen maybe two go bad in my time as a rv tech.

 

  Just pic the amperage size you need. Maybe 9260 for a 60 amp unit.

 

 Now if you have time to fiddle with your unit it would be interesting as to what really is bad with it.

 

 Safe Travels,.   Vern

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1 hour ago, Wrknrvr said:

Take a look at a progressive dynamics 9200 series conver . They have worked good for replacements and only seen maybe two go bad in my time as a rv tech.

Wrk, my last RV had a PD 9260 and this one a PD9280 BOTH have performed fine. I like my current charging algorithm for flooded lead acid which Bulk charges at 14.4+ volts, Absorption at 13.6, and Floats at 13.2 plus every so many hours it automatically runs an Equalization Cycle at a higher voltage which theoretically ??? helps reduce plate sulfation. I forget the cost it was over $200. In a similar situation to Kirks (equipment that came with the RV when purchased) my current RV came with a Generac Genset (always had Onans before) so I was stuck with it, but so far its worked perfect.

John T

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When my inverter failed, it burned up my converter. The invert was taken in for repair u dear warranty. I was going to replace the converter but realized that it had been turned off for several years as the inverter charged my batteries. I decided not to replace it and just let the inverter continue to charge them.

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A bit OT from the OP, but possibly germaine if you go with a PD, Kirk.

Their "equalization" cycle is more of a "mini" version and not to be confused with a traditional equalization. Under normal use, like John's, you may not always have a low enough SOC to trigger a bulk charge for any meaningul amount of time. The PD throws itself into a "mini" equalization of 14.4v for 15min every 21 hours (just to stir the internals)... when certain conditions apply. I would have to look up the actual time qualification, but just off the top of my head I seem to recall it was something like better than 90% SOC and 9-11hrs with no "meaningful" load on (whatever that threshold might be I know not).

For batteries under full time use those mini equalizations may be few and far between, although... they will happen. A bank under exercise wouldn't need it but very periodically anyway. The theory with a bank under storage is that the regular "stir" will keep stagnant plates more active. I tend to agree that it's certainly better than having your cells sit at near 100% SOC for more than 5-7 days.

That, however, doesn't replace a traditional equalization that should be done, and monitored, manually... as needed... or as part of your regular battery maintanence schedule... if you subscribe to that maintanence plan.

Long term, the jury is still out for me. I certainly see the benefits of a mini equalization, under certain usage habits. For full-timers that are exercising their banks on a near daily basis I don't believe it "really" has any practical benefit. Still... for just a 15min jolt I really don't believe it's hurting anything either. No idea what impact it might have on water levels... if at all.

I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to my battery bank though and don't particularly like the idea of my charger doing anything it hasn't been told to do and "when" it's told to do it.

Doesn't stop me from recommending PD and their charge wizard as a very viable and low cost alternative, though. Good company, good reliable products and money well spent in that class of converter. 

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You guys really want to upgrade our little travel trailer! At only 20' long and seasonal use it really doesn't have any use for 60a of 12V-dc power and it only has one battery that has served us pretty well up to now as we rarely dry camp and have a generator if we should. The cheapie 25a converter was plenty of power, but I really don't want another WFCO, if it comes to that which I'm thinking that it will. At the same time, my WFCO is also the 120v-ac distribution panel combined in one unit and space is a consideration. I may get stuck doing a lot more in the project that was my original intention. 

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Kirk, getting down to brass tacks, your options are limited to stay within those parameters. If you go with an upgraded PD you would likely be looking at a stand-alone unit vs. a drop in. PD's PC drop in won't fit in your 8700 series panel and their other complete PC's may or may not fit in your existing space as a replacement unit. The 4000 "might" work. It needs a 10-3/4"x7-1/4" cutout, which would fit, but if I remember correctly... it would need filler strips  going both directions since it's just a tad smaller (the PD). The bevel is large enough to cover any filler strips though. The depth might be the concern. I don't recall what the 8735 has, but I believe the PD needs 7-1/4" from the face of the cabinet to the rear.

It "may" just be that you stay with the devil you know. A control board is actually more expensive then just replacing the entire PC. Looks like one can be had (new) for right around $100+/-. If it "is" the transformer (and assuming you're not going to re-wrap it yourself ;)) you'll likely be looking at something around $35-$45 and still have an "aged" PC.

If you've ruled out your incoming, internal outgoing, fuse sockets, and sockets to lugs... ya know it "could" get a little hairy. ;)

Fun project, though.

  

Edited by Yarome
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There's not much to pick from at 25 amps. If it physically fits in your available space, Boondocker has a 4-stage 35-amp converter that should work well for you. I installed a Boondocker to replace the failed converter in our coach a couple of years ago, and have been well pleased with the performance.

http://www.bestconverter.com/Boondocker-BD-1235C-35-Amp-4-Stage-ConverterCharger_p_411.html

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A "Boondocker" is just a PowerMax but I always get a kick out of the name. A converter, as you think of it in conventional terms, isn't something I generally associate with boondocking. 

Same issue as a PD 9200 series though. A stand-alone unit he would have to find someplace (other than his PC) to shtick it.

 

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10 hours ago, Wrknrvr said:

 Maybe a 9245 model may suit your needs better Kirk.

 

What make are you thinking of? I have some time since we aren't in the RV at the moment. 

10 hours ago, Dutch_12078 said:

There's not much to pick from at 25 amps.

That was a typo. It should have said 35a. At least mine wasn't that cheap! :P

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14 hours ago, Yarome said:

A "Boondocker" is just a PowerMax but I always get a kick out of the name. A converter, as you think of it in conventional terms, isn't something I generally associate with boondocking. 

Same issue as a PD 9200 series though. A stand-alone unit he would have to find someplace (other than his PC) to shtick it.

 

Yep, I agree on the name, Yarome! I think Kirk is inventive enough to figure out how to fit one in though. Perhaps with some mods to the original housing to retain the fuse panel, etc.

Edited by Dutch_12078
typo correction
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3 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

...Kirk is inventive enough to figure out how to fit one in though.

No doubt in my mind about that. Just depends on if he "wants" to devote any additional space to a stand-alone vs. going with something like the PD 4000 as an "upgrade" or just stick with the devil he knows and replace what he's already got. Not the best, but sounds like the WFCO hasn't slowed his roll. Quick, easy and cheap can be attractive when your needs are modest.

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