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Electrical Discussion of preventative/corrective maintenance and other technical issues regarding your coach's electrical system.

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  #1  
Old 11-16-2008
Clueless Clueless is offline
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Default Where is the Battery Isolator on an 82 FC SB?

I am new to the world of Bluebird ownership, but on the other hand I am somewhat experienced with RV systems.

I have owned an 82 FC 33 SB Bluebird for just over a week. When I went to check out this unit, we needed to jump it to get it started for a test drive. The 4-6 volt batteries appeared to be quite new. When I picked it up a few days later, the previous owner had installed 4 new 6 volt batteries and these were big ones. They fit perfectly in the front left compartment with no room to spare.

Driving home, we didn't see any charge indication, and when we got home, the engine wouldn't turn over to restart. (I was glad for the new batteries, at least I made it home.)

Here is what I have found:
The drawings indicate a battery isolator with the Alternator and the Battery chargers attached to the center post.

With the battery chargers on, and the engine off, I get volts at the alternator output post (of course, the wires are supposedly hooked to the same post on the isolator), but no additional volts at the house or genset battery connections.

With the shore power disconnected, and the engine running, I get volts at the alternator output post, and no additional volts at the batteries.

So I guess I need to find the isolator now to check the battery terminals, and this is where I need to bring in the experts, and that's you guys.

On an 82 FC 33 SB Bluebird, where physically "should" one find the battery isolator?

Thanks in advance, and be ready for more stupid questions from a "Clueless" owner
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David Styf
82 FC 33 SB SOLD
89 SP 36 Silver Edition SOLD
96 WB
Valparaiso, In./Baldwin, Mi.
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2008
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gcyeaw gcyeaw is offline
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David,
On my 83FC35 the isolater is inside the battery compartment on the right side (facing the compartment) It looks like a big heat sink. It sounds like yours is burned out or not properly connected. It's function is to allow you to charge both the generator and start(house) batteries, but not allow the generator battery to be discharged by the RV load. Generaly the house batteries and alternator are connected to the center post and the gennerator BATTERY is connected to one of the outside posts. On mine nothing was connected to the third post. See picture:

Here is a picture of my old one.
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Gardner Yeaw
86 PT-36 Golden Memories
83FC35 SB $IXTEEN TON$ SOLD
78 FC 33 Happinest (Sold)
Ridgewood, New Jersey
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  #3  
Old 11-16-2008
Clueless Clueless is offline
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Thank-you Gardner for your quick response. I Checked the location indicated in your note, and found only a grounding post, to which one set of batteries was attached.

The ellusive electrical check valve could not be found. It appears that I may be the victim of a field modification performed by a previous owner. I'm half expecting to find the isolator hooked up ok, with a hidden knife switch included in the circuit.

I actually made this modification once to a set of house batteries, but a "smart" charger was part of the package along with the disconnect. I just became too forgetful to refill the batteries every month or so, and too cheap to buy new batteries every few years. This modification took care of sulfonation and evaporation.
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David Styf
82 FC 33 SB SOLD
89 SP 36 Silver Edition SOLD
96 WB
Valparaiso, In./Baldwin, Mi.
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  #4  
Old 11-17-2008
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warbucks13477 warbucks13477 is offline
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David the 1982 FC did not have an isolator. In fact when it left the factory it had no way to charge the generator battery, the BB engineers having overlooked it. After a few new owners of the 1982 FC models called in for technical help from BB they quickly sent out an engineering change that added a 85A diode and a 30A circuit breaker across the aux battery solenoid under the frame just in back of the step. So slide under the coach in front of the step on your back and look up at the inside of the frame and you will see the Aux battery solenoid. If it has the diode and circuit breaker wired across the solenoid you have the modification and therefore possibly one of the components is bad. If you dont see it then you need to add the circuit.
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Tom Warner
Vernon Center,NY
1985 PT40 SOLD
6V92
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  #5  
Old 11-17-2008
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Bill Pape Bill Pape is offline
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David,

Our 88 FC (and I think most all 80's Birds,) does not have an isolator.
Most all circuits are 12 Volt (except those that are 110v AC)
So the Bird uses a lot of battery power, then it is recharged by the alternator, or battery charger, when on shore power or Generator.
Some Bird have all the Batteries tied together , others have the starting battery separate.
If you have a generator battery ( Some do Some do not) This battery is protected by a diode, and fuse. Which will also recharge as stated above.
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Bill & Patty
1988 FC, Silver Edition
Commerce, Michigan
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  #6  
Old 11-17-2008
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warbucks13477 warbucks13477 is offline
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Most of the 1980's FC DID have isolators. In my experience only those 1982 and prior did not and the factory corrected that by issuing the engineering change order to add the diode and circuit breaker.

Unless you some day want to attempt to start your generator and cannot, then you need to isolate the generator battery from the main battery bank on the FC models.
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Tom Warner
Vernon Center,NY
1985 PT40 SOLD
6V92
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  #7  
Old 11-17-2008
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Bill Pape Bill Pape is offline
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Clueless David,

There is a lot of knowledge and experience on this Forum and no two Birds are exactly alike.
So, I get the feeling we have confused you even more with these postings.

I am only referring to my experience and what works for me, as with all my postings.
So our 88 FC does not have an RV isolator as pictured in the preceding post, It has a diode as big as your thumb , I would guess at about 80amps.
This diode isolates the Generator battery only. All the coach batteries & starting batteries are tied together on this coach , But many are separated. ( This may confuse the issue even more )
The Onan generator also has an alternator, So if all batteries fail, a toad jump to the Generator, then running the battery charger for about 10 minutes, with the Onan running , the 3208 will fire up.
Your Bird is probably different.

Based on the above postings, I am unsure if you have this diode or an isolator... The diode, fuse , and relay, if you have these parts are located under the step and look up....
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Bill & Patty
1988 FC, Silver Edition
Commerce, Michigan
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  #8  
Old 11-17-2008
Clueless Clueless is offline
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Tom, Bill
I agree, this forum provides the opportunity for a guy like me to "snoop" knowledge I need either now or in the future. I'm glad Mr. Finn pointed me to it.

As with most brands of coaches, I'm finding no 2 birds are alike either due to factory design changes, or ambitious owners. I asked about the isolator because one showed up on a drawing, and it appeared to be wired up correctly. I guess I'll need to check my drawing date(s). Maybe it is for another model, or the engineering group didn't communicate with the factory production group.

Since I'm not yet lucky enough to be out of the workforce, I'm of course traveling this week, but not in the luxury of a Bluebird. I'll do some more checking on the upcoming weekend, and let you all know what I find.

Thanks so much for the information, and I'll watch out for the automatic step. I may be clueless, but I'm not fond of pain.

thanks again.
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David Styf
82 FC 33 SB SOLD
89 SP 36 Silver Edition SOLD
96 WB
Valparaiso, In./Baldwin, Mi.
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  #9  
Old 12-26-2008
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warbucks13477 warbucks13477 is offline
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Bill you have discovered again one of the CAUSES of some of the differences in these coaches. In your case the difference was caused by some person that probably did not have access to a forum like this and without factory schematics or the interest or knowledge to use them so he cut out the isolator or BB did not install one, and somehow got hold of the factory modification of adding a 80amp diode and 30 amp circuit breaker across the auxillary battery solenoid to charge the generator battery. In fact you may find other problems like this where former owners just cut out something that did not work, like in the dash and audio systems.

Now to the 1982 FC35. They did not have a battery isolator, or a generator alternator or in fact a way to even charge the generator battery. In fact the factory sold the 1982 FC35 like this and no one noticed until owners starting calling into the technical help line to inform them that the generator battery was dead. After a lot of hemming and hawing (high level technical terms for meaning we blew it) the factory came out with the 80A, 30A circuit breaker mod and corrected it.

So if you have a 1982 FC35 unless someone over the last 26 years modified it again, you have the factory modification across the auxillary battery solenoid.

Bottom line is if you plan to keep and enjoy a bluebird keep in mind that changes to them came at any time and may not have been marked on the factory drawings. But for the FC models the majority of the drawings are so close once you understand the various systems you will have no problem understanding, troubleshooting and fixing your year coach.
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Tom Warner
Vernon Center,NY
1985 PT40 SOLD
6V92
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  #10  
Old 12-26-2008
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Bill Pape Bill Pape is offline
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Tom Warbucks says,

"Bill you have discovered again one of the CAUSES of some of the differences in these coaches. In your case the difference was caused by some person that probably did not have access to a forum like this and without factory schematics or the interest or knowledge to use them so he cut out the isolator or BB did not install one, and somehow got hold of the factory modification of adding a 80amp diode and 30 amp circuit breaker across the auxillary battery solenoid to charge the generator battery. In fact you may find other problems like this where former owners just cut out something that did not work, like in the dash and audio systems. "

Tom, I am most confused by these comments about my Bird, did you or have you worked on my Bird???
The 88 FC had a factory installed generator battery charging circuit.
If you look into your three ring binders, there is a schematic to verify.
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Bill & Patty
1988 FC, Silver Edition
Commerce, Michigan
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