Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Taking a Break

Saturday May 26 and Sunday May 27, 2014
Shawnee State Park
Schellsburg, PA




I think we’ve done nearly all we can do on this holiday week-end since we can’t get anyone at Winnebago on the phone or anyone to come out and look at it.   Isn’t it always a holiday week-end when something goes wrong?  In 2001 I broke my ankle on New Year’s weekend, in 2011 I broke it again on Labor Day week-end.  I think I’ll just skip all the holiday week-ends from now on thanks.




David spent all day yesterday trying to trace all the wires from our lights to figure out where the ground is missing or the short is occurring.  He printed out the electric wiring diagram from the Winnebago Website.  Thumbs up to Winnebago for keeping things on all their coaches, no matter how old, available to their owners.   He’s having to figure out which wires are new ones for the solar that Greg installed and which are original from Winnebago.



The problem here is in the DC electrical system and we don’t know what was done to cause this.  It looks as though the voltage on the batteries is good, they show full charge of 13+ volts.  We also know that if we turn on any DC load (light, water pump, etc) the voltage at the house DC breaker box drops  and we get low voltage codes on the refrigerator and the Powerline Energy Management system originally in the coach from Winnebago.  We also know that we may be losing voltage at the battery mode solenoid.  With the refrigerator running on AC or LP the available voltage at the DC breaker box is 10.5 to 11.1 volts which is clearly too low to begin with.  Wire tracing shows that the line in to the solenoid has full battery voltage and the line out, which gets relayed to the house, is 0.7 volts lower (with no load).  The 0.7 drop at the solenoid was measured when the refrigerator was off so we are assuming the extra voltage lost at the house DC breaker box is going to the refrigerator.

I know this is making your eyes cross as it does mine but I thought I’d put the details as we know them here in case anyone has an idea or a clue.  I must also acknowledge great email education and suggestions all day Saturday and into Sunday from Jack Mayer whom I consider to be a solar guru. 




While David worked, I kept notes for him and helped as I could, jiggling wires, handing him things.   I made dinner which we ate on what has become the tool table.

This low voltage is still giving us the worrisome flickering lights so the lights stay off which means flashlights after dark.  We are concerned about what other DC appliances might be or have been damaged by these low voltage days.  We will have had low voltage for a week at a minimum on Tuesday IF we can get it fixed then.   It is possible we could have residual trouble from this down the road.

We do have AC power and our LP stove for cooking so things are not impossible here.  We can charge up all those flashlight batteries for after dark! 





Greg Young has bent over backwards to try to fix this and to compensate us for our troubles.  At this point, I don’t think there is anything more we could ask of him.  He and we thought it was fixed when we drove away on Friday.   But something wasn’t right when we stopped for the night. 

We’re not sure what to do at this point.  It’s something in the DC electric.  We could go back and Greg would work on it until there was a resolution however long it takes. We could stay here and try to get the local RV Tech with 30 years experience to come look at it.  We could go on  down the PA turnpike  to Akron, Ohio which is a bigger city and may hopefully have a good Winnebago person or an excellent DC electrician.  Greg has said he will pay for whatever it takes to get us up and running.  He is definitely losing big time on this install but he is a very conscientious and honest businessman.  We are hoping we have no problems down the road, assuming we ever get there, and are a real fluke in his new mobile solar installation business.  I do greatly admire his upbeat can do attitude.

Of course none of this is AM Solar’s fault, they only supplied the parts.






So today, we have oatmeal pancakes for breakfast on our AC powered griddle.   With pure maple syrup, YUM!

Later, Jack Mayer emails some suggestions so we try them out. One requires that we turn off the chargers for half an hour and then  turn the inverter/charger back on to see if it goes into bulk charge as he thinks it should.  If so, then the problem is not the inverter.  He thinks we have a bad battery pulling everything down. Aside:  (Nancy Mills looks at Bill and says I told you it’s always the batteries)

Eventually,  we go for a hike to allow the charger to be off and to walk off the pancakes.  We take the Antler Trail which runs from the campground.   We think we have a more appropriate name for it


On our way we noticed that in this campground there seem to be no rules.  Everyone has clotheslines and hammocks hung from the trees.  Attaching things to trees is a no no almost every where we have been. 

We also see this popup not on the nice flat top of the graveled area of the campsite, in the foreground of this picture,  but pulled in under the trees. 

People park their cars on the grass.  We’ve seen no rangers at all since we’ve been here.   There is one campground host at the beginning of the 149 site campground.   

But we have also found these campers to be among the quietest and nicest of any holiday week-end campground we have ever been in.   There are lots of cars and tents per site but  no wild parties, seemingly no alcohol.  This has been very nice.


All long the entire trail are many many wild geraniums and more may apple.   Tis the season, tis the place.  They are in bloom everywhere.







It’s a nice cool path on what is becoming a warm Sunday morning.


We see quite a bit of Winter Cress also known as Yellow Rocket.   My pictures of in its early stages turn out blurry so I borrow this one so if you see it somewhere you’ll know what it is.

Winter Cress _ yellow rocket

I have better ones of the sweet white violet.


About half way around we come to a serious up hill hike through what appears to be a path mowed through the grasses between the woodland sections.   All along this path are giant ant hills.   Single and multiple groups of ant hills.  This picture doesn’t do justice to how big they are.  Where do those little fellas get all the makings for such a big place?



We think it should be called Large Anthill Trail instead of Lost Antler.





We return and turn on the inverter and get bizarre information from the batteries.  We send it to Jack.  None of this makes any sense to me.  As it gets dark, David is attempting to find out where the negative and positive leads from one compartment come out in one compartment.  We have learned from much experience that assuming is not a good idea.  No success.  Without good deal of difficulty and taking other things apart,  there appears to be no way to find this out.. 

SO here we are.
What’s up for tomorrow? 
We’re not sure.


  1. Gosh, I sure am sorry that you are going through this mess. Hang in there. Hopefully, something good will happen very soon. Hugs....

  2. Your story just keeps getting worse. Of course this had to be a long holiday weekend to top it off.

  3. Just a comment about the battery disconnect relay. At full load with all lights and pump on etc, there should be 0 vdc voltage read between the supply side and source side. Using a multimeter set to 25 vdc range, place one lead on one big cable and the other on the other big cable and it should read 0 vdc.
    If I understand correctly you did just this, but with almost no load, say LP gas detector and smoke detector etc.
    Pass this on to an electrician or just remove batt cable and bypass relay, by placing both cables on same side and the reconnect battery cable. This should remove power loss temporary

    Clueless Know It All.

  4. Glad you took the hike for a change of pace..... Feeling your pain as this continues ......hoping for the best by Tuesday. !!!

  5. At least you are working with one of the best for support help in Jack Mayer. I don't know where we in the RV world would be without him. He solved our inverter problem around 10:00 at night as we sat in Gardiner outside Yellowstone. A little rewiring and electric tape saved us a lot of money. Sure hope things get figured out soon. BTW, the pancakes looked wonderful:)

  6. keeping in mind that I know NOTHING about electrical stuff. . .last year when we had issues with our DC SYSTEM an electrician traced it out to a BAD SOLENOID. . .it ended up being an easy fix. . .but what a nightmare to figure out. . .wish someone could tell you a magic answer. . .

  7. I'm glad you had a good place to walk off some of the frustration. The sun provides an excellent source of power, but converting it to electricity can be a real PITA. I just hope you get it up and running soon.

  8. Don't have a clue about any of it :) and hope you get it all sorted out soon! I love seeing your herbs looking so happy!

  9. I was getting frustrated just reading what your problems are, Sherry! It's all greek to me! The problem we found with RVs is that you get to a fork in the road, which is where you seem to be, and now have to decide which fork to take. For us it was almost like a crap shoot as to who would be the one who would have the knowledge and know how to fix something because in a coach it involves so many crossover systems/areas (and everything is harder to get to). Seems so much harder than in a house. Jack Mayer probably doesn't remember but he solved a problem for me a long time ago. David seems like a man of great patience, and the two of you seem so methodical and cool-headed that you have a lot of information for the person who is going to find your problem. This puts you way ahead of a lot of people like us. Crossing my fingers that you find the answer. I wouldn't be surprised if Jack and David wrangle this out. Glad, at least, you're in a place where you can hike off the frustration plus you are people who are used to making the best of bad situations.

  10. Oh Sherry, it's like you starting living MY life! I am so hoping each night that there's a final resolution. We've been discussing it and the fact that we are happy we didn't invest in a solar system as our travel needs presently don't require any boondocking. At least you've had a decent campground for the holiday weekend; we've had neighbors that give camping a bad name all weekend and I'm really praying they pack up and leave tomorrow!

  11. After reading the "Saturday" section of your post today, I'm also thinking it could be a bad battery..or at least a bad battery connection.

    Simple test for the batteries. I can't remember if you installed 6v or 12v batteries. However, disconnect the batteries so that there is no charge or draw. Allow them to "rest", disconnected for at least a couple of hours and check with a simple voltmeter what the voltage is at the batteries. If they are 12v batteries, they should read around 12.70 volts. If they are 6v batteries, they should read around 6.35 volts.

    That will at least tell you if the batteries are fully charged. Then, I would double check all the connections at the batteries and at the other end of those battery cables. One bad connection will screw up the whole system.


  12. Oh Sherry, I wish I was closer to help. :c(

  13. oatmeal pancakes.. look wonderful … I do not like ant hills. not one bit. red ants will make you wish you were dead … hurt

    what a frustrating mess you're having but … it will be fixed. it's written somewhere ...

  14. What a pickle for a holiday wkend! Back to old fashioned camping.

  15. Bill was going to make the same suggestion Kevin made. Check the individual batteries without load or charge. We are so hoping it is the battery...that's an easy fix!!!. Also, be sure your inverter is set to charge AGM batteries. Ours was, but our batteries weren't AGM and we burnt them up. It all has to mesh. The wrong setting on the inverter will take more than a week to show its ugly face so that probably isn't your current problem. It took a few months for that to show up. Hope the fix is just a battery replacement!!

  16. The positive in all this is the terrific suggestions and ideas that keep coming your way and David's knowledge and patience in trying things out AND Greg's efforts to make things right.

  17. I too hope it is something as easy to fix as a battery. I continue to hope I will open up your blog and find an email saying "it is fixed!". Our thoughts go out to you both for relief from this stressful situation soon.

  18. And forgot to say YOUR levelheaded ness and patience too!

  19. Hope it turns out to be an easy fix ... like a bad battery. That Greg is willing to do what it takes to get you fixed is good. If you've been able to determine that the problem is not with the solars ... i.e. they are charging the batteries to full capacity, and the batteries are OK, then I'd probably want a Winnebago expert to look at the electrical system ... but that's me ... and I know diddly about all this electrical stuff.

  20. No suggestions here other than to keep hiking to keep the frustration level down.

  21. All that technical stuff makes my head spin, but it's good you posted it all and maybe one of the suggestions will work for you. I sure hope so. It looks like David knows what he's doing, so maybe he can at least rule out certain things. Hoping for a fix!

  22. I have been totally quiet regarding this solar problem. It's because my eyes are glazing over with all those long words I don't understand. However, I do have appropriate sympathy for your situation, and hope you survive the holiday without too much grief. Then, I hope a solution is found quickly.

  23. Hope you get this figured out sooner rather than later. Seems complicated enough to need a number of people who know solar, batteries, wiring and RVs. Good luck!

  24. It's going to be one of those I-can't-believe-that's-all-it-was type of things in the end. It's why I always hated electrical problems when we did our own car maintenance. I was glad when they became too complicated and computer driven to troubleshoot ourselves! Aren't you sooooo happy you aren't spending the long weekend with the problem and then having to go back to the work week grind afterwards? Glad to see David is still smiling. Patience is rewarded :-).

  25. Yuck. I hope this gets fixed on Tuesday and that you're not out anymore time and Greg doesn't have to be out too much more money! Ant Trail is a better name...nice flowers there. Glad you got out for a break. Just think ... everyday is pretty much a holiday for you...despite this annoyance...you are a lucky duck ;)

  26. Looks like pancakes and hike were the best part of this day.

  27. Lovely photos, and the Gingham tablecloth in your latest post reminds me of The Waltons...they had a Green Gingham tablecloth in their kitchen.

  28. Oh nooooo…..!!!. Good for you that you got out for a walk, stopped to smell (photograph) the wildflowers along the way, and made some of your favorite oatmeal pancakes for breakfast. Life goes on, and the pleasure is in the tiny details, as you well know. This, too, will pass, even though it is a major pain in the butt. (However, just so you know, we are NEVER going to get solar now -- we'll just stick with the simple solar panels Eric installed. But then I'm sure I'm going to be envious when you're able to be out in the boondocks, completely self-sufficient….)

  29. Thanks for the pic of the yellow rocket, I don't think I've seen that one. Sorry for all your solar troubles. I really enjoyed your museum tours...too many museums, never enough time when it comes to D.C.!


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