The Open Mike RV Tour West continues… with still more problems

 The Open Mike RV Tour West continues… with still more problems

The Open Mike RV Tour West continues... with still more problems 1The good news is, after spending $2,412.95 at the Mercedes dealer in Billings, MT, our Roadtrek is fixed.

Sort of.

The new turbo vane motor and a turbo resonator have been installed, though Mercedes calls the later a Noise Silencer. Whatever. They insist that the things they repaired were the sources of my problem when I kept losing power. I have no way of knowing whether it really was. But they gave us a rental F-150 to use all day as they did the repairs. We visited the Montana State Fair and a park along the Yellowstone River.

We hit the road again bound for Yellowstone at 5 PM. We made it all of a mile when I noticed the refrigerator was no longer working. The generator wouldn't fire up. I couldn't even get the test panel lights to come on. We turned around and went back to the dealer.

They insisted they did nothing to cause the issues. We theorized that perhaps the shore battery on my Roadtrek had gone dead as I left it on while they serviced my Roadtrek this morning so the food wouldn't spoil. It was on battery from about 1 am to 4pm

After letting the engine run a few minutes we got the test lights to come on. They shrugged. I shrugged. I was burning daylight. According to my GPS, we wouldn't arrive until close to dark. So we set off. I let everything charge for an hour as we headed west on I-90. Then we tried the fridge. The light came on but the fridge was making a sort of grinding noise. The CO2 detector started beeping.

The test lights showed the battery was low. We kept everything off. An hour and a half later at a rest stop, I tried the fridge on propane. No problem. No noise. On 12V, there was the grinding noise again, and the CO2 alarm. The generator still couldn't get enough juice to start up. I shut it off and moved on.

So that's where we are. Either the fridge is bad or the house battery, which doesn't seem to want to take a charge. Or the inverter. With my luck, probably all three.

It looks like we're not done spending yet. Our next stop is West Yellowstone, MT. I'm doubtful we'll find much help there, if we need it.

Jennifer is being a great sport about it all. She did, however point out that we could have rented a lot of very nice hotel rooms with workout areas for what this trip has cost so far. You need to understand that she works out every day. I'm not talking about taking a walk. I'm talking weights, heavy duty cardio. She's an animal. She's only managed one workout so far on this trip. She's going through exercise withdrawal. I'm lucky to be alive. I need to find her a gym.

We arrived at West Yellowstone right at dark. Powered up the RV and switched the fridge to 120V. It works fine. Solved that one.

I know the commercial power will charge the house batter so we'll see of that works.

But then… another problem: The LP gas detector started chirping. It wouldn't stop. For 45 minutes it sounded. We've read on other forums about them being touchy and I'm suspecting it has to do with the house battery running down and now being charged with the campground's electricity. There is no smell of LP so, finally, to shut it up, I pulled the fuse.

We have the windows opened just in case there is a leak but it's going to be a cold night. It's 46 degrees already, a half hour before midnight.

Update- Friday morning  — The Open Mike RV Tour is back on track. Had a great night's sleep. The overnight temperature dropped to 30 degrees. We went to sleep with the sound of wolves howling from a Grizzly and Wolf attraction a half mile away. They have two resident packs there and it's an awesome sound.

Right behind my spot at the Grizzly Campground here in Yellowstone is a series of trails through a national forest. I plan to hit them late this afternoon on my mountain bike.

“Just make a lot of noise,” Kathy, at the campground office told me. “You don't want to surprise a bear.”

No way. But way cool.

We're off for our first tour of the park. I put the LP fuse back in and after a couple of chirps, it settled right down and is just glowing green now.

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.


  • Mike,
    Did you check the breakers? I had a similar problem with not having any juice and the generator cutting off after I’d left the fridge on DC power for a few hours. The low state of the battery and me trying to run the generator had caused the breaker to pop. In my PW the breakers are with the battery disconnect switch – it’s very hard to see (of course it is, why would they have put it some place easy!). We looked in the manual to figure out where they were. There’s a gal on the Class B’s forum who is having similar problems – if you can get to the forum I linked the page where I asked about my electrical trouble there. I hope it helps and you get back going in the right direction soon! 🙂

  • Where is the breaker??????

  • In my PW there is a tiny cabinet, down near the floor, in the back, by the bed, and inside the cabinet is the battery disconnect and around that apparatus (it’s not really a switch) there are several breakers – they don’t look like breakers at home they are little pieces of metal with screws holding the wires on and on the sides of the pieces of metal are the reset buttons. Now, I have a different “brand” of RV and mine is a lot newer so yours is prob different. Check your manual – look under house battery or 12 volt or DC power… Good luck! 🙂

  • Mike, I don’t know about your generator issue. But when your batteries get very low the inverter can shut down. And needs to be reset. Very simple task. Look in the manual and it will tell you how to reset your inverter after a shut down. On our 210 we just move a toggle switch off and then on again.

    Also a call to roadtrek can be very helpful when you have these issues.

  • You shouldn’t have to worry about the frig tonight. west Yellowstone was the low for the 48 states yesterday at 32 degrees. Just put everything outside and save the propane for the heater.

  • Mike,

    If you will be plugged into 110v power at the campground then the inverter/charger should be able to get the house battery recharged if it wasn’t charged during your drive. It should be charged from the engine alternator pretty quickly unless there is a circuit breaker or fuse that needs to be reset/replaced. The house battery will be drained pretty quickly with the frig on 12v and the engine not running. Once you get the house battery recharged you should be able to see if these other problems are due to the dead house battery or to something else. If you do not have the manual for the inverter you can download it from Tripplite and get info on the inverter status lights which will let you know what is going on with the battery charging. You may need to reset a breaker to get the interter portion of the Tripplite back in action if it was on when the battery died. Leaving the inverter off when you are not using it is a good idea. On our 2008 RS you also need to make sure that the battery switch is on before plugging into campground 120v or the Tripplite charging system will not be connected. Hang in there, I expect things will pan out.

  • Thanks, Greg. All those problems seem to be resilved with 110V. But here’s a question: How do I reset a breaker to get the interter portion of the Tripplite back in action, if so needed?

  • I checked your vehicle manual on line. On page B-15 it states:
    “10V inverter/charger shut down
    As a safety feature, the inverter component of the RV750ULHW inverter/charger, (which changes DC battery power to AC electricity) will shut itself down when your auxiliary battery bank drops below 10 volts DC.This occurs in order to avoid excessive discharging and potential damage to the battery(s), as well as to preserve sufficient
    battery voltage to maintain the functionality and readiness of the battery charger component of the RV750ULHW .
    It is possible, however, for the battery(s) to become discharged below 10 volts DC as a function of activity other than using the inverter. For example, while dry camping, in the absence of shore or generator power, if a 12 volt
    appliance such as the furnace or lights are left on for an extended period of time.”

    Our TrippLite manual shows how to reset. You inverter appears to be next to the bathroom in a cabinet according to page B-15. On that you toggle off and on . If you can’t find it try:
    Tripp Lite phone: 773-869-1234

  • Mike,

    I would refrain from using the fridge on 12V for a while, even while you’re traveling. As I opined on the forum about the pros and cons of driving with your propane on, I think, for the moment at least, you should continue to run the fridge on propane or 110V only to give your batteries a chance to get back up to where they should be. From a deep discharge, they’re going to need a couple of days of charging. Your gauge on the panel over the door might show that they’re better, but you’re probably looking at a float charge as opposed to really being back up to snuff. Long stretches of driving are good for them as the alternator provides a much higher charge current than does the inverter. Also, if you have noticed that when a short time after you start the engine, you’ll hear a distinctive “clunk” under the hood on the driver’s side. That is your battery isolator coupling the engine battery with the coach batteries. It’s designed to decouple the coach batteries from the engine battery to prevent the engine battery voltage from dropping too low to start the engine. Reverse the situation here and, if you start your engine, let it run for a few minutes, listen for the “clunk”, you should then be able to start your generator off the engine battery, even if the coach batteries are low.


  • Hi Jennifer and Mike,
    As I told you Jennifer ‘Expect the Unexpected’. Aside from all the situations this has got to be a great experience. I became excited about the beauty of this part of the country when I was given a View Master as a grade schooler. My first trip of 7 across the country was when I graduated from high school. Four of them were through Yellowstone and we stayed 2 to 5 days in campgrounds and the Lodge as well. Absolutly the best vacations, ever. Your comments Mike on the temperature made me smile about one particular surprise. On a trip to Seattle, through Yellowstone we wanted to go through Glacier N.P. We arrived at the Glacier Lodge, which was similar but different than Yellowstone, on the last day of August. We found a Christmas celebration, in Hawaiian style, in progress. They did this because it was the last day of their season. After a great evening we left early in the morning in the sleet and snow flurries wondering if it was wise to go through the mountains in Glacier. We made it to Seattle alright and hiked/walked some of the trails at Mt. Rainier but needed better cold weather gear. It was a frosty Labor Day.
    Anyway, have a safe trip, see as much as you can, you can catch the rest of it next time.
    Holding down the fort in Troy, Don C.

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