UPDATE – NO CHANGE

September 19th, 2010

Still no fix for the electrical problems i brought the coach in to featherlite coach in sanford for. i have found a better place to go and i will be there in a day or so but featherlite luxury coach has offered no help and shown no interest in helping or or giving back any of the money they charged for repairing an electrical system even though they did not. i let them know about the problems many times but have no response.

it’s been a long time

June 24th, 2010

it’s been a long time since i’ve written and a long time since i paid for the installation of the battery monitoring system but i doesn’t work. after a visit from featherlite coach of sanford florida and two days of trying to understand how the system they built was malfunctioning they were only able to get it to work long enough to leave. i have been too busy to write but i still have readings that start at negative 200 and go further negative. i was happy that they sent a technician up to check out the problem after months of no action and un-returned phone calls but the outcome is less than satisfying. the system is very complex and they laid off the engineer that designed it. they don’t seem to confer with the manufacturers of the components and are unable to service it. if you want to understand the situation regarding the work done at featherlite luxury coach please read the about page or the correspondence listed in the column on the right.

came fixed display now – not working

June 2nd, 2010

haven’t had time to post. sent a tech up from florida to repair the system they installed. he spent two days and it seemed to be working fine when he was done. i ran the bus yesterday though and the featherlite readings for amperage were off the charts past the negative 200’s (not possible) sent a text message to shop manager yesterday will follow up.

SPOKE TO SHOP MANAGER AND SENT FAX

May 5th, 2010

called the shop manager at featherlite today because i hadn’t heard from anyone.  he did not have a plan to fix the coach and was surprised that i hadn’t received a call from the engineer.  he said he would discuss the problem.  i sent a fax to the owner
http://featherlitecoach.org/letter_to_featherlite.pdf

STILL NO WORD FROM FEATHERLITE COACH

May 5th, 2010

i still have not received any word or correspondence from featherlite coach of sanford florida fthr since the conversation during which their engineer said that the charge sensors had been installed incorrectly.  a conversation with vanner, the maker of the charge sensors revealed that featherlite luxury coach had also installed the wrong sensor using a 600 amp sensor where an 80 amp sensor was called for.  it appears that they are also installed on the wrong wires  and backwards but i haven’t heard back from NASCAR’s featherlite coach.  i will call tomorrow and speak to the manager and then send a letter to the owner.

call from the engineer at Featherlite the NASCAR coach company

April 26th, 2010

last week the featherlite (fthr “Official Coach” of NASCAR)  manager arranged a call from the engineer who designed the equalizer/battery monitor. i got the call and was at the coach about 15 min from my home and was able to describe to the engineer on the phone where the current sensors were in the bus bar area. the engineer confirmed that they were probably in the wrong place and said that he would relate that to the manager. he also referred me to page 5 of the vanner battery equalizer manual under “theory of operation” where a diagram which shows the proper placement of the current sensors. http://featherlitecoach.org/vanner_manual_Battery_Equalizer_80.pdf
(page 5)
after reading the copy below the diagram a very helpful local mechanic noticed that the equalizers themselves charge the batteries according to the information they receive from their sensors. it appears to describes in the manual how overcharging and boiling of the batteries is possible if mis-placement of the sensors leads to erroneous readings and a charge imbalance. to quote:

In many 24 volt electrical systems it is desirable to tap into the battery system to obtain power for 12 volt loads. This method, while seemingly simple, causes a charge imbalance resulting in Battery B (see diagram) being overcharged, and possibly boiling, while Battery A discharges.

more than i wanted to know but now i understand it is possible that the problem that i thought was just a monitor display problem could or may cause battery damage and fumes and/or explosion, a problem their work has caused before (battery boiling and fumes, not explosions / see earlier posts including post 30 “the incredulous customer service rep” April 14) still as of today i have not yet received a call back from the manager at Featherlite Luxury Coach of NASCAR concerning this problem nor have i been offered any solution not to mention compensation for the weeks and hours of work the replacement parts and labor that their work has so far. i am not sure how serious the problem with the charge indicator and placement of the charge sensors but i wish i never had to learn about them and i expected more from  fthr Featherlite Official Coach of NASCAR.

manager called today

April 19th, 2010

just got a call from the manager at featherlite luxury coach. they are going to have the engineer (who had been laid off) at the shop to talk to me at 11:am tomorrow. i’ll be able to talk to him about the battery indicator system malfunction. i’ve spoken with him before about this problem and i can review it with him but i think he is the best person to talk to since he designed and installed it. i think this is a big improvement. i am receiving calls from the shop and it sounds like they have made some arrangements on behalf of the problems with the work they did.

manager called during the day

April 15th, 2010

just got a call from the manager at featherlite luxury coach. he’s the guy i addressed my correspondence to in the first place because he supervised the work. he told me he was asked to call me but didn’t seem to know why. i explained the situation with the engine batteries and the house battery charge indicator and repeated to him all the information i had gotten (a month ago) from the now “not at the company” engineer who designed and programmed the device and he said he’d get back to me. it was an awkward conversation since he didn’t seem to know anything about the problems even though he supervised the work and i sent him an emails, called and spoke to him, and left messages more than a few times. at least he was calling and he was offering to ‘get back to me’.

left message for owner

April 15th, 2010

amidst all this the receptionist is very helpful and i was able to leave a message with her this morning to update the owner on what was going on with the batteries and that i hoped that problem was solved (i’ll find out today when i do another charge test). i also said that i would rather not receive any more evening calls from the customer service rep who seems to call me for the purpose of arguing.

the incredulous customer service rep.

April 14th, 2010

two days ago i got a call from the owner and the customer service rep on conference call. very polite and helpful. the owner pledged to fix the problems and the cust service rep was very nice in contrast with his demeanor on the phone 2 weeks before. back then the rep tried to convince me from florida that the bus didn’t smell. in fact it stunk. the smell wall unmistakably sulphur, a by product of cooking batteries along with hydrogen which can and does explode violently. “http://www.kd4bbm.com/battery_safety.htm
“http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071005103722AAlcwxX
“http://www.springerlink.com/content/l118p66p0u1gj912/fulltext.pdf?page=1
i am finding all this out reluctantly, i had wanted to avoid troubleshooting and repairing the bus myself which is why i brought it to the factory that built it to be repaired. the rep insisted that i wasn’t smelling sulphur and that the batteries were not cooking (overcharging and boiling ). he did that after he had me spend three hours measuring the voltage of the house batteries while the generator was on and the smell went from nothing to overpowering inside the coach. his demeanor when i reported the smell was incredulous and dismissive. he insisted that i must have a toilet or grey water problem in the bus which could be solved with deodorizer. however there was never any smell in the bathroom when the door was closed. at the factory there had been a smell from the other side of the bus because they cut a vent pipe and didn’t cap it, so by now i am familiar with the difference between the smell of an uncapped grey water tank and sulfur. i had to track down the sulphur smell myself and i did with the help of a local truck repair shop. it was the engine batteries which still showed the wetness from battery acid and smelled. i sent photos of that to featherlite. “http://e-report.us/chassis_batteries/pages/3BATT_04_10_10.html

today i got a call from the rep at 8:pm. again he was incredulous. “the engine batteries do not charge off the generator” i had just spent another three hours the day before monitoring the engine batteries with only the generator on and watching them charge up from 11 to 14vdc while monitoring their temp and having the assistance of a mechanic. the rep. actually began to argue with me over this point and i just told him that i was not familiar with the wiring of the coach. i did not want to argue with him about how they got charged, it was enough that i verified that they were charged when the generator was on and that they smelled and were hotter than the surrounding batteries. he finished by telling me that i was crazy and that he was going to report that to the owner of the company. this is the customer service rep. some company? it is now left to me to replace the batteries and see if that solves the problem and try to get them to repair the battery charge indicator system that they installed. the rep. told me today on the phone that he was had not researched the problem and that the person who installed it and programmed the display just a month ago “is no longer with the company”. they’ve been down-sizing and i don’t know what that is going to mean to me or to all the other featherlite coaches with the same system installed, but it’s probably not good.