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Old 07-28-2016, 05:03 PM   #1
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Replacing my A-frame WFCO Converter

For those who have read bits and pieces, here is a summary of the whole story.

When we took delivery of our A122 in April 2014, I had dual batteries installed by the dealer (Nolan's in Denver) to run the heater for 4 nights camping in the Colorado Rockies. We don't deliberately camp in snow, but we do want to camp on those fall, winter, spring weekends where day time temps are 40+, and nights can be in the 20s.

I didn't pay any attention to the batteries until a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska in Nov 2013. It's a 9 hour drive with the camper, and we run the fridge on DC while traveling. We stayed in a campground with electric hook-ups, so no issues. When we got home, I plugged the camper in (folded down) to recharge the batteries. After a week, I measured the voltage and they were at 11 volts. Another week, same thing. Obviously, the converter was not charging the batteries. I broke out a 10A Sears charger I had, but the circuit breaker on the charger kept tripping. Separated the batteries, and finally got 1 to take a charge from the charger. Could not get the other one recharged. Opened the camper, and found the 40A fuse blown. Replaced the fuse, and then put the batteries back in parallel. The unequal charges caused an electrical fire in the battery box, which I put out by cutting the parallel cable with insulated lineman's pliers.

The batteries (tops had holes from the gassing hydrogen) were replaced with 2 Interstate 6V golf cart batteries from Costco. A disconnect was installed. The converter fan came on for the 1st time when I turned on the batteries - they were charging and life was good again.

A couple of months later, I checked the battery water level, and both batteries were low. I added water and started monitoring things. I also downloaded and read the WFCO manual. It said after 44 hours at low constant output, the converter would shift to trickle mode at 13.2V. When the camper was plugged in, I always got 13.7V at the batteries, no matter what. The WFCO converter was not going to trickle mode as advertised, and might have been the cause of low battery water.

I bought a PD (Progressive Dynamics) 4135 converter, which is supposed to be a drop-in replacement for the WFCO 8735.

Last weekend, I installed the PD converter. I moved one circuit at a time, starting with the 30A AC power-in circuit. Between the minimal PD instructions, the WFCO labeling (pretty good), and handbuilder's "sticky" thread on A-frame fuse identification, I was able to figure things out. The WFCO/Rockwood labeling was all correct, and wire sizes were the correct minimum for the fuse/circuit breaker.

I got rid of the serial wire nut mess, especially on the DC negative side, by putting in a bus bar for all the DC negative connections. On the single wire DC circuits (4 of 5), I replaced the wire nut connections with waterproof butt connectors. For the one circuit (a real miscellaneous circuit), I put in a small bus bar for all the positive wires to tie to. My notes on what powers what have been added to the sticky fuse identification thread. But for grins, this misc circuit powers the CO/propane detector, the stereo, the orange porch light, the white tongue light, the interior night light, the heater fan, and the water heater controls.

Physically, the PD converter is about 5/8 inch narrower than the WFCO, which was a real pain to frame in to the dinette seat riser. Height was fine.

Everything worked as advertised when I turned the power back on. Battery charge voltage was 13.67V. Last night, it had dropped into trickle mode at 13.23V. All appliances worked. Other note of interest - the thermostat for heater and Cool Cat has its own DC circuit. No heat or A/C without the thermostat/fan control (I have the electronic thermostat). I do not have power tongue jack or roof lift.

Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
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Old 07-28-2016, 06:02 PM   #2
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Project turned out good and you learned some things about your rig. When my converter goes I will replace it with a PD until then I don't see it as a priority. I do carry a 2/10/50 portable automatic battery charger just in case.
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Old 07-29-2016, 09:11 AM   #3
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I cannot get my WFCO to go into trickle charge, like yours it stays at 13.7v...so I disconnect the batteries after about 24 hrs of recharging.
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Old 07-29-2016, 09:33 AM   #4
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What was the model number of your WFCO? I have a popup but guessing they might be the same model.

When my WFCO converter goes I will change to the PD converter; no doubt. However, my WFCO is a little over three years old (probably more like four) and drops down to 13.2 to maintain the batteries.
For almost three months, my dual 12V batts were on converter charge and when I checked the levels they were down very little; so I topped them off. And periodically, when I could, I would open the camper's door and look at my Trimetric meter and it was on 13.2.
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Old 07-29-2016, 06:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Vic View Post
I cannot get my WFCO to go into trickle charge, like yours it stays at 13.7v...so I disconnect the batteries after about 24 hrs of recharging.
x2. Quickly figured our the WFCO was not doing what the manual said. Would not drop back to a 13.2 volt holding pattern after charging. Stayed at 13.7v. Installed a progressive dynamics external unit on its own 120V circuit, and flipped off the WFCO. Happy now for 3 years.
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Old 07-29-2016, 06:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Vic View Post
I cannot get my WFCO to go into trickle charge, like yours it stays at 13.7v...so I disconnect the batteries after about 24 hrs of recharging.

A dry battery is one of the reasons I installed a battery switch.
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Old 07-29-2016, 08:29 PM   #7
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A quick second note. While I was installing and testing the PD converter, the cooling fan would come on and run for a couple of minutes and then shut off for about 15-30 minutes. This was a very hot evening in the garage, and I was testing 12 volt stuff and using the lights. The PD fan was very quiet - I only knew it was on because I had the cover off and could see the blades spinning. Very different from the WFCO fan, which was very noticeable noise-wise the few times it ever came on.

FWIW, the PD 4135 cost $144 from an on-line source, and had $17 shipping charge.

Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
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Old 07-29-2016, 11:54 PM   #8
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As soon as we brought our Wildwood home from the dealer I tore out the WFCO and replaced it with a PD. In all the years we've been camping we never had a properly working WFCO. WF, by the way stands for "World Friendship". It's a Chinese manufacturer of the cheapest converters which is why most of the RV manufacturers use them. The WFCOs seldom (if ever) go in to Boost Mode when your battery is really low and often forgets to step down into trickle mode when your battery is charged.

The PD (Progressive Dynamics) converters are among the best you can find. Highly recommended.
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Old 08-04-2016, 08:55 AM   #9
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Just picked up a new PD4135 online for $129, free ship and no tax. Hopefully will charge my batteries faster, and help them last longer.
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:22 PM   #10
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Just picked up a new PD4135 online for $129, free ship and no tax. Hopefully will charge my batteries faster, and help them last longer.
Installed...120v side was quick (5 breakers popped right in the new unit), but the 12v side took a while to cut the soldered wires from WFCO fuse panel and reconnect them to the 12v fuse panel on PD. The 4135 is slightly smaller both in converter size and housing size but is quieter, working great and I am reading 13.2v trickle charge right now.
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