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Old 04-14-2017, 10:19 PM   #1
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Question PopUp Electric Winch Lift Failure

Question
I am currently using a cordless drill to raise and lower my 2014 HW 277. The last time I operated the winch last year, it kind of sputtered. This year, when de-winterizing, I tried it, and I got a couple of buzzes and clicks, but no movement. Then silence.

On close inspection, I found two issues.
1) The limiter switch is driven by a plastic gear, and the gear had broken, and the plastic engagement "key" on the turning ring had sheared off. I removed the outer gear, opened the limiter, and neutralized the mechanism so that both switches are "closed" - current passes. I then verified continuity between the up/down switch and the "relays" in the gearbox. I also verified continuity in the up/down switch.

2. I pulled and reset all connections everywhere related to the lift winch.

After all that, the motor goes "down" but it is still dead going up.

I suspect that one of the relays is burned out, and the cause may be related to the failure in the limiter switch - or it could be coincidence. I never exceed the height allowed by the little red tension wire that dictates height. And when I lower, I use my hand to sense tension on the lift cable. When there is enough slack to allow me to clamp down the roof, I stop.

Any ideas on replacing the relay(s). The hangar is riveted to the winch chassis, and the design of the hangar prevents removing the relays without removing the rivet. If that's all there is to it, I can replace the rivet with a small bolt and locking nut, but one assumes there'd be a better way.

Note: I cross-posted this as a response in another thread, too.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:24 PM   #2
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PS

PS
I'm not sure if the relays also contain breakers. Since the lift didn't operate at all when I started (up or down), and then after checking things over and pulling/resetting all connections, the lift now operates in the "down" direction, it occurred to me that the relays are also breakers. So I tapped both firmly with a screwdriver handle hoping a stuck relay would get jogged loose or a tripped breaker might reset. (there is no reset button that I could see).

Any thoughts or experiences will be welcome.
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Old 04-15-2017, 09:34 AM   #3
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2013 Fleetwood 228D "Carefree" P55012 Winch Failure

I also started my season yesterday with the electric winch not working. I took it all apart, cleaned all the electrical, checked the switch continuity, and replaced the battery. After reading the Carefree User manual, I bypassed the the 40 A circuit breaker on the battery and had short gasp of movement before the silence resumed....
Does anyone know if bypassing the circuit breaker would prevent normal operation?

Sure glad I have plenty of portable drills as a back up!
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Old 04-15-2017, 02:01 PM   #4
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Bypassing the breaker is a recommended TEST procedure, and it should not affect the performance of the winch. My winch works in one direction and not the other, so the relay is not the issue anyway.

I looked hard for other relays or fuses, but I could not find any. And since the main power to the winch is supplied via a single pair (red and black) of wires, it's not possible for the winch to work in one direction and not the other if a main breaker is blown. I see no evidence of breakers or fuses AFTER the power feed splits to supply up or down.

I've yet to determine the exact description of the "black boxes" in my photo. They are definitely relays, because the toggle switch connects to them using light gauge wire, and the output is heavy gauge wire to the motor. The light wire supplies a low current signal to close the relay, and the heavy wire is connected to the output side of the relay. What I don't know is if there is an internal circuit breaker, too.

I suspect that the relay(s) may be prone to failure. I plan to call my dealer on Monday and speak with someone in the parts department to find out. I am about 90 minutes from my dealer, and I'd rather exhaust my options for repair before I dedicate a day and $100 round trip to towing it in to the shop, and then pay a mechanic to replace a couple of relays.

One thing I noticed on mine is that the "Limit Switch" is an incredibly complex piece of hardware...a long orange drum with multiple gears and so on that drive geared nuts to press against "normally closed" switches. This means that the gears will "break" a normally operational circuit if the limit is hit...shutting off the power to the relays. The whole thing is driven by a fragile plastic outer ring gear that engages with the main winch gears, and the plastic gear on the limit switch spins a plastic ring that drives all the internal gears in the switch. My outer ring gear was broken AND the plastic "keyway" that engages the ring gear on the outer drum was stripped clean off. This is not a good design, and it's extremely fragile at a critical point.

Since the limit switch is now useless, and the prospect of replacing it with another of similar construction seemed stupid, I disabled the switch by removing the drive gears, adjusting the internal gears that operate the switches to a neutral position, and now current passes through uninterrupted (tested with a VOM meter). The whole mess may as well be a straight piece of wire.

I noticed, as I examined the limit switch, that one of the adjusters was at the extreme of its adjustment range. I suspect it may have contributed to my problems, but now that the limit switch is essentially just a solid wire from the raise/lower toggle (also tested), and now that the "down" function works, about the only thing left is a failure in one of the relays.

The online owner's manual for the Carefree winch depicts a different device with far simpler limit switches and only one relay. So the manual wasn't much help. The manual that came with my camper is stored inside the camper, and it's currently under a cover and filled with stored camping items. It's a good hour's work or more to get to it and put things back, so I was hoping for some insight from this forum.

By the way, the limit switch might be helpful if you're dumb enough to not watch the roof raise and lower. But it's hardly necessary if you just watch for the telltale tension cable (to measure height of lift) to reach its fully stretched out length. When lowering, as I mentioned before. I watch for the top to stop moving (often an inch or two above fully closed), then reach down for the lift cable with my hand and apply a little pull tension as I continue lowering. Once there is a modest amount of slack in the cable, I know I can clamp down the roof. So the limit switch is really there only to "idiot-proof" the lift mechanism.

I will post what I learn from my phone call to the dealer's parts department on Monday.
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Old 04-15-2017, 02:29 PM   #5
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I think I'd cross the numbers on the relays and breakers and replace them all. Dell City Electronics or Digi-Key will have what you need for a reasonable price.
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Old 04-16-2017, 07:40 AM   #6
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You may not like my suggestion, but here it is. Replace the powerwinch with a manual winch.

I had the older style winch on my 2012 228BH Flagstaff and it was a total pice of failed the second or third time I camped and many times in between. Got tired of it failing and yanked it off and replace with a manual.

Very easy to replace the winch, not hard to crank up either.

(I will not that in my case I had to replace the cable; not a bad job but very greasy, due to the cable having been cut short for the power winch. It did not have to have been, but the dealer did.)
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Old 04-17-2017, 12:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f5moab View Post
You may not like my suggestion, but here it is. Replace the powerwinch with a manual winch.

I had the older style winch on my 2012 228BH Flagstaff and it was a total pice of failed the second or third time I camped and many times in between. Got tired of it failing and yanked it off and replace with a manual.

Very easy to replace the winch, not hard to crank up either.

(I will not that in my case I had to replace the cable; not a bad job but very greasy, due to the cable having been cut short for the power winch. It did not have to have been, but the dealer did.)
My 18-volt Porter-Cable drill makes relatively short work of raising and lowering the roof, so, in a way, going manual is what I'm doing. I have 3 batteries for the drill, so the only change is to pack a spare battery so I have enough juice to run the stabilizer jacks with the drill, too.

But your comment is well taken. I was somewhat shocked to see the design of my lift winch - especially the incredibly complex limit switch. It's as big as a car solenoid, and it has an amazing number of parts - gears, shafts, left-hand and right-hand thread, and more. Some is brass and some is cheap plastic. Most alarming is the outer ring gear and drive housing being made of what appears to be ABS or PVC. This engages with the main steel driven gear on the lift winch, and it's essentially exposed to the weather, dust/grime, and so on. We go dry camping and often travel 20 miles one way down gravel roads. The dust and grit infiltrate everything on the A-frame.

By the looks of the relays, they may not be fully sealed, so I'm wondering if they are corroded inside.

I will replace the set of relays, but before I use the camper, I plan to seal the cases with silicone or bathtub caulk to keep them dry and dust free.

I'm reluctant to disable the electric winch, because, while a hand-crank winch is something I can handle, if my wife needs to operate the lift, there's no way she could use a hand-crank winch. She could run the drill motor.

i appreciate the idea. My old Viking pop-up had a hand-crank winch, and it worked great.
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Old 04-17-2017, 02:22 PM   #8
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Just ordered a pack of 5 of the relays from a vendor thru Amazon. I'll update when they arrive and I install a pair of new ones. The parts cost $49 + $7 shipping, and having spares seems wise since they seem to be conventional automotive parts and not necessarily suited to outdoor duty. They look like they belong under the dash or hood of a car. The winch enclosure offers little protection compared to those more secure environments.
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Old 04-17-2017, 03:13 PM   #9
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Many relays are not moisture proof and many of the light duty relays will vibrate enough when subjected to the bumps and bouncing of being towed. Try to locate some specifically for heavy duty use.
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Old 04-17-2017, 03:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Scrapper View Post
Many relays are not moisture proof and many of the light duty relays will vibrate enough when subjected to the bumps and bouncing of being towed. Try to locate some specifically for heavy duty use.
The order is in, but I do plan to seal the relays with silicone or bathtub caulk. As for the vibration, I didn't know about that issue. We travel 15 to 20 miles on washboard gravel roads frequently, and I've started to deflate the trailer tires a bit to soften the ride. We're typically going only 25 to 30 MPH tops, so heat isn't an issue. I have a powerful Viair 12-v compressor (it clamps to the battery posts, rather than plugging into a 12-v cigarette lighter socket) so I can inflate the tires quickly for highway use.

The rough roads were rattling my camper apart, but reducing the tire pressure to about 40 PSI from the recommended 60 PSI made a HUGE difference.

If I chew through the "cheapo" relays (factory brand/spec), I'll try to find heavy-duty substitutes. Great suggestion.
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Old 04-17-2017, 05:21 PM   #11
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Get some auto relays that are used by the vehicle manufacturers. That's what I did when I installed a number of relays in my Hummer for off-road lights and other purposes. They were subjected to water, dust, hot desert heat, snow and very rough environments and never had a relay fail.
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