Handbrake On or Off during Winter lay-up?

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Post by Liam on Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:04 pm

Gas tank and fuel tanks have been filled to the brim, all water drained down with drain cocks left open but just cant make my mind up regarding the handbrake. I know it will hold on the auto box Park and with chocks against the wheels but it just goes against the grain to leave the handbrake in the off. Any views?

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Post by mikethebike on Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:14 pm

Hi My Symphony is a manual.Never leave the handbrake on. To be honest on a flat surface it takes 2 of us to move it.

Micky
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Post by -mojo- on Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:39 pm

If chocked, always off!

Yours may have discs all round which isn't quite so much of a problem (if rear drum brake shoes rust onto the drums it's a major issue), but even so you are likely to get uneven rusting of the discs if the handbrake is left on, which can take a few miles to remove their tendency to brake unevenly.

Having said that, you hopefully aren't leaving it for more than a couple of weeks between runs anyway, and you should only get pretty superficial rust in that time.
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Post by artheytrate on Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:16 pm

Our drive is quite steep and so I chock the wheels with heavy duty chocks and leave the hand brake off and  in 9 years of motor homing our vans have never rolled.

John.
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Post by Liam on Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:19 pm

No, that's it now for this winter - Its too big to go for the odd shopping trip!! So am in the course of putting it to "bed" until early Spring -  hence the handbrake question. Hopefully with its "intelligent charging system management, EHU and solar, a bit of background heat and the occasional checkup all should be fine. Its had its final clean and polish and now just awaiting delivery of a cover to hopefully keep most of the winter ravages at bay. 
So handbrake will be in the off - with a reminder note to self on the cab screen!
Cheers,
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Post by bikeralw on Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:03 pm

Off during lay-up Liam. I once left mine on and when I tried to drive off in spring (front wheel drive) the rear wheels dragged and didn't rotate till I got onto the tarmac! Something else to worry about is the front brake pads, these can rust to the discs over the winter months and when you move off this can shear the friction material off the backplate. I now store the van on axle stands and wooden blocks and rotate all the wheels now and again.
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Post by art on Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:37 pm

If parked up for any length of time ,handbrake off , left in gear.
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Post by meanchris on Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:25 pm

Handbrake off (I must check) and left in gear, as it can't go anywhere on its own on our drive.
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Post by Swansea Jac on Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:36 pm

Steadies down
Handbrake off, 
In gear,
Chocks under the wheels,
Disc lok on the steering wheel,
Purpose built tyre protectors in place. 
Tanks drained,
dehumidifier and timed heater on, with all cupboards open.
Silver screen on windscreen.
Bedding stored indoors in airing cupboard...
Fridge propped slightly open
1  tablespoon of coffee granules in a dish in fridge (keeps it sweet) happyyes
.....
Roll on next spring! BBQ
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Post by dandywarhol on Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:34 pm

Many handbrake mechanisms on rear disc brakes are actually shoes operating inside the disc - so, brake off and on a manual gearbox leave it in reverse - it is a lower gear

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Post by repoort on Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:03 pm

....I know that I'm sticking my neck out a bit - but it always seems so sad that all these expensive vehicles, with high quality engineering, well insulated, usually with diesel heating systems....just deliberately being left unused for months on end.

Even with this recent bad weather up here in the "norf" we've been away five days - cold, windy, wet, snowy...it's what they are designed for, and what we've paid a lot of money for....to be used. As much as possible, for as long as possible.
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Post by daisy mae on Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:20 pm

I agree as above, why not use, it is better for the motor for one thing , seems a pity for it to sit there, mine is used all the year round, took two friends out for the day today, didn`t stay overnight, can use facilities even in the middle of winter, I am hoping to stay over somewhere soon. they are very cosy inside.

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Post by Swansea Jac on Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:33 pm

Point taken, Repoort, but ....tempus fugit!.... When we were your age we were living on our boat in Spain, having sailed her there from Swansea, ...and driving between Alicante and Swansea in our motor-home 3 or 4 times a year, in order to count the grandchildren, and to satisfy the demands of the house insurers and the NHS!

These days, @ 75 & 76, we have nothing to prove, and no master to answer to.... We are now self confessed warmer weather motor-homers!

Our Legend is not neglected... She is an extra spare room when needed... She is the venue for evening "Sun-downers" when we watch the world go by from a different vantage point...albeit in our own driveway!

Give us another month, and we shall be off on our travels again...heading south, of course...... But the answers were genuine, and written to help people with genuine queries.
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Post by dandywarhol on Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:50 pm

daisy mae wrote:I agree as above, why not use, it is better for the motor for one thing , seems a pity for it to sit there, mine is used all the year round, took two friends out for the day today, didn`t stay overnight, can use facilities even in the middle of winter, I am hoping to stay over somewhere soon. they are very cosy inside.

As above - that's the reason mine has over 90,000 miles on it, albeit mainly from the previous owner I knew - and it many ways a better van from being used sensibly than one of it's age with half the mileage

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Post by deka on Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:34 pm

Mine is chocked, Handbrake off  and left in gear every time it's parked in the drive,winter or summer. Deka
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Post by Peter Brown on Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:47 am

Liam wrote:No, that's it now for this winter - Its too big to go for the odd shopping trip!! So am in the course of putting it to "bed" until early Spring -  hence the handbrake question. Hopefully with its "intelligent charging system management, EHU and solar, a bit of background heat and the occasional checkup all should be fine. Its had its final clean and polish and now just awaiting delivery of a cover to hopefully keep most of the winter ravages at bay. 
So handbrake will be in the off - with a reminder note to self on the cab screen!
Cheers,
liam

If you leave it on EHU don't forget to switch the charger off or you will have a dry and failed battery in the spring. I have a Malvern and use it at least twice a week, its no problem to park at the far end of a supermarket car park.

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Post by deka on Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:46 am

Peter's quite right, I take mine for a spin up the carriageway now and then, It really does help. By doing that you can keep your eye on any little faults that may be developing, best to get them sorted now than when you come to use it. Deka
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Post by Jaytee on Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:36 am

I know what you mean about tempus fugit Swansea Jac, wow it really does :-(

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Post by Liam on Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:14 am

Peter 
Re your comment/recommendation regarding leaving the charger on permanently - my Malvern (2014 model) is fitted with the EC500 and the A/S manual clearly states that "the charger may be left on continuously"! It also refers to the "smart charge" feature which is alleged to monitor both batteries and auto adjusts and directs the charger power (including solar ) to maintain the batteries at an optimal level!! 
Now not been too inclined to the "sparky" world and as a mere mech I would read that statement and not consider that the system might boil itself dry. However are you saying that the charger should be switched off - for occasional periods or all of the time. I am assuming that the solar will continue to inject some power as the vehicle management system and alarm will still be consuming battery power?
As an aside, if you lived down our road (very narrow and some very inconsiderate parking) you would not be taking it out for a spin every week!
Cheers 
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Post by meanchris on Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:01 pm

An intelligent charger shouldn't cause that problem of drying out the electrolyte.

I have an Aldi charger for the engine battery that has a winter mode, we left it on charge all last winter with no ill effect.

Our hab charger is an Amperor MV3-180 which has 3 stage charging, the last stage being "float", and it can be switched to "float only" for winter although last year I just left it on "normal"

I certainly wouldn't leave a simple 12V DC supply like the old Zig X-3 charging a battery for more than a few days at a time.
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Post by mikethebike on Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:10 pm

As I understand the workings of the Motorhome electrics. hugegrins

Latest intelligent chargers such as my Cetec are for continuous use.

Zig x-3 types built into the van should not be left on for more than 6 hours.

Micky
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Post by bikeralw on Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:27 pm

repoort wrote:....I know that I'm sticking my neck out a bit - but it always seems so sad that all these expensive vehicles, with high quality engineering, well insulated, usually with diesel heating systems....just deliberately being left unused for months on end.

Even with this recent bad weather up here in the "norf" we've been away five days - cold, windy, wet, snowy...it's what they are designed for, and what we've paid a lot of money for....to be used. As much as possible, for as long as possible.
This was always our plan when we purchased our MH, but like has been said, life has a way of changing your priorities. My daughter emigrated to New Zealand six years ago and we now have grandchildren there. So every year now, either just before or just after Christmas we jet off there to spend summer with them. Dare I say it, we've even bought a caravan out there...
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Post by Peter Brown on Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:55 pm

Liam wrote:Peter 
Re your comment/recommendation regarding leaving the charger on permanently - my Malvern (2014 model) is fitted with the EC500 and the A/S manual clearly states that "the charger may be left on continuously"! It also refers to the "smart charge" feature which is alleged to monitor both batteries and auto adjusts and directs the charger power (including solar ) to maintain the batteries at an optimal level!! 
Now not been too inclined to the "sparky" world and as a mere mech I would read that statement and not consider that the system might boil itself dry. However are you saying that the charger should be switched off - for occasional periods or all of the time. I am assuming that the solar will continue to inject some power as the vehicle management system and alarm will still be consuming battery power?
As an aside, if you lived down our road (very narrow and some very inconsiderate parking) you would not be taking it out for a spin every week!
Cheers 
liam

I have no practical experience of the PX-300 charger used with the EC500 but the Instruction manual says that when the battery is fully charged the voltage is decreased to 13.6v to deliver a float charge to maintain the battery in the fully charged state.  It also says the charger can be left switched on continuously as required.

I do though have over 40 years experience in designing and maintaining DC power supplies in the Telecommunication Industry that operate on the float charge state.  The lead acid cells do require regular attention to top up the electrolyte with water.

In a true float charge scenario the battery is being continuously charged/discharged by varying loads and although the float charge voltage is maintained the battery is never truly charged to 100% capacity.  If you maintain the float charge voltage with no (or very little) load then the battery will become fully charged.  As the battery approaches a full charge, gas bubbles form and the electrolyte is depleted.  To minimise this, the so-called hysteresis charge disconnects the float current when the battery is full. As the terminal voltage drops due to self-discharge, an occasional topping charge replenishes the lost energy. In essence, the battery is only “borrowed” from time to time for brief moments. This mode works well for installations that do not draw a load when on standby but Sargent do not say that their charger does this.

In summary I would be happy leaving the charger on continuously [except - see note below re EC325] if I was living in the van but when not I would only charge the batteries for about six hours a week.

If you have a solar panel installed then that effectively simulates a hysteresis charge as you cycle through day and night so continuous charge when in store by a solar panel will not deplete the electrolyte and the battery will not suffer the subsequent damage.

I may be wrong in my assumption that the Sargent charger is not quite that clever and you may not incur damage to the batteries by leaving them permanently on charge with no load but personally I would not take the risk.

Note: Sargent introduced the EC325 for a short time. On this unit only, when the PSU is switched on the batteries are disconnected from the load and only connected to the charger. Therefore when you are living in the van with the PSU switched on, the batteries are doing no work and will gas so if you are hooked up on site for a period on time you should switch off the PSU for a few hours every 3 or 4 days to discharge the batteries a bit.

Peter


Last edited by Peter Brown on Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:14 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Note added)
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Post by modelman on Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:47 pm

My drive is 'L' shaped, over 100'  long x 24' wide & the lower part is a bit steep, so I keep mine on the lower part to the left side facing UPHILL, this allows any rainwater to drain away to the rear thus preventing the dreaded 'build-up' of the black 'goo' that gets left behind on the roof, I cobbled up a large & very heavy 500mm square  by 200mm high solid wood chock, this is in a permanent position on the drive, I simply drive up & past it, then allow the vans left-rear wheel to roll-back onto this 'chock' & there she stays, never in gear & no handbrake, never moved a fraction over the years. 
Its then very easy to jump-in, fire her up & drive off for an hour or so every now & again. smile!

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Post by Liam on Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:01 pm

Peter, 
Many thanks for your very detailed input above regarding the inner workings of the charging system - which it is very helpful if not a little worrying (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing in my case)! 
However, having spoken to Sargent technical they have confirmed that with the EC500 system it is safe to leave it on permanent  EHU whilst in store and that the "smart" charger will monitor between both leisure and vehicle batteries and auto adjusts and direct the charger power to maintain both batteries at an optimal level!! 

On the basis that the vehicle battery, at least, will be consuming some power (engine management system and alarm) the smart system should therefore follow the float charge scenario you mention above (as it switches between batteries) and thus neither never reach the 100% capacity. And indeed I can see from the control panel that the system is in fact switching between both batteries so hopefully no damage is being done. 

On that basis I am going to leave the system on EHU and monitor its progress - in any event it will only be for a couple of months at most.

Will keep you posted.

Cheers, Liam
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