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Old 09-08-2013, 11:19 PM   #1
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1974 Argosy 28
N Manchester , Indiana
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Newbie needs help!

As the title suggests, I am a newbie, and I mean new to campers, not just to Argosy. I have always been fond of the painted Airstreams that I have seen, and when given the opportunity to acquire one recently I decided that I wanted to jump in and make it mine. It is a 28 foot twin rear bath manufactured August of 1973. I will be taking it one step at a time, with the first priority being to seal it for the coming winter, but I need some info from the talented people that I have read on these forums. First, as a newbie, I know nothing about the electrical system in an Argosy and need to know how to check the electrical (120 and 12 volt?) systems so that I can have light and power to start my preliminary checks. Please advise how I need to do that. I will be eternally grateful. I hope to post pictures as I travel through this journey. Thank you in advance.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:24 AM   #2
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Morrill , Nebraska
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I believe the 28' Argosy is very similar to my 26' Argosy. Both being '74 models.
You should find a 30 amp 120 volt power cord in the trunk. The cord and plug should be inspected closely to make sure it is safe to plug in.
The 120 volt AC to 12 volt DC converter (univolt) will be located under the bathroom vanity with access thru the closet. You should also find the 120 volt AC power panel in the same space. Mounted on the outside wall.
The battery compartment is in the same vicinity with access thru an outside hatch.
Check to make sure that the battery cables are not making contact with the metal parts of the coach before applying any power to the coach.
You can test everything in the coach by powering it thru a standard duplex outlet 15-20 amp. But DO NOT attempt to run the A/C (air conditioner) until you have 30 amp power available.
It's getting late. I'll try to write more tomorrow.
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:36 AM   #3
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Here is some general advice to get you going:

Find a copy of the owners manual and maintenance manual. I found one on ebay for my '73 without too much trouble, and for a very reasonable price.

Subscribe to the "Vintage Airstream Podcast" (The VAP) from iTunes. You should also check their website and look into getting all the back episodes on DVD. They discuss pretty much everything that you will be facing as you fix up your trailer, and you can listen to them during your commutes, or frequent trips to the hardware store.

Make liberal use of the search function on the Forums. The Argosy trailers are essentially very similar to the rest of the Airstream line for a given year, and at a system level you can apply most knowledge learned about Airstreams in general to your Argosy.

Good luck!
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:41 AM   #4
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1974 Argosy 28
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Thanks for the input. I did a quick check in the battery compartment and found that both cables are disconnected and lying on the bottom of the battery pan. There is a battery in there that looks pretty old but still has one of the terminal caps on it as if it has not been used. Since the PO said that they only use shore power that sounds dangerous, is it?
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:12 AM   #5
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If you have the original "univolt" charger, then you will need to have the 12V battery in the system whenever using DC powered items (water pump, some lights, some fans, etc.), or eventually the converter will fail. It is scary that the leads to the battery are just lying around, as it is easy to imagine them coming into contact with one another or ground.
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:00 PM   #6
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I would highly recommend that you replace the old Univolt with a modern converter like the Progressive Dynamics 9245. Along with upgrading the fuse panel. It can be done for less than $200.00 by doing the work yourself. Plenty of help here for you to do the installation.
Unless you plan to travel relatively soon. There is no need to have a battery in the coach when using a modern converter. I always remove the battery when my coach is stored here at home.
When you are plugged into shore power the converter will provide the 12 volts necessary for all DC components.
Tape off the ends if the battery cables prior to powering the converter.
The only 120 volt AC devices in the coach are the duplex outlets and A/C, Refer and the Univolt. The Univolt may be hard wired in. I would suggest installing an outlet. The new converter is designed to be plugged in, not hard wired.
All lights, water pump and furnace, ceiling fans etc. are 12 volt.
Just ask if you get stumped.
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:20 AM   #7
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1974 Argosy 28
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I had another quick look today and can't find the univolt. I am beginning to wonder if they wired for 120 and ignored the 12 volt system. Aren't the lights 12 volt? Any ideas? If I can get time tomorrow I will get a photo of the inside of the wardrobe for reference. I am working 2nd shift and have a lot going on right now so I am restricted on my time for the Argosy.
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:50 AM   #8
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Its never easy to tell what kind of modifications have been done over the years by previous owners. Its best to get handy with a volt-ohm meter. The Univolt (if original) will be a blue box about 6" square on one end and 18" long. It is probably very near the battery box, mounted on the floor, possibly below the floor of an aft closet. When you plug into 120V shore power, you may hear a very audible humming sound from the back of the trailer--that would be the Univolt.
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:50 AM   #9
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The Univolt in my coach was to the right of the sink cabinet and the end of the BW tank. As I recall there was a shelf in the old closet (I removed the closet) the Univolt was under that shelf. Way back in the corner.
The PO may have removed it, but all of the wiring should still be there.
Is the battery box located under the street side bed next to the water heater in your coach.
By the way, I am speaking of the closet in the bath. Not the ones in the berthing area. Since you have the extra 2 closets back there. Maybe the Univolt is located in that area.
I don't have closets in the berthing area.
If you are on shore power and the Univolt is powered. You should hear it humming.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:05 PM   #10
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ID:	195448I just found my problem. There is no univolt and wires run to nowhere. I was told that the PO used the camper only to sleep in and that they used the A/C and plugged in a dorm fridge. How did the lights work with nothing attached? I will see if I can attach a photo.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:30 PM   #11
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Perhaps the PO used lamps that plugged into the 120 volt outlets.
It looks like a number of wires still exist. Including the 120 volt for the Univolt.
One could sort out the circuits by using a battery charger. Then wire in a new converter and fuse block.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:20 AM   #12
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1974 Argosy 28
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I don't have a charger, but I have one of those battery jumpers. Could it be used? How would you recommend doing this; powering one end of each wire and tracing to see if there was power at the other end? I am not sure which line goes where. Is it possible to connect the battery and get a circuit that would energize the lights and radio to see if it is OK? I told you I was a newbie.
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Old 09-12-2013, 08:56 AM   #13
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The use of a battery without some protection (fuses or circuit breakers) is risky. If there is a short somewhere, you could damage the wiring or cause the battery to explode..
If you intend to make the 12volt DC system operational again. You will need a converter. A converter along with a fuse block will give you the protection you need.
A battery charger is only a means to an end.
Perhaps educating yourself on how an RV electrical system is wired and works is needed.
There are many web sites available. "The 12 volt side of life" is one.
While both the 12 volt DC and the 120volt AC systems are fairly simple.
Without a basic understanding of the dangers involved. Especially on the 120volt AC side. You could electrocute yourself or someone else.
So proceed with caution.
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:59 AM   #14
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1974 Argosy 28
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Sorry that I am not keeping up here, but I am somewhat distracted. My son is in the hospital with meningitis and my wife is showing symptoms. Enough about that. As I said, I have no experience with 12 volt systems so I ordered "The 12 volt side of life" as recommended and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival. I talked to Randy at best converter.com who recommended a PoweRMax converter and fuse block which I hope to order tomorrow. With all of the great people here I think you will be able to pull me through this and, eventually out to the camping world. If I get this right I will add a couple of exterior photos to show where I am starting. Apparently I can't upload the photos from my ipad. I will try later on my computer.
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