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Old 06-18-2010, 08:17 PM   #1
Birdie Momma
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1957 26' Overlander
1956 22' Flying Cloud
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Rutherford Co. , North Carolina
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Exclamation 'feedback' to T.V. when plugged into trailer.

on the 84 suburban we have bargman 7 way car end connector and on the trailer is a 7 way pigtail ('umbilical cord') harness to plug in to the car end connector.

there are a few problems. First, it seems there is 'feedback' to the TV at some point. here's whats happening;

When the tow vehicle brakes are hit, ALL the running lights turn on (EXCEPT Tail lights). When the TV headlights are ON (all running gear on too, including tail lights), and we hit the brakes, the taillights turn OFF.

the suburban usually makes a beeping noise when the lights are ON and the car isn't. but when we hit the brake with the lights off, beeping starts.

With a voltage tester, there was no power at the connector on any of the & way prongs when the left or right turn signal was activated.

I read something about 'diodes' that control energy from the TV and make sure its going in one direction. are these built in to the car-end connector? is it an add on i need? is it relevant here?

Have we just messed up the configuration, or what?
I've tried searching the forums for the answer for the last hour and came up with nothing :/

'57 Overlander | '56 Flying Cloud | '51 Spartanette
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:34 PM   #2
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Sounds to me like the TV alternator puked! Take it off and get it tested at Autozone or somewhere. Be prepared to replace. Not a terrible job, and will take an hour or so.

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Old 06-18-2010, 09:59 PM   #3
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'feedback' to T.V. when plugged into trailer.

Working from the assumption that either the trailer or the Suburban is new to you, my suspicion of potential causes for your difficulty would include:
  • Corossion bridging between one or morterminals causing shorting. If corossion is found when the connectors are opened up, repalcement of the parts is likely the easiest solution.
  • There is a mismatch between among the 7-pins of the connector. If this is the case, it may require rewiring either the trailer end, tow vehicle end, or sometimes both.
    • When I encountered this problem, I started with the trailer end by disassembling the connector end
      • Cut each wire back and stripped the end to create a new clean connection.
      • Used a 12 volt power source and a 2 pair of alligator clamps - - one for ground and the other for hot
      • The hot alligator clamp was then applied briefly to each wire to ascrtain its function and once that was done it was secured to the appropriate terminal in a new 7-pole connector -- see this link for information about the industry standard wiring pattern.
    • On the tow vehicle end, the process was similar. The old connector was disassembled
      • Each of the existing wires were cut back and new clean ends stripped.
      • Using a test light, the function of each wire was determined and it was connected to the appropriate terminal on the connector.
Airstream didn't start using the industry standard Bargman connector wiring pattern until the late 1980s or early 1990s. I haven't seen a wiring schematic for the Airstream Bargman connector that pre-dates 1964 so the testing is often necessary with the older Vintage coaches. Even with a modern tow vehicle there isn't a 100% assurance that its wires will correspond to the expected color codes - - I know that my 1999 GMC didn't.

There is also the possibility of corossion causing issues in the umbilical cord junction box. My understanding is that for most if not all 1960s Airstreams this junction box is located in the front curbside corner of the bellypan and is identified by a square or rectangular removable cover. There were problems with abraded wires and shorting between wires that had to be corrected in my Overlander's junction box when I experienced similar problems.

Good luck in locating your wiring Gremlin!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 06-19-2010, 03:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by NJtoNC View Post
...I read something about 'diodes' that control energy from the TV and make sure its going in one direction. are these built in to the car-end connector? is it an add on i need? is it relevant here? ...
The diodes you read about are used for tow vehicles which have separate light bulbs on each side for brake and turn-signal lights. Your Suburban uses one bulb for both just like your Airstream does (unless someone modified it in the past). So there should not be any diodes in your setup.

A bad ground can cause the issues you are having. I have seen many cases where the ground wire was not connected on the tow vehicle's side of the wiring under the assumption that hooking the trailer to the ball is sufficient to complete the ground path.

You could speed up trouble-shooting if you could hook up to a known good travel trailer or hook your Airstream to a known good tow vehicle.

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Old 06-19-2010, 05:15 AM   #5
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When strange things like this happen it is almost always a ground problem. Most likely at one or more trailer sockets. Also keep in mind that running lights etc. are usually grounded where they rivet to the body.
Trouble shooting something like this can be a lot of trial and error. The problem most likely will be with the trailer.
Substitution could help isolate it. Either hook your TV to a known working trailer. or hook a known working TV to your trailer.
Poor grounds make for strange happenings
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:12 AM   #6
Birdie Momma
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to follow up;
we tested w/ other TV, and all worked. so problem was with the suburban. then it got turned over to dad to solve. unfortunately i cant really report on the final troublemaker - when i got home from a baby shower the TV was fixed

thanks all for ideas. you provided thoughtful insight and ultimately helped get it fixed.

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connector, electric, feedback, lights, towing

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