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Old 09-27-2019, 10:46 AM   #1
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Nashville , Tennessee
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Breaker Box Burnout

Was getting zero power from the generator, and discovered this burnout situation in the breaker box next to the automatic switch relay under the seat in the galley of the '88 345. You can see where a yellow wire nut melted and allowed two large black wires to disconnect. Reconnected them with the yellow wire nut on the left of the pic and immediately had power from the genny. Turned everything off including the gen to test shorepower. Made a big noise and tripped the home breaker. Disconnected the two black wires, reset breaker and everything worked as before on shorepower. I realize I need to clean up all the burned connections, and the bar on the right side where the wires all connect has disconnected from the metal box in the back. Obviously, I'm concerned the cause of the burn has not been addressed. Any thoughts? Thx! https://drive.google.com/open?id=1m1...nfgdlHHKRmOisf, https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gr...nl7pyg9EnZ6ztE, https://drive.google.com/open?id=16o...uWvD0EIXwCwxOv
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Old 09-27-2019, 11:04 AM   #2
cwf
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1999 34' Excella
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since heat was obvious at connections, replace the box, breaker and heated wires.

Do not go cheap here. Use SquareD standard breakers (QO), not the 'homeline' cheap ones..

note one wire was heated as it lay next to a lug on the dist.box. Check this out as possible replacement.. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...NRNM/100174454

once replaced, check the umbilical cord connections, too. Then get an external "loop" ammeter to check loads... that is best way to determine 'load' per circuit.

When our 1999 came into the family, I found similar 'overheating' indications and replaced the components... problem solved. Oh, I upgraded to 50 AMP, too...so all wiring is capable...

All connections show little or no maintenance... need to loosen and tighten these occassionally due to vibrations.. or at least make sure they are snug. All wire pieces should be captured under the screws.
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:38 PM   #3
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Londonderry , New Hampshire
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I notice that the screw heads appear rusty. Did water get in this box?

I would guess that this was caused by a loose connection and/or corrosion

thereby causing the overheating. When you redo the box I would

recommend using antioxidant compound. That is a grease for electrical

joints. It really helps if the connections might get damp.
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:56 PM   #4
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You must keep your powder (power) dry.
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Old 10-20-2019, 11:06 AM   #5
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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Update on burned breaker box.

I replaced the burned out and rusted breaker box with a new version of that style, and installed a new breaker. I tried to upgrade the box, but nothing else had the right configuration and fit in the same spot. I trimmed as much of the burned wire off as possible and reconnected as they were originally. When I plugged into shore power, I got the same loud buzz and shuddering of the generator...and now the generator will not start. Nothing happens (no noise even) when I press start button. Most of the electrical plugs work on shore power with the two wires that lead to the Y-1 box disconnected (loud buzz when connected.) The connection at Y-1 seems to default to shore power as it should, which is supposed to prevent backfeed to the generator. It still seems like that is what is happening. Could be what caused the original connection to melt the wire nut that was connecting those two wires? Not sure how to proceed? Any electricians out there? Here are the associated pictures and diagrams. The pics don't show in preview, hopefully, you can see them. Thx for your time. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1T90juHyfPCF0yHT82-pQ_9VWxy-O1MZk https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sJrgfbcn4CEEoG-IHaoJAw8ZINUUpbZI
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Old 10-20-2019, 03:57 PM   #6
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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In your picture I see a cable coming in from the top, one coming in
from the right, and one coming in from the bottom. Which one is
the generator? Which one is the house circuit? And which one is
the shore power?
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Old 10-20-2019, 04:49 PM   #7
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2017 30' Classic
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Hi

Ummm ..... errrr .... this "hook it up and see if it catches fire" approach is not the right way to do this. You are likely to "eat up" your new components about as fast as you can (re)replace them.

Basic tools for doing this stuff:

1) A multimeter with an ohms function. This lets you check for shorts (and opens)
2) (same) on the volts function, this lets you be sure that you have 120V (or 0V) where you should.
3) A clamp amp meter. This tells you how much current you are pulling.
4) Flashlight, to get in there and look at stuff.

Since this vehicle is in the "old enough to have children in school" category, one can only guess what's hooked up where. Unless you are the only owner, never *assume* that the entire setup is stock.

Unless you have a very unusual setup, you likely have a transfer switch that "decides" if you will be using shore power or the generator. That needs to be checked out with an ohm meter / inspected early on. The same is true of the wiring associated with the generator and the shore power inlet. ( = start at the power source and work from there). With power from one source, you should have zero volts on the leads for the other source.

The transfer switch should feed into the power box. With a 50A setup, you have two hot leads (each going into a separate master breaker), a neutral (going to a bus bar) and a ground. All that should measure out with the master breakers open. Zero volts between the neutral and ground. 240V between the two hot's. 120V from each hot to neutral. That *assumes* you are hooked to a proper 50A / 240V source.

Clamp amp should read zero on each of the hots with the master breakers open. It should read zero on the hot leads from shore and zero on the hot leads from the generator in this condition.

With all the load breakers open, you should measure as above with the master's closed. Nothing alarming should happen as you close the load breakers one at a time. You should get 120V on the output of each load breaker when it's "on" and zero volts on the output when it's "off". After you switch each one on, turn it back off and test the next one.

Clamp amp should go up a bit when the load breakers each are closed. If it's a 15A breaker, it should not go up by more than 15A. Upstream, current should only come from one of the two hot leads and only from whatever you are using for your power source.

Running all the grounds to a common point is fine. Running all the neutrals to a single point is also fine. Hot leads from the generator should only go to the transfer switch. Hot leads from the shore power should only go to another side of the transfer switch. The hot leads out of the transfer switch should only go to the breaker box. Get a hot and a neutral swapped ... things get exciting ....

If any of this isn't making sense, grab an electrician and let them look at it. None of this is crazy stuff. Any reasonably competent tech should be able to follow it all through. There is no shame in calling somebody in. Not everybody knows everything.

Bob
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Old 10-21-2019, 09:12 AM   #8
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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Thanks for the feedback. Here are the rest of the pics I thought I loaded in the original post. They include the original burned box, the new replacement and some pages from the manual. I realize the ideal situation would be to get a licensed electrician involved. Unfortunately, that is not currently an option...I will when the budget allows. Thx again for your time! https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QS...mGImDUt0GT6T1E
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1WX...JrJhacpl0hgCEM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=19n...o9kPBJ6FDDd2vM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QL...V_LFSvw1UPojf1
https://drive.google.com/open?id=16o...uWvD0EIXwCwxOv
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Old 10-21-2019, 09:16 AM   #9
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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This is a picture of the main switch in the rear of the coach. I just uploaded more pics of the box I replaced and other pages from the manual. Thank you. https://drive.google.com/open?id=19n...o9kPBJ6FDDd2vM
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Old 10-22-2019, 10:22 AM   #10
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Hi

Even the best of us do run into problems that simply are past our skill level. That's just how life works. Pictures can only tell part of a story, being there and poking at things is going to tell you a lot more. Often the "gotcha" is over somewhere just out of the picture area.

Ask around. I'd bet somebody you know on a friend of a friend basis is an electrician. See if you can get a "spare time" deal.

Bob
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Old 10-24-2019, 01:48 PM   #11
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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Update. I decided to start at the beginning, before spending any more money. The first place I looked (a very old 30A to 110 adaptor on the shorepower cord) was the culprit. I replaced it, and everything works swimmingly. Thanks again to all for the input. Now...I need to see why I am getting zero power to the generator starter (ran great before I replaced the box and experience the shorepower problem.) Is there a fuse? Thanks for your time!
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