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Old 03-22-2017, 02:09 AM   #1
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1973 Argosy 26
Palm Springs , California
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 2
Argosy Electrical/A "small" fire

Hi! This is going to be an overly-detailed description, but I want to make sure we don't kill ourselves in our new trailer, so I'd appreciate any help anybody can give.

We got our 73 Argosy 26 a couple weeks ago. The electrical is in obvious and dire need of repair, but I confess I'm not knowledgeable about RV systems; I'm pretty good at electric in general, at least well enough to figure it out as a general rule, but I know my limitations pretty well, and I want to move very carefully...I'm dumb, but I like to think I'm not stupid, and I'm way better (usually) at repair than new construction, because new construction requires a better understanding of what needs to be done.

When we bought it, everything was working on the interior (lights, fan, outlets, A/C). When it was delivered, the 12 volt system was down (no lights, no fan), though the 30 Amp/120V was working fine (outlets, A/C). The battery was completely kaput, and I believe it was working only as long as it was plugged in, and as soon as it got unplugged the battery permanently died which, as I understand it, means the 12V system won't work at all.

Each outlet is providing good power when on the shore line. It's obvious that was some hacky rewiring going on, because one of the outlets has "new" Romex going outside the wall panel, then back into the box. In addition, there is a single wire in the breaker box that has obvious heat damage. It's a white wire going into the top, but I don't know yet where/what it is going to, or why it has the heat damage. There were also two wires that, I believe, were live and completely uncapped in the univolt fuse box. They seemed to be live when I used an AC detector near them, because they terrified me. I put a wire nut on both of them, which doens't seem to have changed anything; I need to trace them. If the photos come through, they're the ones in the univolt fuse box that have a wire nut and electrical tape. Obviously, all of that is bad...right now we only keep it plugged in when we're actually there, doing work, because we don't trust it.

The breaker box itself, I don't know if it's new or not, has 2 20 amp breakers (which I believe is to be expected), with one controlling the A/C (which is actually still working splendidly), and the other controlling the outlets. I don't like the breaker box; the breakers are loose in it. The outlets all test on the multimeter within normal limits, though on the outlet tester they all showed up as Hot/Neutral Reverse, which I know I want to fix.

We knew the electrical needed at least some work soon (that burned wire alone was concerning), but were going through the testing, so our first order of business was getting a new 12V battery. We went to Autozone and got a new one, which fit in the little plastic tray that the battery slides in and out with. We hooked up the electric, and everything worked!

That was nice, albeit brief. Because on trying to get it into the cabinet, I discovered that the battery didn't really fit, and it grounded against the frame/door of the cabinet. That was bad, and by "bad", I mean "terrifying". The battery smoked, the wires that hold the door horizontal when it's open lit on fire, and I had a bad time. The fire went out when the wires disintegrated, and I got the battery out after cutting the positive wire out of an abundance of caution.

Where I'm at now is: I have no faith at all in the electrical system. In the morning, I'm going to be going back, and I want to basically replace, well, everything.

I want to start with the 30A/120V system, because I need the A/C to work, and to run without killing us all, because it's about to get really hot in Southern California, and death by heat is only slightly more preferable to death by fire or electrical. We'll be on a shoreline for the foreseeable future, and honestly I can live without the fan (we only have the one) and the interior lights (I'm going to replace those with LED).

So, with that long-winded description of what's going on, I guess what I'm asking (TL;DR) is: Is there a standard replacement that ya'll know of for the breaker box (preferably one with AFCI or, at least, GFCI)? I'll be going to Consolidated Electrical tomorrow, but I'm hoping I can know what I'm looking for, since RV stuff is pretty specialized and I doubt they'll just "know" what I need.

I also want to replace the converter/univolt, since I have no faith in it either, but I feel like that's down the road a bit, though if anyone can give me an easy answer to that, too, I'd be super appreciative, because it will make my life easier. I feel like there's got to be an easy answer, and the problem is I just don't know it.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-22-2017, 03:36 AM   #2
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1991 25' Excella
Stanfield , Oregon
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Sounds to me like you should just take it to a professional. Nothing personal just electricity is no joke and should be treated correctly.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:55 AM   #3
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1976 25' Caravanner
Salt Lake City , Utah
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Lots of good threads here regarding all your specific questions. A little research will pay big dividends. Safety is of paramount importance. Upgrading old components is a wise approach.
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Old 04-26-2017, 10:29 AM   #4
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HI there- do you have any thoughts on the aluminum wiring in a 68 safari. I was told that due to vietnam war copper was NOT used. Aluminum dangerous. Seems to me that it would have gone bad by now! Many thanks! Dena
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:33 AM   #5
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2004 30' Classic
Johnson City , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medic View Post
So, with that long-winded description of what's going on, I guess what I'm asking (TL;DR) is: Is there a standard replacement that ya'll know of for the breaker box (preferably one with AFCI or, at least, GFCI)?
Thoughts on what you are looking for:
1. The National Electric Code applies to all RV AC power systems. That includes ALL NEC requirements, with specific information in Article 551, 'Recreational Vehicles and Recreational Vehicle Parks'.
2. As of the 2017 NEC, see 210.12 for which "dwelling" branch circuits require AFCI. It is most all branch circuits.
3. In our upgrade, we found no shore power "RV product" that included AFCI. All RV AC panels MUST include class A GFCI.
4. During our upgrade, we went with a residential loadcenter. All branch circuits now are a class A GFCI or AFCI.
5. Additionally, we installed an equipment leakage current interrupter (ELCI) for the main breaker. This is a 50-amp, 2-pole Eaton CH250EPD. There is a 30-amp single pole version usable on 30-amp RVs, Eaton CH130EPD. The marine industry requires using a ELCI main breaker.
6. You will see many threads discussing surge protection. If you are upgrading, consider adding loadcenter surge protection. We just ordered a SPD Type 2 Plug-On Surge Protection, Eaton CHSA.
7. Consider upgrading to UL 1426 marine wiring, which is 105 deg C rated. We did this everywhere we could reach.

Recommend discussing all this with a licensed electrician when you do your fix.

73/gus
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