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Old 10-04-2004, 08:50 AM   #1
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Electical Issue - 12 Volt System....

I'm not sure how much of a problem I have, but I have no idea how to fix it. This weekend I replaced a bulb in the exterior porch/scare light. Everything was fine. A while later the 12 volt system in the front of the trailer went out. Replaced the fuse and nothing happened. I then tripped the circuit breaker and replaced all of the fuses. Then things seemed fine, until I started to smell something burning. One of the fuses was literally melting. Now I tried to replace the fuse and can't get things back on at all.

Could replacing the bulb have caused this mess? Does anyone know the bulb replacement #? I used an 1156. Finally, does anyone know what I should do next to fix this???

Thanks!!
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Old 10-04-2004, 09:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig
I'm not sure how much of a problem I have, but I have no idea how to fix it. This weekend I replaced a bulb in the exterior porch/scare light. Everything was fine. A while later the 12 volt system in the front of the trailer went out. Replaced the fuse and nothing happened. I then tripped the circuit breaker and replaced all of the fuses. Then things seemed fine, until I started to smell something burning. One of the fuses was literally melting. Now I tried to replace the fuse and can't get things back on at all.

Could replacing the bulb have caused this mess? Does anyone know the bulb replacement #? I used an 1156. Finally, does anyone know what I should do next to fix this???

Thanks!!
craig-

it sounds like you had a resistance in your fuse holder, from dirt, corrosion or just age. how old is the trailer? fuse holders can heat up under load and then burn the material on which they are mounted. i had a similar problem with one of the four fuses in my univolt. i replaced all of the fuse holders with "distribution fuse blocks" that i purchased at an upscale car stereo store. you can get them gold plated and install gold plated fuses which can help prevent another instance of the same problem. also, i mounted my new fuse panel in the cabin above the bed.in my 1972 overlander you need to be a dwarf and a contortionist to access the univolt and it's fuses. the new holders have clear plastic covers for easy inspection in indoor comfort and are convenient to access with a meter for checking battery condition.

as soon as i get time to get some pictures of my field modifications i'll post them.
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Old 10-04-2004, 09:59 AM   #3
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Good thing you caught this one. Fires from causes such as this are a prime cause of trailer loss.

The bulb itself shouldn't cause a problem such as you described. So the problem is elsewhere.

By "tripped the circuit breaker" I wonder which circuit breaker - the one on your Univolt? The fuses should go straight to the battery so circuit breakers should make no difference.

It sounds like you have a partial short somewhere - like from frayed wiring or a connection that broke loose and is touching what it shouldn't.

You need to grab a volt-ohm meter to test the fuse on the circuit to see if it is open or not. Then check the voltage on the supply side of the fuse block to make sure it is connected to the battery. Then identify what is on the circuit and start looking for a short. The problem is likely in some fixture so look for corrosion, rust, broken wires. or other potential problems. Try to isolate parts of the circuit so you can test each part. Make sure a screw didn't go through the wire somewhere.

If a fuse is 'literally melting' I would think you had a bad fuse. They should blow rather than melt. Be sure you replace fuses with new ones of the proper rating, too. (no pennies in the fusebox!).

It appears that the circuit is drawing too much current so the problem is to find out where. Unless its obvious, that search can be tedious. Good luck.

note: the idea about fuse holders is also a good one and cleaning connections is a good idea. I don't think I'd go for the 'gold' though.
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Old 10-04-2004, 10:26 AM   #4
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craig-

attached is a picture of my 12vdc fuse block installation.

good luck-

emanon
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Old 10-11-2004, 05:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by emanon25
craig-

attached is a picture of my 12vdc fuse block installation.

good luck-

emanon
emanon,

Thanks for the pic. I think I'm going to need to do something similar. The block that needs replacing has five 20A fuses and one 50A fuse where the power from the battery and univolt come into it. Will I be able to find a fuse block that will accomodate a 50A fuse and five 20A??

Thanks,

Craig
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Old 10-12-2004, 07:54 PM   #6
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fuse blocks

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Originally Posted by Craig
emanon,
The block that needs replacing has five 20A fuses and one 50A fuse where the power from the battery and univolt come into it. Will I be able to find a fuse block that will accomodate a 50A fuse and five 20A??
craig-

your setup is the same as mine, two supply fuses, battery and tow vehicle. in my univolt these were both 50A fuses. the remaining four fuses protect electrical loads in the trailer. there is actually another small fuse that prtects the line to the voltmeter in the control panel. i would use an inline style fuse for that.

anyway i used a two fuse distribution block for the battery / tow vehicle. the fuses are tied together (common) at one end and separate at the other. i connected the battery and tow vehicle to the separate ends then used #6 wire to the common side of the four fuse distribution box. the four branch circuits are conected to the separate ends of the fuses.

don't forget that there is another fuse/holder (which had to be repalced in my trailer) that's the fuse on the ground side of the battery. i used a single fuse holder with a 50A fuse for that, also purchaced at a car stereo place. it's gold plated.

all fuses are AGU type.

if this isn't clear enough let me know and i will attach a drawing to another message.

emanon
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Old 10-12-2004, 08:22 PM   #7
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I am going to have to do this at some point as right now I have rigged a jumper from the 50a that feeds the bar to make hot the 20a fuses because the connection point that it is supposed to use failed.
So, because I am not an electrician, I would like to have the drawing to go with the picture, please.
I understand insurance, law, and medicine....electricity confuses me without diagrams...thanks.
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Old 10-13-2004, 07:42 AM   #8
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emanon,

Thanks for the explanation. One question - why did you use a 2 fuse block for the univolt/battery lines? Could you have used one with the battery line going into one end and the univolt line into the other? And then use the #6 wire from the univolt end of the fuse to jump power to the 4 block side...

Also, if you don't mind, where did you purchase your fuse blocks from?

Thanks again!

Craig
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Old 10-13-2004, 10:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig
emanon,

One question - why did you use a 2 fuse block for the univolt/battery lines? Could you have used one with the battery line going into one end and the univolt line into the other? And then use the #6 wire from the univolt end of the fuse to jump power to the 4 block side...

Also, if you don't mind, where did you purchase your fuse blocks from?
craig-

attached is a schematic. i didn't use an extra fuse for the univolt. it uses the same fuse as the battery. the second supply fuse is for 12vdc power from the tow vehicle, the blue wire that runs to the front and ends at the 7 (or 9) pin connector. if you could find a 6 fuse distribution block that would be even better but i built mine with a two fuse and a 4 fuse block connected at the common sides with a heavy piece of # 6 wire. i also replaced the battery cables with #6 wire.

i purchased my fuse blocks at an upscale car stereo store in albuquerque, nm. they are quite substantial and will accomodate up to #4 wire and 300 amperes. i could not find gold plated fuse blocks which are available at about the same price on the internet. do a google or yahoo search for "stinger distribution fuse blocks". i would not recommend scrimping with lower quality here. these fuses carry a lot of current and you have witnessed the scary failure mode.

don't forget to get a replacement for the individual fuse on the ground side of the battery. mine was flakey like the other six and it effects the entire 12vdc system. it may be the reason your 20a fuse overheated rather than failing.

hope this helps-

emanon
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Old 10-13-2004, 11:47 AM   #10
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Amazing how that it all makes sense now that I know what I am looking at!
Thanks!
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