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Old 08-31-2012, 10:41 PM   #1
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Unhappy Electric was and now NO LONGER!!

This is my first entry into the world of Airstream Fourms. Thank you in advance for all the knowledge and support that is offered on this site.

I have a 73 Argosy that i am slowly trying to bring up to snuff and tonight i was focusing on the fan in the galley vent. Tonight i had a set back. I should say prior to this that i had my electrical system serviced at a dealer a month ago and everything was working flawlessly 2 hours ago. The dealer put in a new converter and fuse panel. I put in a new deep cell battery, they put a 20 amp updated car fuse just off the battery and all had been running properly. Overall a few appliances are not working, but most systems are a go on this trailer. Any way, to the point i go. While i was working on the galley fan i grounded out the power to the side of the galley. Pop! and i assumed i blew a fuse, right? Now, I am somewhat familiar with blowing a fuse here and there i blew a fuse while repairing the light by the door. The trailer acted very predictably. I identified the blown fuse right off the battery, replaced it and all lights worked agian. Well, this ground out seemed a little more violent and now i cannot for the life of me get the systems back up and running. I have checked the main breaker in the closet... the breaker was not tripped. I checked the fuse off the battery....this was not blown (like when i grounded it out in the past). I checked the fuse panel off the new converter... nothing blown here. And then lastly i checked the fuses on the new converter... and this all checks out as well. So my question is am i missing a major electrical junction or fuse? Is i possible i fried my new converter (god i hope not $$$) Where do i start with this all electrical system failure? And why was it not as easy as the other times i grounded it out, just a simple fuse replacement? I hope i am missing something simple, any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:51 PM   #2
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Argosy's use the shell of the trailer for ground, unlike Airstreams, which use a dedicated ground system. What you may have done, and this is just speculation at this point, is to actually damage the ground wire, not the hot wire. Just try to see if you have 12 volts between the hot wire and a different ground point.

If you do, you need to check the ground, if you don't you will need to trace back the hot wire to each other device on the same circuit which is not working. You may have a loose connection in some other place, like a light fixture where the hot line connects to the fan circuit.

It is always hard to diagnose electrical issues remotely, you understand.
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:56 PM   #3
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A lot of these old trailers also had a fuse on the negative side of the battery. It was not in the fuse panel. It was a separate fuse holder mounted on the skin of the trailer somewhere near where the negative wire from the battery comes into the trailer. Depending on how the converter was wired in. If this fuse is blown you would be without 12 volts even with the converter on.
What brand of converter do you have?
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Old 08-31-2012, 11:03 PM   #4
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Idroba. Can you explain the dedicated ground systems used in A$'s as opposed to Argosy. I was not aware there is a difference and have worked on A$'s and Argosy's.
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Old 09-01-2012, 01:51 AM   #5
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On the Airstreams I have owned made since the mid 60's there is a white wire and a black or red wire to each fixture. The white (negative) wires go all the way back to the negative pole on the battery. On the Argosy's at least from 1972 to 1975 the white wire that you find (for example the pump) only goes a short distance to a rib, or other metal point. The white wire from the battery goes to a (supposed to be) solid connection on the frame which then is in contact with the ribs. So, the trailer frame and ribs and skin act as the negaive, much the way they do on automobiles.

At least that is the way the Argosy's that I have had were always wired. Now, Argosy's have a lot of variations, and some could have the dedicated ground system Airstreams used, but the ones I have owned and worked on did not.

I found this out in spades when I tried to get more charging current to the battery on the Argosy 20 I like so well. The white wire from the TV plug only went to the frame of the Argosy in the front, and another white wire went from the frame in the back to the battery negative. The added resistance of those connections and age, and rust made increasing the current to charge the battery a no win situation. I had increased the size of the wire on the TV positive side, had a special plug to bring that higher current to the Argosy, but was foiled by the negative return situation. Yes, I could have put a large negative wire to the battery from the TV, but sort of lost interest in the project once I found how little charge current I could get.

When I re wired my Argosy in the last renovation, I found that by running a negative wire to the pump directly from the battery, bypassing the frame negative system, I got far more speed and pressure at lower current draw. So, I did that with the furnace as well as the water heater ignition system. My fluorescent lights seem to work ok with the frame negative wiring originally in place.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
A lot of these old trailers also had a fuse on the negative side of the battery. It was not in the fuse panel. It was a separate fuse holder mounted on the skin of the trailer somewhere near where the negative wire from the battery comes into the trailer. Depending on how the converter was wired in. If this fuse is blown you would be without 12 volts even with the converter on.
What brand of converter do you have?

The converter is an Inteli Power 9100, Model PD9140A.....I check for a fuse on the negative side of the battery mounted on the skin of the trailer and i could not find one. The tech did install a fuse right off the battery off the positive lead. This was not blown. Is there any way to test the converter? Could it be that i fried that new converter? i hope not ugh.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:21 AM   #7
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Our Argosy seems to use the metal shell method for the grounding. The galley fan that i was woking on is grounding direct to the frame as well as most lights and such.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:25 AM   #8
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So i am checking a few things this morning. It appears i am getting power right up to the outside of the converter and the battery appears charged and healthy. I do have the 120 plugged in as well and it dosn't seem to be switching over like it was when it was running perfectly. I am not really clear how this new converter box works but is there a way i can test just the converter? It seems like this all systems out, no power anywhere situation would be a fuse but... worse case scenario could it be a blown converter?
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:30 AM   #9
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http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...1&d=1346509719
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:12 AM   #10
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I don't know what you mean when you say "switching over ".
You can check the output voltage of the converter. If it is doing it's job. It will be reading in excess of 13 volts while the battery is connected. Use a VOM to check it.
If the battery is charged, the converter is working.
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:39 AM   #11
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This just in!

I accidentally grounded out a terminal on the convert (please see last 2 photos uploaded) and bingo! all lights work!

Now, what is the bigger problem here? Did i fry the negative on the converter? Can i disconnect the converter and make the repair to the negative myself? Or should this be made by the manufacturer of the converter? Does anyone out there specialize in this? And why would accidental ground out on the converter make this all work? I am pretty excited that i stumbled upon this. If anyone could provide clarity on what to do next i would greatly appreciate it!
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:43 AM   #12
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http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...1&d=1346514093

http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...1&d=1346514093

See my test wire clip? I lodged it in to the negative port to test power to the converter and in the processe touched the clip side to the converter. Then all lights came on! What is the larger story going on here? And can i do this repair? What next i guess is my question. Thanks.
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Old 09-01-2012, 11:51 AM   #13
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It looks to me from what you are saying that there is a bad connection. When you put the alligator clip in to test it you made the connection.
I don't see any metal around the hole you put the clip in for it to ground out as you say.
Turn the power off to the converter and disconnect one of the battery leads. Then using the correct size hex key, back off the terminal screw and remove the wire. It sounds like it just didn't get inserted into the terminal correctly. So make sure that the conductors in the wire get inserted properly and retighten the screw. If it was over tightened before the terminal may be damaged.
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Lee View Post
http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...1&d=1346514093

http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...1&d=1346514093

See my test wire clip? I lodged it in to the negative port to test power to the converter and in the processe touched the clip side to the converter. Then all lights came on! What is the larger story going on here? And can i do this repair? What next i guess is my question. Thanks.
I will try this absolutely. The clip is making a connection with that small strip of metal underneath the visable sticker. Like i was saying, this was a total fluke and discovered this by chance. But sure enough, when i lodge that piece of metal into the negative hole it touches the hex screw and the metal side of the converter and it works. I will try the reconnection and making sure the wire is fastened firmly next. Thanks for your help! Your Argosy is an inspiration! K
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