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Old 07-04-2011, 08:32 PM   #197
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Hi Lindy,

Yes, we’ve been away awhile. Haven’t been able to work on Little Girl for a couple of months now due to other family things, some house projects, and a much needed vacation the first part of June. Just completed a fairly major plumbing project for the new boiler that will be installed tomorrow. More work than anticipated. And now, my focus for the next two weeks or so will be building another crib for our new granddaughter that arrived last Tuesday!

I would never say dumb. Perhaps addicted is a good word. You are certainly in good company being addicted to these vintage trailers!

I can't plug in the trailer now because I took out the VERY heavy old converter and I'm afraid with all the exposed wire ends, I might fry myself. Yes, do not plug the trailer in until you’re sure it’s safe.

Oh dear, I've got to go back and read the ohm meter lesson. I touch the blue wire and then touch.... what??? Set the ohm meter to the 0K scale & touch the two probes together. It should read zero ohms (direct short). This will tell you the meter is working ok. Now, touch one probe to the ground bus inside the breaker box, and the other to one of the blue wires. If it reads zero ohms, then the blue wire is ground. If the meter doesn’t change, then the blue wire is not connected to the ground bus and we’ll need to do some more investigating.

I think I might have to splice it anyway for it to reach the little metal box I'm going to put it in. That way I can cut out the bad and put in the new. Good plan!

Hmmm.... I was hoping for a yes or no. I think the wires in this trailer are in better shape than in the little one (they ARE 5 years younger!). At least it does have a breaker box so that's more than the other one had. I'll have to talk to my comfort level and see what I want to do. This is just me speaking here – if it were my trailer, I would re-wire it just so I knew it was all new and good. But, that’s me, and I’ve re-wired my entire house (with all the proper permits and inspections). Re-wiring it is a lot of work and expense, but you already know that from your little trailer.

I could put in a larger breaker box and add a couple more circuits. But it seems to work with what's there so is it worth the trouble to add more lines? The fridge is original and is gas and electric (don't know if it works) so that means the fridge is on the line with everything else. We don't have a microwave or electric coffee pot but maybe I could add another breaker or two and we could live in luxury! If you want to add a microwave, coffee pot, or any other large current sucker, I would add another circuit breaker and a couple of additional outlets. Ideally, the microwave would be on its own circuit. Depending on the brand of the breaker you have, you might be able to find twin breakers, where there are two separate breakers in the same physical breaker device. So, each of the single 20 amp breaker could be replaced with a twin 20 amp breaker pair, and you instantly doubled the number of circuits from 2 to 4 without needed a new breaker box. But, the breakers have to match the box – pretty much means the same brand name and series. Here's a link to a twin 20 amp breaker so you know what I'm talking about: Twin 20-20 Amp Circuit Breaker

It is 110 VAC wiring. I'll take more pictures of the a/c (it's a weird looking unit). I don't know what a thermostat wire looks like but would guess it is a little bity thing? Yes, small wires. Typically 18 gauge. Where the heck might that be? The toggle switch on the a/c does have high and low so I guess you are supposed to regulate the coolness by that. Interesting sounding a/c. Can't wait to see more pics of it. Most roof a/c’s either use a wall thermostat or have one built into the unit itself.

I think I might feel better with a new fuse box like I put in the baby trailer. Tracking down what wire is for what might be difficult though - there are wires everywhere and they all look like VAC wires. There are no little yellow, white, black and green wires anywhere that I can see. The PO said that Airstream used the VAC wires for 12V and you really couldn't tell them apart (this guy said he was an electrician). Could that be? No idea. Seems odd, but strange things happen all the time in these vintage babies. But I think you may have at least partially answered your comfort level question…

It gives me something to do other than quilting, knitting, teaching exercise class, being the town judge, serving on committees..... Ah... life in a small town... I think you should buy a couple more to help fill up all your idle time!

Chris
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:10 PM   #198
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I We went to the 4 Corners Vintage Resto Rally. Well worth going to if you can swing it! Next time we plan to actually bring our AS.

Kay
You went to the restro rally in Alburquerque? We were going to go to it but had just gotten back from our maiden voyage in the little trailer to Mississippi and Texas. I went to it last year and it was fabulous. That is the reason I finally got an Airstream. They made everything look so easy!

Dang! So near and yet so far! If you went down Hwy. 285 then you passed right through our little town.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:23 AM   #199
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results...

There were two wires connected to the old converter. Each cloth wrapped wire had a black, white and tiny blue. I put the meter on 20K and touched one end to the blue and one to the ground in the box. On one wire it registered 0.00 on the other it didn't change. Bummer.

Here are pictures of the ancient a/c and original water pump. The PO said the water pump worked but I think I'll get a new one anyway.

When I took the breakers out of the breaker box the wires on the 30 amp one came out before I could tell what went where. I'm assuming that the large black wire goes where I put it but where does the small black go? The large black is the power cord and the small black belongs to the wiring that goes into the trailer.

Its beginning to look more and more like I should just forget the old and bring in some new... If I do that though, how do I wire the a/c since it would need to be between the skins?
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:30 PM   #200
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more pics

Here are the rest of the pictures I forgot to post on the previous posting. The last picture is of one of the overhead vents - where maybe I could put in a fan?
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:16 PM   #201
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At least the wire is copper.
I would connect the large black wire form shore power to the 30 amp breaker, it will serve as the main. The red jumper wire across the top tells me that.
Then if I am correct there are three small black wires, two of which are already connected to the other two breakers.
With the large black wire connected to the 30 amp breaker and the shore power plugged in and the 30 amp breaker on. Turn one of the 20 amp breakers on and then check to see what works ie outlets or the AC. Then do the same with the other 20 amp breaker.
Once you have ID'd the wires connected to the breakers. Then disconnect one of the wires and connect the 3rd small black wire. It could be an outlet for the converter or the refer.
Once you have identified all three wires you can make a determination on how to proceed.
I believe current electrical code limits the number of devices ie outlets, light fixtures etc to 8 on a 20 amp circuit. I would bet you don't have 8 outlets in the trailer.
It is not good practice to connect more than 1 wire to a circuit breaker, however it is an acceptable practice to connect multiple wires with with a wire nut (of the appropriate size).
Lets say you have 6 outlets throughout the trailer that are connected to one of the 3 small black wires. I would bet that the AC is connected to one of the remaining two black wires. If so the AC should be on a breaker by itself.
Now all that remains is the 3rd black wire; if it has no more than 2 devices connected then just connect it along with a short jumper wire to the black wire with the 6 outlets. Use a wire nut and make the connection inside the distribution panel. So now you have the 2 small black wires connected together with the jumper wire. Then connect the other end of the jumper wire to the 20 amp circuit breaker.
I would leave the old pump installed. They were really good pumps. One would be wise to get a spare belt though. If you buy a new pump; keep it (the new pump) for the spare. You will probably never use it.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:33 PM   #202
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Yeah, I remember your town now. We did pass right by! Maybe next resto rally we can stop or meet you at the rally! At the rate we're going this summer, we won't have the trailer to the point of bringing her to the rally next summer, maybe the year after. Family things come first and new grandbaby needs a crib ( which is going to be really cool made of maple with purple heartwood accents!).

Kay
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:20 PM   #203
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plug it in?

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Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
With the large black wire connected to the 30 amp breaker and the shore power plugged in and the 30 amp breaker on. Turn one of the 20 amp breakers on and then check to see what works ie outlets or the AC. Then do the same with the other 20 amp breaker.
So, can I plug it in without having the converter in place? There are loose wires all over the place that I don't have a clue as to where they go. I don't want to fry myself. Of course the wires were loose even when the old converter was in and I'm still alive. Just none of the 12V lights worked - only the a/c and some of the outlets. Should I just put those little plastic thingys over the ends of all the exposed wires and call it good?

Another question: If I want to figure out what's what with the 12v stuff (the wires in the old fuse box), do I use the meter and the battery charger to test them? Or just the meter with a long wire attached? If I'm going to replace the fuse box with a new one I will need to know what's what so that I can use the right size fuses.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:41 PM   #204
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By lose wires are you saying there are Romex wires hanging out in places? If so put a wire nut on each conductor to keep them from shorting out. Then go ahead a fire the thing up.
As for checking the 12 volt system; use the battery charger, connect the black wire of the charger to the skin or metal frame. Then use the red lead to test out the circuits. You don't even have to remove the old converter. Just disconnect the 120 volt AC power from it and pull all of the fuses out. Then connect the red lead of the charger to the end of the fuse holder that each wire is connected to. Make a note of what color wire does what.
Remember the battery charger is Red= positive and Black = negative. But your trailer is Black = positve and White = negative.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:13 AM   #205
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Yeah, I remember your town now. We did pass right by! Family things come first and new grandbaby needs a crib ( which is going to be really cool made of maple with purple heartwood accents!).

Kay
A new grandbaby! Wow! Nothing is better than that - even a new (old) Airstream! Send pictures of the crib when it is done - with the baby in it of course.

I'm sure when you went through Saguache you said "what a pitiful little town"... It does look that way but we're working on changing things.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:23 AM   #206
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12V test

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connect the black wire of the charger to the skin or metal frame. Then use the red lead to test out the circuits. You don't even have to remove the old converter. Just disconnect the 120 volt AC power from it and pull all of the fuses out. Then connect the red lead of the charger to the end of the fuse holder that each wire is connected to. Make a note of what color wire does what.
Remember the battery charger is Red= positive and Black = negative. But your trailer is Black = positve and White = negative.
So, when I connect the charger, I tell what's what because the lights will come on? There are no fuses in the 12V fuse box. Will that make a difference? If I decide to replace all the 12V wiring, I'll have to run the wires through wire chases to get it to the overhead lights? Do you think I need to replace the 12V wiring? would it be less apt to be a problem than the 120VAC wiring?

I've already removed the old converter (it weighed a TON!) and will cover all the exposed wires with the wire nuts to make sure we're safe before plugging in the shore power.

When I do the 12V test I assume I'm NOT connected to shore power?
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:47 AM   #207
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Is this overkill?

This is my plan (if all approve):

Replace the breaker box and breakers and put in all new outlets. There will only be puck lights added (that plug in to a regular outlet) in the way of lighting. All other lights are 12VDC.

Breaker #1 - 30 amp - main breaker
Breaker #2 - 20 amp - air conditioner (do I need a special kind of breaker for the a/c?)
Breaker #3 - 20 amp - 4 new outlets
Breaker #4 - 20 amp - 3 new outlets and puck lights in kitchen area
Breaker #5 - 20 amp - dedicated outlet for fridge
Breaker #6 - 20 amp - dedicated outlet for microwave

I was thinking of using the existing wiring that goes to the a/c but could run wiring through overhead cabinets then a short piece through a wire chase to the a/c so that everything would be new.

For the 12VDC:

Fridge - 20 amp fuse - 14 gauge wire
Overhead lights - 15 amp fuse - 14 gauge wire
Propane detector - 5 amp fuse - 16 gauge wire
Water pump - 20 amp fuse - 12 gauge wire
Heater -??? (heater is untested but looks like it has a 120VAC plug and a squirrel cage blower thing - do I need another dedicated line for that?) I'm not sure it even has 12VDC going to it. I'll take pics of it today and post them.
Converter - 20 amp fuse - 14 gauge wire

What do you think? Too much? Too little? Just right?
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:45 AM   #208
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Originally Posted by lucymcdog View Post
This is my plan (if all approve):

Replace the breaker box and breakers and put in all new outlets. There will only be puck lights added (that plug in to a regular outlet) in the way of lighting. All other lights are 12VDC.

Breaker #1 - 30 amp - main breaker
Breaker #2 - 20 amp - air conditioner (do I need a special kind of breaker for the a/c?)
Breaker #3 - 20 amp - 4 new outlets
Breaker #4 - 20 amp - 3 new outlets and puck lights in kitchen area
Breaker #5 - 20 amp - dedicated outlet for fridge
Breaker #6 - 20 amp - dedicated outlet for microwave

I was thinking of using the existing wiring that goes to the a/c but could run wiring through overhead cabinets then a short piece through a wire chase to the a/c so that everything would be new.

For the 12VDC:

Fridge - 20 amp fuse - 14 gauge wire
Overhead lights - 15 amp fuse - 14 gauge wire
Propane detector - 5 amp fuse - 16 gauge wire
Water pump - 20 amp fuse - 12 gauge wire
Heater -??? (heater is untested but looks like it has a 120VAC plug and a squirrel cage blower thing - do I need another dedicated line for that?) I'm not sure it even has 12VDC going to it. I'll take pics of it today and post them.
Converter - 20 amp fuse - 14 gauge wire

What do you think? Too much? Too little? Just right?
You'd need a big breaker box to have 6 120V breakers, and you're putting in 100 amps of breakers to run off 30-amp service, so it seems like overkill to me. I don't think an RV fridge needs a dedicated 20A circuit, for example. I don't know what the "magic number" is but I suspect it's less than 6.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:28 PM   #209
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Quote:
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So, when I connect the charger, I tell what's what because the lights will come on? There are no fuses in the 12V fuse box. Will that make a difference? If I decide to replace all the 12V wiring, I'll have to run the wires through wire chases to get it to the overhead lights? Do you think I need to replace the 12V wiring? would it be less apt to be a problem than the 120VAC wiring?

I've already removed the old converter (it weighed a TON!) and will cover all the exposed wires with the wire nuts to make sure we're safe before plugging in the shore power.

When I do the 12V test I assume I'm NOT connected to shore power?
Not having fuses will make no difference if you connect the positive lead from the battery charger to each wire end of the fuse holder.

Yes, if you decide to replace all the 12 volt wiring, you'll need to run new in wire chases, or unrivet wall panels enough to run wires inside the walls. So, if you can determine what's what and that the wires are good, then you really won't have a need to replace them. Look at what you can see. It the insulation still good? Not brittle and falling apart? Not chewed by critters? Those are the two primary concerns with old wiring. So, if it looks ok and tests ok, then it is ok.

Plugged into shore power or not would not make a difference for the 12 volt wiring tests since you removed the converter.

That help at all?

Chris
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:53 PM   #210
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Hi Lindy,

I think it looks ok, with the following notations:

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucymcdog View Post
Breaker #2 - 20 amp - air conditioner (do I need a special kind of breaker for the a/c?)

Nope, just a regular one.

A separate breaker for the fridge seems overkill. This is a 2-way fridge, right? So it runs on either 110 VAC or propane? If yes, then while in 110 VAC mode, the current draw is not that high. You could easily put it on the same circuit as the 4 new outlets. Now, having said that, that only frees up one circuit, so in panel space, you’re not really saving anything. If you use all twin circuit breakers, then you can do all 6 of your circuits in the space of 3 physical breakers. And yes, they make a twin 30/20 amp breaker. I bought one for Little Girl.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucymcdog View Post
I was thinking of using the existing wiring that goes to the a/c but could run wiring through overhead cabinets then a short piece through a wire chase to the a/c so that everything would be new.

Sounds good to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucymcdog View Post
Heater -??? (heater is untested but looks like it has a 120VAC plug and a squirrel cage blower thing - do I need another dedicated line for that?) I'm not sure it even has 12VDC going to it. I'll take pics of it today and post them.
This is the furnace, right? RV furnaces are typically 12 VDC, but you’ll need to verify if it’s 12 volt or 110 VAC. The label should tell you. Or the existing wiring connected to it.

If it’s 12 VDC, then yes, I would run a separate circuit for it. Just to be safe, use a 20 amp 12 or 14 gauge wire. Again, look at the wire feeding it now, and make sure you do not use a small wire to connect it to your new fuse panel.

If it’s really 110 VAC, then you can tie it into one of the breakers. I think I would use the fridge breaker for the furnace, and move the fridge to one of the other breakers. Although not in keeping with code, but still perfectly safe, you could use the a/c breaker for the furnace as well, since you’ll never run both the a/c and the furnace at the same time.

Quote:
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Converter - 20 amp fuse - 14 gauge wire

Actually, the converter needs to be plugged into one of the 110 VAC outlets, or wired into a 110 VAC breaker. The 12 VDC output of the converter will feed your new 12 volt fuse block.
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