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Old 09-12-2004, 10:23 AM   #1
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Electrically Charged Trailer - Help!

All - Just got back off of a two week trip from Austin, TX. to the Airstream Factory and had a problem on the way back. A circuit breaker has tripped on my electrical box and continues to trip every time I reset it. On top of that if the ground is a little wet and I don't have any shoes on I get a heck of a shock when I touch the trailer's exterior walls or door. I'm going to explain the occurence of events in hope of someone offering up a quick fix!

1. (Don't think this relates to my problem but I'll mention it just in case). Got some work done on my trailer at the factory ('87 Sovereign). The only thing that was done that may have touched the electrical in any way was the addition of a batwing antennae with an amplifier. But the amplifier works fine even when this particular breaker is tripped so I doubt this has anything to do with it. When I brought my trailer back to the A/S terra port the above mentioned breaker did trip but I was able to reset it and all was fine.

2. Traveld to a friend's house in Indiana the next day. When I attempted to plug into his standard house outlet with an adaptor I got a big spark at the outlet and his house breaker tripped. Tried plugging it in again after resetting. Same problem. The spark was occuring right at the bottom prong of a three prong adaptor, the ground? Any way it was enough of a shock to burn that particular prong on the adapter.

3. Attempted to plug into another outlet at his house to see if his outlet was the problem. Got a spark again but this time the outlet didn't trip and I was able to run the trailer.

4. Later that night it rained and that is when I noticed this particular outlet had tripped again and could not be reset. A little while after this is when I noticed my trailer was giving off one hell of shock if I touched it. Made it very difficult to enter!

The above mentioned breaker that has tripped runs the following: rear and bathroom electrical outlets, converter/twelve volt system.

ANY help is appreciated.

Thanks, Joe
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Old 09-12-2004, 11:11 AM   #2
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Stop and unplug immediately!
It appears by your post that you are not very comfortable working with electricity. If your knowledge level and comfort level have been exceeded seek professional help. The life you save could be your own. Your post indicates that your last installation appears to have caused a short to the trailer frame. Get an experienced electrician to fix it before you plug shore power back in to the trailer.
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Old 09-12-2004, 12:00 PM   #3
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gary is correct, UNPLUG IT!!!

get a person who is qualified to troubleshoot it and repair it properly.

we can talk you through it here. but, you will need a volt ohm meter and basic electrical skills.

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Old 09-12-2004, 12:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barkingspider
.......The only thing that was done that may have touched the electrical in any way was the addition of a batwing antennae with an amplifier......
Joe:

Don't know if this helps or not, but on the '87 MoHo the 120 electrical bundle runs fore and aft about two inches to the curb side of the vent/AC cutout.....would it be possible that in mounting the batwing a screw/rivet could have been put in close proximity to the cable?

If the circuit that is giving you trouble runs past the batwing mounting point, you might start your search for the problem around the new mounting.
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Old 09-12-2004, 01:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Joe:

Don't know if this helps or not, but on the '87 MoHo the 120 electrical bundle runs fore and aft about two inches to the curb side of the vent/AC cutout.....would it be possible that in mounting the batwing a screw/rivet could have been put in close proximity to the cable?

If the circuit that is giving you trouble runs past the batwing mounting point, you might start your search for the problem around the new mounting.
Dennis - I had an epiphany right along this line right after I posted this thread. Airstream added a bracket on the roof to hold the head of the batwing antennea a few inches off center to the curb side of the trailer. When installing it they simply drilled threw the skin and screwed it in. I was a little shocked that they didn't even seal under the bracket. They simply plopped a dollop of vulkem on top of the screw heads after it was mounted. When I asked why they didn't also seal underneath the bracket they said "well I've never had one leak yet when I use screws". I had planned to remove this bracket and reinstall it proplerly once I got home. So my plan would be to unscrew this bracket assembly and then see if my breaker still trips.

Additionally the same night that I noticed the breaker had a problem and my trailer had become a rolling electric fence my water heater over pressurized and the release valve popped. Since then then the water heater will not shut off once it's lit even if I flip the shut off switch. The only way I was able to turn it off was to turn the gas off at the source. Could this be related? If not I'll start a seperate thread for the water heater. Joe
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Old 09-12-2004, 01:31 PM   #6
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Joe,
IMHO - If this even could have been caused by Airstream's installation of the batwing then I would not touch anything at all, especially if other systems are starting show unusual behaivior. Keep the trailer unplugged, disconnect the batteries, call Airstream and explain the situation.

Ask them to authorize your favorite local AS dealership to inspect the antennea installation. If an Airstream tech put a screw into a hot lead on your 110 system you now have a hot ground....very dangerous and could certainly fail other systems quickly.

I you remove it yourself and other systems have been "fried" then you would have a hard time getting Airstream to pay for what might have been a mistake on their part.
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Old 09-12-2004, 01:47 PM   #7
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Arghhhhh - Ok I'm gonna rant a little bit. I am so sick of Airstream and their "Authorized Service Centers". I have had one probelm after another everytime I've gone to them or their dealers. I'm sure there are some good ones out there but I haven't found one yet. You know I drove about 2500 miles round trip to get this antennae and a new screen door installed and take the tour, even verified with them that they had the antennae and new screen door to install on my trailer before I got up there and you know what? no screen door when I got there. I was told they don't even make or stock the new screen doors for my trailer any more and my service coordinator made a mistake and should have actually checked to see if they had it in stock instead of just telling me yes because he "thought" they had it. And then they made me pay for them to try and "rehab" my old screen door.

I'll call them on Monday and see what they say but all I see in my future right now is a hole lot of wasted time related to people that simply don't know or care about what they're doing. Let's hope Airstream proves me wrong on this one. Joe
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Old 09-12-2004, 04:25 PM   #8
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Barkingspider, sounds like THEY (service) put a screw thu a hot wire. BTW, why were they using screws? Seems to me rivets were in order!. 4 years ago, we took our Cutter diesel motorhome back to the factory, and WE had to show them how and what WE wanted fixed. (under warranty) How's the service center look after the fire?
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Old 09-12-2004, 04:34 PM   #9
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You guys are really scaring me! I have an appt on Tuesday in Jackson Center to have me entry door window replaced. This was scheduled after two local dealers told me they didn't have the riveting tools or a rivet shaver to do the job correctly. I appreciated their candor but did wonder how they sell and service Airstreams w/o these tools. I ultimately ended up scheduling the work with AS.

I think I'll call tomorrow and make sure the window is in stock. Don't want to burn $100 in fuel to find out it's not there.
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Old 09-12-2004, 05:13 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Coloradobus
How's the service center look after the fire?
Only one building with about five bays was open. The other building was still being repaired. Out back there were parts everywhere.
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Old 09-12-2004, 05:21 PM   #11
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Jackson Center service

A friend, RivetED, just got back from Jackson Center to have some work done. They actually caused more damage than the original problem, were unprofessional when shown the damage, & had to be pushed to fix things correctly. When many think of Jackson Center as the Mecca of proper repairs, it's not. According to RivetED, it seems to depend on who you get to do your work. He's got names of the good and not so good.
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Old 09-12-2004, 06:37 PM   #12
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I haven't bucked a rivet in more than a decade so I was going up there to have it "professionally" repaired. So maybe I should just pick up the window and some rivets and head back home stopping at harbor frieght on the way?

This is depressing.
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Old 09-12-2004, 08:52 PM   #13
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Re:Service Centers

I've heard lots of good things about North Dallas RV. I called them and they were not to eager to help but I seem to have been the minority. Many people really like them and I would sure try them befor I go all the was to Jackson Center.

Heidi
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Old 09-12-2004, 08:55 PM   #14
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Exclamation Bad 'Karma' from Jackson Ctr.

At Jackson Center after 1 week of work on our trailer, it took 5+ hrs of trouble-shooting, including the removal of all the exterior lights that were worked on, before they found the burned wires (improperly installed by them) that blew fuses in our trailer & in my TRUCK when I hooked up to leave. That was only the last thing that was not properly handled.

The 'open' issues are still not fully resolved & I am refraining from any further public/forum discussion for now. The JC service ctr. is aware of the situation and wants us to return, a 2400mi. round-trip. I (& Debbie who is very easy going) haven't cooled off enough yet to make a business or 'emotionless' decision. We need to get things right but we're not sure what course to take just now.

Please, it is our wish at this time to not openly vent. (PM me if you wish to compare notes.) I will give Airstream one more chance to properly fix our trailer. For the most part, the folks at J.C. were wonderful, but it doesn't take many to really mess things up! I believe we had a 'bad apple' assigned to our unit. This will take some time to resolve, but I will post our results in a new thread.
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Old 09-13-2004, 07:19 AM   #15
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Sent an email to my Airstream Service Coordinator this morning. I also copied the Director of Service, Parts & Warranty as well as the Customer Service Manager. I'll let you know what they say.


Also, the same night I got shocked and noticed this problem my hot water heater over heated and over pressurized. Additionally the flame would not turn off even when I flipped the switch inside. I had to turn off the gas at the source to get it to shut off. Could this be related to the trailer having an electric current running through it? Could it possibly of shorted something out in the hot water heater? Joe
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Old 09-13-2004, 08:12 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barkingspider
Also, the same night I got shocked and noticed this problem my hot water heater over heated and over pressurized. Additionally the flame would not turn off even when I flipped the switch inside. I had to turn off the gas at the source to get it to shut off. Could this be related to the trailer having an electric current running through it? Could it possibly of shorted something out in the hot water heater? Joe
Hopefully by now your unit is not receiving external AC power & no 'AC current' should be present, a possibility if ground, neutral, &/or 'hot' have been reversed or shorted. IMHO: Just unplug it, NOW!

It sounds more like the water heater thermostat is not working than an external electric problem, however unlikely, the thermocouple "could" have been damaged by 'stray current'. A lot depends on the type/model of H2O heater you have, any electric heat-rod options, the installation, etc. This is "IMPOSSIBLE" to diagnose without test equipment & a qualified technician at the trailer to do the testing. Please have someone with the proper knowledge & training look into your electricity problems.

Note: FYI - In Aug., while we were at the Terra-Port in JC, the electrical contractors were working on rewiring the burned out service center. That week, on Thurs., the AC digital monitor in our trailer indicated a 'neutral-ground' fault. We had been there since Sat. with no previous fault indication, & have not had one since leaving, verified with a DVM, my monitor is working! When plugged into the svc. ctr. it indicated the same fault. They tried another receptacle & finally it tested O.K., I was "told" one of the svc. ctr. circuits had been mis-wired, no explanation re. the Terra-Port.
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Old 09-13-2004, 02:38 PM   #17
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My total experience at Jackson Center was not good considerating the expectations I had, others have expressed satisfaction there. I believe if A/S wants to expand its current market it must understand the open communications the 'Boomers' use & provide consistancy in their product production & service. None of which I've seen since buying our '04 Safari in Jan.
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Old 09-13-2004, 05:41 PM   #18
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Talked to Airstream

All - Talked to Airstream today and I was very pleased with their response. I actually got a call from Dave Schumann, Director of Service, Parts and Warranty and he was very helpful. Said they would do whatever it took to correct the problem if it was in fact their fault. I will drop my trailer off at Camper Clinic in Buda, TX later this week and they are going to take a look at it and check out the installation of the Antennae and figure out if they think the water heater malfunction is related.

Now the follow through - I'm a little nervous about taking the trailer back to Camper Clinic but I called them today and told them I was willing to give them another chance and Tammy in their parts department assured me they would not let "Bob" work on my trailer again. If you want to know why "Bob" is not working on my trailer again read my horror story floor replacement thread and you'll see why. He comes prepared with tubes of caulk for the outside of the trailer and pine 2x6's for a floor repair!

Ed - While talking to Dave at Airstream, out of the blue, he also mentioned he was aware that you had a problem but thought it had been corrected. He said now that he was aware of the additional items he would work to get them resolved. Guess this proves they really do read the forum!

Joe
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Old 09-14-2004, 12:09 AM   #19
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Joe,

Let us know how the repair goes and find out for sure what the problem is and post so we can all be aware of what happened in your case.

The thing with your hot water heater and it not being able to be shut off even when you flipped the switch sound very much like it is picking up current through the grounded circuit. Not sure on that but the shock you are getting when you touch the trailer is for certain telling me that your bodies ground is making connection with a live wire. Not a good thing!

It is very possible that a screw may have worked into a wire when they did the install for you. I would think that they would have used rivets as well. Even if they didn't go directly into the wire the sharp threads could have cut into a wire if it is laying against the screw. All this is why you would place a rivet there and not a screw.

When they remove that bracket place some Vulkem or Sikaflex under it before you have it put back on. And tell them that you want the bracket installed with rivets too. (Insist on it)

Good luck - I know you have had your share of problems with AS Repairs. Makes me glad that I am able to do almost anything on the trailer myself.
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Old 09-14-2004, 08:11 AM   #20
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I think we have a new "trailer security system" idea here. Now just install Keyless Entry, and have the coach "electrify" when the keyless entry system energizes the locks. Bump up the ampreage, and feel sorry for anyone who tries to break in. HA! I kill me... ;-)
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