Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 02-13-2016, 11:20 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1963 24' Tradewind
Billings , Montana
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 18
New electrical from scratch

Hi Folks,
I'm starting completely from scratch with my electrical systems. I bought my 62 Tradewind out of a field last summer and have been doing everything (shell-on). The interior skins are out, as is about 1/2 the subfloor.

I'm fearful that my best laid plans will miss a line that would have been obvious if there had been anything to copy. It was gutted and rotting when I found it. Even the electrical lines in the walls were so corroded that, in places, it was hard to tell one wire from another.

So, my questions to you all are:
  • What are the easy things to miss or forget?
  • What mistakes have you made that I could avoid?
  • Could anyone point me to a thread of someone who has detailed the same from-scratch electrical work?


P.S. I'm no electrician, but I grew up in a family of them. I rewired/replaced many home AC circuits as a child under my father's instructions. As an adult, I've rewired most of my home to remove knob-and-tube, add-on, etc, and successfully passed professional inspections. So I'm confident enough in safety and knowledge, at least with AC lines. I'm a little less confident with DC, from the perspective of experience, but I feel like I understand the concepts.

micaso is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2016, 04:47 PM   #2
Got gandkids?
Jim & Susan's Avatar

1973 27' Overlander
'Possum Holler , Georgia
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5,252
Images: 39
Use Google to search for some of this info on this website instaed of the built in search feature here.

Include Airforums in the search terms on Google and some common terms like rewire, or complete rewire. You get the idea.

Things that some folks miss? Hummm. Use quality connectors on the DC side of the house where needed. Common wisdom here on the forums is to use solder connections everywhere you can. Heat shrink also.

Make extra runs inside the walls and label them. What I mean is, even if you think you don't need them now, you may in the future. Both AC and DC. You can run them and leave them disconnected for future use.

I added only one new AC run. It was for or the microwave, and since it was high amperage, gave it it's own circuit breaker in the panel. Changed all of the circuit breakers out for new ones. Wish I had run one more to the front of the camper, after I got the walls back in, of course.

Upgrading to 50 amp now seems like a good idea. Not sure if we'll ever need though. Wish I had thought of that back then.

Good luck with it! Start a thread about your restoration, start to finish. We vintage people love to read those and tell you where you went wrong.

Just kidding, of course.



Air No. 6427
Jim & Susan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2016, 10:33 PM   #3
1 Rivet Member
1963 24' Tradewind
Billings , Montana
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 18
Thank you for the tip to use Google and not the built-in search. Wow! I found so much more information just adding "airforums" to a Google search. I think I've found several weeks worth of helpful reading. The built-in search was causing me a bit of despair.

I will definitely add unused lines. I'm thinking of trying to include an empty conduit, in addition to unused lines, not knowing every kind of line I'll need in the future.

I've been debating between 50amp or 30amp service. Is 50 amp typically available in campgrounds, or are most 50amp trailers using a jumper to 30 amps anyway?

Also, if I had a 50 amp box in my trailer and used a jumper down to 30, wouldn't I constantly run the risk of melting the jumper?

I've written a blog about my efforts so far: I'm mostly proud of the work to this point, though, it has not been totally without blunders.
micaso is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 08:36 AM   #4
3 Rivet Member
Vintage Kin Owner
Currently Looking...
egg harbor city , South Jersey
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 186
It is not common knowledge to use solder connections. Solder connections and vibration do not work well together. Use marine type wire, and get a quality tool and crimp the connections. Then sit back and see how the controversy develops here.
Zil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 09:28 AM   #5
Rivet Master

Southwestern , Ohio
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,618

Here are a few thoughts that come to mind. Remember that free advice is worth what you pay for it!

Do use stranded wire, and if you can afford marine cable for your 120 Volt circuits, go for it. For what it's worth, both our 1960 Pacer and our 1980 Caravelle are wired with plain old solid Romex and we have never had any trouble with the wiring in either.

Do use grommets or bushings every place a wire or cable goes through a hole in the aluminum. I keep a stock of Heyco snap bushings on hand and have found them very satisfactory.

I second the motion to use crimp connections. I personally prefer uninsulated crimp connectors--they crimp better--and then insulate with shrink sleeving and/or good old electrical tape. But here again, for what it's worth--both of our Airstreams came from the factory with wire-nutted connections and we have never had any problem with them.

Plan what you want in the trailer. A microwave is a nice amenity that you may want to add a circuit for. Our 1980 Caravelle only has three branch circuits, the air conditioner, refrigerator/microwave, and everything else. Works fine for us.

Don't use a GFCI breaker for the main breaker. Resistance heating elements (refrigerator, water heater, etc.) and the RFI filters in modern DC converters can cause nuisance trips. Use a GFCI breaker on the branch circuit(s) that go to outlets.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with a 50 Amp electrical connection. The big trailers and motor homes use 240 V / 50A service because they have two air conditioners. 120 V / 30 A should be plenty for your vintage trailer.
Nuvite-F is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 09:51 AM   #6
3 Rivet Member
2015 28' International
Ofallon , Missouri
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 226
Sorry if this is a "duh" post.....

The Airstream manuals have wiring diagrams for both 12v and 120v. Being an engineer and natural planner, developing a schematic of what you want seems like a necessity and these seem like a good place to start.
mpsgolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 11:24 AM   #7
1 Rivet Member
1963 24' Tradewind
Billings , Montana
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 18
Thank you for the recommendation for crimp connections. In the last day, in all the reading I'm doing now that I learned how to search, it seems like good advice. Since I'm doing the whole thing, I'll do it right with crimp connections. I'll need to play with the heatshink or tape to see what makes more sense as I go.

I definitely plan to draw up a wiring diagram of my own. I've looked at diagrams for similar years/models to mine (though I have yet to find one for a 62 tradewind). It is a very good place to start, thanks for the idea. My concern is that I'm not sure how much help the old diagram is with modern water pumps or furnace requirements, etc. I'm not at all sure they need the same power as the old diagram says.

My daughter's school says that one of the habits of happy students to to "begin with the end in mind". It's harder than it sounds!
micaso is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 12:05 PM   #8
Rivet Master

Southwestern , Ohio
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,618
Originally Posted by micaso View Post
I definitely plan to draw up a wiring diagram of my own. I've looked at diagrams for similar years/models to mine (though I have yet to find one for a 62 tradewind).
I don't think that Airstream provided such information that far back. Our 1960 Pacer came with a lot of loose sheets covering the refrigerator, gas heater (neither of which used electricity) and a few other accessories. No owners manual or service manual.
Nuvite-F is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 12:22 PM   #9
4 Rivet Member
SuzyHomemakr's Avatar
1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 309
I would suggest running a separate 110V utility circuit that completely bypasses the inverter. My Xantrex inverter will only pass so much shore power through it before it has a fit. I use a different color of plug to differentiate the two circuits. Also if your inverter goes down, you still have shore power available. Then you can run the ceramic heater, espresso machine, and blow-dry your hair all at the same time!

I like the Blue Sea Systems panels for the 110V. More expensive, but very tidy. I moved all of the panels up to an overhead in the kitchen. The entire panel swings down for access. So you probably shouldn't forget all of the A/V stuff, including antennas, speaker wires, video, etc.

I agree about the 50A, but if you're thinking about visiting the South, 50A sure doesn't hurt! If you run everything for 50A, you can always put a 50-to-30 converter on the end. Down here in Florida, most big parks have both 30 and 50. You could always add a portable A/C if you were too warm...

You should run your shore power through a good quality dip/surge protector before it goes anywhere else. I like staying in the more primitive campgrounds, and they can have sketchy power. You don't want to burn out something expensive because it's only getting 90V!

Personally, I find beauty in what my marine engineer friend would call a "sano install". So opening a locker to see some beautifully routed wiring to well-founded components that can easily be troubleshot or swapped out really melts my butter!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	2016-02-14 14.04.07.jpg
Views:	92
Size:	108.0 KB
ID:	257257  
SuzyHomemakr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 12:58 PM   #10
Rivet Master
garry's Avatar
1969 31' Sovereign
Broken Arrow , Oklahoma
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,331
Images: 7
If you install an inverter instead of a converter in needs to be as close to the battery as possible also use the recommended 12v wire gauge size to the battery an inverter draws a lot of amps. The converter should be close to the 12V fuse panel.
garry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 03:10 PM   #11
2 Rivet Member
1960 24' Tradewind
Tipp City , Ohio
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 20
Hey Micaso
We've got to stay in touch. Before I checked in with air for rooms today I was scheduling and planning the electrical redo of my 1960 24' Tradewind. Check out streaming 24 on the registry.
You've already been receiving so many good ideas from others I hope they keep coming there all helpful.
I'll do the Google/air forums search also .
I also wish it was as easy as downloading the schematics. Too bad airstream didn't think about this in the 60s.
I liked Susie homemaker's suggestion for the additional 110 V circuit bypassing the inverter. I also agree with the Sano install. I think I'll have a plexiglass cover on my panel and call it artwork.
With it being in the single and low double digits here in Ohio and I'm sure not too different in Montana maybe Susie homemaker will invite us to Florida to check out his rig.
I am planning for solar panels in burger capability for AC in the future so the idea of additional circuits and the 50 to 30 amp converter makes sense.
Mostly 12 V LED lighting. I plan to take advantage of wireless for audio computer monitor Apple TV etc. I don't plan for a microwave.
I would like to go with an on-demand water heater but I have to understand the electrical demands here.
I've got an old the medic am 50 reefer but I don't know if I can revive have to plan something here .
I'll use a propane space heater I think will be manually started.
Being in the planning stage I'm also looking at location of the panels batteries electronics roof access and the correct size and length of major cables. Stranded wire grommets crimp converters all good. Might as well do it right.
streaming24 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 03:11 PM   #12
2 Rivet Member
Severna Park , Maryland
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 86
Think Marine

I was a recreational sailor for many years in an older boat and there are lots of books and other resources on DC electrical that are completely transferable to Airstreaming. The boating environment is probably more hard on electrical than trailers. Another poster mentioned buying marine wire, etc. Significantly more expensive because the copper is tinned; but, you get what you pay for. After a few repairs on a couple of new trailers, I can't prove it; but, I think the insulation is even more robust.

Good luck with your undertaking.
sailorii is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 03:20 PM   #13
2 Rivet Member
1960 24' Tradewind
Tipp City , Ohio
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 20
I guess the microphone doesn't pick up everything properly. In burger equals inverter. The old medic am 50 equals domestic M 50. I will speak more clearly next time
streaming24 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2016, 04:25 PM   #14
Rivet Master
dbj216's Avatar

1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,513
Hi micaso, welcome to Air Forums and the vintage Airstream hobby. It sounds like you have a "full monty" renovation going on. I like the size of the 24 foot Trade Wind. You can make a very comfortable traveler out of it. I have a 66 Trade Wind which I enjoy very much. And it needs work.

Airstream rather "invented" the "univolt" system on or about the year your trailer was built. The idea was to make everything run on 12 volts so you can boondock with all the comforts of "home." So the water pump, furnace blower, roof vents, fridge controls, water heater control, lighting were all 12v. 115v AC was used to power the converter to charge the batteries, and power a few outlets around the trailer. Airstream ran a spare romax to the roof for future AC.

That said, your wiring schematic will have more lines on it for 12 volt stuff than 115 volt. My trailer uses different colored romex for the two voltages, one 12v and one for 115 AC. And don't forget the exterior light 12v circuits from the 7 pin connector in the front of the trailer. Let's see; 12 charge, brakes, tail and running lights, brake lights, left turn, right turn, and backup lights (if fitted)

Inverters from 12 v batteries to 115 AC sucks down the batteries pretty rapidly. The hi-tech guys install them, but I'd have to have a compelling reason. When I'm traveling, I'm outdoors, not microwaving popcorn and watching baseball on TV in air conditioned comfort. A 2000 watt generator is an easier solution seems to me. Solar power to charge batteries makes sense to me also.

I think 30 amp service is just fine for a trailer our size. You will have to toggle either / or between 1800 watt air conditioning or 1000 watt microwave. And watch the usage on the 1500 watt electrical space heater.

I used Furion 30 amp connection for 115v shore power. I used a 8 position breaker box as that was the smallest my big box store had, but it is a bit too large. I have just three AC circuits, and three 12v DC circuits in my trailer. The 12v DC fuse panel I purchased is too small for the 10 gauge DC wire, but I managed to stuff everything in.

Make a good ground connection to your frame, one for AC and one for DC.

Again welcome, good luck with your Trade Wind project. And be advised I know very little about electrical stuff. Here is the wiring diagrams for my trailer, as well as a couple photos of my project. I hope I helped you a little bit.

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	1406 Electrical New Twist Lock Plug.jpg
Views:	106
Size:	226.7 KB
ID:	257267   Click image for larger version

Name:	1404 Electrical New Breaker Box.jpg
Views:	80
Size:	226.2 KB
ID:	257268  

Click image for larger version

Name:	1405 Electrical  New Fuse Panel.jpg
Views:	92
Size:	243.8 KB
ID:	257269   Click image for larger version

Name:	1404 Univolt Wiring Diagram.jpg
Views:	104
Size:	180.7 KB
ID:	257270  

Click image for larger version

Name:	1404 Trailer Wiring Diagram.jpg
Views:	706
Size:	216.2 KB
ID:	257271  

dbj216 is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Help ReDesigning my Electrical System from Scratch crabbey1 Electrical - Systems, Generators, Batteries & Solar 3 06-07-2013 02:51 PM
Electrical probs w electrical to new fridge cooling unit. Surfairstrea Batteries, Univolts, Converters & Inverters 2 05-23-2012 07:24 PM
Clearcoat scratch removal mcostanzo Clearcoat, Exterior Paint & Trim 3 07-01-2003 09:28 PM
Fixing a scratch on a brushed finish? acwdgw Cleaning, Stripping & Polishing 3 10-22-2002 01:27 PM
Removing Scratch with 1200 Grit Paper Jim Clark Cleaning, Stripping & Polishing 4 10-13-2002 06:51 PM

Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:18 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.