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Old 02-26-2003, 09:50 AM   #1
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Original 2 prong cord, how do I make it safe?

Seeing the recent discussions over electrical hook-ups, it dawned on me that our '55 has the original 2 prong cord (gauge unknown, maybe 12, I'm guessing 14). What do I have to do to make it safe in regards to grounding? Can I use an inline GFI on the cord? I think I will eventually end up upgrading the cord, but I have the original glass screw-in type fuses located all over the trailer. How do I address this? Suggestions? I want to play it safe on this.
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Old 02-26-2003, 11:54 AM   #2
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Well due to the constuction of the camper it's pretty easy to get a propper ground. What you want to do is pick up a suitable 3 wire plug for the side and a new compliant cable. On 110v BLACK is the wire that will KILL YOU. Low volt like 12 Volt Black is usualy Ground or common so be real carefull and check how the camper is wired. I have run into many newer campers that they guy wiring the 12 v used the black wire as the positive like it was 110v wiring so watch out for that.
Black goes to the gold tone connections on current spec 110v applications (just keep saying to your self "Black Be Gold"). White is common and Green is the ground. On the inside simply put the Green wire to the body of the camper and you will have a ground circuit. Be sure to scratch off any paint at the connection and make a GOOD solid connection. Copper and Aluminim are bad about forming corrosion called electrolisis because they are dissimular materials. I would check that connection on a regular schedual every season when you prep the camper. Then if you like you can put three prong outlets in the rest of the camper. Just make sure the metal mount on the outlet is grounding to the body.

Now I want to do GFIC and go to a updated circuit breaker system on my 59. Here is some problems I expect to run into with the GFIC. GFIC stands for Ground Fault interuption. Lots of older 2 wire items like transformers the common (white) is electrically common with what in today's standards would be Ground. If the GFIC see's this then it will trip. Old Florecent lights play havoc with GFIC circuits. I rewired my grandmothers basement in her house built in the early 50's and ran into problems with the existing florecent bath room lights and a old transformer for the old princess telephone lights that had been tapped into the kitchen sink circuit (took me a while to find that and figure out the problem) when I brought the house up to code. I ended up dumping that fixture in the trash because every time you flipped it on it popped the GFIC it was on the same circuit with. Current code says that all fixtures in wet areas should be GFIC protected. You may have simular problems with the transformer for the blower on the heater, the vent fans, Grover air pump, etc. I personnaly like using the GFIC breakers verses the outlets because it will protect everything on the circuit and it's easier to install. You basicly don't have to mess with the outlet at all in housing application. Problem is there are so many items on the same circuits that your proably going to have them tripping if you do that. It will come down to isolating the offending componet and replacing it with a newer model with a proper ground design our putting it on a seperate circuit that doesn't have the GFIC.

What I plan to do it seperate stuff like all the outlets and lights with the GFIC and running all the fan motors off the non GFIC circuits. Since it will be so hard to get wires up to the fans for a seperate circuit, if they share the circuit with the outlets around the sink, is to cap the existing wires leading to the outlets and run a fresh wire up to the outlet on the GFIC. Now I'm going to do this at the same time I do some major floor repair so I'll have the walls open already. I will test the original wires before hand and see if I have a problem first.

The only one that may lead to trouble on my 59 is that Grover air pump. I really want anything to do with or near water on the GFIC. My florecent vanity was already swapped to a newer ground fixtrue so I should be ok on it. If yours original I would expect a problem out of it. Might also run into trouble with the Reefer but since it's just a heating element it might be ok as long as the Common and the ground are kept seperate at the appliance.

Hope that helps explain a few things.
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Old 02-26-2003, 09:25 PM   #3
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polarized

jason

be careful!

with a 2 wire system your trailer is not polarized. meaning either wire can be hot.

the safest thing to do is determine which prong is hot on your plug. you need to find out what side correlates with the center button on your screw in fuses. you can use an ohm meter and look for zero ohms between the center terminal in the screw in fuse and the matching prong on the plug. you'll need to drag the cord inside for this test!

once you have found the hot side of the plug this should be always installed into an outlet with the hot prong on the right. this is only a temporary solution until you can change out the cord. (you can mark it with a dot of paint)

then a proper polarized and grounded cord/plug can be installed.

you can retain the original fuse box, just change the cord.

i would love to see a pic of the cord and fuse box.

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Old 02-26-2003, 09:40 PM   #4
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Thanks John, I appreciate the help! I am not the greatest at figuring some of this stuff out and appreciate someone with knowledge helping.
It's the original Bargman cord and rotating clamp to hold it in place. So far I've found 3 different locations of fuses and terminal blocks. 2 up front on either side of the water tank and one in back left corner adjacent to the plumbing for the tub. Interesting part is the plug runs through the corner wrap. I don't have a rear trunk, and I didn't see the cord running into the cabinet where that fuse block is located. It all looks new and has not been monkeyed with at all. I'll see about borrowing a digital camera an posting some pics.
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Old 02-27-2003, 07:40 AM   #5
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Caution

Some good advice coming in but caution to the DC electrician.

WHITE is negative in Airstreams. Any other color can be positive.

(there is a chance that on the older units that the black was negative)

And as far as AC for the novice, consider all conductors as hot. especially the white wire. The "Neutral" can definitely kill you.

The neutral is the retun path for unbalanced loads and they can often unleash much more harm than the Black or "hot" wire.

If not familiar with working with electricity, TURN it OFF!

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Old 03-13-2005, 08:55 PM   #6
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electrical plug

I have a 49 Airstream and I do not have the electrical plug for it. I wanted to upgrade it to a more modern adapter. Does anyone know what my first step would be? External plug on the trailer?It has one, but it is two prong and broken. Where would I get one?Do I get male or female? Thank you
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Old 03-13-2005, 10:59 PM   #7
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Original 2 prong cord, how do I make it safe?

Greetings Erica!

Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreams.net
I have a 49 Airstream and I do not have the electrical plug for it. I wanted to upgrade it to a more modern adapter. Does anyone know what my first step would be? External plug on the trailer?It has one, but it is two prong and broken. Where would I get one?Do I get male or female? Thank you
I don't have a great deal of first-hand experience with the lage 1940s coaches, but suspect that the shore power inlet on your coach was likely produced by the Theo. Bargman Co., and it is highly unlikely that you will be able to find an exact replacement for the small, round shore power inlet connector or the correct "matching" end for the shore power cord. There is an outside chance that you might find an old, established electrical supply house that might have the components to fabricate a shore power cord to match the fixtures on your coach, but it is a VERY long shot according to my experience searching for the Theo. Bargman Co. components for the shore power service on my Overlatnder.

I had similar problems with my '64 Overlander, but this was prior to the days of an active Internet-based Airstream community (1995) so I accepted the rather glaring modification proposed by the Brand X dealer who was helping to get my coach roadworthy - - a photo of my revised electrical connection is shown below.

Today, if I were facing this same situation, I would insist upon a shore power entrance similar to what is used for the shore power needs in the boating industry. The link that follows is to the chrome plated inlet that I would probably consider if I were involved in having my coach updated today:

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...310&storeNum=9

The cord set that works with the above inlet can be found in the link below:

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...310&storeNum=9

I suspect that your coach would also require an updated supply cable from the shore power inlet to the fuse box (as my Overlander did). I am not a do it yourselfer so trust such projects to a trusted RV Mechanic/Technician. Given the knowledge that I had 10 years ago, the compromise electrical connection on the Overlander is a workable solution, but I would have rather had something a little closer to what Airstream used during the production period.

Good luck with your project!

Kevinj
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Old 03-14-2005, 12:12 AM   #8
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electrical cord

Thank you very much. I am going to order a new plug and cord tomorrow. I like the website you gave me. Thank you again.
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Old 03-14-2005, 12:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreams.net
I have a 49 Airstream and I do not have the electrical plug for it. I wanted to upgrade it to a more modern adapter. Does anyone know what my first step would be? External plug on the trailer?It has one, but it is two prong and broken. Where would I get one?Do I get male or female? Thank you
Hi Erica:

On my 1948 Wee Wind, I replaced the dried and cracked original Bargman exterior two prong male electrical inlet plug with a Marinco brand "Onboard Charger Inlet" # 150BB1. This is a UL Listed 15 amp, 125 volt 3 prong recessed male plug that accepts the female end of a grounded 3 wire extension cord. It is intended for use with a hard wired onboard battery charger and comes with a nice attached cover. The 15 amp load limit was of no concern in Ruby as she is very juice thrifty, having only a few light bulbs and a 1942 Philco AM/SW tube radio to power. If you are going to keep your '49 Trailwind somewhat orginal, this is an alternative inlet plug to consider for low electrical loads. I think I got mine at West Marine, but can't say for sure that was the place, so check their web site.
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Old 03-19-2005, 10:45 PM   #10
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Hi Fred,
I am very interested in keeping her original. I do not plan on making many changes. I do want to camp with lights though. Did you keep the glass fuses? Do you have a hard wired(not sure how to do that) battery charger. If so, what would be the benefits from it. Could I make it to where I would have lights without shore power(i.e. inverter)?
Erica
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Old 03-20-2005, 01:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreams.net
Hi Fred,
I am very interested in keeping her original. I do not plan on making many changes. I do want to camp with lights though. Did you keep the glass fuses? Do you have a hard wired(not sure how to do that) battery charger. If so, what would be the benefits from it. Could I make it to where I would have lights without shore power(i.e. inverter)?
Erica
Hi Erica:
I've kept Ruby totally original, glass fuses and all. If at a campgound, I just plug in and use the 110 volt inside lights. If not plugged in, at night I use a flashlight or a Coleman rechargeable battery lantern with 2 flourescent tubes (but still shaped like the an old white gas Coleman lantern). I have no battery in Ruby and no battery charger. To "update" an original trailer, think how you can move the functions you want into individual appliances and accessories: a battery operated portable radio, a rechargeable battery operated lantern, a portable propane stove, a small Coleman portable propane catalytic heater, etc, etc.

I made a portable modern outdoor kitchen by building 3 stacked boxes that have an ice chest (or later perhaps a refrigerator) in the bottom box, a microwave in the middle box (for use at campgrounds with 110 volts AC), and a propane grill in the top box for use anywhere. This is my exterior modern utility center that lets me keep the '48 Wee Wind totally original. It is pictured in the Fall 2004 issue of Airstream Life on page 41. The roof can be raised 16 inches on four "stilts" to better access the propane grill for cooking. During winter, I keep it stacked just outside my back door so I can grill all year long.
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Old 03-20-2005, 08:42 AM   #12
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Back to the original Bargman connector. I have found an RV repair shop here in town that found a box of those Bargman trailer-mounted connectors originally used in the late 50s/early 60s. That was several months ago. I purchased several of them and one went to Ken_J for his '58 restoration. Another went to a local guy with a '59 FC he's redoing. I haven't been back in several months and am not sure they still have any but the cord end plug is going to be the real challenge if you want to go original. I found one in all my trailer stuff that went to Ken_J too. If anyone's interested in one of those plugs that mount to the side of the trailer, I can call the RV store and let you know.

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Old 03-20-2005, 10:18 AM   #13
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Brad,

Please put me on the list. Mine is broken, and I have the cord end.
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Old 03-20-2005, 10:44 AM   #14
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I'll check on them today Don and get back to you later today.

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