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Old 07-30-2015, 09:04 PM   #1
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Replace Outside AC Recptacle

I had to replace the outside receptacle because the cover had completely deteriorated, leaving the receptacle exposed. Fixing this situation turned out to be a nightmare. The original receptacle installed by the factory was not really screwed in to anything. The factory apparently cut the hole for the receptacle, but then just set the receptacle and cover in place, and then sprayed around it some kind or rubber adhesive. Very strong stuff! The screws the factory installed just went into this rubber material and everything somehow stayed in place.

I went to my local Airstream/RV repair place. The replacement cover they gave me had nothing to do with what was installed. It meant I somehow had find another, more standard, receptacle and figure out how to install it.

Getting the old plug out was a chore. After removing the screws, the plug would still not budge -- that's how strong the adhesive was. I had to take a long sharp knive and puncture the adhesive, then cut around the plug. Later I could pull the plug out. But I still had to clean out a bunch of adhesive left in the hole.

I'll explain the rest of process in my next post, with pictures, after I get my images downloaded and reduced in size to post.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:22 PM   #2
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Installing the Socket

When I got the old receptacle out I realized I did not have a "box" that would allow me to screw the new receptacle into. All I had was a hole and the wires. I wanted more strength for the plug than what would exist by simply using sheet metal screws. The Airstream factory had left us with two pre-drilled holes, but they didn't fit anything.

I was determined to install a box, but could not get one in through the hole. So, I cut the box in half. This gave me something on the inside of the wall to screw the receptacle to. It also gave a small amount of protection for the wiring. The effort to get it all together was something like building a ship in a bottle, but eventually I got it all together. Now if you pull on the plug, you are really pulling on the box underneath the trailer skin.

The cover that I thought I needed to buy from the Airstream repairman was nothing more than a standard external receptacle cover. A wasted trip for sure. The cover screws are placed to screw into the thread holes on the receptacle.

I caulked with a 4 year old tube of Vulkem. I froze the partially used tube back then. The nozzle was cured and could not be used. But I drilled a small hole in the side and the flow was perfect. I used a small plastic sample spoon to apply and tool the flow.The old Vulkem worked perfectly.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:55 PM   #3
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The original outlet that Airstream provided was and is a standard RV outlet which is used in thin walls and is used without any box. Since it uses kind of a push on wire system with a cover over the back it is a legal and approved outlet that they can install without any additional box. It is not a great system for sure, but it is legal and common.

You can find shallow boxes that are only an inch and a half to two inches thick at places like Home Depot. They are generally called "old work" boxes. Some have side pockets to give more space for wires. The trouble is that the original push on wires may not be long enough to properly attach to the new receptacle.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
You can find shallow boxes that are only an inch and a half to two inches thick at places like Home Depot. They are generally called "old work" boxes.
The old box is exactly the one I used. I did not have any access from the back, so whatever box I had, it had to go through the hole on the front. Hence, the only way I could get any box in the trailer was cut it in half.

Now, your description of the orginal receptacle makes me more angry about my Airstream supplier. I showed him a picture. Why did he give me an external receptacle cover that was not for RV, but instead was for houses that needed a box and another kind of receptacle?? These guys are supposed to be Airstream experts!
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:15 PM   #5
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All I can say is that all Airstream repair and supply people are not fully qualified in everything they sell, and that Airstream has used various ways of installing things, including outside outlets over the years. It is really hard to know everything about all Airstream variations.

At least you have it fixed to your satisfaction now.
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Old 07-31-2015, 11:01 PM   #6
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You are actually far better off by using a standard residential outlet and box. The RV 'speed-wire' outlets are total crap!!!!

I have seen multiple failures in these types of outlets from wires either pulling out of the friction traps or being cut thru by vibration. I have also seen burn out speed-wire boxes from wire failures inside them.

Your screw-type connections will be far more secure than the RV type!!!
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Old 08-01-2015, 01:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
You are actually far better off by using a standard residential outlet and box. The RV 'speed-wire' outlets are total crap!!!!



I have seen multiple failures in these types of outlets from wires either pulling out of the friction traps or being cut thru by vibration. I have also seen burn out speed-wire boxes from wire failures inside them.



Your screw-type connections will be far more secure than the RV type!!!

Thx for this. Makes sense.
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:34 AM   #8
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All the receptacle outlet wiring from the factory was #12 rated 20 amps. We replaced all outlets in the Classic and 23D with Hubbell commercial grade GFI 20 amp outlets placed into shallow boxes.

As a former qualified electrician, I was appalled by the really cheap outlets Airstream installed.
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