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Old 05-06-2015, 11:07 AM   #1
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1968 30' Sovereign
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Replacing electrical box

We just started working on our "new" 1968 Airstream and started by pulling out the entire rear bathroom setup to replace the floor. I found the electrical breaker box behind the cabinets on the rear wall. My instinct is telling me to take this opportunity to replace the old electrical breaker box while everything is wide open. I do NOT plan on rewiring the Airstream as it does not need it - although I might add a line going to the front end. I could also take the opportunity to upgrade the Converter at this time.

Research landed me on the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4045 - 45 Amp Converter AND AC/DC Distribution Panel Combination. It's an all-in-one system that seems to have great reviews. I searched the Forum and could not find a thread on it. Has anyone used this Panel - or know of someone that has - in an Airstream - and be able to give some advice as to if I'm on the right track considering this panel?

Thanks in advance for your advice!
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Old 05-06-2015, 11:12 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheetah1 View Post
We just started working on our "new" 1968 Airstream and started by pulling out the entire rear bathroom setup to replace the floor. I found the electrical breaker box behind the cabinets on the rear wall. My instinct is telling me to take this opportunity to replace the old electrical breaker box while everything is wide open. I do NOT plan on rewiring the Airstream as it does not need it - although I might add a line going to the front end. I could also take the opportunity to upgrade the Converter at this time.

Research landed me on the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4045 - 45 Amp Converter AND AC/DC Distribution Panel Combination. It's an all-in-one system that seems to have great reviews. I searched the Forum and could not find a thread on it. Has anyone used this Panel - or know of someone that has - in an Airstream - and be able to give some advice as to if I'm on the right track considering this panel?

Thanks in advance for your advice!
That would be the 'Mighty Mini' AC/DC power center with an integrated 45 amp Progressive Dynamics 3-stage converter/charger. I have used several in smaller installation and they work very well.

Good choice. You're on the right track!

Thanks in advance for your advice![/QUOTE]
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Old 05-06-2015, 11:14 AM   #3
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Some good reading,

Airstream Forums - Search Results
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Old 05-06-2015, 11:15 AM   #4
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Progressive is the way to go.

As for the breaker box. If there is a extra space in the current box for your additional line I would just replace the breakers themselves. There is little that can go wrong with the box. Breakers can age and become weak. You may want to install a GFI on the one supplying the bathroom. That may require rewiring the bathroom as a GFI needs a ground wire that may not be in the older units.
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Old 05-06-2015, 12:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Michael, Thank you for this link. I don't know what I was doing that I couldn't find these on my own, but I'm just starting to learn on how to use this Forum!
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Old 05-06-2015, 02:44 PM   #6
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Replacing electrical box

A new box and breakers are pretty cheap. If your box is like my 69 it's pretty small and does not have room to expand or add in additional breakers. Also as time goes on, it might get harder to find replacement breakers for a 40+ year panel box.

You can buy a new box and breakers at any of the big box hardware stores. I think it's worth the effort and money. I'll take a pic of my new panel and post it.
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Old 05-06-2015, 03:10 PM   #7
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Here is the pic. Please excuse my penmanship.

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Old 05-06-2015, 03:37 PM   #8
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Keep in mind that if you use the combined ac/dc distribution panel you need to get all the ac/dc line terminations to the same place. On my '79 the dc panel was in front below the window, the ac breaker box was all the way in the rear. I'm keeping them in about the same place, it would have been unfeasible(without a ridiculous amount of work) to reroute all the 12v dc line ends to be near the 120v breaker box and don't want the breaker box in the front of the trailer, just not a good spot for something that size. I got a 100A breaker box from home depot, it was relatively cheap and had 8 breaker slots vs the original box with only 4 breaker slots, one being taken up by the main input breaker. I've rewired all the 120v, originally the trailer was for '79 use, not a lot of portable electrical devices, so not a lot of outlets. To get outlets in all the places I wanted running one long line (like original) would not have worked, need to keep in mind wire run lengths and voltage drop in them. The way the lines run in the AS along the roof then down and back up again the lengths add up quickly. With the extra breaker slots I was able to break the trailer up into functional areas and run dedicated lines for the air conditioner, water heater, and 12 volt converter. I broke up the areas into front living street side, front living curb side, dinette area, kitchen area, and bathroom area. For the living area runs I'm installing AFCI breakers, they serve the same function as GFCI but will also detect any arcing/sparking in the wiring, (ie wire getting worn through and shorted) for peace of mind against fires, they cost but it was worth it to me. The 36 yo wire didn't show any wear though, and was very careful about protecting the wiring in potential rubbing areas with things like rubber grommets, wrapping, double wrapping, friction tape, split loom plastic, etc. AFCI's don't work well for feeding air conditioners, so that doesn't get one.
I used 14 gauge romex for everything but the air conditioner, 12v converter(though 14ga would have been fine), and hot water heater.
Main line to the breaker box will obviously be 10 gauge or lower, probably 10 ga JOOW cord.
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Old 05-06-2015, 07:41 PM   #9
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DC Panel

Whoa! I did not think of that (being really new to this whole thing!) I am not sure where the DC panel is in my Airstream. I am going to do some searching tonight - but - does anyone have an idea as to where the DC panel is in a 1968 Airstream Sovereign that has the washroom in the back end of the trailer with the twin bed setup? Looks like I will need to find that out before seriously considering this panel!

From reading your post, it also sounds like you may have been able to rewire as your walls were down and the wiring was exposed. If so, I will not have that luxury - even though I like how you divided the circuits up. Any new circuits I run will probably need to be run as surface wire along the base.

Anyone have an idea where that DC panel may be?

Thank you!
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:19 PM   #10
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On my 69 ambassador it's mounted in the rear hatch, it is separate from the inverter.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:34 PM   #11
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One thing to bear in mind when installing a new load center.

DO NOT tie the ground and neutral wires together on the same bus like you do in a house. They need to stay separate.

I suspect the 12V is serviced from the outside in a compartment towards the rear.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:58 PM   #12
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Garry is right, it's more like wiring an extension cord.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:59 PM   #13
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Thank you. I will not be able to access the Airstream until tomorrow to check this out. However, as I have removed everything down to the walls in that rear washroom area, I know I did not see a a separate fuse block in the back washroom area. A wiring diagram I have for the 68 Sovereign does show that it is supposed to be there close to the 120 volt panel, but who knows what was "realigned" over the years. We did have a new inverter put in last year to replace the old inverter that was there.

I know I sound totally lost (and I am at this point), but if the fuse block is not where the diagram shows it should be (back by the 120v panel) - is it possible that at some time it was moved or is a part of the converter? If so, what is it that I need to look for to see if it is with the inverter. (And - you are absolutely correct if you're thinking I don't have a clue when it comes to electrical wiring!)

My main goal at this point is to determine if the DC fuse block does exist in that back area with the 120V panel so that it makes sense for me to order this Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4045 - 45 Amp Converter AND AC/DC Distribution Panel Combination

I have attached pictures of the current setup in our Airstream with the inverter that was installed last year by an Airstream dealer.

If the DC panel is not part of this picture, what should I be looking for and where?

Thank you again for all of your patience and advice!
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:53 PM   #14
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Wiring can be fun... You'll get a lot of good differing advice, and in the end, you'll have it all figured out your own special way.



I would toss the central control. You can lose twenty pounds. It is a bunch of obsolete frivolous gadgetry and nonsense.



If it is an object of historical beauty to you, then neglect the following...



It is a heavy metal box containing:
a cigarette lighter,
300 ohm flat television wire,
A 12V port that does not conform to today’s connectors,
A horizontal analog volt meter and ammeter which cannot indicate power with the accuracy needed to monitor your electrical system,
An electrical device and warning light to prevent your trailer from killing your TV battery,
12V circuit breakers instead of fuses,
A 47 year old tank level monitor that may have never worked with any accuracy.
A clock with replaceable C cell
A 120V outlet,

A graphic of Airstream's World View that requires Sarah Palin to explain the land mass indicated at the North Pole,
A light to illuminate itself,
The Water pump on switch is possibly the only useful info,
If it still has a pretty face, you might get a hundred bucks for it on eBay.


The good news is that your new “Del Centro” panel can can be fitted to replace it, as most all the wiring is fed to this location.

You can easily fish solar wires to your roof through your refrigerator chimney.
You can add modern switches, monitors, and digital gauges to this area.


Consider moving an AGM battery to the street-side wheel well area, closer and inline with your new converter/ breaker/fuse panel. Be sure that your new converter choice is exactly mated to your AGM battery.


Tossing the univolt, the original fuse box, and moving the battery will take a hundred pounds off your tail.


1968 has aluminum wiring. There are special purple alcu connectors that you can use to safely connect and run wiring in conduit from your old 120V box along behind the bathtub through closet back, under bed, to the new “Del Centro” above refrigerator..


Run a shore power cable along the street-side in 3/4” flexible aluminum conduit. I used a double pole single throw 30A switch for a main disconnect, and cut into the converter wiring with another switch to isolate the converter when needed.


From this location it will be easy to add another circuit/s to the front of trailer.



I used NASCAR 12V switches to isolate house battery and TV battery charge line.



I have reconfigured everything that I mention to my 1968 GT and it functions very nicely.


Anyway, just some Ideas that I would explore, if you dare...



Enjoy your restoration journey,
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