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Old 06-08-2005, 09:40 AM   #1
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Scary light switch

I had a 3-way dome light in the '75 that was on the fritz - it would ocassionally work, sometimes you had to jiggle it etc. So I decided to finally take it apart to see what was going on.

Was I ever in for a shock! I'm glad we didn't have a fire in the coach! The contacts were all corroded, and one was missing completely. It would also give off nice sparks every once in a while. I checked the other 2 domes as well, but they were ok.

Thanks to Andy from Inland RV. I was able to order a new replacement from him, and now the dome light is working great.

Lesson learned: When something electrical is not working as it should, check into it before someone gets hurt.
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Old 06-08-2005, 09:50 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferroequine
Was I ever in for a shock! I'm glad we didn't have a fire in the coach! Lesson learned: When something electrical is not working as it should, check into it before someone gets hurt.
You would not believe (then again, maybe you would) the number of times I have found something similar when checking an item that just "doesn't work quite right"! But at least you caught it before it became a bigger problem.
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Old 06-08-2005, 01:30 PM   #3
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I've got a dome light doing the same thing. Maybe I'd better go check it out sooner rather than later. Thanks!
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:18 PM   #4
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Very Common

These switches are notorius for heat and charring up then becoming disfunctional.

The replacement is ridiculously expensive.

Unless you are committed to having the original knobs, I suggest replacing ALL of your switches with a four dollar replacement from HD or Lowes. The switch I am talking about from you friendly hardware store will not accept the original knobs but they are knurled and work GREAT!

been there and done that a few times.
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Old 06-08-2005, 04:34 PM   #5
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Looks like ours as well. One was replaced with an simple switch. The problem with these switches is that they have to handle a lot of current flow - 1.5 to 2 amps per bulb. That makes a minimum of 9 amps for the ceiling lights.
WARNING: TECHNICAL INFO FOLLOWS - The switch starts to fail when it builds a little carbon on the contacts. That carbon offers enough resistance to the flow of current that it starts to heat up. The problem compounds itself and the switch eventually burns up.
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Old 06-08-2005, 05:06 PM   #6
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flourescent replacement?

You know, you COULD replace the entire fixture with a flourescent model, for less $$$ than just a replacement oem switch.
The last one I looked at (thinline) which is virtually the same as Airstream puts in their trailers, was about $40. They run cooler without 4 bulbs' filament heating up, and give off more light, as well as burning less 12v (amps) than the incandescents.
It's not that tough, I put three in our Argosy in about an hour.
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Old 06-08-2005, 05:24 PM   #7
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LED Lighting

You could also use LED lighting. I plan on making my own LED lighting fixtures for Buttercup. I started the process already by putting together some dimmers for the LEDS I have bought. Not much to look at right now but I will have more info soon...

But you can buy white light bulbs in an 1156 style for the lighting at many auto parts stores. I have a couple red ones in our TT as an experiment. Because we are amateur astronomers, we use red light at night because it doesn't destroy our night vision. Believe me they do produce enough light to see and use only a little juice.
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Old 06-08-2005, 05:27 PM   #8
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Cool, we're amateur astronomers too, but I just cover the lights we use at night with red cellophane. I'd prefer to keep the trailer original myself. I'll have to find out if mine are replaceable so I can keep the old knobs and all.
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Old 06-08-2005, 11:47 PM   #9
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You can sometimes replace bulbs with red colored yard light bulbs. That's what we did with our SOB pop up.
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Old 06-09-2005, 01:31 AM   #10
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I re-read your post. I don’t know if I explained myself right or not. I removed the plastic cover over my light to clean it. I looked and saw that the light in our TT are a standard 1156 bulb base. So I put 2 red led brake lights that are new on the market now. They operate on 12 volts and draw very little current.

Although I have not yet put the light covers back on yet, I will. It doesn’t require any modification to anything.

Save the light bulbs if you want to use them again…. That’s what we will be doing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Cool, we're amateur astronomers too, but I just cover the lights we use at night with red cellophane. I'd prefer to keep the trailer original myself. I'll have to find out if mine are replaceable so I can keep the old knobs and all.
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Old 06-09-2005, 06:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Cool, we're amateur astronomers too, but I just cover the lights we use at night with red cellophane. I'd prefer to keep the trailer original myself. I'll have to find out if mine are replaceable so I can keep the old knobs and all.
Stef, you are in luck. Several auto parts suppliers are now marketing red 1156/1141 bulbs, to cater to the "tuner" car people out there. When you are done astronomizing, you can swap the red bulbs for standard.
Is that even a word?
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Old 06-09-2005, 12:14 PM   #12
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Cool, that will be easier than covering lights with cellophane and hoping we don't accidently turn on one of the lights that aren't covered!
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Old 06-09-2005, 01:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
You know, you COULD replace the entire fixture with a flourescent model, for less $$$ than just a replacement oem switch.
The last one I looked at (thinline) which is virtually the same as Airstream puts in their trailers, was about $40. They run cooler without 4 bulbs' filament heating up, and give off more light, as well as burning less 12v (amps) than the incandescents.
It's not that tough, I put three in our Argosy in about an hour.
hmmm... the problem I see IRT the 70's trailers is that the light fixture is built in and around the vents. I haven't seen an "off the shelf" replacement that would be appropriate. the square metal fixture fits around the vent opening, the bug screen for the vent is then attached to that, and the whole thing is covered up by:




(photo: courtesy InlandRV )

the whole ugly thing is covered up and made pretty by these lenses. So, yeah, you could dispense with the whole enchilada, but the inards of the vent, and the surrounding area, with 30 years of crud ground in to the vinyl covered alluminum ceiling, it ain't much to look at. There's no trim or molding or anything for the vent, because it was all meant to be covered by the object in the above pic.

I suppose if you were really clever, you could remove the 1156-type sockets from the fixture, and replace them flourescent tubes...rewire the whole thing...but I ain't that clever.

One of the reasons that I've delayed installing a fantastic fan, besides being incredibly cheap, is that I'd lose a light fixture, too.
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Old 06-09-2005, 01:44 PM   #14
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Light switch test

There is a simple test that anyone can do to check out the ceiling light switches.

Test one light at a time, with the coach plugged into city power, if possible, so that you have maximum voltage available.

Turn all the bulbs on, within a given fixture.

Leave that light on for at least 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes, or more if desired, gently try to turn the knob "backwards".

If the switch is ok, nothing will happen.

If the switch is not ok, or on it's last leg, a flickering of the bulbs will take place.

That tells you the switch should be replaced, post haste.

Flickering during that test, will not happen with new, or good switches.

Andy
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