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Old 03-19-2015, 11:09 AM   #1
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Starting Fresh With Gutted Argosy

Hi. I'm renovating a 1978 30' Argosy. It's being gutted and I want to replace everything due to water damage, rust, old age, etc.

My problem is that I have no prior electrical experience and have no idea what I need to order to go into the Argosy to get the electric running.

I need everything. Converter, Inverter, Batteries, Wires, Panels, everything. We haven't had any luck finding an electrician to help and I haven't found a list of everything that needs to go in or how to do it.

I've been researching on and have emailed Randy as well hoping he can give me a list of what to order and install.

Thanks for any help!

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Old 03-19-2015, 12:59 PM   #2
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Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the Forums!

If you have no knowledge of electrical systems and can't find anyone to help you, start by educating yourself. Your trailer has two electrical systems in it, a 12 DC system that will run the lights, celing fans, and water pump, and a 120V AC system that powers the heavy items (refrigerator, airconditioner, electric side of a water heater, etc.) and the wall outlets.

You can probably find a good book describing household AC circuits, and do a google search on "the 12 volt life" for a pretty good overview of how the 12V DC system in your trailer works. Your best bet for re-building your system would be to get the shop manual for your trailer. If you can find a shop manual for the same year of Airstream, it should be close enough. You can usually find these on ebay for less than $50. This manual will help you understand how everything originally fit together, then it will just be a matter of buying the new components (ie., deep cycle house battery, converter, breaker panel, etc.).

Also, do a google search from a separate window on various permutations of "converter," "rewire," fuse panel," etc., and always include "Airforums" in the search to get results from the forums. There are plenty of threads here that discuss the whole process, it is just that the built in search function is sub-par. There is a member who goes by "Smokeless Joe" who did a complete rebuild of an Argosy. If you find his thread, I think I recall him going into some detail on his electrical work.

Finally, while you are educating yourself, get yourself a decent Volt-ohm meter and start tracing and labeling your wiring by looking for end-to-end continuity. The thick, solid core wires will be your AC wiring, and will all go back to the original location of the converter and battery. The DC wires will be thinner and stranded wire, and they will also all go back to the battery area. To add some confusion to the mix, you may also find 4 pairs of wires that are for speakers to attach to the stereo that (may have been) once in your front plasting end cap.

good luck!

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Old 03-19-2015, 01:56 PM   #3
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
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What city, state are you in?
Judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who YOU are.
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:41 PM   #4
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Bel said that there are two electrical systems ( AC and DC ) There are also a few other circuits, powered by the tow vehicles 12 volt system. One for brakes and brake lights, one for running lights, two for signal lights, and one to charge the trailer battery.

To help make sense of it all, it might help to draw a diagram, and you can find one online. Note that there are numerous ways to route things. When I started getting into it, I made folders ( hard copy and electronic )

Briefly To get you started……Start with the power source referred to as shore power ( the power cord ) which plugs into an AC socket, and sends power to the circuit breaker panel. ( you decide how many circuit breakers. I have two, one for the air conditioner, and one for everything else. I wish I had a separate breaker to service the charger )

AC power from the breaker panel, is sent to the charger/inverter which has several fused 12 volt outputs. ( some will be different than others )

One goes to the battery shut off switch, then to the battery
one goes to the water pump
one goes to the DC outlets and lights
one goes to the furnace
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:25 AM   #5
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thanks, everyone. I've order a couple of books about the electrical systems and I'll study up on it before messing with anything. I'm hoping to luck out on finding an rv technician/ electrician still. I'm in the columbus, Ohio area if anyone knows a good place.
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:58 AM   #6
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another thought

It might be helpful to inspect an Airstream that is intact
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Old 03-20-2015, 08:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by akallena View Post
thanks, everyone. I've order a couple of books about the electrical systems and I'll study up on it before messing with anything. I'm hoping to luck out on finding an rv technician/ electrician still. I'm in the columbus, Ohio area if anyone knows a good place.
"Columbus Ohio"
Uh. You know that they make Airstreams in Jackson Center Ohio, right? Go NW about 50 miles.

So - here are two good choices:
  1. spend way too much money and go to the service center at JC and have them rewire your Argosy.
  2. get a job at the Airstream factory (making up the wiring harnesses (wink)) and learn how to do it right!

Now notice I didn't suggest anything about taking home a wiring harness in your lunch bucket, did I?

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:01 PM   #8
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Fenton , Michigan
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Congrats on your new Argosy. I was in the same position in 2008 and just started reading any info from the forum, which is a treasure chest of knowledge. I was fortunate to have an RV service shop just a few miles away that did most of the complicated electrical and mechanical issues for me. As for what you do with your Argosy is like an open canvas. As Argosy's do not have to stick to the Airstream standards for renovations which stay as close to the year and style they came in.
Have fun and enjoy each day to its fullest.
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:10 PM   #9
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1964 24' Tradewind
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Duh! Why do you have to rewire the whole trailer. The wiring in the walls wasn't pulled out, was it? If not, then it doesn't have to be rewired. That's a monumental job, because the wiring is done before the inner skin is riveted in. Maybe there is some miscommunication. It's one thing to rewire a railer - it's another to simply re-install all of the devices and equipment that was formerly connected to the wiring in the walls.
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:10 PM   #10
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Welcome, fellow Ohioan! We live in OH and are a part of NOVA (Northern Ohio Virtual Airstreamers). We have an active group with all kinds of Airstreams. Our website will give you more information on the group. But if you want to rub up against a bunch of Airstreams where you can get help, and pick "brains", then you should be aware of a couple of small rallies that are going to be in your area. You do not have to be a member of NOVA to come and visit with us, nor do you need to bring your Airstream. We will be rallying at Deer Creek
State Park, Mar. 26-29th. April is the TAC Rally at Wooster, OH on the 11-13th. The May rally is at the Haydocy Airstream Dealership which is May 8-10. We will be urban camping in their parking lot! There are other get togethers that you can find out about on the Forums Calendar too. We have several members that live in the Columbus area. We are an informal group and would love to make your acquaintance.
Larry and Lou
CP: Water/30 amp/waste dump/WIFI & Room for 2-3 units; PM us if you are headed our direction!
Air #2695
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Old 03-21-2015, 06:36 PM   #11
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Wrong date for the Hadocy rally.

yes you are always welcome to stop by with or without unit.

Just to correct the date for the Haydocy rally in April 30 to May 3. We call this the Share the Dream rally because we want to share with Haydocy customers our experiences.

Look forward to meeting you and find out how it is going.

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