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Old 01-28-2013, 10:30 AM   #1
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The RV to Campground Interface

I am a complete Newbee when it comes to RV Camping. My 64 Trade Wind is at the Airstream Doctor getting a new air conditioner, axels, furnace, tires and hot water tank. I am working on refinishing cabinet doors, and thinking about camp ground hook ups and TV hookups so I can hit the ground running.

My AS has a pig tail coming out the back with a heavy duty cord (appears to be 30 amp) with a standard 15 amp grounded male plug (appears to be a replacement) on the end. I have run 120 using a 15 amp household circuit to the trailer via the pig tail and have gotten 120 inside the RV. The 30 amp circuit breaker, lights and interior outlets are all in working order.

My concerns are about being prepared for the various conditions I will find when I pull into a campsite with an electric hookup. Should I put a 30 amp plug on the pig tail? Are there adapters that I should make or buy to fit different electrical situations I will run into? What are the electrical situations I might encounter at various sites? How long of an extension cord should I buy? Should I have an extension cord capable of carrying the 30 amp load and an additional one for 15 amp 120? In short, I have no idea what I need except for the help of experienced RV-ers.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:44 AM   #2
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Kind of a yes to everything. Yes, replace that plug with a regular 30A RV plug. Yes, there are lots of adaptors available. RV outfits, larger Walmarts, and other places carry all of this.

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Old 01-28-2013, 11:49 AM   #3
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For the most part you will probably NOT need an extension cord. Most campgrounds are designed such that the power connection is conveniently located close enough. Only once in 5 years of Airstreaming around the country have I needed an extension. My fixed power cable is approx. 25' long. BUT, should that need arise it should be of the same gauge cable as the fixed cable and capable of equal the load. The AC is the big draw. I suppose without the AC draw you could get by with a lighter cable but why take the risk. If you are going to carry one carry the correct one. I don't think they are inexpensive but they last a lifetime.

While you're at it make sure you have a 50a - 30a adaptor. Many newer campgrounds are installing wiring to the 50 amp standard.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:25 PM   #4
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Yes you should replace your 15Amp plug, with the standard RV 30Amp plug. I really should not use your A/C with a 15Amp outlet. You can get a new plug at any RV parts place, and most home stores (Lowes/Home Depot/Menards) also carry the RV 30Amp plug. And as others have said, you should pick up a 30 to 15 and a 50 to 30 adaptors, as you never know what is going to be available where your camping. Make sure you get a RV plug and not a electric dryer plug, some of the home stores don't know the difference as they kinda look the same.

A 30Amp extension cord is a good idea, I have one and have only used it a once or twice, but if I didn't have it I would have been without power those nights.

And go ahead and get a white water hose for campground water, again at any RV store, or even Walmart in there RV parts section.

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttbikes View Post
I am a complete Newbee when it comes to RV Camping. My 64 Trade Wind is at the Airstream Doctor getting a new air conditioner, axels, furnace, tires and hot water tank. I am working on refinishing cabinet doors, and thinking about camp ground hook ups and TV hookups so I can hit the ground running.
Welcome

Quote:
My AS has a pig tail coming out the back with a heavy duty cord (appears to be 30 amp) with a standard 15 amp grounded male plug (appears to be a replacement) on the end. I have run 120 using a 15 amp household circuit to the trailer via the pig tail and have gotten 120 inside the RV. The 30 amp circuit breaker, lights and interior outlets are all in working order.

My concerns are about being prepared for the various conditions I will find when I pull into a campsite with an electric hookup. Should I put a 30 amp plug on the pig tail?
It is unlikely that the electrical system is original.

Someone who is familiar with RV wiring should take a look at it before you replace the plug and check around. If the system installed now is set up for 30a, as seems likely, and all the components are in good condition, it would be a good idea to replace the plug with a 30a RV plug.

The pigtail deteriorates with age and use. If it is in marginal condition (or worse), this would be a good time to replace it, since a new pigtail will come with the correct plug already wired.


Quote:
Are there adapters that I should make or buy to fit different electrical situations I will run into? What are the electrical situations I might encounter at various sites?
Here is a photo of a typical electrical pedestal at a campsite. You'll note that there are four outlets. From the left: A 50a outlet, a 30a outlet, and a pair of 20a outlets. Most often this pedestal will be located at the driver's side rear of the campsite, about 5' away from the pad.

It is common for the 50a outlet to be omitted. In my experience about half the sites I've used have it.

Some sites, usually ones really intended more for tent camping, also omit the 30a outlet.

Rarely, the pedestal will be on the wrong (passenger) side, or at the front of the site, or something like that. Most frequently this happens when the campground operator tries to save money by sharing a pedestal between two campsites.

Sites that have only a 50a outlet do exist in some areas (electrical codes don't allow them here or in adjoining states), however, at campgrounds wired this way, the campground store will always have a 50a-to-30a adapter available for sale or loan.

As a result, the only adapter you really need is one to allow you to connect your new 30a cord to a 20a (household) outlet. The "dogbone" style adapters work best, because they put less stress on the outlet.

Quote:
How long of an extension cord should I buy? Should I have an extension cord capable of carrying the 30 amp load and an additional one for 15 amp 120? In short, I have no idea what I need except for the help of experienced RV-ers.
I've asked this question in some larger forums and the general response is that experienced, frequent RVers use an extension cord at a developed campsite about once a year. Usually this is because they want to park further forward or back than the cord would allow for reasons of a better view or more privacy, or because the pedestal at their site isn't working and they are using the one at the next site. Usually a few extra feet are all that is necessary.

I carry a 50', 30a extension cord but rarely use it.

I carry a longer 20a extension cord (100 feet), not for use at campsites, but rather for situations where I'm parking in a friend's driveway or some other dodgy situation.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:56 PM   #6
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The RV to Campground Interface

Greetings ttbikes!

Welcome to the world of 1964 Airstreams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ttbikes View Post
I am a complete Newbee when it comes to RV Camping. My 64 Trade Wind is at the Airstream Doctor getting a new air conditioner, axels, furnace, tires and hot water tank. I am working on refinishing cabinet doors, and thinking about camp ground hook ups and TV hookups so I can hit the ground running.

My AS has a pig tail coming out the back with a heavy duty cord (appears to be 30 amp) with a standard 15 amp grounded male plug (appears to be a replacement) on the end. I have run 120 using a 15 amp household circuit to the trailer via the pig tail and have gotten 120 inside the RV. The 30 amp circuit breaker, lights and interior outlets are all in working order.
You will definitely want to prepare your Tradewind for 30-AMP park electrical service. Such preparation is an absolute necessity with air conditioning as you will likely burn out your compressor motor in short order with a lesser-amperage connection (I learned the hard way, burning out the perfectly functional compressor in my original 1964 Armstrong Bay Breeze air conditioner in 1995).

While you can take the route of just replacing the 15-AMP plug with a 30-AMP plug, you might want to consider something like the modern Marinco Entrance system. The reason that I mention this is that it permits you to store your power cord in a more secure location than in the rear bumper compartment. I don't know whether this has been a problem nation-wide, but in my area, thieves are cutting off exposed RV power cords from Airstreams and selling the scrap copper . . . this happened on my Minuet at the same time that they made off with my Worthington LP tanks (my local law enforcement authorities believe that meth lab operators were the likely culprits). They used a slide-hammer to pull the one-stop-service compartment on my Overlander, but didn't find my power cable as it was stored in my garage since I had converted to a Marinco entrance when replacing the Overlander's electrical service panel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ttbikes View Post
My concerns are about being prepared for the various conditions I will find when I pull into a campsite with an electric hookup. Should I put a 30 amp plug on the pig tail? Are there adapters that I should make or buy to fit different electrical situations I will run into? What are the electrical situations I might encounter at various sites? How long of an extension cord should I buy? Should I have an extension cord capable of carrying the 30 amp load and an additional one for 15 amp 120? In short, I have no idea what I need except for the help of experienced RV-ers.
You may want to carry several adapters for your AC electrical service. A 50-AMP to 30-AMP adapter plug is necessary if you anticipate traveling to new or recently remodeled parks where 50-AMP connections may be the only one available other than 15-AMP. Since I often travel without reservations, I find that I need to travel prepared for whatever might be available where I stop. I also carry 15-AMP to 30-AMP adapters as well, but remember when using such an adapter that your air conditioner should not be utilized as compressor damage is likely to ensue. The following are the adapters that I carry:I find that the flat adapters won't work in every situation nor will the pigtail adapters work in every situation so I carry one of each as an insurance policy. I also carry a 10-foot and a 20-foot heavy duty RV extension cords for those times when my basic power cord is too short. Most often, I need the extension cords when attending a rally or staying in older campgrounds where the power pedestal may be in an unusual location. I do carry a heavy duty 15-AMP extension cord, but I don't normally utilize it for powering my trailer as I feel more comfortable using a 30-AMP to 15-AMP adapter on my RV power cord or RV extension cord.

Good luck with your Tradewind!

Kevin
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:23 PM   #7
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I myself am about to be pulling into a 50 amp hook up area, and I have a thirty amp plug. (see the picture) so I too will need to get a 30 to 50 adapter, right? Like the short ones they call a Dog bone? Has any one got a pic of the 50 amp plug?
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:07 PM   #8
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This? It's a little rare to find, but they're out there.



Amazon.com: Conntek 14315 RV 1.5-Foot Pigtail Adapter Power Cord RV 50 Amp Male Plug To RV 30 Amp Female Connector: Patio, Lawn & Garden

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Old 02-01-2013, 12:09 AM   #9
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I have to differ with Jammer on the utility of a 50A to 30A adapter. The only place I've found 50A-only pedestals also didn't have any sort of store onsite nor did they have any loaners that I could find out about. (Mineola Civic Center RV park, where the Region 9 Rally was held in 2012.) I bought a 50A-to-30A adapter at Wal-Mart that afternoon. Happily it was spring, so it wasn't hot enough to steam the dog with the fans running on the 15A connection while I ran to Wal-Mart for the adapter and a "free-flowing Y". Of course, I haven't needed that adapter in 7 trips since.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:34 AM   #10
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Hi, I have only had to use my 50 Amp dog bone twice so far; The camp ground store will gladly sell you one for about three times the going rate. The only thing that I have seen a camp ground have for loan was a water pressure regulator. Since my trailer has one built-in, I bought one for saving my water hose from exploding.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:27 AM   #11
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Another Dumb Question

With a 50 to 30 amp dog bone does the dog bone adapter just pull 120 v off on one side of the 50 amp 220? Is it done at the breaker box?
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:16 AM   #12
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With a 50 to 30 amp dog bone does the dog bone adapter just pull 120 v off on one side of the 50 amp 220? Is it done at the breaker box?
Yes. The adapter uses one of the hot legs and the other hot leg is not used.
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Old 02-07-2013, 01:37 PM   #13
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We also carry a 50 amp to 30 amp pig tail and a 30' 30 amp extension cord. We have probably only used them a half dozen times in 1,200 nights of camping, but when you need either one, they are an absolute necessity.

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