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Old 08-20-2012, 01:15 PM   #1
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Totally rewire or live with it?

Brought my beast home a few days ago, now I'm staring down a very complicated issue. Probably one you all have dealt with. My '78 Sovereign is a sexy thing, everything works, including the orginal 8 track player. Not sure about the oven or non- exisitant fridge...or ac for that matter.
When the umbilical cord is plugged in, there is an ominous humming noise to be heard that frankly wigs me out. A slight leak around the front skylight situation that I'll end up having to address at some point. The fuse box looks like it was made in ancient Greece.
Which brings me to my current dilemma:
Do i maintain the original wiring and update the fuse box and electronics to the 21st century or rewire the entire thing. (i have a feeling that I'll end up having to rip out half the lovely panelling anyway to fix that leak and prevent a final destination type thing from happening in that metal can! Lol)
How feasible is it to run two deep cell batteries in my beast?
My desire is to have a couple of flat screens and modern day toys. Also any ideas on lighting fixtures that are safe/unsafe for airstreams?
Thanks for any input!!
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:35 PM   #2
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The hum is the 12V power supply that powers all the 12V stuff and keeps the batteries charged. It is called a Univolt and is usually under the front couch and the 12V fuse panel is there as well. Unless you plan on gutting the trailer and pulling all the interior skins then a rewire is not going to happen. If everything works then no need to rewire.

Look for floor rot especially at the rear end and at the 4 corners and around the door. Rear floor rot usually progresses to rear end separtion and frame rot especially in rear bath models of that era. The plate at the back end that goes under the back of the trailer funnels water into the floor area.

Good luck and welcome

Perry
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SophieRex
Brought my beast home a few days ago, now I'm staring down a very complicated issue. Probably one you all have dealt with. My '78 Sovereign is a sexy thing, everything works, including the orginal 8 track player. Not sure about the oven or non- exisitant fridge...or ac for that matter.
When the umbilical cord is plugged in, there is an ominous humming noise to be heard that frankly wigs me out. A slight leak around the front skylight situation that I'll end up having to address at some point. The fuse box looks like it was made in ancient Greece.
Which brings me to my current dilemma:
Do i maintain the original wiring and update the fuse box and electronics to the 21st century or rewire the entire thing. (i have a feeling that I'll end up having to rip out half the lovely panelling anyway to fix that leak and prevent a final destination type thing from happening in that metal can! Lol)
How feasible is it to run two deep cell batteries in my beast?
My desire is to have a couple of flat screens and modern day toys. Also any ideas on lighting fixtures that are safe/unsafe for airstreams?
Thanks for any input!!
When you state "umbilical" do you mean the line to your tow vehicle, or are you referring to the shore power cord that plugs into your 120 volt service?

The hum is most likely coming from the univolt when you're on shore power. The buzz is annoying. I recently replaced ours with an InteliPower PD9260. In our 76 it was located under the kitchen counter and the change out took less than 30 minutes.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
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Howdy and to Airforums.com, SophieRex! May all your problems be little ones, and when you don't know what to do, go out there and get camping!

The Univolt (original power supply for 12V) is indeed the cause of the hum. It hums because it doesn't know the words. Kidding, of course

If you take Kevin's good advice and replace the Univolt with a modern converter, look closely at the Univolt before you throw it out. Not sure if yours has one, but mine and a lot of other ones carry a small circuit board on it called a shunt. The shunt is needed if you want to be able to power up your meters for the various tanks on your trailer. It's near the fusebox, and is about 3" square. Just take it off and keep it, while you do a search on here to find out how to move it to your new set-up. It is not complicated to install.

I heartily recommend investing in a new fusebox when you update the converter. Ours degraded to the point where it was overheating and causing the insulation on the wires connected to it to degrade dramatically. A modern one (that will also use the plug-in blade type fuses, another bonus) isn't much (~$40 by mailorder)and is good insurance.

Let us know how it works out, and please post some photos of your trayla...?
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:19 PM   #5
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Change out the hummer (original Univolt) to a more modern 3 stage charger/converter like the PD 9245 or 9260. The hum is normal on those old beasties. Your fuse panel for 12 volts may or may not really be bad, sometimes they are old and tired, sometimes they may not be any real problem at all. Live with it for a while and see.

You can put two 6 volt deep cycle batteries in series for the best 12 volt power supply, but you need to find space for them which has outside ventilation (safety issues).
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:23 PM   #6
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You might want to check out this web site (BestConverter - Converters, Inverters, Electrical Supplies, Electronics) and/or give Randy a call.
He can answer questions like how may amp converter you need, which new 12V fuse panel would be best for you application, etc. He gives good service and good advise.
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:04 PM   #7
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Don't run the Univolt without a GOOD battery - the hum gets loudest right before it stops forever since the Univolt circuit uses the battery as a ballast.

If there is a battery and its been flat for months its toast, gone, knackered. Having a ruined battery in circuit with a Univolt is as bad as no battery.

You can conserve the life of the old unit by only powering it on for testing and not letting it get hot with either option above - save buying a new battery for when you will need it for camping and towing (break-away switch) since they are easily damaged by forgetfulness.

The new 120V to 12V converters don't care if there is a battery in circuit, replacing the original converter and safely insulating the battery lugs with tape and what-not will keep the eight-track rocking along as long as you're no camping or towing, but remember you need a 12V battery for towing to provide the break-away safety brakes....
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:12 PM   #8
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I will also add that the old univolt makes a great anchor, or doorstop.

Does anyone know the copper weight in those things?
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:27 PM   #9
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SophieRex,
I had a 78, mine had 2 battery compartments in the front. Does yours have 1 or 2? If one you can add another one. Yes they do make deep cycle batteries that will fit. The HUM is the Univolt most likely. Send me a PM I have a complete service manual on disc (give me your email and I will send) and a spare battery door assembly ( but no plastic box). Don't sweat the small stuff have fun and use it to see what you really need to address. Welcome to the Forum.
Steve
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:47 PM   #10
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Wow! All of this is good to know. Thank you thank you!!
I have pictures up in my blog section of the inside and out.
When replacing the fuse box and all that good stuff, would I have to keep it in the same general area or could I move it all together to a different location in the trailer? Same question for all the appliances/plugs etc.? Are there any hidden wiring monsters that I need to look out for when/if I replace the systems (fuse box/converter)?
I have this idealistic view of what I would like to do with my 'Airsteam' but whether or not that is feasible is a whole other monster. I would prefer not to get in over my head by trying to change something that doesnt need to be changed. Rewiring probably wont be happening in this lifetime. After that cup of coffee wore off so did the drive to remodel an entire trailer in one day. Lol
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
The hum is the 12V power supply that powers all the 12V stuff and keeps the batteries charged. It is called a Univolt and is usually under the front couch and the 12V fuse panel is there as well. Unless you plan on gutting the trailer and pulling all the interior skins then a rewire is not going to happen. If everything works then no need to rewire.

Look for floor rot especially at the rear end and at the 4 corners and around the door. Rear floor rot usually progresses to rear end separtion and frame rot especially in rear bath models of that era. The plate at the back end that goes under the back of the trailer funnels water into the floor area.

Good luck and welcome

Perry

Much to the chagrin of the seller, I pulled up the laminate wannabe hardwood flooring about every foot along with hopping up and down in various places and crawling under the beast during the pre buying inspection. Checked every square inch of ceiling for leaks and even poured a cup of water around the top part of the AC unit. Poor guy was just looking at me like I fell off the turnip truck out front of his house. Lol!
Allot of things just need flat out replacing due to age (and outright ugliness). The one thing I didnt look at, mainly because I just ate, was the plumbing system. I sorta have a weak stomach and am currently pretending that it doesnt exist to avoid dealing with it.
The holding tank and bathroom area doesnt smell, and I'm not really sure if the tank is full or not. The previous owner told me that he bought it from someone that lived in it for ten years, and when he purchased it from him, the thing smelled like someone died in it, and of course he wasnt sure if the tanks had been cleaned or not. Lovely... Hence why I am avoiding it currently.
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Old 08-20-2012, 05:07 PM   #12
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If your battery is in the front you could also add a battery box on the tongue and just run the cables into the trailer.

For the tank get some chemicals and put them in the tanks and a couple gallons of water to make sure all is lubed and at least starting to soften if full.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:25 PM   #13
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Here's a reply on a three-year-old thread about Univolts where I suggested reusing its nifty bullet-proof fuse box... the old attached photo is resisting displaying here so that above link will let you see it if you want too.

Photo Text: "I've seen the fuse box half of the Univolts cut away and recycled since it is all-in-one, keeps things simple. If the Univolt is discarded some functions are lost, the battery meter on the control center is one of them, there is a shunt built in on the Univolt. Here's a shot of my Univolt so sectioned.. I used a high-speed cutting disc and it went easy."

You are anchored at the current location by many, many hidden circuits unless you want to bypass many things (everything) and start over with just pulling the center ceiling panel and making a zillion splices. (not recommended).
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Old 08-20-2012, 07:07 PM   #14
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A total rewire is a bit of a big deal...

The wire MUST be pulled through grommets at every rib.

Usually, it's not the 'wire' that wears out. You should be able to work with what you have as a starting point.
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