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Old 02-17-2011, 08:59 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by 62overlander View Post
considering the aluminum wiring was only one year, very few due to aluminum wire.
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Originally Posted by aircooled4 View Post
The aluminum wire in my 67 is just fine...Im not planning on replacing it either. Im NOT running an high demand appliances in it either...
I've seen aluminum wiring on a '68 Overlander, so it looks like it was at least part of 2 years.
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:27 PM   #16
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I've seen a few fires recently and worked on one that the owner caught just in time. In the trailer case, the battery was connected to the trailer thru a DC circuit breaker, but a cheap one (not the marine type as it should have been).

The wiring from the battery to his DC power center/converter ran up along the trailer frame and was not wrapped in wire loom and was not firmly attached to the frame as it should have been. In his travels, he actually rubbed the insulation from the hot lead right along the frame rail due to excessive play in the wires and created a welding action from the power in his battery that fused the contacts in the DC breaker AND in his mechanical battery disconnect switch creating a direct DC pathway to his frame and a dead short thru the negative bus bar and frame.

He smelled something burning and was able to remove the positive lead from the battery just before the wiring ignited! I had to remove his belly pan and run 30 feet of new power wiring to the DC power center, replace the entire fuse block, converter and a bunch of other ancillary wiring. ALL of the insulation from his ground wires was burnt or melted away from the copper. NOT PRETTY!

Then just a couple of weeks ago, a 2010 Marathon Prevost ($1.6 MILLION) burnt in the engine bay, destroying the entire rear section of the coach. Luckily, these coaches have a very stout fire wall between the engine compartment (Detroit Diesel 600 HP engine) and the rest of the coach, and that is what saved the forward section of the coach. We think that his auxiliary battery charging system (the one that kept the engine batteries fully charged while on shore power) malfunctioned or was improperly connected to his batteries (some were 12VDC and others were connected in series for 24VDC), overcharged the batteries causing them to outgas (they were inexplicably liquid cell batteries!) and the hydrogen sulfide being emitted ignited and literally blew up the remaining batteries. It was very quick!

Then there were a couple of fridge fires (BOTH Norcold 1200 LRIM models that are now under a retrofit recall) which totally consumed both motor homes. Not pretty either!

Moral of the story........be sure that you have the proper circuit protection on your batteries and their charging systems. I prefer either class T fuses that have a very high resistance to being fused together in emergency situations, ANL type fuses which are not quite as stout as the class T variety, or a quality marine (Blue Sea Systems) DC circuit breaker. All of these protection devices should be placed in immediate proximity of the batteries.

And not to alarm you, but your Airstreams use the same type of cheap DC circuit breaker that fused together in the first tale of the trailer fire. Check out the poor excuse for a wiring bus in the front of your newer trailers and you will see the little plastic and copper DC circuit breakers in use. They fit very neatly into their proper little holders, but after seeing how easily they can have their contacts fused closed, I would immediately replace them with a higher quality circuit protection device.

One good point is that Airstreams are wired more securely than the SOB trailer that had the incident, but it would still bother me..........A LOT!!!!
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:34 PM   #17
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Do you think a big 100 or 150 amp fuse right at the battery would be a good idea?
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:37 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
I've seen aluminum wiring on a '68 Overlander, so it looks like it was at least part of 2 years.
It's been a long time (2006-ish) since I did my electrical, but I'm pretty sure it was aluminum.
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Old 02-18-2011, 01:11 AM   #19
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[QUOTE=overlander63;953224] how many of us with that 70's era Airstream have the umbilical receptacle in the front of the trailer, behind the LP tanks? How many of them are the original, kind of grey-ish, plastic-y looking ones? They're magnesium. That's right.
I set a trailer on fire by the simple act of cutting off the rusted-on mounting bolts with a cutoff wheel. The wheel made the magnesium hot enough it ignited. I got a nice, red flame from it.

Umm, 70's, old gray plastiky umbilical end that likes to come loose...is Magnesium, the matchless hunting fire starter? Thanks Overlander for the heads up!!! Okay, what's a good replacement? This will be also be a good time to thoroughly examine the whole umbilical.
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Old 02-18-2011, 05:24 PM   #20
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For those interested, here is a picture of the "flammable" connector:
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Old 02-18-2011, 05:32 PM   #21
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Do you think a big 100 or 150 amp fuse right at the battery would be a good idea?
You need to gauge the size of the fuse to the wire that you have connecting your battery bank to the trailer. 100 amp would probably be a little excessive for the 6AWG that IIRC is used in Airstreams, but 110 amp is the lowest rating available for a class 'T' fuse, which is the device I would recommend.
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Old 02-18-2011, 06:50 PM   #22
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?? it seems u asked pretty much the same question 366 days ago...
This time I'm hoping for more insightful answers.

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For those interested, here is a picture of the "flammable" connector:
The transfer case in my TV is made out of magnesium, as are many. I wonder how great the hazard actually is although certainly cutting and grinding operations do pose a risk.

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<<class T fuses instead of cheap automotive breakers in the battery line>>.
Lewster I find your post extremely insightful. It had not occurred to me that the self-resetting automotive circuit breakers might be prone to failing closed, but it makes sense that they would in the event of a short.

I have the stock automotive breaker and will add its replacement to my list of things to do.

I would suggest a Class J fuse for this application rather than a class T fuse. Class J fuses are available in a wider range or ratings from 1 amp to 600 amps, with 5 different physical sizes depending on current rating. Although sold primarily as an AC fuse, they are rated by the manufacturer for use on DC circuits up to 300 volts.

Here's a link for the fuses and holders:

Class J (1-200 Amp) Fuses & Holders Products
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Old 02-18-2011, 07:17 PM   #23
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Had one on the 1978 31' Soverign International I had. I replaced it due to the round pins. Put in a new 7 pin flat so that I could replace 7 wire umbilcle to TV that was very stiff. I had no idea they were magnesium. Still have the old one, might make a good demo to warn others of the potential dangers. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 02-18-2011, 07:53 PM   #24
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"..............Lewster I find your post extremely insightful. It had not occurred to me that the self-resetting automotive circuit breakers might be prone to failing closed, but it makes sense that they would in the event of a short.

I have the stock automotive breaker and will add its replacement to my list of things to do.

I would suggest a Class J fuse for this application rather than a class T fuse. Class J fuses are available in a wider range or ratings from 1 amp to 600 amps, with 5 different physical sizes depending on current rating. Although sold primarily as an AC fuse, they are rated by the manufacturer for use on DC circuits up to 300 volts.

Here's a link for the fuses and holders:

Class J (1-200 Amp) Fuses & Holders Products"



Jammer,

I had considered these, but I could not find any specs on their maximum amperage thresholds. If you get a huge DC spike like happened in this poor guys SOB that fused the contacts of his automotive-type CB, it can also 'fuse' the contacts within the fuse and allow the current to pass thru. The 'T' type can withstand spikes over 10,000 momentary amps, which is why all of the inverter manufacturers recommend them for protecting the DC feeds from the batteries to their inverters.

I'll have take a closer look at the 'J's.
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:34 PM   #25
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I wonder how great the hazard actually is although certainly cutting and grinding operations do pose a risk.
This would probably be about the only time of hazard. In the case of the photo above, the mounting bolts are very rusty, and may need to be cut off. In that case, caution should prevail.
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Old 02-18-2011, 10:49 PM   #26
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Jammer,

I had considered these, but I could not find any specs on their maximum amperage thresholds. If you get a huge DC spike like happened in this poor guys SOB that fused the contacts of his automotive-type CB, it can also 'fuse' the contacts within the fuse and allow the current to pass thru. The 'T' type can withstand spikes over 10,000 momentary amps, which is why all of the inverter manufacturers recommend them for protecting the DC feeds from the batteries to their inverters.

I'll have take a closer look at the 'J's.
They are typically rated at 100,000 interrupting amps (100 kia) DC although not all manufacturers publish a DC rating.

CLASS J FUSES: BUSSMANN, FERRAZ SHAWMUT, AND LITTELFUSE

I don't know what the deal really is with the class Ts. Most of the ones sold through industrial suppliers specify a 100 kia or 200 kia rating which is what I would expect. The boating and rv places sell what appear to be identical fuses with lower ratings. The class Ts are supposed to be fast acting to protect semiconductors but even a slower acting fuse will prevent a fire.
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Old 02-19-2011, 04:54 AM   #27
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For those interested, here is a picture of the "flammable" connector:
Man, I love learning new things. The last one of these I replaced was held on by rust bolts. I cut them with my grinder. I had intended to use it again, but it fell to the ground and the lid broke off. I guess I was very lucky to not get ignition. I ended up with a box of old inlets and umbilical ends from a friend. When I moved my shop I tossed the box thinking I would never use them. Had I know, I would have saved them for campfire shenanigans.
Terry, sorry you had to learn this lesson the hard way and thank you for sharing....
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Old 02-19-2011, 05:51 AM   #28
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Ours is a 70' model but I never speculated the power cord at the front hitch. This cord (mine) is black.
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