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Old 01-19-2013, 10:03 AM   #1
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Umbilical mishap in Ocotillo Wells

So there we were last night, minding our own business, heading down a very busy S86 south by the Salton Sea on our way to Ocotillo Wells for a weekend of off-roading with my cousins, when all of a sudden we were attacked by a giant piece of tire tread in the middle of our lane! It was unavoidable and I had to drive right over it. There was no room to maneuver in the heavy traffic. And this thing was a monster. Fortunately we only had one minor injury: the umbilical got knocked loose and dragged on the road, enough to wear through down to the wires inside. The connector is unscathed. It's just a 6 inch or so piece of the umbilical that got damaged. The only thing we lost were the trailer brakes. All the lights etc still work. It's only the brake wire that wore down enough to no longer have a connection. I think I can clean it up and temporarily patch the brake wire to get us home.

It's always something, isn't it?? But I have to say, I'm grateful that nothing really serious happened and no one was hurt and we're still able to have our weekend!

I wonder if anyone can tell me how difficult it is to replace the umbilical when we get home. Is it a do it yourself kind of thing? Maybe I could even find one out here in the desert and get it installed before we leave, if its easy enough.

Have a great weekend, everybody! Travel safely.

Andy
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:38 PM   #2
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If you have some electrical skills it's not that hard to fix. I think the newer trailers like yours have the umbilical run in through the floor to a junction box inside the front of trailer, some have added a junction box to the tongue to make this repair and future repairs easier.

Hopefully Airstream has gone to industry standard wiring colors by 2007, the vintage trailers were not.

If it were me I would just strip it a bit more to fix the brake wire and tape up any bare wires to get home then fix it right.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:56 PM   #3
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Done. It's all McGyvered and ready to get us home, brakes and all. I'll take a look and see if I can find the junction box. Seems like it shouldn't be a big deal to replace the umbilical.

Just got back from a dirt bike ride out to Pumpkin Patch. This isn't our usual thing, but man it's fun.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:55 PM   #4
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Hey guys... Glad you were able to McGyver the umbilical cord enough to get you home. That's reassuring...would not want you traveling without trailer brakes! The first place I'd look for the junction box is under the street side dinette seat...that's where all the wiring enters our rig and we have the same dinette set-up as you.

I hate shredded tire road shrapnel. We had to hit one a while back, too...it wasn't all that big, but like you, it was unavoidable..didn't break anything but it put a nice little dent in the lower section of one of the segment protectors. That's what they are for, I know, but still...

Have a great weekend in the desert! Glad this has not ruined it for you...
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:26 PM   #5
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Don't mean to hijack this thread, but years ago we witnessed an accident caused by road debris. In this case it was a semi tire and wheel.

A horse's patoot swerving in and out of heavy traffic came up behind us and was tailgating, preparing to cut around us, when I spotted the semi wheel ahead of us in the center lane of a three-lane stretch of I-10, near Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. When I made a quick lane change to the right to avoid the tire/wheel, the @#$%^&* cut around us and hit it straight on. The semi wheel got stuck under the front of his car and lifted both front wheels off the ground. From this point on, he was a giant hockey puck. The car did a 360, then crashed into the median wall twice, then continued scraping along the wall until it came to a stop.

Next best thing to having some fool pass you at high speed when an unmarked highway patrol car is hiding in front of you...
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:15 PM   #6
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On my old trailer I got a junction box ( at least for 7 wires ) and fastened it to the inside of the A-frame. Got some new 7 wire cable and cut the old cable off and terminated it in the junction box then tied the new cable in the box and with a new plug all was good. Both the junction box and cable are available at any big truck trailer supply. The installation of the junction box makes a nice weatherproof connection and easy to replace the cable down the road.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:36 PM   #7
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Nice work MacGyver! I had to laugh a bit because I just posted my emergency repairs yesterday. It's funny and interesting how creative and resourceful you can become when this crap happens. My mind goes racing into some weird scavenger mode right away. "what's on hand...what tools do I have....what's available locally...what risks do I need to consider..." All this stuff starts rolling around.

Nasty looking rub you had there.

I often think of those people who took the Oregon trail in a wagon!
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wazbro View Post
I think the newer trailers like yours have the umbilical run in through the floor to a junction box inside the front of trailer
Yes, and it isn't usually worthwhile to replace the whole umbilical on newer trailers for this reason. It goes through the inside of the frame rail and then passes between the floor and the belly pan over to the place where it comes up from the floor to the junction boax.

Quote:
Hopefully Airstream has gone to industry standard wiring colors by 2007, the vintage trailers were not.
Airstream still does not follow industry color codes. Use the existing connector as a guide.

I added another connector so that the umbilical is removable. This offers a number of advantages. First, I can carry a spare umbilical so when it is damaged for whatever reason replacement is a matter of unplugging the old and plugging in the new. Second, when necessary, umbilical repairs can be made indoors. Third, I can make umbilicals of various lengths and connector types to deal with multiple tow vehicles.

Ordinarily when a factory umbilical has road damage there's still enough good usable cable left to make this mod without any splicing.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:54 AM   #9
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Thanks everybody for the great ideas and suggestions.

I have an idea for using the old umbilical as a head-whacking device for the idiots in the next camp over who had their amplified music going at 5 AM and then got on their ATVs for some more sunrise noise making. I think I may have to strategically lay on the car horn when I go to get ice later, right about when they'll be nursing what I suspect will be some gnarly hangovers. What a bunch of jackwagons!
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:04 PM   #10
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Wow, that was a super crabby last post from me
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:12 PM   #11
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Oops. Typing on an iPhone and I hit send too soon!

Anyway, my apologies to the universe for putting all that negativity out there! Everything feels better today after a good night of sleep in the QUIET desert.

I checked it out and a new umbilical install looks super easy. It comes in to a junction box right under the street side dinette. Thanks Terry for pointing that out. We'll get home with our patched up umbilical, and then I'll put in a new one.

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing holiday weekend! Ours was really fun, especially after the drunk noise died down!
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:36 AM   #12
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Done. It's all McGyvered and ready to get us home, brakes and all. I'll take a look and see if I can find the junction box. Seems like it shouldn't be a big deal to replace the umbilical.

Just got back from a dirt bike ride out to Pumpkin Patch. This isn't our usual thing, but man it's fun.


After replacing the wiring on my boat trailer when it pulled out coming home from the lake, I now secure all trailer umbilicals with a tether so the wiring has a better chance of not hitting the pavement.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:15 AM   #13
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Umbilical tether?

Drathaar, I wonder if you could post a picture of how you do it. I've been thinking along these lines... something to hold the umbilical up in the event it should become loose again. I had the copious excess slack on the old one zip tied to the tongue jack, but there's gotta be a better way. Anyone else care to share how you do it?? Thanks in advance!

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Old 01-24-2013, 02:09 PM   #14
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Drathaar, I wonder if you could post a picture of how you do it. I've been thinking along these lines... something to hold the umbilical up in the event it should become loose again. I had the copious excess slack on the old one zip tied to the tongue jack, but there's gotta be a better way. Anyone else care to share how you do it?? Thanks in advance!

This is nothing more than a piece of nylon cord tied at the male 7 pin connector, looped around the rear bumper, then secured again at the 7 pin. It may not look elegant, but it works well.
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