Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 05-22-2012, 03:27 PM   #1
3 Rivet Member
montanaandy's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 120
Troubleshooting Electrical Problem(s)

It has literally been years since I have posted here - life, raising kids, etc. got in the way. Never did get rid of the 1978 - 31' Soverign AS or my love for all things AS and have in fact used it as a "summer cabin" in the mountains of SE Montana for roughly the past 10 years.

The trailer has sat on the top of my property, exposed to some of the harshest elements that you could imagine, and kept ticking for the most part until recently (last summer). While camping in the trailer towards the end of summer 2011 (plugged into power on my property) I turned the AC unit on and out went the lights and most of the electrical.

My first thought - was the fuse box but I thought it was strange that most of the electrical went out. However, basically none of the lights or other 12V related things in the trailer work while the fridge does. Water pump does not work either which meant that I had to just blow out the lines this fall and could not run antifreeze through the lines.

I am going to set aside some time to fix things but I am not certain where to start. I have an Intellipower PD9160A that I purchased years ago that I never did install but would like to in place of the Univolt (which I suspect may be at the root of the problem). I also have the same deep cycle Optima batteries from at least 5-6 years ago so I am probably due for new batteries. I wanted to get some input from the experts as to what they think might be causing the problem before I go and start playing around with the old fuse box (which is a royal pain to access) or installing the Intellipower (also difficult) or installing new batteries. Good to be back. Montanaandy

montanaandy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2012, 03:51 PM   #2
Rivet Master
Minno's Avatar

1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3,157
A good starting point would be to have a 110 VAC outlet tester and a Volt Meter. When you say the fridge works, how do you mean? Is it running on 110 VAC, or propane? If the fridge is original, then it might not need 12 volts to run on gas, where a more modern fridge does.

If nothing works at all (no 110 VAC to the outlets, no a/c, no 12 volts), start with fixing the 110 VAC. Most likely a circuit breaker tripped, either in your trailer or for the outlet you plug the trailer into. The outlet tester can help you determine where you have 110 VAC and where you don't. Our '72 had one main 30 amp breaker, and two 20 amp breakers. One 20 amp breaker fed the roof a/c, and the other one fed the outlets, including the outlet where the univolt plugged in. If the a/c and outlets do not work, suspect the main 30 amp breaker or your shore power.

For the 12 volt system, are the batteries charged and connected? If yes, but you have no 12 volt power, look for the battery fuses either on the fuse panel, by the converter, depending on if everything is original or not. The volt meter will be a valuable tool to determine where you have 12 volts and where you don't. Charged batteries will supply 12 volt power even if the converter is bad or not on. For a while anyway. If you lost 12 volt power at the same time you lost 110 VAC power, then your batteries might be bad, or they are not connected correctly, or the fuses to them are blown. There should be fuses for both positive 12 volts and the negative return to the batteries on the fuse panel. A blown fuse on either the positive or negative line will prevent the batteries from being charged.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on where to start looking. Good luck!

Minno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2012, 02:53 PM   #3
3 Rivet Member
montanaandy's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 120
Thanks For The Advice

Thanks Minno. I will make certain to bring an outlet tester + voltage meter with me to test everything out and go from there.

I have the owners manual and well as the service manual for the trailer so it is just a matter of taking the time to troubleshoot things. Unfortunately this requires contorting my old body underneath the credenza to get at the fuse box, Univolt, and the wiring This is why I was hoping (unrealistically) that someone would say "oh just replace this fuse and you will be fine". Nothing like having an easy way out...

The 30/20 amp breakers all checked out OK right after the AC was turned on (and everything else pretty much went out) so it probably is related to the fuse panel which I really need to replace with a newer, more modern panel beause I have been kludging the old one together over the years with inline splices, etc. and I really need to just replace the thing as well as install the Intellipower. I also likely need a couple of new deep cycle batteries - I will at least test the ones that I have to see if they are worth putting on a trickle charger.

montanaandy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2012, 03:17 PM   #4
Figment of My Imagination
Protagonist's Avatar
2012 Interstate Coach
Metairie , Louisiana
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9,085
Dumb question, or maybe just a dumb person asking a question…

Did the batteries freeze? You used it as a summer cabin, but didn't say anything about using it in the winter, in the mountains of Montana. If the batteries ever froze, they're beyond redemption.
WBCCI #1105

Engineering: Finding complex solutions to simple problems you didn't even know you had.
Protagonist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2012, 07:19 PM   #5
Rivet Master
blkmagikca's Avatar

1987 32' Excella
Nepean , Ontario
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,007
This may or may not help you.

A couple of months ago I was having some service done at the AS factory which included their welding on a new tool box in the front A-frame. When I got home and plugged the trailer into 110-volt supply, I had no 110-volt power in the trailer. One of the things we discovered was that the street 110-volt cable (which is in the rear bumper) went to a junction box just inside the left rear corner, and from there went to the charger/inverter in the front. Another cable went from the charger inverter back to the same junction box and then up to the breaker panel in the overhead cabinet in the endcap.

I went back to AS factory service and they spent a couple of hours on the issue, and somehow it all started to work fine (after they had removed and reinserted all the internal fuses of the inverter).
AIR 12148
1987 Excella 32-foot
1999 Dodge Ram 2500HD Diesel
blkmagikca is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2012, 08:15 PM   #6
Rivet Master
Gene's Avatar
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,814
Check the wiring for loose and dirty connections. You may not see dirt on the connections, so move them around or clean them to make sure they are making good contact.

The batteries may have been cooked by that old converter, and then froze.


Gene is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:09 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.