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Old 01-16-2011, 09:34 PM   #1
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1975 31' Excella 500
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3 way switch just went kaput...replacing?

It's my overhead light, looks like this
Airstream Ceiling Light Lens 201154 Airstream Light Lens 1972 1977 [201154] - $14.95 : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!
And it appears to be riveted on to the light fixture.
I think I see the replacement switch online
Switch,3-way 500063 [500063] - $12.95 : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!
but my switches have the big plastic things to rotate the switch by. Anyhow, the wiring looks the same I think.
But I can't figure out how the switch comes out without taking out the thing that's holding it(the part that's riveted on)...does anyone know what I'm talking about and how to fix it?
When the switch turns there's no resistance/clicking/nada. And the light's stuck on, until I get out an oven mit to remove the bulb. Supposed to be heading out on the road in a few days, do I need this stress?! Good grief.
Hoping that a hardware or local RV store will have the switch, since I don't have time to order it online.
This is my switch
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Old 01-16-2011, 09:48 PM   #2
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But I can't figure out how the switch comes out without taking out the thing that's holding it(the part that's riveted on)...does anyone know what I'm talking about and how to fix it?
See the thin hex nut on the long threaded part sticking down below the bracket that is riveted on? Remove the nut. The switch will then move up and out of the bracket. You can then use your plastic knobs on the new switch.

Good luck on finding them with that long a threaded part locally. Mose only have a short threaded section. I have only seen the long ones in Airstream lights, but they may be in some other RV fixtures too. I've just never seen them anywhere else.
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
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I don't believe the current knob will fit the new switch. I order one from a vendor and the knob would not work. Leviton still makes these they actually were able to cross reference the old part number to the new. So I ordered a few of them from an electrical suppy company (at $5.xx per by the way). They were the same design as the vendor - the knob would not fit.

I ended up taking the old one apart (it was held together with bend over ears) cleaned the copper spring and center contacts. Good as new....

th
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:05 PM   #4
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Gary may be right. Last time I replaced one of these the knobs interchanged, but that was 15 years ago or so.

Good luck.
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:17 PM   #5
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It doesn't look like with the new switches the old knob will work....
Gary, you mean you took the old one apart, cleaned it, and didn't have to buy any replacement parts? That would be ideal given the time fram I'm on. Will I have to cut the wires or will they come out once I take that nut off? I don't want to electrocute myself
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:56 PM   #6
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...Will I have to cut the wires or will they come out once I take that nut off? I don't want to electrocute myself
They, the wires, are probably connected with wire nuts. 12 volt DC poses no electrocution, or shock, danger at all. You can touch both wires, or both posts of a battery for that matter, and never feel a thing. You do need to be careful not to let the positive wire touch any part of the shell or the negative wire. You can get a spark and blow a fuse.

If you remove the wire nuts one at at tiem and replace them on the trailer wiring you will reinsulate them and save yourself any issues tracking down the fuses.

Cleaning up the old switch is definitely worth a try.
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:16 PM   #7
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I got the long part out of the holder but can't get the cap with the metal ear things off. There aren't any visible nuts, they go into the top of the switch, which is black plastic or something, but they're in there tight...I've given up for the night, will try to figure out how to get it off in the morning..geez.
Thanks for the speedy feedback

Edit: Ohhhhh! I bet the wire nuts are further down the wire, not at the very base! In the picture the new switch comes with long wires attached...that makes sense! Thanks for pointing that out!!!
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:48 PM   #8
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Ace hardware has switches, but the knob that turns it on is a small brass colored knob that is like a switch on a house lamp. It will fit right back through the hole that your switch came out of. I just cut the hot wire with a side cutter and put a wire nut on it to insulate it from grounding to anything, this shut the light off, (disconnecting the power source). Then I made a trip to ace and found the switch that works.
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:53 AM   #9
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It doesn't look like with the new switches the old knob will work....
Gary, you mean you took the old one apart, cleaned it, and didn't have to buy any replacement parts? That would be ideal given the time fram I'm on. Will I have to cut the wires or will they come out once I take that nut off? I don't want to electrocute myself
Yes - I just cleaned it. The back comes of by lifting the tabs. Lift the back off slowly as the wires will want to fall out. Each wire has a V shaped spring contact soldered to it. The center post also has contacts. Lay the wires out on the table in the pattern they came out. Keep the switch housing in the same position as when you removed the wires. I ended up cleaning them with a pocket nail file and spray electronic cleaner. Clean the center contact. Spray the parts and housing with the electronic cleaner to remove the wear dust. Let it dry and put it back together.
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Old 01-17-2011, 09:56 AM   #10
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Another switch option

I've used a replacement switch for a ceiling fan. These are readily available at any hardware store. This idea also gives you the option of converting the switch to a pull chain. Used 1 on son's SOB.

Ricky
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:08 AM   #11
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Two things that are important.

1. If you purchase a brand "X" switch, make sure it has the correct current rating in DC amperes.

2. Switches can arc, especially from old age and/or wear. Arcing can cause a fire. If you decide to rework the switch, use extreme caution.

Andy
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:29 PM   #12
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Well I picked up a new 3way switch at the hardware store today. Got it put in and it's working!
The package says 3A, 125V so I'm hoping that's ok. It's a lovely cheesy gold and my big round handle doesn't go on the end but that's ok!
Thanks a lot for the help everyone, it was much less stressful than anticipated!
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:36 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
Well I picked up a new 3way switch at the hardware store today. Got it put in and it's working!
The package says 3A, 125V so I'm hoping that's ok. It's a lovely cheesy gold and my big round handle doesn't go on the end but that's ok!
Thanks a lot for the help everyone, it was much less stressful than anticipated!
Glad to hear it!

Did you try turning the little handle (knob) that came on the new switch back off? When I changed mine (like I said, a long time ago) it just backed off and the original big round knob screwed right on.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:37 PM   #14
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I bought my three way switch at a hardware store. I bought a leviton which was the same brand of the old switch. Leviton is a very common product. I found mine at an old hardware store which had everything. I don't think I paid that much for it.

Brian
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