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Old 01-26-2015, 12:50 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
Heartland , lower 48
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 10
Please help: Running lights non-operational

Hello All-
Thanks to many for the warm welcome as a newbie- I really appreciate it!!
Will be certain to also lend my experience in brakes/ interior wood as a pay it forward mind set.

Hope there is an electrical guru that may have some insight.
Here is my situation in short:

1990 limited triple axle, fully operational, fulltimers, boon-docking and solar equipped.

All lights were operational until a month or so ago.
Now my marker, or running lights are out.

Here is mt current trace back for root cause- any insight on my oversight and insight as to where I might go from here is so much appreciated:

1. hooked up my TV to another A/S , their running lights worked fine, did not blow my TV fuse, indicating it is an issue with my A/S, not my TV.

2. Took apart my umbilical cord, to be on the safe side, wired up a brand new umbilical cord, tested it on another TV- it blew that TV's fuse as well. I also tested my TV on other A/S and again all is well. My TV only blows the 15A trailer/parking light fuse in my TV when plugged into MY A/S. so....deductive reasoning- there is a shore someplace in my A/S but where? or where to start looking??>?

3. I had replaced ALL my running lights with LEDs, rear light/signal cluster included. All lights worked fine (including running lights) for the past year, I literally woke up one morning and no running lights.
3.1 I DID take off each running light and examining for a short, confirmed the heat shrink in place and ground was in place. I also did the same for the rear tail light clusters.

What I do have ( on the positive side ) is the following
OPERATIONAL left and right hand blinkers, operational brake lights and operational 4ways. it is just the "running lights" when I turn on the TV head lights that are non-operative.

As a follow up I did place a 15A fuse into the top two female slots on the A/S umbilical cord (an old school method to check your running lights) and the fuse will blow, whereas prior to this non-op issue, it would just light up all running lights.

Now, all kidding aside- not really- but we did drive near Area 51 !!!

I am at a real loss here. As we are retired, we normally do not drive in the dark, however at times need them due to fog or rain. At this point we are using our 4way lights as indicators to abide by the law as well as be visible
34' is a LOT of silver in the fog!!!

Thank you to one and all for any help , insight or direction you may have into this mystery! In closing, this seriously was a one day they worked, the next day they were non-op no storms or anything else erratic.
Safe travels to all-

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Old 01-26-2015, 01:21 AM   #2
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1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
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Benton , Arkansas
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You already checked near the lights for a short, the second most likely place for a short is where your umbilical plugs into the trailer.

Chances are about 99% that a short like this will be in one of these two places.

My money is on a loose wire on the female plug.

1/2 Ton 4WD Truck, 72 Sovereign Hensley Arrow

The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

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Old 01-26-2015, 08:44 PM   #3
1 Rivet Member
Heartland , lower 48
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 10
Ok...Im on q mission now. Ive re-wired the female plug that connects to the TV.
I have an 34' triple axle, batteries on the curbside, with 2 laydown 40# lps up front.
This may sound silly- but "where does the female end plug into the Airstream?....

What I have noticed is there is a common ground for the brakes....but no real plug in.
I did notice a BUNCH of wires in the front curbside compartment ....behind the couch- near the jack access area. ( I have dual jacks- left and right, not a center jack)

All help..ideas...anything ....yes i will craw in the mud..... I dont even mind bringing her back to the mother ship in Jackson Center if required.....but really want the lights to be operational.
Many Thanks!!
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Old 01-27-2015, 01:20 AM   #4
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1999 34' Excella
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Hillsboro , Texas
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The umbilical 'should' enter the AS underbelly, exiting near the center inside behind your sofa (gaucho). On my 1999, there is a rectangular black plastic box with the name 'BERG' imprinted. Inside there are the 'connections' for the Umbilical which then heads out to all the lights.

I'm guessing, of course, but where the 'clearance' light wire enters the SHELL, you may find your problem... pure speculation of course...

So, find this box.. if you have one.. or look beneath the AS.. might be there... Remove the umbilical wire for the 'clearance' lights... use a METER to test the umbilical for 'grounding' through the umbilical.. do not use a 'fuse' for this test..... since you have rewired the umbilical, that should be ok.. but you don't know if the cable itself has an issue.

If there is no short to ground on that wire with the umbilical disconnected, the problem is inside the shell. There are other 'junction' boxes spread throughout the AS... probably in the belly pan I would wager...

Good hunting.
Peace and Blessings..
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:07 AM   #5
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Morrill , Nebraska
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The brake lights, turn signals and 4 way flashers are all on the same circuit. That tells me you have a good ground/common connection.
Instead of using a box of fuses. If you have shore power then use a battery charger to troubleshoot the problem. Most will crowbar (shut down) if there is a short.
I would start by checking any terminal boxes you have access to.
Then disconnect the marker and tail lights one at a time. With the LED fixtures the problem may be internal to one of the fixtures. If by chance they are the type with replaceable bulbs the job will be simple.
Instead of disconnecting both wires in the fixture just disconnect the ground/common.
By disconnecting the fixtures one at a time. You can determine which is the culprit.
If all are disconnected and you still have a short. Either one of the fixture positive wires is grounded or you have an internal wiring problem. Either mechanical or moisture.

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Old 01-27-2015, 09:23 AM   #6
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1966 22' Safari
Weatherford , Texas
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Posts: 1,489
Check the wiring--each running light circuit individually

We had the same problem on our '66 Safari. Since our trailer is much older and different than yours, I can't give you exact locations or wiring diagrams, but here is the idea.

Someone back at Airstream (Santa Fe Springs) wired our running lights with 18 gauge wire. Turns out this was too light to run the 12 incandescent bulbs in the old running lights. The overload fried the wires inside the trailer walls. Lucky we didn't have a fire. This picture is fried wire that I fished out of the front walls of our trailer.

Troubleshooting procedure that I'd suggest is as follows:

Find the point where the running light circuits (ours had two, yours may have more) attach to the umbilical cord. Ours were color coded green. Disconnect and isolate each circuit including disconnecting the running lights themselves or their ground wires.

Get a volt/ohmmeter set to measure ohms (resistance)

Attach the negative probe to the trailer skin

Touch the positive probe to each running light wire in turn. The meter should show a completely open circuit (infinite resistance). Any resistance less than that indicates a short to the aluminum skin.

I know this is a hassle, but it will tell you which wire is grounded. If LED running lights are blowing the fuse in your TV, it almost has to be a short to ground somewhere in the trailer.

I did succeed in replacing the wiring in ours without removing the inner skins, but it took lots of fishing wires and patience. I enlarged the holes in the skin under the running lights with a Dremel tool, carefully staying within the footprint of the light housing. A hole just under the size of a nickel was enough to fish the connections through. When I was lucky, the old wire was strong enough to pull the new wire into place. When it was not, an electrician's fish tape, various tools made of welding rod, string, and prayer finally worked.

The running lights are powered solely from the TV parking light circuit. No power from the trailer's battery is involved. Ours had no fuse except the one at the TV, and that was far too big for the wiring in the trailer. The new wires have inline fuses under the curbside gaucho.

Best of luck.
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:04 PM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
Hot Springs , Arkansas
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Just a thought......I have done this one...... When you were wiring it up did you use the old plug as a guide? I have caught myself wiring plugs 180 degrees out of phase.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:25 PM   #8
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1983 31' Excella
Lincoln , Nebraska
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 2
running lights

There is a fuse on the trailer fuse panel in my "83 Excella. I have had to replace that last year.

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