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Old 12-06-2015, 10:35 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
Chaska , Minnesota
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Trailer Light woes...

Greetings, I'm new to the forum as we just inherited a 1973 31ft Sovereign Center Bath. It was my wife's great aunt and uncle's Airstream so it's been sitting for a few years (actually about 10). We're doing a modest renovation on the interior, basically renovating enough to make it functional and fun (we have two young kids.)

The first challenge encountered has been the trailer lighting. It appears to be all original so I changed the 7 pin to a 7 blade plug making sure to attach the correct trailer function to the correct position. Relatively confident I did that successfully by ignoring the colors on each wire.

I plugged the umbilical cord into the Airstream and then into the TV, and was moderately excited to see that many of the running lights worked, the license plate light, and one tail light (curbside) worked. Then, unexpectedly, all of the trailer lights went out...and that's where I'm stuck.

I used a test light to verify the TV didn't blow a fuse. Then I used the test light on the umbilical cord, all worked fine. My question is...is there a fuse in the Airstream for the lights? It's just odd that all of the sudden all of the lights went out.

From what I can tell, it's not a TV issue or umbilical cord issue. Any ideas? Thanks,
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:56 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard! Kinda chilly up yonda, eh?
First, check "ground". Do not expect the hitch to be sufficient. Do not expect the original ground to be adequate make sure the "ground" at the truck end of the umbilical to the trailer chassis shows ZERO ohms.

Let us know result!
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:38 AM   #3
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for the reply. I will check the ground wire and let you know. From what I've read most of the lights are grounded to the shell itself, but I suppose if the ground from the umbilical cord isn't grounded on the trailer the lights won't work eh? All of the 12 volt lights inside work fine when plugged in to shore power. I don't currently have a battery installed as the old one was in terrible condition. Would that affect this situation at all?

Not too cold up here (thanks El Niņo!) trying get the lights working so I can tow it to a welder to get what I think is minor rear end separation fixed. Rear curbside frame rail has dropped about 2" and the floor has rotted in that area. After pulling some of the belly pan it's obvious the 3 rear cross members need replacement. I'll pull the rest of the belly pan to the A frame to be sure I get everything fixed. Rust prevention will definitely be needed.

Thanks again,
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Old 12-07-2015, 02:30 PM   #4
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Two separately grounded circuits. 12VDC in AS is needed to supply "emergency breakaway braking"... And it is the LAW in most states to have. So, that emergency situation is "powered" by the ONBOARD battery. If needed , do not tow without it.

Consider upgrading the CONverter to a modern one... Less likely to "cook" Your onboard batter(ies) when charging/operating. The CONVERTER changes 110VAC to 12VDC.. That is why "lights" work inside.

Once truck (TV) is connected, power is "only" for lights,'brakes' and 12VDC to your batteries If it supplied at the trailer connector and wired properly. (Good grounds)
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Margesbarge View Post
Greetings, I'm new to the forum as we just inherited a 1973 31ft Sovereign Center Bath. It was my wife's great aunt and uncle's Airstream so it's been sitting for a few years (actually about 10). We're doing a modest renovation on the interior, basically renovating enough to make it functional and fun (we have two young kids.)

The first challenge encountered has been the trailer lighting. It appears to be all original so I changed the 7 pin to a 7 blade plug making sure to attach the correct trailer function to the correct position. Relatively confident I did that successfully by ignoring the colors on each wire.

I plugged the umbilical cord into the Airstream and then into the TV, and was moderately excited to see that many of the running lights worked, the license plate light, and one tail light (curbside) worked. Then, unexpectedly, all of the trailer lights went out...and that's where I'm stuck.

I used a test light to verify the TV didn't blow a fuse. Then I used the test light on the umbilical cord, all worked fine. My question is...is there a fuse in the Airstream for the lights? It's just odd that all of the sudden all of the lights went out.

From what I can tell, it's not a TV issue or umbilical cord issue. Any ideas? Thanks,
Welcome to the forum!
There is a fuse box for all of the 12v behind the sofa. (If I remember correctly. It's been many years since I owned my 73)
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Old 12-07-2015, 05:08 PM   #6
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Power to the exterior lights should come from the truck, not the trailer battery. The lights inside the trailer are an entirely separate 12 volt circuit. I agree that the ground point is a good place to start, if none of the lights work. Each light is grounded to the metal shell of the trailer, but the shell itself needs to connect to the ground formed by the body of the truck.

Envision a circuit from the positive pole of the truck battery that runs through the U-cord, through each of those light bulbs, back through the trailer shell and the ground wire in the U-cord and the metal of the truck itself to the negative pole of the truck battery. If that path is not complete, no lights work. (And, for the very technically minded, yes I know that electrons run the other way, but trucks and trailers are wired as though they don't)
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Old 12-07-2015, 06:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Margesbarge View Post
My question is...is there a fuse in the Airstream for the lights?
No. There are no fuses in the trailer for the running lights, brakes, or charge line.

The fuse box behind the front couch mentioned above is not a fuse box, it is a junction box for the 7 way connector. As originally wired the 12v fuse panel is built into the Univolt under the aft starboard closeet, You access it through to outside compartment. But none of these 12v circuits are for running lights.
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:03 PM   #8
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On our 1999, there is a 'fuse box' behind the front gaucho (sofa)..it is on the wall. There is a 'BERG' box down near the floor where the umbilical connects to the trailer lights, brakes and charging circuit.
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:24 PM   #9
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My 77 Sovereign, 31 ft. has fuses for the running lights and such on the main 12 volt fuse panel. I rebuilt my panel, which you can see in the pictures in this link. They are to the left.

Rebuilt 12v Fuse Panel - I changed over to blade type fuses for the running lights, etc., as well as the main interior 12v circuits. For the battery and charging I bought fuse blocks used in... Photo Gallery
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:51 PM   #10
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There is panel for trailer running ,brake , turn and reverse lights then panel for inside 12 volt system.
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Old 12-07-2015, 09:48 PM   #11
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Marge,
Electrical systems vary year to year. I have a 71. I also have a 93. I had a 73. I had a 66 and a 75. As I remember (and I could be wrong) my 71 and my 73 do not have a fuse panel for running lights. They do have a junction box primarily to connect the umbilical wires to the running lights. No fuses. There may be a 40 amp fuseable link. There is a circuit breaker panel behind the front gaucho on later model Airstreams but not early 70s. My 93 has a fuse breaker panel, but it still is not for the running lights which depend on the fuses in the tow vehicle.
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Old 01-08-2016, 10:21 PM   #12
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I don't have any ideas. Sorry.
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