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Old 11-13-2003, 07:11 PM   #1
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Anyone familiar with this?

My Univolt (which only hums and doesn't charge) has one of these in the fuse panel for the 12Volt system. Anyone know why this type of fuse would be used, and what it's purpose is?

I'm having some freaky intermittent 12V lights working only some of the time. 2 of the 3 ceiling lights work, most of the other 12v accessories, and other work once in a while. I checked all the fuses for continuity. Cleaned the fuse holders. Have a charged battery in place... and... the problem still occurs.

Should all of the 12V stuff work even if the Univolt doesn't? This and more questions to come!
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Old 11-13-2003, 07:18 PM   #2
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Re: Anyone familiar with this?

Quote:
Originally posted by Sneakinup
My Univolt (which only hums and doesn't charge) has one of these in the fuse panel for the 12Volt system. Anyone know why this type of fuse would be used, and what it's purpose is?

I'm having some freaky intermittent 12V lights working only some of the time. 2 of the 3 ceiling lights work, most of the other 12v accessories, and other work once in a while. I checked all the fuses for continuity. Cleaned the fuse holders. Have a charged battery in place... and... the problem still occurs.

Should all of the 12V stuff work even if the Univolt doesn't? This and more questions to come!
Well, what you've got there is a 20 amp circuit breaker. It will reset and stay on for a while, until it overloads and cuts out. Then, it will cool off and reset once again, giving you that slow-motion disco feeling...
Either you have a weak breaker, or a short in that circuit.
To quote a line in most of my service manuals, "Repair or replace as needed."
A guy that runs a repair shop down the street from me has a hair-raising method of finding shorts. He installs a bolt where the fuse goes. Wherever the wiring smokes, that is the short...Wow...not the approved way to track down electrical problems.
The 12-volt system should all work without the univolt operating, if in doubt, pull out the fuse for the charging portion of the Univolt, it is usually about a 40-50 amp fuse.
Good luck finding the gremlin.
Terry
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Old 11-13-2003, 08:44 PM   #3
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Well, I can't tell what the heck that thing is - it's either a circuit breaker like argosy20 says, or it's a fuse adapter, with a smaller version of a 20 amp fuse inside.

If we had a "top" view, we'd know. Replace it with a real 20 amp fuse of appropriate size (look for them at the car stereo stores where they sell the "thumper" systems - about a buck a fuse) and see what shakes.

Otherwise, wait till the intermittant lights are on one of their "out" cycles, and check for voltage at each point in the circuit. Don't just check the fuses and assume that's it - you'll want to check the actual wires leading away from the fuse connectors. You could have a bad connection between wires and fuse holder as well.

My '78 has two fuses on the battery - one on the positive and one on the negative - check both of those, too.

And yes, you should have 12 volts off the battery whether the univolt is working or not. At least as long as the battery is charged

BTW, replacing the fuse with a bolt is a gutsy move - I have a friend who's an industrial electrician, and he replaced the fuse with a light, and chased the circuit down with a DC ammeter. But then, he's like McGuyver, too....

-Don
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Old 11-13-2003, 10:47 PM   #4
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I had a problem like this a couple months back. Tracked it down to the large fuse from the (-) negative battery. It was in the fuse box. It wasn't blown or otherwise look bad. It tested OK in the meter but had high resistance. Next time the 12 volt system goes down, try jumping each fuse in the fuse panel with a pice of wire. On mine when I jumped the negative fuse, it sparked and the lights went on. Good luck.

Brian
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Old 11-14-2003, 12:39 PM   #5
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Turn off all your 12 volt stuff for the fuse that is giving you trouble. Put a ammeter on the output or input of the fuse that blows. The current draw should be pretty low. Then turn on one thing at a time and check the meter. Your short will show up when you turn on the offending light or whatever it is. If the fuse blows without anything on you than need to disconnet the wires to each lamp or appliance wntil the ammeter shows where the short is. You can us a wire instead of a fuse but you must watch the meter every time you turn something on.
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Old 11-14-2003, 05:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by drboyd
Well, I can't tell what the heck that thing is - it's either a circuit breaker like argosy20 says, or it's a fuse adapter, with a smaller version of a 20 amp fuse inside.

If we had a "top" view, we'd know. Replace it with a real 20 amp fuse of appropriate size (look for them at the car stereo stores where they sell the "thumper" systems - about a buck a fuse) and see what shakes.

Otherwise, wait till the intermittant lights are on one of their "out" cycles, and check for voltage at each point in the circuit. Don't just check the fuses and assume that's it - you'll want to check the actual wires leading away from the fuse connectors. You could have a bad connection between wires and fuse holder as well.

My '78 has two fuses on the battery - one on the positive and one on the negative - check both of those, too.

And yes, you should have 12 volts off the battery whether the univolt is working or not. At least as long as the battery is charged

BTW, replacing the fuse with a bolt is a gutsy move - I have a friend who's an industrial electrician, and he replaced the fuse with a light, and chased the circuit down with a DC ammeter. But then, he's like McGuyver, too....

-Don
Don, I never said the guy with the bolt thing was smart...
Also, you can actually go to the auto parts store and get a 5-pack of these 20 amp fuses for a couple of dollars. I forget which one it is, it is either an AGC20 or an SFE20. Take that old circuit breaker with you to get the proper length fuse. The major difference between the two numbers I just gave you is the length.
Terry
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Old 11-14-2003, 06:02 PM   #7
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Smoke Test

Originally posted by argosy20

Quote:
A guy that runs a repair shop down the street from me has a hair-raising method of finding shorts. He installs a bolt where the fuse goes. Wherever the wiring smokes, that is the short...Wow
Terry:

Ah, the good old "smoke test" method.

Why is it that houses 'burn down" and Airstreams ''burn up"?

Jeff
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Old 11-14-2003, 06:15 PM   #8
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I haven't had a chance to replace that fuse/breaker thing yet. Tomorrow.

I took a quick check of things at lunch today, and it seems that if I turn on my Univolt (hums but doesn't charge) for a few minutes those 12 volt items that didn't work before, all of a sudden start to work.... then stop. Is this a significant finding?

What does work... the front and rear ceiling lights. Bathroom lights and exhaust fan. Bathroom 12 volt plug. 2 light fixtures in the bedroom (over the bed and over the dresser) The light over the sink.

What doesn't work... the 12 volt plug over the former credenza. The ceiling light in the kitchen area, and all the lights under the front couch area. 2-recessed eyeball lights and flourescent.

I'm not sure about the 2 outside lights, as I think the bulbs are toast.

One other oddity, which may be normal... The 120V outlet in the bathroom only works when the univolt is on. What is the reason for that? Safety? I do have a switch to shut off my Univolt. I intend to purchase an Intellipower converter as a replacement...when the funds arrive from my Swiss Airstream Account.

All of your expertise is really helpful.

One observation I have from redoing this trailer is that when I am done, I will know every inch of it. That will be reassuring when out on the road. At times I get overwhelmed with all I have to do, and all that I have done. Well worth it in the long run. There is a certain comfort in being totally familiar with your rig.
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Old 11-14-2003, 09:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sneakinup

One other oddity, which may be normal... The 120V outlet in the bathroom only works when the univolt is on. What is the reason for that? Safety? I do have a switch to shut off my Univolt. I intend to purchase an Intellipower converter as a replacement...when the funds arrive from my Swiss Airstream Account.

.
Umm... I don't think that is a normal condition, unless you are turning off the 120v breaker to the univolt, and it also happens to power the outlet.
It would be interesting to put a voltmeter on the outlet in the bathroom, the one that goes as the univolt goes. I am wondering if maybe one of the "legs" is crossed, and only makes a connection when the univolt is on. That may explain why it isn't charging, if it is only getting 1/2 voltage. If this gets any more strange, I may have to make a "house call".
Happy hunting.
Terry
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Old 11-16-2003, 12:20 PM   #10
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IN our 74 ovelander the unvolt was under the bathtub. There was no individual switch to turn it off, so we flipperd the breaker. The breaker will likely protect both the outlets in the bathroom. When I flipped the breaker it shut off 1/2 of our trailer.

Old univolts (pre70?) could run without a battery in the circuit. I would not try it today. the load needs to be there for it to work. I would start by checking the fuses. The 50 amp ones that are there could be OEM and simply need to be replaced.
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Old 11-16-2003, 12:30 PM   #11
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Most of my day today has been spent trouble shooting this problem.

So far all fuses have been checked, rechecked, and checked again.

Connection clips for fuses brushed and cleaned for good contact.

I thought I had a breakthrough, when I rehooked the COntrol panel back in thinking it could create a complete circuit (I have had it out for the longest time while doing stuff in the trailer) For a brief moment, all 12V circuits were back on. I thought the Gods of electricity were smiling on me. Then... the same thing. Those same items stopped working.

I am now in the process of pulling one fuse at a time and testing all that is working, so I know what is connected to what circuit.

Oh, Univolt has a factory equipped shutoff switch. The reason I am assuming it is factory equipped, is because it is wired from the circuit breaker in the bathroom linen closet, through the walls around to the Univolt under the bath tub.

I'm guessing the fact that the 120V outlet in the bathroom only works when the univolt is on, was a safety precaution that was wired in to the circuit breaker pre GFI. Again, just a guess.

Once I get through the last 2 fuses, hopefully I should know something... hopefully is the key word!

Thanks for all the input!
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Old 11-16-2003, 02:30 PM   #12
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Problem solved... for now!

As it turns out, re-checking everything for the 4th time seemed to have made the difference.

I had checked the continuity of all the fuses with my ammeter, and they all showed good... test after test. Finally, by pulling and checking each one individually, I detected with my 12Volt test light, that one fuse was intermittently working. I've always thought they were either good or bad. Goes to show, things ain't always what they seem. Kind of like politicians?

So, now I have all 12volt accessories functioning properly. Whew!



Next battle... UniVolt!
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