I bought from Best RV a 55 amp replacement converter, #WF8955 for $230 including shipping. I went with the 55 amp because that is what was in there, and I can't ever remember saying to myself over a fine Belgium beer "I wish I had a higher amp converter."
In the box was the converter, a new 12 volt
circuit panel, and a neat little book on all things 12 volt
. I tested the replacement with the multi-meter, and output was at 13.6 volts, apparently where it should be.
Make no mistake, I am not an electrician. I know enough just to make myself dangerous to self and others!!! I am real anal about being organized, so I keep screws together, tools handy, and so on.
After poring over the various links to installations, photos, and so on, the 'ol Lev was up to the task. It was very easy, and the trickiest parts were the least obvious!
Here is a run down on how I did the install:
At the trailer, I disconnected both positive and negative cables from the batteries as recommended earlier.
Inside the AS, I removed the cover to the converter, which BTW, needs a star (torks?) tool to remove the four fasteners.
At first I was going to write down the order and placement for the 12 volt wires and circuit numbers, but after seeing that each of the six wires going into my board were running on it's own 20 amp fuse, it made it easier to say to hell with it. (Beside, I've never blown a 12 volt fuse, just exploded a converter).
After wondering why I didn't take up boating, golf, or womanizing instead of RV'ing for a while, I unscrewed form the AC side the protective cover, under which is pretty much what I expected: white (neutral) wire to left side buss bar, and black (hot) to middle breaker.
Disconnected white, but my first challenge: the black wire from the converter was sharing the same breaker as some other hot wire, and the two wires at the end were crimped together and attached to a little connector thingie. I thought about uncrimping, and then trying to re-use the connector to re-attach new converter wire plus mystery wire, but I know how these things work, it's gonna break!
So genius me decided that I would cut the old hot converter "long", strip the end of that, and wire-nut the length of old hot converter wire to the new hot converter wire, maintaining the integrity of the connector thing that attached the wires at the point of connection to the breaker. BTW- the breaker just tilts and pulls out, just like a regular breaker in a house.
OK. So AC side disconnected. Really thinking about alcohol around this point, but, must concentrate.
It was now onto the 12 volt side to disconnect everything there. On the old existing board, there are four main wire connections. Two white and a blue (In my case anyway). The blue (positive) was dumbly secured to the old board with a nut. The fourth was a white on the BACK of the board. These wires are STIFF!
Disconnected those, and my six 12 volt wires going to the fuses on the board. The board itself is held in by two pan head screws.
Old board out! I was actually considering re-using the old board, but the new one that came with the converter did not have the dumb nut thing on top of the board.
Old converter just pulls right out after removing four screws holding in the unit.
After everything was removed, I had to evaluate just how everything was going to go back together, and in what order. I also vacuumed out the place where the old converter was, but it was pretty clean! I saw a giant loop of Romex wire which I'm sure goes to the air conditioner, and the usual Airstream bird's nest of wires, cables, and chaos. Along with some very buckled linoleum for good measure.
The new converter slid right in. I fed the wires for the AC side and the converter output side as I pushed the replacement converter in to it's spot.
One thing that I noticed the the cables that go to the batteries seemed a little short to reach the new board properly. These are the two heavy gauge wires that feed from the back of the top portion of the converter on the 12 volt side. Thankfully, Airstream left a good length to adjust this. This involved removing a connector, loosening connector clamps holding wires, re-adjusting the length, and reversing the last few steps. I increased the battery wires about four inches, which I think was a small mistake. More on this in a bit.
Did I mention that the cables to the battery are stiff!!! I decided the best action would be to connect the battery positive first, and then negative. On my wiring, the cables from the battery are red (positive) and white (negative). I then connected converter positive going in from the top of the board (wire to stiff to bend at such an angle) and the converter negative.
Now the hard part. Trying to stuff the board with the four connections back to where I could secure it with two screws. The wires from the battery are STIFF and I think I may have over-lenghthed them because I really had to work at pushing this thing into it's recess without breaking the board! This was made easier by temporarily removing the converter and battery negatives until I got the board in place. I then attached the two negatives. One thing I did that I'd recommend: the 12 volt side of the converter's two wires come pre-stripped, but I wanted a little more wire going into wire clamp on the 12 volt board. I stripped and additional 1/4-3/8 inch off those wires. This seemed to make for a better connection.
Once the board was screwed in place, I made sure to tighten all the wire connection screws. They do get loose with that much wrestling. Now onto the six 12 volt wires.
On my old circuit block, circuits F1-F6 had wires. I changed this. I started the first wire in F2, because the way the board is placed in the recess, F1 is sort of obscured by a flange in front. Moving it down one made that easy. I carefully twisted each end of wire and attached, 1, 2, 3, and so on. All done on DC side.
On the AC side, the new converter has an added green ground wire along with the white and black wire. The ground gets attached to the buss bar at the TOP. I found I had only one available space left, all the way to the right. I then did the white to the LEFT buss bar and finally the black back to the breaker. Pushed breaker in. All done!!!!! Now for the test.
I reconnected the cable clamps to the batteries, and ran inside to see if anything was going to blow up, catch on fire. Visions of an insurance settlement check danced through my head. All good so far. Tested lights, fans, fridge, furnace, everything. Everything seemed to be working just like normal. No to hook up to my Honda 2000 for the AC test. No explosions, fire or insurance check. Multimeter read good 110 AC. Air conditioner fan good. Could I have possibly have done it? I even had everything on all at once. The is a little fan sound every now and then form the new converter. Not as loud as the old, if you could call that loud.
So there you have it. The install took about two hours start to finish, but I took my time.
I replaced the circuit breaker cover on the AC side, made sure nothing felt warm or hot, and of course got zapped by 110 volts, forgetting that I was running off the generator. At least no blood on this project.
I had to bring the front decorative panel back home to the drill press to re-drill larger holes so the four screws that hold that on would line up with the converter holes. No big deal.
Ok. So who's buying the first round?