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Old 07-21-2009, 09:23 PM   #1
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1969 27' Overlander
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Fuses blowing, battery sparking - 69 Overlander 27'

We are new to Airstreams and trailers. My husband and I bought a 1969 Overlander in great shape, but do not know a lot about the univolt & electric.

Here's the situation. Put a new battery in, got the trailer home, plugged in. Everything was working fine - did not know about Univolt at this time, still reading manual. Sat in the trailer enjoying a glass of wine, and all the electrical went out - "fuse" was the first thing that came to mind, found the broken fuse on the back panel of the trailer, replaced it and everything worked great! Then we used the fan and had the lights on for a few days before her maiden voyage, well the battery drained and we recharged it. No biggie. Got to camp, everything seemed to be working, battey lights got low once so my husband hooked up the battery charger, everything worked (I think the Univolt was not working, and wish it did not anymore.)
Driving home something happened, when we got in all three fuses in back were blown, and when we tried to replace them they sparked - battery was sparking - trouble.
Thought it was a ground wire, could not figure it out. Took it camping again this weekend with car jacks to lift it off the van. Got there, plugged into the site, after using car jacks, and herd sonmething humming - found the Univolt! Then we hooked the battery back up and put the fuses in and everthing worked - hmmmmmmm. Everything worked until we drove home again, now the same thing is happening, fuses are blowing instantly and the battery is sparking when we try to hook it up.

Any ideas or similar situations? We ran into other Aristream folks who were very helpful in leading us to you, but they had newer units and no electrical issues.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:13 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!

I'm not sure what you mean by lifting it off of the van with car jacks. Do you mean that the hitch jack on the trailer does not function?

One possible reason that you may be blowing fuses when towing is an incorrectly wired connection to your van. There is a 12 volt charge line that feeds the battery through the voltage distribution panel when the cable is attached to your van. If the cable is mis wired (varies by the year of the trailer) you could cause fuses to blow in the trailer.
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Old 07-22-2009, 07:18 AM   #3
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1969 27' Overlander
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Yes, we did not know how to over-ride the hitch system without the battery working. We have been told to unscrew the top and that there is a wrench system there. Great to know, now we have to look through our trialer and see if we can find the wrench.

Would the 12 volt be miss wired by the person who attached the cable system in the van?

How do we figure out wich of the wires from the van is the 12volt line? Are there any diagrams for this?

And why do you think the batttery worked fine once we drove for 4 hours with it unattached, and did not hool it back up until we unplugged the van?

Could it be overcharging the battery?

Thanks so much for the information.
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Old 07-22-2009, 07:43 AM   #4
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Fuses blowing, battery sparking - 69 Overlander 27'

Greetings mcstubbs!

Welcome to the world of Vintage Overlander ownership!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcstubbs View Post
Yes, we did not know how to over-ride the hitch system without the battery working. We have been told to unscrew the top and that there is a wrench system there. Great to know, now we have to look through our trialer and see if we can find the wrench.
You may have another option depending upon your jack. Some models have a square drive and you can substitute a deep-well socket of the appropriate size allowing you to use your socket set.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcstubbs View Post
Would the 12 volt be miss wired by the person who attached the cable system in the van?
This is quite possible. Your van was likely wired to the current industry standard which is not what Airstream was using in 1969. Up until sometime in the 1980s, Airstream utilized a series of wiring patterns that vary from what is industry standard today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcstubbs View Post
How do we figure out wich of the wires from the van is the 12volt line? Are there any diagrams for this?
A 12-volt test light would help with this situation, and would allow you to verify that the van is wired to the current industry standard. Basically, the test light has a lead with an alligator clip that is attached to a ground and a probe that you can use to check the terminals in your connector. I have attached information about the Airstream Bargman plug wiring diagram for '69 to this post as well as a link to the Mark's RV page that has the diagram for the current industry standard wiring diagram.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcstubbs View Post
And why do you think the batttery worked fine once we drove for 4 hours with it unattached, and did not hool it back up until we unplugged the van?

Could it be overcharging the battery?
I am not certain what you mean by unattached. If you mean that the battery cables had been removed from the battery, there is only one thing that I can think of that may be possible. Sometimes when a battery has been stressed and allowed a recovery period, it will regound slightly allowing a short period of usable power. If, on the other hand, you mean that the coach was not connected to 120-Volt AC power, then you have the likely situation that the battery was/is receiving some charge from the van's electrical system. It can take from six to eight hours of travel to restore a significant charge to the coach's battery via the to vehicle's charge system.

In terms of the Univolt, most (if not all) of them are notorious for over-charging the battery and boiling the electrolyte. Often, there is an aftermarket switch installed in the coach near the Univolt that allows the occupants to turn off the Univolt after it has had time to bring the battery's charge up to standard.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 7wayplug1966-81.pdf (9.0 KB, 58 views)
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Old 07-22-2009, 07:54 AM   #5
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My guess is you have an intermittant dead short caused by an exposed wire somewhere. Which could be anywhere. This would explain at times working OK then when towing etc, the wire is jiggled and shorts. I would try disconnecting circuits one at a time and trying to reporduce the short. That may give you an idea where to start. Also check the Univolt has the right size fuses there should be 4 20 amp fuses and 2 40 amp fuses. The 40 am fuses may be larger, but can also be the same size. You might also try using a battery charger to charge the battery rather than the Univolt and see what happens. Does your 120v system work OK?
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Old 07-23-2009, 05:27 AM   #6
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Can't thank eveyone enough for all the help. Looks like the van was wired for standard trailer - all this because two wires were swaped! Go figure. We are having the wires fixed, and hoping this will solve our problems. Will let you konw.

We are thinking we will be better off removing the fuses from the Univolt, by-passing it, and using a standard battery charger until we get a new converter/power center. We are considering the PD (progressive dynamics) 4500 series. Any opinions?

120 system works great - former owner had rewired it and installed two grounded plugs, and three interior lights that just run off 120.

Took off the top to the electric jack last night, no square drive, just the two cogs & a round pin.
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