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Old 06-18-2019, 12:40 AM   #1
Launce's Avatar
2012 16' Sport
Greenbelt , Maryland
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 32
How hard to replace fried converter on Sport 16?

I appear to have fried the converter on my 2012 Sport 16 with my new portable generator.

If I'm plugged into shore power and I disconnect the batteries, I only get weak, flickering power for the 12V accessories, like the LED interior lights.
The breaker for the converter will turn the 12V accessories off and on again -- but "on" is the weak, fluctuating thing.

If I connect the batteries while on shore power, the 12V accessories work fine -- until the batteries die.

The batteries charge up fine from the tow vehicle while driving, or with the 12V charging circuit on the generator. But the inboard converter can't charge them.

I assume what did it was a surge, probably from connecting the generator before starting it up. Now I know better. Other people have reported similar problems.

I'm in the middle of a trip to Alaska, so I'm trying to figure my options.

My question is, how difficult, and time-consuming, would it be for a repair shop -- not an Airstream specialist -- to order and install a new converter?

Or should I just limp along -- charging the batteries by driving and/or with the 12V circuit on the generator -- until I get home?

Or does anyone know a good Airstream shop in Alaska?

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Old 06-18-2019, 08:12 AM   #2
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Belegedhel's Avatar
1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,514
Unless your converter is buried under a ton of cabinetry and will require significant disassembly to get to it (which it probably is not), then replacing the converter should be a simple action requiring maybe an hour or so of a technician's time. As I recall, my converter has a 110 V conventional plug that plugs into an outlet, 4 screws that mount it, and literally only two wires coming out of it. Should be quick and easy.

Sounds like it is probably fried, but there may be fuses on your converter. You should take a good hard look at it and make sure that you don't just have a popped fuse or a loose/oxidized connection that may have nothing to do with a surge from your generator.

Another option to aid in keeping you limping along may be to just go to a convenient auto parts store and buy a conventional battery charger or a trickle charger and use that as a bandaid.

good luck!

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Old 06-18-2019, 08:28 AM   #3
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1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
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Posts: 2,942
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Not hard to change. All trailers use a converter so any shop should have experience with them. Not a really expensive item. Maybe 2 hours labor. The replacement will be better than the original. In a large place like Whitehorse or Palmer or Anchorage you might be able to get a mobile tech to do it. In any case I would advise getting it fixed ASAP. You need things working on that trip. No heat or frig is not fun. Maybe replace the battery at the same time.

Be sure the converter is getting 110. Switch?, or breaker?

We found the service shops to be pretty good in Alaska and the Yukon.
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:46 AM   #4
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2002 30' Classic S/O
Melbourne Beach , Florida
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 3,459
I would advise your checking to make sure all the connections are tight. The converter is probably behind the same panel as your 12V fuse panel. I'm not familiar with the 16, but on one newer trailer I helped change a converter in at Salem, the fuse panel and the converter were behind the same door under the bed. There were terminal strips connecting the batteries and the converter to the panel. Look for the large wires and make sure the screws are tight.


"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

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2002 Classic 30 Slideout
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Old 06-18-2019, 09:29 AM   #5
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2015 28' Flying Cloud
Fountain Valley , California
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 51
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Our Converter failed about a month ago after we had an electric awning added. I contacted Parallax that had me do some tests to confirm the converter was out. They told me the correct replacement part. I ordered it on amazon and had it delivered about 3 days ahead of us. Took me about 30 mins to changeout with a screw driver and hex wrench. Was not too difficult, if you don’t mind rolling around on the floor a little.
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:21 AM   #6
Launce's Avatar
2012 16' Sport
Greenbelt , Maryland
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 32
Thanks for the advice. I'm liking the good news about ease of replacement.

I'll pull the fuse panel and see what's behind it. I'm guessing that's where the converter sits. (Or maybe I'll do my back a favor and pull off the bed panel above the fuse panel! It's true that rolling around on the floor gets old -- although it's easy to take a quick nap if you need a break.)

My diagnosis of a fried converter is based in part on the fact that the problem started the moment I plugged in my new generator. Plus I'm getting a trickle of 12V power from the converter. So a blown fuse or a bad connection is unlikely. But I'll take a look.

Incidentally, I figured out why the 12V LED light was fluctuating on converter power: it coincided with the flashing red LED on the Micro Pulse wall monitor. That's how little power I'm getting from the converter. On the other hand, the converter seems to have charged the batteries a tiny bit overnight. Talk about a trickle charge.

Memo to self: You have an EMS surge protector. Use it! I solemnly promise myself never to plug in a generator without the EMS, and to never, ever plug in a generator and then start it up.
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Old 06-18-2019, 02:25 PM   #7
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,514
I agree, the fact that you are getting something out of the converter suggests it isn't a blown fuse, but the fact you get anything out of it, even erratic trickling of power is odd as well, and this is where the theory about a loose/resistive connection comes in.

good luck!
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Old 06-18-2019, 03:06 PM   #8
retired USA/USAF

2001 30' Excella
Somerset , New Jersey
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2,355
I put a new converter in our trailer a few years ago. Ours is a 2001 classic 30'er and was an easy job as mentioned in the earlier posts. It was located below the front sofa and took me probably less than an hour to do. It was so easy that I offered to install one in a 2015 (I think) trailer belonging to a friend. Well, this one not so easy. Theirs has the complete 12v system integrated into the converter and although not difficult it was much more time consuming then I had expected after doing my own.

So the moral of the story is IT DEPENDS.
Roger in NJ

" Democracy is the worst form of government. Except for all the rest"
Winston Churchill 1948

TAC - NJ 18

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Old 06-18-2019, 03:58 PM   #9
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1966 24' Tradewind
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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Converters Are Easy to Replace

That is always the first upgrade I make on any Airstream.
But just because it's an easy project doesn't mean you should routinely fry them.
Ken L
1966 Tradewind 24
2018 GMC Yukon XL Denali
Four Corners Unit WBCCI #5783
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Old 06-20-2019, 12:35 AM   #10
Launce's Avatar
2012 16' Sport
Greenbelt , Maryland
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 32

It turned out to be a WFCO WF-8955PEC, with the distribution board on the top and the converter sitting underneath.

An electrician came out and confirmed it was a bad converter, not something else. But it's a hassle getting the part here in Petersburg, AK, where everything comes in by plane or barge from Seattle.

So I ordered the same unit on Amazon, had them send it to my cousin in Anchorage, and shifted my itinerary around so I go there sooner rather than later -- before I go further north.

I understand a lot of people upgrade, but my old one worked fine for my needs. Until I toasted it.

I see what some of the posters mean about the installation being pretty simple, if you don't install the case and board, but just take the converter out of the new unit and stick it in the old one -- thus not having to rewire all the circuits. I'll have a professional do it, just to be sure, but that may save me some $$.

Maybe some day I'll go solar! But that's a discussion for another day.

Appreciate all the prompt, helpful advice.

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