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Old 05-30-2019, 12:02 AM   #1
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1971 25' Tradewind
Williamsburg , VA
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Neutral terminal block

I'm helping my daughter with a 1971 Tradewind. She bought a shell with wall panels and most wiring still installed. Mostly empty. I'm replacing the AC converter and fuse panel with a WFCO AC power center. I just started into it and traced all the DC and AC circuits. A few questions:

1. The converter has a 6 or 4 AWG stranded neutral and ground that disappears into the floor chassis and there is another neutral that runs behind the bathroom wall panel up the wall.
Where is the neutral terminal block? Is there one? Where do all the circuit neutral wires typically terminate on these old units? I'm used to a terminal block next to the fuse panel. Or, are all the circuits just grounded to the body? (I hope not)

2. The PO used solid residential wire for the 110 volt rooftop heat pump and all recepticals. Do I have to replace it all with marine grade stranded wire?
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:08 AM   #2
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A little confused. You are talking about a converter which converts AC to DC. Why concern about a "neutral"?
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:28 AM   #3
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I'm referring to the DC neutral wires. I don't know where they all tie together. I would expect them all to come back to the fuse panel and connect to a buss bar that is grounded (DC only, AC will be isolated)
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:30 AM   #4
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Should I be referring to the DC neutral wires as the negative wires. Is that proper terminology?
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:43 AM   #5
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Neutral terminal block

Yes. “Neutral “ is a term used only for AC power circuits.

Negative is the right term for DC power.
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Old 05-30-2019, 09:07 AM   #6
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OK then. Thanks for the clarification. Where should I expect to find where all the DC negative wires terminate? I only have three 6 AWG white wires coming back to the fuse panel. Two of which go down into the chassis somewhere.

Thanks.
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Old 05-30-2019, 09:14 AM   #7
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Neutral terminal block

Many times, for lights and other low current loads, the shell of the trailer is used as the negative lead. Somewhere one of those white leads, or a bare copper wire is clamped to the frame of the trailer.

This lets those light loads use the shell as a negative lead.
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Old 05-30-2019, 10:55 AM   #8
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Okay, so now my feeble brain has caught up! As noted, you will generally only see ground wires on higher current appliances, for example the water pump, the furnace...

On my '86, they are routed to a common bus bar adjacent to the circuit breakers on the front wall of the trailer.

I agree that replacing any solid wire with stranded is an excellent idea. Nothing more fun than a broken wire in a wall somewhere...
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Old 05-30-2019, 11:18 AM   #9
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Neutral terminal block

Odd definition of ‘fun’ but you are absolutely right on stranded wire usage in vibration prone vehicles.

Marine stranded wire is also available in a ‘flooded’ version where a water resistant filler is used inside the cable to prevent water intrusion and wicking. For internal wiring in an Airstream it’s probably not necessary.

Just be sure to route and protect all wiring against chafing and sharp edges. Grommets are alway a good idea, and running stuff like coaxial cable or network cable in ‘smurf tubing’ is a good idea. That’s the corrugated flexible wiring conduit.

Keep the runs as straight as possible to avoid issues pulling wires into it. A total of three 90 degree bends will cause serious issues getting wires pulled into it. Always use wire lubricant in smurf tube.
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Old 05-30-2019, 11:27 AM   #10
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One will go to the battery negative. Another will go to the fused load center (most likely) there will also be shunts and other stuff in the jumble of mess to monitor batter load and condition with the airstream central command.
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Old 05-30-2019, 11:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Many times, for lights and other low current loads, the shell of the trailer is used as the negative lead. Somewhere one of those white leads, or a bare copper wire is clamped to the frame of the trailer.

This lets those light loads use the shell as a negative lead.
I would highly recommend against this practice. Negative connections can become corroded or loose. Always return your negatives to one central location. This will also help when you install a shunt to measure your usage. Your shunt should be placed between the negative block and the battery negative connections to measure accurately.
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Old 05-30-2019, 11:39 AM   #12
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Neutral terminal block

Agree, where possible.

Unfortunately the factory often uses the shell as the negative connector for running lights and the like. Far better to run both wires, properly sized and do it right. Makes trouble shooting a lot easier as well.

Still need to connect the battery negative ( or load side of a negative lead shunt) to the frame and body, as well as having the AC ground (safety earth, bare or green wire) tied down as well.

NEVER tie ANY AC power neutral lead (white wire, usually) to the shell or frame—that’s a safety hazard and against code and good electrical practice.
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