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Old 10-18-2007, 01:41 AM   #1
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Newbie needs help with electrical system

Just got my 74 29' Ambassador, and I'm having old trailer issues, both electrical and plumbing. This is the electrical issue.

The battery apparently gave its all during setup - the jack worked, and I had lights for a little while. Then, nada. I replaced the thoroughly dead battery, and now have lights. What I can't figure out is - when I'm hooked up to shore power, the 120 outlets work, but the ceiling lights don't. When I'm not hooked up, the lights work, but the outlets don't.

The original univolt has been replaced with a magnetek unit. I can hear a low hum from it, much like an aquarium pump, but how do I tell whether it's working properly? I don't trust the control panel at all, the meters don't seem to change no matter what is going on.
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:35 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacqueg
Just got my 74 29' Ambassador, and I'm having old trailer issues, both electrical and plumbing. This is the electrical issue.

The battery apparently gave its all during setup - the jack worked, and I had lights for a little while. Then, nada. I replaced the thoroughly dead battery, and now have lights. What I can't figure out is - when I'm hooked up to shore power, the 120 outlets work, but the ceiling lights don't. When I'm not hooked up, the lights work, but the outlets don't.

The original univolt has been replaced with a magnetek unit. I can hear a low hum from it, much like an aquarium pump, but how do I tell whether it's working properly? I don't trust the control panel at all, the meters don't seem to change no matter what is going on.
I'm very new at this myself, but I think I can solve one of your problems. The "univolt" just converts 110volt to 12volt. Your 110volt outlets will not work unless you are plugged into shore power.
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:38 AM   #3
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Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

It sounds like your converter is either not operating properly or was not wired right when installed. First, I would try checking the wiring to and from the converter using the installation instructions.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:05 AM   #4
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I'm with Moosetags. I'd start with the added charger because the factory setup won't act like you describe. If the 12v lights work with out 110, adding 110 shouldn't do anything except maybe make them brighter. Kinda sounds like the new charger has some kind of bypass in it .
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moosetags
Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

It sounds like your converter is either not operating properly or was not wired right when installed. First, I would try checking the wiring to and from the converter using the installation instructions.
Thanks moosetags. It's possible the PO left the instructions in the trailer, I'll look. If that's not the case, I guess I'll have to see if I can figure out the model number of the magnetek and see whether I can get a copy of the instructions. Any cautions should I have to do the trial and error thing?

HiHoAgRV, when you say charger, is that a synonym for converter, or are they different gadgets? And why would someone install a bypass in the electrical system?

Thanks for your responses, I've never owned an RV of any kind before. (Personal note - I saw my first airstream when I was 3, and have wanted one ever since. I'm not saying how many decades!)
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacqueg
(Personal note - I saw my first airstream when I was 3, and have wanted one ever since. I'm not saying how many decades!)
Here here! When I was growing up I remember an international rally in my home town, the blinding reflections went on for what seemed to be infinity. Ever since then every time I saw an airstream on the road I started to drool a little. From what I understand my wife had similar experiences growing up, I'm just excited that we have one now, even if it's going to take a million hours of work to make it what we want.

Cheers and best of luck with your new baby.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:30 PM   #7
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I tend to say charger instead of converter because the words COnverter and INverter get swapped and are not the same.

The easiest way to understand a basic system is the 12v battery runs the lights and the converter (charger) uses 110V to keep the battery from dying. Of course there will be some exceptions but all the units I have ever dealt with operate this way. I can not come up with an example that would match your issues unless something is installed really wrong, like the converter wired to the battery positive to negative .

Where it gets confusing is when we toss an inverter into the system. It takes 12 and inverts the process into suido 110v (and in most cases, quickly depleting our batteries ). Then we get really confusing by incorporating the charger(converter) into the same unit as the inverter

No, you can't use the inverter to run the converter to keep the batteries charged while you use the inverter... I'm dizzy
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Old 11-29-2007, 05:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV
I'm with Moosetags. I'd start with the added charger because the factory setup won't act like you describe. If the 12v lights work with out 110, adding 110 shouldn't do anything except maybe make them brighter. Kinda sounds like the new charger has some kind of bypass in it .
It turned out to be a loose connection. So now when the 12v lights die, I just burrow into the closet and jiggle the wires a bit. Presto, lights.

The loose connection appears to be somewhere in the magnetek itself. A replacement is clearly in order, but not right now - too much other stuff going on!

Thanks again for your help.
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