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Old 01-13-2009, 09:17 AM   #1
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Question What wire should be used

Trying to debug problem with our 1967 Fairwind 12v system. Some lights and heater not working. Others work fine. Improvements by previous owner look to be old powerblocks withou fuses so I am planning to replace. Wire from battery to powerblock is stranded copper but wire to lights, etc. appears to be solid aluminum.

Now I am questioning if I have bad wire or bad connections (and probably both). What type of wire would/should be used? It appears that stranded copper was installed during "restore" and it is connected to solid aluminum wire. Would I replace with solid or stranded copper? And I can't find a grounding strap to frame from battery. Shouldn't there be a big 0 gauge grounding strap?

Thanks..
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Old 01-13-2009, 09:36 AM   #2
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Help

Hi Don, Welcome. Here are some photos that may help. Sounds like the wiring is messy. Do you have any photos? Originally the trailer came with aluminum wire but there are corrosion problems with that.
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:52 AM   #3
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Trying to debug problem with our 1967 Fairwind 12v system. Some lights and heater not working. Others work fine......What type of wire would/should be used? It appears that stranded copper was installed during "restore" and it is connected to solid aluminum wire. Would I replace with solid or stranded copper? And I can't find a grounding strap to frame from battery. Shouldn't there be a big 0 gauge grounding strap?...
Welcome to the Forums!

A fairly decent footage/gauge/amperage spreadsheet can be found here:

Voltage drop, distcance and wire guage

Use stranded copper hands down - the finer the strands the easier it will be to work with - solder all of the end connections if you can.

Don't scrimp on the wire gauge - the difference in the price of wire just does not justify cutting any corners - when the trailer is finished you will be glad that you "overwired".

Grounding is always a problem on older trailers - best to strap to both the frame AND the shell - better yet - run grounding wires from a central ground buss to each end user of the 12 volt system.

Read my signature line - do it right the first time....
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Old 01-13-2009, 09:56 PM   #4
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You guys are confirming my theories. I had seen the wiring diagrams from silverleeper in previous posts and tried printing them but only got the front 1/2 of the trailer (but it is enough to clarify what I am finding in Spud (that's our nickname for the LandYacht). There are new stranded copper positive and ground wires from the batteries to a new intellipower but in another area these are linked to aluminum wires at a power block. I had been thinking this was original (and therefore needs replacing) and you confirmed it. And I saw a junction box behind the oven with a couple wires coming out and into a big wad of black electrical tape which is never a good sign!

I was thinking to use regular insulated house wire as replacement but it's solid copper so I'll look for 12 gauge stranded and try to run new wire.

ANY TRICKS for getting that new wire in place? Looks mighty slim between the wall and the skin....

And when you say ground at each user, are you suggesting I run a new pair to each fixture so I have both positive and all grounds making a home run?

I'm looking at installing this product for bringing all my wires together so I can get fuses in each circuit:
12V RV Fuse Box
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:00 AM   #5
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...ANY TRICKS for getting that new wire in place? Looks mighty slim between the wall and the skin....
And when you say ground at each user, are you suggesting I run a new pair to each fixture so I have both positive and all grounds making a home run?
I'm looking at installing this product for bringing all my wires together so I can get fuses in each circuit:12V RV Fuse Box
Wire pulling between the ribs is almost impossible - to do a "real" rewire job you will have to take off the interior panels - not sure where the main wire bundle was run on your trailer, but on the '78's the main bundles (both the 120 AND the 12 volt) are in the ceiling, just to the curb side of the center ceiling panel. Grounding to the shell (especially for higher amperage draws) should be avoided - ground to the frame, if you have to, but pulling a separate ground from the battery (or to a central grounding distribution point) is better. Your proposed fuse box from Vintage Trailer (good people) looks good, but, if you are planning on keeping the trailer for a long time, and there is any question at all about the 120 volt wiring, the "Progressive Dynamics 4560: 60 Amp Converter + AC/DC Distribution Panel" from the same vendor would be the way to go. There are many advantages of using an electronic charger over the old Univolt "buzz-box". A newer electronic charger is less likely to cook the battery, and it makes the trailer SO much quieter....

Had I known then what I know now I would have installed a combo charger/12/120 panel in the http://www.airforums.com/forums/f219...ign-14737.html when I initially had it torn apart.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by DonMiller View Post
Trying to debug problem with our 1967 Fairwind 12v system. Some lights and heater not working. Others work fine. Improvements by previous owner look to be old powerblocks withou fuses so I am planning to replace. Wire from battery to powerblock is stranded copper but wire to lights, etc. appears to be solid aluminum.

Now I am questioning if I have bad wire or bad connections (and probably both). What type of wire would/should be used? It appears that stranded copper was installed during "restore" and it is connected to solid aluminum wire. Would I replace with solid or stranded copper? And I can't find a grounding strap to frame from battery. Shouldn't there be a big 0 gauge grounding strap?

Thanks..
Don,
I would use Stranded Copper, marine grade. Usually finer stranded copper (more vibration resistant) and has thicker insulation. Anywhere copper is connected to Aluminum it should be coated with an anti-corrisive for the aluminum. This is available from almost any home store or Electrical supply.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:35 AM   #7
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Wire & Ground suggestions

I have re-focused on the electrical problems because I MUST solve them so we can enjoy a summer of camping.

1) I confirmed I have the old Aluminum solid wire and have looked into copper stranded. I can NOT find a source for 2 conductor stranded wire (except speaker wire) using my local electrical supply house. Someone mentioned Marine Grade so I'll try West Marine but meanwhile, anyone have a source for wire to use as replacement?

2) I studied and tested connections at the light fixtures in the front of the trailer which are not working (they worked until a trip we took over Thanksgiving). I determined I have POWER and CONTINUITY. So why doesn't this stuff work (I asked myself). I looked for a grounding strap from the battery to the Fram and/or skin and can find none. I think the guy who did the restoration work ommitted this and am looing for confirmation that these symptoms would indicate I need to install a Thick "Mother of all Grounding Straps" between the negative post and the frame. Do you wise and mighty monitors of this forum agree?

Don
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:45 AM   #8
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I have re-focused on the electrical problems because I MUST solve them so we can enjoy a summer of camping.

1) I confirmed I have the old Aluminum solid wire and have looked into copper stranded. I can NOT find a source for 2 conductor stranded wire (except speaker wire) using my local electrical supply house. Someone mentioned Marine Grade so I'll try West Marine but meanwhile, anyone have a source for wire to use as replacement?

2) I studied and tested connections at the light fixtures in the front of the trailer which are not working (they worked until a trip we took over Thanksgiving). I determined I have POWER and CONTINUITY. So why doesn't this stuff work (I asked myself). I looked for a grounding strap from the battery to the Fram and/or skin and can find none. I think the guy who did the restoration work ommitted this and am looing for confirmation that these symptoms would indicate I need to install a Thick "Mother of all Grounding Straps" between the negative post and the frame. Do you wise and mighty monitors of this forum agree?

Don
Can you run a jumper ground from the fixture(s) in question to the ground of a known good one? If it works, you've confirmed your issue.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:52 AM   #9
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12 AWG jacketed 2-conductor Marine Safety Wire (ABYC DC negative wiring is now yellow so as not to confuse 12VDC negative with black insulated 120VAC hot wire). Defender is usually MUCH less expensive than West Marine (or BoatersWorld/Ritz who I hear is in bankruptcy).
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:00 AM   #10
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2) I studied and tested connections at the light fixtures in the front of the trailer which are not working (they worked until a trip we took over Thanksgiving). I determined I have POWER and CONTINUITY. So why doesn't this stuff work (I asked myself). I looked for a grounding strap from the battery to the Fram and/or skin and can find none. I think the guy who did the restoration work ommitted this and am looing for confirmation that these symptoms would indicate I need to install a Thick "Mother of all Grounding Straps" between the negative post and the frame. Do you wise and mighty monitors of this forum agree?

Don
Have you checked the switches? Corrosion and age cause allot of problems for them. If you have "POWER and CONTINUITY" then a grounding strap won't make any difference. I don't have a grounding strap or need one on my 67.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:49 AM   #11
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You will not need 2 conductor wire, the body is the ground path. Your batteries have a connection to the body and or frame as the ground path. If you have 12 volt power anywhere in the trailer that path is good and no need for any aditional ground strapping.

Any auto store will have the single strand #12 wire you need.

You say you have power. If you mean you can read power at a given fixture I assume you are grounding your meter to the body while testing. If you have power at a given fixture but the fixture will not work the problem is within the fixture. Now that can be a bad switch, bad bulb, or bad ground point for the fixture. Also if you have power at a given fixture there is no reason to consider rewiring because power is already there.

Now as a means of testing any fixture in the trailer. Attach the negative side of your voltmeter to the trailer skin using a length of wire that will allow you to move throughout the trailer. Make this connection almost a permanent one going so far as to screw the wire in place at the body and wire nutting the meter probe to the other end of the wire. I say this to guarantee that you do not have any reason to question that connection as you move around during your testing.

Working your way towards any fixture in question, test the supply wire to that fixture for voltage. Make sure you have tested any wall switch that may be feeding the fixture first. If you have voltage at the supply side and the fixture does not work check the connections within the fixture, check the bulb, and check the ground connection of the fixture. It would not surprise me that most of your problems will be the ground connection of the fixture itself. Until you define where the open in a circuit is there is no reason to rewire and other than the end connections of a wire it is unlikely that the wire has opened somewhere within the trailer body. Now this is not to say that a wire has not failed but it is the least likely source of the problem.
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:47 AM   #12
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You do not need to replace the aluminum wire if it is in good shape.

The problems arise at the joints or ends of the wires. Over time, corroded and loose connections can overheat and cause a fire.

This is not a problem with 12 volts, especially if you install and maintain the wiring properly.

Go to an electrical supply store for the proper connectors and coating material.

Check all your light fixtures etc. and anyplace wires connect. Once everything is wired properly it will stay good for years.

Alternatively if you want to rewire. The easiest way would be to remove the belly pan and run the wires under the floor. Then either fish them up thru the walls or run the wire on the outside of the wall protected by a conduit.

Aluminum wire repair and warning. Remember this is 110 volt and 220 volt house wiring.12 volt does not have the power to overheat this way. Just be sure to get the correct connectors and protective "goop".

http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/AluReduceRisk.htm

There should be a ground from the battery to the body if the body is used as a ground. If the frame is not used as a ground it does not need a connecting wire.

Your wiring is working so there must be a ground someplace. Is the battery grounded directly to the body? Or does the battery ground go to a junction block? The load must connect to both + and - to complete the circuit or nothing will work.
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Old 03-11-2009, 12:37 PM   #13
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Hi Don, Welcome. Here are some photos that may help. Sounds like the wiring is messy. Do you have any photos? Originally the trailer came with aluminum wire but there are corrosion problems with that.
I agree with Ganaraska that you don't need to replace the aluminum wire. If you look at the second pic I posted earlier (post#2) in the bottom low volt schematic you will see where its grounded to the chassis. I don't think thats the problem but it's worth a look. Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2009, 01:21 PM   #14
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To rewire you would have to find a new route around the perimeter or take out the inside panels. You don't really want to do that.

Marine wire is great, more expensive, and very resistant to corrosion. However your local HD will have "cord" in 2 and 3 conductor of various sizes.

Clean up the connections and test each wire. Take apart the clump and do a nice job of reconnecting those circuits, maybe using a wiring block or secondary fuse panel.

In general isolate each run and switch, test it, fuse it and move to the next.

You really don't want to take the inside apart unless you have some secret wish to do a full monty where in you may never get to us the trailer again.

Every job will take longer and cost more than you were afraid it would, which is alot more than you told the wife.

Good luck.

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