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Old 03-30-2007, 07:16 AM   #1
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Exclamation Overhead 12 volt light switch knobs.

1973 AS Sovereign has all new overhead light fixture lens. Searching for a source or sources from which to purchase new knobs. OEM would be fine.
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Old 03-30-2007, 08:44 AM   #2
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switches..

Are you referring to the 3~position rocker switches? If so, then Billy Sims Airstream in Lubock has a lot of 1970-1980 stuff, talk to Dusty Sims.
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Old 03-30-2007, 10:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badco8
1973 AS Sovereign has all new overhead light fixture lens. Searching for a source or sources from which to purchase new knobs. OEM would be fine.
The original screw on knobs for your Airstream ceiling light switches, have not been available for about 5 years.

Andy
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Old 03-30-2007, 08:14 PM   #4
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Smile

Thanks for your help Andy. Just received a my order from your business. Your customer service person was great to talk with.
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Old 03-31-2007, 06:48 AM   #5
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There is a 3 position rotary switch available at Lowe's for about $3.50 that will work. You will have to add a spacer to the switch mount (see pic) as the shaft on the replacement switch isn't as long as the original.

I did not keep the package but I believe it is Gardner Webb or something like that (red package). I compared it to the original and it seemed identical in specs. I've replaced all but one of mine (and I'm about to replace it soon).
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Old 03-31-2007, 09:40 AM   #6
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I was able to get the original knobs for my 73 safari from Oasis rv in Tucson AZ a couple of years ago. In fact I also got a few of the switches.
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Old 03-31-2007, 11:53 AM   #7
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beware the amp ratings of the switches found in hardware stores - usually not meant for the draw of the 6-lamp overhead fixtures... calculate it out
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Old 04-01-2007, 09:28 AM   #8
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I've used both hardware store switches and the Airstream supplied switch to replace mine. It's probably wise to heed the caution Wabbiteer offered to check the load rating.

Of the two types, the Airstream supplied switches were worth the extra effort and cost. They are very well made overall. They also turn in both directions so you can turn on just a low level of lighting and then turn it off without cycling through the other two positions. The hardware store switch I used only turned one direction.

The original part was manufactured by Cole-Hersey. I was unable to locate it on the internet, though it was available to order through a local Airstream dealer. The switch does not include the knob, but you can retrofit an old one if you have one.

I also took the time to replace the wiring for the entire lamp assembly while I had it down. I did away with the twist on connectors and replaced with butt-splice/heat shrink sealed connectors and marine grade tinned wire in a larger size than the original. I replaced the bullet connectors for the power and ground where they drop down from the ceiling so that I could easily remove the lamp/screen for cleaning. There's potential for moisture exposure up there. I had one corroded switch from my '78 that had gotten hot enough to melt the plastic (see pic).
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Old 04-01-2007, 08:01 PM   #9
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I just bought a new switch and knob for my 75 TW at Oasis RV in Tucson 2 days ago.....
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:54 AM   #10
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Is this the original or replacement?

It must be stated from the outset here that I in no way desire to be part of or even worse, instigate a controversy on this or any other Airstream subject.

But.....

Below, in front of a Gardner Bender "hardware store switch", is a picture of a Leviton 4-position switch that was in my '73 Sovereign and it matches perfectly every single switch that I've replaced in both my '72 Overlander (3 ea) and the Sovereign (4 ea). I have always assumed that it was the original "factory" switch. (The Airstreams were both produced at Jackson Center but have lived, as far as I can tell, had two completely different lives.)

Am I wrong in my assumption? (Has anyone else found these switches in their Airstreams?)

Had my commercial electrician brother-in-law over last night and the issue came up. He examined the old Leviton switch and compared it to the Gardner Bender (hardware store switch). The amperage rating on the GB is twice what the Leviton was (3 amp @ 250vac, 6 amp @ 125vac vs 1 amp @ 250vac, 3 amp @ 125vac). (I knew this when I went shopping for it.)

His conclusion was that the GB switch was a lot safer than the Leviton, just from the amp rating alone. (It certainly runs a lot cooler, which is very noticeable to the touch.) The Leviton has been in there for years, I'm quite sure of that. And again, they were throughout my Overlander as well.

However, in an effort to be absolutely safe, we're going to put a meter up to it in the next week and test to see how many amps are being drawn with those 6 bulbs.

I'm all for OEM equipment when it is available, not too inconvenient, has no other acceptable market substitutions, and is reasonably priced. But like many forum members, I don't have an Airstream dealer accross the street from me. (The nearest one is 2 hours away.) And, like many "non-purists", I am looking for acceptable, safe solutions to 30 year old problems.

The energy conservation aspect of the Airstream switch is enticing (one rotation instead of three), but not really enough for me to go that far out of my way to purchase it. The modification required with the GB is a small inconvenience that I'm willing to bear. (After installing new Dexters this weekend, it seems extremely insignificant.)

My solution is not for everybody (proceed at your own risk), but one thing I do know is that the new switch is much safer (about 2 times) than what was there before. We will follow through with the current test within the next week and will post the results for anyone interested.

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Old 04-04-2007, 06:54 PM   #11
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Ron, thanks for your comments. I didn't mean to offend anyone's choices in switches. I've used the GB style switch's and they work. Not sure how the ratings for a certain amperage at 120v AC would translate over for DC, but I'm checking with my brother who's an electrical engineer to see if he can shed light on it.

The picture is a replacement switch from Airstream that I ordered through our local dealer in 2003. It's the same as the switches I've replaced out of 1972 and 1978 Airstreams. My 1972 had 3 black switches like Ron's in the lights covering vents and one like the Cole-Hersee in the light in the bedroom where there is no vent. I suspect someone had replaced the three others, possibly due to corrosion. They had also added a separate on/off toggle switch to each light supply. Possibly to allow you to leave them set at the first or second position and turn them off without cycling through each setting. I swear the rotary switches sometimes turn themselves on during travel! That would prevent battery discharge as a result of that, too.

I'll post what what my brother says about the AC/DC rating conversion.
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Old 04-04-2007, 07:20 PM   #12
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Cole Hersee specializes in distribution of stuff made by other folks so if someone does some searching and finds the 'real' source, let the rest of us know. Having spent several years in the manufacturing of switches and other electromechanical devices I can say the OEM is more than likely out of business and knock offs are coming from overseas!
Any one got a Cole Hersee catalog? I swear I had one several years ago.
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Old 04-04-2007, 09:12 PM   #13
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Dallas,

No offense here. My brother-in-law and I had a lengthy discussion and the subject of direct current and its quirky amperage draws was a large part of it. (It's a much different animal from AC.) Again, we intend to put a meter to it to check just how much it is pulling with all 6 bulbs.

It is frustrating that a switch such as that cannot be had more easily.

As for all the switches I replaced, I would not be surprised if they had all been replaced. (But I wouldn't be surprised if they were the originals either.)

Good thing we don't sleep with the lights on!
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Old 04-05-2007, 11:04 AM   #14
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Look what I just stumbled onto at eBay! They must have seen our thread at "Out of Doors Mart"! Check out the detailed pictures. I seem to remember paying about ~$20-25 back in 2003. Do you mind telling us what you paid for them azflycaster?

Still have not heard from my brother on the AC/DC amp conversion.
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