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Old 07-06-2004, 03:18 PM   #1
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popping fuse on tow vehicle

I'm having a little trouble with our '95 Ford E150 (full size van). This is NOT while it is hooked up to the trailer, this is just happening driving it normally.

It keeps blowing the fuse for the turn signals. I put a new fuse in, everything works fine, my husband drives it about five miles into town and by the time he gets there the fuse is blown again. We tried replacing the fuse and sitting in the driveway and turning things on and off, tried all the lights, hoping it would pop so I could narrow it down, but it didn't. Everything worked fine, all the lights worked. Then he drove it into town and it blew again. Any suggestions on how I can narrow this problem down?
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Old 07-06-2004, 03:40 PM   #2
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Unhook the harness at the tail lights, drive it and see what happens. If the fuse blows try the next plug towards the front. That should narrow down the section of harness (I'm guessing it has rubbed through the insulation somewhere). Remember you aren't going to have any brake/turn signal lights, follow him (or not if he is on you nerves today). The steering column is also a common place for problems, lots of tight places and twisting.

John
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Old 07-06-2004, 03:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
... Any suggestions on how I can narrow this problem down?
If you like flirting with disaster, you can stick a penny in the fuse box in place of the blown fuse; If the entire vehicle does not catch fire, you can trace the problem to where the melted wires start...I'M JUST KIDDING!

Seriously, the last time I had this problem, I tracked it down to the trailer wiring connections as installed by the previous owner. Those connections are usually the weakest link in the system.

Intermittent problems are the worst to solve.

Good luck!
Tom
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Old 07-06-2004, 05:11 PM   #4
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Recently I had to trace a similar problem with my truck where occasionally a fuse would blow, knocking out my tail lights and clearance/running lights. Each time I'd replace the fuse, a shorter time would pass before it blew again. When I finally got a chance to start tracing the system, I discovered one of the wires for one of the clearance lights on the bed of the truck had been rubbing on a sharp edge of metal, and had had reached the point to where it was shorting every time. Once I got that rectified, I had no further problems.

If it's happening without the trailer connected, and since it's a somewhat older truck, I'd suggest exploring the wiring to the directionals, both under the dash and under the truck. If it's intermittent (mine was, initially) then that could point to a wire being rubbed against a jagged or sharp bit of metal, and occasionally making contact with bare hot wire, and shorting to ground.
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Old 07-06-2004, 07:14 PM   #5
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Older truck? It's the newest vehicle we own

I'll spend some time digging around for the answer. Hopefully it's not too hard to find. At least I have an idea what to look for.

Luckily the brake lights still work, it just kills the flashers. I'll have to see what else is on the circuit. I can rebuild an engine, but I hate doing electrical stuff.
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Old 07-06-2004, 09:19 PM   #6
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popping fuse on tow vehicle

Greetings Stephanie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Older truck? It's the newest vehicle we own

I'll spend some time digging around for the answer. Hopefully it's not too hard to find. At least I have an idea what to look for.

Luckily the brake lights still work, it just kills the flashers. I'll have to see what else is on the circuit. I can rebuild an engine, but I hate doing electrical stuff.
I have had the problem that you describe with just about every tow vehicle that I have owned. It reappears at approximately two or three year intervals. The internal connections in the car end of the trailer connection corrode to the point that bridges are formed between terminals resulting in blown fuses and/or erratic operation of turn signals/brake lights/running lights. This periodic trouble is one of the reasons that I carry an extra Bargman trailer and car end in the parts kit - - it has been about 2 1/2 years since the last episode on the Suburban and the tell-tale trouble with the left turn signal has returned indicating that the car end probably needs replacement.

Good luck with your search for the culprit of your fuse blowing issue!

Kevin
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Old 07-06-2004, 11:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Older truck? It's the newest vehicle we own

I did say somewhat older. Certainly didn't mean to imply it was ready for the old van's home. LOL

In any event, I hope you get it resolved soon. Kinda hard to make hand signals so's people can see 'em while towing!
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Old 07-06-2004, 11:29 PM   #8
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popping fuse on tow vehicle

Greetings Dave!

Quote:
Originally Posted by coriolis1
In any event, I hope you get it resolved soon. Kinda hard to make hand signals so's people can see 'em while towing!

Couldn't help it, when I saw your post it reminded me of a scene from the Long, Long, Trailer - - in the scene, the mechanic who had just finished installing the hitch on the Mercury and hitching up the New Moon had made the comment to just think of it as " having FORTY feet of train following you". A very short time later, Mickey is instructed to change lanes to the left at which point he nearly stands up and leans over the side of the car - - at which time we hear "no, your arm, not your head" - - then the often repeated "TRAILER BRAKES FIRST!".

I must have played the movie through at least three times during the VAC open house at the International Rally - - for some reason it has become my theme for the International VAC Open House and "hand signals" immediately reminds me of that early scene from the movie.

Kevin
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Old 07-07-2004, 12:25 AM   #9
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We saw that for the first time at the Silver Trailer Social, and I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It wasn't that funny when I saw it as a kid

I haven't had to rewire a trailer connector (or car end) yet. What's involved? Any special tools? I should be able to get one tomorrow and give that a shot. I can't find any frayed wiring anywhere on the truck so far, but we immediately suspected it might have something to do with either the trailer plug or the brake controller - they just look guilty to me.
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Old 07-07-2004, 12:58 AM   #10
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Heads up~

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
We saw that for the first time at the Silver Trailer Social, and I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It wasn't that funny when I saw it as a kid
I haven't had to rewire a trailer connector (or car end) yet. What's involved? Any special tools? I should be able to get one tomorrow and give that a shot. I can't find any frayed wiring anywhere on the truck so far, but we immediately suspected it might have something to do with either the trailer plug or the brake controller - they just look guilty to me.
Stefrobrts,
I'm afraid to say, this is a task I'm faced with....Likewise, I'm not looking forward to it either.
Witness this:
The break-away switch wire breaks off at the back of the switch..right?
This guy rewires it to the plug that you connect to the tow vehicle~
Grrrr, the things people do~
I'll need to find a plug that mates with the one on the Burb..
I'm not sure if there's any uniformity with the wiring on these units??
I will trace it out and, post it for references, if that's any help later..
ciao
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:04 AM   #11
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popping fuse on tow vehicle

Greetings Stephanie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
I haven't had to rewire a trailer connector (or car end) yet. What's involved? Any special tools? I should be able to get one tomorrow and give that a shot. I can't find any frayed wiring anywhere on the truck so far, but we immediately suspected it might have something to do with either the trailer plug or the brake controller - they just look guilty to me.
Wiring automotive or otherwise is far from my favorite tasks, but this is one that is far easier than most. The new Bargman connectors have the wire colors embossed at each terminal - - this makes the car end an easy task as unless the person who originally wired the car end used something other than an industry standard wire loom it is just a matter of matching up color function. If the person who originally wired the car end used only one color (as the one who wired my Dodge did), or something other than an industry standard wire loom, then it becomes a process of labeling the wires with masking tape as you remove them from the original car end (unless the car end is very old, it will also likely have the color codes embossed on the terminals. The following link will display the current industry standard for wiring the Bargman car end:

Bargman Connector Car End Current Industry Standard Wiring

Wiring the Bargman trailer end is nearly identical to the process involved in working with the care end other than the fact that the modern industry standard color codes for wiring do not correspond directly to the wire colors used by Airstream. The following links will help to identify the functional operation of the wire colors as originally used by Airstream:

1964-65 Airstream Bargman Plug Trailer End Wiring

1966-81 Airstream Bargman Plug Trailer End Wiring

1982-84 and 1989-Present Airstream Bargman Plug Trailer End Wiring

1985-88 Airstream Bargman Plug Trailer End Wiring

I found having a small 12-volt battery such as a garden tractor battery with a pair of alligator clips handy for testing the function on the trailer end on my adventures with recently acquired coaches (just as a verification of the data from the Airstream site). Both my '64 Overlander and '78 Minuet had wiring color coding reflecting what was listed on the Airstream site.

Good luck with your wiring gremlin. If it is the Bargman plug, it shouldn't be too difficult to solve - - beyone the car end, the necessary tools are typically only a screw driver and wire stripper/cutter.

Kevin
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:38 AM   #12
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Ok, my last dumb question, can I get shocked doing this (except by the price of the car end)?
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:46 AM   #13
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Yes you can get shocked, but not badly. The built in fuses on the system will not let it hurt you. If you see a spark form a short normally the fuse will blow.

The only time I get really concerned by 12 volt power is when I work around the batteries. The Amperage there can and will hurt you if not careful. At the rear plug, I would be less concerned, but still careful.
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:38 PM   #14
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I may have found my problem, the overdrive button is on the end of the shift lever, and it had come loose, causing one of the wires inside to chafe against the metal inside the lever. I pulled it out and protected the wire, then test drove it and the fuse didn't blow. So tomorrow I'm taking it to a mechanic to have the entire shift lever/overdrive button replaced, and hopefully that will take care of it.
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