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Old 04-09-2009, 09:46 AM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Jackson County , Missouri
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12v transformer question: 78 Stream

Howdy Folks:

I am restoring a 78 Sovereign Land Yacht.

The battery was shot. The interior forward exhaust fan was shorted out. The previous owner pulled the fuse.

When I took ownership, I noted the transformer was cooking hot when everything was hooked up and running. The trailer is hooked up to 110v.

I suspected the transformer may be damaged. I pulled it and had it tested out. The electrician says the transformer is putting out 14v fine. I re-installed transformer and purchased a new battery.

When I plugged the unit back in, the transformer is humming loudly, like when you first hook up a battery to recharge. I checked the status panel over the stove. The panel says the battery is low\dead.
(and it's not, it's new...)

I voltage tested the two heavy cables during reinstall. I have them hooked up the right way.

I am new to this trailer. Do I disregard the status panel over the stove and live with this? I don't want to. I like all my little gizmos working good. I pulled the plug on the transformer and pulled the batter cable for now until I know I'm not heavy draining or over-charging the new battery.

Can anyone offer some suggestions what should be done next? Much obliged everyone.

<humbly bowing>

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:54 AM   #2
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Sorry I didn't post this in the electricals sub-forum. I'll cross-post this there now if now one minds. Best Regards, page.crow
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:11 AM   #3
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In my 71 and 73 the battery guage in the Master Control Center read low. With the 110 not connected put a meter on the battery. A full charge should be 12.75- 13v. Discharged would read between 10.5 and 11.

The humming is normal.

Consider upgrading to a 3 phase converter. They are more efficient, are silent, and don't boil (overcharge) batteries which can ruin them.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:11 AM   #4
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Your NEW battery would not come with a full charge so the converter would attempt to bring it up and thus the converter is running hard, hot and noisy.

What I would do is remove the battery and put it on a battery charger until it is fully charged. Now hook it up to the rig and check the panel. If the panel still read low it is a problem in the panel.

Before you hook up the battery to the rig, and with the converter on, test the polarity output of the converter to to make sure it is correct. Hook up the battery using that polarity check. This will ensure the battery polarity is correct.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by page.crow View Post

Do I disregard the status panel over the stove and live with this? I don't want to. I like all my little gizmos working good.
This world view is common to banjo pickers. It has something to do with the compulsive need for constant tuning.
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:53 PM   #6
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Ahh now, don't be "pick-in" on us banjo players. We gotta eat too. <grinning>

OK, another question: Please tell me about "the 3-phase converter" you mentioned. I'm new to Airstreams, but I'm quick on the learning curve. Is there a replacement\upgrade converter for these Airstreams I should know about? This converter is unacceptably loud with the humming & buzzing. The noise dominates the space inside. I find myself unplugging the unit while I'm in my trailer. I'm thinking about installing a swith so I can turn it off easily when I enter the trailer. I know that's not how it's meant to be used, but it's that unpleasant. Is there a upgrade converter? Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this issue.

(I know banjos & hot rod Ford engines.)

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Old 04-13-2009, 08:09 PM   #7
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Your original Converter/charger has a heavy transformer to drop the voltage from 110 volts to 12 volts that is then converted to DC voltage to run the stuff in your trailer and charge your battery bank...

Unfortunately, these old converters don't provide for a 'float' type battery charge, once the battery has been fully charged...if you keep the converter running in this condition, the elevated voltage will continue to 'boil' the electrolyte away inside the battery, exposing the plates, drying them out, causing material to flake away, destroying the battery!

Newer, three-way converter/chargers have a 'bulk' charge to bring up discharged batteries quickly, then go into a 'finishing' charge to top them off, and then go into the 'float' charge routine that keeps your batteries completely charged without boiling away the electrolyte...all automatically, so they help keep your batteries in good shape while you're plugged into 'shore power'....

check out www.bestconverter.com to see what they offer for your trailer - they are very up to date and will reccommend a unit for your AS...I bought a new converter/charger from them for our 78 AS, and couldn't be happier!
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:52 PM   #8
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We just installed an intellipower converter today in our 72. It makes NO noise. It is wonderful. We bought ours from www.bestconverter.com too.
My husband used the fuse panel from the old univolt which made it very easy to install.

Annette
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:08 PM   #9
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Absolutely dump the old one and call Best Converter. They'll help you select a modern converter that is best for your rig and they stand behind their units if you ever have a problem. I have firsthand experience and highly recommend them.
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:43 AM   #10
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Dear Ladies & Gentlemen:

Thank you very much for your advice & recommendations. This is my first Airstream. And I got into it in a BIG way. I bought the '78 31' Sovereign with the rear-bath.

I will indeed upgrade to the 3-phase converter. Glad I found you all. Much obliged.

I had no idea when I purchased my Airstream that I also bought into a gang of wonderful peoples! <grinning> You all are very helpful.

My first trip is coming up in a few weeks. I'm a single dad taking my two teenage kids from Kansas City to Cedar Point roller coaster park. I've just about brought this trailer up to par. I have rebuilt, remodeled and done what I can to wring a few more miles out of this cool trailer. It's gonna be a hoot.

thank you,
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:56 AM   #11
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Ditto on the above comments about replacing the Univolt and checking out Best converter.com. The owner is a forums member and there are also a few more members who do this kind of work, but I can't remember them right now. Maybe someone else can chime in here. There are 3 or 4 possibilities in 3 phase converters. This is the time to consider if you are going to need to increase your original electrical set up for other appliances etc. If so, depending on how often you are not hooked up to shore power, you might want to increase your battery capacity. Also consider if you want to upgrade to AGM batteries or stay with flooded cells. Certain brands of converters are better suited for particular configurations.

Your OEM set up in your 78 I would guess is for 30 amps and 1 100 amp hour battery. This is marginal for most folks present needs. I upgraded to a 45 amp Intellipower with a 200 amp hour AGM battery. This is pretty basic but will run a small flat panel TV and a few other items for a weekend. Others have opted for even more capacity. There are plenty of threads on the subject
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:11 AM   #12
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Wow. I've been over to the website www.bestconverter.com. They really do have the stuff. Thanks. Ok, check this out:

"When installing a modern converter, you will not have use of the AC power-on light found in most Airstream control panels." (quote from bestconverter website)

Where is this "power-on light" they are referring to? I know my way around the trailer now.

Also, I was pleased to find a decent selection of 12-volt LED lighting on that website. I was planning on retro-fitting my own LED lighting to replace the bulbs above the sink. Does anyone have a good recommendation of another supplier for a round-disc loaded with LEDs that I can trim to fit and wire in? Cost baby! $30 for a dome light is steep in my opinion. Radio Shack?

Thanks folks! See you out on the trail.

page.crow

ps: Here's a little recommendation from "fly-over" country: Stockton Lake in Missouri. Gorgeous! It's my home away from home. Stockton is a sailing lake. Few speedy boats or jet skis (quiet). Corps of Engineers lake, so no commercial buildup around the lake. The cleanest water, visibility for 10 foot. Nice little campgrounds and electrical hookups for the Airstreams.

This is Osage country. The land around Stockton was inhabited by the Osage tribe for centuries until the white men killed them off. This is also bushwhacker country: The Missouri Partisan Rangers roamed these hills and plains. Gorgeous country that we Missourians generally keep to ourselves. Come to think of it, forget about it... <grinning>
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:18 AM   #13
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Much obliged Lumatic. I didn't think about increasing the electrical needs for 12 volt. I was looking around the trailer thinking, "There isn't that much needing 12 volt..."

I already bought a new battery from Autozone. I used Autozome because they are EVERYWHERE when you need them. I went with a standard wet deep-cycle battery.
And they are pretty good about exchanges & refunds.

Looks like I'm buying a converter today. <grinning> This is fun!

crow
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by page.crow View Post

"When installing a modern converter, you will not have use of the AC power-on light found in most Airstream control panels." (quote from bestconverter website)

Where is this "power-on light" they are referring to? I know my way around the trailer now.
I don't know about 78 but the early 70s had a small light on the master control panel that went on when the coach was plugged into shore power. The easiest workaround I have heard about is just put a small nightlight in one of the 110 outlets. You could also plug in a small 110 to 12v transformer and wire that to the original circuit in the Univolt.
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:01 AM   #15
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Crow...

I'm surprised you don't have two battery compartments in your 78 AS...we have a 78 Ambassador, and it has two compartments in the forward end of the trailer...



In the pic you can see the two compartments...plus I've recently added a third battery box there just aft of the propane bottles...I use (3) group 27 flooded cell, 105 AmpHr batteries...

I've installed a 1500 watt inventer to run the Sat receiver, TV and DVD player, etc...

Also, to work around that 'AC Connected' pilot light you mentioned - I just plug in an AC ground testor in the galley area - I can tell when the AC's hooked up, and check the proper ground at the same time!

I got mine here:- Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices

Good luck with your new 'toy'....
Ray
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Old 04-15-2009, 06:50 AM   #16
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Crow,
I had the same humming in our '87 and you can read some more information here...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...azy-40453.html

If yours is anything like mine there will be a thinner wire which powers the AC light on the control panel that you mentioned. If you can trace the wire you should be able to locate the AC light on the control panel.

I replaced the old unit with an 60 Amp Progressive Dynamics Intelli-Power model 9200 from www.bestconverter.com. It was an easy install and has worked great since then.

Like Mexray, I also have a ground tester plugged into the outlet right inside the door to let me know I have a proper ground and AC.

PS - Welcome aboard and enjoy your Airstream.
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:52 AM   #17
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Got the new transformer on the way. I ordered their biggest unit, the 80 amp. What the heck. I live large. <grinning>

Thanks folks.

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Old 04-16-2009, 12:04 PM   #18
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Just a few comments about terminology:
These are "converters", not transformers (although they have one inside). They are basically a DC power supply. In the late vintage 70's, it was a ferroresonant supply with a transformer, two diodes, and two capacitors to make it resonate. The battery provided all the filtering. In our '79, getting it out was a gut busting operation due to the location.
On our '96, we replaced it with a WFCO from the vendor mentioned above and love it. they are "three stage", not "three phase". Three phase refers to how big power loads are fed from the local utility.
Our '79 had a 55 amp converter, so the fuses were sized for that limit. I wonder if your 80 amp converter might start blowing fuses if you are charging a completely drained battery with it. You should be able to see the large fuses in the panel. They are between the converter and the battery in the circuit.

Your earlier mention of shorts might warrant a good test of all the circuits in the trailer using an ohmmeter and pulling the fuses to make sure there are not any other ones hiding.

Good luck!
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Old 04-16-2009, 12:24 PM   #19
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Welcome to Airforum, page.crow!

That sounds like a mighty fine TT you have there, I love the older big ones, too. How about some photos of yours? You might want to use a site like photobucket.com to host them, in that way you can post almost any size you like without having to scrunch them down to abide within the Airforum server's necessary constraints.

Sounds like you're ready for a big pile of fun with the tariler and your sons. Enjoy!

ps: somebody told me that a definition of "perfect pitch" is being able to hit the accordian in the dumpster with the banjo in only one throw. Is that true??



...just kidding, of course!
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Old 04-17-2009, 05:13 AM   #20
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LOL! Ouch! Yes indeed. Being the whipping-boy of all musicians (banjo-player), I admit I resemble that remark. <grinning> I love the banjo! It is a VERY difficult instrument to play, but OH! does it sound good. You just gotta dig that dissonance-sound, baby! I heard a young man the other day playing a Stelling. His banjo sounded like a macine gun. He was amazing. Banjo is SO cool. <grinning>

Dave: I gotta thank you for putting the steep-up on my learning curve. I now know more about these converters than I ever thought I would. Regarding the 80-amp unit I purchased: (Scotty...Give me MORE POWER!) I had no idea the bigger unit could possibly blow fuses. That's not good. I'll be on the lookout for that. Too much converter? Is that possible? Again, I don't see THAT much 12-volt stuff going on around the trailer, but like most males, I wanted the BIGGEST ONE! <grinning> Heck, if they offered a concert-hall special, I would have bought that one. Temper me.

I'm doing a big RE-DO on the inside of my trailer. Gawd! Is this fun! Thanks for asking about pictures. I'll do that when I get it finished, which is soon. I've painted the interior in some bold and masculine colors. (No women dare come around here...) The front walls are light turquoise blue. The middle-sleeper is sand-tan. The bathroom is tomato-red, white and black. The ceiling is chocolate-brown. I tinted the windows 5% (wow). The floor is light hardwood. The outside is ... silver.

The woman I bought it from said everything worked. She lied. She meant everything was broken. I have repaired the tongue-lift winch, the stove, the fridge, the plumbing (still working on that.) Upgrades include a new furnace, a fantastic vent (Thanks everyone for that recommendation.) and now this converter. Geez! You know, I could really live in this trailer! It's coming together. I will take pics. Thanks for asking.

I want to say I really appreciate the community here in the Airstreams forums website. You all are the most hospitable folks I have met on the internet. Thanks for the help and comraderie.

<humbly bowing>

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