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Old 10-17-2003, 09:25 AM   #1
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Aluminum wiring

I have aluminum wiring on my '67 Tradewind and am concerned about oxidation and safety. Some of my cone lights get very hot to the touch and the AC I just had installed was connected to the wiring that goes to an outlet with wire nuts and not a dielectric connection. Has anyone done repairs (pigtails) or anything to improve the alum to copper connections in their vintage units? What did you do or recommend? Thanks.
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Old 10-17-2003, 11:26 AM   #2
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Re: Aluminum wiring

Originally posted by jfsjr
I have aluminum wiring on my '67 Tradewind and am concerned about oxidation and safety. Some of my cone lights get very hot to the touch and the AC I just had installed was connected to the wiring that goes to an outlet with wire nuts and not a dielectric connection. Has anyone done repairs (pigtails) or anything to improve the alum to copper connections in their vintage units? What did you do or recommend? Thanks.
If they are getting hot up around the shade then that's probably just heat off the bulb. The electrical conection to the aluminum wiries is going to be where if attaches to the wall or possibly IN the wall.

It might be worth pulling them loose and checking those connections. What you want to look for is a chalky white or brown corrosion where the disimular metals are connected to each other.
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1988 R20 454 Suburban.
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:59 PM   #3
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Question What Years Wired Aluminum ???

Can we get a definitive answer as to which year models Airstream used Aluminum Wiring?
I saw a post this week on the forums where someone stated their '74 had this bad cost saving wire. But I think they are mistaken.
I am not aware of any Aluminum wired models in the '70s Era trailers at all.
'70's Era = 1969 thru 1980 inclusive.

'67 seems to be one Alum wired year in particular. Was there any exception that year?
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:57 PM   #4
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I'll be the first one to admit that Aluminum wiring makes me nervous. Most homes use it in the HVAC and electirc range ciruits. The big reason for this is that it's cheaper than copper.

Aluminum wiring is dangerous if the connection is allowed to be exposed to air and oxidizes. The wire expands slighly when it gets warm. The joint swells and shinks. The shrunken joint then loses connectivityy and the increased resistance creates heat...which creates more swelling... and the rest...well it aint good. The phenomenum is commonly know as cold creep.

I have used Cu/Al split bolts for conventional applications along with a liberal coating of No/Ox or some other suitable anti-oxidating agent. This works well and I've never had a problem. There are crimp connectors that work even better but they require a specialized crimper that basically fuses the connection together.

If it were me I'd clean and No/Ox the connections that are a concern, and re-connect them using a connector specifically designed for Cu/Al applications. If they are in an approved enclosure you're even better off. The good news is you're not alone and your 67 has made it 31 years as is.

Merry Christmas All

"One of the best lessons I've learned is that you don't worry about criticism from people you wouldn't seek advice from."

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Old 12-16-2008, 08:16 PM   #5
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Also, it is good to remember that any aluminium needlessly tied up in wiring is not available for beer cans.
"Not all who are laundering are washed" say Bill & Heidi

'78 Excella 500,"The Silver Pullit". vacuum over hydraulic disc brakes, center bath, rear twin. '67 Travelall 1200 B 4X4 WBCCI 3737
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:45 PM   #6
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Canadian Goverment banned aluminium wire in the late 70's too many fires caused from over heated wire joints, caused by the physical properties of aluminium.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:58 PM   #7
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Go to this web site. How to Reduce the Risks of Aluminum Wiring - at The Aluminum Wiring Information Website - How to Identify and Repair Aluminum Wiring in Buildings, COPALUM connectors, Aluminum Wire connectors,Aluminum Wire Pigtailing Repairs, COPALUM Certified Electr All you ever wanted to know about hazards of aluminium wiring and tested repair methods.

I pigtailed all the all the aluminium wire in the 110 AC circuits with copper and most of the 12 v circuits as well, (especially the light and fan circuit where higher amperages might be present) in my 67 Caravel using the 3M ScotchLock method described on the site reference above. . The method requires the use of 3M Scotchlock wire nuts and Penetrox A brand Anti-oxidant. The steps are strip end of aluminum wire and copper pigtail to expose clean wire, sand with emory cloth to be sure all oxidation is removed from aluminum wire, coat both wires with Penetrox A, Twist wires together in a clockwise direction, fill 3M scotch lock wire nut of appropriate size with Penetrox A (Penetrox A comes in a container kind of like the plastic bottle that liquid glue like Elmer's or Gorilla comes with a plastic tip and little cap and consequently filling the wire nut is relatively easy), screw the wire nut onto the twisted wire and your done.

The process was not difficult, but it was tedious. Penetrox A is messy and twisting the end of the wire together isn't as straight forward as on might think. Copper wire of the same ampacity of the aluminium wire is a small guage. The aluminum wire in the Caravel was 10 gage which works for a 20 amp circuit. The copper pigtail wire I uses was 12 gage (smaller diameter), which, because it is copper is likewise suitable for a 20 amp circuit.

It appears after checking the web site I referenced above, that there is a new method for pigtailing the aluminum with copper based on a new product introducted in July of 2007. You might want to consider that option. Good luck with your project. I suggest you put on some music you can hum or whistle along to while to you to work, it helped me get through my pigtailing project.
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