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Originally Posted by 66 Tradewind
I have no clue about the electrical system of my newly acquired 66 Tradewind. I would greatly appreciate some help. Please enlighten me and donít assume I know anything, because I donít. I have a (1) breaker box, and a (2) fuse panel rear of the AS. On the curbside behind the refrigerator wires come out of the wall, what are they for? All of the 120 outlets work except for the one most forward curbside. The 12-volt lights arn't working yet. The PO had an exposed romex wire going from the AC to the rear. Do you think there was a wire inside the skin going to the AC originally?
I will also appreciate other unsolicited advice that you may think will be helpful. Thanks for your help.
- White romex and black romex. Does color mean anything?
- Does the Univolt convert 120 volt into 12 volt?
- Does the Univolt charge the battery when plugged into a 120-volt system? If so, can it overcharge the battery?
- How do I know if the Univolt works?
- Do you recommend some type of trickle charger to keep the battery charged?
- Are there fuses within the Univolt metal case?
- Should the 12-volt lights work with out a battery if I am plugged into 120?
- Advise me on what battery system to purchase. I have read two 6 volts combined are best. Is this correct? Two 6 volts, or one 12 volt, is this enough power to run my 12 volt lights. How do I know I have enough juice?
Regarding the wires exiting the wall near your refrigerator. I suspect that they were originally connected to a monitor panel system, and/or stereo entertainment system. Both of these features were typically part of the International packages but could be added optionally to most coaches.
It sounds as if your coach may have an aftermarket air conditioner that was added by someone not familiar with Airstreams. By 1966
, Airstreams were pre-wired and braced for Air Conditioning at the factory - - the trick was that you had to have information from a dealer or the factory in order to know where to cut the hole in the roof and cieling when installing the air conditioner (Airstream did not use an existing vent opening for air conditioner installation as did most Brand X coaches) - - when the correct location is found, the wiring is usually coiled in close vicinity as is the condesate drain (I am not certain whether the prep package included the drain in 1966
- - I know that it didn't in 1964). The air conditioner wire was routed to the circuit breaker box area waiting for its breaker to be installed with the air conditioning system.
There are any number of potential issues that could be causing your problems with the 12-volt lighting. A missing or malfunctioning Univolt would be a first potential source, followed by fuses - - you will likely find fuses on a panel behind a panel secured with a set-screw on the Univolt as well as the possibility of either fuses or fusible links on the 12-volt cables going to the battery - - one or more bad fuses could be a culprit. Burned out light bulbs, corossion in the sockets could also prove troublesome.
Since I am not a do-it-yourselfer, I won't try to comment on your question regarding Romex colors.
Regarding the Univolt, it was a "proprietary" design for Airstream in its early years and was a dual function device it converted 120-volt-AC to 12-vot-DC, and charged the battery (often is cited as a culprit in overcharging and boiling away the electrolyte). The 12-Volt fuse panel is typically located behind a panel on the Univolt that is secured with a screw. On the 1960s era coaches, the Univolt was often located on the streetside in the rear one-stop service compartment - - it is a rather large steel box with ventilation holes that (if operational) hums when the coach is plugged into 120-volt AC.
If the Univolt is the original issue unit, you will be able to tell if it is operable by the audible hum that it makes whenever it is connected to shore power. Ideally, a battery should always be in the circuit with the Univolt according to what the technicians who work on my coach have told me.
Neither one of my coaches have their original Univolts. A part of the upgrade on the Overlander to a Solar Electric system included a hard-wired Inverter/Charger system that replaced the Magnatec converter that was a replacement for the original Univolt. The original Univolt in my Minuet died shortly after I purchased the coach, and my Airstream dealer installed a new "Univolt" that duplicates those utilized in the new Airstreams.
Regarding batteries, your limitation may be the space available where your battery box is located. Often you will find that a Group 27 is the largest battery that will fit in the stock box. In fact, a Group 24 is the largest battery that will fit in my Minuet. AGM or Gel Cell batteries can be mounted a little more flexibly since they do not require the degree of ventilation that is necessary for lead acid batteries - - my Overlander has three of these batteries that were a part of its solar system (they were significantly more expensive, but have been far less trouble than the lead-acid battery in my Minuet). A single Group 24 or 27 battery should produce enough power for the limited 12-volt use that most encounter; if however, you are planning on boondocking for extended lengths of time you may find yourself looking for more reserve capacity (two or more Group 24 or 27 batteries).
If your coach didn't come with a copy of the owner's manual, you may find one useful. They were still in their infancy as the first manuals weren't published until 1964
. While not as comprehensive as current manuals, they do have a wealth of information tailored to a particular model year coach. You can obtain copies of the original manual from:
Q: I need an owners and service manual for my Airstream. Where can I get one?
A: The first owners manuals were published in 1964. Prior to that, the owner received a brown envelope containing parts lists and other helpful information on the accessories in his trailer. The VAC has started making these available in the Members Archive section. A service manual with instructions for performing service operations did not exist until 1972.
You can get photocopies of owners manual (1964+) and service manuals (1972-1986) from:
Helen Davis Secretarial Services
PO Box 484 Sidney, OH 45365
Prices are about $33 and $70 respectively. After 1986 the Owners Manuals included available service information.
*The above is quoted from the Vintage Airstream Club website
Another book that has often been cited as being very helpful for generic information on RV maintenanc and repair is RV Repair and Maintenance Manual by Bob Livingston - - 4th Edition
Good luck with your coach!