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Old 09-15-2004, 09:06 AM   #21
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Just a short followup on this thread. AS did a great job yesterday on the window. Dan (the man) took only two hours to replace the window, explained everything to me as he was doing it and the bill was for less than the estimate.
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Old 09-15-2004, 10:06 AM   #22
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Sounds like the repair or what ever has put the hot (or live) voltage on the body of the trailer. VERY DANGEROUS if you touch the body and or are standing in water you could be cremated. need I say more.
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Old 09-27-2004, 05:05 PM   #23
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Diagnosis

Ok, I need some help understanding what I've been told. The Airstream dealer I brought my trailer to says he thinks he's diagnosed and fixed the problem. He says he switched out the 30 amp plug on the back of the trailer and that it took care of the problem. What I'm being told is he thinks the neutral was corroded in the plug and wasn't functioning thus causing an electric current to flow through the trailer. Thoughts? Can that happen?
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Old 09-27-2004, 05:09 PM   #24
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Well, its not really a "he thinks". He either fixed it or he didn't. Sure a lack of a ground can be a problem although I'm not an electrician. I sure do know that when I was three years old I was barefooted on concrete and grabbed on to the basement metal support post that my dad was drilling with his old Skill ungrounded drill.

To say the least he said I filled my pants.

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Old 09-28-2004, 12:07 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barkingspider
Ok, I need some help understanding what I've been told. The Airstream dealer I brought my trailer to says he thinks he's diagnosed and fixed the problem. He says he switched out the 30 amp plug on the back of the trailer and that it took care of the problem. What I'm being told is he thinks the neutral was corroded in the plug and wasn't functioning thus causing an electric current to flow through the trailer. Thoughts? Can that happen?

Dubious at best!
I would check this out further. Have someone test the trailer's ground potential. Meter the trailer skin to ground.
It should be 0Vac if not it is not fixed.
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Old 09-28-2004, 07:21 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
Well, its not really a "he thinks". He either fixed it or he didn't. Sure a lack of a ground can be a problem although I'm not an electrician. I sure do know that when I was three years old I was barefooted on concrete and grabbed on to the basement metal support post that my dad was drilling with his old Skill ungrounded drill.

To say the least he said I filled my pants.

Jack
Well Jack, this anwswers a whole bunch of questions I had.

On a more serious note, we had a few issues when we picked up our 2004 Safari back in December of 2003. We had driven out to Piqua, OH (about 30 miles from Jackson Center) to the Airstream dealer there. When we got there, the dealer told us, there was a problem.

The long and the short of it is simply that we didn't sign the paperwork, left our Bambi (that we were going to trade in) at the Ohio dealer. The dealer committed to find and fix the problem and deliver the Safari for our inspection and delivery to our home here in the Chicago area which we could again fully refuse if not satisfied.

On the way home (btw, for us it is about a 600 mile round trip), totally bummed out and disappointed, we saw the Jackson Center exit sign. We looked at each other and said, why not, we can at least see the factory and take the tour.

Upon arriving at Jackson Center, we walked in and started to shop in the store they have in the main area. With that, we bumped into a familiar voice (over the phone) that had helped us with our 2003 Bambi. We talked a bit and mentioned the problems that had just happened. It wasn't going to be magically fixed, but this person listened, looked at the pics we took, showed us pics of thier Airstream and told us, not to worry, they would get to the bottom of it.

By the time we finished the factory tour, Airstream had already called the dealer and from that moment forward, was neck deep into the small list we had found and worked with the dealer. They sent a tech out to the dealer and spent the better part of the day working with the dealer. They also took the Safari back to Jackson Center and spent another day doing further tests and such to make sure the camper was in fact good to go.

When we got the unit, it appeard to be 100% and for the most part, it was. It is true the main issue we had did appear again, but to be honest, there would have been no way that this could have been found. It took us several different senarios to duplicate the problem. Once we did, one call (or email) to the factory got us on the right track. They gave us great support over the phone. Shared some tips and tricks to further diagnose and offered to send us parts that we could have to get us by, some of which we did take them up on, and others we did not.

Thankfully, there have been few issues with our 2004 Safari, which was not the case with our 2003 Bambi. Nonetheless, there have been and are a few issues.

Now I haven't been through the "service center" per se, but I have had our unit in their hands for issues and had a few converstations with folks there and I find they have the same position as the folks at ABT Electronics have...."the answer to any reasonable question is Yes." The bottom line as I see it is this, if you are having problems with the Airstream Service Department, stay there as long as it takes to get your coach fixed. If you happen to get an answer that does not make sense, talk with someone else to verify the answer. They clearly have the tools and the talent. This forum alone has seen instances where we've seen the work they have done and all were impressed (JodynJeep feel free to jump in if you see this). I know that in some cases, it might not be realisitic, but keep in mind that if you are going to drive a good distance, you should not move out of Terra Port until you are a happy camper. When I eventually get to Jackson Center again, I will be sure to do a few things when I am there for service:

1) Take the tour again
2) Buy more trinkets
3) See some folks we know at Jackson Center and look forward to seeing
4) Have our coach serviced
5) Incorporate this into a vacation with lots of time to be at Airstream to have any and all issues addressed to our statisfaction and see some of the sites around Jackson Center

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Old 09-28-2004, 08:14 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barkingspider
Ok, I need some help understanding what I've been told. The Airstream dealer I brought my trailer to says he thinks he's diagnosed and fixed the problem. He says he switched out the 30 amp plug on the back of the trailer and that it took care of the problem. What I'm being told is he thinks the neutral was corroded in the plug and wasn't functioning thus causing an electric current to flow through the trailer. Thoughts? Can that happen?
Still looking for a definitive answer. Can the lack of a neutral connection in a 30 amp plug cause the trailers skin to become electrified? If not, then they didn't fix the problem. Thanks, Joe
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Old 09-28-2004, 10:28 AM   #28
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Joe, I'm not a qualified electrician, but pending a better reply from a Forum member with more knowledge, I will give my understanding of the situation. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the power supply grounding is similar in the USA to here in England.
Years ago, all houses supplied their own grounds via a metal stake driven a few feet into the ground. Power companies decided that it would be more reliable if the power company supplied high quality grounds down a wire. The power supply company neutral is used as the ground. This is used because it is at ground potential, and there is a low impedance between it and the live power line. Safety devices, such as GFI's, then work fast, which is good for safety. At the connection to the home, the home's ground and neutral are bonded together. So far, so good. In England, most homes use this system, known as PME, Protective Multiple Earthing. A pal of mine is a Florida linesman, and he tells me this is the same in his area.
However, this system has one dangerous aspect. It is known as "broken neutral", and this is what may have occurred with your trailer. A Google search on "broken neutral" will supply confirmation. If the supply company's neutral is broken shortly before the connection to the house, the house loses its grounding system, and, if an appliance is switched on, the neutral/ground in the home (trailer), becomes "live". Thus the trailer body is live. If you stand on the earth outside, and touch the trailer, you will be electrocuted. This may be what has happened in your case. It has killed people in homes, as they stepped out of the door. A broken neutral can be lethal.
You may understand why I choose to diconnect the Power Company ground at my home's swimming pool electrics, and use my own metal stake, with its resistance to ground properly monitored.
I repeat that I am not qualified as an electrician, but that I'm repeating what I have learned by study over the years. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can assist, as what I have described may not be relevant to your situation. You have to ensure there is no potential difference between the earth outside, and the trailer body. A good electrician must check this. Be careful, be very careful! Nick
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Old 09-28-2004, 11:06 AM   #29
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Floating Ground

The AC should not be grounded to the Trailer in any way. The N and G should not be connected in the panel, thus you shouldn't get zapped. However, who knows what folks have done over the years. Someone may have attached the gound wire in a recept to the metal box which is attached to the metal skin. This is a common practise when three conducter wire is run to ungrounded recepticals and I've seen it done on grounded recept as well. People do all kinds of things when they don't know what they are doing. In a trailer it is a major problem. If you have any recept without the little ground hole pull them out and replace them with the copper wire to the little green screw on the recept.
Unplug the power.
If you have a meter check the resistance between the shell and the ground in the panel and Check between the external plug ground and hot, should be no connection, also the external neutral and ground. There are those who wrap the ground around a screw that connects the panel to the frame, bad, bad, bad.
If you get someone to look at it get a marine electrician, the floating ground stuff may be a mystery to someone who hasn't been formally trained in it or experienced. It is different from house wiring.

If your shell is hot don't plug into power and touch any metal.
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Old 09-28-2004, 03:00 PM   #30
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Can the lack of a neutral connection in a 30 amp plug cause the trailers skin to become electrified? If not, then they didn't fix the problem. Thanks, Joe
in a word NO!

if your trailer is wired properly you would get dim lights, if any at all from a bad neutral connection.

i still think they pierced a wire when they installed the antenna.

i wish i was there, ten min. with a volt ohm meter would be very revealing!

john
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Old 09-28-2004, 04:39 PM   #31
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Was that you?

I was in Camper Clinic today to pick up my AS and overheard part of a discussion on the phone about the owner getting shocked and factory modifications having been done. Either this is a trend or you were the caller. Based on the number of older units in for repair at CC, they must be doing some things right but I still find screws left off on reassembly.
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Old 09-28-2004, 05:15 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Gerald Clay
I was in Camper Clinic today to pick up my AS and overheard part of a discussion on the phone about the owner getting shocked and factory modifications having been done. Either this is a trend or you were the caller.
I'm sure it was me. I talked to them three times today. They keep trying to convince me that if the neutral wasn't functioning properly that the skin of my trailer would become electrified. Not buying it. Now they are waiting on Airstream to send them a wiring diagram for the trailer. Told him to just look it up in my manual in the trailer and he told me he'd rather get something directly from Airstream.
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Old 09-28-2004, 05:59 PM   #33
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Quote:
They keep trying to convince me that if the neutral wasn't functioning properly that the skin of my trailer would become electrified.
unless there is a malfunctioning appliance or lamp fixture in the trailer they are WRONG.

your trailer was fine before the factory screwed the antenna in place. right?

you got a spark at the ground terminal when trying to plug it in, that means there is a hot lead touching the skin.

i would suggest getting the factory to hire/pay for a licensed electrician to look at your trailer. get an outside opinion, then approach them with the findings.

john
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Old 09-28-2004, 06:03 PM   #34
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Talked to an Electrician

I finally talked to my friend the electrician and here's what he said. As suspected - it is NOT possible for a bad neutral wire to electrify the trailer. He said if the neutral went out you simply wouldn't have power. He said the sole purpose of the ground wire is to blow the circuit if a stray or frayed hot wire were to touch something else metal. Sometimes though the circuit doesn't blow when a hot wire touches a conductor and at that time I would get shocked. In order for me to get shocked the neutral would have to be functioning properly or at least in a dimished capacity. Might be a good idea for me to contact Airstream tomorrow and let them know what the dealer is trying to tell me and see what they say.
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Old 09-28-2004, 10:19 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barkingspider
I finally talked to my friend the electrician and here's what he said. As suspected - it is NOT possible for a bad neutral wire to electrify the trailer. He said if the neutral went out you simply wouldn't have power. He said the sole purpose of the ground wire is to blow the circuit if a stray or frayed hot wire were to touch something else metal. Sometimes though the circuit doesn't blow when a hot wire touches a conductor and at that time I would get shocked. In order for me to get shocked the neutral would have to be funcioning properly or at least in a dimished capacity. Might be a good idea for me to contact Airstream tomorrow and let them know what the dealer is trying to tell me and see what they say.
That sounds right to me. AC current works evenly. On an oscilloscope, (an instrument that shows the variations in a fluctuating electrical quantity as a visible wave form) AC voltage would appear as a Sine Wave, this would be equal above and below the 0 Line This is correct for Alternating Current, AC. If you removed the netural 1/2 of the connection is lost and you would have nothing at all. So this means that if your netural was failing to make contact you would not have been shocked as they have told you. You must have current present to have been shocked...............

I agree with John in that the problem surfaced only after they installed the antenna bracket on your unit. This makes full sense. They probably pinched or pierced a hot wire and it's connection to the shell of your unit is completed when they tightened the screw. They should have used rivets, but sloppy drill work could have also torn the insulation from the wire and now it is just barley touching the screw when you are being shocked. You would still have the problem with rivets too if sloppy drill work is the case. Anyway this loose or intermittent connection may also allow your breaker not to trip as it should when a short of this nature is encountered.

I do have one simply question, did they inspect the antenna mount to see if that was what was causing the short or did they just say, no that's not it?

Keep us posted because this one is gonna be interesting.............
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Old 09-29-2004, 08:26 AM   #36
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I do have one simply question, did they inspect the antenna mount to see if that was what was causing the short or did they just say, no that's not it?
No they did not inspect the antennae mount. They simply said "We looked at the 30 amp plug and thought it looked corroded so we replaced it."
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Old 09-29-2004, 11:04 AM   #37
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Thumbs down Camper Clinic horror stories

I have to tell ya - between this and the nightmarish floor "repair" stories I've heard, I would be disinclined to use Camper Clinic II in Buda for anything other than an occasional parts resource. Too much "Slap-Dash Sally" for me!
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Old 09-29-2004, 08:06 PM   #38
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Problem Found - Screw in a hot wire

First let me say I truly appreciate all of you on the forum. The knowledge and experience you share with fellow Airstreamers is a tremendous resource.

Second let me say....The problem has been diagnosed!!!! Airstream drove a screw into a hot wire while installing the support bracket for my Winegard antennae. Camper Clinic will take a picture of it tomorrow and email it to Airstream to ask them how they would like to handle it.

If you still want to read on I'll tell you the chain of events leading up to it being diagnosed this evening............

I drove out to Camper Clinic this evening to talk with them about my trailer and to have them show me how they planned to access and check the hot wire in the ceiling without removing the center panel.

After I got there we discussed a few things and I suggested we ohm the plug to see if everything was hooked up correctly. When they did this they couldn't get a proper reading from any combination of hot/neutral or hot/ground connections on the 30 amp male plug.

I then drove home and got a call from them about an hour later. They said after I left their shop they decided they really needed to get this figured out and went back inside to discover the GFI breaker had tripped again. So they started going through the breaker box one connection at time. Everything looked good. After that they enlarged the hole above the light in the shower stall where the 12 volt lead comes through and they were able to get up there and see that Airstream had actually driven a screw threw one of the hot wires in the ceiling while installing the support bracket for my antennae. They also mentioned that the end of this screw had burned/melted from the electricity and wasn't keeping a constant connection with the hot wire and that's why it was now happening intermittenlty.

Joe
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Old 09-29-2004, 08:31 PM   #39
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Argh!

All I can think of is the liability that they had, NOT checking with an ohmeter to see if they had fixed it the first time..... who replaces a plug and does not check it!

I'm glad you're alive.
Marc
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Old 10-12-2004, 11:52 AM   #40
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Chaulk up another correct diagnoses for the Airstream Forums.

Well what kind of repair did they finally do to correct the problem?
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