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Old 06-09-2007, 10:30 PM   #1
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My Airstream shocked me like an electric fence

After I hooked up my '68 Sovereign the first time I was outside scrubbing the exterior. I put my hand on the trailer and got shocked.

The previous owner had a ground wire running from the bumper into the ground. He cut it so I could take the trailer.

Is this normal? Do trailers of this era need a ground wire?

I haven't tried the electric since, have been too busy cleaning. Time to try again soon though and I need some input on this.
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Old 06-09-2007, 10:51 PM   #2
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Serious short in the wiring....VERY dangerous situation!!!! You better check it all out before hooking up again. This is NOT normal.
Good luck.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:09 PM   #3
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Hi, very normal, not a short, but still dangerous; Make sure that you are useing a three prong, grounded plug, plugged into a properly grounded receptical. Simple as that.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:18 PM   #4
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properly grounded receptical?

I am running an extension cord from my friend's small commercial building to the wire coming out of the back of the trailer that has an adapter for a 110 hookup.

Are you saying it's possible the power from her building isn't grounded properly?

Not clear.

Thanks for the reply.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utahredrock
I am running an extension cord from my friend's small commercial building to the wire coming out of the back of the trailer that has an adapter for a 110 hookup.

Are you saying it's possible the power from her building isn't grounded properly?

Not clear.

Thanks for the reply.
Hi, yes I am; for example some older homes like mine were built with two prong recepticals [not grounded] and although I have replaced all of my recepticals with three prong type and up graded my electrical systems, I still have some that are not grounded. My garage only has two wires comeing from the house for power so my garage recepticals are not grounded. There is a very simple tester that you plug into the recepticals to test them. They are only a few bucks, have three lights, and will tell you instantly if there is no ground or other problems.
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:26 AM   #6
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another [possibly] dumb question . . .

Where do I buy that tester?? What sort of store? Haven't dealt much with electrical issues like this. Also, if the tester confirms what you're saying, is there an easy fix to ground my friend's electric??
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utahredrock
Where do I buy that tester?? What sort of store? Haven't dealt much with electrical issues like this. Also, if the tester confirms what you're saying, is there an easy fix to ground my friend's electric??
You can get a tester at most hardware stores, or Home Depot, even Wal-Mart should have them.
As far as fixing, first, do you have a 3 prong extension cord you are using? If not, start there, you can't ground something without the third (ground) wire.
Now, as far as your original question, you should not be getting shocked by your trailer. It is possible you have insulation worn off on a wire in the 120 volt wiring.
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Old 06-10-2007, 06:16 AM   #8
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You have a condition called a 'hot skin'. As others above have said, you have either a hot lead from the 120VAC side or a positive lead from the 12VDC side touching the skin somewhere and grounding out.......OR.........you have a polarity problem in an outlet or connection somewhere. If it doesn't happen when you're not connected to 120VAC, you can generally discount the 12VDC side.

Get a polarity tester like others advised. It plugs in to any 120VAC outlet and has 3 lights on it and a diagram to decipher the conditions that the lights will show you.

Report back after testing and we'll get deeper into your problem.

Also as previously mentioned, a thorough check of the extension cord AND the outlet that it is plugged in to is a great first step. Plug the tested into the outlet first, then the extension, then go into the trailer.

Good luck!
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Old 06-10-2007, 06:29 AM   #9
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On it

Thanks guys. Will get a tester and try tomorrow. I am using a three pronged extenstion cord . . . will start at the outlet and come out from there as advised.
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Old 06-10-2007, 06:50 AM   #10
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You're not parked under high-tension / high-voltage power lines, are you?

My '67 Avion used to have a parking space directly under a huge power transmission line (my space was a couple of yards from the base of one of the poles, in fact). With NO 12 volt power, and NO 120 volt hookup, touching the exterior skin would make you tingle with shoes on...and make you tingle hard without shoes on, and it would HURT to work under it -- like when riveting the bellypan, for instance. I'd be lying on my back, and when riveting, if my forearm would touch the belly, I'd squeal. Probably funny to passersby....

But no doubt, a reversed-polarity / missing ground / short to the frame is more likely.

Just my $0.02.

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Old 06-10-2007, 07:53 AM   #11
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thanks Chuck . . . no wires nearby.
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:31 AM   #12
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Test as Lewster said up to the trailer. If you have a Good Source up to the trailer then plug a multi receptical in at the end of the extension cord and plug the trailer into one of its recptical. This gives you a known power source at the trailer and a known Good Ground there also. With a volt meter test for AC voltage from the trailer skin to the Good Ground at the extension cord.

If after defineing a clean source to the trailer you no longer have a voltage from the skin to the extension cord ground you have corrected the problem.

However if you read a voltage from the skin to ground you have a problem in the trailer. If you read 110 volts, the trailer is wired backwards, most likely at the panel. Unplug the trailer and consider getting a Pro.

If you read a lesser voltage, again unplug the trailer and get in it. Have someone plug the trailer while you are inside. One by one remove any 110 volt electrical devise that is plugged in and have the person outside see if the voltage on the meter has dropped to zero. The older 2 prone recepticals did not destinguish between the hot lead and netural and can be plugged in backwards. Under this condition some electrical devices if secured to the trailer body can put a voltage on the body.
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Old 06-10-2007, 09:40 AM   #13
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Many AS's have a polarity indicator on the outside near the power connection to alert you if the hook-up is funky. Always good to have some way to make sure everythng is OK other than a shocking realization. Sometimes a campground or other supply will be wired incorrectly. Better to check.
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Old 06-10-2007, 09:43 AM   #14
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One of these is a must have item for every Airstream.

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Old 06-10-2007, 09:45 AM   #15
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thx for the pic! Home Depot here I come . . . again.
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Old 06-10-2007, 09:58 AM   #16
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Interesting - out of the blue I purchased one of these on Thursday. Haven't even taken it out of the packaging, just tossed it into the trailer toolbox and don't have a clue what caused me to grab it as I walked past other than it looked neat and was obviously a tool I didn't have yet......

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Old 06-10-2007, 10:59 AM   #17
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I keep oneof these testers in the truck door pocket and check every campsite before I waste time backing in. It is still a good idea to put the tonque jack on a metal plate or stand (not wood or plastic) so you get a good ground for the trailer.
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Old 06-11-2007, 06:06 AM   #18
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Now, for those of us that don't yet have every tool known to man, this one is great for tracking down wiring problems without ripping the whole trailer apart.
powerprobe
Then check ECT2000

It is wireless, you don't have to have direct access to the wires.
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Old 06-11-2007, 06:32 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
Now, for those of us that don't yet have every tool known to man, this one is great for tracking down wiring problems without ripping the whole trailer apart.
powerprobe
Then check ECT2000

It is wireless, you don't have to have direct access to the wires.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...got that one too! It's one awesome tool....use it almost every day!
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Old 06-11-2007, 10:45 AM   #20
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got the tool

Got the tool and the electric source is fine . . . the problem is in the trailer.

I guess since the previous owner had to have an actual grounding wire from the bumper to the ground that should have been a big enough clue that something was wired in a screwy way on the inside.

I am putting the electrical issues on hold while focusing on replacing some floor. Will probably have an experienced electrician check it out when I get back to it.
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