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Old 05-02-2021, 11:52 AM   #1
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1976 27' Overlander
Missoula , Montana
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'76 Overlander - Polarity Light

I have a 1976 Overlander, one of the Beatrice years, that I always heard about "quality issues." But never saw much evidence until now.

We are the 4th owner becoming so in 2012 and the care of the provious owners is evident. We have tried to continue and have upgraded/replaced various systems and components. In a desire to add a shore-power option I am installing a Camco hot water heater conversion to our hot water tank. This requires plugging into an outlet in the electrical system.

In looking at the wiring and inside the rear closet, where the tank is located, I was pleasantly surprised to find a junction box. In (safely) examining it, I saw two smaller (not romex) wires coming in from the back of the box, and found one to the "line" white wire, and the other to ground. I was at first confused, wondering why it was wired like that...

(see image marked up on left)

In removing the screws and pulling it out (so I could put an outlet box for a GFIC socket) next to it, i saw a red light on the backside of the existing junction box, but then noted, when it was lined up and attached to the interior wall, the light was actually a half-inch above the "globe" mounted on the exterior.

(see image bottom right)

No wonder I've never seen it come on! But, it obviously passed QC in 1976!

I am posting this mainly as an info item. I could have moved the box down a half-inch but that would have revealed a half-inch strip above the box which I would have to "fix" somehow. Given the rare chance of a polarity problem, I left this part of our vintage Airstream... "original."
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Old 05-02-2021, 12:12 PM   #2
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My 75 was not wired like this. I suspect that this was he work of a previous owner and not Airstream.
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:23 PM   #3
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1976 27' Overlander
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i wondered that as well - until I saw the lineup of the polarity light - that's a standard feature on this era of Airstreams. Many years of Airstreams had the "polarity" light as a warning.

I think it is from the factory.
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Old 05-03-2021, 03:10 AM   #4
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My parents' '75 had the polarity light. Modern electrical safety systems make the light obsolete.

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Old 05-03-2021, 05:34 AM   #5
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Looking at the photos I would have to think it was originally not lined up. The cutout in the inner skin would have looked different if a previous owner had moved it.
Unless it is easily assessable, I would not use a GFI outlet for the water heater. GFI’s can trip for no reason, called a nuisance trip. You may not notice until you go to use the water. CODE: A GFI is used for 2 reasons. 1- Wet locations like outdoors. 2- Within 6 feet of water like a sink or tub (because you could drop a plugged in appliance into the water).
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Old 05-03-2021, 11:40 AM   #6
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Olin, if you don't want to move the box down, what about drilling a new hole the distance needed further down so the light aligns with the lens cover?
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Old 05-03-2021, 05:58 PM   #7
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PLEASE disconnect the polarity light. It is a safety hazard! When the polarity is reversed the hot lead is connected to the shell through the bulb.

While it will only cause a mild shock it is dangerous to someone with a pacemaker and possibly to small pets.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wazbro View Post
PLEASE disconnect the polarity light. It is a safety hazard! When the polarity is reversed the hot lead is connected to the shell through the bulb.

While it will only cause a mild shock it is dangerous to someone with a pacemaker and possibly to small pets.

Well, that's a good point - as streamracer pointed out - as I did in the original post - I did NOT choose to move the junction box down since it would be just leave a big 5/8 inch gap in the inner skin - and visible from the middle shelf.



I did think about not rewiring in the polarity light - and I hadn't come up with a good reason not to.

But, I'm trying to figure out how the "hot lead" is connected to the shell.... The bulb, isn't "on" and the "hot lead" is connected to the white wire, while the other wire is grounded. BUT, I guess in a reverse polarity situation, the "white wire" would become the hot lead to create such a situation.



BUT, since the bulb isn't truly functional (as it isn't, now) I may just choose to keep it disconnected. That does make it "safer."



Thanks - good idea!
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OilnH2o View Post
BUT, I guess in a reverse polarity situation, the "white wire" would become the hot lead to create such a situation.

Thanks - good idea!
Yes that is when the problem comes in, if you don't see the light is on.

Your welcome.
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