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Old 06-06-2016, 10:18 AM   #1
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1972 29' Ambassador
Saint Charles , Missouri
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Lights not functioning 1972 Ambassador

New member here!

Just purchased an original 29' 1972 Airstream Ambassador (all original). The PO doesn't recall what exactly happened but none of the interior lights currently function. Upon hooking up to power to the campsite, ALL of the interior outlets work fine as well as the AC.

I checked and the battery is MISSING, so i'm wondering if a battery is hooked up, will that complete a circuit of some sort to make the lights work or sound like there is a short or wire disconnected somewhere?

PS: The fuses all appear fine.

No lights function anywhere inside - any thoughts?

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old 06-06-2016, 06:59 PM   #2
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You need a source of 12 volt electric power to run your interior lights. The uni - volt converts the 120 volt power at the campsite to 12 volts.

If you have a battery, that would also be a source of 12 volt power for u our lights.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:34 PM   #3
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Hi, and welcome to Air Forums. You picked a good spot to get some ideas on how to solve your 12v problem.

You didn't mention if any of your 12v appliances work. Vent fan, water pump, furnace fan and the like. If not, then your converter is not supplying 12v to the trailer's 12v circuits.

The 115v AC shore power does have a circuit that powers the converter. My 66 and the son's 69 have a dedicated circuit with circuit breaker in the breaker box running to the converter. You need to verify you are supplying 115vAC to the converter.

Some converters have an internal fuse to protect them from overload. Sometimes this fuse is inside the case of the converter. If this fuse is blown, then the converter is not supplying 12 volts.

So grab your multi-meter and start testing. Good luck. You'll find the cause.

David
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:59 PM   #4
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I've got $5 paypal right now that says no other 12v appliances or stuff works. It can't.
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Old 06-06-2016, 10:16 PM   #5
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Put a new battery in before you go any further.
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Old 06-06-2016, 11:12 PM   #6
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You don't need a battery for your 12V to work. I say the Univolt is bad. Same thing happened to my '71.
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Old 06-06-2016, 11:16 PM   #7
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Does a converter even exist? If it is an old Univolt you may want to upgrade to a modern multistage converter prior to purchasing a battery. You will need the converter to keep the battery charged.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:36 AM   #8
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1972 29' Ambassador
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Re:

Thanks to all - im picking up a battery tonight and will try that first (cheapest route). No vent fans work, etc like someone suggested so im hoping this is a quick easy fix. The camper was always used in a campground to plug into so i think the PO just used lamps inside and never bothered with a battery replacement.

Just wanted to touch base here first with the experts first, will install it on thurs and keep u posted. Thanks again people!
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:58 AM   #9
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Be careful because of bad Univolt can fry your battery.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:44 AM   #10
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A bad univolt and a good univolt have that in common - both will shorten your battery's life. You'll want to look into a new solid state voltage converter, as cooler, quieter, lighter and much better for your battery.

A lot of us have had good luck with Progressive Dynamics converters from bestconverter.com.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:37 PM   #11
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I am going through this right now in my '73 Trade Wind. Shore power the outlets worked, But not the 12v system. I bought a battery and the 12v worked, for a day, then the battery died. The univolt wasn't charging the battery. My new converter and 12v panel should arrive tomorrow. Make sure to keep the receipt on the battery, in case the univolt fries it, like it did mine. You learn a lot about a lot of things owning an old airstream.
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Old 06-07-2016, 01:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leadvox View Post
<snip> You learn a lot about a lot of things owning an old airstream.
Yeah! Whether you want to or not!!
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Old 06-07-2016, 02:18 PM   #13
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Univolts are NOTORIOUS for boiling batteries. Also, it is rumored that using a univolt without a battery in the system, as a 12v power supply, will cause its untimely demise. It sounds like this may have already happened. Whether or not, your best bet is to order your converter right away as well, and don't risk damaging your new battery.
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Old 06-07-2016, 06:53 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Leadvox View Post
I am going through this right now in my '73 Trade Wind. Shore power the outlets worked, But not the 12v system. I bought a battery and the 12v worked, for a day, then the battery died. The univolt wasn't charging the battery. My new converter and 12v panel should arrive tomorrow. Make sure to keep the receipt on the battery, in case the univolt fries it, like it did mine. You learn a lot about a lot of things owning an old airstream.

Good heads up, thank you.

Keep me posted on exact converter you buy, i will return my battery back to Menards on Monday if that happens to me. They take anything back
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Old 06-07-2016, 07:40 PM   #15
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Been there Don that univolt is no good go with progressive dynamics ,this has been a great improvement . That being said I'm now repairing 2 fuse holder for brown and blue circuits both failed ,was able to jump fuse holder to prove sys,s works ,both are for lighting and other 12 vt sys. Enjoy working on your A S
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:57 PM   #16
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When you check the fuses, if they are glass fuses, use an ohm meter. Quite often, old glass fuses will look OK, but will have separation behind the metal end caps, and therefore be open (bad).
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:57 PM   #17
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Even an ohmmeter won't work on glass fuses which have been "slow cooked". There will be a carbon track, the meter will read good. Just buy new fuses and make sure they fit tight in the holders.
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Old 06-09-2016, 07:03 PM   #18
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I purchased and installed the PowerMax Boondocker converter from best converter.com. I selected the 45 amp size as that is more than ample for my 12v needs in the Trade Wind.

http://www.bestconverter.com/Powerma...rs-_c_154.html

This converter does have three battery charging. I have had no problems from over charging my battery and "cooking" it dry.

It was a relatively easy installation.

David
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:09 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
I purchased and installed the PowerMax Boondocker converter from best converter.com. I selected the 45 amp size as that is more than ample for my 12v needs in the Trade Wind.

http://www.bestconverter.com/Powerma...rs-_c_154.html

This converter does have three battery charging. I have had no problems from over charging my battery and "cooking" it dry.

It was a relatively easy installation.

David
UPDATE:

Ok Leadvox and others, looks like battery drained after 1 day like you guys said. Lights worked great, even most of the instrumentation panel as well, hard to believe for a 1972!

Before i order a new converter, just wanted a heads up if i need to replace ANY of the Univox fuses to be sure? Sounds like this pos converter needs replaced so will check out the Boondocker and go from there..

Thanks
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:55 PM   #20
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I like spending other people's money. I wouldn't bother trying to get your old converter working kinda. The new ones are much better. Get it on order.

Take delivery, and have fun installing it. It is a project requiring some thinking. Old Airstream's wiring convention is not necessarily the way the converter instructions describe it. The heart of the 12v system is the fuse box. Both the battery and the converter come into the fuse box to feed the 12v circuits to the trailer. The circuits are protected from overloads by fuses. My 66 Trade Wind had 3 12v circuits coming out of the fuse box. Study your current wiring in and out of the fuse box. Identify the function and color of each wire and write it down as well as make a diagram. Generally red is battery plus, black is 12v circuits to the trailer, white is negative or ground.

While I'm spending your money, did you get that multi meter? This is an invaluable instrument for a vintage Airstreamer.

David
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