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Diana Langley 01-06-2004 06:50 PM

Electrical receptical
Well, I'm outta here in two weeks! I'm going over the trailer and getting the little things squared away.

I've always camped in the middle of nowhere and have always lived off of the battery and propane. I went out tonight to make sure the hookups work since I've never used them. I plugged in the extension cord into an outlet at my house, walked over to the trailer, flipped up the cover to the outlet and found a female receptor. In my hand, the extension cord also had a female end! I have a 3 prong receptical in the side of my trailer.

How am I going to be able to make this work? I was given a converter that will allow me to plug into the big plug source that modern hookups have, but even that is a reciever. Can I buy a double male plug? Will I blow my wires if I do this?

I'm ever so glad I decided to check this out. It would be a real bummer to find this out on the road!

thenewkid64 01-06-2004 06:58 PM


You are looking at the outside outlets that are available for you to plug in a radio or those awning lights once you are in a campground. :D

If you drop the rear door on your trailer and look inside the compartment and to the left there should be a HD black power cord coiled up in there. This would normally be fed out of a fitting that goes thru the floor in this same area. The exterior of this hole/pipe may have a standard sewer cap on it. This would also be where the fresh water hose enters the trailer and the connector for the hose to the trailer plumbing is.

Diana Langley 01-06-2004 08:03 PM

So now the whole world knows I'm an idiot!

My '65 Globetrotter doesn't have a rear door. I'll poke around tomorrow and see where the cord is. There are two doors on the street side, but the key I have doesn't work on them. Looks like one more thing on my "to do" list.

thenewkid64 01-06-2004 08:19 PM


If you have seen the newer Airstreams your confusion makes sense. They have a marine style power cord connection.

The compartments that are accessible thru the doors are normally accessible from the inside too. Just fold down the door where you are inside of the compartment. There should not be shelves inside this door. The cord is likely coiled in here.

Lessons learned like this will stay with you forever, consider it a tip from a friend, instead of a camping neighbor that then might ridicule you. :D

Navigator 01-06-2004 08:27 PM

The ideal situation; like the one on my former SOB; would be a MALE 30 amp twist lock receptical behind a weather tight cover on the outside of your camper.
Your 30 amp cable can then be connected to your house 15 amp outlet via a $5 adapter, and still get 30 amps from a park.
I strongly urge you NOT to have male / male adapter, because it would be very easy to slip up once and get a bad shock, or worse!!.

Diana Langley 01-07-2004 08:02 AM


Originally posted by Navigator

Your 30 amp cable can then be connected to your house 15 amp outlet via a $5 adapter, and still get 30 amps from a park.

So I can't just plug into my house? I have the adapter that lets me plug a three prong household plug into the larger plug used at parks. Is that what you mean?

You're right.... better to get this worked out on this forum rather than blow my cool image of pulling up in a polished Airstream and then not know how to turn the lights on!!

Hey! If nothing else, that stupid question earned me my third rivet!

thenewkid64 01-07-2004 08:12 AM


Originally posted by Diana Langley

So I can't just plug into my house? I have the adapter that lets me plug a three prong household plug into the larger plug used at parks. Is that what you mean?

The adapter you have will allow you to use a normal "household" style 15 amp outlet. If you have AC you do not want to run it while using the adapter. When plugged in at a park most power poles have a 30 amp socket and a 15 amp socket. You will need to use the 30 amp if you wish to run the AC. If you are camping in the cold and using the LP furnace 15 amps is more than enough.

The end of the coach power cord looks like the end of an electric range or dryer power cable.

TomW 01-07-2004 09:08 AM

Your key might fit

Originally posted by Diana Langley
There are two doors on the street side, but the key I have doesn't work on them. ..
My Airstream had been sitting for 20 years, and not being used when I got it. [snip long story].. and the key I got only worked on two of the three access doors. [snip more boring detail]..Turns out the lock was seized. I removed the lock from the door, and alternated soaking it in a cup of WD-40, and subjecting it to a heat gun for half a day. It finally freed up.

Diana Langley 01-07-2004 04:30 PM

OK....... I found a 25' power cord under the couch. I have the converter to 15 amps. When I plug the trailer into the house, it trips the fuse at the house. Just the little fuse at the receptical.

The circut breakers in the trailer are OK.

Is it because the trailer isn't grounded? I have an Intellipower Charge Wizard. There was a green slow blinking light on it until I pushed the "mode" button. Now the light stays on constantly and won't go back to the blinking mode.

I don't know anything about electricity except that if you aren't careful, it will kill you the first chance it gets!

Any ideas? I don't want to assume that things are OK if I plug in at the RV park. I don't really care if I can't plug into my house, I just want to make sure everything works for my trip.

davidz71 01-07-2004 05:18 PM

Best I can remember is that when you hit the mode button on the Charge Wizzard you go from a desulfation mode to a charge mode. After a period of time the Charge Wizzard should change back to the blinking mode.

I also had a problem with the GFI circuit breaker at a campground as well as the GFI circuit in the garage. My problem first was a short in the 3 prong 30 amp plug head. An industrial factory maintenance man ran a ground wire from neutral to ground in my fuse box like you might do at home BUT you can't do that on a GFI circuit. I removed this jumper wire and everything worked just fine after the plug was replaced. Try running your 15 amp plug to a wall receptacle inside the house (other than the bathroom) which usually is not a GFI circuit and see what happens.

Stinky 01-07-2004 05:54 PM

Also the kitchen will have most if not all outlets GFIed. Even if the outlet is a regular receptical it can be GFIed in series with the others.

Diana Langley 01-07-2004 06:29 PM


Originally posted by davidz71
Try running your 15 amp plug to a wall receptacle inside the house (other than the bathroom) which usually is not a GFI circuit and see what happens.
I'll try that tomorrow in daylight. Am I bypassing a potential hazard if I do that?

davidz71 01-07-2004 07:15 PM

I wouldn't touch the outside of your trailer until you see whether or not the breaker kicks off when you plug the extension cord into the wall socket. If it trips that breaker then you definately have a short somewhere. My '77 has a polarity light on the streetside of the trailer which looks like a cut piece of crystal. If somehow someone has crossed wires in the main power cable it will light up alerting you to this. I'm not sure if you have this feature. Some members have noticed a tingling when touching the outside of their trailer and if so, disconnect the power cord immediately. Someone on the forum with a trailer your year might be able to post a picture of their elec. box with wires and can help you diagnose further.

Do a forum search on electrical boxes and see if you can find the thread I started a couple years ago. Frank R as well as others helped me pinpoint my problem after I ran a few tests they posted. Be careful with electricity!

Navigator 01-07-2004 10:58 PM

This concerns main circuit breaker boxes:

1) The one in your house has the neutral (white wires) connected
to ground (the bare copper wires). That is good.

2) The one in your trailer is NOT suppose to have the neutral
connected to ground. That would be bad.

3) If your trailer has the neutral connected to ground (your trailer
frame) than you can get a shock by touching the trailer skin!

4) Disconnect the outside source of power to your trailer.
Remove the cover of your trailer circuit breaker box, and make
sure that the bare wires and the white wires are separate,
and in no way connect to each other.

5) The white wires must not be in contact with the metal box,
(that would ground them) but rather all connected to a buss
bar that is insulated from the box.

I hope this helps,


Diana Langley 01-08-2004 07:16 AM

Thanks! I'm printing all of this out for a friend that knows electricity to look over. I hope it's an easy fix.

Are the most common problems with connections? I'm worried that something inside the walls might be the issue.

CanoeStream 01-08-2004 09:50 AM


You will need to use the 30 amp if you wish to run the AC.
Rather let's say -- You will ruin the compressor on your AC if you try to run it off of a house circuit with an adaptor. This would be very expensive to replace.

If you wish to use your trailer for occasional guests and want to use the AC, speak to an electrician about installing a 30A circuit. No surprise -- you won't need an adaptor for that!

Diana Langley 01-11-2004 06:21 PM


Originally posted by davidz71

Try running your 15 amp plug to a wall receptacle inside the house (other than the bathroom) which usually is not a GFI circuit and see what happens.

Hi Craig..... I finally had a chance to run an extension cord from my livingroom wall to the trailer. The extension cord plug had a flash from within the plug as I hooked it up to the adapter.
The little green light on my charge wizard blinked twice the usual speed. I unpluged the cord and checked the fuses in the trailer and my home. Nothing blew. Little green light went back to the slow blink. I didn't touch the outside of the trailer to see if I'd get zapped.

I didn't plug anything in to see if I had juice at the trailer outlets. Is a short still a possibility?

davidz71 01-11-2004 06:44 PM

Where is FrankR when I need him. Diana, I don't want you to do anything that would get you hurt. Go to the hardware store and buy a Receptacle Tester (they are cheap). You plug it into one of your 110 volt receptacles that you can see through your open coach door. Make sure all your breakers are turned on. Plug in the power cord/extension cord inside the house and go back to the trailer. Without touching the trailer you should be able to see the indicator lights on the tester. There is a red light and 2 amber lights. Compare which lights are on and the diagnosis is listed on the card. My GB Instruments tester shows that if 2 amber indicator lights are showing then the receptacle is wired correctly. Other faults such as ground contact not connected, neutral contact not connected, hot contact not connected, hot and ground interchanged, and last, hot and neutral interchanged. I keep one of these plugged into the same receptacle as my converter but can move it about the trailer at any time. I did check every single receptacle in the trailer.

This is really quite simple as far as determining if something is wrong with your system and does not get you electrocuted (as long as you don't get your finger caught between the plug and receptacle when you plug the extension cord into the house).

RoadKingMoe 01-11-2004 06:45 PM

If the circuit breaker for the living room outlet did not trip, you do not have a short between hot and neutral or ground. The flash when you plugged in was normal.

That does NOT necessarily mean that you do not have neutral and ground improperly connected in the trailer. It appears that you do since it is tripping the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI), what you referred to as the little fuse on the other outlet you first tried. This is something for someone who knows about electricity and residential wiring to work on. They just have to know that neutral and ground are NOT interconnected in an RV.

If you don't have the documentation for your Charge Wizard, one of our fellow RVers has scanned his and put it on-line in a PDF document here:

This will tell you want the flashing lights mean and what happens when you push the buttons.

Hope this helps,

Diana Langley 01-11-2004 06:59 PM

Thanks, guys! I'll pick up a tester tomorrow. It's beginning to look like something not being wired right. I have a friend that knows electricity, but it's a bear trying to coordinate a time to meet.

RoadKingMoe 01-11-2004 07:11 PM

An outlet tester won't identify neutral tied to ground when it shouldn't be. That's "normal" in residential wiring.

It won't hurt to use it to make sure lines aren't swapped though.

Diana Langley 01-11-2004 07:17 PM

I e-mailed a link to this thread to my electrical friend. If all else fails, I made an appointment at the RV repair shop for Friday. If I can't get this straightened out by then, I'll take it in and get it done.

The final hurdle before the trip!

davidz71 01-11-2004 07:19 PM

Good point RoadKingMoe,
That is exactly what a factory maintenance man did to correct what he thought was a problem with my fuse box. Tying a jumper from neutral to ground is part of what was tripping my GFI breakers in the garage.

Diana, didn't you say you got a service manual with your trailer? If so, have someone take the breaker box cover off and compare the wiring (unplugged of course). The maintenance guy didn't even tell me that he had wired in the jumper but it was evident when I compared the schematic in my manual.

Diana Langley 01-11-2004 07:34 PM

Nope, no manual. There's a fusebox in the closet with three switches. One looks like the main breaker and two smaller ones.

I appreciate everyone's patience. It seems like the older I get the less I know. I'm sure in a few years programming a VCR will be beyond me.....oh already is!!!

davidz71 01-11-2004 07:40 PM

You will be surprised at how much you learn about the operation of your trailer and it's systems. I learned something new today about Argosys only 2 yrs. older than my trailer that I didn't know. You'll be telling yourself, "Oh, that's how it works!" before you know it.

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