Electrical Dilemma (Crossing fingers and not wires!) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-05-2003, 06:05 PM   #1
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Electrical Dilemma (Crossing fingers and not wires!)

I am wondering if any of you Casita people have any idea of my problem, or have encountered one like this on your own.

I just bought a 1987 16' last week and I knew from the begining that I had some wiring issues that needed to be addressed from the vehicle end to the Casita itself. Well, I got those taken care of (new wiring on the 4 Runner, new brake controller, converter, circuit breaker, relays, new adaptors to the 4 Runner and new plug to the Casita).

I bought a new battery the other day and didn't hook it up in anticipation of the RV shop doing everything. When the mechanic hooked up the battery, it failed to juice up the trailer at all. I bought the Casita w/o a battery and maybe that is why there wasn't one in there to begin with. The seller did have it hooked up to 110 power, so I knew that was functional. The repairman reccommmend that I don't use that feature until we square away the other problem(s).

The battery wires seem like they are way too weak of a gauge to suppy power for starters. Not to mention what else is under the bench seats.

I am already out $731 and am thinking I have more to spend to bring it up to operational condition. There is NO way I would take this out on the road and use hookups.

My question is this. Is there any type of flip switch, secret prayer, foot to a certain area that would make the battery take the power and have the juice on?

When plugged into the vehicle, everything works. But the power is being used from my 4 Runner battery and that is something I wish to avoid.

On the bright side, at least I have brake, turn and running lights!:reyes
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Old 06-05-2003, 06:26 PM   #2
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Possibly?

The wires for the Battery would be about 1/4 inch thick or thicker.
They do not have to start an engine so you shouldn't expect to see really big wires.
You say that you had the converter replaced. Usually there is a line from the converter to the battery thru a fuse to the positive side and a wire from ground on the converter to the negative side or from the negative side to chassis ground.

My converter is really old ,so I just have a hot and a ground coming out of the converter, so I'm not sure if yours would have a breaker for that line or not.
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Old 06-05-2003, 06:27 PM   #3
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Morgan or someone would be a good one to offer suggestions on trouble shooting. However, checking the continuity of the wires between the battery and the converter would be my first step, followed by seeing if the converter is putting out 12v back into the battery while plugged into 120V AC (It'll probably be more like 13.5 volts into the battery) The wires ought to be 10 ga, or the smaller 12 ga at a minimum. I'm pretty sure my '03 Casita has 10 ga. If the wires and charging output are ok, I'd start to wonder about the switching circuit of the converter. I'm on shaky ground here, though. What I don't know is if there are fuses or circuit breakers that would effect the pass through of 12v battery power to the rest of the trailer. If it's the converter, it might be a good time to invest in a smart converter/charger. Do the 12v doodads work off the car battery?

As I sit here thinking about it, there is a thermal switch on the battery case that might be doubtful. PineconeDon knows more about that than I do.

I'm sorry, but Pete noticed that you bought a new converter so that's not likely the problem.
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Old 06-05-2003, 06:37 PM   #4
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I just looked at a Casita 13 schematic, and it shows the battery in parallel with the car battery. ie the 12 ga black to positive via 20 amp fuse and the 12 ga white to negative. The controller charge line connects to the black line before the fuse.

From the looks of that when you are plugged into 110 v the converter could charge you tow vehicle battery if you left it connected. ( in a pinch)
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Old 06-05-2003, 08:54 PM   #5
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wiring

Pete:

I think the 'converter' Dave refers to is the trailer light converter for dual element bulbs.
======

Dave:

The wiring at the trailer battery can be 12ga and be 'OK'. Thats not very 'big' but normal. 10ga works better for the DC fridge circuit and the charge line from the car.

If all the 12v stuff in the trailer work while connected to the tow vehicle, the problem must be from the trailer battery to the fuse panel in the (trailer) converter.

Surely they didn't hook up the battery backwards?!

Look for a fuse (in the 'black' hot line) between the battery and the fuse panel, mabe it needs replacing. The 'white and green' are usually ground. It's backwards from automotive wiring where black is ground and red is hot.
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Old 06-05-2003, 09:37 PM   #6
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Battery problem

Dave,

If your tow vehicle is connected and your 12vdc inside lights work, then that part of the wiring is probably OK.

What you need to do is check what color the wires are, which are connected to the battery. Most have green, black, and white. The white and green should be on the - post. The black should be on the + post.

If the wires are wrong the circuit breaker will open up. When you reconnect them as mentioned above it should reset in a few minutes. Unless it has been burned up from having it connected wrong to long. Older trailers may have an in line fuse rather than a circuit breaker. In that case the fuse will have to be replaced.(most are 20amp)

Some model converters may have the circuit breaker or a fuse internally rather than in the black lead.

I will wait for you to check and post your results.
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Old 06-05-2003, 10:27 PM   #7
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First of all, thanks to all of you great Casita owners. This is a wealth of information that this newbie REALLY appreciates!

Okay, for whatever reason, the mechanic never got around to the battery and if he did, he didn't understand the various switches (like I do? HAH!).

Anyway, I decided to brave it and went outside after reading all the posts. I hooked up the terminals and flipped the toggle with the red light on the side of the fiberglass panel and I have indoor lights! The red light next to that switch doesn't turn on for whatever reason.

So, now I have inddor lights from the battery and my 4 Runner is wired so the brakes, running lights, turn signals are operational.

Now comes the charging system and I need you kind people to let me know how would I figure out if this system is working. I do know that brown panel on the fiberglass (with the two blue fuses and the pull-push switch) has to be what to concentrate on. Any instuctions for this wet behind the ears guy?

Thanks in advance!

Edited- one other question. I found a very small wire (clear almost, like speaker wire, must be 18-20 g) with an alligator clip (and plastic cover over that) on the end of it. Any clues? Figure it goes to the + on the battery, but will not touch it until I figure out where that goes (might be why that red light doesn't turn on next to the toggle?).
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Old 06-05-2003, 11:00 PM   #8
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Dave;

You need a voltmeter.

Connect the + to the + on the battery
Connect the - to the - on the battery. You should get a reading of about 12.3 to12.6 volts.

Now plug in to shore power. You should get a reading of at least 13.5 volts. That means the charger is working.
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Old 06-06-2003, 07:19 AM   #9
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Nick

:wave Thank you, Nick, for an explanation that was so clear, simple, and not buried in technical stuff, that even I could understand it. :kiss

I appreciate that.
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Old 06-06-2003, 08:05 AM   #10
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Everyone,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my rookie questions. More than that, my wife thanks you for keeping me from frying our egg! :)
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Old 06-06-2003, 10:43 AM   #11
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Electrical

Dave,

Glad you have most everything right now. The lights should get brighter if it is charging when you plug in to AC. The wire is an extra that has been added. It could be used for many different things. Find the other end of the wire.

Ron
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Old 06-06-2003, 11:57 AM   #12
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wiring

Dave:

In order to know if your car is charging the trailer battery:

1. With the trailer plug disconnected, turn on a light in the trailer.

2. Plug the trailer into the car, have someone start the car while you're watchin the trailer light. Rev the engine, if the light brightens, you'll be getting charge to the trailer battery. :)

When towing, remember that if ya stop for an hour or more, disconnect the trailer plug.
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Old 06-06-2003, 07:49 PM   #13
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Thanks again for the pointers. I feel like I need to go back to school when it comes to these things!

An update. That small wire led to this toggle switch that goes on when you flip it on, so that is operational.

I also plugged in 110 and that was okay, also the battery power and everything worked...for awhile!:wak

For whatever reason, now the lights don't work and I am befuddled (that doesn't take much!). The light goes on when I flip the switch, I hear the battery pack kick on, but nada!

I made an appointment to have another RV repair guy look at it. I have no clue what could have made it do this, so I will let the guy down at the shop fix it up.

Better to get it all fixed up while I am parked at home instead of it malfunctioning in outer Mongolia!
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Old 06-06-2003, 10:03 PM   #14
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Switch

Dave,

If the switch is a battery disconnect, then that wire should be connected to the - ground post rather than the + battery post. If you have it wrong then it will come on when the switch is off rather than on.

With the switch off it removes the battery which acts as a filter for the DC voltage. This may cause the converter to blow a fuse or circuit breaker.

Good Luck
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