Wire Routing - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-15-2006, 01:55 PM   #1
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Trailer: 84 16 ft Scamp
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The wire routing on my 84 - 16ft Scamp is routed from the trailer/tow vehicle plug to a penetration at the left front of the coach, with leads entering and exiting the bundle for the tongue mounted battery. From there it more-or-less follows the bottom edge of the shell along the floor with splices for various lighting hook-ups, refrigerator, tail and clearance lights, etc. These splices are mostly made with automotive penetration connections that don't require wire stripping. A few were made with home style twist connectors.

Since I'm in the process of installing a marine range to replace the rusty cooktop, I also pulled the refrigerator to clean up (replace) the wooden frame for it that has a lot of mold, probably due in part to a jar of jam that fell over in the refrigerator and leaked all over several years ago. This has opened up the possibility to clean up or replace the wiring with little trouble.

My question is: Does anyone have opinions on what the best wire routing would be, never mind ease of installation, or labor cost. I tend to think routing wiring underneath the coach, along the frame rails with penetrations through the floor, where needed, would be a more ship-shape installation. This way the insulation could be trimmed to the base of the wall and glued, eliminating the dirt trap and mold trap where the linsulation just kind of hangs loosely over the wiring harness that is also just laying there unsecured.

Perhaps the newer units have a more squared away wire routing system that I am not aware of. If there is a better way, I'd love to know about it soon, because I have a chance to make the mods now with everything open and available.
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Old 02-15-2006, 07:33 PM   #2
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My Boler 1700 was wired like Loren's Scamp. I have moved all brake wiring to a weather-sealed outside termination box on the tongue (someone else added the same box, but on the front of the body of theirs), but otherwise it is as original.

I have considered the under-floor approach as an improvement in access, since I'd rather lie on the ground than remove a cabinet or the shower, or cut open wall lining. Of course, I would only do this as part of a major renovation. My big concern with this approach would be exposure to water and dirt from the road. Certainly, the underfloor routing would seem unwise with those clamp-on insulation-piercing tap connectors.

In my Boler, part of the that wiring laying along the base of the wall is laying right beside the plumbing (hot and cold water supply lines at the street side of the rear gaucho). This just seems wrong...
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Old 02-15-2006, 08:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
My question is: Does anyone have opinions on what the best wire routing would be, never mind ease of installation, or labor cost. [b] I tend to think routing wiring underneath the coach, along the frame rails with penetrations through the floor, where needed, would be a more ship-shape installation.
I think my Fiber Stream did it somewhat like you are dreaming about; but I must make a distinction between the (1)house wiring, and the (2)vehicle wiring. I have 2 separate harnesses, one for each group.

The house wiring is mostly within the shell, since the battery is in a compartment under the curbside bunk; [b]not outside on the tongue. The converter is under the streetside bunk. The 12 volt hot & ground wires run along the [b]perimeter of the floor connecting the battery to the converter. The output of the converter, both AC & DC, runs under the streetside bunk & cabinets to feed the appropriate appliance/fixture. Under the range/oven both AC & DC trunk lines penetrate the floor through a rigid metal conduit that is attached to the underside of the floor. This conduit allows these lines to cross under the trailer and come up under the refrigerator cabinet, feeding the electric needs on the curbside of the trailer.

The vehicle wiring starts at the plug on the umbilical to the tow vehicle. The umbilical goes under the trailer to a forward nipple of a weather sealed electrical junction box mounted to the bottom of the floor, under the curbside bunk. Inside the junction box is a terminal strip with 7 terminals, one for each wire. Wires for ground, charge line, and running lights, penetrate the floor here, close to the battery box location. The wire for the running lights feed the forward side marker lamps. Back in the junction box, an aft nipple connects to a flexible conduit, which is clamped to a frame rail, following it back to where it penetrates the floor under the closet, next to the bathroom to feed the tail light fixtures and the aft side marker lights. A tap from the conduit near the axle allows the blue brake wire to connect to the hubs.
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Old 02-17-2006, 09:14 AM   #4
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It sounds like the Fiberstream designers have put a little more thought into this. If I were to do this, rather than use steel tubing (EMT) under the trailer, I would use plastic.

On the Scamp the propane lines also run along the floor/wall with the wiring.

There was also a 120 vac house type wire running along with all the rest to a couple of outlet boxes and over the stove, presumably for a range hood. The cable was poking out through a slit in the ensolite and just cut off and taped over. I doubt this would be a factory installation but was added by a previous owner.

To avoid making connections under the trailer, there could be penetrations in the floor where specific leads in the wiring harness could exit the harness, run up into the coach and be terminated in a proper connection strip. That way all connections would be lugged and screwed.

If you wanted to go first rate you could start out near the battery with a load center, complete with separate circuits for each electrical load properly fused or protected by circuit breakers.

None of this is my idea, I just happened to have had a previous carreer as an electrical engineer in the marine industry.

On the issue of safety there is a huge difference between a boat and a camper. If the camper starts on fire, you can step out on ground. If it's a boat you don't have that option unless you can walk on water.
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Old 02-17-2006, 09:32 PM   #5
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I'd keep the wiring inside as much as possible, where it is protected from the effects of weather and road debris.

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Old 02-18-2006, 07:49 AM   #6
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I have to agree with Dan. Exposed wiring is problem wiring. I agree though, that Scamp certainly could have done a little more sanitary job of wiring. I found a rat's nest of wiring in my front curbside cabinet (normally under the couch on most Scamp 16's). I guess the rat's nest of wiring goes with the rat fur on the walls?

The fewer holes you make in the floor, the better sealed the trailer is from pests and road hazards. Even though you may properly seal them, eventually that sealant dries out and falls out leaving an exposed hole. I think you're much better off using the original wiring scheme, and perhaps tidying it up a bit.

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Old 02-18-2006, 08:26 AM   #7
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Loren,
For what it's worth, On my 2000 17' Casita, all wiring is inside. It enters in the front on the curb side. The brake wires come out through the fender wells. There is a terminal strip inside the closet where the front wall curves at the bottom.
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Old 02-18-2006, 11:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
It sounds like the Fiberstream designers have put a little more thought into this. If I were to do this, rather than use steel tubing (EMT) under the trailer, [b]I would use plastic.

On the Scamp the [b]propane lines also run along the floor/wall with the wiring.
The Fiber Stream's flexible conduit containing the vehicle wiring is plastic. It appears to be the same 1/2" tubing that is used for drip irrigation.

The propane trunk line is a black pipe midships below the keel. It feeds a 3-way tap of copper tubes; one for the refrigerator, one for the water heater, and one for the Duette range/furnace.
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Old 02-20-2006, 12:47 PM   #9
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I believe that the all-inside wiring scheme is almost universally used because the factory installs the wiring before the wall finish, and that before the cabinets. It is fast and easy - and therefore cheap - for them; the interests of the eventual owner/restorer is not likley considered. I'm not complaining - just observing the reality of the business.

Conduit is the obvious answer, but it is not always trivial to fish wires through and it does require appropriate junction boxes. That's one part of the "major renovation" aspect; the other is that moving wiring from the current interior path would only makes sense to me if the furnishings and wall lining were already out for other purposes.

Conduit and a termination box like the one I added? Every time I learn more about Fiber Streams, I get more interested in seeing one.
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