charging trailer with tug - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-02-2009, 10:56 PM   #15
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I did pretty much the same as Larry.
Thought I'd be smart and run pin 7 on the connector as an extra +ve from the truck back across the umbilical since the wiring was lighter. Stupid me forgot and wired pin 7 up as an extra -ve from the trailer. Needless to say when it was all connected there was a funny smell and smoke.

My advise is to leave pin 7 (the center one) empty unless you really know what you are doing

Steve_L almost fired me as his new "apprentice trailer electrcian" after that attempt at playing with fire. Melted the connectors real good though.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:49 AM   #16
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Needless to say when it was all connected there was a funny smell and smoke.
You mean I'm not the only one to do this?

Smoke? Check! Who's got the Mirrors?
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:05 AM   #17
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Quote:
I did pretty much the same as Larry.
Thought I'd be smart and run pin 7 on the connector as an extra +ve from the truck back across the umbilical since the wiring was lighter. Stupid me forgot and wired pin 7 up as an extra -ve from the trailer. Needless to say when it was all connected there was a funny smell and smoke.
So THAT was what happened! I was a little worried that we messed up something with the brake controller install.

Back to the topic, in my opinion and in my experience, using the tow to recharge the trailer battery is at best a miserably slow process.

If you just took both batteries out and connected them together, then the two batteries would seek a common level. The tow battery would drop and the trailer battery would rise.

Installed, the same thing happens except that the alternator would would continue to keep topping off the tow battery as charge slowly moved from the tow to the trailer. A little like trying to water the lawn by keeping a leaky swimming pool topped up.

I've never tested this, but I'm inclined to believe it would be quicker and more efficient to just buy a 5 or 10 amp battery charger and run it from an inverter plugged into a cigarette lighter in the tow vehicle. (Size depends on the current the lighter socket is designed to handle) (Being sure to account for the inverter inefficiency.) The charger would send more current, quicker and more completely.
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:16 AM   #18
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I've never tested this, but I'm inclined to believe it would be quicker and more efficient to just buy a 5 or 10 amp battery charger and run it from an inverter plugged into a cigarette lighter in the tow vehicle. (Size depends on the current the lighter socket is designed to handle) (Being sure to account for the inverter inefficiency.) The charger would send more current, quicker and more completely.
My brief encounter with running our laptop from the house battery while at only 12V would lead me to wonder whether there would still be an issue with low voltage. As you say, by the time the electrons find their way to the trailer, they're running out of steam, so the voltage back there is probably going to be less than what the inverter is happy with....I bet they want to see 13.8V. Mine got pretty hot and started switching on and off when powering the laptop. Admittedly, it was sized barely large enough for the laptop, so many a larger inverter wouldn't have this problem if running off less than 13.8V.

I bet Pete has some experience with this....

Parker
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:58 AM   #19
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One thing I found out after reading the fine print LOL.
My 300w pure sine wave inverter puts out 180w through power outlet.
300w connected directly to the battery 300w

My laptop draws 204w the inverter was not real happy plugged into an outlet.

Bill K.

Quote:
My brief encounter with running our laptop from the house battery while at only 12V would lead me to wonder whether there would still be an issue with low voltage. As you say, by the time the electrons find their way to the trailer, they're running out of steam, so the voltage back there is probably going to be less than what the inverter is happy with....I bet they want to see 13.8V. Mine got pretty hot and started switching on and off when powering the laptop. Admittedly, it was sized barely large enough for the laptop, so many a larger inverter wouldn't have this problem if running off less than 13.8V.

I bet Pete has some experience with this....

Parker
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:14 PM   #20
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I'm doing another of my "test boxes". This one is inserted between the tow vehicle and the trailer. It measures the voltage and current leaving the tow to the trailer. Plus other shiny bits.

In a proof of concept prototype (I was fussing with different ways to get at the amperage. In the end there will just be access to either the charge or ground line for a Fluke 336 clamp meter.) I had it hooked up and the F150 idling while I turned on various 12v appliances in the trailer then went out and looked at the amp readings to see if they were consistent with what I had measured in the past.

Everything looked good except when I turned on the reefer on 12v. I know the reefer takes 10A DC. the F150 was only supplying about 7 to 8 amps. That meant that, at idle, the alternator wasn't getting the job done.

My past experience has shown that at highway speeds the alternator on my Ford with the tow package just keeps up with demand but doesn't replace amp hours.

I'm not saying that there isn't some way to configure things to make it work...but I am skeptical of most schemes I've seen.

Still waiting for some misc. pieces before I can assemble the final box. More toys for boys...
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:21 PM   #21
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So THAT was what happened! I was a little worried that we messed up something with the brake controller install.
Yes, that was it. I don't remember what was what, guess that happens when one wires up 2 halves of a circuit over two years forgetting to write things down.

My gut says that since the wires in the umbilical are 10 Ga or smaller, I ran an extra +ve through pin 7 from the trailer battery thinking the hitch connection would provide for extra grounding. When I wired up the truck end my mind said if I kept pin 7 as the ground, no harm could be done. (yeah right, I forgot about the idiot that wired the trailer end) The worst damage was my ego, but I did learn a lot from the apprenticeship, thank you.

Once I resolved that problem and replaced the melted components the brakes worked just fine. It was a noticable difference driving home from MI.
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:27 PM   #22
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OK, I see I have contradicted myself in this thread. I believe post 21 above is the way I wired things. This confirms the need to follow convention and write things down. All I know now is that pin 7 is empty on both ends because I will never know what I'll be towing or what will tow the trailer. Lesson learnt and grateful there was not more damage.

Well maybe there was, my solar charge controller seems to be on the fritz. And that was not cheap. Hopefully it will bounce back with a new battery.
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:00 PM   #23
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Nate, I have used an isolator (relay) like the one in your picture for 10 years. It was simple to hook up and is automatic. Key off, isolator is off. You can't forget to do it.

Someone wrote to one of these forums that he unplugged his umbilical, forgot it and dragged it to death on the pavement. I never unplug unless I am unhitching.

The more expensive diode type isolators do the same job, but you lose a little bit of current in the diodes.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:39 PM   #24
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i understand the theory about how to do this, but maybe someone could make a part list and step by step instructions on how to wire a simple tug to trailer charge line. I would really like to do this before my next trip. So many people do it slightly different it gets kinda confusing. .. thanks to anyone that wants to run through an easy set up or a link to one. Also i have a flat 4 from my truck, is there a 7 pin harness that i can plug the flat 4 into and still have it wired for power to the trailer? I'm having a hard time finding one. I can find lots of flat 4 to a 7 blade adapter but those wont allow me to add the auxiliary power correct?
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:49 AM   #25
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Here is the best wiring diagram I have seen. It comes from Don on the Casita forum.


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Old 06-25-2009, 11:20 AM   #26
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Some good info here
http://www.powerstream.com/battery-isolator.htm

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Old 06-25-2009, 02:12 PM   #27
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thanks i got it figured out now. i just needed a wiring diagram i guess. I really like deans. hehe i got the 7 blade figured out too.
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:33 PM   #28
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Maybe this Scamp wiring schematic will help?
Wiring Diagram - Scamp
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