Scamp brake and running light trouble - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-12-2007, 08:04 PM   #15
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...When you have a single wire going from light fixture to light fixture (In Series) and attaching in one place to the frame and/or the plug all it has to do is go bad in one spot and nothing else works...
Yes, when the connections are done stupidly (as they are for the marker/clearance lights on my B1700), the serial wiring is a problem. Connecting incoming and outgoing wires to to two points on the same side of the same light socket is asking for trouble, and I was taught that is was not correct for household power wiring. The right way is to connect incoming and outgoing directly to each other with a pigtail coming off to the lamp (or use a tap), just as with the household wiring. In household wiring, wire nuts are used; in a trailer, some form of crimp connector would be more appropriate. The right way, it doesn't matter if the fixture connections go bad, because current for the other fixtures (lights, in the trailer case) doesn't pass through the fixture connection.

Exactly the same problem can occur on both positive and negative sides. I have eleven marker/clearance lights (the regular widebody set, two front, two left, two right, two rear, plus the three-lamp center top ID group). The positive connections daisy-chain through them just as the negative connections do. Even if I ran a separate wire down to the frame from each lamp for the negative side, the positive side would still be subject to failure due to one of the many connections... and I can't fix that with frame connections.
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Old 07-12-2007, 08:21 PM   #16
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Please note that there is a big difference between a motor vehicle where there is a lot of metal, and as pointed out, newer cars have straps to get around the plastic and a plastic thing (fiberglass trailer).

Your fiberglass trailer is more like a cell phone or plastic flashlight. In the flashlight there's a metal strap coming from the bottom of the flashlight through the switch then to the bulb. That generally from the negative terminal. I guess you could call that ground, if you wanted to.

In items like your cell phone or other portable electronic devices the negative battery is usually common, to us in the electronic industry we call that ground too. But we don't refer to a metal piece stuck on the outside of the decive as ground.

Take a look at this and find the ground. I'm assuming that this typical. Of course there modifications to the electrical systems like Jim did, but I that's the exception.

If look carefully you'll only see ground mentioned once, at the connection of converter. That one is the green wire from the 120 AC system.

The white wire and the black wire coming from the battery and the tow vehicle connector are shown as wires. No connection to ground, the frame, or anything except the fixtures, and appliances.
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Old 07-13-2007, 12:03 PM   #17
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We're getting wrapped around the axle here.

The return path for the light fixtures is indeed the white wire; there is no frame ground involved in the fixtures, so the white wire is needed. If there is a lighting problem, the first place to suspect is in the white wires. So for FG trailers, I'll modify my "Bad grounds" statement to "Bad return path to battery".

The Scamp trailer frame is grounded to the white wire two ways:

1. By the converter's connection to the 120VAC green wire connection to the frame (the Scamp diagram doesn't show that connection between the green wire and frame).

I wonder what Scamp does if a trailer is built with a battery but no converter/120VAC (I believe recent Scamp converters have the 120VAC breaker box built into the converter so it is all one unit).

2. By the white wire connected to the tow vehicle, which is frame-grounded (albeit poorly) back to the trailer via the hitch components (the Scamp diagram doesn't show that connection either).

Here's a test for that -- Hitch up a Scamp, using some steel wool, etc., on the hitch components (or, better, Darwin's strap) and on the tow vehicle seven-pin socket, remove the white wire to the tow vehicle ground/return. Then check the lights and brakes on the trailer; if they work, there's more to it than just a white wire return path...

If one were to hitch up a tow vehicle with a positive ground system (as some used to be), would one have to make some wiring changes in the trailer to convert it? If so, I would label the original trailer as negative ground.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
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Old 07-13-2007, 03:36 PM   #18
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With all the grease on the trailer ball and a somewhat rusty ball and socket and a rusty white wire ground on the trailer or tow vehicle, I have had lights sometimes work, sometimes not work and most often flicker because of the return path (Ground) did not complete connection.

Many utility trailers have this problem because Harry homeowner did the wiring and just didnt know understand the grounding situation.

As far as the negative side of the battery (ground) on the tow vehicle frame it makes a connection on the trailer frame when you hitch it up therefore the ground (Negative Side) of the tow vehicle battery is physically connected to the trailer frame. Connect things in the trailer wrong and you could have a serious problem. One major problem would be if the AC Park Power were installed wrong (Voltage on the wrong pin) you could apply AC voltage to the chassis (Frame of the trailer and tow vehicle if still hitched up) so it is a safety issue where you should always carry one of those 3 pin AC Circuit testers that light up to inform you if you have the correct wire connected to the correct pin. They are sold at Home Depot, Wally World, Lows, etc.

It will display the following: Open Ground (Green Wire), Open Natural (White Wire),Open Hot (Black Wire), Hot/Grnd reverse, Hot Natural reversed, and Correct. It has 3 lights on it, one red and 2 yellow or green and a chart to inform you what is what.

Grounding in Buildings and Signal Grounds: Went to a Bell Lab presentation where 2 PhDs were going to give a class on grounding and I set there for a hour watching these geniuses argue with each other on the subject. They could not agree.

Grounding gets most complex once you go beyond the basic vehicle and house wiring. Just recently the State of Virginia now requires multiple ground rods on dwellings and out buildings.

Strapping tow vehicle parts to each other and the frame: The straps also stop tempest which is static to the layman.

Brake wires, stop lights turn signals have separate wires and that is called a star pattern.

Brake lights work off the turn signal wire for each side. Running lights work off 1 wire and run in series.

Interior lights also have a return wire however should one not work at night you dont have to worry about the trooper pulling you over for that.

One Last Thing: Im wondering, If We Were To Put A Bucket Of Dirt In The Closet in The Egg And Run All Return Path Wires To It And Stick Them In The Dirt Would That Be Ground?[color=#3366FF]
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Old 07-13-2007, 03:45 PM   #19
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One Last Thing: Im wondering, If We Were To Put A Bucket Of Dirt In The Closet in The Egg And Run All Return Path Wires To It And Stick Them In The Dirt Would That Be Ground?[color=#3366FF]
Har! Only if the dirt is damp...

"Grounding gets most complex once you go beyond the basic vehicle and house wiring. Just recently the State of Virginia now requires multiple ground rods on dwellings and out buildings."

If the soil is dry and non-conductive, then the more ground rods, the better. Also, common use of PVC plumbing in lieu of the older copper and iron pipes means the ground rod(s) by the service entrance is now the only ground.

When I built my house in the '80s, I had to bury a ground wire to connect the drilled well casing to the copper pipes in the slab and then to the electrical service entrance to create a ground in addition to the ground rod.
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Old 07-16-2007, 07:16 PM   #20
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Ok - So I just got back from campin' for 4 days. I tried for 2 days to get the lights going. Checked all the things you guys mentioned. I found a white wire and a brown wire joined and screwed to the frame. I opened the panel and looked at the wires where the back of the fridge is. After the wire pass thru from left to right and head to the back, these two wire leave the fiberglass and join together and screw to the frame. i took it off and cleaned it up and scraped the fram and put it back. Nothing! I decided to run during the day with no lights and have all news wire put in when I get back. So I hooked up for the run home today and everything came on. Perfect. Brakes and blinker and everything.

Makes me crazy!
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Old 07-18-2007, 10:17 AM   #21
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It could very well B that you are getting the ground through the ball and hitch connection B cause the tow vehicle has a faulty ground wire on the trailer wire connection on the tow vehicle side.

Here is how to check that out:
If everything is working while connected (Hitched Up) then unhitch the trailer from the ball hitch Jack it up until you do not have a connection between the ball and the trailer hitch and if your lights go away you have the answer.

To insure that is the problem connect a wire to bare metal on the trailer to the truck (U can do this from the hitch ball to the trailer hitch) and if the lights now work again you have positive proof.
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Old 07-18-2007, 05:00 PM   #22
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When I put in my brake and charging wires on the TV, I also ran a negative/ground wire from the battery to the rear of the truck, terminating it on both the truck frame and the white wire on the 7-way connector to the trailer.
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:37 PM   #23
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Darwin- I think your thoughts on the ball hitch/ground are true. The flat 4 coming off my Toyota goes into a flat 3 adapter to round 6. The adapter has a white ground that is tapped into the Scamp frame. So the truck is grounded and the adapter is grounded, but the two units need to pass the ground connection thru the ball hitch (not the Flat 4). So I wire brushed the ball and inside the cup and hit it with some Dielectric grease. Same poor result.

For some strange reason, I run to the camp ground with crummy lights and when I hook up to go home they are fine. Next trip same thing. - Dennis

PS I do not have a converter
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Old 07-20-2007, 12:01 AM   #24
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Darwin- I think your thoughts on the ball hitch/ground are true. The flat 4 coming off my Toyota goes into a flat 3 adapter to round 6. The adapter has a white ground that is tapped into the Scamp frame. So the truck is grounded and the adapter is grounded, but the two units need to pass the ground connection thru the ball hitch (not the Flat 4). So I wire brushed the ball and inside the cup and hit it with some Dielectric grease. Same poor result.

For some strange reason, I run to the camp ground with crummy lights and when I hook up to go home they are fine. Next trip same thing. - Dennis

PS I do not have a converter
i have an 81 scamp,my brother in-law and i re wired everything.hooked it to my tow vehicle and my brake/tail/stop dident work properly.my trailer had one light on each side,one bulb dual filament .my tow had two bulbs,one single, one dual.i was told i could use an adapter that was available at trailer stores or auto parts,or add another light.i wanted better lights so i added two new lights with a total of four bulbs,two single/two dual filament. everything works perfect. my trailer battery is grounded to the frame all lights are grounded to the battery and when it is being towed everything is grounded through a seven prong plug,not the ball.hope this helps and makes sense.
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Old 07-20-2007, 08:55 AM   #25
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Could it B that you are camping close to the ocean and that salt in the ocean air is getting on the ball / hitch and that enhances the electrical connectivity?

The ground should not come from the ball/hitch connection. It should come from the white wire in the wiring the white wire on the tug side being grounded to the tug and the white wire on the egg side being grounded to the frame of the egg.

Jack up the camper to the point the hitch is not touching the ball of the tug.

Turn on the lights of the tug.

Take a bare wire and hold it to a bare spot on the camper hitch and touch the other end to a bare spot on the Tug hitch and have someone at the rear of the egg tell you if the lights come on.
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