Small Electrical Fire - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-15-2015, 11:36 AM   #1
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Name: Dennis
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Small Electrical Fire

We travel south each year in March to escape a bit of Minnesota winter.

We left Natchez, Mississippi and headed for Hot Springs, Arkansas and when we arrived at the Hot Springs KOA, I went into the Scamp to discover the strong smell of burned electrical insulation and notice soot on the rat fur above the storage compartment under the front couch. I further investigated and found a mass of charred wiring in that compartment where the cable from the truck enters the Scamp. I called Scamp, and they e-mailed a wiring diagram, then I went to a Radio Shack, bought 12 gauge hookup wire, solder and a soldering iron, then proceeded to do a repair. The damage was to great for me to determine what caused the issue in the first place, but I believe it started at the connector that joins the hot wire from the house battery to the hot wire of the camper.

I felt that we were lucky that that compartment is my tool storage, and nothing was in there to allow the fire to spread.
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:43 AM   #2
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Name: Darral
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Scary! One question: Do you feel "solder" is up to handling that kinda of Amps/heat transfer?? (If in fact that was the problem).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis mn View Post
We travel south each year in March to escape a bit of Minnesota winter.

We left Natchez, Mississippi and headed for Hot Springs, Arkansas and when we arrived at the Hot Springs KOA, I went into the Scamp to discover the strong smell of burned electrical insulation and notice soot on the rat fur above the storage compartment under the front couch. I further investigated and found a mass of charred wiring in that compartment where the cable from the truck enters the Scamp. I called Scamp, and they e-mailed a wiring diagram, then I went to a Radio Shack, bought 12 gauge hookup wire, solder and a soldering iron, then proceeded to do a repair. The damage was to great for me to determine what caused the issue in the first place, but I believe it started at the connector that joins the hot wire from the house battery to the hot wire of the camper.

I felt that we were lucky that that compartment is my tool storage, and nothing was in there to allow the fire to spread.
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:52 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
Scary! One question: Do you feel "solder" is up to handling that kinda of Amps/heat transfer?? (If in fact that was the problem).
I believe that solder, with shrink wrap insulation will provide a better connection than the squeeze on connectors that were used by Scamp. The surface area available for electrical transmission is much greater. There should be very little heat with proper sized wire and the silver that is used in solder today.
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:59 AM   #4
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I have worked on more than a few Scamps and that "mess" under the front couch where the TV's cable enters is nothing for Scamp to be proud of.....


I'd suggest that everyone inspect where the TV cable enters and see what conditions exist. Lots of loose/missing twist-on connectors and more than a few Scotch-Locs have been seen here on many makes. Be proactive, not reactive.....


BTW: Soldering is fine as the most seen here is 12 volts @ less than about 20 amps, but a properly done crimp is also satisfactory if you have a good pressure crimper.
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:01 PM   #5
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Sometimes we forget the power of a battery and the damage it can do.

Everyone should check all connections from time to time.
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis mn View Post
I believe that solder, with shrink wrap insulation will provide a better connection than the squeeze on connectors that were used by Scamp.
yes to Shrink warp!! Don't leave home without out it. Have found many loose factory connection in my 92 scamp.

I had some vintage trailer folks teach me a number of years ago that shrink wrap is the best to use in our trailers to get the connection tight & keep it tight through years of travel vibration as well as protecting the connection from corrosion. Ever since anytime I fix or add something involving wiring in the trailer I shrink wrap the connection.
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:31 PM   #7
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Thumbs up check it two times a year

I would check it two times a year. The bouncing is the probem !
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:54 PM   #8
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Name: JD
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Lots of crimpers today do the job incorrectly. The crimping should run parallel to the wire and not across the wire.
Here is a detailed discussion with disagreement as well:

How To: Properly create a crimped butt connection

Personally the crimps I use are aircraft and there are two crimping areas one that crimps the wire and the second that crimps the insulation to keep the wire from breaking due to vibration.
The crimpers shown in the above discussion crimp along the wire and not across. If you use the cheap crimpers that crimp across you tend to cut the wire at the crimp when you really squeeze tight.
Best is as the article shows to crimp the wire (you can leave the insulation on) ant prepositioned a heat shrink tube to be positioned over the splice when done. This will immobilize the wire and help keep water out to protect the connection.
Crimps are available with heat shrink sleeves and corrosion inhibitor sealers already installed.
Personally when I redo all of the wiring in my Scamp project all of the connections will either be on terminal strips or if spliced soldered and in heat shrink sleeves.
I read somewhere that most RV fires are due to problems in the DC circuits. Currents can be high and wiring poor.
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Old 04-15-2015, 01:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis mn View Post
We travel south each year in March to escape a bit of Minnesota winter.

We left Natchez, Mississippi and headed for Hot Springs, Arkansas and when we arrived at the Hot Springs KOA, I went into the Scamp to discover the strong smell of burned electrical insulation and notice soot on the rat fur above the storage compartment under the front couch. I further investigated and found a mass of charred wiring in that compartment where the cable from the truck enters the Scamp. I called Scamp, and they e-mailed a wiring diagram, then I went to a Radio Shack, bought 12 gauge hookup wire, solder and a soldering iron, then proceeded to do a repair. The damage was to great for me to determine what caused the issue in the first place, but I believe it started at the connector that joins the hot wire from the house battery to the hot wire of the camper.

I felt that we were lucky that that compartment is my tool storage, and nothing was in there to allow the fire to spread.

A couple points ... First if you don't know what caused it it'll happen again.

Second.... Soldering is asking for trouble. A person without lots of soldering experience is even worse. One of my tasks when I was working was to certify people to solder. No body soldered on product until they showed me at least 1000 good solder joints.
Here's what happens with solder joints even with an excellent soldering. Solder wicks up the wire, with stranded wire the strands will flex and break where the solder ends. You can't see it but it happens. At that point the wire's resistance increases thus heating up when used.

Third... Radio Shack wire is vinyl covered, vinyl burns with at a low temperature, also the insulation will wear off easily with vibration. For those reasons Automobiles use an SAE wire with Cross Link insulation. One of two types are recommended one called GXL and the SXL (GXL General purpose Cross Link.. SXL Special purpose Cross Link. SXL has thicker insulation that GXL which is often preferred.)
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Old 04-15-2015, 02:02 PM   #10
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Name: Steve
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I like the uses of one of these trailer wire junction boxes in that location. Makes going from 7 pin trailer cord to trailer wiring much nicer.

https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories...tro/38656.html
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Old 04-15-2015, 02:15 PM   #11
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Byron is correct on the problems with solder . The NEC requires all wiring splices to be electrically and mechanically secure. Most electrical inspectors will not allow splices that depend on solder. I have twisted ,soldered and then applied a scotchlok to solid wire splices and gotten approval. Too many people heat the solder and not the conductors leading to a high resistance splice . When I was an apprentice we dip soldered all the splices in a large apartment complex .
You soon learn the advantage of long sleeved apparel. I still have a solder pot and ladle but have not used them since 1969.
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Old 04-15-2015, 02:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
I like the uses of one of these trailer wire junction boxes in that location. Makes going from 7 pin trailer cord to trailer wiring much nicer.

https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories...tro/38656.html
Thanks Byron and Steve. The wiring that I did got me home. I like the junction box, and have SAE grade wire in a variety of colors here at home. I had intended to redo the wiring before I pull the trailer again! Next time with a junction box!

I worked as a plumber sweating copper joints and made thousands of leak proof joints, I know about cold joints and how to prevent them. When I finish soldering a joint, I extend the shrink wrap a couple of inches to stiffen the connection and protect the system from vibration. The problem exists of wires breaking at the end of any connection where the wire is stiffened. I have actually had more problem with wire breakage with crimp connectors.
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Old 04-15-2015, 02:58 PM   #13
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Dennis I'm glad you didn't have more damage that what you did. Thanks for rhe repodt.
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Old 04-15-2015, 03:16 PM   #14
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Name: RogerDat
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Glad to hear you made it home safe and sound. Nothing can give you headaches like a wiring glitch. The wiring in a trailer because of the bouncing is even more glitch prone. In a camper they go one better and hide the wires!
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