Wiring differences bet. U.S. and Canada??? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-25-2007, 04:58 PM   #1
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Just when I am reasonably reassured that the border crossing, paperwork and other details will go smoothly upon our picking up our 19 footer from Vancouver Island to bring home to Arizona, the local Arizona dealer (whom I contacted to ask if I can order replacement parts and decals through if needed) leaves me this ominous message warning me that the wiring is completely different in Canadian trailers and that US dealers won't even take Canadian trailers on consignment because of this. Okay, very nice, so what the heck does this mean to me, with only 9 days until our departure?

Does this mean that my 7 pin truck receiver will not work with the power plug for the 1988 Canadian Bigfoot B19 that we are going to pick up? Will it blow up, overheat, do nothing? Can I get an adapter for it--if so, what kind? The trailer brakes and lights MUST work in order for us to drive safely and legally home!

And, if the Canadian wiring is totally different, what kind of rewiring will I need to do in order to use U.S.-made equipment (7 pin receiver, batteries and other power sources, new appliances and fans, etc.)with the trailer?
Will all the plumbing and fixtures be totally different too and if so, can I just order them from Canada or will this be cost prohibitive?

I have read on the forum that others have gotten FG TTs from Canada for use in the States, but has anyone brought a Bigfoot over and if so, how do you refurbish it and maintain it?

Please advise... we have our hearts set on this trailer, but we do have budget limitations that would prevent us from being able to afford doing a total rebuild. The tech who did my brake controller at Quality Bumper here in AZ said he does side work in trailer wiring, but I don't know if that means rewiring an entire trailer...
Val
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:12 PM   #2
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My first impulse is to think that it's the special portable maple syrup connection that will mess up the US tow vehicles, used when our trailers are towed by sled dogs...


But seriously...
No, there's nothing different about the tug-to-trailer connection, or the vehicle lights (tail, stop, turn), or the brakes. I suspect that the "wiring" issue would be the inspection and approval of the recreational vehicle features (such as the propane plumbing and 120V AC wiring) by different national bodies... CSA in Canada. While the standards are different, and the agencies are different, the RVs are the same.

While there may be some exception, I've never heard of a difference in the way that Canadian and U.S. RVs are equipped. Essentially all appliances in Canadian RVs are made in the U.S. anyway.

When I inquired with Casita about purchasing a new trailer from them (made in Texas), to be shipped to me for use in Canada, they said that they were certified by both U.S. and Canadian agencies, and ship units for use in Canada with the appropriate CSA sticker applied. I'll bet Bigfoot does exactly the same thing.

The dealer probably wants a unit on his lot to have the typical U.S. sticker (RVIA?). I really don't think it will make any difference to the motor vehicle licensing people - who care about vehicle standards, not RV stuff - or to the suitability of spare parts.
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:22 PM   #3
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I think your dealer might be on happy pills or looking for a way to get your Tow Vehicle into his shop for an imaginary 4 hour labor charge!

I owned a Canadian made Trillium for 15 years and wired it to several vehicles. I sold it to a very nice chap in North Carolina, he drove up here backed up to the trailer and plugged it in to the 7 pin connector....no issues.

4 weeks earlier, I bought a used Casita in Queens, New York (NYC) drove down, backed up to the trailer and plugged in the 7 pin connector....no issues for 3 years. I then purchased a Texas built truck with built in connector, hooked up to the trailer and again no issues.

I question if this is a dealer you want to continue to do business with. Travel Trailers cross the border every day of the week. 95% of them are wire correctly to the Bargman / Pollock standard, as are 99% of the vehicles manufactured and sold with a towing package as a factory installed option.

As far as repairs / refurbishing, Bigfoot makes the frame, shell, and interior cabinetry fittings. The fiberglass can be reparied by almost any boat shop or Corvette shop, the frame can be repaired by any certified welder, and any carpenter or handyperson of a reasonable skill set can work on the interior, any RV shop (of good character and staffing) should be able to repair or replace any of the other components from readily availabe supplies. This would include windows, water heater, stove, furnace, pumps etc.

The Bigfoot Travel Trailer is just another vehicle that will have things break, that can be repaired by the right facility, just the same as your car or truck. If you are handy with the tools, you can do some of it yourself if you are so inclined! I do recommend using certified people for welding repairs to the frame structure, axles, wheels, and to the Propane Gas systems.

It is good to see you learning about what you are getting into before you get trapped, make sure to take the "Buyers Checklist" as noted on the left column of the screen. Your buying what generally should be a nice product...check it out well...have fun and enjoy it.
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:28 PM   #4
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Thank Goodness for those of you who know about these things! Ken J said the same thing as Brian and Charlie, so I am SOOO relieved! Our Arizona dealer made it sound as though we were attempting something life-threateningly dangerous and potentially illegal. GEEZ! I didn't realize that Canadian maple syrup was such a harmful substance that it could potentially cause such destruction (I always thought American fast food was the real threat)!

I checked with our Arizona Motor Vehicle Department several times to make sure I got consistent replies about bringing a used TT home from Canada (stressed CANADA and explained it was a foreign country, just in case...you know how Americans can be about geography... didn't want them to think it was some town in Texas), and they only care that we have a Bill of Sale, Proof of Ownership and Title, come in for a brief visual inspection and pay our registration fees, so I do not anticipate any problems once we get it home.

Just didn't want to learn after the fact that we can't get any needed parts. When I called Bigfoot to ask about model specific replacement parts and DECALS (or "deck-alls" in Canadian, as I learned from Kersti), they said I would have to order through my local dealer. Well, thankfully, there is a Northern California dealer too, so if I have to order from CA, fine, then the local dealer will lose my business three times--the first time, through no fault of his own, only because he didn't have the size we wanted; but the second time will be if he isn't willing to be helpful in ordering parts for us, and the third, if we ever buy a larger trailer. Customers who buy one trailer may well buy another later on, so even if they didn't buy from a certain dealership this time, if they have a good experience with that dealership and later decide to move up in size... well, good business sense is as easy as 1-2-3-honesty-reliability-courtesy!

We do plan to do a lot of the refurbishing ourselves. Between the two of us, we've prepped and painted inside and outside entire houses, put in new house toilets, sinks, faucets and windows, laid tile, removed old wallpaper using an antiquated and utterly useless steamer, installed new roof vent hoods, used a Bobcat to level and regrade the yard, used a WitchDitch to create french drains, installed the french drains, relandscaped several yards, installed drip irrigation and repaired a number of minor things here and there by going to Home Depot and matching the old part to a new part. In terms of rewiring, though, the only thing either of us has ever done is to take down one light fixture and replace it with another... not exactly rocket science. But we are always willing to learn more!

I have printed out three copies of the buyers checklist and highlighted the areas about which we have questions, so that we are as thorough as can be... thanks to everyone on this forum!
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:52 PM   #5
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Actually Val, this is a very serious issue.

Maybe you're not aware of this, but when we run our wiring in our igloo's we have to make sure it's maple syrup compliant, so I'm sure our trailers must be made to the same high Canadian standards as our igloos
Have you ever seen what happened when some guy from northern BC took his igloo into the states!?

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Old 07-25-2007, 07:52 PM   #6
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I had heard a rumor that everytime you start to pull a Canadian trailer
it makes a sound like... Eh?

Other than that I'd never heard of any differences till the maple syrup connection.
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
I had heard a rumor that everytime you start to pull a Canadian trailer
it makes a sound like... Eh?
You guys and gals, hahaha!

Likely, any fiberglass Canadian trailer with common sense disguises itself as an igloo whenever Americans are around to thwart the ignorant among us (which are legion) from attempting to rewire them using non-maple-syrup-compliant corn sweetener and other cheap and lesser quality fillers.
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Old 07-26-2007, 08:38 AM   #8
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You've actually stumbled upon one of our secret words there. "Decal" is the metric form of the word "sticker". Your pronounciation of it is what helps border officials determine whether you are really canadian or just a colonial invader trying to infiltrate the empire... The real pronounciation of the word is a series of "L"s; the length of which determined by a 1/4 note in 4:4 pentameter (another metric word)...

Decal: 10 L's: LLLLLLLLLL or "Decka-ehl" for short.

If you're at the canadian border and say "you're welcome to check my LLLLLLLLLLs if you want" then you will catch that knowing smile that border agents give to all true canadians...

Lets keep this in the community please.
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Old 07-26-2007, 08:51 AM   #9
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Please tell your Arizona guy about a great deal I have on mountain property in SW Washington. WELL below market price! Tell him you will be driving though thre and would be happy to take a look at it for him.

If he wants to know exactly where it is.. tell him "Everywhere, now".
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:20 AM   #10
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I think your problem is that you talked to the wrong RV dealer and recommend that you stay away from that dealership otherwise we will be reading about you in the Good Sam Highways magazine under “Action Line”.

I suggest you call Camping World as they are nation wide and ask them questions like:

1. Are the running lights wired the same and if not, what is the difference?
2. Is the inside AC wiring and connections the same and if not, what is the difference?
3. Is the DC converter inside the unit the same and if not, what is the difference?

http://www.campingworld.com/stores/

Go to Camping World (home) then look for and click on contact us and ask the question.

Email Us
1-866-838-5304 Let us solve your RV's problems or answer any product or installation-related question for you. Questions regarding your RV or other products need to have sufficient information, such as year, make, model, brand, model #, part #, etc. provided. If you are interested in an Installation Appointment, please contact the store where you wish to have the work done directly. To find more information on a particular store Click Here.
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:22 AM   #11
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There all wired the same.I have bought RVs made in the USA and wiring is the same.That RV guy is nuts.
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:45 AM   #12
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I was disappointed in him, because he seemed low-key and yet, either he is woefully ignorant about a product that he has sold for something like 15 years, or he is trying to use fear to dissuade me from getting something used that isn't on his lot, which is underhanded. No, you won't be reading about me in Action Line... one thing about getting older is that we tend to be more aware about what to look out for and put up with a lot less baloney.

I will tell him about that maple syrup orchard in SW Washington--is that the one with the replica of the Brooklyn Bridge towering above the maple trees? I've heard that it's quite a sight, but entry is limited to those with the proper "LLLLLLLLLL's" , which in his case, due to extreme maple syrup phobia, he may not have acquired. I believe that non-maple-syrup-compliant corn syrup labels are grounds for immediate disciplinary actions at the border.

I am actually headed to Camping World today because they are having a big sale... have never been, but will take the opportunity to ask some questions, as suggested.
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Old 07-26-2007, 04:08 PM   #13
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I'm reading about the "DECK-LLL" pronounciation, and every time I read it to myself, it still sounds like "DECK-LLL" I finally had to go to The Dictionary to hear the other version!

"DEE-KAAL" dē-ˌkal Here I've been saying it wrong all these years and never knew it! Better not change now though, no one here would understand what I'm talking about!
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Old 07-26-2007, 11:27 PM   #14
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Hi, Val.

We recently imported a Bigfoot fifth wheel from British Columbia and found out that it is the United States Customs you should be concerned about allowing you to bring the trailer into the country. Otherwise you won't get back across the border with your new trailer!

What the Customs officials need is a proof of sale AND your trailer needs to have a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker (not just the Canadian equivalent.) By having the U.S. DOT sticker, it states to the US Customs that the trailer was manufactured to the U.S. safety standards at the time of manufacturing. Bigfoot Industries will not give you a letter stating that the trailer was made to U.S. standards because they are under new ownership since the 1980's, so please be sure to have them send you a picture of the DOT sticker.

Good luck with your purchase. Bigfoot Industries builds a top quality product.

Maureen & Chris
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Old 07-27-2007, 01:47 PM   #15
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Thanks, Maureen and Chris,

I'd called the Customs Office and they didn't mention anything about needing to see a DOT sticker for the US--just asked if it was made in Canada and that there be something on the trailer to that effect.

I called Bigfoot and left a voicemail message for Bruce, whom they said was the person who could assist. I will follow up again on Monday if needed.

Ask a different person, get a different answer!

What part of the Border did you come through? Did you have to pay a duty fee on it as well? And did the DOT sticker from Bigfoot have to specify the exact model and year of manufacture?

The US Customs website states that under NAFTA, duty is usually waived for vehicles over 1 years old.

Thanks!
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Old 07-27-2007, 09:57 PM   #16
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Val, we didn't have to pay a duty fee. We came across the Border at Sumas, Washington. I had the same problem when I first called the Customs office at Blaine. I don't think people import RVs very often so the person answering the phone may not know as much as the officers who do the searches and actually let you cross the border. Fortunately I had emailed U.S. Customs before I got through to them on the phone. I still have the email so I'll copy it here:

If you are inquiring about importing personally owned vehicles into the United States from Canada, here are a few helpful hints that can assist you. Prior to applying to import your vehicle into the United States, you must first ensure that you have in your possession the following:

* Proof of ownership such as ICBC registration or a bill of sale if recently purchased.

* You must verify that the vehicle meets both D.O.T and E.P.A labeling requirements.
The D.O.T. label can be found on the driver’s doorjamb. The E.P.A is usually found under the hood. If either labels are missing, then you must attain a letter of conformity by the vehicle manufacturer stating that the vehicle meets both D.O.T and E.P.A standards. If you cannot attain a letter of conformity from the manufacturer, then your only other option is to have the vehicle commercially imported utilizing a registered importer/broker.

Once you verified that you have in possession those items and your vehicle meets the requirements, you can now apply to import your vehicle into the United States at any of the local CPB Ports of Entry. A CBP officer will verify your documents and your vehicle’s VIN and then issue you CF7501 (A form that you will be required to give to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles in the state that you intend on registering your vehicle). Vehicles manufactured in North America generally are duty free (North American manufactured vehicle VIN’s start with the numbers 1,2,3,4 or 5). Duty may be assessed to vehicle manufactured outside North America.

If you require further information, then you can get it at:

*cbp.gov

*nhtsa.dot.gov

*epa.gov


Val, of course a trailer doesn't have to have an EPA label because it doesn't have an engine. But you do need the DOT label or the manufacturer's letter.

Our advice is to have the seller look for the DOT label somewhere on the trailer and have them send you a picture. We bought our trailer from a private party, so I'm not sure if anything is anything different in your case. That is, maybe if you are buying through a dealer, they may handle the import/export. I hope this helps. Good luck!

Maureen
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Old 07-28-2007, 11:17 AM   #17
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Thanks, Maureen,

I called and spoke with a Customs Officer who said he'd been working Customs for 15 years and that unless it was a self-propelled motor vehicle, all they needed was the Bill of Sale, Title/Proof of ownership and proof that it was manufactured in Canada. To be safe, however, I will ask the dealer to locate the DOT sticker!
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Old 07-28-2007, 05:24 PM   #18
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Hmm, do any of the US-manf trailers have a DOT sticker? I surely don't know about one on my 1991 Scamp...
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Old 07-28-2007, 09:57 PM   #19
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Hmm, do any of the US-manf trailers have a DOT sticker? I surely don't know about one on my 1991 Scamp...
They are more likely to put on a FMVSS or CSA sticker since they are trailers, not vehicles.

Here is a link to the PDF for the rules. Sorry but it was too big (530 K for me to upload it exceeded my permissions.

A sample of the FMVSS sticker is on Page 26 and they go on to say
Quote:
(d) The label for trailers shall be affixed to a location on the forward half of the left side, such that
it is easily readable from outside the vehicle without moving any part of the vehicle.
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Old 07-28-2007, 11:04 PM   #20
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Wow, Roy, thanks for the clarification. Perhaps some of the Customs Agents are so used to the rules relating to motorized vehicles that they are using the same terminology when providing requirements. We'll look for the FMVSS or CSA or non-DOT sticker (or deck-all).
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