Burnt negative to ground wire on 1992 Scamp 13' - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-01-2020, 12:22 PM   #1
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Burnt negative to ground wire on 1992 Scamp 13'

What should I be looking for to have caused this negative battery wire to the ground on my 1992 Scamp 13'?

Background info:
Last time the Scamp was used was Thanksgiving hooked up to my house for electricity. Small electric heater was being used, it was raining on and off.
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:33 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by lisantica View Post
What should I be looking for to have caused this negative battery wire to the ground on my 1992 Scamp 13'?
The lack of a fuse is the flippant answer....
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:35 PM   #3
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The lack of a fuse is the flippant answer....
I do have a fuse on the positive side of the battery.
Do I need to have a fuse somewhere else?
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:36 PM   #4
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Pulling too much current through it for the gauge of wire that it is. Possibly a direct short somewhere that contacted that wire.
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:37 PM   #5
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The lack of a fuse is the flippant answer....
Fuses are generally placed in line on the hot leg where the power is coming from, not the ground leg.
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:40 PM   #6
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Pulling too much current through it for the gauge of wire that it is. Possibly a direct short somewhere that contacted that wire.
This wire was on the negative terminal of the battery, then attached to the frame.
I am replacing the wire with a heavier gauge, anything else I should look for that you can think of?
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:49 PM   #7
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I would definitely look into finding out why it fried in the first place. Something caused that wire to overheat to the point of burning off the insulation. That would tell me that there was something pushing current through it way beyond it's ability to carry that much current. Just replacing the wire with a larger gauge isn't necessarily going to tell you what caused it to burn in the first place, nor will it assure you that this won't re-occur. It's kinda like replacing a fuse several times and having them continue to blow, and not first figuring out what caused the first one, (and the subsequent ones as well,) to blow.
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:54 PM   #8
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I would definitely look into finding out why it fried in the first place.
True.
I'm also wondering if I should replace the converter since the converter is 28 years old.
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Old 02-01-2020, 05:34 PM   #9
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The battery could also cause the short its worth looking at the condition of the battery maybe get it tested. It really is odd to have a negative wire do that but a poor connection to ground or wire gauge not heavy enough to carry the load will do that.
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Old 02-01-2020, 05:37 PM   #10
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The battery could also cause the short its worth looking at the condition of the battery maybe get it tested. It really is odd to have a negative wire do that but a poor connection to ground or wire gauge not heavy enough to carry the load will do that.
Funny you should mention battery. The battery was 5 years old, so I just bought a new battery for it. I was about to install it when I saw that ground wire.
I'm starting to pull back some of the wall covering to see if I can spot the culprit.
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Old 02-01-2020, 05:49 PM   #11
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So this wire was going a short distance from the battery negative post to the frame? Was there another negative wire to the trailer’s circuits? This seems unusual and I wonder if it was wired to use the frame as a common connection for other circuit(s). If so that can be problematic with such an old camper, considering rust and corrosion.

And if it was a wire from post to frame, then perhaps someone had a wrench on the battery positive post, and shorted the wrench to the frame (or propane tank hold-downs, etc connected to the frame). This would bypass any fuse on the positive wiring and create lots of scary sparks at the very least*. Don't ask what the worst would be but the melting insulation is the part of the dire scenario.

And as bad as that could have been, its actually a better case than if that much current went through other parts of the electrical system (perhaps because there was not an inline fuse at the battery). In this later case damaged insulation (and more damage) could be present elsewhere in the wiring. That can lead to more shorts, a fire, etc. A full inspection is called for.

With the old converter and electrical system, a complete replacement of all of it might be called for, even more called for if overload damage is suspected.

---
* PS.. this is why a fuse on the ground/negative wire in addition is not a bad idea, although it is not used often.
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Old 02-01-2020, 06:03 PM   #12
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Just another thing to consider, but any poor electrical contact or corroded wiring or terminal end connection, for whatever condition it's caused by, will also create excess heat in the form of resistance. In wiring, excess Resistance = Heat.
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Old 02-01-2020, 07:14 PM   #13
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So this wire was going a short distance from the battery negative post to the frame? Was there another negative wire to the trailerís circuits?
Yes, this was a short distance wire, frame to negative post.
I do believe there is another negative wire to the circuits.

Once I get further into the project, I'll report back with my findings.
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Old 02-02-2020, 12:03 AM   #14
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Yes, this was a short distance wire, frame to negative post.
I do believe there is another negative wire to the circuits.

Once I get further into the project, I'll report back with my findings.
For the negative ground that wire is much to small diameter or gauge wise. If you turn on a light current goes through a bulb and then into ground then through that wire into the battery. So turn on a light here and then another and a fan and the water pump and furnace, all of those have relatively small wires but all of their current added together goes through that one wire.

It needs to be thick. That is why they call them cables or straps and not wires.
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Old 02-02-2020, 01:15 AM   #15
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Hot wire

Quote:
Originally Posted by lisantica View Post
What should I be looking for to have caused this negative battery wire to the ground on my 1992 Scamp 13'?

Background info:
Last time the Scamp was used was Thanksgiving hooked up to my house for electricity. Small electric heater was being used, it was raining on and off.
The fuse in the black + wire should have opened long before the white got that hot. Were any changes Made from the last time you were camping? Can you post a picture of the battery hookup? I think if the + battery post gets shorted to ground that it may cook the white wire.
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:22 AM   #16
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If the fuse was intact, the positive side did not conduct. As such, two possibilities come to mind.

1) As suggested, someone trying to remove the battery slipped with the wrench and made contact with the frame, perhaps through an adjacent propane tank. If this is the case, there will be a burn mark at the point of contact (and on the wrench ). Always best to remove the negative lead first to avoid this problem.

2) I believe Scamp uses the frame as part of the brake circuit. If that's the case, in order for a break away circuit to work, the negative side of the battery requires connection to the frame. Check the brake wires.

Long distance troubleshooting with no measurements or visual inspection is an academic exercise at best. In most cases when troubleshooting electrical circuits, the symptoms lead to the fault. But sometimes discovering the fault explains the symptoms. Do let us know what you find.
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Old 02-02-2020, 07:19 AM   #17
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It needs to be thick. That is why they call them cables or straps and not wires.
Thank you, I am replacing with a much thicker wire.

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Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
The fuse in the black + wire should have opened long before the white got that hot. Were any changes Made from the last time you were camping? Can you post a picture of the battery hookup? I think if the + battery post gets shorted to ground that it may cook the white wire.
I don't have a photo of the battery hookup right now as I was in the process of changing the battery when I noticed that wire all melted.

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Originally Posted by Raz View Post
If the fuse was intact, the positive side did not conduct. As such, two possibilities come to mind.

1) As suggested, someone trying to remove the battery slipped with the wrench and made contact with the frame, perhaps through an adjacent propane tank. If this is the case, there will be a burn mark at the point of contact (and on the wrench ). Always best to remove the negative lead first to avoid this problem.

2) I believe Scamp uses the frame as part of the brake circuit. If that's the case, in order for a break away circuit to work, the negative side of the battery requires connection to the frame. Check the brake wires.

Long distance troubleshooting with no measurements or visual inspection is an academic exercise at best. In most cases when troubleshooting electrical circuits, the symptoms lead to the fault. But sometimes discovering the fault explains the symptoms. Do let us know what you find.
When I remove the battery wires I don't use a wrench, I have wing nuts on the posts and hand tighten/loosen so I think I'm okay there.

I don't have brakes on the 13' Scamp.

I will definitely report back with my findings.

Thank you all for your replies.
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:33 AM   #18
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For the negative ground that wire is much to small diameter or gauge wise. ..
What gauge is it? I can't tell from the photo and it was not mentioned. I actually suspect that it is sufficient size. Especially if there is another ground / negative path for the circuits as is believed to be the case. Ten gauge is good (unless something unusual like a 1,000 watt inverter is used, and if it is, then there is more to discuss).

In any event a larger wire will do nothing to address the cause unless the photo is deceptive and the wire is really small gauge (like 16, 18 etc) and the sole ground path. And my 'spidey sense' tells me that this 28 year old camper (which also had a propane leak and a five year old battery) has wiring issues. Using the frame for current should be avoided. A brake problem is ruled out. Some sore of short circuit had to be involved.

If there was not a short from the positive post directly to the frame, then the current that made this wire look like nichrome probable went through the camper. Fuse(s) should have prevented this. Why did it (they) not? Where is the short? How much more wiring is damaged?

We really can't tell anything without seeing it, but I have to repeat that tearing out the 28 year old electrical system and replacing it might well be the best option. Its about impossible to fully inspect every inch wire, every connection, etc. And the wire protection (fuses) failed, or are not even present.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:03 AM   #19
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gordon2,

I just replaced the ground wire with 10 gauge. Well it's ready to install, haven't put things back together yet.

Yes, I think a whole re-wire is going to have to happen. I see some other melting in behind the insulation.

Just as an FYI, this is my older 1992, it didn't have a propane leak...that is my newer 2008 that the hose was old/loose.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:32 AM   #20
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burnt ground

Sounds like you were running way too much current such as running the furnace, all the lights on a tv running off 12v. water pump.

for this reason I do not hook my trailer up to 110ac. especially loaning your trailer out creates a situation like this to happen!
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