Electrical Help for Newbie - Trillium 1300 - Fiberglass RV
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Old 06-30-2019, 07:35 AM   #1
Junior Member
Lechski's Avatar
Name: Lech
Trailer: Trillium
Posts: 17
Red face Electrical Help for Newbie - Trillium 1300

Hi Everyone

Completely inexperienced and green Trilly owner here seeking advice on getting my electrical house in order. I purchased a 78 Trillium 1300 a month ago and have begun a slow tear out. The previous owner had messed with the original wiring, ran several 12-2 wires for electrical outlets, which I have removed. I am unable to find the power converter so I am assuming that it's been removed. I figure I might as well re-wire everything and do the job right. I thought I would organize this long winded post to make it easier on you friendly, helpful folks.

Intended Trailer Use: In the short term, we plan on taking the trailer to full service camp sites. We have a newborn and we want to be able to use a bottle warmer, white noise machine, and refrigerator. Eventually, we'll want to take the trailer off the grid, but it's not a current need.

Power Supply Needs: The original 3-way fridge was in sorry shape and we've decided to replace it with a conventional bar fridge. Other items that we'll need to power:
  • DC Power: 4 over-head lights, plus reading light
  • DC Power: Roof vent with fan
  • DC Power: USB outlets for charging phones, small bluetooth speaker
  • DC Power: My furnace maybe? Need to investigate
  • AC Power: Aforementioned bar fridge
  • AC Power: External power outlet
  • AC Power: Internal power outlet for bottle warmer, white noise machine (for baby), maybe a toaster oven down the road?

1. I presume I'll need to purchase a power centre in order to run both AC and DC power items. Since I don't plan on going off the grid at all this year, do I need to purchase a battery in order to make the power centre work? Or will the power centre work on its own to power everything and I can buy a battery down the road?
2. For my power supply needs, any recommendations on the type of power centre to buy?
3. Where was the original location of the power centre in the Trillium 1300? Have owners found a more practical location to put theirs when replacing?
4. Am I over-complicating this? Am I on the right track? Did I make a terrible mistake? Can I afford the trailer reno, a new car, a baby, and future vacations on one salary? Is the inevitability of a warming planet and the horrors that come with it making this venture futile? Do I sell my camper, accept that existence is meaningless in the face of the void, and spend my weekends eating Arby's?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-30-2019, 10:57 AM   #2
Junior Member
Name: Benjamin
Trailer: Trillium 1300
Posts: 17
Yes, you can get a power center that works without a battery for now, then add a battery later and wire it all up. I put in a WFCO WF-8725. Itís easy to find with a google search. I did much the same thing as you. I put mine on the side of the closet. It sticks out maybe an inch into the walkway where you step when you first come in from the door. It was a big job of dremeling into the fiberglass and lots of test fitting. I installed with stainless steel bolts and stainless nylon insert nuts from McFeeleyís that wonít jiggle loose on the road or rust. I wound up glassing in the bolts into the cabinet, with the nuts removable from the outside, since itís hard to reach around and access both sides of the lower closet at once. I also replaced the exterior power plug with something that has a better seal. I use thed ďNOCO Black GCP1 13 Amp 125V AC Port Plug with 16-Inch Integrated Extension CordĒ. You can find it on Amazon. Itís a little smaller than what it replaced, so there was some fiberglass work involved in getting it installed. A pain, but worth it, and I am not looking back. The tangle of long extension cord involved in the original design is pretty dysfunctional in my view. I angled the entry port up slightly and glassed it carefully so that any water that intrudes doesnít puddle near the electrical and create a catastrophe. In my experience everything eventually leaks at least a tiny bit on these things, so some defensive structure is good. I also ran a romex cable with AC from the WFCO power center to a standard electrical outlet on the other side of the closet, easily accessible from the sitting area. That outlet has USB-C built in, which is handy. I used one from Topgreener, who makes well-reviewed USB outlets. In general batteries need to be absolutely massive in order to handle heating and cooling. People are always surprised how giant a battery they will need to run a serious fridge for a weekend. So yeah, run some numbers. Itís not going to be like your kitchen at home Ditto with electrical heat. I recommend sticking to propane for interior heating. For interior cooling, just get a bigger roof vent and fan. There is a recent good thread on how to do this. If you want off-grid refrigeration, I strongly recommend just getting a modern cooler, like a YETI or similar. Ice cold for a week! If you are hell bent on an off-grid fridge, there are some small highly efficient 12 volt mini fridges out there. Get the latest thing you can afford. Insulation is important. Be prepared to compromise. It is hard to split the difference between efficiency and comfort. If you want to just write a big check and have the whole thing done for you in a portable package, the Goal Zero portable power stations are pretty sweet. But they go up to like $3K.
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:22 AM   #3
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Name: John
Trailer: Roamer 1
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 2,904
Originally Posted by Lechski View Post
Can I afford the trailer reno, a new car, a baby, and future vacations on one salary? Is the inevitability of a warming planet and the horrors that come with it making this venture futile? Do I sell my camper, accept that existence is meaningless in the face of the void, and spend my weekends eating Arby's?
Best to go hide under a rock. The end of the world is so near that you'll never finish this project. A meaningless existence won't be enhanced with a trailer. Besides, we'll all be under water soon anyway.

On the other hand, think how much fun your new child will have, and what a great start you'll be providing them, by going on camping trips! I take it all back!

Your "power center" should work just fine with no battery, mine did. But your bar fridge will be off as you travel to the next plug. And you'll have no lights until you reach the next plug. 12 volt lighting is very efficient and requires a battery if you are not plugged in. Later, if you run the 120 volt fridge from a battery and inverter, I think you'll be disappointed.

The battery draw to run a 120v fridge with an inverter is the amps the fridge is rated at, divided by 3 (runs about 1/3 of the time), times 11. This gives the amps the battery must provide and includes the efficiency of the inverter (approx. 90%). If you add warm food, or the weather is hot, it will run more. So, 50% is a better estimate to find the real world power use. This translates to about 6-8 hours run time on a Group 27 deep cycle battery that is 50% discharged at 100 amp/hours. Bottom line: You will have to stay plugged in, or have a minimum of three batteries to get you through one full day without charging. Or, rely on your battery to last long enough to get you to the next shore tie.

If I was starting from scratch, with no electrical system, I'd go with an inverter/charger combination unit like this one:
I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:33 PM   #4
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
The Mountains of NC/SW Desert of UT
Posts: 4,160
I was ready to buy the WFCO power center, but it has mixed reviews at best. As I result I went with a PD-4135. Was about $30 more. Hooking up to a battery is optional, but no battery = no lights when you are not connected to shore power. For this reason, I am adding a battery to my 1977 Trillium 1300.

Don't be too in a hurry to replace the old refrigerator. It may just need service and a cleanup. A bar refrigerator means no frig unless you are connected to shore power and no frig when you are driving. In the end propane is pretty handy.

The depth of the refrigerator cabinet in the old Trilliums is pretty shallow, so it won't fit some units.

I am installing my replacement power center in the same location as the original, which is below the furnace on the kitchen side (my furnace is gone). PD 4135 is a little narrower than the original unit, and a little taller. Fits just fine (after some cutting).

What you can afford on one salary depends on lifestyle and the size of the salary. I've never borrowed money (except for the house and its paid off now). I've had friends with very large salaries (at least to me) that were continually broke....

You can see the original power center in the picture below. The large cabinet door above it was where the furnace was.

1977 Trillium Painted Cabinet Doors by wrk101, on Flickr
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Old 07-02-2019, 07:56 PM   #5
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Name: Lech
Trailer: Trillium
Posts: 17
Thanks for the input everyone. Is it possible that my trillium never had a power centre? There is no cut out underneath my furnace as in yours. Perhaps the 12v was running off battery and the 120v was wired separately (something I considered doing myself before deciding on a power centre)

As for the fridge, I'm used to tent camping. I've been camping that way my entire life. If we needed to keep our food cold for an extended period, we'd freeze it. The frozen food/drink would double as an ice pack. I can always use the fridge as a glorified cooler if I'm off the grid.

I have to ask about your white paint job, thrifty bill. I was looking to do the same. Did you sand, prime, and paint? What kind of primer, paint? Roll and tip method?
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Old 07-03-2019, 05:15 AM   #6
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
The Mountains of NC/SW Desert of UT
Posts: 4,160
The only thing I painted were the cabinet doors. Everything fiberglass is the original gelcoat color. These old trailers came in two colors, a very pale yellow and a pale green avocado. The green trailers had matching green cabinets inside as far as I know. I would never, ever, paint the fiberglass unless it was badly damaged. Its a ton of work, paint isn't cheap, and it won't last forever. Meanwhile, my gelcoat is 42 years old.

If you just don't like the color, you can do a lot by changing curtains, cushion covers, and painting the cabinet doors, which are crappy, vinyl covered particle board. Mine has the original cushion covers and curtains, its kind of a time capsule. So I am keeping that stuff original.

You can do a lot with painting cabinet doors and replacing flooring with vinyl plank in the color/pattern of your choice. I picked a color to match my cushions. The cheap doors are really dark vinyl covering. Ugh.

IMHO, the avocado is pretty cool! And its rare too!
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