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Old 10-16-2017, 09:25 PM   #21
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Name: Daniel A.
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Thanks for the update.
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:30 PM   #22
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Slade, if you do all the outside connections during the good weather you could then do all the inside connections later. A small space heater and the outside temps won't matter any more.
Keep your tools, wire and tape inside so they are easier to work with. If you decide to rewire don't forget about the interior lights as well.
The rains here in the Lower Mainland, B.C. have already started so I have all my inside projects lined up for the winter.
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Old 10-17-2017, 06:35 AM   #23
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I often hear folks being nervous about soldering to make wiring splices. Its a really simple process that many of my generation mastered while still in single digits (all those Heathkit and Dynaco projects). Just remember to buy rosin core solder or any solder labeled for wiring or electronics and practice at a comfortable bench before you have to contort your body to get at your trailer's hidden areas. After 3-4 practice connections you will be expert. It helps to apply the heat to the wires and let the solder flow onto them, rather than heat the solder. Also I keep a small bubble of solder on the iron's tip to facilitate heat transfer to the wires. If you want a professional job use heat shrink tubing to insulate your splices. It works well, but I find it too much trouble and fall back on electrical tape. BTW- buying cheap electrical tape is a really bad idea. A roll goes a long way, buy the expensive name brand stuff.

Like Scamp I find hot melt glue is handy for securing wires to cabinet surfaces, etc. Don't use it to make splices. ;-)



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Old 10-17-2017, 07:45 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by slade View Post
OK, so update time. The mechanic was here to help me diagnose a bit. We'll call him Doug, because, well, that's his name. There is good news, and bad news. The good news is that the bad news is correctable, it's just going to take some time and patience and learning how to solder a connection.
Slade,

I like the approach you are taking; getting some professional help and then getting some skin in the game. What you describe is the kind of work that can take too long to pay hourly shop rates, and no one has a higher interest that you in getting it right. Soldering is ultimately one of the best ways to make enduring connections and is generally not too difficult to learn.

I also sometimes "tin" stranded wire and then connect the wires with properly-sized wire nuts when I want to be able to easily disconnect them later on. I do this with light fixtures at home that will connect to the household 120 VAC wiring. It strengthens the skinny little 18 (?) gauge stranded wires that are part of the light fixtures. Tinning is basically adding solder to the stranded wire without soldering it to another wire. It keeps the strands together and adds strength.

I also concur with John's advice on electrical tape. I used to think that a UL label meant that it was the "good stuff"; that's not necessarily true. Years later, I would find that the tape and the glue had apparently had a falling out and parted ways. The tape would then separate from the wiring and lay around in curls like discarded New Years confetti. It was always so disheartening to see these scattered remnants of broken dreams.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Linck View Post
If you want a professional job use heat shrink tubing to insulate your splices. It works well, but I find it too much trouble and fall back on electrical tape. BTW- buying cheap electrical tape is a really bad idea. A roll goes a long way, buy the expensive name brand stuff.
Likewise, I find there are also differences between wire nuts. Some have internal threads that just don't seem to grab and hold on like others do. I like "Ideal" brand. There are other good ones out there.

Also, if the wiring consists of many short pieces, you should consider replacing some of these runs with a longer pieces of wire to reduce the labor and the number of connections. Be sure to use adequate gauge wire.
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Old 10-17-2017, 08:32 AM   #25
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The truck shop I worked in used butt connectors that had solder in the center and heat shrink on the ends. We learned to make all connections that were exposed to the weather where we could easily find them again.
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Old 10-17-2017, 08:48 AM   #26
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The truck shop I worked in used butt connectors that had solder in the center and heat shrink on the ends. We learned to make all connections that were exposed to the weather where we could easily find them again.
Along that line, items labeled "marine" are generally of better quality. The Wirefy brand intrigues me. Does anyone have experience with them, or have another brand to recommend?
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Old 10-20-2017, 08:43 PM   #27
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Name: Phil
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A bit of an update. I have practiced some soldering, and figure I know kinda what I am doing there now. I spent some time this evening just getting the lay of the land- following wires, checking for obvious issue, removing tape and connectors- in order to get ready for the full assault tomorrow. For the most part I think I see where everything goes, and have found some pretty sketchy ground splices that are the likely candidates. I did find one weird thing near the back of the camper, about a couple of feet before the wires head out to the left taillight and also split off to the right one. It looks like the brown wire (it looks black, but it is brown) which is the left signal looks like it had a short 1 inch jumper spliced off to the ground. They were both all taped up and weren't actually joined when I found them, but it looks like they had been at some point in the past (maybe as recently as this week when my mechanic friend was over and started pulling some stuff apart). Anyone know of a possible reason why this would have been done? Unless there is a good reason, I certainly won't be reattaching this splice when I clean up the connections. Any thoughts?
Also, why the heck were the wires all splash painted with white paint? During the manufacturing perhaps?
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Old 10-20-2017, 09:08 PM   #28
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Only reason someone might have run the connected wire was if they were planning on splitting off another light. Some PO in mine had mounted a brake light up high on the back side, and another one in the middle of the back. I'm not replacing those, just the ones that are needed.
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Old 10-20-2017, 09:16 PM   #29
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Slade,

It looks like all the wires have some white coating. Is it spray paint that came in from the tail light hole or something like that? I think you can safely ignore it since it's on all the wires in one location. I am thinking it is something like when household wiring gets sprayed with sheet rock texture compound; just something that happens but of no significance to the wiring.

It looks like you have white, brown, green and yellow wires. Does your wiring conform to the 7-way Traditional diagram on post #11 which uses the four colors I see in the photo?

I have attached a four-wire diagram which has the same convention as the Traditional. Come to think of it, my Casita had no red wire in the tail light wiring, so that was also the Traditional, not the RV standard (as labeled on post #11).

In any event, brown "should not" connect to white. And brown is not the left turn signal/brake in any of the standards. You may need to do some more checking.

Additional to a meter I find that having a couple of jumpers with alligator clips can be handy. Sometimes I use them to make a temporary connection while checking things out, or to extend the meter's reach.

I also used to make diagrams on unfolded large paper grocery bags because they were the largest paper that was readily available when I was tracing wiring. And, I used a large draftsman's eraser a lot as I worked my way through things.
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Old 10-20-2017, 09:50 PM   #30
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Name: Phil
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Oops, my bad. My wiring corresponds to the picture I am posting here. The brown is the right signal, red is left. I was thinking of my position, facing the back of the trailer from the inside and got reversed in my head. After awhile a guy starts to dream about wires, you know?
Anyway, I think maybe EricAllyn may have it right- maybe there was some another light spliced to this at one time and it has since been removed ( I can see wiring another brake light perhaps, but why a right signal? Makes no sense. Probably why it was cut back out!).
Looking at the white paint, I think it might just have been during manufacturing, since it's not uniform throughout but rather splashed on in certain areas. No big deal I don't think.
One last thing- I haven't looked exhaustively, but I can't actually see anywhere where the ground is attached to the frame. The frame below the body of the trailer is covered by a fibreglass plate over it's entirety, so I suppose there might be one drilled down from above into the frame, but I can't see it. No obvious attachments to the frame around the tongue back to the camper body itself. The main white ground goes to the battery only from what I can see. Would it be wise to splice a ground to the frame of the trailer, or is grounding to the battery negative terminal enough? I suppose when the trailer is hooked to my tow vehicle, the ground from there is probably enough to ground my taillights?
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Old 10-21-2017, 09:42 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by slade View Post
Oops, my bad. My wiring corresponds to the picture I am posting here. The brown is the right signal, red is left. I was thinking of my position, facing the back of the trailer from the inside and got reversed in my head. After awhile a guy starts to dream about wires, you know?
Anyway, I think maybe EricAllyn may have it right- maybe there was some another light spliced to this at one time and it has since been removed ( I can see wiring another brake light perhaps, but why a right signal? Makes no sense. Probably why it was cut back out!).
Looking at the white paint, I think it might just have been during manufacturing, since it's not uniform throughout but rather splashed on in certain areas. No big deal I don't think.
One last thing- I haven't looked exhaustively, but I can't actually see anywhere where the ground is attached to the frame. The frame below the body of the trailer is covered by a fibreglass plate over it's entirety, so I suppose there might be one drilled down from above into the frame, but I can't see it. No obvious attachments to the frame around the tongue back to the camper body itself. The main white ground goes to the battery only from what I can see. Would it be wise to splice a ground to the frame of the trailer, or is grounding to the battery negative terminal enough? I suppose when the trailer is hooked to my tow vehicle, the ground from there is probably enough to ground my taillights?
Ah yes, I missed the red wire. So, yes, brown is right, red is left, green for running and white for ground.

My memories of using the trailer frame as a ground are of boat and utility trailers where exposure to the weather and periodic submersion in both fresh and salt water made the connections very unreliable. I remember rust blooms at the fasteners where these connections were made as the water would stay trapped below the surface in the threads.

Everything in the fiberglass trailer's 12VDC wiring ultimately depends on the wiring connections to the negative terminal on the house and tow vehicle batteries. So, working on getting all of your ground (negative) wiring well-connected is going to provide what you need there to operate your trailer lights and other devices reliably.

I have heard that having some current carried by the frame and some through wiring can cause ground loops, which is apparently not a good thing. Maybe one of our electricians here will kindly weigh in and enlighten us more on that subject as I am in over my head on that one!
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Old 10-21-2017, 09:58 AM   #32
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The main white ground goes to the battery only from what I can see. Would it be wise to splice a ground to the frame of the trailer, or is grounding to the battery negative terminal enough? I suppose when the trailer is hooked to my tow vehicle, the ground from there is probably enough to ground my taillights?
Slade,

I missed one of your questions. The white wiring that serves the trailer lights should also connect to the white wire at the seven-pin connector somehow.

By somehow, I mean that it may get there indirectly by way of a connection between the trailer battery and the seven-pin white wire.

In other words, all of the white wiring in the trailer, whether the appliance circuits, or the exterior trailer-lights wiring, should share a common circuit that is connected to both the trailer battery's negative terminal and also the white wire on the seven-pin connector.
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Old 10-21-2017, 01:17 PM   #33
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So the good news so far is that I redid all of the connections at the back of the trailer, and using my 12V battery as a direct power source back there I was able to get all of my taillights working. Now, I will move to the front where I think the real work is. This is my before picture, with most of the connectors and tape removed.
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Old 10-21-2017, 01:29 PM   #34
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Slade,

This is awesome! No offense to repair shops, but let's just say that it would not have been economical to have someone do everything that you are doing at hourly rates.

Like you said in an earlier post, they would most likely fix the problem and then leave it for time and vibration to let the next problem emerge.

Besides that, you get the satisfaction of repairing it yourself and the knowledge to go in and fix problems in the future.

Sadly, those future problems sometimes mean going back and fixing what we goofed up ourselves, at least it does for me. But, hey, that's all part of the fun!
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Old 10-21-2017, 05:57 PM   #35
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And after....
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Old 10-21-2017, 06:03 PM   #36
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And success!

Well, mostly. Must have messed up somehow with the reverse lights, as they aren't working, but I'm leaving it for now. Figure I can live without those for awhile.

Last thing to try to figure out before freeze up might be my fantasticfan. It wasn't working before and still not, so I will have to trace this one back. Is there a standard place that this is usually hooked in to the 12V?
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Old 10-21-2017, 09:29 PM   #37
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And success!
Last thing to try to figure out before freeze up might be my fantasticfan. It wasn't working before and still not, so I will have to trace this one back. Is there a standard place that this is usually hooked in to the 12V?
Slade, just a thought, being the fan didn't work before you got into the wiring I'd do a little checking backwards first. Take a voltmeter and see if you have 12V at the fan switch. If not, bypass the house wiring and put 12Vs from a separate battery to the fan to see if it really works. If so, you know it's in the house wiring.....somewhere .
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:48 PM   #38
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Might also be fused on a circuit with bad fuse.
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Old 10-22-2017, 01:11 AM   #39
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As far as I know there were no fantastic fans back in 1987.
What I have seen for wires in my limited personal knowledge of older RVs up at the openings for the vents was some 110 Romex wiring that was installed by the manufacturer for the option of having an air conditioner. A lot of times that standard type of Romex wire will then get used by an owner to power their newly installed 12 volt fan addition. But of course it will not be hooked up to 110 breaker, instead it will be put onto a 12 volt terminal. So the place to start is by looking at your converter and see if you can spot that abnormality of a Romex cable going to the 12 volt side. If so that is most likely the wiring that goes to your Fantastic fan. Do a continuity test on that wire at the panel and up at the fan end of the wire to verify if that is what has happened. It is OK to use that heavier wire for the fan, just be sure you don't connect it to a 110 power instead of 12 volt. Once you figure it out put labels on the wires identifying the function.
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:56 AM   #40
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Trailer: Was A-Liner now 13f Scamp
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fantastic fan

slade I bought stevie used she is a 95 I only met the previous owner for about 20ms and then bailed out! I have lost his ph nr also!

he put in a fantastic fan it wont turn on I have checked the box below the bed fuses are ok. I know exactly where the fuse is and the fan circuit by the way.

So far we haven't really needed it and I can just see the current draw on this this while boondocking! I am not going to worry about it as I have a 12v ocslatting fan I got from O Riellys to use. We turn it on and abut 10 or so we are turning it off too cool!

I know it bugs me too but I just close my eyes!!

bob
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