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Thread: Travel Trailer Electrical Upgrade

  1. #191
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    Mar 2007
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    And, after all that... would you believe the hot coil sensor isn't working? It comes on, but isn't resetting. Feels hot to touch... must be an internal defect causing it to heat up from the current alone ( no external heat source). Replacement on order.
    "The thing about smart people is they seem like crazy people to dumb people" - Stephen Hawking

  2. #192
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    Terminal block connection index:

    Terminals identified by position (left to right) and upper (U) vs Lower (L) - wire called out by color. This list follows the basic current-flow through the system.


    6L (red) - Power in from fuse
    6U (red) - power out to master switch (ring)
    5U (red) - Power return from master switch
    5L (yellow) - Power out to ambient temp sensor (power on rise 85 degrees)
    4L (black) - Power return from ambient temp sensor
    4L (red) - Power out to coil temp sensor (power on rise 130 degrees)
    3L (red) - Power return from coil temp sensor
    3U (yellow) - Power out to fan array
    3L (white) - Power out to LED (fan "on" indicator)
    2U (black) - Power return from fan array
    2L (white) - Power return from fan on indicator (LED)
    2L (black) - Power return from master switch indicator light (ring LED)
    2U (black) - Return to system negative

    Each wire, before the ring terminal was attached, was fitted with a heat-shrink number tag to identify the wire's position on the terminal block. I had these on hand and decided to use them so if I ever had to swap out the block it'd be easy to get them all back on the right terminal. My screw up was that two of the wires on termnal #2 are labeled "5" by mistake as I lost my orientation for a sec and counted from the wrong end of the block. Oh well, it seemed like a good idea...

    This may seem complicated to some (because there were many shortcuts and economies to be had, for sure) but my rationale for building it this way is as follows:

    1 - I wanted all the connections to be in an easily accessible place in case I need to maintain or modify the wiring.

    2 - pulling the fridge is a bear. It's not a one-person job without great effort and I typically travel alone on these trips.

    3 - I wanted to be able to put jumpers across the connections, or swap them, on-the-fly while in the field. This configuration allows me to do that fairly easily. I can bypass a malfunctioning sensor that won't trigger, for instance, or hot-wire across a broken switch. I can test for juice at various points in the circuit with comparitive ease, if something's not working, and narrow down the problem.

    Heavier-than-needed wire (12 gauge) was used to prevent voltage drop to the fans because of the length of the total circuit for the fan motors. Smaller gauge wire (14 or 16 I believe, what I had handy) was implemented for the LED power/return connections as those have minimal current requirements.

    Heat-shrink crimp-on ring terminals were used for the terminal block connections. The marine-grade (waterproof) wasn't necessary for moisture prevention as much as it was for the added strength the melty-stuff (glue?) inside the MG HS fitting. Those aren't going to pull off.

    Initially I had thought to just use the factory plugs on the fans and gang them together - I even got a Cat-O-4-Tails connector for that purpose. However, once I got into calculating the power needed it was almost an amp, 15 watts, and the factory cords were long and very tiny gauge wire. I ended up clipping them off at a couple of inches and using one of the mounting rails as a negative bus (wire from the end of the bus going back to neg on the terminal block) and attaching the fan ground to the bus with soldered-on ring terminals for a solid mechanical & electrical bond. The positives also got clipped and were soldered into a long yellow 12 gauge wire. Given how small those fan wires were, I didn't trust just twist connectors... considering that I'd have to pull the fridge to fix one that comes loose. The solder was covered with marine heat-shrink to add to the mechanical bond and provide insulation. I don't trust electrical tape.
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    Last edited by bruss01; 08-15-2018 at 05:18 PM.
    "The thing about smart people is they seem like crazy people to dumb people" - Stephen Hawking

  3. #193

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    That, sir, is what I'd call done right.

  4. #194
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    Mar 2007
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    Replacement hot coil sensor arrived. Plugged into fan circuit, ran it thru 2 heat cool cycles with the heat gun, all appeared to work as intended. Next up, the baffle and insulation. Feels good to be making headway again.
    "The thing about smart people is they seem like crazy people to dumb people" - Stephen Hawking

  5. #195
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    Jan 2011
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    Sweet Tennessee
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    Good job, glad to hear you got it straightened out.
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

  6. #196
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    Mar 2007
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    Wee bit o'progress.

    Got the baffle installed, and some insulation.

    Baffle (some sheet aluminum)


    From underneath - you can see how the fans are inset, which necessitates the baffle.


    To get a good seal on top (and protect the wires) I elected to use foam weatherstrip and a cover strip of firmer aluminum.


    With a bit of spray-on adhesive the aluminum baffle was then covered with 1/4" styrofoam insulation (came as packing material in something ordered online)


    Foam sheet insulation side panels installed.


    Next weekend I should be able to finish insulating the fridge cabinet. I want to do fiberglass on the right side and top where there is presently a lot of empty space. The baffle was covered with styrofoam because the air on one side is HOT having just come through the radiating fins on the fridge, and I want to keep as much of that heat as possible from collecting in the "atic" space above the fridge, fiberglass or no... just seemed like a good idea. Super-insulating the fridge should help improve the "keep cold in" efficiency, while the fans and baffle improve the "remove heat from coil" efficiency. I'm hoping for another 20-30 degrees out of this setup on 100 degree days, and reduced energy consumption on normal days. Sure, 25 degrees is technically "frozen" but have you ever had 25 degree ice cream? It's practically soup. Five degree ice cream... now that's a treat on a searing summer day.
    Last edited by bruss01; 09-16-2018 at 06:02 PM.
    "The thing about smart people is they seem like crazy people to dumb people" - Stephen Hawking

  7. #197
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    Mar 2007
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    My recent foray into GMRS radio gave me pause for thought... It is easy now, with the fridge out, to run an antenna lead up top the same as I have for the Wifi.

    I don't have the radio yet but I figured it's better to install the antenna now and worry about the radio later.




    I snapped the above pic prior to going back up top to do a bit of cable management. It's mounted to the tv aerial which is a crank up - crank down type so all the antennas lay flat to the roof while on the road.

    No big deal, one of those trivial effort now or big job later sort of things. I was reminded while up there not to neglect the roof... looks like there are a few places where re-sealing wouldn't be a bad call.

    Parts:
    Midland 3 meter antenna cord (RG174 cord, PL259 connector both ends)
    Midland antenna mounting bracket (NMO connector, SO239 connector)
    Midland 6 db gain antenna (Mount type NMO, tuned 462mhz)
    2 stainless screws, sold separately

    Did not use the bolts and 2nd mount plate with the mounting bracket... Just 2 screws through the holes on the primary, into the antenna mast.

    The top of the trailer is 8-10 feet (estimate), tv mast is 3-4 feet, and the midland is probably another 3 feet. So max, I estimate 17 feet, still under the legal limit of 20 specified by FCC for GMRS operation.

    Radio coms for the Ritz is something that has been on my mind for a while. This upgrade gives us a "base" station for excursions out of cell tower reach. Could come in handy.
    Last edited by bruss01; 09-23-2018 at 02:28 AM.
    "The thing about smart people is they seem like crazy people to dumb people" - Stephen Hawking

  8. #198
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    Mar 2007
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    It's been a while since I've had "The Ritz" aka Waltzing Matilda out for an excursion and it's time to remedy that. I'm planning a short camping trip a few weeks from now to get her back in habitable shape and get ready for the new year. Part of that road-worthiness involves routine upkeep such as flushing the plumbing system, airing up tires, and doing the battery bank maintenance. But there are a few tasks that fall outside what one would consider routine maintenance. For instance, the propane hardware up front was removed to paint the trailer tongue, and since it was in sorry shape, never replaced. I've just installed a new primary hose line, a new higher volume gas pressure regulator with automatic switch-over, two new stainless braided tank lines, and a new vinyl cover. Looks a heck of a lot neater & cleaner, and should head off trouble down the road.

    My outings previously have focused on off-grid camping but this upcoming trip will be to a grid-tied location which will, if we're being realistic, be our most likely scenario if we ever actually need to rely on The Ritz as temporary or long-term lodging quarters. This will give me the advantage of unlimited electricity and water, with waste tank disposal at the site. Because of this, I'm going to work on installing an electric-hybrid system to the propane water heater. Typically when I camp I do without hot water, since it isn't really necessary to have it "on tap" when I can heat it in small batches on the stove in a couple minutes, if it's really needed. I'd like to have the option to have heated water without any propane at all though, and this will provide that option. It'll require installing an electrical outlet under one of the bunks, and drilling a hole for wire routing, but it's not technically all that challenging. Maybe this weekend.

    The fridge project got bogged down, so the fridge has temporarily been removed to the garage for further study and effort. In the meantime, I'll be making further use of the "free" on-site electricity by employing a small mini-fridge with freezer compartment until the propane fridge is back online. This was my wife's suggestion and while I initially pooh-poo'd it, upon further reflection, the idea had merit. When I considered making the same 3 day trip with and without refrigeration, the "fun" factor seemed greatly diminished along with dietary choices. Lots more canned, lots less fresh food. I can do canned food certainly, but I enjoy cooking and especially love making really nice meals with fresh ingredients.

    Life gets busy and we get side-tracked... that happened to me over the past year+ with this trailer as I seemingly had to postpone it for one urgent need here, one dire crisis there, one energy-deficit elsewhere. Planning this trip has re-energized me to get back on track and get out enjoying life a bit more. Hopefully this early season shakedown trip will turn up anything else that needs attention for a trouble-free spring, summer and autumn.
    Last edited by bruss01; 01-15-2020 at 05:58 PM.
    "The thing about smart people is they seem like crazy people to dumb people" - Stephen Hawking

  9. #199
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    Nov 2009
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    East Tennessee
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    Have a great time Bruss
    Greater love hath no man than this, That a man lay down his life for a friend.
    John 15:13

  10. #200
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    Jan 2011
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    Sweet Tennessee
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    Thanks for the update! Hope you have a great trip.
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

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