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12821 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2012 :  21:21:17  Show Profile Send skunkhome a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Jann and I were out RVing at Flint Creek Water Park over the weekend and Saturday afternoon while I was out running about with the dogs Jann heard a sound she described as "like running Water". When I got back I noticed that the 110V circuit in the cab over loft was not working. I went to the breaker box under the refrigerator and found the breaker tripped. Thinking that somehow I had overloaded the 15 ampre breaker I reset it and was immediately met with the sound of a hard short or burning contacts. The breaker immediately tripped again and my wife exclaimed that was the sound she heard earlier. In a moment or so we were delighted with smoke and the whiff of ozone. I left the breaker be and decided I would investigate when I got home fully expecting to find mouse gnawed insulation to be the culprit.
Today I started by pulling out the breaker box 110/12v and converter under the refrigerator .
To my surprise I found no signs whatsoever of any wiring burning even though I completely removed the protective covering of all the line voltage lines.

Being a bit frustrated I reattached the dock line and reset the breaker again while peering into the darkness under the cabinets. Once again I got quite a fireworks display but this time I could see that it was coming from an area in the wall behind the vanity.

Thankfully there just happened to be a removable panel under the sink so I pulled 4 screws to discover a mass of wires with a lot of charing. I was afraid that it was going to be a big mess but after moving the bundle of 12v lines I found some kind of connector that had been totally destroyed by heat and was obviously the source of my short. everything in the area was covered with black soot and some of the low voltage lines appeared to have some charring of the insulation.

The connector was firmly attached to the floor of the coach by 6 screws and came apart when I tried to lift it out.

It was nothing more than a 20A flat three contact plug hidden back in the wall making a connection between some 14ga Romex and 12ga flex cable. I determined that it had probably gotten wet at some point due to its location which set up corrosion and in turn high resistance across the connection. It was just a matter to time before it melted the plug and allowed the hot wire to contact the ground causing all the fireworks.
Now I don't know about you guys but I hate plugs for the very reason that they can easily overheat and cause problems. I really hate them used for permanent installations of line voltage hidden away in walls.

I consulted my electrician friend and asked if he thought putting in a Jct box under the sink was a good idea. He agreed that he would not, as an electrician, put a plug connector in a wall to carry that kind of power and that having an accessible JCT box was the best thing to do if there was enough slack to do so. . I just could not believe that they screwed it to the floor where it was bound to corrode.

I was lucky as there was plenty of slack so I cut off the damage wire and soldered the ends of the stranded leads in The flex cable so that they would make the best contact with the fresh romex. I cut a hole in the access panel and installed a shallow old work box and reattached the two lines using crimped caps.

I cleaned up the bundle of low voltage lines and found only 3 lines I thought needed to be reinforced with electricians tape. I re-bundled all the lines with zip ties and re installed the panel.

It was pretty cramped quarters making the repairs but i only spent about $7 making the repairs which would have cost a fortune to have done at the dealer and I would have never been happy with having another connector hidden away in the wall.

We were very fortunate that the 15A breaker did its job and there was something left to repair. .


"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty."

Benjamin Franklin

Edited by - skunkhome on 04/30/2012 22:44:48


4110 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2012 :  21:28:05  Show Profile  Visit Talntedmrgreen's Homepage Send Talntedmrgreen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What a rats nest of wiring! I'd be proud after that fix, if I were you. Nice work...nothing is simple to get access to in an RV, and it is suprising they would leave the components in a position like that.

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888 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2012 :  02:21:01  Show Profile Send midnightpumpkin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nice work Phil.

Nothing suprises me about what you find hidden in an RV.

We once owned a Midas motorhome. For the 12V circuits, they used up short lengths of wire spliced together with the blue spade snap connectors. After about 10 years, those splices started to fail in the most inaccessable locations. I was constantly chasing 12V circuits that didnt work.

John U
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12821 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2012 :  03:29:02  Show Profile Send skunkhome a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Finding a bunch of unnecessary splicies has to be maddening.
I guess I understand the reasoning for the splice going from Romex to flex cable but the location is puzzling as the rest of the wiring seems to be in order and really is not a rats' nest although it can little confusing. All the 12volt wiring appears to run from fuse box to fixture to fixture without any splices as you would expect. Hope I will never have to chase any electrical issues around the left rear of the coach as that appears to be the only place where there is way to get in to inspect and repair. I am hoping that Winnebago's reputation for quality is not unfounded. This exercise has given me confidence for my next project which is swapping out the uncomfortable and largely unused dinette for a double recliner sofa with plug in snack trays that will be arriving in about four weeks. The Rv will still sleep 4 adults with the cab over bunk. If you don't like the cab over there is always the tent!


"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty."

Benjamin Franklin

Edited by - skunkhome on 05/01/2012 03:34:01
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4394 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2012 :  14:57:31  Show Profile Send Cvans a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you don't like the cab over there is always the tent!

I hope that tent has a floor in it. When I was growing up the most our folks could afford was a tent with no floor. The things that come visiting in the middle of the night can be rather alarming.
Nice work on the repair. Does make one wonder why they would place connectionss like that near a potential water source.

East Central South Dakota

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Thomas Jefferson

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