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Old 08-31-2017, 08:44 AM   #1
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Ground Doesn't Seem Right

It doesn't appear my battery is grounded to the frame on my 2014, 19.
I used a continuity/volt meter tester to test the cable connection to the frame by scrapping some paint off the frame to expose bare metal and putting the voltmeter contacts on the battery ground wire and on the bare frame...I get a ground. But when I move the tester to the rusty bolt holding the wire to the frame, I get nothing. I assume the flange on the ground wire isn't contacting the painted frame under it. Does this mean I have no ground? Whenever I plug in to shore power, at home or a campground, my electronics indicate "open ground".
If I don't have a good ground, how do I fix it? I could put in a new bolt to replace the rusted one but don't know if that's the long term "fix".
Thanks for the help,
Gary
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:03 AM   #2
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The attachment to the frame is the negative side of the 12 volt circuit, its not really a ground. I'm not sure why its necessary, because I think everything 12V is wired with two wires (+ & -). I checked my trailer and its got the battery bonded to the frame as well so it must be necessary. The open ground shown on your electronics is the 120 volt circuit which has a real ground. It needs connection to the actual ground which it achieves (or not) through the connection to the external power source which is supposed to be bonded to a plate or rod buried in the ground. An open ground, if it happens everywhere, is likely caused by a fault in your extension cord. Check your cable with a continuity meter.
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:28 AM   #3
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Great assessment Dave, pretty much what I was thinking.
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by davescape View Post
I'm not sure why its necessary, because I think everything 12V is wired with two wires (+ & -). I checked my trailer and its got the battery bonded to the frame as well so it must be necessary.
Not at all. The most important item on the trailer, the brakes rely on the ground circuit passing through multiple ground connections with the potential to rust.

I hated the ETI method of creating a ground. First, a short cable with an attachment to the frame that could rust and create a poor connection. Then, about 18" away, another cable from the frame up to the panel. Every connection to the frame has the potential to rust and make a high resistance connection.

In my case I ran a copper bonding wire from the rear forward and picked up every ground that attached to the steel frame. My brake circuit ground is now copper, not a rusty bolt into the frame. Not a difficult mod to do and helps ensure that the brakes will keep working without being inhibited by a rusty connection.

Ron
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Old 08-31-2017, 01:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pkgman51 View Post
I used a continuity/volt meter tester to test the cable connection to the frame by scrapping some paint off the frame to expose bare metal and putting the voltmeter contacts on the battery ground wire and on the bare frame...I get a ground.
That means that the "ground" wire is electrically connected to the frame.
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But when I move the tester to the rusty bolt holding the wire to the frame, I get nothing.
Doesn't this just mean that the bolt head is so rusty that you are not getting good contact with it? It's the wire which matters.
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Old 08-31-2017, 01:45 PM   #6
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Many trailer manufactures connect the equipment bonding / grounding conductor to the frame using a self tapping sheet metal screw .
The use of sheet metal screw to bond or tie the equipment grounding conductor to a metal enclosure or piece of equipment is a code violation and is a very poor practice .
If you look in a metal junction box it has a 10x32 threaded hole in the back of the box for connecting the equipment grounding conductor.

The trade / best practice would be to drill and tap a hole into the frame (Fine Thread) , scrape the paint from the frame , attach a brass lug approved for a wet location with a rust resistant bolt and lock washer coated with conductive grease to the frame ,and connect the copper equipment grounding conductor to the lug and torgue the set screw in the lug to the manufacturer's specs.
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Old 08-31-2017, 02:55 PM   #7
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I found this on the web. It hurts my brain to read and I wish to inflict similar pain on others in this discussion

https://www.w8ji.com/negative_lead_to_battery.htm

I must confess that I don't know what he's talking about but he seems competent.
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Not at all. The most important item on the trailer, the brakes rely on the ground circuit passing through multiple ground connections with the potential to rust.

I hated the ETI method of creating a ground. First, a short cable with an attachment to the frame that could rust and create a poor connection. Then, about 18" away, another cable from the frame up to the panel. Every connection to the frame has the potential to rust and make a high resistance connection.

In my case I ran a copper bonding wire from the rear forward and picked up every ground that attached to the steel frame. My brake circuit ground is now copper, not a rusty bolt into the frame. Not a difficult mod to do and helps ensure that the brakes will keep working without being inhibited by a rusty connection.

Ron

Ron, My first thought was "that's a great idea". My second thought was "oh crap, now I have another project". Then I read that web article (see previous post) and wonder if that's the right way to go about grounding. Is there anything in the trailer that would cause a really big 12V current draw (ie. inverter) and is your copper wire big enough to handle a large amount of current if your stud in the frame fails?

This has been a good discussion. I'm learning some new things in the process.
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:09 PM   #9
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Doesn't this just mean that the bolt head is so rusty that you are not getting good contact with it? It's the wire which matters.
In my case, the original self tapping screw hole is at the 11 o'clock to my new stud. There is some visible rust starting on the frame and my trailer was less than a year old.

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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post

The trade / best practice would be to drill and tap a hole into the frame (Fine Thread) , scrape the paint from the frame , attach a brass lug approved for a wet location with a rust resistant bolt and lock washer coated with conductive grease to the frame ,and connect the copper equipment grounding conductor to the lug and torgue the set screw in the lug to the manufacturer's specs.
Yes, that's why I tapped a hole for a s/s stud. All cables have lug to lug contact. While the s/s stud does provide the original ground path there is likely a more dependable path with the lug to lug contact and no possibility of rusting.

Ron
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by davescape View Post
I found this on the web. It hurts my brain to read and I wish to inflict similar pain on others in this discussion

https://www.w8ji.com/negative_lead_to_battery.htm

I must confess that I don't know what he's talking about but he seems competent.
A summary (of the "grounding" or negative connection part) is that each device needs one negative (or ground) path, not multiple paths... and that one path needs to be adequate for the current.

It does make sense, although both very high currents and radio-frequency interference are generally non-issues in travel trailers. The exception would be the inverter (if so equipped) - that's why the inverter ground should go directly to the battery (or to the frame only if the battery has a high-capacity frame connection and all frame connections are well made), and not to another point such as the power centre. Escape does this properly, with dedicated cables from the inverter to the battery, and not to anything else.
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