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Old 05-06-2021, 10:31 AM   #1
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My Electric Shorts

Lots of wires. Dozens of spliced connections. It makes your head spin. Really a can of wire worms, hidden, difficult to trace. Another reason why it would be so nice if when in production there was a photograph of all wires that send electricity to the many places inside the trailer - before they are forever hidden behind the permanent walls. If only we could easily see what wires service what.

Thinking about that during a pause here, after a full day, brutal hunt for an electrical short in my trailer. The fuse for the ceiling lights kept blowing. Search wasted a lot of 15 amp fuses, another 6 of them today. It finally caught up to me. All that probing, bending and kneeling and lying prone on the floor and reaching into dark corners. The good news is, the source of the short is now isolated. The bad news is I don’t know how to complete the fix. It should not be that hard. It all started because I am adding solar to the roof.

For the solar I used a plumbers fish line to pull two 10 gauge wires down from the roof through the fridge vent to underneath the fridge. The wires would then be pulled along the street side wall behind the washroom and out to under the dinette seat.

That went fine. Those wires are now solar ready. But, a few days later the ceiling lights were dead. 15 amp fuse blew. Where are you, short mister Waldo? Eliminated all the usual suspects, running through maybe 20 test fuses. I finally got it narrowed down to that street side chase where I ran the solar’s 10 gauge wire.

My assessment. The spring steel of the plumber fish lines’ rough coiled tip must have done damage to two black and red wires running from the dinette fuse box through the street side chase behind the wash room. I had forced it along the wall through the chase. The short must be in there. Did isolation test. Now all ceiling lights going up at the dinette work –no fuses blowing from there.

But, going through the chase, that entire wire bundle is tightly bound with zip ties in the chase. Therefore, no way to pull shorted wires out to fix/replace. I decided to run a new pair. However, where them wires emerge along the wall under the furnace and fridge area it now seems impossible to identify those two original wires. Had to pull out furnace to reach in, see wires. I need to splice in the replacements there. So many damn blue splice connections. A can of worms in my face.

I need a break.
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Old 05-06-2021, 12:12 PM   #2
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A useful tool for chasing down shorts is to replace the fuse with a low wattage lamp. One way is to take a blown fuse, solder a wire to each cap, connected to a 10 -15 watt 12V lamp. The lamp will limit the current to around an amp even with a short. When the circuit is shorted, the lamp will light. Start wiggling wires until the lamp goes out - that is the bad connection. Lots cheaper than testing with fuses...
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Old 05-06-2021, 05:18 PM   #3
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Going solar?

Good. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.
Electrical demons are notoriously, madly frustrating, as you know. Not much advice other than Jon's excellent suggestion, and to keep working the problem.
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Old 05-06-2021, 07:33 PM   #4
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Sounds like your electric shorts come in all different sizes and colors!
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Old 05-06-2021, 09:54 PM   #5
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Electric shorts. I’m trying to get grounded so I can put a positive spin on that. Shocking. Are these electric shorts disco worthy? Please keep any negative comments to yourself.
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Old 05-06-2021, 10:38 PM   #6
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Not sure why escape and or other manufacturers don’t use conduit for wiring behind walls , 20 bucks worth of conduit would make lives easy. Oliver’s, though good awful expensive, seems to the best access for wiring after manufacture. I hope they do better with the 23.
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Old 05-06-2021, 11:06 PM   #7
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Cool

Sorry to read of your travails, Myron, but as always your presentation is both informative and wryly entertaining.

Hopefully you've found the cure for your out-of-fashion (were they ever in-fashion, really?) 'hot pants'
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Old 05-07-2021, 09:53 AM   #8
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Not sure why escape and or other manufacturers don’t use conduit for wiring behind walls , 20 bucks worth of conduit would make lives easy. Oliver’s, though good awful expensive, seems to the best access for wiring after manufacture. I hope they do better with the 23.
Never hurts to dream.
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Old 05-07-2021, 05:55 PM   #9
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Today, just as a rainstorm crashed the party, I found the short. But, lesson learned. Never count your chickens. Never.

To start, I pulled the trailer propane detector under the furnace out. Then connected it to the new wires running from the fuse panel. The detector lit up, so knew I could then seek its old wires and that would lead me to my short. Got to a viable blue connecting link in the wheel well, it being a source to the short serving the dead rear lights.... Cut and splice into new line. Thought the chase problem was solved. Began writing my happy speech. Then, the test fuse blew.

Well, at least now I was sure that elusive short was someplace in the back half of the trailer and not at all in the street side chase. Feeling back at square one. What follows shouldn’t happen to a dog. Took apart all the ceiling lights, the captain’s corner lights, the window shade, probing again, but no joy.

Was it the water pump? Need to look. Cleared off the mattress, braced it up. Had to remove the Ikea wood slats to get clearance to the trap door. Hoping to now trace those two wires but they were hiding. Black, ominous storm clouds now gathering outside and, in my head. Much depressed. What do I do now?

It occurred to me the one place I did not inspect was outside in the fridge vent where you check the pilot light. Outside? What the hell. Wires might be in that sub-wall I saw going up to the cabinets. When looking for a channel to route that 10 gauge solar wire I noticed this. Even drilled a hole probing into it on the right side in the side wall. Seemed nuts now, but maybe I hit a wire in there by mistake. Really feeling out of options. Ripped open a gap there to feel around for wires.

Wires were there. Ripped open more of the thin plywood, fingers exposing the bundled wires. Ugly. Oh, and Viola, there’s your problem! All so clear to me now.

For some reason a few years back I drilled a screw into that wall, planning a foolish bracket idea for improving fridge performance. I forgot that screw was even there, still nested neatly between the black and red wires I did not know were in its path. My recent test run on washboard roads for a solar panel vibration eval probably nudged them two wires a hair, just enough to create the short.

Victory. (That’s my story, sad but true… …)
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Old 05-07-2021, 06:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
Today, just as a rainstorm crashed the party, I found the short. But, lesson learned. Never count your chickens. Never.

To start, I pulled the trailer propane detector under the furnace out. Then connected it to the new wires running from the fuse panel. The detector lit up, so knew I could then seek its old wires and that would lead me to my short. Got to a viable blue connecting link in the wheel well, it being a source to the short serving the dead rear lights.... Cut and splice into new line. Thought the chase problem was solved. Began writing my happy speech. Then, the test fuse blew.

Well, at least now I was sure that elusive short was someplace in the back half of the trailer and not at all in the street side chase. Feeling back at square one. What follows shouldn’t happen to a dog. Took apart all the ceiling lights, the captain’s corner lights, the window shade, probing again, but no joy.

Was it the water pump? Need to look. Cleared off the mattress, braced it up. Had to remove the Ikea wood slats to get clearance to the trap door. Hoping to now trace those two wires but they were hiding. Black, ominous storm clouds now gathering outside and, in my head. Much depressed. What do I do now?

It occurred to me the one place I did not inspect was outside in the fridge vent where you check the pilot light. Outside? What the hell. Wires might be in that sub-wall I saw going up to the cabinets. When looking for a channel to route that 10 gauge solar wire I noticed this. Even drilled a hole probing into it on the right side in the side wall. Seemed nuts now, but maybe I hit a wire in there by mistake. Really feeling out of options. Ripped open a gap there to feel around for wires.

Wires were there. Ripped open more of the thin plywood, fingers exposing the bundled wires. Ugly. Oh, and Viola, there’s your problem! All so clear to me now.

For some reason a few years back I drilled a screw into that wall, planning a foolish bracket idea for improving fridge performance. I forgot that screw was even there, still nested neatly between the black and red wires I did not know were in its path. My recent test run on washboard roads for a solar panel vibration eval probably nudged them two wires a hair, just enough to create the short.

Victory. (That’s my story, sad but true… …)
Congratulations, Myron! Wow, you are persistent and talented! I would have given up long ago.
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Old 05-07-2021, 07:06 PM   #11
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Bravo, maestro

Your experience almost proves my cock-a-mammy theory of leaving well enough alone. Been there with you in my tinkering, and you never know, until you know, when you get bit in the butt.


If ONLY I still had X-RAY vision, I could see what I was doing, behind that wall. I got too old, too soon, and with keeping that X-Ray Superman feature, and I forgot to pay the monthly X-ray vision fee and lost it all, too soon.



You worked the problem.



Bravo, maestro. I feel your pain.....from a safe distance.




BRAVO!
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Old 05-07-2021, 09:30 PM   #12
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Thanks for sharing the long and short of it!
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:10 PM   #13
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Up against the wall!!!

Hi: MyronL... Now you really can say you're "Burnt out"!!! Alf
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:46 AM   #14
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Thanks guys.
Certain things in life are atomic particles. They are more irrefutable than DNA. You reach a certain age and now are wise enough you can confirm you can never be immune to the following three permanent rules of life.

• Murphy’s Law is reality.
• The Law of Unintended Consequences will always get in your way.
• Diversion is good.
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Old 05-10-2021, 08:49 AM   #15
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Myron,

Did you get your Grape Solar panel wired yet? If so, how was the output?
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Old 05-10-2021, 09:26 AM   #16
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Not yet. This picture taken yesterday, after finally re-connecting many wires I had to mess with when hunting down that short. Reaching into that furnace cavity to do correctable re-splicing was an unspeakable strain. Today will re-install the furnace, and etc etc. Had to go slow, mainly because my back has been complaining a lot.

The solar panel is ready, wires are ready, bracket is ready, but I am not ready. Waiting for the interior mess to be showroom neat, then likely pull trailer out from under canopy for easier ladder work. Also want night time temps closer to the 50's because am nervous about that VHB tape curing properly. Then, let the drilling begin.

After all that, another washboard vibration road test, posting a new video, and buying a manometer.
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Old 05-10-2021, 10:27 AM   #17
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Not yet. This picture taken yesterday, after finally re-connecting many wires I had to mess with when hunting down that short. Reaching into that furnace cavity to do correctable re-splicing was an unspeakable strain. Today will re-install the furnace, and etc etc. Had to go slow, mainly because my back has been complaining a lot.
I commend your tenacity to get the job done Myron. It's not easy working in some of the tight spaces in these trailers even under the best of circumstances. Maybe some of that grit is from growing up in NJ.
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Old 05-10-2021, 01:21 PM   #18
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Thanks guys.
Certain things in life are atomic particles. They are more irrefutable than DNA. You reach a certain age and now are wise enough you can confirm you can never be immune to the following three permanent rules of life.

• Murphy’s Law is reality.
• The Law of Unintended Consequences will always get in your way.
• Diversion is good.
Murphy was an optimist.
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Old 05-10-2021, 01:43 PM   #19
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It never ends, Rubi. Spoiler alert for other bulls in other China shops: I couldn't get the furnace to push back in place - it simply refused to nest into the exhaust pipe, even with a lithium grease job. Ended up having to remove the closet floor above it to better see the problem and finally get it home. Unfortunately, in the process I managed also to bust the closet door clean off. Glue repair is drying as we speak.

Meanwhile, Amazon delivered my telescoping 12.5 ft. ladder today. A lot heavier than I expected but will be very handy for travelling roof work.
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Old 05-10-2021, 02:33 PM   #20
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Just don't throw in the towel, Myron. No telling what additional damage the towel could do!



Just keep mooving along. Don't let that trailer throw ya. Take the bull by the horns and don't let go.
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