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Old 01-24-2023, 12:35 AM   #1
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Short in the Circuit

Wondering if there is anyone in the Phoenix area that can help us solve an electrical issue that we are having in our 21C or who know of a competent, RV mobile tech person in this area for us to call that can possibly help us.

We got to our dry camping site in Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Az (site 9) a few hours ago and tried putting some lights on in our 21C trailer. All 5 lights on the passenger side of our trailer didn’t work …(porch light, hall overhead light, over sink light, range hood light(and fan) and the dinette light on that one side)

This same exact issue had happened to us a month ago, so Pete and I thought that it would be another easy fix-just replacing that fuse with a new 15 amp one.

The new fuse that we put in didn’t work and in the rare case that the new replacement we tried happened to be a faulty one, -we tried another. As soon as we popped the two new 15 amp fuses we tried in—-they sparked and blew.

Not being at all smart ourselves with electrical issues, -we called two Escape friends who thankfully are .

They helped us troubleshoot (and use a multi meter that we had bought for the first time) and determined that there definitely is a short somewhere in this one circuit.

The problem is WHERE
It can be on or around any of the five fixtures connected to this particular circuit and since each fixture is a suspect, - they need to be individually isolated and disconnected from the circuit (we were told this is done by snipping the white wire at the crimp connection for the fixture) and then testing the screw terminal of that fuse with a multi meter until each of the five fixtures are ruled out and the “culprit.” is found.

This may be a simple process for many, (maybe even fun for a few) but unfortunately, we have no experience at all with electrical circuits and wiring and are way over our heads!

We would really appreciate any help in trying to get this issue resolved !
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:23 AM   #2
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In addition to asking park staff if they know of any, there are sometimes bulletin boards at park offices, visitor center, or park stores where local mobile RV service business cards may be posted.

Good luck.
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:39 AM   #3
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Hmm. . . I'm no expert, but I'd avoid unnecessarily snipping wires. I'd just go in with a 12v test light, testing each lamp socket and probing the red wire if necessary.

When you look at the light fixtures, look for corrosion and/or water infiltration. That'll be a clue.
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:40 AM   #4
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Greetings Pete and Lisa! Sorry to hear you’re having issues. One thing to check might be any GFI outlets on that same side (interior and exterior). Sometimes the whole circuit can go through that one ground fault protector outlet, causing everything to be dead if the GFI is tripped. Trying resetting any such outlets and see if it corrects things. We’ve found that bouncing down the highway can sometimes trip these and sometimes they just go wonky and trip on their own. It’s an easy thing to check before diving into the inside workings of your trailer’s circuits.

Hope you’re having a great trip!
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:44 AM   #5
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Kevin, aren't GFIs only on the 120v circuits?
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Old 01-24-2023, 11:49 AM   #6
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The good news is just down the road from you in Apache Junction there’s rv shops and parks all over that area.
You could stop in the bait and souvenir shop just next to the old mine attraction, he may know someone.
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Old 01-24-2023, 12:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLynn View Post
Hmm. . . I'm no expert, but I'd avoid unnecessarily snipping wires. I'd just go in with a 12v test light, testing each lamp socket and probing the red wire if necessary.

When you look at the light fixtures, look for corrosion and/or water infiltration. That'll be a clue.
I don't think that'd work. The fixtures are all connected with the same hot wire. Probing one and finding a short is going to be the same for all of them.

Also, ETI makes hidden connections and one of those could be the problem.

The first thing that I'd do is take a very good look at is the power connection at the fuse terminal. Then do your best to inspect all the wiring that you can follow. I'd also remove the light fixtures and check the wiring on the back. Also, I believe that there's a splice connection in the range hood.

Good that you have a mulitmeter and good luck.

Ron
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Old 01-24-2023, 12:47 PM   #8
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Please generally ignore my comment about the GFI outlet a bit earlier. My brain must not have been awake yet! Yes, the GFI is on the 120 circuit and this sounds like a 12v. issue. My mistake.
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Old 01-24-2023, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nrgtic4 View Post
The problem is WHERE
It can be on or around any of the five fixtures connected to this particular circuit and since each fixture is a suspect, - they need to be individually isolated and disconnected from the circuit (we were told this is done by snipping the white wire at the crimp connection for the fixture) and then testing the screw terminal of that fuse with a multi meter until each of the five fixtures are ruled out and the “culprit.” is found.
Before snipping any wires you may be able to use the blown fuse LED indicator in the WFCO power center to help troubleshoot. The LED needs a path to ground to light up (in normal operation it won't be lit with a blown fuse unless there is also a closed switch on the circuit). If you pull the fuse and can confirm that ALL lights on the suspect circuit are switched OFF and the LED indicator is OFF then your short is after one of the switches (i.e. between a switch and a device or within one of the devices). You should then be able to go light by light flipping its switch to see if you can get the indicator LED to come on. When the LED indicator light comes on you know that fixture is the culprit. *EDIT: You would need to remove the bulb from the fixture to properly execute this test otherwise the LED indicator will always come on as through the bulb is the normal path to ground. This may not be possible if they are sealed lights.* I would suspect the porch light first due to the chance of water intrusion and corrosion but could be an interior light as well. Please note if you have main switches that turn on multiple lights these switches should be "ON" to execute this test and just isolate at individual light switches. You can test for a short between the main switch and the group of lights but the lights would all need to be switched OFF. Older trailers just have switches at each light. If you can solve it this way it would be the best case scenario.

If you pull the fuse and turn OFF all the switches and the indicator LED is still lit then you have a short to ground somewhere before the +12V gets to one of the lights OR you have another 12V DC device without a switch (i.e. 12V outlet) also on the same circuit that could be the culprit. If one of those outlets shorted internally you would need to physically disconnect it from the circuit for this test to be effective (otherwise the LED indicator light will be on and stay on no matter what you do with light switch positions). This is a more difficult short to diagnose and resolve. If you are able to isolate each component with either a switch or physical disconnection and still have the indicator LED lit then the short is somewhere on the main wiring between the power center and the devices. This is hopefully not the case as it will involve invasive measures to trace the wiring and find the short along its path.

Watch this video starting at 4:50.
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Old 01-24-2023, 01:52 PM   #10
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That's a great link to a very well done video. A real step-up from some of the crap videos on youtube.

Didn't know about that aspect and well worth trying.

Watched the whole video and found out about a General Technologies fuse block, CT 6100 which is great. I didn't know such a device existed so I fabricated one but I'd rather have a professional one.

Great video, every owner should watch it.

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Old 01-24-2023, 02:01 PM   #11
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If the lights on the curb side work, but not the street side, then you have what is called an 'Open'. I read and reread your original post and can't figure out whether you are still blowing fuses if the lights on the left side of the trailer work. Because that means that your fuse is good. My shot in the dark would have you open the junction box for the hood light, open any splice you see in the 'hot' wire, turn on the lights on the left side of the trailer, and look to see if that 'hot' wire in the junction box has 12v. You'll have to locate another source of 'ground' when you check this wire rather than the negative wire in the junction box. It is possible that the 'hot' wire will have 12 volts. That should get you started. The way to check if the grounded 'negative' is continuous back to trailer ground will require an additional length of wire (temporarily between one of the probes on the meter and the trailer ground).
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Old 01-25-2023, 07:55 AM   #12
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If the lights on the curb side work, but not the street side, then you have what is called an 'Open'. I read and reread your original post and can't figure out whether you are still blowing fuses if the lights on the left side of the trailer work.
I was assuming this is two distinct circuits.
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Old 01-25-2023, 10:17 AM   #13
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Thank you all so much for all your advice, suggestions, (and video) to help resolve our electrical issue. Pete and I are going to try to implement them this afternoon over FaceTime with an Escape friend’s video supervision. (Pete and I are too inexperienced and unfamiliar with electrical circuits and wiring to try to do it alone) We’ll report back any progress. We really appreciate all the forum’s support .
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Old 01-25-2023, 01:19 PM   #14
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In my 19 the lighting circuit for the passenger side front dinette crosses over from the drivers' side at the front of the trailer and is routed up the front passenger corner to the lights. I gave up any illusion that all the trailers of a given model were primarily wired the same quite a while ago.
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Old 01-25-2023, 05:23 PM   #15
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I know what you mean, there have been some variations.

But, in the days when you could actually go back in the shop, they did have a jig for making the various wiring harnesses. There was some consistency but then there were a lot of variations caused by options as well as customer requests.

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Old 01-25-2023, 05:50 PM   #16
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I found it quite enlightening to, shortly after getting my trailer, pull each fuse, throw each breaker, and trip the GFI outlet in turn, carefully noting what lights, outlets, and devices stopped working for each test, making sure I accounted for everything.

Not shocking but a bit surprising how the resultant 'correct as-built' fuse and breaker labels different from the hand-scrawled labels by ETI.

IMO a worthwhile exercise to aid in troubleshooting before the need arises.
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Old 01-25-2023, 05:54 PM   #17
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We picked up our 19 in December of 2019, when ETI was offering a discount on inventory in stock. Based on fit and finish, including the evidence that some insane person had used the brad nailer on cabinetry until the supply of brads was exhausted, speculation is that ours was a training model during the management changeover. No complaints though, it hasn't let us down yet, and we'll see you good folks in B.C. again this Summer.
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Old 01-25-2023, 10:19 PM   #18
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Mysteriously everything works again!
Before we would start tomorrow, (over FaceTime supervised by an Escape friend) clipping the fixture wires, breaking open all the packages of new wires, snips, crimpers, terminal connectors and all the other assorted “fun “ items that we spent the afternoon today buying at True Value, -for some reason, I wanted to try putting in a new fuse again.
AND IT WORKED!
Everything worked.
I’m more than just a little bit worried that there still may be a major problem.
And I would love a feasible explanation.
But mostly, I am so RELIEVED!!!
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Old 01-25-2023, 10:48 PM   #19
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I’d be losing sleep as to when one of ETI’s crimps was going to wiggle enough to turn stuff back off. At least so far mine works.
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