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Old 01-30-2014, 07:31 PM   #1
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Check Your Neutrals!

Guys, this is the second time this has happened to me. First on a Holiday Rambler and now my Tiffin. Smelled something in the coach tonight and finally found it. Thank god we found it when we did. The neutral on the transfer switch contactor in to the coach was loose and fried the wiring on the coach side. I was able to cut back enough wire to hard wire the input wiring to the top contactor to allow us to keep power on the coach with no generator power possible on the bottom. This is now on my 6 month check list.

You've been warned...

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Old 01-30-2014, 07:36 PM   #2
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Check out post #9 here...It sucked then and it sucks now...

Warning!! Warning!! 120 VAC Issue
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:44 PM   #3
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Future Charlie didn't listen to past Charlie and I paid in full tonight...patched the coach to the top contactor only and have power for now. I'm breaking all kinds of laws, but I have power back on the coach.

Coach side is wired to the top contactor only. I had to cut back so much wire it wouldn't reach in the pre drilled hole. Don't laugh, it's a temp patch and...I have power for our 18 degree night tonight...

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Old 01-30-2014, 08:02 PM   #4
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Yup .... BTW, to check for tightness, back the screw off at least 1/4 turn and then retighten. If it won't back off it has sized from excessive heat. If you try to tighten without backing off, and it's seized, it feels tight but isn't.
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:06 PM   #5
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You were lucky. This testimonial to the need for FITCAL PM routines, And you say his is twice for you - eek.

Glade you are still around to warn others about this.
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:17 PM   #6
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I've been around the block once or twice with rvs... Show me any that are doing this as pm work. Or am I just that unlucky to have this happen twice?
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:10 PM   #7
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Well. perhaps I might be the exception but likely not. But with >50 years as an aeronautical engineer and about the same number of years RVing, PM routines are in my DNA and include checking every connection I can access. This is routine Aircraft Maintenance procedure and IMHO should be applied to electrical connections and about everything else you can inspect on an RV. I have found loose connections in the breaker panel, on outlets, the transfer switch and other places during the inspection process. Indeed any connection in a vehicle can vibrate loose as witnessed in the pictures you showed. As I said, it is good testimonial as to what can happen with a bad connection. Glad you are OK. Something got very hot by the looks of those wires. Anyway, routine periodic FITCAL works for me and has for more than a half a century. I have a good memory but sometimes it is short, so I have developed a checklist of things to look at and I tick them off as I do the inspecction. Old habits die hard. This includes removing a cover from the ATS and checking the contacts and the connections.

For info for those who might not be familiar with FITCAL,
F = Feel
I. = Inspect
T = Tighten
C = Clean
A = Adjust
L = Lubricate

Just trying to help for those who might not have a PM routine. Good post with those pictures. I think this discussion will indeed help others.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:02 PM   #8
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Use an IR thermometer to locate loose connections before they fail

I dealt with loose connectors on heavy equipment for years. When I did maintenance, one of my checks were to use an IR thermometer and check for loose connections. When loose connectors are powered up the connection gets hot. I have a fairly nice IR 'gun', I purchased while I was working, but Harbor Freight has a fairly nice IR thermometer for about $40. I use mine for many tasks. When mechanical or electrical equipment is malfunctioning they get too hot or too cold. Know about what the temperature should be, then use the IR 'gun' to confirm function.

I check tire temps when I stop as a quick indication of pressure. While I'm checking tire temps I also check the wheel bearings, comparing side to side.

I was quite concerned about loose wiring knowing that the RV is mobile and what that does to connections, I power up everything I can, and checked every connection and wire I could find for excess temp. I found at least a half dozen loose connections on the hard wired components. I used a hair dryer on high to power and check each outlet. I also found a couple bad outlets, a couple loose connections on the outlets, and the GFI outlet in the bath was bad as well. Well I'm not sure it was really bad but the connectors were all tight and it was getting unreasonably hot. I replaced it. The more you use and IR 'gun' the more uses you find.
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Old 01-31-2014, 04:47 AM   #9
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Cool re IR gun, I have one also and use it a lot.

Had not used it to check connections but it is a good quick way to check if something is amiss,

The poster who said turn slightly left before turning right is also worthy of a good show with a good tip. This does indeed give one feedback that the screw is not "frozen". Sometimes reseating a connection helps.
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Old 01-31-2014, 05:07 AM   #10
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When I first bought my MH a friend suggested killing all power and checking electrical connections for tightness. I found several loose connections that needed tightening.
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Old 01-31-2014, 05:17 AM   #11
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Yeah, I would say that got a bit hot and you are lucky to catch it before it went to the next step. It's good not to just check ALL the connections on the contactor but in your electrical panel in the coach, 5er, TT whatever you have including your S&B, at least once a year for tightness. People tend to forget that electric creates heat when on and the opposite when off that expands and contracts therefore backing off the screws on these connections. It may sound stupid but trust me it happens. Glad you found it and nothing happened.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:35 PM   #12
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So I got the new transfer switch wired in tonight. Man, I don't like working with that heavy gauge wire stuff...
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:39 PM   #13
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One thing to note, the way Tiffin wired the coach power the jumpers were always in use when connected to shore power. The smarter way would be to wire it as the wiring diagram on the replacement transfer switch shows. The coach should be hard wired to the top contactor which is shore power. The gen set is the lower contactor and should be the one using the jumpers. Mine would have had a much better chance on surviving had this been the way it was wired from the factory.
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Old 02-09-2014, 06:07 PM   #14
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I keep telling you folks and telling you folks.....

Many RVers have a few screws loose.

And those are some of the EXACT screws I'm talking about... I tightened mine myself.. They are TIGHT.

Same for the Breakers and bus bars in the distribution panel

Same of the Marinco Inlet on the coach
And the outlet on the cord (Had one of those fall off in my hand, not one screw inside the housing was tightened).

You need to check your screws.
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