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Old 08-21-2015, 02:00 PM   #1
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Generator Transfer Switch Woes

I am presently trying to deal with an intermittently operating generator transfer switch on the '99 Southwind 36Z I have owned since new. Sometimes after starting the gen set it will kick in after the designed delay and furnish 110v to the coach. Other times it will not. My first problem was locating the darned thing. I knew from the clearly audible click when it works that it was somewhere behind the electrical service panel under the fridge. I have read posts from other Fleetwood owners of similar vintage coaches that it is mounted on the back of the ESP box. So, after disconnected from power, I tried to pull it out. But the electricians who built my coach did not leave enough slack in the wires to pull it out more than a couple inches - not enough to see behind it.

Having had to replace the power convertor twice over the years, most recently this spring, I knew another way in. This involved removing the dinette table, then the cushions and plywood top of the aft dinette bench. I had to pull out the under-seat drawer and remove the rear drawer slide. The converter sits just inside the compartment under the refrigerator which is open to the dinette seat box. Using my handy-dandy telescoping inspection mirror and flashlight it was obvious the switch was not mounted on the ESP box. It had to be somewhere else in the space behind the panel. I had to disconnect the new converter and remove it, after which I located and identified the transfer switch behind and beneath a spaghetti mess of wiring. The switch box was not anchored to the floor and the lid, which is normally secured by clamps and a screw, was off and laying beside it.

By pushing some of the overhanging wires out of the way and holding my phone at full stretch into the tangle I was able to get this photo of the Transfer Relay Delay, as the cover labeled it.



The cover identified the part and Fleetwood has them for $167. So just order it and replace the darned unreliable gizmo, right? Well the electricians who wired this mess at the Fleetwood factory in Paxinos, PA never gave a thought to the poor tech or owner who might have to replace such components down the road. There is no slack in the wires coming into or exiting the box so it can not be pulled close enough to work on, even if you could get it through the Medusa's hairdo of wire in the foot-high cave.

So unless anyone can recommend a twelve-year-old contortionist who can fit himself inside the dinette seat, has the arms of an orangutan, and can make electrical connections while holding an inspection mirror in his teeth, I'm afraid my only option seems to be to have the fridge removed to get at it from the top. On the other side of the compartment is the front furnace sitting beneath the washer-dryer, so no joy that way, either.

Has anyone else run into this particular nightmare who can offer me any bright ideas?
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Old 08-21-2015, 05:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rambow View Post
I am presently trying to deal with an intermittently operating generator transfer switch on the '99 Southwind 36Z I have owned since new. Sometimes after starting the gen set it will kick in after the designed delay and furnish 110v to the coach. Other times it will not. My first problem was locating the darned thing. I knew from the clearly audible click when it works that it was somewhere behind the electrical service panel under the fridge. I have read posts from other Fleetwood owners of similar vintage coaches that it is mounted on the back of the ESP box. So, after disconnected from power, I tried to pull it out. But the electricians who built my coach did not leave enough slack in the wires to pull it out more than a couple inches - not enough to see behind it.

Having had to replace the power convertor twice over the years, most recently this spring, I knew another way in. This involved removing the dinette table, then the cushions and plywood top of the aft dinette bench. I had to pull out the under-seat drawer and remove the rear drawer slide. The converter sits just inside the compartment under the refrigerator which is open to the dinette seat box. Using my handy-dandy telescoping inspection mirror and flashlight it was obvious the switch was not mounted on the ESP box. It had to be somewhere else in the space behind the panel. I had to disconnect the new converter and remove it, after which I located and identified the transfer switch behind and beneath a spaghetti mess of wiring. The switch box was not anchored to the floor and the lid, which is normally secured by clamps and a screw, was off and laying beside it.

By pushing some of the overhanging wires out of the way and holding my phone at full stretch into the tangle I was able to get this photo of the Transfer Relay Delay, as the cover labeled it.



The cover identified the part and Fleetwood has them for $167. So just order it and replace the darned unreliable gizmo, right? Well the electricians who wired this mess at the Fleetwood factory in Paxinos, PA never gave a thought to the poor tech or owner who might have to replace such components down the road. There is no slack in the wires coming into or exiting the box so it can not be pulled close enough to work on, even if you could get it through the Medusa's hairdo of wire in the foot-high cave.

So unless anyone can recommend a twelve-year-old contortionist who can fit himself inside the dinette seat, has the arms of an orangutan, and can make electrical connections while holding an inspection mirror in his teeth, I'm afraid my only option seems to be to have the fridge removed to get at it from the top. On the other side of the compartment is the front furnace sitting beneath the washer-dryer, so no joy that way, either.

Has anyone else run into this particular nightmare who can offer me any bright ideas?
You have two problems.....

The first problem is that the Transfer Relay Delay (transfer switch) that you found is NOT the switch that you were looking for. That switch is actually part of your Intellitec Electronic Climate Control system. The TRD is the transfer switch that hooks your front air conditioner to the 20amp output of your generator to allow both air units to operate reliably and simultaneously on generator power.

The second problem is that the MAIN transfer switch is indeed mounted on the back side of the main breaker panel. It is actually inside the panel as an integral part of the box. If you take the front cover off the circuit breakers, you will see the Black and White wires coming through a hole in the panel to the main breaker. They are coming from transfer switch.
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Old 08-22-2015, 12:13 PM   #3
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Old Bounder, I was able to get at the transfer switch following your specific directions, verify that all the connections were tight, and carefully clean the contacts with some 400 grit paper. The switch now seems to be working reliably (fingers crossed with a couple big trips coming up beginning Monday). I never would have found the thing on my own. Many thanks from this Old Southwind.
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:03 PM   #4
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My main transfer switch went out in my 04 Southwind when it was 3 years old, turned out is was an intermittent coil, would sometimes work and sometime not. So if your fix does't work you may need to replace it.
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:30 PM   #5
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FWIW to answer your other question there is a cadre of wiring folks of all stripes who pride themselves on neat, tight connections because they look better. I cursed them routinely when I needed a bit of slack.
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:31 PM   #6
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Thanks, Randy. I'll keep that in mind in case the problem reappears. At least I now know how to get at the thing if replacement becomes necessary.
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:40 PM   #7
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There are two ways to wire neat: 1. Neat as to using the shortest wires as possible. 2. Neat as to leaving enough wire routed correctly to maneuver the components for replacement and maintenance.
I prefer #2.








; !.
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Old 08-22-2015, 04:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by nothermark View Post
FWIW to answer your other question there is a cadre of wiring folks of all stripes who pride themselves on neat, tight connections because they look better. I cursed them routinely when I needed a bit of slack.
If it was neat, I could buy it, but it's not only tight, it is a rat's nest under there! I suspect it was a matter of cutting cost by making the shortest possible wire runs by the most direct routes - never mind if it crosses over and under other wires willy-nilly and blocks access to components. If you think that is far-fetched, take a look at this...



Rather than run a continuous length of vinyl cove molding around the lavatory, these cheapskates apparently used random sized left-over cut-offs from previous jobs to do my coach. This only became obvious a few years ago as the vinyl dried and shrank with age. This extruded vinyl stuff probably runs way under the price per foot of 120v, three-conductor wiring, so I would not be surprised if this sort of corner-cutting was SOP at the Paxinos, PA plant where Southwinds and Pace Arrows were built in the late '90s.

My wife and I took a tour of the plant to see coaches being built - not ours, unfortunately. If I had witnessed such parsimonious "workmanship" I would have been tempted to cancel my order!

Has anyone else encountered this sort of thing?
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Old 08-23-2015, 07:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waroland View Post
There are two ways to wire neat: 1. Neat as to using the shortest wires as possible. 2. Neat as to leaving enough wire routed correctly to maneuver the components for replacement and maintenance.
I prefer #2.; !.
I'm with you. Back in the '60s my Dad was an elevator mechanic in Chicago and I was his mechanic's helper. #2 is the way he taught me to wire, and he used to swear colorfully at the sloppy installations of less disciplined, careless mechanics that made repairs for everyone who followed them so much more difficult. He would have had a few choice words for the Fleetwood electricians!
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Old 08-23-2015, 07:20 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rambow View Post
If it was neat, I could buy it, but it's not only tight, it is a rat's nest under there! I suspect it was a matter of cutting cost by making the shortest possible wire runs by the most direct routes - never mind if it crosses over and under other wires willy-nilly and blocks access to components. If you think that is far-fetched, take a look at this...



Rather than run a continuous length of vinyl cove molding around the lavatory, these cheapskates apparently used random sized left-over cut-offs from previous jobs to do my coach. This only became obvious a few years ago as the vinyl dried and shrank with age. This extruded vinyl stuff probably runs way under the price per foot of 120v, three-conductor wiring, so I would not be surprised if this sort of corner-cutting was SOP at the Paxinos, PA plant where Southwinds and Pace Arrows were built in the late '90s.

My wife and I took a tour of the plant to see coaches being built - not ours, unfortunately. If I had witnessed such parsimonious "workmanship" I would have been tempted to cancel my order!

Has anyone else encountered this sort of thing?

Possibly giving the builders an undeserved benefit of doubt, the molding could simply be cracked from the shrinkage over time, especially if it is glued and/or stapled in place along its full length. It seems to be worse in high heat (desert, etc.) areas than cooler climes.



Mike
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Old 08-24-2015, 06:36 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by slowmachine View Post
Possibly giving the builders an undeserved benefit of doubt, the molding could simply be cracked from the shrinkage over time, especially if it is glued and/or stapled in place along its full length. It seems to be worse in high heat (desert, etc.) areas than cooler climes.



Mike
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This was my first thought, too, but I rejected the theory after close examination. Both ends of every piece were cleanly cut, perfectly square. I can't imagine it cracking with such precision.
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