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Old 04-22-2014, 04:59 PM   #1
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battery wires

just bought a 87 coachman 5th wheel that we are rebuilding. the battery wires are marked white positive and black negative. this seemed contrary to me and a continuity check shows just the opposite. any explanation for this? is there any trucks that are positive ground?
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:14 PM   #2
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I would say that black is always neg when it comes to anything with batteries it changes as the voltage changes when it comes to the gen set.
In house wiring, black is always hot, not so when it comes to batteries.
Why they chose white for hot is beyond me,White is neutral in house wiring and I have never seen it when it comes to batteries. Maybe someone else will have an explanation for this. I will be watching closely.
Thanks for posting this it is quite interesting.
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:17 PM   #3
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At one time Ford had positive ground.
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:26 PM   #4
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1987 is 27 yrs ago and a lot could have been done since then. Elect. does not care what color the wire is and some people don't care, some will just use what ever color they have on hand no matter what color it is and that is why you should ALWAYS use a volt meter to check + or - .
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:44 PM   #5
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It has just been in recent times that the color codes of the heavy battery wires in vehicles had anything to do with polarity.

I always taught my students to NEVER, NEVER trust that RED is positive and BLACK is negative. It is always best to determine the positive or negative at the battery. The fool proof way is to check the battery for the big + sign for positive or - for the negative side then follow either to ground or a positive connection.

To the best of my knowledge cars/trucks changed to negative ground in the late 40's or early 50's. Some of your older farm equipment may still be wired with a positive ground. It really does not matter as far as the electrons are concerned. They do their job connected either way but the system has to be wired correctly for it to work.

In AC and house wiring black is hot, white is neutral and green is ground.

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Old 04-22-2014, 05:47 PM   #6
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this was a 1 owner unit and it doesn't seem like there has been anything changed in it, and it wasn't used much, so i'm guessing that this is factory wiring.
can i plug the unit in to 110 and check if i am getting 12 volts output from the converter to the battery to double check my findings
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Old 04-22-2014, 09:11 PM   #7
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What you should do is trace the wiring and which ever one is bolted to the frame is the negative.
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:05 AM   #8
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I think that has already been suggested. Remember NEVER accept what one thinks is the obvious or you'll get a butt bite.

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Old 04-23-2014, 06:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maineshops View Post
this was a 1 owner unit and it doesn't seem like there has been anything changed in it, and it wasn't used much, so i'm guessing that this is factory wiring.
can i plug the unit in to 110 and check if i am getting 12 volts output from the converter to the battery to double check my findings
Yes you can plug it in and check your dc voltages. I have seen dc wiring with many different colors used but as stated black is usually ground.
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:41 AM   #10
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tried to trace the wires back but they disappear int wood never to be seen again, however now that the snow is under 2 ft i may be able to get underneath and do more exploring. i appreciate all the help and hints guys. i'm new at this fifth wheel stuff. our goal is to rebuild this unit and visit all the light houses in Maine.
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:51 AM   #11
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Use the ohmmeter scale. The ground wire should be very close to 0 ohms when testing. Be sure to clean a shiny place on the frame. IF, both show very close to 0 ohms then find your converter panel and remove all fuses and test again. If one of the wires reading goes much higher you have the positive lead.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:08 AM   #12
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tried to trace the wires back but they disappear int wood never to be seen again, however now that the snow is under 2 ft i may be able to get underneath and do more exploring. i appreciate all the help and hints guys. i'm new at this fifth wheel stuff. our goal is to rebuild this unit and visit all the light houses in Maine.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:02 PM   #13
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Here is the problem with RV's I will get to the moral/recommendation in a bit.

IN 120 volt HOUSE wiring, which electricians are taught, WHITE is "Neutral" and is bonded to ground at the service entrance, BLACK is the "HOT" wire.

IN 12 volt automotive and assorted voltages electronics work (Ever grabbed hold of a 500 Volt DC power supply output.. .. DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME, Work, or anywhere else.. It will put the lights out.... (Actually did put the lights out.. blew the fuse when I did it)).

Black is ground.. EVERYTTHING else... Is not.

However this last, is not codified or standard. it is tradition.

RVs tend to be wired by electricians.. Thus they wire the 12 volt backwards by this Electronic technician's tradition.

The moral, and recommendation is this:

USE VOLTMETER to determine polarity, Play safe, saves on very expensive fuses in some cases (new 200 amp T-Class. 60 dollars).
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:34 PM   #14
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Black is ground.. EVERYTTHING else... Is not.
Almost correct...black is NEGATIVE, not ground, and everything else is not.

Tim

Master industrial control electrician that fought this for many years. First thing I taught the new guys.
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