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Old 04-30-2013, 11:52 PM   #29
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I fixed the camper by re-seating all the sheet metal light screws.
Were any of the lights dim? All the lights are bright, would that rule out a bad ground? Were you able to determine there was a bad ground, if so how and by using what?? By "re-seating all the sheet metal light screws", would you explain, (make sure screws are in solid, use larger screws)? Did you remove the entire lenses, and seals, then reseal the lenses? Sorry, I am far far from mechanically inclined, more like very mechanically challenged.
Maybe I asked this before, would the damage continue if there was no electrical current supplied to the trailer? Thanks for your help.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:24 AM   #30
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Yes, some of the lights were dim and the turn signals and stop lights didn't work right. You could turn on the left signal, and the right one would flash or just glow dimly. This was because it was getting it's ground from where ever it could. All I did was slightly unscrew the screw, and re-tighten it a couple of times. Basically, cleaning of the corrosion off the screws and sheet metal. This was in the early 70s, so the details are not clear.

If there is no electricity, there would still be normal corrosion and rust from the elements in the air or water (rain). Maybe some if you were parked under some high power electrical transmission lines.
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Old 12-01-2013, 08:22 AM   #31
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I understand this is an old thread, but thought it was important enough to add a few bits to the discussion. I am particularly interested in this topic because as a boater I am intimately familiar with this sort of corrosion. It is found on aluminum fuel tanks which can never be in direct contact with copper ground straps but must be isolated with stainless steel connectors.

Another technique in aluminum hulled vessels is to avoid using primary wire (which is single wire wiring using the hull for return ground). Aluminum boats always use two distinct wires for the circuit and use two switches (breakers) that interrupt both wires hot and ground for DC, instead of just the hot lead which is done on fiberglass boats.

My specific situation is I have an aluminum framed and skinned Barth truck camper built in the late 60's with primary (single wire wiring). It is does not have any electrolysis damage and I'm a bit surprised that it doesn't.

All my wiring still works after 45 years. It has two interesting qualities. First, the wiring is sealed with closed cell foam. This eliminated moisture problem and also mechanically fastened the wire, locking it in place so the wire was not stressed through repetitive motion.

While a few areas of the camper were damaged, none of the wire was ever exposed to water or moisture. While some of the fixtures has corrosion on the bulb contacts--most of these started working after I cleaned the contacts, and a few needed new bulbs.

I did not rip out any of the closed cell foam to see what was used to bond the connectors to the frame. I'm assuming that stainless steel connectors were used and that the closed cell foam protected the aluminum from contact with the copper wire.

All of the AC wiring was found wired with normal three conductor wire and none of this was bonded to the frame. I ripped this out as I plan to make significant changes to the AC wiring.

On my boat I use to two isolation transformers for two 30 A shore power circuits and have two sacrificial zincs to prevent stray DC currents in the AC wiring from causing electrolysis with metal parts on my boat. The isolation transformers work very well, completely eliminating any stray DC current through the shore power connection, but at a weight penalty probably not acceptable in a camper, and my zincs last indefinitely--formerly I changed them every year and they looked bad when I changed them. Now I still change them every year, but they look like they could go for several years.

I will probably rewire some of the DC circuits in my truck camper as I plan to make some wiring changes, and I will use primary wire since it worked well for 45 years. I'm going to repeat the techniques used by the builder (Barth) and be sure that all DC connections to the frame are isolated with stainless steel connectors and re-sealed with closed cell foam.
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Old 12-01-2013, 08:27 AM   #32
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<snip> Thanks for the heads up on Keystone, even if they treat the aluminum, it should have a barrier between the metals, and metal fasteners (unless aluminum) should not come in direct contact with the aluminum. I doubt Keystone is using stainless steel. If anyone out there is looking at purchasing an aluminum sided trailer I would ask some questions as to how the aluminum skin is treated, types of fasteners, how the metals are separated and so on.
Stainless steel is the best way to bond to aluminum. Particularly copper wire and aluminum should never make direct contact, but stainless steel connectors work fine for grounding copper wire to the frame.
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Old 12-03-2013, 01:59 AM   #33
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Stainless steel is the best way to bond to aluminum. Particularly copper wire and aluminum should never make direct contact, but stainless steel connectors work fine for grounding copper wire to the frame.
My issue was a manufacturing defect, not much I could do about it but I have learned a lot thanks to those who have given their knowledge on this post. Even though this is an older post, electrolysis is something that should be kept on the fore front, electrolysis is not confined to boats.
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