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Old 08-29-2014, 07:22 PM   #1
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S p a r k s !

Well, we just got home from a wonderful 5 day campout at Katherine Abby Hanna Park.

We had an interesting experience with a campground neighbor who had bought a new Airstream, had it delivered and set up at the campsite. Problem was, he knew nothing about RV's. I mean nothing! So we had an interesting time this morning getting him hitched up and on the road for the very first time. Teaching him how to flush and separate 5 connected sewer lines drew quite a crowd.

On the way home it was hot, so I drove home with the generator powering the rooftop A/C. I parked in the carport, turned off the engine, turned off the A/C and went in back to change. Started smelling that "warm wire" smell and 30 seconds later, there were sparks flying out of the M/H's circuit breaker panel (under the fridge). Serious sparks. Cross the room sparks! I killed the Generator and the sparks stopped. Glad I was home when this one happened.

Looks like I've got a new project. I'll probably post 1001 questions once I have a chance to start investigating this latest adventure.
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Old 08-29-2014, 08:17 PM   #2
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Well

Heard a similar story from a co-worker. Except it was a glass of water that spilled over in his rig a ran down over the electrical outlet in his bathroom. He said the sparks shot across the bathroom and left scars on the paneling.
Do you think your fridge dribbled something down on your electrical box?
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Old 08-29-2014, 08:54 PM   #3
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No liquids. These were Fourth of July sparkler sparks. I opened the panel box and saw no evidence of scorching, but there are black oily specks all over the dining table across from the panel. We were heading out for another appointment, so I didn't look very closely at the panel. Needless to say, I will look carefully before I try and restart the Generator or plug into my 30A line. Battery systems are working fine.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:23 PM   #4
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Why put a power distributon panel in a place that can get wet?

Question That fridge, Dometic or norcold?

Both brands have a tube out the back (outside) that drains condensate from inside the fridge (Not the freezer, just the fridge) on a DOMETIC this tube is SUPPOSED to be stuck through a hole in the cover so it drips, drips, drips, on the ground.. If it drips INSIDE the compartment water CAN enter the living space and drip, drip onto the breaker panel causing bad things to happen with that install.. In my rig it sets off the propane detector (Shorts it out) the breaker is across the hall (A dry spot).

Page 2: I had issues with my air conditioners workign sometiems not others when this rig was new.. Finally found the answer.. Removed the cover from the breaker box (While not plugged in) and tightened a few loose screws, One took over two full turns.. THIS can cause exactly what happened to you.. You have 3 or 4 wire colors, TIGHTEN ALL.

This leads to the joke "Many RVers have a few Screws Loose".. Of course I ruined the joke by telling you just exactly what screws I was talking about already.
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:15 PM   #5
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I think that before I would apply power, that I would first open the breaker box and use a fan to make sure it is dry inside. Next get a tester and make sure of the integrity of your circuits. If the cause of the sparking was water, that needs to be addressed. The next sparking episode might not turn as as well.

Good luck and Happy Trails!!!
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:40 PM   #6
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Finally made time to check on the sparking issue. Found the source; the circuit board on the Parallax Power Center (7300 Series). Looks like a fried wire leading to a couple of melted capacitors. This converter was last replaced about 11 years ago.

Judging from the little bit of research I've done so far, it looks like this is a fairly common problem. Probably due to vibration? It set the PO back $250 in 2003, so I'm guessing about double that now.

This is our first long term experience with generators and the related electrical problems. In our previous Class Cs, the dash air kept everything cool and when we arrived at our destination, we plugged in. I doubt if we put 100 hours total on any of those Gennies and had zero problems. This thing needs the gennie running to power the roof air just to get down the road in comfort.

Biggest downside is the wife's concern. If we had been on the road and it happened or we had left our dog in the RV alone, it would have been a disaster. It's going to take some time to reassure her on that.
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:41 PM   #7
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FIXED. Replaced the Parallax Power Center and all is well. A little over $200 for the part and an hour of the mobile tech's time. I had been keeping this thing plugged in 24/7 on a 110 circuit for the lights and fridge. A quick check of the outlet showed that it was miswired (polarity switched) almost 30 years ago. Don't know whether that contributed to the problem, but all has been corrected and we're good to go.
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