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Old 07-07-2021, 03:11 PM   #1
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A Cautionary (and electrifying) tale....

We were recently in a campground for two weeks, had to move spots twice. We were in our last spot for 5 days/four nights, campground full, hot, humid weather, everybody running full on A/C 24/7....never had any indication of ANY electrical problems, ie; low voltage, etc...and had a fairly expensive portable power manager/surge protector unit at the pedestal.

The morning of our departure I went to unhook the utilities, and noticed some discoloration around the female socket side of the surge unit. The socket was also "hot" to touch. Once I disconnected the unit from shore pedestal and the coach, I was shocked to see "arc" paths between two of the terminals on the coach cordset and the surge unit socket, and one of the legs of the coach cordset had fried the spade terminal (see pics).

Still not sure what happened to take this out, but I wound up replacing the surge unit with an even more sensitive unit, with temperature monitoring of the socket, AND the entire coach side cordset reel, all in about $2,000 to make whole, but at least no fire and only torched easy to replace components. I was surprised that RV dealers don't/won't want to replace just the cordset head or even just the cord, kind of made sense when they explained it all to me. BUT you could save a bunch if you were close to home and could find just the replacement cordset and save the power reel.

I was travelling so just bit the bullet, and smoked the credit card.

Moral of the story is, don't skimp on surge protection units, and occasionally visually and physically check your electrical connections for evidence of overloading/overheating.
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Old 07-07-2021, 03:39 PM   #2
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We're you on 50amp or 30amp? Looks like you were using a dog bone.
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Old 07-07-2021, 03:46 PM   #3
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Man that was close.. I only have 30amp.. and looking at surge units.. I wondered why there was a huge difference in price.. I will now get one with temp. Monitor.. thank you.. but still.. I would has gone to electric suppliers shop or home depot and just changed the head.. but you need to watch what your doing.. I don't have reel.. I have read here on the forum that you must wire brush the heads from time to time and keep them nice and shiny or they will burn out like that.. glade you are ok and posted that.. it will be a great help to me . Question did it feel loose when you made the connection .?
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Old 07-07-2021, 03:57 PM   #4
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Surge units look at the incoming power, not your power cord, plugged into it.

You had a bad connection on that blade and it overheated. A pretty common failure.

I don't understand why they didn't just cut the cord back and install a new plug. The cord and reel wouldn't have been affected by that burned plug/socket.
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Old 07-07-2021, 04:17 PM   #5
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Were you using a 50 to 30 amp dog bone and plugged into 30 amp? If so how many AC units were you running? What else on electric were you running?


Looks to me either your 50 amp cord blade was dirty or the dog bone was dirty causing resistance.
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Old 07-07-2021, 04:40 PM   #6
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Makes a good case for installing a quality 50A hardwired EMS.
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Old 07-07-2021, 04:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Surge units look at the incoming power, not your power cord, plugged into it.

You had a bad connection on that blade and it overheated. A pretty common failure.

I don't understand why they didn't just cut the cord back and install a new plug. The cord and reel wouldn't have been affected by that burned plug/socket.
As usual 'twinboat' is correct ----- this^^^^^^^^^^
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Old 07-08-2021, 07:25 AM   #8
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I'll answer these questions as best I can:

I was using a direct connection to the power pedestal with the surge protector between the coach and pedestal, all 50 amp, no "dogbone" involved.

The connections all felt normal when connected, and the same when disconnected. No unusual contamination or "dirt" was noted anywhere in/on the connections, although I admit I didn't do an extensive inspection before connection. You can bet I will from now on! Even where the failure occurred and the spade was torched, did not feel "loose" when removing the coach cordest from the surge unit.

We were running 2-3 15k A/C units, but 1-2 of these would cycle except during the highest temps of the day.

The highest amp load I saw on the internal coach power monitoring system was a peak of 42amps, when all 3 A/C units had fired up and we had the electric side only of the aqua-hot running. It could have hit a higher number, but I would expect other indications of a problem before seeing any higher peak amp load.

The reason you don't want to just replace the coach cordset head only, except as a temporary, "get-home" fix, is the OEM cordset is an encapsulated, molded rubber assembly that is water and weather resistant. You certainly would not want to do so as a permanent replacement.

The cord itself was potentially available, but did not come with the OEM style coach-side end terminals, and would take a source/shipping delay to acquire. The dealer did not ( won't, as a liability rule of thumb) want to source the cordset and then assume the risk of installing the appropriate terminal connections to the reel set.

The final checkpoints to just bite the bullet and install a complete new reel/cordset assembly:
The dealer had one in stock
Would not replace just the head or cord, but would supply the parts if I wanted to install
We were on the road and were already going to be delayed at least one day in checking in to our next location, which does not offer refunds for no-show nights. They offered to add an extra night on to our departure date, but that would have created a "domino" effect at our downstream reservations for the rest of the summer. With all the crazy RV booking issues this year, I did not want to shuffle our reservations downstream.

Hope this helps clarify some of the points you may have questions about.
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Old 07-08-2021, 07:36 AM   #9
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Ernie

I think what has everyone confused is that your coach does not have a connector on it that looks like that at least I have never seen one. When I see a connector like that, I usually associate it with a cheap "dog-bone" adapter to adapt from 50A to 30A service or something similar. Is that plug and receptacle the stuff that was on your surge electrical management system out at the pole and not on the power cord on the coach? If so, then what EMS were you using at the time?

One leg is clearly pulling way too much amperage which is what is discoloring and almost melting that line pin, but my guess is that the problem is with the external EMS, not with the coach or its cord..... (never seen a yellow male or female socket on an Entegra coach power cord unless it has been replaced already by some owner.

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Old 07-08-2021, 07:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Ernie

I think what has everyone confused is that your coach does not have a connector on it that looks like that at least I have never seen one. When I see a connector like that, I usually associate it with a cheap "dog-bone" adapter to adapt from 50A to 30A service or something similar. Is that plug and receptacle the stuff that was on your surge electrical management system out at the pole and not on the power cord on the coach? If so, then what EMS were you using at the time?

One leg is clearly pulling way too much amperage which is what is discoloring and almost melting that line pin, but my guess is that the problem is with the external EMS, not with the coach or its cord..... (never seen a yellow male or female socket on an Entegra coach power cord unless it has been replaced already by some owner.

Gary
Ok some further detail here:
The yellow head in one of the pics is the female (downstream or "coach" side) plug of the Camco power defender portable surge/ems protector. The black head in the first pic is the male, or coach-side end of the 50amp cord off the power cord reel.

Hope this clears it up some!
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Old 07-08-2021, 07:53 AM   #11
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I haven't absorbed all of the information contained here, as far as the root cause of problem. I just want to suggest why the replacement of the cord reel might make sense.

I have never had a cord reel like this, but in my understanding, the cord reel is hard wired on one end to the trailer, and then the cord with a plug on end is wound up on a reel.

That means that inside the cord reel are contacts that rotate on some sort of mechanism. The current load had to be carried by those contacts, and those contacts may be difficult to inspect. Think about this in terms of brushes on a motor or an alternator that sometimes need replacing. The repair facility either figures that it is too expensive to inspect, or maybe even impossible to inspect these brushes or contacts. In terms of resistance, I would think these contacts are a larger issue in regards to resistance the the plug itself, more likely to build up dirt, to have dust from wearing down of the contact surface. Not as bad as brushes on a motor or alternator, since it is not spinning at a high speed, but it is not likely designed as robust as brushes are designed on a high speed motor.

My mind is going blank right now with the engineering term for the mechanism that transmits electrical while rotating, but my senior design project in Mechanical Engineering required a component for this. We were more concerned with electrical noise that current load. Found a component in a junk bin on the LSU campus, when I contacted the manufacturer of the component (by US mail, we didn't have this world wide web with email in 1981), they replied back with a question of how did we obtain a component off of a Saturn V rocket? It worked great for our simple needs.

Ding! Ding! I remembered the name of the component - it is called a slip ring.

https://sibley.com/product/slip-ring...UaAvhbEALw_wcB

Most modern steering columns on vehicles are going to have a version of a slip ring to allow the steering wheel to have electrical switches mounted on it while also allowing the steering wheel to make more than 1 full rotation.
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Old 07-08-2021, 08:08 AM   #12
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Ernie

Thanks for the clarification.... that does help. I thought that your coach may have been a second owner coach and the previous owner had removed the factory OEM power cord and added some cheaper male and female sockets onto the original line.

My guess at this point is that the problem is with the Camco power management unit. I have never personally used one of those EMS units, but my general opinion is that CAMCO stuff, virtually all of it, is a low quality, less expensive version of almost anything that they sell. I still buy some of it, but I wont buy CAMCO products for anything that is mission critical. I would just guess and this is only a guess, that you had heavy amperage pull on that one line and the quality of the connector (the yellow CAMCO ones) just could not handle the heat or the heavy amperage load and the connector failed. Again a guess, but I'd personally never use CAMCO in a heavy demand situation.

I use internally mounted Progressive EMS which is high quality and heavily built. JMO.


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Old 07-09-2021, 08:02 AM   #13
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Iím going with Gary on this one that the Camco was the problem. Also could have had some dirt or corrosion inside the connection that created a high resistance connection. I use an external Progressive. If it fails or gets zapped I can avoid downtime of replacing an internal unit v
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Old 07-09-2021, 02:24 PM   #14
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Iím going with Gary on this one that the Camco was the problem. Also could have had some dirt or corrosion inside the connection that created a high resistance connection. I use an external Progressive. If it fails or gets zapped I can avoid downtime of replacing an internal unit v
Precisely why I avoided the hardmount units. I always figured that the one-shot surge protector mounted in the coach would protect anything that got past the external EMS unit.
I believe the Camco ems was at fault here also, but in talking it over with tech support (yes they have it), they have no interest in assuming any responsibility for the failure.
That's why I now have a brand new Southwire top of the line external ems unit! The camco was not exactly cheap and had great reviews, but live and learn.....
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