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Old 07-21-2013, 09:58 PM   #1
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C-750 Runabout Electrical Question

I had some rot issues under the jacks of my 1989 Sunline Runabout truck camper so I started tackling it this evening. It was going great until I saw a wire handing down. It looked like it had been cut before so I assumed it didn't go to anything and cut a good portion of it off. When I plugged the camper in after I was done my work the extension cord sparker and turned black, tripping the breaker inside of my house. When I unplugged the extension cord from the camper, the adaptor prongs that had been plugged into the extension cored looked like they had ben dragged on the ground. I tried flipping the breaker inside my home several times and trying to plug the camper in with no luck. Never had an issue until know. I attached a couple photos. Wondering if what I cut was the ground and hoping you guys have suggestions. I don't have much of an electrical background but with the right guidance I can make due. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

How far back I cut
http://detourdispatches.com/img/photo_2.JPG

What I cut
http://detourdispatches.com/img/image.jpeg

It should be know that this piece of copper is just hanging down loosely attached with one screw and looked like someone had already cut it once. I've owned it for about a month.

Thanks!
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:07 PM   #2
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Yes that does look like a ground wire. From what your discribing you had problems befor cutting wire. The wire you cut was masking a dead short somewhere. Don't try plugging in till you trace and find problem. It looks like your in the area of you campers power supply. I'd start there.
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Old 07-22-2013, 02:52 AM   #3
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Hey Jim,

Didn't have any issues before. The wire just looked like it was cut so I assumed it was dead. Not the case apparently. Any ideas or suggestions on how to fix it?
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Old 07-22-2013, 06:54 AM   #4
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That is a safety ground cutting it should not produce a short. The section you cut off looks as if it was a ground for the siding. All of the grounds are important but it's not your short circuit. Now would be a good time to find a friend that understands camper wiring and let them have a look. A camper is treated as a sub panel (or should be) it has an isolated neutral unlike a house that has the neutral and the ground bonded together the ideal there is to protect you from having a hot camper frame if the camp ground/house wiring outlet is wired wrong. You do have an issue and until it is rectified you should not plug it in.
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:41 AM   #5
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mainah So reattaching the safety ground to the side of the camper won't fix the issue? Kind of weird as I wasn't having an issue until I cut that wire....
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:32 AM   #6
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Yes - there is definitely a problem with your electrical system, Dave. Might be a bad wire, might be a piece of equipment gone bad. You don't always know if there's a problem, just because stuff is working "right".

First of all, never take a loose/hanging ground wire or poor ground connection lightly. They were put in place for a very good reason - to keep you and others alive. Find out where that ground wire was connected originally and replace it. Be sure the connections are clean and tight when you do.

If the breaker is tripping, there is a reason for it. Again, don't take it lightly. Don't plug your camper in until you find and correct the problem. First and foremost, repair the ground connections. If you found a problem in the wiring and power it up without a good grounding circuit, it could put you (or anybody else who touches the camper) in danger if it wasn't *the* problem. Use an ohm meter and check between the skin (and frame) of your camper to the ground prong of your shore power plug. If not zero, it should read very close to zero - 2, 3, maybe 10 ohms. Don't accept 1,000 or even 500 ohms.

As an aside...
When hooking up to 110, never - ever - hook up your camper with an extension cord that has a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter anywhere on the cord. They call them "widowmakers" for a reason.


I take grounding so seriously because I've been an industrial maintenance electrician for a bit over 30 years. I've seen (and felt) a lot with regards to grounding.
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:39 AM   #7
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Thanks dtstanton, I am going to try and reground it this evening and see where that gets me. I hope that's the issue and it's a simple reconnect. Luckily I do have an ohm meter so I'll do as you suggest.
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:49 AM   #8
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I guess my next question would be, if the fixing the ground doesn't fix the issue, where should I start looking? I have the jacks all torn off to fix the rot under them so bringing it anywhere at the moment will be tough.
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Old 07-22-2013, 12:43 PM   #9
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I do agree with mainah (Tim), in that there is a problem somewhere else. Reattaching the ground will protect you from harm, but it won't fix the problem. Look anywhere there is 110v in your camper - wiring/connections, converter, breaker panel, etc. Look anywhere a wire could get pinched/damaged or become brittle (or softened for that matter), contaminated with water, connections that could come loose, etc.

It could also be that you just coincidentally have a bad cord - the one that sparked and turned black. Be aware that the blackened cord end can give you a good jolt, too. The black stuff is carbon and very conductive - like a motor brush. You may want to consider cleaning that carbon off as best you can.

-Dale
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Old 07-22-2013, 12:57 PM   #10
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I was sawzalling and that cord might have gotten hit. I inspected everything and it all looked good but I'll look closer and replace the adapter and see what happens. Wish me luck.
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Old 07-22-2013, 01:23 PM   #11
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What kind of adapter are you referring to, Dave?

-Dale
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Old 07-22-2013, 01:32 PM   #12
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I have a 30 amp adapter that plugs into the camper and I run a three prong extension cord from that. It looks very similar to this: http://www.harborfreight.com/media/c...mage_16515.jpg

The first time I tripped the breaker I noticed the adapter might have gotten hit with the sawzall on the teeth that go into the extension cord.
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Old 07-22-2013, 04:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
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mainah So reattaching the safety ground to the side of the camper won't fix the issue? Kind of weird as I wasn't having an issue until I cut that wire....
No. However it would be a good ideal to fix it.
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Old 07-22-2013, 06:14 PM   #14
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The adapter being damaged may cause your problem it would be the first thing to be inspected power cord also. Start by unplugging any thing in the camper and turning off the breakers in the camper if your short goes away try turning them on one at a time if it doesn't you got power cord issues. The likely hood of a short to ground is pretty slim unless some thing is damaged the same goes for a short to the neutral. Some thing plugged in inside the camper maybe be suspect does the camper have an electric water heater?
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Old 07-22-2013, 06:37 PM   #15
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Could this be the issue? http://detourdispatches.com/img/photo_disconnected.JPG

Looks like the black wire is completely disconnected from the breaker box. I image it should go back in the top slot? There is a white wire in the top slot already, however....
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:02 PM   #16
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Sorry, I put an arrow to the slot I am assuming. I uploaded a better picture too. The disconnected black wire is from the cord that connects power to the camper from my house, I believe it's the 30 Amp cord.
http://detourdispatches.com/img/photo_bigger.jpg
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by detour View Post
Could this be the issue? http://detourdispatches.com/img/photo_disconnected.JPG

Looks like the black wire is completely disconnected from the breaker box. I image it should go back in the top slot? There is a white wire in the top slot already, however....
Where does the other end of the black wire go? Does this end have any burn spots on the bare end? I'm guessing that's your power cord for the camper, and it looks like it's been pulled tight (as is the white wire) - and the black came out of the lug on the left in the pic (the top?). If that is the power coming in from the camper's power cord - YES, that will cause it if it contacts any metal in that box - such as the bus bar where all the neutrals are tied (white wires) or the box itself.

If this is the case, you need to reconnect it, make sure the wires are tight, and then be sure the box connector or strain relief is secured where the cord goes into the box - so the cord won't get pulled out again.
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:14 PM   #18
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Yeah that is the power cord supply for the camper and it is pulled tight. The green, white and black wires all come from it. I am just not sure which spot to plug it back into. The top left seem like it would back been hard to pull the cord down then back up into the right area where is currently is. I wish there was some kind of diagram....
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:12 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Sorry, I put an arrow to the slot I am assuming. I uploaded a better picture too. The disconnected black wire is from the cord that connects power to the camper from my house, I believe it's the 30 Amp cord.
http://detourdispatches.com/img/photo_bigger.jpg
The black wire does NOT go where your arrow is. It goes into the big square block with the large flat screwdrive slot directly above that - where the circle is here:

http://tinyurl.com/m5lh69x

Push your cord up into the clamp so the outer jacket sticks through about 1/4" and tighten it down. It looks like there is plenty of wire to reach once the cable is secured. Snug it up good, but don't smash it. Then hook the black wire up to that big block, tighten it real good and make sure your white and green are tight, too. They may have loosened when the cable got pulled tight.
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:46 PM   #20
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Nice illustration dtstanton. The thing that caught my attention is that the 15 and 20 amp legs have the potential of putting 35 amps onto a 30 amp line in. Is there a 30 amp main breaker somewhere downstream that the 2 sub lines tie into or is it normal for this panel to act as the main?

I'll have to check and see how I am wired.
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