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Old 04-13-2011, 08:07 AM
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Camper electrical issue

Went camping this last week to Garner State Park in west Texas. We have a Coleman pop-up camper that we bought used in 2009, it is a 2002 model that was practically brand new. While we were setup a few days I noticed a hot electrical smell. There is a power converter under one of the seats along with a two circuit AC power distribution panel. The whole arrangement was hot to the touch. I popped the cover off to take a look see. After killing the external power I pulled the cover off the AC power section where the two circuit breakers are. It is a dual circuit breaker, Cutler Hammer with one 15 amp and one 20 amp breaker. The 20 amp breaker is for the A/C the 15 amp breaker is for all other stuff on the camper. Both are held in place by a flimsy plastic housing with an aluminum back plane attached to it with the incoming power feed pop riveted to the back plane. The main power feed had become loose from the pop rivet over time and was now a high resistance connection generating heat which warped the plastic housing. Luckily I had my tools with me and was able to remove the rivet and substitute a 1/4" bolt in it's place. Also the 15 amp breaker had two #14 awg wires on it. One wire went to the 12 volt power inverter and one wire was spliced into two other #14 wires for the various 120 volt receptacles in and outside the camper. This is really a piss poor arrangement and is just asking for problems. Prior to me discovering this we had had issues with tripping the 15 amp breaker when we were using a coffee maker and an electric skillet at the same time....no wonder .

When we returned home I took it all apart and installed another 15 amp Cutler Hammer breaker in a spare slot and separated the wires for the receptacles. I then took apart the previously repaired incoming feed and soldered a heavy ring lug on the incoming wire and shrink wrapped it. I then securely bolted it to the back plane. I can't do anything to the warped plastic housing so I will have to live with it. Hopefully it will no longer generate enough heat to do any further damage.

Makes me wonder how Coleman managed get away with this design. You have to know that all their pop-up campers have the same configuration.

Vince

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Old 04-13-2011, 11:10 AM
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Cutler Hammer equipment is UL listed which means it is carefully tested.
NEC is the National Electrical Code which must be adopted by the authority having jurisdiction like a City for example. In the case of a trailer the NEC article 552 (park trailers) covers this Coleman RV in great detail.
If the trailer is built in the US the above requirements provide some help in assuring that the electrical systems are safe. If the trailer is not built in the US the Company attention quality is the only hope of a safe product.
Even with all the codes, testing, licensing, permits, training and inspections mistakes are made all to often.
Incompetent people still work on electrical systems. If they would just think of how much danger they could be causing maybe they would call a pro or get the proper training.
Coleman is a respected company and it's surprising they let something like this occur. A well managed QC department would never let this happen.
How many fires do you guess have occurred due this bad connection?

vicrod
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by vicrod
Coleman is a respected company and it's surprising they let something like this occur. A well managed QC department would never let this happen.
How many fires do you guess have occurred due this bad connection?

vicrod
Coleman is no longer in business.

Vince
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