More Dreams RVers Have

I’m still having trouble with my battery monitor and I’ve isolated the problem. What finally solved the mystery were the readings I got when I came in yesterday afternoon. I had left nothing on but the fridge when I left for Port Lavaca and there was full sun. When I came in, my solar monitor was flashing that my batteries were full while the battery monitor claimed that not only was my battery completely depleted, it was drawing over 100 amps!

Looking at the wiring diagram, I was able to figure out where I have a bad connection so I don’t have to remove all of my electrical tape and start over. The plan is to disconnect the monitor, fix the bad connection, and then reconnect it. I don’t think that will happen today as they’re calling for rain and big black clouds are rolling in, but I might have time…

So last night, I dreamt that I did the rewiring. And all the while I was contorting myself into a pretzel trying to get all the wiring done correctly, I was thinking, “You moron, you’re dreaming. Wake up. You don’t want to do this twice.”

Instead, I got up (in the dream) and went to check on my windshield. It was covered in a giant spiderweb of cracks. Again, I thought, “Wake up, stupid!”

So dream me headed back to bed, idly noticing a faint, “Beach parking limited to 12 hours sign” placed in front of the rig. I snuggled back down to sleep and was just dozing off when I felt my RV move as it was getting towed.

And that’s all it took to wake me up. Sheesh! πŸ˜€

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41 Comments

  • Rae, you have had far more than your share of problems caused by loose connections! Perhaps you are simply not tightening things enough when you install them. You have to tighten everything right up to the point where you think, “If I tighten this any more, it will break (or strip)”! If it is a nut and bolt system, use two wrenches and a lock washer and before you declare a job done, go over all the connections again and check for tightness. You can use your wrench on the bolt and your socket on the nut or vice versa if the bolt is too long for a socket, just make sure everything is very tight before you leave it.

    Damp, salty environments will only compound the problem as does the vibration of a moving vehicle.

  • Croft, the issue with the monitor is that the lugs weren’t crimped as well as they could have been, not with how I tightened things. Everything else is good, I just have that one sensor wire that’s not doing what it should. I’ve had no problems with any other part of my system since my victory post!

  • Ah yes, crimp connections! Those dollar store crimpers (they are all just as bad, even if you pay more than a dollar) are pretty useless. I “inherited” an expensive, professional grade crimper when I retired from BC Tel that works much better. Those connections often turn out to be the weak point of a circuit.

  • These claimed not to require any fancy tools and that I could just use pliers. Ha ha ha ha ha. Lesson learned.

  • Croft is right again,

    I have used hundreds if not thousands of crimp connectors and a good crimp tool is essential. The last one I bought was a ratchet type and cost about $40.

    Mine looks like this:
    http://shop.willyselectronics.com/browse.cfm/ratcheting-crimp-tool-for-noninsulated-terminals-8-2awg-/4,1338.html

    But you should at least have a cheapie like this in your tool kit:
    http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=17996146

    The idea is that the connector lays in the half round part of the tool and the top part of the pliers type tool has a rounded point that pinches the wire into the connector and locks it tight. A regular set of pliers will never do the job correctly.

  • πŸ™ The instructions said pliers would be okay, but I thought I’d do one better and use the tool like in your second link (I call it a wire stripper). I even checked out Youtube videos to make sure I was doing it correctly. πŸ™ So I WAS using the right tool, which makes me feel even worse that I did such a piss poor job of it. πŸ™

  • Hmmm, Well make sure you are using the correct size connector. The simple explanation is they come in red, blue and yellow, small medium and large.

    I suspect the connectors you are using are the ones that are made in China and they are not as good as the made in USA version.

    A couple tricks you can use if the wire seems a little too small for the connector you are using:

    You can β€œTin” the wire with solder before you put it into the connector and crimp it if you have a soldering gun or pencil. (This is always a good idea for a troubled connection)

    Or you can strip the wire twice as long as you should then fold the stripped part in half and twist the end effectively doubling the size of the wire.

    And / or / also in addition to one or both of the above, after you crimp the connector, flip it over and crimp it from the other side too (double crimp)

    Good luck and let us know what happens.

  • Another thought, you have to squeeze those cheapie wire stripper crimpers really really hard. You may not have enough strength to do it right. When I am using the cheapie type, sometimes I have to use both hands to get squeeze it tight enough to get a good crimp.

    The worst that can happen is it will almost cut the solder less connector in half and you will have to start over if you squeeze too hard.

  • I used the connectors that came with the Xantrex connection kit. Good job on that, Xantrex! πŸ™

    Anyway, I have more crimps and lots of extra length of wiring, so I can start over. Thank you for the tip about doubling the size of the wire; that could end up doing the trick!

  • You are welcome!

  • I squeezed so tight with both hands I actually had bruises the next day. πŸ™

  • Ouch!

    One last thing, After I crimp anything, I always, always grip the connector with one hand and the wire with the other and try to pull them apart to make sure I have a good connection. In my experience about one out of a hundred will fail.

  • We also have to be sure we use the right size “end” for the wire size we are using. Using an “end” or terminal designed for larger gauge wire than you are using seldom results in a good crimp. Doubling the stripped wire back on itself and twisting sometimes helps but the best solution is using a terminal designed for the gauge wire you are using. They generally come in red (small), blue (medium) and yellow (large). The wire gauge they are designed for should be stamped right on them.

    This is what I have but like I say, they were a “gift” from my former employer.

    http://www.amazon.com/Ideal-Industries-Inc-30-425-Crimping/dp/B001D23SAS

  • I will try the pull test!

    As for sizing the connectors, they came with the wiring kit, so I hope they are the right size!

    I have tons of money in my Amazon account so I will see if they have better rated ones and get a good pair! I suspect that I will get lots of use out of them as I tackle more electrical projects.

  • OK Gary, you and I have to meet some day!

    You can also cut the plastic insulation off the connector and solder it right on. This is what I generally did at work when we had a soldering station right on the workbench.

  • You can buy bubble packs of connectors in any hardware store. They are cheap and you will always find a use for the extras.

  • Yes, Croft we do think alike πŸ™‚

    I was going to mention the soldering thing too but I thought I had over explained too much already. I wonder if Rae has a soldering gun or pencil?

    I think the pencils are only around ten bucks.

    Her is a cheapie:

    http://www.amazon.com/60-Watts-Soldering-Iron-listed/dp/B0006NGZK0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1359315405&sr=8-2&keywords=soldering+pencil

  • Gary’s pull test is a great idea. Put the crimp on, put the ring over a nail or something and pull until it fails. The wire should break before the crimp fails. Use scrap wire because it will stretch.

  • Another great idea Croft!

  • I feel a bromance coming on!

    No soldering equipment. I’ve never soldered electronics; is it hard? What kind of solder does it need?

    I am very good at soldering plumbing (used to pay my mobile home pad rent many months with my skills), but I’m not good with anything requiring finesse as I have very little manual dexterity.

    Soldering sounds intimidating, but like less work than crimping.

  • I bet Croft will have some good tips for that.

    I do both as an amateur and I think the only difference between plumbing and electronics is less heat, use a heat sink and different solder and flux.

    Croft?

  • It’s a good start that I understand solder and flux, but I need to research heat sink.

    As for heat, I’m embarrassed to admit I set my house on fire a number of times while working on my pipes. πŸ˜€

  • The heat sink is just a clip like a really heavy paper clip that you would place on delicate electronics like a circuit board, diode, resister stuff like that, so they don’t get to hot.

    For just soldering wires together or crimp connectors you don’t need one.

    Here is one:
    http://www.amazon.com/Elenco-ST-23-Heat-Sink/dp/B0002LLWIQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359316631&sr=8-1&keywords=soldering+heatsink

  • Soldering is very easy. Like plumbing, heat the work and not the solder. Solder can be bought in any hardware store, buy the type that has flux right inside the solder. Apply heat to the underside of the connector and then apply the solder to the opposite side. It will melt and flow into the joint. You will be able to see the joint fill with solder and when this happens, take both the solder and heat away. Let it cool a few seconds.

    A surprising number of people heat the solder and let it drip onto the work. This results in what we call a “cold” solder joint that must be re-done properly.

  • House on FIRE! Oh no ………..

  • Croft, perfect explanation. Don’t forget to do all this with a scrap piece of wood or something underneath so you don’t drip solder and ruin a nice surface.

    Don’t ask me how I know this.

  • If you are soldering corroded parts you can buy a small can of acid flux. Dip the solder into the tin before starting. Enough flux will stick to the solder to clean the connection.

    BTW, the solder I referred to above is called “Acid Core Solder”

  • Croft, that sounds way too easy. And yes, heat the work! You wouldn’t believe the number of bad ‘repair’ jobs my neighbour would have me come fix!

    Gary, always cover your work surface! πŸ˜‰

    As for the house on fire thing was a running gag. I always had the fire extinguisher handy never needed it (I could just put out the fire with a handy rag), but I found every imaginable way to start a fire. My favourite was the time I was drilling through some very hard wood and the drill got so hot it lit the drill shavings on fire!

  • Sounds like you guy’s have it all covered.

    Have a great day, Time for a BEER! πŸ™‚

  • Good tip with the acid flux, thanks!

    And Gary, no beer today. I had a pina colada for breakfast with leftover fajitas. πŸ˜€

  • “pina colada for breakfast”

    You are my Hero!

    BTW, I have been buying on Amazon for the last year or so through your link. I purchase something almost everyday, even my dog food.

    I hope some of that helps!

    You may want to re-post that link πŸ™‚

  • Our neighbor here in the Cuernavaca RV park is a lawyer from mexico City. They were packing up at around 11:00 this morning so I went over to exchange cards and he offered me a beer! More surprisingly, I said “no, gracias”.

    He could be handy to know. he is a lawyer and his wife is a federal police officer. They said to call any time, day or night if we need help.

  • Gary, I love being a grown up. πŸ™‚

    And it’s YOU! I’ve been trying to guess who is the person buying so regularly on Amazon! THANK YOU. It makes a big difference! I usually get $50 to $150 a month!

    I got my last month’s earnings a couple of days ago and was able to buy an olive oil mister, a windshield repair kit, and a DC charger for my laptop with enough leftover to get a hand blender the next time I can get mail! Bet you had no idea you were being so helpful!

    I do have the link in the sidebar!

  • Croft, you refused free beer?!

    Ever since I went to Scotland, I have considered 11AM the start of an acceptable time to drink beer. πŸ˜€

    I would definitely hang on to that card!

  • Here is the solder that goes with that soldering iron Gary linked to.

    http://www.amazon.com/Alpha-AT-31604-60-40-Solder-Ounces/dp/B00030AP48/ref=pd_bxgy_hi_img_y

  • This is the flux. If you have flux left over from your plumbing days, it will work as well. Just don’t use too much.

    http://www.amazon.com/Rectorseal-74026-3-Ounce-C-Flux/dp/B000IN1B8E/ref=pd_rhf_ee_s_cp_2_XTB1

    Thanks to Gary, you will be able to keep shopping at Amazon!

  • Thanks, Croft! Unlike some RVers, I don’t overload my rig, so I got rid of all my plumbing day supplies that are useless in an RV. πŸ˜‰

    I do the bulk of my shopping on Amazon, actually. I can sometimes get things cheaper in stores, but I don’t consider that I’m paying on Amazon since I almost exclusively use gift certificates.

  • “Unlike some RVers, I don’t overload my rig,”

    Ouch! Well, at least I don’t carry cans of paint! Norma has the paint cupboard filled with cans of cream corn and sockeye salmon, some of the few things not available in Mexico.

  • LOL I need the paint for touch ups and the weight is figured into my calculations. πŸ˜‰

    There’s no cream corn in Mexico?! It was worth making my snarky remark to get that useful info. πŸ˜€

  • Hey!,

    I think we set a record on this thread for the number of comments πŸ™‚

    If not, that’s OK, we have something to shoot for!

  • Gary, I’m pretty sure this is the thread with the most comments! πŸ˜€

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