Saturday, November 2, 2013

Problem Spotted, Fix Comes Later

1left  1right

All of this electrical stuff is found under the bed, under a this board which offers space for storage between this electrical stuff, and the mattress / pillow area.  To the far left you can see a lot of wires which lead to to a black panel along the side….this is the back side of the 12V and 120V breaker box.  In the right side of the left picture you see a black box, this is our Inverter.  In the middle where the two pictures split you can see a silver box, which is the the converter (which charges up the house batteries).  And in the middle of the right picture you see a black box, well, that is the transfer box.  To the far right you see a bunch of wires.  These wires are either coming into this electrical compartment, where most enter into the transfer box, or they exit the electrical compartment, headed for various places such as light sockets (all of ours are 12 volt), power plugs (all 120 volt), power to the slide, the tank heating pads, to the batteries, etc.  None of this has anything to do with powering the engine area, or the steps, which all get their power from the battery in the engine compartment up front.


Here is a close up of the transfer box.  Essentially it decides if the motorhome is hooked up to power (like at a RV park), or is it using the Generator.  More sophisticated ones will even decide if it is running on the inverter…but with ours we are told to not turn on the inverter unless we are not plugged in and the generator is not on.  Our inverter only runs two plugs up by the TV, while some inverters will power just about anything on a motorhome outside of the air conditioner.  So when I took this cover off today….


…this is what I found on the other side of the lid….that can’t be good!


This is the inside of the box.  You can clearly see the melted wires right there at the bottom.  Told you it couldn’t be good.


With this picture I turned it 90 degrees so that you can see a good blow up picture.  What I have read is that these special electrical screw connectors, for lack of the official name, need to “tightened” at least yearly, and checked two or three times per year for any signs of discolored wires leading into them.  “IF” the wire is loose, then the electricity “arcs” which causes extreme heat which will melt the wires and plastic that the connectors set in.  Hmmm….I did not know that.  I know I have read that Howard of RV-Dreams has talked about tightening his connectors from his solar panels…but I did not relate that to a transfer box which is found in most trailers or motorhomes which have built-in generators.

3a     3b

Above are two other transfer boxes which had major (left) and minor (right) meltdowns.  


Above is a transfer box which does not have meltdown problems…but was just waiting to happen.  Notice the thicker wire to the right, compared to the thinner wire to the left.  (Note: these were other people having problems with their transfer box, they published warnings to others just as I have.)


Above you can see the various amp loads of the different wires.  In the previous picture it looked like they were using size 8 or size 10 wire where they should have been using size 6.  It was for an IOTA 50R Transfer Box, which was recalled back in 2009.  However, they did not recall the IOTA 30R, which we have because the size 10 wires are rated for the 30 amp we can use.  However, if the connectors comes loose, then the heat build up on the size 10 wire creates the heat which melts.  Not a great feeling knowing this is right under our heads…..and especially since I was awake at 4:00 am when the power went out.  Marcia, earlier in the evening, had smelled a faint smell which attributed to the oil filled heater.  She has a great sense of smell…which I do not have.  Now we know that she had been smelling the transfer box.  Why it gave out at 4 am, who knows….perhaps my rolling over in the bed gave it just enough of a shake to get it to arc one final time.  As for the fix, that will wait until next week.  It should not take very long as long as they can find a compatible transfer box.  I do know that it won’t be a transfer box by IOTA Engineering, L.L.C, of Tucson AZ.  And the warranty company said that it is covered, so our cost will be no more than $100.  A new transfer box is around $130 plus labor to remove and install.


  1. I praise God that He protected you! Hallelujah! Thank You, Lord! And, thank you for letting us know about this, so that all could know about the tightening need. Blessings...

    1. Bless you Lynnie, thanks for the kind words and thoughts. Welcome to our "blog". --Dave

    2. Dave, I may not have commented previously, but I have read every one of your entries. And, have truly enjoyed them! Keep blogging! Blessings... from your fellow blogger, Lynn

  2. Good Luck!!

    I forgot to mention in the last post just how much I enjoyed your great graphics!

    1. Thank you Pam. I kinda thought the Road Runner Coyote graphic sure fit the situation. Don't know how I think of these things, and the Library training sure helps to find them. Since we don't sell anything through out blog, and our plan is to never do so, then I don't feel the need in getting copyright permission--if anyone complained, all I would do is remove the graphic.

  3. Yes, good luck...
    So glad you, Marcia and the pups are safe. All that looked like a fire hazard!

    1. I think the chance of a fire is more remote than it it melts, the contact is lost, which extinguishes the heat source. However, one never knows for sure. A simple check of the contacts each year should avoid this problem.

  4. Oh, Dave, I just spotted this post. I don't know how I missed it before. Wow, your great photography sure identifies some nasty looking electrical connections and wires. From the looks of it (and, I'm definitely no kind of authority) it appears that you're lucky to not have had a major electrical fire. That could have been disastrous. I had a colleague at work several years ago who had an electrical fire in her home from the clothes dryer; her house burned to the ground in less than 30 minutes! Hope this all gets resolved really quickly and that you're completely satisfied with the results. Your photography is stupendous!

    1. I think you should have your transfer box looked at at least once a year Mary-Pat. If you can find yours, taking the lid off while not hooked to power and without the generator on would be a wise thing to do just to look over the wires and connections with a good flashlight. Better than having power go off in the middle of nowhere...that's for sure.


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