My Electric Saga Part II--Newbies, Pay Attention

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My Electric Saga Part II--Newbies, Pay Attention

Postby Ira » Sun Jan 15, 2006 11:00 am

(Very long post here. Sorry, but I'm venting. And you guys know ME.)

It's the day after the beginning of my electric installation, and I'm actually alive to tell about. So thanks go to Madjack, Jim and others.

What a day.

I go to HD in the wee hours of the morning for my boxes and switches and some other stuff, and I see the 30AMP female connector I need for my inlet box for $35. I did the math and realized this was CHEAPER than $56 from West Marine--which the guy there said he would have for me at 9AM. So I buy the $35 one and say, "Screw the guy at West Marine."

But I get over to the TD, and my "bargain" doesn't fit. It won't twist-lock. The pins are the same, but it won't lock.

It seems that Marinco's inlet box is specially "depthed" to only accept THEIR adaptors. (Smart guys there, huh?) So off I go to West Marine at 9AM--and that guy there who is now my very best friend.

Back to the TD again, and it locks fine, so I install the cord to it. (I bastardized an old cheap one for now, but I wanna get a thicker gauge later.) So we're off and running.

I intelligently DO NOT connect it to power while wiring the source lines to the panel, because I really learned a lot on this site!!! I pull out Madjack's diagram, take a few sips of beer since it's past 9:30AM, and I begin.

I took bad advice way back when and installed 14 gauge SOLID copper wire throughout my system. I'm really not concerned about breakage, because all wires are installed inside the walls anyway, but working with the solid was a B****. (And it was a real B••• B••••• too!)

I didn't have enough excess in my 3 feeder wires from the inlet to the panel to comfortably work on the panel--it would be dangling, so I had to sit it on a cardboard box. I could have easily fixed this by putting longer wires from the inlet box to the panel, but then I would have too much wire to squeeze back into the panel "area" when I was all done. Know what I mean? I haven't permanently mounted the panel yet, because I have to wire it first.

This was bad planning on my part on where to put the box. It's a cool looking thing with lights, so I wanted it up front in the cabin. If I had it do over again, I would have mounted it in the galley, or at least in an easier spot to work on it. Too late--my bad.

I eventually install the source lines to the panel (not easy with solid wire), I turn the Main panel switch on, and I go outside to connect the cord to power and wait for a loud explosion. It's eerily silent, so I tiptoe to the door and peak my head inside to see, lo and behold, the little Main led gloriously shining.

A few more sips of beer, I unplug, hit my 3 line switches on, and outside to connect to power again.

Again, no explosion, and 3 additional led lights reflecting magically in my pupils. HOORAY! I triumphantly unplug, install the metal box for my air conditioning outlet, and I ATTEMPT to wire this line to the receptacle. (The line isn't connected to the panel yet.) But again, this damn solid wire makes the simplest of tasks a real pain in the a**. I finally get it done, go to the panel side, and say to myself:

How the hell am I going to ever make this work using this solid stuff? It was now getting near time to pick up my wife and younger son from the Cub Scouts, I had a friend visiting from out of town later in the day, but I had every intention of immediately returning to the TD before our evening plans to get more work done.

But I made the decision NOT to visit the TD again unless I had at least 10 feet each of stranded wire in 3 colors to make this job easier--shortening off the solid wire and attaching stranded (tape and caps).

So the day was basically shot, I gotta do things today to prepare for Disney next week, so please add another 2 weeks to my build schedule.

BUT DO YOU WANNA HEAR ABOUT THE GREAT FIGHT I HAD WITH THE ELECTRIC GUY AT HD???

I go to return that adaptor that didn't fit, and I ask "Mike" to cut me 10 feet of black, green and red wire. He asks me why red, and I tell him that when I originally bought the 3 solid wires that I had already run, that HD was out of white, so I didn't care.

The truth is, I didn't know what the hell I was doing when I bought that solid wire months ago. And as many of you remember, I didn't even know to run GROUND wires, which I had to do later. (Woody saved my life here.)

So Mike keeps telling me, "You HAVE to buy white for your neutral line, because if you ever sell it, the next guy won't know what to do!"

I tell him, "I'm already using red, so if you'll please cut me my wire, I promise to put a big poster next to my panel telling the world that in the world of Ira, red means neutral."

Mike yells and condescendingly grimaces at me, "I was a profesional electrician! You don't know what you're doing!"

I calmly respond, "Yes, I KNOW I don't know what I'm doing, but I get help from people that DO." But I really wanted to say, "You're just pissed because you're retired and you got bored and now you're working at HD, so don't take it out on me!"

You would have been proud of me. I kept my cool, got my wire, and even wished him a nice weekend.

I can't wait to see him again and ask him for something REALLY ridiculous.
Here we go again!
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Postby Juneaudave » Sun Jan 15, 2006 11:59 am

Atta boy, Ira!!! Your a man after my own heart!
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Re: My Electric Saga Part II--Newbies, Pay Attention

Postby Joanne » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:21 pm

Ira wrote:
And the guy says:
"You don't know what you're doing!"



Just cause I don't know what I'm doing doesn't mean I'm not doing a good job of it!

Joanne


If anyone understands what I just wrote, will you please translate it so I can understand. :lol:
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Postby madjack » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:23 pm

let me truly offer, heart felt congratulations for still being alive and not bringing the electrical grid on the East coast down.
If you are going to "adapt" the solid to standed wire my first suggestion is to SOLDER them...they really don't like to connect to each other...do not buy a Cold Heat solder thingy they sell on TV...they are an RCH from useless (I know I bought one)...Radio Shack sells either a small 120V solder "pencil" and they sell a real nifty propane fired solder "pencil" (I have one of them and they work great)...you will aslo need some resin core solder and preferably some heat shrink...soldering wire together is easy...twist the wires together in a straight line...put the heat source on one side of the work and apply the solder to the other side...when the solder flows thru the work you are done...just dont move the piece until solder has hardened...if not soldereing, then twist the wires together first, making sure the solid wire has twisted along with the standed and then put the wire nut on, then take your tape and wrap the whole thing up
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Postby Arne » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:29 pm

Ira, you are just going to love the glow those little lights will give your cabin at 3 in the a.m. when you wake up and start to stare at them... they will seem like 40 watt bulbs, then..... electrical tape works wonders the next night.
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Postby bdosborn » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:30 pm

Ira,
He was ruffled because red is a hot wire for 3 phase 208V and its a hot wire for 12V. Make sure you don't ever confuse the two. But, if you label your wires well, it doesn't matter what color your wires are. Standard colors are for installations that *aren't* labeled. I just took my tongue box off to replace my coupler and I had to think a bit about where all the wires should go (my battery is in there). I wish I'd labeled things a little better. And I finished that about 6 months ago. I probably won't remember building the trailer in about a year. :lol:
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Postby Ira » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:33 pm

I have a soldering iron, and believe it or not, I know how to use it. I just didn't think it was necessary if I took redundant steps to connect the two types together. Fairly long lengths of exposed wire (3/4") and really twist, bend and secure them together right with cap and tape.

And while the East Coast grid may still be okay, I have no idea what I did to the West Coast's.
Here we go again!
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Postby Nitetimes » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:35 pm

The best way to solve the wrong colored wire problem is with colored electrical tape. If the red wire is neutral then right behind where you strip it wrap a piece of white electrical tape around it. The same works for other colors too, this stuff can be bought for a couple of bucks in a package of assorted colors. Comes in very handy when you only have one roll of wire.
In the electrical world doing this essentialy changes the color of the wire.
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Postby madjack » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:51 pm

Ira wrote:I have a soldering iron, and believe it or not, I know how to use it. I just didn't think it was necessary if I took redundant steps to connect the two types together. Fairly long lengths of exposed wire (3/4") and really twist, bend and secure them together right with cap and tape.

And while the East Coast grid may still be okay, I have no idea what I did to the West Coast's.


Ira, as long as you make sure of your connection by "twisting" the solid along with stranded before putting the wire nut on, you should be OK...I just like to solder such things and use heat shrink if possible...like everything, there is more'n one way to skin that cat ;)
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Postby Ira » Sun Jan 15, 2006 3:21 pm

Nitetimes wrote:The best way to solve the wrong colored wire problem is with colored electrical tape. If the red wire is neutral then right behind where you strip it wrap a piece of white electrical tape around it.


Where were you yesterday when the guy at HD was abusing me?

How can he argue with THAT!?

HAH!!! I GOT HIM NOW!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK AND PAY HIM A VISIT!!!
Here we go again!
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Postby Jiminsav » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:15 pm

congrats on the installation of the panel..and make sure you take pics so we can see it in all it's electrified glory.
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Postby Hardin Valley Magic » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:35 pm

What no sparks? No arcs? No flames? No smoke? Congrats. give that HD guy a hard time for me as well. Ask for several rolls of tape and tell him you plan on taping it from end to end. That should really get him in an up roar. :lol:
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Postby Larwyn » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:45 pm

I have actually used 12 conductor control cable that had all black wires, they were labled, at the factory every few inches as...Black, White, Red, Green, Orange, Blue..........etc.......Seems it would be easier to color the jacket than to print on it........ :lol:
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Postby Juneaudave » Sun Jan 15, 2006 10:30 pm

Ira...oh my gosh..your post hit home. At least this is a trailer...if they ever checked out some of the wiring I've done in my house, your electrical work might look great! Be sure to buy a smoke detector for your crab. I suggest a battery operated one, not hooked into your wiring circuit. That's what I do.

By the way...that Home Depot guy was probably just filling in for someone else. You might go in early tomorrow and see if he is working the garden and plant nursery. Otherwise, be sure to confront the guy with all the knowledge you have gleaned from the board...you can get a better effect out of him if you wait till after the 9:30, 9:45, 10:00 and 10:30 beers! :rofl2:
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Postby stjohn » Sun Jan 15, 2006 10:37 pm

Ira I had a sells person at lowe's do me the same way I did not keep my cool quite as well as you did I finally got fed up with him and asked him if he was such a professional plumber why was he working at lowe's and not running his on plumbing business he never said a nother word to me
(not knocking anybody that works for Lowe's its a honorable job )

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