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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Even The Simple Repairs - New Shore Power AC Cord End

It's Been A Long Hard Life
    Like almost every RV'er out there, I had a 25 foot shore power cord. You know, the one you plug in at campgrounds or at home to supply 120V AC power to you rig. It gets used a lot! So much so that the plug end detaches itself from the heavy rubber around the wires. I could SEE the color coded wires inside. It seems that the cables are made as one piece designs. That's a great idea to keep the water out, but not so great when you have to replace it! Since it's one piece,  the idea is....you have to replace the entire cord. OK...I thought, I wanted a longer one anyway. Yikes, with the price of copper up so high, a 50 foot cable was prohibitively expensive. Now what. Well, for less than $20.00 and a bit of labor you can replace JUST the end while maintaining it's water resistant nature AND adding a trick new feature. How?

First, you have to pick a style of plug end. Make sure you buy the right one. My coach has 30 AMP service, yours may as well, but if you have 50 AMP service it WILL NOT FIT! In fact putting the wrong one on will cause disaster.

Once you figure that out, you will have several options. I liked the one where the wire comes out at a 90 degree angle to the cord. It would let me hang the cord straight down from my outlet so it wouldn't be under undue stress and perhaps last longer. It will also allow water to flow around the weakest point in its water tight "armor." The handle to pull it out was a nice addition.

You Can See The Green, White and Black Wires
Next, the scariest part! You have to unplug your shore power cord from the outlet and CUT off the end. Once this is done, there is no going back! I tried to keep as much cord as I could, so I cut VERY close to the molded end. Since it had already detached itself from the outer cable, it was easy to snip each wire individually. Once that was over the next bit was much easier. You have to strip away about 3 inches of the outside insulation to expose the three internal wires. They will be White, Black and Green. There will likely be some insulation inside that can be snipped away once you've uncovered the interior.


Once you have 3 inches exposed of the three internal wires you will have to strip the insulation on each of these wires back about 2 inches. Once the copper is exposed, twist the ends to make a tight wrap, Next, take apart the new plug end. This is very easily done as it's just three small Phillips screws holding it together. Now loosen the 2 screws on the wire clamp at the base of your new plug end. Slide the cable into the new housing clamp until the wires can easily reach the terminals. The Green one is the toughest! Bend the, now bare, wire into a "U" shape so it will fit around the screws on each terminal. Make sure you place the wire so the  "U" goes from left to right. This way, when you tighten the screw clockwise, it will pull on the wire not push it out from under the terminal! Make sure each wire goes to its appropriately labeled terminal. Tighten all the screws!

Now tighten the wire clamp at the base so the cable cannot pull out of the new plug end. Reassemble the 2 halves and tighten the three screws.  Now is the moment of truth. Shut down the main breaker and all the other 120V AC breakers in your coach. Plug the new end into the outlet. No sparks? GOOD! Flip on the main breaker. All still OK? Now turn on the least important 120V breaker. Which one? I used the one connected to my left side outlets. Had a lamp plugged in there. Turn it on. In my case, the lamp turned on and there was NO smoke! Done! Turn on the rest of the breakers one at a time and make sure everything works.

Now go back and unplug your new shore power cord end from the outlet. Take the 2 halves apart and apply small amounts of silicone sealant to the screw holes, terminals and around the edges of the housing itself. Put it all back together (don't forget the handle!). After you tighten the screws, wipe away the excess from the edges and put silicone in each screw hole. Wipe clean with a paper towel until the silicone is level with the case. This should minimize long-term water intrusion and make the installation more vibration resistant.


I know this SOUNDS complicated; it isn't. It will save you some big dollars (likely around $250) I am all for saving money and getting the most out of what I already have!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

9 comments:

  1. Hi Rich,

    Your suggestion about inserting the wires under the screws clockwise is good but that's not what the picture shows. Remind people that when they strip the insulation off don't accidentally cut any wire strands off with it. It would be a good point to also solder the wires to each lug and screw also. Finally, I'd apply some sealant to the inside of the plug where the cable enters the housing- then reassemble before it dries.

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    Replies
    1. Nolan,
      All good suggestions. I the photo is reversed! I'll fix that :) Also, the photo of the sealant on the INSIDE got bumped for space. There IS a small bead all the way around including under the cable clamp. In this case, solder isn't necessary and most people would not have a soldering iron that would get hot enough to NOT create a cold joint. Besides...much harder to repair in the field if it fails...

      Thanks!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. Hi Rich, my question is where did you purchase the new plug? I don't think Walmart of Camping World carry them.

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    Replies
    1. Don,
      I just did an online search for "waterproof 30 amp RV male plug" there were quite a few choices. You'll see the one I bought.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  3. Rich,

    Soldering has long been the accepted way of making conductive connections that last under rugged conditions. In order to achieve this you need not have a dedicated soldering iron. Simply use a pair of vice-grips with a nail...heat up the nail with a torch and use rosin core solder. Take the hot nail and touch the connection until it gets hot enough to melt the solder. A soldered connection will never need servicing in the field...it's only if you DON'T solder will you need to do this.

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  4. Good stuff here. I'd like to see the innards of a 50amp plug, though. How do you know which wire goes where? How are the connection points labeled? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      A 50 amp will be similar, just with additional wires. Typically the new plug end will have clearly labeled connectors.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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