Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Repairing A Dual Overhead Light

    One of the things that make RVs so "cozy" to camp in is having lights. Seems obvious, I know, and we take them for granted. Imagine what your RV interior would be like at night with no light. Aside from banging into everything on the way to the bathroom, most tasks would be more difficult! When one of the dual aircraft style "eye-ball" lights over my dining table decided to partially fail, it become obvious just how important they are! Especially when you are eating. I love to cook, so actually SEEING my meal becomes important!
I have 5 of these dual lamp wooden fixtures in my RV, one over the couch, 1 over the bed and 3 over the dining table and chairs. Depending where you aim them, they light up various section of the RV. The one in the center is the primary light source for the dining table with some additional light (if desired) coming from the inside bulb of the out board fixtures. Sounds complicated, it isn't. Naturally, the one that failed was directly above the table. I've never enjoyed eating in dark restaurants...who knows what you are actually eating! So this had to get fixed right away. Of course, I first tried a new bulb. After all I had recently replaced all of the regular incandescent bulbs with LEDs...maybe I got a bad one. I removed the bulb, put it in a known working fixture and Voila! it worked fine. Hmmm... Now what? 

BTW: These tips will work on, essentially, any light fixture. Begin by locating and carefully removing the screws. Be careful as they are often just screwed in the ceiling itself or a cabinet bottom. They can be quite long, so have patience...don't just pull them out when you think they're all the way out! It will then be a pain to re-install. (Don't ask me how I know this!) Once the screws are out, gently remove the fixture. If it has been attached a while, it may be a bit stuck. Whatever you do, don't force it! The wires attaching them to the ceiling aren't usually that long and it's VERY easy to pull them out. (Yup. Did that too!) I tell myself not to rush all the time. However, I'm very stubborn and don't listen.

Once you can access the fixtures' wiring, look for obvious problems. Detached wires, broken wires, broken switches, burnt wires....pretty much anything out of the ordinary. In my case, everything looked fine, but it still didn't work. Next, you've got to look for problems you CAN'T see. Here's where a multi-meter comes in handy. They are available for FREE if you have a coupon and go to Harbor Freight. Otherwise figure less than $20 for a cheap one. Make sure it can read CONTINUITY as well as DC Volts. This will allow you to find wires that are broken internally. Turn off the power to the light. Switch your meter to continuity and place a probe at each end of the wire in question. If the the meter goes to zero (and/or beeps, depending on the model) the wire is intact. Try the next one.

All my wires were intact. Arrrggghhh. Now what... Again! I switched my meter to read DC Volts (our RVs light fixtures are usually 12V.) After turning the power back on, I put the probes on the positive and negative wires running TO the socket. 12 Volts!! Odd...the light SHOULD turn on and light up. Next I carefully removed the socket from the fixture. As I did this, one of the brass contacts (this type squeezes the wedge shaped bulb) fell out. Actually, it was HALF of the contact. AHA!! There's your problem!

When I touched the meter's probes to the positive and negative wires AT the socket end I had 12 Volts. Obviously the broken contact wasn't making a good connection with the bulb. Of course, I didn't have any extra ones in my parts bin, so I had to figure out what to substitute. I am going on a trip and couldn't leave the light fixture just dangling! I had some spare, really thin sheets of copper. I just cut out a new one and bent it into shape. Crimped it onto the old wire and re-inserted it into the plastic socket. Before re-assembling everything, I inserted a bulb and switched on the light. Ta Da! it lit up and didn't shut off when wiggled around. Reassembled everything, re-installed the light and I was ready to go.

It just goes to show you that any job, broken down into small steps, can be simple and straight forward. This one was no exception to that rule. Besides, it's sure nice to be able to see what I'm eating!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. Our moderator checks each one to make sure we keep the Spammers away. So the comment will likely not appear immediately.