LXE Electrical Improvements

Chandelier.  When I first installed a "chandelier" in our Classic, it was just for fun.  But after finding how helpful an overhead light can be, I looked for a small fixture to install in the LXE.  The floorplan of the LXE allowed me to install a permanent bracket over the kitchen window.  When the side is folded, the bracket hangs between the beds.  The chandelier is a lightweight pendent lamp from Home Depot, designed to hang from a rod.  I removed the rods and wire, spliced white lamp cord to the socket, and threaded the cord through a length of white chain that hangs from the bracket.  I add an in-line switch to the cord and put a wall-hugger plug on the end, so that it fits snugly against the cabinet-side outlet.  It's amazing how much helpful light is provided by a single 40-watt bulb.

Battery.  The original battery box was mounted on the tongue, in front of the single propane tank.  However, all the splices and connections hung outside the box, exposed to the weather, and the fuse holder even held water.  (In addition, the ground wire had several broken strands where it was screwed to the frame, but that was easily replaced with a larger, more durable commercial ground wire.)  I swapped the original battery for a larger AGM (maintenance-free) battery and moved it back, next to the propane tank.  That meant moving the propane sideways, but a galvanized deck hanger and plate that extend beyond the frame provide an attachment point for the outer J-rod securing the tank.  Both propane and battery box are a snug fit under a rigid double-tank cover (which I shortened with utility shears), but the lid for the larger battery box was too big.  Since the tank cover was not completely waterproof, I needed some protection for the battery connections.  It turned out that I could set the old battery-box lid over the terminals and secure it with a bungee.  Any water that drips into the box around the plastic battery case just runs out holes in the box bottom.

Plug-guard.  Protecting the camper's electrical hitch pigtail is always a concern, and the Plug-guard is an easy solution.  Taking a tip from another owner, I used a 1-1/2" conduit clamp to attach the Plug-guard to the tongue jack, eliminating the need to drill holes in the tongue.

Detachable power cord.  In both the Classic and the Alite, I made the pull-out, stuff-in power cord detachable, using a  Marinco kit.  The first step in installing the kit is to cut the cord - always a heart-stopping moment!  When I removed the existing "mousehole" hatch, the hole indeed looked as though it had been made by a mouse - uneven and chewed up every which way!  The hatch was larger than what the Marinco kit was designed to replace, so I had to create some sort of masking plate to put behind the new outlet.  After some thought, I decided to use the old mousehole hatch by removing its door, grinding off the hinge, and drilling new mounting holes to match the Marinco outlet.  Because the new holes barely caught in the exterior fiberglas, I drilled them all the way through the interior wall.  The attachment bolts and nuts are secured against braces of scrap wood that provide a firm surface on the inside.

In spite of the installation difficulties, we like the fact that there are no more plastic "fingers" to break off in the old hole, no access for critters and cold air, and no messy, stiff, wet cord to stuff into the inside storage area.  Instead, the detached cord is wiped dry, coiled and neatly stored in the front bin, and we appreciate the increased storage inside the camper.

Propane detector switch.  When we're not camping, there's no need to have the propane detector drawing down the battery.  It was simple to install a small rocker switch next to the detector so it can be turned off between trips.

Extension cord plug protector.  At home, we leave the camper pluged into an extension cord from household current.  Keeping the connection dry was a concern until I saw this handy tip from "Trailer Life" magazine.  I purchased a $1 small plastic box with a hinged lid and drilled holes in opposite sides to accommodate the trailer cord and the extension cord. With heavy-duty shears, I cut slots from the top edge of the box to the holes so that the cords would drop inside.  A few small holes drilled in the bottom provide drainage for any water that gets into the box.  Now the connection is well-protected from snow and rain.

Exterior 12v outlet.  We have a great little 12v tire pump, but we can't always reach from the car outlet to the camper tires.  With the battery mounted on the tongue, it was an easy matter to add a capped 12v outlet.  The fuse and splices are protected underneath the propane cover, and the outlet is wire-tied to the tongue, with a downward slant to eliminate water accumulation inside the outlet.

New converter.  The converter in our LXE was a 20amp Elixir, standard in 2007.  Since we had experienced two previous Elixir failures, and heard similar complaints from other owners, I decided to be proactive and replace this converter BEFORE it failed us.  The new converter is a WFCO 8725, a direct replacement in size and power for the Elixir. 

The hardest part was managing multiple stiff wires in the small space inside the converter.  I went through several bandaids in the process!  It was not technically difficult.  A moderately handy person could do this, with a bit of background electrical knowledge.  It helped me to know, for example, that I could put 2 ground wires under the same ground screw, as long as they fit.  I also knew that the hot (black) wire from the incoming 30amp power cord should be connected through a breaker, and it would then feed power to the other breakers.  The manual instructions were not clear about that.

Removing the Elixir was easy.  I took a couple of pictures, wrote down which wires were connected where, and used labeled masking tape to hold together disconnected wires.  The incoming 30amp power cord was secured to the Elixir with a plastic grommet, and I could NOT figure out how to loosen it from the cable.  I was finally able to wrench it loose and break it off the cable.  I removed the breakers and fuses for use in the new converter.

Once the Elixir was out of the way, I used a keyhole saw and a utility knife to enlarge the opening vertically, cutting away the paneling from the top framing member to the bottom.  It had been suggested that Elixir failures might have been as much from overheating as from poor construction, so I wanted to add extra ventilation.  Before connecting wires to the new converter, I trimmed the bottom of the opening with a piece of fake (styrofoam) wood-grained edging, covering the inside corners with wood-grained contact paper and using a brown marker to darken any raw wood that might show.  Once the 30amp cord and the wires for the two AC circuits were connected.  I slid the converter into the opening, leaving about 1" of space at the bottom, and screwed it to the cabinet frame.

Before I connected the 12v DC wires to the converter side, I shortened as many of the camper wires as possible, and used a ground bar from Lowe's (photo below) to individually secure the ground wires that had been bunched together with a huge wire nut.  I must have cut about 10" from each wire, as well as removing about 4" of the black rubber insulation on the tongue cable (for the hitch wiring) that comes up through the floor at the converter.  I removed the sticky  electrical tape that held several bundles of wire together, and used plastic zip ties instead.  Things are much neater now!  The second photo shows the pile of wire I removed.  The third photo shows a storage tub that we use in that space.  You'll notice a couple of angles screwed to the floor that keep the tub from moving against the wires. 

To cover the ventilation space above the converter, I fastened a small metal vent cover over the opening.  It looks good and fits the space nicely.  You can't even see the open space below the converter.  If I decide later to add a small 12v cooling fan in that area, there's plenty of room, and I certainly have a choice of power sources!