Electrical problem on my new/used trailer

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New member
Jul 1, 2013
I recently purchased a 1995 Wilderness camper, 30ft. It was a fixer upper and I did some customizing to the sleeping arrangements but I did not touch anything electrical except to un-mount and remount the fuse panel which was mounted inside the bed in the rear of the trailer. Anyway... I was recently at a campground and the first morning nothing worked except the electrical plugs. What I discovered is that unless the battery is charged the fridge, AC, and lights do not work even though I have the main electricity hooked up; whats that called, shore power I think? Anyway... I don't really know where to begin.

So: even when its plugged into shore power, the only thing that works is outlets. But, charge the battery and have it plugged into shore power and everything works just fine.... except of course the battery dies after a time.

Help?  :eek:)

Thank you so much!
Please forgive my ignorance, I'm still learning...  the camper has a battery charger? I assumed the battery was not in use at all when the main cable was plugged in at a campsite. Would you mind explaining that just a little?

I really appreciate your help and advice.
Everything in it that is not working run off 12 volt (Battery power) there is a converter in the unit that does 2 things when hooked to shore power  1. it supplys 12 volts to all things that need it  and 2. it charges the battery for when you are not plugged in.

So, somewhere there is a converter. time for a treasure hunt.  it might be under the fridge, in a compartment somewhere or not too far from the battery. Follow the battery cables til you find it.

The problem may just be a fuse on it or it may be bad. check the fuse if it is ok, unhook the battery and while plugged in check for 12 volts out of the box.

bhemp73 said:
Please forgive my ignorance, I'm still learning...  the camper has a battery charger? I assumed the battery was not in use at all when the main cable was plugged in at a campsite. Would you mind explaining that just a little?

I really appreciate your help and advice.

Though I have owned two exceptions,,, MOST trailers designed for RV use do indeed have a converter (Device that convertes shore power to battery power) which has the dual duty of powering Lights and other 12 volt stuff and charging the battery when on shore power.

Problems come from two areas.

1: Sometimes.  The blang things is broke and not doing it's job.. I mean it is made by man and thus it can indeed fail.

2: there are converters, there are converters and there are paperweights.

Many older trailers, if you open the door that covers both circuit breakers and fuses it has a label.. The label says something like Magnetek 63##  (IE. 6345).. That ... Well they claim it's a converter/charger but you'd do better using it as a paper weight.

Others have a Progressive Dynamics 9200 series with optional dongle.

Now that's a converter (One of the best in fact)

In between there are a whole lot of others... I should add when I say "one of the best" That ... Is a fairly large group..

Find out what yours is.. If the fuses AND breakers are behind a common "Last door" (if the panel is inside a larger compartment, the compartment door does not count) let us know what is on the door, or on the panel it is part of.
To expand a bit on this, even when on shore power, most of the systems and appliances rely on 12v for their control functions, switch panels, lights, etc. Shore power relieves the load on the battery by powering a 12v converter/charger, which supplies 12v power and also charges the battery.  Yours apparently is not doing that and will need to be repaired or replaced.

Odds are the converter/charger in your old Wilderness is built into the power center, which is the box that has the 120v circuit breakers and 12v fuses. Perhaps a Magnetek 6330 or similar model. You can get replacement innards for that power center, or you can do your own substitution. Bestconverters.com has info on doing this, if you end up going that route.
I really appreciate all the help and advice! I have had to run home for a few days and when I get back to my camper with my tools I will investigate all your suggestions. I'll reply soon on what I find...

I just had to change my converter after a trip last weekend when it went dead, when the samething happened to me power wise as is to this ?.  I changed it out for the same one , not because I wanted to but because I could find one with the same AMP size as the one I had.  The one that came with the trailer was a  -WFCO  WF-9855  55AMP-  I was going to replace it with a Progressive Dynamics but could not find one of the same AMP size,  could i have gone up in AMP and not hurt the trailer?
Yes, you can go up a bit in size. Or even down a bit, which only slightly slows the charging time, and then only under extreme conditions. I just wouldn't increase the max amps a lot unless I was sure the wiring and any inline fuses & breakers could handle it.

An example: I once replaced a 50A charger with a 90 amp, which I picked up at a surplus place for a very good price. Worked fine 99% of the time, but I belatedly discovered there was a 50A circuit breaker in the charging circuit. If my batteries got real low when boondocking, the initial surge from the charger when I plugged back in would trip the breaker. I had to install a manual bypass switch to jumper around the breaker those few times a year when we ran the batteries way down. I only had to use the  bypass for 20-30 minutes before the charge rate slowed enough to be under 50A, but without it I couldn't get any charge at all.

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