New Owner - Need help with used camper

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Aug 28, 2006
Just purchased my "new" 1976 22' Terry travel trailer. Fair condition. Need help with the following:

First when cleaning the camper out I unplugged the converter/battery charger. When I plugged it back in it started humming and then little cloud of smoke puffed out and the lights went out. I unplugged it and the main power cord and waited for it reset itself. Plugged the main back in and then had lights. Plugged the converter back in and it started humming again, so I quickly unplugged it again and left the converter unplugged. Does this have to be plugged in to convert the 110 to 12v or is the converter to convert 12v battery power to 110? Can I leave it unplugged as I don't intend to use battery power?

Next, the person I bought this from started to install new plastic water lines but didn't complete them and then "cobbled" some new water lines using garden hose. He didn't connect the hose to the holding tank because it has a small leak. He ran a connector hose through the floor to connect to a water supply. The water tank (I think) uses air pressure instead of a pump, but when I tried to add air to it, to check for the leak, it wouldn't take any air, maybe bad valve stem? Can I add a 12v water pump to the system with the above problem with the converter?? If not is there a 110 pump available? Where is a good place to buy these items? I have looked a little on eBay but most stuff on there is for newer campers and not sure it would work on this camper.
Any Help on these would be appreciated!
All electronics run on smoke, when you let the smoke out they stop working ;)

Seriously, it would be normal for the converter to hum but not to smoke.  I would leave it unplugged until it can be checked or replaced.  The converter changes 120VAC to 12VDC to power all of the 12V devices in the trailer.  You will need 12V as your lights are 12V as well as the control boards in the refrigerator, hot water heater, and furnace.  Do you have a battery installed?  The converter is supposed to supply 12VDC even if there is no battery but it's possible that it was overloaded and thus the smoke.  The converter is also a battery charger, but not a very good one.  If you have to replace it, we can give you some suggestions as to a much better unit that will do a better job of charging.

I can't address your water line question but I've never seen an RV water system that didn't use a pump nor have I ever heard of one that used compressed air.
It doesn't have a battery installed and I have not seen a place for a battery but I assume there was one at one time and has probably been removed. The converter was fine until I unplugged it and then plugged it back in. It made no noise until then. I would imagine it is the original converter and probably needs replaced. If I leave the converter unplugged it would burn up the refridgerator too then? I was planning to try it out this weekend at the lake but I don't want to "burn" anything up.

There is an air valve on the fresh water fill that I assume is for pressurizing the water tank. I have heard of these before but like I said it won't accept any air.
Ned said:
I can't address your water line question but I've never seen an RV water system that didn't use a pump nor have I ever heard of one that used compressed air.


On a 1976 TT it's possible that he has a pressurized water system. The first truck camper I had had a pressurized water system on it. A real PITA. There was a small 12v compressor that kept pressure on the tank. Haven't seen one of these systems on an RV in years though.
A friend near me has a TT with a pressurized water tank too. Or so it should be. His never worked properly and when it did, it leaked. Suggest you replace the system with a regular water holding tank and add a water pump and required plumbing.

Plugged the main back in and then had lights. Plugged the converter back in and it started humming again,
Are you saying the 12 volt lights came on without the converter being plugged in? If so, it sounds like you have 2 units installed; a converter and a battery charger, or two converters - unless the lights that came on were 110 Volt lights; not the 12 volt ones. Please clarify.
The lights that came on I assume are 110V.
Here are some pics:

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Here's the converter, fuse panels and breaker box. I think it it needs a new converter and rewired.

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The 12V wires don't come directly out of the Converter. There are 2 red wires and 1 white coming out of it plus the plug in. I assume they go to the braker box and then distributed to the fuse panels. The Breaker box has a 30amp main breaker then a 20 amp, 15 and another 30. Looking at this converter on eBay Inteli power
Looks like it has the 12v wires connected directly to it. Theres also this one Centurion
Which one would be better?
Also when I went out to take the pictures I plugged the converter in again and tried it. First time I plugged it in it hummed Loud hum not quiet and had a small amount of smoke. Unplugged it again and waited a few minutes, tried it again and the humming was much quieter and seemed to be working OK. Although when I first brought it home it didn't make any noise at all. I think the safest bet would be to replace the converter and rewire the whole thing to be on the safe side. Then after that I can rework the water system and add a 12v pump. There is a probably 40 or 50 gal tank but the owner said it has a small leak. Someone sprayed it with "good stuff" foam to try to seal it! apparently didn't work so it shouldn't be too hard to find the leak! My main problem was I wasn't sure about what the converter was for, (12v to 110 from the battery or 110 to 12v).
Give me your opinions on the converters above which would be better? Don't really plan on useing battery power but guess it wouldn't hurt to have it just in case.
Thanks for all your quick replies!!?

Just thought I might as well throw this pic on here too! Other than the water and problems I've had with the converter not in too bad of shape for a 30 yr old!

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The PD 9140 will output 40 Amps (on the low side of adequate; 60 would be better), but has no separate provision for battery charging. You could add a Charge Wizard for about $30, to give it 3-stage charging ability. That's something you want to avoid overcharging your battery(ies), should you decide to add them. You might try removing all the cartridge fuses from the fuse blocks and replace them one at a time to find out where the overload is coming from. That might get you up and running, but from the looks of the pictures, you may want to rewire everything properly. That Centurian unit will only output 12 amps - way too low to be useful. You may want to look Here
for the 45 amp converter with the Charge Wizard built in for the same price.

Also, click on the "Visit Seller's Store" link. He has both 10 and 21 gallon water tanks for sale. I honestly think that you would have a lot of trouble fixing that pressurized system and, even if you got it back to prime condition, you may not be happy with the noise the air compressor makes. You're other option would be to pressurize the tank with an external pump (as you have tried), but that's a PITA and your water pressure will drop significantly as you draw water from it.
Tthe lower hose fitting (with gauge) is for connection to a city water supply. The gauge would show the incoming water pressure. Judging from the design of the upper cap, it is indeed a pressurized system, but I could be wrong.

The converter produces 12V from 110 and in older Fleetwood trailers it was common to have two outputs. One (usually the smaller red wire) was a battery charge line that went to the battery positive post, while the larger red and the white (ground) wire went to the 12V distribution box, where the 12V fuses are. The battery negative went to chassis ground and so did the white wire to the 12V box. It shoud function OK without a batery, but may hum extra loud.  Those old converters hum a lot anyway - it's probably a Magnetek 6330, which is a real piece of junk. Not sure if its worth investing $150-200 in a new converter, though. Check around on ebay and see what you can find. Or an Rv salvage yard.

The battery space is likely well away from the converter in this old trailer - look for a cubby hole that is accessible from the outside. Some Fleetwood trailers had them in a small compartment in the very front end, but there are probably many places to hide them. Probably not inside the trailer, though, since batteries can release hydrogen gas and/or acid fumes and need to be vented to outside air.

I hope this trailer was given to you - sounds like it needs more than a little work to make it usable.
RV Roamer,
Thanks for the wiring info.

Thanks for the recommendation between the two converters. I have the new 45 amp converter on the way.

I hope this trailer was given to you - sounds like it needs more than a little work to make it usable.

No, it wasn't given to me I paid for it, and I think I got a good deal on it. For a few hundred $ and a little time fixing the water system and the converter I will have a good old camper to take my kids to the lake for the weekend. I got what I wanted at a price I wanted, and I knew that it would need some work.

Thanks again to everyone for your quick replies and help!

Didn't a lot of older rigs,and maybe some newer ones,have  a battery box mounted up by the propane tanks? Check to see if there's wires maybe tucked under the frame up in that area.
I built Shasta trailers back in the mid sixties,and they also had pressuized water systems with noisy little pumps in them.
I'd say  a litttle work and you'll have a great little rig.I don't miind working on mine,but then I've built a few hundred over the years. or did.
I think that is it, There is no battery box on the hitch, but it does look like there is a place there to put one. Also found a red wire taped to the pigtail for the taillights. Wasn't really planning on using battery power but might as well hook everything up just in case.
Thanks again for your help.

I'd say  a litttle work and you'll have a great little rig

Just what I wanted, I don't plan to take this across country, just about 8 miles to Iowa's largest Lake. It will be a great unit without a lot of cost or going in debt.
Heavy red wire would often be battery Positive (you ground to frame) so that may be it.  Depending on the size of the trailer it may also be part of your safety gear.  Now, some light weight (2001 lbs) trailers do not have aux brakes on the trailer, however heaver trailers often do,  If yours does there will be a cable, often uninsulated wihch is CLIPPED to a box or other kind of switch near the hitch, might be a plastic pull out plub on a cable.  But there will be some kind of cable.

Now there are two different break-a-way systems, one is spring over hydralic the other is electric, and if yours is electric then it's the trailer's battery that locks up the trailer brakes in the event that the trailer and tow vehicle become suddenly seperated.

As I said, this is a safety issue.

The side effect is that dealing with this safety issue makes all the 12 volt stuff in your rig work better
Hey mfd480,
? ? ?This year I also bought a "new" camper, 1976 24' Trophy!? I didn't want to spend alot of money then find out the family wasn't interested in camping.? We actually bought it with the intensions of putting it on our hunting lease as a camp, but with a little TLC, we now have it on the road.? Granted like your intensions, we only stay local but the family is having fun.

? ? ?I also ran into the pressurized system, but I went through 2 used compressors(one on the camper and another a friend gave me), and they are extremely hard on the battery, usually drawing 15-18 amps on it.? I replaced the compressor with an inline pump(draws about 5 amps!).? If you look where your water supply comes out of your tank, this is where I cut the line and placed the pump into the water supply for the rest of the camper.? I ordered my pump from Northern Tool -? ? ?Item:? ?450774? ? 3.3 GPM WATER PUMP. It has a built in pressure switch if the water pressure drops it will come on. The cost was around $65,? I think!? Had it in 3 days!?? Just wire it into the wires that went to the air compressor.? ??

? ? ?What follows is how I installed the pump, I had to add about 2' of hose because the camper didn't give me enough to work with.? I got the hose connections from Tractor supply in their hose fitting section.? The camper probably has an odd size pipe I.D.? A little trick I learned is if you heat up the flexible hose coming out of the tank( not to much, just so it starts to get soft with a hair dryer or heat gun), you can slide it on a 3/8 male fitting, then couple it to 3/8 hose from tractor supply(clear and reinforced), go to your pump, then from your pump, to more hose, then the fittings again and you are back in business.? Don't forget to reinforce your hose fitting connections with hose clamps!? Just plug the other fitting off where the air compressor pushed air into the tank, I used a 1/2" pipe plug.? If need be I can email you pictures!? ?

Good Luck,

P.S.? I have been "Studying" this site for about 6 months now and can't get over the information available and how helpful everyone is here, hope the info above helps someone as I've gained so much from being here and hope to return the favor!? Thanks Again!!!? ;)
Haven't checked on the brakes yet, not sure if it has them or not. I've been trying to get other projects completed so I can start on the camper. This might end up being a winter/early spring project.


Thanks for the Northern info. That pump is on sale right now for $60. I also see they have a 50 gal. plastic tank that might fit for $120, have to look around some more on the tank but seems like a decent price. There is a Northern store about 100 miles from me and they will match the internet prices if you take in a copy of the web page. I've been looking at the pumps on eBay and they run around $60 too but would be easier to return to Nothern if I had problems with it.

Thanks for the info!
Another way to check for brakes on the trailer is the mark-1 eyeball method,  Look at the wheels, or rather behind them, brake drums or roators don't look anything like the end of an axel on a rig that don't have brakes

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