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Old 03-10-2016, 01:00 PM   #1
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POTENTIAL WIRING & FIRE HAZARD: 2005 FR Wildwood TT MAIN BREAKER OVERLOAD

We've owned our 2005 F.R. Wildwood 37 ft BHSS trailer for several years now, but only recently discovered a major electrical wiring hazard and life safety hazard. It has been there all along, as I am sure that F.R. installs the main electrical breaker panel and wires up the duplex outlet circuits.

So, I am writing to ALERT the rest of you and suggest you check your own wiring for this problem we found. We discovered this problem completely by accident about 3 weeks ago during a cold spell. We had two backup electrical space heaters (one oil-filled radiator style and another that looks like a fake fireplace). Both are 120 VAC and have 3 heat settings that use up to 1500 watts max.

With both space heaters running (one of the left hand side receptable, the other on a right hand side receptacle) we noticed that one and only one breaker kept tripping, which made it hard to keep the trailer warm (as I had not yet fixed the Suburban furnace, so I had no gas heat). In fact, the breaker got very hot to the touch, which I thought was a potential hazard.

We turned the heaters down to low, and moved them to different receptacles, ASSUMING THAT THE OUTLETS IN OUR 39 Foot Travel Trailer had at least TWO separate circuits for the 120VAC outlets. WRONG. The breaker kept tripping, so we had to just use one of the 1500 watt heaters and not use the bunk bed room at all. We all piled into the LR/DR/MBR area in the front to stay warm.

The next day, while investigating I uncovered a problem with both 120 VAC receptacle circuits doubled up on a single 15 amp breaker in my main breaker panel. I believe that this is not a dealer item, but an OEM issue, and one that warrants a recall for safety purposes (its an NEC violation IMHO and a FIRE HAZARD). The breaker got super hot when under stress.

So, I studied the manual on the panel and the breakers that are compatible. Most of the breakers in the panel from the FR factory are dual 15amp breakers, two circuits on each breaker. Since there were two spare slots left over, I ordered a new Siemens 15 Amp single circuit breaker. The new breaker arrived this week and I installed it this weekend.

In the process, I found that two 15 amp circuits, the ones that appear to feed ALL of the duplex receptacles on BOTH sides of our trailer, were intentionally ganged up on this one breaker. Someone actually soldered a pigtail to the tip of the 1st 15 amp outlet circuit, then used an orange wire nut to attached a 2nd circuit to that same half of the dual 15 amp breaker. All to save $3.25 on a 2nd circuit breaker that literally snaps in place!

To the best of my knowledge, this would violate NEC guidelines if two 15 amp circuits were ganged up on a single breaker in a home circuit breaker panel. Any home inspector would red flag that as a code violation and overload hazard.

Why this travel trailer would leave the factory like this I dont know; it's part of why we have nicknamed our trailer "Friday", as we think it was assembled on a Friday afternoon, based on some of the quality of the workmanship.

And, I like the trailer and Forest River, but I do feel obligated to notify others of what I see as a HUGE life safety issue. Breakers should not get hot like a fry pan and should not readily trip if you plug in a few devices. Two 15 amp outlet circuits should not be joined under one screw head of a single breaker AND FACTORY SOLDERED so they fit. The risk is just too great of a fire, under the same circumstances I just described: A cold night and two 1500 watt heaters plugged in and running.

After all, if the breaker failed to trip, if we were asleep and the main panel caught on fire, the whole trailer could go up in flames in minutes, killing everyone in the trailer.

So, please do yourself a favor: Inspect your main breaker panel. There are two philips head screws to remove the cover. Then make sure that there are not multiple circuits ganged up on a single breaker. If there are, it is easy to add breakers (my panel had two spare slots, and I could have added up to 4 15 amp circuits if needed.)

BTW, the OEM breaker panel supplied with my 2005 F.R. Wildwood trailer is a World Friendship WFCO WF-8955AN model.

Three pics are enclosed. Two show the two "ganged up" outlet circuits attached to one 15 Amp breaker. You can also see the orange wire nut with electrical tape that was used by someone to attach the 2nd circuit to the soldered-on jumper wire that was also used to attach two 15 amp circuits to one breaker switch.

I am stunned by the idiocy of this. To me, some FR worker bee in the electrical department wasted more than $4 in time and effort to solder and attach the extra jumper wire and they could have just popped in another breaker for less money, and then my family would not have been at risk of dying in a trailer fire due to an overload. Of course, my trailer is now a decade old, but I am sure there are probably thousands out there just like it, if this was common practice at the Forest River factory in mid 2005.
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Old 03-10-2016, 01:35 PM   #2
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Hold on now,you bought a 2005 unit used in 2008 there is a Lot that could have been Modified in-between that time frame! Look at all the Mod's done by Members just on FRF! Have you ever seen a Amish Electrician! Just not sure it was F/R who did the job? Youroo!!
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Old 03-10-2016, 01:52 PM   #3
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Hold on now,you bought a 2005 unit used in 2008 there is a Lot that could have been Modified in-between that time frame! Look at all the Mod's done by Members just on FRF! Have you ever seen a Amish Electrician! Just not sure it was F/R who did the job? Youroo!!
I did. Well sort of, not an electrician, a musician!
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Old 03-10-2016, 01:56 PM   #4
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I did. Well sort of, not an electrician, a musician!
You all are funny!
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:07 PM   #5
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Come to think of it an 8955 power center is a 30 amp service. No matter how many breakers or how the circuits are wired will not matter. You're never going to get 2 1500 watt electric heaters to operate at the same time. The converter itself is always going to pull a few amps, and the heaters will be a 26 to 30 amp + load depending on the heater. You're overloading your system no matter how its wired. Every time I have used 2 electric heaters in any of the 30 amp service trailers I have owned I had to run one off of a dedicated extension cord out to the pedestal.
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:13 PM   #6
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whoa---that is ugly! (not Weird Al, the wiring!)


Could this have been a creative act on the part of the assembly team, unknown to management, to get around not having another breaker available to install?
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mr Havercamp View Post
Come to think of it an 8955 power center is a 30 amp service. No matter how many breakers or how the circuits are wired will not matter. You're never going to get 2 1500 watt electric heaters to operate at the same time. The converter itself is always going to pull a few amps, and the heaters will be a 26 to 30 amp + load depending on the heater. You're overloading your system no matter how its wired. Every time I have used 2 electric heaters in any of the 30 amp service trailers I have owned I had to run one off of a dedicated extension cord out to the pedestal.

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Old 03-10-2016, 02:23 PM   #8
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X3 on what Mr.Havercamp said. Your 2005 Wildwood is a 30 amp trailer. two 1500 watt space heaters ain't gonna cut it. You need to use your trailer's furnace and supplement it with one space heater.
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by youroo View Post
Hold on now,you bought a 2005 unit used in 2008 there is a Lot that could have been Modified in-between that time frame! Look at all the Mod's done by Members just on FRF! Have you ever seen a Amish Electrician! Just not sure it was F/R who did the job? Youroo!!
Yes, the folks that owned it used it 6 times. We bought it in early 2008. And unless the dealers are now soldering jumper wires instead of adding breakers, it looks like an FR issue.

I'm an engineer myself, and I never had reason to open the circuit breaker panel before now. the prior owners did not have the skill set to do it.
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:33 PM   #10
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@ChateuaV10: I think you have nailed it with your comment. Creative factory floor 'engineering' due to a breaker stock shortage. Thanks for your comment. Spot on.

@Mr Havercamp: As iron sharpens iron, I appreciate your comment, but let me correct your thoughts on this. #1: the 8955 is a 55 AMP converter circuit breaker panel. And, even at full throttle, the small space heaters would draw 12-12.5 amps each. This is why when ALL of my outlets are ganged up on a single breaker, the breaker got so hot you could not touch it, and then TRIPPED. It tripped at 15 amp, so the heaters probably did not get to full heat before that happened.

Also, I did not say that I set the heaters to stage 3 or HIGH heat. They could have been at Low or set on Medium. In LOW, the heaters would use 500 watts or 4.2 Amps each, and at MEDIUM HEAT (likely setting), they would use 1000 watts each or 8.33 Amps per heater. THIS IS PROBABLY the setting in use at that time.


BREAKER PANEL SPECS ONLINE:

http://wfcoelectronics.com/product/wf-8955-55-amp/
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