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Old 08-28-2014, 04:38 PM   #1
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Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

Since I couldn't replace just the lampshade on one of the house lights (would have to buy the complete light), I decided to switch out to LEDs. Got some nice lights from Superbright and went to install them today. The first one, above the rear doors, was straightforward with a red and a white 18G wire which I hooked up to the new light just fine. The second one was the light over the sink. When I took it down I found two 10G wires, black & white, butt-connected to short lengths of 18G wire then wire nut connected to the lamp. Along with the 10G wires was a very small wire with clear insulation (20 or 22G), which looked like antenna wire, and was also connected to the light:


The third light was the overhead one just inside the barn doors. When I took it down, I found 2 black duplex wires that look like 110V household lamp wire. One wire from each is stranded together then connected to the lamp with a butt connector.


So this leads to a couple of questions.
1) Any idea what the small 20-22G wire is going to the over-sink light?
2) Is this type of eclectic wiring normal for SMB and can I expect to find more surprises like this as I work through the van?

This is my first land-based RV - all my other toys have been/are large boats. I have never seen a build like this in the marine environment. Standard on board electrical practice, even in a protected, interior environment is to use a waterproof heat-shrink butt connector, then cover that connector with another layer of heat-shrink tubing, secure the wire from vibration and label it. Wire nuts just don't hold up to vibration and the environment.

What I am finding on my 2005 SMB looks like it was put together without a lot of skill, using whatever was lying around the shop.
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Old 08-28-2014, 04:55 PM   #2
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

1. maybe someone grabbed power from there for another outlet or light or something?
2. yes, they don't do the, um, best job with the details on these vans..
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Old 08-28-2014, 05:27 PM   #3
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

I don't think the wire nuts are from SMB, at least I have not seen any on mine. I have always wondered about the lamp cord in the ceiling, but that does appear to be their common practice. Let's just say ABYC and RIVA electrical standards are far apart.

-greg
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Old 08-28-2014, 05:57 PM   #4
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

Hmmm. Maybe someone did pull power from the light. That might explain the wire nuts, although I'm not sure what would be powered through a 22G wire. I guess I'll have to do some wire tracing - not my favorite pastime
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Old 08-28-2014, 06:13 PM   #5
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

My SMB didn't have butt connectors or wire nuts. All they did was splice the bare wires together and wrap with electrical tape. I was pretty surprised, but it works I guess.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:07 PM   #6
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

Mine is full of standard crimp connectors which are IMO poor connectors unless soldered and heat shrinked. I've had a few pull apart.
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Old 08-29-2014, 04:52 AM   #7
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

Dave when/if a wire connection is properly crimped with correct tools etc they're just as secure and able to conduct as well as a soldered joint. Naturally too many techs don't use the proper tools which allows wires to pull out of the terminals.

Having done a lot of work inspecting crimped connections the only good tools for crimping are the higher quality ratcheting types. I've found the S&G Tool Aid offerings to be very affordable and give more than excellent results. Even though they have a minor learning curve value received for money spent is pretty amazing.

Here's a master set, more than fair priced: http://www.amazon.com/18980-Master-R...tool+aid+18980

FWIW I bought another set with fewer dies some years ago for just about this same cost---VERY fair price on this master set.
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Old 08-29-2014, 08:45 AM   #8
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

Well I can kind of agree with that. I would agree that fine might be the correct phrase depending on the size of the wire and load rating. I use a hydraulic press for some wire which provides a much better connection than ratchet presses or thin die hand presses can provide. I'll go out on a limb and say the type crimp connector itself might have quality issues. The connectors we have at work are much better made than what SMB uses on small wire and I use them all the time. I'll also agree a good set of crimpers makes a huge difference and soldering itself has its own set of issues. Overall, in most cases hydraulic pressing isn't realistic for smaller wires and soldering/shrinking is too time consuming even if it's done correctly. But I do agree, I've seen some use of crap crimpers that make for crap connections.
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Old 08-29-2014, 10:40 AM   #9
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

I use only these connectors, which I get at K&L Cycle Supply (through motorcycle dealers). They're great for all 12ga and up wires. I properly crimp and solder, and either heat shrink or use the rubber booties that are made for these, depending how detachable I want to make them. Probably overkill, since all SMB does is a cheap butt connector, but I really dislike chasing down bad wiring, so if I'm gonna do something, I go the extra mile so I never have to deal with it again.

For larger gauges I buy different ones at couple places in SF, but same method.

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Old 08-30-2014, 11:02 AM   #10
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Re: Standard SMB Wiring Practice?

Well, it didn't take much to trace the small gauge wire tapped into the lamp's power source. I gave it a gentle tug to see if I could figure out which way it was going and out came about 8" of wire with the ends cut off - no crimp, tape, seal, etc., just live wire ends sitting behind the panel ! I think I'll start carefully checking out any other electrical mods the PO may have made on this van.
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