Back in July of 2017, we packed up the camper and headed to Oscar Scherer State park for a long weekend. We had the intent to visit friends on the west coast - to Floridians west coast means the Tampa side - and to lounge at the Gulf beaches. Little did we know that we’d find ourselves having a shockingly different experience.
As a side note, you can find our full review of Oscar Scherer State Park here if you’d like.
In our typical fashion, we left promptly after work on a Friday night, making sure to strategically place our stops for dinner at a rest stop along the way. After a navigation error or two, we backed into our campsite, set up, and went to bed.
And that’s when the bad thing happened…
Being attuned to the monstrous roar of our Coleman Mach 8 air conditioning, when there is a lack of it we tend to panic. In summer, the humidity in Florida is about 10,000% - real number - and about 85 degrees at night. If there is no A/C noise, panic ensues. This happened at about midnight. We quickly ran thru the possible causes: breakers in the camper, do the neighbors have power, pedestal issue? None of the typical culprits were the cause. So we made the call to abandon camper. With two toddlers and an asthmatic, no A/C is no option.
Luckily, a local hotel had space for us and we gladly paid the $150+ price to spend the rest of the night in their amazing air conditioning. Good news, our youngest got to check box his first hotel stay and our oldest loved the breakfast in the morning. While we could have stayed in the camper without A/C or electric this was by far the better option for us. Children who have slept leads to everyone being happier.
After checking out of the hotel, we stopped by the local RV place and picked up a new shore power cord, as I had a hunch that it was the problem. The prior night if we wiggled the cord we would see a moment of power. We got back to the camper, replaced the cord, and then… nothing.
So at this point we started planning the departure from the campground as we weren’t staying without power. As a last ditch effort to save the trip, we opened up the receptacle for the power into the camper and wow, just wow. First off, one of the cables that should be white was burnt to a dark roasted marshmallow brown, and then the cause revealed itself. One of the lugs had either not been tightened at the factory or had shaken loose. I like to pretend that it shook loose, but it was out an awful lot, which makes me question it.
So after another trip to the RV store (Yay) to buy a new 30 amp twist lock and a trip to the hardware store since the company that made our trailer used a very cheap plug that was a non-standard dimension, we were almost back in business. After about an hour of stripping wire back to good wire, cutting, etc. we had power again and A/C!
We were very happy to not have to cancel the trip and were able to enjoy the rest of the activities that weekend. However, we know that we were very blessed in that the electrical short did not cause a fire and that one of us knows how to deal with electrical issues.
Once we got home, we also purchased a RV Surge Protector (EMS) to help us keep an eye on what was happening at the pedestal and to ensure that the power coming into our rig wouldn’t do any damage. While bad power didn’t cause our issue we’re now a little sensitive to it. Plus, it gives all sorts of cool readouts to help us sound like we know what we’re talking about!
Always follow the manufacturers instructions, this write up is simply the way that I do it, and it may or may not be the right way. Use your common sense when applying products to or altering your stuff and always wear the appropriate safety gear.