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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Outlet replacement, Fire protection,etc. (was Re: Spectacular RV 
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 06:01:57 -0400

Mike Simmons wrote:
> Fred:
> I'm familiar with the "push to connect" residential style outlet, but the
> fire marshal described the RV outlet differently.  His description was
> similar to yours only he didn't indicated that the Romex was punctured by
> barbs to make contact which is a poor arrangement especially considering the
> vibration typical RV's undergo.
> Does anyone know if the RV style outlets can be easily replaced with a
> conventional outlet?

Not easily.  The mobile home style outlets typically used in RVs are
designed to mount directly to the paneling and do  not require an
outlet box. They do this by being full enclosed and by having ears
that spread out and clamp the paneling between the ears and the face

The problem in changing out these outlets is installing an outlet
box. The wafer-thin paneling typically used will not support an
outlet box and there is frequently no structural element nearby.  I
have been working on this problem on my rig ever since I took an
outlet apart and saw just how cheap the construction is.  So far
I've replaced several - all having rear access to the mounting
area.  What I've done is cut a piece of plywood with a hole in the
center the size of an outlet box.  I then place the wood behind the
paneling and glue it to the paneling using construction adhesive. To
keep the plywood in place while the glue sets, I use angle Clecos
(aircraft clamps)  around the outlet hole (small C clamps might
work) and stuffings of newspaper between the plywood and the nearest
surface.  Once the glue is cured, I can mount an outlet box
conventionally and give it enough support that it won't tear out of
the paneling.

I have a couple of outlets located in blind areas (worse, with the
wire embedded in the styrofoam insulation) that I haven't yet
figured out a solution.  The short term solution is to not use the
outlets for anything more than a fan or drycell battery charger.

Home Depot carries "mobile home outlets", at least the one here
does. You ought to go in the store, open a box and see just how
these things are made.  Almost foil-thin brass shimstock for
contacts, cheap insulation-displacement contacts.  Fragile plastic
body.  Scared me when I saw it.

One thing I've considered is to remove the old outlet, stuff
newspapers in the space below the outlet for support and then spray
some Great Stuff aerosol foam in the hole. While still uncured,
stick an outlet box in the hole and let the Great Stuff cure around
it.  This stuff is sticky as snot and sets up fairly rigidly.  I
think this would work but I want to take the time to mock up
something in my shop to test it first.  I once used Great Stuff to
glue on paneling in an old apartment building that had rough hewn
studs on about 4 ft centers rather than framing up for it.  Worked
well and added some insulation to the walls to boot.

While on the subject of RV fires, we all ought to give some thought
to automatic suppression systems like race cars use.  These systems
work extremely well, can be set up to fire automatically and aren't
all that expensive, especially compared to the damage even a small
fire would do to an expensive rig.  I wrote about this a couple of
years ago.  I'm giving serious thought to fitting another small unit
to my refrigerator and heater compartment.

I'd be a lot more comfortable if I had a fire detector interlocked
with the gas and electrical supplies so that all energy would be
disconnected when a detector trips.  Smoke detectors have too many
nuisance trips for this application but rate-of-rise detectors
aren't terribly expensive and are very reliable.  Every time I read
about another RV fire, I remind myself that I REALLY need to do
something about this.  If anyone wants to forge ahead, Kidde makes
the most popular rate-of-rise detector.

Many years ago (pre-web) I posted the design of a laundry room
energy interlock that would kill the energy supplies to the washer
and dryer if a rate-of-rise detector detected a fire.  One of the
most gratifying emails I've ever received came from someone who had
read the article, took it to heart, built the system and had it save
his house literally only a couple of weeks later when his dryer
caught fire while no one was at home.



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