Vintage Camper Wiring
by Pat Goss
Vintage camping trailers have become very popular these days. You can find them most anyplace, you can look for them on the internet, or you might just stumble on to one sitting beside a hunting camp or who knows where; but once you buy it, well, then there are some things that you have to do.
Number one is that you have to make sure that everything supports and rolls on that vehicle is in good condition. We’ve all seen these trailers out beside the road-- boats and camping trailers and you name it, minus a wheel. Why are they minus a wheel? Well, it could be because the axle rusted like this one did, and of course the wheel came loose on this trailer or it could be just a bad bearing because you didn’t lubricate it, which you have to do on a regular basis. And even if you don’t use it, you still have to lubricate those bearings because moisture gets in there.
Other things that are safety related, of course, are the safety chains. They sometimes drag on the pavement. They’ll wear thin in spots, so you have to replace them, or they’ll get really, seriously rusty, and they have to be replaced. The tires travel at a much higher speed because they’re smaller, so if you’re doing 60 miles an hour, the smaller tire might be doing 80 or 90 so it builds up heat, and that heat is what leads to blowouts.
Make sure you check all of the wood on your trailer because roof leaks and things like that. Check the inside, roof leaks are very common. Rot on the floor is common. So check all of the wood to make sure it’s in good condition, or if it isn’t, that you are going to be capable of replacing it and making things right.
You’ll probably have to update the lighting and that means to go to LED. LED is brighter, it works better, it lasts longer. It costs a little bit more, but well worth it.
Then you have two types of wiring on a trailer. That is, that you have household wiring, 110-120 volt plus you have 12-volt wiring. Make sure you use the proper connectors and fittings and everything. This is 12 volt.. these wire nuts that so many of you like to use on the 12 volt: don’t do it, that’s not what they’re designed for. The connector that goes between the vehicle and the trailer, well, it has terminals in it. Those terminals should be coated with dielectric grease. Keep them that way all the time to help prevent against corrosion.
Do it all right, you’ll have a lot of fun with your vintage camper. And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.