Mid to late 1950’s Airstreams came with just a basic 110v system until 1958 – no 12 volts wiring except for a single overhead light connected to the tow vehicle battery. This 110v system was unsafe after 50 years from typical corrosion and shorting to sharp edges on the the aluminum skin and frame. The sheathing on the wiring has pretty much decomposed, leaving only the vinyl insulation, and Airstream didn’t always use grommets. With this in mind, I undertook rewiring the trailer between the inner and outer skins in preparation for full 12 volt and 110 volt systems. The general concept is that the 110 volt system originates and distributes from the streetside, and the 12volt system originates and distributes from the right (curbside).
Some graffiti from 50 years ago as if there is any doubt as to where the trailer was made. Above it and to the right is a typical wiring splice that was imbedded on the insulation blankets between the skin.
The Blue Sea 30Amp 110v AC breaker panel connects to the wires shown earlier. One circuit goes to all the 110v outlets, one over to the DC Converter, and one to Air Conditioner provisions under the dinette.
12v DC Power
The Blue Sea DC circuit breaker panel is on the right, and the Xantrex pure sine wave 12v to 110v Converter control is on the upper left. I chose to put them in the closet forward wall for easy access, but not something that would dominate an otherwise vintage looking interior. All of the Blue Sea panels have integral lighting that is controlled by a toggle switch.
The backside of the closet face. The area below the Blue Sea enclosures will be hidden behind the refrigerator and a cabinet door closes out the area above the fridge. From left to right: the shunt for the ammeter, terminal strip for the battery voltages, the DC circuit breaker panel, the Heliotrope Solar Controller and terminal strip, the See-level tank gauge and terminal strip, the toggle switch for the panel lights (bottom) and the Xantrex Inverter control head (top).
This is the ventilated battery compartment under the foot of one of the twin beds that the above wiring connects to. Location is right over the axle. Besides the two group 24 12v Sun Extender AGM batteries, we have the battery switch, 2 80AMP battery fuses, the 12v accessory fuse block, the Progressive DC converter and battery charger, and the Xantrex Pure-Sine 12vto110vAC inverter.
LED lights are used throughout. I can turn on every lamp in the trailer and draw only .27 amps. Depending on lamp type, I used 1 of 4 types of bulbs, all found on ebay, and all from China. There just no USA manufacturers! Above is one of the 2 reading lamps above the beds, and used a 12v GU10 bulb in place of the original 110v Halogen. All bulbs selected were “Warm White” to keep the feel of an incandescent bulb.