Trailer Light Switch

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Verdeboy, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Anyone know the secret to wiring up a trailer lightswitch that comes in its own box?

    I've been "practicing" with some 12 gauge romex, but I can't get the individual conductors to snap into the brass clips. Are these things made for 14 gauge only?

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  2. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    God I hate that crap. Impossible to troubleshoot. The last triler I was in, I had to replace a crapload of boxes and regular outlets trying to find a fault.

    I pass on the trailer service calls now.
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Try some AWG14 and see if it snaps in. If it does, I think you've answered your own question. Since it's a light switch, they probably assume the wiring will always be 14. Lots of "conventional" backstab devices will only accept 14 as well.

    I agree with Alectrician about how hard it is to work on this stuff, but in terms of driving down costs, the manufactured home industry has been pretty effective.
  4. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

  5. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Architect

    Messages:
    277
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    It should say right on it what type and gauge wire it will accept...
    That being said, your pic is the first time I've seen the back side of one of those switches... Never dealt with those before.
  6. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    It does say that it is rated for 15 amp 120 v. So, I'll have to buy some 14 AWG. to practice with.

    It's similar to back-stabbing, but a bit different. The main difference is that I don't see a release button, so I might not even be able to re-use it once I figure out how to connect the darn wires.
  7. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    A lot of people own trailers around here, so I can't afford to pass on those calls.

    One time, I had to crawl under a double-wide to find a loose connection between the two halves of the trailer. There were mice, snakes, skunks, lizards, broken beer bottles, old pizza, dog crap, and every other kind of "trailer trash" you can imagine under there. :D
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2007
  8. jbfan74

    jbfan74 Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    131
    Location:
    Newnan, GA
    Are you replacing or adding this switch? If you are replacing, the wire will still be there for you to reconnect the switch to. If you are adding, why not use a cut-in box and put a regular switch in.
  9. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Replacing. I just wanted to figure out how the thing worked ahead of time, so I didn't look like a complete idiot once I got started.
  10. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,531
    Location:
    North Carolina

    Have you tried combing your hair?

    One trick that I try is dressing up but then that would depend on what you were planning on doing.
    I mean one would still look like a complete idiot if they wore a tux to a dicth digging.

    Sometimes looking like an idiot comes in handy, take me for example, no one ever asks me to help do anything so I just stand around looking.... well you know at least I am not the one working their butts off.
  11. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Those special switches and outlets without a real box are sometimes all that will fit in the thin walls in those trailers. The cable is clamped between the two pieces of plastic and you don't need to meet any "box volume" requirements.
  12. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Looks like the rear half of the case pushes the wire down between the two prong-thingies that go through the insulation and contact the wire, much like communication wiring uses a punchdown block and tool. When you separate the back of the box from the front, you should be able to pull the wires out from the prongs with pliers. Whether the thing is reusable or not I can't say, but I reuse Cat5 punchdown connectors regularly, even the small plastic individual jacks.

    Ca't really tell from the pictures, but it looks like the hard part might be pulling the two halves of the box apart -- those one-way snap-together pieces are a little scary.
  13. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    That's actually easy. There's just a couple of tabs that you can pry open with a screwdriver. It's removing the wires from the brass clips that I'm worried about.
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