Cat Electronics…wires, fuses and claws
“The cat’s broken the generator”…
At least all evidence seemed to point to that conclusion. The panel next to the driver’s seat was completely dead on both the generator button and the lighter output (which powered our GPS). We were both woefully incompetent electricians, so this little incident put us in a rather sensitive spot.
We’d discovered ~3 weeks ago, you see, that the cat was able to squeeze under the driving pedal and into a space behind the radio panel. A technical probe of that area (i.e. hand stuck into hole) had revealed a web of wires under there probably, for all we knew, powering the alarm system on the drivetrain. And, the little devil had been sleeping under there, claws and all. We’d noticed a bit more static electricity on the beast, but had mistakenly attributed it to low humidity. Suddenly our entire safety hinged on the cat, and the appropriate amount of panic ensued.
After composing ourselves and debating whether or not to open the panel, we decided to break ground and try our luck. Paul had bought a 12V test light, on advice from a forum some time ago and a quick probe of the area revealed no power getting to the plug. So, we unscrewed the panel and braced ourselves for the sight. Despite feline intervention, everything seemed fine. Although none the wiser on the mass of individual wires that spewed out, there certainly didn’t seem to be any obvious damage, and the expected picture of feline destruction was unfounded.
So, out with the RV manual and off to study wiring diagrams we went. Like regular houses RV’s are mounted with circuit breakers and fuses. We had already checked the breakers in the bedroom (at least college had taught us that much), but the complicated fuse system (in the outdoor electrical compartment) was another matter. A cursory exploration of the system made us none the wiser. Apparently simply marking the fuses had never occurred to the manufacturer (only the bigger ones are marked) and they had settled on the ridiculous option of a reference map, helpfully annotated with the comment “Fuse panel will change with options”, leading Paul to wisely remark “you’ve got to be kidding me”….indeed.
Not to be deterred we swapped out what we thought was the right fuse, tried out the generator button, and basked in the glory of our achievement. We also discovered that the fuse marked “spare” in the manual actually powered the radio, thus necessitating, I guess, the aforementioned release statement.
So, moral of the story…if power goes out:
- Blame the cat – that will instantaneously absolve you of any wrongdoing on your own part
- Check the breakers to see if any of them flipped
- Probe the area with your handy test light to see if power is getting to the spot. Connect the clip to ground and put the probe tip on what you want to test. If the device handle lights up, there’s power. If it doesn’t light, there’s no power.
- Check the fuse box, and cross your fingers that the fuse you want to swap is correctly marked on the diagram
- Keep a bag of spare fuses on-hand – Walmart carries them as do most hardware stores