Into New Jersey: Earle Naval Weapons Station and an electrical problem

Having had a great four day stay in a beautiful state park in Delaware, we continued north 194 miles into New Jersey, dodging a couple of tolls by avoiding part of the turnpike. Having splurged a bit in Annapolis, we were still aiming to save a bit of money on the back side of this month so we elected to stay at our fifth military campground of the year, the RV park on the Earle Naval Weapons Station.  Having been there multiple times on a couple of my ships, I was familiar enough with the area to know that it would likely involve a lot of woods and few temptations to spend excessively.   It delivered on both accounts.

I’ll give some props to the weapons station: they had the easiest check in process of any park; private, public, or military, that we have every experienced.  Once we cleared security we simply pulled up to the secondary gatehouse, showed ID, and promptly received an envelope with our site pass and other pertinent information.   Less than a mile later we pulled into the rather oddly laid out RV campground and backed into the spacious site #2.

I say oddly laid out because it looks like there used to be something other than RVs on each site, perhaps some sort of housing, with sidewalks and paths that didn’t seem to have a lot to do with the current lay out.  Additionally, the sewage connection was centered in the concrete pad, meaning that once we backed up I had to crawl part way under the rig to hook up the hose.

Pretend there are a couple of very nice pictures of the actual campsite and surrounding area here and after the next paragraph.  Due to as yet inexplicable technical error, we lost the ones we took.  

That is our only complaint, though, because this RV park defied our material condition expectations.  We are accustomed to Navy parks being a bit shabby and run down compared to their Air Force equivalents, which is rather representative of the respective services’ bases as a whole.  Not so this one: other than the odd lay out, the connections, bath house, and laundry facilities were excellent.  Even the WiFi was great, allowing full streaming any time of day.  We took advantage of the quite affordable washers and industrial dryers to do three loads of laundry for less than $7, and caught up on season 2 of Gotham.

Continue pretending you are seeing a well framed photo of the RV campground. Ooooo, ahhhh.

While there we planned to do nothing, not even leave the base if we didn’t have to. Unfortunately, Serenity’s house electrical system had other plans.  On our second day I noticed that several of our standard outlets were not charging our electronics.  Further investigation revealed that our house batteries were not getting charged by the inverter/converter either.  After checking the main pedestal breaker, we figured out that everything else was working: outside, front, and GFCI electrical sockets, air conditioners, and the refrigerator were all good to go.  I opened the breaker panel and flipped all the breakers just to make sure: no change.

Examining each breaker, I discovered that both the nonworking sockets and the battery inverter were on the same dual 15 amp breaker.  Bingo!  I called the place we bought Serenity to get a phone assist, Chris was happy to oblige, and he confirmed that my thinking was along the right track and I probably had a bad breaker.  So I set about confirming this by switching the wiring about, and managed to make things worse by knocking out the front air conditioning entirely.  Arghh!

Off to Home Depot I went, grabbing two breakers, believing that I had started with one bad breaker and possibly broke the second during my half-hazard trouble shooting attempts.  While talking with the employee who helped me find the right breaker, I had one of those “doh” moments when I realized that the input power was supplied via a copper plug to the back of each breaker, but only if it was properly seated.  During my troubleshooting, I had not actually reseated the breakers after I pulled them out to redo the wiring.

Excited that I had probably not actually damaged a breaker, I celebrated by finding a nearby geocache before hurrying back home to, hopefully, make repairs. Once their I properly seated the front AC breaker and voila, it worked just fine.  I replaced the breaker that caused all the problem in the first place and… nothing.  Still no battery charging or power to the affected outlets.

My high tech live circuit detector

I did a bit more visual inspection, noticing that the copper plug in the slot of the nonworking breaker looked a bit discolored.  On a whim, I switched the breaker to an open slot, flipped the main and individual breakers back on and was instantly rewarded with the steady hum of the inverter charging the house batteries.  A quick check with my handy dandy electrical socket checker (a portable hair trimmer) confirmed that we were back in business, and for nothing more than the cost of gas to drive to Home Depot, at least once I returned the now unnecessary new breakers.

The stress of a possible RV mechanic bill and time delay removed, we relaxed in the campground, watching three deer wander through the back field.  The next morning we packed up and headed north to New York.

3 thoughts on “Into New Jersey: Earle Naval Weapons Station and an electrical problem

  1. Pingback: Three Air Force Bases in a row as we continue our run south. | Shell On Wheels

  2. Pingback: Electrical Repairs in Valdosta | Shell On Wheels

  3. Pingback: 2016 in Review (Two Years Fulltiming) | Shell On Wheels

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