All posts by Raymond Laubert

Tip for a Smooth Silicone Patch

All RVers from time to time need to patch up something with Silicone or RTV.  Today, I had to redo the caulking around the kitchen sink.  It was a simple job, but I learned a new trick which I thought I would pass on to the folks that read this blog.

I started with a razor knife and cleaned out all the old sealant, making sure that I got into the crack all the way around the sink.  I also scrapped off any residue that was left over.  I had an old tube of silicone left over from patching a window, which was still good.  So, I laid a thin bead around the sink.  So far, nothing earth shattering.  The trick I learned was to spray the bead with Windex (with Ammonia).  Then with a wad of paper towels handy, I ran my finger over the bead, pushing it into the joint and creating a smooth seal.  Every few inches I wiped my figure on the towel.  First surprise was that nothing stuck to my figure.  Second surprise was I got a great looking seal.

 

Next week I have to reseal both the drivers side and passenger side windows.  I may make this one into a video, not sure yet.  At the very least I will take pictures of the process.

Tax Season Special

Tax season is upon us and with the refunds many of you will be looking at buying a new RV.  To help make that purchase easier, I am offering for a limited time and limited number of people a 50% discount on the total order from the book store.  This will be available to the first 50 people and expires on April 15, 2016.

To receive the discount, select the books and check lists you want to order and at check out use the coupon code :  NW32016.

RV Recalls

I pulled this information from Passport America Newsletter.

Three manufacturers issued recalls that will affect more than 9,000 RVs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Forest River, which reported a recall of 1,734 Shasta units last week, recalled 5,374 of its 2009-16 Forest River Cherokee and Vengeance RVs due to an insufficient ground wire for the wiring harness supplying power to the trailers’ lights, electric brakes, battery charging and interior 12V fixtures.

With an insufficient ground wire, the wiring harness may overheat, increasing the risk of fire. Additionally, the ground wire failure would result in the loss of the trailer’s external lights and electric brakes.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the trailer wiring harnesses, and upgrade the ground wires, as necessary. The recall is expected to begin Nov. 18.

Owners may contact Forest River’s customer service number at 1-260-593-4005. Forest River’s recall number is 17B-0918-2015-0090.

Keystone RV recalled 3,585 of its 2008-09 Big Sky, Challenger, Everest, Fuzion, Montana and Raptor travel trailers and fifth wheels due to a faulty transfer switch.

The switch, an IOTA ITS-50R, was used in vehicles wired for generator power, may fail when exposed to high electrical loads or elevated temperatures, increasing the risk of fire.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the IOTA ITS-50R transfer switch with a different brand transfer switch. The recall is expected to begin today (Oct. 5). Owners may contact Keystone customer service by calling 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 15-234.

Spartan Motors is recalling 550 of its 2010-13 Spartan K3 and MM motor home chassis due to a flexible exhaust tube that may tear, allowing hot exhaust to blow against other components or materials.

Spartan will notify owners, and dealers will replace the flexible exhaust tube with an improved one. The recall is expected to begin in September. Owners may contact Spartan customer service at 1-517-543-6400. Spartan’s number for this recall is 15020.

TPMS Part 2

The installation of the TPMS involves, charging the unit (if required), coding the monitors to the location, mounting the monitors and then testing the configuration.  Total time, including reading the manuals was less than an hour.

My monitor came with a full charge.  Otherwise the manual says to plug it in for 15 minutes or so.  Speaking of which, read the manual.  You need to understand what you will be doing before you do it.  Some steps are time sensitive and the unit will reset if you don’t complete them in time.  Don’t worry, once you understand what has to be done, you have plenty of time to do it.

Kit 1

Kit 2

When you get your TPMS it has two sections of parts.  The top layer has the sensors and the monitoring unit.  The lower section has the instructions, mounting brackets, power cords, tools, screws, caps and mounting hardware for the monitor.

Setup is pretty simple.  You lay the sensor (one at a time) next to the monitor, press a button and it maps the sensor to the tire location.  Repeat for all of the tires.  All total this takes maybe 5 minutes.  This is an important step.  Placing a sensor on the wrong tire will give you a false reading.

After the sensors are configured, the system wants you to set up the alarm points.  High and low pressure are first based on each tire location.  This was the hardest section to do for me.  I had no idea what to set the high pressure at.  Low pressure was easy, I set it at 10 lbs below normal pressure.  I ended up looking at the tire side wall and finding the maximum pressure rating for the tire and added 10 lbs.  I left the temperature setting at 158 degrees F which was suggested in the manual.  You also select C or F.

Next you have to mount the sensors on each tire based on where they were recorded.  This takes some time as you also have to secure the sensor once mounted.  Security is an allen set screw.  In my case several of them were not able to be tightened and I had to remove them and put the set screw on the other side.  Each sensor has two locations for the set screw.  Of course Murphy dictated that over half of the set screws where on the wrong side.  You may also want to have a bottle of soap and water to make sure there are no air leaks.  My first tire had to use an extender (which I happen to have had laying around).  Of course the extender was bad and I had to use another one.  Another sensor wasn’t on tight and was leaking a little air.  Without the soap and water that tire would have gone flat.

Tire 1 Installation... problem tire

Tire 1 with the extender.

Tire 2 Installation

Tire 2 no extender needed.

With all of the sensors mounted, turn on the unit and wait, and wait and wait.  It takes about 15 minutes for the monitor to read all of the sensors.  As it finds a sensor it will display the pressure and temperature.  I knew from my pre-trip inspections that it was time to fill a couple of tires.  So I wasn’t surprised to see the tire pressure readings when the system had initialized.  The readings where close to what I got with a tire pressure gauge.   The sensors even showed a difference in temperature from the sun and shade effects.

Alarmed Low Pressure on Trailer

Shows an alarm for low pressure on trailer (different pressure settings)

Monitoring

Shows alarm condition for RV tire.  This was an inside rear tire reading in the shade.

Overall, I am happy with this setup.  It will save me some time on my inspections as well as peace of mind while traveling.  The alarms are hard to see and I will have my wife watch them along with the GPS and other co-pilot tasks.

The one complaint I have is that it takes 15 minutes or so after the unit powers up to find and register all of the tire sensors.  So this will become part of our pre-trip inspection which is done the day before we leave.  I normally check tire pressure prior to pulling out, but with this taking so long, it will be done the day before.

TPMS Installation

Today I received my tire pressure monitoring system from TST.  This article is about the installation process.  I ordered extra tire monitors for the tow dolly.  I did not order monitors for the car.

Part of my pre-departure inspection is to check tire pressure.  I wanted to add the TPMS to make sure we were aware of issues that happen while driving.  Granted I will be able to cut this one step out of the inspection, but the TPMS will add a level of comfort knowing that if there is a problem with the tires we should be made aware of it prior to a major issue.

I chose the TST model for a few reasons.  Our rig came with a TPMS from another company that did not have replaceable batteries and you had to remove them to check the pressure or fill the tires.  I wanted a unit that had replaceable batteries and that you could add air without removing the monitors.  In addition, I wanted to be able to monitor the tire temperature as this is often an indication of a problem before the tire blows.  I ordered my from Amazon as they had the best prices and I am a Prime member so shipping was free.

Continued in next article

 

Nitrogen vs Air in RV Tires

Tires do not carry the load of the RV.  That is a pretty bold statement isn’t it.  But it is true, it is the pressure in the tires that carries the load, the tire just provides the container for the pressure.  Proper pressure in the tire ensures that the load will be carried as required along with increasing the durability of the tire and contributing to fuel economy.

Compress air has been used for decades in tires.  It is cheap or free to use and is widely available at gas stations, tire stores and repair shops.  So why would we want to change?  Compress air often comes at a price that is not related to the cost of the air we put into our tires but to the damage that the air does.

Damage you say?  What damage?  Compressed air that you get at your local service station contains varying degrees of moisture and oil depending on the compressor and relative humidity.  Air also contains Oxygen which along with the humidity causes corrosion and oxidation.  The compressor oil and other contamination that the compressor puts into the condense air causes the rubber in our tires to break down.

Nitrogen on the other hand has a lot of benefits. First it is a dry gas.  Which means it does not support moisture that contributes to corrosion.  Next it reduces the loss of tire pressure due to loss through the rubber. Third, since we have removed oxygen from the tire and the moisture we reduce the corrosion within the tire assembly.

Both Nitrogen and air filled tires will change their pressure as the temperature increases or decreases, but they are basically the same amount (1 PSI/10 degrees F.).  So both should be checked in the morning before driving any distance.

How can you tell if your tires have been filled with Nitrogen?  The caps on the valve stems will be green.  But what if you need to add pressure to nitrogen filled tires and there isn’t some place close by, what should you do?  The primary factor here is the pressure in the tires.  Remember it is the pressure that is carrying the load. So if the pressure drops below the amount required to carry the load, fill the tires to the proper pressure with air if that is the only thing available.  When you can, have the tire recharged with nitrogen to maintain the benefits.

Maintaining the roof of the RV

Last week, I talked about cleaning the roof of the RV.  This week it will be inspecting and doing minor repairs of the roof.  Again, caution should be the word of the day.  If your rig does not have an attached ladder, do not climb on the roof, use a ladder to work your way around the roof as you inspect.

First we are going to look for any obvious signs of damage to the roof. If you have used water to clean the roof, look for any puddles where the water pools.  These are signs of potential issues and should be watched.  Sitting water has time to work its way into the roof even with very minor pin holes. You also want to look for any damaged or pealing sealant around the vents, antennas, fans and air conditioners.  Any place where there is a whole through the roofing material.

What to do if you find or suspect an area that should be patched.  First using the information from last week, make sure you know what kind of roofing material you have.  For the most part EDPM and Fiberglass will use the same materials.  You have the choice of tape or sealer.

Eternabond is a tape like product that is used to seal tears and cracks.  The only negative is that it can not be used over silicone.  So if you have any places that you used silicone to seal, it will have to be removed prior to applying the EternaBond tape.  EternaBond is available in widths up to 36 inches so it can be used to cover a large area.

Another product that can be use is a liquid sealer.  The most common type is a self leveling sealer that spreads out as you pour it.  This naturally is not good for areas around the edge of the rig as it will slide off the roof.  But for the flat areas it is good.  Use this sealer when you have openings where cables or holes that go through the roof.  EternaBond would have problems sealing these areas.

For metal roof repair you can use Quick-Roof.  This is similar to the EternaBond in that you peal off the backing and lay down a smooth flat piece (in this case aluminum paper).

Maintenance Tip of the Week, Roof Maintenance

I have decided to get my butt in gear and start writing again.  So this series is going to be about maintaining the RV.  The articles will be a basis for the fourth book in the Perfect RV series.  I have no time table on when it will be published, but probably not until next year.

I will try to keep these articles geared toward non-specific types of RVs, but will need to cover the drive trains at some point.  In general I will start on the roof and work my way down the rig until we get to the frame.

If there is a subject that is near and dear to your heart, please let me know.  In addition, I will tell you right now that I am a Certified Dri Wash and Guard Director.  When it comes to cleaning, I will be mentioning these products and will be happy to sell them to you if you ask 🙂  Hey, I am retired and besides all this writing, I still spend money now and then, so making some while on the road is a requirement.

So, with all of that out of the way, lets start this weeks article on the roof of the RV.  If your RV does not have a ladder attached, my word of advice is DO NOT GET ON THE ROOF!  If you have a pop-up, hybrid, small travel trailer etc the roof is not made to walk on.  Use a ladder to do the inspection and cleaning.

Lots of things work against your RV.  Acid Rain, wind, sun, trees, bird, bugs and the list goes on.  There are two very good reasons to inspect and clean your roof.  First is to remove the dirt and debris, second is to inspect for damage so it can be repaired before it does more damage to the RV.

To clean the roof you want to use a soft bristle brush.  Do not use a pressure washer.  High pressure can tear holes in the material as it gets older.  Next do not use household cleaners on the RV.  These contain alkali or ammonia which will damage the roofing material.  I recommend using either Dri Wash n’ Guard (DWG) Ultra-Ion Waterless Car Wash or Ultra-Ion Green Cleaner.  Both of these products can be used on any roof.

What kind of roof do you have?  There are three main types of roofing material used today.  Rubber (EPDM), Fiberglass and metal (mainly aluminum).  The most popular being EPDM.  Keeping an EPDM roof clean means less nasty looking black streaks down the side of the rig and a cooler interior.   Some words of advice.  NEVER USE a product that contains citric or petroleum distillates as part of the cleaning solution.  These will damage the EPDM material.  Over time EPDM roofs may appear to become chalky.  To protect the roof, clean it thoroughly and then applies a protection designed for the EPDM such as 303.  As the roof gets older you may have to do this several times a year.

Fiberglass cleaning is simple.  Wash and wax at least once a year.  DWG Waterless Car Wash does both in one step.  You can use any good car wash and wax product as well.  Make sure you dry the rig well and apply the wax per the manufacturers instructions.

Metal roofs come in either painted or unpainted versions.  If your roof is unpainted (Airstream), you do not want to use harsh chemicals, abrasive or solvent cleaners or anything that can scratch the surface.  Airstream’s are coated with a protective coating and should not be waxed.  Over time this protective coating will begin to fade, peel and discolor.  At that point it should be removed and a new coating applied.

Painted metal surfaces can be treated just like your automobile.  Wash and wax as needed.  Again the use of DWG Waterless Car Wash will wash, protect and shine in one step without water.

Well I think that is it for this week.  Next time we will look at some of the areas around the roof that you should inspect for damage and how to repair them.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Finding, Buying and Using the Perfect RV in Print

Hatfield, PA – July 9, 2015

According to RVIA.ORG, for 2014 there were more than 350,000 new RVs sold in the US which represents just 30% of all RV sales.  That means that in 2014 alone more than 1 million RV were sold.  RVIA.ORG also states that there are over 9 million RVs on the road today.  Finding, Buying and Using the Perfect RV takes the buyer from determining what is needed versus what is wanted and then choosing the Perfect RV for their situation.  Once the perfect RV is fund the book helps to determine if there are any underlying problems by walking the buyer through a comprehensive pre purchase inspection covering all major components of the RV. Finally, the author takes the new RV owner through the process of packing, weighing and using their new RV.  Making the process perfect from beginning to end.

Raymond Laubert is a Certified RV Inspector with the National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association (NRVIA).  He is also a 40 year camping veteran and currently traveling the USA on a full-time basis.  He has taken his experience and training with recreational vehicles and written an easy to understand book for those looking to buy their first recreational vehicle or upgrade to a different model.

“So many people today have no clue about buying this house on wheels.  Just like purchasing a house you need to learn about all of the ins and outs about finding, buying and using the RV. Unlike buying a house, there is no real estate agent to guide you, that is were this book comes in.  Helping you make your selection and reducing the chance of a lemon.”

Finding, Buying and Using the Perfect RV is available at http://rv-inspection-service.com/book-store for electronic versions or from Amazon for printed and Kindle versions.

Contact information:  Raymond Laubert, Author, rlaubertsr@gmail.com,
Removed from website publication
23 Pinewood Circle,
Hatfield, PA 19440

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