Category Archives: RV Articles

Articles written about RVs.

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).

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

###

 

Load Balancing the RV

This weeks article is on balancing the load of an RV.  Although it is mainly for the trailers, motorized RVs also have some limits.  So why should we worry about balancing an RVs load?  Well to start with, safety.  An unbalanced load is harder to pull, harder to control in emergency situations and in poorer weather.  In addition, it can put your vehicle in jeopardy.

The proper weight distribution is about 10 percent of the total trailer weight on the tongue of the trailer.  The way you pack the trailer will greatly effect this.  Too much weigh in the front and the tongue will be too heavy causing the tow vehicle to lift the front end, reducing steering capability.  To much weight in the rear will cause the tongue to lift taking weight off the rear axle and reducing your braking capabilities as well as traction.  Also too much weight in the rear will cause the trailer to sway side to side.  Even a light weight trailer in this condition can cause the vehicle to lose control and accidents can happen.

Now an equalizer hitch will help as it distributes the weight between the tow vehicle and trailer.  It works by transferring the weight from the tongue of the trailer to the front wheels for the tow vehicle.  But only to a point and only for front heavy loads on the trailer.  Rear heavy loads will still cause the sway and lifting of the rear end of the tow vehicle.

So how should you load the RV?  Start by placing the heavy items low in the RV.  Things like can foods, water, soda, beer, pots and pans, scuba gear 🙂 in the lower cabinets.  Put the lighter things up high, like left over potato chips, candy etc.  Also look at side to side weight distribution.  Place your tools on the opposite side of the rig from the propane tank.  Inside, distribute the weight from left to right as well.

Also remember weight is a major issue (Yes I know I harp on this a lot).  Your tires can only hold so much weight before they will blow out. Make sure they are properly inflated.

 

Good Sam Club

Getting an RV Inspection

Recreational Vehicles are a complicated and expensive piece of equipment.  They are our homes on wheels and as such have all the equipment we find in our homes plus some.  If you are a mechanic, you probably feel pretty comfortable about checking the chassis, engines, transmissions etc. but how about the heater, air conditioner, water and septic systems?  If your a builder you could take a good look at the construction, but you may be lost in the electronics.  None of us are trained in all areas of an RV and that is where an inspection by a certified RV Inspector comes in.

The inspection process takes a few hours and will provide the piece of mind that a home inspection brings when buying the house.  You get a third parties trained and certified opinion on the current condition and safety of the recreational vehicle.

If you want to do the inspection yourself, I would recommend that you read all of the articles here on RV Inspection Service and then read the Buying the Perfect RV book.  Once those are done, download the free inspection check list in the book store or you can find a Certified RV Inspector by going to NRVIA, just click this link

NRVIA Logo

Water Heater Maintenance Part 2 – Tankless Water Heaters

Maintenance of tankless propane water heaters is a little bit easier than their cousin the tank water heater that I covered before.  Some of the steps will be the same.  Such has removing power and propane prior to doing the cleaning.  Making sure the water is off and that you have a vacuum cleaner available.  The time frame for doing your cleaning will be the same and that would be prior to putting it into service for the first time in the camping season.  The reason being is that you want to make sure no critters or bugs have made it their home while it was in storage.
Start by inspecting the flue and hood areas.  Soot is a sign of incomplete combustion and if you find it start by cleaning everything in sight.  At this point if you haven’t found signs of bugs, then I would probably contact the repairman and have them check out the unit.  While you are in there cleaning, look for any signs of water leakage and give the pressure relief valve a quick open and close.  Unlike the tank systems, you won’t need to worry about pressure build up nor will you need to burb the tank to make sure you have the correct air bubble.
Now would be a good time to get some electrical contact cleaner like CRC and clean all of the power and electrical connections, including the battery for the RV.  When you are all done, it is time to turn on the water, fire up the unit and make sure everything is working as it should.  Then put your tools aware and enjoy the camping season.

Water Heater Maintenance Part 1

RV water heaters fall into several groupings.  There are propane only units, propane/electric units and diesel/electric units.  The diesel/electric units today are mainly from a company called Aquahot.  The other water heaters are sub-divided into tank-less and tank water heaters.  Tank-less water heaters are fairly new to the RV world and are made primarily by Girard and Precision Temp.  The most common water heater in recreational vehicles are the tank water heaters and come in 6 or 10 gal capacity.  Lower end units will be propane heat only and then the most common today is the propane/electric water heaters.

When it come to maintenance these articles will deal with what I call the user maintenance. That is maintenance that does not require special tools or equipment to perform and is listed as user maintenance in the manuals that come from the manufacturers.  This set of articles will be broken down based on the types of water heaters (Tank, Tank-less and AquaHot).  As with any maintenance, please review the requirements in the owners manual or contact the manufacturer.

Since the most common water heater used on RVs is the tank type, that will be the first one we will tackle.  First thing first is safety.  Prior to performing any maintenance of the water heater, turn it off and let the water cool before starting.  A good time to perform this maintenance is prior to the first trip of the year or when you de-winterize the unit.  To perform the maintenance you will need a vacuum cleaner, hand tools, water hose with a sprayer attachment that will fit into the water tank.  If your water heater is a Suburban model you may also need an Anode Rod, Atwood water heaters do not need the Anode Rod.

For the maintenance, start by vacuuming out the bugs and dirt.  Using the vacuum nozzle, clean out the burn tube.  Look for any areas of soot and clean them up as well.  Soot is an indication of incomplete burning normally caused by bugs in the burn tube.  Once the cleaning is done, put away the vacuum cleaner.  Examine the bug screen on the water heater door.  If you don’t have one, get one from the RV center near you.  You will need to know the type and model which should be on a sticker in the water heater area.  Now for the fun stuff.  Near the top of the water heater is a relief valve.  Open the valve!  It will release the pressure built up in the water heater and make the next step easier.  This also test the relief valve to make sure it opens.  Water may come out of the valve if the tank is over full, which is why you want the water cool before performing this task.

Now to clean out the water tank.  For this you will be removing either the Anode Rod or a plug at the bottom of the water heater.  Guess I should tell you that there is water behind this rod or plug and when it comes out so will the water.  So make sure nothing electrical is in the way and stand to the side if you didn’t wait for the water to cool so you don’t get burned.  Once the water has drained out, you will need to flush the tank.  Using the water hose and a wand nozzle rinse the tank as best you can.

With the Anode Rod out, inspect it to determine if it should be replaced.  Anode Rods are sacrificial, the steel tanks in the Suburban units have a tendency to rust due to corrosive chemicals in the water.  The Anode rod attracts those chemicals and sacrifices itself instead of the water tank.  You should replace the rod when it is half gone (compare it to a new rod).  You do not want to wait for the rod to dissolve completely before replacing it.  You could be damaging the tank in the mean time.  Atwood heaters are made of aluminum and do not suffer the same fate.

Once the tank is flushed, replace the rod or plug, leave the relief valve open and turn on the cold water.  Close the relief valve when water comes out as the tank fills.  Test the heater.  Turn on the propane tank, set the heater to propane mode and make sure the heater works.  Once that is done you can set the heater to your normal operating mode.

Next week I will talk about the tank-less water heater maintenance.