Category Archives: General RV Knowledge

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 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.

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.

 

RV Detailing Business

Time to ask for help!

Your help spreading the word would be greatly appreciated!

As you may know I have taken a lot of the information I have posted on RV Inspection Service (http://rv-inspection-service.com) along with my background as a Certified RV Inspector and have written a book called Finding, Buying and Using the Perfect RV.  This book is now in print and available on Amazon (http://goo.gl/ch7Oi8) and other sites.

However, I need to raise some money to purchase printed copies for marketing.  My goal is to raise $1250.  I have a campaign running on Indiegogo.com (http://igg.me/at/RVBook) to help raise this money as being retired military and on Social Security doesn’t leave much extra sometimes.

This is donation based.  Your help in spreading the word would be greatly appreciated.  If you could post something with the Indiegogo link (http://igg.me/at/RVBook) on your Social Media pages that would help spread the word and help me meet my goal.

Thank you for your help.

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.