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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RV Roof Construction

I have a question about truss style rafter construction for my walk-on roof. I wish to run a cable through/across the rafters towards the front of my trailer. My question is how are these rafters made and most importantly are they hollow?  I am trying to accomplish this without any drilling through anything. It is a PacificCoachWorks trailer 2014. Bill M.

Bill, according to Pacific Coachworks, all PCW units have wooden roofing structural components, including their trussed-roofed trailers. It would be very difficult to route any conductor or cable though the roof. But because they have ducted air conditioning, it might be possible to snake a cable alongside the duct work, at least part of the way. Depending on what you’re installing and how far the run would extend beyond to two extreme ducts, of course. Though the sidewalls are constructed using hollow aluminum tubing, the rafters are all solid wood, unfortunately.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

RVShare & RVing Accessibility Group

Dear Readers...The RV Industry has a long history of being a proponent of RVing for literally everyone who wishes to enjoy the RV lifestyle. Though this article was originally published back in March, it's worthy of another mention here. Kudos to RVShare and RVAG! Enjoy!

RVShare teams up with group to provide RVs for physically-challenged 

Photo courtesy of North Trail RV
Legal News Reporter

The ability to take an excursion to one of America’s many campgrounds in an RV is something many people take for granted. But for the physically challenged, there are serious obstacles to embarking upon such a trip starting with the fact that there are few RVs for rent that can meet the needs of this group. But now a unique partnership between Fairlawn, Ohio-based RVShare and the nonprofit organization RVing Accessibility Group, Inc. (RVAG) is offering a solution to this problem by connecting owners of accessible RVs with renters.

The two have different objectives, but they have one important thing in common, a love and appreciation for RVing. It was during a November 2014 trade show in Las Vegas that RVShare owners Mark Jenney, Joel Clark and Patrick Couch got their first glimpse of the uphill battle facing physically challenged individuals who want to take their vacations on the road.

“We stopped by RVing Accessibility Group’s booth and started talking about how a large portion of the country has accessibility needs and how there are few accessible RVs available for rent,” said Clark. “It really struck a chord with us since we aggregate all the RV rentals in the country.”

“Our group has been working hard to help make campgrounds accessible,” said Sabrina Thompson, an outdoor accessibility advocate and volunteer for RVing Accessibility Group. “While there are manufacturers that make accessible RVs, they are privately owned. Most people are not going to invest in buying an expensive vehicle without first deciding how they feel about RVing so we are trying to make it easier for people to find rentals so they can have the same chance to fall in love with RVing as those without physical challenges.”

“Renting an accessible RV is hugely frustrating,” said Kevin Hansen, president of World Wheelchair Sports in Eugene, Oregon. Hansen broke his neck in a skiing accident in 1975 and is now in a wheelchair. As someone who enjoys the outdoors, he has been trying to get his wife to take a trip with him in an RV to see how she feels about it. The problem is, there is never anything available, or if there is a vehicle, it may require a cross-country trip just to pick it up. “This is beginning to change,” said Hansen. “I think a site like RVShare is long overdue since it is filling an important need. I also think that any place that rents or sells RVs should have at least one accessible vehicle available. It makes good business sense.”

Cheri Fiducia, RV rental manager at Guaranty RV in Junction City, Oregon, said she has received a number of calls from people interested in ability-equipped coaches. She said she has ordered an Itasca Sunstar accessible RV. The vehicle is expected to arrive in the middle of June and reservations are being taken for July. “People who are not able to walk on their own may need features like a power roll-up door, a power lift, roll-in shower, lower shelves and switches as well as doors that are wide enough for a wheelchair,” said Fiducia. “They cannot rent just any RV.” “Our owner is very active
Photo courtesy of Guaranty RV
within the accessibility community,” said Marshall White, marketing director at Guaranty RV. “He has a disability himself so it is very important to him to provide freedom of mobility to a wide range of guests.” White said as the baby boomers age they will be looking for vehicles that meet various assistance needs. “Even if they are not in a wheelchair, they may need handrails or walk-in showers. Those dealers that meet their needs will reap the financial benefits.”

Finding an accessible RV is only one part of the equation; the other is the campground itself. Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy for the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, said his trade association works with members to help them understand and comply with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  “We have developed a self-evaluation form for Readily Achievable Barrier Removal for Priorities 1 through 4 and the recreational checklist for swimming pools, wading pools and spas,” said Sims. Priority number one is the approach and entrance, followed by access to goods and services, toilet rooms and additional access, he said. “Not everything on the list is readily achievable but we encourage members to have a transition plan in place.” In terms of making campgrounds accessible, he said owners have to start at square one from the moment the person pulls into the park’s entrance, attacking the accessibility issues each step of the way, including the office, store, pool, playground, common areas and restrooms. “People think that as long as a restroom is near the campsite, it is accessible,” said Sims. “But there is more to it. The person must be able to get through the door with the wheelchair and fit into the stalls.” Some things, such as making the trails available, are even more challenging he said.

Sims said in 2011 the United States Department of Justice set a mandatory deadline of March 15, 2012 for owners to install pool lifts. “The law says that the adjustments must be readily achievable, which means they can be accomplished without much difficulty or expense. “A number of campgrounds have made the change but some of the smaller ones, which have limited revenue, are developing compliance plans for the future. Technically ADA campsites are not currently mandated to make public accommodations under Title III of the ADA.”

Sims said this will happen in the future but the industry is doing its best to embrace the changes now based on the United States Access Board’s new Standards for Outdoor Developed Areas. He said these standards currently only apply to national parks and other outdoor areas developed by the federal government. However, Sims said the U.S. Access Board intends to develop guidelines for non-federal outdoor sites covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act under Title III.
The reason for getting a jumpstart on the requirements now is simple, he said, “We are an outdoor hospitality industry and we want to ensure that all people can enjoy the outdoors.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Voltage Monitor Gone Awry

I have an issue with my Xantrex panel. When I plugged in the motorhome, all the panel lights for the charging sequence strobe and still strobe.  I have attached a movie to show you what I'm talking about. I also saw that the house batteries were showing 6 volts at the time. I really do think my batteries, four 6-volt batteries are bad as they do not hold a charge long at all. Could this strobing be from the batteries being shot and needing replacing? Doug K., (Redmond, WA)


Doug, Xantrex is aware of this problem and has released new software in the remote control unit. The problem happens with the older remote panels when the DC voltage dips momentarily, causing the processor to try to quickly track which LEDs should be illuminated on the display. Evidently it was searching too quickly and it basically confused itself! The newer remote re-tracks every three seconds which enables it to lock onto the correct sequence better. Replace the remote with a new device and it should be rectified. It might run through that rapid sequence once or so, but it will eventually fix itself rather quickly. Your local dealer can probably order one for you or you can also contact Xantrex directly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Slideout Valve Leaking

I own a 2011 Cedar Creek Silverback 5th Wheel Model 29 RE. I am leaking hydraulic fluid from the slideout selector valves (Triple Hydraulic Slide-Out Room IRC Assembly). My dealership tells me that I need to replace the entire assembly at a cost of $173.09 per valve. Is there another way to fix this? Please advise. Raymond S., (Cinnaminson, NJ)

Raymond, you can purchase the entire assembly directly from Lippert and save a bunch. Here’s the order page from their website.

You’d still have installation costs, but it shouldn’t be too much to replace the entire assembly as a unit I don’t believe individual components are available since they test and verify each assembly as a completed unit. There would be no way to guarantee the parts and pieces individually since it relies so much on installation/repair techniques of the technician. Plus I’m a firm believer in the safety factor as well. It's better to get the whole assembly, tested as complete.


Friday, April 24, 2015

RV Battery Charging at Home

Hey Doc, I have bought two six volt batteries. My problem is that I have to store the trailer in a lot with no access to electricity. So I bring the batteries home to be charged. My question is what battery charger should I purchase to recharge at home. Also what amp should I use to recharge. Thanks and I always enjoy your presentations in Seattle. Mike A.

Mike, it’s probably better actually, to bring those batteries home to charge. That way you can monitor the charging process and keep a watchful eye on the electrolyte much easier. Simply connect the two batteries in series (one cable running from the positive post of one battery to the negative post on the other battery, and simply use any applicable battery charger to the other two posts. In this diagram, the battery charger would be connected to the same terminal posts as the two loose cables.

To fully charge both batteries, I recommend a multi-stage battery charger (such as the Xantrex TrueCharge2) and remember to never overcharge them beyond the gassing point. A computer-controlled battery charger will accomplish that automatically. The charger should be sized C/5; meaning, divide the total amp-hours of the battery bank and divide it by 5. That would be the recommended minimal charging unit required. As an example, two six-volt batteries in series would yield approximately 225-amp-hours. Divided by 5 = a 45-amp battery charger would suffice. I would recommend a 50-amp charger in case your batteries can store a little more than that.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

RV Open Road Magazine Debuts

Dear Readers! I just received my copy of Open Road Magazine and as you can see, I'm thoroughly enjoying this new, richly-filled periodical. Published by Lippert Components, the premier issue is chock full of helpful information for all RVers from lifestyle pieces, to RV maintenance tips, along with details about some of the latest innovative upgrade products all RVers should consider.

Here’s a sampling of some of the articles you’ll enjoy in the current issue:
  •  10 steps to get your RV road ready – by Ray Burr
  •  Everybody does it, RV waste management tips – by Emily Fagan
  •  Cooking across America – by Rachel Purdy
  •  Top 5 apps for RVers – by Chris Guld
  •  The ultimate comfort solution – by Michael Pelchat
I've also contributed with my very own "RV Doctor’s Orders" Q&A column, which contains questions from RVers that only appear in RV Open Road Magazine.

And the best news! RV Open Road Magazine is FREE! You can pick up a copy at any of LCI's preferred RV dealers across the country, or you can sign up and receive your very own digital copy by simply clicking the button directly below. If your local dealership does not have the magazine in stock, let Lippert know. Their list of dealers will be expanding as more of them find out about this fantastic resource.

And keep in mind, RV Open Road Magazine wants to hear from you, the active RVers. Be sure to send them ideas for future articles you'd like to see. Remember, RVing is more than a hobby, it's a lifestyle! Enjoy it!

Click Here for a Digital Copy of RV Open Road!

Monday, April 20, 2015

TV Shelf Removal

Hi Gary, I enjoy the reference material that your site has accumulated. We own a 2002 Komfort 23-foot travel trailer. In the Master bedroom there is a small corner shelf that an old CRT-type TV sits upon. My wife is always hitting her head on this shelf. I would like to remove it and install a flat panel TV on the wall. I can't figure out for the world how to go about removing it. I am not sure if the trim that runs along the outer edge if removed will show long screws, or if it is attached through the outer wall before it is skinned? There are no visible attaching mounts. I and my wife hope you can help me. Thanks for your time! Ed S., (no city/state)

Ed, I believe you are correct; that the shelf was likely installed prior to the installation of the exterior siding of the coach. The screws probably run from the outside, through the interior paneling and into the shelf. It is possible to cut through the mounting screws between the shelf and the interior panel, but there is a risk the panel will be damaged. A good technician with a careful hand and sharp tool should probably be able to accomplish the task easier. Because of the risk of water intrusion, I would advise against removing any of the exterior components. And even when the attaching screws are cut and the shelf removed, you’ll still need to hide the remaining screw holes and any other evidence of the shelf. Unless, the new flat screen will effectively hide them. Of course, you can always put the pillow at the other end of the bed, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t be a real option!. And probably not one to suggest to your wife!

Monday, March 23, 2015

RV Battery Capacity Question

Hey Doc, will two, T-105, 6-volt batteries be able to crank over and start a generator on a toy hauler? Frank C., (no city/state) 

Indeed and with plenty to spare Frank! But I assume you mean two, charged batteries, right? Two dead batteries of any make would have trouble. But Trojan T-105s are often used to provide DC power to a whole RV. That’s almost 450-plus amp-hours of storage capacity when configured into a 4-battery, series/parallel set-up and around 220-250 amp-hours when two are simply connected in series. If that generator won't crank, there's something else amiss. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Elusive Water Leak

I really enjoyed your training sessions at the Seattle RV Show. I need some suggestions from you. I have a 2007 Navion that I purchased recently. It had a wet spot on the ceiling on the driver's side above the shower. The dealer took it back but couldn't find the leak so they re-caulked all around the skylight and the rear terminator cap. They ran leak tests for three hours and said it didn't leak. They then dried everything out and removed the small stain. This was two weeks ago. Today I felt up there and it is damp again. I will take it back to them, but am worried they won't be so gracious about fixing it. Where would you suggest I have them start to find this leak? Could it be leaking in one of the lights? If they aren't helpful, is there someone you would suggest I take it to. Thank you very much for your help and suggestions. It is appreciated. Donna, (Western WA)

Donna, with so many items attached to the exteriors of RVs water leaks are some of toughest to diagnose and find the entry point(s). There’s truly only one guaranteed method of finding water leaks in an RV. It’s by using the SealTech method. 

Watch this little 3-minute video and you’ll see why.

I’m not sure if your particular dealer has a SealTech machine, but they should! SealTech publishes a list of all companies that have purchased one of their machines. It looks like there is a repair facility in Centralia that has one, but for everyone's benefit, here’s the updated and official SealTech list:

And as I mention in that little video, once water gains entry, it could flow anywhere before it is actually discovered. So I believe SealTech is the best way to go. It’s then up to the expertise of the shop to seal the leak properly. Obviously your dealer wasn't as thorough as they thought they were! 


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Where To Connect Fresh Water Filter/Purifier

I am new to the RV world and have a question. Should our water filter go between the faucet and the hose, or between the hose and the RV? Or, does it not matter? Thanks, Debi (no city/state)

Welcome to the world of RVs Debi! Believe it or not, this question comes up more often than you'd think. From a water flow perspective, it really doesn't matter. But I subscribe to the thought that it’s best to place an in-line filter or purifier as close to the water source as possible, typically right at the campground spigot. That way you are protecting the hose itself, as well as the fresh water demand system in the RV. Oftentimes it’s near impossible to drain all the water from the hose, and over time, contaminates could gather in a stored hose and then be forced directly into the system the next time you hook up. 

Additionally, it’s wise to connect both ends of the coiled hose together prior to storing it in the rig. And it's always beneficial to carry an adjustable city water pressure regulator as you travel too.

Monday, March 9, 2015

New RVing Blog! - RV Open Road!


Hey RVers! I'm happy to announce a new RVing blog! Take a look at  RV Open Road! 

Published by Lippert Components, Inc., this new interactive blog features, not only never-before-seen RV Doc Q&As, but valuable RVing information from a host of RV experts, bloggers and authors.

I'll be posting regularly and LCI encourages you to comment, quip and suggest topics for future features for not only the blog, but for their new print magazine of the same name, RV Open Road Magazine.

As many of you know, the success of a blog, especially an RVing blog, is directly proportional to the amount of participation by its readers. So feel free to contact RV Open Road at any time regarding an idea, topic or product you'd like to see featured on the blog.

Look for the big green box on the left side of the home page to sign up for an email notice whenever a new blog post appears. Or simply click on the blue box below and do it now! And while you're on the blog, you might as well sign up for the web version of the upcoming RV Open Road Magazine. 

Have a technical question regarding your RV? You can write to me directly at RVdoctor@lci1.com with any questions or issues you may be having with your RV. I'll make every attempt to respond as quickly as possible. And your question just might appear as a post on RV Open Road! 

So I encourage you to take advantage of this new RVing resource today! Subscribe, submit and support, because RVing is more than a hobby, it's a lifestyle! 

Subscribe to RV Open Road Blog

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

RV Furnace Misunderstanding

In a recent RVtravel newsletter a lady states: "I am new to owning and living in an RV so I am not familiar with propane heat. I have read that propane heat also puts out moisture." I believe it may have been prudent to tell her that the propane furnace, being a closed system to the outside air, will have no affect on moisture within the RV.  (No name) 

Actually No name, fresh air is drawn from outside the RV into three of the four propane appliances to mix with the incoming fuel, including the forced air furnace. Yes, it has a sealed combustion chamber, but moisture can still be generated inside the fire box through that fresh air intake. I’ve replaced many RV furnace combustion chambers that have rusted through. All propane flames/burners require a mixture of air and gas in order to support combustion and all will create moisture. The primary air volume is drawn in from outside the coach. That’s why it’s important to have the furnace inspected each camping season. If a rusty hole is created, carbon monoxide (CO) can escape into the living areas of the RV.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The New LCI Online Parts & Accessories Store


Hey RV Doctor readers! For many months now I’ve had the pleasure of working with the fine folks at Lippert Components. Longtime provider of trailer frames, axles, pin boxes, stabilizers, levelers, slide-out systems, doors, windows and more to the RV industry, Lippert also offers many exciting upgrade accessories to the RV aftermarket! You've heard me say often, "Thank goodness for the aftermarket."

They have created a brand new online store open to every RVer, 24/7, making it easy to find those all-important replacement parts for many of the components on your RV. More importantly, you now can order any of their excellent RV accessories — like Waste Master — and have them ship directly to you. Check out their featured products on the home page or shop for specifics conveniently displayed by department on the left side of the page. I guarantee you’ll find something you simply cannot live without. I’ll even be highlighting some of my favorite products soon, so stay tuned! But do enjoy perusing all the products from one of the largest RV suppliers soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

RV Holding Tank Care

I think I've seen more words written about holding tank care and operation than any other single subject. Your discussion in a recent issue of Family Motor Coaching Magazine about cleaning black tanks was interesting and helpful. In the same issue, there was a description of an all-natural, microbial-based holding tank additive that, at least according to the maker, allows the microbes to digest waste such as proteins, oils, grease and paper, all the while preventing odor. If this product does what it says, when I know my motorhome is going to be out of service for a couple of weeks, why wouldn't I empty my black tank and then fill it up with water, dump in the appropriate amount of this product and let those microbes go to work? When I go back on the road, I empty the tank at my first stop and all the microbes and goop go down the drain, leaving me with a shiny, clean tank! There has to be something wrong with this concept but I don't know what it is. Rick C., (Bradenton Beach, FL) 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with your concept Rick. In fact, it is preferential. Bacteria-infused, enzyme-based tank additives can indeed help break down the solids and consume many of the odor-causing molecules at the root level. Keep in mind, however, it's not truly designed to clean the holding tanks. I’m not sure what brand of all-natural additive you saw, but the one I recommend is Pure Power Blue, sold by Valterra. While I’m not in favor of masking holding tank odors in hopes to not be distracted by them, (there are other aftermarket products available that truly eliminate sewer odors in the RV), I am all for letting the enzymes do the dirty work (excuse the pun!). Masking the odor is considered a band-aid where live bacteria actually perform better in the long run. If you’ve been using caustic chemicals or bleach or other bacteria-killing additives, it might be necessary to first “season” the holding tank to create a livable environment that encourages the good bacteria to be effective. So it may take a couple of flushings to be rid of the chemicals. Read the instructions on the container carefully. Most will come in liquid or solid form. Personally, I feel the liquid additive (at least with Pure Power Blue), works fastest. See my review of PPB here. But you’re spot on with your idea. 

By the way, my wife and I grew up in Bradenton and still have relatives there so we visit often. We always go to the Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant on Anna Maria Island for lunch every time we visit. Can't beat their grouper sandwiches!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

I'm trying to find out what I have to do in order to fix this power issue. When I last parked my trailer I plugged it into a 50 amp shore power source. Then while trying to raise the power jacks in order to unhook the truck, the switch wouldn't work. It was like there was no power at the switch. So I clicked the battery power switch on in order to use the battery power. It worked fine but after raising the trailer I noticed and smelled smoke. It was like a burning electrical smell. I opened the door for the garage and it was full of smoke. After the smoke cleared I'm pretty sure the smoke was coming from the electric motor that raises and lowers the power jacks. After this I started looking into the problem further and noticed one of the electric breakers that controls the power converter was tripped off and it would not stay reset. Then I unplugged from the 50 amp and with the plugin adapter plugged into 30 amp shore power. That seemed to fix everything and I've been running it that way since (about 3 weeks). I have the trailer for sale and don't want to sell it without fixing this issue. Please point me in the right direction. I don't want to call an RV repair dealer because I've been ripped off by them before. Thanking you in advance... Gary S., (Lisbon, OH)

Gary, with all the accoutrements that come with a coach that large, the 12-volt power demand is huge. Some manufacturers fail to let their customers know about the vital importance of having enough battery power to operate all things 12-volt. Plus that battery disconnect switch must be off in order to have 12-volts distributed throughout the coach. I’m not sure how many batteries are in your bank, but it’s doubtful the full load of those landing jacks lifting that much weight can be adequately provided by the converter/charger alone. There may be something internal to the converter that is not allowing it to fully charge the battery bank, but the symptom suggests a low amount of voltage in the batteries. When connected to 30-amp shore power, is the converter still in operation? With less power available, it’s possible the converter/charger is not being powered by 120-volts AC from the shore line at 30-amps service. If you send me the brand and model of the converter, I can delve deeper into that device.

Another thing some RV makers fail to understand is the negative side of the DC system. Be sure the negative cables are greater than or equal to the size/amperage rating of the positive cables. The high current demand of the landing jacks under load could have overheated the motor by a lack of proper grounding. If possible, fully charge the battery bank independently of the converter/charger and see if the jacks operate normally. If so, we can focus attention to the converter itself.

With 50-amp service and the converter operational, is there a voltage increase, as measured at the battery bank? It’s possible the converter is undersized for the 12-volt demands of the entire coach. Adding the high current demand of those landing jacks possibly overheated the motor causing it to smoke. Typically they are protected by an internal breaker so hopefully no internal damage exists. Have you noticed other 12-volt devices with problems? Dim lighting, slow fan speed on the furnace, low water pressure from the pump, etc.? If other devices exhibit problems, I’d focus on the ground cables and all connections, plus the state of charge of the batteries.

Loose connecting points can also cause overheating and smoke. If the problem is dedicated to only the powered landing jacks, then it could be a problem with the jack motor or possibly the converter. Another question; do you have a power management load center? One that sheds loads if power consumption is exceeded? When operating on 30-amp service, some devices cannot operate unless the management load center can make that decision based on load requirements. Sounds confusing, I know. But until we have some specifics about the individual components, we're just guessing.

Send me the specs on the converter/charger and the landing jacks, and how many and what type of batteries are in the battery bank and I’ll dig further. There’s a logical explanation in there somewhere.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fluctuating Line Voltages in Motorhome

I have 2013 Endeavor 43RFT. The Power Control System Central Monitor Panel is showing that the L1 and L2 voltages are fluctuating 3-volts every one to five seconds, (e.g. 118v then 121v then 118 then 121 etc.). Per Monaco Help Line, I have tightened all the screws in the distribution panel and in the transfer switch. This occurs whether I am on shore power or generator (but not when inverting). Monaco Help Desk could not offer any other help, how about you? My inverter is a Magnum MS-2812 and the transfer switch is SurgeGuard 41260. Jim L. (Huntsville, TX area)

Jim, this particular transfer switch does not contain any electronic components and is reliable, so we can rule out any problem with that device. And your inverter likely produces a purer sine wave than that off the grid, so that leaves only the coach loads as the possible suspects since you’ve already addressed the connections (be sure you've checked and tightened them all). The next thing to do is to isolate the problem to a specific circuit, then locate the culprit component within that circuit. 

Start by powering up the coach (either by shore power or generator), and turning the branch circuit breakers off completely. Monitor the voltage with all the branch circuits disengaged; the voltage should not be fluctuating at this point (if it is, there's likely a problem with the source voltage itself). Then turn on each breaker one at a time and allow the voltage to stabilize. If the voltage begins fluctuating after turning on a specific breaker...that’s the circuit with the problem.

Next determine which component(s) that circuit is powering. It will likely be something equipped with an overload device that automatically resets such as the heating element in the water heater. Something is causing the current usage to fluctuate, which results in the voltage variances. If you cannot locate the specific component within that circuit, a voltage drop test can be performed to determine exactly where the current leakage is occurring. It could simply be worn insulation on a conductor somewhere if it’s not the actual “load” causing the fluctuation. Unfortunately, it is best left to a professional electrician, one with an understanding of RV electrical systems, to dig beyond this point.

You might want to refer to the coach wiring schematic to determine which components are on each circuit as a guide and have each component tested independently. Even though it may take a Certified RV service technician, the current leakage or fluctuation cause has to be there somewhere! It's pretty much a divide and conquer troubleshooting process.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Keep RV Tires on a Firm Foundation

Love your articles and I have learned so much from you. I have a 2013 Itasca. Being relatively new it does have hydraulic stabilizers which do level it, but right now it is parked in my driveway which has an incline to the road. I want to be able to use if when family comes to visit, but I am trying to figure out how to get it level. The front is probably sitting 10” to 12“ lower than the back. I was told, or read in the manual for the stabilizers, that you should never lift the RV up so high that the tires leave the ground. So I don’t think I can use them to level it. I saw your article about making ramps out of treated 2” lumber and wondered if you thought that would work for me? I would probably have to use six,  2x10 pieces, each a little longer than the first. Also, is it better to raise the front end or the rear? I assume the front since there is only one set of tires. Thanks so much for your help. (Carol B.)

 Carol, indeed those tapered leveling blocks are your best bet. As well as raising the front axle only. Never allow the tires to leave the ground, especially the rear tires. The emergency brake must be engaged and the transmission in Park, both of which affect the drive axle, so keep those rear tires on the ground.


Send me a picture once you build the blocks. Above is a shot of another reader’s set-up. Notice the “stop” block on the very top. Don’t risk running off the top block and damaging sidewall or frame components.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Product Spotlight: H2Out Dehumidifiers

Dear RV Doctor, I am new to owning and living in an RV so I am not familiar with propane heat. I have read that propane heat also puts out moisture. What is the best way, easiest and most economical, to handle moisture and condensation in an RV? Thanks! Jacki

Hey Doc, I have a 25-foot RV with a new 13,500 btu air conditioning unit. The problem is at night time the humidity level is high, over 80%, with the temperature around 70-degrees. What should I do? Dustin

Well Jacki and Dustin, it's true any gas-fired burner emits moisture (propane, natural gas, etc.), as well as rooftop air conditioners. And indeed moisture can be problematic in and around any RV. There are a multitude of desiccants commercially available that can help reduce moisture accumulation and I've experimented with many over the years since pervasive moisture/condensation have been a never-ending battle for RVers in most climates. 

I recently completed a test of a renewable dehumidifier that uses no electricity and does not require messing dumping of the water it collected. It's called H2Out. The nice thing is that it is available in varying sizes/capacities making it the perfect companion for RV travelers. And since there is no water collecting there's no fear of spillage as you travel up and down hills in the RV. And the best part; it works!

The H2Out is comprised of silica gel modules as opposed to solid silica clay particles. Silica gel can absorb up to one third its own weight. And each H2Out dehumidifier contains thousands of gel beads encased in a stainless steel canister that is easily stored, used and renewed. Renewed properly periodically, each canister will likely last the life of your RV.

The gel beads are normally blue in color and turn to pink as they absorb the moisture in the air. Depending on the size of the canister, they should easily last 30-60 days before needing renewing. At least that's what their literature stated. I ran my tests for a full 90 days just to see what would happen. 

For my review of the SD309, I first ran a three-month test of an unheated space, unprotected by a dehumidifier. I measured the humidity and temperature extremes during this benchmark test. I then placed the H2Out in the same space for another 90 days and measured both extremes again.

Here are the overall results:

Without Dehumidification                                     With the H2Out in Place
Temperature Extremes: 68 - 79-degrees                Temperature Extremes: 54 - 81-degrees
Humidity Extremes: 31 - 43%                                  Humidity Extremes: 24 - 69%

The test was performed in Seattle, WA where the moisture content can vary drastically over the course of the year. Clearly the H2Out obtained the lowest humidity measurement. The benchmark test was performed from late spring to early summer (May - July). The time period for the H2Out test ran from July to September.

The beads began turning slightly pink within a week, which is normal since the moisture is absorbed from the outside to the inside. After 90 days, it was clear it was time to recharge the canister. I'm convinced I would have gotten better results had I recharged the H2Out at the recommended 60-day mark. 

The renewing process is quite simple if you have an electric oven, (uh...don't place the stainless steel canister in a microwave!). It was a little more detailed with my gas cooktop. Do read the recharging instructions carefully! My test canister is now back in my controlled space to see how it performs during a 60-day run of a NW winter.

I am convinced the H2Out is quite worthy of its stout price since it will literally last for years with proper renewing. At the suggestion of Marilyn at Ken Murphy Associates, I plan to place an SD106 in my refrigerator. Though it's probably harder to quantify since I'll not record measurements, I'm informed it works wonderfully inside the food compartment of any absorption refrigerator.

I'd recommend readers visit the H2Out website and read through the informative pages. Though more costly than other, higher maintenance dehumidifiers, I feel serious RVers need to at least check it out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Propane Pigtails Needed

I'm replacing a pair of 12" propane pigtails as shown in one of your earlier posts. The only problem is I don't want to buy garbage. The last set lasted just under a year. What brands should I consider? Patrick, (Austin, TX)

 Patrick, I'm a big fan of Marshall propane products made right here in the USA. I'd avoid any and all imported propane components. It's my opinion that they are less than stellar in quality and quality control. According to the Marshall catalog, those pigtails come in the following lengths: 12, 15, 18, 20, 24, 30, 36, 48 and 60 inches. Here's an 18-inch version I found on Amazon. 

But you'll want the green QCC ACME nut on one end and I would guess either a 1/4-inch inverted flare or a threaded male pipe connector on the other end. However, they are available with a myriad of fittings on the regulator end should yours be anything different. You can check out the website and download their catalog right here. Any local RV service center or accessory store should be able to order a set for you if you'd rather buy in person.

Keep in mind, neither the green ACME hand nut nor the inverted flare fitting requires a sealant, but if the regulator end you need is MPT (male pipe thread), you'll definitely need a sealant applicable to flammable gases. Many RVers mistakenly use white Teflon tape as the sealant. The white tape is not compatible with propane gas. The yellow tape, however, is. 

To see what goes on inside those pigtails, check out this earlier post.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winterizing and Electrical Questions

I recently purchased a 2007 R-Vision Trailite RV. I live in Iowa and am trying to winterize it but when I put the RV antifreeze in, I can’t get it to circulate throughout the system. Am I doing something wrong or do you think I have a bad pump? The owner’s manual has very sparse information. I also have a couple of plug-ins that don’t have any juice. Do you happen to know where I can get an electrical diagram for this camper? Thanks! Bill A. 

Bill, the easiest way to induce the RV anti-freeze into the system is to pour a couple gallons directly into the fresh water tank and allow the 12-volt pump to pump it through the system. Are you saying your water pump won’t operate at all? You can also empty the tank, disconnect the hose leading to the water pump inlet and insert that hose into a bottle of RV anti-freeze, but that still requires the RV’s water pump. There are also kits available that attach to the kitchen faucet where you can “back fill” the system using a manual hand pump. Some RVs are equipped with a "tee" fitting and valve located between the tank and pump that permits a short section of hose to be inserted directly into the bottle of RV anti-freeze. These types of kits can easily be added after the fact. Some even come equipped with a separate, permanent tank for the anti-freeze. Let me know if you are experiencing a water pump issue. But if it pumps water, it will pump anti-freeze.

I’m assuming the “plug-ins” you refer to are 120-volt AC receptacles. If all the circuit breakers are turned on and you do have power at other receptacles, check the GFCI mounted in the lavatory or galley. It’s likely tripped and is protecting more than just that receptacle. Simply push the reset button and then check those other receptacles. GFCI’s are usually configured to protect the bathroom and/or galley circuit PLUS all other receptacles installed downstream of that one.

Personally I do not have source for an electrical diagram (if one even exists). R-Vision does, however, have an active club online at this website. But alas, you must be a member to search the forum. I'd suggest you join that organization and see if any of the members have access to the diagram you are looking for. Individual brand RV clubs are great sources of information, from owner to owner. Almost certainly you'll gain additional help from that group.


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