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Monday, July 28, 2014

Winterize Using A "Schrader Valve?"

I have been hearing about dry winterizing a motorhome using a "Schrader valve" and blowing the water out using an air compressor set on 20-PSI, plus putting some of the pink stuff in the kitchen sink, bath sink and shower drains only. Is this a good idea? If so, how do I find the Schrader valve and where do I install one? Bobbie V., (Florissant, MO)

Bobbie, the device you are seeking that incorporates a Schrader valve is called a blowout plug. It has the air inlet valve (Schrader valve), on one end and a male hose fitting on the other end. Mine is made out of milled aluminum, but I've seen brass blowout plugs as well as inexpensive plastic blowout plugs. I do recommend the metallic type. 

The blowout plug attaches directly to the city water inlet hose connection, but only temporarily; it isn’t a permanent installation. Clean compressed air is then forced into the system to expel the water through the faucets and low point drain locations. It’s the quickest way to rid the fresh water system of water. Professional shops use them all the time while performing winterizing procedures or when any time an RV is going to be stored for any length of time. 

As you drain the fresh water tank and water heater, attach the blowout plug to the city water inlet. Open all faucets plus the hot and cold low level drain valves and then inject clean air. You can certainly apply more than 20-PSI since the entire piping system is pressure-tested at 80-PSI at the factory. And since all the faucets and valves will be open, it will be safe and quicker to use 80-PSI. Be sure it is clean air! Like I tell my seminar attendees, this is your fresh water system! Avoid using gas/filling station air or any air from a compressor equipped with a tank. The chance of contamination is greater if the compressor has a storage tank. 

In addition, pour a 1/4-cup of RV anti-freeze down each drain to fill the P-traps and you should be set for winter or any period of non-use. You can purchase a blowout plug at any RV dealer or service center’s parts and accessories department and many websites online. 

##RVT765 and RVT 863

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Which Fuel Tank is Which?

On my older Pace Arrow motorhome (gas), which tank is the main fuel tank? The front or the back? When the dash switch is in the main position, the motorhome will run for about ten minutes, then die. I’ve changed the fuel pump, but I’ve got the same problem. What now? J.R. 

J.R., my first question is how old, exactly, is your Pace Arrow? In the 80's and 90's, Fleetwood typically designated the "main" fuel tank as the one that came with the chassis. It was usually the one centered between the frame rails. The auxiliary tank is most likely situated to one side or the other, depending on the floor plan. The main tank is usually the larger of the two containers as well. But your problem may not be in the fuel containers. The older Pace Arrows had an electric switchover valve that enabled you to choose which tank to operate from; hence your dash switch. If the solenoid portion of the valve becomes faulty, or the passage way blocked, you'll be unable to switch between tanks. Have a technician test this device. It will be located on one of the side frame rails and have either three or six fuel hoses attached to it. Many RVers have added an auxiliary12-volt fuel pump to help get fuel from the main tank up and to the carburetor. Also, some fuel tanks had an internal pump that can also fail. I've always favored the outboard type that can be easily serviced. But, you do need to have fuel getting through that changeover valve before it reaches the engine.

Hope this helps! If not, send me the actual year and model of your Pace Arrow. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Broken Anode - Revisited w/Comment

I don’t have a question, but rather a comment on an earlier response to a question regarding leaving a broken anode in a water heater. The anode in the water heater in an old coach of mine disintegrated and left a pile of a coarse "sand" in the tank that got sucked into the system. It got into the toilet flush line and plugged the filter very frequently and was a raging pain in the neck. And it was very difficult to clean out. A long and tedious job. I don't think I'd want that portion of anode in my tank after that awful experience. Larry B. (Silver City, NM)

I agree Larry; it would be far better to remove that remnant of the anode, but unfortunately, there's really no easy way (if any), to accomplish that task. If I had to answer that question again, I would further recommend that the owner flush out the water heater every month as a precaution. I did allude to that in my earlier response. That, and possibly add a KDF-type filtration system to remove the finer particles that may exit the heater. I am perplexed, however, at how something isolated solely to the hot side of the fresh water system migrated to the toilet. If anything, you'd expect that "sand" to be expelled out through a hot faucet. Or simply lie dormant on the bottom of the water heater tank until flushed out through the drain. But your advice is well-taken. Experience is often the best teacher!

Friday, July 11, 2014

More RV Electrical Info

After attending several RV shows and joining you for a few RV Doctor seminars, my wife and I have purchased a Fifth Wheel (a 2010 Peterson Excel Winslow. We are very happy that we did our homework and now have a high quality RV that will hopefully last many years.

 My first maintenance related question is electrical. I have purchased a Progressive Industries 50-amp surge protector that plugs in at the pedestal and has a digital readout of voltage, amps being used, cycles and error codes. It will trip the power to the RV if power has the wrong polarity, and has several other features to protect the RV. 

At the Seattle RV show, you said it was a necessity to have a non-contact proximity tester, but with my surge protector, I think I am covered. Please confirm. I will probably pick up a Fluke volt meter for general usage.

Also, another question: When plugging in the surge protector to the adapter, the weight of everything tends to pull the plug out of the socket. I used a bungee cord to wrap around the pedestal to keep it tight. The other issue when it rains in the northwest is wet, not dry. Can I use a waterproof cover over the entire pedestal, adapter and surge protector to keep the connections dry?  Mark & Cindy A., (Bainbridge Island)

Mark & Cindi, the Progressive surge protector is a very good device and is certainly recommended for serious RVers. What we have found, however, is that neither the Progressive nor the Surge Guard models can protect against the dual fault situation called Reverse Polarity/Bootleg Ground (RPBG). It has been well documented by my buddy, Mike Sokol. Check out how and why the RPBG situation can even fool expensive ground loop impedance devices and those inexpensive three-light testers that everyone relies on; read this article carefully and be sure to click on the internal links!

The only sure-fire way to verify the polarity of incoming voltage from a campground pedestal, and the most logical and safest for RVers, is the use of a non-contact voltage proximity test device. I consider it cheap insurance....that might just save your life.

Also, I’m not a big fan of plugging a 50-amp RV into a 30-amp receptacle for the simple reason that it eliminates at least one of the safety devices built into the design of the pedestal. It’s certainly better if you have an EMS (energy management system) controlling your distribution inside the RV, but you may find that only using one leg of the incoming 120-volt AC electricity limits what circuits are actually activated inside the coach. Now that said, in some cases with the smaller or older campgrounds, you may have no choice if all they have are 30-amp pedestals. In those instances you simply deal with it until you can get connected to the proper source voltage once again. Always use a quality 50-30 reducing adapter (I recommend the ones that have a short piece of cable running between the male and female plugs rather than the big chunk of rubber with both connections molded into one plug). Also, ya gotta keep that connection clean, dry and tight no matter what, somehow! Bungee straps, plastic baggies, etc., can all help. Have you considered the unit that installs permanently inside the storage bay rather than the portable unit that attaches at the pedestal? Just a thought...



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