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RV Repair And Maintenance

Our first RV renovation

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We purchased a Fleetwood Storm 29MS in May 2014. This is the very first RV that we have owned. The experience has been quite an adventure, and I’d like to tell you about our first modification that we have made which actually involved screws! I’ve seen photos on Facebook of screws coming out the back wall or side wall of the RV. Using Screws on the RV is something that we have avoided at all cost. In fact, Command Hooks have become our best friends inside the RV.
The Storm MS has a convertible “dinette to bed option” but it does not have a separate sofa. Besides being a place to sit at, the Dinette top also serves as an additional flat surface for eating, working on a laptop, cooking prep, like a kitchen table. When we first started camping in our RV we were only going out for a few days at a time. In the evenings after dinner, we would convert the dinette to the bed for watching TV. The next morning we would convert the bed back to a dinette for breakfast and use during the day. The table top of the dinette fits between the 2 benches to make the bed.
The Storm MS has a flat screen TV mounted on a swing out arm above the passenger seat. There are additional connections for a TV in the bedroom, but we do not have one at this time. Watching TV from the dinette is an option, but we can’t really sit together. We were sitting on opposite sides leaning against the wall with our legs stretched out on the bench. The cats didn’t really like this set up either, they like to lay next to us or sit on a lap. When we lived in an apartment, we enjoyed sitting together and stretching out.
My partner Kate had the idea to somehow create another table between the driver and passenger seat so we could leave the dinette opened up like an oversized couch. We wanted a small table to sit at for meals, or to work on the laptop, etc. This might involve screws…. A bit scary.
We consulted a friend with much more RV experience then us. She suggested buying the table leg and parts to attach the table to the floor and to a table top. She actually ordered the parts for us from Amazon. Now we needed to figure how big of a table we wanted. We ended up walking through Home Depot and happened to find a round wooden table top already cut. This would be perfect, especially at the cost of $7.00! We decided to keep the natural color of the wood and put on a coat of sealer just for projection.
Now comes the scary part…. Screws! We had a different RV friend come help us with the table installation. He was a bit hesitant to drill thru the carpet, afraid the carpet would shred or pull around the drill bit. The floor was very difficult to drill through, most likely because it’s a fire wall. We now have a new table! The tabletop is very lightweight and will be easy to store when we are traveling. We leave the dinette in the converted position now all the time. The space feels more open without the dinette table top. We gained a nice storage area under the dinette for fabric storage boxes and best of all, we can sit side by side with pillows and the cats have lots of room to hang out with us! We love our first true RV modification!
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Tire upgrade info!

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Posted by Sasha Jetvich in reply to question about upgrading tires:

• Laura and I are full timers and own a 16K GVWR 2006 toy hauler that came originally equipped with dual 7K axles, 16″ wheels and 110 PSI “G” rated tires. In November of 2009 when we bought it barely used, the original tires were looking OK, but due to sun exposure and caution, we replaced all 4 anyway with new tires of the same rating and capacity.

Later that same month, we got weighed on the Smart Weigh system at Hendersons Line-Up and our fully loaded rig was found to be within weight specs and all 4 tire positions were in close weight balance. This means no one tire was shouldering a higher load than any of the others.

In October of 2010, with about 4,000 miles on well maintained, close to new tires, we experienced a blowout of the passenger rear tire, while driving 55 MPH on Interstate 40 and equipped with a quality TPMS. There was no prior warning until we heard the explosion, and believe me, that’s what it was. Fortunately, we were on the right side of a straight portion of the road and could make an orderly merge to the breakdown lane. Luckily there was only cosmetic damage to the rig wheel wheel molding, easily reparable. We were luckier than most in this regard, many of whom had significant body damage from the amazingly high force these blowouts can cause. Do an search of 16″ tire blowouts. Many rigs in this category are effected by this plauge.

We put on the spare and got 2 new tires the next day. The force of the blowout damaged the adjacent tire, but it still held air, lucky for us. In retrospect, we should of pulled into the nearest campground and immediately ordered a new set of mounted 17.5″ wheels and tires because buying the 2 new 16″ tires was throwing good money after bad. Prior to the blowout, I was knew about and was researching 17.5 hardware as a safety upgrade, but deferred the decision due to the expense. That was a short sighted mistake.

The following assumes a fully loaded trailer close to max GVWR as you will likely find with full-time use. Based on our direct experience and the experiences of many other RV’ers I’ve read about, this is my opinion:

Running ANY kind of stock 16″ wheel hardware and any brand of of 16″ tires on a trailer with 7K axles is a mistake. And it’s only a matter of time before the tires blow. Regardless of how well they are made. This is not a Goodyear, vs No-Name brand issue (not many choices in the 16″ “G” tire category BTW ). They are ALL ill-suited for our application.

Here’s why:

The specs of 16″ “G” rated tires seemingly support their use with 7K axles. Each tire in this case is rated to support well above the 3,500 lbs per (7,000 lbs) axle side. Approx 3,750 lbs per tire. This meets the minimum spec and is why trailer manufacturers use it.

Here’s the problem:

To get their maximum load capacity, “G” rated tires must be filled to 110 PSI. The inherent profile of 16″ tires have a relatively high sidewall. The sidewall flexes when rolling and hot. Once on the road, especially in summer or in the sun, the tires that were filled to 110 PSI cold are now running hot at 130 PSI or more. “G” rated tires cannot take that pressure over time. They WILL FAIL at some point. They do not have the headroom to simultaneously offer their full weight bearing capability and run “cool” at normal road speeds at the same time.

Also, if your loaded trailer is not weight balanced side-to-side, you might be well over the 3,750 lb capacity at one or more wheel position, thus you are overloading your “G” tire in that case. (this is where “Smart-Weigh” pays off BTW)

So, if you want to safely support the weight of your trailer AND roll down the road, you need 17.5″ rim hardware and 16 ply “H” ratings on your tires.

“H” rated tires have less sidewall height, stronger internal construction, take up to 125 psi cold and will roll happy as a clam all day and night @ 130-140 psi hot. On our 16K GVWR trailer, I only need to fill to 115 psi cold to meet my weight specs, so we have major additional headroom there. Something you will never, ever have in a “G” rated tire.

And yes, they will fit in your wheel wells and won’t rub. This is why: 215/75R17.5 is about 1/2″ smaller diameter than the OEM 235/85/16 size. Shorter sidewall on a bigger rim as I mentioned equals roughly the OD you started with. And remember, even though the new hardware has a much higher load capacity than stock, you are not adding axle capacity with this upgrade, you are adding sorely needed headroom to your rubber running down the road and you are reducing your chances of a blowout to very, very low.

On 11/2010 we bought a mounted and balanced rim/tires set from Rickson. Our cost at that time was $1,818 (OTD, cash discount) shipped direct to our campground. The new hardware just bolts-on the hubs with no mods needed. I kept the best 16″ for my spare as the OD is really close to the new 17.5 set.

Specs:

4x Hi Spec 17.5″ x 6.75″ Cast Alum wheels: (A356-T6) – 8-6.5″ PCD, 9/16″ Studs (Stud Pilot), 4.9″
Bore, 4,850 Lbs. Weight Rating, Ten (10) Round Windows, Clear Coated Machine
Finish

4x Hankook TH10 215/75R17.5 Trailer Tires Load Range H (16-ply rated)

Best mod we ever did. Nothing is certain of course, but we roll with as complete confidence you could ever have from from blowouts and tire issues.


This information was supplied in our main FTRVing group (found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ftrving/) and submitted by Kelly Branchal. We have relocated it here for your convenience and future reference.

Toy hauler Three Seasons Patio Door

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Toy Hauler Three Seasons Patio Door can be ordered from a company by the name of Charger Enterprises. Shipped right to your door. Call 574-262-2389. Reviews posted about this company have been “excellent” all across the board. This company no longer has a valid website, however they have several reviews around the internet.

This information was supplied in our main FTRVing group (found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ftrving/) and submitted by Shirley Spencer Cook. We have relocated it here for your convenience and future reference.

RV manufacturers “Bible”- A comprehensive pdf

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This is a manual for RV manufacturers of the requirements for distribution. It’s very technical, and can be somewhat hard to follow, but it is full of information. It includes an overview, and has a list of websites as well as Federal safety regulations.
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There are several info tables and calculations worksheets. Overall, though it can be difficult or painstaking to read, it is chock full of important information that is good to know or at least have on hand.

This information was supplied in our main FTRVing group (found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ftrving/) and submitted by Eileen Carlson. We have relocated it here for your convenience and future reference.

The Geo Method By Charles Bruni

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RV owners should be concerned with maintaining its wastewater tanks. Problems with wastewater tanks can and should be avoided. Wastewater tank repair is expensive. Due to health concerns, many service facilities will not work on wastewater tanks and lines until the tanks have been completely emptied and sanitized. This may be quite difficult when the tank(s) is in need of repair. So, common sense dictates that the tanks should be kept relatively clean at all times. Additionally, improper use of the wastewater tanks can lead to a build up of solid wastes, which in itself may cause the system to fail.

I’ve discovered very simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of maintaining my wastewater tanks in a relatively clean condition at all times. I developed these methods myself through my understanding of chemistry, physics, and biology with a smidgen of common sense thrown in for good measure. I also read my RV owner’s manual. Although we are not full time RVers we use our fifth wheel camper at least one weekend a month. We never use public bathing and toilet facilities. In other words, our wastewater tanks are fairly heavily used. Since I’ve met a number of RVers who don’t seem to know how to maintain their wastewater tanks I thought many RVers would find my tips useful. If you have not been maintaining your tanks I believe you will be pleasantly surprised the first time you employ these tips. I do these things and they work.

RVs are equipped with waste water HOLDING tanks; NOT septic tanks. Those holding tanks are nothing more than chamber pots. Chamber pots should be cleaned and sanitized after their contents are disposed of. The Geo Method is based on this fact.

1. DUMP A FULL TANK

When you are camping and your RV is connected to a sewer/septic intake, leave the drain valves closed until the tank is full and ready to dump. Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time. If your tanks are not full when you are ready to dump them, fill them with fresh water first, and then dump them.

2. DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST

In other words, dump the black (commode) water tank first, then dump the galley tank, then dump the bathroom tank. This way you will be flushing out the dirtiest water with progressively cleaner water.

3. USE WATER SOFTENER, DETERGENT, and CHLORINE BLEACH

This stuff is amazing and it works. Buy a couple of boxes of powdered water softener at the grocery store. You’ll find it located with or near the laundry detergent products. I prefer Calgon Water Softener because it dissolves quickly in water. Cheaper water softeners work just as well but dissolve more slowly. Dissolve two (2) cups of the water softener in a gallon of hot water. Then, pour the solution down the drain into the empty tank. Use two cups of softener for each wastewater tank in your RV. The tank’s drain valve should be closed otherwise the softened water will just drain out. Then use the tank(s) normally until it is full and drain it normally. Add a cup of laundry detergent to the black (commode) water tank at the same time you add water softener. This will help clean the tank. The gray water tanks should already contain soap through normal use. Water softener makes the solid waste let go from the sides of the tanks. If you’ve ever taken a shower in softened water you know that after rinsing the soap from your body your skin will feel slick. That’s because all the soap rinses away with soft water. Softened water also prevents soap scum from sticking in the tub. Get the connection? With softened water gunk washes away instead of sticking. The same thing applies to your RV’s wastewater tanks.

I use a clear plastic elbow connector to attach my sewer drain line to the wastewater outlet on my RV. It allows me to see how well things are progressing during a wastewater dump. Before I began using water softener regularly the black water tank’s water was brown, the galley tank’s water was brownish, and the bathroom tank’s water was white. The first time I added water softener to the tanks the water coming from the black water tank was actually black (not brown) and the kitchen tank’s water was also black (not brownish). The bathroom tank’s water remained white. That told me that the water softener had actually done what I had intended for it to do and made solid waste, which had been stuck to the interior of the tanks, let go and drain away. I added water softener (and laundry detergent to the black tank) to all the wastewater tanks for the next few dumps to be certain all the solid waste possible had been cleaned away. The wastewater only appeared black on the initial treatment. I now add water softener and detergent to each tank once after every few dumps to maintain the system.

Too little water softener may not be of sufficient concentration to work effectively. Too much water softener will NOT hurt the tanks. So, if the amount you used didn’t quite do the job, then use more the next time. Don’t forget the laundry detergent.

Occasionally, I pour a half gallon of liquid bleach into each tank to deodorize, sanitize and disinfect them. I add the bleach when the tank is about half full, and then continue to use the tank normally until it is full and ready to dump. I no longer use the blue toilet chemical because it isn’t necessary. I have no odors coming from my black water tank. The chlorine bleach kills the bacteria, which is primarily responsible for waste water tank odor. Generic brand liquid bleach is cheap and very effective.

4. USE A WATER FILTER ON YOUR FRESH WATER INTAKE LINE

Most fresh water contains sediment. Sediment will accumulate in your wastewater tanks and your fresh water lines. It also tends to discolor your sinks, tub/shower, and commode. I use the disposable type and have found that they eventually fill up and begin restricting the fresh water flow resulting in low pressure. That’s how I know it’s time to get a new filter. It works, it’s cheap, it avoids problems, do it. When I fill my fresh water tank I attach the filter to the end of the hose and fill the tank with filtered water.

SOME OTHER THOUGHTS

WATER, WATER, WATER – and more water! The Geo Method assumes you are hooked up to a plentiful clean water supply, and that you have access to a sewer. The water softener will make the gunk let go. That’s only half the battle. After the gunk lets go it must then be flushed through the relatively small drain opening in the bottom of the tank. That takes water. Lots of water. I use a Flush King (Google it) to make rinsing more effective and faster.

CAUTION should be used when mixing chemicals. All I did when I came up with The Geo Method was use normal laundry products (water softener, laundry detergent, and chlorine bleach) and put them in the holding tanks which already contain water. I was NOT experimenting with chemicals. I simply applied laundry chemicals in normal combination to the waste water tanks. There are chemical products under your kitchen sink, in your laundry room, and in your garage that can injure or kill you when mixed. If you can do your laundry without harming yourself you can successfully employ The Geo Method. Don’t go playing around with novel chemical combinations concocted from household products.

What was novel about The Geo Method was not in the combination of chemicals (all household laundry products intended to be used in combination) but in their application in cleaning RV waste water tanks. Common experience, if you’ve done laundry, tells you The Geo Method is safe. Doing laundry doesn’t damage your washing machine, rot out your plumbing, or destroy waste water treatment systems. The Geo Method won’t either. However, substituting other cleaning agents may not be safe.

There’s nothing special or fragile about the materials used in RV plumbing. RV plumbing materials are made from the same stuff that household plumbing is made from. The problem arises in figuring out how to clean and sanitize the inaccessible interior of a holding tank. Water softener prevents gunk from adhering to the inside of the tanks, detergent removes the dirt, and chlorine bleach kills germs/odors. Soaking gives the chemicals time to work. Agitating the mix by driving down the road helps the process. Think of it this way; you can put some really nasty stuff in your washing maching, yet the inside of the washing maching doesn’t get dirty. It stays clean – right? Same goes for your automatic dish washer. The same thing applies to RV holding tanks.

Those people who claim The Geo Method is somehow harmful just plain don’t know what they’re talking about. Their objections defy common sense and common experience. Anyone who thinks The Geo Method is harmful has a simple soultion available to their simple minded concerns – don’t use it. At one time, daily bathing was thought by some to be harmful to one’s health, and many people argued against it advising others to remain dirty. Those who object to The Geo Method fall into the same category of enlightened thought.

Will The Geo Method work even if most of the time I’m NOT hooked up to water and sewer? YES! Just use common sense. If you dry camp ninety percent of the time just keep water softener and detergent in your tanks (especially the black tank) while you’re dry camping. This will keep gunk from sticking to the tanks. When you are hooked up to sewer and water take the opportunity to fill the tanks with fresh water and flush the tanks. Keep flushing them until the water runs clear. I know it works because I’ve done it.

Never put regular toilet tissue in your RV’s black tank. Only use toilet tissue which is approved for RV and/or septic tank use. Regular toilet tissue may eventually dissolve, but not before causing a clog in your black tank.

Occasionally traveling with partially filled wastewater tanks containing softened water and detergent promotes cleaning by agitating the water. The same goes for chlorine bleach.

I believe this process works faster and more efficiently during warm weather. However, I know it works well even during cool/cold weather.

The process works best the longer the water softener and detergent remains in the tanks. So, I don’t add water softener during periods of heavy wastewater generation. I wait until I know we won’t be generating wastewater quickly so that the softened water remains in the tanks for several days before dumping.

If you have an older RV you may have to use water softener and detergent several times initially to completely clean the tanks of residue.

Water softener is NOT fabric softener, nor is it the rock salt used to recharge mechanical water softening systems.

Water softener is hard to find for a variety of reasons. Mostly it’s because folks don’t use it much. Most Wal-Marts I’ve been to stock liquid Calgon. Even though I know exactly what I’m looking for I still have a hard time spotting it on the shelf. Please don’t write to me asking where to buy it. Seek and ye shall find.

Liquid water softener, liquid laundry detergent, and liquid diswashing detergent all work too. The key points are water softener and detergent. I prefer powder because it’s cheaper by volume and weighs less by volume. I have plenty of cheap water on hand to hydrate it and pitch it down the commode and drains.

I add a small amount of chlorine bleach to the fresh water tank twice a year to disinfect and sanitize it and fresh water lines. A weak chlorine bleach solution will not hurt you. However, it certainly makes the water taste bad. When we have chlorine in the fresh water system we use bottled water for drinking and cooking until the chlorine is gone – or, you can drain the system and refill it. YES, we drink the filtered water that we have in the fresh water tank. NO, it has never tasted funny or caused any problems.

Folks write to me all the time saying their tank holds X gallons, so how much detergent and water softener should I use? I don’t know. How could I? It will depend on the age of the RV, how much the tanks have been used, how well they’ve been rinsed in the past, how often they’ve been allowed to dry with crud in them, etc. I’ll say this; brand new rigs shouldn’t need The Geo Method for several dumps (6-12, or more – maybe less). An OLD rig will likely require a lot of detergent and water softener over several applications allowing the soultion to soak for a week or more. Then, you’ll have to do a lot of rinsing to wash the crud out out the tank’s drain. Without getting too graphic, I’ve helped a fellow who had never closed his black tank’s drain valve. The experience of cleaning his tanks took forever and was literally nauseating – to both of us. I’ll never, ever, do that again.

No, I do NOT do the ice cube thing. The Geo Method works without ice cubes. (Why not try walnuts instead? At least they won’t melt within five minutes. No, I’m not serious.)

I don’t believe these chemicals harm commercial septic tanks, if you think otherwise, then simply use The Geo Method only when dumping into a sewer system. Or, don’t use it at all. It’s your rig.

I’ve seen forum posts lately indicating that some RV parks are asking customers what kind of chemicals are in their waste water tanks, and in their cupboards. I find this hard to believe. It’s none of their business. I feel no obligation to answer questions that the questioner has no business asking. Especially when I’ll be penalized for a wrong answer. So, the correct answer that I would give is, “I don’t use any chemicals at all.” That should end the inquisition. If it goes beyond that it’s time to take my business elsewhere. They most often need my business way more than I need their park.

My tanks are plastic and my pipes are PVC.

Don’t be afraid to use your tanks. Just use common sense about their care and maintenance.

These tips are inexpensive to do. Some of them don’t cost anything. You have nothing to lose in trying them and I encourage you to do so. I actually feel a certain amount of pride in the condition and cleanliness of both my waste and fresh water systems. Naturally, these tips make dumping a much more pleasant and sanitary procedure.

If you have odors in any of your water systems these procedures should eliminate them. Odors indicate a sanitary problem and degrade the enjoyment you derive from your RV.

When my RV is parked and not in use I place stoppers in the sink and tub drains. This forces the wastewater tanks to vent through the vent pipes to the outside instead of through the drains into the RV. Water evaporates. Once the drain traps dry out during periods of non-use, nothing is there to prevent gasses (odor) from venting into the camper. Use stoppers when your RV is stored.

PS – The reason this article is so long is that people write to me and ask questions. After I’ve answered the same question several times I incorporate it into the body of the article for the benefit of those who might ask again in the future. On the other hand, I’ve noticed complaints in various forums that the article is too long. Then again, I often get mail from people asking a question that’s covered in the article.

Don’t fret over this. Just try it, use enough to have a chemical effect, and you’ll get the knack of it over time. Now, go out into this vast continent and enjoy your RV. Tell ’em Bruni sent you!!

Copyright (c) Charles Bruni

This information was supplied in our main FTRVing group (found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ftrving/ ) and submitted by Bob DeBohemian and Deb Schier. We have relocated it here for your convenience and future reference.

How to Maintain the Day/Night Shades of Your RV Clean

 

The recreational vehicle or the widely known RV is something very nice for a person and family to have. It will allow you to travel a lot cheaper and to make the best resort even from the most unusual places in the country.

It is of course great responsibility like everything else. The RV is like a whole home so it needs the same care as you take for your house or apartment. The most common type of these vehicles include kitchen, bathroom, living room and a bedroom. Of course there are many modifications – RVs can be a lot bigger or smaller. It depends on the finances of the people who are going to use it.

 In case you hear the words caravan, motorhome or camper, you should know that they refer to the same vehicle. You should feel very lucky because you will be able to stay at many places and most of all enjoy the nature and be close to it whenever the weather allows it.

There are many tips that will help you clean and keep the RV looking nice and cozy. Usually the day/night shapes are some of the most used and the most useful parts of the vehicle. That is why it is good to keep them in good condition.

There is nothing difficult about cleaning the shades. You will need few simple things to do the cleaning the right way. The water and the vacuum cleaner are two things without which you can not go. Try also to supply with bathtub, spray starch and special detergent called OxiClean or something similar. Like every other cleaning to start with the vacuum cleaning is recommended. It will remove the dust and will not allow it to be spread all over the surface of the shades or to go deep inside the fabric. Do this while the day/night shades are still on their places and do not use too strong setting of the vacuum cleaner for them.

 After you are done with this first step, carefully remove the shades from where they are hanging and also carefully take them outside on open space. This is the time when you will need the bathtub. Fill it all with warm water and add the necessary quantity of the detergent, you have already prepared. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer carefully, so you will not be facing unpleasant surprises.

 After the detergent and the water have mixed well together, this is the time when you have to put the shades inside the water. Leave them like that for thirty minutes and repeat the procedure as the next time you add no detergent to the water. Take the shades out and leave them drying on a safe place.

 You can put them back to their place when they are completely dry. What you can do as well is to unfold them all the way down and then spray the surface with the starch spray you have prepared. It will be best to leave them dry as the shades are fully folded up. Thus they will crease the right way.

 Keep in mind that the method which was just presented to you is only for fabric shades. Any other materials should be treated according to the instructions of the manufacturer. When you have stubborn spots, you should spray the whole surface of the shade with the cleaning spray, not only the harmed spot. Sometimes scrubbing is needed though it is something that is not so recommended.

 Be extremely careful with the steam cleaning and try small parts of the shades first, before you use this type of cleaning to the whole surface of the shade.

 

 

Bio: Amber Collins is a professional content writer, blogger and specializes in everything related to moving homes and relocations in Shoreditch, UK, home improvement and management, so as family travelings. She is constantly searching for new adventures and EC1 places to be discovered, so the perfect vacation for her is jumping in the family RV and driving away. As a dedicated housewife and mother, she is giving practical advice on how to keep your RV clean and ready for the next trip.


HOW TO: Whiten an RV Kitchen Sink

Corian is a great material, but it isn’t impervious to staining and discoloring. Here’s a quick, easy tip for whitening a Corian or similar solid-surface kitchen or bathroom sink. Whether in your RV or in your house, this simple technique will rejuvenate even the dingiest and most discolored sink.

When our RV’s sink first began getting dingy and stained, we tried whitening it with bleach, which we’d heard was very effective. Bleach is just so smelly and toxic that we decided to stop using it.

Then our dear friend (and fellow RVer) Orene began waxing poetic about the wonders of Oxiclean. We’d originally been turned off by the in-your-face advertising for the product by pitchman Billy Mays, so we had never tried it before. Orene insisted we take a small ziploc bag of it back to the RV and now we wouldn’t be without it. Thank you Orene!

Be sure to confirm that all methods and materials used are compatible with your particular RV. Every type of motorhome, motorcoach, fifth wheel, travel trailer, bus conversion, camper and toy hauler is different, so your systems may not be the same as ours.

RV Geeks offers basic DIY (do it yourself) RV service, repair and maintenance tips from full-time RVers who have been handling most of their own maintenance since hitting the road in 2003.

RVgeeks is proud to be affiliated with RVtravel.com.
http://www.rvtravel.com

While we’re not RV technicians, we’re very mechanically inclined and have learned a lot about RV systems over the years. We handle most of our own minor service, maintenance and repair work on our 2005 43′ Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher. We also maintained our 2002 39′ Fleetwood Bounder Diesel during our first two years on the road.

We meet lots of newer RVers who are eager to learn some basics about maintaining and caring for their rigs. After more than 8 years on the road, we want to share what we’ve learned (some of it the hard way).

We hope our experiences can help other RVers go DIY, saving some time, money and effort, while experiencing the satisfaction of a job well done.

We do not pretend to be experts on any particular RV topic, and mostly know about maintaining our own rig. But lots of things are the same on RVs in general, and diesel pushers in particular.

HOW TO: Hang Things on RV Walls using Pop Rivets

The RVgeeks demonstrate how to hang things on the interior walls of an RV. Just about all motorhome, travel trailer and fifth wheel walls are the same thin material that isn’t strong enough to hold wood screws. And without access behind the wall panels, there’s no way to use bolts, since you can’t tighten down the nuts. And velcro only works for really lightweight items.

3M Command hooks are good for items up to a certain weight, but what about when you want to attach something heavy… or permanently?

One solution: Pop Rivets. We like them for many installations compared to molly bolts or collapsible wall fasteners because of how small they are.

At the beginning of the video, you can see the limited amount of space we had to work with when installing the fire extinguisher mounting bracket. We were able to get several rivets into a very small area, providing enough strength to make sure the mount wouldn’t pull off the wall when grabbing the fire extinguisher.

Thanks to our good friends Pat & Rita for allowing us to drill holes in the walls of their Winnebago motorhome to demonstrate how to do this. We’ve also installed things with pop rivets many times in our Newmar Mountain Aire and before that in our Fleetwood Bounder Diesel. Be sure to confirm that all methods and materials used are compatible with your particular RV.

RV Geeks offers basic DIY (do it yourself) RV service, repair and maintenance tips from full-time RVers who have been handling most of their own maintenance since hitting the road in 2003.

RVgeeks is proud to be affiliated with RVtravel.com.
http://www.rvtravel.com

While we’re not RV technicians, we’re very mechanically inclined and have learned a lot about RV systems over the years. We handle most of our own minor service, maintenance and repair work on our 2005 43′ Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher. We also maintained our 2002 39′ Fleetwood Bounder Diesel during our first two years on the road.

We meet lots of newer RVers who are eager to learn some basics about maintaining and caring for their rigs. After more than 8 years on the road, we want to share what we’ve learned (some of it the hard way).

We hope our experiences can help other RVers go DIY, saving some time, money and effort, while experiencing the satisfaction of a job well done.

We do not pretend to be experts on any particular RV topic, and mostly know about maintaining our own rig. But lots of things are the same on RVs in general, and diesel pushers in particular.

HOW TO: Service an RV Generator Cooling System

As a follow-up to our recent video on generator maintenance, when we cleaned the spark arrestor and changed the oil, oil filter & air filter, today we’re servicing the cooling system.

We flush the cooling system and replace the anti-freeze and radiator pressure cap on our Onan 7.5 kilowatt QuietDiesel generator every two years. Every other time (every four years) we also replace the thermostat. Unfortunately, the thermostat can only be replaced if you have access to the top of the generator’s engine, so the generator must be on a slide-out to do it yourself. The rest of the job can be done without a generator slide.

We use regular automotive radiator flush, anti-freeze and replacement pressure cap, all of which can be purchased at most auto parts stores. We purchased the new thermostat and gasket directly from Onan. We also chose to use pure antifreeze and mix it 50/50 with de-ionized or distilled water, as opposed to buying the 50/50 pre-mixed coolant. It doesn’t matter which you choose. Regular tap water can be used if it is low in minerals, but for such an important application, we don’t mind spending an extra dollar or two on bottled water (although we do the flushing and rinsing of the system with regular tap water).

The two most common challenges with this task are getting all of the coolant drained out of the system, and then getting all of the air back out of it. Onan published a service bulletin to address this, in which they recommend using care when filling the system, by avoiding pouring water, flush or coolant into the vent or overflow tubes. While the whole process is a bit time-consuming, the method we demonstrate has been very successful for us, and we’ve never had a problem getting our genset back up and running without incident.

Be sure to confirm that all methods and materials used are compatible with your particular recreational vehicle. Every type of motorhome, motorcoach, fifth wheel, travel trailer, bus conversion, camper and toy hauler is different, so your systems may not be the same as ours.

RV Geeks offers basic DIY (do it yourself) RV service, repair and maintenance tips from full-time RVers who have been handling most of their own maintenance since hitting the road in 2003.

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While we’re not RV technicians, we’re very mechanically inclined and have learned a lot about RV systems over the years. We handle most of our own minor service, maintenance and repair work on our 2005 43′ Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher. We also maintained our 2002 39′ Fleetwood Bounder Diesel during our first two years on the road.

We meet lots of newer RVers who are eager to learn some basics about maintaining and caring for their rigs. After more than 9 years on the road, we want to share what we’ve learned (some of it the hard way). 😉

We hope our experiences can help other RVers go DIY, saving some time, money and effort, while experiencing the satisfaction of a job well done.

We do not pretend to be experts on any particular RV topic, and mostly know about maintaining our own rig. But lots of things are the same on RVs in general, and diesel pushers in particular.

[Bus Conversion 101 – Part Two] Which Bus Is Right For You?

In this second installment of bus conversion 101, I will discuss deciding which size and type of bus is right for you. There are many sizes and types of buses/coaches that can be used for building a bus conversion. Usually when someone mentions a “coach” they are talking about a highway coach, such as the type used by greyhound, which usually have large luggage compartments under the floor. In my opinion this type of bus or coach is the most ideal candidate for a conversion because of the large storage space that the luggage bays offer. The second and third most popular choices for a conversion would be either a transit bus or a school bus, in no particular order.

Highway coaches, or intercity buses as they are sometimes called, are generally used by big revenue companies such as greyhound or trailways. The four biggest contenders in the older used bus market are GM, MCI, Prevost and Eagle. GM, MCI and Prevost have similar suspension components, both ride on air springs. Many of the suspension parts such as airbags, leveling valves and brake chambers are actually interchangeable. Eagles, however, have what is called a torsalistic suspension. There are no leaf springs or air bags. They use torsion bars. All four of these types of buses have what is called a “self-carrying” frame, otherwise known as “monocoque construction”. What this means is that they do not have a “frame” per say, but the body of the bus is constructed in such a way as to carry the weight of the vehicle without the need for a frame. The Prevost has more of a frame type system than the other three, but still not a true frame like you would find in a heavy duty truck. All four of these manufacturers are rear engine coaches. Eagles, Prévost’s and MCI’s are “T” drive engines (envision if you will an engine and transmission assembly turned around backward and stuffed in the rear of the bus). GM’s, with the exception of a few specific models, are transvers engines. This means the engine is sideways, much like in a modern front wheel drive car, and the engine turns backward. There are some newer makes of highway coaches too such as Van Hool and Setra. The newer the bus, the more money you are going to have to pay. Most highway coaches are 35 or 40 feet in length. Newer buses can be up to 45 feet.

Transit buses have some similarities to highway coaches, but they do not have the large luggage bays. They are mostly a monocoque construction as well, with rear engines. The largest producer of transit buses is GM. Transit buses share many of the same systems found in highway coaches, and are even built in the same facilities. One major difference between highway coaches and transit buses are the rear end gearing. Transit buses are usually geared for driving around the city, so they are not usually preferred for a lot of highway driving. Because of the lack of luggage bays in transit buses, storage is limited, and the converter will usually have to develop a way to hang holding tanks under the vehicle during the conversion process. Both highway coaches and transit buses have used 2 stroke Detroit Diesel engines for decades. In the 90’s, manufacturers started making available more modern 4 stroke engines in their buses. Most transit buses are 35 or 40 feet.

School buses are a completely different animal all together. There are font engine, rear engine and mid-engine buses. The mid-engine buses have an engine that has been turned on its side and then mounted under the floor in the middle of the bus. Like transit buses, school buses generally do not have exterior storage or luggage compartments. The same challenges of building on a transit platform have to be overcome with a school bus platform. There are many types and manufacturers of school buses. These types of buses usually ride on a rigid truck type chassis or frame, mostly utilizing steel leaf spring suspension. This can make for a pretty rough ride. Some have air brakes, and some have hydraulic brakes similar to a car or light duty truck. School buses generally have a lot of ground clearance, which may be ideal for someone who intends to camp off road where you might encounter pretty rough terrain. School buses can be a problem in some areas if you frequent RV parks. Yes, some RV parks do discriminate, even against the nicest looking school buses. School buses range widely in length.

So there you have it. Think it over, do some research, and determine what is the best platform for YOU to build your dream home on. In the next installment I will discuss the inspection process when looking at a potential purchase.