Category: Technical Issues


I’ve been diligently pursuing a motorhome upgrade…  i.e. somewhat newer, tad bigger Class B.  It’s not gone well, my eyes starting dropping white streaks, my shoulders curved inward towards the monitor like long ago when I lived in a cubical maze of head tops and clocks from spending too much time on the computer.  Hmmm…..

I cannot believe the price flurry. When did Class B RVs get to be $135,000, $175,000 and more for a non custom rig.  Even with the 20% – 25% off list, it’s insane.

Price craze has caused used Class B’s to become more expensive than what used to the price for a new one!  Am having trouble imagining such a drain on my bank account. Tack on dealer fees, inspection, taxes, registration, shipment and whatever upgrades and changes I’d want…..  oh my.

Every time I find something (maybe) affordable it’s located on the other side of the country. I find I’m really not that brave or I just don’t know for sure what I want.

The clincher is many newer models I’m seeing lack storage that I currently enjoy even with a stretching of length to 24.5 to 26 feet.  I want a Class B is because it’s L I T T L E!  I like the Promasters at 21 feet but the models I’ve seen have too much stuff crammed inside them; nevertheless I do like them and may get one someday. There are small Sprinters, 20 to 23 feet and older Ford and Chevy’s but cost is killer or lack of storage and interior light.

Claustrophobic doesn’t work for me. I require lots of windows and doors. I did see a 2007 Great West Classic Titan for sale (on the other side of the country) that I loved but it was sold before I could even think about how far away it was.

I love that I can sleep in the back width-wise in my current B, with windows all around and a back door that opens onto a beautiful river or….  what-have-you (it could use screens).  I love the open shelf that runs along the inside, the cabinets that have no barriers in-between so I can put long things in there and the fact that other than the pathetic bathroom there is room for everything I need.

So I’ve temporarily given up my search my for next RV….  It will come. There are many new Class B’s coming. Hopefully at some point the prices will level out or I’ll get that winning Lottery ticket.

So…..  I’m revving up my little LT for Spring Travel; maybe I’ll even give her a real name, she deserves one.  any ideas?

Here’s my list:

  1. Have brakes checked…  do I really need a brake job? If yes then find a shop that can do it right the first time.
  2. Tires!  Sure there is tread remaining on the Toyos, but I hate them. I plan to buy 4 beautiful Michelin LTX M/S2 (LT225 / 75R16)  from Costco at $689.96.  I understand they go on sale from time to time.
  3. Am considering replacing the Monroes with Bilstein shocks…. undecided.
  4. Get the back window fixed.
  5. Apply thermal insulation to the undercarriage to stop the exhaust heat from soaking into the cab…  this video sent to me by a friend explains the problem perfectly..  and the solution:  Fix the Hot Floor Problem in Your Gas RV
  6. Bluetooth radio to stream my Note 4 Android Cell Phone instead of the maze of wires I currently have.
  7. Line front curtains with Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric; clean curtains first!
  8. Craft hanging system for reflectix or more Solarize for other windows.
  9. Install a small 12 volt fan on the wall in the front by the wing windows.
  10. See if I can find a longer sewer hose that can be compressed to fit in tube and be able to reach its target without needing an extension.
  11. Touch up interior paint.
  12. Inspect all screws / bolts. . .tighten as needed
  13. Oil change / trip check.
  14. Service generator….  can I get it to work reliably? If not, (painfully) consider replacing it…  expensive 😦
  15. Awning?  Maybe?? Also expensive.
  16. Electric bike and dog-cart….  maybe? will need a rack if go this route.

Am finally out on the road again with the dogs! The LT body is shinning sweet even though bits of bugs and collections of the freeway. I promise I’ll post some pictures, but first I have to talk about generators. The LT has a Generac 3000 Watt, 120 Volt model 09557-4 with a Facet Eclectic Fuel Pump from Omni Tech Energy Systems installed, presumably same year as my motorhome, 1996. Generac

I had the generator serviced way back when I went to Bill’s RV in Oxnard. Standard service, they said it ran fine. I didn’t use the generator much, turning it on more for the exercise than to run anything but I’d been reassured it worked perfectly, no worries. Some time later I made a holiday dinner and took off for the beach. Popped some yummy food for a quick reheat into the micro and waited, pushed the button again and waited, repeating several times before deciding lukewarm was what I wanted. It was a fun day eating under umbrellas with a friend in a light rain, dogs playing in the surf. It wasn’t until about just this time a year ago I began to suspect the generator really wasn’t all right. It started with little fuss. . . I ran it every so often to keep it in shape but last summer, like this one, was hot and I wanted to keep the rear air conditioner running while I was driving and while parked to keep the dogs cool. This was particularly so as the engine was climbing toward the top of the heat scale, necessitating shutting off the console air conditioner. It was sweltering. When I returned home I spent time and money chasing the over-hot / underpowered issue. if you’re curious it’s in the archives: new radiator, new thermostat, new regulator for the computer, new spark plugs and wires and more. Next trip out no engine heating, no lack of uphill power, (Yeah!) but the generator was noisy stinky trouble; starting and stopping and sputtering.

Living in Santa Barbara is not always paradise, it’s certainly not when seeking RV repairs. We don’t have an RV shop and the few mechanics than can accommodate a Class B are unwilling to touch a generator. I was tired of the distance run, only to stash it in a fix it shop’s parking lot where it would sit for weeks before anyone would look at it, so I hunted around for someone closer. Via the recommendation of Bruce, my auto mechanic I found Gonzo’s Small Engine Repair in Goleta. I would sorta marginally recommend them as Gonzo is a dog lover and a nice guy although I was shocked at how much he spent at various veterinarians without resolution for his dog but that’s another story. He came to the house and had the presumed dead generator running in minutes; no charge as it was determined the generator would need a some servicing; it was my housemate engineer who determined that the output voltage was going wild. I called Gonzo and they ordered a new voltage regulator. I called and called and called, even stopped by a few times to find out when the part was coming in. Much time elapsed so at last, an ultimatum . . . Gonzo himself needed to talk to me, I’d been communicating with his assistant, by the beginning of the next week, giving them another 9 days to get in touch, if he couldn’t do that, and she promised he’d call the next day, but I’d heard that before, I would give up and take my business elsewhere. Yep, no phone call. Did they order the regulator? Who knows.

I took a trip sans generator and had the accident, then my new shop Quality RV in Camarillo run by Gabriel, said sure they could look at the generator, no problem and they offer a moblie service whcih is a delight. Gabriel’s a sweetie and not fazed by the age of my LT or any of her troubles.

I won’t cover how great this shop has been fixing the fiberglass and sprucing up the RV; am very happy with their work. They steam cleaned the generator and the engine… there was a problem with the engine cleaning as it was coated with Armor All but it was mixed with soap and left a bad paint eating scum; they’ve since painted the engine but there are still bits of scum and I fear the paint could have caused other troubles; I needed to make an emergency purchase of new windshield wipers. (They painted the blades on the old ones which looked crappy, but there was paint on the rubber part which smeared my windshields at a critical moment as I was driving and couldn’t see. Scary.) My engine running hot problem is back so I wonder if the paint went other places it shouldn’t have? I’m straying and as typical, this too is a convoluted story.

The generator looked beautiful and it sounded beautiful, Manuel had cleaned, soaked and perfected its operation; uh oh only a light or two would power on and those flickered like an old-fashioned movie. Frans the engineer made the discovery, the switch in the generator compartment had been left in the off position! Flipped it and there was power but the generator returned to its familiar coughing and sputtering as if it had never stopped. Quality came out, did some spiffy stuff where one of the AC sockets shorted out and was replaced which I mentioned in another post, it made me nervous that they did not unplug from shore power when all this happened, but my electronic knowledge is mostly book learning and classroom rules. Walla, generator working! I was happy!!!! Everything other than a few minor glitches like the keyless entry and a few touch-ups short of perfection; I was dancing and prancing with my pups.

Generac generator for my 1996 Leisure Travel RV

Generac generator for my 1996 Leisure Travel RV

 

Packed the LT, ready to enjoy comfortable, powerful, looking good times on the road. Plugged into house power and turned the frig on… it takes overnight to get cold and went to sleep. Brought the food out in the morning … hummmm….. funny the Dometic didn’t seem cold. You wouldn’t have wanted to see the look on my face, the frantic pacing of my feet, especially as in the several hours Frans was helping check the electrical system the generator started doing its familiar putt-putt-puttering with blinking fluctuating voltage while under no load and running 130 volts with a load. My complaint about Quality is how popular they are. It takes forever to get a call back or an appointment and when you do you need to add several hours to arrival time; amazingly Gabriel called me back responding to the dead stress in my message. He tried to coach us through adjusting the generator via the idle screw to get me going, all this did was cause the output voltage to spike like a drunk rollercoaster until finally the generator had enough of these games and quit. Reluctantly I took the Ford to the carwash and spent the afternoon cleaning out the accumulation of dog training paraphernalia, dog road gear, stuff that didn’t quite make it to goodwill, evidence of hasty meals, and be-prepared for anything piles that looked a lot like debris, sure it needed to be done, but now? I’d found a lovely RV campground/lake to break the long drive to Placerville, halfway, near Watsonville, it would be a perfect place to relax and begin my trip confident that the LT could handle the heat and provide cabin cooling, engine power and cold tasty snacks for me and the dog …. it’d taken a year to get this point, now all in vain. . . did it have to be this way?

In the late afternoon Gabriel sent out his mechanic for an emergency, get Jamie on the road, work party. This is when they painted the engine…. maybe not the best idea? Manuel got the generator running, this time by adding engine oil, did it have a leak? And by making a design change, shortening and eliminating the curve in the tube that provides the gas. He was unable to discover why the frig would not work with shore power but did verify that turning the frig to eclectic popped the AC outlet that had caused problems with running the generator. How all this is connected I don’t yet know, Gabriel thinks I will need a new heating unit for the frig. Somewhere there must be a wiring diagram, right? Maybe? I’ve contacted Generac hoping for a schematic, it still puts out 130 – 129 volts under load; according to Gabriel this is okay, according my engineer housemate, this is not okay. I’m gonna ask Generac directly this time.

Winter Fixup

The LT is in the shop getting spruced up for Spring.

Turns out the reason for running hot in the mountains last summer / fall was due to the radiator being clogged up. My new shop, Lara’s, took it to the radiator shop where they tried to save it, as it’s a metal not one of the throwaway plastic types but it was too damaged to revive. The lack of uphill mountain power has been remedied by the 8 new spark plugs and wires the shop installed. …….So far a few other things…. a new plug for the differential fluid, an adjustment to the brakes, a nice oil change ….. am trying synthetic oil this time, a new thermostat… will have a complete list when it’s done…. along with a nice hefty bill.

Someone asked me why I keep putting money into it…..It is after all a ’96 Doge Ram Van running a very heavy load at close to 125,000 miles.  actually they called it “a money trap.” I suppose it is, since after the visit to the mechanics it will go up north for more work on the road handling / comfort issues and then rebuilding or replacing the on-board generator so it will power the rear cabin air conditioner sufficiently to actually pump out cold air when it’s 100° out sans suffocating everyone for miles around with toxic fumes.   So . . . . . you see in actuality the LT is not a money trap. It wasn’t maintained before I took ownership. . . .   it was driven to exhaustion. It has life and a class of its own, even with its few fiberglass scraps and lichen growing on the roof. Sure I drool over these nice shiny ritzy Springer Class B’s… Yes I would love one!!!!

Take a look at this video. . . E-Trek Roadtrek  . . .okay, yes I want one!!! Anyone have $150,000 they can lend me? Even better if they put it in a all-wheel or 4 x 4 version with a bit more ground clearance.  The dogs want one too 🙂

So what’s a few thousand or so to keep the Leisure Travel running…..  someday, this dreamer may have something new and flashy, you never know.

For my few readers out there maybe you can answer this question. Chance of making it to the Premiere Top 10 in Kalamazoo, MI and showing my gorgeous Lagotto are fading. My nerves are frayed, I’d be screaming if I had the energy to do so. IF I can ever get on the road wonder how many hours a day I can drive in the LT with all its difficult handling problems and still stay awake? 8? 10, maybe? More? Comfort level is about 4 hrs.

Will take some photos of Olympia in any case. In my opinion she should win top Lagotto of the year! Dogs are not happy when I’m not happy, Olympia is constantly under my feet moaning, poor girl.

P.S. More reasons to hate Ians Tires. IF what Superior Brake and Tire is telling me is true, not only the tires are inappropriate for my vehicle but also the shocks, both of which were the choice of Ians. Seems I need wider, heavier duty tires, which makes sense to me. I saw a Leisure Travel just like mine with wider tires and the owner said there was no stability or handling problem!

The LT is very heavy in the rear!

Superior finally looked at my vehicle at the end of the day so it will have to stay there until tomorrow. After deliberation I decided to let them take off the front steering stabilizer and increase the caster angle. If it doesn’t help they will put the stabilizer back on. It needs alignment now that Ians rotated the tires, so I’ll have do that. If they had bigger better tires I’d have them put on, but tires like that usually have to be ordered. What made me say yes, was when he mentioned that I must get very tired driving the LT. This is SOOOO true. It’s a hard vehicle to drive; much better than when I bought it, but still difficult. If it was a sweetheart to drive I’d never think of trading the LT for another (well who knows.)  In my imagination the LT runs quiet and steady. Ahhhh.

No comment on the brakes or the whining noise. I have doubts that removing the front steering stabilizer will help…. will see.

Went to local mechanic, he said brakes definitely needed to be bled and emergency brake adjusted. Brakes are “spongy.” Ians, said no they don’t need to be bled; but they adjusted them. Said it’s common for the brakes to need adjusting, even several times but hopefully this would do the trick. So what’s going on!  LT has definitely added a new noise to its reputar, a nice growly noise when I press the accelerator… is this anything ? Mechanic this morning didn’t comment on the whining noise. Not sure his intake guy told him about it.

At this point regret taking it to the tire shop, would have been better to take it all the way to Ventura to the great shop that put on the wheel spacers – who knows if they do brakes though. Mechanic said rear tires (which used to be the front tires until yesterday) showed signs of cupping which could mean prob with the shocks, Ians said that the cupping was normal for the type of tire I had mounted and there was no worry about the shocks.  It’s enough to drive a woman insane. Nothing but worry and crazy-making.  Brakes actually do still squeak and I’m not sure about the spongy thing.  I dislike the new noise and the smell of brake fluid. Lowering the tire pressure a bit has done nothing to improve the ride. The streets around here and in CA in general are terrible! The freeways too are brutal, makes the ride hard on Mason. Wonder if I can drive with noise cancelling earphones?

This is not going how I’d wanted. Nice and simple, calm. Good brakes, safe, secure, no unnecessary whining or grumbling noises. . . I can do that on my own!

 

There are certainly differences of opinion when it comes to when to replace parts on brakes and I’m in the position of having to “trust” the mechanic and the reputation of the shop I take it to. I consider the ability to stop quickly and easily vital to road and personal safety. I don’t want to risk the security of my dogs, my precious travelers!

Bruce’s Auto had given me the A OK on the LT brakes yet suddenly they started squeaking. My Ford has had squeaking brakes as a mater of course, I keep taking it to my tire place, they rotate the tires and tell me everything’s fine. I can still get more use out of them, not to worry. The same is not true for my little RV. It’s very heavy so stopping it takes a lot of force. The squeaking worried me;  I’ll be hitting steep mountainous roads soon enough so I figured an extra opinion would be worthwhile. I bought my tires at Ians, so that’s where it is now, at an Ians; they pride themselves on doing top quality work.  As the serviceman told me, they use the better parts, of course these cost more, but (hopefully) one can expect a greater longevity.

Perhaps ethics is at issue here, one can save money on a vehicle they don’t plan to put a lot of miles on. If you’re thinking you may sell or trade up your RV in a year or two you can shirk on high quality parts, but I never like doing that. Ians told me my front pads were less than 15% and the rears 10%; not a sure thing for continuing a long road trip if I planned steep mountain driving; on the freeways, maybe. He then explained “to do it right” the front rotors should be done; he quoted me a heart stopping price. . . I could spend a large chunk of my travel budget just for brakes! In the end we settled on new pads for the front and new pads and shoes for the rear; enough, he said, to see me though 20,000 miles or so. The front pads will wear quicker than normal since the rotors are not smooth, this can also cause squeaking so that  may continue even with the new pads on the front. In the end it will cost $450 without the doing the rotors. Lucky me, I’ll save that for somewhere down the road.

………  ………………….  .,……………..

The bill was $309.. . . more reasonable, but they left greasy hand prints all over including on my steering wheel cover. And of course I thought I heard a new noise, a growling, knocking sort of noise. Dear mechanics of the world, sure I know your boss is telling you to hurry but can’t you use the door handles. Cleaned up the grease. Will have the engine re-inspected tomorrow. Seems weak on hills and at about 60 – 65 – 70  mph it still makes that nasty whining sound.

Up Hill

I copied this partial post below from http://www.campingroadtrip.com/outdoor-living-newsletter-july-2011/tips-for-safe-mountain-driving-for-rvers  so be sure to check them out! Really valuable info even for little RVs like mine. Those hills get longer and tougher as times goes by. The LT is a good 15-16 years old with lots of miles. I think it used to have more uphill power last year but maybe I was only dreaming.

Currently I’m resting, recovering from allergies and tiredness. Will start up again soon.

Driving uphill

To get your RV through an uphill climb more easily, you need to run your RV within its power band. Your RV’s power band is its engine’s RPM span that delivers the most horsepower. Depending on your RV’s type, the power band can range anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 RPM. When you drive uphill within its power band, your rig will generate the extra pulling power it needs to ascend the incline.

It is important that you start getting your RV within its power band before you ascend the hill. To achieve this, will have to down shift to a lower gear and then step very gently on the gas pedal. Keep your feet off the gas pedal entirely at times so your engine can do its job more comfortably. If you keep pushing hard on your pedal, you’ll end up with black smoke out of your exhaust and the smell of burning rubber from your tires.

What happens when you are out of your RV’s power band while you are making the climb? If that happens, there is a risk that your RV will be unable to ascend at all. In case your engine stops in the middle of your climb, the first thing you need to do is not to panic. Pull the handbrake, shift to neutral then restart your engine. Once your engine is running again, release the handbrake, downshift to first gear once more and step gently on the gas.

Driving downhill

Experienced RV drivers claim that driving their RV downhill on mountain roads is more difficult than driving uphill. That’s because when driving downhill, you need to maintain absolute control of the wheel and be fully aware of your surroundings. Failure to pay attention can be disastrous – think runaway rig.

To drive your RV safely downhill, prepare for the downhill descent while you are still on top of the hill. The first step is to use your engine for braking, as opposed to using your brakes. To accomplish this, bring your speed down to 40 mph and shift to second gear. At this point, you should feel your engine slowing down to a more comfortable coasting speed. If the engine is not slowing down as much as you’d like it to, shift down to first gear and then decrease your speed to 20 mph.

Slowing down, downshifting and using your engine to brake while driving downhill ought to keep you at a safe speed during your descent. If, despite these efforts, you feel that you’re still going down too fast, don’t hesitate to step on your regular brakes intermittently. Step on your brakes in hard and short bursts instead of pushing the brake for the duration of the descent. If you keep your foot on your brakes, they will end up overheating and your RV’s brake components could be damaged permanently.

mishap day

I started a nice post…  but it will have to wait, it’s almost checkout time at my sweet campground and I want to hike to the beach again. Little things are falling apart all of a sudden from many directions at once LOL….  time time time to get them all back together….   So Later a nice post coming…..

More Technical Issues

I’m close to Canada here in Northern Washington (Oak Harbor) my Verizon Droid Incredible wants to roam in Canada. This is compounded by the poor connection here in North Whidbey R.V. Park  and my enterprising on the computer and phone. I’m using the camp’s Internet which randomly fails every few minutes for no reason I can understand….so in all this confusion I’ve learned that one needs to turn data roaming off to avoid charges, but it’s unclear if voice roaming results in charges. I tried calling Verizon but the connection failed!

I’m thinking this will only be a problem where the Verizon signal is weak, as it is here, but of course, I’m now wondering.

Another phone issue is that I cannot connect my Droid to my laptop. I was able to download and successfully install the HTC driver and sync program; however when the Droid is USBed to the lappy nothing happens. Yep, that’s right…nothing. Tried USB debugging, nothing. No sign of life or recognition. If one of my readers has a clue–let me know!!!  I have lots of nice photos on the cell if I can get them transferred to my laptop. Oh, I suspect I could send each one to my e-mail, but for now I’ve had to turn off data roaming re the previous problem.  I still have photos to upload however from my old Sony DCC=F828 now 8 years old!