Posts Tagged ‘RV house batteries’

Is Your RV Ready For Summer Travel?

Posted on June 8th, 2010 by by Administrator

With summer finally here, a lot of us who have been sitting still much of the winter are hitting the road, and weekend warriors are getting their RVs ready for vacations and summer camping trips.

RVs are complex machines, and while I am far from a technical person, even I am capable of taking a few steps to make sure our motorhome is in the proper shape for the long miles ahead. It doesn’t take a mechanic or an RV tech to prep an RV for hot weather travel.

It takes just an hour or so to inspect your RV or tow vehicle’s chassis systems, which is time well spent, and can avoid hours sitting on the shoulder of the road waiting for a tow truck to arrive, and even more time spent in a repair shop.

The first step is to check all fluid levels: engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, radiator coolant level, and windshield washer fluid. While you’re in the engine compartment, check your air filter. A dirty air filter can really cut down on your fuel mileage, and make your engine work harder, too. Also, check all of your belts and hoses, as well as hose clamps, for cracks or worn spots that can lead to failure (and expensive repairs) on the road. Spend a few moments looking over your wiring. Is anything frayed or loose? Did critters spend the winter nesting in your engine compartment, gnawing on the wire insulation?

Step two is to check your windshield wiper blades for wear, and then turn them on and be sure both are working properly. Then, check all exterior lights, including headlights, turn signals, emergency flashers, brake lights, and marker lights.

Next, check your starting and house batteries to be sure they are filled with distilled, that all cables are tight, and that there is no corrosion on any connections.

Walk around your RV, looking for any leaks, and if you spot any suspicious spots on the ground, check to see where they came from.

Your tires are next. Check for uneven wear, any cracking or weather checking, and use a good tire pressure gauge to be sure all are properly inflated. I use a PressurePro tire monitoring system to make this chore easier, and to monitor my tires when on the road.

Next, deploy all of your awnings. Are they working properly? Are they worn or frayed? Are the anchor clips on your window awnings secure?

Once you are done outside the RV, go inside and make sure that your air conditioner(s) are working properly. Extend and retract your slide rooms. Do the same with your leveling jacks. Check your refrigerator and water heater for proper operation if the RV has been stored all winter. When things sit for long periods of time, the gremlins seem to go to work on them.

No matter where you live, or where you spent the winter before starting your summer travels, it is always easier and cheaper to get a problem fixed at home than it is when you are broken down on the road.

Now that you have your RV ready for the road, take a minute to check out Bad Nick’s latest blog post, Oops! and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day – You can only be strong and useful for the people around you if you honor your needs as much as theirs.

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From Cacti To Ponderosas

Posted on May 18th, 2010 by by Administrator

Yesterday morning bright and early I was parked at the Camping World in Mesa, Arizona letting their service people know that I was not pleased with their installation of our new tires in February, and that I wanted them to replace the valve stems and the valve stem extensions on both inner dual wheels.

Ever since we bought the new tires, both inside duals have lost air and given false readings on my PressurePro tire monitor. Several people whose opinion I respect, as well as the service manager at the Camping World, all agreed that the problem was either that the valve stem extensions they installed were bad, and/or that they had crushed the small O rings in the valve stems when they screwed on the extensions.

Valve stem extension

A little after 8 a.m. they pulled our Winnebago into a service bay, where for the next three plus hours the mechanic talked to his co-workers, jacked the rear end  of the RV up, stopped to talk to his co-workers, took the tires off the driver’s side, stopped to talk to his co-workers, wandered away for a while, came back, talked to his co-workers, told me that he couldn’t find any leaks and that it was probably the valve stems (which I already knew), wandered over to the next bay to talk to his co-workers, installed a new valve stem on one tire, talked to his co-workers…. do you get the picture?

Finally, at 11:30, I was really ticked off, so I tracked down a service manager and told him I wanted the job done now! I guess he lit a fire under the service tech, because about noon he finished the job and pulled the motorhome out, and we hooked up the van and took off.  We spent almost $4,000 at this Camping World on new tires and house batteries, and between the fact that they never tightened the battery cables down on the house batteries, they screwed up the first valve stems on both inside duals, and then the hassle getting the valve stems replaced yesterday, I won’t be in any hurry to go back there for service, or to recommend them to anyone.

From Camping World we started up State Route 89, known locally as the Beeline Highway, toward the high country. As many years as I have spent in Arizona, the state’s topography still amazes me. In two hours of driving time, we went from cacti covered desert, where it was in the upper 90s, to thick forests of Ponderosa pine trees, and temperatures in the low to mid-70s.

One of our regular blog readers asked if I could show some photos of the trip today, so Miss Terry was clicking away with her digital camera. We started out passing tall saguaro cacti, with beautiful white flowers on them.  Saguaros have long life spans, they take up to 75 years to develop one of their arms, and can live 150 years or more.


Cactus on hillside

Soon the saguaros gave way to stark rocky hillsides, with sparse vegetation.

Desert rock scenery best

State Route 87 is a good divided four lane highway between Mesa and Payson, 75 miles to the north. The road has a lot of curves, and a lot of 6% grades, both up and down. When we drove this route to Show Low a couple of years ago in our old MCI bus conversion, we were running hot all the time, and creeping along at 10 miles per hour in some places.

RV and hill

This trip, in the Winnebago, we dropped down to 35 miles per hour on a couple of steep climbs, but averaged over 50 most of the time. However, I will say that I felt a lot more confident with the Jake brake in our bus than I do with the exhaust brake on the Winnebago. It did a much better job of keeping our speed down on those steep downhill grades.

RV going downhill

RV going downhill 2

A few miles south of Payson, we passed this huge bicycle junkyard. I’ve driven by this place for years and always wanted to stop. Someday I will.       

Bike Junk Yard

When we hit Payson, we transitioned very quickly from desert to pine trees. In Payson we got onto State Route 260, which would carry us across the Mogollon Rim and on to Show Low. This picture was taken two hours after we were driving past saguaros.

Rim pasture 2

But we weren’t done climbing yet. In Payson the elevation is 4,970 feet, and 30 miles east as we got to the top of the Mogollon Rim, we were at 7,530 feet.

Rim crossing

Once we topped out on the Rim, this rest area makes a good place to pull over for a break, and offers some great views down the Rim.

Rim rest area

A lake in Arizona? Actually, the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains are covered with small lakes that offer excellent fishing opportunities.

Rim Lake

Now we were driving through a beautiful forest. To me, this is one of the prettiest places in Arizona.

Road to Heber

Most of State Route 260 is two lane, with frequent pullouts and passing zones.

Passing lane

At Heber we started seeing the effects of the terrible Rodeo–Chediski Fire, which burned over 460,000 acres in 2002. It will take a lifetime for the forest to recover. The inferno actually started as two separate fires, both intentionally set, that merged into one terrible blaze that destroyed over 400 homes, and did over $50 million in damage.

Burn area 8

It makes me sick to know that all of this destruction was caused by a couple of idiots with no regard for anyone or anything.

Burn area 4

Burn area 6

We arrived at the Elks Lodge in Show Low about 3:30 p.m. When we made this same trip in our bus, it took eight hours, and in the Winnebago it was less than half of that.

The Elks Lodge has a campground with full hookup 50 amp RV sites, all for $15 a night, and we managed to get one that offered us a clear shot through the trees so our satellite TV dish would work, even if it is not 100% level. We do love our HWH jacks!

Show Low Elks campground 2

By the time I finished registering at the lodge, my daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Hailey were there to greet us.  Seven year old Hailey helped Grandpa hook up our water, electric, and sewer connections, and it only took me about twice as long as the chore usually does. Once we were settled in, Tiffany picked up her younger daughter, Destiny, and hubby Jim, and we all headed for dinner at Pizza Hut. I’m glad, because by then we were famished.

We’ll be here a couple of weeks, or maybe more, as we enjoy family time with Tiffany and her family before we start our summer travels. It’s a good place to be.

Thought For The Day – Learn from the mistakes of others. Trust me, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. I’ve tried!

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RV Batteries

Posted on January 24th, 2010 by by Administrator

It’s time to go shopping for house batteries for our Winnebago motorhome. For those armchair travelers or newbie RVers, I’ll give you a quick explanation, keeping in mind that I am not a technical person.

Most motorhomes have two separate battery banks. One bank is called the “coach” battery bank, and is used to start the engine and power the headlights, taillights, etc. on a motorhome. Depending on the size of the motorhome, this bank usually consists of one or two 12 volt batteries.

The second battery bank are the “house” batteries, which power the 12 volt interior lights, the fans for the furnaces, supply power to start the refrigerator when operating on propane, and provide spark to light the water heater, among other tasks. Again, depending on the size of the motorhome, the house battery bank can be anything from one battery to as many as you can carry.

House batteries can also be 12 volt batteries connected in parallel, or 6 volt batteries wired in series. Connecting two or more batteries in parallel keeps the same voltage of the individual batteries, but doubles (or triples) their capacity. Connecting two or more batteries in series doubles the voltage, while keeping the same capacity, as I understand it.

Anyway, when we bought the Winnebago, the previous owner told us that he had put three new deep cycle house batteries in a couple of months earlier. Terry and I have noticed that the batteries do not hold a charge very long when we have done any dry camping, so while we were visiting with Mike Steffen a few weeks ago, we pulled out the battery tray and discovered that the house batteries in the motorhome are actually starting batteries, which do not hold up to RV service.

In our bus conversion, we had three huge 8D Lifeline Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, which provided a lot of power and served us very well. The Winnebago cannot accommodate such large batteries, it has the smaller Group 31 size.

As with all RVers, our needs have changed over time, and we do not expect to do as much dry camping as we have done in the past. Back when we did a lot of boondocking, we once spent over seven straight months off the grid. But these days we may spend two or three nights in parking lots as we make a trip, or at an RV rally, but that’s about it. We prefer to be in an RV park, so we do not feel that we need to spend the extra money for AGM batteries. We will probably go with regular deep cycle RV batteries, which cost much less than AGMs.

I stopped at a battery store yesterday, and they carry Deka batteries, in both standard RV style deep cycle, and in AGM. I’m not familiar with the Deka brand, but in looking online, I see a lot of good reports on them. I think they are better known in the eastern half of the country. Does anybody here have any experience with Deka batteries?

Once we get the batteries replaced, we’ll be tire shopping, but that’s another day, and another blog.

While I was out battery shopping, Bad Nick was home posting a new Bad Nick Blog titled The Tennis Ball. Check it out and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day – God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

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