Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Season's Greetings

Today is Christmas Day. Whether you observe the holiday or not, it is a day that you don't need to spend reading about RVs or Roadtreks. So on this 25th Day of December, all I will do is wish each and everyone of my readers and Roadtrek friends, a very joyous holiday!

Merry Christmas!

Happy (belated) Chanukah!

Happy Holidays!

From the 18th Century -
                                     Good Christmas Tide!

and a little...
                      Ho, Ho, Ho!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roadtrek's Cabinet Latches

Roadtrek uses several different cabinet latches for the cabinets in the Roadtreks. The challenge in an RV is that a cabinet latch needs to keep a cabinet closed with the bouncing, vibrations, and shaking of a vehicle while driving. Something that is not necessary for a cabinet in a house. Some of the latches used are standard household latches on cabinets that will resist the extremes of this challenge. Some are special latches and these latches are available only from Roadtrek. A number of Roadtrek owners complain that the latches used break easily - and we have had two different latches break since we bought our 2011 Roadtrek. We will look at each latch and ways to keep it working as best as it can without breaking. Not all Roadtrek models use the same latches in the same places, but you should see in this article latches that are in your Roadtrek.

The latch -


And its catch -



This latch is the most used latch in our Roadtrek. It is on a number of cabinets. There is no visible release when looking at the cabinet doors.




The release is located in the lower edge of the door, in the middle on these cabinets shown above. 



Looking up from the bottom of the cabinet door, the latch is hidden in a cutout. To release this latch you push up on the long button that you see above and pull forward on the cutout to open the cabinet. Look above at the top photo and you will see the latch itself and how it works. When you push up on the button you are pulling the plastic wedge in front of the button up and into the latch and above the metal catch that is on the inside of the cabinet. 

This latch breaks easily. When closing the cabinet door the plastic wedge must must be pushed up and over the metal catch by scraping against the metal putting a lot of pressure on the mechanism and eventually breaking. Some break internally and will prevent the door then from opening as when you push on the button it no longer is able to move the wedge up. Since the hinge is inside the cabinet there is no way to open the door without forcing the door open or trying to push a flat, thin, and strong object (like a thin paint scraper in through the space between the cabinet and the door and moving the wedge up - but the wedge is behind the metal catch so you must not only get blindly to the right spot but so so behind the metal catch. It is possible. I did it when ours broke this way.  It has been suggested that by pushing up on the bottom edge of the cabinet and pulling out, the latch will release but this was not the case when I had to get the cabinet open when the latch broke. The door was solid and would not move in any direction.

If you look to replace this latch you will find one that looks very similar at many RV shops including Camping World, BUT that latch while looking like this one, is not the same size and the installation holes will not match the holes in your cabinets. The catch that this other latch uses is nylon and not metal and much lower than the metal catch. It does look like it might work better with the catch gliding over the nylon catch instead of scraping over metal. The latch used by Roadtrek is only available from Roadtrek. When one of ours broke and I learned that it had to be ordered from the Roadtrek factory or purchased at a Roadtrek dealer/service that stocked it, I purchased three spares in addition to the one that needed to replace the broken latch. I went to our Roadtrek dealer/service and their store did stock the Roadtrek latch, but they were out of stock. I was told that these sell out quickly. They ordered four latches for me at $10 each latch. Some have been able to have these broken latches replaced by service under warranty. That was not offered to me when I went to the service center. They were shipped to me (at my cost) and they arrived in ten days to my address.

There is a way to avoid these latches breaking. When you close the cabinet door always be sure to push the latch button in and hold it in until the door is completely closed. This will prevent the plastic wedge catch and the metal edge of the catch from putting a strain on the mechanism and stop the scraping of the catch every time the cabinet door is closed. 

Next -

The latch -




The catch -



What it looks like on the outside of the cabinet LOCKED -



What it looks like on the outside of the cabinet UNLOCKED -


To open this latch you push in on the lock - the round circle on the outside of the cabinet. This will release the latch from the metal catch inside and also pushes the door open at the same time. This latch is used on some newer Roadtreks or perhaps only the Sprinter Roadtreks on many cabinets that the first latch is used in our Roadtrek. In our Roadtrek this latch is only used on the bathroom door and on the wardrobe cabinet door. When you close the door with these latches you push in the button and it will click into place and lock the door closed.

It is reported that this latch breaks easily also. Roadtrek has said that if the door is closed with the latch in the locked position (as shown in the photo two above) the latch will break. When the latch is open, the middle of the circle pops significantly out and stays out - as shown in the photo two above - and I am not sure why anyone would push this in while the cabinet is open, but apparently some do and the latch will break inside. One of these on ours - we have one on the wardrobe and one on the bathroom door - sticks when pushed in to open and the door needs to be given a gentle push in and then the button pops out.

This latch also can only be obtained from Roadtrek. If you need a replacement, a Roadtrek dealer/service center will order them for you. If you order a replacement, order spares at the same time.

Next -

The latch -




The catch -



This latch is a stock household cabinet latch found at most home stores at less than $2.00. This latch should not break unless the door is misaligned with the cabinet and the latch does not hit the center of the rollers when closed. In my Roadtrek this latch is used in combination with the latch just above on the bathroom and the wardrobe cabinet doors. The mechanism is simple. The point of the catch passes through the nylon rollers and is caught between them and a strong spring. To open you just pull. To close you just push.

Next and last -

The latch -


The catch -




This latch is also a household latch that can be found at most home stores and I replaced a broken one of these latches for less than one dollar. With this latch the metal clip surrounds the outside of the nylon rollers and holds on behind them. Outside the cabinet door has a pull knob attached. We only have this catch on one cabinet - the pantry cabinet over the sink. On our cabinet, I discovered - after one arm of the metal catch broke off - that the door is out of line and this catch was not going around the rollers but rather one arm of the metal was going into the center of the rollers - and at the same time cutting into the edge of the cabinet (which has a metal edge) every time the cabinet door was closed. On close examination I could see that the door was not evenly aligned. To close this cabinet now, we push up on the door bottom as we close the cabinet so that the metal arms of the catch clear the edge of the cabinet and listen for the click of the catch locking around the rollers. I did try to adjust the alignment of the door but I could not and will explain why in the next paragraph.

Cabinet Hinges -

The horizontal cabinets have these hinges -



I have recently learned that all hinges used by Roadtrek are not created equal. The above hinge is what is in the cabinets in my Roadtrek. Other Roadtreks - by model? - perhaps just Sprinters - by year? - perhaps after 2011? - have a similar looking hinge that is a much heavier metal and has an adjusting screw in the middle that will widen and lessen the gap between the the door and the cabinet where the hinge is attached. Those hinges are common and are called in woodworking among other names, European hinges. A lot of knockdown furniture uses those hinges. To adjust a European hinge to align the cabinet door you turn one or more adjusting screws - simple. Now, in my Roadtrek and I am sure many others, the hinge that you see in the photo above has no adjusting screw. There is a small adjustment possible IF the screws holding the hinge were aligned with each other exactly on installation by loosing the screws and then sliding the entire hinge forward or back. That would be fine but I have found more than once that if the wood screws in the Roadtrek are loosened they do not always tighten back again. I tried to do this with the cabinet latch above and the hinges on that cabinet to adjust that latch from hitting the edge of the cabinet but the screws were stripping the wood with just the slightest adjustment and I stopped. Yes, I know about wood filler and how to put glue and a matchstick or steel wool or toothpicks into the holes and screw into them again (I have been a woodworker for a long time), but I was not going to do this and hope it would go back together. So, be very careful if you decide to take out or loosen wood screws in the Roadtrek as they don't always have anything to screw back into.

Some cabinets have metal piano hinges - a long strip of hinge. These cannot be adjusted at all. 

So there you have the cabinet latches found in Roadtreks. Perhaps in older Roadtreks there were different latches used. If you would like to change these over to other types of hinges it is always possible but you will need to make different holes in the cabinets and may need to cover any cutouts that these hinges require in the cabinet doors. Be sure to find latches that will withstand the motion of the vehicle as it travels and will not release and spill the contents of your cabinet all over.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

After Winterizing

Once you have winterized your Roadtrek, then what? You can still travel in your Roadtrek with it winterized and we will have an article about that coming soon. For some, once they have winterized they are putting their Roadtrek "away" until the seasons pass and the warm weather comes again. But can you just winterize and walk away?

The answer is no. There are things that you need to do all winter regarding your Roadtrek. This article will detail winter maintenance.

Check your propane level when you have finally decided that it is time to give the Roadtrek a rest for the rest of the winter. A full propane tank is best during the cold weather. Take it to be filled if it is not full. 

If you have a built in generator, whether gas or propane, that generator needs to be exercised every month. While Roadtrek only recommends 45 minutes of generator "exercise", the company that manufacturers and warranties the generator, Onan Cummings, says that the generator needs to be exercised for two hours a month. The total time that the generator runs from the time it is installed is recorded on the dial that appears on the wall of the Roadtrek with the generator on and off switch. These hours and minutes are reported to Onan Cummings when warranty work is required. I have been told by our service center that if the time on the meter does not equal or exceed the minimum of hours that amount to two hours a month since installation, warranty payment may be refused. So there is more than one reason to exercise the generator properly. And the most important reason is not to make the company happy, but to keep the generator operating properly. Generators work better if they are run often and not allowed to sit without use. This is why "exercising" the generator is required.

During the winter I exercise the Roadtrek generator two hours a month. It is necessary to power at least half of the generator's load capacity when exercising the generator. During the warm months I use the A/C to put this load on the generator, but what should you use when it is cold? If you generator has a 2800 watt capacity, half of that is 1500 watts. Most electric heaters are 1500 watts. I bring a household ceramic electric heater into the Roadtrek during the winter when I am exercising the generator, start the generator, plug in the electric heater and turn it up the thermostat on the heater to high. If it seems that it will get too warm or hot inside the Roadtrek I open the ceiling vent to let some of the heat out as the heater runs. After two hours, all is turned off and the heater comes back into the house until the next month.

Cold weather causes batteries to discharge more quickly. It is important to regularly check the charge level of your coach battery(ies). If the level on the batteries on the wall LED meter shows less than G, it is necessary to charge the batteries. You can do this one of two ways. Drive the Roadtrek for two hours at highway speeds OR plug the Roadtrek into "shore power" at your house for 12 hours. Both will charge both your coach and vehicle batteries. Do not leave your Battery Switch ON when you are not using your Roadtrek. This will drain the batteries in the best weather quickly.

I plug the Roadtrek into shore power for a period of 12 hours on schedule once each month throughout the year. In the winter I check weekly to make sure the batteries have not drained between scheduled charges. 

Some will leave the Roadtrek plugged in to shore power throughout the winter and this is possible as long as you have a Roadtrek with a "smart" charger component (for newer Roadtreks this is part of the 3-way inverter unit). The "smart" charger will charge the batteries until full and then drop back to a "float" charge which will monitor the battery levels and charge when the level drops. AGM maintenance free batteries used by Roadtrek since 2011 are safely charged this way, but wet cell batteries should be checked regularly if left plugged in this way to be sure that the fluid level is not evaporated or boiled away. While Roadtrek states that the engine battery - which is not an AGM battery - will charge without problem this way, if that battery has fluid levels that can be checked they should also be checked regularly. It is better safe by taking a few moments to check the fluid levels, than to be sorry later. (If you have AGM batteries DO NOT open them to check fluid levels.)

As with any motor vehicle it is best not to let it sit for long periods of time without starting the engine. Go out every one or two weeks and start the engine. If you can, take it for a drive.

If you drive the Roadtrek in the winter on roads that have been salted for ice and/or snow, the road salt will do damage to the underside of the van. If you can rinse off the under-chassis with fresh water using a hose. Sometimes, the weather just won't allow this. In that case, as soon as the weather starts to get warm enough to do this, do it. I have seen one Class B owner who places a lawn sprinkler that moves the water back and forth under the van to wash off the salt. After doing one area, he moves the sprinkler back to do the rest.

This is a good time to get to any of the little repairs or modifications that you have been thinking about inside the Roadtrek. You are not going anywhere, it is sitting out there, and you can spend some time inside and get an "RV" fix while you do those things you have been putting off inside the Roadtrek (as long as they are not water related).

How do you remember to do all of this? I do it on a schedule and that schedule is set into my computer's calendar software with reminder alarms. I have an "appointment" with my Roadtrek on the 15th of every month to charge the generator. I have an "appointment" with my Roadtrek on the 28th of every month to plug into shore power. Why the 28th? Not all months have 31 days and February only has 28 unless it is leap year. So, the 28th works for all months. On those days when I turn on the computer, an alarm goes off from the calendar that tells me its Roadtrek Day. With computer calendars easy to sync with smartphones, the reminder comes up on my phone on those days as well.

With all of this your Roadtrek will be ready for you to get going without difficulties in the Spring!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WINTERIZING YOUR ROADTREK - STEP BY STEP

I have written two other articles about winterizing the Roadtrek - Winterizing the Roadtrek and Winterizing Observations. Many of our readers have used both of these articles successfully to winterize their own Roadtrek. Looking over both articles and just completing our second winterizing experience on our own, I felt that what is needed is one article that puts the entire process in one place and definitively goes through the process in simple to follow steps. The basic process applies not only to all Roadtreks similarly equipped, but also all RVs and many trailers. There is no mystery to winterizing unless you have never done it before. With this article anyone should be able to winterize their Roadtrek and in no more than two hours - most likely a lot less. Remember that this is STEP BY STEP IN THE SIMPLEST OF STEPS. Do not let the number of steps you see here overwhelm you or discourage you!

To start, here is a list of what you will need to follow this process and as I go through the steps I will explain alternatives for some of these items. There are some that you must have.

WHAT YOU MUST HAVE BEFORE YOU START:

 -  THREE (3) BOTTLES OF RV ANTIFREEZE (Pink, non-toxic and drinking water safe)

 -  RATCHET SOCKET WRENCH with 1 -1/16" SOCKET (For Roadtrek SUBURBAN Water Heater)

WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE BEFORE YOU START:

-   CAMCO WATER PUMP CONVERTER WINTERIZER KIT


This is permanently installed between the pipe coming from your fresh water tank and your water pump. Here it has been installed on the intake side of the water pump filter strainer (which on my Roadtrek was moved by service to make room to install the winterizing kit - the brass valve that you see here). Some older Roadtreks do not have room for this valve to be installed. It is possible to make room by adding pipe to the intake side of the water pump as was done here bringing the connection to the floor. A service center can install this for you and make it fit. If no modifications are required for space at your water pump this is an easy DIY install with full instructions included with the kit.

-   PLASTIC WINTERIZING HAND PUMP KIT



This is distributed by several RV accessories companies. They are all the same with the exception of color. If you cannot install the water pump converter above you can winterize with just this. With the pump converter, you will also want this as you will see in the winterizing steps below.




8" ADJUSTABLE WRENCH
The wrench is to remove and replace the cap on the water pump converter valve as shown above.

 Before you begin here is one preliminary step - 

CLEAN THE FLOOR OF YOUR ROADTREK AROUND THE SHOWER DRAIN TO AVOID ANY DIRT GETTING WASHED INTO YOUR WASTE TANK.

NOW - You are ready to BEGIN!

1. IF YOU HAVE A 190 OR 210 (Models with two fresh water tanks) MAKE SURE YOUR TANKS ARE SET TO SUMMER MODE

2. OPEN THE INSIDE SHOWER DRAIN BY REMOVING THE DRAIN SCREEN/PLUG. For an aisle shower remove the plate on the aisle floor and the shower drain is inside. For the permanent bathroom, remove the shower drain screen/plug from the floor.

3. OPEN ALL FAUCETS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE. FLUSH TOILET.  Water pump OFF! Put your inside shower head down on the floor right at the drain to catch the water that will come out. Remove any water filters that you may have on your faucets first.



4. DUMP YOUR WASTE TANKS - BLACK AND GREY. Flush your black tank with clean water to full and dump again.  For convenience this can be done at the end of your last camping trip of the season. As long as it is done before you start winterizing.



5. REMOVE THE FRESH WATER TANK FILL CAP(S) IN THE DOOR FRAME(S).

6. DRAIN YOUR FRESH WATER TANK(S). Newer Roadtreks have a cap on a drain under the chassis at the rear, lower corner of the driver's door that must be unscrewed and removed. Some older Roadtreks will have a turn valve in the same location. Other older Roadtreks have other methods to drain the fresh water tank. For 190's and 210's, the rear interior tank will drain into the front exterior tank with the outside drain if your are set to Summer Mode as per Step 1. WAIT FOR ALL OF THE WATER TO DRAIN OUT. This may take some time. It will come to a slow drip and then stop. If you want to be sure, leave the drain open for 24 hours or more to allow the inside of the tank to dry out.

7. CLOSE ALL FAUCETS INSIDE AND OUT.

8. CLOSE THE FRESH WATER TANK DRAIN.

9. KEEP THE FRESH WATER TANK CAP(S) OFF FOR A FEW DAYS TO ALLOW THE TANKS TO DRY OUT BEFORE PUTTING THEM  BACK INTO THE DOOR FRAME(S) HOLE(S).

10. OPEN THE HOT WATER HEATER OUTSIDE PANEL. Turn the white plastic ring so that it matches the slit and grab the top of the panel pulling up and out.



11. OPEN THE HOT WATER PRESSURE RELEASE VALVE. This is the small handle in the middle of the photo above on the top of the compartment. Pull up gently on the metal handle. STEP BACK AND OUT OF THE WAY! Water will come rushing out with some force. Leave this open. Wait for the water to stop coming out before going to the next step.

12. OPEN THE HEX HEAD BOLT USING THE 1 1/16" SOCKET AND RATCHET WRENCH. This is seen in the exact middle of the bottom of the compartment in the photo above. This will be hard to turn at first. This hex bolt is the head of the ANODE ROD. Once completely loose pull out the Anode Rod by pulling out the head of the bolt you just turned open. ALL OF THE WATER WILL RUSH OUT OF THE HOT WATER HEATER. YOU JUST DRAINED THE HOT WATER HEATER TANK. SOME WATER WILL REMAIN IN THE BOTTOM OF THE HOT WATER TANK. Y9U CAN LEAVE THIS OR LEAVE IT OPEN FOR A FEW DAYS TO LET IT DRY OUT.

13. INSPECT THE ANODE ROD FOR CONDITION. It's purpose is to corrode. If it's diameter is less than a pencil it needs to be replaced. Replace with a new one now or make a note to replace when you de-winterize.  THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO FLUSH THE HOT WATER TANK OF ALL SEDIMENT - FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE TO SEE HOW.

14. REPLACE THE ANODE ROD AND TIGHTEN IT IN WITH THE SOCKET WRENCH. Use Teflon pipe tape or pipe sealant paste on the threads of the hex bolt.

15.  CLOSE THE PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE BY JUST GENTLY PUSHING IN THE HANDLE YOU PULLED OUT.

16. REPLACE THE HOT WATER HEATER PANEL. Put the bottom in first lining up the two points on the bottom frame with the two holes in the door. Push in with the plastic ring going through the slot. TURN THE PLASTIC RING TO LOCK.

GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK 

17.  BYPASS THE HOT WATER HEATER. Newer Roadtreks have three valves on pipes in the middle of the hot water tank inside in a cabinet. The hot water tank is covered in foam and is easy to identify. Older Roadtreks may have one valve. Roadtrek Ranger's have a very different process to drain the hot water tank and there is only one valve for the bypass.


You see above the three valves that you need to turn to bypass the water heater. The foam box behind the pipes is the hot water tank. There is a valve on the top pipe, one on the down (middle) pipe, and one on the bottom pipe. In this photo these valves are in NORMAL HOT WATER USE POSITION. TURN THEM IN THEIR OTHER DIRECTION and you have bypassed the hot water heater!   What you are doing is closing the valves on the top and bottom pipes and OPENING the valve on the down pipe. This is a bit confusing, but if you think about what you are trying to accomplish - cutting off water from the hot water tank and sending water around it, it starts to make sense as that down pipe once opened will send water around the closed connections. When in bypass water still comes out of the hot water faucets - it will just be COLD water - and that is what is should be when the hot water heater is bypassed.

18. PLUG IN YOUR ROADTREK OR TURN ON YOUR GENERATOR IF YOUR COACH BATTERIES ARE NOT FULLY CHARGED. You will now be using your water pump and you don't want to run out of battery power. If your batteries are charged, just use your batteries. TURN ON YOUR BATTERY DISCONNECT SWITCH.

19.  TURN ON YOUR WATER PUMP WITH THE SWITCH ON THE WALL.

20. OPEN AND CLOSE ALL FAUCET HANDLES INCLUDING THE SHOWER HOT AND COLD AND FLUSH THE TOILET UNTIL NO MORE WATER COMES OUT. The water pump may run on because it is now sucking air from the empty fresh water tanks.

21. TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP WITH THE SWITCH ON THE WALL. 

22. OPEN THE TOILET LID AND POUR ONE HALF GALLON OR MORE OF ANTIFREEZE INTO THE TOILET AND FLUSH IT DOWN INTO THE BLACK TANK. Doing this step now prevents the loss of antifreeze that you put into the toilet lines if you do this step later. This is to keep the black tank wet all winter with antifreeze so that it does not dry out and also puts antifreeze in that you will use later to protect the macerator. Do this even if you don't have a macerator. 

GO OUTSIDE THE ROADTREK

23. CONNECT THE HOSE ON THE ANTIFREEZE HAND PUMP ONTO THE CITY WATER INLET CONNECTION. Make sure that the CITY WATER VALVE IS SET TO USE WATER AND NOT TO FILL THE FRESH TANK(S).

24. SOMEONE NEEDS TO GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK TO THE SINK FAUCET, WHILE YOU STAY AT OUTSIDE WITH THE HAND PUMP. Open a door or a window or use a walkie-talkie so that the two of you can communicate.

25. PERSON INSIDE OPEN THE SINK FAUCET ALL THE WAY TO COLD.

26. PUT THE OTHER END OF THE HAND PUMP INTO AN OPEN, FULL ANTIFREEZE BOTTLE.



27. PUMP THE HAND PUMP UNTIL THE PERSON INSIDE SEES PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE COMING OUT INTO THE SINK FROM THE FAUCET. As soon as the person sees pink antifreeze and no water coming out and tells you, they should CLOSE THE FAUCET and YOU STOP PUMPING.

28. REMOVE THE HAND PUMP FROM THE CITY WATER HOSE CONNECTION. The pump is full of antifreeze and will spill so get both ends of the hose into the bottle quickly and empty the pump. 

29. CAP THE CITY WATER HOSE CONNECTION IF YOU HAVE A CAP.

GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK YOU ARE FINISHED WITH THE HAND PUMP. YOU HAVE JUST PROTECTED THE CITY WATER HOSE VALVE AND THE PIPES THAT GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK.

YOU ARE NOW GOING TO USE THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE INSTALLED YOU CAN USE THE HAND PUMP BY FOLLOWING THE NEXT STEPS WITH THE HAND PUMP STILL CONNECTED AND ONE PERSON INSIDE AND ONE PERSON OUTSIDE PUMPING ANTIFREEZE INTO THE PLUMBING USING THE HAND PUMP.

30. REMOVE THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE CAP. You may need the 8" adjustable wrench to do this if the cap is on tight. 

31. CONNECT THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE ANTIFREEZE HOSE TO THE VALVE BY SCREWING IT ON WHERE YOU REMOVED THE CAP.

32. OPEN THE VALVE. Turn the brass valve to point toward the antifreeze hose (across the valve).

33. PUT THE END OF THE HOSE INTO THE ANTIFREEZE IN THE BOTTLE.

34. TURN ON THE WATER PUMP.

35. TURN ON THE KITCHEN SINK FAUCET TO COLD ALL THE WAY. In a few moments the pump will pull the antifreeze from the bottle and into the water pump, through the pipe and out the kitchen sink faucet.

36. TURN OFF THE FAUCET WHEN YOU SEE PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE ONLY COMING FROM FAUCET INTO THE SINK. First there may be a burst of air, then maybe, but unlikely water, and then antifreeze with some water, and then pure pink antifreeze. Let it go down the sink drain.

37. REPEAT STEPS 35 AND 36 FOR THE

                      KITCHEN SINK HOT WATER

                      INSIDE SHOWER COLD WATER

                      INSIDE SHOWER HOT WATER

                      OUTSIDE SHOWER HOT WATER

                      OUTSIDE SHOWER COLD WATER
                    
      IF YOU HAVE A PERMANENT BATH WITH A SINK THAT IS NOT THE SAME FAUCET AS THE SHOWER FAUCET:
 
                      BATHROOM SINK HOT WATER

                      BATHROOM SINK COLD WATER

                       QUICKLY OPEN AND CLOSE THE HOT WATER HEATER BYPASS VALVES TO ALLOW A LITTLE RV ANTIFREEZE TO FLOW INTO THE VALVES TO PROTECT THOSE. CLOSE THOSE VALVES ALMOST IMMEDIATELY!


38. FLUSH THE TOILET AND HOLD THE VALVE OPEN UNTIL YOU SEE PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE COMING INTO THE TOILET.

39. ALLOW SOME ANTIFREEZE TO REMAIN IN THE TOILET COVERING THE RUBBER FLUSH FLAP/DOOR. If there is none remaining after you flushed the antifreeze, then just pour some from an antifreeze bottle into the toilet and let an inch or so sit over the flush flap.

**** UPDATE/ADD IN -

Having followed my own directions for several years now to winterize my Roadtrek, I have found one step that needs to come at THIS POINT and not later. That step is winterizing the macerator pump. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A MACERATOR SKIP NOW RIGHT TO STEP 49. IF YOU DO HAVE A MACERATOR, do these steps NOW.


40. POUR A HALF GALLON OF ANTIFREEZE INTO THE KITCHEN SINK DRAIN. This is to put some antifreeze into the Grey Tank.

41. TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP. LEAVE THE SETUP WITH THE A/F BOTTLE AND THE WINTERIZING VALVE IN PLACE.

 GO OUTSIDE THE ROADTREK

41. PREPARE TO DUMP THE BLACK TANK WITH THE MACERATOR.

42. POINT THE MACERATOR HOSE INTO A BUCKET AND OPEN THE BLACK TANK VALVE. RUN THE MACERATOR UNTIL PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE COMES OUT. 

43. REPEAT STEP 42, BRIEFLY OPENING THE GREY TANK VALVE. 

44. STOP AND PUT AWAY THE MACERATOR HOSE.

YOU HAVE JUST PROTECTED THE MACERATOR.    

 GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK

45. GO TO THE TOILET AND OPEN THE TOILET FLAP. POUR AT LEAST ONE HALF GALLON OF RV ANTIFREEZE DOWN THE TOILET INTO TH BLACK TANK. When you push the flush pedal you may see pink antifreeze coming from the toilet water opening even though the water pump is OFF. This is OK. This is the antifreeze sitting in the toilet valve and pipe under pressure. We will replace that NEXT.
 

46. TURN ON THE WATER PUMP AND GO BACK TO THE A/F BOTTLE AND WINTERIZING VALVE. MAKE SURE THE HOSE IS IN THE BOTTLE.

47. HAVE YOUR PARTNER PUSH DOWN THE TOILET PEDAL ALL THE WAY UNTIL PINK ANTIFREEZE FLOWS STEADILY OUT OF THE TOILET WATER OPENING INTO THE BOWL AND DOWN INTO THE BLACK TANK. STOP (FOOT OFF THE PEDAL) AS SOON AS IT FLOWS.  

48. POUR ANTIFREEZE FROM A BOTTLE INTO THE TOILET AND COVER THE TOILET FLAP ON THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL TO KEEP IT FROM DRYING OUT OVER THE WINTER.


*49. TAKE THE HOSE OUT OF THE ANTIFREEZE BOTTLE.

50. TURN ON THE KITCHEN SINK AND LET ANTIFREEZE RUN OUT INTO THE SINK.

51. TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP.

52. TURN THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE HANDLE TO POINT TOWARD THE WATER PIPE (AS SHOWN IN THE PHOTO ABOVE). 


53. UNSCREW THE HOSE FROM THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE.

54. PUT THE CAP BACK ON THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE. Make sure the cap is on tight. Use the wrench but don't over tighten. You want to be sure that no air can leak into your water pump plumbing from here when you go to use your Roadtrek next Spring. 



55. POUR A CUP OF ANTIFREEZE SLOWLY INTO THE KITCHEN SINK DRAIN TO FILL THE TRAP.

56. POUR A CUP OF ANTIFREEZE SLOWLY INTO THE SHOWER DRAIN TO FILL THE TRAP.



57. PUT THE SHOWER DRAIN STRAINER/CAP ON BUT LEAVE IT LOOSE.

58. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A MACERATOR AND DID NOT DO THIS STEP ABOVE, POUR SOME ANTIFREEZE INTO THE TOILET TO COVER THE TOILET FLAP AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL TO KEEP IT FROM DRYING OUT OVER THE WINTER.

59. TURN OFF THE BATTERY SWITCH ON THE WALL!

60. IF YOU PLUGGED IN FOR POWER UNPLUG OR TURN OFF THE GENERATOR.

61. IN A FEW DAYS, PUT THE DOOR FILL CAP(S) BACK INTO THE HOLE(S). 


 YOU HAVE JUST WINTERIZED YOUR ROADTREK!

 
When you are going to winterize your Roadtrek print these step by step directions out and cross off each step as you complete it. This will be far better than trying to use a checklist with brief and confusing wording of items. Here you have it complete and simple. 

If you do not wish to use the "toys" that make this job simple as shown in the photos at the beginning, you could just pour gallons and gallons of antifreeze down into the fresh water tank and let the water pump bring it out and into the pipes following the steps above. This method uses far more antifreeze than is necessary. With my directions you will not need more than three gallons of antifreeze, maybe less. I would rather not have the antifreeze in the tanks for my drinking water. Yes, it is in the pipes and is is non-toxic, but why have all of that antifreeze sitting in your fresh water tank(s) all winter.

Do not be concerned about the fresh water tank(s). If there is any water left in the bottom of the exterior tank at all it will be so little that it can cause no problems in a freeze. The problems come when water freezes in small places such as pipes and valves. The water when it freezes expands and has no room to go so the pipe or valve bursts. The large tanks have plenty of room for water expansion as long as they are as near empty as possible. In all of those small places you have replaced the water with antifreeze!


If you plan to travel with your Roadtrek winterized, NEVER TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER SWITCH. Doing so on an empty hot water tank will burn out your hot water heater and can be very dangerous. There is a wire cable coming out from the top of the foam tank that connects with a small circuit board plug to a socket on the wall to the front right of the hot water tank. By pulling that plug gently out you will prevent the hot water wall switch from operating. Just remember that you did this when you de-winterize.

Don't forget that you still need to go into your Roadtrek all winter. You must run the generator under load (in the winter this means connect an electric heater to put the half load needed on the system) for two hours every month to keep it running properly.Start the Roadtrek engine. Take a drive, but avoid roads with salt for ice and snow as the salt will corrode the under carriage and what is located there of your Roadtrek

An RV shop will charge you $50 or more to do what you just did for the price of three bottles antifreeze, a one time only investment in the water pump converter valve and the antifreeze hand pump, and less than two hours of time. The actual process goes quickly. It is the moving from spot to spot, getting things out and putting things away that take most of the time.


 

 






Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our Most Recent Roadtrek Trip

I have not written about our trips in the Roadtrek for awhile. We have taken three trips since our Fourth of July week trip that I chronicled in 8 parts and perhaps the length of that article has been a factor in why I have stayed away from trip articles - and perhaps because the how to articles are much more popular. Since Fourth of July, we took a trip of 16 days in August, a trip of three days in September, and our most recent trip was for my wife's birthday at the end of August which we almost did not take (and perhaps shouldn't have).

This last trip was planned for months. We were going to Lancaster, PA which is our home away from home. We have been going to Lancaster for our birthdays since we got married so many years ago. Because of when my birthday falls, we can't take the Roadtrek as it is still winterized and while we could go "waterless", we just do a car trip for the day and back.  We don't travel overnight any other way than with the Roadtrek. Meryl's birthday is Halloween - and that is the reason why our birthday trips started. Meryl hates that her birthday is Halloween. When other kids had birthday parties with colorful balloons and festive decorations, Meryl's birthday was filled with orange and black, witches and goblins, and a party that involved trick or treating. I can't blame her for not liking this and it was never her idea to do this but something her parents decided would be "nice" - every year. Yes, there are somethings that one can honestly blame the parents for. (They meant well, but just didn't ask or hear when displeasure was expressed about the annual "celebration".) Anyway, since we have been together I have tried to provide Meryl with a birthday without Halloween and that has not been easy. When we were first together, I would take Meryl out for dinner on her birthday and no matter how nice or fine a restaurant I picked, inevitably we would walk in and a witch would take our coats and a zombie would come over to be our waiter. I recall one such dinner in what at the time was considered a "very fine" restaurant that our waiter had body pieces hanging from him and was well covered in stage blood. That was it for trying to find a place to go for her birthday around here. One thing that has been almost certain (though in recent years this as not been as certain as it once was) in Lancaster is that this Amish/Mennonite religious community downplays Halloween - and we both enjoy just being there no matter what time of the year it is. We have to date never encountered a restaurant among the many local restaurants that we go to there with any employee in costume or decorated beyond a Fall theme for Halloween. So this is where we spend Meryl's birthday. Last year this trip was cancelled thanks to Tropical Storm Sandy which hit our area hard and prevented travel anywhere from here.

This year there was a different type of problem. I got sick a few weeks before we were scheduled to go and then Meryl caught it and she was sick just before we were supposed to go. She was hacking and coughing so bad and was so congested that I knew we should not be going on the trip - and she agreed. We decided that since we could cancel the campground reservation right to the day before, we would wait and see how she.. and I... were feeling. As usual with our trips the weather was not cooperating and the end of the week that we were to be away it was going to rain. That added another complication - and I certainly not want either of us outside at the end of the trip having to do all that we need to do to dump the tanks,  etc in the pouring rain. It was looking pretty much that we were not going. It was Monday, Meryl was still congested and hacking and coughing - and I was not too much better myself - and we were to leave in two days. We talked about it again. The next three days were supposed to be good weather. The trip was set from Wednesday through Saturday. Friday and possibly Saturday there was to be heavy rain. Meryl suggested that we call the campground right away and ask if we could arrive a day earlier - Tuesday, the very next day. We would then leave on Thursday which was Meryl's birthday and spend the day there before driving home after dinner that night. Unfortunately, this idea did not come up until 4 pm that day. We called the campground and got the answering machine saying the office was closes at 5 p (but it was just after 4). We called several times and then just left a message asking that someone would call us back. We went out at 5 pm and started to do what we need to do before we can leave on a trip - fill the water tanks, make the bed, and pack the cabinets with what we will need that comes from the house. And we would do this with both of not wanting to get the other one sicker. It was a joint effort with Meryl avoiding breathing on whatever I would use. I thought to myself, what was the difference since for the next three days we would be in very tight quarters inside the Roadtrek breathing on each other with the temperatures cold outside. It took a few hours but we were ready to leave in the morning - providing we could then reach the campground to be sure there would a place for us a day early.

It may seem odd to some for us to wonder why a campground would be crowded at the end of October in Pennsylvania, but Halloween is a big campground day all over. When I made the reservation our usual favorite site was booked and I made the reservation months in advanced. No, Halloween week and day is not a day to just expect to drive into any campground that is open - and that is another key - many campgrounds in the North East and Middle Atlantic close for the season in October - some right after Columbus Day and some the day after Halloween. This campground stays open until January. Most others there are closed or will be closed the next week.

We got a call back from the campground the next morning. There was no one in our assigned site that day and we could come on down. Leaving two days early would be no problem. We grabbed our clothes that we packed in clean laundry bags to bring out at the last minute, along with a bag full of cough and flu medications, and were off still hacking and coughing.

The temperatures outside were colder than they had been all month but not below 40 degrees. We had our Fall coats on that convert to winter coats with a lining and we were prepared for the rain if it should come early. We had little traffic driving out off Long Island, out of New York and into New Jersey. It was a delight to see that gasoline in New Jersey on the Turnpike was $3.17 a gallon which was 40 cents less than it was at home. We stopped and filled up as we were not sure what we would find for gas prices in PA which are usually somewhere between the price per gallon in New Jersey and New York (they turned out to be $3.29 - still nice). Anyway, we were on our way despite how we both were physically feeling.

I would love to say that when we reached Pennsylvania and all through the stay we felt wonderful. We probably both got a little worse while we were away. We were out in the cold night air that we would not have been in at home where we had no need to be outside at night. There were pollen alerts in Lancaster (while at home and for some time the pollen counts were zero) and that did not help me any. But despite how we felt we made the best of it - and enjoyed ourselves between the hacking and the coughing.

The Roadtrek gets nice and warm inside with the heat pump (the air conditioner is also a heat pump) and that works as long as the outside temperatures are over 40 degrees F. When we settled in at the campground each night, I put the heat pump on and it warmed down the inside of the Roadtrek fairly quickly. In fact, I had to adjust the thermostat several times to keep the heat off more than it was on because it was getting too hot inside to be comfortable. We rarely turn on the propane, but for the end of October I always turn on the propane when we get settled for the night at the campground. If the temperatures should drop below 40 outside, it will be needed for the furnace, and while we don't need hot water in the summer when the temperature is near 100 and the water in the fresh water tanks get close to that temperature on its won.  we do want hot water in the hot water tank when it is cold outside and the water coming from the sink feels it.

What I did find with the hot water heater on, is that the water in the tank gets VERY hot and the hot water tank is very well insulated. The water about twenty minutes after starting the hot water heater was so hot that it could not be turned on unless mixed with cold water without feeling burned. When I found that, I shut the hot water heater switch off - and the water stayed hot in the tank all night. I suppose that has we used a lot of hot water at one time, then the cold water replenishing it would have needed the hot water heater switch on to reheat it, but every night of this trip we did fine putting the hot water heater switch on for twenty minutes and then shutting it off and the hot water stayed very hot all night and the next morning.

We were able to prop up the pillows enough for both of us to keep the congestion down while we slept. The king bed in the 190 as we have it made up is very comfortable and keeps the warmth in. It is also large enough for us to sleep without breathing on each other. Not an issue when all is well, but we were both still sick. We had an extra blanket for each of us if we needed them but they were not needed. The heat pump stays set to on all night and turns on and off keeping the inside of the Roadtrek nicely warm.

I will not get into what we did and where we went because you have heard most of that about this area before from us. We have a routine that we enjoy when we are here and we go out to all of the places that we enjoy spending time at. The original trip was to include Green Dragon Farmer's Market on Friday and since we would not be in PA on Friday now, and we arrived on Tuesday, we went to Root's Farmers Market, enjoying that instead. I did head into some farm roads, encountered horse and buggies always going up a hill blind to traffic coming up over the other side, and even found a road to get lost on and hoped that I would not encounter anything that the Roadtrek was too large to handle (close but we were fine).

As occurs more often than we would like, this trip was not without a problem with the Roadtrek. On the last night of the trip, I heard the water pump start running very briefly for no apparent reason. I thought perhaps it was topping off the hot water tank as there were no faucets open. A little while later I heard it again and I started to investigate checking that the sink faucet was completely off and that the toilet was not running. Then I reached around the back of the toilet where the valve connects to the water pipe and it was wet. The pipe connection was screwed tight. I then felt on the floor behind the toilet and it was wet. We had some things stored on the sides of the toilet and I moved those to find that on one side of the toilet they were wet on the bottom and seemed to have been wet for some time. I then saw the water coming out from under the edge of the toilet where the base meets the floor. This has happened to us once before we we had first gotten the Roadtrek and that time it happened in early October when we had the heat on inside and the hot water heater on as well - same conditions as this. At that time it was a bad toilet valve that needed to be replaced. This time, I started to wonder if it could be condensation but the water pump would not run from condensation. No, very likely the toilet valve was leaking again and would need to be replaced again. I shut down the water pump, mopped up the floor around the toilet that turned out was a lot more water than I had first realized and we spent that last night turning the water pump on only when we needed water and then right off again. What to do about this was the question. We were an hour and a half away from dealer/service and it would be a lot easier to go the next day if they could take us to fix this than to make the whole trip to PA again - in the Spring because as the weather was turning colder I needed to winterize within the next week or so. But the next day was Meryl's birthday and I was not going to have her spend her birthday in the service center waiting room - and besides, the weather report now was changing it was to rain on Thursday as well as Friday now - so this was no time to be outside around dealer/service if this took all day while we were both still sick. We would go home with the leak, winterize, and next Spring make the trip to have the toilet valve replaced - again.  We had had the opposite problem with the toilet valve during our trip in August. The night we arrived the toilet had no water pressure to flush. The toilet valve was clogged and was like that for almost eight days until the clog seemed to work its way through and clear. Another unexpected and unpleasant surprise on what is supposed to be relaxing. We are on a first name basis with the people at the service center. They are wonderful but I really would rather not see them as often as we seem to have to do.

Anyway, Meryl spent her birthday in Lancaster. We went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants there - Shady Maple Smorgasbord - which on your birthday gives you a free dinner. After dinner we drove through the rain home. All through the trip we had thought that if the weather report had changed we might stay over one additional day on Friday and go to Green Dragon, but all reports were heavier rain on Friday until the mid-afternoon. On Thursday before we left the campground and while the rain had not yet started, we dumped the tanks, filled with water in case we needed water before we got home, and the left for a last day in Lancaster and dinner that night. The rain did not start until almost 4 pm - right on schedule as predicted by weather.com.  Traveling in the Roadtrek when sick is not really that bad but not something that I want to make a regular thing... And when we arrived home, the entire interior of the Roadtrek got a good spraying with Lysol disinfectant.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fast and Easy Way To Add Shelves to a Roadtrek Wardrobe Cabinet

In our 2011 190 Popular Roadtrek we have a wardrobe cabinet behind the driver's seat. It is set up with an RV "rod" to hang hangers from. Not many articles of clothing will fit in this cabinet if one tries
to hang them on hangers. It is possible to carry a more than a week's clothing in this cabinet by adding shelves.



The fastest way to install shelves is to purchase a soft-sided hanging shelf or "cube" unit from a closet or home store. These are found in almost every discount store, department store, linens store, etc. We looked at several before we found one that was going to fit just right inside the Roadtrek cabinet.



One thing to be aware of is that any of these that you buy will be too long for this short cabinet, but that is not a problem. Once inside the excess shelves will fold flat at the bottom. The one we selected, shown in the photo above, fits the width of the cabinet. As you look at the photo, you are seeing the rear dining table leg through the translucent vinyl back of the unit. We don't use the rear dining table, but if you did, it is no problem to get it out past the soft shelves. The unit did not come with the boards that you see on our shelves. I added these. Without the boards the shelves do sag down under the weight of the clothes and will limit the space that you can stack in on the shelf below. All I did was measure the soft bottom of each shelf, and cut out a piece of thin fiber board to those measurements. Now our shelves have solid bottoms.

To use the shelves, just fold and stack your clothes. Everything comes our nice and neat with no wrinkles. And we can put over a week's clothing on the four shelves that you see here.

One thing that made this particular soft shelf unit best were the two hangers that it hangs from. These make it stable in side the cabinet and it does not move around while driving. There is no noise from this unit while traveling - even with the fiberboard shelf bottoms.

  

We found this unit at Target. We had purchased two others at other stores. This is the only one that had two hangers and the only one that fit the space perfectly.  Some units like this have a soft tube to put around the closet rod - this type will not work with the RV closet "rod".

This method of adding shelves is inexpensive and all it takes to install it is hang it up. If you decide that you want to hang from hangers, all it takes is to take this out and let it fold flat to store.

Now, this works well, but I have been thinking about more permanent shelves in this cabinet. To do that I want to have shelves that are adjustable in height. I also want to be sure that the shelves do not move while the Roadtrek is traveling. With all of the shakes and rattles that you get when driving on even some of the smoothest roads, I don't want to add another source of noise with shelves bouncing with every bump in the road. To do this I have been looking at hardware that would let me sandwich a shelf in-between a top and a bottom clip on each corner. This is not that hard to find and stores like Home Depot and Lowes do sell systems that will let you do this (though they are not intended to use two clips in this way). Since we don't use the rear table we have been considering removing it all together and eliminating the pole in this cabinet which would limit the size of the shelves that could be fit in. One option is to cut the shelf around the pole. This is a project on the list of things to do in the Roadtrek "at some point". In the meantime the soft shelves work just fine.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PROPANE Part 2

READ PART ONE OF THIS ARTICLE ONE WEEK BACK BEFORE READING THIS ARTICLE...
 

HOT WATER HEATER


To operate your hot water heater you must have both the propane turned on and also the battery switch inside your Roadtrek turned on. With the propane on and flowing, turn on the hot water switch on the wall of your Roadtrek (near the monitor panel). There will be a red indicator light on the switch to show you that it is ON. Turning on that switch will ignite the burner that heats the water in the hot water tank. (This does not apply to a Roadtrek Ranger that has an electric hot water heater.)  



NEVER TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER SWITCH UNLESS THERE IS WATER IN THE HOT WATER TANK.

NEVER TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER SWITCH IF YOU HOT WATER TANK IS IN BYPASS MODE.

ALWAYS FILL YOUR WATER TANKS AND THEN TURN ON YOUR WATER PUMP - AND OPEN THE HOT WATER FAUCET TO DRAW WATER INTO THE HOT WATER TANK BEFORE TURNING ON THE HOT WATER SWITCH. SEE WATER FLOWING THROUGH THE HOT WATER TANK AND INTO THE FAUCET AT FULL FORCE FIRST.

IF ONLY USING CITY WATER, OPEN THE HOT WATER FAUCET TO DRAW WATER INTO THE HOT WATER TANK BEFORE TURNING ON THE HOT WATER SWITCH. SEE WATER FLOWING THROUGH THE HOT WATER TANK AND INTO THE FAUCET AT FULL FORCE FIRST.

IF YOU TURN ON THE HOT WATER SWITCH WITH A DRY HOT WATER TANK YOU WILL DAMAGE THE TANK AND THE HOT WATER HEATER!

The hot water tank holds six gallons of water. It takes some time to fill six gallons with the water pump. It will fill faster on city water. Be patient no matter how you are filling it.

 (You can also know if it is full by going outside, opening the side panel of the van for the hot water heater, open the pressure relief valve on the top (it is on what looks like a faucet pipe) by pulling the silver handle gently towards you and stand back when you do this. IF water is in the top of the tank it will start pouring out. Close the valve right away or you will lose all that water. The pump will come on and refill what you let out. Close the side of the hatch outside the van.)

With water in the tank you are now ready to turn on the hot water heater switch on the wall. It takes time to heat that much water. Give it time. It will start to feel warm in five to ten minutes. It can take fifteen minutes or longer to start to feel that the water is hot. If you are concerned that the water is not getting hot, you can check that the hot water heater is working by checking on it outside the van. If you go to the hot water heater cover/vent in the rear driver's side of the Roadtrek you will not only hear the gas flowing but you will also feel heat coming from the vent. Be careful as the hot water heater outside gets hot.

While you are with the Roadtrek in a campground or campsite you can leave the hot water heater switch on. As the water in the tank cools down, it will automatically turn on again and heat the water back up to temperature BUT the hot water tank is very well insulated and is inside your Roadtrek and under most conditions the water will stay hot for a long time before it needs to be reheated. We get hot water for a whole night in November by just leaving the hot water heater switch on for 15 minutes to a half hour and then turning it off. The water stays so hot that it needs to be mixed with cold to use it. Turn off the switch and conserve your propane when the water is hot. Of course, if you use a lot of hot water at one tme it will be replenished in the tank with cold water which will need the hot water switch on to heat up. If you leave the Roadtrek for the day or are driving, turn off the hot water heater switch.


FURNACE


The furnace heats with propane but needs the battery switch ON for two functions - one to start the furnace by igniting the burner inside and two to run the electric fan inside the furnace that circulates the hot air around the Roadtrek. To start the furnace, have the propane on, turn on the battery switch, and then turn on the Furnace switch that is a setting on the air conditioner/thermostat panel on the wall.



Be sure the put the thermostat setting to a setting warmer than the temperature inside the Roadtrek to the temperature that you want it to be inside. You will hear the furnace igniting and the fan will start. You will feel the heat coming out rather quickly. Adjust the temperature with the thermostat. The air conditioner/heat pump and the furnace share the same thermostat. Do not put anything in front of the furnace vent on the floor of the Roadtrek. That space will get hot and you want it open and clear to allow the heat to get around the rest of the Roadtrek.

Be aware that if you are moving the selection switch on this panel, it happens occasionally that when shutting down the air conditioner you will move the switch down one more notch than you intend as OFF is between COOL and FURNACE. The furnace will start. If the propane is on it will ignite and the furnace will come on. If the propane is OFF, the furnace will attempt to ignite and with the absence of propane the system will continue to try to spark the propane (that is not there to ignite). You will hear the system "clicking" to do this. Just move the switch to OFF and it will eventually stop - but it does not stop immediately.


PROPANE DETECTOR


The propane detector does not run on propane but is an alarm system to warn you if there is propane gas leaking into the Roadtrek cabin. It is generally located near the floor. If the propane detector goes off, turn OFF the propane valve immediately!


TURNING OFF THE PROPANE

You turn off the propane just the way that you turned it on. Turn the grey valve knob inside the compartment over the bumper clockwise (to the right) to turn it off. I have read a recommendation that when the propane is shut off at the valve, one should again go to the stove and try to light it - with the propane off. If it does light it will just stay lit for several seconds burning off any gas that remains in the line. This is done for safety by purging all of the gas out of the gas lines in the Roadtrek.

THE PROPANE SYSTEM AS SEEN ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE ROADTREK

The components inside of your Roadtrek that use propane are all vented on the outside of the Roadtrek. It is important that these vents remain clear and not clogged with road debris, bugs, webs, or bird's nests. You can open and check and clean each one - EXCEPT the furnace vent.

Hot water heater vent ->

Open this vent by turning the ring so that it is in line with the slot that it passes through. Then pull the vent out from the edges.




Refrigerator Vent ->

Open this vent by turning the small knobs at the bottom. Turn and pull out from the bottom and lift out from the top.




Furnace Vent ->

This vent DOES NOT OPEN.



Be aware that the actual flame and burner for the furnace is just behind this vent in the wall of the van which is behind the furnace unit heating vent that you see inside the Roadtrek. 




Again ALWAYS keep these vents clear. If you happen to be in the Roadtrek in a snow storm and you are going to use the propane, go outside and clear all snow and ice away from these vent opening.



 +++++++

Talking about propane with RVers is one of those topics that elicits extreme responses. It is one of those things that 50 will tell you one thing and another 50 will tell you the opposite. Propane is something that if one uses common sense is safe. If one does not use common sense and wants to "prove a point", propane can be extremely dangerous. I am not inviting a debate. I am providing basic things to know.

A common question is "should the propane be on when driving?"  Many, many will say no. Many will say yes. Roadtrek officially says "NO" and that is the best advice I can give anyone as well. The only reason one might keep the propane on while driving is to run the 3 way refrigerator on propane. There really is no reason for this as it will run just as well on battery while driving. But so many insist on driving with the propane on for the refrigerator. IF you do this, NEVER PULL INTO A GAS STATION WITH THE PROPANE STILL ON. Pull over before reaching the gas station and turn the propane off at the rear valve. The reason for this as this will turn off the burning igniter and pilot light flame that keeps the burner lit with flame on the fridge. If that burner is lit and any gasoline vapor should waft into the vents on the side of the Roadtrek (which just happen to be on the same side as the gasoline fill) there will be an explosion of a magnitude that you never want to experience (and may not survive to experience again). I have seen the power of propane explosions. They result in a huge ball of flame and destructive force. I take propane very seriously. Some RVers don't and that puts everyone in jeopardy around them.

When you are traveling you need to be aware of propane restrictions on some bridges, tunnels, and roads. This will generally be posted at the entrance but when routing your trip you want to be aware of these well in advance so that you will not need to find an alternative route at the last minute. This is not common all over the country but is in some parts of the country. I know several places in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic where there are propane restrictions on major routes. When we are traveling we need to make a route around Baltimore as no propane is permitted in the tunnels going into and out of Baltimore.

Propane will run your systems for a good amount of time. When the LEDs on your monitor panel indicate that you will be needing propane soon, go to a propane station where a trained and certified individual will put it into your Roadtrek. They should know exactly what to do and once shown where the propane connection (where the valve is in the back) is, they should take it from there. If they are uncertain, stop them and leave and go to some place that knows what they are doing. The first thing the person filling the propane will do is open the relief valve - this is normal. They will then connect your tank to their filling tank and fill your propane tank to 80% and no more. This is the proper way to fill a propane tank. It is never filled to 100%. At 80% your monitor panel will show full. Most campgrounds have propane for sale and at a campground you can be pretty sure that they have filled an RV before and know exactly what they are doing.  Many places sell propane - just be sure they know what they are doing. I know someone who sells propane at their business and I asked what the training involved. I was rather disturbed to hear that "some guy from the propane distributor comes and shows us a couple of times how to put it in". I had hoped that "certified" meant something much more than that. After hearing that, I am more inclined to go to an RV shop or campground to have propane properly put into my Roadtrek. I have to wonder if they actually complies with this testing program, but they are selling propane.

I am sure the technicians and engineers out there will tell you that there is a lot more to know about propane but with what is in this article you will be able to get though just about anything "propane" in your Roadtrek. 


One more thing -

Here is the cover that you take off to access the propane valve. This cover is VERY, VERY EASY to lose.


See in the photo that my cover is hanging in front of the bumper. The cover does not come so that it will hang there. I put a small hole in the corner of the cover, attached some heavy weight fishing line through the hole and tied the other end inside the compartment in a safe spot. When the cover is put back the fishing line just hangs down out of the way inside. When the cover is taken off, it will not get lost. This is simple to do and saves having to order and purchase a new cover should if it got lost. There is also a way to make a new cover easily but it must be done BEFORE you lose the old cover. I will talk about that in a future article.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PROPANE Part 1

Unless you have one of the new all-electric Roadtreks, you have a propane tank installed on your Roadtrek. The propane is used for heating your hot water, heating your Roadtrek with your furnace, running your refrigerator if you have a three way standard Roadtrek Dometic fridge, and cooking on your stove. If you have a Sprinter Roadtrek your electric generator is also powered by propane. This article will give you some basics about the propane system in your Roadtrek.

First I will share some very basic knowledge about propane. Propane is also called LP Gas. The L P is simply Liquid Propane. When propane is compressed it condenses into a liquid form. It is a property of propane that when uncompressed it changes into a gas. This is what makes it possible for propane to be carried in a tank. Natural gas cannot do this. So - basic number one - the propane in your propane tank is a LIQUID UNDER PRESSURE.

The propane tank in all Roadtreks that I am aware of is located in the rear, under the van chassis, behind the rear bumper.  A reader has shared that in older Roadtreks the propane tank is under the driver's seat floor with access to the fill and gauge is under the flip up step. At some point in change of year, Roadtrek moved the tank and access to the back of the van. To turn on the propane there is a valve located behind a cover right in the middle over the bumper. The valve that you see is a grey knob and like most valves is turned to the right to turn off and to the left to open. Clockwise to turn OFF. Counterclockwise to turn ON. In the compartment behind that cover there will be other components of the system - other than the on/off knob and a connection on a flexible hose to allow you to attach a portable gas grill to the Roadtrek's propane tank for outside barbecuing, don't touch anything else that is there. You will see an analog dial meter that will tell you how much gas is in the tank - though you can also find this out inside your Roadtrek on your monitor panel on the wall. There will be a place for a certified propane person to fill the tank and a pressure relief valve used when filling the tank. Propane is highly combustible. This is not something to fool with.

Let's take a tour of the propane system.

Here is where to look for the propane valve ->



 It is behind this cover ->


Open the cover by turning the white tab on each side to clear the cutout on the cover.
Here is everything "propane" for your Roadtrek ->


What you are looking at above is where to turn on the propane to use it in your Roadtrek and where a certified propane distributor will fill your propane tank for you. The yellow cap is the connection for the propane fill - DO NOT TOUCH THIS.  The red ring to the middle right is the overflow pressure relief valve for the propane. DO NOT TOUCH THIS. The grey it all goes into is the propane tank. What is not seen in this photo is the auxiliary barbecue connection hose which is to the left side and in this photo is tucked down behind the bumper. THE VALVE THAT YOU TURN IS IN THE VERY MIDDLE WITH THE BLUE LABEL.

Here is the ON/OFF VALVE that you will turn ->




Let's get to the systems that you have on your Roadtrek that use propane and what you need to do to get them to operate.

The first thing that you are going to do whenever you first turn on your propane is to light the stove to make sure that the propane is actually flowing through the system. You always want to do this so that you know that the propane has filled all of the gas lines. It is only at the stove that you can actually see the result of this first hand. So we will start with the stove.

STOVE

The stove is the only appliance without a self-lighting pilot light. You must light the stove with a flame that you produce with a match or a lighter. The best thing to get to light the stove is one of the extended reach butane lighters used for barbecues. This lets you get close without getting too close.

Open the glass cover that is over the two gas stove burners. Each has a knob. Look around the edge of each burner and you will see a small, thin brass tube coming up. This tube will be the pilot that will ignite the burner.  With the propane valve on in the rear of the Roadtrek, light the lighter in your hand. You only want a small flame. Turn on either one of the burners by turning and pushing its knob. Bring the flame to where that brass tube is (you will probably hear and smell gas flowing) and the gas should ignite. Adjust the knob to a low flame and let go. The burner is lit. Let it burn for a few seconds and then shut it off. Light the other burner the same way. Your propane is flowing through all of the propane system in your Roadtrek. Turn off the stove. Of course, if you are planning to cook right then and there, your stove is lit and ready to cook. In any case, when you are ready to cook on the stove, do the same thing to light it.

Let me just repeat again why this is done each time you turn on the propane. If you do not do this and go to start your hot water heater or start your 3 way fridge on propane, you cannot see the burner that lights with the burning propane. If the water does not get hot or the refrigerator does not start to cool (most likely with an ignition trouble light on the fridge control panel) you will not know why. By lighting the stove first you eliminate the problem that the propane may not be flowing. Once the stove lights you can be sure that there are no clogs along the propane line. Do be aware that this tells you nothing about leaks.

REFRIGERATOR

Most Roadtreks come with a Dometic three way absorption refrigerator. These work using propane, 12 volt battery power, or 110 volt shore power. Since I do not have this type of refrigerator I can not tell you any details about its operation. A detailed manual should have been included with your Roadtrek just for the refrigerator. I can tell you that this refrigerator does not work like your fridge at home which is a condenser system. An absorption refrigerator has ammonia running through it that must be heated and one of the ways it is heated is with a propane flame burner. To ignite that flame you need to have battery power and you should put your battery switch on before trying to turn on the fridge even when using propane. Do read the manual for your refrigerator. If you don't have one, you can download one for your model fridge on the Dometic website.


END OF PART 1
PART 2 NEXT WEEK