Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are You On The Level?

For a variety of reasons when you park your Roadtrek or any RV on a campsite, you want the RV to be as level as possible. One of the reasons is for a three-way propane RV refrigerator. This does not as much apply to newer models of these fridges as much as it does to ones that may be in older Roadtreks or RVs but even on a newer model propane fridge you do not want it to be too far off level. At least, the inside of the Roadtrek should be comfortable to stand in - if you are parked on an incline or decline and are going to be running the refrigerator. A propane refrigerator works differently than your fridge at home and will not run efficiently and can be damaged if operated on a steep angle. The other reason you want to be as close to level as possible is for comfort. Park off level and things roll off counters, you may find yourself walking up or down hill as you move around inside, or you may roll to one side of the bed.  I exaggerate some, but you really want to be as close to level as possible. 

How do you know if your Roadtrek is level? This is something that the company did not build into your Roadtrek, but the solution is as simple as bringing a level inside the van.  A level is simply a tube with liquid inside and an air bubble floating in that liquid. There are various types of levels. There are round levels that will tell you which way you are off level in 360 degrees all around. There are straight tube levels. Now there are electronic levels. In fact you can download an app to your Iphone or Android phone or tablet that will function as a level. (Just be aware that these apps require that you calibrate your device with the app on a perfectly level surface to get it to function correctly.) When checking for level you can be off level in any direction. Usually, though, two straight tube levels are sufficient to tell you if you are level with one positioned front to back and the other positioned side to side.

I started out with a round level. This is just a little disk and the bubble floats in the circle. If it is in the middle of the circle you are level. If it is off, that is the direction that must be corrected. The trick with this - and with every level is that the level must be sitting on a level surface to start with to be able to tell if the vehicle around that surface is actually level. In other words, if a counter top is not level to start off with, any level put on that counter top will always be off level no matter what is going around below that counter top. Things are not built quite so precisely. I soon discovered that the ground we were on was level, but my Roadtrek counter top was not. So putting the little round level on the counter to check the van was no help at all. I did discover that the middle of the floor just behind where we sit when driving was level. So if the level went there, it would pretty accurately tell us if the whole van was level. This worked for a while but started to be literally a pain in the turning around and looking down to see if we were level - that is once we put the level there to start checking. I knew there was an easier way.

Many RVs put the levels on the outside of the vehicle - on in the back and one on a side. This way a second person can see if you are level. This does require that a second person be outside to check while the driver finds the most level spot on the campsite pad or that the driver stop and keep getting out to check. Not good. So where to put the levels in a Roadtrek. The best place would be in the front fully and easily visible from the driver's seat.  I looked around inside and eliminated various places because I wanted a spot that was flat, horizontal and easy to see. I found two spots that work well.

First, purchase a pair of levels from an RV store (or Walmart). The ones you will see in my photos are cheap, work well, come with adhesive and screw holes, and only take up about two inches of space.

Second, find a perfectly level spot to park your RV on when you install your levels. This could be the hardest part. You can always level your Roadtrek with leveling blocks anywhere so that you have a level Roadtrek. I am not going to talk about leveling blocks here but will in a future article (when it gets warmer outside). Why do you need to level your Roadtrek first? If you don't, how will you know that your levels are level to the van to start out with? I knew that in one particular campground that we go to that has cement campsite pads, that the sites are for the most part all level. I waited for our next trip there to install my levels.

The two spots I selected are on the middle of the dashboard and on the side of the passenger door. I can see both easily and not move from the driver's seat. At night, it does require that I put on the light inside or use a little flashlight that I keep in one of the cup holders in the dashboard. Not a problem!

Here is where they are located:




To mount the levels, I used the adhesive backing that comes on these levels. Remove the tape from the adhesive.  Hold the level over the spot exactly where you want the level to be. MAKE SURE THE LEVEL BUBBLE IS EXACTLY IN THE MIDDLE. Push the level against the surface and it sticks. You get one shot. If it goes on off level, you are going to have to try again and you will need to peel the adhesive off the back of the level and replace the adhesive. I actually found it easier to just buy a new set of levels. (I did not put it on wrong - one fell off and I will get to that in a minute.)



Here is the level on the dash. This one went on nice and easy and has stayed on ever since. The glue and the plastic that the dash is made of worked well together. This spot seems almost made for this purpose!




 Here is the level on the passenger door. I don't know what type of plastic Chevy uses to make the door panels and column covers, but no glue seems to hold to this for very long. The adhesive on the back of the level lasted for only three days. This level fell off on the way home from that trip. I have tried gluing and using self-adhesive strips on other parts of the van that have this same plastic and sooner or later every one of them has fallen off including an epoxy.  When I put this level back on I had a reference pencil mark on the wall that I had made when I installed the levels. Just in case, what happened, happened. I did buy a new set of levels and used one to replace the one that fell off. I used the adhesive again to put it on and then I used two stainless steel sheet metal screws to permanently hold the level on. I was very careful to make sure that in the process of screwing these screws in I did not move the position of the level.

These photos were taken with the Roadtrek parked on my driveway which is apparently very level side to side and as expected, on an incline angle toward the front of the van. This is a good example of how the levels work. If the bubble is on one end of the level, the van is lower on the other end. So you need to raise the lower end until the bubble sits in the middle. Yes, very basic stuff, but you would be surprised to know how many get confused by this.

Most campgrounds will tell you that all of their spaces are level. I have begun to think that they are not telling the truth OR that these spaces are level for a much larger RV and with one of the shortest and smallest RVs there is, our Roadtreks just don't find the level spot that easily. I will drive around the site back and forth and side to side to find a place where both bubbles are in the middle. So far, more often than not, they are close enough, though sometimes it means stopping in the space on a diagonal. That is it. Then get out and put down the leveling markers that I have told you about and you are on the level!

7 comments:

  1. What kind of lego block type levelers do you like?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they are all pretty much the same. Frankly, we decided we should have them and went into a Walmart and bought the ones that they had on the shelf in the RV section of the auto department. They all give you eight or ten blocks - the most we have used at one time so far has been two - and they have a carry case to hold them in. We stash ours in the outside cabinet of the Roadtrek. When the weather gets warmer here I plan to do an article on using the leveling blocks and set them up to level the RT on my driveway.

      Delete
  2. This is a really good modification. These levels should come with any RV, since it's such hassel to try to level those things (and not just for the fridge, the bed too!). To find the most leveled spot on the campground, I normally use a normal level on a long 2 by 4 piece of wood, and try different possibilities on the ground. Thanks for the idea!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I park my Roadtrek in my drive which is a slight angle, will this harm my refrigrerator

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have a newer Roadrek there should be no problem with the refrigerator on a slight driveway angle. Newer three way refrigerators are made to be more tolerant of working when on an angle. Basically, if you are comfortable inside on that angle the fridge should be OK too. An older three way fridge could be a problem. And this is only a problem under any angle if the fridge is running. If it is off it does not matter what angle it is on. We have been in some campground sites that were on steep inclines - and we asked for a change of space or pulled out the blocks and tried to get at least close to level. Now we don't have to worry about our fridge as it is a condenser fridge and not a three way absorption fridge, but we were just uncomfortable inside on such an angle. A condenser fridge is battery or 110v only fridge and works differently from a propane/battery/AC fridge and does not need to be level to operate properly. Many manuals say an absorption fridge should not be more than 3 degrees from level.

      Delete
  4. How long are the screws that you used? 1/2 inch? 3/4 inch? 1 inch?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The door panel is not very thick so the screws were just long enough to go through the holes on each end of the level and then into the door panel. 1/2" was more than enough.

      Delete