Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Friday, July 30, 2021

A RAMBLING: FIRST DAYTRIP OUT AFTER NOT QUITE POST COVID-19

 It has been a year and a half since we took a trip in the Roadtrek. We have taken it for two hour drives sporadically while we were on lockdown due to Covid-19 to keep it running and I have been running the engine for thirty minutes every week. It has been to the mechanic twice for inspection and maintenance, and recently had new tires put on. We had expected to be off on a week long trip the week before July 4th. We had reservations made a year ago at the campground we spend that week at every year and attend a festival that I have been attending annually since I was a boy. This year, again, like last year, that festival was cancelled. We were going to go anyway until we saw that the weather was to be high heat and high humidity with severe storms predicted almost daily where we were going. On top of that other places that we go to in the area were running on limited hours due to Covid and some were not open at all.   We decided to change the reservation and wound up changing it to next year.  But as I told Meryl, we must take the Roadtrek on a long trip even if it is only for one day and back that night.  It had to be driven and we had to see that all was working as it should be - as at some point, hopefully, this summer we are going somewhere for several days or longer.  We agreed that it would be a good idea to go to where we would have gone at the beginning of the month for the day to check things out down there for ourselves.  That daytrip took place this past week.

 Over the past year and a half with the Roadtrek on the driveway we had taken many things that we normally keep in it out. We had to start searching around the house for where they were and get it all back inside.  We filled the tanks with water. We went through every cabinet to see what was missing from a list we have of what to have in the Roadtrek. It took a couple of days to find almost all of it and move it back in. Almost all because we have a mystery disappearance.  We have three spring extension curtain rods that we put in the aisle under the bed from side to side against the cabinet doors to keep items we put under the bed when traveling. We are pretty sure that we took those out before we took the Roadtrek to have the generator serviced - along with all of the cushions so that should the generator service tech need to work inside to get to connections none of this would be in the way. It came into the house and was stacked on a large folding table.  The cushions went back into the Roadtrek at the end of June we assume - as we remember we did - took the curtain rods back into the Roadtrek and put them SOMEPLACE.  The curtain rods are not in the Roadtrek - ANYWHERE. They are not in the house - ANYWHERE.  We have looked multiple times - EVERYWHERE. Where are they? We do not know. This happens more than it should at our house. Things will disappear - really gone. I check, She checks. We both check, over and over again.  They reappear months later just where they should be and where we have both looked many times.  There is a folk tale about The Borrowers. The Borrowers come and borrow things - use them for a period of time - and then return them to where they took them from. Well, that implausible explanation is the only thing that could explain the disappearances. We are the only ones in the house - no one comes into the house but us.   So The Borrowers have the curtain rods. We have bought new ones -  silver color to distinguish them from the missing white ones. Some day we will find the white ones in the Roadtrek where they are not now.  We were ready. 

 We have been keeping stay at home hours for a year and a half. Up to early morning hours and asleep to mid-day. We started preparing for getting up early a few weeks ago so that when we got up to leave at an hour that would get us the 150 miles to where we were going we would arrive at an hour where we could do things and not be time to have dinner and then head back home.  We made it out of the house before 9 am and on our way after turning on the fridge. We thought we might avoid rush hour traffic heading toward New York City which we would loop around but had to cross two bridges to do so but wound up in bumper to bumper traffic - though we avoided the roadwork crews that start at 10:30 am to work on roads that they continually work on year after year - in the same places. Once on the New Jersey Turnpike heading south we were clear. 

Having not driven very much in a year and a half I have found in the past several months of driving more regularly locally that I tend to not drive as fast as I used to. I find myself just below the speed limit which does not make cars around us very happy. This was also my first trip in the Roadtrek that I have to wear eyeglasses to drive - and that has been a bit strange for me.  I had to focus on getting up to highway speeds with the Roadtrek as we started out and by the NJ Turnpike I was up there over 65 keeping pace with the rest of the vehicles. Once we got to Pennsylvania, the speed limit goes to 70. I have always found that with the 6L engine in the Roadtrek, it is very easy to let the speed get away from you. And with a speed limit of 70, 80 is just a small push of the gas pedal further.  Our Roadtrek holds the road and the speed very well.  Too well - and I backed down every time I glanced down at the speedometer. Of course at 75 we were being passed by some very small cars, but that was OK. We were passed by two Class Cs along the way. I told myself that we don't need to prove anything to them. 

We were heading to Lancaster County, PA. This has been my home away from home for many, many years and it always has been my go to place to relax with rolling farm fields and Amish buggies clip clopping along the road. We like to go to a particular farmers market which is a mix of locals, Amish, Mennonites and some tourists. That was were we were heading for the day - and we can easily spend a whole day there. We arrived about three and a half hours after we left - almost exactly what the ETA was from both the dash GPS and my phone's CoPilot RV GPS app. While we have been at home this was where I was missing the most. 

At the end of June, the Governor of Pennsylvania ended all Covid mask requirements.  We are both fully vaccinated, but we are both also in two high risk categories so we have maintained caution and we still wear masks when in public. With the Covid variants now on the rise and numbers going up instead of going down, we were surrounded by people of all ages not wearing masks. We were not the only ones wearing masks but where we live many are still wearing masks both inside and outside - perhaps because we live in one of the hardest hit counties in the country from Covid. It was strange to be out there with masks wearing in the minority. That was OK, though, as I was where I wanted to be. Meryl was a little more hesitant. 

The day had to be a Friday for this market to be open and this was a Friday with low humidity and a temperature that was not to go over 82. Finally, a day that was comfortable to be outside. There is little that is air conditioned at this market - some smaller buildings have A/C, most do not. There were some things we were looking for that we knew would most likely be there. Some were and some were not.  It was comfortable enough to have lunch outside at a picnic table and the hero sandwich (hoagie,sub, grinder - depending on where you are from)  that I bought from one of the stands was one of the things that I thought about all the time I was home and wanting to be here. When it is hot out, we would have gone back to the Roadtrek to eat the sandwiches with the generator powering the A/C.   We walked more than we have walked in a long time. It was a good tired.  We were there until about 5:00 pm and we headed back to the Roadtrek to go toward the restaurant I had planned to go to for dinner - with a couple of stop offs along the way. 

Dinner was another treat and something I have been looking forward to for what seems like a very long time. It did not disappoint. It is a restaurant that we have gone to many times in the past and one that I did miss not being in this area for so long do to Covid and lockdown. It serves a combination of local Pennsylvania Dutch foods and American together with plenty to eat. It is one that attracts the tourists more than most of the other restaurants that we dine in when in this area, but it reopened following being closed due to Covid - as were the other restaurants in the area closed - with dinner being served later than the other restaurants that we would have gone to that are much more local. 

After dinner we did not head right home. I stopped for gas - which was 20 cents a gallon more than it is at home and a half a tank that I filled cost $50. I like to put gas in the Roadtrek when it needs just half a tank as the total cost on the pump for a full tank is too shocking to see. Even the $50 was a bit of a shock.  We then headed to a Walmart that we knew would have things we were not finding at the Walmart at home - and they did. No special reason why other than the Walmarts at home have had empty shelves now for two years. And it delays leaving where I don't want to leave - but I have that feeling even if we have been in this area over a week. We started driving home after 10:30 pm.  

There was very little traffic heading home.  When we come home from a trip I go to a local 24 hour gas station to fill the tank of the Roadtrek back up. It is difficult getting the Roadtrek out of our driveway into the four lane, busy street in front of our house, so filling the Roadtrek at the end of a trip at home gives me a full tank of gas to have for our next trip. Miles per gallon for this trip came out to over 17 mpg - that has been better, but it was not bad. We put almost 500 miles on the Roadtrek in just the day, down, around, and back.  After the gas station it was almost 3:00 am that we got to the house and then shut the Roadtrek down. 

 One of the best things about traveling in an RV like the Roadtrek, even for just a day's outing, is that you have a bathroom with you, no matter where you are. I never really understand those who won't use the bathroom in their Roadtrek. There is not always a convenient place to stop when one is needed and too often if there is, it is not in a condition that one wants to even walk into.  Having the Roadtrek during this day trip, it came in very handy. 

Many of our readers have figured out that we don't take the types of trips that many others do. We don't much travel to be in nature - though most of the places we go to are outside. We use the Roadtrek as our traveling hotel room. We rarely cook in it  When we travel we eat out. It has always been this way when we travel. If you are on vacation, you eat out. If you are in an area where foods are different from what is common to you when you are home, you go out to try them. So to many, our trips are not that exciting, but they are to us.  We are out to relax. We would rather things not be too exciting, as given some of our "adventures" in the Roadtrek that I have written about over the past ten years now, exciting meant problems. We don't want any problems when we travel. It was good to take this trip even for a day. It has been too long since the last trip we took in the Roadtrek and it was an excellent re-introduction to packing the Roadtrek for a trip, getting in and heading off and putting some much needed miles on it after it has been sitting on the driveway with just a few two hour drives for so long. 

The title of this article starts with "A Rambling" and that is what this article has been. Just a rambling on about a great day in the Roadtrek to a place we love to go to.  There was no how to do this or that. No how to solve this problem or that. It was just a bit of pleasant rambling. There will be more articles about how to do, and there will be more ramblings.

Thanks for rambling with us! 

What's next? I wish I knew!







Saturday, June 19, 2021

Another Generator Tale and Some Basics to Know When the Generator is Not Working

 Our Roadtrek has been sitting on the driveway for over a year and a half because of Covid-19. We live in an area that was hard hit by the virus and we pretty much stayed indoors only going out once every several weeks for essentials. Trips that we had hoped to be able to take in 2020 were not possible. Places that we wanted to go to - if we could have gone away had canceled all of their events or just closed. I have been going out to the Roadtrek and starting the engine every week. We took it for a few local two hour drives - out and back to keep it running, charge the batteries, besides plugging in to charge the batteries. I also had to keep exercising the generator for its monthly two hour continuous run with a half load which is either the air conditioner running or in the cold weather an electric radiant home portable heater plugged into one of the Roadtrek outlets. I did this diligently until February 2021 when it snowed here every week and the snow piled up around the Roadtrek and we could not get into it. It ran fine when it was exercised in January and shut off fine as well.

The second week in March 2021, the weather was getting better. Most of the snow had melted and I went out to exercise the generator. I started the van engine to boost the batteries that are needed to start the generator, put the battery switch on, and pushed the generator start button on the wall inside the Roadtrek. What should have happened was the generator starting to crank, catch, and run. I should have seen the amber light on the switch come on. None of that happened. What did happen was the light did not come on with the switch held in, there was no noise at all - there was no cranking, and when I took my finger off the switch, the switch light did flash on and off once, and I could hear a noise toward the back of the van (where the generator is under the chassis) that went clunk - once. Oh boy!  I tried several times more. 

I went into the house to get Meryl as I was going to try to crawl under the back of the can to the generator - something I am not supposed to do because of a physical issue - and try to start the generator from the switch that is behind the access panel on the front of the generator.  She came out with me - basically to pull me out if I could not get out from under the van - and I crawled under. I opened the access panel - two push up tabs on the bottom of the panel releases it which is easy to do if you are not lying under the van on your side trying to reach up while still supporting yourself on your elbows. I looked inside and the start switch is right there. I pushed the switch and nothing. This switch has no light but when I released the switch I did here the single clunk.

There is a 5 amp fuse inside the generator. This fuse is there to protect the generator starting electronics.  If this fuse is blown, the generator will NOT start. If I could get to the fuse and see if it has blown, then replace it, the generator MIGHT start. The problem was the fuse is down and behind other components and I could not see it. I could not even feel it when I tried to get my finger down to where I thought it should be.  At that point, I could stay under the van any longer and I put the generator access panel back on and crawled backwards to get out - with Meryl's help. 

It was March. Covid-19 was still very much present and we had not been able to schedule appointments for the Covid vaccine. We decided to just leave it alone until we were fully vaccinated and it was warmer to deal with. And we knew it had to be brought into a Cummins/Onan authorized service center. 

By the end of May we were both fully vaccinated and we were trying to get the Roadtrek ready for hopefully being able to start to travel again. I called the generator shop which is in the next county about a 45 minute drive.  They gave me a morning appointment to bring the Roadtrek for them to work on the generator. 

We took the Roadtrek to the Onan shop the morning of the appointment. The appointment was for 10am. We arrived at 9:45. Since we were not sure how long they would need it to work on, Meryl drove the Roadtrek there and I followed in the car.  We parked in the back of the building where the entrance to the shop is and we walked around the building to the office entrance and let them know we were there. We were told just to wait with the Roadtrek in the back as the service tech was finishing a job offsite and would be back very soon. At about 10:20 or so, he arrived. I explained that it would not start and what it did when not starting. He asked where the generator is and I told him and he said, "I was afraid of that!".  He did not like working lying on the ground either.  I showed him the start button inside and turned on the battery switch.  I also told him that the last time they worked on it, it also did not start which was 2018 and the paperwork I have from that repair said the fuse had come loose. He went to the switch inside the Roadtrek and tried to start it - and it did exactly what I had been doing for me  - not start. We told him we would wait or if he thought it would be long we could go and come back. He said either way and we stayed but we had to leave the shop and watch through the open garage door. He went under the van with a work light and in about five minutes I hear the generator start. It has not done that in three months.  He shut it off and started it twice more. As he crawled out I shouted into the garage - "Was it the fuse?" He said it was - it was loose.  I asked why would it go loose and he told me that is what he would have to find out now.


If you have ever been concerned about the Roadtrek being put up on a lift - what he did next (and I knew this is what this shop does as they did it with my Roadtrek in the past) - would make you cringe as I do every time I see them do this.  He got into a forklift and drove it behind the Roadtrek. He centered the fork with the center of the bumper, lowered the fork down and drove under the back of the Roadtrek and raised the fork until it made contact with the bottom of the chassis and lifted the back up about two feet off the  ground.  Then he went back under.  I could not really see what he was doing from that point so I went to sit in the car with Meryl to read an ebook on my phone.

The car was parked on the other end of the parking lot and after awhile I moved the car and parked it facing the open garage door and the Roadtrek. About an hour went by and he looked like he was finishing and then he put the back of the Roadtrek down  with the  forklift.  I went over and asked him if it was done. It was. This all was just less than an hour including the regular maintenance that I asked be done on the generator. I asked him about the loose fuse and what did he do about it so that it would not go loose again. He told me then that it turned out not to be the fuse. He thought it was at first because when he put his fingers in around the fuse, he was pushing around and thought he felt the fuse seat back in, and  then then the generator was able to start. When he looked closer with the Roadtrek lifted up he found a plug and socket that are supposed to be tightly snapped together and not come apart and it is right behind the fuse. When he touched the fuse earlier he had actually pushed the plug and socket close enough together for the generator to be able to start. OK, but I had to ask why would this have come apart. What he told me I don't really accept,but it was working and there was no reason to question further. He told me that when it was all put together originally this was not snapped tightly together as it should have been. I said that was ten years ago and he just shrugged. BUT the Onan started.  

Now, back in 2016 when I first brought the Roadtrek to this same shop to work on the generator, they had to take it down to repair it and took it apart. It is possible that this plug and socket were not tightly snapped back together then and over time with all the vibrating the generator does when it runs, it is possible that finally in January 2021, this connection shook loose. I don't know. As long as it works now - I am fine with it.  

He also did as I had asked them to do, an oil change, a fuel filter change, and a spark plug change. That was all done.  I then asked him - and this is the important part of this story, if he tested it under load. He had not. What this means is did he test the generator running with a load - something running inside the Roadtrek powered at 110 volts by the generator - like the air conditioner. He said I could do that while he stood by but he wanted me to bring the Roadtrek outside the shop to do so as he did not want to fill the shop with exhaust. Fair enough, 

I baked the Roadtrek out of the garage, went to the switch and the generator started right up. Then I let it run for three minutes - I usually let it warm up for five minutes before putting on a load but I did not want to make him wait around too long for me to do that so I let it run for three minutes this time, then I turned on the A/C. NOTHING! I knew exactly what was wrong. We called him outside and let him know and he went under the van to the generator and clicked the circuit breaker back up. 

When there is no power coming from the Onan the circuit breaker is tripped - and any work done inside the small space in the generator, a hand will surely find the circuit breaker switch and accidentally knock it down to off. He was under and I thought he had already reset the breaker but had not. I tried the A/C and again nothing. The generator was still running. I plugged in the microwave which I keep unplugged over the winter (just to not overwhelm the Onan when I exercise it every month and in the cold it is harder starting it). The microwave had power. I slid the A/C switch to ON and it started. He had by then reset the circuit breaker. 

SO - the point here is  - if you have work done on the generator, even just an oil change, or you do work on the Onan - if there is no power inside with the Onan running -  the service tech or you hit the circuit breaker handle and turned it off. That is fairly simple to get to and flip it back up.

This Onan shop which is a sales and service center for all types of generators from big house and really large worksite generators to as small as the Onan Microlite 2800. We have been there when they were working on a large Class A's generator. They charge $166 an hour labor plus parts. Our job took just less than an hour and we were charged $170. total. This included the labor time, the oil, the fuel filter, and the spark plug.  This was a LOT less than we were anticipating.  

The Onan now runs with the push of the switch and we  know that if we need it, it is ready.  In the next few days I will exercise it for its usual two hours a month with the A/C running to get it back to its usual exercise routine.
 

A FEW THINGS TO TAKE AWAY ABOUT THE GENERATOR FROM THIS TALE:

How this service tech went under the Roadtrek - without it lifted up  - was interesting and maybe it is how others do it.  He went under with a creeper and went in from the side and not straight in under  the bumper (as I go under). This might give a little more ability to move under the low van and if I have to go under I will try it that way.  It seems a lot better than going head in from under the bumper and the hitch.

MORE IMPORTANT:

1)  If your generator does not start, the first thing to try to check is the fuse. The fuse if blown will prevent the generator from starting as no 12 volt power is getting to the generator's starter.

2) If your generator is running BUT there is NO POWER coming from it to the inside of the Roadtrek 110 volt appliances plugged in, the first thing to check is the circuit breaker INSIDE the Onan at the front looking in. Reset that breaker by flipping it UP and you should now have power inside the Roadtrek from the generator. 

Of course with both of these - IF NOTHING MORE IS WRONG!  

 

Here is a link to our general Onan Generator Article - for much more detail about how it works. 

 

 
 


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

A NOZZLE FOR THE MACERATOR HOSE

 In April 2019 when we had the macerator in our Roadtrek replaced as it had finally broken down, we also had the Roadtrek dealer/service center that we go to in Pennsylvania install a new macerator hose - the Thetford Sani-con hose - that is much more flexible and easier to store in the outside compartment in the Roadtrek that is provided for the hose.  When they replaced the hose, I asked them to take the nozzle off the original hose and install that on the end of the Sani-con hose. For some reason they were not able to do that and instead, built a new nozzle from PVC plumbing parts that resembled the old one but was larger. It had a big turn valve on the top to open and close the valve. When put away with the valve closed any remaining water or waste in the hose would not leak into its storage compartment. 

The first time we got to use the new hose and its nozzle was on our trip in July which was only four days. As we were leaving on that trip we discovered a problem with the coach batteries - which is well documented in our articles in the summer and Fall of 2019. We spent the rest of that summer and Fall dealing with the batteries and that prevented us from taking another trip in the Roadtrek that year.  Then Covid-19 arrived and changed the world and all of our lives. For a year and a half after that we remained inside with the Roadtrek on the driveway. In November 2020, we winterized the Roadtrek and discovered that the valve handle that was on the nozzle that the service center created would not turn. To get it to turn we used spray lubricant and finally resorted to tools and force to get it to open. Once open we dumped what little was in the waste tanks. We closed the nozzle that seemed to turn due to more lubricant sprayed in and just in case put the nozzle in a plastic bag and sealed it around the hose. A few days later we opened the hose storage compartment and saw that the bag had water inside of it. We dealt with that and left it all to the Spring. 

 As it got closer to Spring I started looking at what could replace the nozzle. There is a nozzle that is made for the Sani-con hose. It is a handle piece that attaches to the hose and ends in a graduated cylinder that fits into the sewer drain hole at a campground. On the bottom of the cylinder is a screw cap to seal the hose. This looked like a good idea. It's dimensions, however, seemed big. The diameter of the cylinder at its widest point is 4" - possibly larger as dimensions were not clear in any of the specs for it. The opening to the storage area for the hose and nozzle in the Roadtrek 190 is 3.5". It seemed to me that there was no way that this would fit. I contacted Thetford and asked for the exact dimensions and they never  responded. I asked on the Facebook group and no one who replied knew.  That ruled out the nozzle made for the Sani-con hose!  That brings us to now. 

When we started to dewinterize in May 2021, we could not get the nozzle valve on the hose to open again. Once again with some more spray lubricant and a lot of force it turned, but this was never going to do for traveling. We could not take a chance that we could not dump the tanks because we could not get the nozzle open. We held off dewinterizing until we came up with a nozzle for the hose that not only was going to fit but would be very easy to use - and most important leak-proof. I had an idea in mind and I went to home store websites to look at plumbing parts. I measured the inner diameter of the part of the hose at the end - the hose itself is one inch diameter. The hose end is in an attached heavy rubber coupler. This is what we made for about ten dollars in PVC plumbing fittings, a length of 3/4 pipe which we had, and the most expensive part of the needed supplies - a package of cans of PVC pipe primer and pipe cement - used to glue the PVC pipe together. 

Here is what we made -

It is not pretty and some of the primer leaked when it went together but it works and it works really well. Most important - it fits in the storage compartment with the hose easily. To explain what you are looking at here.  On the left is a fitting that on one end fits into the hose - the end with the barbs. The other end of that fitting which is inside the pipe seal tape is a female screw into end. Attached to that end - which is also under the pipe seal tape and out of view is a male screw end and a slip end on the other side - the white on the left attached to the pipe, that is glued over the pipe. In the middle is the pipe. The pipe can be any length you want. We cut a section of pipe 8" long. On the right side attached to the pipe is a slip end to male screw on end adapter. This is glued to the pipe. On the very end is a screw on cap to seal the nozzle when stored inside the hose compartment. To attach it to the hose you use a screw band hose clamp. This is a strip of metal with rectangular holes that when the screw is turned on the clamp with a screwdriver the clamp gets smaller around the joint on the and compresses into it to make a seal. First you put the clamp open wide around the hose from the end of the hose. Then you push the barbs on the L connector into the hose. Finally, you use a screwdriver to tighten the clamp around the hose and compress it around the barbs inside the hose. The joint is solid and does not leak.   The nozzle is simple in design; it is not pretty, but it works. 

 To use it = take out the hose, point the nozzle away from you and take the screw cap off. Put the cap aside - don't lose it!  Any water in the hose will pour out so watch your shoes. Point the nozzle into the sewer drain hole and have someone push the button to start the macerator. What is in the tank coming through the macerator will be pouring from the nozzle and into the sewer. When done - raise the hose to get any water out of it and put the cap back on the nozzle.

I have only worked with PVC pipe once before. I do not like doing plumbing. With plumbing, it all looks right and when all together you come back and there is a leak someplace. This is the reason that I made sure there would be no leaks by wrapping the screw joints with pipe seal tape. This is a rubberized tape that sticks to itself - pretty much permanently. It comes on a roll and is about half an inch wide. You pull and stretch the tape as you put it on over itself a number of times. It is the pulling and stretching that affixes it to itself. After it is on you can mold it with your fingers around what it is  on. I have used this in the hose to fix leaks in pipes and it lasts. It is sold in plumbing sections of home stores and also in Walmart in the plumbing aisle. 

Here are the parts I used. You will find similar parts in most plumbing departments in home stores. I went to Ace Hardware because they were the only place locally that had the first part I will list which was hardest to find. These are in order of installation from left to right:

1) Lasco Schedule 80 1" insert X 1" diameter FPT (Female Pipe Thread) PVC 90 degree elbow.

2) Charlotte pipe Schedule 40 1" MPT (Male Pipe Thread) x 3/4" diameter Slip PVC pipe adapter.

3) 3/4" PVC Schedule 40 pipe (You can buy two foot lengths of this in Home Depot).

4) Charlotte pipe Schedule 40 3/4" slip x 3/4" MPT PVC pipe adapter

5) Charlotte pipe Schedule  40 3/4" FPT PVC Cap  (Buy two of these so that you have a spare).

You will also need PVC Pipe Primer and PVC Pipe Cement -  sold in a set of small cans. 

To learn how to put this all together there are basic PVC plumbing assembly videos on You Tube that show how to cut the pipe, join the pipe with the fittings and use the pipe primer and pipe cement. Wear gloves - and not vinyl gloves. The primer ate through the vinyl gloves that I was wearing. It also stains your skin so if you get it on you - wash it off with soap and water QUICKLY.



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

ON FACEBOOK - Roadtrek 190, 170, 210 Support, Help, and Sharing

 Facebook has been a great resource for Roadtrek owners. I have been a member of a group on Facebook that focuses on the Chevy Roadtreks since it started. The group has gone by a couple of different but related names.  The group owner of this group recently announced that since he had sold his Roadtrek he wanted to stop being the administrator of the group and asked for someone to take over the group.  I have been the administrator of other Facebook groups for a long time and thought that taking on an additional group would not be a problem for me - so I volunteered. With a lot of thought, I renamed the group - "Roadtrek 190, 170, 210 Support, Help and Sharing" - as this really what the heart of the group is all about. The group welcomes all Chevy Roadtrek owners plus those who own the older Dodge Roadtreks that shared the same model numbers of their later counterparts - the 190, 170, and 210. The group also welcomes Chevy Roadtrek 200 model owners - a very brief Roadtrek model as well as Roadtrek Chevy Simplicity and Ranger owners (both versions of the Roadtrek 190. We also have members of the group who are looking to buy a Chevy Roadtrek or are just interested in learning more about them. 

I emphasize on the group that there is no relevant question that cannot be asked and that all of the members who can help with that question do so, and not say to just do a search to get help. On the group you will read about the good things and the not so good things that happen with members' Roadtreks. We share problems and ask how to resolve them. We talk about modifications we have made and how to do the things one needs to do when out traveling with the Roadtrek, maintaining the Roadtrek, and fixing the Roadtrek when it needs to be fixed. 

We have member/Roadtrek owners who are very knowledgeable about Chevy Roadtreks. We have members who are new owners and are just starting out who ask for guidance from the group. We also have members on the group who are looking to buy a Chevy Roadtrek and present to the group what they have seen, the condition one is in, and ask for opinions on whether it is a good buy or one to avoid. 

I am on the group just about every day and am happy to answer questions along with the other members. When I thought about taking on this group one of the thoughts that went through my mind was that the group would be a good resource for the readers of Meryl and Me Hit the Road and they will be able to come on the group and interact with me directly.  This rounds out how I can help our readers as an added benefit to direct emails from readers - which we love and answer diligently, and questions posted to article comment sections here on Meryl and Me. 

The group needs to grow. We need you to come and join us. We need newbies and the very experienced to add to the great members we already have.  Most know but maybe not all do - Facebook is free to join. There is no need to put any personal information down to join - just leave those parts blank. The group is set to "Private" meaning no one who is not a member of the group can see anything on the group. This keeps away any trouble makers. Only members can see the group posts - even when asking to join the group, you will only see an introduction to the group. And once on the group you have access to all of the knowledge on the group including a FILES section of manuals, documents, and other related information files about Chevy Roadtreks. When I come across something useful, I put a copy into the Files section of the group - as do other members. 

SO - YOU ARE INVITED!

COME JOIN US!

The name of the Facebook group is - 
ROADTREK 190, 170, 210 SUPPORT, HELP, AND SHARING
 
THE GROUP ADDRESS IS - 
 
 
I will be looking for you to personally accept your membership to the group! 

 


Saturday, May 29, 2021

TIRES FOR THE ROADTREK

Tires, even with good tread and good sidewalls have a lifespan.  Different brand tires have different lifespans. Our Roadtrek came from Roadtrek with Bridgestone tires. Checking on the Bridgestone website, Bridgestone tires have a lifespan of 10 years - as long as the tires are inspected each year to be certain that they are still good. Each year our Roadtrek is inspected for the New York State required annual inspection by the local mechanic that we bring it to (along with our car) who does has done all of the work on our Roadtrek and our car.  I ask him to inspect the tires when he does the inspection. Our Roadtrek is inspected in May each year which coincides with the month that the Roadtrek was registered and received its New York State license plates. While not planned, this gives the Roadtrek a thorough inspection before the start of traveling season.

I knew this year we would need new tires for the Roadtrek because they were 10 years old.  They were in very good condition - and they wore well. I have liked Bridgestone tires on my cars and I wanted to replace the Roadtrek tires with Bridgestones. We have not had good experience with Michelin tires on our cars, but I know many do like them.  I went on line and checked on several models of Bridgestones that would fit the Roadtrek.

The Roadtrek has tires that are LT245/75R16E.  LT stands for "Light Truck". R is the speed rating of the tires. The E is the most important in the size - this is the weight load rating of the tire and the Roadtrek must have an "E". There are other 245/75/16 tires that are not E. I discovered looking at tires that to find the tires for the Roadtrek, if you put in Chevy Express 3500 the correct tires do not come up. I also found that if you put in both Chevy Express 3500 and the size you get "This size does not fit your vehicle."  I put only the LT245/75R16E and tires came up for the Roadtrek. I saw "All Terrain" and "All Season" tires. I took down the tire names and read reviews and then went to the Roadtrek Group on Facebook to find out if anyone has these tires on their Roadtreks. Some did - and I heard good things about the ones I was considering. One of the tires I was uncertain about as while it should be fine many descriptions of this tire online was that it was an All Terrain tire that was best for Off Roading -and we drive on the highway and never go Off Roading - into the muck and the mire, the snow, the sand, etc. The closest we come is the gravel in the campground RV site or the driving on grass. It was the tire I most leaned to - and one Roadtrek owner said he liked it. More had the other tire I was considering. I was prepared to go shopping. 

I never expected, however, that getting tires for the Roadtrek locally was going to be so difficult.  

The difficulty was not because the tires are not available - they are very available. The problem is finding a tire shop that will install them on a van that is 9 feet tall and weighs over 8,000 pounds. Their shops are not tall enough or their lifts are not strong enough. Now, some reading this will say but X tire shop or Z tire shop did mine and that company is all over the country. It seems though that some of the very popular chain tire shops are not in New York - at least not anywhere near here. The Discount Tires chain is very popular but it turns out the closest one to us is in Pittsburgh is 420 miles one way. That is a little far to go to buy tires - and to drive with tires that are ready to be changed. There is one local tire chain that dominates tires here - and they are in every town, but the shops are small, the parking lots are small - and the Roadtrek would not fit through the doors into the bays. Independents are even smaller shops with even smaller property to bring the Roadtrek onto. I knew from the forums and Roadtrek groups that Costco is a popular place to go to have tires put on the Roadtrek and we have Costco here.  I went to one of the Roadtrek groups and asked about going to Costco for tires for the Roadtrek. The response was maybe - as it seems some Costco Tire Centers will install on a Roadtrek and some will not. Oh boy? What would the one here do? 

We are just starting to venture out of the house on a semi-regular basis following our Covid-19 vaccines and do so with caution. As it was, we had to go to the Costco for a few items and while we were there we stopped into the Tire Center and asked the man at the counter. His answer was you have to ask our manager. The manager who was standing nearby talking to a customer came over when he was done and we asked him. I described the Roadtrek - because no one around here knows what you are talking about is you say Roadtrek - as a van RV built into a Chevy Express 3500 van. I told him it is 9 feet tall and weighs 8,000 pounds (which is approximate). He stood there not saying anything and then said that they no longer put tires on RVs - they did up to two or three years ago but they don't any longer. I, again, tried to give him a description of how the Roadtrek is not the image of the large Class A that comes to mind when "RV" is said. He considered it for a minute or so and said, "I have to see it to decide!".  hat was better than a flat out "No!". I asked when he would be in, he gave me when he would be there over the next several days and we left. 

The next day I decided we need to find out from him as soon as possible and called the day after that which was one of the days he would be at the Tire Center. It turned out that he was not the overall manager but the Assistant Manager of the Tire Center. (Perhaps all department heads at Costco are "Assistant Managers" but whatever his title he was the man in charge at the moment.  We went to Costco with me hoping that he would say yes looking at the Roadtrek and have the tires - and we would be coming home with them on the van.   

When we got there the Assistant Manager who we had spoken to came out and looked all around the Roadtrek. He looked under it. He looked at all sides. He looked at the tires. He stepped back and took photos of it.  While he was looking, we were standing by watching him look. He asked some questions and was writing on a pad the entire time.  Finally, he said. "I will have to let you know - tomorrow!" Oh boy! Before he walked away I pulled out the paper I printed out from the Costco website that had the tire I was thinking about on it. This was the one that more Roadtrek owners said they had on the group I asked. He looked at it and said, "These tires would be ripped up in no time on this. You need a tire that will last!" My response was to suggest the other tire that I was considering. He said, "That one would be much better. It will last!" 

The next day we got a call from him. YES! He said they will do the install. He would have to put the Roadtrek up using a floor jack to lift the van at each tire to change each one. This was what I had told him both times we had spoken in person. Putting the Roadtrek up on a lift - one that uses the chassis and not under the tires to lift it - needs to be positioned so that none of the tanks, plumbing, etc. is not crushed. This is something most shops do not want to chance. And I would not want them to chance. He told us on the phone that we needed to come in and order the tires and make an appointment to have them installed.  We went there the next day in the afternoon.

This time I bought a print out of the tire he said would be good. We went in and started talking about the install and I handed him the paper. He took it and went into his computer to get more details about the tire. I asked him how smoothly it would drive on the road.  He said that since they are All Terrain tires they were more intended for off road - and while they are OK on a highway they would not be as smooth ride on a highway. I told him we primarily drive on highways.  I had looked at another tire - the same name as this tire we were talking about but was described as an All Season tire. It had many of the hard wearing characteristics of the tire we were talking about - there was a minor difference in specs. He looked that tire up and said it would be just as good for the Roadtrek and would drive much smoother on highways than the tire that was the All Terrain version of this tire. He ordered four Bridgestone - DURAVIS R500 HD in LT245/75R16E. They were coming from a Bridgestone distribution facility in Allentown, PA and would arrive in four days - a Friday - the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. He told us that he personally would do the install.  They would call us when they came in.

That Friday morning we got a call. The tires were there  - when did we want to come in to have them installed. I took a shot and said - "We can be there this afternoon if you can take us!" Sure - either 3 or 4 pm. I picked 3:00 pm.

I have written about how long it can take us to back the Roadtrek out of our driveway into the four lane road our house is on. It can take up to a half hour to get a clear break in traffic to back up across the the lanes on our side of the street. It took only fifteen minutes that afternoon - Meryl in the street with a walkie talkie telling me - "NOW!".  The weather report was for rain starting at 7:00 pm - no problem at all! We headed over to Costco which is a half hour drive all on streets - the Roadtrek cannot go on any of the parkways that would get us there quicker. 

It was 2:45 when we walked into the tire center and handed the Assistant Manager the keys. We would go into Costco and walk around while the tires were installed. I asked about how long and he told us about two to two and a half hours - because he had to use the floor jack. OK.

I set a timer on my phone to go off in two hours.  We walked around the store in those two hours - some of it through parts of the store we had walked earlier again.  We went outside to see what was happening. I did not want to go into the Tire Center - we could see where we parked the Roadtrek and into the garage from a distance. As we got outside it was raining. So much for 7 pm!  The Roadtrek was no longer in the parking lot. It was in a bay in the garage being worked on. We went back into the store to walk around - some more! I set my phone alarm to go off in another hour. 

Before Covid, it would not be hard to waste time in Costco. There would be food samples being given out. The snack bar/lunch counter would have tables set up all around to bring a hot dog, soda, pizza, etc. to a table to eat - but with Covid-19, the tables were all removed and the snack/lunch bar became take out only. While it is open like this, there is no place to sit. In fact there is no place to sit in the store. We kept walking. 

The alarm went off - now three hours after we arrived. We were very tired of walking. We went back outside  and it was raining harder. Now there was a white Sprinter van sitting next to the Roadtrek in the next bay - just as tall - but it did not look like an RV conversion. The Roadtrek was not finished yet.  We went into the Tire Center and there was a young man at the counter. We asked about the Roadtrek - he said that it takes a long time. We asked if they had our cell number to call us when it was ready. He looked up our service ticket on the computer and read us our home number. I said if he calls us on that to tell us it is ready, we will not be there because we are in the store! He took down the cell number. 

We returned to the store wondering when store security would come over to question us for wandering around the store for more than three hours. This time I did not set the timer - I set the stopwatch on the phone going to see when we got the call to come and get the Roadtrek. We continued walking through the store. At a half hour I could not walk around the store any longer. We had not gotten a call and we left the store and walked into the tire center. We saw that the rain had gotten worse. As we went through the door to the tire center we saw the young man standing at the counter holding up the keys to give us. I just smiled. I did not ask why he had not called us. I just wanted to see the Roadtrek with its new tires. and go home. I asked where it was parked. He told us. We went out into the rain and ran through the rain to the Roadtrek - Meryl got in and I walked quickly around to see the tires. They were hard to see in the rain. It was 7:00 pm as we were driving home. 

I do not know why it took this long. I can tell you just about where everything you might be looking for is located at this Costco. It will be awhile before I want to go to shop in a Costco.  

They did us a favor putting the tires on the Roadtrek when they don't usually do this. We are very happy that we were able to get tires put on and they are good tires. They rode very well driving home in the heavy pouring rain and it was a smooth ride. 




Wednesday, May 26, 2021

THE WATER PUMP KEEPS RUNNING!

The water pump is what pumps the water from your fresh tank(s) into the plumbing in the Roadtrek. THE water pump is 12 volts. It uses the coach battery(ies) to work. Before you turn on the water pump you must turn on the battery switch. 

Normally, when you turn on the water pump switch on the wall inside the Roadtrek you will hear the water pump turn on and then shut off right away. It should stay off until you either open a faucet handle, a shower handle, or flush the toilet. Then you will hear the water pump start to pump water to the faucet, shower, or toilet.   It will keep running - as it should - until you turn off the handle to the faucet or shower, or take you foot off the flush pedal on the toilet. Then the water pump shuts off and waits for the next open faucet, etc. There is a sensor in the water pump that starts the pump when there is a demand for water.  If your hot water tank is empty and you fill your fresh tanks, the hot water tank will fill the first time you turn on the water pump and open a hot water faucet handle.  What will happen then is the water pump will start and it will seem like it is running for a long time. First any water left in the sink hot water pipe will come out (cold) and along with it a burst of air. That burst of air is the water pump starting to pump cold water into the hot water tank to fill it and the air it is displacing in the tank is coming out through the open sink hot water side. The hot water tank holds 6 gallons of water and it takes awhile to pump that much water into the tank - and it must fill the tank. This is all normal and with an empty hot water tank being filled the wait for the water pump to shut off is normal. When the water starts coming out of the faucet steadily the tank is full and then you shut off the hot water handle and the water pump will shut off.  (Never turn on the hot water heater switch if there is an empty hot water tank - you will burn out the hot water heater. Wait until the hot water tank is FULL! -And it take awhile for the water to heat up - 6 gallons is a lot of water to heat.)

If something is wrong , however, the water pump might run when it shouldn't. First, understand that to for the water pump to run - correctly or not correctly -  THERE MUST BE POWER TO THE WATER PUMP  - SO - if the water pump wall switch is OFF - the water pump will be off and stay off. There are two things that you might find happening.

1) The water pump runs and runs and does not shut off.

2) The water pump runs for a few seconds, shuts off, starts running again, and repeats this cycle of runs, shuts off, runs, shuts off - and keeps doing that. 

 Each of these happen under different issues with the plumbing.  

Let's look at #1 first.  If the pump runs continually - not run, stop - run, stop - then there is a problem between the tanks and the pump.  This means the problem is on the INTAKE side of the pump. The pipes to the fresh tank(s) are on the intake side of the water pump. (Note - this does not include the hot water tank. The hot water tank is on the OUTPUT side of the water pump.) With the tanks in summer mode or in a one water tank Roadtrek, this means that the problem is between the exterior fresh tank in the front of the bottom of the van and the water pump. If a two fresh tank Roadtrek is in WINTER Mode - which is set to have water come from the rear interior tank directly to the water pump - then the problem is between the water pump and the rear interior tank plumbing. (See our article Summer Mode/Winter Mode to understand what this is.) 

What then should you do or look for? 

SHUT OFF THE WATER PUMP SWITCH - that cuts off the power and stops the pump while you try to diagnose or fix the problem.

 This can be caused by as simple as a dirty filter on the water pump or more complicated a kinked pipe or something blocking the fresh tank output - or, again, simple - the fresh tank is empty. 

 The filter is the first thing to look for. Go to the cabinet with the water pump and look around for a black connection in the pipe going into the water pump intake side. In the middle of that black connector on top of it there is a clear/whitish flat topped dome. That is the filter. Here is a photo of what to look for:

 

THERE ARE OLDER ROADTREKS THAT HAVE THE WATER PUMP FILTER ON THE OUTSIDE AND UNDER THE VAN NEAR WHERE THE FRONT EXTERIOR FRESH TANK LOW POINT DRAIN IS ON THE PIPE COMING OUT OF THE TANK AND HEADING INSIDE THE VAN TO THE WATER PUMP. IT MAY NOT LOOK ANYTHING AT ALL LIKE THIS AND YOU WILL HAVE TO LOOK UNDER THE VAN TO SEE WHAT IS THERE. SO IF YOU DO NOT FIND THE ABOVE IN YOUR ROADTREK NEAR THE WATER PUMP IT IS OUTSIDE. 

In my Roadtrek this is connected to the winterizing valve that I had installed to pump RV antifreeze directly into the water pump for winterizing the plumbing in the Roadtrek. This is what it all looks lime in my Roadtrek 190 - yours will not have the brass valve on the right side of the filter. It will have a white PEX pipe connected to that side that comes from the water tanks' connections. The pipe on the other side, not seen in this photo goes into the water pump. What you do see in this photo when compared to the photo above is that with use, the dome turns a milky white in color.

Shut off the pump. Open the sink to clear any water out of the line. Opening the filter will pour out some water so put a towel under it. The dome screws off. 

Inside around the inside edge there is a metal screen that goes all around. That metal screen pulls out. Do this where you can flush this all with water - and not let what is in the filter go down any drain - in the RT or in the house. Clean the metal screen and clean the inside of the dome. Look into the hole left open where the filter was and see if there is anything in there that is blocking it. Get this all clear of any debris that was inside (nicely filtered out as it is supposed to do -  yes, this gunk was in your fresh tank) and put the screen back into the dome.  Take the dome with the screen inside and screw the dome back on the filter base. Just that dome being loose can cause the pump to do this too. The pump is sucking air and that is why it runs and does not shut off unless you shut the pump off with the switch and putting the pump back on will start it doing it all over again.

We had the problem - and a pipe was kinked. This happened when the Roadtrek was about 6 months old new.  How did that happen? We don't know. We took it to the Roadtrek service and they cut the kink our of the PEX pipe and joined a new piece of PEX pipe to rejoin the pipe. 

 A kink or blockage or leak could happen anywhere in the pipes going to the fresh tank(s). A hole in a pipe from the fresh tank(s) will also cause the pump to suck air. If the pump sucks air it continues to run and not shut off.  The pump will keep running unless you  or an RV service technician fix it. AND while the Roadtrek plumbing is fairly basic, if you are not experienced with plumbing or have never worked with PEX pipe before, take the Roadtrek to an RV service shop to deal with this problem. 

The lucky solution is that you find that the filter was clogged or you thought the fresh tank had water in it and it was empty (or your summer/winter valves were turned the wrong way). 

Now, let's look at #2. The water pump runs, shuts off, runs and keeps doing this - always shutting off a little in between. 

What then should you do or look for?

If the pump was running and stopping repeatedly that is a leak on the output side of the water pump and that can be as simple as a clogged sink faucet end tip screen or a faucet handle that is not closed all the way. Those are the easy to fix things you hope to find. 

SHUT OFF THE WATER PUMP SWITCH - that cuts off the power and stops the pump while you try to diagnose or fix the problem.

The sink faucet is just like any that you have at home. There usually is a screw off tip at the end of the faucet where the water comes out into the sink. Inside that there is a small round screen - sometimes it is a plastic disk with holes in it. Like the pump filter this also stops gunk from the pipes going into the water coming out of the sink. If this gets clogged. water wants to flow - and doesn't. Unscrew the tip of the faucet and clean the screen. Screw it back on and hope for the best. The water pump when you turn it on now should act normally - run for a few seconds and stop - and not start again until you want it to. 

If the screen was not clogged and you still have the problem, the next thing to do is go to every faucet handle - shower handle (inside shower and outside shower) - check the toilet that there is no water or dripping into the toilet - and close the handle tight. If the handle was open even slightly it will cause the water to drip - you may not even notice the drop - but the water pump does. It senses some handle is open and it wants to make you happy and send water there. of this is the problem, tightening down the handle will stop the water pump from starting,stopping, and keep doing that. 

Worse cases - 

1) There is a leak in a pipe on the output side of the water pump somewhere in the Roadtrek.

2) There is a loose pipe connection between two pipes or a pipe and a plumbing fixture.

3) The toilet valve is broken and is leaking. Look around the toilet on the floor. If you see water it is likely coming from the toilet valve what is broken. The toilet valve is located on the back of the outside of  toilet under the rim against the bowl on the left side facing the toilet. This happened to us TWICE - once the valve had to be replaced and the second time the valve was able to be repaired - both times by an RV service shop. How did we know? The pump was running, stopping over and over. I went looking and found water collecting in the aisle in front of the toilet. The water was dripping from the valve and coming down from the toilet and found its way to the floor. We shut off the water pump and since we were in the Roadtrek we had no choice but to turn the water pump on when we needed water and shut it off right away to avoid flooding the floor which by then was covered in towels. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF NOTHING WORKS OR CAN BE FOUND TO EXPLAIN #1 or #2?

The water pump may be broken. Like any other appliance it wears out over time and needs to be replaced. It is also possible that the sensor inside is broken. Some might take the water pump apart and find parts to fix it themselves. Many - who are not so skilled or inclined - will take the RV to an RV shop and let them replace the water pump. I know there are many skilled who own Roadtreks that can do these things for themselves  - but like you and me, who do not have those skills and who need articles like this to figure out what might be wrong and they might be able to do - or not do - take it to an RV service shop to fix. The Roadtrek uses PEX pipe for its plumbing. This is pipe that is joined together using crimp connectors - not glued together like PVC pipe or welded together like copper pipe and mostly not screwed together. PEX plumbing work requires special tools to work with the pipe and the crimp connectors. 

Also do not figure that you will just shut off the water pump and connect to city water. If there is a leak, a broken toilet valve, a broken pipe - is is going to leak more connected to city water. 

And speaking of city water - if the city water fill valve is turned to fill - the water pump does not work and even city water will not flow into the plumbing.(But we have an article all about that!)

How does the water pump know to run when a water faucet is opened? The water pump senses a drop in pressure and sends water to increase the pressure in the pipe - and it comes out of the faucet.


HERE IS TO HOPING THAT IT IS ONE OF THE EASY FIXES THAT YOU CAN DO YOURSELF! 

😍




 

 


Sunday, May 2, 2021

EASY TO MAKE PROPANE TANK OPENING COVER

One day you walk past the back of your Roadtrek and you look down at the center of the bumper and you discover that the cover that goes over the opening to the propane tank fill and off/on knob is GONE!  Forget about trying to find a new one. If you could it will cost you more than you should spend. There is an easy way to replace that cover with a simple DIY project that only requires a trip to a home store like Home Depot and a decent pair of scissors. 

 This is what you have lost -  

 


CLOSE UP - 

A very similar cover to the original can be easily made with some bathroom rubber wall cove base. This is sold on a roll at Home Depot or Lowes. It comes on a roll or you should find it to cut to length by the foot at the store. You don't need a lot - two feet is enough to make two - spares are good to have. Black blends with the bumper but it comes in other colors as well.  You don't want it thick so look for one that is thin.

 This is what rubber wall cove base looks like: 

It can be cut with a good pair of scissors. Use the measurements of the opening combined with the turn latches at the center of each side that hold the cover in place. The height of the cove base should be fine as it comes. All you have to measure is the width you need it to be for the cover. Not much has to be done to the cove base other than cut it to size and cut notches for the turn latches to fit into so that they turn to hold the new cover in place. This comes with a lip at the bottom - just like the original cover has. It sits on the bumper the same as the original and is just about the same height as the original. The cove base comes two ways - with adhesive on the back and without - you want it WITHOUT ADHESIVE. Once you make it, it is going to attach exactly the same way the original did. It will fit in the space between the two turn latches. Set it in place with the slots over the open latches on each side. Turn the latch into the cover. If the latch does not fit, trim the slots for the latches so that they turn easily over the rubber. It may be tighter than the original but that is OK as it will be harder to open on its own and get lost.

For anyone who has not lost their cover - use the original to make a template which will make creating a new one even easier. Don't put it off - as it is even easier if you have the original to use a template - before you lose the original.

AND when you have the new cover on you should make a leash for it so that it will not get lost again. All you need to do is put a small hole in the corner and take a length of strong nylon fishing line through the hole and tie the ends around one of the brackets along the bumper just inside. Make the fishing line long enough to be able to take the cover off and sit it out of the way on the bumper or hang off the bumper when filling the propane tank.

For a few dollars and very little time you have a new cover!


Thursday, February 25, 2021

ANDERSEN LEVELERS MODIFICATION

 I have written two articles about the leveling ramps we use - Andersen Levelers - to get our Roadtrek level when the campsite is not level. LINK 1 and LINK 2 to read these articles to see what I am talking about here. As they come, the surface of the ramp is very smooth. On one hot day the tires slipped slightly on the ramp - the Roadtrek stayed level but it was obvious the next morning when we were taking the Roadtrek out of the campsite for the day that there were black skid marks on the red ramps. Looking around the Internet I found a way to deal with this and enhance the levelers to work even better. I do not take credit for this but I did it with my set of Andersen Levelers and it works great!

I added strips of anti-slip grip tape that is usually applied to stairs to the top of each one.  This is sold in the home stores usually by the roll, but Ace Hardware sells this by the foot and for what is needed, there is no reason to buy a roll of more than you need. This is adhesive and comes in various widths. It is rough on the top and will prevent slipping of the tire - and gives better traction when pulling up on the ramps. 

Here is how I put it on -

 

Cut a piece the length of the leveler plus an inch or two for the back. Peel off the backing and apply it carefully to be centered on the face of the ramp. DO NOT PUT ANY OF IT OVER THE THIN EDGE OF THE RAMP (See in Photo 1). The reason for this is this is where the ramp stop block will be inserted and if it cannot be moved out easily it will be a problem getting off the ramps as you will not be able to remove it with the weight of the tire on it and the grip tape keeping it from moving.  On the back of the ramp - the tall side that goes to the ground (Photo 2) put an inch or two of tape lapping over from the top. This will hold the tape in place if it should the adhesive pulled by the tire as you roll up onto it. Do the same for both ramps.

That is all there is too this. It adds a few dollars to the ramps but it is well worth the difference this small modification makes. 

These are still the best things I have found to level the Roadtrek when a site is way off level.