Mark, My Words | May/June 2013

By Mark Nemeth #45776

Summerizing Your RV
Q. There are many articles about winterizing your RV, but what about summerizing it? We are considering leaving our 2011 fifth-wheel in a storage facility for the summer under covered storage. This would be in a facility close to Quartzsite, Arizona, where it gets extremely hot during the summer. Can you give us any tips?
– Bernard and Carole

A. Storing your RV in a hot/dry climate does present some challenges, and I have some suggestions.

I’m glad you have chosen a storage facility that has covered parking for RVs. This is a must for desert climates and will help keep the heat down inside the RV. Avoid using RV covers or tarps, especially in areas where wind and dust are common, as the cover will work against the outside of the RV and cause damage by abrasion.

Crack a vent or two, and a window, to allow air circulation. You may have dust inside, but air circulating will help reduce the inside temperature.

Some folks suggest leaving multiple buckets of water inside the RV to add some humidity to the air but this can be more trouble than it is worth, especially for longer storage periods, as the water must be replenished as it evaporates. I have had good luck storing my RV in a dry climate in the past without such precautions.

Remove all food items, cleaning products, bathroom products, candles and anything else that will melt or be damaged by heat. You can expect the inside temperature to exceed 120 degrees even in a shaded, ventilated RV.

Cover the tires, and cover the windows from the inside with foil or reflective material to help prevent sun bleaching/damage of the interior and to help reduce inside temperatures.

Disconnect house and starter batteries and follow long-term storage recommendations for generator and engine (if so equipped). Typically, fuel tanks should either be drained completely or filled to the top and fuel stabilizer added. Change engine oil and top off all fluids before storing. Air tires to maximum sidewall pressure, and, if the RV is parked on cement or asphalt, place inexpensive plastic placemats under the tires to prevent tire compounds from being leached from the tires. If you are on dirt or gravel, placemats are not necessary. If you have hydraulic levelers, keep them up in the stowed (up) position, as they can stick in the deployed (down) position if left for long periods of time.

Periodic charging of the batteries is beneficial, say an overnight charge once a month; otherwise, they will self-discharge over time. It is best not to leave the batteries connected and the rig plugged into shore power as the constant float charge from the converter will cause the batteries to use water, and they will eventually run dry.

In general, it can be easier to store the RV in a dry climate because you won’t fight mold and mildew like you would in Florida or South Texas.

RV Towing Trailer
Q. We have a 1998 30-ft. Fleetwood Bounder with a 454 Chevy engine. The vehicle has 29,000 original miles, and the GVWR is 17,000 lbs. I also own a 2005 enclosed 20-ft. (24 ft. total length) Wells Cargo Trailer, which weighs 3,100 lbs. I carry a 1929 Ford Coupe in the trailer, which weighs 1,400 lbs. Can I tow this trailer safely behind my RV? Is our transmission cooler large enough to handle a trailer of this size? Do I need to install a brake controller to control the stopping of the trailer? What are the best type and/or company for our needs?
– Bob and Christine
A. There is a lot to those questions. You need to make sure the hitch on the RV is rated to tow a trailer that big. You also need to make sure that the GCWR (gross combined weight rating) on the motorhome is high enough to allow you to tow that trailer legally. The GCWR is the max that the motorhome and the trailer together can weigh to be legal (and safe). The GCWR can often be found in the owner’s manual or on a ratings sheet that came with the motorhome.

That trailer absolutely needs to have brakes, either tongue-mounted surge brakes or electric brakes operated by a brake controller inside the RV. This is not optional and is legally required in the majority of states. Any quality brake controller is fine if properly installed. Plan on spending around $100 for a decent controller.

The tranny cooler may already be adequate for the job. If you have overheating problems, then you can look into something bigger, but that RV is already quite heavy, so adding the trailer is not going to create that much additional demand on the cooling system. A lot of RVs tow 4,000-plus-lb tow vehicles without modifications.

You need to weigh the RV, find out the total weight, then subtract that weight from the GCWR. The remainder needs to be large enough to accommodate the weight of the trailer.

Connecting to Cable TV
Q. I have a 32″ Jensen flat-screen TV (Model 3208) in my 2010 fifth-wheel trailer. I have difficulty getting channels when hooked up to cable. I’ve checked the post connection with another TV, and it works well. When performing an auto scan for cable channels, the unit may or may not locate channels. If channels are found, the reception is terrible (snowy), especially at lower numbers. I have replaced the wire connecting to the post with the same result. The antenna amplifier is off when I attempt to auto scan for cable. The reception of the TV in the “air” mode works well, and the picture is clear. The auto scan for “air” works perfectly.
– Ron
A. Make sure that the TV doesn’t have a setting for “cable only” and for “antenna only” in one of the menus. It may be that simple. If not, then we need to look at the cabling in the RV. Since the TV works fine for over-the-air channels, we can pretty much eliminate the TV, the cable and the antenna amp and antenna. Everything there seems to be working fine. I think your problem is going to be either the cable between the wall plate power supply and the cable TV inlet jack on the RV, or the connectors on either end. It might possibly be a problem with the “pass-thru” function of the wall plate power supply for cable, but I think the connections or the cable are most likely.
First, look at the outside cable TV jack. Remove it from its mounting and make sure the co-ax cable connection is in good shape. If that’s okay, let’s go inside the rig and look at the wall plate where the TV hooks up.

The wall plate power supply is where the power switch for the antenna amp, the F connector for the TV’s co-ax cable and the 12V outlet are. This device is the power supply for the actual antenna amp, which is housed in the bat wing part of the roof antenna. If you remove the screws that mount the wall plate power supply and pull it out a bit, you’ll be able to see the co-ax cable connections. One is for the antenna, one is for cable input, and one is for a second TV. Check the condition of the cable connections for any obvious problems. A quick test of the wall plate would be to run a co-ax cable temporarily from the cable TV connection at the pedestal and connect it to the cable inlet on the back side of the wall plate. If it works properly, then you have eliminated the wall plate as the source of the problem, and you’ll have to look at the cable between the wall plate and the outside cable TV jack. If the cable is bad, sometimes it is easier to run a new cable and install a new cable TV inlet on the RV rather than trying to replace the often-buried original co-ax cable.
Tire Purchase
Q. I have always replaced tires on my car as a unit—a complete set of four. Now my motorhome is getting close to needing tires with an estimate of just under $2,800 for the entire set of six Michelin 235/80r225/14 XRV tires. (Only Michelin makes this size.) I’ve read that some folks replace two tires at a time to help soften the financial blow, usually the front “steering” pair, then the rear outer pair, then, later on, the inner pair. Is this acceptable? Is it safe?
– Jerry

A. It is critical to have matched diameter tires as part of a dually set. All else is relatively noncritical. You should never replace one half of a dual-wheel set with a new tire. Keep those dual wheel pairs together and replace them as a pair. If you don’t, and the two wheels have any difference in diameter, it will increase the wear rate and could even lead to early tire failure. It’s best to have the same brand and model tires in a dually pair as well.

One workable scenario would be to replace both front tires. If the old tires still have tread and lifetime left, they can be swapped in as one dually pair on either the left or right side of the rear axle. This process can be repeated over time until all tires have been renewed. This will help spread the expense pain out over a longer time; however, no tire should be used on your RV if it shows any sign of excessive wear or degradation, like weather checking or sidewall damage. Because of the significant loads we carry with our RV tires, they should be replaced when they reach the seven-year-old mark, regardless of how much tread is left on them or how good they look.
Changing to 17.5 Tires
Q. I noticed a fellow Escapee wrote about using 17.5-inch tires in a past issue. I’ve been thinking about the same kind of upgrade, but I’ve been told that most tire shops can’t work on 17.5-inch tires because they don’t have the proper equipment, and it is too dangerous. The people who sell the tires don’t think there is a problem. What is the truth?
– Bob
A. I am not aware of any issues with tire shops selling and mounting 17.5-inch tires. They are a common size for commercial-duty truck use and have been around for years. The warnings are usually to not attempt to mount 17.5-inch tires on a 17-inch rim.

The primary purpose to go up to that tire size is to get a higher load capacity tire. That can be a good thing if your current setup is operating at or near the 16-inch tire’s max load rating. However, if loading or tire capacity is not a problem, there is not a lot to be gained by going up a size.

Rickson does a lot of conversion rims and tire sets for trucks and trailers. Visit www.ricksontruckwheels.com/tires-175-truck.php.

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