Filed under: Navigator, RV Maintenance
Mark, My Words: Q & A with Mark Nemeth – June 2013
This month: Roof coatings, paint protection, anode rods, rentals, and more! I hope you are enjoying your summer vacation somewhere in an RV! Have fun, and keep those questions coming! MMW@escapees.com
We have a 1985 Southwind 34′ Class-A. We purchased it 4 years ago. We noticed the roof has cracks around the vents, etc. The roof membrane/coating is most likely the second or third roof on the vehicle. Would like to update the roof. We have seen the different roof coating materials available in the stores and catalogs, but do not know what material would be compatible with the existing roof (rubber, acrylic, elastomeric, etc.). How do we find out what type material is currently on the roof, and what materials do you recommend recoating the roof with? Thank you in advance for your advice. We enjoy reading your helpful articles. Rees
I believe that most Southwinds of that era had a fiberglass roof originally, which is a pretty stable roof material. It sounds like yours has been coated at least once with some kind of coating. The good news is that, if the coating is intact and well-adhered to the structure, you can generally clean it thoroughly and apply just about any of the commercially available roof coatings. Compatibility is not usually an issue. You will want to remove any loose material and recaulk all seams and around all vents. Dicor offers several products that are designed to rehabilitate older RV roofs, and you can visit http://dicorproducts.com for more information on their RV roofing line. I have personally used their Elastomeric Metal RV Roof Coating and been happy with its performance and durability. I have also personally used a product called Rapid Roof III, sold by Minnesota Roofing & RV Specialties (www.rvroofmn.com). The product is easy to use, and they sell kits that have everything you need to reinforce all the seams and coat the entire roof on your RV. I have an aluminum roof on my class-C, and it was beginning to show some corrosion issues, like pinhole leaks. I used a Rapid Roof III kit on it about 5 years ago, and it really turned out great! It has held up very well so far. I would recommend it to anyone as an effective and fairly easy do-it-yourself roof fix for metal or fiberglass roofs. For more info, give them a call at 877-387-6511.
I have a 38-foot 5th-wheel that has full body paint. Is there a product that can be sprayed on to protect against weather, sun, etc? I want to keep it looking good, but I’m not looking forward to spending a week of wax on wax off grasshopper???? Any suggestions? Robert
I have personally used a product called Dri Wash n Guard on many vehicles over the years. It is easy to apply and does a good job of protecting the paint. It is actually intended to be a waterless car wash, but I usually wash the vehicle first and let it dry thoroughly. Then, using the special Dri Wash n Guard pump sprayer, you apply a light mist of the product, wipe it around with a soft cloth, and then buff the light residue off to get a serious shine. There is some elbow grease involved, but far less than, say, using an automotive paste wax. It holds up pretty well: I still have water beading up on the surface several months later, and the surface is still slick and shiny. Plus, it really seems to slow down oxidation of the paint finish on non-clear-coated vehicles. The stuff is sold through local distributors, and you can find out more about it at http://www.driwashsolutions.com . I use the classic version, as I have a number of vehicles with acrylic enamel paint jobs and no clear coat. I think the ION version may be better for clear-coat applications. No, I’m not a distributor, just a long-term satisfied user of their product. There are other brands of dry wash sprays and waxes out there, but this is the one I use.
I spent a number of years in a region of Ontario that has the hardest water in Canada. The anode in my tank is quite corroded, and the tank needs to be flushed out. Can you provide any suggestions as to any products that may be available for this purpose?
Thank you, Kevin
That is a common problem. Unfortunately, most RVers don’t realize that they need to flush the water heater at least once a year and inspect the anode rod. Flushing the tank removes the accumulation of scale and other contaminants and will help your tank work more efficiently and last longer. The anode rod is used on steel tank water heaters to prevent the tank from corroding. A water heater with an expended anode rod can fail from corrosion in as little as a year! To get started, the water heater should be shut down and allowed to cool. Then, the water pump and city water source need to be turned off, and the water heater drain plug removed. Open a hot water faucet in the RV to help the heater drain quickly. Then, using a flushing wand (like this one at http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/water-heater-tank-rinser/49070), thoroughly rinse out the tank through the drain opening until you no longer see any bits of scale or other contaminants in the water. If your water heater is equipped with an anode rod, you need to remove it and inspect it. Replace any anode rod that has lost 50 to 75 percent of the zinc anode material. In some areas, depending on the local water source, the anode rod may need to be replaced yearly. If your water heater is an Atwood product with an aluminum tank, it will not have an anode rod. All Atwood and Suburban steel-tank heaters will have one; some are accessible from the outside, some are on the back of the heater inside the coach. On some heaters, the anode is part of the drain plug. It is best to not use Teflon pipe tape on the anode rod, but pipe “dope” or thread sealant is OK. Once the plug and anode rod are re-installed, fill the heater with water and check for any leaks. Here’s an example of a typical anode rod: http://www.rvwholesalers.com/catalog/anode-rod-for-atwood-bulk-09-0208.html.
I love the idea of an RV, but have never driven or traveled in one. I’d like to rent one to see how it feels. Any suggestions of where to go? Thanks! Marilyn
There are a number of companies that rent RVs, and it can be a great way to get a taste for RVing without a big commitment of funds. Cruise America is probably the oldest and most recognized RV rental firm and has been in business for as long as I can remember. They rent class-C RVs in several different sizes and have locations all over the country. Check them out at http://www.cruiseamerica.com/. RVRental.com (http://RVrental.com), which is operated by Camping World, is a newer rental agency and they offer a wide range of RV types for rent, including towables and class-A motorhomes. Finally, many large cities have local RV rental places; just check a local phone book. If you have never driven an RV, you may want to inquire about RV driving training, especially if you plan to rent a large motorhome or trailer. There are additional skills needed to operate RVs safely and comfortably, and most RV rental companies will be happy to help you get some driving training, as it makes it less likely that you’ll crunch their RV. Best of luck on your first RV adventure!
This is not a question but another product to use with success on fiberglass. I have used, with much success, “Marinetex” found at a good quality marine store. I had a crack in our Apache sidewall, patched it with Marinetex, and it lasted longer than any RV repair patch that I have ever used. Suzanne
I’ll add that to my list! I have found that there are many marine compounds, glues, and finishes that are very useful in the RV world. I like to check out West Marine (www.westmarine.com) and Discount Marine Supplies (www.discountmarinesupplies.com) when I’m in need of sealants and repair materials. There are also a lot of appliances and accessories that cross over nicely from the world of boats to the world of RVs. After all, many boats are used as floating RVs and have the same basic systems aboard. It’s worth a look the next time you are in the market for RV accessories or maintenance materials.
Mark Nemeth has been involved with all things RV for more than 15 years, including almost five years on the road as a full-timer. He is the RV education director for Escapees RV Club and oversees the highly acclaimed RVers’ Boot Camp and SmartWeigh programs. Do you have a question for Mark? Please submit your question via email to MMW@escapees.com.
Please remember, material will be edited. Because of the large volume of material and correspondence submitted, individual replies will be limited to questions that are chosen for publication.
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