Filed under: Navigator, RV Maintenance
Mark, My Words: Q & A with Mark Nemeth – July 2013
We are definitely into the “dog days” of summer here in East Texas! I hope you are able to RV somewhere cool to escape the heat. Keep those questions coming! email@example.com
Mark, I would like to know what to do about bubbles in my rubber roof. I have a 1999 model Coachmen with a rubber roof. I have noticed several bubbles in it lately. Is there anything that can be done about or with these bubbles? Thank you, Jim
Several others have asked similar questions, so this is apparently a fairly common problem. In general, if the bubbles (delaminated areas) are small, on the order of a few inches across, they will not affect the roof’s integrity. Just watch them to be sure they are not getting larger. Attempting to cut or puncture the bubbles and re-glue them or caulk them is not recommended. If the membrane is intact, you are better off leaving bubbles or ripples alone. If the delaminated area is large, or the membrane is discolored, the membrane may have been damaged by application of an improper cleaner. It is critical that no petroleum-based solvents, harsh abrasives or citric-based cleaners be used on rubber roofs. Petroleum-based solvents are especially damaging. They can penetrate the membrane and dissolve the adhesive underneath. You should only use a mild soap-and-water solution to clean the roof or use a cleaning product specifically designed for rubber roofs. Finally, if the bubbles spread or large de-laminations appear, you may need to have the roof evaluated by a professional.
Due to illness, job conflicts, etc., our lovely motorhome has been sitting still for over two years. Occasionally, the engine and generator have been turned on. They sound fine. The gasoline has an additive in it. The house part had someone living in it for part of that time. So that’s not a concern. So, in order to get it back safely on the road, I know the tires might need replacing as well as all fluids, etc. But how far can we drive it to get to a service department? Any advice and suggestions welcome. Thank you from two old ladies in Fort Bragg, CA.
Before driving the RV, I would do the following things.
1. Inflate all the tires to the proper pressure and visually inspect the tires for obvious damage or dry rot. Some light surface cracking is acceptable, but large cracks or faults in the body or tread are not.
2. Change the engine oil and filter. Check all other fluid levels.
3. Start the engine; let it warm up; then move the coach a short distance to be sure that the brakes are not hung up. Turn the steering wheel lock-to-lock several times. Listen for any unusual noises. Look underneath to check for any leaking fluids.
If everything sounds OK and the coach seems to work normally, shut it down; let it sit for a few minutes; then re-check all fluid levels. If everything still looks good, it should be reasonably safe to drive it for several hours, if needed. While on the road, pay close attention to any weird noises or smells, and just take it easy. If you need to drive it quite a ways to get to the nearest service place, you might consider taking out some towing insurance before you start down the road, and be sure to take a cell phone with you. Once you get it to a service facility, I recommend that all fluids and filters be replaced, and add some fuel injector cleaner to the tank and top it up with fresh fuel.
I am having trouble getting gasoline into the tank of our 34-ft. 1993 Bounder. No one seems to know what the problem is. We keep holding up the customer lines at the pump because the back pressure keeps stopping the pump. I can only pump very slowly. This wasn’t a problem until the last couple of years. Do you know of anyone else who has had this problem? Do you have any suggestions as to what might be the problem? Thanks, Carl
I personally had similar problems with my old 34-foot Southwind. These large RVs often have a very long set of hoses connecting the fuel tank to the fuel filler. If, over time, one of those hoses collapses or gets a kink in it, it will make filling the tank an all-day proposition. Take a look under the rig. In most cases, you’ll be able to see the hoses. There should be a large hose that carries the fuel to the tank and a smaller hose that vents the tank while it is filling. If you find a collapsed area on a hose, you can sometimes encourage it to open up by putting a worm gear clamp (the kind used on radiator hoses) around the collapsed area. Tightening the clamp will force the hose back into a round shape. If that won’t work, you may need to replace the offending hose.
When using our house trailer for the first time this year, we noticed, at the end of the weekend, black soot up the side of the trailer by the water heater exhaust. We had no problem with the water heating up but wondered what would cause this and how to prevent it from happening again. Yours truly, Jaye & Maxine
Hi, Jaye & Maxine,
That black soot indicates that the water heater flame is burning without enough air. Several things can cause this, and, thankfully, they are easy to fix. The most common cause is small spider webs or nests inside the burner tube. For some reason, spiders seem to like the odor of propane and will often nest inside the burner tube. Simply remove the burner tube (usually only a single screw) and clean it out. While it is off, make sure there are no obstructions inside the combustion chamber tube (where the flame from the main burner goes). Mud dauber wasps love to build nests in there. That should cure the problem, but if it doesn’t, then you may need to adjust the burner air shutter. This is a simple rotating collar that restricts the air going to the burner and can be found on the outside of the burner tube, close to where it connects to the gas valve. Not all water heaters have adjustable shutters, but if yours does, they are easy to tweak. With the heater burner running, adjust the shutter to get a nice blue flame with just a hint of yellow in it. If you start getting a blowtorch or “jet engine” sound, you have opened it too far. If you are still having the problem, or if you don’t feel comfortable messing with propane appliances, take the rig to a propane supplier or RV service center and ask them to service the heater.
We wanted to start camping with our granddaughter and not go beyond a 2-hr. window. We live in Southern Calif. and have been very disappointed with the available campgrounds. Most are more like homeless camps than family campgrounds. The best we have found so far is Wilderness Lakes in Menifee. Can you recommend others for us that we may not know about? We cannot afford membership camps. We are on a limited budget with an older 24′ RV. Thanks, Diane.
Your location and your 2-hour limit on travel really restricts your choices. About the best suggestion I would have is to check out the Angeles National Forest and the San Bernardino National Forest. Both are close to you and offer some outstanding camping for RVs. Plus, national forests limit stays, so you don’t get that “permanent resident” sort of thing that some private RV parks get.
If you are willing to drive longer, there are a lot of nice campgrounds at lakes, like Castaic, Casitas, Success, but they are quite a bit further. Here’s another neat resource I found: I love Jalama Beach and Mt Palomar. (I used to live in Lompoc.)
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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