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Mark, My Words: Q & A with Mark Nemeth – October 2013

October 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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mark-mugshot-2013-e1360277035775Hi, folks. As the cold weather approaches, it’s almost time to start winterizing those rigs. For now, I’ll field a few general RVing questions, but if you have questions about winterizing, please send them in and we’ll talk about it next month. Thanks for writing, and keep those questions coming! 

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Mark:

Don’t know if you can help or perhaps you can send me in the right direction. Does anyone sell or can give me an idea how to get stairs into my Trail Cruiser C-22 that might have a handle for a handicapped person to use to go in and out for balance?

Thanks, Ginger

Hi, Ginger,

There are a few options that you might consider. First, I’m assuming that you need some kind of step that will work on an RV that is in use. There are a number of nice step assemblies with built-in handrails available, but they are designed to be used on an RV that is parked in one place most or all of the time. If that is your situation, any mobile home or manufactured home dealer will have steps of this sort. It is also possible to have a local carpenter or handyman build you a set. However, if travel is your intent, then read on. Because of the great number of variations in RV entry doors, heights and step designs, it is very hard for the industry to provide a simple solution. For folks who walk well but just have trouble with stairs, you might consider a steplift. These are simple stand-on lifts designed to make it easy for someone with disabilities to get in and out of the RV. Take a look at these sites:

http://www.discountramps.com/electric-rv-lift-platform.htm

http://www.lifeessentialsweb.com/Products/ProductsDetailsPage/tabid/101/ArticleID/52/Step-Assist.aspx

This small lift attaches to the outside of the RV next to the existing door and simply raises the person up from the ground to the floor level of the RV. Some designs include a grabrail or a handrail. These are much lighter and simpler than, say, a wheelchair lift. This may be a workable solution for you. If that sounds like way more than you need, then just adding some additional grabrails may be enough. Most restaurant and building supply stores offer a wide range of handrails that can be attached to either the outside of the coach next to the door, or inside on the RV’s wall or adjacent cabinet. They come in all sizes and shapes, and having that extra place to grab may be enough to solve the problem.

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Good evening, Mark:

Please advise what I can do to keep outside air from entering our 2014RKD Outside air flows through the return grills located in the interior steps between living room and sleeping quarters, especially when I turn on the ceiling vent fans. This same outside air flowing into living quarters also contains airborne contaminated outside air. I placed a temperature/humidity % meter behind the return air grill in the steps to the bedroom, finding the humidity percentage increased to 90 percent one day. We have recently bought and placed two dehumidifiers and an air purifier inside our RV to reduce the high percentage of humidity, but we remain very concerned about the airborne contaminates flowing into our RV. Regards, Terry

Hi, Terry,

The typical RV roof-mounted air conditioner is a recirculation-only unit: it only recirculates the air inside the RV and does not introduce any outside air. The standard RV furnace is also recirculate-only. It does draw in outside air for combustion, but that is through a sealed combustion chamber, and then that air is exhausted back outside. Neither unit should be bringing in outside air. However, RVs are not generally all that well sealed off from outside air, due to the construction methods and materials used. RV windows often do not seal all that well, and in many RVs, penetrations through the outside skin or the floor, where utility lines and plumbing are routed, are rarely air-tight. Door weatherstripping is also less than perfect on most RVs. That means that there are multiple “chinks” or gaps where outside air may enter the coach. That is why, when you turn on an exhaust fan, it is going to create a slightly lower air pressure inside the RV and that will draw in outside air through the many small gaps and openings that exist in the RV’s structure. In my experience, this is pretty much the norm for RVs. You can improve the situation by not running an exhaust fan. That will minimize outside air infiltration, but your RV interior is not a sealed environment, and I’m not sure it would be possible to make it so. You can reduce the drafts and leaks by mechanically sealing all openings and gaps, just like you would do in a residential structure to reduce air leaks, using standard insulating materials like expanding foam and weatherstripping products, but you’ll never get it totally sealed. That’s probably a good thing: With no outside air infiltration, you’d eventually suffocate in there. My suggestion is to take some time to identify the largest gaps and openings that allow air into the rig and seal them with standard weatherstripping products. Then, avoid running exhaust fans when there is a concern about outside air quality, and run them a lot when the outside air is good. That will help remove excess humidity and odors from inside the rig.

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Hi, Mark,

We have a 2006 Coachmen 272 TBS travel trailer that we purchased not long ago.  Apparently, there were leaks in the roof because I have noticed that there are a couple of places where the vinyl wallpaper has “rippled” and separated from the wall behind it.  I have re-caulked all the vertical seams and taped over all the horizontal seams on the roof and I believe I have eliminated the source of the leaks.  Now I’d like to repair the walls.  Besides completely removing the wallpaper, is there a way to fix this problem?  The wallpaper itself is in great shape, as in no rips or tears; it’s just loose or rippled.  Thank you for any advice you can provide. Jeff

Hi, Jeff,

A lot depends on what has actually delaminated back there in your wall. Depending on the wall materials, wallpaper on the surface of the wall may simply have come loose, or the actual wall paneling may have delaminated. If the vinyl material is actual wallpaper applied to the wall, and it has simply let go of the intact wall surface, then it’s just a matter of getting some new glue back there and re-attaching it. You can try a small syringe with a needle loaded with some Elmer’s glue, and see if you can get some glue behind the loose wallpaper. Then, using something flat, like a credit card, try to get the glue spread around a bit and flatten out the wrinkles. Then, press the area with something flat and rigid, like a book or a piece of wood, until the glue dries enough to hold the paper in place. A bit of a pain, but it can be done. If the delaminated vinyl is actually the top surface of a plywood wall panel rather than wallpaper that was added on top of the wall surface, then repairs are very difficult to impossible. Sheet paneling used in RVs is often a thin plywood material with either a thin wood veneer or a vinyl surface that is laminated to the plywood itself. If there has been enough of a long-standing leak there to delaminate the plywood, chances are that there is wood rot back there, and the proper repair method is to remove the wall panel and replace the damaged wood. One way to determine what you are dealing with is to find an inconspicuous delaminated area and make a small cut with a razor knife. If the detached vinyl has thin wood embedded in it, then the wall panel has delaminated and an easy surface repair is not usually possible.

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Mark,

I have a Carriage Compass 2005 SLQ.  How do you adjust the bedroom slideout?  The slideout has a solid bottom.  I have looked inside the bed compartment and not really sure how to adjust the slideout. My bedroom slideout has slid down about a half inch.  The bedroom slide now rubs along the carpet on the righthand side as you are looking at the bed from the inside.  I have taken my Carriage Compass to a couple of dealers and they tell me the slideout doesn’t need adjusted.  We show them the rug marks caused by the slideout, yet they just say, “This happens sometimes.”  Thanks, Dennis

Hi, Dennis,

In my opinion, if the slide goes in and out reliably, is not actually damaging anything and does not leak, it probably does not need adjustment or repair. It’s also my opinion that slideout adjustments are probably beyond the capabilities of the average RV owner. An experienced RV tech will probably be the best choice when your slide gets out of alignment. I don’t like saying that because I am one of those folks who really prefers to do it myself whenever possible, but I am not sure I would tackle a slideout myself. However, it is possible for you to adjust your slide mechanism, and I’m sure other RV owners have done it successfully. Slideouts are tricky, so be aware of the weights and forces involved, and be careful if you choose to work on yours. The first thing you need to do is identify the manufacturer of your slide mechanism and get the appropriate manual to guide you. A lot of RVs utilize Lippert slide mechanisms, and they have a wide range of manuals available in the customer service area of their website http://www.lci1.com. Other manufacturers include HWH and AccuSlide by Norco. Once you have the correct manual in hand, you will be able to determine whether it is a job you can do or something you’d rather take to a service facility.

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Mark:

We have a camper with a 13,000-BTU AC on it.  We would like to get a generator to run the AC if we should ever need it when we are camping where there is no electrical outlet.  What size generator should we purchase?  We would also be running the refrigerator, which can run on propane or battery, as well as the lights and other small appliances. Thanks, Robert

Hi, Robert,

You will need at least a 2800W – 3000W generator to start that roof air. In perfect conditions, a smaller generator may be able to start it, but not reliably. A nice add-on unit for RVs is the Onan RV QG4000 (gasoline) or the Onan RV QG3600 LP. At 4000W and 3600W respectively, they are a nice compact generator that is designed to be permanently mounted to the RV. They are quiet and fairly easy to install if you have the compartment space and weight carrying capacity. They tip the scales at around 175 lbs. Built-in RV generators are nice for motorhomes, but for towable RVs there are some limitations. In a trailer, you either have to fuel the generator from the rig’s propane tanks or add an additional fuel tank for gasoline operation. Many trailer owners prefer a portable generator, one that is not permanently mounted. I would suggest either the Honda EU3000i or the Yamaha EF3000iSEB. These units are both capable of running your roof air, and they are very quiet generators. They employ inverter technology, which not only provides very clean and stable power, but also allows the generator to run at lower speeds when lightly loaded. This reduces the noise and saves fuel. These generators are completely portable and self-contained. They also have electric start and a pull starter for backup. While you can often buy a 3000-4000-watt generator for a lot less money, what you’d be getting is a contractor’s-style generator. These are designed for job site use and tend to be really loud. In addition, there are a lot of very inexpensive generators built in China available, but in my experience, they simply don’t last in normal usage. You really get what you pay for when it comes to generators! Both the Honda and the Yamaha are extremely durable and reliable, and parts and service are easily found all over the country. The only downside is that they are fairly heavy, 130 lbs. for the Honda and 150 lbs. for the Yamaha. They have wheels for transport, and two people can pick one up. Because of the weight, they are best carried in the bed of a truck and can be operated while still tied down in the bed, in most cases. You can get a good look at all of these generators and compare prices and options at http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect.com . Once you know what you want, shop around! There are often big sales at RV rallies and out in Quartzsite, AZ, in the winter months, and you can save big bucks by shopping smart.

mark mugshot 2013

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.

Founded in 1978, the Escapees RV Club provides a total support network for RVers that includes a wide variety of opportunities for fun, adventure, and education.

MAIL SERVICE  The best mail–forwarding service in the country. Members can personalize their mail delivery receiving only the mail they want when they want. MAGAZINE  Award-winning magazine written for RVers by RVers.

CHAPTERS  There are 51 chapters across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that offer local luncheons and rallies within 150 miles of home.

HOPs  Theme–related outings and adventures held across the country.

ESCAPADES  Five–day educational events that offer over 60 seminars and workshops to educate, entertain, and enhance the RV lifestyle.

PARKS  Our discount park system offers a variety parking options. PLUS MUCH MORE!

A complete listing of all Escapees events and a comprehensive list of member benefits are found at www.escapees.com.

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