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Mark My Words

June 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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mark mugshot 2013Hi, folks. This month we’ll talk about tires, decals, slides, and batteries. Remember, you can submit your RVing questions to mmw@escapees.com. Happy Trails!

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Hello, Mark:

I have a Cedar Creek fifth-wheel with four 235/85R16 original tires. They are about 5 years old at this point. I plan to pull the trailer 6,000-7,000 miles this summer.  Should I renew these tires, and if so what kind of tires can I get that should give me trouble free travel for a few years? My trailer weighs about 14,000 pounds. Charles

Hi, Charles:

Your rig is most likely equipped with “LT” tires, so you will have a large number of brands to choose from. Opinions vary on which tires are best for RVs, and everyone has his own favorite. In most cases, you will pay more for better quality tires, so I would avoid the very inexpensive offerings and stick to trusted brands. A basic “highway” tread pattern is fine for most trailers. It is critical that you pay close attention to the load rating of the new tires to be sure that they will carry your rig’s weight safely. Check the manufacturer’s ratings plate, located on the front left side of the trailer. This plate should specify the recommended tire size and load rating for your RV. (It’s not always safe to assume that the tires that are on the rig now are actually the correct ones for the rig!) Also (even though many tire shops will tell you that you don’t need to), have those wheels balanced when you have the new tires mounted. It will improve the ride for your rig and extend the life of your new tires.

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Mark:

The decals on one side of my 2003 RV are peeling off and look awful. Can I order new ones to replace them? If so, where? Thanks, Kevin

Hi, Kevin:

The only source for similar decals would be the RV manufacturer. For a unit more than a couple years old, availability of decals will be pretty limited. That may actually be a good thing in disguise! While it is possible for a DIY’er to remove the old decals and apply new ones, it can be a tedious and difficult job indeed! And, once the decals are off, the paint or fiberglass underneath the old decal is inevitably going to be a different color. That means any new decal will have to fit exactly where the old one came off, making a flawless repair almost impossible. Don’t give up hope, though, as there are a number of RV shops that specialize in restoration of RV paint and striping. While their services are not cheap, you will wind up with an RV that looks like new. Check the local phone book for paint and body shops, or ask a local RV repair place who does their paint and body work.

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Hi, Mark:

I have a 2005 Coachmen 27DS travel trailer and am having trouble figuring out how to operate the slide-out manually in the event that the motor doesn’t work someday. The manual that came with the trailer does not seem to cover my model. I opened the trap cover and it doesn’t resemble what is in the book. I have also gone online with little success. Can you help me? Vic

Hi, Vic:

There are really only three kinds of slide mechanisms: hydraulic, worm gear, and rack-and-pinion. The type of mechanism used defines the retract procedure. Your owner’s manual is really supposed to have a procedure, but if it doesn’t, contacting the dealer may be helpful. There is no substitute for having the proper written procedure in hand! While I don’t have the space here to go into it in depth, I can offer some general guidelines by slide type.

1. Rack and pinion: These typically require you to crawl under the coach, find the motor for the slide, release a locking lever on the motor itself, and then use a large wrench to turn the pinion shaft manually to retract the slide.

2. Worm gear: These are usually the easiest. They will have a small round access hole on the face of the slide. It will normally have a cover on it and a label to identify it. You remove the cover and insert a hand crank (that should have come with your RV) and turn it to retract the slide.

3. Hydraulic: This one you really need the manual for, as there are a lot of different systems in use. Some require you to operate a manual pump lever; some require you to loosen a hose or fitting or turn a valve. Then, you may have to use a crank or wrench to pull the slide in, or push it in by pushing against the outside of the slide.

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Mark:

I have gotten mixed replies to the question of whether or not I should disconnect and possibly store the 12-volt deep-cycle batteries in my Palomino 5th-wheel. And before you answer, I do know that, during winter, even here in the Pacific NW, winterizing includes battery removal and storage. Specifically, my question is should I disconnect the batteries during periods of non-use, perhaps in a four- to eight-week time frame? Thanks in advance for your reply. Dan

Hi, Dan:

If you are going to store your RV without a hookup to AC power for several weeks, it is best to disconnect the house batteries to prevent normal parasitic loads in the RV from draining them over time. You can install a commercially available battery disconnect switch, or simply remove the ground lead(s) from the battery terminal(s) when you put the rig into storage. A switch is definitely more convenient, so here are some examples of various inexpensive disconnect switches: www.jcwhitney.com/RV-Battery-Switches-Isolators/600010098.jcw

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Hi, Mark:

When I put out my living room slide, both ends of the slide fit nice and snug to the inside wall from top to bottom. After about a week, the tops of the ends are still snug to the inside wall while at the bottom, there is about a one- to two-inch gap. I push them out again, and after a week it appears to move in at the bottom again. Can you give me an idea as to what is going on? I own a 2004 class-A Windsport, 37′, two slides. Henry

Hi, Henry:

This kind of problem is almost never seen with worm gear or rack-and-pinion slide mechanisms, so I’m assuming that your slides are operated hydraulically. First, check the fluid to be sure it is at the proper level. Then, when extending your slides, keep the extend/retract button pushed for a few seconds after the slide has made the full travel. This may help by ensuring that the hydraulic system is fully pressurized when the slide stops. If the problem continues, you may either have a hydraulic leak in a hose or cylinder or a problem with the hydraulic system control valve body. Either way, a slow bleed down of hydraulic pressure will allow the slide to “relax” and begin to retract slightly. If there are no puddles of hydraulic fluid to be found (leak), the problem is most likely in the valve body of the hydraulic pump assembly. You would need to have a qualified tech look at it and diagnose the actual problem. As a last resort, you can purchase support jacks for your slide-out. www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-jacks/camper-stabilizer-jacks.htm. These jacks are designed to support the weight of your slide, and they may help prevent the problem with your slide, but they are a hassle to store and set up every time you move. You should probably see if the slide system can be fixed first before resorting to additional hardware.

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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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