Q: Full-timers we recently met told us that a good workable solution for the black water tank is to mix one cup of household bleach with four quarts of water and four aspirin. Have you heard of this solution working as well as the expensive stuff at campground stores?
Harold Breuninger, F307094
Aiken, South Carolina
A: Let me ask you a question: Did you step into their RV to “smell the roses”? If these full-timers were using their own solution, you would have found out very quickly whether it worked or not. However, do you really want to trust your nose to household bleach and aspirin? The next time you’re near a store, stop in and check prices on the “expensive” solution “” I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, keep in mind that “home brews” may damage your holding tank system, and combining household cleaning products could even result in a mixture that is dangerous to occupants of the coach. It’s best to stick with products designed for holding tank use.
Wiper Buddy Revisited
Q: In our travels, my wife and I have seen people use balls of all types (tennis, rubber, table tennis, etc.) to hold their wiper blades off the windshield. On one of my morning campground walks I met a man from New Mexico who told me he used rubber balls to save his wiper blades and windshield from damage due to dirt buildup and sticking to the glass in excessive heat. A Michigan fellow said he uses tennis balls during the winter because of hard ice buildup.
I’m writing because Steve Busick mentioned a product called Wiper Buddy in a previous “RV Products” column. It seems like it will work. What do you think?
A: According to information in the “RV Products” column from the October 2001 issue of Family Motor Coaching, the Wiper Buddy holds wiper blades off the glass. The product lifts the wiper arms and does not contact the blades themselves. Since no dirt can be trapped between the blades and the glass, expensive etching should not occur. It keeps the arms and blades from being damaged from ice that can lock the blades to the glass during inclement winter weather. In my opinion, they are much more attractive than tennis balls. The Wiper Buddy (two to a pack) is available from C&S Innovations, 2183 Buckingham Road, #421, Richardson, TX 75081; (972) 272-8528.
Q: We have a question about towing four wheels down with a Toyota Sienna van. We believe we should have a Remco lube pump installed on the van to protect the transmission, but we’re also curious as to the proper type of tow bar to use, as we are getting ready to purchase our system for towing. Help!
We have a 37-foot Gulf Stream motorhome with a diesel engine and a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
Bob Branch & Sherry Hall, F311593
A: Toyota has not approved the Sienna for towing four wheels down without modifications. So, you are correct that a lube pump such as that offered by Remco would be needed. Please call Remco at (800) 228-2481 for more information.
Various types of tow bars are available “” those that are installed on the back of the motorhome and those that are installed on the front of the towed vehicle. Personal preference comes into play. Check out the “Towing Basics And Equipment” article that appeared in the May 2003 issue of the magazine for more information. You also can check FMCA’s Business Directory “” published in both the January and June issues of FMC magazine “” which lists various companies that offer towing equipment. This list also is available online on FMCA’s Web site “” www.fmca.com. Click on the Business Directory button, and then you can search by category.
Q: I have read many questions in technical advice columns about drivability problems with gasoline-engine motorhomes, mostly type A coaches. My own experiences may help others.
We purchased a five-year-old 31-foot motorhome on a Chevrolet P-30 chassis with 39,000 miles. On our first trip we began to experience an occasional engine backfire after every two or three hours of driving. Then it increased in frequency to where every time I tried to accelerate, the engine would backfire. I took the coach to a motorhome service shop, and the mechanic immediately had a solution. He replaced the fuel filter and the problem disappeared. The dirty fuel filter had caused such a fuel flow restriction that the mixture ran lean, especially on acceleration. We now carry a spare fuel filter, and I replaced it myself when the problem reappeared several years later.
The following year we encountered engine misfire during wet weather conditions. I had replaced the distributor cap, rotor, and spark plugs shortly after we purchased the motorhome, so I was surprised and puzzled at this turn of events. What else could possibly cause the problem? The spark plug cables looked perfect, but on a hunch, I replaced them with a new silicone set. Problem solved!
Evidently, the accumulated dust on the cables became conductive in the rain and humidity. The extremely high-voltage ignition pulse arced through the insulation in places where the wires touched something, such as cable support grommets or another wire, and had rubbed slightly through the outer sheath, and traveled down the exterior of the cables until it could conveniently short to ground. I carefully arranged the new cables to avoid any contact other than with the rubber support grommets to keep the problem from repeating for many miles to come.
William Bezdek, F265199
A: Thank you for sharing your experiences with other readers.
Q: I need to replace the tires on my 1998 Beaver Patriot. They have only 35,000 miles on them, but they are so unevenly worn that rebalancing or rotating is not practical according to the technician at the Goodyear dealership. They are 275/70×22.2 on Alcoa rims. The rear inside tires have a weird cupping pattern; the outside tires have the same pattern, but it is less severe. The Goodyear technician said this wear pattern is seen a lot on motorhomes and he knows of nothing to remedy it other than rotating and rebalancing the tires every year. When I asked about “balancing discs” that can be mounted in back of each rim, the technician said they don’t work. Have you any knowledge on what does or doesn’t work or at least how to minimize the uneven wear?
Jim Maggi, F271797
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
A: Obviously, a Goodyear technician should know more about tires than we do, so you should follow his advice. However, that said, motorhome tires shouldn’t wear any differently from those on a car or sport utility vehicle, unless something is amiss. To find out what that might be, first load the coach as you would for a trip and have it weighed. In addition to obtaining a total weight, try to weigh each axle separately and each side as well. Then, verify the rated weight capacity of the tires (as stated on their sidewalls) and measure each tire’s cold air pressure. If the motorhome’s weight is within the specified capacities for both the tires and axles, then you’ll need to have the alignment checked and probably corrected, including the rear axle alignment.
I suggest that you have the balance of all your tires checked on a computerized, high-speed machine.
You also may be pleasantly surprised by the results achieved by adding a set of Balance Masters Active Wheel Balancers (Sun-Tech Innovations, P.O. Box 9154, Canoga Park, CA 91309; 800-786-8324, www.balancemasters.com). Ray Hobbs, a Technical Inquiries correspondent, notes that he has had very good results with these wheel balancers.
Q: I recently purchased a 2002 Chevy Malibu, which will be towed flat behind our motorhome. My dealer can’t seem to answer my questions about the fuses that GM says to remove “to prevent your battery from draining while the vehicle is being towed.” The three fuses are for Wiper, Powertrain Control Module, and Body Function Control Module/Cluster.
My questions are these: If I do not remove the fuses, will anything else be affected besides battery drain? Must I remove the fuses for a one-hour trip? How about a three-hour trip?
Benton A. Moore, F219959
A: No, the battery shouldn’t go dead during a one-hour or a three-hour trip. However, if you pull into a campground late at night, after a long day behind the wheel, and forget to remove your key from the ignition, you’ll probably have to call for a battery boost in the morning. And if you towed the car for a short trip several times and did not drive it enough in between to fully recharge the battery, you could end up with a dead battery. To play it safe, most motorhomers have a daily routine that they follow before traveling so they won’t forget to do something (some even have a checklist). Pulling fuses should be a part of the routine. Some RVers have added a toggle switch in series on the necessary circuit that performs the same function. This work would need to be done by an experienced individual.