Q: I remember reading an article on how to safely check air pressure and properly inflate the tires on a motorhome. The article recommended the use of an air hose extension of some six feet or so that would keep a person out of harm’s way in the event that a tire blew while being inflated. Do you have any information on this subject?
Arvin Hancock, F281107
A: The story you mentioned did not appear in Family Motor Coaching magazine. However, you will find a fairly comprehensive article on how to check your coach’s tires in the September 2003 issue of FMC (“Weight & Tire Safety,” page 90).
Q: I recently purchased an RV cover for my 33-foot Itasca Suncruiser. I’ve heard different opinions concerning the use of covers on motorhomes, such as how they may affect the paint finish and graphics on the motorhome’s body. What is your opinion on the use of these covers?
William Dovale Sr., F60155
Moriches, New York
A: That’s a hard question to answer, since you didn’t mention what type or brand of cover you have. However, generally speaking, as long as you make certain the motorhome’s finish is clean and free of grit and grime before you cover it, the finish should be fine. Also, make sure the cover’s skirts are properly secured with bungee cords or in the method advised by the manufacturer, so that wind currents can’t cause the material to move and mar the motorhome’s surface.
Q: We continually have problems with the level indicators of our gray water and black water holding tanks. We have used all the recommended cleaning solutions without success. We also took the motorhome to our RV service facility to correct the problem with the monitor, which shows full even after the tank is drained. Is there another solution? Is there something else we can install as a retrofit? Do you have any suggestions or know of any other systems?
Lotar Kirsten, F304681
Tappan, New York
A: This is a subject heard quite frequently. Our motorhome experience and FMCA membership began in mid-1972 and our current motorhome (8 years old and 50,000 miles) is our fifth unit. Early experience with RV holding tank systems taught me to operate strictly by the book “” and then some (this is no septic system). I have developed a procedure that works very well but I haven’t really found any magic answer.
Shortly after purchasing each motorhome I installed No-Fuss Flush valves in our black and gray water holding tanks. Before dumping, I top off each tank with water to add to the volume. I then drive the motorhome several miles (when possible) to dislodge any debris that may cling to the sidewalls and sensors. I empty the black water tank first with the drain open full flow.
Here is our typical routine:
1. At the start of a trip or any period of extended use, we always start with eight or 10 gallons of water in the black tank (to prevent solids from becoming stuck to the tank floor), along with the RV tank chemical at the recommended usage. Add a gallon or so of water for each consecutive use.
2. Use RV tissue only “” and sparingly. Regular toilet tissue is very slow to dissolve, and it may take weeks for it to liquefy enough to flow freely out the drain. And this takes lots of water. Normal deposits in the black tank easily liquefy as the contents move about during travel. Level sensors are usually two electrical contacts inside the tank at close proximity. Wet paper can cling across the contacts and complete the circuit. Keep in mind that even without this paper situation, it may take a few minutes for water to drain down the inside tank walls and permit all sensors to show open circuits, indicating that the tank is empty.
3. We use a gray water additive in the gray tank to minimize soap scum buildup, and we never allow fat, grease, or table scraps in the gray tank.
4. We carry a short length of green garden hose to connect to the added tank flush valve (through a one-way ball valve), and add water to finish the job and wash out the dump hose.
Sound like a lot of work? Not really. It just takes a few extra minutes every once in awhile, and the results are really worth the effort. Our tank level gauges still work and indicate when full. After the tanks are in good shape, you do not need to do this every time. But you should try to do it as often as possible during extended travel. When we’re at home I fill both tanks and let them sit for days on end to soften and remove leftover particles.
A: Always leave the black water holding tank valve closed while hooked to the sewer line in a campsite. If you leave the black water valve open all the time during extended stationary stays, solids tend to dry out in the tank and create problems. You may even have to hire a professional to come to your site and drain the tank. We had to do this once, until we learned better.
You can leave the gray water valve open, but keep the black valve closed until the tank shows full; then dump. (You might want to close the gray water valve for a day or so before dumping the black water “” this will aid in flushing out the sewer hose after the black water tank is empty.) If you leave the gray tank valve open and notice some unpleasant odors, close the valve and see if the smell goes away. In some instances a vacuum can be created in the system, allowing sewer gases to be drawn into the coach.
A: Evan Powell’s answer to the “Bad Batteries?” question in the September 2003 issue of FMC included two statements with which I don’t agree. The first states: “If they are connected in parallel, using a new battery in combination with an older, weaker battery is not likely to damage the new one … “ In my opinion, if the old battery has a dead or weak cell, the new battery will put current into the weaker battery to try to bring it up to the higher voltage. If the older battery’s defect won’t allow the voltage to rise to the new battery’s voltage, the newer battery will eventually have its voltage lowered to the old battery’s voltage, which could damage the newer battery.
The second statement was: “If they are connected in series, however (golf cart-style), the constant drain of the weaker battery could cause premature sulfation of the newer one.” This is not the case with series-connected batteries. The only problem would be that you would not have the correct voltage; the newer battery would have no problem.
I do agree with the statement that “it’s probably best to replace them all at the same time.”
It seems to me that the responses were reversed in the answer.
John Christensen, F158160
Oak Ridge, New Jersey
A: We checked with Gale Kimbrough at Interstate Batteries; his response was as follows:
“If there are batteries connected in parallel and one of those is weak, the good battery will deliver current to the weaker in an attempt to bring it up to its (the good battery) voltage level. The voltage level will only be as good (or as high) as the weaker battery. Note: They are connected in similar fashion to jumper cables (+ to + and – to -). The good battery will work harder in an attempt to carry the weaker, which eventually will reduce the good battery’s effectiveness and shorten its life.
“If the bad battery connected in parallel is shorted, the lowest voltage level of the two batteries in parallel will typically be around 10.5 volts, therefore allowing the good battery to only get to 10.5 volts. The shorted battery will also draw most or all of the incoming current from the charger/converter/alternator. Therefore, the good battery is overshadowed by the shorted battery and will suffer reduced life and performance.
“Batteries in series connection with another weak or bad battery: The total current of two or more batteries connected in series will never be any stronger than the weakest. Example: Two golf cart six-volt batteries connected in series; one is producing at a level of 100 amp-hours (out of a possible 225 amp-hours rating at new) and connected to a good battery that has the actual capability to operate at 225 amp-hours. The total current capability of the series-connected batteries is 100 amp-hours.
“The result is immediate loss of power and performance. The total voltage of the two will also be less, because while one battery may be 5.6 volts and the other is 6.3 volts, the total is 11.9 volts for that series string. The charging system, sensing the voltage is low, attempts to recharge with extra current through both. Note: A series string will have the same amount of current through both. The eventuality can be loss of battery life and result in sulfation and/or even overheat/overcharge to the good battery.
“Both the series- and parallel-connected battery systems can result in loss of immediate performance and life as a result of bad or weak batteries in the connected circuit. It may not be immediately recognized in the parallel circuit as with the series.
“It is always best for all batteries connected in parallel or series to be similar ages, capacities, and performance levels for optimum operation.”