So Many Swirls!
I noted with a longstanding interest the comments by Mel Smith (“Simplify Exterior ‘Designs,'” Readers’ Forum, February 2011, page 12) about RV exterior designs. For years I have been puzzled by the freestyle swirls, appliques, and paint treatments on motorhomes and RVs in general. Puzzled because they do not appear to be a necessity; seem to be uncoordinated with the body design they adorn; use colors that do not always match the image of the coach builder’s marketing; and are mandatory, not optional. Too often, the appliques may fade or peel, detracting from an otherwise integral coach body.
His call for solid body color or two-tone paint is one that soundly deserves hearing by manufacturers. However, to go further, FMCA is a boundless resource for RV historical knowledge. Are there members, manufacturers, or anyone else out there who can explain how this got started and why it has been perpetuated? Are there RV makers willing to offer unadorned coach bodies, either painted or left basic white, without being special-ordered?
Art Bailey, F350431
Belen, New Mexico
I also dislike slashes and swirls on the exterior of today’s motorhomes (“A Simple Exterior Is Best,” Readers’ Forum, April 2011, page 16). The exception can be very pleasing. Take our 2004 Safari Trek, for example. It has elicited many favorable comments from other owners.
Thomas Lynch, F238025
San Jose, California
An Assist From Gravity
For Linda Frederickson, who has water pour into her Fleetwood Bounder when the slideout is retracted after a heavy rain (“House Calls,” March 2011, page 20): this can happen with Fleetwood products. The awnings are short and often do not overhang the slideout much, so when it rains, the capillary action off the roof adds to the presence of more water on the top of the slideout. What to do?
Raise the front jacks slightly so the front of the coach is tilted just a bit higher than the rear when parked. A hair away from the center bubble is enough. Before getting ready to depart after a rain, raise the front jacks a bit more so the water will roll off the top of the awning and the slideout. The raising of the coach should not be that much that it will cause the slideout to be stressed when retracted. After awhile you will learn what degree works best.
I learned to keep my coach very slightly higher in the front. It saves a lot of hassles and capillary action elsewhere. I also put a longer awning on the slideout and adjusted the tension to keep the awning tight when the one on it wore out. Sometimes the slideout topper awning is loose and will flap in the wind. This just adds to the problem.
Toni Calzone, F363961
Cooling System Issue
I appreciated the article titled “Cooling System Basics” (March 2011, page 38), but writer Peter D. DuPre neglected one failure mode with which I had an unfortunate encounter. While driving down U.S. 101 in Oregon, we began to smell coolant coming from the air-conditioning vents. At the side of the road, we discovered a stream of antifreeze coming from a vent tube in the evaporator/heater core. We continued on, hoping that we would have enough coolant to make it to a service location. Naturally, this was not the case, and soon the low-coolant alarm went off. Since we had full water tanks, we were able to refill the coolant tank and continue down the road. However, the low coolant light reappeared not too much farther on.
I decided it was time for a little roadside emergency surgery. We pulled to the side of the road, and I disconnected the hoses as they went into the heater core and plugged them with two 1/2-inch socket extensions from my toolbox, clamped them with hose clamps, refilled the radiator, and, voila, the problem was solved. Since it was the height of summer, we continued our trip and had the core replaced when we finally returned home.
After the repair, I spliced shutoff valves into both the feed and return hose of the heater core so that if the problem recurs, I can easily shut off the water flow. This has the added benefit that I can make sure that no coolant flows through the heater core during the summer, allowing maximum cooling. This was a fairly minor change, but it gives me peace of mind to avoid future roadside repairs.
I hope this helps someone avoid standing on a highway shoulder with semis whizzing by at 65 miles per hour.
Steve Haeffele, F380753
Peter D. DuPre’s response: Heater core failures happen more often than most RVers might expect, and repairs can be time-consuming and expensive, because access to the core is sometimes difficult. Luckily for you, the service access port in your motorhome allowed you access to the problem area so you could effect an emergency repair and get the vehicle to a service facility.
I have to say, however, that although I’ve experienced heater core failures in the past, I’ve never experienced the situation where the scent of engine coolant comes out of the air-conditioner vents. But when the failure happens in or at the box where warm or cold air collects and is distributed into the passenger compartment, it is a very real possibility. Your solution to avoid future problems is a creative one and you’ll probably never need to use it, since those types of failures are relatively rare.
Perhaps your problem will serve as a reminder to FMC readers to check the heater hose condition and the heater core during their annual inspections. Thanks for your letter.
Friendly Awning Assistance
On December 26, 2010, en route from Lake City, Florida westward, we encountered extreme high winds. While we were crossing the Escambia Bay Bridge at Pensacola, Florida, the wind pulled the awning out and ripped the canvas, making it necessary for us to stop and tie everything down.
Upon arriving in Mobile, Alabama, we went to Johnny’s RV Service Center (5688 U.S. 90, Theodore, AL 36582; 251-653-1049), where we met Charles Wilson, service manager.
After viewing the awning, Mr. Wilson suggested we let him remove the rest of the old canvas and said that when we returned home to Florida we could have a new torsion spring and canvas installed, if we wished. He did all of this with a smile and an “If you’re this way again, stop by.” A nice campground is located a couple of miles away from the shop.
If you’re ever in the Mobile, Alabama, area, Johnny’s RV is the place to go.
Talbot & Iva Gray, F114563
Lake City, Florida