Checklist

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We are heading out tomorrow to pick up our new coach. We will be at the Hitch House for two days. I expect that the process will be a touch overwhelming.

There will be lots of paperwork and lots of information to process. The technician will be spending quite a bit of time with us to go through the operations of the coach. We will be living in the coach for a few days before we bring our motorhome, the Castaway, home. And we have to complete a thorough inspection of the coach.

We have our own checklist thanks to Norm and Ellen over at the iRV2 forum. You can download a copy of it here.

Their checklist is very comprehensive and it will help us identify any initial delivery issues with the coach.

Lorraine and I are also planning an initial trip with the coach later this summer to shake it down and to see if there are any other issues that need to be addressed.

We are quite realistic about what to expect: there will be issues. This was true when we bought our first home. This was true when we built our first home. This will be true with our new coach.

We went with the Hitch House and Newmar because both companies have great reputations for customer service. Although it is a couple of hours drive to the Hitch House, I am hoping that we can capture all of the initial issues with the coach, review it with them beforehand and bring the coach out to get them addressed all at one time as opposed to making several trips back and forth.

We will report on our initial experiences over the next few days.

Should be fun.

RV Electricity

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We have some learning ahead of us with the new coach. The electrical system is the one that will likely take the most effort on our part. We don’t know how to use electricity on a coach.

Well, I mean we know how to turn things on and plug things in. We just don’t know how all of the various systems work together.

Our coach will have three separate electrical systems: 12-volt automotive DC, 12-volt DC coach and 120-volt AC coach. Power will be generated from multiple sources including the on-board generator, shore, batteries and eventually solar. We will have an inverter, an automatic transfer switch, an automatic generator start on low battery, a surge protector and an energy management system.

In short, if you will pardon the pun, we will have a complex electrical system to manage.

There are several resources that I found very helpful in terms of learning more about the electrical system of an RV.

The first one is from RVTechMag.com.

I’ve created this tutorial to help explain some of the basics of electricity as related to RVs. It’s certainly not going to turn every RVer into an electrical engineer or service tech but it may help many of us to better understand the basics of electricity and how it relates to RVs in general. I’ve organized and categorized topics so that they begin with raw basics and build from there. That way you can either start at the beginning or skip the stuff that you know and go right to your area of interest. You can use this as a study course if you wish or simply a reference source to refer to as needed.

The second is from RV-Dreams.com.

I was thinking about what I should cover in a “Basic RV Electrical” section. Then it dawned on me that I would want it to be really, really basic. I asked myself this question: What is the absolute minimum I need to know about my electrical system…

Gone With The Wynns offers a lot of great video tutorials on solar.

Solar power is our main source of electricity on the road and we’ve learned way more about it than we ever wanted to! From our current and past RV Solar Systems to simple explanations on what it is and how it all works, we try to keep things as simple as possible with these complex RV electrical systems. Click on any of the posts below for more information on solar, inverters, chargers and portable power.

And finally the RV Geeks offer a variety of video tutorials on electricity for RVs.

Driving Test Nerves

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Behind my mask, when I took my driving tests for my D Class and my Z endorsement, was pure fear. I did not expect to experience such stress. I did not expect to experience driving test nerves.

The mask I normally wear is a mask of confidence. It is a mask that says: I am okay and I have it all under control.

My first driver’s licence was issued when I was 16 years old. In those days, if you completed a driver’s education course, all that was required at the examination centre was successful completion of a short multiple choice exam. Within ten or fifteen minutes, I had my driver’s licence. No fear. No stress.

Totally different experience when I took the DZ tests.

What would happen if I did not pass the DZ tests?  We would not be able to bring the coach home as we had originally planned. And because Lorraine was delayed in taking her DZ courses, my DZ licence was on the critical path. No one else in our family would be able to pick up the coach from the dealer.

I did not want to let Lorraine down.

Failing something can be hard to take. Failing something can be embarrassing.

There were fifteen people in my class and every person was stressed out over the written and practical tests.

Why was everyone so nervous? What consequences did we face?

It then became clear to me: being nervous in these situations is actually pretty normal. The thing to watch out for?

Fear of failure often leads to failure!

It is so important to shift the nerves and anxiety into positive energy.

I told myself that I can absolutely do this. I told myself that I can ace these tests and, as it turned out, I did. Out of 160 test items over four different exams, I missed only 2 questions.

I used 4-7-8 breathing to ease my nerves and anxiety:

  • Slowly breath in through the nose for 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7
  • Slowly exhale for a count of 8

Repeat this process a few times and suddenly the nerves and anxiety levels calm down.

I did not treat the driving test as a test. I told myself that I was going for a drive. I have been driving for over forty years now. I know how to drive. Sure, I don’t often drive 4o-foot vehicles weighing over 30,000 lbs, but I know how to drive.

When I started the drive, I knew I had it. I knew that I could show the examiner that I could safely operate this class of vehicle.

“Congratulations!” he said at the end of the test. “You aced it.”

Lorraine took her Z endorsement training last week. And she had her tests on Friday. She was also nervous and anxious. She also aced the tests. Learning to control our nerves and our anxieties is part of life. Getting our commercial driver’s licences for our motorhome was a milestone in getting ready for our new adventures.

That was another important part of the process for us: keep ourselves focused on the goal. This was simply just another step in the process.

We get to drive the coach home this coming Saturday.

So excited.

RV Essentials

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What else do you need for a new RV? That was the question we faced when we finalized the date for picking up our coach from the dealer.

We did a lot of research on the web and we found advice on everything from cleaning supplies to folding bicycles.

We then made a list of essential items for our RV.

Electrical (Surge Protector and Dogbone)

The very first two items we knew we would need for the coach: surge protection and a dogbone.

As we have a fully electric motorhome we wanted to make sure that the electricity coming into the coach would be protected from surges and inappropriate voltage levels.

We went with a Surge Guard 50 Amp hardwire unit. This product monitors the electricity and shuts off the power when it detects surges, open ground, open neutral, low or excessive voltage, miswired pedestals, reverse polarity, or elevated neutral current conditions that could damage electronic equipment in a coach. We had it permanently installed in one of our bays.

We also picked up a 50 Amp/30 Amp dogbone. This adapter allows us to connect our 50-Amp service to a 30-Amp outlet.

Our coach is equipped with a 50-foot power reel so we did not need to buy any extension cables.

Water (Regulator, Sewage Hoses, Filter)

Our coach has a 50-foot hose on a power reel for water so we did not need to purchase a standalone hose for drinking water.

We will need a separate hose to rinse our sewage tank.

As water pressure can be quite variable at campsites, we picked up an adjustable water pressure regulator with a guage and splitter. The splitter is used to keep one line dedicated for drinking water and the second line dedicated for sewage tank rinse.

A guage on a regulator allows us to set the water pressure ourselves. We will set the regulator at 65 psi.

We also opted for a sewage hose kit with ground hose holders and a clear elbow joint to connect to the tank.

RV Geeks has an excellent video on how to dump and thoroughly clean your black tank. It showed us everything we needed for dealing with the black tank. You can find the video here.

We have a water filter on our coach however we are going to be looking at a more sophisticated water filtration system. Not right away mind you. But we do think it is an essential part of an RV.

Wheels (TPMS, Wheel Covers, Compressor, Gauge)

Weights and tires. Weights and tires. It does not take much research to understand the importance of knowing the weights of the coach at the corners and making very, very sure that the tires are properly inflated and maintained.

Coach-Net highlights the main causes of tire failure here.

We are still researching a tire pressure management system (TPMS). There are quite a few in the marketplace. TireTraker seems to be one of the most popular systems. We won’t be heading out on the road without a TPMS.

To protect the rubber of the tires, we will be getting some wheel covers. Not sure that we will get anything too fancy. Just something basic to prevent any damage from the sun.

We will also be getting a portable air compressor to inflate the tires. The Viair 400P-RV is probably the one we will purchase.

Finally, a good quality tire pressure guage to check the tires. Even with a TPMS, I suspect having a spare gauge will come in handy.

Technology (GPS, CB Radio, Dash Cam, Boosters)

Although the coach is equipped with an in-dash GPS, we think it best that we have a second RV-specific GPS for the co-pilot. I know from experience that it is best for me to be focused an the driving and not on reviewing or updating a GPS while in motion.

Garmin offers the RV 760LMT. I use a number of their GPS products and like them.

A CB Radio might seem somewhat old-fashioned in an age of smartphones. That said, when we are out on the road, we cannot always count on cellular particularly in the more remote areas of Canada. A CB Radio will let us listen in to the truckers and give us a bit of insight into road and weather conditions as we ride. We will go with a Cobra 29 LX. Because we have a fibreglass RV, we will also need a No Ground Plane CB Antenna. Lots of them here.

A dash cam will help keep a record of our travels, and in the hopefully unlikely event of an accident, a digital eyewitness. We’ll probably go with a Garmin as well. Perhaps this one.

The last bit of technology will help boost our cellular connection as well as our WiFi. We haven’t firmed up our decision on products yet. What we did do was purchase The Mobile Internet Handbook from Chris and Cherie at Technomedia. Highly recommended.

Odds and Ends

A variety of other items that we think will also be essential for our RV:

  • Jack pads for when we level the coach
  • Folding ladder to get up on the roof of the coach as the Dutch Star does not provide one
  • A tow dollie for our car
  • An RV foam fire extinguisher

We will no doubt find more items that we consider essential once we hit the road full-time.

30 Amp Service

30Amps

Our new coach is a fully electric coach. It needs a 50-amp service to run all of the onboard electrical systems.

A typical household breaker might offer a 20-amp service although our panel has quite a few 15-amp breakers. A 20-amp service requires 2,400 watts. A 30-amp service will need 3,600 watts and a 50-amp service will take 12,000 watts. That is quite a difference in power between 30 and 50 amps.

Plugging a 50-amp coach to a 30-amp service means that you won’t be able to use everything on the coach. In our case, we have two large air conditioning heat pumps on the coach as well as a number of large appliances. Connecting to a 30-amp service, we could only run appliances if we used our generator.

Last week we had our electrician install an outdoor 30-amp service for our RV. For a number of reasons we could not go with a 50-amp service.

We had room for the 30-amp breakers in our panel and we also had 8/3 wiring roughed in from the panel out to the back of the house. 8/3 can easily support 30 amps. For a 50-amp service, 6/4 wiring would be required.

For our site, the electrician had to run a conduit from the side of the house, trench an 18-inch conduit out to a decking post, and terminate the 30-amp service in a covered outlet (pictured above). It took two electricians a full day to complete the task. And it was very expensive. The cost of site inspection, labour, the trenching equipment, the conduit, the 50 feet of additional 8/3 cable as well as the outlet was much higher than we expected. It was important to us that we installed the service to code. Make it right.

The coach will be on our site for a number of months and we need to have some shore power. We will need to run our generator if we are in the coach during the hot summer months to have some air conditioning. For cooler evenings, we can do our work in the coach and have enough power to run the lights and perhaps the AV system by being connected to our 30-amp service. And it will give us a bit of practice for when we have to connect to 30-amp services at other sites.