Pedestal Power

What’s this? Cold floors?

End of August and the overnight temperatures have already started to fall. We check the forecast and if the temperatures are going to drop below 12 degrees Celsius — low fifties for my American friends — then we turn on our in-floor heating system. Until the cold weather starts to hit harder in the next six weeks or so, the in-floor heating is usually sufficient to keep the coach comfortable.

When we woke up yesterday, the floors were cold.

Sigh.

Something was not right in the coach. And we haven’t moved it since we arrived to our site in May.

I checked our power control monitor system. Much as I suspected, we were running off batteries. No shore power.

I like to keep our inverter running as a form of uninterruptible power. The coach will seamlessly switch from shore power to batteries in the event of an outage. However, we can only run off the batteries for so long before they need to be recharged.

Why did we not have shore power?

Yesterday was a very busy day. I was on sound for our livestream at our church and I was also on live sound for three outdoor services. I left the coach at 7:30am and didn’t get back until 7:30pm.

It was 7am when I discovered we had a power problem.

I went to the pedestal and recycled power. Basically I switched the circuit breakers off, unplugged the cord, checked the plug, re-inserted the cord and turned the breakers back on. The line showed active at the pedestal. The end of our 50-amp plug has a green LED that illuminates when it sees power.

We then checked our Surge Guard. Line 1 and Line 2 lights were on. The delay light was not blinking.

The manual highlights the Over/Under Voltage Protection feature: should voltage drop below 102V or rise above 132V for more than 8 seconds, power to RV is turned off.

The troubleshooting guide suggested a power problem. Hey, I already knew that we had a power problem!

I wasn’t able to spend any more time on trying to resolve the problem as I had to leave. I told Lorraine that I strongly suspected that we had a pedestal power problem and that she should contact the park to get it resolved.

We had a pedestal problem. The voltage was low on the one side which caused the surge protection system to shut off power to the coach. The park acted immediately and had the power restored within an hour or so.

Checking the pedestal circuit for power is relatively simple if you have a multimeter.

This video describes the process:

Thankfully the power problem was straightforward to resolve.

Lorraine thought we might have a more challenging problem to resolve like the one described in this post when we had our inverter malfunction. I was concerned that the surge protector may have failed. That would have been a costly repair.

Mechanical issues in a coach can always be resolved. Some issues can be resolved quickly and at no cost. Many issues take more time to resolve and some can also be very, very expensive to fix.

Good to wake up to warm floors this morning.

See It All In A Thor?

Any thoughts on the quality of the Thor line? Post a question like that and expect answers like this:

I have a Thor and pull a pick up behind it. That way I can collect all of the parts that fall off it.

Or:

Sounds like a Thor is an excellent value. For the price you get 2 new hobbies.
1. You get the RV lifestyle.
2. You get a full time hobby fixing it as it falls apart.

Thor has a new video promotion. Seems pretty compelling. See it all in a 2021 Motorhome from Thor. Wait. Aren’t we still in 2020? Although I do agree that many will not see it all in 2020. Not in a Thor or any other coach.

I’ve never owned a Thor and I have spent very little time looking at their coaches. Thor did buy out Entegra and I do like those coaches.

Quality?

Why don’t we hear about the quality of a Thor from another Thor.

Such a great video.

A Broken Bed?

Do you have a power bed lift in your Newmar Dutch Star? Did it suddenly stop working? Did you call Newmar and then spend the next several hours trying to make the darn thing work only to find out that it was something very basic and very simple?

I hope this post helps you out if your power bed lift has stopped working.

We usually keep our king bed in an upright position during the day as it provides a bit more space in the bedroom. At night, we lower the lift to flatten the bed. It makes things a bit easier for sleeping.

Except two nights back the bed would not flatten. It remain locked in the upright position.

I spent the next several hours trying to get the bed to flatten. It was so frustrating. There is no documentation anywhere that I could find on how the power bed lift is wired and how it operates. No manual. No troubleshooting guide. Nothing.

I even came up empty on the usual social media sources. Perhaps we were the only ones to run into a power bed lift that stubbornly refused to flatten.

It appears as though there is no easy way to manually override the mechanism. It was locked and it was not going to move. Newmar support confirmed that wonderful feature with me the following day.

My first course of action was to check for a bad fuse. That proved to be an interesting exercise.

I do have all of the fuse panel schematics for our coach including the breakdown of most of the fuses in our bus. Newmar likes to keep its customers on their toes. There are all sorts of hidden fuses scattered about the motorcoach.

There are five fuse panels and each one contains dozens of fuses. Here is one of the schematics to give you a sense of the underlying complexity of the 12V system in the coach.

I keep a substantial number of spare 12V fuses on hand along with a fuse checker and a multimeter. I checked each and every one of the panels and I could not find anything labelled “Bed Power Lift” or similar.

I found out why there was no fuse for the power lift on any of my charts.

It is a hidden fuse. It is an undocumented fuse.

I did not find that out until after my call with Newmar.

It is a glass fuse nicely hidden by the awning motor control modules in our basement bay. You can just make it out under that little black box with the two white wires.

Dead end for me. Even if I had known about that fuse when I first began my troubleshooting it would not have made any difference. The fuse tested fine.

Newmar had no idea what to do about the problem. Perhaps it was a bad motor? They told me that they would do some digging to see if there was a way to flatten the bed without power and that they would get back to me.

They did call me back. And they told me that they had no idea how to resolve our issue. However, at that point in time, I had fixed the issue.

I had decided to get inside the bed casing where the motor and gearbox are situated to take a closer look and to check on the wiring connectors to the two power bed lift switches.

We had spoken with our service manager at our dealership and he had suggested that I check for any loose connections under the bed. It turns out that his hunch was bang on — thank you Paul! — but trying to get into that area was very difficult.

It took me the better part of an hour to get under the bed assembly and to check on the wiring. There were at least half a dozen connectors down there and one of them was loose.

More than loose. The black wire had become detached from the white wire in the cable pair probably due to the movement of the power bed lift.

It wasn’t easy to get in there to crimp the wire, re-twist the pair, and reinsert the connector cap. But once that was done, the power bed lift worked.

This short video walks you through the process of the repair.

Funny how six or seven hours of time can be condensed into a minute or so. I reported my findings back to Newmar support and perhaps they will be able to provide others with a bit more help in terms of potential troubleshooting for this issue.

A real design flaw. There is no way to defeat the power bed lift short of full disassembly. Thank heavens I didn’t go down that path.

We now have a flat bed.

I did not have to sleep on the floor last night.

 

Dutch Star With Broken Windshield Wipers

A broken windshield wiper on your Newmar Dutch Star? It hasn’t happened to us. Not yet. But it will. The windshield wiper system on the Newmar Dutch Star is so poorly designed. The windshield wiper system on this coach is a safety hazard.

The root cause? The wiper arms are steel and the part that bolts to the motor post is steel but the insert that the arm tightens against is aluminum. The nut that holds it together can come loose and when that happens, the arm will rotate around the insert and the arm might snap off. Or you could get lucky and the arm will wrap itself around some part of your coach.

Like what happened to this person:

You can check on the arms to see if they are loose. If you happen to have a long torque wrench, you can bring the arms back to the proper torque which varies between models and year of manufacture. For our coach it is 65 foot-pounds.

I come across so many posts on social media from Dutch Star owners that run into this problem. And they often run into this problem multiple times. A recent example:

So frustrated! In Kimball, TN and the windshield wiper is broken again! 2017 Dutch Star. Rain all night and all day tomorrow in the forecast and the nearest place to fix it is 50 minutes away. Anyone have that problem with wipers coming over windshield into the driver’s mirror? This is the second time that we have been stranded like this on the side of the highway and we could have been killed. Might take a class action suit to wake them up? Limped without wipers to safe area finally.

It is not a question of whether the windshield wipers will fail but when. The arms will come loose. Best to check on them before heading out on the road.

From our own experience, we only use our windshield wipers when we absolutely have to use them. And that means avoiding travel in bad weather conditions and treating the windshield with a water repellant coating.

It is a bit of a project to clean and treat such a large windshield. Far more effort than required for an automotive windshield. If you are wanting to go all in with your windshield, do what Pan The Organizer does. He is a detailing machine.

There is always RainX. Less work. Easier to apply. And RainX seems to repel water better than the windshield wipers that Newmar installs on their coaches.

One Of Those Things

Donald Trump wants to buy one of those things. Comments from his news conference last Friday:

And they’re also driving. And they’re building the trailers. They’re building a lot of things. They’re driving. People are — people are driving. I may have to buy one of those things, drive around town. Maybe I’ll drive back to New York with our first lady in a trailer. What do they call that? [Unidentified attendees call out “A Double Wide” and “An RV”]

An RV, an RV. Well, you should know [looking at Mike Pence]. Indiana’s the capital of RVs. [Laughter] I think I’m going to buy an RV and travel in one in an RV with our first lady. I don’t think anybody would mind that.

Trump is more than a little familiar with trailers. From an event held at the White House in July of 2018, here is one shot of Trump with Matt Miller, president of Newmar.

And another as Trump exits the London Aire that Newmar had showcased at the White House event:

From the RVIA:

The White House hosted its 2nd Annual Made in America Product Showcase in Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 23, featuring an assortment of items made in the U.S.

The White House extended invitations to American-owned and operated companies from each of the 50 states and with the booming RV manufacturing industry in Indiana, an RV was the obvious choice to represent Indiana.

Nearly two weeks ago, Newmar Corporation was contacted by the White House with the request to participate at the upcoming event – something that took them by complete surprise.

“At first we were cautious thinking someone was trying to pull a prank on us,” said Newmar President Matt Miller. After verifying that the invitation was indeed a valid request, the team confirmed their participation and were “honored to attend.”

Looks like Newmar might have a potential sale. But Trump better act quickly.

RV travel and camping provides an appealing vacation option for American families according to recent Ipsos research examining consumer interest and planned actions on travel choices in light of the COVID-19 crisis. According to the research, 46 million Americans plan to take an RV trip in the next 12 months. This positive news for RV manufacturers, dealers and campgrounds reinforces what US dealers are already seeing at the retail level.

I am still waiting on the May shipment numbers from the RVIA. I am very curious to see whether some of these 46 million Americans have started to buy RVs. I’m even more curious to see whether Trump buys one.