CAT Scale

Weights

As we made our way on our first excursion with the Castaway, we decided to make a stop at KAL Tire to check our air pressure and then over to a local CAT Scale to weigh our coach.

Perhaps we should have done this the other way around, weigh the coach first and then adjust the air pressure. I have to tell you though, that I am finding the advice on tires and tire pressure to be quite divergent.

Newmar, the manufacturer of our coach, has their own weights and recommended tire pressures which they affix to a sticker near the captain’s chair.

NewmarWeights

The steer axle is 15,400 pounds and the drive axle is 30,000 pounds. They recommend a cold inflation pressure of 120 psi for the front, 90 psi for the duallys and 85 psi for the rear,

Of course, those weights represent the Gross Axle Weight Rating, or the maximum distributed weight, the axles of the coach can support. We do not intend to max out the load on the Castaway.

Our dealer had inflated our tires just prior to the delivery. We were told to keep them at 110 psi for the front and 90 psi for the tag.

Taking them to KAL Tire, they recommended 120 psi all around.

And the tables at Michelin Tire have a different set of pressures yet again based on how much the coach weighs.

In our case we have a steer axle of 14,160 pounds or roughly 7,000 pounds of load per axle end. Michelin recommends 105 psi for the front tires.

As our drive axle weight is combined, it is not possible to get a direct load from the Michelin site. That said, they do recommend 80 psi for the duallys and for the rear.

Very confusing.

We drove down to our campsite in the Thousand Islands with the tire pressure as set by KAL tires. The Castaway rode very well. That said, I am going to place a call directly into Newmar. We’ll see if we get any further clarification on how much air is too much, or too little.

It’s A Jungle Out There

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Or maybe we should call this post The Attack of the Crazed Robin.

From the Journal of Zoology:

The Robin shows aggressive behaviour not only towards intruding Robins but, to a varying extent, towards a stuffed adult Robin, foreign species (especially in flight), living and stuffed juvenile Robins, and a stuffed red breast.

To which I would add: the Robin shows aggressive behaviour towards 40-foot motorhomes.

We live in a forest. And we have lots of birds on our property. They occasionally fly into the windows of our house but otherwise they have their space and we have ours. We have always been on friendly terms.

Until last week. Last week I was literally at a loss over what to do about this crazy Robin.

He would perch on a large stone about 5 feet away from the rear end of our coach and literally attack it. Over and over. I was worried about the damage he might do the the paint as he would go full out with wings and claws.

We tried chasing him away only to see him return. We put spikes on top of the large stone hoping that he would not land on it. No effect. He found a way to perch in between the spikes. We even purchased a fake owl hoping that the predator would convince him to go elsewhere. No effect.

This was one very determined Robin.

But why was he so obsessed with our motorhome?

Being a bit slow, it took me a few days to figure it out. I searched Google for “how to deal with robins”. And it became clear. The Robin wasn’t obsessed with our motorhome. He was protecting his territory from another Robin. The Robin that he saw from his stone perch. The Robin that was being reflected by the mirror-like finish of our coach. In other words, he was at war with himself and nothing he did would get rid of the other Robin. At a certain level, Mr. Robin and I had the exact same dilemma: how to get rid of a crazy Robin.

As he was always attacking the same section of the coach, we decided to install an anti-reflective Robin deterrent guard: some strategically placed cardboard and garbage bags.

And, so far, it seems to be working. He is no longer concerned with that part of his territory. I just hope he doesn’t perch on another part of the property. We have a very large coach. It might not look quite as sharp fully clad in cardboard and garbage bags.

Deer

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Deer2

Where the deer and the antelope play? We do not see much in the way of antelope. We do see quite a few deer where we live.

This one was looking for a tour of our new motorhome.

My son was at home and his tablet, never really very far away, allowed him to capture the moment.

Tanks

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Checking the panel and what do I see? Freshwater tank, 1/3. Gray tank, 2/3. Black tank, 2/3.

Time to top up the freshwater tank and empty the gray and black tanks. The gray tanks contain whatever material was drained down our sinks. The black tanks contain the waste from our toilets.

I guess that stuff has to go somewhere.

This will be our first time dumping our tanks. We will be heading over to our local KOA and we will give it a try.

There are lots of how-tos on the web. I found these two videos to be the most helpful in terms of getting a sense of the process.

Jason, of Gone With The Wynns, provides a clear, step-by-step video. He mentions that the first thing that you should do is put on your gloves although in the video he does handle the sewage hose before donning them on. Probably best to get those gloves on right at the start.

The RV Geeks provide a really thorough walkthrough on emptying the tanks. Their wet bay is very similar to ours so I found this video very relevant.

What are some of the key points to remember for a newbie?

  • Wear protective rubber gloves.
  • Dump the black tank before the gray tank. The gray tank can clean the residue from the sewage hose when you dump it after the black tank.
  • Wait until the black tank until it is at least two-thirds full before emptying the tank. And don’t leave the black-water tank valve open when hooked up at a site. Liquids will drain from the black tank which will leave solid waste behind. That will make life difficult later on as solid waste will accumulate in the black tank.
  • Use a high quality sewer hose.
  • Carry an extra garden hose for rinsing. Store the sewer hose and rinse hose away from the drinking water hose. In our coach, we have a separate compartment for the sewer hose.
  • Never use the fresh water hose for rinsing sewer hoses or the dump station area.

Winegard Trav’ler SK-1000

WineGard Dish

If you look carefully at the roofline of our coach, you will see a satellite dish antenna, roughly midway, peering out at the southern sky.

This is our Winegard Trav’ler SK-1000 automatic multi-satellite TV antenna.

This unit caused me a lot of grief. It works fine now but I will share my story in the hopes that if you have a similar problem, you can find an easier way to get it solved.

The problem was an EL Motor Home Failure. Let’s see how I got to that problem.

One of many tasks for the new motorhome was to connect the Bell Expressvu receiver to the audio visual system. That part was relatively straightforward. Connect the RG-6 coaxial cable to the rear of the receiver, connect the HDMI cable to the output of the receiver and the input of the coach’s system splitter — in my bay everything was clearly marked — and plug the unit into an available electrical outlet.

Great. Now for some satellite TV.

First, power up the Winegard unit. The power up sequence worked fine. I can hear the unit moving and automatically positioning itself to find the Bell satellites. From what I know about satellites, which is very little actually, Bell leases two of them: Nimiq 3 and Nimiq 6. Nimiq 3 is at 82 degrees west and carries the standard definition channels. Nimiq 6 is at 91.1 degrees west and carries the high definition channels.

The Winegard dish found both satellites and showed that it was locked on *82 and *91.

Success.

Or so I thought.

I turned everything on and the satellite received showed an Error 15 on the TV screen. Basically, the receiver was not seeing the satellite.

How can this be?

So I consulted the Winegard manual. With hindsight, this turned out to be a huge mistake. The manual had a significant omission, namely the type of antenna. More on that one in a moment.

Here is the page on how to configure the dish for Bell Expressvu:

WineGard Operations

Notice step 6: Press the Select button until the asterisk is next to “SM Mount,” and then press “ENTER.”

And notice step 8: Press “SELECT” until the asterisk is next to “SM ExpressVu.” Press the Enter button.

When I looked at my Winegard unit, it said “LG ExpressVu” and not “SM ExpressVu.”

Obviously the unit had not been configured for Bell TV. Or so I thought.

I followed all of the instructions and then I got to step 15: The TRAV’LER antenna will enter the search routine as part of its normal operation.

Only there was no normal operation. Instead I received a flashing EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE on my Winegard unit.

That cannot be good.

I went outside and I could see that the satellite dish was pointed straight up to the sky.

My first reaction? I must have broken the antenna. My second reaction? How do I get it stowed? After all, I cannot drive the coach with the antenna sticking straight up into the air.

Back into the coach I go. But nothing I do stows the antenna. All I get is a flashing EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE.

There is a troubleshooting section in the manual but it does not show an EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE error. It does show something close, an EL HOME FAILURE. Here is what you should do when you see that error:

Something is preventing the mount from raising as it attempted to find the HOME position. Look for obstructions if the unit has recently been manually raised or if the electronics have been replaced. The calibration may need to be reset. Contact Winegard Technical Support.

I sent them a note and a robot told me that support was closed until Monday. This was Saturday evening.

I am not a patient man. Time for more DIY damage.

I found out how to reset the antenna on the Internet. Follow these steps:

1. Press [POWER] and hold for 2 seconds to turn “ON” the TRAV’LER Interface Box. Wait until the Interface Box finishes “connecting to antenna”. The TRAV’LER may enter the “Search Routine” after 10 seconds this is normal (See NOTE Below).

2. Press [ENTER] and hold for 2 seconds or until the unit displays “Enter User Menu”. Press [SELECT] to move the asterisk to “Yes”. Press [ENTER].

3. Press [SELECT] to move the asterisk to INSTALLATION.

4. Press [ENTER]. You will be asked to provide a code to enter the Installation Menu.

5. Press [ENTER] 4 times to enter code 0000.

6. Press [SELECT] to move “ * ” to “Calibrate EL”.

7. Press [ENTER].

8. Press [SELECT] to move “ * ” to YES.

9. Press [ENTER] to start the elevation calibration procedure. The LCD should now display “Calibrate EL In Progress …”.

10. After a few moments the IDU LCD will display “On EL Hard Stop?-Yes*No”. Visually examine the antenna to verify that the antenna is against the Hard Stop. The antenna will be pointing as far up as it can go, this is the Hard Stop.

11. Press [SELECT] once to move asterisk to “Yes” if antenna is on the Hard Stop.

12. Press [ENTER] and the LCD will display “Calibrate EL Success”.

13. You may now stow the antenna.

Only these steps did not work for me. Why?

It goes back to LG ExpressVu and SM ExpressVu. It turns out that they are two different antennas. One is “Low Ground” and the other is “Surface Mount” or something like that. Through some additional research on the web, I found a dealer installation pdf and it talked about the two differences. My antenna was, in fact, an LG ExpressVu. Because I had reconfigured it to be an SM Mount, exactly as the manual directed, it was unable to stow. It remained stuck in the fully upright position, pointing straight up into the sky.

I had to go back into the installation menu to change the antenna type back to LG ExpressVu. I followed all of the steps and at step 6 I selected “LG Mount”. And to do that operation required a passcode. I used the one in the manual: “0022”.

Invalid passcode.

What?

More searching on the Internet. I finally found the passcode to change the antenna type buried deep in the web somewhere: 2112.

Passcode accepted.

Once I changed the antenna type I followed the rest of the protocol making sure I used LG ExpressVu. I was able to successfully calibrate the system and get the antenna safely stowed.

I powered it up, connected to the antenna, and the Winegard unit could see *81 and *92 again.

The Bell receiver? No joy. Why was I not getting any satellite signal to the receiver?

And then it hit me. The switch.

I had taken one of our Bell ExpressVu receivers from the house. I have an SW44 switch in the house. I remembered reading somewhere that the receivers are sensitive to the type of switch.

I went into System Setup and then the diagnostic section of the receiver’s menu system and selected “Test Switch”. After about ten minutes or so it automatically found the new switch from the Winegard unit and voila, satellite TV.

Technology really should not be this hard.

Update:

I’ve received numerous emails from people trying to switch their Winegard Trav’ler from Bell ExpressVu. I was able to make that happen and you can read my post about how I was able to switch my service from Bell to Dish by clicking here: Winegard Trav’ler Bell to Dish.