True to form, it’s been far too long since I’ve last written. This is partly because of the pace that life has taken since we’ve moved into the RV. There have been a spattering of mixed feelings, success and headache since our transition in late April. Our first weeks of fulltiming were spent largely working on issues with the rig. There wound up being a bunch of issues that were quickly uncovered with our, then recent, purchase. We would spend our first months in Tracys parent’s driveway. This gives me a great place to straighten away some of the issues we were experiencing. Firstly, we needed power to run the A/C. So, I started researching different ways of getting power to the coach.
While, we had the RV parked at our previous house, I thought I might be able to use 2 lengths of 15amp extension cord with this adapter. Basically, this adapter is meant to bring in two legs of power, one 30 amp, one 15 amp. I thought I could adapt the 30amp leg down to 15, to total 30 amps to the coach just using readily available 15amp power feeds (on different circuits, of course). I quickly realized something wasn’t working when the protected socket kept tripping when I plugged in the second leg. Rather than forcing it, I just stuck with the single 15 amp leg plugged in while at the old house. This made for some sweaty work, moving boxes in and out. It seemed like those days moving were the hottest and most humid days of the year.
Since we would be spending some time at the in-laws, I started looking into the wiring for a 50amp outlet. Turns out, it’s not a huge deal. Especially, when your father in-law is an ex air conditioning business owner. The wiring is not a huge deal. Running the wires to an accessible location is another thing altogether.
While we had been figuring out the wiring there were some heavy storms coming through South Florida. One of which had been dumping on us for the last few hours. Eventually, we were ready to test the connection for the first time. As my father in-law threw on the power in the fuse box and I awaited the power at the inverter panel in the rig, I hear a little tap, tap, tap, behind me. I turn to find a few dark spots on the carpet, then look up to see a couple more drips of water hanging from a seam in the ceiling. As the power came flooding into the RV, I simultaneously find my next task, sealing the roof.
I know from a previous incident with my parents RV that you have to keep a careful eye on the roof seals. When your bumping down the road in a movable apartment, there’s a whole lot moving, flexing, etc going on. All that moving tends to loosen up things like roof seals, besides the Florida sun beating down on it everyday likes to make the seals brittle. Once I got up to the roof, I realized that these seals probably haven’t been attended since the coach was manufactured. **Gasp** My heart sunk. No matter how well an RV is built, they are no match for water leaks. I wound up ordering 100ft of Eternabond sealing tape after doing a bunch of research on the web. That also bought me two days on the roof of the rig in the sun. It was actually enjoyable work, cleaning, prepping, and laying the tape, as well as, filling all the remaining seams with Dicor and RTV sealant. In all reality, I miss this kind of work. With the sun, sweat, and physical labor, I kept thinking, “It’s better than a day at the office.” And it was. Since then, we’ve been through a number of heavy storms, and all is dry inside. So far, so good.
The other big issue I needed to tackle was the Norcold refrigerator. I knew going into the purchase that the fridge in the rig was a candidate for a very large recall where there was a possibility of the cooling unit catching fire. A faulty weld could break and spray an ammonia, hydrogen, water mix all over introducing the potential for ignition. Many many RVs have met their last days to this cooling unit busting. At the time of purchase I did make sure that all of the recall work had been completed. Beyond that, I guess I wasn’t very thorough. I did notice that the A/C (as in alternating current, or shore) power to the refer wasn’t working when I went to pick up the RV. I had to leave and come back after it was fixed. Later, I assume it was just plugged back in for the next time I came to pick it up. Their bad for giving me the slip. My bad for not catching their deception in any case.
After some figuring I discover that one of the heater cores had over heated and charred it’s power wire. Another $200 later, I have the bad heater core replaced and the fridge is now cooling, as it should. The folks over at iRV2.com forum have been a HUGE help. Here is a link to the thread where we tackle the Norcold heater core issue.
The fact remains, however, that this fridge is a liability. Many folks on the forums have swapped out the Norcold for a more reliable residential refrigerator. I intend to follow suit. That will probably be the most “invasive” mod that I will undertake.
Next mod up is the inverter/charger unit. From the factory we are equipped with a Xantrex RV2012GS, which is a 2000W modified sine-wave inverter. With the planned additional power loads, such as the fridge, and desire to run the A/C (as in air conditioner) from the batteries, I opted for a 3000W pure sine-wave inverter from Victron. These new loads on the inverter all have compressor motors, which really have a hard time with the modified sine inverter. In fact, they are almost sure to fail eventually. The pure sine that comes form the Victron is sometimes more clean than being hooked up to shore power, which will ensure that those motors are running for a long time to come. In addition to cleaner power, the Victron has a feature called boosting. Chris@Technomadia turned me on to this inverter with his article all about boosting and it’s benefits.
Lastly, one thing continues to be a little buggy. I bought the RV with an older KVH R5 in-motion satellite dish. The first problem is that there was no receiver box included with the RV. I guess the previous owner thought I didn’t need it. Looks like I need to do my homework,, again. I know, from a manual left in the coach, that they formerly had DirecTV hooked up. But, after some research, I come to find out that with this satellite, I could only receive DirecTV in SD, not HD. Dish, however, used a different technology that would allow me to receive an HD signal. After some more time scouring the net, I figure out which receiver I needed for HD viewing, and ordered that as well.
Upon arrival, the receiver did not work right off the bat, of course. The dish and the receiver didn’t seem to want to talk to eachother. For some reason, no signal was being picked up at all. I figure the fault is somewhere in the dish, so I start there and discover that it is possible to update the firmware in the satellite hardware. But, this thing is so ancient that it is using a Serial connection interface in order to communicate with my computer. Oh, and the software is only available for windows, of course. :-/ The serial to USB cable from RadioShack sets me back another $30 and I run Windows in a VM on my mac. But remarkably, I’m able to create the connection. It turns out the satellite uses the old Telnet protocol and you can send it commands via a command line. COOL!! It also gives you some feedback about where it’s pointed, things like that.
Long story short, I get the main board, and the RF board firmware updated. Then, I ran check switch a couple of times…. BAM!!! The broadcasting comes on through.
Granted, it’s not perfect. From time to time, it loves to start moving the satellite around even when we’re not moving. And, the signal gets lost and it sucks.. But, for a temporary band aid, I just run the processes to point the dish, then turn off the power to the satellite motors, and it stays put.
NEXT UP, I just got my WifiRanger in……