We went up to Access RV on Saturday and pulled the trailer back home. I set it up on Sunday to see how they did on the repairs. At first, things looked pretty good.
Now, of all the things noted on my last post about this topic, two of them are ultra-critical. One is the roof leak and the other is the heater. Most of the rest we could live with for a whole season if we had to.
After I got the roof raised and pulled out one mattress, I noticed that the other mattress had large beads of water on it. If the water had been there more than just a couple of minutes, it would have soaked in and it would have taken longer to see, but we hadn’t had rain or snow for days, and I could not see any water dripping anywhere. I wiped those drops up as best I could with my hand and checked the heater … which didn’t work.
They replaced the inverter on the generator and it claim it is now operating completely within specs. Replacing that part had supposedly made the pulsing better, but did not eliminate it. I plugged in the generator to see how bad the problem was. In a nutshell, it didn’t look any better to me.
As it was now Sunday and the dealer was closed, I gave up and abandoned it for a few hours and spent some time with Kathy planning the camping trips we are going on next summer – assuming our trailer is serviceable. It’s worth noting at this time that I hadn’t set the trailer all the way up. I hadn’t dropped the stabilizer legs or zipped the various canvas bits together, and the supports were not installed to hold the canvas up over the beds.
Later in the afternoon, there was a storm rolling in, so I went out to pack the trailer back down for the storm. As I was pulling the canvas around, the side with the slightly damp mattress suddenly poured several ounces of water down to the ground, and I found that it was very wet on the outside.
It’s a very bad idea to put the trailer away wet, and it was beginning to rain as well, so in frustration, I put the trailer fully together and made sure all the canvas bits were zipped and velcroed in place. Over Sunday night, we got inch or so of snow. Yesterday, I went out to check things over and found that the leak we had noticed on our third campout was a lot worse than we had thought, though I don’t think what it’s done so far is going to result in permanent damage. The canvas itself is holding the water out, even against the snow. I placed a cup and a towel to catch the drips from the roof until things dry out, which I really hope is soon.
Also yesterday, I looked deeper into the heater issue and the generator problem with pulsing lights. I took a bit of cat5 cable and bypassed the thermostat. The heater fired right up and blew out hot air. Then I did some experiments with the generator.
With the generator hooked up to the trailer, I plugged a worklight with a standard incandescent bulb into a trailer outlet. It pulsed just like the 12V lights in the trailer. I then unplugged the trailer completely and plugged the worklight into the generator directly. No pulse. With the light still in the generator, I plugged the trailer into the generator as well. The worklight started pulsing. I believe at this point that the generator is OK. At that point we were dealing with two likely culprits – the power converter and the battery.
The RV dealer claimed they tested the converter ten ways from Tuesday and they think it’s fine, so I decided to check the only thing under my control at the moment – the battery. Kathy and I had talked about getting a second battery and the power isolators necessary to hook up two batteries in parallel and ensure they charge properly, so I went down to Autozone and picked up a second deep cycle marine battery. I hooked it up and made sure everything was working with it, then started the generator. After the generator stabilized, I plugged the trailer into it. The lights got brighter and remained absolutely rock steady. All of the 12V problems we’ve had with the trailer could be explained by a bad battery.
It could still be the power converter, even though the new battery fixed the problem. I believe what was happening was the power converter was sucking additional power to deep charge the battery, and for whatever reason, suddenly deciding that it needed to change modes to trickle charge it instead, and then deciding again that it needed to deep charge it. The big question is whether it was a bad battery providing improper feedback to the converter, or a bad converter unable to charge the battery correctly.
I’m going to need to run the new battery down pretty far to see whether it’s a charging problem on the power converter or if it was in fact the battery with the problem. Either way, this will close the electrical chapter.
Most of the other problems that I noted in the previous post are taken care of. To fix the broken piece that holds down the canvas, they replaced it with a metal equivalent, so I’m going to check to see how much they want to replace the other strips that haven’t broken yet. The new canvas piece is on order, and they even winterized the trailer for free, which was pretty generous. We decided not to mention the screw problem with the curtains, and Kathy did manage to find a way to get them to close all the way.
Unfortunately, this morning we are now getting more snow. I had hoped to have all the previous snow off the roof and be able to close the trailer up before trying to putting a tarp over it, but that may not be possible.
The leak is the last big problem we have left to solve … but when I spoke to the guy who did the work yesterday, he didn’t seem to have any solution for it. I asked him to have the service manager call me, which hasn’t happened yet. It appears now that adding the air conditioner may have been a bad idea, that maybe we should have installed the slim unit that doesn’t weigh as much. The thing about that is, we were not given any choices on the the type of air conditioner to install.
The salesman assured us that their service department could install the AC and there would be no problems with it. We specifically asked them if they would take out the roof fan and put the AC there, and whether the trailer was pre-wired for AC, and we were told yes on both.
When we initially received the trailer and discovered that they had chopped a large hole in the roof for it and run surface-mounted conduit for its electrical, we were very surprised. To now find out that they may not be able to properly seal the hole is more frustrating than I can describe. If they thought the AC would cause problems like this, they should have mentioned it before they installed it. I’m aware that they installed it at our request, but we were relying on their assurance that it would work.