RV Tips and Tricks

Ask RV Bill - May 2016

Q- Hey, Bill, One of the strings broke on a day/night Shade the last time we were out on a trip in our 2000 Winnebago motorhome. I realize that they are 15 years old but it’s kind of a nuisance when they break in the middle of a camping trip, as they do not stay in any position. Should I replace the whole blind? Or, can they be sent somewhere and repaired?

A- Hi John, replacing the blinds can be quite expensive, not to mention matching the existing color would be nearly impossible. With a 15-year-old motorhome more of the blind strings are likely to follow. Restringing the blinds are actually quite simple. Go on the Internet and look up www.fixmyblinds.com. This informative site not only has all of the tools and the string to restring the blinds, they have videos to show you how to complete the task and tips for doing so like a pro. Removing the valances to gain access to remove all of the blinds can be a little bit tricky. Most likely you can find a video on YouTube for removing the valances. I assure you that once you’ve done the first one or two the rest will be simple. Good luck.


Q- Hi Bill, My family and I are looking at purchasing a campervan as a second vehicle when my husband’s wagon dies. We are open to buying used but wanted to know your thoughts on the Toyota Sienna pop top conversion from GTRV. We need something that can sleep at least 4 adults as we have 3 kiddos.

Thanks for the guidance, Janine

A- Janine, No matter what you end up with I know you and family will have fun. The Sienna would be a good bet if you can find a used one. Try www.rvtrader.com that is nation wide. There are lots of class B motorhomes out there to choose from. Another option would be a bumper pull trailer. Look at models with beds that slide out, even the short models sleep 6-8 people.


Q- Hi Bill, I have a 1995 fifth wheel with a 2 door Norcold refrigerator. Lately while in the propane mode of the refrigerator has begun shutting down for two seconds and then back on. I can hear some clicking noises and then two seconds later the gas re-ignites. This keeps repeating itself until I turn the refrigerator off or switch to the electric mode. The electric mode works fine and the refrigerator cools as it should.

Thanks, Bob

A- Bob, A refrigerator that is roughly 20 years old you can have a myriad of problems. Here are a few things for you to check or have checked. First, I would do an LP pressure test, as a refrigerator needs at least 11 inches of water column to function properly. Next, have the burner, orifice and the flu serviced. Check to make sure that the spark probe assembly in the flame is at least an eighth of an inch tall. If the spark probe assembly does not glow red, it may not be far enough into the flame. The spark probe assembly tells the circuit board that the flame is lit and tells it to keep the gas on. The issue might even be originating from the circuit board. If you do end up needing to replace a circuit board make sure that you replace it with a Dinosaur Board as they are the most bulletproof circuit boards that I’ve ever installed.


Q- Hi Bill, I have a question about the built-in brake control in my 2007 Ford F350. It’s been erratic for quite some time now no matter how I adjust it. I replaced all 4 brake magnets. I ran new wire is to the brakes and soldered every wire connection to no avail. Would it be better if I simply installed an aftermarket brake control, if so which brands do you recommend?

Cheers, John

 A- John, Erratic brake control operation on the first and second year factory installed brake controls in Ford trucks was not uncommon. In fact, some of them never worked well at all. If you have access to an amp meter, check to make sure that you have roughly 2.5-3 Amps per magnet when the brake control is activated. Start checking the amperage at the back of the brake control, then at the seven way connector at the back of the truck and last but not least at each magnet at the back of the brake assembly. My suggestion would be to install an aftermarket brake control such as the Tekonsha Prodigy. One of their best models is the P-3. This brake control will work with either electric brakes or electric over hydraulic. Thanks for the question.


Q- Bill, I have a 64 dollar question. Last week I flushed my Atwood water heater with the help of a friend. My buddy noticed that the drain did not have an Anode rod. Looking online, I found the Anode for my model water heater. Wondering why my model did not have an Anode I started some checking with mixed results. Can you tell me the definitive answer?


A– Hello! This is a great question Josh, and one that I often receive. Atwood has an aluminum inner tank rather than a glass lined steel tank. The anode rod is the sacrificial material to prevent corrosion within the steel tank. Aluminum tanks aren’t subject to this corrosion. In fact, installed in an Atwood water heater, the rod will do more harm than good. I’ve seen anode rods that have welded themselves into the tank preventing removal for cleaning and draining the tank. Keep your Atwood clean and flushed for maximum durability. Suburban water heaters have anodes rods and need to be changed and the tank flushed on a regular schedule. The rule of thumb is to replace the Anode when it about 50% deteriorated. Remove the Anode every 6 months and flush the tank, write the date on the plate on the front of the water. This will give you a rough length of time you will need between changes. Keep in mind water Quality will have an effect on the Anode and flushing the tank. The more calcium and minerals the water contains the faster the process accelerates. Be well!

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