Is one company’s dominant position in the RV community being abused?
Online RV forums and RVing apps play an indispensable role informing the RVing community. So much so, it is difficult for me to imagine getting along without them. Many times the knowledge and expertise found online have helped me diagnose and repair problems with my RVs, ferret out camping locations or points of interest. People online have come to my aid countless times, and visa versa, motivated by the desire to help.
Despite my great appreciation for and reliance upon these online knowledge pools I have concerns about profiteers quietly buying them up and, IMHO, surreptitiously and unethically using them to their own financial advantage at the expense of the consuming public. Here I am talking about a company called Social Knowledge. [READ MORE…]
There is an insidious hidden problem with the installations of many RV furnaces putting them on a collision course with a premature death. Yours could be one of them. Mine was.
I discovered a problem with my RV furnace, a problem I know for a fact that other people have had, and one that may go undiscovered until it’s too late. Actually, the problem has to do with the ducting, specifically a failure to sufficiently duct the furnace at the RV factory or in some cases ducting that has become damaged or clogged for one reason or another. This problem was causing my furnace burner cycle on and off excessively, sending it toward an early grave, or at least a premature repair and one that should not be unnecessary.
It appears my RV was “under-ducted” to coin a phrase, that Arctic Fox did not installsufficient ducting so that the furnace could properly expel the hot air it makes. I don’t see why everyone else with the same make and model RV as mine wouldn’t be experiencing the same problem and I know for a fact that other makes and models have had the issue as well. The insidious thing about all this is that you may have the problem and never know it. You may even wind up paying for repeated repairs to your furnace that should not have been necessary, and still never know what caused the problems.
I noticed that when I would turn on my RV furnace the fan would start to run first, then, a few seconds later I could hear the gas burner turn on. That’s as it should be. You may have to be close to your furnace and listen to it carefully in order to hear the burner ignite and burn. What should happen after that is that when the RV reaches the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat the burner should shut off and the fan should keep running another minute or two until the furnace has had a chance to cool down somewhat. Then the fan should shut off.
That’s not what was happening in my RV. Instead, after running a few minutes, and before the RV had reached the temperature set on the thermostat, I could hear the burner shut off. The fan would keep running. Then in a minute or so the burner would start up again. This cycle would repeat every few minutes–burner on, burner off, burner on, burner off, all the while the fan kept running.
Here is what was happening: the fan and burner would start as they should, but because there wasn’t adequate ducting for the furnace to expel the heated air into the RV the heat would back up in the furnace and the burner would overheat. This tripped a safety mechanism, the high temperature limit switch, that would shut off the burner until the fan cooled the burner down to a safe temperature when the burner would then reignite. The furnace was working perfectly but the safety mechanism, the high temperature limit switch that shuts of the burner when it overheats isn’t designed and built for frequent cycling. It was headed for a premature death. Insufficient ducting was restricting the hot air flow out of the furnace causing the safety mechanism to repeatedly activate, sending my furnace hurtling toward the repair shop prematurely.
My furnace was almost certainly behaving like this for a long time before I ever noticed it. Probably since the RV was brand new. Why would I suspect anything was wrong? After all, when it got cold in the RV and I turned on the heat the furnace would in fact heat the RV, but I never noticed the on-again-off-again cycling of the burner because the fan kept running all the while, or if I did notice the burner turning on and off I never thought anything of it. As far as I knew everything seemed to be working just fine… but it wasn’t.
When my RV furnace comes on the fan starts running and then the burner ignites. If things are working as they should the burner will stay lit until the RV reaches the temperature set on the thermostat. Then the burner will shut off and a minute or two later when the furnace has cooled off a little the fan will also shut off. When the burner cycles on and off repeatedly every few minutes it’s a sign that something is wrong. There is a good chance there is a blocked vent or duct, or the manufacturer of the RV did not build in sufficient ducting to allow the furnace to properly breathe. Don’t think your RV manufacturer is above that!
To confirm the on-again-off-again activity of my furnace burner I put my digital meat thermometer’s probe over the floor register of the heating system nearest the furnace. When the temperature rose to about 175º I could hear the high temp limit switch trip and the burner shut off. I watched the thermometer fall to about 140º and I could hear the switch activate, the burner ignite, and I watched the thermometer rise back to about 175º. This cycle repeated over and over until the RV finally reached the temperature set on the thermostat and the burner then fan finally shut off. That ain’t supposed to happen. The burner shouldn’t cycle on and off repeatedly. It should go on once and stay lit until the RV comes to temp and then it should shut off. Once on, once off. That’s all.
I spoke with a tech at Suburban, the maker of my furnace. After explaining the repeated cycling of the furnace burner and the high and low temperatures it was bouncing back and forth between I was told my furnace safety mechanism was working as it should. I was also told that the on-again-off-again action of the burner likely pointed to a restriction in the ducting and that under-ducting by RV manufacturers was a problem Suburban had encountered before.
I understand that my Suburban SF-35FQ furnace has the equivalent of 11 outlets: seven 4″ round outlets on the sides and one large rectangular outlet on the bottom that counts as four round ones. The specs for my furnace say that a minimum of four of the outlets must be used so that the furnace can properly aspirate but the tech told me using more than four is better. In my RV the manufacturer used only the rectangular outlet on the bottom of the furnace which would count as four round ones and this would meet the minimum requirement, but, they also put some 90º bends in the ducting which creates resistance in the airflow within the ducting and it appears that it effectively reduced the airflow to below the minimum requirement thereby causing my furnace to overheat and the safety mechanism to cycle the burner on and off excessively. The installation manual says “Avoid making any sharp turns in the duct system. Sharp turns will increase the static pressure in the plenum area and could cause the furnace to cycle.” That seems to be exactly what was going on in my RV. It would seem my RV was under-ducted at the factory. Thank you Arctic Fox.
You could be having this same problem and it could be going on unbeknownst to you. It’s an under-the-radar kind of thing. I don’t say this so as to create a panic, but it would be worth paying attention to your furnace. You could test it by letting it run for 20 or 30 minutes while listening carefully to see if you can hear the burner turning on and off. If it does not it’s likely fine at least in regard to an overheating burner, that is, assuming your high temperature limit mechanism is functioning properly. If your burner does cycle on and off repeatedly then you may have a blockage in the ducting or your RV manufacturer may have failed to provide sufficient ducting for your furnace. Restrictions in the ducting, by the way, can be caused by insects, critter nests, damaged ducting or the build-up of crud over time. Your furnace would be more likely to experience the problem I have outlined on a warmer day when the air it breathes into its combustion chamber isn’t as cold as it might otherwise be. When it is breathing colder air this works against the burner overheating.
I solved the frequent cycling of my RV furnace by adding another duct. I removed one of the 4″ knockouts on the left side of the furnace and ran some flexible ducting to a register nearby. I can feel a strong airflow coming out of the new register and I tested my heater by letting it run 20-30 minutes and it didn’t cycle on and off at all. Not once. Problem solved.
Should you undertake a similar repair make sure to follow the furnace manufacturer’s instructions or hire it done by a qualified shop or individual. (Good luck with that!) Also be certain the ducting you get is up to the task. Not all of the flexible ducting on the market is suitable for the temperatures encountered in a heating system such as those you find in RVs.
Cutting the hole into which the new register would fit took a bit of figuring. I didn’t want to try to use a keyhole saw because I thought it would be too hard to control and may splinter the surface of the soft luan wood. I couldn’t remove the panel I was cutting into so that ruled out a coping saw. I might have been able to use a 4″ hole saw but that might have splintered the surface and would have been an expense. As it turned out there is a bit that looks like an ordinary drill bit but it’s made to be used like a router bit. (See my reply to John in the Comments section for more information about cutting bits.) You drill a hole into the surface you are cutting with the tip of the bit then move your drill sideways using the side of the bit to cut. I already had Black and Decker RTX rotary tool like a Dremel tool and it came with one of those bits.
Below is a list of the things I used to install the new duct and register The links have my Amazon Affiliate code embedded so if you buy any of these things through the links I provide I may receive a small commission. These items appear in the photos above. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
ThermoPro Food Thermometer
Inexpensive but fast reading and quite accurate. It allowed me to watch the rise and fall of the temperature of the air coming out of our heat ducts in real time, up and down between 140º and 175º, back and forth, over and over.
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This article is about setting things up to RV with bicycles on board. There may be more involved than you would at first think.
We’ve all seen cars, trucks and RVs traveling down the road with bicycles on the back. The bikes are generally either hanging from or resting upon a bicycle carrier. It should be easy enough to set things up in order to bring our bikes along with your RV, right? Umm… maybe not! RVers may have more things to consider than somebody throwing their bikes on the back of their car for an afternoon outing. [READ MORE…]
I’m hardly the kind of person from whom you’d expect a review of a kitchen gadget–usually I write about things like solar panels, batteries, GPS units, motorcycle clothing and the like–but this review is in fact about a kitchen gadget which hints at the influence a certain wonderful woman has had over my life 🙂
Now, to be truthful, most people would be and should be alarmed should I write about preparing food. Why? Just taste my cooking… and I use the word cooking very, very loosely. Fear not, however, because I cannot take credit for this review. It was written by Diane after using the Chef’n for many months. While I am the chief bottle washer in the RV my lovely companion, Diane, is the head cook, always making delicious and healthy meals for the two of us. Thank you, Diane!
Diane has used the Chef’n many times. I think it fair to say she recommends it because it does a good job, is small, lightweight, uses no batteries or electricity, and doubles as a storage container: all things which are plusses when operating in the cramped quarters of an RV sometimes without a ready supply of household electricity and where the weight of things can really matter. Available for about $20 it’s also inexpensive.
Now, to be honest, not everything I touch in the kitchen turns to mud. Although there may be some debate about it, I do declare that I’m pretty darn good when it comes to making a peanut butter sandwich. There is one other dish I can do a bang up job with, and that’s lentil soup. For that I use the Chef’n to chop up the carrots and onions which it does quickly and easily saving me quite a bit of slicing and dicing, not to mention all those tears.
THE CLAIM: Chop large pieces of fruit, vegetables, boneless meats, herbs, nuts, and even ice without electricity; perfect for pesto, hummus, salsa, guacamole.
WHY YOU MAY WANT THIS: Small, lightweight, no batteries or electricity, doubles as a storage container, works well.
THE FACTS: Performance: The product description on Amazon is accurate in that it REALLY does chop food. As its name implies, it is designed to chop, not puree. It’s absolutely wonderful for things like onions, carrots and egg salad. I was able to make cauliflower rice (but not mash), my hummus and guacamole came out more grainy than creamy, and soft fruits and tomatoes had more texture than blender smooth. That being said, I didn’t mind the compromise because I could boondock and have my hummus too!
Ease of Use: It is not too tough on the hand as far as gripping the handle, but pulling out the cord does take some back and forth arm movement that requires average mobility. It has only a 3 cup capacity, so it’s good for about 2 servings depending on your recipe, but I didn’t find any problem in making things in several batches for a larger crowd. I even made my regular double pie crust recipe in it! I just had to divide the recipe and reload the Chef’n a couple times and then combine the batches. In fact, this gadget is so quick and easy to use, I often opt to use it even when I have a full-sized blender/food processor available!
Nice Features: •Comes in 3 colors: red, black or green •Non-slip ring on the bottom keeps it stable •Storage lid
Tips: Adding ingredients – The top of the blade mechanism has a recessed hexagon for connecting to the lid. It can collect finer ingredients like flour and prevent the lid pin from engaging properly. Put a finger over the hexagon when pouring into the chopper. Cleaning and Storage – Take care hand washing the very sharp blades! Make sure the chopper is completely dry before storing it to discourage mold, especially if you are on the road. The care instructions do caution not to submerge the top because the cord is enclosed and won’t be able to dry out, but otherwise it’s even dishwasher safe. (The Chef’n VeggiChopper is available here.)
[Editor’s note: the article titles “It slices, it dices…” is taken from a very old TV commercial which as I recalled has many times been parodied and as such is intended to be humorous. The Chef’n itself, chops.]
UPDATE, May 2020: After years of use my beloved Chef’n VeggieChop gave up the ghost , but, and it’s a big BUT, it’s covered by a Lifetime Warranty and the good folks at Chef’n are sending a new one for free!
When we bought our new RV it was for us a sizable expenditure. Such being the case we considered things we could do in order to protect it. A good polymer treatment for the paint was one thing. Another was a Progressive Industries 50 amp hard-wired electrical management system (EMS) in order to protect the electronics from, among other things, power surges, high and low voltages sometimes encountered at campgrounds. Progressive makes a number of EMS systems, some intended to hang on the power pedestal and some to be hard-wired into the RV.
Another measure of protection we purchased was a 50 amp voltage regulator, a Hughes Autoformer. This device can boost campground voltage when it falls dangerously low allowing you to safely use equipment that might otherwise be damaged by the low voltage. They also make a 30 amp model. [READ MORE…]
In my previous RV I only had 110 volt household current when I was plugged into shore power at a campground, when I ran my disturbingly noisy generator, or when I turned on my inverter to power the single, dedicated outlet I had installed along with it. This last method involved running extension cords from that outlet to other points inside (or outside) the RV where I wanted or needed household current–inconvenient and a tripping hazard.
Upon getting a new RV my plan had always been to have an inverter installed that would supply power to all of the RV’s existing 110 volt outlets so that power would be available throughout it without needing to run extension cords–a more convenient and aesthetically pleasing arrangement that would also eliminate the hazard of tripping over extension cords.
When I started looking at all that was involved in wiring an inverter into the RV’s electrical system it soon became apparent to me that it was outside my wheelhouse of skills. So, I decided to have that done professionally later on, but until I could hire it done I was comfortable doing a more simple trip-over-the-extension-cord style hookup that would at least provide us with some AC until the professional installation could be performed. [READ MORE…]
This is a short saga (the oxymoron is intentional) of my recent experience with Good Sam Roadside Assistance.
I have Good Sam Roadside Assistance for my 5th wheel. Recently while backing my RV into my parking spot where I store the rig I got myself into a jam and couldn’t move forward or backward without a high probability of damaging my RV or the one next to mine. Don’t ask…
I called Good Sam for some suggestions or help. The agent I spoke with asked me some questions, one of which may have been key to deciding whether or not they would help me. He asked if there was any risk of damaging my vehicle or another and I said yes. After all, that is why I called them. When I answered that question I was thinking about towing it forward or backward with my pickup truck, not having it dragged sideways by a tow truck with a winch. I’m not used to thinking in those terms. Why would I be? I didn’t know that could be done.
I was told there was nothing they could do if there was risk to my vehicle or another. The conversation ended. Flustered and frustrated, dead in the water so to speak, blocking traffic at the storage facility, in desperation I called an independent tow company. A tow truck was dispatched and about 10 minutes after it arrived my RV had been dragged sideways, without risk of damage to neighboring vehicles and I was able to move again. I was handed a bill for $281.
After thinking about it over the next few days it seemed to me Good Sam should have dispatched a tow truck and handled this on their dime. After all, wasn’t that what I was paying them for? I called them and asked if the kind of tow operation used to rescue my rig (something called a “winch out” I learned by reading the invoice) was covered under my policy. I was told yes, it was and that the agent I spoke with on the night of the problem didn’t ask enough questions to properly determine the correct course of action.
I was informed I could file a request for reimbursement online and I did. After doing so an email arrived on Nov. 28 saying I would hear from Good Sam in 5 days. I didn’t.
On Dec. 23 I called Good Sam to follow up on the situation. I was told that a reimbursement check had been mailed on Dec. 4 and that it could take 3 weeks to arrive. 3 weeks? I asked. Why would it take 3 weeks. I was told it was sent 4th class mail. What? How much money could they save sending a letter to me with something less than 1st class postage? How much is a stamp nowadays? 50¢?
I’d never heard of 4th class mail so I decided to do a little checking. What I found is that there is such a thing for items over 8 ounces, but not for a letter. Was the agent with whom I spoke misinformed? Lying to me?
The check arrived a couple days after I spoke with the agent and it was postmarked Dec. 22, not Dec. 4, although it was dated Dec. 4. It was sent first class mail not 4th class as I had been told.
I was originally denied service to which I was entitled. Had I not had the wherewithal to look further into the situation I would have been stuck with a bill for $281. How many people I wonder are told by Good Sam they aren’t covered for something when they should be and wind up paying out of their own pockets for something they shouldn’t have to?
Next, I was promised a response in 5 days which I didn’t get. After that I was misinformed about when my check had been sent and the mail service used.
In my estimation, nothing about my experience with Good Sam in this instance except for the eventual reimbursement went right–Good Sam fumbled the ball at every possible opportunity. That’s my opinion anyway. What do you think? Is Good Sam a bad actor?
This blog takes an enormous amount of time and energy to build and maintain . If you have found something useful or entertaining please use this Amazon.com link when you shop at Amazon. Doing so will cost you no more and in some cases I may receive a small commission. Your support in the form of using my Amazon.com link or making a PayPal Donation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
While pepper may make you sneeze, choosing whole peppercorns over pre-ground, paired with a good quality pepper mill is really nothing to sneeze at. Freshly ground pepper is preferable to pre-ground pepper bought in a tin because peppercorns contain volatile compounds that begin evaporating the moment peppercorns are ground and exposed to air. There are green peppercorns, black peppercorns, white peppercorns and more. How do you know which to choose? There are different pepper mills. Which are the best? Can you refill those “non-reusable” pepper mills from the spice isle in the markets? All this and more in today’s episode of Old Man in the Kitchen. […READ MORE]
One of my greatest joys while living full-time on the road in my RV was visiting America’s most beautiful natural places–Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks, Zion and Canyonlands, Yosemite and Yellowstone, to name just a few. I can’t tell you how many times while doing so I wished I could have had a closer look at things in the distance–animals and scenic vistas, even the heavens. Some of the places I visited were recognized as International Dark Sky sites–places renowned for stargazing–and here too a close-up view would have come in real handy and enhanced the experience. If I could only see like an eagle! Read more…
The idea behind this product is to boost cell signals thereby improving your ability to both make cell calls and transfer data (Internet) in locations where it can otherwise be difficult or impossible to do so. I’ve used one of these for almost a year (as of April 2015) as I’ve traveled about the country in a motorhome. So, it’s from that vantage point my comments are issued.
At times my Mobile 4G has made all the difference: the difference between being able to make a cell call or not; the difference between being able to load a web page, send an email or not. By bolstering signal strength it can also reduce dropped calls, prevent dropped Internet connections as well speed up Internet downloads. Surprisingly, there have been occasions where it has been advantageous to avoid using the booster–more on that later–but in those situations you wouldn’t need it anyway, in my experience. READ MORE…