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Old 04-24-2009, 08:52 PM   #1
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First post, first RV, got ?'s...

First and foremost, kudos to the website admin and the moderators! Over the last few months, I have spent countless hours reading hundreds (if not thousands) of posts on other sites. None seem to condense Damon owners like this sub-forum. I wish I'd found it first. Love the layout, and have never seen a vBulletin with such a fresh and unique feel.

All that said, I am in the last remaining days of the 30-day dealer warranty on the 2002 Intruder 350 I purchase last month. The dealer offered to make repairs on any problems we find within 30 days of taking possession. I have never owned a MH before, and didn't have a clue what to look for - hence the research on so many forums.

Given the focused nature of the group here, I figured I'd post my newbie questions here:
  1. The 7kw Onan genset takes quite some time to start. If I prime it for 15 seconds, it seems to fire up on the first 5 cranks. If I don't prime it that long, it seems to crank 10+ times to start. The dealer says this is normal. There are 430 hours on the generator. Once it's running, it seems smooth under load and without - though every few minutes it does stutter ever so slightly (might be the AC compressor(s) cycling though). I do notice a very distinct exhaust smell outside the rig - all the way around. It smells like a lawnmower with a carb that's set too rich. The dealer says the carbs are set as lean as they can be (altitude setting at zero), and to 'keep an eye on it'. They ran it for over an hour and it never stuttered for them. It hasn't since either.
  2. The Workhorse/Allison chassis seems very underpowered. If I punch it to the floor, I can barely keep up with cars in front of me when accelerating from a light. I didn't expect a race car experience, but I'd be surprised if the 0-60 time is under 1 minute. Is that normal? The dealer this is normal.
  3. The shift points on the 5 speed Allison seem very high. RPM comes up to almost 3,000 under cruising speeds. For example, at 53MPH steady speed, the tach is around 2400. It finally shifts into 5th gear at 55mph. This too may be normal, but the engine really seems loud at the high RMP. I find myself going slightly faster than I need, just to get it to shift, and then slow down. My Tundra does the same thing if I have overdrive turned off. The dash on the Damon has an OD switch, which is ON, but it makes NO difference in either position. It really feels like OD is off. I told the dealer, and he said that Allison transmissions take a while to 'learn' my driving style. Don't know if I should buy that explanation, or if I should be more insistent. Again, lack of experience on my part makes me a potentially easy victim. Dealer says this is how Alison trannys work, and the OD will only affect shifting at speeds above 55. I did test this afterwards, and it did drop from 5th to 4th when over 55.
  4. The black water tank sensors show 2/3 full even though the tank is empty. The dealer says this happens from time to time when something gets stuck on the sensor. Should I just go with that explanation, or should I try something more definitive? Reaching into the tank is NOT an option. After about 500 miles on maiden voyage the level dropped to 1/3 - so I suspect it's just crud.
  5. The HWH jacks do not extend enough to get any of the wheels off the ground. I suspect that's normal - especially for the back wheels since they are what keep the rig from rolling. But I was surprised at how even a minor unleveled driveway was too much for the system to correct. The jacks to travel all the way out - I can hear it hit its limit as the pump bogs down. Dealer 'lubed' the jacks and they do retract - although the passenger side takes 2-3 minutes to completely go up. Dealer says as long as it does it within 3 minutes its ok, and fluid levels are optimal The driver's side jacks are up within 30 seconds. On a side note, when both front/back valves are closed, and I hold the joystick to the left (driver's side), the front left and rear right jacks come down. When I hold the joystick to the right, the opposite happens. Dealer felt this was normal. I have a feeling valves are wired incorrectly, but do not know this well enough to stand my ground.
  6. Two of the dual pane windows are fogged/etched. One at the kitchen, the other in the aisle/hallway. I have found a local (Holiday, FL) repair facility that will repair these for $200 each. That seem reasonable?
  7. There is a combined vented washer/dryer (< 1 year old). I've never had one of these, and have not yet used it. Are there any particular pitfalls or gotcha's I should be looking for when I run it for the first time?
  8. The ceiling looks a bit like Berber carpet - it is some sort of fabric. However, if you touch it with your hand, or even push on it a little, a fine white powder comes off. It's almost like a sand/dust. Oddly, it does not do it in cabinets or closets. But everywhere else, if you stand underneath and rub it with your hands, you get a face full of powder. I've searched for this extensively, and cannot find anything.
  9. About every 4 feet or so, there are very slightly visible seams/ripples in the ceiling. They're not soft or discolored. The dealer says that older rigs get that where the fabric was seamed (like on carpet). Given there is absolutely no warping, delamination, discoloration, softness, or other signs of water damage anywhere, I don't think (hope) it's serious.
  10. At the lowest point of the driver side window, where the dash connects to the wall, the paneling shows water damage. It's dry (even after days of raining), and it's still pretty firm. The caulking looks good around the window, and the dealer says this is old and should not be of any concern - famous last words... Anything specific I should be looking for, or doing to prevent further damage?
  11. When you're about mid cabin, and you look towards the dash, you can see wiring, dash A/C ducting, cables, and other mechanical things from under the dash. It looks to me as though there is some sort of cover missing. Dealer says that's how they all are, but given there were no other Intruders on the lot, I'm just curious. I'll have to take a pic next time I go to storage.
  12. On the maiden voyage, we traveled 400 miles RT across Flordia on I-4, 528, and I-95. Given the tires are 4 years old (look good), I did not want to push my luck. I drove 55-58 MPH the entire way. Pure highway miles, I averaged 7.2 MPG. On the way back, including some side street driving and generator use, 5.1 MPG. Is that normal? The dealer originally said between 8-10. Maybe I was expecting too much. On the other hand, if this indicates a possible problem, I'd like to know what to question.
  13. The drive was not terribly comfortable, as I was constantly fighting to keep her within the lines. It wasn't particularly windy, but having ZERO experience driving any MH, I don't know if that's just par for the course. Anytime a big rig passed, I nearly wet myself. I've read about Safe Steer - and am considering it. Though, if this is something you just get used to, then I may be over reacting.
Well, figured if I go from lurking to posting, I should make it count - sorry for the long winded post. I have more questions about installing inverters, changing the CRTs to LCDs, replacing carpeting, mating the KingDome to my Dish receiver, and so on, but I'll save those for another post.

TIA
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:11 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum and congrats on your new to you MH. I do not own a Damon, but let me start by saying your Dealer seems to have the same answer to all your concerns, "that's normal"!

A few generic ones I can help with, Onan Generators usually start on the first or second try once primed. The stutter may be the AC kicking, have someone inside turn it on and off while you are outside listening.

Most tanks sensors from the OEM suck!

The Combo Waher/Dryers take a long while for a cycle, don't be in a hurry.

The ceiling dust is more than likely just that, try to vacuum it. It can also be caused by Ozone and UV Damage.

It takes a while to get used to driving a widebody motorhome. I liken it to a shotgun and rifle. In a car with great handleing, you aim it like a rifle and you look close in. In a motorhome you aim in the general direction like a shotgun. If you are constantly looking to keep it in the lines, you are looking down and not out forward far enough. You will wake up one day and get the feeling and it will be natural.
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Stewart View Post
A few generic ones I can help with, Onan Generators usually start on the first or second try once primed. The stutter may be the AC kicking, have someone inside turn it on and off while you are outside listening.

Thanks for the prompt reply Jim. I failed to mention that the stuttering problem is independent of load. Even with the AC's completely off - or with the temp cranked to 50 degrees (no cycling), it'll do it. You know the sound it makes when you turn it off? It has a bassy rumble as it winds down? It does that sound for about 1 second, the rebounds. Twice it did that, and then completely stalled.

In defense of the dealer, the did do about $1800 in repairs on items I didn't even question: all new brake rotors, pads, balanced all the tires, replaced 2nd cooling fan on AC evaporator, and a bunch of odds and ends. While re-reading my initial post, it makes it sound like they're rubber stamping my concerns, but I do feel they are genuinely there to keep me happy. I'm just not as trusting as I used to be, and so I always want others to help me form a second opinion.

Thanks again for the post.
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Old 04-25-2009, 05:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erkme73 View Post
  • The 7kw Onan genset takes quite some time to start. If I prime it for 15 seconds, it seems to fire up on the first 5 cranks. If I don't prime it that long, it seems to crank 10+ times to start. The dealer says this is normal. [That might be, mine takes a few sec's also, its a Kohler 5000.] ...I do notice a very distinct exhaust smell outside the rig - all the way around. It smells like a lawnmower with a carb that's set too rich. The dealer says the carbs are set as lean as they can be (altitude setting at zero), and to 'keep an eye on it'.[I don't think this is true !!]
  • The black water tank sensors show 2/3 full even though the tank is empty. The dealer says this happens from time to time when something gets stuck on the sensor. Should I just go with that explanation, or should I try something more definitive? Reaching into the tank is NOT an option. After about 500 miles on maiden voyage the level dropped to 1/3 - so I suspect it's just crud.[Mine has NEVER worked, I don't worry about it..I just look down the toilet to check level and empty a lot..]
  • Two of the dual pane windows are fogged/etched. One at the kitchen, the other in the aisle/hallway. I have found a local (Holiday, FL) repair facility that will repair these for $200 each. That seem reasonable?[I would consider doing this myself !!]
  • The ceiling looks a bit like Berber carpet - it is some sort of fabric. However, if you touch it with your hand, or even push on it a little, a fine white powder comes off. It's almost like a sand/dust. Oddly, it does not do it in cabinets or closets. But everywhere else, if you stand underneath and rub it with your hands, you get a face full of powder. I've searched for this extensively, and cannot find anything.[Try using a vacuum over a small area and see if you can eliminate it. If not, it could be that the carpet backing is breaking down and literally falling apart !]
  • At the lowest point of the driver side window, where the dash connects to the wall, the paneling shows water damage. It's dry (even after days of raining), and it's still pretty firm. The caulking looks good around the window, and the dealer says this is old and should not be of any concern - famous last words... Anything specific I should be looking for, or doing to prevent further damage?[It has had water leakage and it may or may not get worse. I had a similar problem with water getting in through the screws holding the mirror's on. I had to redo them and use RTV to fill the hole gaps to stop the water]
  • When you're about mid cabin, and you look towards the dash, you can see wiring, dash A/C ducting, cables, and other mechanical things from under the dash. It looks to me as though there is some sort of cover missing. Dealer says that's how they all are, but given there were no other Intruders on the lot, I'm just curious. I'll have to take a pic next time I go to storage.[You shouldn't see anything. Its either factory shoddiness or some tech did some work and was lazy tieing things back up !!]


TIA
Welcome erkme.. I made some comments for you. Congrats on your Moho and hope you enjoy. Mine is not nearly as fancy as yours, but I have looked at a few issues from friends. My advice is to learn and do as much as you can, it is a lot cheaper. Some of the things I have worked on mine were clearly related to factory shoddiness and/or incompetent tech's. I did redo mine inside however. Good luck to you.

cheers
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Old 04-27-2009, 10:36 AM   #5
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erkme73, Welcome to the foruum and good luck with your MH. John H...
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Old 04-27-2009, 02:49 PM   #6
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Your acceleration time from a stop is about right. They are not fast off the blocks. Trying to accelerate like that will really hurt the mileage. My 2001 Coachmen on the Workhorse the 8.1 turned about 3000 rpms at 63 mph and got about 7.5 mpg with no generator.

As for the jacks if you hold the joy stick to the left both left sides should come down and to the right both right sides should come down. You should never have opposite corners working at the same time or you twist the frame.

My Workhorse with the 190 wheelbase wandered and I was looking at putting a trac bar on it but traded it for the Damon. Damon does not wander as bad but it is 8' longer and 50" more wheelbase.

The Workhorse Owners Forum is pretty good with answers for chassis questions. The Moderator, DriVer, gave me a lot of good information when I was having a chassis issue.

Good luck with the new coach.
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Old 04-27-2009, 04:21 PM   #7
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Our Canyon Star is on a relatively short wheelbase F53 chassis. It came from the factory with a front track bar. When we installed a track bar on the rear, it made a huge difference when trucks pass, crosswinds hit, etc.

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Old 04-30-2009, 01:30 PM   #8
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Sorry to be so late in responding - thanks to all for the welcomes and advice.

Greg, regarding the opposite corners coming down - I've sent an email to HWH's service group. I'm hoping they have time to provide a personal response, with maybe a few trouble shooting tips.

I'm only 35, quite able-bodied, technically literate (to a certain extent). However, I have not yet disassembled any parts. This is mainly because I live in a densely packed deed restricted community, where having my MH in front of the house for more than an hour will result in a 'friendly reminder' from the HOA. I'll take it to my office and work on it there, but would like some pointers on what to look for.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to whether this is is likely a mechanical or electrical problem? I don't know how the levers work - are there switches at the joystick that may be activating the wrong valve?
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Old 05-02-2009, 01:40 PM   #9
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Ok, so today marks our 2nd outing (Alafia River State Park, FL). When I tried leveling last night, I just couldn't get there - caddy-corner jacks kept coming down. Joystick left dropped the left front, right rear. Joystick right dropped the right front, left rear. It seems the back were crossed. Yet, if I moved the joystick back, both back jacks came down.

On a hunch, I compared the hoses on the HWH website to the valve block by the driver's chair. Sure enough, the hoses going to the back jacks were switched. I relieved the pressure from the the system (retracted all jacks) and untightened the 1/4" JIC hose ends from the valve block. Maybe 2-3 drops of RED hydraulic fluid dripped out as I swapped them. I've read elsewhere on here that the fluid should be clear?

In any case, now not only do the correct jacks drop (both left when left and vice versa), all four jacks retract within 20-30 seconds. So it appears the slow retracting right-side jacks was related to the criss-crossed lines.

I have no idea why anyone would have take the lines off at the valve block - or if this was like this from day one, why no one would have caught this - but I'm quite relieved to know there wasn't a 'real' problem with the system. And to think I was going to take her back to the dealer for this. I really wonder if they'd have found the problem.

BTW - the dealer installed new rotors, brake pads and rotated the tires for me as part of the purchase. When I got her back, on the next drive I found one of the outside rear tires was at TWO PSI. The valve extender line was not even finger tight - just enough to depress the valve stem, but not enough to seal against the stem. I fixed this, but ever since, I've noticed the ABS warning light comes on after about 5 min of driving. It may have been on earlier, and be unrelated to the low pressure - but the timing seemed suspect. Or, it may be a result of something the dealer did when the worked on the brakes/tires.
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Old 05-02-2009, 01:55 PM   #10
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The fluid can be red. It is most likely Dextron III transmission fluid.
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