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Old 05-09-2014, 04:58 AM   #1
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Newbie Questions: Basic Gear

Okay, now after many years of wishing, I've finally got that beautiful Class A sitting in a storage lot waiting for us to take our first trip next week. But as I peruse this and other forums, I keep seeing references to things that I don't have and I wonder...do I need them? For example....
  1. I've got my 55 amp cable and I've even bought a 30 amp adapter. But I keep seeing references to some kind of surge protector or voltage meters. Do I need these things if I don't have any problems?
  2. I've paid a lot of attention to how to properly rinse and drain my holding tanks. Do I need to add some sort of chemicals to them?
  3. I've signed on for the Good Sam Road Assistance program just to make sure I wasn't stranded. Is that sufficient? Do I really need it?
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Old 05-09-2014, 05:52 AM   #2
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There are more threads and theories about tanks than you want to read. Bottom line is that if you keep them wet and dump with a half tank or so they will be OK. Add some detergent and/or water softener to help liquify the contents. You will dump before things like enzymes can do much. If you are doing short trip dump water into the black tank to get help bring up the level to dump. From there it's up to how much you want to worry and how much you want to spend. ;-)

I have not seen electrical power that was marginal but I have seen enough reports of problems to pay attention. It seems the older parks have more issues due to the age of the wiring. Given that I would at least pack a Digital Multi Meter. Cheap DMM's are better than the good stuff back when I started to play with power. If your line voltage is low you need to know. There are also wire in and plug in power line monitors that are easier to use particularly if you are not used to sticking probes in sockets. Even if you are they are handy. ;-) I check when I set up and maybe around 6 PM when power should be peaking. I dry camp a lot making the whole thing moot.
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Old 05-09-2014, 06:06 AM   #3
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I highly recommend a surge protector. With all the electronics in today's RV, it's better to be safe than sorry. Surges can occur during storms and when power is restored after an outage. They can cause $$$ in damage to sensitive equipment like computers, TVs, various system control boards, etc.

Surge protectors do much more than protect against surges. They also protect against mis-wired electrical hookups like missing ground or reversed neutral and ground (flaws that are potentially fatal) and things like low or high voltage that can eventually cause things like air conditioners and microwaves to fail. We have seen low voltage at many, many RV parks, and even high voltage at a couple. We have also experienced one or two with missing ground.
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Old 05-09-2014, 06:17 AM   #4
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The surge protector will protect your coach from electrical surges such as those generated by lightning strikes and from surges related to the electrical supply. Unless you don't mind replacing inverters (approx. $3000) or numerous relays and such, get a good quality surge protector. Some will say they have never had a problem. They were lucky. In the first couple of months we were FT, there was a close lightning strike that took out the parks service, and many devices in the park. My built in surge protector tripped and had to be reset, but protected our coach from further damage.

I use an odor eliminator in my black tank, and occasionally in the gray tank. This helps keeps tank odors at a minimum. Always let the black tank get at least 3/4 full before dumping with lots of water used during flushing, then run fresh water into tank (I usually do this at least twice) until it is close to full to flush remaining "stuff" from the tank. Do not let solids stay in tank without water as you will have a mess. Always leave the black tank closed until dumping. This maintains a water level in the tank. I leave the gray tank valve open until a day or so before I dump the black tank to allow it to fill up. This is the stuff I use to flush the sewer hose after dumping the black tank. There are those that state you should leave the gray tank closed as well, but I have never had a problem with leaving it open.

For travel, some type of roadside assistance is strongly urged. I happen to have Coach Net, but GS is the closest competition. Some keep triple A, but they are meant more for autos rather than coaches. Coach Net and GS are specialists in RVs and also cover your toad.
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Old 05-09-2014, 06:50 AM   #5
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Definitely a surge protector. I don't plug in without it. It has saved me a few times with bad wiring at a pedestal and intermittent connections.
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Old 05-09-2014, 07:20 AM   #6
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This coming from someone whose coach was damaged to the tune of $1000 in parts alone from a bad campground power supply.

We purchased our new to us diesel pusher in January of this year and took her out for our first trip to a ski area near us. We pulled into to camp at a well known branded campground at dark thirty and proceeded to hook up our water and electricity. My wife screamed and said smoke was filling the coach!

We have been camping since the early 70's and never had a power supply problem. We have been around this and our neighbors beautiful countries several times in everything from a tent to a diesel pusher. Our coach was protected with a 50 amp surge protector on the end of the power cord. I thought I was safe.

Turns out the surge protector will only protect against small surges. It does nothing to protect against faulty campground wiring. The campground we hooked up to late that night had an open neutral problem. This allowed twice the voltage to show up on one leg of the 50 amp system and burnt out circuit boards for the washer machine, front TV and refrigerator. The washing machines circuit board has an additional surge protector attached in to it and that surge protector blew apart and was the source of the smoke filling the coach.

My advice is to forget the stand alone surge protector and go with power protection unit that protects from surges as well as voltage problems. A good surge protector will cost you around $150, SSP-50
and a good power protection unit will cost around $450 EMS-HW50C

The choice is yours.
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Old 05-10-2014, 05:49 AM   #7
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Okay, thanks to all the fine advice, I've ordered a surge protector.

But one thing I don't get..

Let's say I'm on the way back from a trip. I stop just before arriving home and dump my tanks (gray last). I'm going to park it for a couple of weeks. Are you saying that I should put water in the black tank for storage? Let it sit for two weeks or more? That's where I'm getting a little confused.
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Old 05-10-2014, 06:08 AM   #8
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Old 05-10-2014, 06:43 AM   #9
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Jackalope, I highly recommend a hard wired Electrical Management System (EMS). Consider it a part of your RV insurance policy as it's initial cost is about the same as the deductible you will pay if you face an extended low power situation and burn out your electronics/motors.

I asked the same surge protection question (there is a lot of posts on this topic) and found the EMS to be the best advice. I plan on FT in Florida so I can care for my aging parents. One salty FTer pointed out the necessity for an EMS with his experience of low voltage power due to a huge demand to run A/C units non-stop. If your power levels drop, the EMS removes your investment from the faulty power source.

Surprisingly, the install was very simple and you can wire it to protect against your generator power as well. Note: make sure you use 6ga wire as recommended for the install (a commercial electrical supply will sell it by the foot.
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Old 05-10-2014, 07:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JACKAL0PE View Post
Okay, thanks to all the fine advice, I've ordered a surge protector.

But one thing I don't get..

Let's say I'm on the way back from a trip. I stop just before arriving home and dump my tanks (gray last). I'm going to park it for a couple of weeks. Are you saying that I should put water in the black tank for storage? Let it sit for two weeks or more? That's where I'm getting a little confused.

Hey, Jackalope!

Best recommendation we have come across, from several different sources, including Joe and Vicki Kieva and several of our Newmar Hoots wise owls, is this: If your coach is to be in storage for any length of time -- i.e., more than a few days -- put at least three to four gallons of water in both gray and black tanks and add to each tank 1/2 cup liquid detergent (such as Tide or cheapest generic equivalent) and 1/2 cup fabric softener (such as Downey or equivalent). Leave the fresh water tank completely empty.

In the gray and black tanks, the liquids keep the seals in top shape and keep any solidification (most important in the black tank) from occurring. Solidification of material in the tanks when they dry and do not have liquid in them sets the stage for lots of problems and lots of expense. Liquid detergent and fabric softener is a very inexpensive spoonful of medicine.

There are people who insist that water alone is sufficient in the tanks when the coach is stored. Could well be. We have taken the advice of the detergent and fabric softener and never been disappointed.

Last thing to suggest for you as a new motor coach owner about to embark on this wonderful new adventure: Get a hold of a couple of good and easy to understand books to help you on your way with answers to the many questions we ALL have had when starting out in motor homing -- the Kieva books are still our most used reference sources. You can't go wrong with them.

And be certain to have fun! Come back to this terrific Forum anytime to post more questions and comments about your journey. We all love this stuff or we wouldn't be here!

Cheers --

Deek
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:02 AM   #11
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Jackalope, I highly recommend a hard wired Electrical Management System (EMS). Consider it a part of your RV insurance policy as it's initial cost is about the same as the deductible you will pay if you face an extended low power situation and burn out your electronics/motors.

I asked the same surge protection question (there is a lot of posts on this topic) and found the EMS to be the best advice. I plan on FT in Florida so I can care for my aging parents. One salty FTer pointed out the necessity for an EMS with his experience of low voltage power due to a huge demand to run A/C units non-stop. If your power levels drop, the EMS removes your investment from the faulty power source.

Surprisingly, the install was very simple and you can wire it to protect against your generator power as well. Note: make sure you use 6ga wire as recommended for the install (a commercial electrical supply will sell it by the foot.
Thanks Nuclear. I think from what I'm reading on this thread, that's the way to go too. I bought the surge protector because it's quick cheap, but that's just a short-term solution. I can see how the EMS is the proper long term protection.
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:04 AM   #12
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Kieva Books???

Thanks for the explanation on the detergent/water softener. Will do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deek View Post
Hey, Jackalope!


Last thing to suggest for you as a new motor coach owner about to embark on this wonderful new adventure: Get a hold of a couple of good and easy to understand books to help you on your way with answers to the many questions we ALL have had when starting out in motor homing -- the Kieva books are still our most used reference sources. You can't go wrong with them.


Cheers --

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Old 05-10-2014, 11:07 AM   #13
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Congratulations on you new coach. All good suggestions, I have the EMS-HW50C never had a problem yet. We don't use any of the waste tank chemicals anymore, never have any odors from the waste tanks. We only use cheap liquid laundry detergent and powdered dishwashing machine soap. I buy it at the $.99 store or Dollar Tree. One more suggestion, get a clear adapter for your tank dump, straight, 45, or 90. If you have a black tank flusher use it when you dump, the clear section will allow you to see when the water is running clear.

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Old 05-10-2014, 05:07 PM   #14
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Thanks Chuck!

The guy that owned it before me must've been a veteran like you. That's exactly what's on the coach right now and yes, that clear section really helps!
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