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Old 07-06-2005, 06:59 PM   #1
Member
 
Thor Owners Club
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Hancock, ME, United States
Posts: 66
5th Wheel/TT Pre-Delivery Inspection Checklist

This checklist was compiled and produced by Bill Doyle, "The Construction Coach". Bill is a Design/Build Consultant with extensive experience in commercial design and construction. These skills transfer quite nicely to an understanding of the construction and quality of an RV.
SPECIAL NOTE: You will see that these inspections both begin and end with Water/Waste systems, and for good reason. Remember that the #1 cause of major damage to RV's is water intrusion. Water could come from exterior leaks in the roof, windows, doors, etc., or from interior leaks in plumbing in areas where you cannot see the problem until it's too late. Follow the sequence given here, and you will learn much about how to avoid and detect water problems.

Tools & Materials Needed:

Flashlight Water hose
Inspection mirror (with handle) In-line sediment filter
Phillips & Standard screwdrivers 12V Battery
Square bit screw drivers 110V power cord & adapters (if needed)
Needle nose pliers RJ11 cord for phone hookup
Channel lock pliers Coax cord for cable hookup
Vice grips 5-gallon bucket or water can
Adjustable (crescent) wrench Wristwatch or timer with second hand
Creeper or pad (for underside) Plug-in electrical testers (12v & 110V)
Overalls or old clothes (get dirty!) Torque wrench & sockets
Tire pressure gage 3' or 4' level
Blow-dryer (or other plug-in 110V appliance for the electrical GFI tests)

Documents Needed:

Trailer ˜Build-Sheet", completed @ time of purchase.
Delivery Invoice (Dealer will give you a copy)
Copy of Brochure for product you purchased with Weights, Measures & other specs
Clipboard and paper for making notes and drawing sketches
Factory "Weigh-In Sheet", if available (not all manufacturers do this)


Utilities Needed for Inspections (Do these first!):

Install a fully charged 12V battery.
Hookup 110V "shore-power" cord, either 30A or 50A, depending on your service.
Turn AC breakers "on" as follows: Main Breaker, Converter or Charger (if it has a separate breaker), Air Conditioner. Turn on 5 lights to ensure the DC system is functioning. Listen to the converter; it should make a quiet "humming" sound.
Turn on the Air Conditioner, and let it run throughout these tests.
Ensure propane tanks are full, hooked up and turned on.
Ensure you have a water hose and water source available for water tests and filling tanks.
Ensure you have a paper-type sediment filter for adding water to "Potable Water" tank.
Ensure you are located where you can spray the exterior of the trailer with water for water tests (roof, walls, doors, windows).
Ensure you are located where you can dump clean water from fully filled tanks (Black/Gray/Fresh).
If available at dealer (though not likely), hookup cable and phone.


First Test: Tanks and venting

Start with this test because it takes awhile to do, and you can perform other inspections while the tanks are filling. These are the hardest tests to perform, but don't cut corners. These are CRITICAL to ensuring proper operation of your coach water/waste systems, and ensuring the coach plumbing system is leak-free.

As you fill the tanks, you need to know HOW MUCH WATER actually goes into the tank. Do this by knowing your "fill rate" and "fill time". (Fill Rate x Fill Time = Total Gallons of Water in Tank).

Fill Rate: Determine by turning on the hose to about ½ of max flow. MAKE SURE you have the filter hooked up for this part of the test. Mark the water valve so you can open to the same flow each time. DO NOT try to fill too fast. Set the bucket up inside the coach so the elevation is about the same as the toilet and shower-pan. Fill the five gallon bucket or water can and measure the "Fill Time", or the amount of time it takes to fill to 5 gallons. Divide the "Fill Time" time by five, and this will be your "Fill Rate" in gallons/minute. It is easiest to convert from Minutes/Seconds to Decimal minutes for the calculations.

Example:
Say it takes 4 minutes, 23 seconds to fill the 5 gallon bucket at ½ max water flow. Convert to decimal minutes by dividing total seconds by 60. (4 min = 4x60sec = 240 seconds... total elapsed time is 240 + 23 = 263 seconds... 263/60 = 4.383 minutes "Fill Time") Then, calculate your "Fill Rate" = Gallons / Fill Time = 5gal/4.383min = 1.14 gal/min.

Use the water hose with sediment filter to fill the black tank, gray tank, and potable water tank. Turn the hose-valve to the exact position you used in calculating "Fill Rate".
Fill the tanks all the way to the top, and carefully record the "Fill Time" it takes to fill each one, exactly as follows:
Fill the Potable water tank first, through the City Water connection. Ensure the water line vent is unobstructed. Ensure the fill valve to the hot water tank is "closed". As the tank is filling, you will hear air escaping through the vent. The tank is full when water squirts out of the vent.
Fill the Gray water tank next, through the shower pan. Ensure the "dump" valves are in the closed position. The tank and vent are full when water spills from the vent on the roof of the coach. (Note: If you have two gray tanks, ensure the equalizing valve is open).
Last, fill the Black water tank through the toilet. When the tank is full, water will back up into the toilet (make sure you are there to shut off the hose!)

Calculate the total amount of fill water that went into each tank. (Total Fill = Fill Rate x Fill Time). Compare this number to the gallons for each tank listed on the manufacturer's specs on the brochure. Black & Potable should be very close to spec. The Gray tank will show a few gallons more than spec because you filled to the top of the vent.

Example:
Say it takes 1 hour, 12 minutes, 41 seconds to fill the Gray tank. Convert to decimal minutes: 60min + 12min + 41/60min = 72.68 mins.. Total Fill in Tank = Fill Rate (1.14 gal/min from example above) x Fill Time (72.68 mins) = 82.85 gallons. If your brochure shows you should have 80 gallons of Gray water, this is about right (you have a higher number than 80 because you also filled the vent to the roof).

Now, let the tanks sit full for at least two hours before you start to test the remainder of the plumbing system. If there is a leak at a tank, this will make it easy to isolate. DO NOT water test the outside of the coach before you test the remainder of the plumbing system at the end of this inspection. If there is any water on the ground, you want to know where it is coming from!

Conduct your inspections by working from the ground up, and from the outside to the inside, by following the procedures ahead. Take notes wherever you see anything that concerns you. Make sketches to be clear in your description and location of any issue.

Chassis and Suspension Inspections:

Ensure the coach is level front-to-back and side-to-side, with rear stabilizers and front levelers down. Ensure the wheels are blocked carefully.
Inspect the entire exposed structural steel frame from end to end. This is the foundation of your coach, so take your time! Look carefully at all welds. Look at paint on the frame. Look at all frame bolts, and test them with your crescent wrench to ensure nothing is loose. Is there any paint where it should NOT be (like into brakes).
Under-coatings or Under-Coverings. Inspect for tears, missing screws or brackets, missed areas that should be covered, insulation hanging out, etc..
Take special care when inspecting the axle and suspension components. Are all the brackets bolted tightly? Are the bolts on the shocks tight?
Look at the tires, wheels, and brakes. Are there any "funny" wear patterns, dings or abrasions on the tires (from the delivery trip)? Check for proper tire pressure. Use the torque wrench to verify ALL lug nuts are tightened to spec (check spec with dealer service shop). Visually inspect the brakes: Are the electric brake wires all properly terminated and supported? Is there any GREASE on the brake pads? Is there any evidence of over-greasing at wheel bearings?
Ensure you know how to properly jack up the trailer. If you ever have to change a tire on the road, you will be glad you did this. Ensure you know the proper places to put the jack, and the type of jack to use. Ask Dealer technician or look in the operation manual.
Spare Tire. Do you even have one? If so, remove it and replace it so you know how.
Front Levellers. If electically operated, ensure you operate with 110V attached to coach, straight off battery without shorepower, and manually using the crank supplied with your coach.
Pin Box (5th wheel) or Hitch (Travel Trailer). Carefully inspect all welds and coatings. Check all bolts for tightness. Use your eyes carefully here... virtually everything rides on these points of connection.
Utility Points. Inspect all underside tank drains, any exposed wiring or piping, etc. to ensure all properly supported and protected, and not broken during delivery.

Slide-Out Inspections:

Run each slide in and out. Do this several times for each slide-out. After running electrically (or hydraulically), ENSURE YOU OPERATE EACH SLIDE MANUALLY!!! You will want to know where the crank handle is, where each crank point is, and that each slide works easily when manually operated.
When the slide is extended "Out":
a. Inspect all of the exterior seals all the way around the slide. They should not have any missing pieces, chunks missing, or loose hanging pieces.
b. Ensure that the inside mating surfaces are all sealed with equal gaps all around, and no "light leakage" from the outside (if you see light, you will have water leaks!).
When the slide is retracted "In":
c. Inspect the exterior seals and ensure that gaps are even all around the slide. Look for seals and gaskets that are crimped or bunched.
d. On the inside, again look for light leaks.
Inspect slide mechanism: On most coaches, this will be a toothed support rack driven in and out by an electrical motor and pinion gear. Some coaches use hydraulic cylinders. Make sure you understand all of the parts, where they are located, and how you access them. You may need some hand tools to remove access covers or cover panels. Take the time to do this!
Inspect and clearly understand your slide locks. You do not want to learn about slide locks when you are going 65mph down the freeway and look in the mirror to see your slide is out and coming apart!

Exterior Inspections: Doors, Skin, Roof, Awning

Walk all the way around the coach at least two times. Go slowly and use your eyes and hands, pressing in on the side of the coach looking for "soft spots"! Stand at the end of the coach and look down the side for distortions, delaminations, waviness, etc..
Look at the paint/gelcoat/filon for missing or thin spots, air bubbles, dings, delamination or scratches.
Look very carefully at the installation workmanship on all doors and windows seals. Look at the condition and quality of the caulking. There should be no gaps or distortions at any seals, or you will have leaks. Ensure all of the "weep holes" on windows are free of paint, dirt and debris.
Windows should all be fully opened and closed several times. Visually check for gaps where air or water will come through at frames and mating surfaces.
Check the front door and stairs. There should be a key lock, and/or deadbolt. Operate these several times. When you close the door, it should latch shut easily. Ensure the door is properly aligned all around. Look at the hinges and inside weather seals. Check the door hold-open latch with slide open and closed. Check the screen door for proper operation. Check the pull out stairs for attachment to the coach and proper operation.
Check storage compartment doors and lights. Operate every door or hatch cover on the outside of the coach several times. Verify that gaskets on each door are complete without gaps. They should open and latch closed easily. Check all hold open latches. Check all compartment lights for proper operation. Operate any keyed locks several times.
Inside compartments, look at framing, wiring, plumbing. This is one of the most important areas of inspection. These are the areas most people don't look, and where manufacturers often cut corners. Look for wiring, ductwork, or plumbing that is loose, sagging, poorly supported... or run through a wall without protection so that it will rub and chafe when going down the road... look at the access to batteries, converter and any breakers/fuses in these compartments... access to the leveling gear motors ad connecting shafts... in the "basement", look up at the framing under the bedroom floor; is it fully supported? Are welds of good quality? If glued and screwed, does everything appear properly connected? Take your time in these compartments if you really want to know the quality of your coach!
Utility access. Open and visually inspect the exterior compartments for the water heater, furnace, and refrigerator. You will want to know where these are and how to access them. Look carefully for loose wires, parts, etc..
Roof and End-Cap inspection. Look at each roof penetration and know what each one is (ie plumbing vent, fan or air vent, AC unit, etc.). At each penetration, inspect the seals carefully for any missed spots, gaps, or cracks. Look at the perimeter roof-to-wall joint all round the coach carefully. Visually inspect with eyes and hands, both the front and rear end caps.
Operate all awnings In & Out at least two times. Especially if you have never done this before. Know how to extend, retract, store for the road, drain water buildup, etc.. Note the way the awing latches in the "retract" position. Grab the awning when extended and give it a shake to make sure it is properly mounted to the side of the trailer (Also practice several more times at your first opportunity... when the wind comes up, you will be glad you did!).

Interior Architectural Finishes

First, check every inch of the interior floor for soft spots and squeaking. Walk around and bounce lightly everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Look for any flex or squeaking. If there is an area of the floor that is improperly supported, or if T&G is not used or not aligned, or if screws were not put in where they should be, this is when you will find it. The floor should be solid and squeak free. Also check floors under cabinets, dinette, couch, etc.
Next, check that the shower pan is 100% supported. This is a frequent trouble area with many manufacturers. Bounce lightly up and down in every inch of the pan, looking for flex at "soft spots". Zero-pan-flex is the only acceptable condition. NOTE: It is normal for the walls to flex, but the better manufacturers will also have quite stiff walls.
Third, walk around the coach and grab every upper and lower cabinet and give it a good hard shake. All cabinets should be solidly anchored to floor and walls.
Grab the counter top and give it an upward pull to ensure it is properly anchored to the cabinet frame. Also, every counter top should be caulked at the wall connection point, especially in the kitchen/shower/toilet/sink areas. Remember: Unwanted water is your worst enemy on the inside of the coach.
Inspect every door and drawer: Include all cabinets, pocket doors, shower door, curtain doors, lifting stairs, laundry hampers, etc.. Check for alignment and clearances, smooth operation, latches that actually latch, and properly connected hinges and glides. Also, check the refrigerator door for a travel lock that works... no fun finding the contents on the floor.
Inspect BEHIND every door and drawer: As you inspect doors and drawers, pull them out a look closely at wiring and plumbing that is hidden behind and out of sight. Everything should be properly supported clear of chafing points, especially at penetrations through cabinets and walls. Drawers should move freely, clear of all plumbing and electrical.
Floor coverings; Make sure carpets, sheet vinyl, tile, Pergo, hardwood, etc. are well fastened to the floor, with transition strips at changes in flooring material. Check closely at slide-outs AFTER they have been operated several times... look for pulled back corners, unraveling threads, etc..
Window coverings; Again, open and close at each window several times. Ensure all anchor points are properly fastened.
Wall coverings and miscellaneous trim: Just look around and use eyes and hands. Pull on all the little trim pieces, especially on and around the slide-outs. Make sure everything looks right and is installed right.
Furnishings: Operate recliners, hide-a-beds, etc.. Carefully inspect upholstery for rips, tears, or un-sewn seams. Convert the dinette to a bed to make sure the parts all work. Raise the bed-lid several times, ensuring the hydraulics work and hold the bed up.

AC & DC Electrical Systems

First, inspect both the AC and DC load distribution centers. Turn all AC breakers "OFF". Disconnect the shorepower cord. Disconnect the battery terminals. Remove the covers from each panel and visually inspect inside. Ensure there are no pieces of paper, wire, metal or anything else that could move around and cause an electrical short. Visually inspect every termination, and pull every wire to ensure it is securely terminated. Use a screw-driver to tighten any connectors that are accessible. Replace covers. Ensure all DC fuses are securely pressed in. Finally (this is important!) make sure that every breaker and fuse is CLEARLY LABELLED and to what it's function is. Re-connect shorepower and battery terminals, and turn "Main" breaker and "Outlet" breaker/s "ON".
Find and test GFI outlets. Typically, there will be one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom next to the sink. Plug in your blowdryer to the GFI outlet. Hit the little "TEST" button in the middle of the breaker, and the blowdryer should turn off. Hit the "RESET" button and it will go back on. Remember, the GFI controls multiple outlets on a given circuit... if you have power out at an outlet, always try the GFI.
Test all 110V outlets with a simple plug-in tester that indicates both correct power and grounding. Plug into every single receptacle, both top and bottom of every outlet.
Test all DC outlets. These look just like the cigarette lighter socket in your car. Use the lighter from your car; plug it into each outlet for about 5 seconds and see if it gets hot.
Test all lights in the coach. Turn them all on and off several times each, ensuring the switches work smoothly. Leave each light "ON" as you move on to the next. Most lights will operate off the DC system. You may have one or more lights that operate off of AC, and you may have to turn on another breaker to get the AC lights to work.
Turn on all remaining AC breakers.

House Systems: Test in the following order – This is the time to let the Dealer know you are ready for their Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI). Conduct these final systems tests with the Dealer technician present. Make sure you have all operations and maintenance manuals during these inspections. A GREAT IDEA: Bring a video camera and ask lots of questions to the technician.

Air Conditioning – The air conditioner has been running during the entire inspection (if you have followed the checklist). This was a good load test on the house AC electrical system. Now, check to see that there is good airflow at every ceiling register. Also, ask the technician to show you how to clean the filters. Ask for a manual and a complete explanation on the operation and maintenance of the air conditioner.
Microwave – Ask for a coffee cup, and see how long it takes to boil a cup of water... should take less than 3 minutes. Is the turntable working smoothly? Make sure you have a manual and understand basic operation. Read other features later.
Exhaust Fans – Test the operation of each fan. Open and close the covers to ensure easy operation and good seals. If you have a fan with a rain sensor, leave it open and let the tech know you will be testing it during the Coach Exterior Leak Test. Make sure you have manuals for each type of fan.
Stereo/CD/Tape Player/DVD/TV/Antenna/Phone – Ensure you have a manual for each piece of equipment. Ask for a demonstration of the antenna operation. If you have a cable hookup available, also test the cable. Plug in a test phone.
Smoke, LNG and CO Detectors – Let's make sure these work before testing propane operated appliances. Your Dealer Tech will have canned smoke/gas to test each of these detectors and alarms. Ensure you use the "TEST" function on each device, and that you know how to turn them "ON" and "OFF".
Furnace - Verify that the propane is "ON". Open all doors and windows. Turn the furnace on. Set the thermostat to a temperature that is 10 degrees warmer than the air conditioned interior of the trailer. Within one minute, you will hear the "click" of the piezo igniter and you will hear the burner come on. (it may take a little longer if the propane is far from the heater). When the fan comes on, you will feel warm air blowing up out of the floor registers. Ensure good air flow at every register. During this initial operation, you are likely to have some "burn" smells present... this is normal. After 10-15 minutes of operation, turn the thermostat down about 15 degrees. Within a few minutes, the air coming out of the floor registers will cool some and then the fan will shut down. Ensure you have a manual for the furnace.
Refrigerator - There are many different types of reefer operations. Most use 3 types of power: 110V, 12V, Propane. These are "absorption" reefers that work on the principle of evaporation of liquid ammonia. Ask your Tech for a complete demonstration, and make sure you have a manual.
Propane Stove – Verify that all auto ignitors work. Get a demonstration on igniting manually, and lighting pilot lights manually. Ensure you have a manual.
Water Heater – Will usually operate off of both 12V and propane. Operate using both methods, Understand where all switches, resets, gas and water valves, etc. are located.

Plumbing, Fresh Water and Waste Systems – This is the final section of the inspection. If you have followed the sequence, all of your tanks (Black/Gray/Fresh) have been filled for several hours.

Inspect under the trailer for leaks from tanks – this is why the tank fill was done first.
Open the Gray dump valve for few seconds to make some room in the tank – Drain out 6-10 gallons of water.
Turn on the fresh water pump – The pump will run for a short time (less than a minute) and then stop. Run COLD water from the kitchen sink, and the pump will start up again. (when you turn on the sink, it will "sputter" as it purges the line of air... this will be true of other fixtures as well). Now turn on the COLD water @ the shower, the bathroom sink, flush the toilet, and use the toilet sprayer (if you have one), and any other water fixtures in the trailer.
Water Heater – Open the valve to the water heater, and it will fill up (water pump may come back on). Now turn on HOT water at each fixture and purge air from lines. The WH will usually operate off of both 12V and propane. Start the water heater and heat water using propane. Understand where all switches, resets, gas and water valves, etc. are located. Time how long it takes for water to heat up (should be about 10 minutes).
Now run all fixtures again, both HOT and COLD water, for about 5 minutes each – now you are testing to see if any lines will leak. Open cabinet doors, access panels, exterior storage compartments, etc. so plumbing lines are exposed as much as possible. Follow each line as you run water and verify that there are no leaks.
Dump the water from the black tank – it is clean water, no worries.
Open the valves between the Black and Gray tank, but NOT the dump valve – Check to see that water flows from Gray to Black. Let the tank levels equalize (about 1 minute), then dump both tanks one at a time.
Turn off the fresh water pump – then open all valves at all fixtures and open the low-point drain on the fresh water tank. This will drain the tank, and you have a freshly rinsed tank; no dust! (When you refill, you will have to purge the system of air again, same as before).

Acceptance of Your New Trailer

Now the inspections are complete. On the first night, you should plan to camp in the trailer as near to the Dealer as possible. You will surely have more questions tomorrow! Before your acceptance day, ask the dealer for a "complementary" site with an electrical hookup... never hurts to ask. Before leaving the Dealer fill up the fresh water tank again for your first night of camping, but this time add 1 teaspoon of chlorine-bleach (unscented) for every 10 gallons of water. Do not drink this water until you have super-chlorinated your water system (see Owners Manual), but you will need it for washing dishes, taking a shower, flushing the toilet, etc..

Hopefully, you have already weighed both axles of your truck (or other pulling vehicle). Next day, make sure you head to a weigh station to get a 4-point trailer weigh-in (front axle, rear axle, right side wheels, left side wheels), and another truck weigh-in with pin weight added. Now you can verify all of your weights.
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Old 07-06-2005, 06:59 PM   #2
Member
 
Thor Owners Club
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Hancock, ME, United States
Posts: 66
5th Wheel/TT Pre-Delivery Inspection Checklist

This checklist was compiled and produced by Bill Doyle, "The Construction Coach". Bill is a Design/Build Consultant with extensive experience in commercial design and construction. These skills transfer quite nicely to an understanding of the construction and quality of an RV.
SPECIAL NOTE: You will see that these inspections both begin and end with Water/Waste systems, and for good reason. Remember that the #1 cause of major damage to RV's is water intrusion. Water could come from exterior leaks in the roof, windows, doors, etc., or from interior leaks in plumbing in areas where you cannot see the problem until it's too late. Follow the sequence given here, and you will learn much about how to avoid and detect water problems.

Tools & Materials Needed:

Flashlight Water hose
Inspection mirror (with handle) In-line sediment filter
Phillips & Standard screwdrivers 12V Battery
Square bit screw drivers 110V power cord & adapters (if needed)
Needle nose pliers RJ11 cord for phone hookup
Channel lock pliers Coax cord for cable hookup
Vice grips 5-gallon bucket or water can
Adjustable (crescent) wrench Wristwatch or timer with second hand
Creeper or pad (for underside) Plug-in electrical testers (12v & 110V)
Overalls or old clothes (get dirty!) Torque wrench & sockets
Tire pressure gage 3' or 4' level
Blow-dryer (or other plug-in 110V appliance for the electrical GFI tests)

Documents Needed:

Trailer ˜Build-Sheet", completed @ time of purchase.
Delivery Invoice (Dealer will give you a copy)
Copy of Brochure for product you purchased with Weights, Measures & other specs
Clipboard and paper for making notes and drawing sketches
Factory "Weigh-In Sheet", if available (not all manufacturers do this)


Utilities Needed for Inspections (Do these first!):

Install a fully charged 12V battery.
Hookup 110V "shore-power" cord, either 30A or 50A, depending on your service.
Turn AC breakers "on" as follows: Main Breaker, Converter or Charger (if it has a separate breaker), Air Conditioner. Turn on 5 lights to ensure the DC system is functioning. Listen to the converter; it should make a quiet "humming" sound.
Turn on the Air Conditioner, and let it run throughout these tests.
Ensure propane tanks are full, hooked up and turned on.
Ensure you have a water hose and water source available for water tests and filling tanks.
Ensure you have a paper-type sediment filter for adding water to "Potable Water" tank.
Ensure you are located where you can spray the exterior of the trailer with water for water tests (roof, walls, doors, windows).
Ensure you are located where you can dump clean water from fully filled tanks (Black/Gray/Fresh).
If available at dealer (though not likely), hookup cable and phone.


First Test: Tanks and venting

Start with this test because it takes awhile to do, and you can perform other inspections while the tanks are filling. These are the hardest tests to perform, but don't cut corners. These are CRITICAL to ensuring proper operation of your coach water/waste systems, and ensuring the coach plumbing system is leak-free.

As you fill the tanks, you need to know HOW MUCH WATER actually goes into the tank. Do this by knowing your "fill rate" and "fill time". (Fill Rate x Fill Time = Total Gallons of Water in Tank).

Fill Rate: Determine by turning on the hose to about ½ of max flow. MAKE SURE you have the filter hooked up for this part of the test. Mark the water valve so you can open to the same flow each time. DO NOT try to fill too fast. Set the bucket up inside the coach so the elevation is about the same as the toilet and shower-pan. Fill the five gallon bucket or water can and measure the "Fill Time", or the amount of time it takes to fill to 5 gallons. Divide the "Fill Time" time by five, and this will be your "Fill Rate" in gallons/minute. It is easiest to convert from Minutes/Seconds to Decimal minutes for the calculations.

Example:
Say it takes 4 minutes, 23 seconds to fill the 5 gallon bucket at ½ max water flow. Convert to decimal minutes by dividing total seconds by 60. (4 min = 4x60sec = 240 seconds... total elapsed time is 240 + 23 = 263 seconds... 263/60 = 4.383 minutes "Fill Time") Then, calculate your "Fill Rate" = Gallons / Fill Time = 5gal/4.383min = 1.14 gal/min.

Use the water hose with sediment filter to fill the black tank, gray tank, and potable water tank. Turn the hose-valve to the exact position you used in calculating "Fill Rate".
Fill the tanks all the way to the top, and carefully record the "Fill Time" it takes to fill each one, exactly as follows:
Fill the Potable water tank first, through the City Water connection. Ensure the water line vent is unobstructed. Ensure the fill valve to the hot water tank is "closed". As the tank is filling, you will hear air escaping through the vent. The tank is full when water squirts out of the vent.
Fill the Gray water tank next, through the shower pan. Ensure the "dump" valves are in the closed position. The tank and vent are full when water spills from the vent on the roof of the coach. (Note: If you have two gray tanks, ensure the equalizing valve is open).
Last, fill the Black water tank through the toilet. When the tank is full, water will back up into the toilet (make sure you are there to shut off the hose!)

Calculate the total amount of fill water that went into each tank. (Total Fill = Fill Rate x Fill Time). Compare this number to the gallons for each tank listed on the manufacturer's specs on the brochure. Black & Potable should be very close to spec. The Gray tank will show a few gallons more than spec because you filled to the top of the vent.

Example:
Say it takes 1 hour, 12 minutes, 41 seconds to fill the Gray tank. Convert to decimal minutes: 60min + 12min + 41/60min = 72.68 mins.. Total Fill in Tank = Fill Rate (1.14 gal/min from example above) x Fill Time (72.68 mins) = 82.85 gallons. If your brochure shows you should have 80 gallons of Gray water, this is about right (you have a higher number than 80 because you also filled the vent to the roof).

Now, let the tanks sit full for at least two hours before you start to test the remainder of the plumbing system. If there is a leak at a tank, this will make it easy to isolate. DO NOT water test the outside of the coach before you test the remainder of the plumbing system at the end of this inspection. If there is any water on the ground, you want to know where it is coming from!

Conduct your inspections by working from the ground up, and from the outside to the inside, by following the procedures ahead. Take notes wherever you see anything that concerns you. Make sketches to be clear in your description and location of any issue.

Chassis and Suspension Inspections:

Ensure the coach is level front-to-back and side-to-side, with rear stabilizers and front levelers down. Ensure the wheels are blocked carefully.
Inspect the entire exposed structural steel frame from end to end. This is the foundation of your coach, so take your time! Look carefully at all welds. Look at paint on the frame. Look at all frame bolts, and test them with your crescent wrench to ensure nothing is loose. Is there any paint where it should NOT be (like into brakes).
Under-coatings or Under-Coverings. Inspect for tears, missing screws or brackets, missed areas that should be covered, insulation hanging out, etc..
Take special care when inspecting the axle and suspension components. Are all the brackets bolted tightly? Are the bolts on the shocks tight?
Look at the tires, wheels, and brakes. Are there any "funny" wear patterns, dings or abrasions on the tires (from the delivery trip)? Check for proper tire pressure. Use the torque wrench to verify ALL lug nuts are tightened to spec (check spec with dealer service shop). Visually inspect the brakes: Are the electric brake wires all properly terminated and supported? Is there any GREASE on the brake pads? Is there any evidence of over-greasing at wheel bearings?
Ensure you know how to properly jack up the trailer. If you ever have to change a tire on the road, you will be glad you did this. Ensure you know the proper places to put the jack, and the type of jack to use. Ask Dealer technician or look in the operation manual.
Spare Tire. Do you even have one? If so, remove it and replace it so you know how.
Front Levellers. If electically operated, ensure you operate with 110V attached to coach, straight off battery without shorepower, and manually using the crank supplied with your coach.
Pin Box (5th wheel) or Hitch (Travel Trailer). Carefully inspect all welds and coatings. Check all bolts for tightness. Use your eyes carefully here... virtually everything rides on these points of connection.
Utility Points. Inspect all underside tank drains, any exposed wiring or piping, etc. to ensure all properly supported and protected, and not broken during delivery.

Slide-Out Inspections:

Run each slide in and out. Do this several times for each slide-out. After running electrically (or hydraulically), ENSURE YOU OPERATE EACH SLIDE MANUALLY!!! You will want to know where the crank handle is, where each crank point is, and that each slide works easily when manually operated.
When the slide is extended "Out":
a. Inspect all of the exterior seals all the way around the slide. They should not have any missing pieces, chunks missing, or loose hanging pieces.
b. Ensure that the inside mating surfaces are all sealed with equal gaps all around, and no "light leakage" from the outside (if you see light, you will have water leaks!).
When the slide is retracted "In":
c. Inspect the exterior seals and ensure that gaps are even all around the slide. Look for seals and gaskets that are crimped or bunched.
d. On the inside, again look for light leaks.
Inspect slide mechanism: On most coaches, this will be a toothed support rack driven in and out by an electrical motor and pinion gear. Some coaches use hydraulic cylinders. Make sure you understand all of the parts, where they are located, and how you access them. You may need some hand tools to remove access covers or cover panels. Take the time to do this!
Inspect and clearly understand your slide locks. You do not want to learn about slide locks when you are going 65mph down the freeway and look in the mirror to see your slide is out and coming apart!

Exterior Inspections: Doors, Skin, Roof, Awning

Walk all the way around the coach at least two times. Go slowly and use your eyes and hands, pressing in on the side of the coach looking for "soft spots"! Stand at the end of the coach and look down the side for distortions, delaminations, waviness, etc..
Look at the paint/gelcoat/filon for missing or thin spots, air bubbles, dings, delamination or scratches.
Look very carefully at the installation workmanship on all doors and windows seals. Look at the condition and quality of the caulking. There should be no gaps or distortions at any seals, or you will have leaks. Ensure all of the "weep holes" on windows are free of paint, dirt and debris.
Windows should all be fully opened and closed several times. Visually check for gaps where air or water will come through at frames and mating surfaces.
Check the front door and stairs. There should be a key lock, and/or deadbolt. Operate these several times. When you close the door, it should latch shut easily. Ensure the door is properly aligned all around. Look at the hinges and inside weather seals. Check the door hold-open latch with slide open and closed. Check the screen door for proper operation. Check the pull out stairs for attachment to the coach and proper operation.
Check storage compartment doors and lights. Operate every door or hatch cover on the outside of the coach several times. Verify that gaskets on each door are complete without gaps. They should open and latch closed easily. Check all hold open latches. Check all compartment lights for proper operation. Operate any keyed locks several times.
Inside compartments, look at framing, wiring, plumbing. This is one of the most important areas of inspection. These are the areas most people don't look, and where manufacturers often cut corners. Look for wiring, ductwork, or plumbing that is loose, sagging, poorly supported... or run through a wall without protection so that it will rub and chafe when going down the road... look at the access to batteries, converter and any breakers/fuses in these compartments... access to the leveling gear motors ad connecting shafts... in the "basement", look up at the framing under the bedroom floor; is it fully supported? Are welds of good quality? If glued and screwed, does everything appear properly connected? Take your time in these compartments if you really want to know the quality of your coach!
Utility access. Open and visually inspect the exterior compartments for the water heater, furnace, and refrigerator. You will want to know where these are and how to access them. Look carefully for loose wires, parts, etc..
Roof and End-Cap inspection. Look at each roof penetration and know what each one is (ie plumbing vent, fan or air vent, AC unit, etc.). At each penetration, inspect the seals carefully for any missed spots, gaps, or cracks. Look at the perimeter roof-to-wall joint all round the coach carefully. Visually inspect with eyes and hands, both the front and rear end caps.
Operate all awnings In & Out at least two times. Especially if you have never done this before. Know how to extend, retract, store for the road, drain water buildup, etc.. Note the way the awing latches in the "retract" position. Grab the awning when extended and give it a shake to make sure it is properly mounted to the side of the trailer (Also practice several more times at your first opportunity... when the wind comes up, you will be glad you did!).

Interior Architectural Finishes

First, check every inch of the interior floor for soft spots and squeaking. Walk around and bounce lightly everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Look for any flex or squeaking. If there is an area of the floor that is improperly supported, or if T&G is not used or not aligned, or if screws were not put in where they should be, this is when you will find it. The floor should be solid and squeak free. Also check floors under cabinets, dinette, couch, etc.
Next, check that the shower pan is 100% supported. This is a frequent trouble area with many manufacturers. Bounce lightly up and down in every inch of the pan, looking for flex at "soft spots". Zero-pan-flex is the only acceptable condition. NOTE: It is normal for the walls to flex, but the better manufacturers will also have quite stiff walls.
Third, walk around the coach and grab every upper and lower cabinet and give it a good hard shake. All cabinets should be solidly anchored to floor and walls.
Grab the counter top and give it an upward pull to ensure it is properly anchored to the cabinet frame. Also, every counter top should be caulked at the wall connection point, especially in the kitchen/shower/toilet/sink areas. Remember: Unwanted water is your worst enemy on the inside of the coach.
Inspect every door and drawer: Include all cabinets, pocket doors, shower door, curtain doors, lifting stairs, laundry hampers, etc.. Check for alignment and clearances, smooth operation, latches that actually latch, and properly connected hinges and glides. Also, check the refrigerator door for a travel lock that works... no fun finding the contents on the floor.
Inspect BEHIND every door and drawer: As you inspect doors and drawers, pull them out a look closely at wiring and plumbing that is hidden behind and out of sight. Everything should be properly supported clear of chafing points, especially at penetrations through cabinets and walls. Drawers should move freely, clear of all plumbing and electrical.
Floor coverings; Make sure carpets, sheet vinyl, tile, Pergo, hardwood, etc. are well fastened to the floor, with transition strips at changes in flooring material. Check closely at slide-outs AFTER they have been operated several times... look for pulled back corners, unraveling threads, etc..
Window coverings; Again, open and close at each window several times. Ensure all anchor points are properly fastened.
Wall coverings and miscellaneous trim: Just look around and use eyes and hands. Pull on all the little trim pieces, especially on and around the slide-outs. Make sure everything looks right and is installed right.
Furnishings: Operate recliners, hide-a-beds, etc.. Carefully inspect upholstery for rips, tears, or un-sewn seams. Convert the dinette to a bed to make sure the parts all work. Raise the bed-lid several times, ensuring the hydraulics work and hold the bed up.

AC & DC Electrical Systems

First, inspect both the AC and DC load distribution centers. Turn all AC breakers "OFF". Disconnect the shorepower cord. Disconnect the battery terminals. Remove the covers from each panel and visually inspect inside. Ensure there are no pieces of paper, wire, metal or anything else that could move around and cause an electrical short. Visually inspect every termination, and pull every wire to ensure it is securely terminated. Use a screw-driver to tighten any connectors that are accessible. Replace covers. Ensure all DC fuses are securely pressed in. Finally (this is important!) make sure that every breaker and fuse is CLEARLY LABELLED and to what it's function is. Re-connect shorepower and battery terminals, and turn "Main" breaker and "Outlet" breaker/s "ON".
Find and test GFI outlets. Typically, there will be one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom next to the sink. Plug in your blowdryer to the GFI outlet. Hit the little "TEST" button in the middle of the breaker, and the blowdryer should turn off. Hit the "RESET" button and it will go back on. Remember, the GFI controls multiple outlets on a given circuit... if you have power out at an outlet, always try the GFI.
Test all 110V outlets with a simple plug-in tester that indicates both correct power and grounding. Plug into every single receptacle, both top and bottom of every outlet.
Test all DC outlets. These look just like the cigarette lighter socket in your car. Use the lighter from your car; plug it into each outlet for about 5 seconds and see if it gets hot.
Test all lights in the coach. Turn them all on and off several times each, ensuring the switches work smoothly. Leave each light "ON" as you move on to the next. Most lights will operate off the DC system. You may have one or more lights that operate off of AC, and you may have to turn on another breaker to get the AC lights to work.
Turn on all remaining AC breakers.

House Systems: Test in the following order – This is the time to let the Dealer know you are ready for their Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI). Conduct these final systems tests with the Dealer technician present. Make sure you have all operations and maintenance manuals during these inspections. A GREAT IDEA: Bring a video camera and ask lots of questions to the technician.

Air Conditioning – The air conditioner has been running during the entire inspection (if you have followed the checklist). This was a good load test on the house AC electrical system. Now, check to see that there is good airflow at every ceiling register. Also, ask the technician to show you how to clean the filters. Ask for a manual and a complete explanation on the operation and maintenance of the air conditioner.
Microwave – Ask for a coffee cup, and see how long it takes to boil a cup of water... should take less than 3 minutes. Is the turntable working smoothly? Make sure you have a manual and understand basic operation. Read other features later.
Exhaust Fans – Test the operation of each fan. Open and close the covers to ensure easy operation and good seals. If you have a fan with a rain sensor, leave it open and let the tech know you will be testing it during the Coach Exterior Leak Test. Make sure you have manuals for each type of fan.
Stereo/CD/Tape Player/DVD/TV/Antenna/Phone – Ensure you have a manual for each piece of equipment. Ask for a demonstration of the antenna operation. If you have a cable hookup available, also test the cable. Plug in a test phone.
Smoke, LNG and CO Detectors – Let's make sure these work before testing propane operated appliances. Your Dealer Tech will have canned smoke/gas to test each of these detectors and alarms. Ensure you use the "TEST" function on each device, and that you know how to turn them "ON" and "OFF".
Furnace - Verify that the propane is "ON". Open all doors and windows. Turn the furnace on. Set the thermostat to a temperature that is 10 degrees warmer than the air conditioned interior of the trailer. Within one minute, you will hear the "click" of the piezo igniter and you will hear the burner come on. (it may take a little longer if the propane is far from the heater). When the fan comes on, you will feel warm air blowing up out of the floor registers. Ensure good air flow at every register. During this initial operation, you are likely to have some "burn" smells present... this is normal. After 10-15 minutes of operation, turn the thermostat down about 15 degrees. Within a few minutes, the air coming out of the floor registers will cool some and then the fan will shut down. Ensure you have a manual for the furnace.
Refrigerator - There are many different types of reefer operations. Most use 3 types of power: 110V, 12V, Propane. These are "absorption" reefers that work on the principle of evaporation of liquid ammonia. Ask your Tech for a complete demonstration, and make sure you have a manual.
Propane Stove – Verify that all auto ignitors work. Get a demonstration on igniting manually, and lighting pilot lights manually. Ensure you have a manual.
Water Heater – Will usually operate off of both 12V and propane. Operate using both methods, Understand where all switches, resets, gas and water valves, etc. are located.

Plumbing, Fresh Water and Waste Systems – This is the final section of the inspection. If you have followed the sequence, all of your tanks (Black/Gray/Fresh) have been filled for several hours.

Inspect under the trailer for leaks from tanks – this is why the tank fill was done first.
Open the Gray dump valve for few seconds to make some room in the tank – Drain out 6-10 gallons of water.
Turn on the fresh water pump – The pump will run for a short time (less than a minute) and then stop. Run COLD water from the kitchen sink, and the pump will start up again. (when you turn on the sink, it will "sputter" as it purges the line of air... this will be true of other fixtures as well). Now turn on the COLD water @ the shower, the bathroom sink, flush the toilet, and use the toilet sprayer (if you have one), and any other water fixtures in the trailer.
Water Heater – Open the valve to the water heater, and it will fill up (water pump may come back on). Now turn on HOT water at each fixture and purge air from lines. The WH will usually operate off of both 12V and propane. Start the water heater and heat water using propane. Understand where all switches, resets, gas and water valves, etc. are located. Time how long it takes for water to heat up (should be about 10 minutes).
Now run all fixtures again, both HOT and COLD water, for about 5 minutes each – now you are testing to see if any lines will leak. Open cabinet doors, access panels, exterior storage compartments, etc. so plumbing lines are exposed as much as possible. Follow each line as you run water and verify that there are no leaks.
Dump the water from the black tank – it is clean water, no worries.
Open the valves between the Black and Gray tank, but NOT the dump valve – Check to see that water flows from Gray to Black. Let the tank levels equalize (about 1 minute), then dump both tanks one at a time.
Turn off the fresh water pump – then open all valves at all fixtures and open the low-point drain on the fresh water tank. This will drain the tank, and you have a freshly rinsed tank; no dust! (When you refill, you will have to purge the system of air again, same as before).

Acceptance of Your New Trailer

Now the inspections are complete. On the first night, you should plan to camp in the trailer as near to the Dealer as possible. You will surely have more questions tomorrow! Before your acceptance day, ask the dealer for a "complementary" site with an electrical hookup... never hurts to ask. Before leaving the Dealer fill up the fresh water tank again for your first night of camping, but this time add 1 teaspoon of chlorine-bleach (unscented) for every 10 gallons of water. Do not drink this water until you have super-chlorinated your water system (see Owners Manual), but you will need it for washing dishes, taking a shower, flushing the toilet, etc..

Hopefully, you have already weighed both axles of your truck (or other pulling vehicle). Next day, make sure you head to a weigh station to get a 4-point trailer weigh-in (front axle, rear axle, right side wheels, left side wheels), and another truck weigh-in with pin weight added. Now you can verify all of your weights.
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Old 07-07-2005, 04:10 AM   #3
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This all sounds just dandy, but I don't think your going to find a dealer with an inspection labratory at your disposal.

And camp in it a night before you buy? I'd like to see that happen.
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Old 07-07-2005, 08:34 PM   #4
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I want to see this guy fill even one tank "until water spills out the vent on top of the roof" without flooding the interior of the coach. No thanks, I'll just use the checklist on the rvlinks.org website again if we ever buy another new RV.
UPDATE: This is the actual quote: "Fill the Gray water tank next, through the shower pan. Ensure the "dump" valves are in the closed position. The tank and vent are full when water spills from the vent on the roof of the coach. (Note: If you have two gray tanks, ensure the equalizing valve is open)."
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