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Old 02-29-2012, 08:25 PM   #1
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Survived! With NO manuals! With LOTS of questions!

Just returned from my first (short) journey. Went to a local county park to "practice"--without manuals for My Winnebago Chalet 24v! Now, I am a retired female, travelling alone, who has NEVER camped in a mh, so this was a bit scary to me. I didn't want to electrocute myself, blow up the mh, flood the campsite, or find my mh without power for the drive home. Wished many times that I had the manuals...

I did manage to connect to their power without incident, to connect with the city water without a problem, and never drained either the house or the chassis battery. I consider this a success! Darn good thing I had checked out some library books on RVing!

The propane and the generator were just too scary for me, alone. So, I booked another trip next week and I am taking a friend. Hoping between the two of us we will not blow up the mh. And, maybe by then the manuals I ordered will be here...

I do have a question or two. #1--Will it create problems if you don't level the mh when you are not using the refrigerator, the generator or the propane? #2--Do you really only empty the black water tank when it is about 2/3 full? #3--My mh has a switch for the aux battery that you turn on when driving and off when not driving. When I put the mh in storage it will be off, but won't it drain over time and in the heat of Arizona? #4--It is obvious that I need new front tires and a spare (Camping World sold the mh to me without the manuals and a spare tire. You don't want to hear the sexist comment about why I didn't need a spare...) The tires that are on the mh are Michelin LT 225/76 R16. I read somewhere about some folks buying larger tires. Because I am driving an E450 V10 I wonder if tire size will help or hurt gas mileage??

Well, I appreciate any suggestions, questions, and answers.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:37 PM   #2
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Sounds like you had a great time!

Only you and the fridge care how level you are. Do you have a bubble level where you can see it? Often you can get close enough just by adjusting the position of the rig
(assuming you do not have jacks?) You can buy a set of those yellow blocks to help level.

U'd be best off testing the propane in the driveway. Make sure the propane detector is on, it's usually low on the kitchen cabinet, has a flashing green light. Then turn on the valve on the tank and try to light a burner on the stove. Could take a few tries to get the gas thru the lines.

Just turn on the fridge, see if it works. It should run on A/C if you are plugged in.

Congrats on a successful first trip!
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post
Just returned from my first (short) journey. Went to a local county park to "practice"--without manuals for My Winnebago Chalet 24v! Now, I am a retired female, travelling alone, who has NEVER camped in a mh, so this was a bit scary to me. I didn't want to electrocute myself, blow up the mh, flood the campsite, or find my mh without power for the drive home. Wished many times that I had the manuals...

I did manage to connect to their power without incident, to connect with the city water without a problem, and never drained either the house or the chassis battery. I consider this a success! Darn good thing I had checked out some library books on RVing!
Congratulations! I'd call this a complete success.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post
The propane and the generator were just too scary for me, alone. So, I booked another trip next week and I am taking a friend. Hoping between the two of us we will not blow up the mh. And, maybe by then the manuals I ordered will be here...
Nothing to be afraid of. You have exhibited the common sense necessary to operate these successfully.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post
I do have a question or two. #1--Will it create problems if you don't level the mh when you are not using the refrigerator, the generator or the propane?
Generally, if you are comfortable with the level, your fridge and other accessories will be too. When you get your manuals, consult them for verification, but in general this is an accepted rule of thumb.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post
#2--Do you really only empty the black water tank when it is about 2/3 full?
I wait till mine is about 3/4 full. The black tank will be much happier if you do. All the sloshing breaks up the solids and makes for a more satisfying dump experience. Always make sure you use LOTS of water in the toilet. More liquids make less solids.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post
#3--My mh has a switch for the aux battery that you turn on when driving and off when not driving. When I put the mh in storage it will be off, but won't it drain over time and in the heat of Arizona?
I leave my coach connected to a 20A shore power all the time to keep the batteries charged. I'm not sure what you can expect if you leave the batteries disconnected over time. The answer would depend on how much time, how many batteries, what kind of batteries, their age, and several other factors.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post
#4--It is obvious that I need new front tires and a spare (Camping World sold the mh to me without the manuals and a spare tire. You don't want to hear the sexist comment about why I didn't need a spare...)
Does your coach have a place for a spare? Mine doesn't.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post
The tires that are on the mh are Michelin LT 225/76 R16. I read somewhere about some folks buying larger tires. Because I am driving an E450 V10 I wonder if tire size will help or hurt gas mileage??
Not sure about this. Someone will come along with an answer. Congratulations again, and happy trails!
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:44 PM   #4
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Kudos to you for having a fun first trip. Wishing you many happy journeys.
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Old 02-29-2012, 11:05 PM   #5
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Super!!! You are doing great. A lot of the owners manuals for your appliances are available from their manufacturers websites. fridge, microwave, stove, water pump, hot water heater, furnaces, aux battery switch, Dash air, steps, awning, etc. Download them and carry on a CD. Really push Camping world to provide the manuals eventually?

Holding tanks- Black water wait until 3/4th full to empty to be sure solids flush out and empty black tank, close that valve and then empty grey water to clean the hose. I usually then add a couple gallons of water to each tank to keep them from drying out.

There may be more info or coach manuals available on the Winnebago section of the forum here.

Enjoy...
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Old 03-01-2012, 04:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Post

I do have a question or two. #1--Will it create problems if you don't level the mh when you are not using the refrigerator, the generator or the propane?
Some of you need to quit speed reading.
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Old 03-01-2012, 04:52 AM   #7
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Howdy and Hope you enjoy the site and glad you joined us. Congrats on the maiden journey and glad it went well. A few more just to get accustomed to the rig and you'll be good to go. Oh, and those manuals when they arrive will be a great help. Regarding the size of your tires, there should be a placard in the motorhome with your GVWR, GCWR ratings and either on that or a seperate placard will be the tire size required for your unit. Personally I would stay with what they recommend. Hope you enjoy your rig and all your future travels, be safe and Happy Motoring!!!!
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Some of you need to quit speed reading.

Oops

I would like to change my answer for question #1 to the following:

"No."
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:12 AM   #9
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Accepted.
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:08 AM   #10
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1. No. Even when running the fridge on propane, all you need to be is reasonably level. Use a level in two directions inside the fridge and get it close without agonizing over it too much. The only reason you would want the stove reasonably level is avoid food running over to one side of a pan.

2. 2/3 would be the bare minimum for the black water tank. 3/4 would be better. You need as large a volume of liquid as possible to wash out precipitated solids, such as poo and TP. While you can get away with leaving the gray water tank valve open most of the time, it's a good idea to have it at least half full by the time you empty the black water tank. Dump the black water first and close the valve. If your rig has a black water tank rinser, go ahead and rinse the tank with it but watch it to make sure you don't overfill the tank (people have been known to walk off and forget the rinser is running, then flood the rig); you don't need to run it very long. When through rinsing, dump the water and add a couple of gallons to the tank.

When rinsing, it is recommended you use a different hose from the one that goes to the city water to avoid cross contamination with the fresh water system. If your rig doesn't have a black water tank rinser, don't worry about it. They are nice but not essential.

After dumping the blackwater tank, dump the gray water tank. This will help to rinse out the drain hose, avoiding future clogs and making handling the hose a bit more pleasant.

3. The battery will run down unattended, especially in AZ. You can keep power to the RV to maintain the charge but you will have to leave the battery disconnected. Another, probably better, option is to disconnect the battery and put a trickle charger on it to maintain the charge.

Equally important, especially in AZ, is to watch the battery water levels. They have to be checked frequently to make sure they don't go dry. Low water levels in a battery will kill it just as fast, if not faster, than letting the battery discharge. It's also important to not overfill the battery.

When an RV is going to be stored for long periods away from home, many owners find it more convenient to remove the battery, take it home, and put it on a trickle charger there.

4. You would have to talk to a knowledgeable tire person to see what you need in tires. It's possible you may need to replace the front tires, depending on their age. Tires six years old or older should be replaced, even if they still look good, because the rubber will start to go bad. Since you live in AZ, I recommend taking your rig to Discount Tires. They are very knowledgeable, honest, reaonably priced, and won't overtighten your lug nuts (it happens more than you would think). Be sure to get their optional road hazard warranty. It's inexpensive and worth its weight in gold. Also, replace your valve stems with good metal stems if they aren't already metal and in good shape. Compared to the cost of your rig, they are cheap insurance.

For peace of mind, you might want to take a male friend with you when you go to get your tires. While I pretty much trust Discount, there is the male mentality that all women aren't as knowlegeable as men when it comes to mechanical things.

If you don't have a good emergency road service policy, get one. If Camping World didn't talk you into getting one through Good Sam, I strongly suggest Coach Net. Their service plan doesn't cost all that much more than Good Sam's and you will get much, much better service. This especially important when stuck with a flat on the side of the road in lousy weather in the middle of nowhere (did you know there is a Nowhere, AZ?) at midnight on a weekend or holiday.

The main reason dealers will tell you you don't need a spare is they are cheap. Especially do not buy into the dangerous, nonsense story about being able to use one of the rear dual wheels as a spare. That will dangerously overload the remaining wheel of the pair. If there is a place you can put a spare on your rig (or a place can be made), I strongly recommend getting one. A road repair service may be able to repair a flat on the road but if the tire is damaged beyond repair (highly likely), it will have to be replaced before the rig can be safely moved and it might be hard to find a replacment tire in the middle of the night on a weekend or holiday while stuck in the middle of nowhere. Be sure to check the pressure on all of your tires frequently to help avoid problems. A good dealer can tell you what pressure you need for your specific tires if you get the front and rear axles of your rig weighed first.
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:28 AM   #11
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I applaud your courage to venture into the unknown. It was an adventure I'm sure and the next time will be more enjoyable and less nerve wracking. You've received excellent advise so far, and I'll throw in my 2 cents worth on the tires. Generally speaking, it's best to stay with the same tire size the vehicle was built with. Your tires are Light Truck (LT), 225 (225 millimeters in width), 76 (the tire profile as measured from the outer perimiter of the steel rim to the top of the tire tread), R (radial),16 (steel rim diameter size). If you go with a larger width (235, 255 etc) you may experience steering clearance issues with the two front tires possibly contacting the fenders or frame during tight full turn maneuvers. The larger width will also increase the tire's footprint size on the pavement which could decrease fuel economy, but that would probably be a minimal reduction if any at all. I'd stay with the original tires size and just spend the time to insure they're inflated to the correct pressure each time before you take off for your holiday. Buy a good digital pressure gauge and use it religiously. The most common cause of tire failure is from overheating due to insufficient pressure. The recommended tire pressures will be located on a placard mounted somewhere in the coach close to the driver, or on a information tag attached to the inside of the drivers door jamb. If your coach was used when you purchased it and it is 4 or more years old, carefully inspect the tire sidewalls for stress cracks. Those will typically appear about 1" above the steel rim and will go around the tire at that height. Look closely. When they begin to appear they will be very small and as the tire increases in age & mileage, they will get deeper and longer. This is a common occurrance with any tire and it is a function of age, mileage, and exposure to the weather and is called 'weather checking' or 'dry rotting'. When they get that weathered, have them replaced regardless of the amount of tread left on the tire. RV tires typically rot out before they wear out because of the relatively infrequent usage and low annual mileage. Consider buying tire covers. I'd go with white to reflect the sun and use them any time the vehicle is is going to be stationary and exposed to the elements for a perior of time whether at a campground or in your driveway. Keeping the tires clean will also add to their reliable longevity.

Enjoy the adventure!
Dan
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:51 AM   #12
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Congrats on your new rig and your first trip.

As others have said, most of the manuals for your appliances and systems are available online. Grab a flashlight and look for model #s and manufacturer plates and check around.

You can download your Chalet's owners manual direct from Winnebago here...

2009 Operator Manuals
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:04 AM   #13
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I'm not familiar with a "76" tire. I've seen 70s and 75s though. My trailer has 75s and my MH has 70s. Verify the tire size before going to a tire store.
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:05 AM   #14
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I don't have answers, but you have already been given great advice. I have to say I am impressed with your spirit and courage. I don't know that I would be able to accomplish what you have. I am beginning to think, I need to learn some of the same things you are and not depend on my husband to do everything. I hope you have many great adventures in your future. Thanks for posting your experience.
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