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Old 08-13-2009, 01:51 AM   #1
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Tricks for Reducing Maintenance Tasks

As a full-time RVer, we're always searching for ways to minimize or even eliminate maintenance-related tasks. Therefore, I was wondering if you folks have any suggestions regarding this issue. For example, last year, after killing several batteries by forgetting to maintain proper fluid levels, we switched to AGM batteries. They're a sealed unit design that doesn't generally require much in the way of maintenance.

I think it would be helpful to the rest of us to hear about some of the tricks and techniques that experienced RVers use to keep their maintenance list to a minimum. Thank you in advance.

Jack
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:46 AM   #2
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Sorry, I can't help you much on reducing maintenance but I can help you reduce the number of breakdowns and equipment failures; performing proper maintenance!
My question on your previous battery issue is why were you having to put water into the batteries so often? I check mine monthly and I have had to add water 3 times in 7.5 years. You should check to be sure your charging system is not damaging the battery bank of the new AGM's!
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Old 08-13-2009, 11:04 AM   #3
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Personally I look at maintenance as a joy and not a task. Gives me an opportunity to do something with my motor home. You just need to be set up properly for the task and keep to a schedule.
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:03 PM   #4
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I'm with you on that Maverick. My MH is more than just a way of getting away and enjoying the sites and places. It's a hobby. Even between trips I love "tinkering", cleaning, and yes, completing maintenance tasks.
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:26 PM   #5
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I agree that it is also a hobby but understand what the OP is talking about. I had a tendency of letting routine things pile up. Before I let it get the best of me I built a simple spreadsheet with routine maint items and took it with me when I went to the MH to check things out. After awhile I was able to plan and schedule much more efficiently and instead of it becoming a chore it became something very manageable and actually enjoyable. As another poster mentioned I also learned a great deal about how the various systems worked and how to deal with them when they caused problems.
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Old 08-14-2009, 02:44 AM   #6
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I am very careful about maintenance and maintain detailed records to keep up with the tasks. But with a one year old daughter and a full-time job, I don't have a lot of spare time. That's why I was hoping to find a few ways to simplify the process of maintaining our motorhome.

As for the batteries, we spend a considerable amount of time in Arizona where the extreme heat and low humidity can dry up a battery in a matter of weeks. Regardless, sealed batteries are simply easier to maintain. For our situation, that's a real advantage.

Jack
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackm View Post
For example, last year, after killing several batteries by forgetting to maintain proper fluid levels, we switched to AGM batteries. They're a sealed unit design that doesn't generally require much in the way of maintenance.
AGM are definitely good batteries, but it would cost me over $800 to replace all three of my wet cell batteries with AGM's.

I am able to get Trojan batteries through my son's shop for $100 each. I added a Pro-Fill watering system and top them off monthly. It's simple to operate and prevents 90% of the corrosion that I experienced by topping the cells off manually.

BUT, if I had $$ to burn, I'd probably go with AGM's. Question: do they last any longer than standard deep cycle's?

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Old 08-17-2009, 12:15 AM   #8
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Properly maintained, regular deep cycle batteries probably last as long as AGMs. However, for many (including myself), "properly maintained" is sometimes easier said than done.

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Old 08-17-2009, 09:16 AM   #9
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Properly maintained, regular deep cycle batteries probably last as long as AGMs. However, for many (including myself), "properly maintained" is sometimes easier said than done.
Yeah, I hear ya on that. I once let my batteries go completely dry and ruined them.

I excercise my genset monthly so I figured that would be a good time to check the battery level as well. I program the 1st day of every month into my Palm organizer as genset/battery day, so that I don't forget to do it. That's how much help I need to remember. I'm 49, but with my memory I feel much, much older!

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Old 08-17-2009, 09:50 AM   #10
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I understand that Craig, I turned 72 0n saturday. I have a hard time finding out where I left the motorhome. lol
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Old 08-18-2009, 03:03 AM   #11
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As a full-time RVer, I usually know where the motorhome is. However, when I get up in the morning...it takes at least half an hour to remember that I'm married with kids.

Jack
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:47 AM   #12
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www.fumotovalve.com makes oil changes easier.
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Old 08-18-2009, 06:16 AM   #13
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I sat down once and wrote down every maintenance thing that was mentioned in every owners manual for every component on our MH. It was a pretty extensive list.

And I realized that I could keep up with most of them.....but others required me to be an engineer, have expensive tools, jacks that handle 20,000 lbs, and intricate knowledge of torque, gaskets, seals, and weather.

And I realized that no one human being can do all these things on a MH. For example, how many of us pull our refrigerators to do the PM? It's not logical to do that on a regular basis, especially when we were full timing. So I substitute inspection from above and below.

So what I decided to do was decide which things were the most important. And I found places that specialize in doing the most important things. For example, I use Speedco or Petro Lube or Cummins for a PM service on my engine and chassis. It doesn't cover everything on the engine and chassis, but it's pretty extensive. And it puts someone underneath the coach who has more experience underneath the coach than I do. They have the ability to change differential fluids, front axle fluid, grease calipers, and slack adjusters, etc. And I can observe. That is a big deal to me. Being able to see them work on those places. I don't use dealers with signs that say 'no customers allowed'.

I use Allison transmission places for the tranny. The cost is more than doing it myself, but my comfort level is not high when working on single point of failure items like the transmission.

I do my own furnace, water heater, air filter, coolant, batteries, generator, etc. But I've come to rely on other 'experts' for maintenance on things I consider complex.

These are a few things I do to cut down on my need to worry about maintenance. May not be your cup of tea.
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:41 AM   #14
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The Fumoto valve is a nice add-on. I've used one on each of the last three RVs.

AGMs are also a big help. We had flooded batteries on our '04 Bus at first. If your charging system is operating properly you should not be over-volting those batteries when charging them. If you don't over-voltthem you should not have to add abny water because water loss is generally due to over charging. I added water once in 2 years but I have to admit I was picky and probably needed a micrometer to measure the water loss.

AGMs have other benefits though. They have less internal resistance and take a charge faster. They have no wet electrolyte so they wont' ever boil out and there is no water to ever check, let alone add. They lack of outgassing also means that those corosive gasses won't be eating away at your battery connections so corosion is now a thing of the past. AGMs also last longer because they don't have the finickiness of a flooded battery and don't get damaged as easily. Finally, and the best is always last , AGms allow you to draw down even farther than flooded batteries due to the flatter curve of a voltage drop graph. This means you can run them longer than a flooded battery without alowing the voltage to drop to that magical "50%" level. In effect, this gives you 30% more runtime over a flooded battery that has an equal amp-hrs rating. The ONLY drawback to an AGM over flooded is that they cost substantially more. In a chassis starting application it's pretty hard to justify the extra cost but in a deep cycle house battery application the benefits can be realized. I have lots of them in my coach.

Organic Acid Techology (OAT) coolant is another. This coolant eliminates the "every 6 month" checking of your coolant with test strips and the adding of SCA additives to eliminate liner pinging. It's good for 6 years or 600,000 miles but you do have to add a can of extender additive at 3 years or 300,000 miles. This will streamline your maintenance tasks quite a bit. Plus, it's a better coolant and doesn't eat aluminum like the others do. Check out Coolants for HD Diesel Engines in RVs for details.
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