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Old 05-14-2022, 03:56 PM   #1
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How I Installed a CatStrap on a 2019 Ford F-53 V10 Motorhome Chassis

A CatStrap is a catalytic converter anti-theft device. While I found a lot of information on installing one on a car or truck, there was almost nothing available for a Ford F-53 gas motorhome so I decided to write up what I did.

The installation turned out well and so far the catalytic converter on the motorhome stored in our suburban driveway has not been stolen!

Of course, it's been stored there for the three previous years without getting stolen either.

Hopefully this will help anyone considering this device. I've read that some storage yards are now requiring catalytic converter protection devices and this problem is not likely to get better soon.

Ray
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Old 05-15-2022, 07:42 PM   #2
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Nice, thanks for sharing. I am planning on adding one to my 2015 24k f53. I like the idea of doing the top and bottom.
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Old 05-16-2022, 07:53 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by dssl
Nice, thanks for sharing. I am planning on adding one to my 2015 24k f53. I like the idea of doing the top and bottom.
Thanks for the feedback. I think it turned out well.

I got their CayEye motion alarm mostly installed yesterday. "Mostly" because there really is no good place to install the motion sensor on these things, at least on the later ones with the 6-speed transmission. I temporarily installed it with tie wraps to the bottom of that circular cross-beam just ahead of the catalytic converter. It seems to have adequate coverage there.

That location actually is directly below where my front exhaust clamp is. I'm thinking I may get a piece of aluminum just a bit wider than the 3 1/2" exhaust clamp, bend it to an L shape, and use two nuts on the exhaust clamp to secure it. The motion sensor then would be screwed to the vertical part of the L section.

My front end is sitting on 8" of ramps due to the slope in the driveway so it's pretty high. I was able to walk slowly all around the motorhome right next to it without setting the alarm off. But today I went past the motorhome with the drop spreader and the alarm chirped as I went past.

The alarm box itself is not particularly weather-proof. The two wiring harnesses, one for power and one for the sensor, come out the "bottom" but are not waterproofed in any way. If someone installs that box in any position other than vertical they will need to address that problem so water does not follow the wiring into the box, perhaps with a "drip loop" and silicone in the box openings.

The alarm sounder also is not sealed in any way. The box cover just fits over it. Now that I have it mounted I'm going to use my finger and run a small bit of silicone around the top half or more. That should keep water from running past the edge of the sounder and on to the electronics inside. In retrospect, a small drain hole or two in the bottom of the box might be a good idea.

I mounted the alarm box to the inside of the entry steps, the permanent ones. That way it's shielded somewhat from direct water spray and road debris. That area was surprisingly clean after three years so I think it will work out.

But that white on the alarm box sounder really sticks out so I'm going to use an artist's brush and apply some black paint to make it less obvious. I don't want a thief easily seeing it and just smashing the sounder with a tool to make it shut up.

Since my house batteries are up front the power wiring was easy. I just followed the electric step wiring into the house battery compartment.

If someone is not plugged in, though, the current drain may be a problem if they do not have solar to keep the house batteries charged.

With the system dis-armed the drain is minimal, about 5 milliamps.

With the system armed the drain is about 50 milliamps, or 1/20th of an amp.

With the alarm sounding the drain is just under 700 milliamps but that's (hopefully) not a common event.

A motion alarm, in order to be of value, either needs to scare a thief off or be heard by someone. But if it kills the house batteries in an unattended storage lot it kind of doesn't matter.

Ray
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Old 05-16-2022, 07:02 PM   #4
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I keep my coach in a covered storage place, and suspect my neighbors and a friendly dog that seems to live there would cause too many false alarms.

I was originally looking at the CatClamp but it seems like the the pipe for the converter is enough over 3 inches that the CatClamp support folks don't think it will fit.
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Old 05-16-2022, 09:01 PM   #5
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What made me decide against the CatClamp was not the pics of it being cut, because nothing will stop a determined thief other than attention, it was people complaining that it rattled as they were driving.

That could just be poor installations but I figured one that's bonded would not rattle.

Oh, and that friendly dog likely would learn right quick to not go underneath anymore. And the motion alarm might even keep cats, squirrels and raccoons out of your engine compartment.

Ray
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Old 05-17-2022, 06:32 AM   #6
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What made me decide against the CatClamp was not the pics of it being cut, because nothing will stop a determined thief other than attention, it was people complaining that it rattled as they were driving.

That could just be poor installations but I figured one that's bonded would not rattle.

Oh, and that friendly dog likely would learn right quick to not go underneath anymore. And the motion alarm might even keep cats, squirrels and raccoons out of your engine compartment.

Ray
My understanding is the alarm goes off as something fairly big approaches the motorhome. If it really only goes off if someone goes underneath then it could work, but when I read the description that wasn't my understanding.
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Old 05-17-2022, 09:49 PM   #7
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My understanding is the alarm goes off as something fairly big approaches the motorhome. If it really only goes off if someone goes underneath then it could work, but when I read the description that wasn't my understanding.

I could set it off on the bench with my hand. When waving my hand I could hear a relay click so I knew it sensed the motion. The instructions show how to set the delay if you're having false trips. I think it's all about the field of view and how close the object is. The smaller and the closer probably goes off the same as the larger and further away.

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Old 05-18-2022, 05:13 AM   #8
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I wish I had seen the OP's strap installation before I did mine. I like that install much better than following directions from CatStrap.

As for the Cat-Eye. I installed the box in the battery bay so likely no water issue. It is wired directly to the house battery so I had to make a modification as the newer model disarms based on sensing a voltage increase when the vehicle is started rather than the key fob arm/disarm. After corresponding with Catstrap, I opened the unit and set the ‘enable’ voltage at <18v and the ‘disable’ voltage at >20v. This way the unit is always armed. I then installed an on-off rocker switch to manually enable/disable the alarm. I placed the sensor fairly high above and behind the converter so the alarm will sound if it detects motion near the converter for greater than 9 seconds (and I hope it never scares a skunk).

I also have a Wyze camera focused on the catalytic converter which is linked to a hotspot that I leave on all the time. It will record any motion detected (amazing how many critters hop or scamper beneath the rig in storage) but should send me an alert if a person is detected.

200 Watts of solar keep my house batteries fully charged through all of this.

Jim
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Old 05-19-2022, 04:28 PM   #9
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I've been wondering lately if the catalytic converters under the high ground clearance trucks used by many rvers, makes them more susceptible to theft than with most low ground clearance cars. That high ground clearance makes it much easier to slip under the truck & work quickly to cut it off. Does anyone know if trucks are experiencing more frequent theft of cat coverters than cars? And, does painting the converters with a bright red, high heat paint function well as a theft deterrent?
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Old 05-19-2022, 08:03 PM   #10
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I've been wondering lately if the catalytic converters under the high ground clearance trucks used by many rvers, makes them more susceptible to theft than with most low ground clearance cars. That high ground clearance makes it much easier to slip under the truck & work quickly to cut it off. Does anyone know if trucks are experiencing more frequent theft of cat coverters than cars?
I'd guess "no" simply because there are far more cars than trucks. From videos and how fast I've seen the criminals slip a hydraulic jack under a car and jack it up, with one person cutting one end and a second person cutting the other end, getting out, dropping the car and leaving, a high ground clearance vehicle might save them 30 seconds on a 3 minute theft.

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And, does painting the converters with a bright red, high heat paint function well as a theft deterrent?

As a theft deterrent I'd think not much. The thieves already know where they're going to sell the converters, the laws of the jurisdiction, and how much of a stickler the scrap yard is.

As an aid to law enforcement should they bust someone so they could tie the evidence to a particular incident, yes, but only if there is another identifier such as an engraved license plate number.

Does it hurt doing it? No, so there's no reason not to if you think it will help.

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Old 05-19-2022, 08:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by RN_EMT-P
I wish I had seen the OP's strap installation before I did mine. I like that install much better than following directions from CatStrap.
Thanks for the kind words.



Quote:
As for the Cat-Eye. I installed the box in the battery bay so likely no water issue.
That doesn't reduce the volume at the converter very much?

Quote:
It is wired directly to the house battery so I had to make a modification as the newer model disarms based on sensing a voltage increase when the vehicle is started rather than the key fob arm/disarm.
They sell two versions of the CatEye, Manual with the fob which I bought, and Automatic without a fob as you have. At least they do now.

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Old 05-20-2022, 12:38 AM   #12
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Im not fully understanding how this prevents thefts. What's to prevent them from slipping the saw blade between the strap and the exhaust (cat) itself and not having to cut thru the strap?
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Old 05-20-2022, 06:30 PM   #13
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Im not fully understanding how this prevents thefts. What's to prevent them from slipping the saw blade between the strap and the exhaust (cat) itself and not having to cut thru the strap?
Great question and I cover that in the doc in Notes. That actually is a very valid concern. When you first place the CatStrap you use the 4" exhaust clamp right up against the catalytic converter, it's "neck".

Then you pull the strap tight and do the same with the other clamp.

If you do not have the exhaust clamps right up against the catalytic converter the strap could be angled slightly away from the catalytic converter and a blade can be slipped between the strap and the catalytic converter.

If you have both exhaust clamps in the correct position there is no gap. Then you run the engine or drive the vehicle. The catalytic converter heats up and melts the high-temperature adhesive on the bottom of the CatStrap. That binds the CatStrap solidly to the catalytic converter so you cannot get a blade in the middle.

Can someone just remove the exhaust clamps? Sure but then they're still dealing with the bonded strap. And if you do something to the exhaust clamp threads, loctite, weld them, smash the threads, whatever, then the exhaust clamp is not coming loose.

Hope this helps,

Ray
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:14 AM   #14
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That doesn't reduce the volume at the converter very much?

Ray
The battery compartment is open to the undercarriage so it seems to actually focus the sound at the converter. It is ear splitting (as I found out by accident). Plus a thief would not be able to access the box to disable it.
I just hope to never get it tested in real life.
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