Dear RV Doc, when I plug into the electrical outlet outside of my RV to charge the batteries by electricity or the generator, the batteries won’t charge. The batteries are new. They charge directly from other sources so I know it is not the batteries. I have checked the fuse in front of the RV that is connected to the battery line and it is fine. I have also checked the fuses in the fuse box and they are also fine. The converter does hum when connected to electricity from outside. Is there anything else that I need to be checking or is the converter not the problem? And how do I know if the converter is or is not working properly? Linda Haney, Sacramento, California
It’s quite possible the charging module for that converter is not functioning properly, Linda. Typically, you can check the charging output by monitoring the battery voltage with an accurate VOM (volt-ohmmeter). I recommend a digital meter. Connect the meter to the battery system at the batteries with the shoreline cord unplugged. Make a note of this voltage. Then plug the RV into shore power. The voltage should increase to something above 13.4 volts, depending on the brand and model of the converter. And of course, the incoming AC voltage to the converter should be at or near 120 volts AC. It’s the wise RVer who also checks the fuses using the meter. Some fuses may look good, but in fact be faulty. Quite often when troubleshooting 12 volt DC systems or converters, the return path, or ground wire, is often overlooked as a possible cause of a problem. In DC applications, the negative side of the circuit is just as important as the positive side. An “open” can exist on either side of the device. Many 12 volt misfortunes are caused by an undersized or inadequate ground wire. As a general rule, make sure the ground wire in any 12-volt circuit is at least the same diameter, preferably one size larger, than the positive “hot” wire. This pertains to converters as well. It’s always best to have a large ground wire from the converter firmly attached to the frame of the RV as well as directly to the auxiliary battery bank. The ground wire should not be confused with the bonding conductor. The ground wire is a return path for the electron flow; the bonding wire protects and bonds the metal case of the converter to the chassis. All in all, the power converter of today is an electrical workhorse. Keeping it healthy takes minimal effort. There is no need to perform an abundance of preventive maintenance. Just remember that with any electrical component or connection, it must be clean, dry and tight. Periodically check the terminals and connections; some may loosen over a period of time. Also, make certain the immediate area around the converter is kept clean. Converters do produce heat, so airflow can be crucial with some high-performance, high-output units. But I’d almost be willing to bet the problem is internal to the converter itself. The generator, by the way, is not itself a valid battery charger. It simply produces the 120-volts AC that powers the charging converter. It’s the converter that does all the work.
Dear RV Doctor, I have a 2007 23-foot Weekend Warrior. I am told by a local storage/dealer that the manufacturer put the windows in wider than walls. They said they all need to be removed and resealed, but that it is not covered under warranty or extended warranty. Also they say the entire exterior needs to be resealed. If this is true, is that something an owner like myself can do? Also while my RV was stored in this lot someone attempted to break into it. You might want to warn people that any damage that happens to your RV on one of these lots (even with 24/7 security) is your dime and your insurance. They cover nothing. Scott, Sumner, Washington
Now that's a new one on me, Scott; I've never heard of a manufacturer installing windows wider than the sidewalls. I'm not ruling that possibility out, but it seems unlikely, if not impossible to do. Removing, sealing and reinstalling the windows will not make them any less deep. I'd somewhat question the intent of your local storage/dealer. You can verify if indeed the windows need resealing by simply using a garden hose and see if any of them leak. If any water intrusion is evident, then he is correct; they need resealing. Water intrusion is one of the key maintenance areas that requires sincere diligence, so it's not to be taken lightly. Still, an adequately equipped RV handyperson should be able to remove, reseal and reinstall the windows. Be sure to remove all remnants of the old sealant. Most RV windows simply "sandwich" the sidewall between the outside window and an interior metal garnish strip piece. It will take two people, but it is doable.
Slideout Retraction Action
Dear Gary, we have a 27-foot Gulf Stream Streamlight trailer with a small slideout. The manual states that there is a manual override to retract the slideout in the event that the electric motor fails. We cannot locate the "emergency device." We even had a technician look with no luck. The motor is located in the middle of the sofa but no access to it. Any thoughts? John Ekin, Hartsel, Colorado
John, the slideout motor used in the Streamlight brand is produced by Lippert, one of the largest providers of slideout mechanisms. All Lippert electric motors have an extended shaft with a cross pin that can be manipulated by hand to extend or retract a slide room manually. Some models may be equipped with a hex shaft in which case a ¾-inch box end wrench can be used. On your coach, below the sofa you'll find a kick plate covered with a fabric. There will be either two or more, medallion-like decorative pieces on that kick plate. They pop off easily with a flat blade screwdriver and then you'll see the attaching screws. Once you remove those screws, the kick plate will come off and you'll have clear access to the slide motor. Lippert ships with each unit a flexible adapter than can engage the shaft of the assembly to turn it by hand; probably the “emergency device” you mention. If you don't have that adapter, one can probably be easily fashioned. I'm not sure which direction you rotate the shaft, but you'll be able to tell once you start. Just be sure to only manipulate it by hand.
Send your troubleshooting questions to Gary by filling out the “Ask the RV Doctor” form at rvdoctor.com. Questions of general interest will appear in a future issue. Due to the heavy volume of questions received, personal replies are not possible. All effort is made to ensure the correctness of Gary’s responses; however, not all answers will apply in every instance. Some situations may mandate a visual inspection and further hands-on testing. If you choose to follow these instructions, make sure that neither personal nor product safety will be compromised. If you are uncertain about a procedure, call your local RV service facility for an appointment. Visit CampingWorld.com/stores for Camping World SuperCenter locations nationwide.