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RV Q&A: High-Wind Trailer Tipping

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine



There is a lot of information out there about wind speed and the effects while towing a travel trailer or fifth-wheel, but I could not find anything about wind speed when the trailer is parked. We are full-timers and live in a 40-foot fifth-wheel on Beale Air Force Base in Northern California. In the past week, we have had some pretty high winds, and our trailer was rocking and rolling. It got me wondering if anyone has ever tested how high a wind speed it would take to blow our trailer over or move the trailer on the leveling jacks without blowing it over.

I was also wondering at what wind speed we should retract the slideouts. Our trailer’s empty weight is 13,500 pounds, and max gross weight is 16,000 pounds.

Byron McGuirk | Beale Air Force Base, California


We hear this question quite often, Byron, and there is no one answer. Every RV will behave differently under various wind scenarios. Ideally, you could start by placing a test trailer on a flat surface, blast it with some type of industrial wind machine and measure the wind speed when the trailer starts to tip. That could be a baseline for a flat surface under controlled conditions for that one make and model of trailer, but complications arise in the real world.

A lightweight, compact trailer would likely blow over more easily than a heavier, larger model. Trailer body or suspension height differences would change each trailer’s reaction to wind speed. Cargo in the trailer adds weight, and that changes how well it stays put. Wind striking the RV at any angle other than 90 degrees to the side wall would change the rig’s tip reactions. Obstructions such as trees, shrubbery, buildings, geographic features or other RVs in the campground would break up the wind and reduce its impact.

As for the slideouts, I’d leave them out, because they would tend to create turbulence as the wind hits, and that could reduce the wind’s effectiveness. The wind should not be a problem for the slideout mechanisms either. But that’s all theory, of course!


RV Carpet Replacement

We have a 2014 Keystone Alpine and would like to replace the carpet with linoleum. Can we just tear out the old carpet and have linoleum laid? I was told we couldn’t do this without some expensive roller adjustments on the slideouts. Is that correct?

Steve Haack  | Nashville, Tennessee


AI hate to answer a question with “That depends,” Steve, but there are several factors at play here. How thick is the carpet, and does it have a pad underneath that increases its thickness? Is the carpet fairly long-nap and thick or close-cropped with minimal thickness? Linoleum is roughly 1/8-inch thick, so that will likely be significantly thinner than your carpet.

It seems a bit drastic that you would need expensive slideout roller adjustments. With few exceptions, slideout rooms are not that precise in their operation or adjustment, and it would likely be at the fully extended position that the rollers are providing some type of vertical alignment between the wall opening, the slideout structure and the gaskets.

The expensive part may be getting the old carpet out from under the slideout rollers and installing the linoleum in its place. If it was the installing shop that told you about the expensive roller adjustment, you may want to consider getting a second opinion.

Chris Hemer wrote a May 2015 article, “Interior Motives,” about Dave and LJ’s RV Interior Design in Woodland, Washington, that illustrates exactly what is involved with this type of installation. The article is also posted on the Trailer Life website, www.trailerlife.com. Do a key-word search for “Trailer Transformation.”

Beeping CO Alarm

Our carbon-monoxide indicator started beeping intermittently five minutes after turning on the furnace while dry camping. I thought the batteries were charged enough. Back at home, we plugged into shorepower and ran the furnace again with no problems. This is a 2017 unit we have had for just five months. Any suggestions?

Roger Werner | St. Johns, Florida


Because you have a new trailer, Roger, and it’s probably still under warranty, you should take it to your dealer and have the service department check it over. The fact that there is no CO detector beep when plugged into shorepower probably indicates there are no CO leaks and low battery voltage might be the problem. Both the CO detector, mounted near the ceiling, and the propane detector, mounted near the floor, chirp when the 12-volt DC power supply is low.

You didn’t mention the make or model of trailer, but it may be equipped with a somewhat lower-cost converter, and it may not be fully charging the batteries when plugged into shorepower. Have the service guys check it over, as well as the condition of the battery, as these things should be
covered by your warranty.


Black-Water Flush Fix

I am the first owner of a 2004 Winnebago Journey 36G with 97,000 miles. I used the black-water flush this past summer, and water gushed out the bottom of the RV. I later discovered that Winnebago had provided a 1⁄2-inch drain hole through the floor in the space behind the toilet for such an occurrence.

I removed the 1⁄8-inch plywood base of the cabinet behind the toilet by cutting each side of the center cabinet support with a multi-tool and lifting up each half of the 1⁄8-inch plywood to expose the vacuum breaker. I purchased a new vacuum breaker online and installed it with standard sink plumbing tools, but it took a little time in that tight area.

I feel the old vacuum breaker simply stuck open. Some Teflon tape strings were present, but I don’t think that would have caused the massive leak. For anyone encountering this problem, I would suggest simply exposing the vacuum breaker and giving it a shot of WD-40, as a quick fix.

Wally Choate | Camarillo, California


Thank you for the suggestion, Wally. This process may help some other readers with similar black-tank flush problems.


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