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RV Tech Savvy: Cabinet Finishes

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

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We have a 2005 Country Coach Inspire 330 with solid-maple cabinets and trim. The maple cabinets and baseboards are showing wear, with milky spots on doors and baseboards. What can I do, short of stripping and refinishing, to bring back the finish?

Skip Landry | via email

Answer iconWhat may first appear to be a beat-up finish might just be dirt or old wax. In many cases, this can be removed with mineral spirits on a clean cloth, or an oil-based commercial wood cleaner/conditioner. One such product is Howard Restor-A-Finish Semi-Transparent Maple/Pine Oil-Based Wood Restorer. These products will cut through buildups of dirt and wax. Both are available at furniture stores, hardware and paint stores. Milky spots can come from various sources, including failure of the finish from moisture, as well as dirt, wax and physical damage. If the wood restorers don’t work, sanding and refinishing the doors might be your best option. You might consider taking a door to a trusted wood refinishing supply company or home-improvement center to make sure you’re getting the right product and color for the job. The website woodweb is a good resource for you. It features woodworking information, including forums, galleries and videos.

Throttle Hesitation

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We purchased a pristine used 2017 Thor Freedom Elite 22FE in May. Now I am experiencing pedal hesitation that occurs sporadically, and it responds if I back off the gas pedal and then resume. Generally, it occurs below 35 mph. The engine is a Ford V-10 Triton 6.8-liter SOHC with the TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission. I have had it electronically tested for any trouble code error, such as by plug or coil. The tech cleared a P0300 code random misfire, P0297 overspeed, P0581 cruise control input, with no driving improvement. I then went to a Ford Fleet Service center, and the tech performed relative compression (OK), “evap” (OK), “mode 6” data found no misfires, monitored “baro” frequency (OK), and still was unable to find a problem. It has been test driven by several people who have not experienced the hesitation. I have found fuel problems with the E-450 mentioned on identifix.com, so I relayed that to Ford service and asked if it would test. Unfortunately for me, without a tech experiencing the problem, Ford will not go further unless it’s a “known warranty” problem it has experienced. The service department said it “gets paid” to repair/replace parts only if under warranty. I then had a transmission shop test drive it and declared the transmission was working as it should. Even with roadside coverage, I am reluctant to venture on a road trip, as when this occurs in traffic, I’m very vulnerable. Can you shed light on what avenue to continue on?

John Lynn | Folsom, California

Answer iconAssuming you haven’t ever driven close to the engine-cutoff point of 100 mph (and we certainly hope you haven’t), the P0297 overspeed code may be hinting what’s wrong. It depends on a signal from the vehicle speed sensor (VSS), and if the vehicle reaches 100 mph, the computer cuts fuel pulses to the injectors until it determines that the speed has decreased. So if the VSS falsely indicates excess speed, it could cause the engine to lose power, and perhaps the transmission to shift improperly. The cruise control also depends on the VSS to operate properly, so it’s possible a faulty VSS might trigger a cruise control code. It might also trigger a misfire code. Recheck to determine if any codes returned after clearing. You might want to pick up a code scanner, or bring it to an auto parts store that offers free code checks. I suspect you have either a faulty VSS or accelerator pedal position sensor.

Wandering Diesel — Tip

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This is in response to the “Wandering Diesel” letter in June. I suggest the author also checks the front-end alignment. We had our E-450 alignment done, but the spec is 0 to +/-7.5 degrees as there are so many different configurations of the E-450. We found the setting at 0.0 degrees to be undrivable and called ahead to Salt Lake City, where we found a shop that knew what to do and set it up with a toe-in of 3.5 degrees. When loaded, the tires flatten out and the ride is perfect.

Tim LaFlame | Prescott, Arizona

Have a tech question?Answer iconThanks for sharing your experience. Part of my advice was to check wheel alignment. I also mentioned that gasoline-powered motorhomes generate more complaints for wandering, and the Ford E-350/E-450 cutaway chassis are known for wandering problems. This is due to a combination of factors, including a long rear overhang and steering/alignment issues. Zero toe-in will cause a vehicle to dart or chase from side to side. There needs to be some toe-in because when the vehicle is driven forward, slack in the steering components causes the front wheels to splay slightly outward. Generally on the E-450, caster ranging from +3.5 to about 7 degrees seems to work well, with owners reporting best results with the higher numbers. Many alignment shops use Ingalls Engineering No. 59400 adjustable caster bushings or Dorman 545-187. Specialty Products Co. (800-525-6505) is a major supplier of special alignment shims, bushing and other products to assist alignment shops.

Towing a 2018 Chevrolet Malibu

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I have a question about towing a 2018 Chevy Malibu. The owner’s manual suggests that it can be towed on all four wheels, and that if you pull the two fuses everything will be great. Wrong! I towed the Malibu to Tennessee and back, [unknowingly] breaking the law. When you pull the fuses, it kills the 12-volt DC power to the outlets, which makes my Blue Ox brake system not work. Is there a fix, or did Chevy “blow smoke?” A person could fake it, putting the brake unit in for show, but that is not smart.

Dom Delasta | Arkeny, Iowa

Answer iconThe use of an auxiliary braking system is highly recommended and is required by law in most jurisdictions. Chevrolet recommends pulling fuses F10 and F41 for towing. According to the information I have, these both control power to the Body Control Module circuitry. Also, according to this information, the front cigarette lighter and power outlet circuit is controlled separately by fuse F37, and the rear outlet is protected by circuit breaker CB2. Here is a URL: https://fuse-box.info/chevrolet/chevrolet-malibu-2016-2019-fuses-and-relay

I think the most likely scenario is that the fuse F37 is blown for some reason, perhaps due to overloading. If you can’t get it working by fuse replacement, you may want to take it to a Chevrolet dealer for diagnosis. Continued use of a braking device is likely to discharge the battery. Therefore, I recommend installing a charge line from the motorhome to the dinghy vehicle’s battery. Kits are available from Blue Ox, Roadmaster and others.

Monaco Parts

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Can you help me find a part for my 2009 Monaco Montclair? I need a right rear wheel shroud, and I am having a hard time finding one. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Andy Schapson | McComb, Ohio

Answer iconOn March 5, 2009, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Navistar International Corp. purchased the core assets of Monaco Coach Corp. Today, Monaco is part of REV Recreation Group. Presently, the main phone number for Monaco is 877-466-6226. You can call the parts department, and you will need the VIN to check availability. Also, Northwest RV Parts bought the entire inventory of Monaco’s part’s department in 2009, and it might have what you’re looking for.

As for used parts, try Visone RV (606-843-9889). It is a major salvage yard for Monaco coaches, and you may find what you need there. Otherwise do a Google search for “RV salvage yards” for more vendors.

More RV Tech Savvy Discussion

Ken FreundKen Freund has been a contributor to MotorHome magazine since 1988, and has written Coach & Powertrain and its predecessor Powertrain Q & A for two decades. He’s been a camping and travel enthusiast since he was a child.



Ken FreundMotorhome 101RV DIYRV TechRV Tech SavvyTech topics

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