Tech Q&A – February, 2022
PROM night for a Ford, a wet basement, fridge operation on the road, running the AC while under cover, and more.
Ford Power Tuning
Q: We have a 2003 Fleetwood Pace Arrow on a Ford chassis with a Triton V-10 engine. Do they still make a PROM for the engine computer?
Mark Crisman, via email
A: Older models had replaceable PROM (programmable read-only memory) chips, which could be swapped out. However, on later models like yours the computers are reflashed with a new program. Try Ultra RV Products (urvp.com). According to the seller, one of the most noticeable differences from stock will be the elimination of instant downshifts that occur at even the slightest of hills. Your RV will now be able to maintain higher gears without the unnecessary screaming of the engine.
Kits are offered for 1997–2020 Ford 6.8-liter V-10 engines on Ford F-53, E-Series Super Duty E-250, E-350, E-450, and F-Series Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550. On 1997–2005 two-valves-per-cylinder V-10s like yours, gains of 43 hp and 47 lb-ft of torque are claimed.
Note: This unit is not legal for California vehicles.
Condensation in Basement Compartment
Q: We have a Coachmen Pursuit, and the forward right basement compartment collects condensation. This is the only compartment of six that collects condensation. Our coach is a 2016 that we purchased in 2015. Each year (with 2020 as the exception), we leave in May/June for an extended (1–2 months) adventure out west and one time went into Pennsylvania. In short, the condensation is a full-time issue and not just when parked in Florida.
We live in Middleburg, Florida, where the daytime temps are extreme, although it happens wherever we go. Also take note that I replaced the seal with the identical manufacturer seal I bought at General RV, and I also added a washer behind the lock and closures to tighten them down. Neither action resolved the issue.
There is no water plumbing in the area, and it’s well forward of any plumbing. Sitting dormant in the driveway, with no water or electricity connected, it collects condensation on a daily basis. It causes mildew and odor problems and causes my tools to corrode. My theory is that this particular compartment does not extend under the RV to the other side and traps cool air overnight and condensates as the sun rises in the morning, heating the compartment up. Similar to a house window. Maybe it’s too airtight? The full-aft compartments also extend through with the right compartment enclosed by a slight veneer panel, but not airtight.
I wonder if there are oneway vents to maintain water integrity that might be available. I’m an aircraft maintenance guy, and we have things like that on aircraft. I haven’t seen anything on the camping supply or hardware shelves. What causes this one panel to create/collect condensation, and what might be a remedy? My idea is a couple of vent panels, but, keeping road rainwater out is then another problem. Thank you for your assistance.
Bryan Pennington, Middleburg, Florida
A: Middleburg gets an average of 51 inches of rain annually (the US average is 38 inches), so there is a lot of moisture there. Condensation occurs when the saturated air drops in temperature and/or contacts a surface that is cooler. After some back and forth questioning with Mr. Pennington, we determined that the problem compartment is the only one that doesn’t have paneling on the walls but has bare sheet metal. This doesn’t provide the necessary insulation to prevent the moist air from condensing, as it contacts the metal panel as it cools overnight. I recommended adding some stick-on insulation to the bare surfaces, using a product such as Thermo Tec.
Vents might also help, but they should be two-way vents and mounted up near the top and back of the compartment, away from tire splash and spray
Refrigerator Use While Driving
Q: We own a 2021 Forest River Wolf Pup 17JGW. I heard from people at work who have campers that I cannot travel from my home to a campsite with my fridge on using propane gas. Is this a true statement? This means having to use coolers and ice for food while we travel.
Tim Kennedy, Mountain Home, Idaho
A: There are some situations where driving with propane in use are restricted, such as a few tunnels and bridges. However, I don’t know of any in your region and there is no nationwide federal law that restricts propane use while on the road. The most common restriction is that propane appliances must be off when in refueling stations. This is a law in most places and must be followed for safety.
Schwintek Slide Sticks
Q: We have a 2016 Grand Design 2800BH travel trailer with a living-room Schwintek slide. I just finished a long trip and the slide is going crooked and jamming. What do you suggest?
Tom Higley, Amarillo, Texas
A: I found a good video on Youtube by Lippert, the manufacturer of the slide, which explains what to do rather well. Watch it here.
Finding a Furnace Filter
Q: Does a 2015 Forest River Sunseeker have a furnace filter?
Chess Rinker, via email
A: Most RVs don’t have a furnace filter. I suggested to Mr. Rinker to check the owner’s booklets and/or contact the manufacturer’s customer service to be sure. Later he contacted us and said “Thanks for the reply, I winterized yesterday and saw the air intake has only a metal grill covering it, so no filter on a 2015 Sunseeker.”
Lubing Hitch Balls
Q: This may be just an observation, or perhaps a subject for a future article. After taking a trip out to Colorado this past September, while I was walking around the campgrounds that we stayed in, I couldn’t help but notice all the tow hitch balls that were nice and shiny. I always keep mine well-greased. Just think of all the friction and wear and tear on all the balls and hitches without grease. Seems like we all hear about how to keep everything else greased but, I never hear about the tow hitch ball getting any attention. We all hear about fifth-wheel hitch grease, but not the regular tow hitch ball. Am I doing something wrong keeping mine nice and greasy, or is this a topic that has been overlooked by all?
Paul Verthein, Reedsburg, Wisconsin
A: It is good practice to keep the hitch ball greased. Thanks for pointing this out and reminding us!
Battery Disconnect Location
Q: Where should I install a battery disconnect, on the positive or negative side of the battery? The negative side is grounded to the frame of the motorhome, as well as the chassis battery ground.
Mr. Jones, via email
A: The standard way of installing battery disconnects is to put them on the positive terminal.
Q: We have a new THOR Windsport 34. The toilet seems to clog up for reasons I don’t understand. We use single-ply toilet paper, and not too much. Also, there’s a little odor even when the toilet is unclogged. I was told to keep the black tank valve closed when camping, and to dump it regularly while letting the force of buildup help push waste out better through the sewer hookup tube to ground connection. Any advice?
Larry Brookshire, Asheville, North Carolina
A: Yes, you should close the dump valves when camping as you described. Also use plenty of holding-tank chemical, especially in hot weather, to kill odors. Add several gallons of hot water, if there’s a clogging problem present, poured through the toilet to add liquid, which loosens things up and allows it to flow out the drain hose. Cold water works fine for most cases. Try driving around and sloshing the tank before dumping. These items should help solve the problem. It also helps to add about 3–4 gallons of pre-charge freshwater to the black tank after it’s dumped. The water helps circulate the holding tank chemical and the sloshing motion as you drive helps break up any solids in the tank. After you dump, close the valve and add another 5 or so gallons of freshwater, then dump again to help Flush out any solids. And don’t forget that pre-charge!
Upgrading from 30-Amp to 50-Amp Service
Q: We have a 2016 Coachmen Pursuit 29SB motorhome that we purchased new in 2016. At that time, we were new to the motorhome arena and did not research as much as we should have before we purchased. Our unit has one air conditioner and 30-amp electrical service.
The Pursuit also has a small black tank as well as a small refrigerator. We thought about trading it in and getting a new motorhome, but after all we have already done to our unit (and have gotten most of the bugs out of it as well as the cost) we do not want to take that path.
The main thing we want to do first is upgrade from 30-amp to 50-amp service and add another air conditioner in our bedroom. What is the best and safest method to upgrade to 50 amps?
Tom Pahula, via email
A: Having the electrical system changed over by an RV shop or electrician can be quite costly, perhaps more than $2,000 for parts and labor. It entails changing the power panel out, along with the heavier power cord and perhaps the power converter. I recommend having a qualified electrician do it for safety, as you mention in yourpriorities. However, if you aren’t a heavy user and haven’t exceeded your 30-amp service by using a large amount of power, and just want to add another air conditioner I have a possibly simpler solution. Add a second power cord, this one rated for 20 amps with a 20-amp plug, which can power only the rear air conditioner. That would be far less expensive and a simpler solution. You can plug both cables into the respective 20- and 30-amp outlets on the campground power post.
There are also a number of lower-current-draw air conditioners entering the RV market. Check around and you may find an A/C that’s a perfect fit for your lower-available-power needs.
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