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Old 01-22-2013, 10:52 PM   #1
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More Newbie Questions!

Over 3 years of research, 12 weeks of waiting after I placed my order, and just picked up my 3170 yesterday! This is my first RV and I am super excited to take it camping this weekend. However I am starting to realize how much I don't know. Here are a couple of questions that are coming to mind.

1. Everything I read says to cool off the refrigerator 24-48 before your trip. My question is how? If I have it parked at a storage lot can I run it on propane? Or battery?

2. Do you have any hints on loading things in the cabinets? I placed a stack of bowls in a top cabinet, and had visions of them flying out the first time I slam on my brakes.

3. I have read that you should not empty your black tanks until they are at least 3/4 full. I am going camping this weekend for one night. I will be going again in 3 weeks. Can I leave a small amount in a black tank that long? That doesn't seem right. I have been reading about the geo method and am using that first. How long will it control the odors from tank?

I am sure I will have more questions soon.

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Old 01-22-2013, 11:16 PM   #2
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Some answers

Newer fridges are pretty good and don't need much cool down. But if you do, use propane as the dc power draw is significant and will drain your battery.

Best thing is to get some tubs for loose stuff, but I've not had to much trouble with cabinets opening.

Lots of opinions on this, but I don't leave sewage in the tank during storage, but I do not empty the tank during trips till it is mostly full. I use a product called KO kills odor that is enzyme based and works really well. It is used mostly in marine holding tanks, but works on rvs to.

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Old 01-22-2013, 11:23 PM   #3
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Congrats on your RV!

Are you able to bring home the MH a day or so before heading out? Check with your storage place about policy with turning on the propane or if you have access to power.

I don't have a MH but here are some tips:

Try to keep the doors close & remember the freezer will get cold first.

Heavy stuff closest to the ground.

You will quickly learn what will stay in place and what will move around. Open doors carefully because you never know what is learning against it. You can buy some tension rods which can help along with good packing decisions. I had a problem with taller plastic glasses that did not stack. It would look like a bowling alley when the door was open. I ended up getting shorter plastic stack-able glasses and the problem went away.
Great choice for "Living within my means" and camping for one...

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Old 01-23-2013, 10:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by CoachPJG View Post
2. Do you have any hints on loading things in the cabinets? I placed a stack of bowls in a top cabinet, and had visions of them flying out the first time I slam on my brakes.
Congrats on your new RV! Packing/securing is a learn by doing thing. If the bowls are glass I wounldn't put them up high. Pool noodles are light and can be cut to size and placed in cabinets to help secure items. When set up you can use them on the slide corners to prevent banging your head (been there, done that). There are some child proof cabinet locks that can be used to keep the cabinet doors closed while traveling.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:36 AM   #5
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This is a long post, but hopefully it will help you have more fun the first time out.

The refrigerator in our 3100 Sunseeker cools down in 6 or 8 hours. I've heard they cool better on LP than on electricity but I've never done a test and I can't tell any difference.
If you can't start the refrigerator 6 or 8 hours before you have to load it, consider just putting your food in an ice chest, then transfer it to the refrigerator when it's cold. Since you're just starting out you may not have so much stuff like some of us that you don't have room for an ice chest.

Just because I'm an overly cautious person, while at home before a trip, I start the refrigerator on LP first just to be sure it works in LP. I let it run for half an hour or so to confirm that it is cooling, then switch it to automatic and let it cool down while on electricity. I do the same with the water heater, except once it fires I only let it run about 5 minutes.

As for the holding tanks, I'd advise against leaving anything it them. If you have water hookup, just run water into them until they are full, then dump. If you only have your fresh water tank, run half of what's left into the black tank, and then run the rest into the gray tank.

When I run water into the black tank, I lift the flush pedal to run water into the bowl until it's nearly full, then flush it but close just before all the water runs out of the bowl. That way there's always water in the bowl and it's never open to the black tank so I don't have odor coming into the coach.

You didn't mention your climate, but I assume that you have considered the possibility of freezing when you asked about leaving stuff in the holding tanks. If the coach isn't heated it will get quite close to the outside temperature overnight. Winterizing is a whole other subject and you will find lots of discussion in other threads in this forum.

Here are some tips from one who learned some of these things first hand during our first weekends with our new RV:

Be sure your range hood vent flap is open before you start to cook. That's how we set off the smoke alarm about 6 AM our first weekend out. It's not a good way to make friends with your new neighbors. Also, be sure the flap is lacthed before you hit the road. The windstream will break them off.

Run your LP furnace for at least 10 minutes at home with the door and a window open whether you need it or not. There will be some oil on it from the manufacturing process that will burn off and set off your smoke alarm. This happened to us before 6 AM on our second weekend out. Hopefully, with a different set of neighbors!

If you drop the Ford remote lock key fob just right, it will set off the panic alarm. Read your manual NOW to find out how to shut it off. (PS: This only happens at 6 AM.)

Be absolutely sure the water heater is full of water before you switch it on. It would be good to check that the water heater switch is off before you plug in your shore line, just in case someone left it on. Although it should be full when you get water through the kitchen hot water faucet, open the water heater safety relief valve anyway until you get water out of it. The dealer did show that switch to you during your pre-delivery inspection, didn't he?

If you don't have an electrical hookup and you will need heat, be careful with your battery usage. As a rough guide, if you only have one battery you will have about 50 amp-hours available before you are down to the recommended 50%. The LP furnace takes about 7 amps. Two of the conventional light bulbs take 2.4 amps. We have to keep our coach warm so our little dog doesn’t get cold. When it’s in the 30’s the furnace will run 30% to 50% of the time, so in 10 hours it will use up 21 to 35 amp-hours. Run your generator to recharge the coach batteries before a cold night. There are threads well worth reading in this forum about charging batteries.

When you get ready to dump your tanks, be sure the dump valves are fully closed before you take the cap off the drain fitting. Always expect something to be there when you take the cap off and don't get splattered. Keep a spray bottle of cleaner with disinfectant handy just for cleaning up if there's a drip or spill. Don't use the one you have in the kitchen!

Keep a list of things that you need the next time.

Have fun. There's a lot to learn but you don't have to get everything just right your first time out.
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:44 PM   #6
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We are recovering newbies - so let me take a stab.

Black tanks - I've left them sit for a month in between trips. It was fine. As for the 3/4 full thing, never heard that but it would make sense given that all this works on gravity, so more water means better flush out of the tank.

We also felt "it didn't seem right" - but it was all ok. As for the fridge - you might be overthinking it (we did). It's nice to have it pre-cooled, but it doesn't make any difference when we don't. By the time we get "there" - it's cooled.

btw - don't know about your MH, but our 2860 the fridge will also run on battery as we drive down the road (b/c the engine recharges the battery). Took us a few months to figure that out - so hope that helps.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:17 PM   #7
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I might be wrong on the fridge thing but here's how I believe it works...

They don't run on battery per se. They run on LP gas or electric.

We also park in a storage lot. It might not be "right", but propane valve has been opened since the day we picked the unit up. Also, the fridge "auto" button has been pressed in since the day we picked the unit up. If it's really hot outside, we start pre-chilling the fridge the night before. If it's more normal temps outside, we start pre-chilling the fridge the morning of our trip. To do this we just press the fridge "on" button. Because we're not plugged in at the storage lot, it cools using the LP gas. Once we arrive at a site & plug in, it then senses an electric supply & cools on electric. Just remember to press the fridge "on" button again when storing to turn the fridge off.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:45 PM   #8
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Go to the "everything is $1" store and get some small plastic open-top bins or those things that look like baskets. They hold cups, bowls, and glassware in place in cabinets very nicely. We found a unch that were actually lightweight metal frames with canvas covering them. The canvas is neutral color so it will go with virtually any interior color scheme...besides, it is inside the cabinet.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:48 PM   #9
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Thanks for all of the great ideas! Please keep adding more. I live in Houston, Texas so I have no real need for winterizing! Summers will be the problem. That is main reason I am worried about the fridge. 100 degree days will be very common around here. Even if I want to run the fridge on propane I still have to have the battery running, right? How does this affect battery life? I have been trying to use the battery disconnect every time I leave the coach.

How does 100 degree weather affect the black tank? That seems like it might be a problem. Like I said I am using the geo method for the black tank, but might switch to chemicals later on.

Right now my cabinets are so empty that I see things flying around inside them. I doubt that will be a problem for long.

I have a very, very thorough walk through with my dealer. It was almost too good. It was information overload. We tried to video tape it, but it took an hour to just cover the outside, and the camera died before we made it inside. Berryland Campers in Louisiana was great to work with.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:17 AM   #10
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Original Poster stated: Even if I want to run the fridge on propane I still have to have the battery running, right? How does this affect battery life?

Yes, the batttery disconnect must be switched on for the refrigerator to operate on LP gas when you are not connected to electricity. The refrigerator uses very little 12 volt current to power the control board and to periodically fire the igniter. The refrigerator will not be a factor in running down the coach batteries for a while. How long? Sorry, but I really don't know. There are some other small continuous 12 volt usages so the batteries would eventually be run down. I've never left our Sunseeker in storage with the battery control switch on so I can't guess how long it would take. I wouldn't worry about leaving the refrigerator running for several days.

LP gas consumption will not be a problem. In 2011 we refilled the LP tank and drove over 2000 miles back to home. When I had the LP tank topped off before the next trip it took so little LP that the guy at the gas station didn't charge me anything. (I had a grill gas tank refilled at the same time.) LP usage will not be a limiting factor in running your refrigerator while not plugged in.

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