Mark My Words – January: Winter Camping, Leaks, Storage & Operational Issues

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January 19, 2017

RV in the snow

Mark NemethHi, Folks! I hope you had a nice holiday! I’ve got a mixed bag of questions this month, covering things like leaks, condensation, stability, and noise. Be sure to send your RVing questions to [email protected].

Hi Mark,
We have an Eagle Cap truck camper with a slide. When on the Oregon Coast this fall we had a lot of hard driving rain. The forward and back of the slide leaked water into the camper. I believe it was running along the bottom rails. We cannot pull it in while inside since there is not enough room to walk past it. Do you have any suggestions on how to seal it? Cathy

Hi Cathy,
It can be a problem to find and fix leaks in slides. The first step is to try and trace the leak to its source. Visually locating the point where the leak starts usually results in discovering the leak point, but not always. Be aware that the leak could be coming in through a crack or gap in the slide itself, or a poorly sealed window. Water tends to travel once it enters the RV’s structure, so you need to examine the entire slide very carefully for any place that water could be getting in. Sometimes the crack or opening will be very subtle and hard to find. It is also possible that the water is actually entering somewhere else and is running into the slide area from some other part of the roof or sidewall. If your camper is an older unit, it can be worthwhile to have all the rubber slide seals replaced, as the rubber deteriorates over time, gets stiff, and doesn’t seal as well. Sometimes, adding a slide topper awning will help, since it keeps the water off the top of the slide.

What is the best way to stop shaking inside the 5th wheel while you are inside, walking, etc.? Which is better – a nose support (tripod) or a slide support? Thanks, Randy

Hi Randy
I really liked my tripod, it made a huge difference in my 5th wheel’s stability. Slide jacks don’t do much to prevent motion, really. I’d go with a tripod. Another item that helps are anti-rock chocks. They fit between the wheels of the trailer and expand to prevent them from moving. Here’s an example: These chocks stop the forward/aft motion, and the tripod stabilizes the side-to-side axis. It won’t feel like a house built on a slab, but it will be significantly better.

Hi this is Reuben
My question is how do I quit my class a motor coach down. I have a 2014 Thor Hurricane 33’. The road noise is so loud; it makes long drives wearing on everybody on the drive. Thanks,

Hi Reuben
Class-A gas motorhomes with the engine up front do tend to be a lot noisier in operation than the pusher engine rigs. The noise comes from two sources: engine noise and road noise. Actually a third factor enters the equation, and that’s wind noise, but there’s little we can do to reduce that, so let’s concentrate on the first two. To reduce engine noise, it is possible to add sound deadening materials between the engine and the passenger compartment. These materials are designed for automotive use, and can be applied to the inside of the engine cover, and under the floorboards up front. You can alternately install sound deadening mats under the carpet. Make sure you are using materials designed for high heat applications, and secure them well, as there is a lot of wind under there. This can make a real difference! I installed sound control mats and insulation in my Class-C and it made a noticeable difference. Sound control materials can be found at most auto parts stores. The second noise source is road noise, and tires play a big part in that. More aggressive tread patterns tend to be noisier. Selecting a commercial over-the-road tire with a highway tread can reduce the noise. Since your coach is fairly new, you might also contact Thor and ask them if they have any suggestions. If that model coach tends to be noisy, they may already have come up with some solutions for other customers… it’s worth a try anyway!

Our pop up Roanoke has a bit of moisture and condensation inside. It happened this Nov/Oct while camping. Do you know what would take care of this? We did have a small space heater as well when it was cold in the night. Thx. John

Hi John
Camping in colder weather can be a challenge, especially in a pop-up, which has very little insulation. The “walls” cool down and any moisture in the air inside begins to condense on them. This happens on almost all types of RVs. The moisture comes from cooking, bathing, and even your breath! About all you can do is provide additional ventilation when cooking or bathing to help carry the extra moisture outside. How you heat your RV also plays a role: most folks don’t realize that unvented propane heaters, like Mr. Buddy heaters, or catalytic heaters, produce a huge amount of water vapor as they operate. You didn’t say what kind of space heater you were using, but if it was an unvented heater, that could be the source of most of the moisture. These heaters are fine to use for supplemental heating when it’s just chilly out, but it’s really hard to heat the whole rig with them in seriously cold weather because of all the condensation they produce. Most folks carry one or more small 120V electric heaters and use them whenever they have electric hookups. These heaters don’t add any moisture to the air.

Hi Mark,
In a previous column, Sid asked:

“Mark, I have a fifth wheel and my question is…When traveling down the road does the power from my truck keep the battery charged supplying power to the fridge? “

We have a couple of “blue ice” packs that we keep in the freezer, and when we hit the road we put them in the fridge. We also have a small battery-powered fan in there. These keep things cool while we’re moving, which we try to keep to < 300 miles a day. John


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