Hi, Mark My Words readers! This month we’ve got questions on fridge shelves, fuses, propane leaks and jacks, and some tips on travel trailer electrical connectors. It’s all in the Mark My Words September 2020 edition. Remember to send your RVing questions to [email protected].
Our RV refrigerator racks are rusty, and we would like to replace them or repair them somehow. Can you buy new racks or is there a coating or something we can put on them after cleaning the rust off?
It’s possible to remove the rust and spray paint your old shelves, but it’s usually a temporary fix. It may be possible to shoot them with polyurethane truck bed liner. That would hold up well, but it’s not cheap and requires special spraying equipment and skills.
You can buy new shelves for most Dometic and Norcold fridges that are currently in production. Find the model and serial number info on your fridge and go to the manufacturer’s website. There, you can access manuals, parts diagrams and listings. Check out Dometic and Norcold.
Once you have the correct part numbers for the shelves you need, you can often search by part number to find sources. If you prefer, most RV parts places can order them, if they are still available.
If your fridge is too old to have parts available, then renewing the originals is your only choice. If you have the shelves sandblasted and powder coated, they will last a long time, but that’s beyond what most do-it-yourselfers can manage. There are paint and restoration shops that specialize in powder coatings. A quick search should turn up one or more in your area.
I have a 1998 Damon Class A Ultrasport motorhome that I have been driving since 2005. As I was cleaning up my rig to head out on the road this year, I discovered a fuse lying on the floor in my kitchen area. It’s about 1-inch long, cylindrical, clear glass with metal bands on each end. One end has 250/4A imprinted on it. For the life of me, I cannot figure out where this came from or where it belongs. The fuse panel is nearby, but it does not have any other fuse that looks like this and no empty space. I’ve searched under and around all my cabinets, sink, stove, other gauges in that vicinity, etc., to no avail. The manual does not offer enough specific information to be helpful. I am at a loss.
Those round glass fuses are commonly found inside of 12-volt cigarette lighter plugs. Occasionally, the end will come unscrewed and the fuse will fall out. Any chance you might have lost a fuse from something that has a cigarette lighter plug on it? I’m thinking things like fans, chargers and other devices that plug into a cigarette lighter socket. If nothing stopped working that you can identify, it’s probably not a fuse from the motorhome itself.
I hope that you and your family are doing well and staying healthy! You have answered some of my RV questions in the past and I greatly appreciate that! I have a quick question: I would like to know how to properly level my Class A coach when the tires come off the ground. I have auto-leveling. Do I put wood under the leveling jacks, or the tires, or both?
First of all, never ever lift the drive wheels off the ground. The rear wheels are the only ones that the parking brake acts on, so if you’re on a slope, it can cause problems. If necessary, re-orient the coach so the wheels that will be off the ground are the front wheels.
The jack system is capable of supporting the whole front end off the ground, but it looks scary. I suggest placing something under the wheels. Simply manually lift the front a bit higher and slide some wood or levelling blocks under the tires, then lower it again. Makes me feel better when I do that.
Always use something under the jack pads when leveling on soft surfaces and on asphalt on hot days. A piece of 2×12 or a plastic leveling block can be used. They also make pads that are designed for that purpose.
We went camping with friends in their new-to-them RV. In the middle of the night, the carbon monoxide alarm went off. I had smelled gas two times in the previous 24 hours, near the refrigerator. Additionally, the alarm on the refrigerator had gone off a couple times and the GAS button on the panel was flashing. Our friends silenced the alarm, shut off the fridge, and went back to sleep. I, on the other hand, went into a full meltdown. My husband opened the window and said we’d be fine. Everyone said since they’d shut the GAS valve off earlier that day, we were fine. I smelled gas once even after they shut the valve off.
Can a refrigerator cause a carbon monoxide issue?
I think it’s likely that the RV you were in has a combination CO / LP gas alarm, and what you were hearing was the LP gas alarm, indicating a gas leak somewhere in the RV. That matches up with the fact that you smelled gas several times. I suspect there’s either a leak in the LP gas lines or fittings behind the fridge, or possibly the burner assembly needs service or cleaning. Regardless, this is a dangerous condition and immediate steps must be taken to identify the problem and repair it. The RV propane system should be shut off at the tank (s) and not be used until this problem is resolved. Soapy water can be sprayed or brushed on each connection to help find a leak. This soap test does require that the LP system be pressurized for the test. Leaks show up as expanding bubbles in the soap solution.
CO can be generated anytime fuel is burned, so, yes, the fridge is a potential source of CO, but in my experience, it’s very rare, as the fridge combustion chamber is in the outside compartment behind the fridge, and that compartment is vented to the outside of the RV.
I’ve enjoyed reading your tech tips and have a couple suggestions.
I’ve had the electrical power connector that connects the travel trailer to the tow vehicle socket fall out due to rough roads. If this happens, you’ll lose brakes, light’s, and probably even the whole electrical trailer power cord and plug. To help hold the plug in the socket I place a rubber band around the plug on the cord, plug it in, and loop the rubber band over the spring-loaded latch on the socket cover door to help hold the latch tab in the plug.
Another issue I’ve experienced: If you have an old, worn, or just poor-fitting electrical plug and socket, you can accidentally insert this plug upside down! If you do, you just put the vehicle charge +12V line to travel trailer battery ground and (vice versa) the TT battery +12v to vehicle ground. This cost me a special 50 AMP vehicle fuse and a 30 AMP TT battery fuse, and I was lucky that’s all that blew up. Always make sure the lock tab is aligned with the notch on the plug and the key on the plug to the key in the socket.