First Overnighter in RV

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jozee

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
53
Location
San Diego
I bought the '98 Tiffin Allegro Class A (32').  I had all the "warts" fixed by the dealership.  I have read the forum Library each night until my eyes became droopy.  I have read the forum discussion groups about each and every subject that could possibly affect me, and some more that don't,  just for fun.  I know about inverters and deep cycle batteries; leveling jacks and refer efficiency; odd sized bedding tips for odd sized RV beds; safety tips for towing vehicles (even though I don't have a toad); tire pressure vs weight and conditions information; "don't let this happen to you" from the "most common goofs" area; and all the "how to's" a newbee RVer could ever want to know.  I have check lists, some really good recipes, and just about everything any one person could use to begin the RV life style.

I am taking my RV for an overnight shakedown to a beachfront site at Del Mar Beach at Camp Pendleton.  I must do everything myself, and I will have two ten year old boys with me.  I will have full hook ups, but will not have internet access as my lap top is government issued and has no wireless card or capability.  I am preparing for a six day trip in two weeks to the Colorado River (Emerald Cove Resort).  This is my last ditch effort to get more info.  HA!  I should be an expert by now just from what I have learned on the forum.

My questions are about the hookups (I know that Tom says not to ask all questions at once, but I am leaving Saturday AM):

~Do I need a pressure regulator for my water hook up (as suggested in Library)?  I have the white hose, I keep it inside, with ends capped.  I don't have a regulator.
~Do I need a circuit tester before hooking up to electrical (as suggested in Library)? I have all adapters needed.
~Do I need a voltmeter (mentioned in one of the check lists in Library)?  What the heck is that for?
~Should keep my black water tank valve closed during our visit, and then fill it to 2/3rds before opening the valve to the hook up before leaving?
~Any pointers on how to rinse out black water tank before unhooking from "hook ups"?

I am bending the "number of questions per post" rule more than just a bit.

Thanks for running such a great website.  You have prevented me from making many costly mistakes.

I can't wait to learn more.

Jozee
 

rhmahoney

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Joined
Feb 9, 2005
Posts
1,405
~Do I need a pressure regulator for my water hook up (as suggested in Library)?

Yes, prevents ruptured pipes inside your rig. Vital if you visit Salt Lake City which has very high water pressure.

~Do I need a circuit tester before hooking up to electrical (as suggested in Library)?

Yes. Get the cheap yellow 3 prong plug type with series of light for reading circuit faults. You will need a matching 30 to 15 V dogbone adaptor to plug it into the power pedestal.

~Do I need a voltmeter (mentioned in one of the check lists in Library)?  What the heck is that for?

Yes. get the kind that has a digital readout and plugs into a 15 amp wall socket.
You use this to monitor CG voltage. <105 V destroys electrical equipment, especially motors.


OR spend $500.00 for a surgeguard that dues the above automatically.

~Should keep my black water tank valve closed during our visit, and then fill it to 2/3rds before opening the valve to the hook up before leaving?

Keep it closed Always! At the end of your Colorado river stay, you will have 2(Del Mar beach)+ 6 emerald Cove =8 days in the black tank. That should be enuogh for a decent tank flush. I only rince out the tank if I have been staying at one place for a prolonged period...over 1 month.
 

Tom

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Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,732
Jozee,

Do I need a pressure regulator for my water hook up

Yes, because the water pressure at some campgrounds will be high enough to damage some part of your RV's plumbing system, Your Tiffin may already have a regulator attached to the fresh water inlet.

Do I need a circuit tester before hooking up to electrical

I've never bothered to check the voltage at campgrounds before plugging in. Some folks have reported problems due to low voltage and some have even reported damage to one or more systems or appliances. Occasionally, a campground might have their receptacles wired backwards, although I haven't run across it.

Do I need a voltmeter...?  What the heck is that for?

In addition to checking for low voltage at a campground, as mentioned above, a voltmeter or a mutimeter is useful for troubleshooting when something doesn't work. If you don't know what it's for, it's unlikely you'd know how to use one, so don't worry about it.

Should keep my black water tank valve closed during our visit, and then fill it to 2/3rds before opening the valve to the hook up before leaving?

Yes. Leaving it open all the time could result in sewer flies in your black water tank, although some folks leave their valve open all the time. In addition, keep your gray water valve closed and use the contents of the gray water tank to flush your sewer hose after dumping the black tank.

Any pointers on how to rinse out black water tank before unhooking from "hook ups"?

Check to see if your coach already has a separate "tank flush" hookup. If it does, hook it up to a water bib after dumping your black tank. If not and, if you have time to get to Camping World, you could buy a "tank flushing wand" that you stick down into the toilet. The other end of the wand would be attached to a water hose. However, many toilet systems do not easily allow you to use one of these wands because of the shape of the pipe between the toilet bowl and the holding tank.

BTW we don't have a rule for the number of questions per post, but it does make it easier for others to find answers at a later date if different subjects are covered under different subject lines.
 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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Location
Titusville, FL
Jozee,

A pressure regulator will be necessary for any pressure over about 60lbs. I have a pressure gauge installed after my filter. If I see it going over 60lbs I'll turn off the water and install a Cash Acme adjustable regulator. Then I can adjust to 60lbs. Inline regulators are usually set at 45lbs. I like more pressure for the shower. :) I have been in one campground where the pressure was over 125lbs!!

A tester for checking the electrical hookup is a good idea but not absolutely necessary. If you are in a good campground you most likely will not have a problem with the wiring.

A voltmeter will let you know if the voltage is too low or high for the equipment in your coach. A very low voltage could cause problems with the air conditioners. This usually occurs when a campground is full and it's very hot. Lots of a/c's running will drop the voltage.  If you don't know how to use it then it won't do you any good. There are people here who could walk you through it.

As mentioned before, always keep the black water valve closed. Opening it allows the liquid to run out but the solids will tend to stay in the tank. Over time they will harden and block the tank. Could be an expensive repair.

If you have a back flush on your tank I would suggest using a hose other than your drinking water hose. There is a one way valve in those systems but there's always a possibility of contamination of your hose.

If you don't happen to have all these things I would not delay the trip. Just use common sense and you should do fine.
 

jozee

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
53
Location
San Diego
Tom and Jim, Thank you for the valuable information.  I have learned volumes just by reading the posts here.  I feel completely ready for my shakedown overnighter.  I can't wait to get on the road in a few weeks for my trip to the Colorado River. 
jozee
 

jozee

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
53
Location
San Diego
rhmahoney said:
Keep it closed Always! At the end of your Colorado river stay, you will have 2(Del Mar beach)+ 6 emerald Cove =8 days in the black tank. That should be enuogh for a decent tank flush. I only rince out the tank if I have been staying at one place for a prolonged period...over 1 month.

Thank you for this advice.  I was a little confused about how to manage the holding tanks.  This really helps.

jozee 
 

Ron

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Posts
18,082
Location
Home is where we park it
Looks like Russ , Jim, and Tom have covered most the basics very well. ?The most important thing is Have a great time and enjoy yourselves. ?Let us lnow how it goes.
 

Tom

Administrator
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Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,732
Jozee,

You're welcome. As Jim suggests, don't worry too much about stuff and enjoy the experience. If something doesn't work out as planned, it adds to your experience for the next trip.

Please let us know how the weekend goes.
 

Karl

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Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
5,154
Location
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
Jozee,

I would suggest EVERYONE buy a small volt/ohm/milliamp meter, commonly called a multi-meter. The main reason for having one is to help locate problems with the 120 volt AND 12 volt circuits, fuses, and wiring that may crop up from time to time. They come with an instruction manual, and even if you don't know how to use one, someone on the Forum can always step you thru it.Those plug-in voltmeters are notoriously inaccurate and besides, if your voltage is low, there's not much you can do about it anyway - except get the $500 surgeguard/autoformer Russ mentioned.
 

Ned

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Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
The SurgeGuard will protect from over and under voltage by disconnecting the shore power.  An autoformer steps the voltage up or down to compensate for under or over voltage.  I don't like autoformers as they must make a bad electical situation worse.  I do strongly recommend a whole house surge protector.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,969
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
I have a little bit different slant on this.  I think the items you asked about are all "good to have" but hardly "necessary".  I have them all, but use them only occasionally.  You will probably want to get them too, but you don't have to get them all before you leave on your first trip.  It sounds to me as though you have done your homework well - go have some fun with your boys and don't worry yourself to death!  ;)

And your coach surely has a pressure regulator built into the water inlet - it would be rare for a coach of that vintage not to have one.

As for the black tank, try to get it at least half full before dumping (opening the drain alve). It will flush itself out better that way.  If you are ready to come home before it gets half or more full, run some extra water in if you can before dumping. But if you are leaving and don't want to bring home a partly full black tank, go ahead and dump. No disaster is going to happen just because you dump early once in awhile. Just remember that the best practice is to get the tank as full as possible and try to do so.
 

Carl L

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Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
Should keep my black water tank valve closed during our visit, and then fill it to 2/3rds before opening the valve to the hook up before leaving?
~Any pointers on how to rinse out black water tank before unhooking from "hook ups"?

That is how you should do it.  Your black tank is a septic tank.  The bacteria in the tank will digest the paper and crud, if allowed time to do it.  (Use no chemistry.)    You should let the tank fill to 2/3s before dumping.  That will assure you enough volume and pressure to prevent crud from blocking the drain pipe.    If you want to dump when leaving, and are not 2/3s full, fill with water from a hose (NOT your drinking water hose!) and then drain. 

Using a spray wand every once in a while keeps the sensors cleaned off but it is not mandatory with each dump by any means.

You can leave your grey water tank open to drain if you wish.  I like to close it the day before dumping the black tank.  That allows enough soapy water to wash out the sewer hose after a black dump.  (Never open black and grey valves at the same time.)
 

JGarrick

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
90
~Do I need a voltmeter (mentioned in one of the check lists in Library)?? What the heck is that for?

I'd have to say that if you're asking this question, you probably don't need one. That's not to say that it wouldn't be a nice idea to get one and learn how to use it - I've found mine invaluable for a lot of electrical work on my cars and and especially motorcycles (as well as some household stuff), but if you don't know what it's for, I imagine you could survive the weekend without it.
 

Jeff

Site Team
Joined
Apr 8, 2005
Posts
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Location
SD/AZ
I agree with all that was said about dumping the black tank but would add the following if you are weekending and are going to  store the coach when you get home.

After dumping (and rinsing if you have a built in sprayer) add about 3-4 gallons of water to the empty tank. This will keep the bacteria working and help prevent odors from building up while stored.
 

Rex

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Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
253
Location
Alabama Gulf Coast
Hi Jozee:

You have received lots of good answers to your questions.  I only have one thing to add to your knowledge base.  Every once in a while if you suspect your black tank may have a build-up of solids, fill it with about 10-gallons of water, then dump a bag of ice from a convenience store down the toilet.  After that drive around for about 30-minutes to let the ice slosh around and break up the solids.  Next day you can dump as the ice will have melted by then.  I use this procedure when leaving one camping area for another.  By the time I arrive at my new camp and get hooked up, everything is ready to dump.

After a bit of use, you will be able to determine how many days you can go without dumping the black tank.  That will depend on use, and mainly its size.  With two people and a 65-gallon tank, we can go a week.  The gray tank will require dumping more often with showers and dishes.  You will learn to use paper plates and plastic cups and wash as little as possible unless you have full service connections.

As others have said, have lots of fun and enjoy the experience.  By your comments and questions, you have obviously learned a lot.  Just come back and look for help here when needed.  You will always find it.

 

jozee

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
53
Location
San Diego
I MADE IT!  Wow, everyone's advise came in so handy!  In fact, I am not sure how newbies without access to RV Forum ever survive  their first trip!  :eek:.  Everytime I ran into a snaggle, my mind went straight back to a discussion string that I had followed, or a topic that I have studied in the library.  In fact, all of the systems that I had in place (check lists, procedures,  and all) came directly from here.  DRIVING: I was shocked at other drivers' confidence in my brakes.  No matter how much space that I allowed myself between cars on the freeway,  someone always put themselves directly in front of my bumper. How brave. I always back down to allow more space, but at some point I thought that I might have to put it into reverse to keep from tailgating folks that jump on my front bumper.  HOOK UPS: Nerve racking.  I don't know why I was so intimidated.  I stared at the cap on my hook up drain for about ten minutes before I had the guts to twist it off.  I literally closed my eyes and turned my head as I finally grabbed it and turned, expecting some sort of gush to knock me back. Of course, nothing came out.  So I attached my drain hose (The grey tank was full, and I had filled the black tank to about half, just so I could get the practice of emptying it) when out came my neighbor, wondering if I needed help. " No, I got it", I said with confidence.  (I was thankful to have a back up person, just in case.  I learned how nice RV folks are from the minute that I pulled in.  I thanked him for "standing by",  and he complimented me on being so self sufficient).  All went well, and I hooked up my garden hose afterwards to rinse out my connecting hose, and stowed it all away when I was done.
MINOR SNAGGLES: the right side arm rest fell off my driver's chair when I pushed it up to go back into the coach, and I can't get it back on.  I will make this a project before my next trip.  Also, the built in coffee maker (Black and Decker Space Saver) that comes with just about all Tiffins, didn't work.  Now this was a problem.  Decided to make coffee on the stove top, but need matches to light the burner.  I didn't have any.  One more thing for my check list.
SUPRISES:  I found a compartment that I hadn't been shown or seen before.  It had the owners manual for the chassis (I only have the owners manual for the rig and all appliances).  I have a Chevy Chassis (not a Ford, as I had reported before).  It says "light truck" which has me a little concerned, as I will be towing an enclosed trailer with two Quads and a dirtbike over steep terrain on my next trip.  I have read the manual word for word, and it makes no reference to towing capacity.
I tried to attach pictures of our spot, but they are too big.  If I can figure out how to reduce the bite size, I will attach later.
Sorry for  the long post!
Thank you for your excellent advice.
Jozee
 

Tom

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Jan 13, 2005
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48,732
Hi Jozee,

Thanks for the report. Glad to hear the first trip went almost without incident.

Are you sure your stove doesn't have an igniter or other ignition source? If not, get yourself one of those gas lighters that folks use to light barbeques. More convenient than matches.
 

jozee

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Posts
53
Location
San Diego
rbdtanasi said:
Every once in a while if you suspect your black tank may have a build-up of solids, fill it with about 10-gallons of water, then dump a bag of ice from a convenience store down the toilet.  After that drive around for about 30-minutes to let the ice slosh around and break up the solids.

Rex, I had to laugh when I read your hint on keeping black water tanks clean.  You are exactly right.  We used this method many years ago when I was a waitress in a turnpike diner (just before I went off to college) to clean silex coffee pots that had spent way too much time on burners.  We put cracked ice cubes, a few drops of water,  and rock salt in the pots (some used comet), and swished it all around to scrub off the deposits. They came out sparkling clean and totally free of hard baked on residue.  Still works to this day on my home glass coffee pot.  Now I know the same system works for black tanks, too.

Thanks for the advice!

Jozee
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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At our Silver Springs FL home
Glad to hear your first trip went well, Jozee. Now you are expereinced and can advise others!  ;)

I'm kind of surprised a 1998 motorhome doesn't have an igniter dial or button n the stove, but some older (or entry level) models do not. It may have a pilot  light you can light for the duration of the trip - check the stove manual if you have it. If not, you can probably get a copy online if you can find the stove make & model number. Meanwhile, as Tom suggests, get one of those "gas matches" used for BBQ's and candles.

The tow capacity can't be determined form the chassis alone - have to build the body on it and install a hitch first. The chassis manufacturer knows only the GCWR and GVWR he designs into it. Any "max towing" number he might concoct is meaningless until the coach manufacturer puts the body and other parts on. Somewhere on the coach there should be a GVWR and GCWR rating stated, possibly on a paper stuck inside a cabinet or closet somewhere. If not, you can contact Tiffin and ask for help.  But you will need to know the actual weight of the coach (loaded to go) to determine the available tow capacity from the GVWR and GCWR numbers. There is a section in our forum library on these technical terms.
 

Karl

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Mar 3, 2005
Posts
5,154
Location
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
Jozee,

The coffee maker - is it one of those that has an electronic timer you can set to brew coffee automatically? If so, the electronics probably will not work with a modified sinewave inverter and can be damaged by it. Try setting the clock and brewing a pot while running on shore power or with the generator. If that doesn't work, you'll probably have to replace it. Get one of the manual models with just an on/off switch. But first make sure you check the circuit breakers and any GFCI outlets to make sure they haven't been tripped. Oh, and make sure it's plugged in ;D 
 
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