Preflight? Do you really do all of that?

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Ray D

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I have a set of procedures that I use, each time I start the motorhome, to go anywhere, including just to the RV Shop, across town. Don?t want to forget the TV antenna, the awning, or who knows what else. It is on paper, in black and white. (I?m getting too senile to pull it out of my mind.) I made it up and then modified it from stuff I have seen on this forum.

I also have a ?Personal Check List? for me. :(No further comment on that other than I could forget part of my bionic self.)

I have read, and re-read the manuals for maintenance advice. Mostly, it?s pretty good stuff, in my mind. Some of it seems a bit over the top, however. So, maybe my memory of how we used to do it is failing. Maybe I never have done it right. But, back in the good ol? days, right or wrong, we did it differently.

Do you check the transmission fluid, first cold, and then hot, every time you go somewhere? Is that a bit tedious? I?ll confess, I have been doing the cold check, fairly frequently, and having the hot check done, at the shop, a couple of times in the year I?ve had it. I also check the pad for drips and leaks, under the unit. (None, so far.) (I check for fluids on the ground, every time I go near the unit.) The previous unit got a formal check, two or three times a year. Do I need to change my habits?

Oil: If I took a long trip, say 500 miles each way, I?d check the oil at each end of the trip. We are learning the new unit, and partly to save on gas expense, not going much further than two or three hundred miles. I check it at the beginning, and/or the end of each trip. I do not check the oil if I stop for lunch. Disaster, lurking?

Approaching a mountain pass, I watch the gages, and so far, have just gone on over and down the other side. Coming up on the steep grade that descends from Wyoming, down toward Salt Lake City, I did stop at the top, before descending, and checked everything. Back in my truck driving days, I stopped at the top of each long grade and did a quick check on everything, let the engine cool a bit, and clear the cobwebs out of my head.

I haven?t been down ?The Grape Vine? in California, in more than 35 years. It?s probably been straightened out, by now. However, I did have a clutch shred itself there, once, about two thirds of the way down. I had a light load on a 2 ? ton Ford. I pulled into the fast lane, and noticed a CHIP unit with lights flashing, behind me. I didn?t know how things were going to work out, but got a chuckle out of the idea of a ticket. Just hoped I would be in good enough condition to sign it!

I was pretty surprised, at how well the truck handled at those speeds. Approaching 100mph, it was smooth as glass. The last turn was a wide one, right on the edge of controllable. By the way, the cop pulled in front of me, and led the way. At the end, all he did was stop and ask if I was alright. Told him I?d be fine, in a little bit and asked him to call my wife to arrange a rescue for the truck. 

Anybody ever watch the Hollywood scene where a passenger car pulls in front of the runaway school bus, gently matches bumpers and brings it to a safe stop. Heh, heh, heh! Wonder if anyone ever tried that. Ever succeeded, even on a gentle hill?

OK, tire pressure. How many get down on their knees and use the gage, and how often? If you have PressurePro, do you double-check it with a gage, and how often?

I used to check the tires on my trucks, several times a day. But, I rarely used a gage. I kept my old habit, right up to recently. Hate to think I have to get down there with a pressure gage, several times a day! I have it re-aligned, twice a year - and have them check the tires with a gage anytime it is in for any kind of service. Other than that, I have used the old, (perhaps too old,) truck driver?s method. Is that out of style, now?

In case there is more than one old truck driver?s method, I use - used - the iron bar method. Three foot crow-bar is fine. One whacks the tire smartly, across the tread. You get a thump and a ring. The higher the pitch of the note, the higher the pressure in the tire. We looked for all tires to give the same ringing tone. You get a soft ?whump? and no ring, out of a tire that has little or no pressure Once in a while, we used the gage.

Do I need to upgrade my proceedures?

Ray D.
 

Tom

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Hi Ray,

100 mph down the Grapevine in a big rig. Glad I wasn't a passenger that day  :eek:

Do you check the transmission fluid, first cold, and then hot, every time you go somewhere?

Some folks add another mark ("full cold") to the transmission dipstick if it doesn't already have one. The Allison transmission on our DP allows the driver to check the fluid level from the dash when we pull in at the end of the day's drive, so I'll normally only check the dipstick before a trip.

I usually, but not always, check the oil before leaving each morning. Probably an overkill and I doubt you have disaster lurking with your method.

Prior to installing the PressurePro I got in the habit of checking tire pressures before leaving every morning. Now I just press the button on the PP before leaving and, if I remember, press it several times during the day. I do a gauge check before installing the sensors at the beginning of a trip. I'm also in the habit of walking around the rig at each stop (including lunch stops) with an infra red temperature sensor in my hand and look for a tire that might be much hotter than the others.
 

Ray D

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Location
Boise, Idaho
Didn't quite make 100. Didn't look at the speedometer, much, either. It was close, last time I looked at it, just coming up on the last long curve. I paid most attention to the cop, following him through traffic. Loved that guy! Had a passenger,? employee. He just sat there like he did that every day.

In prior discussions with other drivers, I had heard that one should not even bother with the brakes, in a run-away. I had to try them, two or three times. Just smoked my tires, for nothing. I quit trying. I have a hunch that today's brakes are a bit better than that.

I have the "full cold" and "full hot" marks on the dip stick. Wish I had a way to check from the dash.

I do a "walk-around" every time I stop, including for lunch. Where does one get the infra-red temperature sensor, and what is it called? I think I like it!

You said, "I do a gauge check before installing the sensors at the beginning of a trip."

Do you take your PressurePro sensors off, between trips? If so, do others do that? Strikes me that they should be hidden behind the covers, and you would have to take the covers off, as well.?

I don't have the PressurePro, yet. Still mulling the $500.00 cost. My knees and my frugal nature are still involved in a dispute about those. I'll let you know who wins.

Ray D.

Does anyone, anywhere, discount the PressurePro system?
 

Ned

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You can buy an infrared thermometer at Radio Shack, about $50 if I recall.

The cost of the Pressure Pro system can be recouped if you catch just one tire failure with it.  If nothing else, it makes it so easy to check your tire pressures that you will do it every day while travelling.  I check ours before startin out and often while on the road.  Pushing a button is so easy compared to stopping and reading each tire, even with the IR thermometer.  Check with Bernie Dobrin, a member here, about pricing.  He'll sell it to you at as good a price as you'll find anywhere else.
 

Tom

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Ray D said:
Wish I had a way to check from the dash.

When I check the transmission dipstick I have to open up a hatch in the bedroom floor.

Where does one get the infra-red temperature sensor, and what is it called?

It's called an infra red thermometer and I bought mine at RadioShack. Just point it at a tire, press a button and you get an instant temperature reading. If one tire was low it would be running hotter than normal. I got the idea from a friend, I tried it and decided it was worth doing every stop.

If you buy one, remember that not all the tires will read the same; On our coach front tires run cooler than rear, inside tire of a dually runs hotter than outside, tires that have been on the sunny side while travelling will be hotter than those on the shady side. But I suspect you are already aware of this. (I posted it for the benefit of others who might be reading along).

Do you take your PressurePro sensors off, between trips?

Yes. Our coach is kept at a storage lot rather than at the side of the house as our prior coach was. Also, our toad (a Suburban) has its own tire pressure monitoring system which does not use the PP sensors when it's being driven solo from home.

Strikes me that they should be hidden behind the covers, and you would have to take the covers off, as well.
 

All my PP sensors are visible and accessible at all times. See the attached photos.

Click here for a PPro source. Contact him privately via the email link for a price quote.

[edit]Fixed typo.[/edit]
 

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Ray D

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Location
Boise, Idaho
Tom: Thanks for the info. And, You said, "But I suspect you are already aware of this." Don't assume much about my prior knowledge. My prior knowledge has gotten pretty dusty and my pride got all used up, years ago!

Actually, I didn't think about front tires running cooler. I would have figured out a higher reading on the inside duallies, but hadn't thought of that, yet.

Quite happy that the new unit fits the old pad. It was close. Pretty much fills that part of the yard. Glad I don't have to store it, for a lot of reasons!

And thanks, Ned. More responses give me more confidence.

I'll be getting the Infra-Red thermometer, today, if they have it in stock.

I'll contact the PP guy that you recommended, but before I get PP, I have an issue to settle about a toad. Have gotten to the point where I am going to post, for advice on that, too. Have had a heck of a time with that issue!
 

Carl L

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west Los Angeles
I haven?t been down ?The Grape Vine? in California, in more than 35 years. It?s probably been straightened out, by now. However, I did have a clutch shred itself there, once, about two thirds of the way down. I had a light load on a 2 ? ton Ford. I pulled into the fast lane, and noticed a CHIP unit with lights flashing, behind me. I didn?t know how things were going to work out, but got a chuckle out of the idea of a ticket. Just hoped I would be in good enough condition to sign it!

It has changed a bit.  It now has a pair of runaway truck escape ramps.  CalTrans must have heard about your adventure.  ;D


 

Ray D

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Boise, Idaho
I would have thought that they would have straightened that turkey out, by now! It was legendaty, forty years ago.

I took our new motorhome north out of Boise, for the first time, a couple of weeks ago. Four, 7% grades, each way, on that trip. Love the new technology in modern transmissions! Took some thought, in advance, but handled the grades and the turns like a champ! Knocked my fuel mileage into a cocked hat! Got 6.8 mpg for the 200 mile trip  :(

Ray D.
 

Ray D

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Location
Boise, Idaho
Went to Radio Shack. They didn't have the infra-red thermometers, anymore. He said they didn't sell well, and were discontinued a year or so, ago. He looked them up on their web, to see if there might be some still in a warehouse, somewhere. No luck.

Punt? Now what? Got a manufacturer's name, anybody? Any other ideas?

Ray D.
 

blueblood

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Mar 16, 2005
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My new Dutch Star comes with a system much like my old jet. It displays several screens of checklists for most of the items one should check before leaving. One can toggle down through each and do a mental or physical check. After finishing these screens it presents two screens where one can outline a trip. The first the entire trip, the second that days trip. Finally, the last screen presents the critical engine data which one can view as long as desired. This is all displayed on back camera screen so I drop this last screen after things are normal and leave the screen viewing rear full time. The rig has a two line digital display in front of driver that can display any engine or other variables (temperature,etc) one wants as you go down the road.

 

Ray D

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Boise, Idaho
Blueblood: I have a computer system on my dash, below the speedometer, that I haven't even turned on, yet. Will get to it, someday, when I have the rest figured out. Not sure I have the knowledge to figure it out, even then. There is nothing about it, in the manuals, that I can find. I suspect it is just a trip computer, but it may have more stuff on it.

Tom: Thanks, again. Just got back from a shopping trip, all over town. Got everything I need, for all the stuff I have to do, that I know about at this time. Found a laser pointer infrared thermometer at NADA. It was on sale at half price, still a bit more than the one in your link, but it's a done deal. Got a new tire gage, with flexible hose and a meter instead of a stick, for knee crawling around the dualies. Got some spray WD-40 to loosen up my sticky jacks. Got other stuff too. Good for a couple of days of fiddling around the RV.

Ray D
 

Tom

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Ray,

The pressure gauges with the flex hose are a lot easier to use than the other type of gauge. But I've had two of them die on me, both purchased at Camping World.
 

Ned

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I found the truckers size stick style gauge to be the easiest and most accurate to use on the motor home tires.  A small stick style gauge works best for the car.
 

Tom

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Ned,

After having two of the CW dial gauges fail, I bought a truck tire gauge like you describe.
 

BernieD

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Goodyear, AZ
Ray

If you use the PressurePros regularly, you don't have to have them checked or get down on your knees. if a sensor goes wrong, you will know it. By the way, there have been some tests with experienced tire thumpers and they couldn'lt identify a low tire consistently with their thumpers.

As Ned says, the trucker stick type work best and with a PressurePro you only need to use it when you first install the PPs or change pressures.
 

Ray D

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Boise, Idaho
Bernie: Depending upon how much difference the "thumpers" were required to identify, I wouldn't be a bit surprised that they were inconsistent. The difference between a properly inflated tire and a flat, for example, is pretty distinctive. A slitghtly low tire would be difficult to detect, or not detectable.

I had an arrangement with a truck stop, where I stored most of my trucks, and each morning when they left for work, all were gassed up, tires, oil and lights checked. Quick routine repairs were done, without a specific authorization from me. I would go in, once a day, and pay whatever tab there was. Truck stops have changed, since then - a whole lot!

We did demolition and job site clean-up, mostly. We spent a lot of time at job sites and dumps. That means a lot of flat tires. The tires got hot, so we didn't use a gauge, during the day. We thumped, looking for flats, mostly. Sometimes we got suspicious of a tire that clearly wasn't flat, or at least, not yet.

That truck would go to the truck stop and get whatever maintenance it needed, then return to the job. Sometimes that involved a tire change. We kept mounted spares for all of the trucks, at the shop. If a tire that had read correctly in the morning, checked low during the day, on the guage, that tire was taken off of the truck and a spare mounted. We didn't just add air. Usually, it had a nail and the deflating process had begun. Run it and ruin it. I tried to avoid ruining tires, back then. They were expensive!

The world has changed quite a bit, since then. I am very happy to be unemployed.

Ray D.
 
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