Off-season disappointments and adjustments

It’s been a short off-season — our first dewinterizing trip is less than a month away! — and I’m really looking forward to taking her out again. I’m hoping we get to use most of our scheduled trips this year, but I’m a bit dubious… Julia’s schedule certainly hasn’t gotten any less challenging. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

Part of the off-season maintenance is monthly generator exercise. I usually “work from RV”, bringing the Wifi hotspot and laptop and hang out for a couple of hours and have the front heat pump and rear air conditioner battle for supremacy. I drove out earlier this week to storage to put her through her paces. Arrived at storage, unplugged her from the electrical outlet and opened the door.

Nothing. No steps.


No lights anywhere, no power, batteries drained. Well phooey. I went to check the outlet and the GFCI had kicked sometime within the preceding week or so. I popped it back in and got the charger going again. I pulled the step cover off and knew things were a bit worse: sulfur stink. Checking the cells showed one of the batteries was really dry in all cells. Double crap. I drove to a nearby store and got some distilled water to refill it in the hopes that I could revive it. Getting the charger going again and got a little gasp of electricity so I figure I had a shot. However, when I returned the following day they wouldn’t hold a charge. Triple crap.

Looks like it’s new battery time

The batteries. Entry door is at the bottom this is the second step up.

Tiffin does many things well. One thing they did horribly in our model year was place the house batteries under the coach steps. It ain’t the worst thing in the world for maintenance but when it’s time to replace batteries it is a chore. The batteries fit quite nicely under there, but there is very little room to maneuver them. There isn’t enough space to, for instance, rotate them so they’d lift out of the compartment. Nor can you lift them straight out without removing the step support frame. And you can only remove the step support frame by feverishly manhandling the black lexan fascia mounted to the upper step facing.

Once you finally get the step frame out you might think you’re sailing clear. Hah! There are wires and fixtures encroaching that space from every angle and even two screw tips jutting out from behind the lexan on the lower step fascia that almost feel malevolently installed to keep you from removing the batteries. Eventually I was able to find a path by pushing the left-most ground wire almost all the way back into its hole, slide the batteries to the left and squeeze past the aforementioned screw tip to extricate them. Phew. Phase one complete.

Let there be light!

$212 later from Costco I had replacement Interstate batteries that I’ve heard reasonably good things about and I was back on the road to Qubie (Costco also takes the old batteries to recycle). I got the batteries in with almost zero fanfare, right back the way I pulled the old ones out. Reconnecting all but the final ground wire went quickly and then I made sure to get my legs situated for the steps to come down and quickly made the final connection… the steps immediately started swinging down and I knew I was back in business. Enabling the 12V system brought the Spider controls back to life and there was light once again!

There had to be a casualty

Guess I need a new fascia.

Now I just had to get the step frame reinstalled. Yeah. Sure. Getting it manhandled out was one thing, getting it back quite another. I’d read on the forum that this task was made easier by prying off the black lexan fascia, and that seems to make sense. So, I started prying it off and making good progress… until I didn’t. It snapped like a dry branch. Lovely. The adhesive was just a little too strong in the upper left I think.


Ah well, not the end of the world.

So, I decided to exercise the generator a bit and then had some time to kill. What to do?

Oh yeah, let’s remove the doghouse!

That’s the “featured” picture above, doghouse removed and engine exposed. Kind of crazy to think that howling V10 engine is right there. And noisy. I’d heard fellow Tiffin owners who’ve installed some Dynamat hood liner to the underside of the doghouse cover to reduce the radiated noise from the engine. You know me, if it’s an improvement I’ll give it a shot. I’d had it for a few weeks waiting for an opportunity to remove the doghouse and get it installed. What better time than waiting for the generator to work up a sweat?

Step one is getting it off, which was not as bad as it could have been. Actually super easy… once I found the final screw that was holding it down. (Note for 2016 Open Roaders: there are 7 screws… 3 across the front, 3 across the back, and 1 on the passenger side. I say 2016 because it’s different from both the 2014 and 2018 from the images I’ve seen.) Once the screws were all out a little prying got the seal released and I was staring at the top of the V10. That’s moderately disconcerting but also really cool.

I took the cover home and did some surgery with a blade to cut the Dynamat to try to fit it well. I used some aluminum Reflectix tape to connect the seams and it ended up really nice! Here’s the before and after shots.

Before. Just a very thin layer of insulation.
After… quite a bit thicker!

It didn’t take too long to get it reinstalled, but it was a wee bit finicky to get it to fit again. That figures, I’d added material that would need to be compressed to allow reinstallation, so I had to stand on it, shove it, apply pressure and weight and push. But finally I got the first screw set and the rest followed in short order.

I admit, I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference with a quick check of the engine. As a rule, I try to keep myself from being overly susceptible to placebo. “I did something, things must be better!” But we’ll see in more typical use and I’ll also get Cat’s take on it. It wasn’t an expensive “improvement” at about $55, so not much lost if it’s not a huge improvement.

Now we wait for a few weeks… then back for our first stay of 2020! Where? Where else, Jordan Lake :).


2 Comments on “Off-season disappointments and adjustments

  1. Pingback: Dewinterizing: better late than never – Shallow Roots

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