Saturday, April 5, 2014

What You Don't Know May Hurt You.

We have owned our 2011 Fleetwood Discovery 40G since Jul 2011 and there are still things I do not know about it.  Today's RVs are very advanced especially when it comes to its systems, such as the electrical.

I remember asking whether or not it had a solar panel when we were given our walk through of the unit when we bought it and was told no.  But the first time I climbed on the roof, I saw a single solar panel which trickle charges the house batteries.
Solar panel on the RV.
The first time we stayed in it, the air conditioner would not work, due to a faulty thermostat, while it was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Of course I did not know what was wrong and figured I messed it up when I hooked up the RV to shore power the first time.  When we did our walk through earlier that day, the AC was working fine.  After a miserable night of not sleeping, a service rep came out and installed a new thermostat and it started working again.

The second time we took it camping the automatic leveling jacks would not work and so we had to sleep backwards in the bed so our heads were not down hill.

After putting it in the shop to have the jacks fixed, which is a story all of its own, we picked it up in the following winter and decided to stay the weekend at a local RV park before we took it home in order to make sure it was fully fixed.  I joked with Misty and said, "Watch us freeze our butts off this time."  

We parked the RV, hooked it up, turned on the heat, which smoked since it was the first time it was ever really used, and went to get something to eat.  It was around 30 degrees Fahrenheit so pretty cold.  When we got back from eating the heat was not running and no matter what I did, I could not get it to kick back on.  I made sure the propane tank was full and that the thermostat had power.

Needless to say we froze our butts off the entire night and probably should have gone to a hotel, but stuck it out.

Long story short, the thermostat was never reprogrammed for the heat when it was replaced when we first bought the RV and the instructions we had was for a different model, so was not too much help to me for troubleshooting the problem.

Also the user manual that comes with your RV is so generic, it is of no real help at all.  It will say something like, "If your RV came with a heat pump, then it will be mounted on top of the RV."  Well it may not be that generic, but pretty close.

I called the shop and got them to send a service rep out to the RV park where we were staying, which took a little bit of demanding on my part, and he soon figured out the problem.

After the thermostat was programmed for heat I asked if we had any heat pumps on board since we have 3 air conditioners on top and was told no.  I was told that our RV just came with three air conditioners and no heat pumps.  I asked that question a number of times like when we bought the RV and times when we had the RV serviced and the answer was always no.

So last week I noticed a musty smell coming out of the AC vents and so bought some AC Safe evaporator coil cleaner to clean the coils and get the musty smell out.
A/C Safe air conditioning coil cleaner.
So I start taking the AC covers off so I can get to the coil covers to remove them and then spray the coils with the foam cleaner.  I start with the first AC unit and sure enough it is just an AC compressor.

Air conditioner compressor and no heat pump.
But when I get to the middle unit I notice that it looks a little different and figure out that it is a heat pump after all.  So all this time we did have a heat pump on the RV.
Air conditioner unit that is also a heat pump.
I climb down off of the roof and go set the thermostat's Zone 2 to use electric heat rather than gas heat and it works like a charm.  Needless to say, I felt pretty stupid for not investigating it earlier to determine whether or not we had a heat pump on board.

I also figured out that since there must not be a heat strip on the unit for when it gets too cold outside, once the temperature drops more than 3 degrees of what you have the thermostat set for, the propane heater kicks on to supplement the heat pump.  This means you can set it for electric heat and the propane heater will kick on if the heat pump can not do the job.

So for over two years we could have been enjoying the benefits of a heat pump which would have saved us a good bit in propane costs if we would have just known one was installed.

This is just another example of what you don't know may hurt you or at least your pocketbook.  After living in the RV full time for almost two years, I'm sure there is still plenty for me to discover.  So do not be afraid to investigate what's on your RV, because you may find out you have more than what you thought.

On another note, now that it is getting pretty out, we have been trying to do some walking in the great outdoors.
Courtney, Chloe(behind Courtney), Tia, Misty, Angel, Ethan, Avery, and Ian sitting on a log.
We were walking from the RV park down to the Elk River and on the railroad tracks that run from Blue Creek into Elkview and Pinch.  

When I was researching which railroad company the tracks belonged to, I was surprised to find out that it was the New York Central Railroad (NYC).  If you will remember, about a year ago, I did a post on the National  New York Central Railroad Museum located in Elkhart, Indiana.

I guess it only makes sense because they were the second largest railroad in United States that they would cover parts of West Virginia.  Actually I think the rail lines that ran through Charleston, West Virginia were actually owned by the Ohio Central Lines which was part of the NYC.  The Coal & Coke Railway also had something to do with these tracks too.  

Searching it on the internet I found conflicting stories about how the Coal & Coke Railway built the tracks back in the early 1900's from Charleston to Elkins, West Virginia for moving coal and later passengers.  Maybe someone who knows the history better than me can post a comment about it.
Railroad tracks heading towards Elkview from Bluecreek, West Virginia.
These tracks are no longer used, so no worry about getting hit by a train while walking on them.  In many places the culverts have been removed along with the tracks, so it is pretty much a guarantee a train will not mistakenly come rolling down these tracks anytime soon.

There are also physical obstacles on the tracks such as fallen trees that the kids enjoyed getting into.  One day we are going to walk from the RV park down to the Dairy Queen and get some ice cream.  We figure the one mile walk back will work off any extra calories we take in.
Fallen tree blocking the train tracks.
Needless to say there is a lot of history with these old railroad tracks, and it is always fun to walk the rails and see how far you can keep your balance and not fall off.

If the tracks could talk, I bet you could hear all types of stories, some good and some bad.  I wonder what this mile marker could tell us?
Mile marker for mile 102.
We are just happy that the weather is warming up so that the cold and snow are gone.  It has been a bad few months for us ever since the end of December and we are hoping the nice spring weather will lift our spirits.

We need to remember to thank God for everyday and be happy that we are all together, healthy, and safe and that we have the ability to travel this great land of ours.

We also pray that all of our family and friends are watched over and kept safe in all that they do.  We have met so many great people over the past two years and hope to meet many more as we travel to new places to explore.

God bless and safe travels to all!

Don, Misty, and Kids...


  1. There is definitely a learning curve with a motor home. It took two years before we finally figured out how to turn on the reading light above the passenger seat. Isn't it amazing how little RV dealers know about the rigs they sell.

    1. Isn't that the truth! It seems all salespersons will tell you what you want to hear when buying their product. When we went to buy a Nissan NV3500 van I specifically asked if it could be dingy towed all 4 wheels down. The salesman said, "Yes, all you have to do is put the transmission in neutral."

      I'm glad I checked into it with a shop that knew, because Nissan vehicles will not dingy tow unless you put on a transmission oil pump or a drive shaft disconnect. I made sure I told the salesman of his mistake and that in the future he needs to let others know that it can not be dingy towed.

      I never trust anyone selling me something and always try to check it out from some other source.


  2. enjoyed reading your blog. Like John and Carol said, big learning curve for sure. I also was doing some maintenance on our basement a/c and touched the wrong thing, ZAP! Got a nice shock and a burn on my finger so be careful!
    We also enjoyed WV when we toured it on our motorcycle a few years ago. We enjoyed all the "company towns" and the history there. Those miners and their families lived hard lives in hard times for sure.


    1. Phil, I grew up in Thomas, WV where coal was king for a long time and did a lot of exploring around old mines and such. Looking back on it I'm lucky to still be alive after some of the things me and my friends did.

      Coal is still big in WV, but not as big as it was in the past and the miners live a lot better and earn a good wage now, compared to the past.

      I'll also be careful when working on the RV, especially with anything to do with the electrical system.


  3. Absolutely right, we are still discovering what we have and perplexed with some that we have. I guess part of the lifestyle.

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