One of the reasons I started this category was so that people new to RV buying could learn from my mistakes and find out exactly what purchasing and owning a used motor home entails. I think today’s post is the beginning of a possible series of these lessons.
The 3 things to cover this time:
- Preparing for the first trip
- The voyage to the destination
- The voyage home
First of all there is the preparing. We bought all the things we thought we needed to stock the motor home up one. Cups, utensils, drinking water, camping chairs, etc. Then came time to fill the fresh water tank. I put the hose in the fill hole, and turned on the water. After a minute or so, water was overflowing somewhere around the center line of the coach. I assumed because it was full. Of note: the gauge inside showed the fresh water tank was full before I even started, but the warning voice thing tells me the fresh water supply is empty. So there is some sort of discrepancy already. At this point I go inside and turn on the water pump to test the sink. Nothing. I got a tiny drizzle for about a second. That’s it. Keep in mind, the dealer supposedly checked all this out. Well, at this point there was a noise outside the wife noticed that turned out to be some pipe near the water heater that had a plug removed. We turned off the pump and screwed the plug into the pipe and turned on the pump again. Still nothing. Well, this trip is just a day trip and we can go without water this time. So I will dig through the owner’s manual and see if I can find out what I am doing wrong. This topic is to be continued another time…
Second is the voyage North. For this trip we went a whopping 50 miles or so from home to an autocross. This was one of our main reasons for getting a motor home was to take kids with us to these races and have a place for them to hang out. I got in the motor home and started it idling for a bit since it essentially won’t run until it is warmed up due to the ECU cutting almost all power until water is up to temp. I get in, back it out of the driveway, and pull up to the stop sign in front of my house. There is this annoying beeping noise. It does this if something is not in travel ready condition. I looked all over, made sure the slide-out was fully retracted. Made sure the steps were in and the door was shut fully. Made sure there was no warning lights anywhere. Tried turning off the coach and restarting. Tried running the generator. Tried turning off the house battery. Nothing made it go away. Don’t want to be late for the race, let’s just go. Hopefully the noise will stop. Well, about 5 miles from home, I stop at a stop light, light goes green, I step on the throttle. The engine died. I tried restarting it and on the 4th time it finally fired back up, the noise was gone, and she ran fine all the way to the destination. Curious. I asked some people when I got home what it could have been, nobody had any clue. My best uneducated guess is that maybe the glow plugs were stuck on and got cylinder temps high enough it detonated and the ECU shut me down. Hell, to be honest I don’t even know for sure that the 40e even has glow plugs. I assume it does.
And lastly, the voyage home. After the race, I loaded up the kids, pulled the slide-out in, started the engine. That noise did not come back. Everything worked great while we were there. Except for the water of course. Just after I got on the freeway, the little voice tells me there is an alternator charge failure. Oh, this is great. Bitch couldn’t tell me this like 100 yards earlier before I got on the freeway. I looked down and saw that the tach bounced a couple times then went to zero. I can’t think of a lot of things running off the chassis battery other than maybe some lights, and the ECU, so maybe it will last. I kept an eagle eye on that voltage gauge. Normally, it would run at about 13V. But it was sitting at 12V, sometimes dropping to 11.5 then coming back to 12. Once I got off the freeway, when I would stop at a light, the voltage would drop to 11 at every light and slowly come back up to 12 while I drove. The little voice repeated herself every several minutes reminding me that my demise was inevitable. But she made it home without much drama (other than me stopping for a red light and locking up brakes, next time I will just run it if I have that much time). I plugged in the battery tender and it is keeping the battery good for now. I checked the belts, they are super tight, I assume that is normal for this big of an engine, but again, I don’t actually know. Just add it to the list of things I am learning by becoming a long haul trucker overnight J
Now my plans are to learn more about the water system by reading the owner’s manual in more detail. And I can do this while my coach sits at a service center getting once over. I know the dealer supposedly did it, but I don’t know how much I trust them. So I am taking it to a place that works on semi-trucks primarily, but is authorized by aftermarket warranty companies to do coach work. They also happen to be the state’s Detroit Diesel service center. I will have them do an oil change since I have no clue when it was done last. I will have them check out the alternator. And lastly I will have them just give the drive train a quick inspection to make sure all is well in Country Coach land. Oh, another thought for the new guys; the oil change on this sucker is about $260. This seemed a bit high until I did some research and it looks like this engine requires 30 quarts of oil. That’s right, almost 8 GALLONS of that black gold. I guess $260 isn’t that bad after all.
On a side note for new guys that are thinking of doing the insane like me and jumping from never having owned a motor home to owning a 40’ diesel pushing monster coach. She drove like a dream. So smooth. So quiet. So easy to keep in the lane. But braking an air brake chassis after racing a 3,000 lb car on race pads, can cause for some missteps / miscalculations. I will leave it at that, but mention, be careful when braking a behemoth like this.
BTW, the race went well, I got second in class if you care. Woot woot!
You can find previous posts in this series here: