“Les Petit Soucis” which I think means “The Small Problems.”
Hitch and I decided to stay through Thanksgiving for a few main reasons: One, to spend a lovely Thanksgiving with a gaggle of geeky friends and, two, to learn the ins and outs of owning and living in a trailer. All our adventures including The Power Jack incident and the Yellow Jackets, although annoying were humorous, worth a mountain experience, and…let’s face it…rather excellent stories to be shared. This one isn’t as exciting, but still worthy of the telling.
Even though our Yamato is new, she still had some kinks in the works:
- Day two, we found a leak near the toilet. Hitch suspected dry gaskets, while my theory was an unlevel trailer. Airstream service said that sometimes the water can splash against the lid and out of the toilet bowl when the lid is down and closed. Regardless, after a week or so no more mini puddles of water appeared.
- After about a week, we noticed that the lights flickered when the water pump turned on. After our service visit with Airstream, we learned that this is caused by one of two things: 1. faulty LED bulbs, which means they need to be replaced or 2. there isn’t enough power and the pump is draining the batteries. Solution: it turns out it was both! Some of the lights needed to be replaced. And it seems that our inverter switch was accidentally turned to “always on”. So now, we only use the inverter when running on batteries. Then suddenly, a light in the galley died. They fixed both the lights and the battery inverter switch.
- At one point, the air fan above the galley range died. Service said that this can happen either because the part was defective or after heavy prolonged use without opening the external galley vent. The galley vent is located outside and allows airflow from the inside the trailer to the outside world. They suspected a dud part because the Airstream was new. The part was replaced free of charge.
- Another leak occurred in the toilet. We discovered a loose wing nut in the flush water supply line. It was easily tightened and the leak was no more. We asked the Airstream service if it was due to city water pressure. They said no because the Airstream has a built in water regulator.
We also installed a surge protector installed, a TRC 34560 Surge Guard 50-Amp Hardwire. For extra, you can get a TR 40298 Remote Power Monitor, so you can view power draw and any faults that may occur. We didn’t go for the power monitor because the Airstream service people failed to mention it before it was installed. *SIGH* They also forgot to give us an operating manual for the Surge Guard, so when there was a 128 second delay for when the power actually turned on in the Airstream we started to freak out. Apparently there is a 128 second delay is built in to protect a trailer’s or RV’s air conditioner compressor, which by the way is mentioned on the first page of the manual.
Why the power surge protector? Electrical voltage (pressure) needs to be near a certain amount for electrical gear (like your computer) to be happy. The voltage in the USA is rated at 120 volts, give or take 5% according to the National Electrical Code. This means that the voltage can range from 114 volts to a high of 126 volts. But to be honest I’ve seen it as low as 110 volts. Any voltage reading outside that range can damage electrical appliances in the Airstream.
Voltage “spikes” can be introduced on a power line for a variety of reasons. The most common and drastic spike is a lightning strike. Such a surge can cause your the power line voltage to go up by thousands of volts on a 120 volt wire. Apparently, the voltage on a common RV hook up can be as much as 280 volts due to faulting wiring.
At RV campgrounds, the opposite can happen in addition to “spikes,” the voltage to the coach can dip very low, as little as 90 volts. This electrical low pressure means that appliances which need serious start-up current (like air conditioners) won’t work.
There is also no way of knowing the condition of the wiring or the circuit breakers on the RV hookup outlet pedestal. The outlets could have reverse polarity, no ground wire, or no neutral connection. So many factors that could end in an outrageous electrical repair bill or worse a visit by the local fire department.
Much of what we know we learned a lot from our service contacts at Seattle Airstream Adventures Northwest. Kind folks and eager to share their knowledge. Of course it does help that they are willing to fix many of our problems for free.