Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

Mark...My Words

Mark Nemeth



Hi, all! As the weather starts to warm up here in East Texas, I’m thinking about the upcoming RV season! I hope you are, too! Keep those questions coming!
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Hi, Mark,
First, let me say this is my third question to you; the last two were answered with such clarity I thought of you for this one. I have a 32" Jensen flat-screen TV in my 2010 5th-wheel trailer. I have difficulty getting channels when hooked up to cable. I have checked the post connection with another TV; it works well. When performing an autoscan for cable channels, the unit may or may not locate channels. If channels are found, the reception is terrible (snowy), especially at lower numbers. I have replaced the wire connecting to the post, with the same result. The antenna amplifier is off when I attempt to autoscan for cable. The reception of the TV in the AIR mode works well, and the picture is very clear, and the autoscan for air works perfectly. Keep up the good work. Thanks again, Ron

Hi, Ron,
First off, make sure that the TV doesn't have a setting for cable-only and for antenna-only in one of the menus. It may be that simple! If not, then we need to look at the cabling in the RV. Since the TV works fine for over-the-air channels, we can pretty much eliminate the TV, the cable, and the antenna amp and antenna. Everything there seems to be working fine. I think your problem is going to be either the cable between the wallplate power supply and the cable TV inlet jack on the RV, or the connectors on either end. It might possibly be a problem with the “pass-thru” function of the wallplate power supply for cable, but I think the connections or the cable are most likely. First, look at the outside cable TV jack. Remove it from its mounting and make sure the coax cable connection is in good shape. If that's OK, let's go inside the rig and look at the wallplate where the TV hooks up. The wallplate power supply is where the power switch for the antenna amp, the F connector for the TV's coax cable, and the 12V outlet are. This device is the power supply for the actual antenna amp, which is housed in the batwing part of the roof antenna. If you remove the screws that mount the wallplate power supply and pull it out a bit, you'll be able to see the coax cable connections. One is for the antenna, one is for cable input, and one is for a second TV. Check the condition of the cable connections for any obvious problems. A quick test of the wallplate would be to run a coax cable temporarily from the cable TV connection at the pedestal and connect it to the cable inlet on the back side of the wallplate. If it works properly, then you have eliminated the wallplate as the source of the problem, and you'll have to look at the cable between the wallplate and the outside cable TV jack. If the cable is bad, sometimes it is easier to run a new cable and install a new cable TV inlet on the RV, rather than trying to replace the often-buried original coax cable!
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Hi, Mark,
This fall, while traveling through Montreal, Canada, we had a tire on our fifth-wheel blow out. It blew all the treads off the tire but maintained its air pressure. Several campers told us to take it back to the Goodyear tire service as it should be under warranty. This tire was three years old. Other campers told us of their experience with Goodyear tires, and it seemed to be the same as our problem: the treads blew off. Is this a common problem with this make of tire? When searching for a spare, we found that all our options for a "G"-rated tire lead us right back to a Goodyear tire. Are there no other makers of G-rated tires available ? We have a 37-foot Mobile Suite and loaded is 17,000 pounds. By the way, we got turned down for the warranty of the tire. Does that not surprise you? Hopefully, you can give us some guidance. Thanks, Mark. Sandra

Hi, Sandra,
There are several things that may have contributed to the tire failure. If the tire was damaged by a curb strike or some other road hazard, it could run for a while and then go to pieces under load. If the tire that blew out was a leading tire, especially if it was the curb (passenger) side leading tire, that lends some credence to the curb-strike theory. It is also possible that you could have picked up a puncture and the loss of air pressure in the tire led to the failure. Finally, are you certain that the tire was not overloaded and was properly inflated? You have a fairly heavy trailer, so overweight issues are always possible. Since you are probably running a G-rated light truck (LT) tire on the trailer, you should be able to find other manufacturers that make a similar tire. Michelin is the only one I would recommend personally, but just be certain that any tire you select has the correct load rating for your RV. It is also a really good idea to get your RV weighed to be certain that you are not exceeding a tire or axle rating.
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Mark,
I have a 2008 Fleetwood Southwind that I need to keep at an outdoor storage lot. What should my procedure be regarding the house batteries? We live in Colorado where it can get very cold (minus 5 last night). I have been just taking the batteries out and bringing them home when not using the RV throughout the winter. Do I need a battery charger (if so, what type)? The first winter, we had the batteries freeze and crack, which caused us to get new batteries. Please advise the necessary steps we should take to care for our batteries. Thanks, Charles

Hi, Charles,
You are doing just about the best thing you can for your batteries. Removing them and storing them indoors will provide maximum protection from freezing. Batteries do self-discharge over time, so I would recommend putting a standard automotive battery charger on them overnight about once a month, and make sure they are topped up with distilled water. These chargers are available anywhere auto parts are sold, and a 10A charger is more than adequate for the task. If you have 12V batteries, just hook the charger up to them one at a time. If you have 6V batteries, you will either need to find a charger that has a 6V setting, or temporarily add a jumper wire to connect pairs of 6V batteries in series and then charge that pair just like any 12V battery. If you are uncertain about the wiring for 6V battery sets, take a look at my “12V Side of Life” article at http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm.
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Mark:
My RV trailer came with maintenance-free deep-cycle batteries and a solar panel that charges them when they get low. Can the electrolyte level in the maintenance-free batteries still be checked, or does it even need to be checked? The batteries are Battery Pro. Thanks, Loren

Hi, Loren,
Most “maintenance-free” batteries are not truly sealed, and if the caps can be removed, distilled water can be added if needed. You'll just have to look at the tops of your batteries and see if they have any removable caps. If they are truly sealed batteries, then water cannot be added. The only sealed deep-cycle batteries that do well in RVs are the AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries available from solar equipment suppliers. These batteries are truly 100 percent sealed and are very tolerant to the kinds of use and abuse that are typical in an RV. They are quite expensive, about 2x to 3x the cost of standard deep-cycle batteries, but are perfect for installations where venting of gases or access to the batteries for adding water are problematic. If your batteries are AGMs, then there is no maintenance needed other than occasional cleaning and tightening of connections. There are some good descriptions of the various types of batteries on my 12V pages at http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm .
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Mark:
I try to do my own RV repair and sometimes get into trouble. My present problem is in flushing my fresh-water system; a leak was detected in the plastic connection into the tank that goes to the water pump and to the tank drain outside. You have guessed the rest, but, in tightening the connection, I cracked the female-threaded portion that goes into the tank. What do I do now? Can I use a glue or cement that will adhere to this opaque, poly-something tank material? If so, I may then make another hole and connector/connection after sealing this one with a cemented plug. Chuck

Hi, Chuck,
Dang, that’s a tough one. It depends on what the tank is made of. If it’s polyethylene (feels kinda slippery like Teflon), just about nothing will stick to it. If it’s ABS or fiberglass, then you have hope, as there are standard compatible adhesives for them. Most of the non-glue-able tanks are heat-welded. You may be able to identify a heat-welded tank by looking at a seam. Some folks have had partial luck with silicone caulk, or JB Weld, but there are no standard all-purpose adhesives that won’t let go after some flexing. I have heard about a possible adhesive for poly tanks—3M product #DP8005. Here’s an information sheet on it: www.stealth316.com/2-dp8005.htm You can also take it to a place that does poly-tank repair. They use a device similar to a wood router with an attachment to spin the new outlet at high speed and friction-weld it into place. One last idea: There are tank fittings available that can be installed from the outside of the tank. Commonly called “uniseals,” they are used on agricultural and industrial tanks for low-pressure connections. Most plastic tank manufacturers will have them in stock. Here’s an example: www.tank-depot.com/product.aspx?id=161 .


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Mark Nemeth has been involved with all things RV for more than ten years, including almost 5 years on the road as a fulltimer. Nowadays, Mark is parked for a while and works on staff for the Escapees RV club as technical advisor, consumer affairs director, and instructor in the Escapees RVer's Boot Camp program.



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Please remember, material will be edited. Because of the large volume of material and correspondence submitted, individual replies will not be possible, nor can we acknowledge receipt of your material. Selected questions will be answered in future issues of the Woodall's/CampingLife Navigator newsletter in the Mark, My Words column.

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Some content previously printed in Escapees magazine, published by the Escapees RV Club. All material provided by Mark Nemeth, Escapees Magazine Technical Advisor and Boot Camp Instructor. For more information about the Escapees RV Club, please visit www.escapees.com or call 888–757–2582.



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