Friday, May 21, 2010

Travel Trailer Training

Never having owned/operated a travel trailer, and because we didn't purchase it new, we didn't get a how-to on everything in the trailer. Here is info I learned on the street, and in Ellie's first trial run over nighter in a camp ground. On Sat, May 15th I took her on her maiden (for me) voyage to Bear Creek Lake Park. It had 30 amp elec hookups.

Maybe some other new owner of a used Bambi might find info here of use, because none of it is in the owner's manual.

First things first. Getting in and out of it, and moving around in it made the whole thing bounce around. According to the manual, it has stabilizer jacks. But, where are they? And how do I use them? Are they electric? Airstreams are expensive and more lux than 'other' brands, shouldn't they be automatic? Hey, I did say I have zero experience and zero training...

After much looking around for switches or other controls for a stabilizing jack system, and coming up with nothing, it was time to get my hands dirty and my knees wet (it was raining). I looked under the trailer and found the four jacks (near each corner). I didn't know how to operate them though. Much much later, I found that the jack crank handle was in the rear bumper storage compartment. Once found, it was easy to operate. Just stick the end of the crank on to the threaded rod and turn. A warning to any inexperienced stabilizer jack operator. These are stabilizer jacks. Not leveling jacks. They are meant to stabilize the weight of people moving about inside. They are not meant to take the weight of the trailer itself. Level the trailer before extending the stabilizers.

Leveling the trailer is easy. First level it side to side, but putting a board or other leveling item (ours came with Level Links (or some name like that) on the lower side of the driveway, camp pad, side of the road, etc... And then back the trailer up on to it. I use a level on the kitchen counter. So far I've only needed one or two level links stacked. Once the side to side direction is level, use the hitch jack to level it fore/aft. Once that is done, lower the stabilizer jacks so that they firmly contact the ground, but not to lift the trailer.

Now that it is level, here's a walkaround of where things are for a 2006 19 foot Bambi:

Starting on the outside, facing the door, to the left are two aluminum vented hatch covers. These are for the fridge.

Moving to the left, and lower down is another vented hatch cover. The water heater is behind that.

Moving to the back of the trailer, there are the two storage locations. Bumper (for water hoses and elec hookup cable, etc), and the locking hatch above it, on the right side of the rear of the trailer (I store the tire chocks, level links, bottle jack, tire covers, and misc boards and wood blocks there.

Moving to the rear of the street side should be the cable and phone hookups (have not used 'em), and then the elec hookup. Moving along and down at the bottom of the trailer is the waste dump hookup. In the center is the dump cap (remove to hook up the dump hose). The large valve handle to the right is the black water valve, the smaller one to the left is the grey water valve. While you are down there, look at the bottom of the trailer a ways further down to the left. The dump hose is stored there.

Standing back up and moving towards the front, we should see the city water hookup. This is where a clean water (white) hose can be hooked up to a potable water supply. You do not use your water pump when using this (the water pressure from the supply pressurizes your system). Also, it is recommended to get a pressure regulator to protect your water system from over pressurized camp ground supply lines. Place your regulator at the supply end of your hose to protect your hose as well. A recommendation I got recently (and have not implemented yet) is to get an elbow, so that your white hose does not stick out (tripping hazard) and to keep the hose from crimping where it connects to the trailer.

Near the front of the trailer should be the fresh water tank fill hatch. Unlock and open it to be able to pour fresh water into your white holding tank.

At the front of the trailer are the battery box, propane tanks, and hitch jack.

I'm not at my trailer now, but there are also 2 outdoor 120 volt electric outlets. I think they are near the door.

Appliance testing time...

The furnace was running when we went to look at it, so I was not concerned about that working. But I just needed to know how to operate it. It turned out to be simple. No pilot light. Just turn on the propane and turn the thermostat on (located on the wall next to the bathroom sink). It makes a bit of a roar, but appears to work well.

Water. The fresh water tank was filled before we bought it. To use (cold) water, just turn on the pump (located on the status panel on the wall to the left of the stove), wait for the system to pressurize, then turn on the faucet. Easy peasy.

Water, hot. Is the valve opened to the water heater? Does the water heater have a pilot light? Much searching for the water heater bypass valves finally resulted in locating their presence under the bed mattress. There are two holes cut into the plywood that supports the mattress. One for the water system drain valves, and one for the water heater bypass valves. It was hard to tell which way was on, and which way was off. It looked like the valves were in the correct positions - both hot and cold were open, and the bypass was closed. To verify, I went out to the water heater and, with the water system pressurized, pressed on the pressure relief valve just enough to tell if the system was under pressure. Water streamed/squirted out, indicating that the proper supply valve should be open. OK, so water was in the tank, time to check pilot light. Upon visual inspection, it appeared to have electronic ignition. So I went inside and turned on the water heater (switch is behind the bathroom sink (a red light next to the switch came on). I went outside and could hear the pop pop of the electric ignition attempting to light the flame (remember to turn on the propane). It finally lit and I hear a roar similar to the furnace roar. After about 10 minutes, the roar quit, indicating that the water was up to temp. I then tried running hot water to verify. The faucet coughed and sputtered a bunch of air, indicating that I FORGOT A STEP! Before turning the water heater on, evacuate the air from your pipes! Turn on cold until the air stops sputtering and the water comes out smoothly. Do the same with the hot water side. Do both procedures to both the kitchen and bathroom sink. Flush the toilet for the same purpose. Then turn on the water heater. Turning on a water heater without water in it could damage it.

Time to check the stove top. Visual inspection shows that there was an electric igniter knob. Turning it produced the expected pops. Visually inspect each burner while turning the knob. Verify that a spark is visible at each burner. Now, to light, turn a burner to high/light and continually twist the igniter knob until the burner lights. this can take a while if this is the first use in a while (gas has to reach the burner from the tank). I lit all three burners. Success!

I could not tell if the igniter worked with the oven or not (suspected not). I checked the manual for the oven (Amana) and it had pilot light lighting instructions. Before I followed them, I made sure that as much of the air was gone from the propane supply tubes as possible, by lighting the stove top (once lit I turned them off). I was able to get the pilot lit while I was pushing in the pilot knob. But after 10, 20, and 60 second tries, releasing the pilot button would always extinguish the flame. I suspect a faulty thermocouple. ...So currently the oven does not work.

Moving to the fridge, I found that it works off of either electricity or propane. I turned it on with the button above the door, and it worked. I was not hooked up to power, so it went to gas mode. I could hear the electric ignition popping until it lit, like the water heater. But when this was lit, it did not roar - it was nice and quiet. Later, I plugged in to the 30 amp hookup at the camp site and the fridge switched from gas to elec.

I tried out the awning. It worked nicely. It's best that I don't try to explain it here. There is a nice YouTube video by the president of Zip Dee out there that should be sufficient. Zip Dee. One more item of note about the awning. The first time I used it, I was on my slanted driveway, when I tried rolling it up, gravity pulled it forwards, and the locking knobs no longer matched up with their slots. Don't use the awning if you are not level fore/aft.

Remember to turn you propane on when you start camping (or turn the fridge on), and remember to turn it off when you stop camping. I keep forgetting both.

Next up - dump station...

No comments:

Post a Comment