Uncategorized House Issues

Lost key for Hitch Lock – 2013

Then there was the matter of the receiver hitch lock. I’d lost the keys somewhere along the line. Just would have taken a good whack with a sledge hammer to get it out of there. I had bought a new lock ($9) but I didn’t like the style much. I liked this one. However, since I was in Mexico, and there was a locksmith right across the street, I asked if they could pick the lock for me. The guy came to my RV, picked the lock, took it to his shop and made two new keys for just under $15USD. That’s more than a new lock I know, but only by $3 and I like this design.

 

 

Trailer hitch showing bike rack lock.

Trailer hitch showing bike rack lock.

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Repairing the Door Lock – 2011 Walla Walla

The front door lock assembly was working fine until today when I heard a ‘snap’ when I opened the door. Removing the three screws and pulling apart the assembly revealed a broken spring attached to the inner handle assembly. Glad it broke while the door was opening because if it had happened before, I’d have been stuck inside the RV!

Anyway, just the hook on the spring was broken so I took a flat bladed screw driver and pried the last loop of the coil open, just about where the broken hook use to attach, giving me a gap between coils. This allowed room for a zip tie’s thickness. I inserted a 1/4″ wide zip tie (I mention the size because I think a bigger tie is necessary for strength) and zipped it around a tab that the manufacturer of the lock was so kind to have there (intended for the hook at the end of the spring – which is now broken off). Checking the operation I noted that the zip tie barely moved when I operated the door handle! A good thing because the lack of movement means the zip tie isn’t being stressed to much and should give me long life. I did try a smaller tie but it moved too much and one of the stress points was over an angle . Even if the larger zip tie I used doesn’t last, I still have the spring and can possibly find a match at Ace Hardware or somewhere similar. When I happen into a hardware store with lots of springs, I’ll run back to the RV, grab it and match it up! Meanwhile, it’s working perfectly, and I don’t expect it to break at the zip tie for a very long time.

After that broken spring was repaired, I lubed everything, inspected, and added lock tight to the screws that hold it together and tightly to the door so it would stop loosening up all the time.

Here’s a picture of the lock assembly after repair. It’s easy to see the zip tie there in the center of the picture holding onto the post. Should work well. Maybe even last until I sell this beast.

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Update: 2015 – Still working fine.

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Stopping the creeping rug

I got myself a 2′ X 5′ rug to put in front of the couch shortly after I bought the RV and found that the thing was always trying to creep up to the front of the rig. It was weird, I’d walk on it for just minutes and zoom, it would be six inches closer to the dash. I found that the same thing happened to nearly every RV owner and the RV.net forum had lots of advice to keep the damn thing in place. I tried several of the ideas, like putting that rubberized shelf covering under the rug and a couple other ideas which did work but just for a short time. Then I tried stapling the rug to the floor. That worked but the rug started moving just a couple weeks after installation since the staples worked out of the floor easily. Then I tried stainless screws and large flat washers and screwed one end of the rug to the floor. So far the best idea and it worked for over a year, but then the rug started ripping where the screws went through it.

I bought a new rug, making sure it had a nice strong looped edging, and then bought some 36″ X 1/2″ X 1/8″ aluminum strip stock. I cut it to 24″ then drilled 6 holes in it and inserted some stainless wood screws through the aluminum, through the rug just passed the edging, and into the kitchen floor. The aluminum bar is acting like a large washer. It’s been months now and it looks like this idea will hold. I’ve got my fingers crossed. It stays very nice and flat and doesn’t seem to have the tendency to rip out where the screws pass through the rug. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Here’s a shot of the rug and clamp. Note that since it tries to head to the front of the rig anyway, I only clamped it at the back end, there’s no need for a clamp at the frond end, since it stays taunt all the time:
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Here’s a close up of the clamp bar:
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Dash Wiring

The dash wiring had been causing problems for months so I figured it was time to do something about it. It was nothing more then adding a few ‘Ty-Wraps’ to hold the wire bundles in place; soldering an extension on a too short wire; and building a LED lamp and resistor assembly to replace the melted plastic that once held a 12V lamp plugged into the back of a switch that I had had to toss:
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All that should make it easier on me because the weight of the bundles would often disconnect a couple of indicator (tell-tale) lamps due to road bounce. That in turn would cause an annoying misunderstanding of the state of either the electric entry/exit steps, closed when expected to be open can cause a nasty fall; or the basement lamps, leaving them lighted for too long could melt something or cause a fire if in close proximity to flammables. The dash lights are my reminders.

I know it’s difficult to see anything under there that I might have done, but trust me, those little annoying problems are finally repaired and working correctly.

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Damaged Basement Door Surrounds

Since this rig is a ’94, the basement doors are an old style. The door frame sticks out about 1/2″ past the body of the rig unlike the newer models that have a smooth exterior. While they are perfectly fine for most low mileage RV’ers, I tend to put more miles on my rig per year and as a result of trying to get the rig into some tight parking spaces in RV parks, I’ve bumped into some trees or cut a turn to tight and scraped guard barriers with the side of the rig. That means some of the door surrounds are damaged. Here’s a picture, the most visible damage is at the bottom of this door on the left:

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And a closer shot:

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Soon as I figure out where I can get replacement parts, I’ll try to repair these.

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LP Detector Modifications

I have a CCI Controls LP Detector and over the 2.5 years I’ve lived with it I have come to hate it. It turns ‘ON’ a solenoid that allows gas flow to the RV. The furnaces, stove, hot water heater and the refer all were supplied by this valve. It would sometimes start beeping within 15 minutes of my starting the GenSet (generator that provides 120V ac power while you’re boondocking – and it’s LP gas powered), seemingly detecting unburned LP gas from the exhaust gases. Then it would sometimes take an hour or so to clear the alarm after shutting off the genset. I can’t count the number of times I would have to wave a towel in front of the damn thing to clear it so I could light the stove and cook something or get the refer running again!

It was just doing it’s job so I couldn’t complain too much but I did know from lurking around RV forums that most people that complained about the LP detector being too sensitive would just buy new and their problems would generally be over or at least reduced. I wasn’t happy with that option, since there were also those who said, “All you have to do is clean out the detector and it becomes less sensitive”!

So, being the curious type, I decided to open it and see what I could see. I used a small grinding disk to cut through the plastic case which is welded (melted) together, with the usual warnings of ‘No user serviceable parts inside’. Well, that’s simply a lie. All the parts inside the case are standard electronic parts readily available at any electronic distributor. When I looked up the documentation for the heart of the system, the LP gas detector, I found that the data sheet, used by engineers to design the circuit to begin with, stated, “Very long lifetime” for the detector. Usually, in data sheet speak, that can mean 10-20 years.

I set it up on the work bench and applied power, it started beeping a warning within seconds. Several tests later and it still beeps after warm up, as though it’s detected LP gas. Then I used my vacuum cleaner and vacuumed out the detector. It immediately began working correctly. From that point on, whenever I would test the device, it worked OK. So, it seemed that those few on the forums who had suggested that the detector needed cleaning rather then replacement are correct. My tests confirmed that.

This picture shows the circuit board after removal from the plastic case. The LP detector is that brown round device near the middle of the board that has the silver colored metal screen. The circuit I added is not shown here, it is now connected to the terminal strip at the top of the board, with several circuit board modifications required:
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I took a couple days to reproduce the electronic circuit schematic, so as to understand the functional aspects of the circuit. Then I began to work on a modification to the circuit that would give me a ‘Bypass’ function of some kind, sort of like a ‘quiet’ button on a fire detector. I’d already discovered that the circuit used a high side design…by which I mean that there is no connection of this device to ground, except through the LP solenoid (coil). This is a safety design that helps prevent, by it’s very nature, several failure modes that might actuate the coil when it shouldn’t be.

A couple months previous, I had teased out the method of that high side operation of the coil and added my own off/on switch, push button switch, and dropping resistor to the setup so I could bypass the faulty LP detector. Now that I had a working LP detector, I looked for ways to build in a bypass circuit to avoid those excessive false detections that I found so annoying. Having the schematic certainly helped.

This picture shows where I added a push button on the front panel of the detector. I caught the green LED just as it blinked, which indicates that everything is OK…no gas detected. The red LED next to the green is also something I added, it’s function when lit is to announce that the LP detector is not operating but that the valve is ‘ON’:
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If the detector does falsely detect LP gas, while I’m cooking for instance, I can switch the detector ‘OFF’, open a window or two, try to figure out if I actually have a LP leak, turn on all my exhaust fans, then press that pushbutton which will actuate the LP coil and I can finish cooking dinner. Pretty handy. Of course, not a good idea if there is an actual LP leak, but I’ll only use it when I’m pretty sure everything is clear.
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