Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Honey-do list

When you're a solo RVing woman, you can have a "honey-do" list ("Honey? Do this.) However, there is no "honey" to do anything for you. You need to take responsibility for your own maintenance and upgrades.

Recently, my batteries started losing their charging power. I was running the generator for a half hour to charge the batteries and they only held a charge for an hour. I checked the batteries for an installation date and couldn't find one. Either they were too old to charge or there was a problem with the generator.

While I was charging the batteries yet again, the generator suddenly became very loud. Muffler, I thought. Great.

I made an appointment at the shop and bought two new 6-volt batteries. Running in tandem, two 6-volts have more power than two 12-volts. I don't understand why. Each 12-volt puts out 100 watts. Each 6-volt puts out 180 watts.

After installing the batteries, I asked the man if he could find the dates on them. We looked at one and found 2004. We never did find a date on the other. I assume it was older and just tired. He asked when they were replaced and I told him I didn't know.

Then he looked at the generator. No problem assessing what happened: there was a golf ball-size hole near the connection and the muffler was hanging down on one side.
The other mounting bracket held it to the frame. The man asked me when it had been serviced. I told him I didn't know.

One of my pet peeves is not knowing something I should know. I had to assume someone replaced a battery in 2004 but had no idea when the other was installed. I also had to assume no one had ever performed any generator maintenance like changing the oil or giving it a tune-up. The generator is an Onan with 589 hours on it. I have been assured by the performance specialist that Onans can run well into the thousands of hours if maintained.

Since I can't hand off that honey-do list to anyone else, it becomes my responsibility to check on needed maintenance. I created a list and flagged my Outlook calendar to let me know when I should schedule service.

By the way, my batteries were installed on November 17, 2007 and I know exactly how old they are now. My generator will be serviced on December 3 (new muffler, oil change, etc.), and I'll be sure to add its maintenance schedule to my calendar. My water filter will be changed on New Year's Eve (do I know how to celebrate or what?).

Suggestion: you might want to check your own RV to update the maintenance records. It won't take long and the next time you need service, you'll know.


  1. Boy, do I appreciate these issues. Buying a used motorhome with no maintenance records put me in the same state as you.

    I got my engine and generator oil changed so I would have a starting point. My batteries were new but I know I need to check the water regularly (note to self - buy distilled water this week).

    The little documentation I received tells me to "service" said item but never tells me how to do it. Guess it's a guy thing...they're born with the genes to know what to do. LOL!

    I just bought the RVers notebook to hopefully help me track all these things. I will add the motorcycle in place of the car and then I still have to track greasing the bearings on the trailer. Ugh!

  2. Yep, I have a spreadsheet to help me keep track of all the maintenance issues. If I don't pay attention, Lucy will whine, cajole, nag and otherwise annoy me until I do.

  3. Yes, thanks for all these Solo Women blog entries. I travel alone, but am not a full-timer. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford a new ClassB a few years ago. It's still a steep learning curve every time I encounter some vehicle problem. I guess it all keeps me humble - like having to admit I have, er had, no idea that I should check my fuses first when an electical device in the van dies.

  4. Gosh Adrienne, maybe you should get you a "honey". ha ha
    I always enjoy your post.
    I bet you know a whole lot more about the RV and RVing than I.
    I have a generator problem I'm trying to correct. I'm not sure being a guy is helping. I don't want to be a girl but I sure like 'em.

  5. Nah, being my "honey" is tough and I wouldn't inflict me on anyone!

    Why don't you post about your generator problem in the "Information Requests" section of the forum? Someone may have an answer or I could research to find a solution for you.

  6. One of the selling points for my "89 LaSAlle was the previous owner had meticulus service records of everything. His handwriting wasn't that great but it was rather easy to decipher.
    I keep spreadsheets of fuel and maintenence (another tracks fees and other costs) which keeps me updated of the actual cost of operation

  7. I always look for solo camping comments. I go solo or with one to three grandsons. I am lucky the thirteen year old has learned to do lots of things required to keep maintenance up. We looked like the two stooges the first several times we went out.

  8. As a retired (female) aircraft mechanic with a used fifth wheel trailer learning how and when to do some of the maintenance has been a royal education as well as a huge laugh at myself. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty but that black water tank will cure you of biting your nails.

  9. We, the wife and I, purchased a fairly new Class A while on vacation in "06. It was an 2004 Allegro and bought from a dealer, who will go un-named. There were no service records at all. That was strange! It recently passed a safety inspection so that wasn't necessary for me to do. Upon arriving home, I went thru the entire rig, from the rear axle to the gen-set, and changed all fluids, oils, filters, etc. Being a heavy-duty mechanic prior to entering law enforcement 32 years ago, I still own all the tools and have the skills to do this.

    Our driveway looked like a truck shop for a day or so. I would highly recommend a full service done on any rig prior to purchase or right there after. Even though this could cost several hundreds of dollars, it will or should give one some peace of mind. Some reputable dealers will have already done this and may even provide the records. Could be a selling point? At any rate, once done, you will have the peace of mind you need as well as a really good starting point.

    There is soft ware available or a simple note book will suffice as long as you use the following:

    1. date
    2. mileage / hours
    3. what was done
    4. who did it if a shop
    5. cost
    6. due next---if regular serve
    There are several manuals geared towards the RV do-it-your-selfers available on the "net" and from book stores that are a real good source of information. These will at least help one to become an informed RV'er and not be at the mercy of the repair shops. Especially women.

    Hope this helps.