RV there yet? Yes, we are.

Image

Finally, finally, after years of hesitating, looking, researching, and wasted gas and time, we found a motorhome. Oddly enough, I found the ad on Craigslist not minutes after we left an RV dealer’s lot. The ad was only about an hour old, and I jumped on it like a duck on a June bug. It is a 1994 Pace Arrow (by Fleetwood) motorhome. The couple selling it had lived in it for over 2 years while building their home. Fortunately, it was well-maintained, and seems to be in very good condition so far. The downside to a motorhome is that there are a LOT of different systems contained in a single vehicle and you have to go through each and every one of them. So far, we know we need:

New air cylinders for front suspension  (think: The WeebleWobble Mobile while driving!)

Remove and reinstall the refrigerator (hits trim on the interior and also the water drain tube broke into a zillion pieces

Reseal and assess roof.

Check the LP alarm and the LP system to see if it is functioning and if it leaks or not

Test all appliances

Check dates on rear tires (I looked at new tire prices…shudder)

Check all belts and hoses

Get water tank and pump sanitized and running

If I weren’t married to Mr. Fix-It, it’s likely that I would have been much more apprehensive about buying this rig. Ideally, you want to check out ALL systems before buying an RV, but we were happy that it ran, the body is in great shape, and the a/c worked. Also, the price was right for what we got. I have seen similar, if not almost identical rigs going for double what we paid, which is hard to imagine, especially for being a 20 year old mass-produced motorhome.

Anyway, after doing some serious upholstery/carpet cleaning on the interior, I have vowed (yet again) to never live in a house with carpet. Ugh. I finally have my equilibrium back after 3 days of working in an unlevel ‘house’. I kept on running into walls on my RIGHT to try and compensate for leaning to the LEFT. The night before we moved it indoors to another location, Jason checked the leveling system. The man had not used this system at all and used aftermarket jacks to keep it stable. Well, we found that the fuse for the leveling system wasn’t even in the fusebox at all, so after replacing that and hitting a few switches, the 4 leveling cylinders popped out of their places and leveled us right up!  Sure wish we would have done that a few days sooner so my right arm wasn’t so bruised…

Looking forward to NOT setting up a tent in a downpour any more. We’ve taken a whopping 2 vacations, and both have been in the pouring rain and both were spent in a tent. It’s not really “fun” doing the “Wet Tent Dive” to get in and out of your tent. Nor is it fun to get up at 3am and walk to a toilet where bears lurk, or breaking camp in the rain, and shoving your stuff as quickly as you can in the back of a truck without forgetting anything or anyone. That’s the part of camping that I admittedly, will NOT be missing. I’ll enjoy having my own potty, my cooktop, and a roof more solid than just nylon. Oh and a heater…let’s not forget the heater. Most of all, I will not miss being crammed in a small compartment with 4 people, and having to stop for pee breaks and food. Who knew kids’ bladders were the size of a pea, or that they could rapid-fire questions for 4 straight hours? Did I mention that the driver and passenger’s seats are like La-Z-Boy chairs? It’s literally like driving a huge recliner down the road.

Looking forward to traveling in Big Bertha and seeing what there is to see!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. John Bruns says:

    Hi, I saw your blog about your”new” PaceArrow. I just bought a 1993 Pace Arrow and am doing like you did in trying to find out all about the electrical, propane and water systems before I take it out too far from home. home is in Westminster, MD. How is your unit working out for you?
    John brunsjh@erols.com

    1. msdoolittle says:

      John, it is going great. We called Fleetwood and they gave us some electrical schematics (somewhat limited, though helpful). The only thing not really working is the propane fired Atwood heater, but we have an A/C unit up top that does both cool and low heat. We had some hiccups with the genny, but I think after changing out some of the old electrical relays, we got that licked. Fortunately, we had a friend who also bought a similarly aged PA and we switched out the control panels, thinking that was the issue, but it wasn’t. Genny would run fine for a while and then die suddenly. Still got gas, so that wasn’t the issue. We also think that the build-up of heat around it is affecting it in the summer because if you leave open the bay door containing the generator, it will not die. Close it in the summer, and she dies within about 20 minutes. Anyway, it’s doing just great now that it is cooler.

      We did have to install a new electrical switch/relay? for the water pump, as it would not turn on. It is a momentary switch, I think? It was found under our sink next to the main power supply.

      The brakes were completely shot, and we replaced those. The shocks were dead, replaced those. The parking brake was broken and we fixed that. We also found out that there is not a true ‘park’ when you put your MH in ‘Park’ on the gearshift…it was something called AutoPark. So, if everything were to occur correctly, when you shift to Park, either by electronic or hydraulic means, your parking brake should autoengage. Most of them do not anymore, so BEWARE! Our friend’s PA is a 1998 and it is supposed to be done by hydraulics, which did not work. I *think* ours is electric. Though we did fix the parking brake itself (someone left it on while driving and burned it up), we still use chocks for safety. We found out the hard way how our brake was no good when the RV rolled downhill at a local Kroger. Thankfully, the husband was still in it!

      Our automatic levelers work great. They are the HWH brand, which I think is the main manufacturer of RV levelers. Fortunately, should anything go wrong, we own a hydraulic repair business, so that can be quickly addressed! WE have tried to contact HWH before for a customer and it was an absolute nightmare. Anyway…

      Oh, and TIRES. Yes, we had a blowout. I did tell my husband how tires need to be changed out at 8-10 years regardless of exterior appearance…well, anyway. LOL! So we got all new tires for her. It is NOT cheap, but you really can tell the difference on the road. Do you know how to date tires? It’s not hard at all, except when the date codes are turned into each other on the back tires, lol.

      I’d be happy to answer any other questions you have. Husband is out of pocket at the moment, so my descriptions are not technical, lol. We really love our old gal, and we drive her to the grocery store and all over town. Bad to let them sit, so we toodle around the countryside with her! So far, we have gone 4 hours away from home with no problems.

  2. John Bruns says:

    Wow, sounds like you have done a lot of fixing up, but that is probably to be expected. I took ours to get the Maryland inspection done and it needed new sway bar bushings and some other bushings also. It needed new spring helper air bags and a few lamp replacements. The big ticket issue was with the odometer which was reading all – – – – – . That required removing the instrument cluster and sending it to Portland, OR for a rebuild. Apparently this was a known shortcoming of the cluster being as it was an early attempt at LCD displays in the instrument cluster. With markups and shipping that set me back about $600.
    The question I have now is with the generator vs. the shore power. Is there an automatic switchover from shore to generator power? Also, I have the Onan 7KW generator which has two circuit breakers, a 30 amp and a 20 amp, on its outputs. Are they both wired into the coach and if so how/where does the second one appear? That generator should have enough power to run both of the topside A/C units or at least some additional 120 volt AC powered equipment.
    So far that is about all I have looked into. I cannot get the thing parked on a level portion of our driveway yet so I cannot expect the fridge to work or try out the levelers. Also, I have not yet tried out any of the propane powered stuff. It is cold here now (20 degrees right now) so I am not about to put any water into the system to try the water heater or plumbing.
    Driving the big box sure was an experience. The first time I had ever driven something that long. This is the 37J model with the tag axle. I will need a lot more practice before I try taking it through town. I hope to have things all worked out by spring and try taking it on the road then.
    Happy New Year to you and your family. Maybe we will see you on the road this coming season. John

    1. msdoolittle says:

      Ugh. Not a cheap fix on the odometer! Okay, there is a automatic transfer switch, and when you are running solely on battery power, it will automatically switch over to shore power as soon as you connect your plug to an outlet. Now, your genny will override shore power…does that make sense? Also, when switching from either battery/shore power to generator power, it does take a minute or so for your power to go ‘online’, so be patient with that.

      We have the Onan Marquis 7K generator, which is probably what you have as well. Yes, it will run both of your A/C units, no problem. We only use the generator when going down the road as an additional air conditioner and also for the use of the power outlets (TV/DVD player/etc.) The refrigerator runs on either shore power or propane; ours has a button that says ‘Auto’, and it will switch back and forth depending on if we are plugged in/running the genny or not, which is nice. Another note regarding the fridge: Dirt daubers (mud wasps) had built huge nests behind the fridge and also in the burner tube of both the fridge and our water heater. If your rig doesn’t have insect mesh on the louvers, you need to be aware of this. They really did get into everything and built tons of mud nests, which of course blocks air flow. We added new insect mesh to the louvers on the fridge exterior door.

      I will have to ask my husband about the circuit breakers. The only ones that I know of are located under your fridge in the breaker box, so I don’t know what is what down there, but I will ask him.

      OH, he did mention that he completely removed the AutoPark feature, by removing the hydraulic power unit which was associated with this. He said it was ‘electric over hydraulic’ powered. The reason for removal was that he wanted to be DARN SURE that we had the parking brake engaged and unfortunately, there is no way to tell…no light, no display, etc! So, yes, when you shift to Park, the AutoPark is supposed to engage the parking brake FOR you. The way we have it now is the good old manual way…we set it with our foot by a pedal, just as you would with any other truck. So, you probably want to have someone check this out for you. We are very much a ‘manual minded’ couple…my husband hates electronics and would love it if everything went back to the early 90s…and by that I mean the 1890s. Lol. So, just so you know, the AutoPark CAN be removed and made back into a manual feature, though I do understand why Fleetwood would have wanted it otherwise for safety reasons.

      Yes, driving it is waaaay different and your rig is about 3 ft longer than ours. Ours doesn’t have the tag axle. However, I will tell you that driving it really does give you a much better view (in front at least) of the road, and people pretty much respect your size. We even drove it through Dallas yesterday (blog upcoming about that), and it wasn’t bad! Driving through Dallas is a nightmare, and honestly, this did make it better. The only blood pressure raising moments are when you exit, you change lanes, and you’re making turns, but generally, roadways are wide enough…even a cloverleaf overpass, as we discovered yesterday! If it’s just a straight shot drive, it isn’t bad at all. You will start noticing low branches, low bridges, etc., too, lol. WE have even taken the old gal down some of our county roads, which are notoriously twisty.

      Happy New Year to you as well, and I will find out about the breakers for you! Also, RVForum.net has a lot of great advice on anything RV…I am on there and I have utilized a lot of information gleaned from the boards! They are a friendly lot 🙂

      1. John Bruns says:

        Thanks again for all the info on the PA. I suppose that the gen to shore, and back again is done by a relay in the battery controller mounted on the outside firewall in front of the driver. And yes, your description was right on. The two circuit breakers I mentioned are on the generator on the back of the local start switch. Just curious where they are wired to. Do you have two roof A/C units? I have two and there is a switch in the overhead cabinet above the sofa that says “FRONT, REAR, OFF” but not both. The previous owner said to not use both on shore power because they would pop the circuit breaker. So I do not know how it would even be possible to activate them both….?
        Thanks a bunch about the mud wasps. We have another home in Ocean City, MD and we try to spend most of the summer there. We leave one of our cars here in the driveway. It is a backup vehicle so we only use it for local stuff. I went to put some gas in it last week, not having had to do so since the end of September. When I opened the door to the gas cap I noticed a big wad of mud which I immediately blamed on some local kid fooling around when we were not there. So I chopped it out and filled the tank being careful to not let any of the mud into the filler pipe. I picked up a couple of the pieces of mud just to check to see if it matched any of the mud in our driveway. When I got home and took out the mud pieces, I found the back side of an insect, most likely a mud wasp. So I will check for screens tomorrow.
        Another electrical question I have is.. has your coach battery charger been changed out? Mine is still the old Magnetek which seems to still be working OK even though it is not a smart charger. I will certainly look into the AutoPark system and will chock the wheels whenever I park it somewhere.
        I know what you mean about the low hanging branches. My son drives a big car hauler and since he is responsible for any car damage he tells me about the low branches especially when they are loaded with ice or snow.
        I sure hope I can get comfortable with this big box by springtime. It is a lot more vehicle than I had anticipated but the price was reasonable (I guess) and I got it from the original owner who always had it garaged on his property it was immaculate inside and had only about 25,500 miles on it.
        Thanks again for the info and I will look into the RVforum.net. I do belong to the classicWinnebagos and also the iRV2 forums. I am not too averse to electronics at least where it makes sense. I am a ham radio operator and worked in electronics all my employed life.
        BTW can I get your first name, or some name to address you by?
        Take care, John

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s