Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

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Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:53 pm

I'm a brand spankin' new RV owner, I mean really new....as in I know nothing. It's a 71' Chevy Sportscoach. It's being stored in Nevada about 75 miles south of BRC. I'm going to NV in January for a shake-down trip and I'm going to have it looked over by an RV mechanic there. It's been really well maintained, and the owners only used it for Burning Man. As of now there's nothing that needs an overhaul, but I'm expecting something will go wrong at the worst possible moment.

Anyone in the know with vintage RV's that could give me a list of things I should have on hand in case of emergency? I do have road-side emergency service for it, but I'd hate to have it towed if there was something that could be fixed at the site of demise. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Mosin » Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:57 pm

There are different levels of preparation for inevitable vintage RV trouble/breakdown... I will label them Basic, Advanced, and Armageddon. We go with Armageddon, but it is expensive and you need to lug all that weight around, so adjust to taste/wallet.

Basic:
Essential hand tools (screwdrivers, socket wrench set, allen wrenches, vice grips, hammer, pliers, lug nut wrench)
Engine manual (avail. at CW web site and other online sources in .pdf)
Flashlight
2 extra quarts of motor oil
1 extra qt. of trans fluid
At least a few gallons of distilled H20 for the radiator, and a bottle of anti-freeze (or Water Wetter)
Duct tape and electrical tape
Bailing wire and/or a few feet of metal strapping
Zip ties
Tire pressure gauge (needs to go up to 100 psi as your tires willneed to be at ~80psi)
Tube of clear silicone
FIRE EXTINGUISHER

Advanced:
All of the above plus:
Additional hand tools for specific purposes (eg. oil filter puller, spark plug gapper, battery terminal cleaner, timing light, multitester, telescoping mirror and magnet) <==Harbor Freight is cheap, but you get what you pay for.
Chassis manual and wiring guide
Power steering fluid
Brake fluid
Gear oil (rear end)
Extra set of spark plugs
Spare upper and lower radiator hoses
Spare alternator and fan belts
Spare in-line fuel filter(s)
Spare carb. air filter
Spare oil filter
Spare thermostat
Can of carb cleaner and a can of brake cleaner
Can of compressed air
Assorted electrical connectors pack and proper crimping tool
5-gal fuel can
JB-Weld (<==your best friend)
ANOTHER FIRE EXTINGUISHER

Armageddon:
All of the above plus:
Extra footage of tubing/hose (fuel line, vacuum tubing, heater hose etc)
Assorted hose clamps
Spare radiator cap
Spare starter
Spare fuel pump
Spare distributor (or at the very least spare cap and rotor!)
Spare plug wires
Carb rebuild kit
Jump starter (usually come with compressor to fill your tire air and an inverter)
Continuity tester
Vacuum gauge
MAPP gas torch
Dremmel multi-tool
2x5 gal. steel surplus/NATO fuel cans (external mount... adjust relative to your planned generator usage or specter of End Times ;))
YET ANOTHER FIRE EXTINGUISHER (So, one in the cab within your reach, one by your bed in the back, and one outside the rig in an accessible spot like non-locking side compartment)

That's all I've got off the top of my head, but I'll add things if I remember any more. Of course, if you've got a generator and its reliability is important to you (for your roof a/c for example, which we couldn't sleep the day away on the playa without) then get it fully tuned up, and carry extra generator oil (which is not regular motor oil), plugs, and points, as well as an air filter and oil filter for after the Burn.

Cheers,

Mosin
Last edited by Mosin on Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Mosin » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:20 pm

While they don't fall under "fix-it" these are some essential items a new RV owner will also need:

-Black Tank AKA Shit Tank chemical (you can go with the old school earth-killing blue stuff from Camco, or go with the hippie environmental stuff and smell your turds all week. Your choice. :)
-Grey water odor control (if you don't use it you will discover mid-week that you wish you had)
-Bleach (add a miniscule touch to your fresh water tank... like 1 tbsp per 10 gl)
-RV toilet paper (one-ply is best. If you use anything but Scott brand or specific RV paper you will be very sorry)
-Waste dump hose and fittings (Camping World has good deals on the basic kit @ ~$30)
-Old garden hose (for use in cleaning out your tanks)
-New, dedicated fresh water hose (for filling tanks and/or hooking up at parks)
-Water pressure limiter (to 30 psi, otherwise the park water pressure could blow out your internal plumbing easily)
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:13 am

Mosin, I expect that this tiny thread will eventually become a referenced thread for anyone facing the same challneges I do. Wow, awesome response.....and I hope to get to know you on the playa.

I feel a sense of responsibility with this vehicle. It's 40 years old and has been well taken care of. It's going to be a tough battle with me being 2,500 miles away from it, but I thankfully bought it from Burners who wanted it to stay in Burner hands. They're holding it in their hands for the time being.

This is going to be my retirement vehicle. I'm 40 years old too. I don't buy purses or fashion or jewlery. I'm going to sock money into this RV over the next few years. I'm going to learn how to maintain it myself. When I finally sell my house, this will be my house. It will be in the Black Rock Desert every year and all over the place until I'm too old to drive it..and maybe beyond then.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby FIGJAM » Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:50 am

Great list Mosin, but you forgot FUSES! 8)
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Drawingablank » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:49 am

The above list is good, but I would move the spare assorted hose clamps up from armageddon to basic.

Note about the fresh water hose - get the white ones sold for this at RV stores. Although the fittings match a standard garden hose, garden hoses are treated with chemicals to keep them flexible that you probably don't want to be ingesting.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Mosin » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:24 pm

@Jcliff: That's the spirit! Looking forward to seeing you and your rig on the playa. :!:

@Figjam: No doubt! I knew I'd forget some things. An assorted pack of fuses is definitely a "basic" item.

@DB: Indeed a set of hose clamps would be ideal to have on hand in a basic kit, and certainly not expensive. ALso, that's a good point about the white RV water hoses, some which fold up flat, which is nice for storage. And on that note, while not absolutely essential if one uses a bit of bleach, using a Camco in-line charcoal water filter (~$18) as you fill your fresh water tank (or between your hose and your external hookup if you have hookups) is a good idea, especially if you are not 100% sure of the source... rv parks are hit and miss with water quality!
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Mosin » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:26 pm

Wow. Now that I'm pondering this again I realized two other essential items should be on the RV... before even a basic fix-it kit: Smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector!! Preferably one of each up front and in the rear. An LP gas detector can also be a lives-saver, although it will cost you more than your two smoke and two CO detectors combined.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Mosin » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:42 pm

While I don't carry it on the rig, one item that will be essential if one decides to do most of their rv maintenance themselves is a grease gun with a whip-end. For those who don't know what that is, this is a cheap one on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Lincoln-Lubrication-1134-Pistol-Grease/dp/B0002NYDZ8/ref=pd_sim_auto_1/179-9424720-6648640

Your chassis manual will point out all of the lube points and intervals, but IMO the most important item(s) to keep well lubed are the driveshaft lube points. I add one squeeze of grease to each every ~1500 miles. This often neglected piece of vintage RV hardware (that is, your driveshaft and its bearings... especially if it has a hanging u-joint/bearing coupler) can potentially destroy your rig and/or cause a serious accident if not maintained.

And on the subject of grease, a small amount of general purpose grease is an excellent item for an advanced kit, as would be a spray lubricant such as WD-40.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:50 pm

You guys are awesome.....and although I don't competely understand everything on the list, I'm geared up to learn. Thank you so much for taking the time to offer such a comprehensive list. My hope is that I won't need anything at all, but I'll at least have something to offer another Burner in need.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Just_Joe » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:34 pm

Did someone say Playa Trip in January?????
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:30 am

I don't think I'll drive out on the playa....but I'd like to go up to Gerlach. I've always wanted to stay the night at Bruno's.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby gyre » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:07 am

Wheel bearings
Hoses
Belts


I recommend the technical books by Trailer Life.
Some are partially or mostly travel advice, not as useful.
Personally, I didn't find the third Tips and Tricks useful enough.
I have almost all of their books.

A factory service manual for your truck chassis is handy.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby AntiM » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:09 am

MVC-020S.JPG
jcliff wrote:I don't think I'll drive out on the playa....but I'd like to go up to Gerlach. I've always wanted to stay the night at Bruno's.


Drive out the entry road, then stop just at the edge, get out and walk around. The playa feels like a sponge under your feet, with some bounce and give. You do NOT want to drive deeper, not by yourself, and not without someone else who can drag you out if need be.

And it is fucking COLD, the wind will slice right through your bones
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Packoderm » Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:29 am

Ask Santa for some tools. Harbor Freight sells a canvas bag that works great for holding them. You'll need at least a socket set, roll of wrenches, assortment of screw drivers, channel locks and vice grips, putty knife, sand paper, C-clamps, test light, multi volt meter, big crescent wrench, wire with alligator clips on each end, etc. Even if you might not yet have the skills to use all of these tools, they are great if somebody tries to help you. They are also great to lend out when somebody else is having problems.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby gyre » Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:04 am

Tool wise hf varies a lot.
I have some of theirs, shop carefully.

Northern tool has better quality.
They have a basic kit with two ratchets for about twenty.
Get on their mailing list and five off right now.

Sears had a large six point set for about $150, but often on sale.
Very complete except for wrenches.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby illy dilly » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:37 am

Mosin's list is great!

I would suggest moving the Multi Meter to the very top of basic tools. It does not have to be the fancy $40 Fluke, just a simple multi meter with a changeable battery, that lives in the RV!!!

The LP gas detector is a must. It is expensive, but it is worth it. LP gas is heavier than air and will 'pool' in places. You might be able to smell it, but if it pools behind your stove maybe not. Mount it low someplace, near the fridge and stove. If the RV has a built in LP gas detector test it!
Get one of those 1 lb green cans and any attachment that has a valve for it (ie, stove or lantern) let just a little out near the detector and see if it goes off.

J-B Weld is a must and basic item I think. And if you can find it, get the "J-B weld Quickset" or Marine flavors.

I'd also, recommend check out the generator and getting some spare parts for it too. Spare Spark plugs for the Genie, and a gap measurement tool are essential.
Mosin wrote:While I don't carry it on the rig, one item that will be essential if one decides to do most of their rv maintenance themselves is a grease gun with a whip-end. For those who don't know what that is, this is a cheap one on Amazon:

Your chassis manual will point out all of the lube points and intervals, but IMO the most important item(s) to keep well lubed are the driveshaft lube points. I add one squeeze of grease to each every ~1500 miles. This often neglected piece of vintage RV hardware (that is, your driveshaft and its bearings... especially if it has a hanging u-joint/bearing coupler) can potentially destroy your rig and/or cause a serious accident if not maintained.

This is another great point! Especially if the rig spends a lot of time sitting. I Lube Her Chassis about once every two years. Over heated and worn out U-joints can be extremely dangerous. And its such and easy issue to avoid. Kinda dirty, if it hasn't been done for a long time, but easy.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby gyre » Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:01 pm

Driveshaft failure can be spectacular.

They make cages for the shaft, or you can make your own.

The cage won't prevent failure, but probably death.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby Foxfur » Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:43 pm

Something I'm very glad I put in my kit is cone gaskets for threaded fittings in my CPVC plumbing system. I enede up needing two while @ the burn. What couuld have been a disaster was remedied in less than 10 minutes...
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:52 pm

Okay...so a follow-up to all this. The RV is a Chevy 350 engine. Do I need to order all this in specific sizes? Metric or US customary? I was thinking of giving at least the basic list to the RV mechanic who is going to work on her and offer to pay him to order the parts for me to make sure everything was compatible with my rig. But I hate to pay someone to do that if I can do it myself....and it would be easier for me financially to order a couple parts every pay period between now and next summer. I just hate to order stuff and no know whether it is going to work for me. Are most of these parts interchangeable with most vehicles? I hate to keep sucking you dry for advice, but it's been so helpful so far! I really appreciate it!
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby illy dilly » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:08 pm

jcliff wrote:Okay...so a follow-up to all this. The RV is a Chevy 350 engine. Do I need to order all this in specific sizes? Metric or US customary? I was thinking of giving at least the basic list to the RV mechanic who is going to work on her and offer to pay him to order the parts for me to make sure everything was compatible with my rig. But I hate to pay someone to do that if I can do it myself....and it would be easier for me financially to order a couple parts every pay period between now and next summer. I just hate to order stuff and no know whether it is going to work for me. Are most of these parts interchangeable with most vehicles? I hate to keep sucking you dry for advice, but it's been so helpful so far! I really appreciate it!

Dont worry about it at all!
Every RV owner sucks the next guy dry for info, until finally, every RV owner is sucking them dry. Its "The Circle of RVing"
You should have seen me a few years ago!

DO NOT ASK THE MECHANIC TO BUY THE STUFF FOR YOU! Unless you know for a fact that he WILL NOT mark it up. You can get almost any of the parts from any of the big chain parts stores. So you know that it is a chevy chassis, you also know the engine, but you need the chassis size/style and model year.
For instance I have a Fleetwood Bounder on a Chevy 454 big block, with the medium duty truck frame. And yet, still sometimes the parts are not exactly correct. When Fleetwood or any manufacturer buys the chassis from Chevy, Ford, John Deer, or International they have to make small modifications to get it all to fit.
My GF's Dad has an 1990 Suburban with the Chevy 400 long block. Very similar engine, especially all the ancillary mechanical parts (ie. alternator, starter, belts/pullies, etc). But the radiator on the Bounder is much bigger. And when you look at the engine compartment in the Suburban, you can climb in to get to parts. Where as, you open the dog house on the RV, and above the engine is the alternator, AC compressor, and exhaust pump. In any case, back on topic, most times you will be able to tell the Parts shop I need parts for a 71 Chevy 350 small block. For a lot of years, the 350 small block was one of the most used V8. You should have no trouble finding parts for it.

Just another bit of advice. Don't try finding parts on Labor day after Burning Man East along I80 from Fernley to Salt Lake city.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby gyre » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:12 pm

You can order parts yourself.
Mechanics don't have time to shop for the best deal.

i recommend at least factory quality parts.
There are still good deals out there.
The flip side of generic vehicles is lots of crap parts, even counterfeit.
Even factory dealers discount now.

You can learn to do most maintenance yourself.
I've even paid extra to have a mechanic teach me.

When something is too specialized, you can often do the basic prep work yourself.
I've pulled drive assemblies off and taken them to the shop, then picked them up.
Everybody's happy.

A chevy that old will be almost all fractional hardware.
Most tool sets have both though.

I recommend a good synthetic for the trans and rear end, as well as the engine.
Redline or better.
With an automatic, make sure you have an adequate trans cooler.

Look for used service manuals.
Start with hemmings and relevant forums.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:23 pm

Wow, I just thought of a wonderful idea. Has any of you who have so much knowledge ever thought of teaching an RV Maintenance 101 class on the playa? I would imagine that I'm not the only Burner who has taken on this big responsibility and is facing a steep learning curve. If any of you would commit to serve as teachers, I would be happy to host an afternoon workshop in Lamplighter Village. We could use my RV as the teaching tool, and I would be thrilled to offer cocktails and snacks to partcipants. I could be really fun, but more importantly, it would offer an invaluable service to those of us who want to learn how to keep our RV's in the best condition, and who want to be able to fix things we are able to fix. I know that after a two hour workshop I would be better prepared to keep this wonderful RV running well....and I would probably have more confidence in myself to take on my own RV maintenance.

If any of you would be up for this, I would get it printed in "the book" so people know we are doing it. I really think we'd have a good turn-out. Anyone up for this new playa "something to do?"
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby illy dilly » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:37 pm

jcliff wrote: We could use my RV as the teaching tool, and I would be thrilled to offer cocktails and snacks to partcipants.

O yeah, and you get your RV all fixed up and tuned for free!
Don't think you can fool us Jcliff!!! :wink:

Honestly though, I don't know about trying to teach a seminar. Could be really cool though.
I guess if a few multiple people could teach their own little part. One person could teach just about Onan generators. Another about regular Service. Another how to look for leaks in the plumbing.
It would have to be geared towards RVing, and not just towards Engine mechanics. There are a million and 1 things that can go wrong under the hood.
A good lesson would be "Multi-meter 101"
Who knows?

A lot of RVing is having the confidence in your self to give it shot. Basic trouble shooting is pretty important. Being willing to say "ok I don't know what I'm doing, but I can take this apart and I can put it back together. If it isn't fixed when I put it back together, I'll try again"
I really wish I had an RV or even a car or truck that was working when I started, and I could just start taking it apart and putting it back together. And if I broke something O-well.
Sadly, all I know about RVing or Mechanics is just stuff I've had break, that I figured I could fix.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby gyre » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:26 am

There are lots of 'How-To's on youtube and elsewhere these days.

Might be sepecially useful for a beginner.


I recommend Kano or liquid wrench as a solvent for hardware.
Silikroil is a favorite.

Hfs telescoping ratchets look silly, but I found them useful.
There are better makes too.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby dragonpilot » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:13 pm

If you're planning on taking your RV to Black Rock City add this one small item to your list: about 10 feet of dryer vent ducting.

Chances are that you will be parked in close proximity to other campers...and chances are you're going to run your generator and/or your engine to recharge house batteries/run microwave/AC, etc. Slide the ducting over the appropriate exhaust pipe and position the end of the ducting up high...like zip-tie it to the roof ladder or something. Thus, you will be considerate of your neighbors in not spewing exhaust fumes at ground level.

Most of the time there's plenty of room, but I've had folks set up their tents right up against the RV in hopes of snagging early morning shade in spite of my friendly caution that the engine/gen w/b running at some time or other.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby illy dilly » Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:35 pm

dragonpilot wrote:Most of the time there's plenty of room, but I've had folks set up their tents right up against the RV in hopes of snagging early morning shade in spite of my friendly caution that the engine/gen w/b running at some time or other.

Morons!
Then do they come back and complain when the exhaust burns a hole right through their dome tent?

I make it a point to discuss with the neighbors where they have generators, where they will have tents, and especially where they have their kitchen set up. Also, how we can park the RV so as not to hurt any of them, or their gear.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:48 pm

It's funny that you should mention generators.....because I'm actually terrified to run mine, and I've never even seen it. In my first year of teaching in Maine, I had a father of a student catch on fire while doing something on his generator.....and he ended up jumping out of an upper story window at Maine Med. And yes, he's dead because I'm sure you were wondering. Long story short, I'm petrified of generators. I know you have to maintenance them on time, correctly, or you will burn your structure down or kill yourself. I do not want to die of carbon monoxide poisong or burn alive in my RV. I'm actually laughing as I type this, but still, I'm serious. I'm having her looked over by a good RV mechanic near Fernley in January. He, and the Burners I bought from and am storing with have got to give me a good low-down on this generator. I know I have to use it to keep the battery charged and the lights and such running, but the idea still freaks me out.
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby illy dilly » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:50 am

Jcliff I'm really sorry to hear that! Thats pretty pretty scary.

But please rest assured, that is not common. It is true, you do need to make sure the exhaust is going out through the generator exhaust pipe. Also, check around the external generator box to make sure that there is sufficient air flow. Check to make sure that there are no whole or opening between the generator box/cubby and the interior of the RV.
As for fires with the generator, that is odd, but again it can happen. A few things to check for to make sure you're good: Roll under the RV, trace the little metal gas line all the way back from the generator to the gas tank. It would be best to run the generator for a half hour or so, turn it off, then roll under and look around. If the generator isn't running there wont be any pressure from the fuel pump to the generator... aka nothing would leak with out pressure. In a brand new RV there should be pressure in the line even if it hasn't run in a few days, but we don't have brand new RVs, lol.
Also, when it is running check out the carburetor, make sure you don't see gas sneaking out any of the seals or places where two parts come together. Do you happen to know what kind of generator your old Chief has?

Chances are, that your students poor father that was cleaning the carburetor and hadn't gotten it back together properly. Or he was likely using some sort of solvent or WD-40 to lube or clean some parts and had it on his hands and clothes. It also possible that he had some gasoline on him self.

The bigger issue that you need to have your RV guy look at is the wiring for the converter off the generator. Most RV fires are due to some type of wiring issue, after the generator, not the generator it self.
I don't know about your Chief, but if it has a 'main electrical panel' with some fuses and likely some breakers, have him take the front cover off and inspect the wires for any unusual wear&tear or blackening/melting of the wires.
From what I've been told 87-91 Bounders have notoriously faulty fuse boxes. I have not had any issues and my Bounder still has the original electrical panel. I often pull the front off and gently inspect the wiring for any signs of damage or "that doesn't look right".

I'd recommend, finding out what type of generator your Chief has, getting some documentation about it and studding up a little bit.

PS. I just realized you have a 71' Sport Coach, and not a Chief. Please replace everywhere I say Chief with Sport Coach.
Why don't ya stick your head in that hole and find out? ~piehole
Plan for the worst, expect the best. Make the most out of it under any conditions. If you cannot do that you will never enjoy yourself. ~CrispyDave
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Re: Suggested RV Fix-It Kit?

Postby jcliff » Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:31 pm

Thanks for the measure of reassurance illy....I do feel better. And, I'm telling myself that to my knowledge no one has ever died in an RV catastrophe on the playa, so I got that going for me! :) And if it does burn down, people will be saying all week, "did you see that RV burn in Lamplighter Village.....it was awesome!"

Thanks again for all the caring feedback. This might be a nerd-alert on my part, but I've actually printed all these posts out to put in my new "RV binder." They've been that helpful!
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