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RE: Why solenoid?

I had assumed they were all the magnetic latching solenoids. If I am not mistaken, permanent magnets hold the position open or closed (latching action) as opposed to a seal-in circuit. Any relay requiring continuous holding current would seem like a really bad idea for RV applications. One of the reasons I am barking up this tree is because occasionally when my batteries get super cold and low on charge they can’t switch the solenoid. This means I can’t charge the batteries either. I can bypass the solenoid in order to charge the battery but this is inconvenient. A switch on a solenoid bypass circuit is probably the best route for solving this occasional issue. Also, I probably need new coach batteries, but that is a different post. AS other have mentioned, There are 2 types. LATCHING relay(soelnoid) takes current to engage and disengage, but once either is done it requires NO current to keep closed or open. Yes, this type system is more expensive, which you usually only see it on Motorized due to access to the battery banks. The other requires continuous 12 volts to keep engaged. These types are cheap because all you need is a simple ON/OFF switch. Also these type solenoids also build up heat when you have a load and constant power to them to keep closed. COST? Well, when you factor in the cost of most Motorized and the fact that RVer's want bells and whistles, they make it standard. Now, the drawbacks to Latching type. Some OEM's do NOT run all Coach 12 volt loads thru the disconnect. Some, wire the CO and LP detectors direct to the batteries for liability reasons. So, with Batteries OFF, they can still be drained in 2 to 4 weeks. Inverter/Chargers are NEVER wired thru a Latching disconnect and are wired direct to the Coach batteries. Doug
AH_AK 04/13/22 09:16am Tech Issues
RE: Why solenoid?

As I said in my comment above, for my truck camper the distance is not an issue due to the location of the battery compartment. Maybe an extra 3 ft of 8 AWG required to install a switch. At least for me, a switch would likely be cheaper. For a large RV with extra wire runs and a higher rated current, the solenoid makes total sense. The Solenoid, basiclly a big and I mean BIG relay. can easily pass 100 amps or more. The wires that run a great distance to the switch. just a couple amps. You are asking why they use a fairly low cost remote switch with low cost 20-22 ga wires instead of oh say 50 feet of something between 4ga and 00ga. Way cheaper. and way better electrically as well. (less voltage loss in the line).
AH_AK 04/13/22 08:58am Tech Issues
RE: Why solenoid?

That makes a lot of sense. I have a truck camper and the solenoid and switch are right over the battery compartment/generator. So for me, it’d be easy to use a switch, but for larger RV’s I can see the advantage. Thanks for the info!
AH_AK 04/12/22 09:50pm Tech Issues
Why solenoid?

Why do the majority of RV manufacturers use a latching solenoid for the battery disconnect (storage) as opposed to a mechanical battery disconnect switch? Is there some other function that the solenoid is performing that an appropriately sized manual SPST switch would not? There has to be a reason for the added complexity and cost.
AH_AK 04/12/22 05:30pm Tech Issues
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

I wonder how overloaded he was. Did these blowouts cause a loss of control or accident? I imagine tire condition, pressure, speed, and ambient temps would all factor in as well…but yeah 2 or 3 blowouts and I would get a dually too. A friend had a SRW and didn't know it's total weight. He carried a large Big Foot camper. And had three two or three blow outs all on the right rear tire. He finally upgraded to a DRW and never had a blow out after that.
AH_AK 04/09/22 08:17pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

My intention was not to reignite the SRW vs DRW debate as most of it comes down to preference. I was simply trying to get first- (and second-)hand accounts of SRW blowouts to help quantify (1) the overall likelihood of the occurrence of a rear wheel blowout and (2) the consequences of such an event in SRW vs DRW. Based on the comments so far, it would appear that the probability is quite low and the consequences may not be at catastrophic as one might think. Anecdotally, I see an obscene number of overloaded SRW’s, hauling huge campers doing 75+ on Alaska’s terrible highways. I have never seen or heard about a catastrophic accident caused by a blowout. On the other hand, there are quite a few trailer blowout accidents that I have driven past or read about. Not sure who would have statistics (maybe insurance companies), but I would think first responders might have a better sense of how often blowout related accidents occur for TC’s. All suspension components being equal, there is no doubt that DRW is more stable than SRW. For SRW with suspension mods, the gap narrows (IMO). For me, my SRW with suspension mods is great in cornering and fine in cross winds and on uneven roads. A DRW might be better, but the stability of my current rig is perfectly acceptable to me…and I am a weenie about these things. Such a pointless debate. Dually are more stable than a SRW pickup. You either want one or you don't.
AH_AK 04/08/22 02:30pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

Interesting, but I think the loss of control dangers are different for blowouts on the hauling vehicle in trailer vs truck camper. I have over the years had at least 2 situations that I don't believe I would have survived had I not had a dually. 1-It was Friday before the 4th of July and I was towing a enclosed 32ft 3 axel bumper pull trailer with a race car and assorted junk inside traveling with traffic at about 70mph on I 40 near Burlington NC. The trailer hitch ball sheared off and I went for a ride. I think to this day what saved me was the dual wheels on the truck and the 3 axels on the trailer. Not much damage and I didn't hit anyone. 2-Coming down the hill on I-70 coming into Frederick, MD towing a trailer that was rear end heavy, it started swaying and was almost sideways, I floored it and as soon as it got straight behind me I locked up the brakes and got it stopped. Only the dual wheels stopped it from turning me around and maybe rolling the whole mess. You never have to much truck.
AH_AK 04/08/22 12:29pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

This is great first-hand info. Thanks for sharing it. I feel extremely confident with the lateral stability of my SRW running 19.5's, but it also has a lot of suspension upgrades. It is good to know that a rear blowout on a SRW is not likely to result in a Hollywood style rollover. When I was running my Lance 961 on a 97 Chevy 2500, I had 2 left rear blowouts. First one was with the camper going about 70, second one was with the camper and a 7000# trailer going about 65. Both times, I felt the truck shudder and start "sloshing" around. I put on the hazards, eased off the gas, and pulled over to the right. Changed the tire and back on the road with no loss of control. I also had a right front blowout on an Isuzu pickup going 80 and had no loss of control. I didn't have a cabover camper, but I did have camper shell loaded with camping gear. I was never worried about loss of control on a rear blowout, but I'm still concerned about a front blowout with a top heavy camper, in a turn. I switched to a DRW, not because I was afraid I'd lose control, but because I found my tires were running right at the limit and I wanted a better margin. I also feel like the DRW was more stable than the SRW, but that could be the springs. Also possible going to 19" wheels on the SRW would have helped.
AH_AK 04/08/22 12:26pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

Personally, I think it is really a matter of preference. Both can be safe and handle well, but the SRW will likely need significant mods to get there, whereas the dually may be able to do it stock. w.r.t. lateral stability, I would agree that the extra rear track width of the dually is hard to make up for with suspension mods on a SRW. If you don't mind the DRW and can get a good one for a reasonable amount...go for it. I carried my Fleetwood 11x TC on a 2007 3500 SRW for a couple years. Then I switched to carrying it on a 2005 Chevy 3500 Dually. The difference in handling, stability, and ride was immediately obvious. The dually was far superior in every way to the SRW. I got exactly the same fuel mileage with both trucks, 10 mpg on diesel. The only real difference in the trucks was the SRW was a regular cab and the dually was a crew cab. I don't care how many reasons you want to give a dually is the only way to go for a truck camper. I daily drive my dually. It goes thru bank and restaurant drive thrus a couple times each week. It fits in parking spaces just fine.
AH_AK 04/07/22 06:39pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

If I am in the double digits MPG with my gasser, I call it a victory. I am also super vigilant about checking tire pressures. It is funny when I roll into a rest stop with a bunch of RV's and we are all out scurrying around inspecting and checking tire pressures. Towed a 40 foot, Mobile Suites with SRW F350 for 7 years all over Canada and many trips from Canada to South Florida and never had a problem with tires. I am very particular about my air pressures and checked them constantly. Did not want the big hips of the DRW and limitation on fitting into places as a daily driver. Towing a heavy trailer or truck camper mileage does not enter the equation. You will get mileage from really bad to horrible regardless of SRW or SRW.
AH_AK 04/07/22 05:45pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

I agree. There are a lot of variables outside of number of rear wheels that will impact the safety. You can build out almost any SRW 1T to carry near to what a DRW will, but $$$. If you get a DRW that carries TC well in stock configuration, that is likely the most cost effective solution. I still see a lot of DRW owners doing suspension upgrades which leads me to conclude that the handling of a stock DRW with a TC may not be fantastic (albeit safe from a payload standpoint). Again, I imagine it depends on the exact truck + camper combo and the preferences of the driver. Any advantage of DRW trucks regarding blowouts can’t be discussed in a vacuum IMO. The extra cost, lower MPG, width inconvenience etc. need to be factored into the discussion. But if you need the weight carrying availability, discussion over.
AH_AK 04/07/22 02:21pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

For me it came down to availability of a solid used 1T pickup. I wanted a gasser as I am comfortable maintaining gas engines and didn't plan to tow at all (only haul TC). I found a sweet low mileage 3500HD SRW gasser at auction for a good price. In the end, I can confirm that considering the expense and time of the mods I had to make, the DRW (gasser or diesel) would have been cheaper and would have gotten me out camping sooner. Does you DRW get worse mileage due to the DRW, or, because of all the new emissions controls? I was under the impression that the DRW in an unto itself does not drastically decrease fuel economy. I would love to do a 1-to-1 comparison of lateral stability between a SRW and DRW. Seems like a lot of DRW owners are still doing suspension upgrades to improve this aspect of the handling. My SRW has pretty solid lateral stability, but it took a lot of mods to get it there. I am sure DRW would be better in this respect in the stock configuration. I haven't heard of or seen a wreck with a TC of any type. A few here have blown out a rear tire, and other than the resulting damage the fenderwell etc were mostly ok. I think the real danger results from a front tire blowout. I think in that case, a DRW won't help that much. If you can't get by with a DRW for other reasons, it's a moot point. Otherwise, it's far cheaper to buy a DRW on the front side compared to adding 19.5s or heavier loading tires in 18s etc. My old truck was a SRW because a DRW wouldn't work as my daily driver. It was simply too wide. After a few years, I started working somewhere with an even smaller parking lot. Then, my SRW was too long. That led to me buying a car to drive to work, and trading the SC SRW for a CC DRW. The DRW gets horrible fuel mileage compared to my old SRW, but otherwise, is a much. better platform for a TC.
AH_AK 04/07/22 02:11pm Truck Campers
RE: DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

The front tire blowout is scary. I would be really interested in how a SRW w/ a truck camper would handle a rear blowout. Maybe not as big of a deal in terms of loss of control as one might think. I hadn't thought of run flats. Not sure how much they would help with maintaining control at highway speed. To some extent, it seems like the only way you die is if you hit the sh*tty lottery and have an unlikely blowout at an inconvenient time (e.g. around a curve into traffic or of a drop). Back in the late '60s up to the early '80s I had truck campers (8'- 9.5'-10.5') on my 3/4 and one ton drw work trucks. So all my trucks had tires that weren't overloaded by any means. Of the 9 different trucks I had in service the only one I wrecked from a blowout was on a one ton drw Ford. Twisty winding roads in southern AR my right front tire blew out with the usual sudden lose of air pressures making a left hand 50 mph curve and a loaded 18k gvwr GN flatbed pushing me. Off the road the rig went to the right and across the old style concrete culvert with a 10" tall concrete upright taking out the Fords front suspension....shoved the engine up into the firewall and dash. Tranny bell housing broke and jammed the tranny tail shaft up through truck floor right behind the front seat...and of course the rear axle was torn loose one side. In that type of work and the miles we drove a blowout on those old bias ply 16-16.5" tires/wheels was a fact of life. Soooo... we had plenty of run flats and actual blowouts on road service LDTs rear that simply was no problem getting the rig shut down....unlike a front tire blowout. I've noticed some rv folks have some wild/funny theories about subjects like over loading....tire blowouts.....weights/etc. BTDT with srw and drw blowouts. I'm in the moot point camp.
AH_AK 04/07/22 02:03pm Truck Campers
DRW vs SRW safety, tire blowout

Every time the DRW vs SRW debate starts up, dually owners always point to the safety of having 4 rear wheels in case of a blowout while driving. What I am wondering is has anyone actually experienced (or have first hand knowledge of) a SRW blowout that ended in a catastrophic outcome (e.g. crash)? Obviously, the DRW is going to have better lateral stability in cornering/cross winds compared to the SRW, but I am only considering the blowout safety aspect. While the redundant tire safety argument is logical, I am wondering how likely such blowout situations are. To be clear, I am talking about SRW that are not exceeding the maximum tire load, are correctly inflated, and being driven within the tire speed limit. I am running 19.5’s with Firestone AT3’s so I am in this category. I realize most SRW truck camper owners are over their max tire load and yet, there is little to no documentation of blowout failures despite the obvious overloading. It makes me think the DRW blowout safety argument is essentially moot, even though it is totally logical.
AH_AK 04/07/22 10:46am Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

It does seem like they addressed a lot of the pain points after the reorganization. Grant was super knowledgable and responsive about my camper, which surprised me because how often do you find a company willing to support products that were made under previous ownership? I would buy a new one if I could afford it…I actually think their price point on new units is reasonable given the quality of the build. I think price point has a lot to do with the design decisions. I can almost guarantee Grant could design and build a super high end TC (think Oliver TT level) but it’d sell for $20k more. I think a post 2003 model that is maintained and stored inside is going to last a LONG time. The folks on this message board could definitely design a cadillac TC, but it wouldn’t translate to mass production and it’d cost $100k. Modding out a Bigfoot (like many on here have done) is the most cost-effective option (IMO).
AH_AK 09/12/21 07:13pm Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Excellent write up, very easy to follow along. You are obviously well skilled to start and finish a huge project like this. Do you have a garage etc to keep your BF out of the elements? I have always parked our camper inside since we bought it new in 2009...everything is dry and I have not re sealed anything...still like new. It makes a huge difference. Best of luck chasing the small "leaks"...you will win in the end. Once again a great write up. Thanks! I have a carport that I park it under, so it is out of the rain and snow, but exposed to the cold. I wish I had a heated garage that would fit my rig. That would have made the project much more enjoyable. I was working under a tarp with a space heater many nights. It really delayed me when it came to adhesive and sealant application. Had to wait for weather windows. Maybe when the lumber prices come down I will start the process of lobbying the treasurer (my wife) for a new garage. If you take care of these campers they will last forever, especially if you are storing them inside. Those small leaks are inevitable, but what matters is that you are paying attention and know where to look. Catch it quickly, and it'll be no big deal. One of the issues (IMO) is the marketing campaign that tells owners that these campers are leak-proof. In retrospect, when I told the previous owner that I wanted to have it inspected for water damage, he made a funny face and said, "it is a fiberglass camper" kind of incredulously. That should have set off the warning bells. Hindsight... I try to look at it positively though. I know that camper inside and out now. I feel like I can diagnose and repair most issues on the road. I think that'll pay dividends when we start taking multi-week trips.
AH_AK 09/11/21 11:24am Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Glad you were able to work through all the problems! A big undertaking, but I think you will enjoy the camper. It is too bad that Bigfoot doesn't go that extra 5% in some of the problem areas. To be fair I think they have improved (for example, my 2008 camper already had SS screws on all exterior uses) but they still have room for improvement. And as I have said in the past, though the construction quality of Bigfoot sucks, it sucks a lot less than most other brands. I agree. It seems like they have picked some of the low-hanging fruit in recent years, which is great. Good on them for switching to SS fasteners. The added cost is minimal. I still think they are the best TC for the money. Sometimes I would get annoyed at their design decisions, but then I'd consider the extra hours that would be required to manufacture with a better construction and thought about how that would affect the price point. Like you said though, some of the stuff is like, come on, really? Grant at Bigfoot is great to work with though. Makes me like the brand even more. I'd love to take a factory tour and pick that guy's brain on some of the design decisions and manufacturing tradeoffs.
AH_AK 09/11/21 11:12am Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Have to admit that I did not read every word - but enough to see that you did a lot of excellent work, and now have a great setup. BTW, your boss wonders when/if you're coming back to your real job. Thank you. I did the best I could and I am really happy with my setup now. I am on a 9 month contract and did this during my 3 off months. I definitely would have gotten fired if I tried to do this while working. I tend to lock onto projects and go all in. My wife regularly joked about how I was cheating on her with the truck camper. Even when we were together, she'd be talking and notice I was somewhere else...she'd say, "you're thinking about her, aren't you?" Then she would be treated to a vigorous discussion of adhesive sealants. She is an absolute gem for tolerating my obsession.
AH_AK 09/11/21 11:01am Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Wow dude!!! :E That is a seriously big undertaking and repair!! And yes, I read every single word you wrote and studied every last picture. I have to compliment you on a difficult job well done. I know first hand the kind of work and effort that's required to do any kind of repair like that, especially if you don't strip and gut the entire rig. I totally rebuilt a completely rotten old Citation TT, so I can certainly relate to your work. (Check out mine if you feel inclined, link in sig) Again, nice work, and thanks for posting this. Sharing all of these repair / rebuild projects here is a huge help to others who want to undertake their own projects. Happy Camping!:) Ahhh a kindred spirit! Love your writeup. I feel like it really captures your thought process and the emotional rollercoaster of repairing a wet camper. So many cycles of "screw this, I am done" followed by "no, I can do this and I will do it right". Great work documenting everything as well. I wish I had taken more pictures along the way. There is definitely a satisfaction in knowing you did it the right way and improved on the original design. I really hope the person that scooped your Citation appreciated all the hours that went into it. You gave them a phenomenal deal. RV karma is real though and it looks like you ended up with a great rig.
AH_AK 09/11/21 10:54am Truck Campers
2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

So it has taken me quite a while to get around to posting this. Fortunately, it appears as though the bulk of the rehab work on my soggy 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E is complete. The mods to my Chevy 3500 SRW are at a point that I am feeling good about how it drives on uneven and unpredictable Alaskan “highways”. The easiest way to share a bunch of pictures and text seems to be a PDF. The link below is for a PDF writeup of the project on my G-Drive. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I5fY_ojfdc8YNMedudA-5FZxnBqHyYC1/view?usp=sharing Some of the details in this document will likely be beyond what people want to read, but I will post them so that others that find themselves in a similar situation will have a reference. I can’t stress enough how instrumental this message board was in helping to encourage me to not give up on the turnkey camper that turned into a bit of a project.
AH_AK 09/11/21 03:11am Truck Campers
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