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Deb and Ed M

SW MI & Space Coast, FL USA

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Posted: 05/29/22 07:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This will depend on your abilities with electrical/plumbing, etc - but there ARE "mobile RV repair companies" and hiring one of them to come test the components and show you how they work, could be a peace-of-mind bonus? There are fussy little things like winterizing, that you will need to know. Also - have a Sharpie pen along to mark things helps (like which way a valve needs to be turned)

But a truck camper lets you go places where other RVs dare not tread - have a great time with the kids!!

On edit: once you are familiar with the camper, you'll find that you can utilize rustic campgrounds that offer no hookups; or often, you can camp in "tent sites" as long as you don't run a generator (ask each place) or sometimes there are "electric only" sites which tend to be near water (bonus!). All of these sites are cheaper, and very often, much more interesting!

StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Posted: 05/29/22 09:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

engineer40 wrote:

Hello all! I just created an account, but I'm excited about my new (used) camper and I plan on becoming a regular on this forum while I learn. It's a 1994 Viking 10ft truck bed popup camper. At this moment, I'm feeling over my head with some things. I'll say thank you in advance for any help you provide. Surprisingly my camper came with all of the original paperwork. I've read through it but still have some very basic questions.

-My camper didn't come with a battery. I found the spot to hook one up. I found where I flip a switch from AC power or battery power. Does the built in inverter automatically charge my battery when I'm plugged into AC power? Does my truck alternator automatically charge my camper battery if the truck is running? Do I need to worry about it overcharging and frying an expensive battery?



I was in the same bot as you although I bought a 91 slumberqueen which did have a power centre but at glass fuse and ac reset button and single stage charger. how handy are you, the reason I ask is there are a few moderent power centers that you can replace the old set up with that will give you filtered dc power and proper fuses and breakers and 4 stage charging. this is what I went with to upgrade mine

for batteries mine had a single opening for a battery which was useless so I took over the outdoor storage and shoehorned two 6V golf cart batteries in there and added a solar system, later I switched to a LiFePO4 battery set up that fit into the factory battery compartment this gave me my big storage back and 3 times the battery power of the GC batteries.

as for your water heater mine was a gas water heater so I am not familier , but I would expect there should be a switch to turn electricity off to it, if not I would add a secondary switch. fridge wise mine is 3 way so 12v propane and 110V. I never use the 12V as it cranks a lot of battery power, just start it on propane while you are loading and it will cool off.

Steve


2014 F350 6.7 Platinum
2016 Cougar 330RBK
1991 Slumberqueen WS100

WarrenS65

SoCal

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Posted: 05/30/22 07:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think the answers to all you questions is "it depends on the specific appliances and components in your camper". One thing you asked was about whether your truck will charge the camper battery when you're driving. Probably, but it depends on the wiring from the truck to the camper.

The power from the truck to the camper can be configured three ways:
  • Always hot. This will allow power to fly between the camper and the truck all the time. Not good as you can drain the truck battery while you're parked.
  • Connected when the ignition is on. This is better as it can't drain the truck battery when the truck is turned off. Not the best as it can drain if you park and leave the key in the on position.
  • With a battery isolator circuit. This is the best as it only opens the circuit when it should. I had to add one to my 95 Chevy 2500, but my 2005 3500 came with it built in. Some isolators only allow the camper to charge when the truck battery is at full charge.


If you don't have an isolator or at least a switched connection to the camper, you'll need to be aware of your battery level to avoid a dead truck battery.


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mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 05/31/22 11:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Regarding your fridge, it sounds like a typical 2-way (DC or propane) fridge of the time. I have one in my year-2000 camper that is 2-way.

The DC side would run off the CONverter or the battery. So if you're plugged into AC power and your CONverter is switched to use AC, the fridge will cool on DC.

On mine, I disconnected the DC side and run it exclusively on propane. The DC feed I turned into a 12V outlet in the kitchen to charge phones. It is not expensive or dangerous to run it on propane, and will run for weeks on a 20lb bottle.


Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

valhalla360

No paticular place.

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Posted: 05/31/22 12:32pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

engineer40 wrote:

Hello all! I just created an account, but I'm excited about my new (used) camper and I plan on becoming a regular on this forum while I learn. It's a 1994 Viking 10ft truck bed popup camper. At this moment, I'm feeling over my head with some things. I'll say thank you in advance for any help you provide. Surprisingly my camper came with all of the original paperwork. I've read through it but still have some very basic questions.

-My camper didn't come with a battery. I found the spot to hook one up. I found where I flip a switch from AC power or battery power. Does the built in inverter automatically charge my battery when I'm plugged into AC power? Does my truck alternator automatically charge my camper battery if the truck is running? Do I need to worry about it overcharging and frying an expensive battery?

You don't switch from AC to battery power (ie: DC - direct current). They are two parallel systems that do different things. It's unclear what the switch is for. It might turn on an inverter which takes DC power and inverts it to AC power but that's unclear and assuming a single 12v battery, very limited. It might also be a switch to turn on the converter (aka: battery charger).

-Do most hot water heaters in campers work off LP or electric? The owners manual calls it a "Gas and Electric water heater". But the instructions read like gas "or" electric and not both. I do not see any way to switch from gas or electric. Maybe there is a way and I'm just not seeing it...

Most have either capability and usually it's possible to run both but they are independent heating systems.

-Also in regards to the hot water heater, the owners manual says to make sure there is water in the heater before electric is turned onto the camper or the element will burn out almost immediately. Does that mean if I don't have water in the camper I literally can't plug it into AC power? It's very confusing. I'm nervous I've already burned out the element because I had it plugged into AC power in my garage.

The electric heater is a resistance heater. Kind of like a toaster but designed to operate submerged in water. Water will quickly absorb the heat. Air can't absorb the heat nearly as fast, so it will overheat and burn out. Usually, just the heating element goes dead and needs to be replaced at that point. There should be a switch either inside or on the exterior of the hot water heater to turn off the electric, so if it's empty, you can turn on the AC electrical system without damaging the heating element.

-It has a Dometic fridge. Do most camper fridges have the option to work off of AC power or LP? The manual only talks about LP or temporary battery power (not long term). I think it would be weird if the fridge doesn't work while plugged into AC power because I would want it getting cool while packing to leave home.

Absorption fridges operate by heating an ammonia solution (I know it seems backwards). The fridge doesn't care where the heat comes from. They pretty much always have the option of a propane flame and others come with either an AC and/or DC heating element. Propane will last a long time (as in weeks from a single tank). If you are connected to shore power, an AC heater eliminates propane consumption and since most campgrounds include electricity for overnight stays, you pay nothing extra for it. DC heating element is less commonly used as a single 12v battery won't run the fridge for long. It was an option when traveling and the truck alternator could keep it charged (assuming you have the RV connected properly to the truck). It would be possible to add a large bank of batteries and solar but not the most practical solution when propane lasts so long.

Not all absorption fridges include an AC power option but just turn on the propane. Also do it the night before as these fridges take a long time to cool down. Also when loading, try to make sure the food you put in is already cold. If you put a bunch of warm food in the fridge, it will take a very long time to cool down.


I hope all of these questions make sense. Thank you for any help. I'm a single dad. My kids and I are excited to get out and use this, but it's overwhelming even after I read through the Owners Manuals. Thanks!


As others have noted, without pictures and/or model names, it's a bit of guessing as to exactly what you have.


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wnjj

Cornelius, Oregon

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Posted: 05/31/22 04:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Valhalla,

As I mentioned in my post, some older and simpler systems did use a switch to choose from battery or converter to supply the 12V power to the house. Those systems do not charge the battery.

* This post was edited 05/31/22 05:34pm by wnjj *

engineer40

Michigan

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Posted: 06/06/22 10:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow, I'm really glad I registered for this forum. I apologize it took me a while to respond. Like I mentioned, I'm a single dad so sometimes it takes a bit before I can get back to my projects. But you all have been super helpful to a new camper owner.

Yesterday was... interesting... I worked on it for about 13 hours.

I did end up getting all of the systems working: Electrical, Furnace, Fridge, Stovetop, Plumbing, & Hot water heater. I also got my battery bank wired up.

Fridge - Fairly certain it is only a 2 way fridge. It does not work on AC power, only LP or Battery.

Electrical - Still figuring out a few gremlins. But most things are working good enough to actually take it camping. I just ordered a Volt meter to help troubleshoot. I found one of the fuses was wrapped in foil. Awesome little fire hazard. Lol. I really don't think my batteries charge automatically. But I think I have a good work around. There is a house plug in the same cabinet as the batteries and I have a smart charger in there that will come on automatically when I plug into shore power. Not using alligator clamps obviously. Those could come off when driving. I'll wire it to the battery terminals.

Furnace - Fired right up. No issues.

Plumbing - Lots of leaks. The camper hasn't been used in so many years, I was expecting some leaks. I got all of them taken care of except at the very end of the night I noticed the toilet hose was leaking. It's hard to see what's going on, so I used a mirror. It was too late to troubleshoot it much further.

Hot water heater - No electric AC option. Only LP. But I did get it fired up and working.

I can't thank everyone enough for the help. I was really nervous I was going to screw something up that I would need to get fixed that would delay me taking my boys camping. So far... so good!

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 06/06/22 10:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great to hear!
Sounds like you got most of the things verified or tackled.
On the, automatic, charging presume you mean charging from the vehicle while plugged into the truck.
If that’s not working it a fairly easy to diagnose / fix.
Find the +12V hot pin on the truck plug and check it first. Could be hot all the time,could be just with ign on. So verify that first.
Then see if there’s a wire in that position on the camper side. If not, there’s the issue. If so, then test continuity between the camper plug and the + side of battery. (Or you may recognize the same wire. (Note checking continuity on + wires make sure to disconnect from power unless you know zactley what you’re doing).

Note, just a standard +wire from the truck won’t do much for charging. Can’t pull too many amps. So have a plan for charging other ways. Like your plug in charger, maybe a small generator. Even a 1000W does good. Or upgrade battery system. But still have to charge them.
Have fun!


2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
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engineer40

Michigan

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Posted: 06/06/22 10:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Here is a picture of how it sits now. With it's 1990's pink pin stripe and all. LOL. Nothing special... yet. Initial goal is to get it useable. Then if my sons like it as much as I hope they do, I'll put in more effort on modifying it with things like paint, solar, etc.

[image]
[image]Click For Full-Size Image.

joerg68

St. Ingbert, Germany

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Posted: 06/06/22 11:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very nice looking rig! I wish you many happy travels!

Glad you are getting all the gremlins sorted out one by one. If the camper has been sitting for a long time, expect it will need some further TLC once it gets back out in the elements.


2014 Ford F350 XLT 6.2 SCLB + 2017 Northstar Arrow


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