Replacing Chassis Battery

By Don Paul
October 2, 2021

I just replaced our 8 year old original Mercedes (Varta) chassis battery in our 11VK with a $149.76 Platinum EverStart H8 AGM 5-year warranty battery from Walmart and learned a several things… So I’m posting a STEP-BY-STEP installation procedure to save others time & frustration:

 

  1. Walmart’s website shows “This item does not fit your 2011 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500″… but it is WRONG. It fits perfectly. What’s really wonky is when you click their “Find Items that fit” link it shows their EverStart Maxx LEAD ACID (non-AGM) batteries “fit”… but these lead acid batteries NEED open air venting which our Sprinter’s battery compartments don’t have. DUH. They’ve got it BACKWARDS… Our V/Ns need AGM batteries !!!
  2. SAVE YOUR RECEIPT !!! You’ll need it if you have a warranty claim. I suggest taking a picture of your receipt and saving it on your phone… AND taping the receipt completely covered in clear packing tape to your battery compartment lid where you’ll be able to find it years from now IF you need it.
  3. Extracting the existing battery was a bit tricky since the positive cable/terminal has a bank of fuses attached to it which took some doing to finesse this fuse bank out of the way to get the existing battery out. YouTube video helped
  4. WAIT 10 to 30 minutes after you’ve turned your Sprinter OFF and removed the key to prevent getting a CEL (“Check Engine Light”) after you’ve installed your new battery
  5. Disconnect your chassis battery from the Sprinter chassis by pulling the plug next to the accelerator pedal. ALL your chassis lights should go out.
  6. Remove the (3) T25 bolts holding down the plastic L-shaped piece with a battery icon stamped on top. Don’t drop the bolts on the ground… You may never find them again.
  7. Remove the molded grey rubber floor mat. Yes it can get hung up but it does just pull out
  8. Loosen (no need to remove) the (4) Torx bolts (T25) holding down the metal lid of the battery compartment. Slide it aft to remove the lid.
  9. Remove the Red plastic cover over the Positive (+) battery terminal
  10. Loosen the 10mm nut on the Negative (-) terminal and remove the cable from the terminal. You may need to twist the cable to get is “unstuck” from the battery terminal.
  11. Unplug the existing AGM battery vent from the front of the battery. It just pops right out.
  12. Locate the black plastic handle for the battery hold down at the front of the battery bay. PAY ATTENTION TO WHICH WAY IT IS ORIENTED so you know which way it goes back in. (50% chance of re-inserting it incorrectly = 100% frustration… Think USB plug insertion frustration)
  13. Remove the battery hold down by completely loosening the bolts from their threaded sockets. The bolts should stay in the battery hold down. I needed a ~ 10″ extension on my 10mm socket and task lighting to remove the 2 battery bolts at the bottom front of the dark battery compartment. They came out easily and pulling the handle for the hold down lifts it up and out of the way with the bolts attached.
  14. Remove both the Positive (+) cable from the battery post by loosening the 10mm nut on each hold down, then twisting the battery cables up… and move them out of the way of your battery.
  15. Push the old battery forward FIRST to remove it since there’s a fixed hold down on bottom the aft part of the battery compartment. Again hard to see since this compartment has Black parts on Black compartment with poor natural light (chassis lights are off because the battery is dead / disconnected)
  16. You need to be flexible and strong to remove the ~ 60 lb. battery since the steering wheel is above the battery and the driver’s seat & base are in the way too. I’m 64 years young and fit (thanks mountain biking) so not a problem for me… but others may want to have Walmart or someone else install it for you. Walmart will probably charge since this installation is another Mercedes over-engineered PITA that takes time AND skill. IF you have someone else install it, be SURE they put the Red plastic plug in the aft vent hole (see below)
  17. Remove the new new battery’s Black plastic cap from the Negative (-) terminal and the Red plastic cover from the Positive (+) terminal. DON’T TOSS THE RED COVER AWAY… it has a small Red plastic plug you need to insert in the vent hole in the aft (+) end of the battery. This isn’t obvious unless you RTFM which is a TINY 1″x1″ yellow square taped to the side of the battery with print so tiny you’ll need a magnifier to literally “read the fine print”. LOVE my iPhone’s built-in Magnifier feature for tasks like this!
  18. Lower the new battery into the compartment. Mine wasn’t easy doing it solo since the vent tube kept flopping into the battery compartment in the front BELOW the battery as did the fuse block on the Positive cable in the back. Helpful to have another set of hands or secure these out of the way before inserting the battery… or Yoga move to tip the battery in the hole with one hand then grab the vent tube with the other while lowering the battery in. Who needs a Yoga workout or lift weights when Mercedes provided a Home Workout ??? LOL
  19. Move the battery forward to connect the Positive terminal / fuse bank.
  20. Push the battery aft to insert it under the fixed aft battery hold down.
  21. Reattach the Red Mercedes (not EverStart battery) plastic cover over the Positive (+) terminal / cables
  22. Connect the vent tube to the vent hole at the center of the forward (Negative terminal) side of the battery. Confirm the tiny Red plug is still in place on the aft (Positive terminal) side of the battery.
  23. Reinstall the battery hold down by FIRST finding the 2 battery hold down bolt holes and the centering gizmo at the bottom of the dark battery compartment. Then lower the hold down bracket into the compartment lining up the bolts with the black bolt holes on the floor of the poorly lit black battery compartment. Yoga helps since the driver’s seat base has a sharp corner which loves to poke ribs (I have a bruise to prove it LOL). Hand tighten the hold down bolts… and check your new battery won’t move
  24. Reattach the Negative (-) terminal.
  25. Recheck BOTH the Negative (-) and Positive (+) terminals are securely attached. Re-tighten just to be sure… You’re connecting a powerful 900 CCA diesel battery !!!
  26. Reconnect the Negative battery cable to the terminal by the accelerator pedal. Your Sprinter should lights come on. WINNING !!!
  27. Replace the metal battery cover by sliding the holes over bolts… then pushing it forward so the bolt heads are above the bolt slots. You may need to move the black (+) and red (-) cables to get it to go back on smoothly. Check to make sure none of your battery / chassis cables are going to be crimped when you tighten the Torx bolts to the cover.
  28. Replace the grey rubber floor mat. You may need to push it forward to get it to fit correctly in the back so you can…
  29. Replace the L-shaped piece with a battery icon stamped on top and reinsert the (3) T25 bolts holding it down. Don’t drop the bolts on the ground… You may never find them again.
  30. Celebrate / Medicate for a job well done.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/EverStart-Platinum-AGM-Battery-Group-h8/40647529

HOPEFULLY I didn’t leave any steps out… and I make no representations that I didn’t AND/OR these are the same steps you need to replace your Sprinter’s chassis battery. YMMV. If you’re not sure have a professional install it for you.

 

To Tow or Not to Tow?

by Larry Galantis – 18V
September 30, 2021

To tow or not to tow?- That is the question.

I think we all want to be as flexible as possible in our travels and sometimes the idea of towing a vehicle presents us with the illusion of flexibility.

It is my opinion however, that towing a vehicle does not necessarily increase your flexibility. In fact, it may even limit your flexibility.  My opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it. Certainly, I’m open to hearing yours. Of course, if you’re a full timer, a toad is almost mandatory.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a tow vehicle but my opinions, stated below, may surprise you.

The decision to tow, I believe, depends on what type of traveler you are. Are you a “blow and go” traveler or a “stay and play” traveler?  Do you just blow into your destinations location, spend a day or two looking around, take a few pictures, click, click, click and then, you’re on the road again?  Generally speaking, if you’re blowing into a “destination location”, everything you might want to see is going to be right where you parked. If it’s not right there, it’s within walking or bicycling distance. Mt. Rushmore or El Capitan come to mind.

Or, is your RV travel style one where you drive into a town or destination spot and you stay in that spot for a week or longer while you really get into and take in the area?  Then, having a vehicle is probably a good idea. Notice, I didn’t say tow vehicle. Subject to availability, renting can be an option.

Here are a few reasons why I think the towing option is not as flexible as you might first believe.

  1. Deciding on and pulling into a fuel station becomes a little more complicated. It requires a little advance reconnaissance. Which island has the diesel dispensers? Am I going to be able to pull in and still have ample room to pull out? Many fuel stations today are nothing more than convenience stores that sell gas. Parking is set up with the convenience store customer in mind. Sometimes I’ve had to wait until several cars backed out of their parking spots so I had enough of a turning radius to get out!
  2. Simple tasks like making U-turns and backing up become more complicated when you tow. If you miss a turn, it’s not as easy to pull off a U-turn when you’re towing a vehicle. It’s doable but you have to select the right spot. Depending on the road you’re on, there may not be a shopping center or parking lot that you can pull into and turn around, for miles and miles.  Of course, you can always unhook and re hook.  Ask me how I know!

    Backing up, in many instances is not a viable option. Especially, if you’re flat towing.  Personally, I know some drivers will back up on a four down vehicle, But it’s not recommended. It’s very easy to bend those tow bars.

  3. Parking is a biggie. Stand alone, our 25’s are pretty easy to park and can fit in places that a rig pulling s toad, can’t.  Speaking of parking…..
  4. Sometimes, if you need to hook up, a park or campsite can generally accommodate a 25 footer. Add another 15 feet for your tow vehicle setup and now your site options become limited if not nonexistent.

    Not all camping facilities have pull through sites.  Yes, you can unhook your toad and back in but some campsites don’t have room for your rig AND a toad. Some National Parks come to mind. Besides, if you’re a blow and go traveler, connecting and disconnecting your tow car is just more work.  Even if you have it down pat…it’s still more work.

  5. Your travel expenses are going to increase. Be prepared for additional maintenance and repair costs for the toad.  Increased fuel costs as a result of reduced miles per gallon when towing. Add in additional insurance costs.   If it also does double duty as your daily driver, then some maintenance is still required, and tires will wear out sooner. Oh yeah, add a few bucks at the toll booth for those extra axles….
  6. You do ALL the driving. Some spouses/partners have no problem sharing the drive responsibility as long as it’s just the V/N.   Add a toad and you might be the sole driver.  Of course, many single drivers tow without trepidation.  Just sayin’ ….

Bottom line is that I can only think of 1 or 2 advantages to towing.  I can think of lots of disadvantages to towing. In the end, it’s up to you.

I’m up here in Indiana, 50 degrees and rainy. I can’t go sightseeing so I’m killing some time until I can get to my leveler install on Thursday.

By the way… don’t listen to me. I also own a boat. Has got to be the dumbest idea ever…..

Power Gear Programming

Power Gear Slim Rack Slide-Out Programming Procedure

By Brian Cummings
May 20, 2021

Use this procedure to SET the IN and OUT stops. Make sure engine is running during this procedure to ensure proper system voltage.

  1. Press and hold the IN button on the wall rocker switch. The IN stop must be set first.
  2. Move the room to the fully retracted position. Press and hold the IN button for 10 seconds after the room stops moving. Release the wall switch.
  3. Visually inspect the room seal to make certain the room is fully retracted. If it is not, repeat step 2. This procedure may need to be repeated until both sides of the slide out are fully retracted.
  4. You are now ready to set the OUT stop.
  5. Press and hold the OUT button on the wall rocker switch.
  6. Move the room to the fully extended position. Press and hold the OUT switch for 10 seconds after the room stops moving. Release the wall switch.
  7. Visually inspect the room seal to make certain the room is fully extended. If it is not, repeat step 6. This procedure may need to be repeated until both sides of the slide-out are fully extended.

NOTE:

The switch will need to be depressed and held down for 10 seconds after the room stops moving(or until you here both motors “click”) to correctly set the stop locations. This applies to both the IN stop (retracted) and OUT stop (extended). Failure to do so will cause the stops to NOT be set and the room will operate erratically and out of sync.

Highpointe Microwave Oven Quick Reference

By Kent Kyburz
March 20, 2021

 Microwave (1000W):

Set Cooking time
Press Start/+30SEC button
To adjust power setting press POWER repeatedly to reduce 20% each press.

Grill/Micro + Grill Combo Cooking

Press GRILL button repeatedly
G-1 100% Grill No Micro
G-2 2/3 Grill 1/3 Micro
G-3 1/2 Grill 1/2 Micro
Set Cooking time
Press Start/+30SEC button
Oven will beep twice at halfway point to indicate time to flip food.

Convection Cooking

With preheat:

Press CONVEC button
Press Convection TEMP key for proper temp
Press Start/+30SEC button to start preheating
Oven will beep twice when at temp.
Set Cooking time
Press Start/+30SEC button

Without preheat:

Press CONVEC button
Press Convection TEMP key for proper temp
Press CONVEC button to confirm temp
Set Cooking time
Press Start/+30SEC button

Convection Roast Cooking (Convection + Microwave)

Press ROAST button
Press Convection TEMP key for proper temp
Press ROAST button to confirm temp
Set Cooking time
Press Start/+30SEC button

Defrost

By weight:

Press DEFROST button once for DEF-1
Set weight in ounces using number keys (4-100 oz)
Press Start/+30SEC button

By time:

Press DEFROST button twice for DEF-2
Set Defrost time
Press Start/+30SEC button

Speedy Cooking

Press 1-6 to set number of minutes at 100% power.
Add 30 seconds with each press of Start/+30SEC button.

Service Tips WIT Club News – August/September 2009

Contributed by Bob Swor – March 20, 2021

Answers From RVIA: Split Model Years

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has recently published a document entitled “Q & A’s on Split Model Years for Motorhomes.” As the title infers, it relates to questions that can arise regarding the chassis manufacturer’s model year and the model year assigned to the completed motor home by the final stage motor home manufacturer. Below is the original memo from RVIA for your reference and information.

Q & A’s on Split Model Years for Motorhomes

How is the manufacturing of motorhomes different from cars?

Motorhomes are “multi-stage vehicles.” This means that, unlike cars, they generally are built in two separate stages by two different manufacturers.

How is motorhome manufacturing divided into different stages?

The first-stage manufacturer, also called the “incomplete vehicle manufacturer,” assembles the motorhome chassis. This typically includes such components as the chassis frame, engine, fuel system, transmission, drive train, suspension, wheels, brakes and vehicular electrical system. These “incomplete vehicles” are then sold by the chassis manufacturer to final stage motorhome manufacturers, also called “completed vehicle manufacturers.” The motorhome manufacturers take the chassis and build the coach body, all of the “household” systems, install the appliances, cabinets, furnishings, plumbing, lighting fixtures and a multitude of various amenities, resulting in a completed vehicle.

How do first stage manufacturers identify their vehicles?

According to federal law, at 49 CFR 565.13(a), a vehicle manufactured in more than one stage must have a Vehicle Identification Number (“VIN”) assigned to it by the incomplete vehicle manufacturer. One character position in the VIN sequence identifies the model year of the incomplete vehicle. Once it is assigned, the VIN stays with the incomplete vehicle when it is sold to the motorhome manufacturer. The incomplete vehicle manufacturer may also ship the chassis with a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (“MCO”). The MCO document provides information about each particular chassis.

How do final stage manufacturers identify their vehicles?

Final stage motorhome manufacturers continue to use the VIN assigned by the incomplete vehicle manufacturer. Motorhome manufacturers also provide MCO documents with their motorhomes when they are shipped to dealers. The model year of the completed motorhome, which is determined by the motorhome manufacturer, appears on this MCO document.

Why do some chassis have a different model year than the completed motorhome?

An incomplete vehicle chassis is manufactured before a completed motorhome is built on it. Motorhome manufacturers may buy hundreds, even thousands, of chassis each year. Because of variations in advance purchases of incomplete vehicle chassis, the flow of new product orders, market conditions and new model roll-outs, the model year of the incomplete vehicle chassis is frequently different from the model year of the completed motorhome.

What are some examples of model year differences?

A group of fifty chassis could be built at the end of a calendar year and assigned that year’s model year by the incomplete vehicle manufacturer. A few weeks later, those chassis could be sold to a motorhome manufacturer. The motorhome manufacturer may use half of them to finish production of one motorhome make, assigning those motorhomes the motorhome manufacturer’s current model year on their final MCO’s. These completed motorhomes would have a model year one year greater than the model year of the chassis. The motorhome manufacturer may later use the other half of the chassis in manufacturing a new motorhome design, assigning those motorhomes the next model year. As a result, their final MCO’s would have a model year designation that is two years greater than the chassis model year. In another example, a chassis manufacturer may decide to skip a model year entirely and designate its chassis one year ahead of the then current calendar year. This could result in motorhomes having a model year once year less than the chassis model year.

Who decides what the “official” model year of the vehicle is?

The final stage motorhome manufacturer has authority to designate on the completed vehicle MCO the model year of the completed motorhome. See Federal Trade Commission Staff Opinion (March 5, 2001).

Is it permissible to have different model years for the chassis and completed motorhome?

Yes, it is permissible. The United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has directly addressed this very issue and determined in a formal staff option that it is NOT an unfair or deceptive trade practice for the completed motorhome and its chassis to have different model years. In recognition of the fact that the final stage manufacturer has the authority to designate the model year for motorhomes, the FTC has stated that the incomplete vehicle chassis manufacturer may use the phrase, “Model Year – Not Applicable” on the MCO’s for the incomplete vehicles it sends to final stage motorhome manufacturers, if it so chooses. See Federal Trade Commission Staff Opinion (March 5, 2001).

Is the motorhome manufacturer required to disclose the difference between the model year of the incomplete vehicle and the model year of the incomplete chassis?

No. However, four states (California, Maryland, Michigan, and Wisconsin) require dealers to inform purchases of multi-stage vehicles of the difference between the model year of the incomplete vehicle chassis and the model year of the final stage motorhome.

What information is used by the state DMV offices to register motorhomes?

When a consumer has a new motorhome registered for the first time, the state DMV will use both the VIN assigned by the incomplete vehicle manufacturer and the model year and make assigned by the final stage motorhome manufacturer for the vehicle registration. All states should title motorhomes using the model year assigned by the final stage motorhome manufacturer.

What should I do if a state DMV registers a new motorhome with the chassis model year?

If a DMV employee insists on using the incomplete chassis model year, please call the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association at 703-620-6003 for assistance. Ask for the Government Affairs Department.

Flat Panel Replacement

By Robert Oakman and Bob Kelly
February 11, 2021

The original panels, prior to removal.

Rob Oakman has a 19D with flat ‘flexible’ solar panels mounted on the roof. When Winnebago manufactured the unit, they did not install flat flexible Zamp Panels, and substituted SunPower panels. The rest of the system is Zamp products. Rob was concerned amount the heat transferred to the roof, and the subsequent potential damage to the roof, i.e.: crazing and discoloration of the fiberglass, and opted to replace the panels mounted on the roof. The panels worked perfectly, both before and after removal. Read more “Flat Panel Replacement”

Fort DeSoto Park Campground

by Larry Galantis

Here is a cheat sheet for Fort De Soto Park Campground .

Water Sites;

5 Star – 103, 105, 107, 109, 130, 116

3 Star – 134, 132, 131, 115, 101, 99, 91,87.

2 Star Water Access – 142, 143,145,149,150,151, 128,136,137, 138, 138,137, 136, 135, 134 (close to sea wall to fish),

Notes

Site 87 is wide, and is the closest site to the entrance. It has lots of grass between the site and water

Best Playgrounds Site 123, and 125, but Site 125 has no water access.

Sites 128, 129. 130, 131, 132, 133 are by a playground, and a kayak launch spot, but with a restricted view.

Sites 131, 132, 133, 134 are by the playground, and are rated 5-3 star water access. 132 is the best of both worlds if you want playground and water.

Sites 142, 143, 144, 145 and 149 have kayak access.

Sites 142 and 143 little to no shade

Sites 151-152 also have kayak access.

Sites 200 to 206 are also on a seawall but kayak friendly.

Sites 209 and 210 are also kayak friendly, but 209 has an obstructed view. Site 210 has a limited view.

Sites 216 and 217 have kayak access with obstructed views.

Sites 229 through 231 have kayak access with obstructed views.

128-133 by playground AND kayak launch spot butwith restricted view.

142-145 and 149 kayak access. 142-143 little to no shade

151-152 also have kayak access. 200 to 206 also on a seawall but kayak friendly.209 and 210 also kayak friendly but 209 has obstructed view 210 has limited view.

Visit the Website

 

Upper Brake Light Replacement

By Bob Swor
March 31, 2010

My fellow travelers have been complaining about my partially burned out LED upper brake light for two years. An OEM replacement for just one side was $40. I located two lamps on Amazon, and went with the two for $20 route. Thanks for the tips from Bob Kelly and Kent Gardam. The bonus with the new light is that has bright & less bright capability. This means I could add the turn signal function to the lamp. The extra red wire (turn) on the new light gets fished down the aluminum corner channel and connected to the amber turn signal light in the bumper. Read more “Upper Brake Light Replacement”

Slideout Repair on an 08VH

Information supplied by Ginny Dziadosz
March 31, 2020

SLIDE OUT

The Slide-out failed when we were extending it. The motor continued to run in both directions but the slide did not move in either direction. The owner was able to move the slide in/out by using a crescent wrench to rotate the Slide-out’s drive shaft. The drive shaft is accessible above the Propane tank fill connection.

With the encouragement of several folks on the Yahoo View/Navion forum the owner decided to repair this himself. He stated it was easy to do, except that it was not fun having to work under the slide out – his knees were not what they used to be. Read more “Slideout Repair on an 08VH”