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Old 06-05-2011, 08:31 PM   #1
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Rookie Questions =)

Hello ya'll I have purchased a 1989 Winnebago Chieftain 33' long and have a couple of questions since this is my very first RV, hope you guys can help a lady out

The RV is in Michigan right now at my in-laws and we are in NC waiting for the hubby to check out of the Marine Corps, still got about 2 months left before he gets out and we take our trip of a lifetime to Alaska.

1) How does the fridge work while traveling?

2) We have a onan generator, how does this work..Does the generator charge the batteries and then lights & all run from the battery or does everything run off the generator while it's going?

3) How much gas does the generator use a day?

4) Any tips you can give us first timers?

Thank you in advance
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:31 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your new RV. An Thank you AND your Marine for service to the country!
1) Your fridge should run on propane gas while traveling. It may also work, when traveling with the generator running while driving, if you so desire.
2) Running the generator will power EVERYTHING! Charge the batteries and keep the lights on. Remember most generators, when they reach 1/4 level on your coach fuel, will quit running. To keep your RV from running out of gas.
3) Not really sure how much gas one would be used running the generator full time. Running it a few hours a day could be a couple of gallons.
4) A road trip to Alaska will be fun...enjoy...and happy trails.
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:33 PM   #3
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Gee, where do I begin? The 89 Chieftain is a great motorhome, steel and aluminum framing, fiberglass sides and roof and nice storage compartments underneath. However, it better be in top notch shape to go Alaska since that trip will test it to it's limits. Thanks to your husband for keeping us safe.
Now to your questions: The generator acts just like shore power. You turn it on and it runs the 110volt appliances and charges the batteries just like shore power. The only difference is that it is limited on output and may not be able to run EVERYTHING at the same time.
You can run the refrigerator on propane while traveling or if the generator is in use you can run it on 110v. Some will run on 12vt but I don't think yours is one of those. It does take about an hour to get it cold so plan accordingly. If on propane, shut it off to refuel.
I don't know how much gas a generator uses an hour. Never worried about it.
Be sure to have everything on the chassis inspected and double checked before you take off for the big state. The Yukon is no place to break down.
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMC_Wife View Post
Hello ya'll I have purchased a 1989 Winnebago Chieftain 33' long and have a couple of questions since this is my very first RV, hope you guys can help a lady out

The RV is in Michigan right now at my in-laws and we are in NC waiting for the hubby to check out of the Marine Corps, still got about 2 months left before he gets out and we take our trip of a lifetime to Alaska.

1) How does the fridge work while traveling?

If you have the generator running while traveling, it will run off of the 110 power it provides. If not (more typical) it should work on LP gas too.

2) We have a onan generator, how does this work..Does the generator charge the batteries and then lights & all run from the battery or does everything run off the generator while it's going?

The generator, in essence, takes the place of your shore power. It will usually run everything you'd normally use when plugged in, including the battery charging circuits and all other 110 devices and appliances. Most, if not all (I always installed some 110 lamps in my RVs) of your lights are 12v and will draw their power either from the batteries, or the converter (changes 110 volt 'shore' power to 12v).

3) How much gas does the generator use a day?

That depends on how much of a load you put on it (how much power you're asking it to produce), but my 5.5kw gas Onan used about 1/2 gallon per hour.

4) Any tips you can give us first timers?

Keep a good sense of humor, and keep asking questions?

Thank you in advance
Good luck!
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:56 PM   #5
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Welcome

It sounds like you have a great trip planned. I am not familiar with your specific coach, but others here will certainly have some good information for you.

It will help if you provide more specific information about the refrigerator and generator such as model and size.

Our refrigerator runs on 120vac or propane. When on shore power at a campground it will default to 120vac. When no AC is available it will run on propane.

Our diesel 7.5kw generator provides 120vac to the inverter/charger which in turn charges the batteries. It also runs the air conditioning, microwave and anything else on the 120vac circuits. The lighting and furnace run off of 12vdc supplied by the batteries.

People with the same systems as your coach will give you more specific information your refrigerator and the generator's fuel consumption. In the meantime try to get the manuals that came with the coach. Hopefully you will also be able to get maintenance records as well.

Before taking such a long trip you will want to have confidence in the vehicle's soundness. If you do not have access to the records I would suggest changing all fluids and filters at a minimum. A thorough inspection by a good RV tech would be a good idea. Pay particular attention to the tires. RV tires time out before they wear out, so check to see that they not over seven years old or show signs of sidewall cracking. Many owners change tires at the five year point.

Take it out on several short trips to get a feel for the equipment you want to take on the Alaska trip and to get familiar with all of the systems. Once you get too far along on that trip you will want to be pretty self-sufficient on handling routine problems that come up. They will certainly come up, but that is part of the adventure, right?

Have fun!
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:58 PM   #6
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One thing I would add that we learned the hard way with our 1st RV. Check all the tires to see when they were made!!!! There is a dot code on the tire and the last 4 digits tell you the year. Starting in 2000 it is the week of the year and the last 2 digits of the year, ie 1407 would indicate a tire made in the 14th week of 2007.
Why is this important?? If your tires are approaching 7 years of age it is unlikely you will make it to Alaska without several blowouts. An RV tire can look new with deep tread and be 10 years old as we learned the hard way.
I am going from memory on how the tire is coded so fellows if I mistated please correct me, but the point is Make sure you know how old the tires are. They start to dry rot and will blow a sidewall, especially on some of the roads to Alaska.
Other than the tires issue, Winnys are tough and you should have a great trip.
Thanks to both of you for your sacrifice and servcie to our country.
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:59 PM   #7
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Thank you all so much for answering my questions, it makes perfect sense! So as I understand it, the generator runs off of the RV gas tank?

@ QuietWater, Yeah we plan on having everything inspected before heading out, so I really hope theres nothing major wrong with it, and if there is...well, there goes our savings HAHA

Thank you again
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:07 PM   #8
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Svtotem & searay oh ok, we will definitely check the tires...that is one thing I was worried about is brakes and tire blowouts! The RV is in Michigan right now, but I can call my in-laws tomorrow to see if they can check exactly the specs we have on our rig. I will also see if I can find a manual for our year.

Thanks so much guys, all of this information helps so much...we have 2 months to prepare so I will be jotting down all this to help remind me of all that needs to be done esp. for safety measures. =)

I will pass on your appreciation to my husband for his service, that will put a smile on his face...thank you
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:18 PM   #9
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You will want to purchase the current edition of the Milepost Magazine before your travel.
Belts, hoses, tires, batteries, filters and since you have a P-30 Chev. New plug wires are a necessity.
The generator runs off the RV gas tank. If your fuel level drops under 1/4 tank the gen will stop to preserve your engine's fuel.
The Provincial parks in Canada are great for overnight camping. The mosquitos are beyond comprehension.
When we go we pack a lot of frozen food as well as dried and canned food. The only thing more unbelievable then the mosquitos is the price of food.
You have planned the trip of a lifetime, don't spoil it with unprepared equipment..........no handguns in Canada either.
Semper Fi, Thank you for your service.
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:37 PM   #10
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If you don't already have them, you can contact owner relations at Winnebago (check the website), and they will send you PDF's of wiring, plumbing and mechanical diagrams of your '89 Chieftain. They are super helpful with these vintage rigs.

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Old 06-05-2011, 10:38 PM   #11
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The refrigerator isn't really a refrigerator as you know it! It removes heat more than anything else and is designed to keep cold things cold more than to cool off warm things. Ensure the "cooling" fins in the back (Accessed through an outside hatch) are clean and the vent stack there is clean and clear of any nests or debris. Good luck, have fun and thank you and your husband for your service!!!
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigskymt View Post
You will want to purchase the current edition of the Milepost Magazine before your travel.
Belts, hoses, tires, batteries, filters and since you have a P-30 Chev. New plug wires are a necessity.
The generator runs off the RV gas tank. If your fuel level drops under 1/4 tank the gen will stop to preserve your engine's fuel.
The Provincial parks in Canada are great for overnight camping. The mosquitos are beyond comprehension.
When we go we pack a lot of frozen food as well as dried and canned food. The only thing more unbelievable then the mosquitos is the price of food.
You have planned the trip of a lifetime, don't spoil it with unprepared equipment..........no handguns in Canada either.
Semper Fi, Thank you for your service.

bigskmt, that is one of the first things we purchased the "milepost" well, after buying the RV that is

Thanks for all the great tips! I planned on having extra tires & battery but did not think of the belts & hoses and such. This is all such good information

I would pack a lot of frozen food but I don't think our freezer has the capacity to do so, any suggestions on that one? Oh, and the handgun thing...Yeah, we looked into that one months ago LOL...We don't like to travel without it, so you got us pegged there ah well, we will have it shipped to us after we visit Alaska, we plan on continuing our travels for 6 months to a year, so hope the ole girl will hold up, if not we will be forced to buy a upgrade hehe.
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:50 PM   #13
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Allison, thanks I will definitely contact them =)

Nudge, thanks for the tip...So I guess I will have to wait for the cooked meal to cool down before putting it in the fridge so it won't heat up the fridge? Correct?

I am just so excited, thank you all..I am getting so many good tips tonight, so hopefully this will make our trip a lot smoother knowing all of this information before hand.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:24 AM   #14
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USMC WIFE,
thank you for your service.
per onan, the fuel consumption is .6-.9 gallons per hour.
imho, my onan 5.5 burns an average of .75 gallons per hour when using the air conditioner and running the fridge on 110v ac.
change the oil and filter (onan pn 122-0836) on the genny, (2 qts). synthetic 10-40 would be good.
if it has close to 500 hours on it, change the spark plugs too.
i am installing denso iridium plugs in mine soon.
i carry 2 extra air filters for my genny. on dusty roads, they get plugged up with dust quickly. onan pn 140-3116.
i clean them with compressed air for reinstallation later.
there are 2 fuel filters on my onan, one at the carburetor and one under the genny just before the genny fuel pump. if the filters are original, the clamps must be cut off to replace the filters.
my fuel line was seeping fuel at the carburetor fitting. i replaced the fuel line and installed it and the new filters with worm drive hose clamps.

http://www.cumminsonanstore.com/store/search.asp

http://hollawayhome.com/RV%20Stuff/P...20Handbook.pdf

http://www.winnebagoind.com/resources/manuals/
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Old 06-06-2011, 09:07 AM   #15
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Allison, thanks I will definitely contact them =)

Nuge, thanks for the tip...So I guess I will have to wait for the cooked meal to cool down before putting it in the fridge so it won't heat up the fridge? Correct?

I am just so excited, thank you all..I am getting so many good tips tonight, so hopefully this will make our trip a lot smoother knowing all of this information before hand.
It is better to let it cool down to room temp, but once the 'fridge is cold, they usually stay that way pretty good. I believe it's mainly the initial stocking that you want cold. You could also use a standard cooler for extra storage and even use dry ice (with caution) if you want to really stock up.
I've read here the better way to run your 'fridge on the road is with propane and use your engine AC for cooling, . On our RV only the back AC works off of the generator and the front one runs off of the shore power connection but your unit is different than mine; check your owners manual.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:04 AM   #16
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Welcome. My youngest son must be your husband's replacement. He goes to Paris Island in 2 months:>).
The Winnie will overwhelm you for the first couple weeks/months. We all went through this. Being on the road you will get a double dose of this. Don't push it in the beginning - might think about staying a couple days or a week where you have help if needed while you weed out the issues. Human nature is to throw a lot of $$ at small perceived issues during the 1st several months of RVing. I recommend that you think about/focus what's important for safety and security (like a $20 dead bolt) and don't sweat the small stuff (like a bigger $300 refrig with a freezer). Just my opinion.
I think you have a good idea on what's key - tires and brakes. I use a RayTeck MT4 laser thermometer to check the tire and brake temperatures whenever I stop (they’re about $40 on ebay). Better yet, for several hundred $$ there are Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. Tire pressure and the year the tire was manufactured are key items. You might want to figure out what the tire pressure should be while you are waiting (it is not as easy as it sounds) - Go to the tire mfg site for a start and figure the full weights listed on the RV spec sheets. Chevy brakes have a tendency to drag - by checking the temperature when you stop you may be able to identify a dragging brake (or failing wheel bearing) so you can clean it up prior to major issues. Have your in-laws check the roof for leaks/water stains during every rain storm. There are many tapes/seals to fix leaks in a flash. I use eternabond tape with good results.
.. Happy travels - enjoy this good old USA, you earned it.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:18 AM   #17
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Everyone has given you great advice, but here are 3 suggestions that you may have already received:
Be sure to get a Canadian Insurance coverage card from your insurer
Road service, recommend Coach-Net
Always take your time and be safe.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:49 AM   #18
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Welcome to the forum and I hope you have a wonderful uneventful journey. Thank your hubby for his service.
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:08 AM   #19
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Quote:
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The refrigerator isn't really a refrigerator as you know it! It removes heat more than anything else and is designed to keep cold things cold more than to cool off warm things. Ensure the "cooling" fins in the back (Accessed through an outside hatch) are clean and the vent stack there is clean and clear of any nests or debris. Good luck, have fun and thank you and your husband for your service!!!
That's how all refigerators work. They don't cool, they remove heat if that makes any sense!
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:35 AM   #20
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1) How does the fridge work while traveling?

Quite well, The fridge in most RV's can run on either Propane of Electric, the proper name is not Refrigerator, but "Absorption cooling unit" this is an older technology where head drives a series of chemical processes that "Absorbes" the heat out of the inside, and moves it to the outside, The only moving parts are powered by Gravity, very reliable.

Some (insurance companies) Say do not run on Propane while driving however myself, I think they are nuts.. Yes, it happens from time to time that one catches fire.. (Good maintenance can reduce the probility of that) but think of it this way.. IF you were to be driving down the freeway and see an RV in front of you with flames shooting out the fridge area, Are you going to pull up tight next to it so the fire can spread to YOUR RIG?

Now imagine you are at a ralley or event, packed in like sardines, and his fridge catches fire... Your rig is toast too. So I run with mine on. Never had a problem.. Mondern DSI units do not have a pilot light to blow out so even that danger is history.

2) We have a onan generator, how does this work..Does the generator charge the batteries and then lights & all run from the battery or does everything run off the generator while it's going?

Yes, The generator does not actually charge the house batteries. That is the converter's job. It may also charge the chassis battery depending on your battery control system (I'd not count on that) The generator DOES, however, provide power to the converter. IT also powers all the 120 volt stuff (Air conditioner, Water heater, (Optional power source) Fridge (optionl power souce) televisions, radios and the like.

3) How much gas does the generator use a day?

1/2 to 1.5 gallons per hour (Depending on the load)

4) Any tips you can give us first timers?

YES: go to a shopping mall during the "Off" hours (When the mall is closed) or other very very very large parking lot and practice backing into parking spaces, Practice FOD as well (Forward Only Driving) get used to how it handles and backs in a place where the only thing to hit is the brake pedal.


If you do not have an owner's manual there are books,, The RV Owner's Handbook or the RV book, one is a Woodall's publication both are very good "Generic" owner's manuals, IN fact for my rig a couple of chapters were better than the factory manuals that came with it by the ton. Well pounds)

Second, All the "Stuff" in the rig. Water heater, Fridge, Furnace, Air Conditioners, Televisions and related hardware) Visit the maker's web site (The appliance maker) and download the PDF of the service manual, Paper gets lost, hard drives,,, not so often.. OH, back up your hard drive.

Finally: STUFF happens.. When it happens, don't sweat it.. Odds are there will be someone parked nearby who can help you and if not, Most campgrounds have a bulletin board or two with the flyer or business card of the local Mobile on-site RV repair folks on it.

Oh, a good battery charger (I have one that is 10-30-60 amp automatic) can come in handy. Just in cuss.. Make sure you know how to use it.
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