A motorhome can be described as a self propelling recreational vehicle which not only offers living accommodation but combines the same with a vehicle engine. It basically comprises of some sleeping accommodation which can take anything between two and eight individuals.
Each sleeping place in a motorhome is known as a berth and each of this is either convertible or fixed. The convertible ones usually convert from another part of the interior, usually some type of sofa bed. Cooking equipment is usually contained in the kitchenette area. Though the contents of the kitchenette may differ from one brand or type to the other, they usually contain a stovetop, sink, oven, grill and microwave.
A motorhome will also have a separate washroom; each of these will have what’s known as a flushing cassette toilet, a basin and a shower. The cassette toilet does at times swivel so as to offer more room and is also accessible from outside the motorhome. It is worth mentioning that recent motorhomes do come with a separate shower cubicle.
Finally, the motorhome will have a cab area which has a passenger and driver seat. These seats at the cab often swivel so as to be part of the living space when the motorhome is parked. For eating meals, most motorhomes will have a dinette area which usually has a table and some seating space. In some brands, a lounge may also be included; this usually comes in the form of a U-shaped sofa which can be located on the side or rear of the motorhome.
Types of Motorhomes
Motorhomes can generally be categorized into three main categories. The first category is Class A which is also known as integrated motorhomes. The second category is Class B motorhomes which are also known as semi- integrated. The third category is Class C motorhomes which are known as coach built or alcove.
Class A motorhomes (i..e. bus conversions, diesel pusher, etc) often has the reputation of being the most expensive and luxurious motorhome vehicle. It is quite popular because it is a home and a vehicle in one self contained package. Most manufacturers of Class A motorhomes buy the chassis with fully fitted drive trains from automobile manufacturers and then build the structure according to their design. It usually has a solid body with the driving area fully integrated into the living room. They usually have expansive and large front windows which offer a very good view of the surrounding landscape and road. The berths usually convert from dinette or lounge areas.
Class B motorhomes (i.e. carmpervans) are usually referred to as low profile motorhomes. They are usually low because no berths are provided in the cab area. Most of the times they would be fitted with a fixed double bed at the very rear of the vehicle and mostly have space for two even though some can accommodate up to four people. These motorhomes are best suited for short trips and not ideal for full-timing and snow birding.
Class C motorhomes (i.e. toy hauler) are also known as coach built or alcove. They usually have a caravan style body which can be mounted onto a truck chassis or a van. A double berth is usually present over the driving cab. The most common brands in this category are the Ford and Fiat Brands. They are usually built on what is known as a cutaway chassis which does imply that the entire front part of the vehicle including the engine, cockpit area, doors and dash are of the same appearance and construction of a pickup or van.
Here is a (long) list of motorhome manufacturers from all around the world:
Because motorhomes serve two distinct purposes of offering transportation and residential purposes, there are special maintenance tips for various motorhome parts and accessories which are necessary to ensure that the motorhome, irrespective of its category is in good working condition. These include but are not limited to the following;
A typical motorhome with a generator and at least two roof air conditioners usually has a minimum of 16 retail hours or more of mandated maintenance that needs to be performed each and every year. Doing this does give additional life to the parts of the motorhome.
For the under-gear in your motorhome, make a point of visually inspecting body mounting fixings and cab to body joints and also the mounting of under floor tanks. It is also important to check the spare wheel cradle operation and the tire too. You should also lubricate the axle tube on the AL-KO chassis.
For external bodywork and general conditioning, it is important to regularly inspect the sealant and check out potential leak points. Oil the hinges and door locks regularly, confirm window operation and lubricate the stays. If a rising roof is installed, inspect the roof mechanism and other body attachments such as racks, roof lights and vents.
For internal elements in the motorhome, verify the cab seat movement, confirm curtain and blind operation check out all drop out holes and perform damp testing. You should also check your furniture and lubricate the hinges and catches. Check out the steering wheel and ensure it is stable, the safety belts are cleaned and in working condition. Check out the windshield and confirm if the wipers are working accordingly.
It is also important to check the fire warning system. For the smoke alarm, check its battery and overall operation. Confirm the expiry date written on the fire extinguisher and make a point of replacing it if deemed necessary. You should also check relevant notices and operations on any other additions you may have added to the motorhome.
Unlike other automobiles, you will also have to check on the gas and gas appliances. You should carry out a pressure test on the system and make sure you have replaced the washer on your butane regulator if required. Replace the flexible hose if necessary and use new hose clips. You should also check space and water heater operations and clean the burners.
On the electrical side, call in a professional to check the MCBs and RCD on the central unit test the 12V sockets as well as the 13amp main sockets. Check the auxiliary battery as well as the outside pump and awning lights as well as the operation of all the interior lights.
For water systems, check the overall operation of the water pump; check out the fresh and waste water systems for any leaks. Inspect the tanks and emptying system and also flush through with a purifying cleaner. If you have fitted a charcoal water filter, make sure it is changed when due. Finally, you should also check the toilet blade and flush operation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Which motorhome is the most reliable?
A: This does depend on what you are looking for in a motorhome. However, the Class A is popular because it’s both a vehicle and a home in a single self contained package and unlike a travel trailer, it does provide relatively easy access to living quarters from both the passengers and drivers seats. Some people like the Class A units because of the height at the driver’s seat do afford an excellent view of traffic and road. It is also worth mentioning that the rather box like shape of the unit does allow the manufacturers to devise or come up with a wide variety of attractive floor plans that give the unit a very home-like appeal. Also, because the unit is built on a chassis that comes without any body structure, the builders usually have a lot of lee-way or latitude for deciding the price point as well as quality levels.
A: All motorhomes have an internal chemical toilet that uses a chemical that’s added to the cassette so as to breakdown the waste. These toilets are hygienic, easy to use and also very simple to empty. Always empty such a toilet in a specifically designated place. On a campsite, this will probably be marked as a CPD(Chemical Disposal Unit) while on some sites it may appear as an Elsan point. You should never empty black waste (content of a toilet)at a standard grey water disposal point. In addition, never dump the black water tank until it is at least two thirds full, this is done so as to enable the weight and gravity to force the contents of the tank to drain properly. If you are leaving the camp site and the holding tanks are not full, you can fill them with water and then dump them.
Q: When should motorhome tires be replaced?
A: For each tire brand and size, the evolution of the rubber compounds used to manufacture the unit depends on many factors and conditions of use such as load, speed, maintenance, inflation pressure etc. it is therefore highly recommended to have Motorhome/RV tires inspected by a qualified tire specialist who can access the tires suitability. Tires that have been in use for five years or more should be inspected by a specialist at least twice annually. Consumers should take note of change in the performance of the tire such as increased air loss, vibration or noise which may all be signs that the tire needs to be changed. Even though most tires will need replacement before they last 10 years, you should make sure that you change tires that achieve this milestone from the date of manufacture, this should also include spare tires.
Q: When should motorhome shocks be replaced?
A: You should have your shocks replaced if they are leaking, make sure they are not just damp with oil but are actually leaking. In addition, you should ensure that the bushings, both bottom and top don’t have any play or wear; if they do, then it is high time you have them replaced. You should also have them replaced if they are bent or otherwise damaged physically. You should also have them replaced if they can’t control coach motion. You can know this by testing the shocks over speed bumps at regular, slow speeds. You should be able to tell easily how many times the front and the rear goes up and down before stabilizing. If you experience more than two oscillations, then the units are shot; ideally go with 1.5 oscillations.
Q: How good are motorhome solar panels?
A: Depending on the brand and model, a solar panel can be quite effective. This is especially so if you are using the unit during good or sunny weather. To get a good panel, it is important to note the exact motorhome needs when no power has been plugged in. you should detail the motorhome equipment and current ratings. These are usually detailed on the user guide or product label, if the readings are not stated in Amps then read the wattage and then divide by 12 for a twelve volt system. Amps = watts/ 12 volts.
Q: How to winterize a motor home?
A: Once you are done with camping for the year, you need to winterize the motorhome. The first thing you need to do is to drain the water and then dry the water lines. Drain both the gray and black holding tanks and open any hot and cold water faucets in the RV. You should then attach a compresses air adapter to the RVs water lines. Using a standard air compressor, you should blow air through the water lines so as to keep the antifreeze from being diluted. You should then replace caps on all drains and close all the hot and cold water faucets. You should then add some antifreeze to the plumbing system the remove all food, laundry and valuable items. You should also ensure that you cover the RV with a breathable material to ensure that rodents and snow don’t get into the unit.
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