Class B Warned

Well, This Hasn't Gone Well

Author: CBW (page 1 of 5)

Part Twenty Six – Let’s Put This S*%t To Rest

I promise that this will be the last I write about RV toilets for a very long time. I don’t think I could even tally up the amount of hours I’ve spent trying to solve the odor problem in our Roadtrek. We’ve been to the Roadtrek factory in Canada and 2 Roadtrek service centers multiple times but they could not solve the problem. It’s exhausting listening to the same questions over and over again from the service center, like:

Do you make sure that there is water in the bowl of the toilet at all times?

Do you make sure that there is water in all of your P-traps?

Are you sure the odor isn’t coming from your grey tank?

Do you clean the black tank after every use?

Did you forget to use a tank deodorizer?

These are all great questions to ask when troubleshooting an odor problem –  but we knew what the problem was – we reported to the dealer and Roadtrek what the problem was –  and finally after 4+ attempts we fixed it ourselves.  Just as others have reported – the Thetford toilet was the problem and replacing it immediately fixed our odor issue.

In our opinion the Thetford toilet has a critical design flaw. When the waste drops from the Thetford bowl into the black tank, it drops past a section of the toilet that is open to the inside body of the toilet. It’s not a problem if the toilet is properly sealed to the flange and all seams are property bonded together during manufacturing. It IS a problem if they are not, and I can’t imagine how we could have been lucky enough to get 2 toilets that had the same problem.

We searched long and far for a toilet that would fit in the same space as the Thetford Aqua Magic V. Not only does the toilet flange have to fit with an offset of about 7 1/2 inches off of the back wall, it also sits on a shelf in the Roadtrek wet bath so it must be the low profile model. The only close match that we were able to find was the Dometic 300 Series. Since it’s a special order item we had no way to measure to be sure it would fit. It was a risk worth taking since we felt that there was nowhere else to turn.

When you put the Thetford and Dometic side by side the difference in size is noticeable. The Dometic is larger and is just slightly higher than the Aqua Magic V. What I didn’t like about either of them was how inexpensive they look and feel. If I had a choice I would have replaced it with a China bowl toilet – I can’t believe no one makes one that would fit.

Despite the larger footprint I was relieved to learn that the Dometic actually fit in the Roadtrek wet bath. I got everything temporarily fit into place then I realized that it wasn’t quite a perfect fit after all. When I lifted the seat I realized that the right side was rubbing against the corner of the shower surround. The Roadtrek has a slight bump in the back corner to allow room for the vent pipe. At this point we were willing to do anything to get this to fit. So out comes the Dremel to shave down the toilet seat. A warning to others – plastic gets molten when you’re cutting it with a Dremel, and boy does it burn! The actual lid needed no modifications, but I had to slice about a 1/2 inch of the seat off. It really isn’t a big deal and doesn’t affect performance at all. The water line also needed some modifications to work with the Dometic, but these parts were readily available at our local hardware store.

 

The new Dometic toilet is a perfect fit, until…

 

Lift the seat and you can see how the right side hits the corner of the wet bath

 

The seat now clears the corner bump after some cutting

 

A closer look at the modified toilet seat

 

With the seat cover down you can’t even tell that it’s been modified

I’m relieved to report that the toilet problem is finally solved! We’ve taken several road trips since installation and haven’t had any odor issues. Is it a perfect solution – absolutely not. Does the toilet look a little strange with a slice taken out of the toilet seat – maybe a little. Does the cheap plastic toilet creak when you sit on it as others have reported – yep.

Now that we have a working solution, we wanted to get to the bottom of the waste issues with the Thetford. We flipped the toilet upside down and filled the inside of the toilet cavity with water. When installed, this chamber would be open to the black tank, so if water leaked anywhere this could be the source of the odor. Sure enough the toilet immediately began to leak out of the seam at the rear of the toilet. How could something so obvious be overlooked so many times.

 

Our old Thetford toilet upside down – getting ready to fill the inside with water

 

A quick clip showing the leak. Click on the link below for a better quality video.

Toilet Leak Video

 

Since the toilet had already been replaced about 6 months before, I decided to reach out to Thetford directly to see if this really could be the source of the odor. The technician that assisted me seemed eager to assist. We emailed back and forth, and I even sent a video of the leaking seam. Thetford immediately determined that the toilet was defective and sent me a new one.

I have a working toilet so for now the Dometic will stay. But maybe some day I’ll run a bead of caulking around the defective seam and reinstall the old one just to see if that was actually the source of the problem. Or maybe I’ll install the new one that was just sent to me. What are the chances that 3 toilets in a row would have the same problem? Then again with our luck…

If you’re having waste issues in your RV with the Thetford toilet don’t just accept it – something is wrong! We don’t use tank treatments (that really just mask odors and sometimes smell just as off-putting as anything else in the tank), and with our now properly sealed system, we still have no odors at all. To properly diagnose the problem I offer up the following steps that ultimately led us to a solution. Again we are not professionals so you should always verify that any work you do won’t void your warranty.

1. You first want to make sure that the odor isn’t actually coming from the grey water tank. In our RV the vent pipe for the grey and black are connected together so there’s a chance that odor could backwash down the vent pipe and up through the sinks. Run water through all of your sink and shower drains. You can even plug the drain and add a little water to the sink to be sure that everything is sealed. Take a drive to verify that the odor is still present.

2. If the smell is still present, then the odor isn’t in the grey tank. You can then mask off the toilet as we did in Chapter 21. This was a pain to do, but it proved to us without a doubt that the odor was at the toilet and nowhere else.

3. Inspect the 2 bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. Verify that these bolts are tightened.

4. Remove the toilet and inspect the flange. Many toilet problems can be solved by replacing the seal between the toilet and floor flange.

5. Flip the toilet over and fill the body with water. If water leaks through any of the seams then so can waste odor. Replace the toilet and get RVing!

I would like to thank the fine folks at both The Interstate Blog (interstateblog.blogspot.com) and Roadtrek Life (roadtreklife.blogspot.com) for having the same stinky model of toilet and for both braving the smelly ordeal of replacing it so that others could see that sometimes (most times?) you can rely more on fellow owners than the service centers or even manufacturers for tracking down a problem and finding the solution.

So this marks the end of our toilet talk, but it isn’t, however, the end of our problems. We’ll get to that in another Chapter, and maybe even dive into some modifications that we did to improve the functionality of the wet bath sink and shower. Until then we count down the days ’till the next Hershey RV Show!

Part Twenty Five – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I understand and accept the fact that things will go wrong with any RV – I know I’ve probably written this in previous posts. I just can’t comprehend why it’s happening so often, and multiple times to the same parts. I’m sure you can understand my shock and frustration that my Alde system was leaking again. Of course the system was nearly drained before we realized it. This time I knew that with a clamp I could in a “pinch” off the hose that runs to the auto bleeder valve and stop the leak temporarily.

I took a trip to the dealer to stock up on Alde propylene glycol, which as I’ve mentioned before is extremely difficult to find. Once I had replenished the system I decided to try to bypass the bleeder valve to see if it’s pressure or gravity causing the problem. I purchased some clear tubing and connected it to the side of the bleeder valve. Once the Alde system was running, fluid began filling the tube. It seemed like the warmer the fluid the faster the fluid would build up in the tube. This made me suspect that pressure in the system was pushing the glycol right through the valve, and the valve is designed to relieve pressure, not release fluid. I was also continuing to get air pockets in the floor which prevents the floor heat from working.

 

Stocking up on propylene glycol at our RV service center

 

Looking into the wheel well you can see the clear tubing and my attempt to collect the leaking glycol

I know I’ve been critical of Roadtrek, but I will say that this round of repairs has been considerably better than the MANY interactions that involved them in the past. I began a dialog with a Roadtrek representative who was responsive with returning my phone calls and answering emails. I also reached out to Alde USA, who put me in touch with a technician that not only called me several times to diagnose the problem over the phone, but also kept in touch via text throughout the repair process. In my discussions with the technician from Alde, it was determined that something, maybe metal or plastic shavings from installation, could have entered the piping and collected in the bleeder valve. He also recommended replacing the ’T’ on each side of the floor loop. It was redesigned with a slight curve to better direct the flow through the floor and cut back on turbulence which could also lead to the air pockets.

A special bleeder pump was also required for this repair. This pump would not only be used to purge air from the system once repaired, it would be used to force fluid through all of the lines to dislodge any particles that may still be lingering. Alde was to ship out the parts for the auto bleeder, replacement glycol and bleeder pump. I had to contact Roadtrek and request what they call the Alde Upgrade Kit, which has the parts needed for the modified floor loop fittings.

The plan was to make this my final trip to the dealer to address all of the lingering issues and have a 100% working van. I wanted to have all of the parts on hand waiting for me, and everyone on board with the required repairs. At the same time I decided to try my luck with another service center, since the dealership I purchased from didn’t seem interested in making the appointment for the repairs.

Since I had pre-planned everything in advance I thought that this would be at most a 2 to 3 day repair. I stepped into the service department and met the service advisor in person for the first time, after speaking to him on the phone several times. The first thing he said was “can you remind me what you’re having serviced – it was a Travato correct?”  As you can imagine the confidence that I was feeling for this new service center was immediately gone. I’ve developed a pretty high tolerance for incompetence when it comes to RV repairs and just played along. My experience other than that was just fine. But all of the pre-planning that I did was a complete waste because Alde forgot to ship the parts to the dealership. So my 2 to 3 day repair once again became another 2 week repair.

 

New round of repairs – new service center

I can happily report that everything went relatively well once the parts arrived – in fact almost too well. What I didn’t know is that the Alde Upgrade Kit not only includes modified floor loop fittings, but also a newly configured convector with powered fans located under the rear bench. It was actually a pleasant surprise, since heat circulation from under the sofa when converted to a bed was poor, and now with the powered fans the hot air gets circulated throughout the coach. If you’re having problems with heat in your van give Roadtrek a call and mention the Alde Upgrade Kit – it may save you a lot of cold nights, and it may be covered under warranty! The system hasn’t leaked glycol since the repairs, and we’ve had several cold adventures so far to test the system.

Next up was the toilet. Despite my emails with Roadtrek, they either dismissed or ignored the links I shared describing our exact problem that others were also having with waste odors. There are are least two other people that have had so many issues with their Thetford toilets that they published a step by step process on how to diagnose and replace it. Here’s a link to both blogs if you missed our earlier chapters:

http://roadtreklife.blogspot.com/2017/09/dometic-300-series-low-profile-toilet.html#more

http://interstateblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/upgrading-toilet-in-airstream-interstate.html

I put my trust in this new service center to give it their best shot despite my doubts. They removed the toilet and installed a new gasket. They also sealed the gap around the floor flange with silicone caulking. They then test drove and didn’t smell any odors. Did they finally fix the problem? Could this be the end of repairs? Nope!

A peak under the toilet pedal reveals a fresh bead of caulking around the flange

As soon as we began using the toilet the problem was back once again. I’m now confident that the odor problem is worse during warmer temperatures, which is maybe why the new service center wasn’t able to easily duplicate the problem. When it’s cold it seems like you have to drive longer for the odor to take over. In warmer temperatures I can drive a few minutes and immediately smell the funk.

It’s clear in my opinion that Roadtrek, and their authorized service centers are unable to repair this toilet, and they will not cover under warranty the installation of an alternative brand. So I will take the advice of the other used-to-own-a-Thetford-until-the-smell-became-unbearable owners who were kind enough to share their own smelly war stories and I will replace it myself. We placed the order today and will hopefully be able to install it within a few days.

But will that prevent us from visiting the service center again? Unfortunately the answer once again is no. If you’re wondering about the second ‘step back’ in this post’s title, I would introduce you to my Norcold refrigerator, which is now doing it’s best impression of a warm pantry cabinet. A few weeks ago the refrigerator stopped cooling, and at the highest setting the freezer temperature gets down to around 40 degrees. Now I’m beginning to wonder if our lackluster solar performance was because the refrigerator compressor was constantly running. I’ll have more to report in another month as that’s the wait time for an appointment to get the problem diagnosed, with likely a week or more before it’s repaired. That’s life with our Roadtrek.

Despite all of the problems, we do continue to use our van and love the freedom that it gives us. We’ve been able to see things and go places that we’d never be able to go in a big Class ‘A’. That’s what makes this situation so difficult. We want to love this thing, and if we could get everything working just for a day we’d be thrilled.

Our Roadtrek is still for sale. Who knows if and when it will sell, which puts us in a tough situation. We have considered pre-ordering another brand, but the demand is extremely high and wait times are now ranging from 6 months to a year. If I do sell soon we’ll at least be free to purchase something used and see how it goes for a few years. Maybe buying used is the way to go as that first owner may just have all of the bugs worked out.

Part Twenty Four – Drip…Drip…Drip…

I think this gif sums up all I want to say in this Chapter. The Alde heating system is once again leaking glycol and is unusable. Two years of ownership and still dealing with the same problems…

Alde Leak

…and the toilet still smells…

Part Twenty Three – Let’s Go Shopping!

In honor of RV shopping season, I thought it would be a great time to bore you with some thoughts about the Class B and B+ offerings currently available and a hopefully helpful spreadsheet of their specifications, like tank capacities and electrical capabilities.

Class B ownership will always be a compromise. Everyone has their own needs when it comes to traveling. I will share my opinions, but that is really just based on our needs and how we travel in our RV. We almost always dry camp (and usually at a Walmart, because if you haven’t woken up to the sound of the street sweeper cleaning a Walmart parking lot as the sun rises, you really haven’t lived), and our average trip is 2 to 3 days, with the longest so far being just under 2 weeks. I hope to spend more days out on the road as I get older, so something slightly larger isn’t out of the question.

We did spend 2 days at the Hershey RV show in September, and I took a close look at what is available. Below I offer my thoughts on each of the Class B and B+ players that we saw at the show.


AIRSTREAM INTERSTATE / GRAND TOUR

I’ve always been impressed with the fit and finish of the Airstream. The newest Tommy Bahama-inspired finishes are very sleek, and the whole package feels high end. That being said, the price is high end as well. They use the extended chassis for all of their Class B’s, so if length is a concern this is over 24 feet long. Our current CS Adventurous sits at 22 feet long.

The Airstream offers heated water tanks, which to me is a huge bonus since we travel a lot in the colder months. What I didn’t like is that the coach is powered by 2 AGM batteries, so you won’t be able to heat your tanks for very long without plugging in. I did speak to an Airstream representative, who says that they are experimenting with the Lithium technology, and hope to be offering this in the next year or two.

The interior also feels very cramped, especially in the aisle area. I wasn’t carrying my measuring tape, but I think this was the tightest aisle width of all of the Class B’s that we walked through.

Airstream was also showing off their newest creation, the Atlas. It’s a cutaway chassis with a slide, and looks to be competing for the Leisure Travel customer. They were taking orders for the new units, even though they only had the prototype to show. It’s beautiful inside and out, but at over $200,000 it will remain way out of our budget.

CHINOOK RV

I didn’t spend much time considering this brand. The floor plans are very similar to the other players. The interior finishes feel high end, but in my opinion look more limo-like than I prefer. They also use the extended Sprinter chassis for all of their models.

COACH HOUSE

What sets the Coach House Arriva apart from it’s Class B competitors is the floor plan. By placing the bed in the middle of the coach, they are able to squeeze a very nice bath with separate shower into the rear area. The front of the van takes full advantage of the front seats. The area behind the driver’s seat can be utilized as a small office, and a table folds out to provide an eating area for both front seats.

I’m just not sure about the aforementioned center sleeping area. You can fold the beds down to make a king bed, but then you’re forced to tidy up the bed  every morning to get to the bathroom. I also think that while the cabinets look well-made, the fabric options make the interior look a little dated.

We also walked through the Platinum II which is built on the Mercedes cutaway chassis. The entire motorhome is molded as a one piece shell, which is impressive. There are also quite a few floor plans to chose from in this model.

With all of the Coach House offerings, you deal directly with the factory, which is located in Florida. Without flying to Florida the only place to see them may be at one of the big RV shows. They are definitely worth a look in my opinion.

COACHMEN

We first noticed the Coachmen Galleria at the Hershey RV show a few years ago. They borrow from the designs of their competitors, even using the same components as other manufacturers. The Galleria has a few floor plans, and uses the same exact refrigerator model as in my Roadtrek CS. The interior finishes are nice and the cabinets are much higher end than the Roadtrek, very close to the quality in a Pleasure-Way.

The only thing that’s lacking in the Coachmen is the technology, but that is rapidly changing. I haven’t seen it in person, but I’ve read of recent improvements that include lithium batteries and their version of Voltstart.

What has always been appealing about the Coachmen is the price. It seems like at least with the Sprinter model, you get the most for your dollar compared to all of the other Class B manufacturers. I’m curious to see how the newer technology impacts the price point.

Coachmen also has the Crossfit, which is built on the Ford Transit chassis. If you want to go slightly larger be sure to look closely at the Orion and Prism models.

HYMER

Considering my past history with Roadtrek, I didn’t consider the Hymer brand for that reason alone. They also currently only offer a model built on the Ram ProMaster chassis. I’ve always liked the European approach to the interior layout of the smaller RV’s, and the Hymer does seem to offer some very unique interior features. The cabinets have an IKEA look to them which I’m not a fan of. I’m sure there are many people that will like the Hymer, but I don’t think I’ll ever purchase another Roadtrek/Hymer product unless I can trust that steps have been made to improve quality control.

LEISURE TRAVEL VANS

Before I purchased my Roadtrek CS, I strongly considered the Leisure Travel brand. At the time they offered the Free Spirit model, which was the same chassis and length as the Roadtrek. I was very torn between the technology offered by Roadtrek and the modern styling offered by Leisure Travel. To this day that hasn’t changed.

Sometime in 2015 Leisure Travel suspended production of the Free Spirit because they couldn’t keep up with the demand of the popular Unity model. That high demand continues to this day. I’m hearing estimated leads times between 6 and 10 months on average if you want to custom order one to your specifications.

I’ve looked carefully at all 3 models offered by Leisure Travel, and would have a hard time deciding on the model or floor plan. If I did purchase soon I would try to find a used model since the new ones take so long to order, and only minor changes have been made in the last few model years.

With all the good things I have to say about the Leisure Travel brand, I have a major complaint. Why not offer lithium batteries, or take steps towards improving things on the electrical side? I want to be able to use the microwave for a couple minutes here and there, and to do so you’ll need to turn on the generator when not plugged in. Reheating leftovers can be done quietly in our Roadtrek, and I don’t want to have to run a generator if I can avoid it, especially in the Walmart parking lots we typically call our home for the evening.

I’ve read about a few owners that have resorted to self-help, and have retrofitted lithium batteries themselves. It can be done, but is very expensive. I’m hoping that very soon they will make the move to lithium, even though I can appreciate the reluctance to change anything when they can’t make enough of them in their current configuration!

MIDWEST AUTOMOTIVE

Like the Chinook brand, I didn’t spend much time considering them since the interiors, while high end, crossed the line to looking more limo-like. It’s a very nice looking product, just not my taste.

PLEASURE-WAY

This is another brand I seriously considered before I purchased my Roadtrek, but at the time they didn’t offer the technology promised by Roadtrek. That has since changed with the introduction of lithium batteries as a standard feature. You CAN run your microwave with the batteries and inverter, and with the wide body chassis you can order as an option almost 500 watts of solar.

The newest offering for 2018 is a touch screen control panel that allows you to monitor tank levels, control lighting, fans, and sofa all from one panel. Each coach has a panel in the front and rear for easy control of all of the systems, and this feature is standard in all models.

The icing on the cake is the new auto generator start feature. It’s the closest thing out there to the Roadtrek Voltstart system, but may be even better since you’ll be turning on the generator, as opposed to a Roadtrek which fires up the engine and second alternator. I’ve read many comments in other forums about the controversy of idling a diesel engine for long periods of time. With the Pleasure-Way system, you can have the generator automatically start if the batteries are depleted below a set level, or if the temperature in the coach hits a preset temperature.

I’ve also been impressed with the quality of the cabinetry in the Pleasure-Way. I think they get the top score in my book when comparing all of the Class B and B+ offerings. That being said, I’m not a huge fan of the new laminate cabinet faces and prefer the look of the solid maple.

They offer 3 different models. The Plateau TS and FL are on a Mercedes Sprinter standard length chassis (just over 22 feet). The Plateau XL is the same length, but the cutaway chassis allows much more usable interior volume. A few inches in width makes a huge difference. The bath in all XL models is amazing compared to a regular Class B. The Lexor is on a Ram ProMaster chassis and is their most affordable model.

I only have a few minor complaints. On the Plateau XL I’m not a fan of the tufting on the murphy bed sofa with the Ultraleather upholstery. The laminate floor finish looks a little dated to me. I’m also not sure about the plush carpeting used in some areas and wonder how that wears in an RV. I love the large windows in the Plateau TS and FL, but the plastic trim around those windows feels cheap in my opinion. That being said I think Pleasure-Way has changed quite a bit since I purchased my first Roadtrek, and is on the top of my list once/if I sell my Roadtrek.

ROADTREK

I think it’s obvious how I feel about the Roadtrek brand. I won’t be spending time to write about all of their offerings. I did, however, include them in my specification spreadsheet below.

WINNEBAGO

This is another brand that I haven’t considered much, only because the finishes aren’t really to my preference.  They offer 4 options in the Class B category. Since I prefer the Sprinter chassis, I focused mainly on the Era and the newly released Revel 4×4.

The Era is built on the extended length Sprinter chassis, and is priced well below some of the other Class B offerings. There are a few floor plans available, including one with a slide-out. I’m just not a fan of the laminate finishes in the Era. Otherwise, it feels well made and you get a lot for your money.

I did like the interior finishes of the Paseo, which is built on the Ford Transit chassis. The Travato, built on the ProMaster chassis, now offers 2 floor plan options. It’s not my preference, but they do manage to cram a lot of features into a very small package. If you are considering something a little larger, they have quite a few options in the B+ or C categories.


There may be a few more brands that I’ve missed, but these are the ones that I’ve considered. Taste is subjective, and these of course are my opinions. I hope this helps narrow your search if you’re considering purchasing. Don’t let my story discourage you from pursuing the lifestyle. I’m sure there are unhappy customers with any brand on my list, and somewhere, even happy Roadtrek owners.

I now present my comparison spreadsheet of many of the manufacturers and models. Specifications can change at any time, so I recommend you confirm with the manufacturer or dealership for exact model information. Let my obsessive researching and collating of information help you in your search for your new RV – hopefully I’ll see you at a Walmart someday! And hopefully you won’t know it’s me because of the smell or an errant puddle under my van.


Class B Comparison Chart


 

Part Twenty Two – ← It’s Their Fault →

It’s been quite some time since we’ve posted an update to our toilet troubles, and I’m sorry to report that not much has happened since our last chapter. Freezing temperatures finally arrived and we were forced to winterize without getting the toilet repaired.

We actually held out from winterizing a bit longer than we should have. It seems like winter in the Northeast hit quickly this year. One unexpected cold snap took us from comfortable temperatures to frigid within hours. The RV can handle a few hours below freezing, but with 20 degree temperatures predicted over a long period of time, we had to take drastic measures.

I had a couple rolls of batt insulation left over from a home improvement project. I also happened to have an old 8 foot long electric baseboard heater that was no longer being used. I slid the baseboard heater under the van in line with the holding tanks, then carefully wrapped the perimeter of the van with the batt insulation. It wasn’t pretty, but I managed to encapsulate most of the undercarriage. I didn’t sleep well that night, but come morning I was pleasantly surprised by the performance. It was 20 degrees outside, and the ground under the van was reading in the 40’s with a non-contact thermometer. I don’t recommend this method to anyone, but in an emergency it works!

Our Roadtrek weathering the cold snap!

We finally were able to winterize once the temperatures rose slightly. Several emails to the dealership went unanswered, so after nearly 2 months of back and forth I finally contacted Roadtrek directly. My email was answered by the person I had been dealing with previously, and they remembered me from 2 months earlier. I was informed that Roadtrek never rejected the warranty claim for the toilet replacement. They claim that the dealership never submitted a warranty request before, during, or after the toilet replacement. So I’ve been waiting for MONTHS for the dealership to have it out with Roadtrek over the warranty claim, and no claim was ever submitted? This is beyond frustrating, and confusing. Maybe the service center is to blame for this after all! Fingers were being pointed in all directions, with me and my stinky van stuck sadly in the middle. (Though at this point it just smells like antifreeze which could be considered an improvement, really.)

After some back and forth with Roadtrek, I was told to make an appointment with another service center, something I could and should have done months ago. Maybe another set of eyes could have, and now maybe soon will, be able to diagnose and repair whatever is going wrong. I now have an open appointment to get this repaired once the freezing temperatures break.

So what happened to my original service center? Did they have enough of me and/or Roadtrek and just decide to ignore me? Finally out of the blue, I received the answer I was waiting for. The service manager apologized and said that my emails were being sent to the wrong inbox and he wasn’t receiving them. He was very nice on the phone, and said that they still want to service the van and get everything working correctly. That’s great news for me since that’s all I’ve wanted for the last 2 years!

I now have to decide where to take the van for it’s next attempt at repair. I think I may keep the appointment at that new service center. I think a fresh pair of eyes may be a good thing for everyone involved.

One funny quote from my phone call with the service manager – he had been  doing some googling to troubleshoot my toilet problem, and while speaking with him he asked, “Hey, you don’t happen to be the author of classbwarned.com”? Yes, and hi!

We’ve still decided to explore the other options out there while we pursue getting the van repaired. Work will prevent us from heading south for the big Tampa RV show, but we’ll try to hit a couple of the local ones in the coming months.

Luckily it’s winter, so the windows will be closed.

Part Twenty One – You Touch It, You Buy It

It’s been over a month since our last Chapter, and not much has changed with our toilet problem. My frustration continues to build once again because we’re now stuck in the middle of a warranty claim dispute between our service center and Roadtrek.

I had contacted Roadtrek directly after the replacement toilet didn’t solve the odor problem. The Roadtrek representative looked up my warranty history and found no record of any work being done on the toilet. I was surprised by this since not only was it at the factory for repairs, but it had also just been in the service center two times back to back, and was there for over a month. At first we thought that maybe it takes time for everything to get entered into the computer system. I would soon learn otherwise.

I called Roadtrek to ask them to authorize replacing the toilet with a different brand. I also asked if I could take the van to another service center for the next round of repairs. Since no repairs were “technically” on record with Roadtrek, they said I could take it to any other service center, but it would have to be a Roadtrek authorized facility, and it would have to be the same brand of toilet. So I figured why not. Maybe with my bad luck we got another defective toilet. I called another dealer to make the appointment, only to find out that the earliest available appointment would be in mid-December…that would have been two months more to wait! That’s not going to work since the van would have to be winterized soon.

I called my original service center to get some more details as to what was done in the original repair, and what they thought needed to be done as a next step. As it turns out, my service center didn’t properly pre-authorize the toilet warranty claims so Roadtrek rejected the entire work order for both visits. It’s not really my problem since Roadtrek isn’t making me pay for the repairs, but my dealership has to eat the cost of the new toilet, including any time they spent diagnosing and repairing the problem.

I think it’s obvious that I haven’t always been on the side of my service department, but this time I have to stand behind them and say how wrong it is of Roadtrek to deny the warranty claim. I don’t know how the process is supposed to work, but all I know is that the dealership jumped on my repair when I showed up at their door at 7AM on a Monday morning when I realized that their first attempt to fix it failed. This may sound bad enough, but it gets better. Since my service center touched the toilet, anything else done to resolve the waste odor issue is considered to be “rework” and is the responsibility of my service department. So not only did they not get paid for the original repairs, they now have to fix it again until it’s repaired, for free! Now how can I expect my service center to take any time to properly diagnose and fix this once and for all. If we’re going to play warranty games I think it’s important to bring up the fact that the toilet problems have been present since the van was new and we first used the black tank, and it was first ‘repaired’ at the Roadtrek factory when we visited a year ago with a list of other issues to be addressed.

As we sit and wait for the next step, we’re doing what we can to better isolate the odor breach. Now I know that I can’t start pulling things apart to diagnose the problem, or I’ll be in the same position as my dealership.

We fished an inspection camera all the way down the roof vent pipe and it’s all clear. There does however appear to be a screw sticking into the side of the vent pipe. I don’t think this is causing any odor problems since the hole is sealed with the screw, but I can’t say for sure.

I think our next test proved to us beyond a reasonable doubt that the odor is coming from the toilet, and not the gray tank. We encapsulated the toilet behind a tarp and sealed it to the wet bath walls using packaging tape. We then went for a drive with the windows cracked. There was no noticeable odor inside the cabin so we pulled over after about 15 minutes. I peeled back the tarp and sure enough, the odor was present but trapped under the tarp.

 

Maybe we just have another bad toilet? Maybe it’s a bad seal between the toilet and flange? I then took a look under the toilet below the foot pedal and you can clearly see the rubber seal and how it’s compressed tightly against the toilet flange. I then noticed a gap of about 1/16″ between the flange and wet bath floor. This did not seem normal, so I asked in the Facebook group for other owners to take a look, and sure enough I’m the only one that has the gap. Maybe it’s not the toilet after all. Maybe there is a crack or bad connection between the waste tank and toilet and this gap is allowing the odors to be sucked into the cabin when the window is cracked.

 

So as the temperatures begin to drop, the hope is fading that we’ll get this fixed before we have to winterize. We now wait for a callback from the dealership, and it’s been over a month. I appreciate the 6 year warranty, but I really didn’t think it’s going to take 6 years to get everything working.

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