Tricks And Techniques

This page contains hints and tips for the operation of the Berkshire. Some I found out the hard way, some I learned from others, and I thank them. Forest River will be the first to admit, and they have to me, that their manuals are lacking, and that’s an understatement. A  lot of the “panic situations” below show up like clockwork on fora and Facebook with new owners and could very easily be avoided. I’ve experienced most of them myself. Argh.

THE CHECKLIST As a professional aviator checklist usage has been beaten in to me for over 30 years. There is a saying that they are “written in blood”. I have learned to believe in them and rely on them. So lets have one for our Coach. In fact, there is already one in the dash which presents itself at startup. It’s not nearly enough though. So I did one in spreadsheet format. Easy to do, and more importantly, easy to modify as it is always a work in progress.

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UPDATE, 11/17 After using the coach for a while, some of the items above are so solidly into the routine that they don’t need a separate checklist item. Also, it took some time but I have finally made friends with the LBCU. Part of it is the customizable checklist. I have now programmed that to incorporate most of the items above and use it versus the paper checklist. See Mysteries of the LBCU explained.. Also, after the modification which allows the slides to move with the engine running, see Cockpit mods,  the sequence of events is not always the same and slide retraction can happen after the engine is started, air has built and the levelers have retracted. There’s a discussion on the sequence of events further down on this page….

So, here’s the electronic checklist as currently (11/17) programmed:

<<<<<<have to get that info from the coach>>>>>

LOW VOLTAGE…. So there I was firing the thing up at home for the first time, and I get a “Low Voltage” warning…… PANIC! Well, the short version of the story is that this warning comes on when the alternator is not doing it’s job….. (voltage below charging which is somewhere around 13.x or above) Of course the alternator is not charging, it’s not running yet! Ignore this! After you start it, a lot of the juice is diverted to the intake heater (when it’s cold which it was) This results in the voltage dropping for several seconds, then returning to normal. This happens several times, the needle looks like a little windshield wiper. Eventually it stops. This is also normal.

THE POGO STICK RIDE. When you retract the landing gear the suspension airbags inflate. (They deflated when you auto leveled). Sometimes they don’t and it feels like you’re driving a go cart without suspension. Stop, set the parking brake. Hit retract on the levelers and listen for the rush of air going into the bags. If you don’t hear it extend briefly on any button, listen for some movement on a leg and then hit retract again. Once inflated if you go outside, make a fist and hold it vertical (knuckles aiming forward, the “hole” facing up) it should fit between the wheel and the rim of the wheel well with room to spare. (Four inches, give or take)

Flashing in the emergency battery switch (every ten seconds or so). This is normal. It means that the house battery bank has been charged and that extra juice is being sent to maintain the chassis bank.

THE ENTRY DOOR So if you close it lightly it catches but doesn’t close completely, and if you really want to close it you have to slam the (*^&% out it. Apparently this is by design. When parked you’re supposed to just close it lightly, and then when you go drive you slam it REALLY shut. Hmmmm…… I guess it works, but it’s far from elegant. It is, according to FR, not broken. I’ve messed with adjustment but that doesn’t help. Oh well….

Update: I had a squeak while driving. Long story short it was the scissor gust lock on TOP of the entry door. Give it some lube, and…… Makes it close easier too!


They break. I’ve heard quite a few stories. There’s two weak spots: The motor, and the gearing/activator. I carry a spare motor. As a tip…… If you’re in a hurry to get out after you stop while driving…. to pump fuel or whatever, WAIT until the step is fully out when you open the door. It’s tempting to surf the step out, but it puts a LOT of stress on the mechanism…….


Sort of generic…. I never had one, but twice now I’ve had insurance situations where the other party plain out lied. Don’t want to be the senile old goat in the RV that gets the blame without having some evidence in my corner. So a dash cam it is. APEMAN C420….. cheap, good quality video. Incomplete instructions, nothing on line and somewhat un-intuitive for me….. So this was the second day….!!!!! (Managed to get it to record, save and lock that file. Got it off, edited and published…. yeah me!)

Atwood not working

There’s a whole thing about hot water on this blog but this is just a quicky when the Atwood won’t work. There’s a little round tube that sticks through the cover. Open the cover, remove the tube and remove the insect and it’s homestead that’s in there.


Block heater.

Another one of those topics where you ask 5 people and get 7 opinions. On the Dragonship it’s screwed into the block and has a 120V electrical cord coming out of it.

(Not my actual engine, internet picture…..)

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There’s an outlet behind the shore power cord next to the transfer relay, and there’s a GFI breaker on the AC panel labeled “Block Heater”…. no switch. So, when to turn it on? Some will say never, or when it’s -15º. Some say they use it a lot. I am in the latter camp. 50’s and below I use it. Several hours, sometimes the night before. Shorter glow time, starts faster, idle settles sooner, I KNOW it lubes better sooner and since Cummins does not want us to idle this engine extensively I can get going sooner with an engine that’s up to temperature……




I will write more as I think of it!