Interior Lights Dimming

February 7, 2017
Filed under RV Blog, Trailer Q&A

 

Q:

Our 2012 Keystone Cougar High Country 321RES had the problem of lights going bright, then dim.

We tried installing a new battery in the trailer, but that didn’t help. When we asked the service technician at our local RV dealership which power supply would be better than the WFCO WF-9875 converter/charger that was installed at the factory, he said, “Almost any.” That suggests to me that consulting with WFCO tech support might be fruitless.

The trailer’s converter was in an accessible location, so I ordered a replacement with equal capacity from another manufacturer and supervised its installation by my wife, who fit in that “accessible” location better than I did. Problem solved. Our lights have been strong ever since, and the new system came with a remote that gives an idea of the state of charge of the battery. We are in the process of replacing the trailer’s incandescent lights with LEDs to reduce the battery load in case we are dry camping.

Ed Austin, Newport News, Virginia

A:

I think that mechanic’s assessment of the 9875 converter may have been a bit hasty, Ed, as it’s not a bottom-end converter. Among other features, it has three-stage charging (float, absorption and bulk), so it’s what we call a “smart” converter that doesn’t harm the battery. It’s possible your original converter was defective, which would have been a shame, given its relatively young age, but replacing it with a new upgrade model was a good idea, and we’re glad to hear it solved the fluctuating-light problem. — Jeff Johnston


 

Fear of Wind
We have a 2016 Ford F-150 Crew Cab with the EcoBoost engine and pull a 2014 Keystone Passport 31RE travel trailer (it’s actually 34 feet long). We seldom haul the trailer with water in any of the tanks and don’t carry much in the truck bed, so I don’t think we are exceeding the 690-pound hitch weight. Connecting the two is an Equal-i-zer 10K weight-distributing (WD) hitch that was installed when we purchased the trailer new two years ago.

On our trip to California last spring, we were almost blown off the road by a freak gust of wind near Las Vegas that really scared us, making us fearful and anxious for the rest of the two-week trip. Only luck, my husband Rick’s skill and the grace of God enabled us to pull to the side of the highway. Since then, we no longer feel safe with our trailer, fearing windy days, even to the point of canceling travel. We still experience sway in higher wind conditions.

We are questioning whether our tow vehicle is too light, the trailer is too long, the wheelbase of the trailer is too short, it sits too high off the road, etc. We had hoped that this trailer (which we dearly love) would be our retirement RV, enabling us to travel all over the West in comfort and safety. But now we are actually considering selling it. Wyoming, Montana and the West’s open spaces all come with big wind.

Kay Poston | Centennial, Colorado

 

A:

That trailer is a long one, for sure, but your truck should be up to the task of towing it. First, you didn’t tell us your truck’s tow rating or the trailer’s true weight loaded and ready for the road. Those figures can have a bearing on stability. Given your hardware’s relatively young age, we can presume all of the gear is in good mechanical condition with effective shock absorbers, good tires and the like.

For the moment, we can suggest a few things. First, be sure that your trailer’s hitch weight is at least 10 percent of the overall trailer weight. Insufficient hitch weight is one of the most common problems leading to trailer sway. Be sure your vehicle’s WD-hitch spring bars are adjusted tightly enough. If they are not, the hitch can remove enough weight from the truck’s front end that it affects steering precision, which can induce sway and overall handling.

If you can’t move enough heavy cargo forward to adjust trailer weight distribution, do a bit of spelunking to find out where the freshwater tank is located. With the bath and kitchen located ahead of the axles, the tank may be forward of the axles. If that’s the case, you might want to consider carrying a few gallons of water for the sake of the extra weight that would add up front.

Finally, check to see how the trailer rides when hitched up. The frame should be parallel to the ground. If the hitch ball is adjusted too high, with the trailer’s aft end down somewhat, that’s a less-stable towing position than with the chassis level or slightly down at the hitch. Try moving the hitch head down a notch or two, as needed, and readjust the spring-bar tension to keep them suitably snug. These steps should help the sway condition and get you back on the road. — J.J.


 

Hitch Pin Bending
I have a 2013 Chevrolet 3500 with a factory 2½-inch receiver. I am using the supplied sleeve that allows me to use a 2-inch-mount Equal-i-zer hitch. For the past couple of years, I have noticed that the hitch pin retaining clips are being bent; one was even broken. Recently, I noticed when I got home that the retaining pin was gone! That could have been a disaster had the hitch pin fallen out.
Last week, when I installed the hitch, I noted the position of the retaining pin. When I arrived at my destination, 80 miles away, the hitch pin had rotated, and the retaining clip was again bent.

Is there a problem with using a sleeve in a 2½-inch receiver so that one can use a 2-inch ball mount?
Paul Roubinet | Bountiful, Utah

 

A:

This is an interesting question and problem, Paul, and we can safely say it’s never come up before. When you refer to retaining pin clips, we’re guessing you mean the spring clip with one straight side and one contoured side that fits the hole in the receiver pin to secure it. We’re also guessing this has something to do with the total package of the hitch, receiver and receiver adapter.

How tightly do all the parts fit? If the 2½-inch adapter is somewhat loose in the receiver, and the 2-inch hitch-head shank is loose in the adapter, there could be enough movement between the parts to cause the pin to shift toward one side and damage the retaining clip. You could try swapping the retaining pin from one side to the other — insert it from the left instead of the right, for example — and that would cause the pin movement during travel to place pressure on the bent end of the pin instead of the much smaller retaining clip. You could also replace the pin with a locking-type pin that has a padlock mechanism instead of the smaller spring pin.

Odd as it sounds, shifting some cargo in the trailer so there’s more weight on the hitch may help. If there’s insufficient weight, every time you drive over a bump or small undulation in the road, the lightly weighted hitch moves up and down, and that movement can be affecting the hitch retaining pin and clip. More hitch weight means less movement. It’s worth a try.

Another thing to try would be to find a friend with an action video camera like the GoPro Hero, if you don’t already have one. Mount the camera so it’s viewing the pin area, and drive for a while. Review the footage to see if you can tell at which point the pin is being affected strongly enough to bend it. This won’t solve the problem, but it may give you some insight into what’s causing it. — J.J.

 

RV Clinic from January 2017 Trailer Life


 

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