Newbie with questions.

Hi Everyone;
My name is Bob, we just bought a 1989 Pace Arrow Fleetwood Class A 32 feet. It only has 12K on it.
We bought this because 2 of the 5 kids race motocross and I will not sleep in a tent at the track anymore. I know its old, but it was really cheap. It needs some work and I have a ton of questions. We will be using this for racing and pulling the bike trailer.

A) I cannot open the fridge, it smells like amonia, why? Can this be fixed easily and cheaply.
B) The gas gage is stuck on 1/2 a tank. Will this cause the generator not to run. It will crank over but not run.
It will run if I spray carb cleaner in the carb. I can keep it running.
C) The roof top AC's will not come one no matter what position I put the switch in the cabinet on.
D) There are 3 batteries 2 6volt and 1 12. Iknow the 12 volt is for the engine. When I plug the camper into the house is it
suppose to charge all 3 or just the 2 6volts.
E) I want to seal the roof seams but what is the product that I should use?
F) The inside lights on the left side by the couch and table don't work and just keep blowing the fuses, any ideas. I know there is
a short but any ideas on where to start.
G) I put 7 gallons of anti-freeze in the water tank and ran it through the system. All of the faucets come out nice and red, but the
hot water ones are pink. How do I know if there is enought in the water heater and how do you drain it.

H) What else should I be doing or looking for to make sure this thing up to par, as we will be traveling aroung New England
and the East Coast racing starting in the spring, and with 7 of us plus taking care of the bikes I don't want to worry about
this thing.
I) Is there a good source for used parts that I won't be ripped off on, and should I stay away from ebay.
J) I don't want to start anything, but what is the best way to sterilize the water tanks (all).
K) Is it not a good idea to drink the water out of the faucet? I don't mind brining bottled water if I have to, but would like not to
if its ok.

Thank-You All


Re: Newbie with questions.

let's start one at a time,, since it's winter time ,, u should be ok ,, as long as u have a bypass on the WH
For the roof use the elastamer stuff ,, u can buy it at camp world but it's cheaper at Home Depot ...
I myself drink outta my water ,, but be sure u have a filter for it...
To drain thw WH ,, u should have a plug outside ,, where the access door is , it should be a plastic plug looking thing near the bottom..
Ok we have covered that now post back ,, what u need to do next ,, but one at a time ,, us old folks kinda get confused at all the questions at a time... :laugh: ;)
And bty welcome to the forum :) :) :) :approve:
I forgot one .. if the refrige smells like amonia ,, then u have a leak ,, and it needs replacing ,, sorry...

DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: Newbie with questions.

Hey bob, welcome to the forum. Probably need new fridge. Yours can be fixed, but since it is probaby the original fridge you would be better off replacing it. Approx $1200 plus install.
Re: Newbie with questions.

B) The gas gage is stuck on 1/2 a tank. Will this cause the generator not to run. It will crank over but not run.
It will run if I spray carb cleaner in the carb. I can keep it running.

I'll try this one! The gas "gauge" being stuck probably won't do it (although it probably is an indicator of the problem), but on mine the generator quits when there is 1/4 tank of gas left for the MH.
Re: Newbie with questions.

K) Is it not a good idea to drink the water out of the faucet? I don't mind brining bottled water if I have to, but would like not to if its ok.

Like 730 says get a filter after you've cleaned up your tank and lines. I bought a set from Lowe's with replaceable filters. I rigged them permanently in one of my bays so all my inside water is filtered for sand etc. and charcoal filtered for taste.


Senior Member
Re: Newbie with questions.

B) As mentioned, usually the generator won't run when you are below 1/4 full. This has nothing to do with the gas guage; it has a higher pickup. So, fill the tank and if the generator still won't run then the problem is a clogged/holed line, clogged filter, fuel pump, or carb problem

C) The AC won't work either because the unit is not getting the signal that it should work, or its getting the signal but is broken. If you know what you are doing, you can put a meter on the control wire in the AC unit (have to take the cover off) and as someone works the thermostat, see if you get a signal. Also check that its getting power (actually, you did check the circuit breaker first, right?).

D) The 2 6v batteries should be in series and provide the house 12v. They should be charged when the RV is plugged in. The 12v is probably for the engine and may not be charged when plugged in. There is a device which some units have which will charge it, but all are charged by the engine alternator..

F) For the lights, I would take all the fixtures out and see if it still blows. If so, the short is in the wiring and may be non-trivial to find. Look from the output of the fuse block as far as you can see, and from the fixture back as far as you can see. If the fuze does NOT blow, then one or more of the fixtures is bad. The lowest tech way to find out which is to reconnect them one at a time.

G) Putting anti-freeze in the tank is not the best choice. It will work fine for winterizing, but getting it all out of there will be a challange. Most people stick a hose from the bottle of antifreeze to the pump and fill the lines that way. Takes much less antifreeze too. To drain the water heater, there should be a panel on the outside over it. Somewhere at the bottom of the tank will be a plug. Unscrew the plug and the water will come gushing out. It is wise to use a special flush nozzle (Camping World) to get the sediment out. When winterizing, you should have or install a water heater bypass, so you don't try to fill that 5/7/10 gallon tank with antifreeze (works, but will quickly pay for the bypass in saved antifreeze).

H) What else? Well, tires first. If they look bad, replace them. Even if they look perfect, if they are 5 years old or older, replace them. There should be a DOT code on them which states when they were made. Also, check the engine hoses and belts, replace all filters (engine, transmission, generator), lube the chassis, change the oil (engine and generator), check the coolant (engine and generator) and transmission fluid. Would be good to check the shocks, bushings and allignment too. In other words, whatever you would do for a car before driving it across the country.

In addition, make sure the AC, heater, water heater, stove, microwave, refridgerator, toilet, water pump, all faucets, shower, slides (if any) work. In short, if you think you might use it, make sure it works before you leave.

K) If you have sterilized your water system as mentioned above, sure you can drink the water from your tank (assuming you got the water from a 'potable' source). As mentioned, it is wise to have a filter on your water inlet; this will at the very least keep sediment out of your system, and with the better filters, can improve taste and reduce organic contaminants. With this, if you regularly drink 'tap water', you should be fine. But if, like me, you don't like tap water, you can use a 'purifier'. A true 'purifier' will be too slow flowing and too expensive for the water inlet. In my old trailer, I put one of these under the sink, with its own faucet next to the main faucet. Still was not thrilled with the taste, so now I drink only bottled water (carry a few gallon bottles and refill them at grocery stores/water machines).

By the way, do not forget your water pressure regulator. I didn't use one once, and blew the pressure sensor on my pump and the supply line to the toilet.


Re: Newbie with questions.

hey ,, now tex i just got outta the picture pages book so bear with me ,, i'm still learning the big words :eek: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
RE: Newbie with questions.

Thank-You All;

This is all new to me and if it breaks down its gonna be MY FAULT

What is the name of the sealer at Home Depot (2 minutes from the house)
I don't know if the water heater has a bypass or not. I did see a plug in the outside panel. On the left hand side it looks like a plug to drain the heater but I'm not sure. If I undo it and the water comes out do I need to do anything once everything comes out or will I be ok? Should I leave the plug out or put it back in?
The plan is to go through all the regulars belts hoses ect.. The tires are brand new.
I thought the fridge was bad. I saw a place on ebay about new units that you just install into the fridge: Below I cut and pasted their add from ebay. Should I stay away from this?

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Great Idea about putting a line in next to the pump to fill anti freeze I will do that this spring.
RE: Newbie with questions.

Please explain in more detail how to check the AC units were are the panels I need to look at for the wires and were are the circuit breakers for it?

This site is GREAT and THANK-YOU all for your help it really means alot.

Re: Newbie with questions.

Huston Texas, USA
Los Angles California, USA

I suspect them, because they can't SPELL the places where they are going to open stores! :laugh:


Senior Member
RE: Newbie with questions.

A) The ammonia smell in the refrigerator is not good news. RV refrigerators are what is called "absorption" refrigerators and they use a mixture of distilled water and ammonia as a coolant. The smell that you have is an indication that the coolant is leaking and if not gone it soon will be. That also means that you will have to at the least replace the cooling unit and with a refrigerator that is nearly 20 years old, it would make much better sense to buy a new refrigerator since other problems are very likely to follow and the cost for the cooling unit will be more than 1/2 the price of a new refrigerator, with a warranty.

B) It is very true that most motorhomes have the fuel line for the genset comming out of the fuel tank at the 1/4 level to prevent the genset from running the tank empty. But that has nothing to do with the indication of the level gauge located on the dash. If the gauge reads 1/2 and the tank is 1/2 full or more, the level shown on the gauge has no effect on the operation of the genset. It has it's own fuel pump and supply so that is the place to start. If it has not been used for a very long time, the carb is probably in need of cleaning.

C) Did you have 120v power available at the time you tested them? The roof air only works when there is 120V-AC power and not from the 12V-DC of the RV.

D) With all RVs the converter that changes 120V-AC to 12V-DC will to some degree, charge the coach batteries. On at least the newer Fleetwood products there is also a line to supply a float charge for the chassis battery, but I don't know when they began to do that so you will need to talk to an RV tech. who knows Fleetwood to be sure.

E) Yes, but the proper product to use depends upon what material your roof is made of. If it is aluminum, which I suspect it is, then I would use a product for the purpose that comes from "Kool Seal." Do not use any silicone product on the seams because once there it is very difficult to get 100% off and it will have to be that way for anything to stick once it cures. Not even more silicone will stick to silicone caulk.

F) I assume that these are 12V lights? The best way to trouble shoot them is to remove the light fixtures and determine which one is first in the circuit. If they all have the same light switch, or use one that is on each light, they will be in a string so that you can disconnect all of them at one light if you find the correct one. Find it and disconnect all of them, then try connecting the lights one at a time until the fuse blows. You will then know where the short is located. It might be one of the fixtures.

G) The first step in winterizing an RV is normally to drain the water heater9by removing it's drain plug) and also draining the water tank and the water lines, it is a little late for that now. You probably have a 6 gallon water heater so it is very likely full now, but it will be a mix of water and antifreeze. You can either drain it now and then put antifreeze back in, drain it and install a bypass kit so you won't need so much antifreeze, or run antifreeze in until the water comes out pink. It would have been best to check here before you began but now you will need to choose.

H) With an RV as old as that you need to check the DOT code on the tires to be sure that they are less than 7 years old and replace them if they are needed. Old tires are just blow-outs waiting to happen. Very likely all of the hoses need to be replaced, the coolant and brake fluid and of course oil and transmission fluid. Check out and actually use all of the appliances.

I) Not really. Junk yards for the chassis, for the RV appliances either new or an RV salvage yard.


K) The answer to this depends upon if you properly sanitize the water tank and system components and the supply of water that you use. Most of us who live in our RVs do use water from the RV system all of the time, just as you would from any other home. The key is to sanitize things and then use good water. It is also a good idea to use a good quality water filter on the hose that you use to fill the water tank, and when you connect to the local water supply to use "city" water. We have now lived in our RV for nearly eight years and have always used the local water supply but we do use a high quality, carbon, whole house type of water filter for all water that goes into our system. I also sanitize the system once each year.


Re: Newbie with questions.

Hey now slow down guy's this is to much reading for me,,, i just learned about spot and Jane...
But keep the quetstions comming cause we nedd something to do in the winter ,, off months ...
Bty this is the perfect time to get the MH in shape ,, u got all winter to fixer up... ;) :)


Senior Member
Re: Newbie with questions.

"Please explain in more detail how to check the AC units were are the panels I need to look at for the wires and were are the circuit breakers for it?"

The air conditioners will each have a circuit breaker on the 120V power distribution panel. It will look pretty much like the breaker panel in your house, but much smaller. In most Fleetwood products, that panel is inside of the RV somewhere, probably behind a cupboard door. It could be out in one of the storage bays as well, so you may have to hunt for it. Most Fleetwood products locate theirs near where the 12V fuses are located. If neither one works, it really don't seem likely that the breakers are the cause, but it don't take long to check them. When you find them, trip the handle to the open position first, then close it as it is the only way to be sure that they are closed. I would also plug something into one of your 120V outlets inside and make sure that there is power there. A table lamp makes an easy tool to check for power. If you are going to do much work on either the air conditioners or the lights that blow fuses, you will need to get a quality volt/ohm meter. A digital one in the $30 to $50 price range is usually sufficient and it will be very useful in the future as well.


Senior Member
Re: Newbie with questions.

Unscrew the plug and the water should gush out. When it stops gushing, it is a good idea, but not required, to flush out the sediment. They make a nozzel for this you can get at Camping World, or make your own if you are handy.

Note that the water which gushes out will contain anti-freeze (the 'pink' you saw when opening hot water valves).

When the unit is drained (and optionally flushed), put the plug back in so you don't forget and have an exciting time next spring.

The bypass valve is between the water inlet and hot water out, so will be on the side of the water heater facing into the rig. There should be 1 or 2 valves and a hose which tie these two lines together for winterizing and isolate them for use. There is probably a panel inside you will need to remove to access this, unless you have a valve in your 'wet' bay to accomplish this. If you don't have such a bypass, you can often install a kit for about $20 and some of your time.

There should be an 120v breaker box, with a master breaker and then separate breakers for various 120v things. One of the breakers will be for the A/C units. They should be labeled. Nearby should be a 12v fuze box. One of these will provide power for the thermostat, but these are not aways labeled. If you have a manual or wiring diagram, it might indicate which fuze to check. This is the easiest and most basic step, because if you don't have 12v to the thermomstat AND 120v to the A/C unit, you won't have A/C, period.

Next places to check would be behind the thermostat and inside the A/C unit on the roof, besides behind a panel inside the RV if you have that type of unit. If you don't know what you are doing, you might be better served having a professional look at it.
Re: Newbie with questions.

Thank-You for all of the replies everyone

Quote "For the roof use the elastamer stuff ,, u can buy it at camp world but it's cheaper at Home Depot ... "
Does any one know what it is called? I want to seal it this weekend.

RE: Newbie with questions.

Well we got the AC fixed!! I had a friend from the power company come over and he found in the fuse panel the nuetral wires had gotten fried. It looks like a wire cam loose from the neutral buss and overheated the wires (melted) the 4 other neutral wires.
Rebuilt the nuetral buss and surprise surprise the AC's both work. It wasn't the switch like the dealer had told me it was.

From the next issue doesn't anyone know the name of a GOOD QUALITY roof sealer I really need to get this roof sealed.
My kids are getting really excited about this thing almost being ready to roll to the MX track for a fun weekend of MX racing!!!!