Maintaining Your RV

Malcolm Street — 5 March 2015

As you read on, it might seem like I should be writing for another Bauer Media publication, Model Rail (UK), but stay with me. It all started when I decided to resurrect my model rail hobby by doing some more work on an N gauge railway layout I have been building. Several of my locomotives are quite a few years old but have had little use. With one in particular, the drive motor was spinning but the wheels were not.

The manufacturer of this loco had a history of a defect (drive gears splitting) in a certain era of models. I initially thought that was the issue, so I pulled the loco apart to investigate. Keep in mind the size of N gauge – jeweller’s screwdrivers and an optivisor are very handy. The split gears were not the problem and I was a bit stumped.

When I consulted several oracles on the internet and then the manufacturer’s instructions (radical, I know), it mentioned using minute drops of light oil in several places. Given the number of plastic components, including the aforementioned drive gears, I was a bit doubtful about this. Anyway, I did as suggested with the oil, using the industrial variant of a hypodermic needle. Surprise, surprise, it worked and the locomotive that was about to be consigned to the spare parts bin is now my favourite track tester as I build the layout.

The moral of this story

In case you are wondering, there are several morals to this story. I am sure most of you already do this but, just case you don’t, here’s some advice: dig out all the manufacturer’s instructions for all the various components in your RV. If you’ve lost them, the internet is usually a good resource.

Most modern RVs have a number of sophisticated devices. Some require little or no maintenance, but others might require an annual check. Read all those instructions and see if there’s anything you can do to prevent problems or prolong the device’s life. That includes the RV itself. Even an annual wash, polish and inspection can do wonders.

Many RVs are parked up and unused for extended periods of time – just like my model trains. It’s a fact that little use can be as detrimental as too much use. Tyres are a good example; they deteriorate even if they’re not used. A while ago, some friends of mine bought a second-hand motorhome. It was quite a few years old but appeared to be in extremely good condition. However, the previous owner had not used it for two or three years and it had been parked undercover.

Since purchasing the motorhome, my friends have had all kinds of problems – tyres, brakes (major issue), awning and assorted seals in various places. All to do with an RV that has been little used. My friends are old hands and were not surprised by this but it’s a good lesson to learn. At purchase time, a simple check on how little use your potential purchase might have had should be something to factor into the price.


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