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Old 11-09-2012, 05:17 AM   #1
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New 2013 interstate owner and forum user.

I'm total new at forums (this is my first post, I think) and owning and operating a motor home. Still going through the paperwork and owner manuals. All input welcome on stocking, PM's, do and don't , needs and lessons learned are welcome. We live in FL and going to make our first trip to Pa. for Thanksgiving (cold weather).

Thanks

Steve
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Old 11-09-2012, 05:29 AM   #2
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Welcome, and congratulations on your new Interstate.

If you look around the B-van forums, you will find a lot of helpful information, and don't hesitate to ask anything at all.

Many happy miles to you!


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Old 11-09-2012, 05:56 AM   #3
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First suggestion…

Before traveling that far, take a shorter weekend trip somewhere close by, just so you can get a chance to practice setting up camp, breaking camp, and trying out all of the parts and equipment. By going somewhere close, you have a shorter distance to bail if something goes wrong.

I did this with my Interstate, and I'm glad I did. The water heater thermostat was defective, and needed to be replaced under warranty. I didn't know that until my first camping trip. It heated the water, all right; overheated it, almost to boiling.

Second suggestion…

Storage space is at a premuim, but can be extended with a cargo tray or cargo box that attaches to your hitch receiver.

First hint…

Always make sure you shut off the propane solenoid (the switch in that little black plastic box behind the passenger-side rear wheelwell) when you're not using the unit. That one switch, by itself, draws almost two amps, and at 48 amp/hours per day, it will deplete your house batteries in no time if you leave it on when you don't need it. The switch controls an electromagnet, that has to be very strong to overcome the power of the spring-loaded safety valve on the propane system.

Second hint…

Since you're planning a trip to Pennsylvania, you should know that your tank heaters draw an obscene amount of current as well. If you try to run them off of batteries, you'll run the batteries down in about 4 hours. Only use the tank heaters when you're running the generator or have shore power connected.

Third hint…

The dashboard heater doesn't do squat for the rear of the vehicle. If you want it warm in back while you're driving, it's okay to drive with the furnace on. My test drive was in December, and we drove that way during the test drive. But remember to shut off the furnace while you're refueling!

Fourth hint…

You can drive with the rear-view camera on, but that fisheye lens takes some getting used to. It's good if you use a cargo tray, though, because you'll be able to see the tray at the bottom of the screen, and can make sure you don't smack anything with it when you turn. A cargo tray does increase your "tail-swing."

That should do for now, I think.
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Old 11-10-2012, 05:56 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum!
The Interstate AND the Sprinter are both complex machines and each comes with its own set of idiosyncrasies. There is a lot to learn about your new Interstate and this is a good place to learn. You will find a lot of helpful folks here and a lot of ideas; many of them good. Another good forum is the one at Sprinter-Source Sprinter - Sprinter-Forum. The Sprinter Forum has an Interstate sub-forum too. Spend some time looking around these forums and you will learn a lot. Go to them when you have a question and you will get the feel of them pretty soon. And, even if they aren't really great, read the manuals! And, the documentation for the Interstate accessories.

Protagonist offers some good suggestions; here are some additional thoughts:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
First suggestion…

Before traveling that far, take a shorter weekend trip somewhere close by, just so you can get a chance to practice setting up camp, breaking camp, and trying out all of the parts and equipment. By going somewhere close, you have a shorter distance to bail if something goes wrong.
You can do this at home too, if you have the space. Take lots of notes as you come across questions; put markers in the manuals where something isn't clear. After you've used the camper a few times, go back to your dealer with a detailed list of questions. Hopefully your dealer is close.
I did this with my Interstate, and I'm glad I did. The water heater thermostat was defective, and needed to be replaced under warranty. I didn't know that until my first camping trip. It heated the water, all right; overheated it, almost to boiling.

Second suggestion…

Storage space is at a premuim, but can be extended with a cargo tray or cargo box that attaches to your hitch receiver.
To say that space is at a premium is an understatement! Learn to think of your camper as a very small sailboat. Find creative ways to make things serve multiple functions. And, learn to think minimalist.
First hint…

Always make sure you shut off the propane solenoid (the switch in that little black plastic box behind the passenger-side rear wheelwell) when you're not using the unit. That one switch, by itself, draws almost two amps, and at 48 amp/hours per day, it will deplete your house batteries in no time if you leave it on when you don't need it. The switch controls an electromagnet, that has to be very strong to overcome the power of the spring-loaded safety valve on the propane system.
This is important! Be aware that the main battery disconnect DOES NOT turn off the propane. At least on mine it doesn't.
Second hint…

Since you're planning a trip to Pennsylvania, you should know that your tank heaters draw an obscene amount of current as well. If you try to run them off of batteries, you'll run the batteries down in about 4 hours. Only use the tank heaters when you're running the generator or have shore power connected.

Third hint…

The dashboard heater doesn't do squat for the rear of the vehicle. If you want it warm in back while you're driving, it's okay to drive with the furnace on. My test drive was in December, and we drove that way during the test drive. But remember to shut off the furnace while you're refueling!

Fourth hint…

You can drive with the rear-view camera on, but that fisheye lens takes some getting used to. It's good if you use a cargo tray, though, because you'll be able to see the tray at the bottom of the screen, and can make sure you don't smack anything with it when you turn. A cargo tray does increase your "tail-swing."

That should do for now, I think.
One more thing; add your exact Airstream model to your signature. There are some major differences between models in the way some things work. If you have it in your signature, folks trying to answer your questions don't have to guess or ask.

Enjoy the adventures you will have with your new Interstate!

Wayne
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:42 PM   #5
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Another thing to keep in mind: there is a lot of documentation available online for your camper. You can find Owners Manuals and Parts Books on the Airstream.com website and various Owner and other manuals on the MBSprinterUSA.com website. The manufacturers of the appliances and accessories in your Interstate also have documentation for many items. These are handy to have on a home computer and/or on a laptop you carry with you on the road.
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:44 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum.

All I can add is be sure to take the satchel w/ all of the manuals. You'll need a tire gauge that is double-sided in order to check the duals. Some basic tools are nice to have if you have the room.

I've had mine over a year now and still learning things about it, especially the electrical system.

Safe travels.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:22 PM   #7
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I've had mine over a year now and still learning things about it, especially the electrical system.
I've had mine for over two years and I learn something new everytime I use it. This baby is full of interesting surprises! And mysteries!
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:58 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for all the input, great information!
We did a short day trip today. For the most part everything went pretty good. Not sure what happened but water got left on and gray tank backed up on the kitchen sink. Not to the point of over flowing but just splashing around (the plug was out). We got lucky it was all under control. Not really even a problem. Nothing but fresh water has been ran through the plumbing so far. Until we learn the system I hope to keep it that way. The issue today we chalked up to operator's (3 of us) error.

Thanks Steve

Steve

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Old 11-11-2012, 11:35 AM   #9
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Hope you can find why the drain backed up. Not sure what could cause that. Or are you saying the faucet was left on and filled the gray tank?

I couldn't get the black water tank flush to work when trying to clean the tank after draining. My dealer found that Airstream had installed the check valve backwards.
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Hope you can find why the drain backed up. Not sure what could cause that. Or are you saying the faucet was left on and filled the gray tank?
If the gray tank overflowed, the first thing to back up would have been the shower pan, since it's lowest.

Probably something put down the drain that shouldn't be put down the drain.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it… Before folding down the galley sink cover, make sure the faucet handle is in the COLD position. If you leave it in the hot position, the cover hits the handle and opens the faucet.
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Old 11-11-2012, 08:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 73shark
Hope you can find why the drain backed up. Not sure what could cause that. Or are you saying the faucet was left on and filled the gray tank?

I couldn't get the black water tank flush to work when trying to clean the tank after draining. My dealer found that Airstream had installed the check valve backwards.
I think that the faucet was left on and someone turned on the pump switch and resulted in filling the gray water tank. The shower did have some water in the drain pipe but only to the top of the drain.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No Buckles

I think that the faucet was left on and someone turned on the pump switch and resulted in filling the gray water tank. The shower did have some water in the drain pipe but only to the top of the drain.
Well we made our first road trip. Our son also made the journey with us (wife and I). I'm sure every trip will be more educational than the last every time. Weather was in the mid 20's at night. Comfort was never an issue. We stayed parked at my fathers house which was full of family, including son that just made the journey. The biggest challenge was NAV/entertainment system, still working on that one. Learned that the buzzer for the awning works. Found this out making a short trip to fuel up. That took a phone call for some help. Great assistance from dealer and was handled within minutes. Also after arriving home did a top to bottom cleaning and inspection. I found a star nut on the floor near the back doors. After some searching I found that it went to the top door latch on the drivers side (port). All the nuts were loose to the point of almost falling out. Retighten and all is well. That is one thing that I will keep an eye on.
I was told that the drove great. Maybe next trip I can drive. I'm having eye issues so for now I'm the navigator.
One thing that we did not master was how to make a good cup of coffee while traveling down the highway. Suggestions welcome!
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:23 AM   #13
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I'm sure every trip will be more educational than the last every time.
Hope not. Sooner or later you've got to get to the top of the learning curve. I've put over 8000 miles on mine in the eleven months I've owned it, and I'm almost to the point where I don't learn something new on every trip.

Quote:
The biggest challenge was NAV/entertainment system, still working on that one.
Not listed in the Kenwood owner's manual, if you get into the Garmin navigation screen and select "Settings," with some fiddling with settings you can get the childproofing turned off so that you can select destinations while in motion. Having certain functions locked out to prevent driver distraction is fine for a solo driver, but it's stupid to have to come to a stop every time want to look for a rest area or service station, when you have a second person in the vehicle to operate the Garmin unit.

Quote:
Learned that the buzzer for the awning works.
I still get the occasional quick buzz from the awning alarm when I hit a Louisiana pothole. The only thing holding the awning in the stored position is tension on the fabric, so any jolt to the vehicle can cause enough play to make the alarm buzz. It doesn't happen often, and doesn't last long enough to grate on the nerves, so I've learned to live with it. If the alarm came on and stayed on, instead of a quick squawk, I'd pull over, extend the awning partway, and retract it again.

Quote:
One thing that we did not master was how to make a good cup of coffee while traveling down the highway. Suggestions welcome!
Good luck with that one. I had to give up drinking coffee in order to quit smoking, because every time I had a cup of coffee I wanted a cigarette sooooo bad! Since it's been 6˝ years since I've had a cup of coffee (or a cigarette), and I've only owned my Interstate for less than 1 year, I have no experience in that regard. How do people make coffee on sailboats? Those never stop moving, even when parked at a marina, so there must be a way.
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:55 AM   #14
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One thing that we did not master was how to make a good cup of coffee while traveling down the highway. Suggestions welcome!
Use your cigarette lighter, either for an immersion heater or a water kettle type thing that plugs into your lighter, which you can find at a good truck stop/store.

Someone will have to get up to make the coffee, which could be done safely in the sink and by the cup. An AeroPress makes a good cup of coffee, and the Maxwell House filter bags are tolerable.

Lastly, a good Thermos bottle will keep coffee piping hot all day. Although our preference is to leisurely drink our coffee before we even think about driving, when we must be on the road very early our Stanley Thermos is our preferred coffee carrier.

Enjoy your Interstate. We are at almost 130,000 miles in 5 1/2 years.

Love it more every time we take it out.


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