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Old 11-12-2020, 10:02 PM   #1
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2003 25' Safari
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Prescott Valley , Arizona
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Posts: 39
Avoiding Scams - HELP

Hi,
I got my second new-to-me Airstream Safari. It is 23'. I downsized from a 25' that was actually 26.5'. I traveled from my home in Arizona to South Dekota to pick it up. I got a good deal from a nice guy who is quite knowledgeable.

I lived in the RV for 6 weeks to check out everything and make a list of things I wanted evaluated, fixed or replaced. I finally got an appointment at our local RV dealer and took it in with a detailed, printed list of stuff I had discovered.

The most important problem was that the 5-button Duo Therm Thermostat did not recognize the furnace. It worked twice on my trip home but has not since then. The guy that sold me the trailer, the guy camped next to me at the campsite in S.D. and I researched the problem online and tried every "fix" we could find. No luck.

The RV Dealership has had my Safari for 27 days and today called about the thermostat. He previously told me that it was a control unit in my roof air conditioner and they were going to call for the cost of the part and they would call me when they had it. Today he informed me that I had to buy a new air conditioner, (even though the air conditioner works fine, as does the space heater.), thermostat and all connections between them. I am certain their income was the priority in their determinations. I told him to fix the things I approved and to leave the thermostat, air conditioner and heater alone.

Here's the deal. Can't I just get a second thermostat for the space heater (not a ducted furnace) and leave the air conditioner/ heat pump alone?

In addition, three people at this dealership told me that the mechanics working on my Airstream are "Certified" RV Technicians. Does anyone know what that means? I looked it up on the internet and came up with a guy who gives classes to certify RV Techs but not a board or organization that does so. I am in a profession that requires registration/ licensure to legally practice my profession. I know that electricians, hair dressers, medical professionals and many others have the same or very similar requirements. Also, Community Colleges give certificates to students who have completed the required courses. Does this exist for RVs?

I am AMAZED that these guys, who say they are "certified," cannot determine the problem with a basic system in an RV, and fix it in less than a month for less that several hundred dollars.

Finally, how do I find someone that can actually assess and fix this problem? These guys lie as easily as they breathe. Do I have to take it to Jackson Center to be sure I am getting the truth?
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Old 11-13-2020, 05:53 AM   #2
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2018 25' International
Slidell , Louisiana
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The repair outfit may well be correct the AC controller board is the issue. The thermostat reads the configuration from the AC controller dip switches and sends signals to turn on and off various modes. If the furnace dip switch is on and furnace is called for the controller is supposed to close a relay that tells the furnace to run. It works the same way a separate thermostat would.

Ok so maybe the dealer looked at the overall condition of the AC and the cost of board replacement and didn't want to mess with the possibility there are other issue and so just told you they can only replace it. Maybe the extra revenue was part of the motivation.

Other possible causes of the issue is a problem with the furnace itself, or the thermostat, or the wiring/connectors from the furnace to the AC control board.

It will be a hassle but you can add a separate thermostat controller for the furnace. I don't think this is a good idea.

Certification. Licensing? IDK

If you are handy, you can fairly easily track down and verify the source of the issue and then take it to an electrician you trust to repair. It is common for the issue to be a dirty dip switch and if you don't mind climbing a ladder and you are nimble, you can work the switch back and forth to see if that solves the issue.

If it is the AC controller board, a lighter weight electrician is best. Less than 190 lb. You will have to provide a video on how to walk on an airstream roof without damage.

I would be happy to walk you through finding the exact issue.
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Old 11-13-2020, 06:18 AM   #3
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Evergreen , Colorado
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The term “certified” could have a number of meetings. It’s unlikely that it means that the technicians are certified by an independent third party as you’d see in some other professions. It’s more likely that the technicians have taken a training course that was provided by Airstream or another RV manufacturer, and the successful completion of this course resulted in certification. I’m not aware of any type of independent organization that certifies RV technicians.

The proposed repair for your thermostat issue follows the same trends that can be seen in the automotive industry. Cars are rarely repaired by “fixing” a damaged or malfunctioning component. Faulty parts are replaced, not fixed. It has become standard operating procedure for car repair in many shops, especially dealerships. I have a specific example. The front differential in my AWD vehicle failed. My local dealership recommended replacing the entire unit, and referred to it as a “non-serviceable” part. The cost for the part alone was roughly $7,000. I declined, and I found an independent mechanic who successfully rebuilt my differential, including new bearings and seals, for about $3,000. I don’t believe that the dealership was trying to scam me. Their certified technicians were trained to replace the differential, not to repair it.

My suggestion is that you find an independent RV mechanic and get a second opinion. You may like what you find, but you may not. It never hurts to shop around.
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Old 11-13-2020, 09:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis C View Post
I have a specific example. The front differential in my AWD vehicle failed. My local dealership recommended replacing the entire unit, and referred to it as a ďnon-serviceableĒ part. The cost for the part alone was roughly $7,000. I declined, and I found an independent mechanic who successfully rebuilt my differential, including new bearings and seals, for about $3,000.

Here is my example... if your ignition switch on your Jeep Liberty goes bad, the dealership will only replace the ENTIRE steering column (around $2k). The part, however, is $35 and quite easy to replace (it's one of the most visited how-to's on my blog). Is it a scam? Absolutely. Unfortunately, it is also the new *standard* for vehicle repair. There is likely a much cheaper solution to your issue, but finding the person who knows about it may be the proverbial needle in the haystack.
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Old 11-13-2020, 11:10 AM   #5
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1976 31' Sovereign
Oswego , Illinois
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My 76 AS has suburban furnace. Armstrong AC both orig. installed when AS manf. Furnace has thermostat, AC with heat strip, with thermostat that controls both heat strip & cooling, IMO extra thermostat can be installed, plus a simple wall thermostat can be pur. for under $15
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Old 11-13-2020, 12:54 PM   #6
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Check for a wet cable (phone line) inside the a/c. Recently documented on forum (use SEARCH, sorry I am traveling). Turn off a/c, Remove inside a/c cover. Look for a phone cord probably plopped in drain cup on road side, pull gently until you see connector. Unplig, dry with towel and hair dryer on low heat, add a piece of shrinkage insulation over one end, click together, test a/c. If good heat the shrink wrap to seal and use a cable tie or bread wrapper wire tie to secure it to something that will keep it out of the drip cup, reinstall cover, do happy dance.

Tell the tech to do it if you choose.
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Old 11-13-2020, 03:49 PM   #7
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There are two basic types of "technician": mechanics and part hangers. You are dealing with the latter, and it would come as no real surprise if they said "you need to replace your whole electrical system" - that would save them the trouble of real diagnostics/troubleshooting.
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Old 11-14-2020, 11:13 AM   #8
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You probably don't want to hear this since you list your home as Arizona, but if I were you, I would take it to Jackson Center, OH. They will know the "truth."
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:16 PM   #9
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"Here's the deal. Can't I just get a second thermostat for the space heater (not a ducted furnace) and leave the air conditioner/ heat pump alone?"


What space heater? I had a 2001 Safari and a 2002 Classic and they both had ducted furnaces. Has your trailer been modified to remove the ducted furnace?


But the answer to your question is probably yes, based on my ducted furnace experience. The furnace sends a 12V line to the Air Conditioner. When the thermostat is set to furnace and calls for heat the control board turns that 12V around to another connection on the furnace to activate it. You can replace that connection with a simple furnace thermostat (not a fancy one that requires power) and let it control the furnace.



Given that your setup is intermittent, I would first clean the connections on the cable between then thermostat and the air conditioner at both ends as Paula suggested. You will have to pull the thermostat and pull the shroud off of the air conditioner on the inside of the trailer to access that end. Get some electrical contact cleaner, spray it on the connections and brush with a toothbrush. After doing this and reinstalling everything, reset the thermostat.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:57 PM   #10
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Eden Prairie , Minnesota
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We are full time and have tried to get different things from dealers, parts service etc. and have never once been happy. So for service this spring we're driving a few hundred miles out of our way to have our service work done at the factory.
I agree they need some serious training at the dealers.
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Old 11-14-2020, 06:12 PM   #11
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2007 30' Classic
Anahuac , Texas
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Furnace not working

I had this same problem last year. Thermostat would not recognize the furnace. I got up top and took the cover off A/C and found the dip switch for the furnace wasnít turned on. Turned it on and whatyaknow thermostat recognizes the furnace and everything works fine. Bottom line is if that dip switch is turned off no thermostat will recognize your furnace. I would check that first.
Good Luck
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Old 10-13-2021, 05:39 AM   #12
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2015 30' Classic
2019 22' Sport
Miramichi , New Brunswick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shb2777 View Post
I had this same problem last year. Thermostat would not recognize the furnace. I got up top and took the cover off A/C and found the dip switch for the furnace wasnít turned on. Turned it on and whatyaknow thermostat recognizes the furnace and everything works fine. Bottom line is if that dip switch is turned off no thermostat will recognize your furnace. I would check that first.

Good Luck


I am having the same problem. Iíll climb up on my AS today and check the wet or rusty contacts. Which is the dip switch for the furnace?
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Old Yesterday, 12:31 AM   #13
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2007 30' Classic
Anahuac , Texas
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Locate dip switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffsTardis View Post
I am having the same problem. Iíll climb up on my AS today and check the wet or rusty contacts. Which is the dip switch for the furnace?
Hey Jeff
Just pull the cover and look is the best way I can tell you itís just a row of little switches. If I remember correctly thereís about four. You need a knife blade or a pick to switch them on or off. I donít think you will have any trouble locating them. Sorry I didnít take any pictures or I would send them to you. Let me know how it goes.
Thanks Steve
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Old Today, 04:52 AM   #14
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2015 30' Classic
2019 22' Sport
Miramichi , New Brunswick
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Unhappy

Quote:
Originally Posted by shb2777 View Post
Hey Jeff
Just pull the cover and look is the best way I can tell you itís just a row of little switches. If I remember correctly thereís about four. You need a knife blade or a pick to switch them on or off. I donít think you will have any trouble locating them. Sorry I didnít take any pictures or I would send them to you. Let me know how it goes.
Thanks Steve
I looked at the dip switches and flipped the furnace one from on to off but it did not make a difference. I could not find a telephone cable inside either of the air conditioners on the roof. Iíve got an appointment with a regular RV dealer repair shop in two weeks to see if they can help me
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