We're at the end of our first thirty days' ownership of a new Beaver Patriot Thunder, and the learning curve remains steep.
Compounding our problem is the dealership's failure to locate our manuals: they were removed from the rig when the Silverleaf system was installed, and somehow became misplaced. Were it not for online resources, I'd be lost.
But, I'm chugging along, learning many lessons from the coach, online resources and fellow Monaco/Beaver/Navistar owners.
- Leveling systems are not created equal. The Beaver utilizes a dual mode arrangement that has a Valid Technologies touchpad, Power Gear hydraulics. When I hyper-extended the left rear leg to lift the bus off a jackstand onto which it had settled, I popped a seal in the leg. Ever since, it has dripped fluid. Worse, it doesn't send the computer an "Up" signal; the alarms persist during the first few minutes of driving and system logic is boogered up, even though operations are possible with only air-leveling.
- Utilities bundled for the purpose of linking a kitchen slideout to the main coach are fertile grounds for leaks and shorts. Inspection of those areas should be made periodically.
- Tag wheel tires suffer indignities others don't. Small divots out of the tread are to be expected, don't necessarily compromise the safety of the tire. Remember to raise your tag axle when making sharp turns.
- Full-length slideouts are tricky business. Visually confirm perfect sychronization between the ends of the slideout when extending and retracting.
- Do you know how to manually retract slideouts? Every owner should.
- Power reels depend on operators ensuring the hose/cord are wiped clean during retraction. The health of the reel depends on that simple act.
- Our Beaver suffers silently with a loss of shore power. A popped circuit breaker in the garage could spell drained batteries in the RV. Each time I enter and exit, and after I run heavy loads on the same circuit, I glance at the Silver Leaf DC POWER screen to make sure the inverter is powering (recharging) the battery and not vice versa.
- Few owners follow manufacturers' maintenance guidelines. Ostensibly, our new rig was sufficiently cared for, but many lubrication points in the chassis look like they've been untouched, in the coach's five year life.
- Use your nose. We noticed a diesel smell in the bedroom en route. 'Turns out, someone had dragged the tail, torn the exhaust pipe open. That's a big safety item.
- Use your ears. I detected a faint clanging from under the driver's seat while driving down the road. The generator's long cantilevered exhaust pipe had, via lever action, loosened the bolts securing the exhaust to the generator manifold. A HUGE safety item, potential carbon monoxide poisoning threat.
- According to my tire expert, all truck tires represent an imminent blowout risk at ten years of age. He looked at mine, with their pristine tread and perfect sidewalls, dated late 2005 and pronounced them overdue for replacement. Not just the steering tires, but ALL of them.