Author Topic: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues  (Read 536 times)

Al Youngwerth

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New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« on: October 14, 2021, 04:17:28 AM »
I picked this coach up about 3 weeks ago and got back this weekend from a 9 day road trip with my sons down in SLC. About 1500 miles, all boondocking. We had a great time, really pleased with how well this 23 year old coach handled the trip.

As expected, a number of new issues showed up (in addition to the ones I knew about). Nothing serious, some I plan to fix myself, some I'm going to have professionally fixed. I do have some questions that I hope some of you experts may be able enlighten this Class A DP newbie (and it's been 10+ years since I've owned any RV).

Automatic Transmission Downshifts
As the coach approaches a steep hill, and the RPMs start to drop, the tranny begins what feels like a downshift: goes into neutral RPMs raise for 2-3 seconds, then it gives up and keeps chugging in 6th. On the third try (every time) it completes the downshift. Happens in Eco and Standard modes. If I manually downshift, it immediately downshifts. Not a big deal to me, seems like a calibration issue, is this something that needs to get addressed? (Cat dealer doesn't work on Allison trannies).

Entrance step needs help going up
Started about half-way into the trip, the assembly seems kinda sloppy. I searched around for rebuild instructions but didn't find any.

Some cabinet doors are coming apart
The glue has failed on several doors and the center is separating. Is this common? I didn't find any discussion. Best to take to a cabinet maker or will some wood glue and ratchet straps work for home repair?

Headlights suck
I saw the tech note on installing a relay. What about LED replacement headlights? Are those available?

Carpet is shot
It had already separated where the fancy designs come together. We easily spilled a half gallon of beer, ketchup, pickle juice, etc on the carpet. Anybody know of a source to match the tile that is there? Am I better off replacing it all with LVT? Do regular floor install people do this stuff or better to use RV shop?

Freeze protection instructions?
Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, my coach did not come with any manuals so I'm downloading what is available at the club site. I know how to deal with the p-traps. Do the drains in the water panel area drain everything or are there other drains I need to open?

Thanks in advance for any help.

1998 Contessa San Marcos

Steve Huber Co-Admin

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Re: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2021, 05:18:01 AM »
1.   Coach Assist has a 1998 Contessa Owners manual
2.   Transmission Shifting: Sounds like it may be low on fluid. Suggest you use tranny key pad to check level.
3.   Coach Assist has entry step manuals and Common Problems has a troubleshooting guide for entry step issues.
4.   Common Problems has an article on repairing cabinets.
5.   The Dim Headlight fix in located at the end of Coach Assist., both a video and a write-up. LEDs won’t help much until you get voltage to 12v via the fix.
6.   Vinyl, laminate or carpet, your choice. Many on forum have replaced it themselves. Doubt you’ll find any match based on age of coach.
7.   Storage chapter in Owners Manual covers winterizing

Both Coach Assist and Common Problems are located on the BAC website under the technical tab.  https://www.beaveramb.org/
Steve
Steve
2015-          07 Contessa Bayshore C9,  400 hp
2013-2015: 00 Marquis Tourmaline, C12, 425 hp
2005-2013: 01 Contessa Naples, 3126B, 330 hp

Carl Boger

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Re: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2021, 05:30:11 PM »
I have dealt with most everything on your list except the  Transmission and the Cabinets.

The Transmission should shift automatically but I would manually shift it on hills until you get it straightened out.  Keep the RPM's up for the best performance.

The entrance steps need to be cleaned and lubed fairly often.  Things can also get loose under there.  Try cleaning and making sure every thing is aligned.  The manual is online like Steve said.

If the cabinet doors are coming apart, take them off the cabinets, and carefully pry them apart.  Scrape the old glue off and apply new glue.  Then clamp them back together.  Do not glue the floating panel in the center just the outside frame.

The headlight fix is in the owners section and it works, Headlights will still not be great, but much improved.

For the carpet, I trashed mine and all the tile except for what was in the bathroom.  I did have a couple of cracked tiles though.  I went the luxury vinyl tile route, but If I was to do it again I would probably do the thin hardwood floors, the ones that are about 3/8th inch thick.  My LVT is holding up but the solid wood would stiffen the floor more.  I would also consider putting electric radiant  floor heating in if the flooring was out.

As far as winterizing there are many different ways to do it.  I live in a relatively mild climate so I usually just use air and dump the water and water heater.  You can also do the antifreeze method bypassing the water heater and filling the other lines.

Hopefully this will help you some.
Carl

98 Beaver Patriot Savannah
330 hp Cat 3126

Eric Maclean

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Re: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2021, 08:50:54 PM »
Al
Becareful if your coach has an Aquahot heating system simply blowing it out won't keep it from freezing the domestic hot water coil .
The coil consists of 160 feet of coper tubing rapped around the boiler drum the problem is that blowing it out didn't clear the coil well enough and when it freezes the coil is distroyed the only real way to winterize an aqua hot is with plumbing antifreeze.

Eric
1997 Patriot Yorktown
3126-B
2009 Chevy HHR
Roadmaster falcon tow bar
Demco Air Force one tow brake.

Keith Moffett

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Re: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2021, 06:59:47 AM »
Al…welcome
There is a big learning curve made harder by a lack of manuals in hand.  Suggest you download the owners manual and go sit in the coach where you can read and look at that item .  Much easier.
You likely have a Hurricane hydronic heat which is a rudimentary Aqua Hot.  If you live in an area prone to cold winter the fresh water antifreeze may be required.  No Preston in the fresh water system!
The Allison uses Dextron unless someone changed it to Transend.   Drive the coach until at operating temp and stop on level ground.  Let idle 5 minutes in neutral with park brake on.  Press up and down arrows at same time and release.  lED should flash OL …OK if all is good.  If you see OL….LO….2  or any number, that is how low the Allison is.
Good luck!
2007 Patriot Thunder
45' C-13
2006 Explorer Ltd.
DW is Carol
Safe travels and
May God bless!

Al Youngwerth

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Re: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2021, 08:43:30 AM »
Thanks for all of your replies, really helpful.

I'm going to print out all the manuals and put them in a binder. I did have some of them on the computer but as images, without the ability to search for what your are looking for, paper works better. Thanks for pointing out where some of the more esoteric information like steps is.

I'm not sure what water heating system I have. All I know is that the hot water is not one of the things that is broken! I will dig in a bit deeper to determine which one it is and how to winterize it.

My rig will be moving from Boise to Pahrump, Nevada at the end of the month. I will only be in it maybe 1/4 time. It hardly ever freezes in Pahrump but hardly ever freezing and water in pipes don't go well together. I think I'll be doing a lot of winterizing cycles this winter, best learn how to do it right.

Thanks again for all your help.

Al.
1998 Contessa San Marcos

Joel Ashley

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Re: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2021, 09:29:06 AM »
According to your manual, Al, you could have either propane or hydronic space and water heating (see page 35).  If you have hydronic, like AquaHot, HydroHot, or another brand it should be seen in a bay.  But if on an outside wall you see an intake/exhaust like seen in photo one below then you have a propane furnace and no hydronic system.  You should in that case also see a hot water heater rear access door that looks something like, but not necessarily identical to, what’s in the second image.

If you don’t see anything like those on your outside walls, you’re hydronic.

Joel
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towing a 1997 Ford Explorer Limited, aka "Pearl"

Joel Ashley

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Re: New to me 1998 Contessa shakedown trip issues
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2021, 11:08:29 PM »
As Eric says, if you have a hydronic water heater/furnace combo, do not rely on just blowing the water system out with air.  Use the water pump and a tube into a couple/three gallons of RV antifreeze to at least get the "pink stuff" antifreeze through a hot water faucet somewhere in the coach, if not through all faucets.  Then you know the hydronics coil(s) is protected;  a new unit costs many thousands.  If you don't have hydronics in your '98, simply blowing out the water system may be adequate;  it worked for me on our old Pace Arrow because I was very thorough, but isn't ideal.  Don't forget to blow out or flow antifreeze to any outside shower faucet.

Also, just a couple other oft overlooked points:
if you have a washing machine, pour a cup or two of antifreeze in the tub and run a rinse cycle to protect the pump that lies at the bottom and is where water drains to and can freeze, breaking it.  A half cup of RV antifreeze in each P trap should be adequate, and don't forget the shower drain - there's a P trap under there also.

If you have an ice maker, stand alone or in your freezer/fridge, you'll want to protect the solenoid behind the unit.  Pump antifreeze through by manually cycling the ice maker, or drain and blowout the in and out tubes of the solenoid, and/or safely apply 110v voltage (others here can advise how to do this carefully, because I haven't yet) to the solenoid itself to open it to blow it out, leaving the tubes disconnected for the winter.  It freezes easily and is only plastic - it will crack and leak next time you hook to or pump water.  It's easily and affordably replaced, but why go through unnecessary hassle, esp. if you don't catch the out-of-sight leak right away.

Joel
Joel and Lee Rae Ashley
Clackamas, Oregon
36.9 ft. 2006 Monterey Ventura IV, aka"Monty Rae"
C9 400HP Cat
towing a 1997 Ford Explorer Limited, aka "Pearl"