Update on Performance of our Malayan

Update on Performance 2016

Scout on the spit in Homer Alaska.

After two years of being on the road we made the decision to take Scout back to Provan for some extensive work.  We had more teething problems than we liked and a couple of the problems were quite problematic. This made us reluctant to take her out of Oregon, never mind the United States.  After several conversations with Mark about these issues, and several attempts by Mark and Jay at Provan to perform drive way fixes to the issues in Oregon.   We decided it was time to go about doing them right.  In October of 2015 Ron drove Scout across country and delivered it to Provan.  The issues that were tackled are listed below in order of importance.

Replace the Webasto Heater.  Scout was originally equipped with a Webasto duo-top heater.  The heater never worked properly from delivery.  Within a couple of days the system began to fault out on a regular basis.  Usually in the middle of the night.  At first a restart would get the heater going again.  Over time it began to take multiple restarts to get the heater going.  As you know from the blog we are winter campers so not having a reliable heater was a major headache.  Most nights entailed a 0 dark thirty restart of the heater,  which did not make for a good nights sleep.  Finally one night in December, 50 miles south of Fallon Nevada the heater failed and would not restart despite all of Ron’s tricks acquired over the prior 15 months.  The answer was to drive back to Fallon and buy a cheap electric heater and stay in a conventional campground for the rest of the trip. 

Mark and Jay at Provan had been working the issues with the heater almost from the beginning and twice Jay flew out to Oregon to work on the heater, making major modifications in the heater’s set up to try to solve the problems.  On another occasion a Webasto service representative flew out and confirmed that Jay’s fixes  were in line with what Webasto expected and to check the fault codes in the heater to assist in troubleshooting the problem, we never heard from Webasto again.

The other frustration with Webasto was though they advertise they have service centers around the country, none of them will work on duo-tops.  In the case of the failure near Fallon we contacted the Webasto dealer in Reno and they said they would service it.  So after that call we back tracked an additional 60 miles to Reno to the Webasto service center.  After describing the problems to the service tech we waited two hours in the waiting room only to be brought out to describe the problems again to the Webasto guy at the truck service center.  He looked at the unit for about five minutes and said that he was not going to touch this unit as he had never seen anything like it before.  120 mile round trip wasted.  In addition there was supposed to be a Webasto dealer in Vancouver Washington near our home, but they were deemed not capable of helping us with our duo-top by Webasto’s own people.

After this misadventure Mark decided to install a brand new Webasto in Scout.  Jay flew out again to Oregon and installed the new one.  The first time we went to use it in Reno,  the new Webasto leaked tremendously.  Because the hot water tank for the Webasto was hooked directly into the water line we could not pressurize our water system without generating a large leak in the heater, and we had no way to bypass the Webasto.  We finished that trip by staying at campgrounds with showers and using bottled water.  The problem was a faulty pressure relief plate from the factory.  A new plate was sent to us and we arranged to get it installed at a repair center in Vancouver (not Webasto’s).  However, this new unit began faulting also, and by October would not work.  

At this point I contacted Mark and said that I was going to return the unit and he needed to fix it.  After several conversations Mark made the decision to find another diesel heater besides Webasto.  Initially Mark was in discussion with Aqua-hot about a new small diesel heater they were developing that sounded promising.  For about three months I was getting regular updates on the on-going development of the new smaller heater, when suddenly Aqua-hot stopped returning Mark’s calls.  So several months were wasted on the Aqua-hot.  

We have now installed a Rixen diesel heater.  I will provide more feedback after some use of the Rixen.  The early impressions are positive.  The unit consists of three distinct modular parts that can be placed in different parts of the truck. This actually freed up some space under the truck to move the two batteries that had ended up in the rear storage box under the truck, lowering and centering their weight.

Heater Update March 2018.  We have made two trips since the Rixen heater was installed.  I need to clarify one thing though, Rixen is the company in Oregon that imports and modifies the components for the heater/hot water system.  The components are from Espar which is a German company.  The Espar system while it has not been flawless has been a major upgrade over the Webasto.  We ran into one problem in Alaska when the air intake sucked in some dirt after a 500 mile trip on gravel roads to the Arctic Circle.  This caused the impeller to jam and a heater failure.  The biggest difference was that when we contacted Rixen by phone they were able to help us troubleshoot and diagnose the problem over the phone, and we had a choice of three Espar dealers in Alaska.   The one we chose was able to more than competently service the unit.  Since the service we have operated for several weeks with no other issues. 

Leaks. We had two major leaks in the truck, and one minor leak.  This was particularly frustrating as part of the reason to go with an aluminum body over a fiberglass body was the belief that we would avoid leaks.  

The first leak was in the flexible bellows connecting the house to the truck.  This began leaking about 6 months in.  We would get this leak whenever we drove in the rain and it was caused by water passing under the truck off of the road and the wheels, the leak was substantial whenever we drove in the rain.  

Jay flew out and resealed the pass thru and this stopped the water entering the truck.  However, after about another 6 months we began getting water into the house on the floor near the door.  The problem was pretty much the same as the previous issue except the water flowed into the house instead of the cab of the truck.

During the one year at Provan Jay pulled the bellows apart and resealed everything with a new sealant as well as rebuilding the metal support.  Hopefully this does the job, time will tell.

The second leak was in the roof.  This had been on-going from the beginning.  Each time Jay flew to Oregon he would reseal all of the holes in the roof and along the various edges where there were seams in the construction.  Despite this there was still a leak  Mark working with the company that supplies the aluminum house decided to retrofit a single piece of aluminum on the roof that covers all of the seams.  In addition the design of the roof installations was adjusted to minimize the penetrations thru the roof.  As a result we lost the decorative aluminum rails on the roof, and the wind spoiler on the front.  We agreed that it was worth it to lose the rails and spoiler to minimize the chance of leaks.  Again time will tell, though the repair looks very substantial, so I am optimistic.

The third leak developed on the last trip after two years and involved one of the windows.  It was a relatively minor leak and was repaired by pulling the window and resetting it as a fitting had worked loose.

Other Issues.   In addition to these issues there were some minor issues with internal adjustments and cabinetry that we had taken care of while Scout was there.

Upgrades.   We also added two upgrades to Scout while she was in South Carolina.  The first was a Froli bed system and lower profile mattress.  By doing this we gained a few extra inches of clearance between the bed and the ceiling.  So far we are very happy with the change.  

The second upgrade was adding an Aluminess bumper and two storage units.  This was a pricey upgrade, but we think the extra storage will be worth it on the long trip when it comes.  This storage came with only a couple of inch increase in over all length.

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