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Old 04-08-2012, 01:42 PM   #1
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Default 2003 T-139 questions

I just bought a 2003 T-139 Shadow Cruiser and we are thrilled. It is our first camper and we can't wait to use it. I have some questions and I'm sure I'll have more.

1. Does anyone know if there is a battery disconnect? I've looked every where and I can't find one. It didn't come with battery and I'm not sure what kind to buy and how to care for it. Can I leave it in the camper when in storage or will the florida heat damage it (It's in a sealed box inside the camper)? Should I keep it charged when not in use?

2. There is a small soft spot on the floor, rear passenger corner inside the closet right at the corner, about 4 inches. I'm not real concerned about it because I'm going to keep it covered when not in use but is there anything I coud do to mitigate future damage other than making sure the outer shell is sealded well?

3. Refrigerator doesn't work, with electric anyways, haven't tried gas yet. I opened the outer panels and the pipes are hot, which I think to mean the compressor is working at that it has freon in it, or am I incorrect in that thinking.

4. Can anyone tell me step by step and/or provide photos on the process of lowering and raising the awning?

I'm sure I'll think of more but I'll leave it at that for now. I appreciate any help you all can provide. Thanks.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:21 PM   #2
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We had the same unit. There was no battery disconnect on mine -- I installed one. The soft floor is a concern -- go under the trailer and make sure that the plywood is not rotted out. If it is, you have a leak somewhere. Sigh.

The awning depends on which model you have. We had a Carefree of Colorado awning. Here was our open and close instruction list:

Open Awning:

Close door and get wand.

1. Press detent on both arm locks and swing latches up.
2. Loosen black star wheels.
3. Push up on locking pawl on forward arm. Put loop end of wand over brake lever and push lever up to "open" position.
4. Pull awning out all the way. Then make sure that brake lever bracket is all the way in the "open" position, so that awning stays open.
5. Slide arm braces all the way to the end of the track until aluminum clips poke into holes.
6. Tighten black star wheels.
7. Loosen knurled knob on flap catcher and rotate split end toward awning. Trap awning and tighten knob.
8. Undo lock and push up on lock handle to slide support arms up and out. Hold as high on the on arm as possible. Donít pull so high that track uncouples. Close lock into last hole.

Close Awning:

1. Close door and window and get wand.
2. Slide support arms all the way down and re-lock.
3. Loosen knurled knob and retract flap catcher.
4. Loosen star knobs. Release aluminum clips at top of arm braces and slide arm braces all the way back toward the trailer. If necessary, lift up on the lower part of each arm brace. Don't tighten star knobs yet.
5. Engage wand and hook it into hole on brake lever bracket. Pull down to move brake lever into "close" position.
6. Tug gently on awning strap to begin rollup. Roll the roller by hand to get it started, if necessary. Engage wand. Do not let it snap into place.
7. Lock the arm locks and tighten the black star knobs.
8. Make sure that both arms are really locked. On the forward arm, press down on additional locking pawl. Align outer channel with inner arm.

Hope this helps! The awnings on the 2012 models are a lot easier than the old ones.


Don't know what is up with your fridge. Ours worked only on gas -- we think the control panel was busted. But it worked great on gas -- used almost no gas -- worked at high altitudes, silently.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:25 AM   #3
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Your refrigerator doesn't have a compressor or freon. It uses an ammonia/water mixture that needs to be heated either from an electric heater on 120V power or from a gas burner.

If you don't have a manual for it, you should be able to get one on online somewhere. The most common brand is Dometic, but there are others like Norcold. The model # & brand should be marked inside the fridge somewhere.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:46 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info. It turns out the fridge is working after all, it just took a long time to get cold and I had it on the lowest setting. Not sure if there's a problem or if that's just how these are but I'm happy..

Another thing I'm confused about is the fresh water system and water heater. Is the heater gas or electric? Is the a power switch? And is there some sort of bypass valve for if you are hooked up to a water supply? If you are hooked up to a supply, I assume you don't need to turn on the water pump, correct? Sorry for so many rookie questions. Would've been so much easier if this thing came with a manual, and I have so far been unable to locate one on line.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:39 PM   #5
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Default Water heater and water supply

The water heater is gas -- on that model, it should have a pilot light -- open the panel on the left side of the trailer -- the instructions should be on the inside of the panel door -- make sure that you use an air compressor to blow the crud out of the gas orifice if it has been sitting for a long time -- spiders build nests in there and you can get a flare-up -- don't ask me how I learned that.

The pilot is "old school" and I like it better than electronic ignition, which is what I have on my shiny new X-139. The electronics work great, but if it ever breaks, I can't fix it myself.

And yes, if you hook up a hose to the "city" inlet on the left side, it will bypass the pump. No need to turn the pump on at all, when you are in an RV park.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:56 PM   #6
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Thanks again. Don't know what I'd do without you. One more question if you don't mind. Does this unit have brakes? I have to get the electric connector installed on my tow vehicle and that was the first thing the guy asked me. I think I read that it does have them. I assume this means an additional wire to run to the harness. And then I read somewhere that they will install some sort of control box to adjust the brakes I guess.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:52 AM   #7
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Not familiar with the 139 but I would think so. Just take a look at the electric connector. If it has brakes it will have a roun 7 wire plug.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:15 AM   #8
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Default Yes, T139 has electric brakes

It does have brakes -- it is a good idea to get them serviced every year, along with bearings. Some folks do that themselves. I don't, although I do a lot of other maintenance myself. You can take the trailer to a dealer. I take mine to my local car mechanic, who also knows how to service trailers. But ask around for a local person -- it is often much cheaper than taking it to a dealer.

And yes, you will need a brake controller. Your tow vehicle has to be modified to accept the controller. Not difficult, not expensive, but not a job for an amateur.

Finally, although the trailer has brakes, they are tiny and weak. Do not count on them for doing anything other than straightening out the trailer when it is trying to pass you! (Joke.) Seriously -- rely on your tow vehicle's transmission and brakes to slow you down. A panic stop with a trailer often leads to more panic. (Not a joke.)
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:42 PM   #9
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Great advice. Thanks a lot!
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:27 AM   #10
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OK, one more thing Professor. It has a vented battery box but came with no battery. There are only 2 wires coming into the box, 1 red and 1 white. Is this right? I would think you would need wires coming from the charging source (tow vehicle) then wires going to power lights, etc. And there is a hole in the bottom of the battery box open to the outside. Is this just for positive ventilation? Currently there is a daddy long legs who has made the box his home.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:07 PM   #11
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Default Yes -- two wires

The red is positive and the white negative. The charger/converter charges the battery through those wires.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:21 PM   #12
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The 7 pin cable from your trailer starts out in a "distribution" box. Follow the cable from the tip back up to your trailer and where it enters the trailer, you should find a black plastic cover or the distribution connections will occur behind the converter. If you pull that cover, you'll find the "distribution" point. The brake wire from the seven pin cable will connect to the heavy gauge brake wire and go back out to the axle(s) and from there to the brake assembly on each wheel. The lighting wire (parking and clearance lamps) will connect to a wire for those lights (usually brown), the brake lamps and turn signals (usually yellow and green), the hot line for charging through the converter (usually black), etc.

As has already been mentioned, the white line in your trailer (anywhere in your trailer) is a ground line. "Hot" (12v) will, by convention in newer trailers, be black, but, in older trailers can be black or red...

Any trailer, in most states, over 3,000 lbs gross vehicle weight, is required to have brakes and an installed and functioning "break away" emergency activation system (a cable and a pull pin usually mounted on the tongue with the cable attached to the tow vehicle). Properly adjusted brakes on a trailer will lock the brakes up when applied with the full voltage/amperage available from a fully charged battery and you are required, by law, to tow only with said system operational (you have to have the battery installed in order to tow the trailer; you never should have been allowed to hook and tow the trailer home without a battery and brake controller already installed ). A properly adjusted brake system, will lock your trailer's tires...if they don't you need to have the brakes adjusted. One of the first things you have to do with a new brake controller or after brake work is to adjust the brake controller to not lock up the trailer's brakes. This is done by driving the trailer up to a speed of ~25 mph and using the manual activation lever, attempt to lock up the brakes. If they lock up at 25 mph, ease the gain setting down a bit, if they don't even slow the vehicle down, ease the gain setting up. Continue doing this until the brakes are just shy of locking up the trailer's tires. The brakes, can and will, actually slow your vehicle down when applied; you'll be able to feel the drag from the back. Utilizing the manual lever on my truck, even with the truck weighing 9600 lbs and the 5th wheel at 10,900 lbs, I can slow the whole thing to a dead stop without ever touching the truck's brakes. If you can't bring your rig to a stop using nothing but the trailer's brakes activated by the brake controller's manual lever, you need to have the system checked. You may need to have the shoes adjusted, new shoes, or you could have corroded or shorted connections that is blocking adequate amperage from activating the magnet pucks in the brakes.

As has already been mentioned, I, too, don't believe that your particular trailer, in 2003 had a battery disconnect switch. If it did, it would most likely be mounted in that "distribution" box I described early. I think, that it wasn't until 2006 that some of the models had disconnects and I don't think it was until 2008 that all of them or most of them, came equipped with them. You can always install one yourself, or just pull the battery wires off the battery when in storage mode. If you are going to let it sit for 6 weeks or more, I would recommend pulling the battery and taking it somewhere that you can put a maintenance charger on it. There are many things in your trailer that will drain your battery even though they appear off (your LP leak detector is a big drain and they don't have on/off switches). When you store it over winter, I definitely recommend pulling it and storing it in a warmer environment and using the battery maintainer. I've always stored my trailers at my house and have an installed 30 amp RV power panel that I leave my trailer hooked to, but, most don't have that luxury; best to pull the battery and be sure. The hole in your battery box's base is more for drainage than ventilation, however, it does serve for that too. Lead acid batteries are known to leak and even freeze in severe weather when being stored with a low charge ( a low charge will cause freezing more rapidly than a fully charged battery) and the last thing you want is to have a battery case full of sulfuric acid the hole lets any of that acid drain out and you can then flush the case with a garden hose without having to worry about acid burns.



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Old 04-19-2012, 12:23 AM   #13
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Great info. Thanks. So, if I keep the trailer at my house and can leave it plugged in to a regular 120v outlet with an adapter, that's ok for the battery? I live in central Florida so don't have to worry about real cold weather usually. Or should I disconnect it when not in use and get some sort of maintenance charger?

And back to the water heater. I thought I saw somewhere that the water heater can only be used if you fill the fresh water tank. If I have a direct fresh water hook up, can I not get hot water? Sorry again if that's a dumb question.
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:23 AM   #14
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I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't leave the battery charging via the trailer converter/charger indefinitely as you can overcharge it. (Others may correct me if I'm wrong here.) So if you're going to leave it for more than a week or two you should probably get the trickle charger.

You don't need to fill the fresh water tank if you're hooked up to fresh water to use the water heater.
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:26 PM   #15
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What LJAZ says... If it is only 2 or 3 weeks, then the converter would be OK (trailer plugged into 120v at the house), but, any longer than that and you run the risk of "cooking" your battery. Most of the low to mid priced converters aren't really designed to maintain a battery long term...they don't have a well controlled trickle charge output and can actually cause more damage, long term, than just disconnecting the battery and letting it sit. Some of the newer 3 stage converters do a much better job, but, even in my 5th wheel, long term storage means disconnecting the battery and hooking up a "maintainer" which is the best choice for long term battery storage and conditioning. I use the BatteryMinder Pro around the farm here on everything; John Deere tractor, ATVs, lawn equipment, generators, antique cars...if it has a battery in it and it sits for more than 2 weeks, it has a BatteryMinder connected. Most of them have it connected as soon as I put it away for the day even if I'm going to use the device again tomorrow. They have a well maintained trickle charge circuit and will periodically "pulse" the charge in order to de-sulfate the plates. The battery in my diesel John Deere tractor is 11 years old, I haven't started it since year before last, but, have no doubt that if I go out there right now, the tractor will start. There are other brands now, but, 30 years ago they were the original and best and I've got about 14 of them in use around here now.

As LJAZ mentioned, your water heater will work just fine whether supplied by your pump or the shore water connection. As long as you supply it with 12v for the control board (either from the battery or shore power via the converter) and LP gas for the flame, it will heat your water. Your heater may or may not have the ability to use electric also (120v) provided by shore power instead of the LP gas, but, there is "risk" inherent in using it. The 120 volt heating element must be immersed in water (the water heater tank has to be full) or it will burn up in a matter of seconds if 120 volts is applied to it in a dry tank. Most heater tanks are set up to use the 120 element as a "secondary" source and the on/off switch for the element is usually located behind a lot of wires and pipes on the outside of the water heater behind the access panel on the outside of the trailer. Personally, I never use mine on electric. I've never had an issue with using just the propane, the gas usage is minimal and the recovery for two people is adequate.

Here's a "basic" RV water system diagram showing, generically, how everything is hooked up. Larger trailers, like my 5th wheel, may have multiple gray water tanks, but, the basic plumbing is the same...



The one way valve shown between the fresh water tank and the water pump has largely been supplanted by one way valves or back-flow devices built into the water pump. The water pump, itself, prevents a reverse flow back to the fresh water tank when hooked up to shore water via a water hose. What is usually found in its place is the antifreeze suction valve and hose:



The antifreeze bypass valve is an "either/or" valve...when pointed at the tank, the pump will draw fresh water and pump it through the trailer, when the valve handle is moved to point at the short hose that goes into the jug of antifreeze, the pump will draw antifreeze from the jug and pump it through the trailer's pipes to prevent freeze damage. In conjunction with the antifreeze valve, you will have and need to use, a bypass system to prevent filling your water heater's tank.

Here's a two valve type of bypass:



That version only has one "manual" valve the must be closed; it has an automatic "one-way" valve installed in the hot water outlet to prevent reverse flow into the tank.

Another popular style of bypass is the all manual three valve type:



No "automatic" valves in the above style, but, I, personally, prefer the manual 3 valve type...automatic valves have been known to fail and not function properly, while the manual type, if you remember which way the handles go, is almost bullet proof.

Hope the above, along with LJAZ's sage advice helps you to begin to get a handle on the "basics" of RVing. Lots of stuff to learn, nobody "knows it all" (unfortunately, not even the RV technicians), so there aren't any "dumb questions" except the ones that aren't asked



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Old 04-19-2012, 12:52 PM   #16
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I can't thank you all enough for the great info.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:46 AM   #17
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Default Brakes are locked up and weak hot water pressure

I have a 2007 x139 trailer. I am a first time trailer owner. Can Anybody give me some input on this problem?
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Old 07-18-2014, 09:49 PM   #18
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CNG -- what problem??
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:02 PM   #19
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brakes, make sure the safety break isn't activated
water pressure, be sure bypass isn't cracked open , filter clogged?
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