Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses getting schematics from RV manufacturers.
Why don’t most RV manufacturers supply hydraulic, electrical, plumbing, or framing schematics, or build plans, to an owner. I have a 2021 Bighorn Traveler 39RK. When I ask for those items all I get is, “We don’t have that.” —James
That is a very good question. It depends on the manufacturer, but there are several “reasons” they claim they do not exist. I worked at Winnebago Industries for 15 years in quality, owner relations, and 5 years as Marketing Manager. Winnebago has had all these diagram for years. However, the entire time I was there they would not allow any documents to be sent to owners. We were directed to send all inquiries for service to the dealer.
According to our legal department, it was to prevent the liability of an untrained owner working on their coach and having an accident. I did not believe that, but thought that it was a way to protect the dealer relationship and get people to go to the dealer. I’m not sure what year it started; however, all Winnebago documentation is available on line going back to mid-1990 models. They also have detailed lists of parts and part numbers that are also accessible through the website.
Other manufacturers have wiring and plumbing diagrams available but they are generally only sent to the authorized dealers.
RVIA does not cover documentation
The bigger issue is the largest majority of RVs are module built by hand and there is very little documentation or schematics, especially for trailers. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association has certain codes and inspection. However, it does not cover documentation such as wiring diagrams. Specific documentation costs money and most of these companies do not have the resources other than basic location documents. There are times we have been required to take a picture of the part or layout to send it to a technician so they could help identify it!
I did contact Heartland’s Customer Service and talked with a technician. He said they can get plumbing diagrams and very rudimentary wiring diagrams. However, the wiring ones do not show where the wire goes in a wall or ceiling exactly. They are what he called “rough pulled” and may not be in the same place or even be the same color. He did state that it is a question he has gotten asked quite often, and it basically came down to the lack of manpower to initiate it.
More companies have schematics available
As technology advances and more computerized design is becoming affordable and used more often, I do see more companies documenting these items and having the schematics available. Whether they choose to send them to owners is another question, as most manufacturers want owners to go to the dealer. Not always a great option, in my opinion, especially when it takes so long these days to even get scheduled.
Here is a classic example: An editor at RVtravel.com is installing a new Lithium battery in a 2011 Winnebago Adventurer and needed to know if the inverter and converter were compatible. I went to the website, found the model and year, and found the location of both and part numbers. We were able to verify the converter did not have a bulk charge that would throw over 15 volts to the batteries and ruin them. These Lithium batteries are rated at a max of 14.6 volts and the converter does a max of 14.2 volts, so they are compatible.
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