Mar 012010

Saturday night when we got ready to take our showers, we discovered that we had no hot water. Because we are on 20 amp electric here at the Yuma Fairgrounds, we’ve been running the water heater on propane, so my first thought was that we had run out of propane gas. I went outside and checked the tank, because I learned long ago to never trust the idiot lights on RV control panels. But according to the gauge, we had over half a tank.

Burned water heater wires webThat led me to the second possible cause of the problem, which I had suspected all along. I opened the cover to our Atwood water heater compartment, and sure enough, discovered several charred wires.

This had happened last October at Elkhart Campground on a very windy day. Apparently the wind had blown the flame from the water heater upward and it fried some wires, which caused the thermal cut-off to short out. That time, it was an easy fix to replace the thermal cut-off, which came two to a package. (Apparently, they fail on a regular basis.)

Saturday had been a very windy day here in Yuma, and apparently the same thing had happened again. This time around I replaced the bad wires and the cut-off, and rerouted the wires to the top of the water heater compartment, hopefully away from the burner, and secured them in place. That solved the problem, and we now have hot water again! I wonder if this is a flaw with all Winnebago motorhomes with the Atwood water heaters, or just something in our particular coach.

I’m not sure which is scarier, the fact that the water heater can apparently flame up like that, or me actually knowing how to diagnose and repair something!

I have had quite a few e-mails from readers wondering how our encounter with the armed burglar has affected us emotionally now that it’s been about three months. They ask if we are now uncomfortable boondocking in out of the way places, or if we now feel paranoid about the same thing happening again.

To be honest, I think that while the incident has caused us to be more aware of things, I don’t think we have changed our lifestyle at all, except for the fact that I never leave home without a “personal protection device.” I never again want to find myself facing a thug with a gun, empty handed.

While inside our motorhome, I feel totally secure. It’s pretty hard to break into one of these things undetected, and I am a very light sleeper, so I have no doubt that I’d be up and waiting to greet anybody who tried to get in while we were inside the RV. I think we both feel a little bit of apprehension when we are away from the coach and return after dark. It reminds us of what happened.

But you have to keep in mind that we had well over ten years of fulltiming behind us before this incident happened, and we could well go another ten or twenty years before anything happened again, if ever. Then again, it could happen tonight. But we refuse to live our lives in fear of what might happen someday. We prepare for the worst, but expect the best.

Our friends Joe and Vicki Kieva have a brand new book out, Personal Security Tips For RVers, which combines their Kieva book45 years of RVing experience with Joe’s law enforcement and security management background, to present a practical and useful look at safeguarding yourself, your home, and your RV while you are on the road. It’s an excellent guide, packed with common sense and real world experience.

The Kieva’s book covers everything from how to respond to a criminal confrontation, whether or not to carry a firearm in your RV, important documents to have in your RV, suggestions for creating an Emergency Notification Card for your wallet, and advice on how to obtain medical care while traveling.

You’ll probably never have a problem like we did, but accidents,mechanical breakdowns, bad weather, and illness can disrupt any RV outing. It’s always better to be prepared ahead of time. Personal Security Tips For RVers is a valuable first step in being prepared. You can order a copy of the paperback book at, or download it as an E-book for immediate reading at

Joe and Vicki will be presenting their excellent seminar on Personal Security at our Western Gypsy Gathering rally next week, and I plan to be sitting in the front row. I’ll save you a seat next to me.

Thought For The Day – The true traveler is without goal. It is the absence of goals which creates the ultimate traveler.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  2 Responses to “A Water Heater Fix”

  1. Hi Nick, I thought there was a Seminar to be given at your Rally on obtaining a concealed weapons permit for several states,,,,,,,,I don’t see it listed anywhere. I remember going to his web site and he had some neat stuff I wanted to see, did he cancel out?

    Also have you published anything on how to find the fairgrounds? We will be coming in from QZ on 95.

    See ya soon…..Those near fires are about as scarey as the burglary!! I remember the one you had at the Rally in Casa Grande a few years ago…..Close Call!!!

  2. Wow how scary is that… We have a Winnebago/Itasca so it really concerns me… Fire scares me more then anything!!! I would think that is worthy of a recall… what say you? Have a great day & travel safe.

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