Monday, December 18, 2017

DEF Usage

Winnebago Fuse / Ford Transit Information screen

One of the things I do as I drive the Fuse is to check the Transit Information Messages when we start out in the morning.  I also check it after I fill up with diesel.   As we were coming home from our latest trip to Disney, I checked the info screen and I saw the "DEF level under 1/2 full" message.    No panic, but since we were only a couple hundred miles from the house I put "add DEF to the Fuse" on my to do list.

If you are interested in what DEF is or how to add it to your Fuse, I wrote an article on adding DEF a while back.  But basically it is a fluid that is used by the diesel engine for emissions treatment.

A number of new diesel owners get nervous about DEF and ask numerous questions.  To put people at ease, here are some of my observations after 15,000+miles on my Fuse.

Winnebago Fuse / Ford Transit Add DEF Screen

I only add DEF to the DEF tank when the Fuse tells me to.   I do it when the Information screen says "DEF Level under 1/2 full".

When I see this in the info screen I add a 2.5 gallon container to the DEF tank.  The DEF tank holds 5.5 gallons so this is about perfect.

Supertech DEF

Walmart sells DEF in a 2.5 gallon container with a fill nozzle.  This meets the SAE requirements so everything is good and it costs less than $10.00.  But DEF is DEF like diesel is diesel so use the DEF you are comfortable with.

I do not carry extra DEF in the FUSE.  DEF goes bad over time (several years) and the heat in Florida makes the breakdown go faster.  I buy fresh when I need it.  You can find DEF almost everywhere.  Given the preponderance of big diesel trucks in rural areas it is easier to find out in the boonies than in big cities.  You can find it at truck stops, Walmarts, auto parts stores and most any gas stations that have diesel fuel.  Just get some that is fresh.   Truck stops have DEF pumps if you want to go that route.

Winnebago Fuse / Ford Transit DEF Fill

The big question is how often do you have to add more DEF to the Fuse?  Well in 15,000 miles I have added DEF 4 times.   I added within a couple hundred miles of seeing the DEF message.  I added at:

  • 4,083 miles
  • 7,728 miles
  • 11,856 miles 
  • 15,358 miles
So roughly I added 2.5 gallons every 4,000 miles.   Make sure to use the info center and not what I just told you.  The engine will need different amounts of DEF depending on conditions just like with fuel.

Winnebago Fuse / Ford Transit DEF Level Okay

And once you add the DEF.  Wait a couple on minutes.  You get a different message.  DEF level Okay.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

New Steps for an Aging Beagle


Lily the Beagle

Lily and I have a special relationship.  I say she is my baby now that the twins are 24 years old.  Don and the twins say we are co-dependent.  They are probably correct. We have had her 5 1/2 years.  I worked from home until I retired last year, so we spend most of our time together (and yes she sleeps with me, even in the 23A).  At 9 1/2 years old she is turning gray and starting to show other signs of being an old lady.  I spoil her just like I did the kids when they were little.

This summer, she got too frisky and tore the ligaments in her hind leg.  Major surgery was required which would include a hospital stay, four weeks of kennel confinement and then four more weeks of no jumping or climbing.  Sessions of aqua therapy would start after week four.  Well, that is the normal plan.  I agreed to the surgery, but the after care wasn’t going to work.  The doctor just stared at me for a moment - Don sat quietly knowing I was dead serious. After explaining her previous experience in a kennel in their office where she howled/barked for the hour while they observed her (and she was under some sedation), he agreed they would keep her only as long as possible.

So, Lily came home 30 minutes after her surgery was completed.  For the next four weeks one of us (mainly me) stayed by her side on a twin size mattress on the floor of the master bedroom.  The only time she left the mattress was to go potty. For the second four weeks she was allowed to walk around the house and sit on the couch with us, but had to be watched carefully as she felt better and would try jumping.

Week eight was over just in time for our trip to Fort Collins, Colorado.  Lily was good to go except she didn’t need to be jumping.  (Her preferred method is jumping on the couch, then onto the driver side bed, then over to the other bed.)  So, for this trip we packed the foam steps that we have for her to use in our bedroom at home. They served their purpose, but man were they bulky.  She’d need a better set for our next trip.

To Amazon I go and find a set of foldable steps that are 28 inches tall.  This is important so the top step is at the top of the bed cabinet.  The step fits between the foot of the driver side bed and the couch, this keeps it from sliding and leaves half of the bottom step clear for Lily to use. It also keeps the stairs out of the walkway.  Although you can only open the refrigerator door part way without moving the stairs, it opens wide enough for us to get most of what we need the majority of the time.  We are currently trying to decide the best place to store the steps while driving. So far we have just laid them on top of the bed or stowed them in them shower.

How does Lily like her new stairs?  Well, she apparently doesn’t like me referring to her as an old lady that needs stairs.  On our recent trip to Disney World, the first day she refused to use them and literally jumped over them.  But after several long walks the second day, she started feeling the old joints and started climbing the stairs into the coach and up onto the bed.  By the end of the trip we knew they were going going to be a permanent fixture.

Here’s what we bought:

PetSafe Solvit PupSTEP Plus Pet Stairs, X-Large, Foldable Steps for Dogs and Cats, Best for Medium to Large Pets

Winnebago Fuse PetSafe Stairs

Winnebago Fuse PetSafe Stairs

Friday, December 15, 2017

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse Review

2018 Winnebago Fuse 23T

I was able to take a look at the new 2018.5 Winnebago Fuse.  Both the 23A and 23T versions.   They were debuted at the RVIA show in Louisville and then moved down to LazyDays RV in Tampa for the SuperShow happening at the Florida State Fairgrounds in early January.

First things first.  If you have never been to LazyDays in Tampa, go!  They have a stellar facility and it is an experience just to visit.

Now for my perspective.  I have a 2017 Fuse 23A.  A very early 2017 23A, one of the first.  I am going to wind up comparing the 2018.5 to my 2017.   There have been changes in the 2017.5 and 2018 models, but from what I have seen they were mostly refinements.  The 2018.5 makes serious changes to an already good motorhome.  If some of these changes were on the 17.5 or 18 forgive me for pointing them out.


2018.5 Winnebago Fuse

The first thing I noticed looking at the 2018.5 Fuse is the color.  It is now a Dark Grey and White.  The pattern is called Winter Gray.  Color is a personal thing.  I don't discuss color much, but it looks reasonably sharp.

As I walked around the unit I saw several differences:

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse hatch

On the 23A the passenger side access panel for the batteries and LP have been combined into one long access panel.   I like this better.  The larger opening makes it much easier to get to the LP and batteries.  You no longer have to navigate through the 2 small access hatches.  I am sure it also makes the manufacturing process easier.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse battery compartment 23a
Group 24 Batteries - Fuse 24A
2018.5 Winnebago Fuse battery compartment 23T
Group 31 Batteries - Fuse 23T
The battery bracket inside the hatch also appears to be new.  It is designed to hold 2 batteries (Winnebago has made 2 batteries standard now) just like the last bracket.   The new part is that is is sized to hold Group 24, Group 27 or Group 31 batteries.  With AGM group 31 batteries you can have 250 amp hours of capacity if you choose.  They are shipping standard wth group 24 wet cell batteries for 160 amp hours of storage.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse zamp solar controller

Speaking of power, the Fuse also comes with 200w of solar now.  Still uses the same Zamp solar controller which is a nice controller.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23a storage compartment2018.5 Winnebago Fuse winter flush

On the 23A and T the winterization valves and the slide controller (both located in the upper rear storage bay on the 23A) are now well labeled.  Making things easily identifiable is one thing I really appreciate since it helps with all of the general maintenance tasks.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse bike rack 12018.5 Winnebago Fuse bike rack 2

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse bike rack 32018.5 Winnebago Fuse bike rack 4

The bike rack is new.  It is a summit bike rack that was discussed on this post.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse license tag

The license plate holder has been moved up from the bumper and is much better illuminated.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse black tank flush

The black tank flush and city water connections have been moved up some and the black tank flush is now on top.  This is good since on my fuse the septic system cover can not be locked open when you have a hose connected to the black tank flush.
2018.5 Winnebago Fuse slope

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse rear slope 12018.5 Winnebago Fuse rear slope 2

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse rear slope 32018.5 Winnebago Fuse rear slope 4

The biggest change on the exterior is that Winnebago sloped off the rear end.  This is a big, big deal.  The Fuse is a low rider.  One of the reasons I like my Fuse is that it is close to the ground and easy to get in and out of.  Well several of us have managed to scrap our rear ends going up steep driveways or getting onto crowned roads.   Well Winnebago sloped up the rear end.  Starting from about 4 feet from the rear, Winnebago sloped the rear end up 2".  On the 23A that means it goes from a 12" clearance to a 14" clearance at the rear bumper.  On the 23T it went from 11" to 13".  A good improvement.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse stair height

The stairs have also been a point of concern as they are low as well.   In this picture of the 23A stairs you can see the body is at 11".

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse aluminum wheels

Both units I saw had the optional aluminum wheels.  In addition to just looking nice, since they do not use the wheel simulators that the standard Fuse has, checking the air on the outside tires should be much easier.

The floorpans are the same.  I have not noticed any changes.

One of the main changes to Fuse for 2018.5 is a new compressor refrigerator.   They are different units on the 23A and 23T, but both are from Nova Kool.   On the 23A it is the model RFU6209 DC.  On the 23T it is the model DE0061R.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T refrigerator2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T refrigerator control

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T freezer2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T refrigerator open

The model DE0061R on the 23T looks like a normal everyday refrigerator.  Freezer on top, refrigerator on bottom.  It runs on 12 or 110v automatically switching as necessary.  It is nice and large

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23A refrigerator

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23A refrigerator open2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23A freezer

The Fuse 23A has a Nova Kool model RFU6209 DC.   This one appears to be 12v only.  Not sure this really matters since if you are plugged into 110v current, the converter in the Fuse will convert to 12v anyhow simplifying everything.   The different thing about this refrigerator is that the freezer is on bottom instead of on top.  Why would Winnebago do this?  Easy, with the 23A drivers side bed extension out for a tall person the refrigerator door is blocked.  By putting the freezer on bottom, the bed can be made out and you can still have access to the refrigerator.   A pretty decent design tradeoff if you ask me.

Why is a compressor refrigerator such a big deal? Well a compressor refrigerator is the same type as you have at your house.  Most RV refrigerators, including the ones in previous Fuses are absorption refrigerators.  They can be powered by electricity or LP gas which is a big plus.  They use ammonia as the refrigerant and have to be level to operate. If you are not reasonably level they will not work and eventually will break. The compressor refrigerator can operate at pretty much any angle but they only work off of electricity.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse inverter control

Another thing that is now available on both Fuse models is an inverter. It is a 1000w Magnum pure sine wave inverter.  The plugs next to the TVs are connected to the inverter in addition to a separate plug next to the bed(s).

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse usb plug2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 12v plug

Another feature that Winnebago has added is 12v outlets next to each of the USB outlets.  This is a nice feature especially if you have a CPAP machine or have other devices that will work off of a cigarette lighter plug.  You could even recharge your laptop without having to use the inverter (not the most efficient way) or turning on the generator (even less efficient).

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse bathroom fan2018.5 Winnebago Fuse bathroom fan blades

The exhaust fan in the bathroom appears to be slightly different. It is probably just a newer model but it was quieter than mine.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse Window panel

One other point of confusion I will clarify is the privacy shades/panels for the cab windows.  The new brochure called them shades.  All Winnebago did was change the description.  They are still the same panels that have been supplied since the first Fuse.  I found them in the closet and they were definitely the same as mine.

Friday, December 1, 2017

2018.5 Changes in the New Brochure

Winnebago Fuse 23T - 2018.5 Marketing photo

The marketing materials for the 2018.5 Fuse are now out on the Winnebago web site now.  The link is

Here are the changes readily apparent from the brochure:

Fuse Compressor RefrigeratorFuse Compressor Freezer
  • Compressor Refrigerator from Nova-Cool 5.5 cu ft.  Changed from a 5.3 cu ft absorption refrigerator
  • 200w solar standard  from Zamp  - 2 panels 
  • 2  batteries standard  (still wet cell - group 24)
  • Optional 1,000w inverter
  • LED ground-effect lighting on cab steps
  • Cab Window Blinds as opposed to Privacy Panels 

Winnebago Fuse Angled rear end
  • The rear end has been angled off by 2 inches
Winnebago Fuse Aluminum Wheels

  • Optional Aluminum Wheels
  • Colors have changed slightly
    • Glazed Kona wood has been added.  Washed Maple is not listed
    • Spark and Element are the two interior color palettes.  Jumper and Blueprint are not listed
    • Body Paint is now Winter Gray.  It appears a little darker than the Magnetic color on the 2017 Fuse
So how can I tell if I am looking at a 2018 vs a 2018.5 model?  There is a X2 in the serial number vs an X1 and it has all of these changes.