Excellent Technical Articles by Howard Lefkowitz

The following are Airstream Technical Articles written by Howard Lefkowitz, past chairman of the WBCCI Technical Committee.

Determine the SAFE TOWING CAPACITY of your tow vehicle.  Conversely you can also determine the tow vehicle ratings needed to safely tow a particular trailer configuration.  All of the proper weight considerations are discussed as well as the affects of tongue vehicle weight.  The usual causes of sway and instability are discussed with recommendations for reducing or eliminating these problems.

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A guide for the MAINTENANCE AND CARE OF YOUR AIRSTREAM.  It is written so that you can get prepared for and to assist you while on a Caravan.

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PROPER TIRE PRESSURE depends on the load carried by that tire.  This should be determined with a fully loaded RV.  The air pressure versus load charts are essentially the same for Michelin and Goodyear RV tires. Instructions for doing this, as supplied by the tire manufacturer, is presented in:

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BATTTERIES, CHARGERS, INVERTERS AND SOLAR SYSTEMS

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TROUBLESHOOTING WATER HEATERS, FURNACES, AND REFRIGERATORS  Some of the most common problems with these appliances are listed along with details of how to make repairs while on a Caravan.

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OPERATION AND TROUBLESHOOTING OF AIR CONDITIONERS, HEAT PUMPS AND HEAT STRIPS.  Some of the most common problems are listed along with details of how to make repairs.

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Special technical information for servicing CLASS A DIESEL MOTOR HOMES.

The Battery Control Center provides the circuitry for charging your engine and coach batteries for all of the operating modes (shore power, generator and engine alternator).  It is a complex unit with a number of time delays and protection schemes designed into the digital circuitry.  Several circuit breakers, relays and 18 fuse positions are used inthis box.  It is designed to always protect the engine battery in order to ensure it has sufficient power to start the motor home.  A very large solenoid switch is included (fondly referred to as the ‘Big Boy’) which couples the engine and coach batteries together for charging.  It is usually mounted on the wall in the battery compartment.

The Transfer Relay provides the A/C switch to automatically change from shore power to generator power.  It is normally in the shore power position.  When the generator output voltage is provided to the relay it switches to the generator.  This is a 50 amp rated relay which switches four contacts simultaneously.  The contacts can get burned over time and occasionally the heavy wires can work loose.  Keep the contacts clean and check the connections on a yearly basis.

The Energy Management System provides an automatic monitoring and control system for all of your A/C appliances.  It monitors the input ampere capability of your shore power source (20, 30, 50).  If you exceed the input power source it will automatically turn off appliances before you trip any circuit breakers.  Once the load is reduced the appliance will resume operation.  For example, if you are on a 30 amp circuit and your air conditioner (A-C) is running, if you turn on the microwave the air A-C will temporarily turn off.  The appliance priority (what turns off first) is selectable.

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HOW TO USE A MULTIMETER, an instrument designed to measure electric current, voltage, and usually resistance, typically over several ranges of value.

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HOW TO RUN AN OLD-FASHIONED MAINTENANCE RALLY

Examples of how to set it up and run it over a three or four-day period are presented.  Detailed charts to record the results for multiple years are included along with extensive maintenance check-off lists.  Detailed maintenance procedures are presented for getting your RV ready for the coming Camping Season.  Each member does his own work with special tools and fluids provided by the Rally Master.

Howard Lefkowitz – In Memoriam

Howard Lefkowitz
(April 16, 1932 – November 7, 2015)
 
With the passing of Howard Lefkowitz (Mid Atlantic Unit) WBCCI lost a dear friend and dedicated Airstreamer.  Howard shared his vast knowledge of Airstreams and Airstreaming with thousands of WBCCI members.  His technical seminars at International Rallies were standing-room only. No matter how large the venue, he always filled it.  He volunteered his time to help any Airstreamer with a need for advice or repairs, regardless of how small or large the problem, and formed the Technical Committee to pass on members’ experiences to other Airstreamers.

Many of us have wondered how Howard came by his exhaustive knowledge of all things Airstream.  Did he work for the company?  Spend years at Jackson Center?  Howard’s daughter Sharon helped answer those questions about her amazing father.  

“He was born in New York City then moved to Miami Florida when very young.  He graduated from University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.    Then he attended the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP ) and graduated with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.  While attending UMCP he was set up on a blind date with his soon to be wife, Zoe.  He put himself through college by becoming a television Mr. Fix It.  He was such an expert he was even flown to foreign counties to fix televisions.  After he graduated he worked for the Naval Research Lab and his work was so important he was removed from the draft.  Later he became a NASA contractor and worked his way up to the Senior Vice President position.  Because of this NASA work Howard and his wife attended the premier of the very first Star Trek movie, “Star Trek The Movie,” where he obtained Gene Roddenberry’s and Leonard Nimoy’s autographs. During this time he had two main hobbies where he again became known as a Mr. Fix It: Amateur Radio Operator (HAM) and the Porsche Club of America.  Howard also performed all maintenance on his home even converting an open-air porch into a sewing and laundry room for his wife.  As he grew older and threw all his kids out of the house (I mean sent them off to college), he left his contractor job to start his own EE Company.  During this time the first home personal computers were being introduced to the world so Howard bought one.  He became such a quick expert with the computer that Apple Computers asked him to become a dealer.  Howard started the second computer store ever in the Washington DC area, hiring family and friends to work in his store.  He was also selected as one of the initial IBM PC dealers in the US when IBM first entered the market.   His daughter still brags that she was the first person ever in the world to replace a bad hard drive as the first personal computers ever sold with hard drives were sold by Howard’s company and each one had a bad hard drive.  His employees spent one night eating pizza and drinking beer while replacing the bad hard drives.  Then Howard wanted to bring his computer salesmanship on the road so he bought his first Airstream, which he drove across the country demonstrating computers and his company’s engineering skills.  When Howard retired the Airstream became his choice of vacation.  One of the strangest hobbies picked up after he retired was bird watching and of course he became a Mr. Fix It for the local Audubon group and club house.”   

Thank you, Sharon, for sharing your thoughts at a difficult time. It seems like no matter where Howard went and whomever he touched, he gave 100% to every endeavor. When I was with Howard I always felt like I was in the presence of a sage and wise teacher, a “Yoda,” whose dedication to any task was unyielding.   As Howard might have said in his matter-of-fact way, ”Do. Or do not.  There is no try.”  Greatly missed you will be, Howard.  

Category: Airstream Tech Help Group