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Old 04-06-2019, 04:23 PM   #1
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Default Has anyone converted RoadTrek Zion from Girard to traditional water heater?

Hello all - I bought a used Zion the other week. Hot water tested ok at dealership, worked for one shower. Last week started getting E7 code. After calling, Girard said I need a new control module (convenient how that chose to fail right after I picked it up!). However, due to the fragile nature of the part, it is not returnable if it doesn't fix it. The part is $195 + shipping. Or I could get a whole new heater (the current one is a bit rusty - at least I would have a complete unit) for $470ish from pplmotorhomes.com.

Now, I've seen a blog where someone converted from the Girard GSWH-2 to the Truma Comfort. However that heater is $1,100, and I am not sure there are any installers in the area who I could trust to not botch it up.

In the meantime, I am just going to use a portable instant shower (wishing more and more I had just converted my own van... smh). But I am curious, has anyone converted from the Girard to a traditional water heater? I don't think there's enough room, unless there is some special model? I don't want more issues down the road. I know a regular water heater will always have so many gallons ready to go, also, better for dry camping. Plus I can heat it off the engine alternator/generator using AC current if needed and not be limited to propane.
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Old 04-07-2019, 03:05 PM   #2
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I can't speak for the posters' honesty, but with the unpopularity of the Girard, there have been reports of Zion owners replacing it with the more dependable Suburban. They suggested that it was an easy switch. Definitely the Truma Combi (the best one of their models) will not fit as one dependable poster reported that they couldn't do it at the factory, so she got a different Truma, and she didn't feel that she got that much improvement.

When I ordered my Simplicity SRT last year, they were just switching over to the Girard on my model and I had my salesman call and ask if I could please please please have the Suburban. I figured that they must have a few lurking in the inventory.
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Old 04-08-2019, 01:16 AM   #3
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The solenoid valve may be stuck. It needs tapped with a ball peen hammer on the top. They are known to stick. I tried to research for a post and picture, but unable to locate. I had same problem after non use or extended period. I believe the valve controls the gas and if stuck, no gas to unit.
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Old 04-08-2019, 06:13 PM   #4
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I can't speak for the posters' honesty, but with the unpopularity of the Girard, there have been reports of Zion owners replacing it with the more dependable Suburban. They suggested that it was an easy switch. Definitely the Truma Combi (the best one of their models) will not fit as one dependable poster reported that they couldn't do it at the factory, so she got a different Truma, and she didn't feel that she got that much improvement.

When I ordered my Simplicity SRT last year, they were just switching over to the Girard on my model and I had my salesman call and ask if I could please please please have the Suburban. I figured that they must have a few lurking in the inventory.
Thanks, I will have to look more for that model that will fit. A basic Suburban with dual propane/electric seems to make much more sense! I could actually not even use the propane, and get the water fully hot just by driving with the inverter on for 30 minutes. And then have all the hot water I need for a short navy shower without wasting all that water that the Girard likes to do. (not just while waiting for it to re-heat, but also to keep the flow high enough to keep it on... uggh, what a dumb choice for a class B... only makes sense when fully hooked up! But who is going to take a 20 minute shower in such a tiny shower anyway...)
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Originally Posted by aturner1973 View Post
The solenoid valve may be stuck. It needs tapped with a ball peen hammer on the top. They are known to stick. I tried to research for a post and picture, but unable to locate. I had same problem after non use or extended period. I believe the valve controls the gas and if stuck, no gas to unit.
I did try hitting the two humps on the left hand side with a pair of pliers, I got to hitting it pretty hard. When I told the Girard tech support I had read about this online a few times, they told me "don't believe anything you read online". To be honest, if it's the control board that is bad - why on earth would I want to pay half the price of a new heater to replace it, if it might go bad again within a year? The unit is only a year or two old! It would make sense that it just got stuck though. Maybe I will try hitting it harder especially if I plan on replacing the whole thing anyway.
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Old 04-09-2019, 05:50 AM   #5
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And then have all the hot water I need for a short navy shower without wasting all that water that the Girard likes to do. (not just while waiting for it to re-heat, but also to keep the flow high enough to keep it on... uggh, what a dumb choice for a class B... only makes sense when fully hooked up! But who is going to take a 20 minute shower in such a tiny shower anyway...)
This is the big beef with the Girard... wasting so much water to try to take even a super short shower. Especially an issue with the limited gray tank on the Zion and Simplicity. (that is supposed to be 22 gal... but most are lucky to get 15 even with the vent fix)
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Old 04-09-2019, 07:09 PM   #6
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This is the big beef with the Girard... wasting so much water to try to take even a super short shower. Especially an issue with the limited gray tank on the Zion and Simplicity. (that is supposed to be 22 gal... but most are lucky to get 15 even with the vent fix)
Uggh, that was the next thing I was wondering about! So that is why my shower has gray water coming back up sometimes when driving, even when I haven't even used more than a gallon of water on what is supposedly an empty gray tank? Man this really sucks. Glad you mentioned it, I didn't realize this was a known issue... I will have to research that too. And still only 15 usable after the "fix"? I guess I might as well buy TWO 7-gallon jugs, the portable water heater, and either a bailer or a small pump... then plug the shower, run the pump, and just collect my own gray water too. This really annoys me because, other than insulation and heating/AC, the ability to shower is the biggest reason to buy a pre-made class B! But now it seems it will be all done the same as if it was a custom build without any real plumbing.
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Old 04-10-2019, 03:33 PM   #7
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Because of the location of the shower, tank, and the fact that the Promaster front is lower than the rear, one should always drive with the plug in the shower. It keeps the water from splashing up into the shower.

I "think" that the last couple years, the rigs shipped with the "fix." Your next step is to do a test to learn your capacity. Totally empty the tank (may need to raise one corner of the front (I haven't done this... so have only read about it... driver side I think). Then dump one gallon at a time into the tank using a sink... kitchen is probably most convenient. See how many gallons you get. Most get 15-18 after the vent fix. Some never got over 12.

If you join the Zion and Simplicity Owners page on Facebook, you will find lots of people who have worked on this one. There have also been photos of what the fix looks like and where to find it.

BTW, the problem is caused by the fact that it is a VERY oddly shaped tank and there is no way that it could possibly be filled to its 22 gallon advertised capacity. Although RT was repeated informed and were well aware, they never bothered to correct the data in the brochure or on the website.
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Old 04-10-2019, 04:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mumkin View Post
Because of the location of the shower, tank, and the fact that the Promaster front is lower than the rear, one should always drive with the plug in the shower. It keeps the water from splashing up into the shower.

I "think" that the last couple years, the rigs shipped with the "fix." Your next step is to do a test to learn your capacity. Totally empty the tank (may need to raise one corner of the front (I haven't done this... so have only read about it... driver side I think). Then dump one gallon at a time into the tank using a sink... kitchen is probably most convenient. See how many gallons you get. Most get 15-18 after the vent fix. Some never got over 12.

If you join the Zion and Simplicity Owners page on Facebook, you will find lots of people who have worked on this one. There have also been photos of what the fix looks like and where to find it.

BTW, the problem is caused by the fact that it is a VERY oddly shaped tank and there is no way that it could possibly be filled to its 22 gallon advertised capacity. Although RT was repeated informed and were well aware, they never bothered to correct the data in the brochure or on the website.
They never did seem to learn from their mistakes, oh yes, I remember, Jim Hammill rarely admitted they made any mistakes even in the face of them

Undersized tanks were a recurring problem but they continued to advertise a capacity that was unobtainable...
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Old 04-10-2019, 07:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mumkin View Post
Because of the location of the shower, tank, and the fact that the Promaster front is lower than the rear, one should always drive with the plug in the shower. It keeps the water from splashing up into the shower.

I "think" that the last couple years, the rigs shipped with the "fix." Your next step is to do a test to learn your capacity. Totally empty the tank (may need to raise one corner of the front (I haven't done this... so have only read about it... driver side I think). Then dump one gallon at a time into the tank using a sink... kitchen is probably most convenient. See how many gallons you get. Most get 15-18 after the vent fix. Some never got over 12.

If you join the Zion and Simplicity Owners page on Facebook, you will find lots of people who have worked on this one. There have also been photos of what the fix looks like and where to find it.

BTW, the problem is caused by the fact that it is a VERY oddly shaped tank and there is no way that it could possibly be filled to its 22 gallon advertised capacity. Although RT was repeated informed and were well aware, they never bothered to correct the data in the brochure or on the website.
Thanks for the detailed info. Wish I had known this before purchasing, might have steered me back to an older Popular... although I really wanted the high output alternator without having to add it aftermarket. I don't think mine has the drain plug, it's a '17, but I'll try to find one that fits. (unless it's like the sink drains and I can twist the basket to close it off) I was starting to think maybe I should do that too since it sloshed out so easily last time. 12 gallons, sheesh... I thought my truck camper was tight with 21 gallons of fresh and 17 of grey, but at least the grey was 100% usable...
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Old 04-11-2019, 05:31 AM   #10
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It should have come with a drain plug... should be a standard plumbing fitting that you can replace if it isn't there. This has been an issue since day one with the Zion/Simplicity.
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