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2020 3950BH Unintentional Pet Access to Storage Bay

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  • 2020 3950BH Unintentional Pet Access to Storage Bay

    We recently purchased a 2020 Solitude 3950BH and have been very happy overall, however we (by "we" I mean our cat) discovered that there was a pathway through the under-stair shoe compartment into the external opening storage bay. Sitting outside, and much to our surprise, out pops our cat from storage (he looked just as surprised as us, and we assume it would be like discovering the pathway to Narnia).

    I had to go into the storage area and take down the wall separating the storage area from the pluming and electrical area and board up the two holes with some plywood (each one about 15" x 20"). I'm not sure if the holes are there to allow air flow into the storage area, but it can present a problem with your smaller pets if your not aware.

    If the design was intentional and are critical to air flow, please let me know and I will drill some venting holes into the newly placed boards. Furthermore, if it is intentional, Grand Design may want to place Louvre vents there to allow airflow, but prevent passage.

    -Shane
    Shane Green
    Full-Timer (+3 and 3 pets)
    2020 Solitude 3950BH - Andersen Fifth Wheel Hitch
    2020 F-350 Crew Cab DRW w/ 8' Bed

  • #2
    ShaneGreen17
    Hi Shane . . . Welcome to our owners technical forum!

    There is a good change that you are correct that this is the air return path for the furnace. You might need something like a "chicken wire" barrier to maintain original airflow back to the furnace.

    I will tag GDRV-Megan at Grand Design to confirm that this is an air return and to get your suggestion(which I agree with), to the Solitude design group for a "cat proof" screen in this area. (Our cat Gracie would love to wander around down there!)

    Rob
    Cate & Rob
    (with Border Collies Molly & Angel and their kitty Gracie)
    2015 Reflection 303RLS
    2014 Ecoboost F150 with Heavy Duty Payload Package
    Aylmer, Ontario, Canada

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ShaneGreen17 View Post
      We recently purchased a 2020 Solitude 3950BH and have been very happy overall, however we (by "we" I mean our cat) discovered that there was a pathway through the under-stair shoe compartment into the external opening storage bay. Sitting outside, and much to our surprise, out pops our cat from storage (he looked just as surprised as us, and we assume it would be like discovering the pathway to Narnia).

      I had to go into the storage area and take down the wall separating the storage area from the pluming and electrical area and board up the two holes with some plywood (each one about 15" x 20"). I'm not sure if the holes are there to allow air flow into the storage area, but it can present a problem with your smaller pets if your not aware.

      If the design was intentional and are critical to air flow, please let me know and I will drill some venting holes into the newly placed boards. Furthermore, if it is intentional, Grand Design may want to place Louvre vents there to allow airflow, but prevent passage.

      -Shane
      This is interesting!! I'll get the scoop and let you know!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ShaneGreen17 View Post
        We recently purchased a 2020 Solitude 3950BH and have been very happy overall, however we (by "we" I mean our cat) discovered that there was a pathway through the under-stair shoe compartment into the external opening storage bay. Sitting outside, and much to our surprise, out pops our cat from storage (he looked just as surprised as us, and we assume it would be like discovering the pathway to Narnia).

        I had to go into the storage area and take down the wall separating the storage area from the pluming and electrical area and board up the two holes with some plywood (each one about 15" x 20"). I'm not sure if the holes are there to allow air flow into the storage area, but it can present a problem with your smaller pets if your not aware.

        If the design was intentional and are critical to air flow, please let me know and I will drill some venting holes into the newly placed boards. Furthermore, if it is intentional, Grand Design may want to place Louvre vents there to allow airflow, but prevent passage.

        -Shane
        What I'm being told is that you may want to drill some holes into the board or your HVAC system may not function properly. Some sort of louvered vent or access is something we will need to consider though for future units. Thank you!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by GDRV-Megan View Post

          What I'm being told is that you may want to drill some holes into the board or your HVAC system may not function properly. Some sort of louvered vent or access is something we will need to consider though for future units. Thank you!
          Wire mesh would work well and wouldn't restrict airflow.

          Rob
          Rob & Laura
          U.S. Army Retired (Rob)
          2012 F350 DRW CC Lariat PS 6.7, PullRite OE 18K
          2020 Solitude 310GK-R, MORryde IS and disc brakes, solar, BB LiFePO4, DP windows
          (Previously in a 2016 Reflection 337RLS)
          Full time since 08/2015

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you all, I’ll go in and adjust what I did to allow air to move through there.
            Shane Green
            Full-Timer (+3 and 3 pets)
            2020 Solitude 3950BH - Andersen Fifth Wheel Hitch
            2020 F-350 Crew Cab DRW w/ 8' Bed

            Comment


            • #7
              We don't have the 3950BH, our RV is a '20 Solitude 385GK. However, the shoe storage area under the stairs sounds like what we have in the 385. This area is the return air route for the furnace. We have had a lot of problems with the furnace running on the hi-temp limit. With this condition the burner trips on hi internal temp, the fan continues to run to cool the unit off. If after time-out and the box is cooled, the burner will re-light. This condition existed from purchase. We took delivery of our 385 in August of '19, in Texas. In the Texas summer heat it was impossible to "test" the furnace on our PDI. Yes, it ran and blew plenty of hot air. As outside temps cooled in the fall/winter, I began to notice the furnace seemed way under capacity for the 385. When outside I began noticing the burner would shut off and relight. The cycling lost heat capacity/hr, meaning it would take a very long time (hours) to raise the inside temp just a few degrees with only moderately cold temps outside. This was very different than previous experience.

              Brought to the dealer for resolution of the issue. However, before bringing it in I did my research so as to not be fooled by the dealer. I had learned from talking with technical department of the furnace supplier details about the condition I was experiencing. Learned this was caused by 4 typical issues and the first 2 were air flow. The dealer had the Solitude for 8 weeks. Of course they started with the same usual response of changing every part they could, control board, temperature switch, igniter, only thing left was to change out the entire furnace. All this even after being explained what I had learned on the furnace operation from the supplier.

              Finally a breakthrough. The service department personnel attended a workshop put on by the furnace manufacturer. In the workshop they learned the issue being experienced was most likely due to air flow. So with communication directly with supplier they began chasing air flow. After a few threats, they also contacted Grand Design who also said to look at air flow. The fix proposed by both was to add some additional air duct outlets. While this seems to have helped it will be difficult to get a good performance test of the furnace as we are again enjoying our Texas summer heat. Yes, we enjoy 4 season camping, their just all the same, "Hot" and "not as HOT".

              Long story to say that blocking off the opening under the stairs will quite likely starve the furnace for air. At a minimum it will severely restrict the air flow through the coach, low air flow out means low air flow in. The furnace system in our Solitude appears extremely sensitive to air flow, Grand Design design issue. I have read about others experiencing similar issues. The suggestion to drill some holes will likely still result in significantly reduced return air flow. Minimum return air size is basically achieved in the Grand Design design, be careful of any modifications. Screen, mesh and even turns in the route reduce air flow. The furnace manufacturer refers to return air size as "straight flow".

              To resolve the issue of the escaping cat, you might look at how to block off the basement wall gaps. However, this would still allow access to the compartment behind that wall. And if you are aware what this looks like you would not want any pet down there.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by lisasheshed View Post
                Long story to say that blocking off the opening under the stairs will quite likely starve the furnace for air. At a minimum it will severely restrict the air flow through the coach, low air flow out means low air flow in. The furnace system in our Solitude appears extremely sensitive to air flow, Grand Design design issue.
                What a fantastic first post--welcome to the Technical Forum! I hope you'll continue to contribute (and ask questions when applicable).

                Howard

                Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

                Howard, 2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

                Comment


                • #9
                  We have a 2021 Solitude 344GK and we also have a very inquisitive cat that can find holes in places we never thought of. When we first saw the "shoe storage" area we got on our hands and knees to check to make sure it was secure, needless to say it was not. After research and finding this was in fact an air return, we decided we could store our shoes elsewhere without a problem. I went down to Home Depot and picked up an air vent that would fit, painted it dark brown to fit the decor and screwed it down. The cat does not get out and the vent looks like it belongs there.
                  Dave Covert
                  kizby@cableone.net
                  ***********************************************
                  "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming WOW! WHAT A RIDE!” ― Hunter S Thompson

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kizby View Post
                    We have a 2021 Solitude 344GK and we also have a very inquisitive cat that can find holes in places we never thought of. When we first saw the "shoe storage" area we got on our hands and knees to check to make sure it was secure, needless to say it was not. After research and finding this was in fact an air return, we decided we could store our shoes elsewhere without a problem. I went down to Home Depot and picked up an air vent that would fit, painted it dark brown to fit the decor and screwed it down. The cat does not get out and the vent looks like it belongs there.
                    Very nice looking job, great idea as well.

                    Would it be possible to put the vent cover on the back side of the shoe storage , installed from the pass thru storage side? If so this would allow for use of the shoe storage and keep the kitty cat on the right side of the fence.

                    Brian
                    Brian & Michelle
                    2018 Reflection 29RS Oct.17 build date, EMS-HW50C , Lippert Remote
                    2015 Chevy 3500HD CC LB Duramax , Reese Elite 18K

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Country Campers View Post

                      Very nice looking job, great idea as well.

                      Would it be possible to put the vent cover on the back side of the shoe storage , installed from the pass thru storage side? If so this would allow for use of the shoe storage and keep the kitty cat on the right side of the fence.

                      Brian
                      Brian,
                      The wife and I looked at different ways to do just that, but since we were about to take our maiden voyage, we decided on this simple setup for the time being. I have not had the opportunity to get in through the garage, (pass through storage), and look at it yet, as I have only had it for about 2 weeks now. I may try for that this coming week while camping.

                      We did come up with an idea to use some thicker metal screening bent into an "L" shape, with the screening going the depth of the bottom of the lower stair and at the back of the "shoe storage" making a vertical drop to the floor. It would keep the cat corralled in and still have the ability to use the "shoe storage". You could then mount it to the bottom of the lower stair and to the wood in the back of the "shoe storage". We found that we would need two of these since there is a piece of wood down the center of the storage.
                      Dave Covert
                      kizby@cableone.net
                      ***********************************************
                      "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming WOW! WHAT A RIDE!” ― Hunter S Thompson

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Robin, a YouTuber with a Grand Design 310GK, recently posted this video - The Big Boy is Gone! How I lost my RV CAT 😢😢😢 Spoiler Alert: We Found Him! You'll never believe...
                        Same situation as Shane
                        Ed & Cindy, pups: Daisy and Penny
                        2017 Ford F-350 Lariat CCLB Diesel
                        2020 Solitude 2930rl-R
                        Previously 2019 Reflection 260RD

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just to add to the info if you are running the AC and you have your outside storage compartment door open and seeing how cold air drops and goes to the lowest point you will loose some of your cooling out your storage compartment door.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Finally went down and changed out the boarded up area with chicken wire to keep airflow moving once we start using the heater. As you can see by the very obvious quality control inspector sitting behind the wire, we cannot leave that space open.
                            Attached Files
                            Shane Green
                            Full-Timer (+3 and 3 pets)
                            2020 Solitude 3950BH - Andersen Fifth Wheel Hitch
                            2020 F-350 Crew Cab DRW w/ 8' Bed

                            Comment

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