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Mods and Enhancements

Click on the various photos and links throughout this page for more information.

 
One of the things that I've enjoyed doing is modifying each of the RV's we've had to "make it better".  That's going to be harder to do with the Diplomat, as it came with almost all the amenities we were looking for.  But here are some enhancements I've made so far...
Cockpit     Power System     Other Mods     Fixes 

Cockpit Area Enhancements

This is the new Garmin RV 760LMT.  I mounted it with standard RAM Mount parts including a cradle designed just for this GPS.  The screen can be unlatched from the cradle for security or placed on another mount in the toad, if you wish. 

 

Garmin RV 760LMT:  When the Diplomat was new, I installed the Garmin StreetPilot 7200 you see in the dashboard picture above.  However that technology is now about 10 years old.  Now in 2014 the best GPS for a motorhome is the Garmin RV 760LMT - also a 7" display with lifetime maps and traffic updates.  This is the same 760 GPS that Garmin made for large trucks but has been modified with an updateable RV database and select software functions that are more suitable for RV'ers than truckers (like the customizable "What's Up Ahead" feature that can be easily accessed as you drive).  The screen has much higher resolution, and the technology seems a world apart from the 7200.  I especially like Garmin's new "Blue Tooth and Smartphone Link" technology which links your smart phone to the GPS for features like real-time weather displays and blue-tooth calling.  It offers lane guidance and life-like images of all exits, as you can see displayed on the picture here.  Click on the picture for links to full information about this great GPS.

AirForce One Air Brake System for Toad:  Now with a heavier towed vehicle, I have replaced my original US Gear electronic brake system with the SMI AirForce One air brake sytem for the toad.  There are no controls in the cockpit (therefore no pictures to show here).  The system is completely invisible both in the cockpit and in the toad.  There is an LED light that I can hang from my car's rear view mirror, so that I can monitor in the back-up camera that the toad brakes are being applied.  Service air from the coach is transfered to the towed vehicle via an easily connected air line between the two vehicles.  When the motorhome brakes are applied, the control unit installed under the hood in the towed vehicle, applies the car brakes  with a force that is exactly proportional to that of the motorhome. 

 

 

 
Doran™ Tire Monitoring System and Aladdin Monitor

The Doran Tire Monitoring system gives me piece of mind that all my tires are properly inflated.  You can monitor both the motorhome and the toad.  Caps with small transmitters screw on to each valve stem.  You can read the pressure of each tire on the monitor and it it will alert you if the pressure on any tire drops below a user definable value.  The mounting position I chose, with the antenna next to the driver's side window, allows unobstructed signal reception and is easy to reach while driving.  I originally had a PressurePro system, but upgraded to the Doran because it has more features and is easier to read.

Click here for more information from Doran Manufacturing.  Click here for some interesting details from Doran about how this system works.  Click the picture on the left for a close-up view.

 
Auxiliary Monitor for Aladdin System:  I wanted to be able to see the engine data from the Aladdin system and my back-up and turn signal cameras at the same time.  Therefore I bought a small 5.6" TFT-LCD monitor for about $70.  It came with it's own dashboard mounting kit, which I mounted just above the transmission pad.  The Emerson MT-1564R that I purchased is no longer available, but you can easily find these kinds of monitors with a google search.  They are often used with aftermarket back-up cameras.  I spliced the power leads into the power feed for the original monitor before the fuse, so that each monitor is on it's own in-line fuse.  The video feed was connected to the #2 video output on the Aladdin box (see picture).   The original monitor input was not changed, but I can now dedicate that monitor to viewing the rear-view camera and the side cameras only.  The Aladdin data output and trip data are permanently routed to the new monitor.  Click on the picture to the right for a larger view. 

Turn Signal Trigger Switch for Camera Display:  I found that I did not like the fact that the rear view camera display was automatically replaced with the side camera display whenever the turn signal was engaged.  The pictures from the side cameras had no depth of field, and I'd rather see what's coming up behind me when turning, anyway.   The solution was to buy a small DPST (double pole single throw) toggle switch for the camera trigger leads in the camera wiring harness behind the dash.  These wires are not the video leads, but the wires labeled "trigger #2" and "trigger #3" that change the display when the turn signal is on.  I mounted the switch next to the video display.  Now I can turn the turn signal camera triggers on or off as desired.  (Pre-2007 camera triggers and displays work a bit differently.  Please see this note that applies to pre-2007 coaches.)

Disable TV Cut-out:  The overhead TV won't work with the ignition switch on.  It's a safety feature that prevents people from watching TV while driving.  However, there are often times when you may want to momentarily turn on the ignition without interrupting the TV.  There is a very easy solution...  Disconnecting the 12v lead going to the TV receptacle box disables the relay inside.  You can easily access the wires behind the TV through a removable wooden vent on the back of the cabinet.  Disclaimer: You should only do this if you are relatively certain that you can muster the self-control never to watch TV and drive at the same time. 

There is a fuse in the front run bay that can be pulled to disable the TV shut-off feature.  However on many coaches, including the Diplomat, that same fuse also feeds a safety circuit that will enable the jacks to retract when the parking brake is released or when the coach is put in gear.  If you consider that jack retract feature to be a worthwhile safety feature, then you may not want to disable the TV shut-off by pulling this fuse.  Pulling the 12v lead to the TV electrical receptacle is a better idea.
   

Wilson Antenna / CradlePoint Broadband Wireless Router:

My wife and I each carry laptop computers with us while on the road.  This is how we access our email and the web.  I've installed a very small wireless router along with a USB EVDO Broadband Rev-A aircard in the top right cabinet next to the TV above.  Even with the wooden cabinet door closed, the router offers excellent connection quality anywhere in the coach.  The aircard is fed from a remote Wilson Truckers cell antenna mounted on the roof above the cabinet.  Now any laptop in the coach has full high-speed access to the internet as soon as it's turned on.

Click here for more details.

 
Seat Upgrade:  We had 31"buddy seats" installed in our last coach and really got spoiled by the comfort.  So in the Diplomat we also upgraded the seats to wider, larger seats for more comfort.  These are 29" wide - 2" wider than the originals, and they also have a little more padding.  The differences in the upgraded seats are not great, as the Diplomat comes with fairly good seats to begin with.  But for us, the larger seats do make a big difference in comfort level.  The Flexsteel seats were ordered in the same fabric color as the originals to match the dash and side panels.

Upgraded Dash Radio (again) - JVC/Kenwood eXcelon DDX393 Radio/DVD Player
I had previously replaced the original Magnadyne M9900DVDS head unit that Monaco installed with a 7" Magnadyne M3-LCD unit with a "plug 'n play" 1.5 DIN housing to fit in the same space.  The newer Magnadyne, with it's large LCD display, was a big improvement over the original radio, but was still not a top quality unit by today's standards, and I've grown a bit tired of it. The picture to the right is what the dash looks like now, after the installation of a new Kenwood eXcelon DDX393 Entertainment System.  (You can click on the picture to see a larger view.) With four LCD screens (Aladdin engine monitor, 7" Garmin GPS, camera monitor, and the new LCD Radio, I almost feel like I'm at the controls of a plane with a digital cockpit.  The new Radio LCD touch screen is 6.2" with button and dial controls for common functions along the left side where it is easily within the driver's reach.  This radio is a 2016 model with many enhanced features, including...
  • Large 6.2" LCD touch screen replaces most controls, but a row of manual multi-functional controls are along the left side for commonly used functions and is within comfortable reach of the driver.  These include a "Home Screen button, screen/display controls, telephone/voice controls, and a handy volume knob (better than volume buttons when you are driving).  VERY intuitive to operate.
  • Seamless integration for AM, FM, XMSirius Radio (including the latest SXV300 features), Pandora, iPod, Bluetooth telephone interface, USB & AUX inputs, CD, DVD screen and movie controls, and more. Unit automatically switches to proper mode when it senses any new input.  Integrates with all modern Apple & Android devices.
  • Extensive customizable audio, video, display, and system settings (including icons and screen backgrounds) can be saved to memory for quick recall.
  • Rear connections include additional AUX input (audio & video), SiriusXM receiver input, video out for TV, two camera inputs, iPod input, rapid charge 1.5a USB input, mic input for phone, pre-outs for home theater, amplifier and sub-woofer systems, and more.

This unit from JVC/Kenwood is a state-of-the-art in-panel LCD touch screen full entertainment system that rivals that installed in any of today's new automobiles. The background screens and button lights are user customizable.  It also plays recorded music in all popular digital formats from CD/DVD discs, USB storage devices, Apple & Android phones, etc. Maximum output power is a clear 50 watts. Music is crystal clear with no induced noise.  Each input mode has it's own 13 band equalizer settings (plus more audio adjustments including space enhancer, sound realizer, bass boost, loudness, etc.) and you can pre-boost or reduced volume for any input individually.  The unit features auto-pairing Bluetooth v3.0 with all the latest voice, music, and control protocols.  You can pair two smartphones with it, allowing you to make/receive calls and use voice controls with either phone.  It does not have a weather band, but that function is now handled by my Garmin GPS with its data link technology.  Click here for a full description of features and specs of the DDX393.

I love being able to fully control my iPod from the radio screen as well as Pandora streaming radio.  We enjoy listening to audio books while traveling down the road.  An iPhone or iPod Touch can play digital books from Audible.com via the USB input; or you can connect any Android or Windows device with Bluetooth or with a wire to the AUX input.  The AUX input is on the rear of the unit, but I ran that to a covered AUX input installed in the dash.  Audible.com has apps for almost any device.  A good digital book really makes the miles fly by.  There is also a handy remote control (available separately for about $25.00) that can easily be used by the co-pilot to control many functions, or to use while watching DVD movies on the TV. 

Installation was relatively easy, but I did have to enlarge the hole in the dash from a 3" high 1.5 DIN size to a 4" double DIN size.  There was just enough room in my Diplomat dash to make the hole another inch taller for the double DIN radio.  The speaker audio output is more powerful than the original radio and would overpower the home theater amp originally installed by Monaco Therefore, when I installed the first Magnadyne LCD head unit, I simply removed the home theater amp and reconnected the speakers to the original speaker harness that was present in the top A/V compartment.  That home theater amp that Monaco installed was a very cheap unit anyway, and this radio sounds much better than that system ever did.  I did, upgrade the little 3" speakers in the ceiling to 5 1/4" 3-way speakers. (There isn't any mounting room up there for larger speakers.)  See the "New Speakers" section below.

Dash with Original Radio
Home Screen (icons fully customizable)
My DDX393 in iPod Mode
DDX393 showing Pandora Screen
Spaghetti
Back of new Radio
SiriusXM Reciver:
The expensive proprietary Magnadyne Sirius radio receiver that went with the the original M9900 series will not work with this radio.  It needs an SXV200v1 receiver, or the newer SXV300 receiver, which are available on Amazon.com as well the Sirius/XM store and many other venders.  This head unit is compatible with the newer SXV300 SiriusXM receiver that adds several new handy features to satellite radio (like pausing/re-starting songs, various scanning, search, and mix features and a few others).  Either receiver plugs right into the back of the head unit. You must use the interface cable that comes with the Sirius receiver.  The Sirius antenna lead from the antenna on the roof installed by Monaco, will plug right into these satellite receivers.  These new receivers are not only better, but also fairly inexpensive compared with earlier, more proprietary satellite radio receivers that were on the market a few years back.  
 
Subwoofer:
When I originally did away with the first Magnadyne radio, I scrapped the original cheap subwoofer that was located in a cabinet under the table in the galley area.  Now we can use that cabinet for much needed galley storage.  Instead I installed a Kenwood KSC-SW10 powered subwoofer system  (recently replaced by the KSC-SW11) with duel 5 x 7" woofers and a wired remote control for adjusting the gain and the cut-off frequency.  This unit was compact enough to just fit on the floor in the area behind the driver's storage drawers, where it is completely out of sight and out of the way.  I sat the unit on a foam mat so that it wouldn't vibrate against the floor.  I took the power for the subwoofer off the dash radio switch so that it come on when the radio is powered.  I was amazed at how much better the music sounds now that you can actually hear the bass.  More ictures here.

 

As is common with powered subwoofers, this unit needed an isolation transformer placed in the audio lead to prevent distortion and other problems caused by mismatched impedance.  I used the Pyramid NS-20, which simply connects right into the audio line with RCA plugs.   This 15a transformer will handle sub-woofers up to 200 watts - certainly more than adequate. 

 
New Speakers:
I finally found a decent upgrade for the boxy 3" front speakers that Monaco installed.  They have always sounded terrible, but the problem has been that Monaco did not provide a ceiling mounting reinforcement for speakers larger than 5 1/4".  I found plenty of decent 8" speakers, but there was no easy way to mount them in the soft ceiling.   However, Magnadyne recently started selling their LS515 5 1/4" 3-way ceiling speakers (with either a white or black grill) to the public in single lots.  These are exact replacements for the original speakers - I used the same mounting holes and the same screws.  But this 3-way system has a 1" mylar midrange and a half inch piezo tweeter built right in, in addition to the 5 1/4" main rubber mounted cone with a large 10 oz magnet.  Obviously larger speakers may have sounded better, but I am truly impressed with the improvement in sound with these.  The speakers offer a vastly improved fuller sound and frequency range from the original 3" home theater speakers that Monaco put in the coach.  And at just $19.95 each from Magnadyne, they are an unbelievable bargain.  I bought three to replace all three front speakers.  (Note:  I cannot guarantee these will work with the original little home theater amp that Monaco installed.  (They might - I just have no way to verify that since I've long since scrapped that amp.) 

 
Power System Enhancements
EMS HW 50C Power Protector:  

In the power compartment, I added an HW 50C power surge protector from Progressive Industries.  It also protects against low voltage, open neutrals, reverse polarity, etc. - all those nasty things that can damage your coach's electrical system.  There's a digital display (mounted on the front of the power cord reel) that gives you voltage and amp draw for both legs, as well as diagnostic information about power faults. 

The unit mounted easily right under the transfer switch.  The original pigtail from the power reel to the transfer switch was disconnected and routed to the input side of the HW 50C.  That left enough extra cord to turn the power reel around (see below).  Click on the picture for a larger view, or click here for more information.

 

 
Reversed Power Cord Reel:  Monaco originally installed the power cord reel (made by TDI Products) with the pigtail in the back and the motor in the front.  That caused the cord to come off the bottom of the reel which would cause it to bind when pulling it out and reeling it in.  (See picture here.)  When I installed the Progressive Industries EMS I did not cut the pigtail, which left enough room to turn the power reel around the other direction as you see in the picture above.  Now the cord comes off the top of the reel and does not bind when going in and out. 
 
The Echo~Charge by Xantrex:  There is what I consider to be a design flaw on all Monaco coaches below the Dynasty in that the charger does not charge the chassis batteries along with the house batteries.  Therefore if the coach is parked for a while the chassis batteries will discharge until they are dead, even though you may keep the coach plugged in to shore power.  Xantrex makes a solution for the problem.  Their echo~charge unit will "echo" the three stages of the coach 12V charging system performing the same charging function on the chassis batteries.  It puts out 15 amps when needed, but goes into a low amperage float mode along with the charger to keep the chassis batteries fully charged without over-charging.  When the house batteries drop below 13V (indicating that the charger is not on), the echo-charge turns off, until it again senses an input of 13V or more.  This feature avoids draining the house batteries.

You can pick this unit up for about $100 at many online marine or RV supply companies, like this one.  As you can see in the pictures below it is easy to install.  One wire goes to the positive terminal on each battery bank, and a third wire goes to the grounding lug.  Click here for more information, or here to see a large blow-up of the installation.

The Diplomat (and similar Monaco coaches) does have a factory installed system for charging the house batteries from the alternator while driving the coach, via an Isolator Relay Delay module.  Click here for more details about how this works.

Update (April 2009):  Sometime in 2008, Monaco did attempt to rectify this shortcoming.   Now there is an alternative to adding a module like the Echo~Charge described here to keep the chassis batteries charged.  See the updated information here.

 
Right Side of Battery Compartment
PowerPulse Battery Maintenance System:  Another addition to the battery compartment is the PowerPulse Battery Maintenance System for the house batteries.  The PowerPulse sends a pulsating DC current into the batteries which prevents sulfates from building up on the battery plates.  They advertise that this will prolong the life of the batteries by about 3 times.  One unit will maintain all four 6V batteries.   Some owners have installed a second unit for the two chassis batteries.

Left Side of Battery Compartment

 
 
Fuse Switch:  On my GMC Acadia, the towing instructions call for removing three fuses - one 50 amp fuse under the hood and two smaller fuses in the battery box behind the passenger seat.  So I would not have to do that, I had the shop include within the pigtail a 12v feed from the motorhome to the car battery to keep it charged.  This works fine, however I discovered that without pulling the 50 amp Batt1 fuse under the hood, mileage was accruing on the car's odeometer while towing since  the key has to be in the "accessory position" to unlock the wheels.  So rather than having to pry up the cover and pull that fuse all the time, I installed the high current RVing FuseSwitch from RV-Parts Plus.com.  This switch contains a relay so as to limit the ill-effects of high-current switching.  I cut a slot in the fuse box cover to feed the wires through, and then secured the switch to a panel right beside the fuse box with a piece of Velcro.  It's now a simple matter of lifting the hood and flipping the switch from "Drive" to "Tow", which mimics pulling the fuse. 

Other Enhancements

 
Residential Refrigerator  
While in Florida in February of 2014 we stopped at Alliance Coach (the old Monaco repair facility in Wildwood) to get the Norcold recall kit replaced on our Norcold refrigerator yet again.  Nothing wrong with the Norcold, but the heat sensor cut-out recall kit kept malfunctioning and would not reset, which required me to keep bypassing the recall box.  While there we saw two Dynasty coaches in for service - one which had had a fire in the Norcold refrigerator even though the recall cut-out box had been installed, and another replacing their Norcold refer with the Samsung RF197 high-efficiency residential French door refrigerator you see here.   Alliance keeps six of these in stock at all times.  They are becoming very popular alternatives to the Norcold fire and recall headaches.  We bit the bullet and installed one in our Diplomat.

I initially had some concerns about the power requirements of a residential refrigerator - especially while dry camping.  However we were surprised at how extremely efficient this refrigerator is, consuming much less power than the Norcold did operating on A/C.  The Samsung has two separate evaporators - one for the refrigerator compartment, and another for the freezer.  That means that both compartments are cooled much more efficiently.  The main board contains a "Load Control Circuit", which maximizes the efficiency of the various loads within the unit (compressor, fans, defrost heater, etc.).  On the control panel there is also an "Energy Saver Mode" that minimizes certain loads.  While we were dry camping for a week, using our inverter, it seemed to have minimal effect on additional rate of discharge of our four 6v house batteries, compared to the Norcold running on propane.  Also, unlike some residential refrigerators, the Samsung works perfectly with our Magnum 2000W modified sine wave on-board inverter.

These pictures were taken of our new refrigerator after it was installed in our coach.  The Samsung RF197 fit into the same space as our 4-door Norcold 1210 with very minor cabinet alterations, but has 50% more room inside (18 cu. ft.)  The controls are along the inside top, and the icemaker is in the top tray of the freezer compartment at the bottom.  The third picture below shows how they got the old refer out and the new one into the coach through the driver's side window.  The driver's seat was removed to protect it. 

Click here to watch a podcast from American RVer which shows Alliance installing one of these units.

     
LED Lights Under Awning  

Due to the awing over the front slide being so high, it has been impossible to hang awning lights without climbing on a step ladder each time the awning is used, so I have been looking for years for a solution to this problem.  I finally found one.  I installed a strip of multi-color RBG (red-blue-green) LED lights on the top of the slide under the awning.  The ends of the strip are hidden behind the slide topper clamps.  I can use them with the awning in or out.  They come with a 120v/12v power converter, a controller unit, and a remote for changing colors (including pure white), brightness, and all sorts of other settings.  The strip is 16.4 ft. long, can be trimmed to any length you need, and is compleatly sealed so as to be waterproof.  It has 3M adhesive backing for securely attaching to a variety of surfaces.  When turned to full brightness, the LED's emit enough light to read by at night.  Or you can turn down the brightness and change the color for a softer decorative look.  I got the entire kit here at Amazon.com for under $30.  The only other thing I had to buy was some additional RGB LED wire for connecting the light strip at the top of the slide, to the controller which I mounted behind the bottom lip of the slide.   I secured the extra wire down the back of the slide lip with 3M colored duct tape and mounted the controller where I could easily use the power supply with the 120v outlet in the bay directly under the slide.  Alternately, you can hard-wire the controller into a switched source of 12v power.

There are many web sites that now sell multi-color RBG LED light strips.  They all look the same but the quality varies.  If you get them, make sure you get 5050 SMD lights, so that they are bright enough, and also that the strip is sealed for waterproofing.  This "Supernight" brand, bought from Amazon, is working flawlessly so far.   

   
Air Hose Storage:  This was an easy one.  I thought it would be convenient to have the air hose stored where it was handy to the air chuck in the generator compartment.  So I simply screwed a piece of wood between the two door mounts, painted it black, and secured a large hook and an elastic bungee cord to it.  The hoses and wires for the windshield washer were re-routed out of the way.

 

Then I got a heavy duty tire inflator with a gage that reads up to 120 lbs. and added a chuck with a spring clip.  Makes tire inflation really quick and easy.

   
Key Pad Entry System:   This is a very useful project that just kind of "evolved" out of a simple need.  I had the old style Tri-Mark lock system with the rectangular shaped key fobs.  One fob became inoperable and I found I could no longer replace it.  So, I opted to upgrade to the newer style system (post 2007 model year) with the rounded key fobs.  Then I figured, while I'm at it, why not make the system turn on the dome light (passenger map light) for 30 seconds when the door is unlocked?  Monaco includes the dome light wires in their harness, but they don't do anything.  What else needs improving?  Why not add a lighted electronic entry keypad?  That would be a useful item that you normally find only on high end motorhomes. 

Then I looked at the key fob and there was a "star" button that didn't do anything.  What could I make that button do?  Ah, how about toggle the porch light and grab handle light on and off?  That would be very handy.  So, I did all of these things.  It worked out very well.  Click the picture on the right to see a larger view of the motorhome. 

Click here for more details and installation pictures

 
Grab Handle Light:  I wanted to light the grab handle, so I went to this web site and bought a socket for a standard 1156 automotive bulb and a 9-LED 1156 replacement in amber and white.  I added a ground wire and arranged the assembly in the base of the grab handle as shown.  Then I put in some adhesive rubber foam weather stripping to hold the socket in place.  Next I drilled a hole into the motor home for the wires and connected the 12v+ side to the porch light switch return wire, and the ground to a nearby ground wire.  The whole project cost about $12 in parts, and took less than an hour to do.

After trying both bulbs, I decided on the amber light because I thought it complemented the amber porch light and under-step light, and also just because I like to be "a little different"  It shows very well at night, don't you think?.


SeeLevel II Tank Monitor System: 

After seven years with the Diplomat, we finally got tired of never knowing the true level of our storage tanks.  So while at the 2014 FMCA convention in Perry, GA, we finally replaced the Monaco tank monitors with the SeeLevel II system by Garnet Instruments, Ltd.  We should have done it years ago!  The system we got is an exact replacement for the original tank and battery monitor lights on the Monaco utility panel inside the coach.  We installed another SeeLevel 709 monitor in the outside utility bay so that the tank levels could be monitored as the tanks are being filled or emptied. 

The digital display shows the percentage of fluid in each of the three tanks, and the propane tank, much more accurately than the original system.  Pushing the battery button displays the current voltage at the contral panel, which is a good indication of the state of the house batteries while not plugged into shore power.  I will now replace the original tank test switch with a blank.  Click on the picture for more information.

In order to install the new tank level sensors behind the white plastic panel in the water utility bay, the installer cut a 6x8" hole in the panel and worked through that.  Then he put a frame around the outside of the hole which included a removable access panel.  Now I have an access panel which will enable working back there without having to remove the entire panel. 

 

Water Pump Switch in Bathroom:  We have a separate full bathroom, as you can see on our floor plan.  But the fact that that there was no switch for the water pump in there has always bugged me.  So I replaced a single light switch with a 3-gang assembly to also hold a switch for the pump and an indicator light.  It was fairly easy, since our main control panel was located right on the other side of the wall.  You can add as many water pump switches, and indicator lights as you want.  You simply wire them in parallel with each other.  Turning on the pump from any location will light all of the indicator lights. 
 

First, I removed the single light switch from the bathroom wall that was next to the Fantastic Fan control.  Then I extended the switch cut-out, making it wide enough for a 3-gang switch assembly. 

Next, on the other side of the wall, I opened the main control panel to expose all the wiring, found the wires leading to the switch and light, and spliced into these wires, using standard automotive type clamp splices.  Then I routed the new leads through a hole in the wall stud and into the the bathroom through the switch cut-out I had just made.

I then reinstalled the bathroom light switch into the new 3-gang assembly and completed the assembly with a momentary switch for the pump, an LED indicator light, and a red lens.  That's all there was to it.  The entire job took less than an hour. 

The OEM switches are manufactured by American Technology Components, Inc

Another Bathroom Upgrade...  Upgrading the bathroom sink faucet is a mod that can add a touch of class to that area of the coach.  I found one that is styled after an old fashioned hand operated water pump with a finish of rustic pewter.  The faucet features an open "water fall" effect which adds an interesting novelty touch.  The elimination of the cheap plastic sink stopper was an additional advantage.

This particular facet is from Pfister's Ashfield collection.  The installation was a snap.  Entire job was accomplished using only a single pair of pliers.  Click photo on far right for close-up view.


Sylvania Silverstar Ultra Headlamps:  I was unhappy with the brightness level of the OEM halogen headlights and wanted to replace them with something brighter.  The Sylvania Silverstar Ultras did the trick.  And the best part was that I was able to find both a coupon and a mail-in rebate on these and saved a total of 60% on the deal. 

The replacement took about five minutes.  You just twist out the old ones and twist in the new.  High beams were size 9005, and the low beams were 9006.   Click the two pictures for more details on these bulbs.

 
Safe-T-Plus Steering Control:  I added a Safe-T-Plus for ease of steering.  In short, this unit is a self contained, double acting hydraulic cylinder, placed between the front axle and the steering tie rod, designed to absorb the impact of a front tire blowout.  The steering buffering effect also helps ease control in such situations as side winds, passing tractor-trailers, uneven pavement, soft shoulders, etc.  Some folks might reasonably question whether you really need one of those devices on a Monaco coach.  The answer is "probably not".  The motorhome steers true without it, and even in a front tire blow out situation you will not likely loose control.  But to me it was worth the $500 I paid for it.  I simply enjoy the ease in driver fatigue that this device delivers.  If I ever do have a front tire blowout, having a Safe-T-Plus will be a benefit, I'm sure.  I also enjoy the fact that once you install one of these, there's nothing else to do - nothing to adjust, or control, or maintain.  It's just always there making the drive a little bit easier. 
 
Koni FSD Shocks:  I've been reading about Koni FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) shock absorbers in various motorhome forums on the Internet.  Everyone praises them for offering a substantial improvement in handling performance and ride comfort.  I've always felt that the stock Monroe shocks are fairly harsh.  So, I've decided to install the Koni FSD's on the Diplomat and see what all the great reviews are about.   Each wheel location has two shocks (one installed in conjunction with each air bag), so you need a total of 4 pair for a full conversion.  I got them from Shox.com for $129 a piece.  You can read all about how FSD shocks work on this web page.  You can find out which Koni shocks fit your motorhome here (click "Shop Online".)

The results:   After installation, I took the coach out and drove around on different roads to see how much difference the new shocks make.  I did some highway driving, and took the coach over railroad tracks, bridge expansion joints, and onto some back roads.  Do the Koni's make a difference? The answer is  decidedly "YES", they do smooth out the bumps and the difference is definitely noticeable.  Handling is also improved with a noticeable reduction in the amount of sway when going around corners or over uneven surfaces. That said, I cannot tell you that the improvement was tremendous, or that my coach now rides like it was on a Prevost bus chassis.  It doesn't. 

So, I guess the next question would be, "Was the improvement worth the thousand dollar investment?"  To me it was, because I enjoy the fact that my ride and suspension performance are the best that they can be.  Others may be disappointed in the "return on investment" considering the cost to replace the OEM shocks with Koni FSD shocks. 

 
     

New Mattress:  The Diplomat came with one of those "Sleep by Number" air mattresses with the electric pump.  We'd had one of those at home and didn't like it much, so we requesed that the dealer change it out for a regular coil spring pillow top matterss.  It's been OK, but we've been looking for something better.

At the 2014 FMCA convention in Perry, GA, we replaced our coil spring mattress with this RV Supreme Euro-top all foam mattress from Lippert Components.  It has an 8" high-density foam base with a 2" top quilted layer of soft padding and BioFlex foam.  This thing is exremely comfortable to sleep on.  It's hard to wake up in the morning and no more morning back aches.  If you are in the market for a new mattress for your RV, you may want to check out this mattress made by Denver Mattress Sleep Systems.  Click on the photo for more information

 
     

The Sani-Con:  The Sani-Con Sewer macerating pump discharge system was not a "mod".  It came as an upgrade on the coach.  But I have to add it here on the enhancements page because for me, it simply eliminates all the  "annoyances" generally associated with the conventional dumping method.  The picture below shows the difference between a standard sewer drain hose and this system.  What the Sani-Con does is take the discharge from your black and gray tanks, grinds it up, and then forcefully pumps it through a 1" hose to the sewer hookup.  This makes both sewer hook-up and emptying the tanks unbelievably easy, fast, and sanitary.  The system comes with 21' of expanding hose that just slides in and out of the service compartment.  For those times when more length may be needed, I  ordered an extra 25' of hose from Sani-Con's web site.
 

Sani-Con Update:  Lanny Stegal, the devleoper of the Sani-Con Macerating Pump, sold the company to Thetford sometime arond 2009-2010.  Though the old website referenced above is still live, here is a newer website for them.

Monaco uses the Sani-Con model 5800 for their installation. The picture on the lower right shows the pump that is installed behind the panel.  Notice on the far right side of the picture that there is a short clear hose that bypasses the pump.  (Click on the picture for a larger view.)  For extended stays, you can leave the knife valve to the gray tank open, and it will empty as you use it without the need to run the pump. 

 This system can be added as an aftermarket option to almost any coach.  If one didn't come with mine, I would have added it.

Here are some useful tips I've learned for using the Sani-Con system.

 


The Mod I Didn't Do

The BrakeSwitch, from Brakeswitch.com, offers an enhanced and more efficient way of using your exhaust brake on many coaches including the 2006 (and prior) Monaco Diplomat.  You can simply switch it on and leave it on all the time, even while using cruise control.  With the cockpit switch in the on position, the unit allows the exhaust brake to be controlled simply by touching the brake pedal or the throttle.  The exhaust brake stays off while you drive and does not come on when you take your foot off the throttle, so you can coast when you want.  That should save some diesel fuel.  A light touch of the brake pedal will engage the exhaust brake (and also disengage the cruise control, if that's on).  The exhaust brake will remain engaged until you touch the throttle.  So essentially, the exhaust brake stays off until you either lightly tap or press on the brake pedal.  Operation is completely automatic, which enhances safety. 

I was all set to install one of these on our Diplomat.  However I've since found that there were many differences in the chassis electrical system for 2007 and later Diplomats and Endeavors.  One of these changes is in the way the exhaust brake interacts with the cruise control.  It is now possible to use both at the same time.  With the exhaust brake on and ready, you can now also have the cruise control engaged.  A touch of the brake pedal will first disengage the cruise control, and then engage the exhaust brake and cause the transmission to seek 2nd gear.   Essentially, that means that you can now leave the exhaust brake switch on all the time, if you want to.   

Another change for 2007 is that many of the relays and fuses that used to be in the front run bay were moved to the rear electrical bay.  The brake light relay and the exhaust brake relay are two of these.  It is no longer possible to pick up the needed +12v brake lamp signal in the front of the coach when the exhaust brake is on but the service brake pedal is not depressed.  That makes installation of the BrakeSwitch impractical.  So while the BrakeSwitch is a GREAT enhancement for 2006 and prior model years, it's not really needed, nor is it practical to install, on 2007 and later Diplomats, Endeavors, and similar Monaco coaches.

 
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