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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Rain, Rain Go Away...And Never Come Back So Often!

Rain. Bleh.
    It's been months. And more months. I haven't had a day off in 5 Months that hasn't rained. My maintenance tasks around the house and RV have gotten pushed back over and over again. Some may blame global warming. Maybe, but nonetheless it's disheartening to not be able to get anything accomplished.

For example, I began writing an article last week about purchasing and assembling a 24'x22'12' two-car fabric garage just so I can work inside, out of the weather for the off season. It finally arrived. Today. Guess what? It's RAINING! I know, it was a holiday yesterday and no deliveries were made, but come on! Now that article has to be postponed until next week so I can take photos of the assembly process. Not to mention not being able to work on anything...again! Moving South (or West!) is beginning to become more enticing.

It's not that I don't like rain. When I am in the RV and the raindrops are falling, it's beautiful. Warm, dry and comfortable. Make some coffee, maybe a snack...watch some video, play a game. Whatever...no pressure...well, unless you have a leak! I've spent time in the RV during major storms, where power has gone out for over a week and the weather was not just nasty -- it was downright dangerous! A safe haven. On the other end of the scale were days that were so hot that without the air conditioning and refrigerator in the RV it would have been far more uncomfortable.


Call Mario!
We all have projects to accomplish. Bad weather puts a "damper" on things. On my last trip to Florida, we had sporadic rain showers that slowed all the events and work down to a crawl. At least it wasn't cold! Of course I had to winterize in the rain this year. Fun. Well, not really. I've got to look into figuring out how to efficiently heat the new garage (or just the RV) to keep the pipes from bursting over the winter. No way to really enclose them... I looked into heat pads (120V relatively low wattage) for the tanks themselves, but so many pipes are close to the outside, I'm not sure I could make them all warm enough. Besides, they are the older gray pipe (not PEX) that is prone to cracking.

I don't usually complain...well, OK, maybe a little bit. But this is getting ridiculous. I did hear that we are going to have a mild winter...allegedly. I'll believe it when I see it. I wish I could send a good portion of this rain out West...to California where it would do some good!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Last Trip Of The Season - And It Was A Doozy!

Almost Ready To Depart
    A couple of weeks ago I embarked on my last trip of the season. Sad, I know, but it was most memorable. Some good, some bad, all...ummm...interesting. If you've been following these columns, the first few days didn't go so well (Breakdown #1 and Breakdown #2). I eventually arrived at the Helicopter Gathering in Florida 1100 miles from my home base in New York. Of course, I was two-and-a- half days late, so a lot of what I wanted/needed to get done was delayed. (More on that later!) All in all it was fun, AND I lost another 4 1/2 pounds. The "No sleep, No food, all work diet" works very well, but I wouldn't recommend it! So, what exactly happened?

Early Morning On The Flight Line
Long before I leave for an extended trip (well, extended for me anyway) I try and make sure all my maintenance and servicing is completed. That way I don't have any surprises. Works pretty well when I do the work myself. Not so good when you leave it to someone else. I admit, I should have checked the work, but I didn't. My bad. This time it cost me. In time and money. Ah well. Live and learn. Once the breakdown saga was over, and we arrived in Lake City, Florida, things began to look up. We had a beautiful spot parked right on the flight line along the runway, along with other fellow Helicopter owners. There was water for refilling tanks and my newest version Solar Charging system kept pace with energy demands. The only thing missing was a dump station, but there were public bathrooms and trips to town to mitigate that.

Ready To Disassemble!
After unloading the helicopter from my trailer and moving it to the maintenance hangar I set up camp in the RV. The first couple of days were 90 degrees PLUS! So the Mylar bubble foil window reflectors were an absolute necessity! I left the two fantastic fans running all day (on solar, of course!). One set to Intake and the Other on Exhaust make a wonderful breeze throughout the RV. To be honest, there were a few hours the first two days where the generator got started up and the Air Conditioner used. Hey, I believe in Solar, but I have a Generator and am NOT afraid to use it! That being said, it did need half a quart of oil....I should really exercise it more often. After those two first hot and humid nights, the temps dropped into the high 70's low 80's with nights getting into the 50's. Perfect!! Temperature control inside the RV was easily achieved with vents and fans alone.

Have To Do Part of This Job Again!
Then the rain came. A lot. It's a good thing I was mostly working in the hangar because the flight line was a muddy mess. Just to make matters a bit worse, I discovered a tiny leak on my rear vent/fan unit and had to put a small tarp over it to keep the water out of the ceiling. So much damage can be done by water getting into the ceiling it's VERY important to stop it ASAP! I believe it's a loose screw under the eternabond tape that will have to be addressed in the spring. I've removed and reinstalled both the front and back ones over the years. Road vibration loosens EVERYTHING! Make sure you check your screws before you leave or after each trip. Not too hard to do, but will save you lots of tedious repair overall.

The event was scheduled to end Sunday afternoon, but because of my late arrival and the amount of work I wanted to get done, we elected to stay past Sunday afternoon. We relocated to a half concrete/half dirt section next to the maintenance hangar. There was water to fill the tanks and shore power if needed. But still no dump facilities. The weather held out for the most part, though it did rain quite hard on and off for the next few days. Finally, all was in readiness, we pushed the helicopter out in front of the hangar and started it up. All was good. Once warmed up and having no leaks or other issues.....it flew. Yes, only a hover, but for the amount of work done (a whole new drive system!) this was unexplored territory. Many thanks to the skilled and brilliant folks that helped out, I couldn't have done such a great job without them! Lots of flying to be done when I got home!

It was really nice having a place to retreat to for a snack or coffee or just a quick rest while working. RV's are awesome! I know, I'm biased. I'm already looking forward to next year's gathering. This time I will be better prepared with the RV ready to go and all systems checked (and re-checked.)

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How To Winterize And Pre-Clean For Next Season - Work Smarter NOT Harder! 2018

Getting Ready For Winter
    After my last trip of the season a day ago, it came time to shut down all the RV systems. Drain and winterize the water system, unpack the fridge and move all the food out. In addition, I like to clean and sanitize the interior so it's mostly ready to go next season. You would be surprised, or maybe you wouldn't(!), at the amount of mold and mildew that can develop inside an RV over the winter season. I do my VERY best to prevent anything like that from happening and also include critter intrusion prevention to the mix. What works? What doesn't work? And, most importantly, what are the easiest methods to do all of the above?

So Much For My Nice Black Hooded Sweatshirt!
Once the hard core winterizing of all the major RV systems is done I move on to the "pre-prep" items. Let's start with the easiest, and for me, the one I hate the most...cleaning. I get a bleach-based cleanser and some gloves and begin wiping down the inside of the fridge. Pull all the shelves both on the door and inside. Make sure you wipe down any residue you can find and make sure the bleach mixture gets into the nooks and crannies, then make sure it's wiped off. Careful of your clothing as bleach will...well...BLEACH out colors pretty easily. I ruined a brand-new, expensive hooded sweatshirt this year. So I know all about it! Next wipe down the walls, "ceilings" and "floors" of both the fresh and frozen compartments. Once done, wipe down the seals and the outside. Figure out a way to hold the fridge slightly open over the winter months as the air circulation will help reduce mold and mildew growth and keep smells to a minimum. I also have an activated charcoal cube hanging inside as well as a box of baking soda to be extra sure!

Next, work on the toilet. Clean the inside and outside with your bleach cleanser. Make sure you get under the seat and cover as well as the entire outside housing down to the floor. I have a smooth floor surrounding mine, so I wipe all that down as well. Getting to the back can be a bit of a problem, but do your best. Mine had a lot of accumulated dirt and grime back there. It will also give you a chance to check for leaks from the hoses leading to the toilet. Once done, pour in some RV antifreeze over the blade valve to keep it moist and lubricated. Move on to the shower stall. Clean the entire thing, top to bottom. Pull the rubber mats, if you have them, and clean underneath. Lots can grow on and under them! Check around the window (if you have one) for any growths or dirt and clean. Clean the lavatory sink and cabinets. I usually end up with toothpaste remnants in places I didn't know could have them!

In the main living area and bedrooms, wipe down the cabinets and walls to get rid of dust and dirt buildup. Then I move on to the carpets. Vacuum everything you can! So much dirt gets tracked in during your trips, you will be surprised how full your vacuum will get just doing this simple cleaning. Make sure you empty it and clean the filter to maintain maximum suction. This will save you the time of going back over the carpets again and again. I use a 12 Volt canister vacuum that I wrote about a while back. It works great and I really don't have that much floor for carpet anyway. It's also A LOT easier to do the walls and floors with it.

As for Critter prevention...while you are cleaning, check for any leavings and points of ingress. Fill those with steel wool or patch the hole with silicone sealant if it's small enough. Later on, I'll write up an entire article about critter proofing and prevention both during the RV season and in between. Stay Tuned! It's always sad to perform this cleanup, but if you do it now it will be easier to get going again in the spring. I can't wait!

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com