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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Inspect Your Stored RV To Avoid "Surprises!"


Sad, Huh?
    Right now, my RV is shivering under a cover out in the wilds of my driveway. I've winterized it, removed any food that could be harmed by the cold, shut down the fridge, closed the LP gas valve and left it plugged in to shore power to maintain the batteries. I'd use my solar panels, but they don't work very well (at all!) while under a cover. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises when I get the rig ready for the next season, I periodically zip the cover open and go inside to look around. You could find all sorts of unpleasantness or nothing at all. It's truly worth the peace of mind to check a few times. I find once a month works well...or after any particularly bad weather. What should you look for? Read on!


First thing I check is how the batteries are. If you have a motorized step, is it opening at its normal speed? If it's very slow...or not moving at all...if it's not frozen or rusted/corroded, the likely culprit is the batteries (especially if you didn't have a maintenance charger or shore power plugged in.) If you have a battery disconnect switch, turn it on. Did your coach turn on normally? If so...great! If not...well, check the batteries for voltage. Should be more than 12 Volts...If it's on a multistage charger, then they should be happily kept at around 13.x Volts.


Next, I check around for water intrusion. Especially the roof. Run your hand around all vents, the A/C unit, any skylights you have, your windows and the exhausts/chimneys for various appliances and your stove vent fan. Often these are in the cabinets. Open them! Feel the roof INSIDE the cabinets too. If it's damp, try and find out why. Leaving things damp all storage season will do more damage.

I also check for anything I DIDN'T really use over the last season. Removing those things will give me more efficient use of space (and let me store more stuff!)

While you're looking through your cabinets, check for critter nests and the like. Amazing where they can get into! Under the couch, behind tables...anyplace you can get to is worth a look. Bring a flashlight! Check your fridge for mold/mildew. Even a well-cleaned open fridge can develop some. Believe me...I HATE cleaning that nastiness!! It pays to look now, when a simple spritz with cleaner and wipe will fix the problem!

A problem avoided is a good thing!


I also take this time to check the water in my batteries. Since I leave them on a 4-stage maintenance charger, I like to make sure they have the proper amount of water and/or the charger is functioning properly (not boiling them to death). Batteries are expensive -- If maintained properly they will last for many years. I also lift up the edges of the cover to check underneath. Not for anything specific, but just general condition. Especially up by the engine bay. Is there anything leaking? Puddles under the Engine or Transmission could be a bad sign. Catch that sort of thing early and you're in better shape.

This may sound a bit crazy, but when I'm done I just sit on the couch for a while and look around. I mean, I miss my RV and traveling. Think of it as a visit. You can talk to it if you wish. That's OK...unless it answers back. Then seek professional help. Really. And HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Be Seeing You, Down The Road...

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa Was Very Good To Me This Year! - New Gizmo!

Yay!
    Great stuff for my RV! I'll admit I enjoy giving gifts far more than receiving them. But when it comes to cool new things for the RV that I can use on my travels next season I am always amazed at the finds my family and friends come up with. They are all the best! It has GOT to be difficult to find me gizmos, gadgets and labor savers by now! I try and find them wherever I go.....and aren't always successful. Let's see what Santa left under the tree (and by the fireplace) for me this year....

Lots of clothing. Lounging around wear (perfect for the RV!) Sweaters, jeans, shirts, shorts. I almost have enough to build a brand new wardrobe. Like most guys, I rarely buy clothes. Preferring to wear the old ones into the ground before replacing them. They're COMFORTABLE! Now, that doesn't mean I don't have business wear as well, but they don't get used as much. Who doesn't have a perfectly worn in pair of jeans that's become a favorite???

Then there's this thing. Most of you know, I like making fast food style Ham, egg and cheese sandwiches (on English Muffins, of course!) Heck, I even wrote an article on how to do it on an RV trip. Now I have an appliance that does it exclusively! I gotta tell you, it looks cool. Not sure if it will work as well as it claims too. I had a microwave one that claimed to make perfect Ham, egg and cheese...not so much. It was a real pain to use and even more of a pain to clean up. (It received one of my rare bad product reviews!) This one looks far better thought out.

It's electric. That in and of itself may relegate it to the house as I don't have lots of 120 Volt power to spare unless I run the generator. I spent a lot of time and energy designing a Solar Charging system to avoid using the generator on a regular basic. (Heck, I even did another series of articles fixing the problems with the first one!!) When I test this gadget out, I will figure out just how much power a full cooking cycle uses and go from there. It may not be all that much....we'll see. At least it has  "cook" and "ready" lights


The idea is you build the sandwich from the bottom up. Into the first movable ring (that sits on the base) you place the bottom of the English muffin, then the cheese, then any meat (I like ham) you'd like. Pull down the next ring and crack an egg or pour in some egg-beaters or egg substitute This ring has a sliding bottom that is designed to slide out of the way and deposit the cooked egg on the bottom layers. Finally place the top of the muffin on the egg and pull down the top. It just rests there and will (supposedly) rise as the egg cooks.


They say five minutes and it's done. We'll see how it works. I have NEVER seen this gizmo before. It fascinates me. Then again, most mechanical things do!

Fully Removable Dishwasher Safe Center Stack
**OK. It's now Christmas Morning and I have had a full test run on the cooker. It works. Sort of. The one I have has a malfunctioning "ready" light, so it is unclear how much time it really takes to preheat. Cooking indeed takes 5 minutes. It uses around 550 Watts at 120V of power, so figure around 4.6 Amps at 120v or around 50 Amps at 12V (figuring the Inverter is around 87% efficient) With around 10 minutes or so of total use time that works out to 1/6th of 50 Amps which is around 8.5 Amp/hours out of your battery bank. Doable....but since it's morning, your batteries will be at their lowest of the day (especially if you have used your furnace all night.) These numbers are "back of the napkin" calculations, so don't look for absolute accuracy here. rather a guideline for power consumption. While this thing works, I'll stick with my original recipe using the microwave egg cooker....less stuff to store and carry on trips.

To all, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!! I have a feeling Santa will be back tomorrow. That's when I usually get all the chocolate and snacks delivered. Since I am dieting (and losing weight) he's a bit of a bad fellow for tempting me!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays! - Yes, I Know It's A Bit Early!

Better Weather!
    We're all gearing up here for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and even a Joyous Kwanzaa. I just wanted to let everyone know my wishes extend to my entire extended RV family. Writing these articles each week, has been one of the truly enjoyable things I get to do. Many of you have expressed thanks for the information contained in them. For that, I thank you heartily. Being in the Northeastern US and being an avid RV'er can be pretty tough around the holidays. You get to see your RV under cover and snow on the ground. Quite a bummer. I get to plan for next season...that's OK. But the desire to travel, to be on the road is very strong.

OK, enough whining! In the coming year...I'm really going to make a concerted effort to get out and meet more RV'ers.

I'll bet there are quite a few of us here in the Northeast. All of us wishing we could be on the road again...sooner. Hmmm....maybe, after I find some of these folks, we could all get together over the winter and plan for the next season. Sharing ideas, having fun and generally goofing around isn't out of the question!
Once in a while I see some posts on RV forums from folks who are in the Northeast. Sometimes I respond either publicly or privately...usually, no response. Maybe this article will spur some of them to "come out of the woodwork!"

In other news, I've found all the fans I need to update both the bathroom 6" circular one and the one in the range hood. Stay tuned, if I can find an easy way to heat the inside of my covered RV, I will at least make an attempt to get some projects done! I know...use an electric heater....OK I'll see if my Electric Fireplace will heat up the whole RV...it will be a great experiment. With the cover on and all the windows blocked with my mylar/bubble covers...it's pretty dark and cozy in there. Add the fireplace and it could be a romantic place. Hmmmm any ideas who I should share that with?

Merry Christmas! Hope Santa and the Elves bring you lots of great RV stuff!

Be Seeing You, Down The Road...

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ugh. It's Officially NOT RV Season In The NorthEast. It's Planning Time!

    How Depressing. We just had our first big snowstorm in New York, 6-8 inches where my RV is parked. You know it's depressing to look at your RV, under a cover (or Not!) covered in snow and ice. Ho Hum. Even with the Christmas holiday rapidly approaching, I wish I could be out on the road taking one of my "snap" trips to anyplace. A quick getaway to chase the blues away. OK...enough whining. The one thing I CAN do in the dreary off season is plan! New modifications, improvements and trips for next season. After all it's only about 4 months away.

Just A Quick Look Inside
I've got a list of modifications that have been pending for a while. Some because the technology simply isn't available yet. (eg., Lithium Batteries) and some because they drifted father down the list because of repairs that took precedence. Now they're back! 

These are just a few examples. If, at any time, you have some suggestions for modifications, improvements, even products to try out, do not hesitate to comment!

Trip planning is another yearly winter project. I have several different types of trips I can go on during our RV season. There's the "Bounce Trip," that's the one where I can sneak away on a Friday evening and return on a Sunday evening. I try and arrive at the destination on Friday late and have at least 2 full nights parked. Then travel back on Sunday mid-morning. Since a long drive isn't all that exciting and it always feels a bit rushed, I try and limit myself to under 4 hours travel time. So that gives me a rough radius of 200 miles. This year I found lots of great places to escape to that were 200 miles or less away! (Vermont, Belleayre, etc.) Typically these are boondocking locations so setup and packing up really take no time at all. Park, pull the blinds you want closed, open a few windows and the roof vents and you're done! Simplicity and ease. More time to relax and rejuvenate. Isn't that what RVing is all about?


Then there is the 4 1/2 day weekend trip. I leave Thursday late afternoon (only if I have Friday Off!) and come back Monday morning (or more likely Sunday late night, leaving for work Early AM on Monday) Since I could have a full 8 hour travel day for these trips, my range is significantly increased. I can comfortably go 400+ miles...opening up MANY interesting places to visit. Since my RV is set up to be completely self-sufficient (power, water, propane) for a minimum of 10 days, I am always ready to get on one of these trips. Sadly, I rarely get that Friday off! Since it's so rare, I like to have a few preplanned destinations and routes ready to go at a moment's notice.

I really don't ever get a 2-week vacation like some folks, so extended trips are out until I can figure out a way to be on the road AND work. This will necessitate retiring from at least ONE of my jobs! It's a wonderful dream, but the companies I receive bills from still like to be paid. I can always dream....and plan!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shower Squeegee Storage

    A few months ago, I found a wonderful little squeegee to use after a shower to remove the bulk of excess water from the sides of the shower stall. Works great! No more sopping wet towels! The problem was finding a place to store the oddly shaped squeegee. Originally I had it stashed in the cabinet above my Lavatory sink. Worked OK, but you couldn't reach it from the shower and you had to remember to bring it in with you to start with. I have to admit, I am "memory challenged." I may be a sufferer of C.R.S. or perhaps the advanced for C.R.A.F.T. Sad really. They say short term memory is the SECOND thing to go...I cannot remember the First! My problems aside, I began to look at empty spaces I had available to store this cool little squeegee. Shouldn't be too hard to locate a spot in the shower, right?

There had to be a better way. There was, I found an elegant...well usable solution.


Some Of The 3M Hooks Available
3M makes these semi-permanent, removable without marring the surface, hooks in a variety of sizes and colors. The idea is; you remove the backing paper, place the hook where you want it to stick and press it down. When you want to remove it, there is a small tab at the bottom that when pulled firmly releases the adhesive and the hooks comes off. It works on a variety of surfaces and I can attest on a fiberglass shower enclosure there was no residue when it was removed. Why did I remove one I just put on? Easy, I put it in the wrong place. Remember the adage, "measure twice, cut once?" I didn't. Since I needed two of them to hang the squeegee securely, they had to be the right distance apart.

They weren't. I'm beginning to get used to false starts and re-do's!

Well once I had the measurements correct and the placement wasn't in the way of a nice shower, I was happy. The squeegee lives IN the shower and doesn't use up any space I was using at all! A quick (well sort of!) and elegant solution. RV'ers,especially ones with smaller "storage challenged" rigs, will always be happy with using space that wasn't being used for anything at all! After all, it's like getting something for nothing!


Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

To Cover Or Not To Cover - That Is The Question

My RV Covered
    I have an RV cover. It is, or rather was, a nice one. After many years with the original owner in the hot California sun and 3 years in the snow and sleet of the Northeast, the material has gone brittle. If you pull on it too hard it rips. A lot. I now have a cover that works great up to the windshield and then has an 8 foot gash all the way across. Last year, when it wasn't so bad, I used the windshield wipes to hole the top and bottom pieces together...well...sort of. Some folks say I shouldn't cover it. I'm not so sure.

I've found varying schools of though when it comes to covering your RV. Some say it's essential... others...not so much. Let's take a look at why.

PROS:  
  • Keeps the bulk of the weather off the surface of your RV.
  • Keeps birds from "depositing" on your RV roof and sides.
  • Keeps Branches, leaves, etc. from accumulating on the RV.
  • Keeps the Sun's harmful UV rays from fading your surfaces.
  • Hides the RV from prying eyes.
CONS:
  • Constant rubbing of cover against the surface of the RV dulls finish.
  • Could scratch or mar the glass.
  • Retains moisture underneath the cover.
  • A P.I.T.A. to put it on and take it off.
  • You have to store it someplace.
  • They can be costly to buy.
No Cover? Well, Except For The Snow!
On the pro side it appears to have real value. Maintaining your RV in good condition keeps it value up and since less maintenance is required you can rest easier thus maintaining your own sanity. On the con side, there is a real danger of some kind of damage to your finish and/or scratches on your glass. You can mitigate this by choosing the right material for your cover and local environment. I have tried both covered and uncovered. It seems like covering it in bad weather works well. I had a lot more cleaning to do in spring when I left it uncovered over the winter months. I did find that making sure the top isn't too loose and flopped around in the wind was essential to keeping the finish unblemished.

I'm absolutely sure I have missed a bunch of pros and cons. This year I believe I will be using my old cover. I took some photos of it before...and I'll take some after. Let's get to the bottom of this, scientifically. Either way, take care of your RV and it will always be ready to whisk you off to destinations both known and unknown. Now....it's time for a large Thanksgiving day meal!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finding Pesky RV Tank & Drain Leaks

    The other day I came out to find a small water puddle underneath the back of my RV. Well, to be honest, it wasn'.t really a puddle more like damp pavement. I figured it was from the fresh water overflow hose when I last filled my tank. No worries, I'd keep an eye on it. Several days go by and it remains damp each day. The damp area doesn't seem to change in size, so it must be a steady drip. Looking underneath the RV showed NO water leaking at all from any of the likely drain pipes nor water fittings that I could see.  Hmmmm. I had a mystery on my hands that would have to be sorted out before it became worse.

Upon closer inspection(and in multiple awkward positions)  I discovered the leak. (Really more of a "seep")  For some reason the designers of my RV decided it would be a good idea to have the fresh water drain come out ON TOP OF my grey water tank! Huh? There is a small tube that comes from the water system directly on top of the grey water tank. While it does keep the top of the tank quite clean it's a bit silly. I've been thinking of running a rubber hose from the outlet to someplace better. Well... THAT WASN'T the problem! The leak was something else since the fresh water system is completely drained and "blown out" for the winter.

On my RV the sink drains all feed a common inlet to the grey water tank.  There is a very short vertical PVC pipe that goes from the intersection through the flooring and sub-flooring, down to the grey water tank. It's almost impossible to see. I had to resort to using a camera with a flash to get a clear view. Anyway, when water is draining from the sinks the joints on this pipe seep a little water, very slowly. I can see someone tried to put several beads of silicone sealant around the pipe to stop the flow. This MAY have been working for a long time, but really isn't a proper repair.

To do this right, I will have to remove the retaining straps on the tank somehow and disconnect the pipe that's leaking. Problem is, I cannot see how it's threaded or attached. It may very well be PVC glued on...in that case a hacksaw and some fresh pipe is in order. I am trying to figure out how to get it all back in place. I do not believe I can get to the pipe joint while the tank is in place. This whole shebang may have to wait until the weather warms up. I am hoping I can access the leaky section without a complete disassembly of the tank and structure around it. Who knows, I may get lucky for a change! Not likely, but one can hope, right?

Next season (or right now, if you are blessed with warm weather!) you should go out and look at the TOPS of your tanks. It just might explain that mysterious slow leak that has plagued you for a long while. I was surprised.....never knew that there were fittings there.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Winterizing Tip - Don't Forget Your Traps!!

    If you, like me, have a Winter Season you know all about winterizing your RV so bad things don't happen when it gets below freezing. Especially to your fresh water system. There are two schools of thought on winterizing. Some folks prefer to pump their whole system full of the "pink stuff" or, more properly, RV WaterLine Antifreeze. This is a non-toxic, supposedly tasteless liquid that won't freeze at typical winter temperatures. The other method is to blow out your water system with compressed air. (Not too much pressure! About 40PSI or so is plenty.) I use the latter. So far, over several years I've had no problems at all. Well, that's not entirely true. I did have a cracked PVC pipe.

Typical RV Sink Drain
You see, blowing out the water lines takes care of both your cold and hot water pipes but does NOTHING to remove the water from your DRAINS! Each drain in your RV has an "S" or more properly a "U" shaped bend that keeps odors from flowing back up into your living space. Invented by, no kidding, Thomas Crapper in 1880. A small amount of water remains in the elbow to block vapors from coming back out. Ingenious, really. The only problem with this? When the temperature gets below freezing the water freezes, cracking the elbow. Come summer, your drain has a big crack in it and water flows out into whatever is beneath. Kitchen cabinets, your floor.... Well, you get the idea! Bad Mojo!

You Can Buy ANY Brand!
Simply pouring in about a quart (to be safe!) of the pink antifreeze will ensure all the water is displaced and what remains won't freeze and crack your pipes. Make sure you do EVERY drain, even the separate sinks of a double sink. Some of them have TWO drains!  Usually, I buy a brand name waterline antifreeze for a little bit more money, but it's still only about five dollars a gallon. Enough (for me) to do four drains. I also add some to the toilet and let it sit to keep the seals moist. Couldn't hurt, but may help in the spring. Sometimes the simplest preventive medicine can save you from a world of pain and expense further down the road. I know.

I had a crack in my shower drain 4 years ago from, what else, a frozen drain elbow. It was VERY difficult to get to and ended up taking hours to fix. Not fun being under the RV while dirt, grime and water pour on your head. Yay! Don't repeat my mistake. I know I won't do it again!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Never Underestimate The Power Of Simple Soapy Water!


    I hate Cleaning. I have said it before and I will likely say it again...and again. If I can figure out any methods of making cleaning less tiresome, I will always be happier. Dishes are a special torture for me. I looked into portable dishwashers for the RV. All of them were too big to store (for me) and used too much water and power. Now what?

Behold!

The simple spray bottle.


The Spray Bottle
Spray bottles. We use them all the time. Almost every cleaning product comes in a spray version. Some even have spray and stream selections on the nozzle. After my semi annual cleaning of the RV (this one was pre-storage, a very sad day indeed!) I realized that I could use a spray bottle to clean lots of things with simple soap and water.

The next time I was in a liquidation store, I found a quart spray bottle for 50 cents. I thought, why not! For the price, even if it worked for one or two jobs it would be a win. Again, if it's going to speed up or make my cleaning tasks easier I am all for it!

Check Your Tire Valves For Leaks!
Plain old soap and water is a miraculous thing. The real trick is figuring out just how much soap to put in the water. I use a regular dish soap (Dawn) and use about one teaspoon per quart of water. Just shake the spray bottle to make some bubbles. Of course, you can clean all sorts of things gently, but you can also use the bubbles to find leaks in just about any pressurized system. (Well except Water!) Simply flip over and pump out a stream of them. (Remember, you have to flip it back over once the pump lever doesn't pump!) I've used it to troubleshoot my propane system, my suspension airbag lines, valves and gauges, and of course tires and tire valves.

As a tool, this is fantastic, but what's that got to do with washing dishes? Ahhh...that's the next trick. If you have the spray bottle and soap mixture by your kitchen/galley sink, you can use it to spray down your (pre-scraped) dishes with soapy water. Scrub lightly to remove any food residue then rinse with pressurized water from your faucet. It sure beats filling up the sink with soapy water! Obviously you can conserve water this way AND get your dishes clean. Sounds a bit crazy, but it works. Sort of like me!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Importance Of A Catastrophe Fuse For Your RV Battery Systems

Completed Install
    Without batteries to run your RV "house" systems, even the simplest things would be much more difficult. Think about it, no lights, no electric water pump, no TV(!) and no cell phone charging. Think about all the different uses of battery power in your RV and then stop and think what would happen if your batteries failed catastrophically. I'm not talking about a simple dead battery here, I'm thinking more about a dead short that could send hundreds of Amps surging through your RV's 12 volt wiring and appliances. Repair, if possible, would be very costly.It doesn't happen very often (Especially if you maintain your batteries properly!) but if COULD happen. Take some steps to make sure it doesn't happen to you!
Install a catastrophe fuse.

What's a catastrophe fuse you may ask. Simple, it's a high amp value fuse that sit's between your battery and all of the wiring and electrically run doodads you have inside the coach. If something goes horribly wrong, it blows, likely saving you a huge headache and possibly your RV. You see, overloaded wires get HOT, they could burn. Fire and RV's do not mix! So, what's the easiest way to decide on which one to use and get it installed? Keep reading to find out!

Step one....buy a catastrophe fuse. Step two, install it.  Yes, I know...I just couldn't help myself!

Ignore The Red Tape. It Holds The Cover On.
Seriously, almost all Catastrophe fuses fall into a couple of categories,Class T and ANL fuses. After you decide which one fits your use, you'll need a holder and at least one heavy duty battery cable to connect it to the battery. On my system, two batteries are wired in parallel (to increase capacity) so I have one cable going to my positive loads and one cable going to ground. To install a catastrophe fuse in a holder, you'll have to remove the positive battery cable from the battery. At this point you can attach the end of the cable you just removed to the fuse block (you MAY have to swap ends or buy an adapter if it doesn't fit.) Here's were you either need another short length of cable or a fuse block that attaches directly to the battery. I used a short length of thick welding cable (it's more flexible than standard battery cable) to attach the fuse block to the battery terminal. Since I have so little height available in the battery bay, this was the only way I could get it mounted remotely.

Once mounted and secure, reconnect the positive terminal to the battery. BE CAREFUL, if you have left something turned on, it may spark. That's it. You are now protected. A few notes; Make sure you get a fuse that will cover all your loads and draws from the battery. For example, if you have a large inverter that will pull 300 amps from the batteries, make sure you get a fuse that will allow more than 300 Amps of draw, The Class T fuses can be expensive, so it pays to get the right size!

As I have said before, treat your batteries right and they will last a long time. That being said....you never can be too careful with your RV electrical system. Strange things can and do happen! Better safe than on fire.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Finally! I Found A Method To Remove Mildew And Stains

Parked In Tennessee
When I first bought my RV it had these horrible stains embedded in the rubber screw covers around both my entry doors. (main and driver's side) I tried EVERYTHING I could think of to remove the stains. It looked kind of like mildew, but mildew removal products didn't work. I tried bleach, common cleaners, you name it..I tried it. Nothing worked until I tried a product that makes outrageous claims. Usually these don't work. This one did!

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. A simple looking white sponge foam block, very deceiving. This little bit of foam is quite powerful. As a lark, I decided to try it on my dirty moldings. I mean, what did I have to lose? Nothing else worked at all and I couldn't source a same size/shape replacement. So, on a recent rainy trip to Tennessee, I gave it a shot. WOW! I won't lie to you, it took a fair amount of elbow grease to remove the stains. But they did get removed. When I started, whatever the stain and discoloration actually is was embedded deep into the trim strip. I couldn't even SCRAPE it off. It had all sorts of colors in it, brown, green, red, yellow, purple. Looked very nasty. Like a terrible bruise that has begun to heal. OK, that's nastier, but this bruise on my RV had been there since the day I picked it up, years ago. I don't let many things bother me. I mean RV'ing is all about relaxing and having a good time. But this just got my gears grinding. I had to see it every time I got in or out of the RV from ANY door. I wish I had tried this a few years ago and saved some of what little sanity I had.

Lo and behold, after about 10 minutes of vigorous scrubbing with a Magic Eraser, the foam block had essentially disintegrated, but the molding was clean!!! I had a box of three of them in RV. In fact they had been sitting there for well over a year. I had purchased them at a liquidator store figuring I could find a use for them someplace at only $1, why not? Little did I realize they would solve a problem I had from the very beginning. Sometimes things just work out that way.

Since I only had three of the Magic Erasers, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the project until I bought more. Three of them got the entire door molding clean on all four sides. I had a tiny piece left and started on the driver's side door. I've only gotten about 1/8th of the way around it. I figure another three pack will do just dandy. Of course, all I see now in the stores are 2 packs and 4 packs. Yup, that's the way it works. No worries though, the 4 packs are only around $4.


Every once in a while I am greatly surprised by a product. Mr. Clean doesn't go around saying his Magic Erasers will clean everything and anything. In fact...the packaging asks you to "discover the cleaning possibilities."  I'll wager they never had RV trim covers and moldings in mind....but you never know!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Even The Simple Things - Faucet Water Filter

My Double Sink and Kitchen Faucet
    Water, water everywhere....but not a drop to drink. If you have ever been on a cruise ship, that was a mantra you learned...quickly. Even though you were surrounded by water, it wasn't safe to drink. Only by filtering and purifying salty seawater were you able to use it as drinking water. While not as difficult in an RV, filtered water can, at the very least, make your water taste better and remove some sediment you probably don't want to drink. There are MANY ways  to make safe potable water from the nastiest water sources. I already have a filter system for that. What about just a quick way to make your water taste better? Here's one easy way.

Many competing companies make a basic screw-on water filter. It connects to you faucet head and allows you to switch between filtered and "tap" water. Some are quite large, others are small. I wanted one I could get replacement filter cartridges almost anyplace. (Home stores, Wally world, supermarkets, etc.) I settled on the PUR version. You can get it in various finishes; white and chrome are the most popular choices. It has a replaceable filter cartridge and a visual indicator to tell you when it should be replaced. It simply tilts up for filtered and down for unfiltered water. A snap to use.

Putting it on the faucet is easy. Most faucets in the typical RV kitchen have threaded caps over the end. (Aerators) Be careful when you remove it, as they sometimes have water restrictors and/or little screens inside. Once unscrewed, simply screw on (or snap on) the filter assembly. I have the older style (uses the same cartridges). The newer models have a choice of basic and advanced filters. The advanced is better and will filter MANY contaminants from your water. It will NOT remove crypto-sporidia or cysts however. A smaller micron filter is needed for that. In my case I do that when I fill the fresh water tank. I remove the entire filter for travel as it puts undue stress on the faucet itself. It fits nicely in one of the sinks, with the cover on.

Each filter is good for 100 Gallons of water. I only use it for cooking and drinking. So it will last a LONG time. I really did taste the difference with the filter on. The basic one eliminated any "tank flavor" from my water supply. That alone makes it worthwhile. The basic filters are only around $14 each with the Advanced version being $26 each. The advanced one is a 3 stage filter and removes or reduces levels of:

  • 2,4-D
  • 2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
  • Alachlor
  • Asbestos
  • Atrazine
  • Benzene
  • Carbofuran
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Chlordane
  • Chlorine Taste & Odor
  • Class I Particulates
  • Endrin
  • Ethylbenzen
  • Heptachlor Epoxide
  • Lead
  • Lindane
  • Mercury
  • Methoxychlor
  • Monochlorobenzene
  • MTBE
  • o-Dichlorobenzene
  • Rust
  • Sediment and dirt
  • Silvex
  • Simazine
  • Styrene
  • Tetrachloroethene
  • Toluene
  • Toxaphene
  • Trichlororethene
  • TTHMs
  • Turbidity
Water is so critical for life...I take no chances! This is a cheap safety and taste solution for your RV water needs. A little extra insurance never hurt.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Editors' note: PUR water faucet filters are available at Amazon.com. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cheap and Effective Handy Lights

    Light. We all need it. Too many times I have been in (or under!) the RV and needed a light to fix something or take a better look at a problem and didn't have a flashlight handy. As a disclaimer, I have a serious fascination with flashlights. Even as a small child, I would look with wonder at anything that generated light without fire. No, I wasn't a caveman!! But being from a time where "double A" penlights were the best we could do...the age of LED's and ultra bright lights seems quite amazing! In this age of wonder, there is a veritable smorgasbord of cool lights to keep around for any purpose. I've got one in particular that I find very useful.

This tiny inexpensive gem both lights up an area and can be used as a spotlight. At $3.49 (or free if you have a coupon) including batteries this one is a keeper! It's a small oval about 4" long by 2" wide and about 1" thick. It's got 24 LED's on one side and 3 LED's on one edge. The switch let's you toggle between each set and turn the light OFF and ON. The 3 LED setting is great for "regular" flashlight use and the other is fantastic for area lighting and repairs in deep cabinets...or under the sink...or under the couch...or in the engine compartment...or in a bay...ask me..I know!




I keep more than one of these around at all times. Since they have both a magnet on the back and a fold-able  "clothes type" hanger, it's really easy to find a place for  them to live. For me, I keep one magnetically attached to my range hood and another sitting on the counter held in place by the stove-top cover. They are both easy to get to. Since I got each one (at different times) with a free coupon, they are nice at the right price! The coupons come up quite often, so I believe I will never have to replace batteries in them! Just get a new one. Of course I'll give the first one to a deserving individual who happens to have 3 AAA batteries lying about!

If you are a flashlight junkie like me AND you're practical, this little light fulfills a myriad of uses. AND it's cheap. Not cheaply made (well I guess it is...but the materials are good quality) but actually cheap as in DOLLARS! Even if you pay retail, it's only $3.49. So far the ones I have had for 3 years are still going strong. I just got another coupon last week....time for a third. Hmmm, wonder where I'll put that one!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road.

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com


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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Light Weight CHAIRS That Take Up Very Little Space

    Even something as simple as a chair can cause a lot of aggravation in the RV world. While it's always nice to have a comfy chair to relax in, it isn't always practical to lug one around. Sure, you could always retreat inside your RV and relax on a chair or the couch, but one of the amazing things about RV travel is the beautiful locations you end up at. Having the ability to sit outside and enjoy the vista is a given. In order to really enjoy the outside you'll need something to sit on that's comfortable, portable, durable and doesn't take up too much space when stored. Short of lugging an old La-Z-Boy out of your basement storage, which wouldn't REALLY be practical you'll need a folding and pack-able alternative. Thankfully, there is a booming business in just that kind of product! What makes a good one? Read on!
First, figure out where you will be storing your chair(s) when they are not in use. For me, they usually sit on the floor in front of the bathroom door while I am underway and then live in the passenger footwell when we're camping. Until they are needed, that is! As usual, I did a lot of research before I plunked down hard earned cash for a folding chair. I wanted one that would be comfortable AND would last a long time. Of course it had to fit my limited storage space as well. I settled on a collapsible version that fit in a bag with a shoulder strap.
There were MANY of this style available in lots of different materials and price points, After some research into outdoor rated cloth, The one I chose is made from a heavy man-made canvas fabric with metal grommets at all attachment/folding points. It has 4 Plastic "feet" with small ridges to hold itself in place when unfolded. It's about 36" in length and weighs around 3.75 lbs. It fits into the included travel bag without too much struggling and the bag itself has a adjustable cinch cord to hold it closed. The shoulder strap is heavy and double sewed. It appears that it will take a beating and stay attached for a long time.

The true test of any chair is....comfort! Sure, it folds up nicely, isn't too heavy and appears quite durable. But if no one sits on it....because it's literally a pain in the....well you know. No one will use it. I'm happy to report this chair is comfortable. MUCH more comfortable than I thought it would be. It will never be mistaken for a La-Z-Boy, however after sitting in it for a few hours I can say I didn't feel like I had been tortured in any way. If I HAD to find a flaw, I would say it can be a bit difficult to fold it tight enough to repack into it's bag. Not impossible, once you figure out how to fold it right!
If you like sitting (I know I do!) having a couple of these chairs is a great addition to your outdoor gear. Since they take up such a small space....why not get more than one. I found these on sale for under $20 dollars so they're not too expensive and go great with my folding table!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

Editor's note: There are several comfortable camping chairs available from Amazon.com, as well as the highly-regarded Strongback Chair, available from its manufacturer.