Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vent Insulation - Keep out the Heat AND the Cold!

My Installation
    I like my Vent Fans. There, I said it. With all the talk of Air Conditioning there isn't any love left for the basic (lowly?) 14" vent fan. In my RV I have two of them. One in front above the couch and table and one in the back above the foot of the bed and vanity sink area. I've found if you have one on intake and one on exhaust you can have a nice cool breeze flowing in the RV all the time. Makes a HUGE difference in inside temps. Most of the time I can get away without A/C! That being said, there is a drawback. When not in use, they let a lot of heat in during the summer and lots of heat escapes through them in the winter. How do you stop that and keep your preferred comfortable temperatures inside? Read on!

Ugly Mylar
There are a few companies manufacturing "vent cushions" that press into the gap between the vent fan and the roof to seal out light and heat (or seal in cool if you're running the A/C). They work quite well. However, I can't use them. Both of my fans are mounted flush with the ceiling. So, no gaps to fill. I needed another solution. A while back I re-made some of my reflective window coverings. I had so much of the reflective Mylar material left over I figured I had to put it to good use. Besides, the window coverings work extremely well...why not use them to insulate the vent fans too? I could have simply cut out a square (bigger than the opening), affixed some Velcro to the Mylar and stuck it over the opening.
I did. It looked Terrible!

The "Pouchiness" Is Due To Covering The Vent Knob
How about covering the cover? Hmmm. I had some cloth fan covers that came with my RV. They were, oddly enough, for covering the vent fans! I tried to put the cut Mylar covers underneath and then Velcro the whole thing to the ceiling. No good...not enough space to get them to stick. I don't like getting conked in the noggin quite THAT much! So, after moving the Velcro to the extreme edges, I managed to get it to stay on the ceiling! Admittedly, it's a bit of a pain to hold the Mylar in place while I press the Velcro edged piece of cloth over it. At some point, I'll sew more Velcro pieces on the cloth and stick a few pieces on the Mylar cover to hold them together.

All in all, they do work quite well. Light intrusion is WAY down and you can feel the difference in the temperature with your hand. I believe the heater will run less in cold weather, as well, since much less heat should escape out the roof openings. In order to cover the opening/closing mechanism, the cloth "pouches" out a little bit. Maybe some additional Velcro will help?? Stay Tuned for version 2.0.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Editor's Note: Camco Sunshield RV Vent Insulators (with or without reflective surface) are available at Amazon.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Quiet That Annoying Stove-Top Rattle!

Lots Of Stray Noise Capability!
    If you are like me, silence while driving down the road is golden! When you own an RV, every squeak, rattle and little noise can drive you crazy. It's not that you can completely silence every one of them, but it's comforting to actually KNOW what causes them and whether something is going to break if it continues. I had one REALLY irritating rattle while driving. It wasn't constant, but only at certain speeds over specific types of road surface. Maddening! I finally had a passenger with me on an extended trip that could walk around in the living space and locate where it was coming from while in motion. Needless to say, it was found! Now...what to do about it!

The White Snake!
When I first bought my rig, I noticed the four burner stove had a long piece of white cotton cloth "snaked" around all the burners and piled up at one corner. I figured it was to keep the large white cover in place and rattle free while traveling. Nope. Now I know it was actually to stop the grates themselves from rattling against the stainless steel stove-top. The way stove-tops are put together is a bit odd. (Perhaps yours is different, but I've seen this design a lot in RV's) They push the burner grates through a slot in the stainless steel surface and then bend a tab slightly to lock it in. This definitely stops them from falling out. However, over time, they can (and will) loosen up and the grates themselves move about in the slots. Creating, what else(?) an annoying rattle!

If you remove the two (maybe more for yours!) screws holding down the top of the stove, you can lift it up and see the tabs. While it is up, it's a great time to clean out all the spilled food and dirt that's gotten under here ALSO check the manifold and valves for gas leaks! (Sniff or Soapy Water in a spray bottle works great!) I took a pair of large and flat ended pliers to the tabs and ever so slightly twisted them a bit further until the grate was really locked down again. No rattle. Mission accomplished!

The picture shows another stove diagram, but you can see the tiny tabs on the burner grates at the top...near the "2" in a circle.

It may not last, but at least I know what causes this noise and how to fix it. Now on to the annoying shake and rattle by the door....I think it maybe be the bottom of the metal blind mounted inside a frame on the door....maybe not. For my sanity (what's left of it anyway...) I WILL find it!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Light Weight Tables That Take Up VERY Little Space!

    When you have a small, storage challenged, RV you tend to look for items that will fit in small spaces yet still be functional when used.

One of the things I've found I cannot live without is a table to use outside. Mainly to put the BBQ on, but for almost any purpose at all including dining. Having a large, flat, convenient workspace that will store easily in a minimum of space is a really valuable asset. Finding one that actually works is a great thing!

I've tried lots of different tables that purported to "fold up into a small space for easy storage." Most of them will fold, but they aren't easy and they still take up too much space. Until now!

There are many folding tables out there. Some of them even work, sort of. I was looking to do better. A while ago I was at Cabela's in Hamburg, PA where they have tons of odd camping gear when I first saw this one. It is mostly aluminum with a few plastic pieces and some Velcro straps. It looked pretty spindly, but the box and description assured me that it would hold a heavy load. (60 lbs) At least heavy enough for my grill, utensils, small bottle of propane and the food! as usual, I was skeptical at first. I mean, how could something that folds up so small AND be made so light have any chance of survival in the harsh world of RV'ing??? 
Mmmmm Pork Chops and fresh Tortillas
Shows you how much I know! I took the table out of its zippered bag (it's only about 4" high by about 30" long and pulled out the legs. After they were unfolded, I simply placed the tabletop on the platform and unrolled it. A couple of "Tab A into Slot B" maneuvers and it was set up!. It also comes with a nice extension that increases the table top size from 28" to 48"! Now this was a reasonably sized table that I could use! After setting it up, I pulled out the grill and gas bottle set it all up and Voila! made dinner. 

It's nice to find products that aren't really any fuss to setup and use. OK...there IS a bit of an issue. When you are done with the table, you have to fold it back up to fit in the bag. Sounds deceptively simple... I made the mistake of not remembering how it came OUT of the bag. After some trial and error (lots of errors) I realized that it will only roll up one way so the Velcro can grip and hold it closed!  as long as you don't make that mistake....it's a great addition to your RV!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "Wanderman"

Editor's note: There are several roll-up tables available at Amazon.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Trip Log - Top Of The Mountain Concert

All By Its Lonesome!
    This past Labor day three day weekend I stumbled upon an unusual venue for an RV trip. Turns out Belleayre Mountain Ski Resort in New York has a whole bunch of events in the summer AND the powers that be in the NY State government have decided it's OK for RV's to park overnight (1 night) in certain places on the mountain to boost awareness of the resort as a whole! Whoa! Say what??!?! Yes...you read that correctly, dry camping on the top of a mountain (2800 ft) with spectacular views in a state run resort. Way cool. I had to try it. So off we went!

Be aware, that climbing mountains in an RV can be a bit of a laborious process. Getting from the road height of 150 ft. to the 2800 ft. elevation of the top of the mountain (well almost the top, looks like there is another ski lift going a bit higher than the lot we were in) is going to take some time as the road there is pretty steep grade. Take your time! There is no rush. I used second gear and made about 45 mph the whole climb and kept engine and transmission temps in the green. Amazing views during the climb. There are a couple of dual lane passing zones for impatient motorists to pass.

Once at the top, you check in with the manager (an incredibly cool guy who goes by the name, "Captain Ron." Yes, I made a Kurt Russell reference to which his reply was a pitch perfect pirate impression! Although he didn't have an eye-patch I let him slide! He told us we could park anywhere in the lower (employee only) parking lot. When we chose a place, he even came down to suggest one with a better view! Now that's courtesy!
Yes, Paper Plates..I was Being Lazy!
The altitude made it nice and cool, with temps never getting above 71 degrees with a nice breeze wafting through the RV. It got a bit cooler at night, but never cool enough to need the furnace. The morning was foggy, but the view was fantastic. Clouds creating interesting shapes, shrouding all the surrounding peaks. It was also incredibly quiet. We settled in, made a great dinner and then went up to see the concert at the top of the mountain. Oh, right.. with all the amazing views and friendly folks I almost forgot to mention the music festival they were having that night.

Three bands (Lily and the Parlour Tricks, Big Data and The Hold Steady as well as Joni Fatora on the smaller stage prior to the main event!) all of them from Brooklyn, New York. All on a stage under a massive white tent on the top of the mountain! How's that for cool factor? After a great concert, we retired to the RV for a movie and a snack. Actually, it turned out to be a couple of episodes of an old TV show called, "Greg The Bunny" and a snack. Then sleep with the mountain breeze drifting in.

Well rested in the morning I made a hearty breakfast and we wandered around the resort for a few hours, never seeing another person! Then back down the mountain to explore some small towns we passed on the way in. Like the best RV trips.. relaxing and enjoyable. Good food with great company. What else can one ask of RV'ing? Every time I take a trip, I hope it will be as perfect as this. With summer coming to a close and the opportunities for RV trips diminishing at an ever increasing rate, I cherish these trips. They have to keep my mind occupied over the long winter to come.

Was there a down side? Depends on how you look at things. I only managed to get data in/out from my cell phone twice the whole time we were there. And NO CALLS at all. This could be a good or bad thing... depending on your particular point of view. Cell service came back about 200 ft. lower though. I'm already looking into next year's event schedule for a return trip.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"