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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.