Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Even The Simple Things - A Better Self Closing Mesh Screen Soft Door

NOT Current. It's Still Covered In SNOW!
    A few years ago, when I first bought my RV, I was very surprised it didn't come equipped with a screen door. Most RV's I had been looking at had the typical dual door setup. The main exterior door and an inner framed screen door. Well, mine didn't. I really wanted one. It's great to be able to leave the main door open and have some cross ventilation and not be completely closed in. Especially when cooking inside with friends outside. Yes, I know, I have a kitchen/galley window that opens...but it's just not the same. Back then , I found a mesh screen door that rolled/folded up into a tiny package and was easy to velcro to the carpet that's on the walls all around my door (and on the ceiling.) It worked OK, but I had to re-velcro it each time I went in or out. Not all that bad, but with plates of food in each could be a problem. Then I stumbled upon a new kind of soft mesh door. With Magnets! Read on.

This essentially attached the same way the one I had before did. It used velcro to secure the edges around the outside of the door opening, but was split in the middle with strong magnets placed every 12 inches or so on each side. The idea was you pushed through the magnets to exit and they would re-close the screen after you passed through. Sure you lose a tiny bit of see through visibility since it has a seam in the middle, but it appeared to be a MUCH more convenient closing method. Or is it? Seems like it could be a much better solution.

The real question is, "When installed in the RV door frame, will it actually close completely and tightly keeping insects and debris out?"

Excellent question! (If I do say so myself!) I can only answer....I don't know. I tested the opening and closing on the floor and in a house sized inside doorway. They do work. The magnets are strong and do pull the two sides of the screen together. Sometimes it's a little bit off kilter. As soon as I can open my RV door, I will be testing it there. I am truly hoping this works well. The one I have now often leaves large gaps on the sides as you go in and out.

Yet another project I'd really like to do NOW, that is slowed down by the pace of the weather. I am beginning to sound like a broken record....there are so many RV items by the door, they're beginning to block access! I know, think positive thoughts we are almost to the Spring...wait...according to my calendar it IS Spring. What a rip-off.....there's still snow on the ground.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What About Folks In Wheelchairs? - Can they go too?

The Entry Door And Stairs
   Yesterday, I picked up a full size custom van with an electric wheelchair lift installed in it. It's for my Dad, he's 94. It's really the only way he can travel these days. Doctors, hospitals and the like combine to make most of his trips. Even with a full time care person, it was very difficult to get him in and out of a vehicle safely. When he could still stand on his own, I took my parents on the odd RV day trip. Once even to a wedding reception! It was a nice way for him to travel. Big windows, a fridge, a know, everything we are used to when we RV. I remember when I was younger how he always wanted a custom van (a precursor to the beautiful class B's we have today) to travel the country in.

 His new van is close. I'm going to make it closer!

Back Of The Van With Jack-Knife Sofa
It already has a fold down jack-knife sofa in the rear so sleeping is a possibility. Not really, because of his health, but it's there. With the exception of the Driver and Passenger seats, there are no other seats in the van. Just multiple tie-down locations for the wheelchair. Because of the raised roof, it has lot's of space for lighting. In fact it already has both aim-able and decorative fixtures. It has a TV and a separate VCR built in. Lot's of cup holders and huge windows. First thing I ordered was a folding wall table. This will allow him to eat, and have a place to rest things. Next, I have a 12V cooler/mini-fridge I had been using on off-road trips in my truck, that will get installed in the van. I may add an inverter later on, if there is a need for 120VAC outlets, but right now...nothing comes to mind.

12 Volt VCR With Remote Control Storage
I'm probably going to swap out the VHS VCR for a DVD/VCR combo I have sitting around from before my RV conversion to digital media. I'm going to add a backup camera and GPS system to make navigation easier. They have dropped in price dramatically. It will need a TPMS of some kind as well. Knowing the temperature and pressure of your tires is really important to avoid disasters! Especially if you only have FOUR of them. Like my RV! There are separate systems for the front and the rear vents. The A/C and Heat is setup to be separately controllable. They rely on circulating hot engine coolant, as there is no traditional RV style furnace.

What else could be useful? I was thinking maybe a microwave for heating up meals? Some of his Doctor visit trips can begin early in the morning and return home late in the afternoon. Lot's of miles. Cool drinks are great, but what about a warm snack or meal from home? Rather than something bought on the road...home made rather than fast food.  There are lot's of storage cabinets and "cubbies" spread around the interior, so storing the essentials he needs is easy. The raised roof design almost makes standing up a possibility, as long as you are quite short! There are "cellular" style RV shades, but a couple need to be repaired.

I have done some research and discovered there are RV's (mostly retrofitted) to add some type of wheelchair access, whether a lift or ramp. RV'ing is a great way to see the country and no one should be left out. If you have the time, why not enjoy it?  I guess I am looking at this as a "mini-RV." It could be a way to bring some joy back into his life. Being cooped up all this winter really showed me how a trip, even a short one, will raise the spirits and engage the mind. I'll do what I can to make that happen.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Even The Simple Things - Tomato & Other Corers

I Miss My RV Kitchen!
    Since I'm stuck NOT taking RV trips nor working on RV improvements and modifications, I tend to shop, more than I should. Looking for strange and wonderful items to write about. While wandering through one of my favorite discount liquidation shops, I came across a really odd gadget. Something I had never seen before. A Tomato corer. Hmmm...I usually take a knife and remove the stem and rough top of tomato and pretty much eat the rest. Hey, what can I say... I Like tomatoes. I bought it anyway. I mean it was evil looking for a utensil. I wasn't exactly sure what I would use it for, but at only $1.99 it would, at least, make an interesting conversation piece.

This thing is very hard to describe! (Good thing I have pictures!) It's a plastic bulb with 4 serrated triangular, scooped "teeth" at the top. On the bottom there is a spring loaded button that, when depressed, cause the 4 "blades" to open. Almost like an alligator, with 4 jaws. The idea is you press the button to extend the jaws, insert it into the top of the tomato, release the button, twist and pull out the entire core. OK. Seems simple enough. And it works. But, I had to ask myself, "Why?" It's just as easy (maybe even easier) to simply use a knife to remove the cores. AND you have to eject the core from the device each time, hardly seems like a time or labor savor.

After taking a closer look at this kitchen gadget, I noticed it looks like it could do you some harm when used, I mean, LOOK AT THE TEETH! The spring is quite sturdy. It's hard to keep the jaws open. Tomatoes can be slippery (or soft) Sounds like a recipe for a clipped fingertip. They do NOT make good salad garnish. I find lots of gizmos and gadgets that I've never seen, while on my travels. Most of the time there is an actual PURPOSE for them. This little tool...not so much. I've been trying to come up with alternate uses for this thing. After all, it IS a great conversation piece. But so far....nothing? Let me know if you have some ideas.

Today, the weather has actually been MUCH better than in the past several months. I can see snow melting and maybe, just maybe, I will be able to get into my RV and begin the Spring Re-Awakening process. Lots of great projects to do this year! Lots!! Stay Tuned.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Do You Like Tea? Need Boiling Water? - RV Brewing On The Go.

    OK, you got me. I am primarily a die-hard coffee drinker. But every once in a while I really enjoy a cup of tea. Sometimes even with milk! Earth shattering news, I know...but hey...whatever gets you going. Sometimes it's an herbal mix, like Jasmine Spice and sometimes it's an Earl Grey, hot. Varies, depending upon my mood. Of course, regardless of what type of tea I am having and the method used to brew it you'll need really HOT water. Almost boiling in fact. There are lots of ways to produce that in an RV. I've found quite a few, including some unique ones.

First, there is always the trusty propane stove and a good, old fashioned tea pot. A whistling one if you like. Fill with clean water, fire up a burner and within minutes.....boiling water for tea (or whatever!). It works, it works well. You could even forego the teapot and just use a regular pot. Getting water to boil isn't much of a trick with open flame. However, to make it more interesting to watch, there are some REALLY cool teapot's out there. I've seen ones that use steam to drive a carousel of THAT was cool. Instead of the propane stove, you could use an induction cooker or even the Sun to boil water!

What about Electric kettles? Sure, if you have 120 Volt AC electricity from an Inverter and battery bank or want to run your generator for the duration of the boil. Not super efficient and if it's early in the morning, probably the worst time to ask big amp draws from your battery bank. That being said I did manage to find a workable 12V water heating system. It's not as fast as a 120V AC powered one, but it works. I use it quite often, with filtered water, to make boiling/hot water for recipes while boondocking using solar power. Jello is a favorite. With fresh made Whipped cream....mmmmmm.

What about a recipe for tea? WHAT!? Who needs a recipe to make tea. I'll tell you...there are MANY ways to brew tea just like there are many ways to brew coffee. It's not just about tea bags! You can use tea bags. I'm not against them, just that it limits you to what is commercially available. If you like the convenience, buy a small tea-ball. (No, they are not all ball shaped) fill it with your favorite tea (I keep my loose tea in little plastic tubs) and use just like a bag. best of all, no gross used bag to deal with, dripping all over when you discard it. Just dump the used up tea in you napkin or straight into the trash.

Brewing. Lots of arguments about what constitutes a proper tea brewing. Many countries have a preferred method. the British are quite particular in the order tea is made. Here's the "proper" way:

 Boil water in a kettle. Pour some of the boiling water into a tea pot. Usually ceramic, but must absolutely have multiple holes inside leading to the spout. This step warms the pot. Discard the now cool water. Put kettle BACK on the burner to re-boil. They are fanatical about using boiling water! Put the tea in the now warmed pot. Loose tea, bagged tea (no labels nor string!) or an infuser is fine. Now bring the tea pot to the boiling water and fill the tea pot. Cover with a tea cozy (What!? You don't have a tea cozy!) Let it steep for a few minutes. Pour milk, if desired, into tea cup add tea, add sugar to taste. Drink.

Wow! That's complicated. Maybe I should stick to coffee?

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"