Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Even The Simple Things - Quick-Release Rings Have MANY Uses!

    Most of us have a key ring. You know, the kind that bites your nails off when you try to put a key on or take one off. I've even been stabbed in the thumb by one of the larger varieties. Ouch! Well, I have a few other options, but found a great deal on a 10 pack of quick release rings. I was just going to use them for keys, but now...I'm not so sure. I've discovered a whole bunch of other uses for these little beauties. Maybe you can come up with some additional uses?  Come on...put your thinking caps on!

The idea is simple, find a way to easily and quickly release the ring so that you can put something on it without any fuss (or pain!). The ones I found just take a simple press in opposite directions on both sides to release. Not likely to happen accidentally, so that's a good thing. After I replaced all my spare sets of keys on rings with these, I got to thinking what else I could use them for. I mean 10 of them for $1.00 -- that's quite a bargain. But, if you only need one or two... well, the rest will sit in a drawer for years! So what can you use them for? I've thought of a few other uses. Like attaching tags to items. 
Easy To use
Another idea, you can hang kitchen utensils and/or tools in your under counter cabinets or on the backs of doors or even just on walls if you don't mind the look of that. I just screwed in some screw eyes (from an assortment pack) into the underside of the counter and used these hooks to attach various things. They do not come out when driving and are relatively easy to open and close. Just make sure you have enough room to let the items swing around. AND that they won't swing INTO anything and break it. If so, (don't ask me how I know) just put a large rubber band around all of the hung items and it will keep them from causing damage.

I am SURE there are many other uses for these rings. The trick is figuring them out. I have about 16 left over, so I'll have to do something with them. I had thought to use them as shower curtain rings, but they are too small to fit around my shower stall rod. Ah sounded good in my head! Back to the head scratching.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Importance Of Having Hardware - Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Washers, Oh My!

    There are, literally, thousands of fasteners in our RVs. Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Washers of all types and sizes. For me, it never fails that when I need a specific size or type and only have one, it's ONE size too big or small. Yup, you guessed it, Murphy was, indeed, an optimist. So what's a tinkerer to do? You can't carry an entire hardware store around with you (Or can you?) but, with a tiny bit of planning, you can give yourself at least a shot at having the correct one. The better you plan, the more likely you'll have the right one. Nothing is more frustrating than being one size off!  So, how can you do that?

 Assortment packs! That's the ticket! Locally, I have a tool store that sells various, plastic boxed, assortment packs of screws, nuts, bolts, and washers. Not to mention o-rings, molly-type fasteners and 12 volt electrical connectors. When they are on sale, most varieties can be had for around 3.99 to 5.99. The 5.99 sort is usually a much larger quantity in a greater assortment of sizes. You can also get stainless steel varieties, which I prefer. Less chance of rust. As we all know, a rusted fastener can be a real pain to get loose. I've got the scars on my knuckles to prove that!

Since there are so many to choose from and space/weight available on-board most RVs is limited, the trick is determining which ones to buy. The way I figured that out? I went around to all the interior screws and other fasteners in the RV and measured the sizes. Most big box hardware stores will have a very inexpensive plastic size gauge that will help with finding out the correct sizes. Use the length measure on the side to determine, I wrote them all down on a piece of paper. Once that was done I compared what was used inside the RV and added one size smaller and one size larger. Next I did the same on the outside and in the compartments. Luckily, most assortments covered the spread. Then I bought the appropriate assortment packs. There were some that weren't included, usually odd lengths. These I just bought a few from a regular hardware store and added them to the packs myself. Better safe than sorry!

Easy Access. Sorted By Type
What about the engine and other chassis mechanical fasteners. There are SO many different ones, it would be hard to pack them all, unless you tow a hardware store around. Which, I believe, isn't all that efficient. I carry a few common sizes (your engine may be SAE(US) or Metric or BOTH, so knowing which will help. I also added a couple of spare lugnuts, just in case I lose one. Don't laugh, I've done the sand on the side of the road. In addition, 12 Volt Electrical connector packs are pretty varied and very lightweight, so adding one to your mix isn't a bad idea. I do a lot of modifications and tinkering with the 12 Volt system so it's a must. Oh, and make sure you have a wire stripper/crimper tool to put them on. Makes the job so much easier! Use Plastic Tubs to store the assortments and keep them organized.

There is no way you can carry every fastener you will need for every repair. Besides, you need space for food too! With a bit of planning, you can cover most anything that breaks on the road. And that's OK by me. Peace of mind, when I aim to relax, is worth a whole lot.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trouble getting Into The Driver Or Passenger Seats? - An Excellent Fix!

    As we get older, if we're lucky, our bodies will cooperate with us and keep on going strong. Well, sometimes this simply isn't the case. I remember an old saying, "The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak." This doesn't mean you can't do what you want, but maybe a tiny bit of help would go a long way to making it easier. Many RV's, especially Class A's without Driver and Passenger doors are a bit difficult to get down into the front seats. Especially with a large engine cover blocking your feet! How can you make it easier to do without too much trouble?

Secure And Ready To Be Used
The key here is a securely fastened, solid hand hold. Secure is the MOST important part. If you are going to use it for safety and security while getting into the seats, make ABSOLUTELY sure it will hold your weight...and then some! An important tip here, before you install any roof mounted hand hold, is to make sure you won't be banging your head into it every time you go past. Believe me, no matter how much I like the ease of ingress and egress using the hand hold, I don't like where they are. Every time I go to adjust the TV/Monitor, the Digital Media System or the Satellite Receiver up front and knock my head on the handles, it's my fault, I know that. I should be able to learn and remember where they are and avoid them, but I don't. Must be some type of strange mental block. You'd think the bruised forehead would remind me?? Nope.

Caps Cover The Mounting Bolts
Once you figure out just where the hand hold should be mounted, you have to make sure that the structure above it will support your weight (and then some) Mine are tied into one of the structural steel frame hoops inside the roof section. Some RVs use wooden structures exclusively so you will have to find an appropriate mounting point. You may not be able to. Some RV roofs can only support their weight and additional force applied could damage the structure underneath. Be careful. When in doubt...DON'T DO IT! You could get injured (perhaps severely) if the hand hold comes loose when you on using it.

If everything checks out, mount your hand hold securely to the structure you need to. That means deciding on a type of mounting fastener. Mine use 2 short bolts through the roof structure for each hand hold. I wouldn't use any kind of wood screw to fasten something to any roof. The chances it would pull out are very high. If you are unsure as to whether the mounting location/type is secure enough, let a professional handle it, or at least advise, better safe than sorry. Once mounted, you have an easy place to support yourself while getting in and out of hard to reach seating.

There were many RV's that came standard with grab handles for the front seat passengers. Maybe they knew something I didn't?

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Who Says You Can't Make "Exotic" Meals In The RV Galley? - Japanese Gyoza

    Dumplings are good, Japanese dumplings or Gyoza are amazing. They are related to their Chinese counterparts, but are quite different. The skins are very thin and one side is crispy while the rest are tender. The filling, while simple, is packed with flavor. I learned how to make these little beauties about a year ago and then realized that they could be made in the RV without much trouble. Since they cook in a single skillet, they are even easy to clean up. It's even easier now that thin wonton skins are available at most mega marts. Here's how:

The Assembly Line!
First, the filling needs to be prepped in a large bowl. Larger bowl equals more Gyoza which, in turn, equals more enjoyment! Besides, these freeze REALLY well, so well they can be cooked directly from the freezer and brought to the table. More on that later. You will need: 1 pound of ground pork, about 1/3 head of green cabbage, some fresh ginger, about 4 cloves of garlic, some chives (well, really a Japanese herb called Nira but chives work too) and some chicken soup base (Japanese Torigawa if you are being precise), a splash of Sake (Japanese rice wine), a drop or two of good soy sauce, a dash or two of White pepper and salt to taste. I add 2 teaspoons of corn starch as a thickener.

This Picture Gives You An Idea On How To Fold Properly
Place the meat in a large bowl, add grated ginger and finely grated garlic. Add 2 teaspoons Torigawa soup base, the pepper and salt. Chop half a bunch of Nira (chives) into 1/8 inch pieces, discarding the very tops and bottoms. Finely chop the cabbage and mix in. The mixture should be uniform in texture. Believe me this will all be worth it!

Yes. You can eat them right away!
Now you take the skins -- I prefer the smaller size and the thinner the better (do not use Chinese wonton skins, they are really too thick) -- and set up a workstation. You'll need the pre-prepared mixture and a small bowl of water to moisten one edge of the skin to seal. Begin by scooping a small amount of your filling (it should cover the center of the wonton skin with at least an inch all the way around the outside edge of the wonton skin.) Tap your finger in the water and go over the edge of the skin on one side then fold over. Here's where it gets tricky. You need to fold over the edge every half inch or so back onto itself so you get a nice seal with even folds. Look at the picture -- it is way better than the description! Now do this 50 more times, as you can get 50 small Gyoza from 1 pound of ground pork mixture.  You could also use Chicken or Shrimp or just the vegetables if that's what you'd like.

They REALLY Freeze And Travel Well!
At this point you could place them on a plate with space between each one and freeze. Once solid drop them in a zip top bag or bags and use whenever you like. Mine don't usually last that long! On to cooking. Take a skillet large enough for the number you wish to cook and add enough oil to thinly coat the bottom. Heat up the oil and add the Gyoza folded side UP into the sizzling oil. Turn down the heat to medium high and cook until the bottom is golden brown and delicious. Then add enough water to come about 1/4 inch up the side of the pan and cover. The steam will finish the cooking process. You should run out of water when they are done. You may have to adjust the amount accordingly or just drain. Too much water will give you soggy, but still tasty Gyoza! Even the failed experiments are delicious! When done, remove from heat and place in a row on a serving plate. What about a dipping sauce? Well, that's easy! Just mix good quality soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and hot Chili oil to taste. YUM!

It all sounds complicated, but isn't. AND it's lots of fun to do around a table with friends with or without adult beverages!!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"