Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Disc or Drum Rear Brakes - Are Four Wheel Disc Brakes A Must?

    Most new RV's have Disc Brakes on all 4 Wheels. Mine doesn't. I have Discs on the front, but drums on the back. Recently I had some problems during a trip that triggered a set of brake repair woes. It's all fixed now, but I got to wondering if it wouldn't be better to have discs in the rear as well. There are kits available to make the swap (Around $400.00 for the parts plus labor) but is it really necessary? I mean I just replaced all the worn out parts in my rear drum brake system so they are working quite well now. Should I (or You!) make the swap? Is it beneficial...I mean is it?

My Front Disc Brakes
By way of background, during a trip I noticed a slight leak on my rear wheel while I was stopped for gas. I should have looked MUCH more closely. 12 hours later, my brakes failed. Well not all of them. Just one. The rear right drum's actuation cylinder ruptured and I lost most of my brake fluid while trying to get stopped. NOT FUN when towing a trailer. I did get safely stopped in a rest area and used Google to find local mobile repair guys. Called a few, one got back to me in the Early AM and promptly came out to look. We determined I could drive the RV, with a very low pedal and only front brakes the 1.2 miles to their shop. Long story short, I was stuck for 2 days waiting for parts to arrive. They did, and it was repaired. Of course, this could happen with disc brakes as well. A hose or steel line could rupture and the same thing would have happened. But....maybe the parts would have been easier to source?

My Old Drums
Let's take at look at drums versus disc brakes. In a drum based system, the friction pads (that's what stops you when you apply the pedal by converting kinetic energy into heat) push out onto the inner surface of the drum. Disc brakes squeeze a thin metal disc with friction pads. Drums are all internal, discs are external. Meaning you can see the pads and the surface they push against. The main enemy here is heat buildup. Drum brakes will work fine until they are so saturated by heat that they "fade" and lose their effectiveness. Once cooled down, they will work again. That being said, since they are heavy iron construction, the cool-down could take a while. Discs are out in the open air, so they cool quicker. They can still become overwhelmed by heat, but it's more difficult and they cool rapidly to restore effectiveness. So discs are better, right? Well not necessarily.

The Disc Itself
In most vehicles, the front brakes account for 60-90 percent of the overall stopping power. Current (beginning in the 1980's) drum brakes were more than up to the task of stopping the other 40 to 10 percent. In my case, 85% of stopping power is accounted for by the front brakes with only 15% delegated to the rear drum setup. So is it really a necessity to changeover? In addition, there is a device, called a proportioning valve that modulates the front/rear braking force (bias) and it's expensive if you need a new one, To swap to discs in the rear I may need to buy and adjust this as well. After much thought...No, it isn't. Perhaps when the rear shoes wear out or another failure occurs I will reconsider.

But, since I just spent a lot of money on an overhaul of the rear drum brakes...I'll stick with them. Besides, they have always stopped my RV without a problem...well, unless you count the day they failed!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich"The Wanderman"

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hard To See - Dollar Store Glasses - Are They Worth It?

    OK, I'll admit I age, my eyesight is slowly getting worse. Like many folks, close up and tiny text are beginning to become an issue as my arms aren't getting any longer. My sight is fairly good at all other distances, so I'm not ready for glasses...yet. In the meantime, for the rare-ish occasions I need some magnification and DON'T want to look like Sherlock Holmes using a spy glass, I looked around to see what was available to purchase. You know,  some reading-magnifying glasses. Wow, they sure can be expensive! However, the cheapest ones I could find were only a Dollar at a DOLLAR store...not much of a coincidence there! Would they work? Are they OK to use?? Read on, to find out.

These type of glasses come in various strengths. What strength can be determined by their "Diopter" value. Typically, they come in +1.00 up to +3.25 diopter ratings. What's a Diopter? It's a fancy way of describing the focal length of the glass. Suffice to say, it's an indicator of how strong they are and how much magnification you can expect. Best way to choose is to try them on and read something small! Be aware that the higher the number the more distortion you will get when moving your head around. It's very vertigo inducing and will likely give you a headache if used at too strong a magnification for too long. I've found that for tiny work and tiny text, 1.50 works well. But if I move my head too much or try and move around (like walk!) I get nasty headaches almost right away.

I tried lower than 1.50 and it wasn't enough power. Especially if the text was low contrast, like on some colored labeling. Any higher and it's really nausea inducing unless you keep your head VERY steady. I imagine it would be fine for close up watch battery replacement, but don't try to walk with them doesn't work! Let's just say, well, OUCH! I walked into a cabinet that way. They are available with metal or plastic frames and in lots of shapes, styles and colors...easy to find one that you like. They are so inexpensive, that I've taken to leaving a pair in my tool box. This way, if I get into a situation that requires them...I won't have to go looking. I wonder how long THAT will last!  Too bad they can't fix my memory as easily as my tiny text issue!

Who knows, maybe in the future I'll break down and need to get a pair of regular prescription lenses. But, for now. these work just fine.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Bugs, Bugging You? - Here's A Way To Exact Revenge That's Fun!

Open Doors=Bugs!
    I hate bugs. Flying, crawling, whatever, they make me miserable. When I go to sleep in my RV, I hate when that high pitched buzzing gets close to my ear. It makes it impossible for me to sleep! And, don't get me started on the common housefly. Why do they enjoy RV travel as much as we do? Even with my screen door, they still get in! Well, after years of squishing them with fly swatters, rolled up magazines and catching them with Chopsticks, I have found a better way of taking them out...even in mid-air. It's much more sanitary than crushing them against some surface and WAY easier to clean off. Besides, it's oddly enjoyable!

Bug-A-Salt 2.0
It's called the Bug-A-Salt. A tool specifically designed to annihilate all types of bugs with a specific emphasis on flying ones. Version 3.0 is out now (yes, I just ordered one!) but Version 2.0 has been available for a few years. How's it work? Well, it shoots a tiny bit of table salt from a small reservoir on top out a plastic barrel with enough force to decimate a bug at about 3 feet. Kind of like a microscopic shotgun blast. Since it's just table salt, it's easy to clean up. Not that enough salt comes out in the first place to worry about cleaning. 80 Shots is only about 2 teaspoons of salt. You set it up to fire by pulling back on the forward grip (the pump) which compresses a spring that is the motive force behind each shot. It also engages a safety device that must be disengaged before it will fire.

Bug-A-Salt 3.0
Once ready to go, look down the sights, aim at the nasty bug, and fire! If you got the aim right...bug is done. Pick it up with a tissue and throw it away. Un-smushed! If it's still moving take a close range won't be for long. When you get really good, you can take them out of the air. It's tougher to do, but possible. The "rifle" is about 20" long and has NO stock, so it is a bit awkward to aim. It's really too big to use as a pistol, and too short (with no stock) to use as a rifle, braced against your shoulder. It's almost like a mini pistol grip shotgun with no recoil at all. Since it's awkward to hold, the heavy trigger pull can really spoil your aim. It takes practice. but once mastered, worth all the time it took!

This thing can launch salt at an astonishing rate. DO NOT SHOOT ANYONE WITH IT! It can do serious damage to the eyes. I mean it! Allegedly, the new V3.0 has a better trigger pull...we shall see. Until then, I am going to keep my nights bug free and my sleep undisturbed.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

When In New York City Go To Katz's Deli! Yes, On An RV Trip!

Safe At Home
    I have a place in Manhattan, have had it for MANY years. Recently, since it's RV season, I was wondering what I would do and where I would go if I was staying in nearby New York City in my RV. I figured having a few days would be best since there are so many things to do and see. In later articles I will cover as many as I can think of, but when I began to think of where to go the topic of "where to eat" came up first in my mind. Before  I tackle that...just where can you stay in NYC in an RV? The answer is, essentially nowhere! That being said, you CAN stay in New Jersey, just a short bus or Water Taxi ride from Manhattan right near the Liberty Science Center (at Liberty Harbor RV Park). It's not much more than a large parking lot with hookups, but you'll never notice as there is so much to see and do, all you'll be doing is sleeping there! OK, back to eats!

If you've ever seen the cult hit movie, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, you are already aware of Katz's Delicatessen. It's the restaurant made famous (well, MORE famous) by the scene that involves Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner's Mom (Estelle), and an Amazing sandwich! REALLY amazing. Watch it, you'll see what I mean. Well...while I can't speak to the effects of eating one quite as well as Meg Ryan did, I can say the Corned Beef and Pastrami are second to NONE. It's a distinctly New York experience. Surly waiters, a decor that leaves much to be desired, but totally amazing food. It's been around a long time. Really first getting internationally famous by offering to ship U.S. Soldiers in World War II care packages. "Send a Salami To Your Boy In The Army!" Many mothers did just that. A taste of home and a way to introduce fellow soldiers to the tastes of New York Deli magic.

The full menu has so much more on it. Knishes, those doughy pockets of potato, kasha, or meat (or combinations) that go down heavy and smooth...yum!! Lots of special ethnic dishes and old deli staples are available as well as all-day breakfast. The corned beef and Swiss omelette is a personal favorite! Finish it all up with a New York Style Egg Cream. No, there's no EGG in it at all. (Go figure!) It's a bit of milk, a bit of chocolate syrup and some seltzer. Mixed to a's delicious. And don't forget to buy a salami!

Yes, RVing and including New York City is a tough call...plan on lots of time to look around all the sights...museums, skyscrapers, neighborhoods, restaurants, much to do, so little time. Try it, you'll like it.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"