Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What A Difference A Pop Lock Makes!

Fan With Screws
Ventilation fans are great! They use far less power than an Air Conditioner and can provide a beautifully cool
breeze. Nowadays, airborne pollutants; dust pollen, bugs(!) and the like come straight in through these things. A screen helps a great deal, but have been pretty annoying to clean. Either you got up on the roof with a vacuum or removed the MANY screws holding the screen onto the fan assembly. Not any more! Well, at least for long time fantastic fan (and clones) users. My old vent fans had those pesky screws, but the manufacturer makes a kit to swap from screws to push in tabs!
Yay! Not that I'm a huge fan of cleaning, mind you, but it's a good practice to get in to. Especially if you are breathing the bad stuff in.

Installing these couldn't be much easier. Just get your handy dandy philips head screw driver and remove all the screws holding your old (and likely dirty) round screen cover off. Take the new version out of the box (it contains two of them), and "pop" it on. Be CAREFUL you have to line it all up and gently press them in. Why? How do I know it's a bad thing to force the little tabs in?

You guessed it, while installing I snapped one of the little buggers off. I wasn't really in a rush or anything, just thought they needed a little "help" to fit. I was wrong.

Busted Off Tab
Rushing is never a good thing. Great way to make mistakes though. I highly recommend it for adding extra angst to your life.

You could still use the screen with one missing tab, but I'd probably be thinking about it for most of the trip! I decided to use the extra in the box.

To be honest, when I replaced the other (bedroom) fan/vent, that one came with the removable screen. That was how I knew they existed. So I had a spare.

The Tabs!
These tabs REALLY grab hold of the edge of the opening. I am being very careful when I remove them for my (much more frequent) cleanings. I have to tell you, they get pretty nasty, pretty quickly. What are we spewing into the atmosphere anyway? No surprise I get dark streaks from my roof! Better outside the RV than in our lungs!

Once finished, you find that since its so much easier to do, you'll clean them more frequently. Believe it or not, the inside of my RV has been much less dusty. Especially those lightweight "floaty" dust bunnies that hide near the hardwood floors.

Another simple way to make your life easier and healthier that doesn't cost much at all.

If you don't have some kind of a powered vent I highly recommend one. I prefer boondocking and use solar charging almost exclusively for power, so any way I can cool the interior without using too much power is a beautiful thing.

Since I have two powered vents, I usually leave one on exhaust (pulling air out of the RV) and one on intake. This way you always have a nice breeze that exchanges the air inside so it doesn't get "stale." Try it, you'll like it.

To clean them, I remove the screen, blow it clean with some compressed air then rinse it in light soapy water in the sink. You wouldn't believe how dirty the water gets. Then a clean water rinse, air dry and re-install. Easy!

The Fantastic Fan brand that I have installed isn't the only one available. That brand used to get rave reviews for customer service and would replace any part, regardless of age, for free. They used their advertising and marketing budget on these replacements to build positive word of mouth. A good idea! They were recently bought up by Atwood....we'll see how it goes.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Even The Simple Things - Shower Curtain Rings

The Shower!
    This will the first in an off and on series of articles about simple things to do to your RV. Well, at least they start off simply. One of the first things I decided when I began my research for the perfect RV for me was the absolute want of a "dry bath." That's the kind that has a separate shower and toilet. Lots of people have the other kind, but it was a deal breaker for me. Ultimately (as you all know!) I found what I was looking for in the Aero Cruiser.

The shower uses a curtain like the ones you have at home although a bit smaller. I decided the gap at the top created by the curtain rod rings was too large and I was getting some water spray out of the enclosure. This likely had to do with the replacement of the "weak flow" original shower head with an Oxygenics one. Anyway, how hard could it be to find smaller rings?

Old Rings.
Most shower curtains are pretty simple. A plastic sheet with holes in it. Yes, I know the holes should be on top! Well these need some way of hanging on the support rod. Easy enough, you use a bunch of rings. Any "dollar" store has lots of them. Buy a set, poke them through the holes and on the rod and bingo! you have a shower curtain.

99% of the time this is a quickly done job. Not for me. I had to find smaller rings to close that gap at the top. OK I didn't HAVE to, I wanted to! I spent the whole winter season looking for smaller rings. Unbelievably, I couldn't find any! Seems crazy!

I did find lots of metal ones that were smaller, but imagine driving down the road with metal rings on a metal rod. I don't even like the pretty sound of wind-chimes! Imagine how batty I would go!

Eventually I located some at a close-out store. They were more oval shaped, but they were smaller. Or so I thought.

They didn't have the locking mechanism on them, like the original ones, but I didn't think they could fall off the rod. The little slot lets you put them through the plastic shower curtain. Easy. Right? Not if your in a hurry and haven't though it through.

On The Rod.
Here's my problem. I figured I could bend them a bit and slide the opening over the rod. They should be flexible enough to bend that far...right? Well, the first two were. Then SNAP! SNAP! the next two broke. nearly put an eye out with one of them!

No Real Difference!
It didn't occur to me until AFTER I broke a few that I could simply unscrew one side of the rod from the wall and simply slide all of them on. Then put on the shower curtain.

See? Haste truly does make waste!

Off to the dollar store for another set of 10 (the curtain has 10 holes and I only had 8 unbroken rings left.) Loosened the screw for the rod bracket, slid them all on. Slid the rings through the curtain holes and Voila! new and improved.

Yes, I noticed that I haven't closed the gap at all since they are oval. But maybe one day I'll find rings that are actually smaller. I like the look of the transparent ones better anyway. Or maybe that's me rationalizing a mistake??

Sometimes it's the little things that can make a big difference. Not this time! Now that the weather has finally decided to cooperate, I will get back on track and begin my spring/summer projects. Remote control porch light, 12v TV amplifier, solar thermal water heating, electricity from waste furnace heat and quite a few others! Stay tuned.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

REVISED - How to Go From Winter's Slumber to Spring's Re-Awakening!

Thawing Nicely!
    Despite the teaser of nice weather AGAIN for a few weeks in the North East, we're back in a short cold snap. It's a good thing I DIDN'T de-winterize the RV or it would have been a disaster of "biblical" proportions. Think floods not locusts!

This weekend will begin the awakening of the sleeping beast (OK, "beast" is a bit of a misnomer...more like a small housecat) that is my RV. If you plan ahead and prepare, it should go smoothly and easily. Yes, I know NOTHING I do ever goes, smoothly and easily. Let's hope this Spring's the charmed season and we get everything done without undue incident.

Start with a list of basic tasks. This can be changed to suit your particular coach, but is a good guideline. Mine reads as follows:

Remove Cover Straps
Remove Cover (guess who forgot to undo the straps last year!)
Roll and Fold Cover and Store.
Inspect Outside
Inspect Underneath For Leaks, Puddles, etc.
Inspect Tires and Inflate to proper pressure (Check Dates)
Wash RV and Inspect for cracks, chips, glass breaks, etc.
Repair if needed.
Open Outside Engine Compartment, Check for Leaks and Nests.
Open Storage Compartments and Inspect (leaks, bugs, critters, etc.)
Clean Outside Refrigerator Compartment (Spiderwebs, Leaves, Nests, etc.)
Clean Outside Furnace Compartment (Spiderwebs, Leaves, Nests, etc.)
Clean Battery and Terminals if Needed. (Chassis, House and Generator)
Check Coach and Chassis Battery Water Level, Refill if needed.

Open Door(s) Test Operation
Turn On Lights, Replace Any Bad Bulbs
Open Vents, Test Seal and Operation
Open Windows, Test Seals and Operation
Open Cabinets (Upper and Lower)
Check for Leaks
Check for Critters
Clean Interior (Carpets, Walls, Floors, Cabinets, Fridge, etc.)
Check LP/Propane/CO Detector Operation
Check Smoke Detector Battery and Operation
Check Monitor Panel, Tanks and Propane
Check Converter/Charger For 12 Volt Output
Check All Fuses and Breakers (12V and 120V)
Confirm Solar Charging System Voltage and Amperage
Check Bathroom Skylight for leaks and cracks.
Check and Tighten ALL screws and fasteners Everywhere!

Check Oil Level, Fill if Needed
Check Coolant Level, Fill if Needed
Check Brake Fluid Level, Fill if Needed
Check Power Steering Fluid Level, Fill if Needed
Check Transmission Fluid Level, Fill if Needed
Check Windshield Fluid Level
Check All Hoses and Tighten Clamps
Check Air Bag System Pressure
Check Air bag System for Leaks

Check Fuel Level
Check Battery Volts
Start Engine
Check for Oil Pressure Rise
Listen to Idle (Sound OK?)
Check Idle Speed RPM
Check for Battery Charging (Volts/Amps)
Check Temperature Gauge for Rise
Listen for "strange" noises.
Shift Into Each Gear (Foot on Brake!!)
Switch On Air Conditioner (Got Cold Air?)
Shutdown After Everything Warms Up to Operating Temperature
Re-Check Oil Level, Fill if Needed
Re-Check Transmission Fluid Level, Fill if Needed

Check Generator Compartment for Oil Leaks
Check generator and Wiring for Obvious Problems
Check Oil Level, Fill if Needed (Coolant too! If you have it)
Start Generator
Check for leaks
Check for Transfer Switch Operation
Run for 30 minutes (or so)
Check Voltage at Sockets without Load
Check Voltage at Sockets with Load
Shutdown Generator
Turn On Inverter
Check AC Power From Inverter

Turn On Gas at Main Tank Valve
Listen and Check for Leaks (Use handheld detector)
Check for leaks in Refrigerator, Furnace and Water heater Compartments
Check for leaks Inside (Stove, Water Heater, Furnace, Refrigerator)
Light 1 Burner, Check for Blue Flame and Even Burn
Turn Off
Check Other Burners.
Turn Off Stove Valves
Set Thermostat to Heat
Confirm Furnace Ignition
Confirm Heater Vent Airflow and Temperature
Shut Off Thermostat
Confirm No Leaks from Valves in the OFF Position

Attach Shore Power (or use Generator)
Turn on Air Conditioner, Wait for it to engage
Check for Cool Air
Check for Heat Strip Operation (if installed)
Shutdown Air Conditioner
Inspect Microwave
Set Clock
Run for 1 Minute (or heat something up!)
Check Coffee Maker Operation (VERY Important!)
Turn On Refrigerator Power (on AC Power)
Confirm Refrigerator Heating Element is Warming Boiler Outside)
Switch Refrigerator to Propane (LP Gas)
Confirm Flame Ignition (By Sound or Visually Outside)
Switch Back to Electric (or AUTO)
Turn On Entertainment System
Check Inputs (Antenna/VCR/DVD/Satellite/VGA)
Check Sound
Raise/Lower TV/Satellite Antenna
Turn Everything Off.

WATER SYSTEM (without Sanitize) 
Re-Connect Water Pump to Tank
Set Valves to Tank Fill
Re-Insert Water Heater Drain Plug
Close Low Point Hot and Cold Water Drains
Check All Fittings
Close Faucets
Partially Fill Water Tank (Hose or Connect City Water)
Set Valves To Operating Position
Pressurize System (Pump and City Water, One at a time)
Check For Leaks
Open Each Faucet Until It Runs Clear (to Remove Antifreeze and Air)
Check Toilet Main Drain. (Holding Antifreeze?)
Check Flush Fill and Drain
Fill Fresh Water Tank (and/or Use City Water)
Check For Leaks (Under Coach as Well!)
Open Faucets and Run Water until Clear
Check For Leaks
Turn On Water Heater (Propane)
Check for Ignition
Confirm Hot Water and Flow
Check For Leaks
Switch Water Heater to Electric
Confirm Hot Water and Flow
Shut Everything Down

Close All Windows
Shut Off All Appliances
Shut Down Propane Gas Flow
Turn Off Lights
Close and lock Doors.

While this list is geared toward my coach, most of it will likely apply to yours. Hopefully, it will start you off  safely and with some peace of mind this season.

Feel free to add items or ask questions!

Be Seeing You....Down The Road

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Frustrations Of An Avid RV'er

Almost Done With The Snow!
    I'd like to think the information I've been presenting here is useful to at least 1 or 2 folks out there. In my quest to find the latest and greatest, or at least the more interesting than not, I have to do a lot of research and contact various manufacturers and vendors of all sorts of things.

You'd think they would jump at the chance to make friends with a new customer that's already interested in their product or at least want to extol the virtues of the stuff they make or sell.....

You'd be wrong.

Factory Work
Seems that I get mostly blase' and nonchalant treatment from them. That's if I ever get a call back at all. At first I am just a simple consumer looking for information, then on subsequent calls I morph into a writer looking for answers for his readers. I mean, they should treat everyone with respect and  enthusiasm. They don't. Sad really. I'm reasonably sure this isn't just the RV industry. No one seems to like what they do anymore. No pride in the workplace. I LOVE what I do... I enjoy coming up with interesting things to talk about and tinker with, most times using the same products and services I talk about here. I am NOT looking for free stuff. In fact I pay for things regularly. It lets me be unbiased. Believe me, I could write tons of articles about stuff I hated or broke or some other reason it didn't do what the marketing said it would. I like to say nice things about people.

I heard a wonderful saying recently,

"If you love what you do, you'll never spend a day at work."  Pure genius.

The TV
Yes, I'll admit it was on a TV commercial, But the sentiment is very true. There was a time in this country that workers had pride in what they did. The things they manufactured had more than the hourly wage value for them. The United States could say it made the best consumer and commercial products in the world. Not everything, mind you, but most things. Made in America had a cachet, a guarantee of quality and customer
service that seems to have evaporated over the years. I am NOT saying every company is like this. Indeed, some RV companies are a pleasure to deal with. I purchase a whole lot of merchandise in any given year and the companies that get my hard earned dollars are the ones who treat their customers with respect AND make a worthwhile product.

It's quite easy to make friends with your customers. Does it take any extra time to be pleasant on the phone or to be sincere? Especially when you say, "I'm sorry you were on hold for an hour." Not really. Yet another old saying goes, "You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar." I have no idea how that one started, but it's true. Being sweet will always win out over rudeness and a prickly attitude.

I know times are rough. The economy isn't what it was. People are hurting all over. All the more reason to treat everyone fairly. The best advertising a company can receive is an unsolicited compliment from a customer. You can't really BUY that kind of honest opinion. (Well the more pessimistic folks will say even THAT is on sale!) Either way, in a world of "in your face" marketing tactics, the lowly word of mouth is still king. Enough people like your stuff and use it successfully, the more you will sell.

Simple really.

Tell me what YOU think!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"