Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One Crazy Filtering Funnel!

Ready For The Season!
    I have noticed, over the years, that filling up liquids on my various vehicles (Especially the RVs) has become more and more difficult. The more stuff that's packed into an engine bay (or other compartment) the more difficult it is to fill it up! There seems to always be something between me and the filler neck. I've got quite a collection of funnels already. Large and small, long and short, but it's getting ridiculous! How many funnels can you keep on-board? Right now I need different ones for filling Oil, Coolant, Transmission fluid and Brake fluid. At least I've managed to eliminate the one I used for filling my batteries with distilled water. I am all for carrying less stuff. Everyone knows I already carry too much! This latest find will eliminate at least 3 funnels and maybe more.

I spotted this one at a discount auto parts store. It was on one of the sale tables they keep by the cash registers designed to rope you into an impulse buy. OK, I can be a bit impulsive! It's got a very flexible hose that screws apart into two sections in case you need a shorter length. It has a removable and cleanable metal mesh screen filter that you can use or not use as you want and weighs almost nothing. The spout is elongated and large enough for oil to flow quickly, but small enough to fit in every filler neck I have. It's made from heavy duty plastic that is resistant to all the liquids I have put through it so far. And it was only $1.99 plus tax.

The best feature is the flexible hose. It is VERY bend-able. I was even able to make tight "S" turns to get it to fill my Brake Master Cylinder. In the infinite wisdom of the RV designer of my Aero Cruiser they decided to place this reservoir up against the front of the RV above the level of the engine access opening. And OF COURSE there is no room to fit the bottle or a regular funnel above it. I had resorted to thin vinyl hose about 4 feet long to get it above the level of the filler, then inserting a small funnel at the end. I needed three hands! It took forever to fill. I managed to get it done with this funnel in under 2 minutes. Result!

Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right tool for the job. How often have you found yourself thinking (or saying), "If they just made one of these that....<insert idea here> would be perfect!" This is a perfect example of that exact thing at work.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Even The Simple Things - Small, Watertight Organizing Boxes

    Do you Fish? I used to do a lot of fishing many years ago with my Grandfather. Not much after that. I still look through the fishing aisles when I shop. While walking through a local Walmart, I spotted a couple of watertight folding fishing tackle boxes that were on the clearance shelf. I had been looking for a way to store a whole bunch of auto fuses with different amp values and had been looking for a multi-compartment plastic box. Aha! These were better than perfect, they were small, lightweight AND watertight. AND they float too! It got me thinking about what else they could be used for.

Re-purposed Fishing Gear!
I constantly find myself looking for small parts (big parts too, but that's a whole 'nother story!) and spending far too much time looking for them. Sometimes (most of the time!) I spend more time looking for parts than I do actually fixing or modifying anything. It can be VERY frustrating. A couple of years ago I went on an "organizational kick." I began to re-pack and re-organize everything onboard my RV so I could find it. Plastic boxes played a BIG role in reducing the clutter and making it somewhat easier to find stuff. I STILL haven't labeled each box with its' contents, but Real Soon Now, I promise. Hey, they are transparent so I can see into them.Well, sort of.

A terrific example of easily disorganized parts are fuses. They come in various types and sizes for so many things onboard an RV. It's ALWAYS a good idea to have a bunch of spares handy, just in case. *Quick note: Do NOT keep replacing a fuse with a larger amp value if it continues to blow. You WILL cause a fire or, at the very least, melt a bunch of wires. That's bad. Replacing them is not fun. I'd rather be RV'ing! The little box I found has 4 larger compartments, 4 medium sized ones and 24 smaller ones. The first two sets have individual lids and the smaller ones have a big lid over them all. The entire box is hinged and has a secure latch to keep it closed and a lanyard so you can carry it, or more likely hang it someplace handy.

I wish I could find bigger versions of this box! While you could put all sorts of things inside this small one, it only measures about 5" x 3" x 1.5" so it's somewhat limited in space. Still, you could put lots of small bits in it and for only $2.50 each, why not? Sewing notions? Vitamins? Screws, Washers, Nuts & Bolts? Watch Batteries? I could go on for a long while. What can you think of?

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Do You Vacuum? - Here's An Inexpensive Better Way!

Yes, Even The Ceiling and Walls Are Carpeted!
    Every once in a long while I find something that really does make cleaning easier in the RV. Much as I detest cleaning in general, it still has to be done. An RV can be a dusty place. I mean, you're on the road, opening and closing the doors and tracking in all sorts of camping debris. Desert dust, Forest Dirt and Parking lot Grit. I sweep the large bits out with a good, old fashioned broom but the smaller stuff just accumulates until it's everywhere. I used to lug a 120V electric upright vacuum into the RV once in a while and clean the carpets. (Not that I have much carpet on the floor!) but it was a pain in the, well, you know. And it really didn't get into the nooks and crannies in an RV. I also couldn't vacuum my ceiling and walls. Huh? Yup, My RV has carpeting on both,. Try holding an upright vacuum upside-down and vacuuming a ceiling one day. On second thought, don't. It's no fun. So what can you do? Buy one of these micro 12V canister wet/dry vacuums!

I am always skeptical of anything that purports to run on 12 Volts. Most of the time they don't work very well. Not always, but most of the time. I saw this vacuum on sale in a Marshall's and for $7.00 with all the attachments I figured I could use it in the cars if all else failed. Once home, I unpacked it and saw immediately that is was well constructed and heavy duty. While still plastic, it was heavy plastic that wasn't brittle and used metal clamps to hold the lower catch bin in place and this tight seal really helps with maintaining adequate suction. The hose is a bit longer than 3 feet and the cord is about 15 feet long ending in a regulation cigarette lighter plug. The whole shebang weights about 2 pounds and is easy to move around. It also can be used as a blower or power inflator for inflatable mattresses or pool/lake/river floats and toys.

See The Dust! That AFTER I Cleaned.
About the only problem I found was it would fall over when you pulled on the hose (which is a bit stiff) It doesn't change the suction at all, but if I was sucking up some liquid I believe it may get into the motor housing if it fell over, The unit comes with various brush and crevice tool attachments that I found would reach every little spot in my RV that I couldn't get to with a traditional vacuum. It readily sucked up washers, nuts and bolts as well as little bits of wood and sawdust from various projects. And also little bits of electrical wire insulation that fly off and disappear when you're working on something that requires wire stripping. (Yes, I make a bit of a mess...) I try and clean it all after I finish a project, but sometimes it's just gone! Well at least until later, sometimes MUCH later. There is a very fine filter inside that keeps the vacuum itself (and to some extent the air coming out) cleaner.

Of course, this means I have to clean for much longer since I can get to places I couldn't before. Hmmm...does that make this labor saving? I guess not! But I do get a much cleaner RV. 

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Editor: Here's a link to 12V wet-dry vacuums at Amazon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Does Anyone Still Read Books On Paper? - Why!?!

    I read. I read a lot! I've always carried 20 or 30 books around, because I read so much. I read pretty quickly, that means I am always carrying a bunch of already read books along for the ride. I can't bear to throw them away. I'm a pack-rat at heart. I have so many books at home I am essentially out of storage for them! A few years ago, I took a long trip via the airline method. I had 10 books with me for the flights there and back. I had to do some fast-talking to convince them to let me bring that much as carry-on! can bring even less on board. Never fear, there is a solution (or two!) I switched over to E-books. These are identical to the paper based variety, but the text is on your device's screen. What!?! Does that even work? Can you read it easily??  Read on!

I use my cell phone with a 4.3" screen to read my books. It's very close to the size of a paperback  book. I've set the font size to be comfortable to read and the page count is about the same. If you wear glasses to read, you could always enlarge the text till it's legible! Try THAT with a paper based book! You could also switch to a small 7" tablet or even a full sized one. Then magazines and newspapers become comfortable to peruse. To do all this, you have to have the device first (duh.) then you need an application to read the E-book files. There are MANY of those applications available for both Android and Apple devices. On my Android phone and tablets I use one called Moon Reader. I used the free version for a long time, but the paid version is only $4.99. Though, if you use the free one (which works great!) they have a sale many times during a year for 50% off. That's what I  waited to do.

My phone has around 10,000 books on it (!) and I never run out of something to read. Of course, being a pack-rat I never delete any of the ones I've already read. Sometimes, I even re-read a series of books when a new one in the series comes out. I have to tell you, reading before bed in the RV with rain coming down outside.....there are few things that are that nice. Before I had to use all sorts of little book-light gizmos, with this style of reading it has its' own backlight! Oh, and its' dimmable too. If you have the time, you can even download books with covers! So you get to see the cool artwork as well.

I a pretty sure I read even more now than I did before. I used to "ration" out the chapters so I wouldn't run out of reading material while traveling. Now that's really never a problem. I do miss having the paper copies around, but not as much as I enjoy reading new books! As an added side benefit, typically E-books are significantly less expensive than their paper counterparts.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"