Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017 REVISED (w/Links!) - How to Go From Winter's Slumber to Spring's Re-Awakening And Perform A Yearly Safety Check.

Usually, I wait until I can de-winterize my RV but the weather has had other ideas.. Think of this article as more of a "wishful thinking" piece for me and a really useful list for you!

Look Ma...No Snow!

    Time to wake the slumbering beast (well my RV is more like a tame housecat than a beast.) I am going to de-winterize, inspect and repair for the upcoming season. Winter was great for planning and researching projects, not so great for actually DOING them! If you plan ahead and prepare, getting your RV ready for the season or checking it once a year if you are blessed to live in a warmer climate, should go smoothly and easily. Yes, I know NOTHING ever goes, smoothly and easily. Let's hope this Spring's charmed.

**Many of the tasks below have links to articles on that subject. Click and find out more!

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

Remove Cover Straps (guess who forgot to undo the straps AGAIN last year!)
Remove Cover
Inspect Cover for Rips and Tears, Repair if Needed/Possible
Roll and Fold Cover and Store. (In a Dry Place!)
Walk Around Outside Look For Obvious Defects
Inspect/Clean Windshield Wiper Blades - Replace If Needed
Inspect Windshield Washer Nozzle and Hoses (Cracks, Breaks, Dry Rot.)
Inspect/Repair Running Lights
Inspect Front/Rear Lights/Headlights
Inspect Mirrors!
Inspect Backup Camera
Inspect Underneath For Leaks, Puddles, Dry Rotted Hoses, Excessive Rust, Cracked Gas Pipe Joints, Frame Problems, etc.
Inspect Tires and Inflate to proper pressure (Check Dates!)
Check TPMS Sensors (Tightness and Battery Replacement, if needed)
Wash RV and Inspect for cracks, chips, glass breaks, leaks, etc. Repair if needed.
Check For Mold/Mildew on Exterior Seals (Clean As Needed)
Open Outside Engine Compartment, Check for Leaks and Nests.
Open Storage Compartments and Inspect Doors, Seals, & Locks(leaks, bugs, critters, etc.)
Clean Outside Refrigerator Compartment (Spiderwebs, Leaves, Nests, etc.)
Clean Outside Furnace Compartment (Spiderwebs, Leaves, Nests, etc.)
Clean Outside Water Heater Compartment (Spiderwebs, Leaves, Nests, etc.)
Replace Water Heater Drain Plug and/or Anode.
Clean Battery(ies) and Terminals if Needed. (Chassis, House and Generator)
Check Coach and Chassis Battery Water Level, Refill if needed. (Distilled Water ONLY!)
Check Hitch Receiver
Check Hitch/Trailer Wiring

Open Door(s) Test Operation. Lubricate if Needed.
Test Operation of Electric Stairs (Lubricate/Repair as Needed)
Turn On Lights, Replace Any Bad Bulbs/Fluorescents
Check All LED Bulbs and Fixtures
Open Vents, Test Seals and Operation
Clean Pop-Locks On Vents
Open Blinds - Check Function (Adjust If Needed), Clean
Open Windows, Test Seals and Operation. Check Locking Mechanisms
Close and Clean Blinds
Open Cabinets (Upper and Lower) Organize Shifted Contents
Check for Leaks; Roof, Doors, Vents, etc.
Check for Critters. (Bugs, Mammals, Gremlins, etc.)
Check & 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 (If Applicable)
Check Bathroom Skylight for leaks and cracks.
Check Bathroom Vent for Operation and Seal.
Check All Flashlights (Batteries, Charged? and Bulbs)
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 Wiper Blades Replace If Needed.
Check Windshield Washer Nozzles, Replace if Needed
Check Windshield Fluid Level, Fill if Needed
Check All Hoses and Tighten Clamps
Check Airbag Compressor for operation and leaks.
Check Air Bag System Pressure
Check Air bag System for Leaks

Check Fuel Levels
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 TPMS Monitor for Operation and Correct Pressures
Check Temperature Gauge for Rise
Listen for "strange" noises. Clangs, Bonks, Whistles, Squeals, Chattering, Rattles, Clunks etc.
Shift Into Each Gear (Foot on Brake!!)
When In Reverse, Check Backup Camera Monitor
Switch On Dash Air Conditioner (Got Cold Air?)
Select Dash Heat and Defrost (Got Hot Air?)
Shutdown After Everything Warms Up to Operating Temperature
Re-Check Oil Level, Fill if Needed
Re-Check Transmission Fluid Level, Fill if Needed
Go Outside, Look Under RV..Any New Leaks?

Check Shore Power Cord & Plugs
Unplug Shore Power Cord
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 (If You Have One!)
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)
Check & Clean Stove Vent System
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 All Stove Valves in the OFF Position

APPLIANCE CHECKS (On Both Shore Power AND Generator/Inverter)
Attach Shore Power (or use Generator)
Check and Clean Air Conditioner Filters
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 (heat something up!)
Check Coffee Maker Operation (VERY Important!)
Remove and Store Refrigerator Door Spacer
Inspect And Clean Refrigerator Interior
Check Fridge DC Control Panel Operation
Turn On Refrigerator (on AC Power)
Clean Out Refrigerator Chimney/Fan/Cooling Fins/Tubes and Check for Debris/Nests/Bugs
Confirm Refrigerator Heating Element is Warming Boiler in Outside Compartment)
Switch Refrigerator to Propane (LP Gas)
Confirm Flame Ignition (By Sound AND Visually Outside In Compartment)
Switch Back to Electric (or AUTO)
Check Refrigerator Door Seals and Lock(s)
Replace Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer Batteries
Turn On Entertainment System
Check Inputs (Antenna/VCR/DVD/Satellite/VGA/HDMI)
Check Bluetooth (If Applicable!)
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
Turn of Water Heater Bypass (If You Have One!)
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 Faucet Water Filter
Check For Leaks (Look in All Cabinets! Under Coach as Well!)
Open Faucets and Run Water until Clear
Check For Leaks AGAIN!!
Make Sure Water Heater Emergency Pressure Relief Valve is Closed!
Turn On Water Heater (Propane)
Check for Ignition
Wait At Least 10 Minutes (Water Has to Heat Up You know!)
Confirm Hot Water and Flow
Check For Leaks (Inside Hot Side Plumbing AND Outside Water Heater Compartment)
Switch Water Heater to Electric (If You Have It Installed)
Confirm Hot Water and Flow
Clean and Inspect Water Drains and Pipes
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 send me new items to add or ask questions!

Be Seeing You....Down The Road

Rich "The Wanderman"


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Great Modern BBQ Lighting System That Works!

    Isn't it always great when you can get a great product at a great price. I regularly search all the liquidation stores in my area and beyond doing just that. Every once in a while I stumble upon an item I've wanted for a while that is so deeply discounted that I cannot resist its siren song any longer. This time it wasn't all that costly! I found a beautifully designed BBQ grill illumination system that looks great AND works great. Perfect for cooking outside the RV.

How Could I Resist!
Cuisinart is a great name. Over the years I have had products manufactured by them that have lasted much longer than their competitors. (I know, that's not always the case, but more often than not.) Just looking at the construction of this beauty shows you why. Utilizing thick plastic and metal this light is a bit heavy. That's a good thing here as it will likely last a long time.

Now on to the functions and actual use. It's BRIGHT! With all three LEDs on, it will definitely light up your grill. It would have been nice to have a way to turn on either one, two or all three LEDs, but there isn't. It attaches to your grill lid handle with a robust clamp. I have a "Jenn-Air" branded grill at home and it held on very well with no slippage on the metal handle.

One of the coolest things about this light is that you can expand the entire unit. That means it can go from a narrow REALLY bright spotlight on the center of your grill to a wider "flood-light" pattern. Besides being useful, it really looks cool when you extend it. Impress your friends....well, only if they are easily impressed or enjoy unique LED lights like I do. The light runs on 3 AAA batteries and should last a long time on a set. The clamping system can be used on other surfaces as well. It so happens to clamp well to my open overhead cabinet doors and works great to really see what's in them. The bottom line? At 75% off (a whopping $7.50) it was a great deal.

One Day I may get around to installing 12 Volt LED lights inside the overhead cabinets, but not just yet. Until then, this works beautifully.  Makes it easier to clean up your grill after dark. Especially if you have a good cleaning tool. It's sleek and modern...just like....ahem...me!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Editor: If you can't find these in a nearby discount store but just have to have one, they're on Amazon (for about $20). 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Even The Simple Things - Mini Brush Surface Cleaner!

    I begin many of my stories with the "I hate cleaning" exclamation. Well, it's true, I DO hate cleaning. Any time I come across anything that will make cleaning tasks easier or faster I am all over them. While perusing a local dollar store I came across a small, hand-held device that looked like it would make many clean-up tasks easier and faster. After looking at it for a while, it came to me...My Grandmother had one of these when I was little. I remember those meals fondly, she was a great cook! After meals, she would use it all the time. If it worked for her, it would work for me!

It's a simple device, a roller brush attached to a plastic tray with a slot in it. The brush protrudes just enough that it will sweep debris into the tray when moved/rolled over it. There is a top half that snaps into place over the brush to contain any flying or flinging debris. The two halves separate to empty the device into the trash. It's an elegant design that just works. It picked up crumbs (obviously) and bits of food easily. Dried-on bits, not so much. Wet, sloppy messes, not at all. But that's a given. At the "dollar" store, they were two for 4.00. So a bit "pricey."

Now that's not to say it isn't without its faults. The tab that holds the top half on is a bit flimsy and must be manipulated carefully. If it breaks, the device will still work, but you have to hold the halves together manually. When you are done cleaning, separate the halves and dump in the trash. I find if you flip it over (brush side up) and tap a few times most of the debris will fall into the top half and be easily dumped. Once in a while, you'll need to clean the brush. You can use water for this, but make sure it is dry before putting it away as the metal parts will rust. It even works on soft surfaces, like beds...

Why is it that so-called "dollar" stores often have very few items for a buck? And lots of items for much more. That's not to say there aren't real dollar stores; in fact, I have one close by. Just that many don't live up to their names. Maybe it's the value for a dollar? Who knows....

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Great Idea For Anti-Spill Heat Resistant Coasters

One Of MANY Coffee Makers In My RV
   Coasters. Yes, coasters. Who really uses them every time? Not I. That just changed. Since I hate to clean so much and I enjoy relaxing, especially on vacation road trips, I found a way that a special coaster will help me do both. No, really! Think about it...if you use a coaster, it can prevent scorching of your table or other surface. It prevents those rings of moisture from damaging them as well. But what about a big glass of something iced that just exceeds the capacity of your coaster and spreads out all over the place. Or even the big cup of coffee (I LIKE coffee!) that you sip and put down just to spill some over the rim? Coffee can stain...HOT coffee can stain quickly. I have a cheap and easy solution.

A few days ago, I had to pick up my car from the dealer. Yes, I know, I'm not too fond of the dealer either...but it was for a free service so it's OK. Just down the road is a large IKEA store. It's fun to look through their gizmos and gadgets as they almost always have something I can use or re-purpose for the road. This time was no exception. I found a really cool set of coasters made from compressed cork that has a lip all the way around to catch liquid. I should have thought of that! Well, I didn't, but thankfully someone did.

Nice Deep Rim
They come two to a pack for just $1.67, an odd price, but well worth it. I should have bought two more! They do come in two sizes, but the larger one will work well for almost any drinking container. Besides, it will hold much more before spilling over. As a nice bonus, they are non slip and non skid. No more sliding glassware if you're not quite level. The larger size will easily fit most standard and slightly oversized coffee mugs as well. No, not the enormous ones that hold half a pot! But the larger ones that hold 2 Cups worth. Hmmm.

Why is it that a mug, which most folks use for coffee, is actually two cups worth of liquid as indicated by the markings on the pot? Must be a throwback to those dainty little porcelain cups of yore.

No dainty cups for me. Especially in the morning I need my java boost from a thick mug. Since my coordination that early is always a bit off, having somewhere to aim my cup and capture mistakes is a boon. They don't even take up much space. Nice. Very nice.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Even The Simple Things - Dual Magnifying Glass

Tiny Serial And Model Numbers!
    Although I will never admit it, sometimes I need to see something better. Clearer and nearer. I won't use glasses (not yet at least!) but I will use a magnifying glass. I've been afraid to keep a good glass one in the RV since it would likely break or would require lots of care to keep in good shape. As everyone already knows, I haunt quite a few dollar stores and merchandise liquidators all over the place. You never know what you'll find. This time I came up with an acrylic plastic dual power hand held magnifying glass that actually works well. Yup, you guessed it...only 1 dollar.

Nice, Big Design.
  This one has a large (4" across) main lens and a smaller 1" double power one. They look to be about 2X and 5X respectively. Now, don't go thinking this will magnify with the same quality as a glass lens, it won't. However, for jobs that don't require perfect precision it's just fine. Reading tiny serial numbers on electronics, the stick-on appliance label behind the microwave...in the dark...with a flashlight...no problem. Taking a look at a tiny eyeglass hinge screw hole to see if it's stripped? Yup, the smaller lens works fine. Not perfect, but good enough. And since it's plastic...no worries about shattering. I wrap mine up in a microfiber cloth that came in a pack of three for, yes, you guessed it, 1 dollar! It stays clean and scratch free until I need it.

It's really handy to have the double power mini magnifier built in. You can simply move your hand a bit and get a "zoomed in" view of any detail. Some folks swear by their cell phone camera lens and use it to zoom in on items. That would work, but just pulling out this beauty and taking a look is simpler and doesn't require any power. It also works WAY better in full daylight than any LED screen I've seen on a phone or tablet. Just in case you were wondering....yes, you can start fires with it.  In a pinch...that could save your life.

Like everything...YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). I'm happy to have found this looking glass. Perhaps I have a bit of the Sherlock Holmes fantasy left over. Indubitably.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"