Sunday, October 11, 2009

Holiday Rambler Neptune Service Visit Info

Pulling Out Soon!

Helen and I are pulling out for 5-6 months of running around in Florida and ???(mayme other points) in about a month.  So, as you can imagine, we have been spending a lot of thime getting ready for our trip.  A lot of that time is being spent adding a lot of little things to our RV for our personal convenience and comfort.

We just purchased our RV in January, and we had done a lot to our old RV, and we have been busy this Fall implementing the same kind of things on our new unit.

First,  we have a 2008 Holiday Rambler Neptune XL 38-foot Diesel Pusher with 4-slides.  It has a Cummins 340 hp engine, and the Ariens 6-speed Automatic Transmission, and has a RoadMaster Chassis.  This is for your reference.

Chassis Service:

I have put over 8200 miles on it since it's purchase, and decided that considering the length of our trip coming up (in and out of CG's in FL), I should probably get the Chassis serviced, you know, Just-In-Case.

ConsidEring that Monaco went Bankrupt on me (and others), I no longer have a Warranty.  And considring that the local Dealer went Bankrupt on me, I no longer had my favorite Service Center to use.  Well, after some searching and conversations, I eventually found a local Diesel Shop that not only worked on RV's, but had a good reputation as being professional and efficient.

So I decided to get the service done by them, and have just received my RV back.

The reason I am writing this is to let you know what Info they needed, and the actual parts that finally used on my unit.  You see, the Owners Manual had a few errors, and luckily I had left it with him for reference, but there wer still some problems that had to be overcome.

When I left the unit I told the Manager of the Shop what I wanted done, which included;

  • Replace the Fuel Filters
  • Replace the Air Filter if necessary,
  • Check all Belts and adjust if necessary
  • Change the Engine Oil and Oil Filter
  • Drop the Leveling Jacks, and lubricate the fittings and grease the Jack Legs.
  • Grease all suspension fittings
  • Grease any Chassis fittings
  • Check and Adjust the Brake linings.
  • Check the Air Brake System
  • Give the Chassis an overall check for any potential problems.
Well, I was billed for 3-hours of Labor, and the specific parts used were:

  • 7182-          Oil Filter
  • 15W40        Engine Oil (20-quarts
  • P551003     Fuel Filter
  • 3966           Fuel Filter
  • Misc Shop Supplies
 I hope this can be of some help to some of you Holiday Rambler, or Cummins, or RoadMaster owners  out there.  The Shop did a good job, and they were on time.  I couldn't ask a lot more.

Have a god Day!

Don Bobbitt

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Washing your RV Front-End - ECO-FRIENDLY


We all need to adjust our lives towards a more Eco-Friendly lifestyle.  As Campers and RVers, we should adopt as many habits, tools, and lifestyle changes as possible to preserve and improve the environment we live in.  To this end, here is a great ECO-FRIENDLY TIP.. Sometimes these are just small steps, but if we all use them we can make a big difference for the Planet.

Washing Your RV Front End:

Boy, probably one of the most intimdating jobs, to me is the task of washing that enormous RV when you arrive at your home, or Campground, and have been driving through all kinds of Weather, Dust, Grime, grease and BUGS.

Let me tell you a story.  

Last year, while I was at a campground in Florida for the Winter, an elderly Canadian couple pulled their RV into the campsite next to me.  Needless to say, it was pretty dirty and the front was covered with bugs.  We met, shook hands, talked, and we became good campsite friends while we were both at that campground.

Well, the next day, in the cool of the morning, I noticed he was cleaning the front of his RV, then to my surprise, he stopped and started again in a section of one of the sides of the RV, then quit again.  He continued this routine daily on a small section of the RV until he had a totally clean RV.

The point is that he had figured out how to pace himself, as well as the use of campground water, and cleaning materials and end up with a very effective way to clean his RV; with less one-time effort, less sore muscles, and the use of less water.

My Methods:

I on the other hand, had spent several hours one day, in the heat continually; wetting, soaping, washing, and rinsing the whole darn RV, and when I had finished, I had wasted a lot more water, cleaning materials, and muscle power than my Canadian friend.

I hurt for days, so a couple of campgrounds later, I jumped on having a local crew come in and wash my RV for several hundred dollars.  The RV looked great, but my wallet was a lot lighter.

I don't know where this commercial cleaning stands on the ECO-Friendly scale, but as I sat there, with my glass of wine in hand, watching the crew spend right at 45-minutes to clean and hand wax and polish my whole RV, I am sure that they were more efficient, thus more ECO-FRIENDLY than my personal work.

My lesson-learned was to follow my friends process the next time I wash my RV myself, and to look closer at the materials I use also.

What I mean is, that I will take a good close look at my RV and use the appropriate materials to clean the different areas of my RV, and the different types of dirt, grime, grease, and stains.

Front of the RV:

The front of an RV will collect, along with the dirt, a lot of dead bugs.  Remember, if they have dried up, they are even harder to remove, but here is a great hint; Take 2 buckets, fill one with clean water, and the other with a dish-washing detergent/water combination.
Use a soft-bristle brush with a long handle, and thoroughly soak the whole front end of the RV (thus the bug bodies) with water, and go away for 10-minutes or so.  This will allow the bug bodies and dirt to soak up the water and soften.
When you come back, wash the windshield and front of the RV with the dish-washing detergent and water combination, and then go away again for about 10-minutes, to let the bug bodies to soak up some of this cleanser.
When you come back, get your ladder out, and using a rag, hand scrub the front of the RV starting at the top with the cleanser, and when finished, rinse the front with a fresh bucket of clean water, and then you should be rid of 98% of the bug bodies, and all of the dirt, with a shiny front on your RV.

The great thing is; you used less water, less caustic chemicals, and you had a couple of nice rest periods during the cleaning process.

By the way, as to that other 2% you could not clean with the dish-washing detergent, well it is highly likely that those expensive, and often caustic cleansers that you did not use, would not remove the remaining bugs any better.

Preventive Medicine for Bugs:

Another hint for you, is to try to minimize the number of bugs that stick to your front end when you are traveling.  I have heard a lot of suggestions, and the best I have found for the body part of the front end, is BABY OIL.

Yes, thats right, Baby Oil!  Just before we pull out on a trip, we soak a couple of paper towels in Baby Oil, and thoroughly rub the front body parts down, including the headlight lens'.  Then when we get to our campsite, we just hose what is left along with most of the bugs off of the front end.  It only takes a little water, and what can be safer and more ECO-FRIENDLY than Baby Oil?

Other RV cleaning suggestions coming in later posts!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

VINEGAR - A General Cleanser - ECO-FEIENDLY


We all need to adjust our lives towards a more Eco-Friendly lifestyle.  As Campers and RVers, we should adopt as many habits, tools, and lifestyle changes as possible to preserve and improve the environment we live in.  To this end, here is a great ECO-FRIENDLY TIP.. Sometimes these are just small steps, but if we all use them we can make a big difference for the Planet.

General Cleaner: Vinegar
Here is a very good suggestion for a General Cleanser to use in and on your RV or Camper.

One thing that anyone can do, is use a combination of White Vinegar and water for many of your generic cleaning chores.  It is great for removing grease and dirt from; Kitchen Appliances, Counter tops, Tile/Linoleum floors, Stainless Steel sinks, and synthetic tabletops. 

Put a 50-50 mixture in a spray bottle and keep it handy for your day-to-day cleaning chores. 
As a note:  If the smell is a little too strong for you, you can add a few drops of Lemon Oil or your other favorite scent, to your mixture to improve the smell after using it.
In your RV, try it for cleaning your Shower Stall, Sinks, Toilets, Tire Rims and HubCaps, and it will also clean and remove many Carpet stains.  You can run the mixture through your drip Coffee Maker to clean it out, and get the grime and grease from around your Stove burners (of course, make sure that the gas is turned off).  According to an article I recently read, you can even use it, (mixed with water) as a Hair Rinse to remove buildup and bacteria, if desired. Sure, there are some cleaning problems that Vinegar just will not handle, but it should be the first cleaner you reach for.
Remember, if everyone, takes these small steps, and just overall reduces the daily use of the harsher chemical cleaners, it will better for us all.

The key point again, is that Vinegar is a wonderful natural cleanser for many things, and the great kicker here is that it is so cheap, that everyone should have it in their RV not only for cooking, but as a General Cleaner and reduce using those harsh Chemical Concoctions, as much as possible.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

RV's and their Roofs

RV’s and their Roof

One of the things that I hate to climb onto, and one of the things that demand regular maintenance and inspections is the Roof of your RV or Camper. Remember, IT keeps the weather out of your RV, if maintained, but it will allow water to get into the damnedest places in your RV if left to itself. And visible water damage to your RV or Camper, will hurt the re-sale value of your unit more than pretty much any thing else.

A Personal Problem: As I mentioned above, I do hate getting on and off of my Rig’s roof. First I do not like heights, and second, even on jacks an RV is not the most stable place to stand. And the Ladder; I cannot fathom the reasoning behind placing a ladder onto the rear of an RV that cost 1/4M$ or more, with treads that are an inch wide, and 12-inches or so long. Two shoes can barely fit on a tread. And when you get to the top you have to straddle this miniature device and slide your butt onto the roof. I do it, but I hate it!

Straight Ladder: So, deciding that this ladder was insufficient, I looked around and found a great extendable ladder made just for use on RV’s and it packs away in a small package for storage. So after using it several times I learned another lesson. The lesson I learned here was that an extended ladder when placed on the edge of a Rubber or Fiberglass roof can cut or scratch the roof, right along the edge, where EVERYONE can see it. And, pretty soon you have a good chance of these cuts developing into leaks, or at the very least leave you with a very ugly marred roof edge.

Materials: The Roof-Top of Coaches, and other Campers have evolved over time. In years past they were almost exclusively covered in a solid sheet of a Rubberized compound, usually the same as what was used on Mobile Homes.

Today, the majority of the cheaper units still use Roof materials made of Rubber Compounds, while the more expensive ones utilize Fiberglass materials either alone or in conjunction with layered Composite materials. These Composite materials are used for added support for the Fiberglass, but often also for insulation and strength. All of these Roof designs suffer from one common problem.

Even though they, in themselves are designed and mounted to be waterproof for the life of the RV, the first thing that happens after installation, is the installation of devices and accessories, onto the roof.

Some of the most common installations are; Sewer vents, Cabin Air Fans/Vents, Air Conditioners, TV Antenna’s Satellite Antenna’s, Radio Antenna’s, Air Horns, Solar Collectors, Weather stations, etc. Each of these installations require the cutting of, or drilling of, holes through the roof, and then the subsequent sealing of the item to the roof with common outdoor sealants.

The thing you need to know is that your RV or Camper, and it’s roof flex, and this along with the stress of temperature differences over a day, and a season, that are constantly pulling on the sealant used on your roof. And ….. the sealant WILL pull loose or crack open over time. It is just a matter of time.

Your job is to climb up there and check your roof; every 3 months if your unit is in storage, or always before and after each trip you take. If you find problems with the sealant on the roof, it is relatively easy to trim it off of your roof, and apply a new coat of sealant. The sealant is available at almost all RV parts stores.

Fiberglass and Rubber: FYI, one of the great things about a Fiberglass roof is that it does not leech a chalky residue onto the sides of your RV like the Rubber roof does. When I was negotiating the purchase my HR Arista, I was concerned about these same seemingly perpetual streaks on the side of my old PACE-ARROW.

Rubber Roof: The HR rep was there at Lazydays that day, so he and I had a long conversation about the different roof materials. He stated that the residue I was seeing is part of the design of the roof material, and all Rubber roofs will leech this fine white dust onto your sides of your RV or Camper.

This leeching keeps the roof material clean and flexible. He also stated that these Rubber roofs should be cleaned regularly (ready for this?-- “every 2 months”), and only with the appropriate “approved” Rubber Roof cleaners. And the final thing I got from the rep was that you should NEVER seal the roof after cleaning. It will get amazingly dirty and feel very hard and be near impossible to clean. The Rubber material, again, is designed to leech it’s outer surface, so it should be cleaned and never sealed.

Fiberglass Roof: Now with my new HR Neptune, I have a fiberglass roof, and only need to inspect it regularly, and occasionally clean it of dust, pollen, leaves, bird poop etc. And if the manufacturers design is good, the fiberglass will have more than adequate support, and there should never be any cracks develop from people working on the roof. Overall, while a Rubber roof is perfectly adequate, and should last for 15-20 years or if taken care of, a fiberglass roof is the better choice, in my mind, to date.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Baggage Storage Compartments

Baggage Storage Compartments-

One important part of the RV is the quantity of, and size of each, Baggage/Storage compartment accessible from the outside of the RV. It’s amazing how many people will shell out a quarter of a million dollars, or more, for an RV and pay only passing attention to the available storage space and their configuration. Generally speaking, everything that you use outside the RV, needs to be stored outside the RV in these compartments.

Some RV’s will have only 3 or 4 compartments, while others will be lined with compartments down both sides of the RV. Some will have one or more “thru-compartments”, and others will have one or more compartments with “slide-out” drawers. The thing you need to picture is; what you have that needs to be stored outside, and then where will it all fit. You will see that a number of the items you need, are so big that they will only fit in certain compartments, which in turn limits your flexibility in your layout plans.

I use Plastic Totes (see-thru where possible, with tops) in different strategic sizes to combine most of the similar items together, and I use stick-on labels to easily find the ones I need when I go into the compartments. By Strategic I mean that I have sizes of totes that hold specific common items, and are of sizes that fit together in the compartments so that;

1-I make the best use of the available space,

2-I keep the most used items to the front and the least used items to the rear of the compartment for convenience, and

3- When packed for traveling, there is minimal allowed movement of all of the items packed into the compartments. This eliminates those strange bumping sounds when you are driving down the road, as well as the potential damage by poorly packed items to each other.

Campsite Layout: One other thing to remember in your outside compartment planning, is the fact that your campsite and RV are designed with distinct uses for each side of the vehicle and the layout of the campsite.

The standard is that the driver’s side of the vehicle has all of the utility interconnections, and the passenger side has the access door to the RV, and the campsite is laid out with the passenger side containing the patio area, picnic table, fire pit, etc. and the Power connection, Water connection, and Sewage Dumping are always on the Driver's side towards the rear of the site Your storage should reflect the same planning.

In other words, when possible, I recommend that everything you will use in your patio area should be stored on the Patio side, and the other stuff, Electrical Power cord, Water Hoses, toolbox, general storage totes, spare parts, etc should be stored on the Drivers side, as you will be using these items less often.

Baggage Doors-

Then there are the Baggage doors themselves. There are the “Hinge-Up” doors, the “Hinge-Sideways” doors, and single latch and double latch doors, but whichever type of door you have, they all lock. Your baggage doors have locks for two reasons; the obvious one is to keep other people out, but they are also there to keep the items stored there, in the compartments when you are traveling down the highway.

Really….. I had to learn this the hard way. Several Years ago. we stayed at one of our kid’s house in Virginia, and waited until the last minute to head back to South Carolina. I rushed through my “Pull-Out: checklist, and did not check that all of the baggage compartments were locked.

An hour later, we are traveling down the road and a passing Semi went by us blowing his horn and pointing down with his hand. Helen and I did not have a clue what he was trying to tell us until I looked in my driver’s mirror.

And there they were ……. my two new large folding chairs were hanging out of my rear pass-thru compartment, one of them occasionally dragging on the asphalt. Very embarrassed, I started looking and luckily found a safe pull-off just down the road, and corrected the problem. You can believe I now take the time to check that all of the baggage doors are closed properly, and locked.

NOTE: Keep in mind that these compartments/doors have rubber gaskets on them to keep the weather out. If they are rotted, missing, or loose, you should repair/replace them to keep these compartments as water-tight as possible. Water leaks can ruin a lot of good clothes/equipment, if unnoticed for a period of time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Losing Weight as an RVer

Helen and I have been on a campaign for me to lose weight for several yearss now.

We took stock and started in earnest, shortly before we went on our trip to the Grand Canyon back in August, with our grandson.  We figured that, as he was only 12-years old, we would be limited in the type of restaurant/pub we frequented, as well as having early evening hours.  Although this limited us to a degree, we didn't mind, as we really looked forward to enjoying sharing the Grand Canyon, and the other sights with him and seeing  everything through his eyes.

The reason I mention this, is that we were able to start our management of my diet.  I will include a picture, but I had crossed 250 pounds one day, and I really did not like a lot of things about my size.

  • I had been really overweight most of my life, so I was used to that.
  • I had a car wreck in 2000, and, long story short, I ended up after 3 surgeries over 2 years. with some nice scars and no cartilage in my left ankle, so walking was painful to say the least.
  • I had been on Steriods since 1996, when I had a Kidney transplant, as part of my anti-rejection drugs, and they were eating my skeletal structure up slowly but surely.
  • I had 2 bad disks in my back that I could throw out very easily.
  • I had fallen into a Sedentary life-style, and had started breathing very hard.

I knew I had to do something, so we looked back at all of the diets we had tried, and rejected all of them.  I did remember what a professional trainer had once told me at the Gym I frequented before I had my transplant.  He said that {weight loss or gain really comes to CALORIES IN versus CALORIES BURNED."  He was a professional weight lifter, and he said all of his friends used this simple fact to place themselves in the appropriate weight category for upcoming competitions.

Lose It! - Weight Loss APP for iPhone

Also, at this time, and by chance, I had recently changed over to an Apple iPhone, and was enjoying all of the free APPs (applications) available to me.  I checked and there was a brand new APP called :Lose It!.  I loaded the APP, and checked it out.  It turned out to be the best tool I have ever seen, bar none.  Here is what we were able to do with LoseIt! :

  • Enter my age,
  • Enter my weight, 
  • Enter my lifestyle (Sedintary, Lightly Active, Active, and so on.
  • Enter my weight loss goal.
  • Then daily, I could enter my: Morning weight,  exercise type durung the day, calories burned while exercising, and foods eaten.
The real power of this APP, to myself and Helen is that I can enter my own custom recipes and foods.  I know you have seen software weight loss program, where you record your foods eaten, but this packaage lets me do 2 things that really streamline the process.

One, It allows the entry of personal recipes.  By that I mean, you define a recipe name, like Dons Ham and Cheese on Rye sandwich.  Then you find each ingredient in the foods list, and add the portion you used for the sandwich.

Two, if, for example you cannot find the low-fat cheddar cheese you used, you just get the food package, and add this as a new ingredient, includung nutrient values, into the new food section, and then add the new food to your sandwich.

Once you add the lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, and whatever you eat on your sandwich, then you go back and add this new recipe to your lunch meal.

Your daily data is updated, and you now have a recipe and a specific Cheese Food added that you can use again and again.  At the end of the day you have a summary of your CALORIC day, good of bad.

How I am losing;

Well, by using the Lose It! package I was aware of just how much we snacked, how large some of our  meals were, and we were able to see just which foods were the worst for me, and started making slow changes, such as;

  • Dropping the amount of  bread we ate.
  • Change to lower Calorie Breads, whcih were often as good as the old ones we just ate randomly.
  • Change to lower Calorie and Fat meats.  Less Red Meat, and more Chicken, Turkey, and Fish.
  • Change to a Low-Fat Mayonnaise, not Fat-Free, or tasteless varieties.
  • Use more Mustard on fods
  • Use Lower Calorie and Fat Salad Dressings, even making our own Balsamic Vinegarette.
  • Eat more salads, Chef Salads and Cobb Salads, and Salads with Chicken or Fish as an Entree'
  • Eat more Salsa dishes (with fresh vegetables and minimal oils), we have invented several.
  • Eat more seasonal vegetables and/or frozen, with canned vegetables as a last choice.
  • Eat more fruit.
  • Eat Healthy fruits for snacks between meals.
  • etc, etc. etc

To do the above, and minimize the costs, you have to become a savvy shopper. and know where and when the  best deals are.

I guess the pro f for me is the fact that right now I weigh 211 pounds, and feel great.  And of course,  I an continuing to stick to my plan, and adjust the CALORIES IN and CALORIES BURNED to reach my ultimate weight goal.

What does this have to do with RVing?  Well, traveling in an RV is a lifestyle, and your meals are an integral part of your travels as well as something that you need to manage to be healthier, have more energy, and enjoy the world outside your windshield.  Whenever we get me down to my target weight, we will go to what I call Phase-2, which is a maintain exercise and diet plan.

More on my progress and this personal weight loss plan in another Post later!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

LAUNDRY - Costs and Tips for RV'ers

LAUNDRY – Costs and Tips for RV’ers

If you are an occasional/regular/frequent camper, or a Full-Timer, you quickly realize that you can travel with a limited amount of clothes. Once you accept this, you know you have to wash clothes while on your trip.

Selecting a Campground based on Laundry:

You will often have several selections of campgrounds when you are planning your trip. I recommend that while you are selecting a Campground, that you add these questions to your others when you call them;

1- Do you have a Laundry?
2- How many Washers and Dryers are in the Laundry?
3- Is the Laundry well-lit and Air-Conditioned? (especially in the Summer)?
4- How many of the machines are broken at this time? If they don’t know, then they probably don’t care if/when they get repaired.)
5-Wh at is the cost per Wash (# of minutes for amount charged)
6- What is the cost per Drying (# of minutes for amount charged)
7- Is there a functioning change machine in the Laundry (or even on site)?
8- Is there a Campground Store, and do they sell detergents (in case you run out)?

Washer/Dryer Costs:

You find very quickly that there is a wide range of pricing for using the washing and drying machines in different campgrounds. You need to set an acceptable cost limit for yourself, and make your decisions based on these. For example some costs we have seen in our travels are;

1- Washer - $1.25 for 30 minutes and Dryer- $1.25 for 60 minutes. This works out to $2.50/Hour for the Washer, and $1.25/Hour for the Dryer.

2- Washer - $1.00 for 30 minutes and Dryer - $0.25 for 6 minutes. This works out to $2.00/Hour for the Washer, and $2.50/Hour for the Dryer

There other places we have been with both lower and higher pricing, but you should look at how many Washer loads you have and how many Dryer loads you have to use at the campgrounds pricing and calculate what your costs are going to be.One option is that often there are public Laundry’s nearby that use larger machines, and sometimes have lower per/load pricing? Check it out.

Clothes Washing/Drying Tools and Tips:

You also find out that the different campgrounds have different restrictions on drying clothes at your camper, from “not allowed at all” to allowing small specific clothes hanging devices. Here are some types of Washing and Drying devices favored by many Campers:

1- Built-In Washer/Dryer – Many of the larger and newer RV’s and Campers have a built-in unit, generally a combination unit, that can wash and dry a small load of clothes. I have one, and have talked to others that have them and there is a general consensus that they are excellent for washing a couple of sets of clothes/underwear/socks every 2-3 days to avoid using the campground laundry, but eventually those linens and towels will demand you use a laundry with a full-size machine.

You also have to keep in mind that the washer will use a significant amount of your water, and visibly raise the level in your Gray-Water Tank. And, the Dryer pretty much demands a 50-Amp service at your site. So, even though we own and use our Washer/Dryer, we still use the Campground Laundry, only less often than without owning one.

2- Clothes Line – There are still some Campgrounds that let you use a clothes line, but the vast majority do not. If you are allowed; run a line from your Camper/RV to a tree, but avoid driving nails in the trees. This really upsets the Campground owners, so do not do this. It is unnecessary really, as you can easily wrap a Bungee around the tree, and tie your line to it.

3- Clothes Stands – Some Campgrounds will allow you to use one of those free-standing Clothes Stands. You know the ones that accordion out, and stand alone allowing several wood or plastic bars that towels, and other laundry can hang on to dry.

4- Ladder Clothes Board – Some RV owners use a cantilevered clothesbar that hangs on the rear ladder (see Fig-4). This is one of the most popular choices by RV’ers; easy to build, easy to attach, uses minimal drying space, and stores easily in

your RV.

Essentially it is a plank of wood, generally 4 foot long, by ½ inch thick, by 6-inches wide. To make one;

  • Measure the distance between the ladder braces of your RV ladder,
  • Cut 2 notches on opposite edges of on end of the board spaced to fit the 2 ladder braces,
  • Start at the opposite end of the board and drill a row of 3/8-inch holes spaced 2-inches apart, 1-inch from the edge, down the lower edge of the board for clothes hangers.

5- Ladder clothes Hanger – There are several commercial versions of accordion-type extendable clothes hanging bars that bolt to your RV ladder. They cost $50-$80 and are found in your local RV accessory stores. They are easy to use, and store easily in your RV, and they are accepted by most Campgrounds.

6- AUTO Dryer – One thing my wife and I do is utilize the residual heat inside our Auto. We have a Jeep Wrangler TOAD and it has a roll bar. We buy those cheap plastic hangers you get at department stores in bundles.

And seeing as we almost exclusively wear T-Shirts and Polo Shirts while traveling and Camping, we wash these at the Laundry, and then hang them on the plastic hangers. We then hang these on a part of the roll bar in the rear seat, and drive back to our site. These clothes will generally dry in 4-6 hours on a sunny day inside a closed car.

I know most tow cars do not have roll bars, but you can pick up one of those extendable bars for travelers to hang clothes in the rear. These are relatively cheap and save a lot on dryer costs.

7- Other: - Traveling around the USA we have seen many other ingenious and sometimes stupid contraptions for drying clothes in Campgrounds. The ones listed here are pretty good, but I wonder about some of the multi-jointed, sliding parts, inter-latching contraptions made of plastic plumbing pipes. One , easily had over $100 in pipe, elbows, metal screw-in eyelets and cords, and was enormous. Do what is right for you.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Inviting Guests to stay with You in Your RV

OK, it is going to happen, you have a great RV, and it has extra room for other people, so sooner or later either you or your spouse is going to invite someone to either travel with you, or meet you somewhere and stay a few days. If you have young grandchildren it is definitely going to happen, more often than not. This can be a fun experience for everyone, if you will just sit back and prepare yourselves for visitors, and your visitors for the world of RVing. Here are some suggestions of things for you to do.
I believe there are two kinds of guests that you might have in your RV. The first is children or grandchildren. The other type are adult friends. With the young ones, be sure they know how long they are going to be with you. Kids do not like being somewhere and not know when they are leaving.
They also want to have their own personal “stuff” with them. Be sure that the music lover has his “Pod”, the computer lover has his PC, the reader has his books, the younger ones have their toys and so forth. Kids are prepared to entertain themselves a lot of the time, you need to contact them before they get there, and let them know where you are going/staying, and what is available for them to do there, so they can prepare.
As for the Adults, be sure you tell them exactly what you and they will be doing during their stay with you unless they have something special that they want to do. You should tell them your normal daily routine including, get up times, go to bed times, meal timing and a general list of your typical meals, as well as what you will be doing for entertainment while they are there.
This list in itself should spark a good conversation on everyone’s likes and dislikes. Negotiate with them, but do not make yourselves miserable just for your guests comfort and idiosyncrasies. Remember, it is your Home, and they should be willing to bend on most items, to be with you. Avoid letting your guests plan on turning your Home/RV into their Hotel.
I could tell you stories of past guests of ours who, when they left, we expected to see a tip in an envelope lying somewhere. Wait ….. that actually did happen with some guests of ours at our House in Myrtle Beach a few years ago.
Where to put the guests clothes is always a problem. I have a solution that really helps. I went to the local Hardware store and purchased several Robe Hooks and placed then strategically around the Living Area, just for such occasions.
I usually tell my guests to look around in their closets, and find a couple of old Suit bags, the fold-over type with a hanger hook for hotel room closets. You know the kind with room for 2-3 suits, some dress shirts, and several sip-up pockets for shoes, bath items, and underwear, etc. These are perfect for guest clothes storage and access.
Just hang one on a hook over the drivers seat, and the other over the passengers seat. They can get to their cloths easily, there is no floor space taken up, and everyone is happy.
A Jackknife Sofa is on of those that you lift the front and pull, the back drops down, and the person sleeps on it with the bottom and back cushions as the mattress. It is good for one adult person, that’s it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking anything else, or you are really going to upset your guests. Even 2 kids, six or younger, will be fighting for room on one of these.
Now a Sleeper Sofa, depending on the age of the RV can be a Double, Queen, or King size sleeper sofa. It is just like the ones in your friends house. It is usually a mechanical monster to open or close, and has a very sorry excuse for a mattress. The newer ones have more metal bracing to prevent sagging, and many even have a nice inflatable mattress, and can approach comfortable. The Sleeper Sofas are for two adults.
Many RV’s and Campers also have a dinette. You know 2 bench seats and a fold-out dining table? If you lift, flip, and arrange the pieces properly, it will convert into a very short bed. I have a sister-in law who is short enough to sleep on one of these, but I have not found a normal sized person that will attempt it. This bed is good for a kid or small teen.
Often, if your friends are “Tenters”, and they can bring their gear, your campsite will easily be large enough for them to set up their tent and sleeping bags. This way, they have their privacy and space and are much better guests in a much less cluttered RV or Camper.
f. Privacy for everyone-
You must define the rules of privacy while they are in your RV. You are used to your own bedroom with a door, and total access to the bathroom at night.
Now you must work out an arrangement for using inside and campground toilets, showers, and bathrooms so everyone is comfortable living together. And for goodness’ sake, walk your guests through the steps of proper operation of the Toilet, Hot Water Heater, Sewage storage system, and Shower. Non eof this is the same as in a conventional house.
DO not be afraid to ask your guests to share some of the workload during the day. Generally, if they do not help, it is because they have not been asked. They can help with; cooking preparation, taking out the trash, sweeping the floor in the camper/RV, changing linens, straightening out the campsite, and bagging trash, washing dishes, and much more. If they can’t help, you can make sure that they do not come back.
h. Expenses-
Your guests should volunteer to pay for any extra food costs or other expenses that you have to incur for their visit. In most campgrounds, you will have to pay an extra charge for their car and a daily extra charge for each of them to visit, at a minimum.
And, if they are staying for more than a couple of days, they should take you out for dinner one night at least, as a personal expression of gratitude for your hospitality, as well as the extra work they caused for you.
i. Other Stuff
And, there are certainly other things that you should coordinate with your guests that I have’nt listed here, but I think I have covered the basics. And ….. Remember …… Guests are like Fish, after a few days they will start to Stink. Hopefully all of yours will be gone before you detect the odor?

Friday, June 26, 2009

ON the ROAD with your RV - HINTS and TIPS

On the ROAD with your RV- Hints and Tips

Parking and Turning Tips for the RV driver.

I finally took a specialized driving class for Coach owners, along with my wife, and boy was it worth the time. We spent half a day in a classroom, and then went out and spent a half a day practicing what we had learned in 40-foot Diesel Pushers with an instructor.

After this one day of instruction, even though we had previously owned and driven thousands of miles in two different RV Coaches, we felt much safer driving our new rig on the open road.

Here are some of the things we learned in the classroom and on the road part of the classes. We share these in the hopes that they will aid you in your travels also.

Remember the unofficial Rule of the Road for RV drivers: I learned the rule of the road for boating when I had owned and operated a HouseBoat for years on a large lake in Virginia. Basically the rule is that SIZE RULES!.

What this means is that the larger boat is harder to maneuver in the water than a small boat, so the larger, more cumbersome boat has the right-of-way in almost every confrontational situation.

 I was happy to hear from the instructor that this same rule applied for drivers of RV's especially the very large ones and the ones that are towing..

When you think about it, this makes sense. When it comes to a situation where you, in your big rig, towing a car, or whatever, must react or the smaller vehicle must react and allow the other vehicle to get out of the way.

Oh, the driver of the smaller vehicle may Yell and blow the horn, but just be polite, smile, shrug your shoulders and continue to wait for them to get out of the way. DO Not take chances trying to make impossible turns with your RV!


  • If traveling in Canada, make a note that 12-feet is equal to 3.66 meters, and post it on their dash as a quick reference when approaching an overpass or pulling into a fueling station.
  • The driver/owner of a Motor Home should always keep in mind that their Coach is longer, wider and taller than their automobile, and deserves the extra respect and thought when you are turning, stopping, accelerating, and parking the RV........ And the Tail moves!
  • When you are on the road remember that a tractor/trailer rig is nearly always at or near the US maximum allowed height of 13-feet and 6-inches, and if you watch them on the road, it should help stay out of trouble with overpasses and fuel stops.
Tail Swing or Off-Tracking
  • The number-1 accident with Motor Homes is caused by Tail Swing, and one should keep in mind that the average Motor Home has 2-1/2 feet of Tail-Swing when it is in a turn.
  • When stopping at fuel dispensers, keep your rig at least 3-1/2 feet away from the pump to allow for Tail-Swing when you pull away from the fuel dispenser.
  • What to do at an Intersection:

  • Notice the big white painted bar on the road at every stop sign/ stop light in the country. This bar is always designed to be set back enough to allow other turning vehicles to clear the vehicle sitting at the sign/painted bar, when they make a turn. So always stop at the white bar.

  • Situation One: When you are pulling up to a STOP sign/light and are in the left lane of 2 lanes, and turning left, you should pull up as close to the left line on the road as possible to allow for your tail to swing out and to the right when you turn left. Watch closely when actually turning, if there is a car too close to you on your right. And remember the Rule of the Road mentioned above.

  • Situation Two: When pulling up to a STOP in a single lane, and turning left, pull up as close to the left line on the road as possible to avoid your tail hitting any signs, fire hydrants or other things on the side of the road at the corner.

  • When to Turn: If you are driving a Diesel Pusher, you must remember that you are sitting over the front wheel, so whether turning left or right at an intersection, pull straight forward until your Butt is at the point where you need to turn, THEN turn the wheel. Everyone is used to their car, where they are sitting behind the front wheels, and turning the front end before "their Butt" gets to the turn location. You need to turn your Pusher as mentioned here.
When On the ROAD

  • Driving Gap: When on the road, try to keep at a 4 to 6 second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. This is equivalent to 400-500 feet and is a safe stopping distance.
  • Driving Speed: Try to keep your speed down on Interstate Highways, and drive at a 63 to 65 MPH speed and enjoy the trip and the scenery. If you drive at this speed, you will lose only 15 minutes in a 200 mile drive, and pick up as much as 2-2-1/2 MPG. And….Those people that keep passing you will pull in front of you, but will be long gone very quickly at the speeds they are driving.
  • Steady Steering: If you are driving down the highway, and it seems that you are constantly turning the steering wheel left and right, try lifting your head and looking further down the road. You will find that you will be moving the steering wheel much less, and still maintaining your position in your lane.
  • Looking Ahead: Try getting into the habit of looking 10 to 12 seconds down the road, so you will have more time to react to situations that arise that might require you to slow down, change lanes, etc.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Organize your RV information for quick and easy access.


It really doesn't matter if you have a Pop-Up Camper or a Motor Home, or whether it is shiny new, or one of the great old units on the road, you must put together a plan to organize all of the information on your unit. Please understand, THINGS WILL BREAK or STOP RUNNING! It is just a matter of time!

You can be prepared, or you can be that guy on the side of the road performing repairs, or even worse, you can be the guy in the campground begging tools to patch up his/her unit while their family and friends are all having a blast at the pool or whatever.

With a new unit, the manufacturer have provided the sales people with a package including all of the RV documentation in a bundle (large portfolio, or box, etc), and they hand it to you at the time of the sale. The better ones will walk you through the documents quickly, but remember, many RV sales people do not have an RV, nor do they have a clue what all of the documents mean so they are often of little real help if you have questions.

I purchased my last RV in Florida, from on of the largest RV dealers in the country. They have people that work for them, who come to you after your purchase, and walk you through the RV, and explain how to operate pretty much everything on and in your RV.

If I could do it over, I would have filmed everything he said and kept it for later reference. He spent a little over an hour, spewing invaluable information about my RV, and my memory retention level is not good enough to remember everything he said. And I already had 2 other RV;s before this last one!

When you get time later to open and go through the package, I guarantee you will be intimidated by the number of different reference documents on all of the appliances, accessories and gadgets included in your RV.

With a used unit, be sure to ask for this same package, as it is going to be invaluable to you. But, it is sad to say, many previous owners end up not having the package of documents when they trade or sell their unit.

If this is the case, you must go on a campaign to get copies of this documentation. Every piece of paper is valuable for your future reference. TRUST ME!

I suggest that you try the following methods: First, try to intimidate the dealer to; 1-find you a package for your year model, 2-copy someone elses document package for you, or 3- copy one from a similar model but from a different year.

Second, If the dealer is of no real help, get the manufacturers technical support or customer service phone number and contact them for any documents they can give you, or at least ideas on where you might find them. The next step that I suggest is to go to eBay, Yahoo, CraigsList, or any other web sales site and search for someone smart enough to realize they can get a few bucks for such documents.

Finally, the last two desperation ideas are; 1-whenever you go camping, hope to find someone in the campground with a similar model to your own, and introduce yourself and ask if you can copy whatever documents he/she might have, and/or 2-join the manufacturers club (almost all manufacturer has a club magazine or web site), and advertise tghere for a copy of the documents you need.

The real and final desperation move, is to write down the Model and Serial numbers on everything that you can find in the RV, and start web searching the appliance and accessory manufacturers, then request any manuals or documens they might have available. Some have good sites and are very supportive, and some have nothing but a phone number and expressions of sympathy.

Set up your own little Library Reference System:
Once you accept the fact that you might need the documented information, you should start looking for a way to manage it all for fast and efficient reference wen needed.

You will soon note that you have a lot of;
  1. important company names, address', and phone numbers
  2. web site address' with logins and Passwords
  3. Service schedules and part numbers
  4. and a pile of different sized appliance, engine, chassis, etc. documents
  5. many, many hand-written notes you have taken when talking with others that you need.

Now ..... I have met a lot of campers, many are older and set in their ways, and resist change, and especially technology, like Computers. Even if they are new to camping, they generally have their own ideas on how to do things, and more power to them.

I, myself am too old to tilt against windmills and change a world of stubborn old farts.
BUT ................... I strongly suggest the following procedures for the most efficient way to keep reference information stored and easily at hand. Take it and "Prosper" as Spock used to say, or do your own thing, or the scariest of all .... Do nothing!

Personal Computer:

I have a PC and I use it often. While at my home, or on the road, I pay my bills, I communicate with family and friends, I research information, I keep up with the news, I edit my photographs, and I have my own web site for my photography.

I can use spreadsheets, so I do have several spreadsheets that I use to;
  1. organize special web site address', phone numbers, passwords, etc. for quick reference,
  2. track my fuel consumption and mileage,
  3. record preventive maintenance schedules and parts and materials on everything,
  4. store photos that I have taken of my RV; behind every service door, the Engine compartment, the Generator, and all appliances for reference,
  5. and in addition I have scanned copies of many of the large and small appliance service documents.

Yes, I said I scanned documents.
With the price of today's printer/scanners, I even have a separate one in my RV, and a good rainy day project is to scan your documents on appliances and other RV equipment, and keep them stored on my hard drive in an organized folder. Of course,I keep the old documents, but I can add notes and pictures to my scanned documents that help me tremendously.

This Library System really helps me by having a quick digital reference when on the road, for almost everything I need when traveling.

Also, another advantage is that I can quickly print a paper copy of anything I have scanned/stored, and; take it with me to stores when; looking for parts, looking for help in a Campground, or to just lie beside me when I am working on something myself.