Saturday, September 28, 2013

Building a HOME-BASE Campsite - Part-1

Our New USED Camper on our new HOME-BASE Site

My wife and I recently accepted one of those inevitable facts of life as a traveling Camper.
That fact is that we have grown older and we are no longer in the physical condition to continue running around the country. Age has caught up with us and we had to make some hard decisions.

Changing our Camping Lifestyle

Don and Helen checking out a Tiki Bar

We realized that we had to get rid of our Motorhome.

And, even though that decision hurt and depressed us, we had to accept the fact that we are not the people we were ten years ago.
We couldn't jump from campground to campground anytime we wanted.
We now had to plan our trips more around our doctor appointments than just going wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

But, we have loved camping for decades and we want to continue doing so for as long as we can.

A Camping Home-Base

To that end, we decided to drop back and get ourselves a nice used camper and place it on a Home-base site. Then, we could use our camper, while at the same time we could plan less trips but still visit those places we have grown to love as campers

Our children and grand-children live in Virginia and one of our requirements was that we wanted to be able to see them as much as possible.  So we shopped around and finally we found a campground that we could rent a site full-time that had a reasonable annual cost.

Once I had a site, we had been shopping for a good but reasonable priced camper to use when we wanted to get out. It took several months of shopping and a lot of disappointing deals that fell through, but we finally got a camper that filled our needs and had hauled to our new Home-Base.

Oh, I guess I should mention that for campers to have a Home-Base campground is not a new idea. In fact , over the years, I have met numerous older campers who had decided on doing the very same thing. And I don't just mean Full-Timers who who usually do not own a fixed home anymore. I mean Most-Timers and even Part-Timers.

The concept of having a Home-Base just seems to suit a lot of campers, to go to a Home-Base rather than hop around the more commercial campgrounds.

Anyway, the picture you see here, was taken a few weeks after I had my camper placed onto my site. As you can see, the only thing that I have done, so far, is have my Son-in-Law build me a temporary set of steps to make getting in and out of our camper more easily.

I actually plan to improve my site even more over the next year, and I will be writing supplemental Posts on my progress and why.

More to come;

by Don Bobbitt

Check these Campsite products out with a Click.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Current Surge vs. Running Current in Campers

Surge Current-

Normally, when an electrical appliance is running normally, it draws a steady level of current. The thing you need to remember is that, sometimes, under certain conditions, appliances can draw 2 or 3 times as much current for a short period of time than they normally do. Usually this happens when it starts up or cycles and this is called Surge Current.
Here are some examples;
For instance a Roof Air Conditioner unit might draw 3-5 Amps when running, but when it is turned on, or the compressor cycles, the Surge Current can be as high as 13 to 15-Amps.
Also, he heating element in your Hot Water Heater does not stay on all of the time. It has circuitry that controls the water temperature, by cycling the heating element on for short periods of time to maintain the waters temperature. If you take a shower, all that water you used must be replaced and heated to temperature before the element turns off, which draws more current than when it is at temperature.
And, in case you didn't know it, one of the major power culprits in a Camper is the Coffee Pot. It draws several Amps when started up (remember, it is boiling water, and doing it pretty fast) and then the temperature drops back and just keeps the Pot warm, but even this pulls a steady couple of Amps depending on the type of coffee pot.
Other Current pigs include; Hair Dryers, Curling Irons, and Toasters, among many other of your handy electrical devices. 
Then there are your many Low-current drawing devices whose power consumption, although minimal individually, will stack up to a significant load, such as; Cell Phone Chargers, PC's, Music Players, Fans, Electric Toothbrushes, and on and on.
And remember a Convection Microwave oven operates as a microwave heater, but some versions can also operate as a regular oven with a Convection blower system which re-circulated the air in the oven past a special heating element and back over the food in order to actually bake; similar to your electric oven at home. In this mode it draws a lot more current than when in the Microwave mode of operation.

Peak Surge Current:

 At times, you will get a certain Current Stack-up in your RV. This occurs when everything is running normally, and then at certain times of the day (mornings and Dinner Time usually), you will mysteriously experience a problem with your Camper's Circuit Breakers kicking out on you.
As an example: There you are sitting there in your RV. It’s around 5PM, you have just taken a shower, and have settled down in front of the TV to catch the end of that ball game you want to see. 
Your wife looks at you and senses that no serious cooking on the Grill is going to happen this day, and she decides to warm up the left-over Pizza in your Fridge for dinner. Man… Life is good on the road.
Then all of a sudden, the AC units both quit, the TV's die, and you wife turns to you and says that the Convection Microwave is not heating. You have just experienced one of the many cases of “PEAK SURGE CURRENT”.
You see,……. typically, your 110 Volt AC power source coming into your RV has a peak current capacity of either 15-Amps, 30-Amps, or 50-Amps. If you exceed this, the exterior CG Breakers kick out, but more than likely, your RV breakers are designed for lower levels of current and they kick out first. 
You have just had a Peak Current stack-up for a short period of time, that in total was enough to shut your Power system down, or at least part of it..
Let me explain another way. For instance your roof AC units were on. You had just taken a shower, and your Hot Water Heater was probably drawing it's peak current re-heating the fresh water in it's tank. 
Your TV, Satellite System, Voltage Converter System (which powers your DC lights, the Fridge and other DC accessories), are all drawing a steady current of several Amps. Normally, you have plenty of excess capacity, but when the Convection Oven was turned ON, it started drawing high current, and at the same time the AC units cycled back on. So, momentarily your total surge current exceeded your breakers capability. That is how Surge Current can affect you in your RV.

How to Reduce Surge Current problems-

Now, nothing was really wrong, and it is not that hard to find a kicked Circuit Breaker, and reset it, But there are several lessons to be learned here.
One fact is, accept it, over time you have built up a collection of too much Electrical Stuff in your Camper, and you need to take a serious look at what is drawing current, and can any of it be replaced with newer, more efficient stuff. Or can I do something else?
I know, you love that old Stereo, and your old Tube-type TV that came in the RV still works great, and your Mom gave you that old Coffee Pot ten years ago, and your wife Blow-dries her hair every morning with that old 1500-watt dryer and has no plans to change. 
And you love your home-made waffles for breakfast that uses your old Waffle maker, and on, and on, and on.
Fact Two is, have you taken a good look at your major appliances like the Fridge, Microwave, TV's, and Air Conditioners, etc. When was the last time they were serviced is one question you must ask yourself, 
 Often, if serviced properly, many of these will not only operate more efficiently, but often they will draw less current.
Another question you might ask yourself wehn looking around your camper is; If this appliance died, would I spend the money to fix it, or go ahead and replace it? 
This can help give you a good perspective on going ahead and spending money on a new one. Invariably, the new units will be much more efficient than the older ones.
Third, you and the Family must work together and plan when to do certain things throughout the day. You should try to spread out the times when you are getting these Current Surge situations.

Current Consumption reduction Tips;

1- Plan your Hot Water usage during the day so the How Water Heater is used at non-peak times, or if you have a dual heating water heater, most RV manufacturers suggest that you turn on your Propane Water heating system about 5-minutes before you need Hot Water. 
 This gives you Quick Hot Water in the Tank. Then you should turn the Propane Hot Water system OFF and turn the Electrical Hot Water system ON for keeping the water Hot while you are using Hot Water. 
 Oh, and when you do not need Hot Water, Turn the darn system OFF, you are just wasting energy, and bringing your How Water systems closer to their End Of Life (ie. EOL).
2- Make your Coffee the first thing, so the Pot will only be keeping the Coffee warm during breakfast preparation. And don't wait for the Automatic TURN-OFF to happen as with most Coffee Pots. 
Turn the Darn thing OFF, when done. 
 My Wife and I, in our older Rigs, poured the whole Pot, when done, into a large Thermos, and drank the still hot Coffee over the next couple of hours, without using extra electricity. 
 We also use the Thermos when on the Road.
3-Make your Toast or Muffins, before firing up the Convection Oven or Electric Frying Pan to prepare the meal itself. 
 Remember in the Old Days, you went to GrandMa's house for dinner and she already had hot biscuits and buns cooked and wrapped in a Towel in a basket. 
 Take the Hint, make the Bread and keep it warm the old-fashioned way. It will not kill you to eat bread that does not put blisters on your tongue.
4- Buy lower wattage Blow-Dryers and Curling Irons, and other small appliances, and if you must keep using them wait until mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
5- And, the best tip of all; if the Campgrond has Bathrooms with showers, sinks and power receptacles, and of course if they are clean, utilize these whenever possible instead of the camper's whenever possible.
6- Charge your Cell Phones, 2-Way Radios, and other small battery powered devices at night, which is a low current usage part of the day, and keep them off of the chargers during the day. 
These and other such ideas can help you run without kicked breakers.
NOTE: You also need to realize that your RV Breakers, including your Ground-Fault Breakers, are initially designed to kick OFF at a certain level of Current. Once a breaker has kicked OFF several times, it will not be as robust as it was originally. In other words, it will be susceptible to kick OFF at a lower current than it was originally designed for. SO, if you continue to load these breakers at or near their limits, you will just be compounding your problem over time.



How to Get Started in Camping?

The link below will take you to an article I wrote on my HubPages domain for people who want to get into camping but really do not know how or where to start.

How to Get Started in Camping?

This article provides information on such subjects as;

  1. the World of Campers or Recreational Vehicles, 
  2. the different Types of Campers on the Market, 
  3. the proper Accessories and other equipment needed, and 
  4. the Capabilities of each type of camper.

Check it out!

Home Remedies for You and your RV when on the road

Red Cross Emblem, pic by Don Bobbitt

When you're traveling, you sometimes need to be creative when dealing with household and health situations.

The reality is that you just cannot carry everything in your RV that you have in your home. 

Of course, it goes without saying that you should never leave home without your required medications, as well as a well-prepared First Aid Kit.
But many times you will have situations pop up, that you need a remedy for. Things that you did not prepare for, but happen anyway.

The following is a collection home remedies and alternatives from various magazines, other campers, manufacturers, etc. for improving or eliminating pesky problems or temporarily relieving some simple health issues.
CAUTION: You still need to read the labels of all items carefully, for your safety ,and always use common sense, Please!
 As a disclaimer, I do not accept any responsibility for whatever happens (good or bad) if you try any of these remedies listed in this document.
 If you try one of these, and it works or if it does not, let me know. Also, If you have a Remedy of your own that works for you, send it to me and I will probably add it to this list.

Proposed Remedy/Solution:

Anti-Fog Glasses and Goggles
Coat the lens’ with Colgate Toothpaste and then wipe off.
Spray WD-40 on the area of pain and rub it in.
Athletes Feet
Mix Cornstarch and Hot water, and soak feet.
Baked on Food
Soak overnight in water with 2 Efferdent tablets.
Bee Stings
Apply a Meat Tenderizer to a Bee Sting for relief
Bicycle Chain sticking
Use PAM cooking spray if no other lubricant is available.
Burn (Minor)
Colgate or Crest toothpaste works well for temporary relief.
Burnt Tongue
Pour some sugar on it for relief.
CD scratches
Apply Peanut Butter (Smooth), and then wipe it off with a Coffee Filter.
Chigger Bite
Apply Preparation H for relief
Chigger Bite
Place Fingernail polish onto the bite, and the larvae will suffocate within a day and you can pop it off to heal.
Clean Toilet stains
Use a mixture of Kool-Aid and water to clean stubborn Toilet stains.
Dandruff (Heavy)
Pour Vinegar on your scalp to loosen and remove dandruff.
Make a Tea of Ginger (1-tbs Ginger & Hot water) and drink it 3 times daily to stop Diarrhea.
For relief of Diarrhea, boil some Rice and drink the water.
Dirty Grout
Use Listerine to cut the dirt and/or place some toothpaste on a moist rag or sponge and scrub.
Facial Treatment
Elmer's Glue - paint on your face, allow it to dry, peel off and you will see the dead skin and blackheads lifted off.
(To Dry) Fingernail Polish
Use PAM Cooking Spray
Fleas in the Carpet
Use 20-Mule Team Borax and let it sit for 24 hours before removing.
Fungus (on Toenails or fingernails)
Use Vicks Vapor-Rub on the nails to reduce or kill the Fungus.
Grass Stains
Karo Syrup will break grass stains down, but can present a job removing the Syrup later, so do not leave it on too long.
Grease Stains
Coca Cola will clean many grease stains
Hair Conditioner
Budweiser Beer.
Hair Conditioner
Cool Whip works well, but will take about 15 minutes to soak in.
Hair Conditioner
If your hair is really Dry then try Mayonnaise as a Conditioner to get some oils back into your hair.
Drink some Ginger tea (1-tbs Ginger Powder and Hot water) to sooth Headaches.
Immune System
Eat Garlic regularly to boost your Immune System.
Insect Stings
WD-40 will ease the pain.
Inflamed Eyes
If ou have any Carrots, cook them to a mush, place this in a moist cloth, and place this over your eyes to sooth them.
Mayonnaise will kill lice.
Menstrual Cramps
Chamomile Tea will help reduce Menstrual Cramps.
First, cut up a small cheap sponge into 1-inch squares. If you then place a few drops of Peppermint Oil on the Sponges, and place them in the Baggage Compartments, the Mice will go away. Re-juvenate the Peppermint Oil on the sponges every 6-8 weeks, for an ongoing solution.
First of all, If you are going outside, be sure you are clean, as Mosquitoes love sweat.
If possible, head for high, dry ground, also a nice wind also helps keep them away.
Mouth Wash. Putting a little Listerine in a spritzer, and spraying your legs and arms will keep them away for a while.
To ease the itching from Mosquito bites, rub the sites with rubbing alcohol or white vinegar.
Paper Cut
Super Glue or ChapStick. Glue is used instead of sutures in many hospitals, and works well with cuts to protect them from germs, and .seal them for healing
Poison Ivy Rash
To prevent the rash from Poison Ivy, if you brush against the plant, immediately wash the area with warm water and soap, then wipe the cleaned area with Alcohol pads
Puffy Eyes
Apply a little Preparation-H to the eyelids, keeping away from the eyes.
Paint removal from hands
Use PAM cooking spray.
Remove Labels from glassware
Rub with Peanut Butter
(For) Shiny Hair
Use Brewed Lipton Tea
Sore Throat
Steep Sage leaves in hot water, and make a tea. Drink the Tea to sooth a sore throat.
It seems that a good temporary remedy for Spiders, and some other insects is the good old Flea-&-Tick collar. If you cut a new collar up into small 1-inch pieces, and place them in the corners of all of your rooms in your RV, it will keep the Spiders away. Of course, they need to be replaced regularly, just as they would on your pet.
Stains on Clothes
Use toothpaste on a cloth to rub stains and wash off.
Stinky Feet
Soak your feet in a Jello mixture.
Stomach Gas
Chamomile Tea will help reduce Stomach Gas.
Empty a large Jar of Instant Nestea into your bath water and soak.
Swollen Eyes
Place wet teabags on the bags under your eyes to help reduce the swelling.
Tick Removal
Do not “rip” the Tick loose, or cover the site with Nail Polish, as you could end up with an infection. You should grasp the Ticks body with a pair of tweezers and pull gently and it will eventually release it’s hold. Then clean the site with Alcohol or an Antibiotic if you have it.
For temporary relief of a toothache, suck on a Tea Bag as the pain can be reduced by the Tannins in Tea.
Upset Stomach
Chamomile Tea or Ginger Tea will sooth an upset stomach.
Urinary Tract Infection
Drink 3-4 cups of Cranberry Juice a day to help reduce Urinary Tract infections.
Chamomile Tea will help reduce Vomiting.
Wine Stain
Pour granulated salt on the stain and it will soak up the stain. Then clean.

Wound Infections
Apply Honey to a wound to discourage infections. The moisture is good for a wound and the Hydrogen-Peroxide in Honey acts as an antibacterial.

Again, as a disclaimer, I do not accept any responsibility for whatever happens (good or bad) if you try any of these remedies listed in this document.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Battery Dwg by Don Bobbitt

Here is a link to my article on HubPages where I walk the novice through just what your RV batteries do for you as well as how to care for them.

Properly cared for batteries will last for several years and give you great service.

Click on the link below to read my article.

How to care for your RV Batteries.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Are you planning on Storing or Using your Camper in the Off-Season?

Dons Camper on its new site, Pic by Don

OK, Fall is in the Air, people. The question is, are you planning on traveling in your camper in cold weather?

Well, I am. My wife and I are doing something a little different this winter.

We placed our fifth-wheel in a campground in Virginia, near where our kids, grandkids and friends live. This way, we will not be towing it anywhere, but we can drive there and use it whenever we want.

We have been storing our RV for the off-season the last two years. And we realized that we were going up to visit and we would stay in hotels, usually for 5-7 days at a time.

But, the problem was that hotel stays has gotten so expensive, in addition to the costs of eating out so much that we decided to place our RV on a site near our family for the off-season, with hookups of course.

Now, we will visit more often, and we will stay quite a bit longer. And, most importantly, we will be in our own cozy camper that, as all campers know, is our second home and is so much better than stay in than some cramped hotel room.

As all of you dedicated campers know, in a camper, you are sleeping on YOUR bedding, sitting on YOUR Sofa, and walking in YOUR carpet. ANd you have no worries about who might have been in the room before you or how healthy or clean a person they were.

In out camper, we have everything we want, for our lifestyle, and we are so much more comfortable.

Also, we already have our own clothes in the camper, so we haul less "stuff" back and forth when we do visit.

SO, I suggest that you, my fellow camper owners who are just storing your camper for the off season, consider placing it at a site, somewhere, that you can use it as your second seasonal home.

We love having this new option for our lifestyle and we are getting some off-season use from our camper.


PS. Here is a link to my article on How to keep Warm in your RV. Click on it for some great tips on keping comfortable in your camper during Cold weather.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Towing Connector Wiring Reference

RV Towing Cart

With the many methods of towing in the RV world, you must have an electrical connection between the RV and the towed vehicle for lights turn signals brakes etc.. 

Pre-made cables are available at most Camper part stores, as well as kits for wiring into the wiring harness of vehicles.

RV Coaches have the 6-pin or 7-pin connector mounted near the Hitch. Some of the wiring systems are simpler than others, but there are standards for the connectors and wiring. 

Here is a short overview of the connectors:

4-Pin Tow Connector

The standard 4-pin connector is a flat plastic connector, with 3 pins either male or female, and the 4th pin t
he opposite sex. The connector shown is for the wiring of the towing vehicle. The pins and their usage are;
PIN-1=Ground (male pin) White wire,
PIN-2=Tail Lights (and license plate light and side lights)= Brown Wire,
PIN-3=Left Turn & Stop Lights (Yellow Wire),
PIN-4=Right Turn & Stop Lights (Green wire).

6-pin Connector

The standard 6-pin connector is a “Keyed” round metal connector with the following connections. Those shown are from the wiring side of the towing vehicles connector. The Pins and their usage, are;

PIN-A (center pin = 12V (and is either red or Black),
PIN-TM -(at the guide) = Tail Lights (usually Brown wire),
PIN-GD =Ground (usually White),
PIN-LT=Left Turn Signal (usually Yellow),
PIN-RT=Right Turn (usually Green), and
PIN-S= Electric Brakes (usually Blue). This pin is used to provide a variable voltage to the electrical brakes of larger tow trailers and campers to assist in stopping them.

7-Pin Connector

The standard 7-pin connector is a “Keyed” round metal connector with the following connections. Those shown are from the wiring
side of the towing vehicles connector. The pins and their usage, are;

PIN-1=Ground (usually White),
PIN-2=Electric Brakes (usually Blue),
PIN-3=Taillights (usually Green),
PIN-4=12V (usually Black),
PIN-5=Left Turn (usually Red),
PIN-6=Right Turn (usually Brown), and the
Center PIN= Auxiliary Power or Backup Lights (can be wired for either)


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Calculate your vehicles Towing Capacity

Tow HitchAdapter, Pic by Don Bobbitt

When you get in to the world of Campers, unless you have a self contained Motorhome, you will need to become knowledgeable about such things asl camper weight, camper tow connectors, tow vehicles and tow vehicle towing capabilities.

The link below is to a Hub article of mine where I describe what you need to know in order to calculate how much weight your vehicle can safely tow.

I include such valuable information as the definitions for GVWR, Curb Weight, Tongue Weight, GTWR, and much more.