Thursday, March 24, 2011

10 Towing Tips. 5th.Wheel Hitch. "Hot" Skin. Rubber Roof. RV Tips. Cargo Trailer Countertop.

Ten Towing Tips for Newbies
"Whether you've just downsized your tow vehicle, you rarely tow, or you're a complete newbie to towing, here are some tips and reminders—outside of making sure your tow vehicle is in tip-top shape, and properly loaded—regarding what to do before you set out and how to get there safe." 
See rest of article at:

How to Install a 5th Wheel Hitch
"We understand why a 5th wheel hitch makes towing a trailer safer, easier, more stable and more cool than just dropping a tongue and ball hitch onto the back of your truck and buckling your springs. We get it. But honestly...after the first, very entertaining minute of this video, we are lost yet mesmerized.
You, on the other hand, may have the mechanical understanding to appreciate every word. Scoreboard!
Whether you understand what Buzz Thompson is telling you here or not, you'll have to agree the dude's a likable, funny guy who knows what he's talking about."


"RV electricity expert Mike Sokol demonstrates a "hot skin condition" that can occur with any RV. When this situation occurs -- often when hooked up to electricity in a campground -- an RVer can be severely shocked or even killed.
In this demonstration Mike artificially "electrifies" a 40-foot fifth wheel trailer from Beckley's RV in Thurmont, Maryland. He explains what can cause a hot skin condition, and how a very simple device about the size of a large pen called a Fluke VoltAlert can help you determine if you're in danger. This is very important. Watch it!"


Recoating your RV rubber roof

Posted by Russ and TiƱa DeMaris Published in do-it-yourself
"To hear RV manufacturers, EPDM rubber roofs are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Problem is, even sliced bread eventually gets stale. After a few years in the elements, rubber roofs take the hit of weathering and exposure to UV radiation. From personal experience we can say that a non-maintained rubber roof is a tragedy just waiting to happen. How can you keep your rubber roof happy? It may mean a new coat of rubber to keep things sound and leak free.

EPDM rubber is a persnickety product. The use of petroleum-containing chemicals or citrus based cleaners on a rubber roof is to ask for swelling  and deterioration. Use the “wrong” kind of coating and you’ll reap a similar result. There are few coatings that are truly safe (or even effective) for use on an RV’s rubber roof. Among them are Dicor’s Roof Coating System and Heng’s Rubber Roof Coating. A quick glance at the roof coating section at the hardware store will show there are other products that “look” like they may do the job. Read the fine print carefully–you’ll find most specifically tell you NOT to use their product on a rubber roof.

Even if the product you look at isn’t specifically ruled out for use on a rubber roof, take note of these factors: An RV roof coating needs to be elastomeric, meaning having the elastic properties associated with natural rubber. Rubber roofs expand and contract with heating and cooling. Any coating you add to the roof must likewise do the same, otherwise it will simply crack and break off.

Additionally, since many RV roofs have little pitch and may even have areas where water collects (called “ponding”), whatever coating used must resist ponding. A popular product called “Snow Roof” can supposedly be used on EPDM roofs, provided their brand of primer is first applied. Elsewhere on the label you’ll find a warning that the stuff can’t be used on a flat roof. Plenty of older RVs have a “dent” in the roof near the air conditioning unit where water effectively ponds and won’t run off.

Here’s a step-by-step on how we use Heng’s Rubber Roof Coat to re-coat an aging travel trailer roof.
1. Prepare the surface. Use a scrub brush and a bucket of dish water. Yep, simply use dishwashing detergent like Dawn. Scrub the roof fore-and-aft, rinsing with plenty of water. Allow the roof to dry completely.
2. If there are tears or punctures, we recommend fixing the damage with EternaBond roof repair tape.
3. Apply a base coat of Heng’s following the instructions on the can. While Heng’s says you can thin their product, we don’t recommend it. The thinner it is, the less likely you’ll have the best protection. We use a short-nap paint roller, applying the coating at a rate of about a gallon per 200 square feet of roof surface. You’ll find a paint brush invaluable for working around a/c units and around edges. A rag can be used to wipe up drips before they dry.
4. Allow a minimum of four hours dry time before sticking on a second coat. The roof we did most recently was on a 14-year-old trailer and while the roof had no damage, it was decidedly getting thin. We opted to put on a second coat to enhance our feelings of security. Don’t apply a single thick coat; you’re much better off with two thin ones.

Time will tell how well the process worked in our case. We’ll report back as weather and time do their worst to chew up our new coating. Oh, and as to cost, we were out about $110 for materials and supplies, having paid a little less than $50 a gallon for the roof coating. In the end, we had a half-gallon of the Heng’s left over which we’ll keep for “doping” seams in the future."

By the way, KoolSeal Elastomeric Coating is not recommended for rubber roofs. I would have used it on the cargo trailer if it was, it's cheaper, and even Walmart sells it. 
I went with Dicor, as it is a brand name I know and trust.

Improper Installation of RV Roof
Posted by RV Doctor
"I recently had my rubber roof replaced on my Class C, 22-foot motorhome. The rubber was still good but getting old. But because the old plywood was bonded to foam insulation, they put plywood over it and installed the new rubber roof. Within four months the plywood under the rubber warped really bad. They say they will fix it under warranty but I was curious as to how they do this as it seems the plywood didn't hold the first time around. It's been in the shop over two weeks now and I cannot find anything out yet. How will they attempt to solve this problem? BMCM, (FL)

RV Doctor's Reply:  "It’s difficult to ascertain just how they installed that new substrate plywood to the older roof. Hopefully, they removed the rubber membrane, inspected the older substrate plywood for damage, then glued and screwed the new plywood directly to the old plywood after properly preparing it.

The condition of the old plywood is crucial. If they attached the new wood to a deteriorated or moisture-damaged substrate, it’s possible the new plywood would buckle in places. It sounds like this may be the case.
They will have to remove the new membrane and the new plywood and thoroughly inspect the old substrate to determine the best course of action before continuing. It is salvageable for sure, but to avoid future issues, it must be done correctly this time. I would also insist on a new membrane. Once they remove the rubber from the new plywood, it will have stretched and been rendered unusable.
It’s great that they will at least honor their warranty! But they must prepare the old roof properly prior to installing the new roof substrate and EPDM membrane."

RV needs a new roof--hire a carpenter !

"When the old RV roof finally "lets go," most RVers hire a shop for a new rubber roof.
Maybe this was a do-it-yourself job--by a carpenter. Nothing like a three-tab composition roof to blow off at freeway speeds."
R&T DeMaris photo


Boondocking tips with Bob Difley      Secure your awning!

"When you are out boondocking there may be no neighbors around to step in if the weather kicks up. Spring winds can pop up in minutes from completely calm skies. Also in seconds your awning can wrap around your roof, buckling your awning arms beyond repair. Tie downs will also keep your awning from flapping and causing damage from wear and tear, and the tie down itself is very inexpensive -- a worthwhile safety measure at little cost."

RV refrigerators are different   Tech Tips from Mark Polk
"Your RV refrigerator is much different than the one in your house. RV refrigerators don't have compressors and they work off the principle of absorption. You should turn the RV refrigerator on several hours before putting food in it. It is best to leave it on overnight and put your food in it just prior to leaving.
Always keep a small thermometer in your RV refrigerator so you can monitor the temperature. Food can begin to go bad at about 40 degrees."

"Unless you are using your oven a lot, leave the pilot light turned off when you are not cooking. It uses a surprising amount of propane."   You can do the same for your water heater, just it on 15 minutes before you need it."


SAM_0771-1 Jay and I filed the edges of the Formica on the cargo trailer's countertop, which we had glued on yesterday.  It just makes sure everything is flush, before adding the top.

SAM_0772-1 Then we "buttered" the oversize top piece, let it dry, put dowels on the wooden countertop, carefully laid the top Formica in place, pulling the dowels out as we went.  This is 'contact cement', and it will stick immediately unless you have the dowels in between while positioning it.  We don't have any fancy equipment, so I rolled it with a rolling pin!  It just helps get any air pockets out.SAM_0773-1

Then the edges all have to be router-ed off.


We couldn't wait to install it, and that was enough for today.

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