Thursday, March 31, 2011

RV Batteries. Mirrors. Leaks. RV Shows. Sealants. Solar Charger. Lock Door! Cargo Trailer.

Excellent video about RV batteries
o"Here's an excellent discussion of RV batteries from Scott Haan and Duane Carlson at American RV in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Watch this and you'll likely come away with a much better understanding of RV batteries and your RV electrical system than you did before. This was recorded at American RV Winterfest 2011."
 Watch the video.


"Says the RV salesman: "If you can drive a car, you can drive a motorhome!" While many of the "driving" principles are the same, driving a motorhome--or any other kind of RV--can present challenges to the fledgling RVer. In a series, we'll discuss how to get used to driving (or towing) your RV. This is part 1 on how to ensure visibility in your RVing lifestyle.
Most of us RV because we yearn to see new places. But seeing in your RV is more than scenery, it's also safe operating and not clobbering anything along the way.

Looking forward:         If anything, the view from most motorhomes looking ahead is clear, and sometimes a mite distracting. If you have a penchant for sticking things on the windshield, make sure they don't block your view. Keeping stick-ons low is best. Remember though, not all states are windshield "stick on legal." Yes, radar detectors are legal in Arizona, but if you stick them (or anything else) on the windshield you can be pulled over, even cited. I know from first-hand experience having done a "ride along" with a state trooper.
Side swiped?

When evaluating a motorhome for purchase keep a close eye on side view. This is where motorhome designers often come up short. Windshield pillars can be in "just the wrong place" and adversely your view to the side, giving unwanted blind spots. Some motorhome side windows are so small or blocked up with hardware they too, mess up the view. You can't move them or eliminate them but you may think twice before buying a rig with "junk" in the way of your view.

Looking back:         Rear-view mirrors are a CRITICAL issue with RVs. You can't just toss a look back over your shoulder to see what's going on, you must rely on mirrors. Again, motorhome designers don't always have it right, window frames can block the view of a mirror. It may not be necessary to pass up a motorhome that has this fault as you may be able to relocate the mirror for clear vision.

While mirror is good in size, tying up half with a convex mirror defeats the purpose.  The larger the mirror, the better the view. One source tells us that they feel the minimum adequate size for a rear view mirror on either a motorhome or tow vehicle is 10" x 7". If you're putting together a tow package and your OEM mirrors aren't adequate, skip the idea of adding a fender mounted mirror. They're just too far away from the driver's position to give safe judgment. Whatever mirrors you use, make sure they're mounted tightly and have no loose adjustments. A vibrating mirror will throw a distorted--even useless--image your direction.

Convex mirrors are a godsend to RVers. Giving a wide-angle view, they eliminate a lot of blind-spots where small cars may be hiding out and can keep you from a smash-up when lane changing. "Stick on" convex mirrors can be added to existing mirrors but they then reduce the amount of "normal" mirror image, making for an unsafe condition. You're better off adding an auxiliary convex mirror above or below the existing mirror, fixed on its own mount.
You may need to add extensions for mirrors on tow vehicles to get them out far enough to see around the trailer. Some factory equipped tow rigs (recent Chevy Silvarados as an example) have a wonderful setup: Push a button in the rig and the tow mirror extends out from the side of the rig. Done towing? Hit the button to retract it.
Rear vision cameras add a high tech back view. Some motorhomes come with these gems direct from the factory; they can also be added as an aftermarket item. They can be a wonderful asset when backing up into a site, or keeping an eye on the "toad car." Similarly, back up cams can be mounted in the bumper of a tow vehicle making it easier to back up to hitch a conventional travel trailer."

Check for leaks

"One major way our RVs differ from from our stick houses is the ability to drive them down the highways to a new location. But that also leads to potential problems that you ordinarily don't have to worry about with your stick house--unless there is an earthquake--and that is shake, rattle, and roll.

The rigidity of your RV bouncing down the road applies considerable tension on every fitting in your RV. All the screws, nails, bolts, shelf mounts, and plumbing joints. If a shelf mount fails, the shelf falls down, or at least begins to loosen and you notice it and fix it before it dumps your TV on the floor.

But when a plumbing joint begins to fail, it could be with just an intermittent drop of water. And if that leak is somewhere hard to see--which most of them are--then that drop turns into many drops that could--if not noticed--over months or years rot out much of the wood floor and some of the frame of your home-on-wheels."
More at:
RV shows for 2011 in the USA and Canada
"RV shows present a rare opportunity to see many recreational vehicles without driving from RV dealer to RV dealer. Most RV shows charge an admission, but for most RVers it's a modest investment for the opportunity to see such a wide-range of motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, truck campers and even pop up trailers in one place, often at special "show prices."

Some of the bargains are real, others are simply prices an RV dealer would likely accept back at the dealership from an RV buyer with sharp negotiation sales."
List at:

 Silicone considered low-performance:
"Silicone sealants are generally classified as acid-curing or moisture-curing. Acid-curing sealants are the most common as you’ll find them in the big box stores. However, these materials are considered somewhat low-performance. They're likely to not provide satisfactory results for the temperature extremes or weather that a typical motorhome may travel through.

A better choice is a commercial-grade, moisture-curing silicone sealant, in a low to medium viscosity such as Dow 790. I’ve also had good luck with Permatex 81730 Flowable Silicone Windshield and Glass Sealer in most cases.
In some rare instances, it is a little too runny. It all depends on the curvatures of the windshield and just where the leak is entering. I’d probably try the Permatex first and then look for the Dow 790 if it doesn’t work."

The windshield is the only place silicone should be used on an RV:

"If you see a water leak in your RV’s rubber roof don’t make the mistake of trying to repair it yourself by using a silicone sealer.
In our RV Service department the most frequent issue we see with incorrect caulk, is the application of  silicone seal.
Installing silicone seal is absolutely the WRONG WAY to caulk anything on the roof of an RV.
Why not use silicone?
Over time silicone tends to shrink and pull away, once it has pulled away, water can go right under the silicone and get trapped. Water trapped underneath the silicone can never dry out.
Removing silicone seal without doing additional damage to the roofing material is nearly impossible."
"We all seem to think that silicone sealer is the answer to all of our caulking needs. It just ain't so. Silicone is wonderful caulk for certain things but a terrible choice for most things RV related. The butyl caulk is available in caulking tubes.
I try my best to stay away from silicone on the RV. " From:
"According to most people you should never use silicone sealant on the RV. I agree with them. I use Dicor self leveling sealant for the roof and Dicor non-sag sealant for any vertical surfaces. ProflexRV is a good sealant as well. When re-caulking windows the window should be removed and the butyl tape should be replaced. This is the only way to ensure a watertight seal. The same goes for storage doors. " From:

Solar trickle charger keeps your starter battery charged.

"The Sunforce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger gives you another reason to love the sun--it can help keep your vehicle's battery charged. It provides up to 5-Watts or 350mA of power to prevent the natural voltage drain of batteries over time. It includes both a lighter socket adapter and alligator clips to give you flexible connection options.
The Sunforce 5-Watt Solar Trickle Charger is compact and easy to install and lets you harness the power of the sun, the most powerful and plentiful source of energy available to us.

Unlike nuclear and fossil fuels, solar power is clean and pollution-free, and the equipment requires very little maintenance to operate. It is designed to stave off the natural voltage drain that 12-Volt batteries undergo over time. It can also maintain the charge of a 12-Volt battery while it is providing energy to small electronics like cell phone chargers or small pumps and motors.

The Sunforce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger is constructed with durable ABS plastic and features amorphous solar cells and an ultra-bright blue LED charging indicator. Four mounting holes are pre-cut in the frame for easy permanent installation. It is weatherproof and remains effective even on cloudy days. The built-in overcharge/discharge protection prevents overcharging and reverse-current drain."   Amazon has it for $48 with free shipping.

RVing Tips

Put charcoal in your tool box or fishing tackle box to absorb moisture and help keep things from rusting.
If you travel with a cat, put a scrap of carpet around your dinette table post for a scratching post.
Never assume that your RV storage compartment doors are locked – always check.
For an easy variation of s'mores, pop the toasted marshmallow between two chocolate covered graham crackers or two fudge striped cookies.

To make your RV feel like a real home, rather than a camper, use real dishes instead of paper plates.

Positive RVing Attitudes

Live life as an exclamation, not an explanation. ~ Unknown
Many people may listen, but few people actually hear. ~ Harvey Mackay

A Safety Wakeup Call, Doors Are There for a Reason

"Do not open the door of someone's recreational vehicle without express permission to do so. This may sound obvious, but apparently it isn't. The polite -- and safe -- thing to do is to knock and wait.

Earlier this week, a fellow RVer, whom I had never met, opened the door to our motorhome. I was sitting there dozing at the time. Bob had left some of his fishing gear outside the door and the noise it made when the door opened woke me. I was startled and upset by this intrusion.
It turns out the intruder saw our Alaska license plates and wanted to visit. However, instead of feeling social, I felt a mix of anger and disbelief.

Yes, I should have had my door locked. It was a good wake-up call for me. I shouldn't get lax about safety. Even though it was in broad daylight, in a public place, with a fair amount of traffic, in a generally safe area. Even with Bob not too far away, I should have had all the doors to the RV locked.  A person needs to be alert, and, if you aren't going to be alert, lock the door.

But, really, was he stupid or simply thoughtless? He should have known better.

Fortunately, my cat did not jump out and escape.

Bob had our dog out for a walk, so she was not in the motorhome. Dogs tend to be very protective of their home territory. Our motorhome is home to our dog. A stranger opening the door and sticking his hand inside our motorhome? I'm sure she would have barked a lot and caused a commotion.

This article has two purposes. One is to remind RVers to be alert and to keep their doors locked, for their safety. The other is to remind RVers that for their safety, they should never open the door of another's RV. They might be met by a dog -- or a person -- defending his home. Whichever side of the door you are on, think, and stay safe."


Jay cut 15" off the end of the 4'x8' sheet of ceiling panel that we bought yesterday, to fit across the ceiling of the cargo trailer, as it is 81" wide.

Ray and I got several gallon cans of cream and almond colored paint, polyurethane and lacquer, out of the shed, and painted samples on the scrap of the ceiling material.  When looking at the sample patches of poly-ed, and lacquered, we could see that it was going to make it too dark in the trailer if we didn't paint it. 
We picked the paint that matched the wall paneling the best.  So while Ray was priming the sheet of ceiling panel, Jay started on the enclosure for the 110v cord inside the trailer.

I did manage to snap a picture of the new and improved larger "dreaded" window.

We didn't get much done, work went slow as we had several interruptions today.

1 comment:

Donna said...

Nice and very informative Blog!
Mu hubby and I are planning to take to the RV'ing life sometime in the future...Right now we own a 5th wheel.
I'll be back!
Happy weekend to you!