Thursday, November 10, 2011

Driving RV: Parts 3,4,5. Grease! Aussie Camper. Solar Saves $. Heads Up. Tire History. Shopping.


For "tRaVersing Thursday, or RV day:

Driving your RV part 3: Passing and being passed

"It's not a jackrabbit, but you really can pass other traffic while driving your RV. On the other hand, RVers need to make sure others can safely pass them. In Part 3 of our series on driving your RV we'll talk about both.

Driving a big motorhome or pulling a travel trailer, either way, you'll quickly find out you don't have the zip you're accustomed to in your "4-wheeler." Still, it is possible to pass slow traffic provided the circumstances allow.

Commercial truck drivers are experienced in passing slow traffic, and they provide some of the best tips for RVers on passing topics. First, you've got to know your vehicle. When you have a long empty road ahead of you, put your rig through the paces to see just how fast it will accelerate. With an automatic transmission, slap the accelerator down to the firewall and wind up the engine. Try it on the flat, and then compare how much longer it takes you to build up speed on an upgrade situation. When you know your rig's capabilities, you'll be in a much better position to put it into real practice."

Complete article at:


Driving your RV part 4: Making turns with a trailer

"Every type of RV has a different way of handling turns. Motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels: All have their own peculiarities. Here are some tips on learning to take your turns safely.

Getting accustomed to driving an RV is different for each kind of rig. Making turns in your motorhome isn't too much different then making turns in your automobile, with the exception of knowing about tail-swing, which we talked about in an earlier post. The really LARGE motorhome driver will also need to learn to swing wider in a close turn; beyond that, it's not a tough act to learn.
For trailer pullers, there is a bit of difference, and it's called "tracking." That appendage behind your tow vehicle, the trailer, will not always follow the same wheel track as the towing vehicle.

Generally speaking, the smaller the trailer, the more closely to the tow vehicle the trailer will track, but extend the length of the trailer and things require more practice and a careful eye. If the trailer a fifth wheel the issue is compounded. What causes the problem? The pivot point for a travel trailer is a few feet behind the rear axle of the tow vehicle causing the rear of the tow vehicle to "steer" the trailer.

The fifth wheel pivot point is directly over the tow vehicle's axle--tracking is completely different."

Complete article at:


Driving your RV part 5: Backing up your RV

For new RVers, backing up the RV may be one of the most fearful of all of the "new" things to learn. After driving a car, an RV can look fearfully large. Backing up a rig, even a trailer, is something that most RVers get the hang of with practice.

First, a word on safety: Whenever you're backing up a rig, trailer or motorhome, you have a big area behind you where you simply can't see. Before backing into a site, get out and look it over for obstacles (both at ground level and high up, like tree branches). If there are children anywhere in the area, ask someone to keep an eye open for you to keep kids from getting behind you ask you back up.

When backing a trailer, always back in so that the rear of the trailer swings into the site from the driver's side. In other words, when backing, the driver's rear corner of the tow vehicle is the one that will be closest to the trailer during a turn. Why this way? Backing from the driver's side allows a clear view of the trailer; backing from the passenger side is what trucker's call "backing from the blind side." When doing a blind-side back up, it's nearly impossible to see where the trailer is going.

Complete article at:



Hitch balls: To grease, or not to grease?

Should you lubricate your tow rig's hitch ball, or just let it go, "natural"? We kick around the pros and cons of each, and offer some suggestions from industry folks.

Hitch ball backlash: Did we step in the grease?

Back in early December, we published a brief story on whether or not RVers should lubricate their hitch ball. It didn't take long for readers to react. Today we throw their views--and those of "hitch professionals" into the mix.



UEV 490 Conqueror Australia off road trailer

This has everything!

"Offering a hard roof, sides and floor the UEV-490 gives you the ability to escape the elements almost instantly by simply opening the door. Built to handle the toughest conditions Australia can muster, the UEV-490 is built to last."

For more information go to

Pretty pricey, and don't forget that is Aussie dollars, not Yankee ones.



Will RV solar really save money?

"If you make a winter visit to the RVing capital of the world, Quartzsite, Arizona, look up. Yes, there's plenty of blue sky, but you'll also find a virtual sea of solar panels perched on RV roofs. Thousands of RVers descend on the desert for days, weeks, even months at a time, far from shore power.

But is it really less expensive to "go solar," than to fire up a gas, LP, or diesel generator?
The question was put to RV solar practitioner, James Mannett. James "ran the calcs," and here are the results:

Generator only:
1. Hours used/year. 200.
2. Noise. You decide.
3. Maintenance. $750 Maintenance.
4. Useful life. 15 years?
5. Replacement cost. $5,000.
6. Depreciation. $1,666.
7. Pollution aka 'the green factor'. Yes
8. Fuel cost. $1,500.
Total 5 year cost: $3,916.

Solar with Generator:
1. Hours used/year. Unlimited.
2. Noise. None
3. Maintenance. None (add $450 for generator oil changes)
4. Useful Life. 30-50 years.
5. Investment cost. $3,500.
6. Depreciation. $583
7. Pollution. None.
8. Fuel Cost: $450 (for some generator use)
Total 5 year cost: $1,483.

For our boondocking setup, we have solar, a gas fired portable generator, and a 400-watt wind turbine.

We've never run into a situation that we couldn't have the power we needed, and for the most part, we've never used anything close to the fuel costs projected.

Add, of course, the cost of the wind turbine and mounting hardware to the tune of about $1,000, but the life expectancy on a turbine isn't measured with a five-year interval, ours has been running for a decade and shows no sign of giving in.
Our thanks to James Mannett at"



Random RV Thought:   

If you can't quite level up your RV in the campground, try to position it so the head of the bed is higher than its foot.

You will be more comfortable sleeping with your head slightly elevated.



Don't leave your porch light on.

"When away from your rig, leaving your porch light on to guide you home or for security depletes valuable amps from your battery and might even annoy neighbors who prefer darkness.

Instead, install a motion sensor porch light that you can use as a regular light or, at the flip of a switch, turn into a motion sensor. That will provide light when you enter your RV as well as frighten away anyone you don't want around."



Tires - Dull or Dynamic? Part One

"Following is an article I was asked to write for a tire industry trade publication in the UK. “Tyres International.” I thought you might find it a bit interesting.

“To the untrained eye it might seem like the tire industry has not done much to improve John Dunlop's original. But looks can be deceiving.

Many people think the tires on their car are just a necessary evil. Most seldom, if ever check their inflation while alignment is something few ever consider. Then after 40,000 miles, they complain about the fact they have to buy new tires. Even within the automotive industry, there are those who don't appreciate the dynamic nature of tire design, and the significant improvements and changes made since John Dunlop invented the forerunner of today's modem tire. 

There are many challenges facing the tire engineer today, but one of the most challenging is to make continual improvements in rolling resistance. In North America, the Original Equipment Manufacturers, otherwise known as "Detroit", demand the improvement or lowering of the rolling resistance value of the tires they approve. The rolling resistance of tires has a direct impact on the fuel economy of the vehicle. Many would think the primary reason for an interest in rolling resistance would be to allow the manufacturer to advertise good gas mileage for their vehicles.

Stopping the gas guzzle

While good fuel economy is something that can be advertised, a more concrete example of why this is a major concern of the OEM is the avoidance of what is known as the "Fuel Guzzler Tax". This tax can amount to many tens of millions of dollars as the OEM must pay for each 0.10 mpg their vehicles are over a government mandated rating.

There is some data that shows that a one per cent reduction in rolling resistance could be worth US$60 million on certain car lines. Despite this major interest by Detroit, I have never been asked about the rolling resistance of a brand or line of tires by any individual considering the purchase of a set of tires.
Significant strides have been made in improving the rolling resistance of tires going to Detroit. Figure 1 shows the trend as well as the ultimate value possible with a steel wheel on steel rail. It is obvious to see the majority of improvements have already been made and while we may expect some level of continual improvement, we will not see the dramatic improvements of the past 20 years continue in the future.
RRC or Rolling Resistance Coefficient is one way of comparing a variety of sizes and adjusting for vehicle load as well.


Pricing opens the purse strings

At the same time as these improvements have been made and despite great strides in ride quality, crisper handling, improved snow and wet traction and other various measures of performance, Detroit also expects us to lower our price a few per cent each and every year. The fact that many people are willing to spend more for shoes, simply because some athlete wears the same brand, than they are willing to spend on a tire points out the level of disdain and disinterest most feel toward tires. Seldom does a driver consider that it is the tires that must deliver strong performance in emergencies to help protect them and their family from harm.

History in the making

A quick look at the advancements in tires during just the last 80 years can be very instructive. In 1920. your normal auto-mobile tires cost between US$25 and US$60 each. This tire was advertised as being capable of delivering 6,000 miles. This translates to about US$0.007 per mile. With normal inflation considered, these sale prices translate to US$200 to US$500 per tire in today's dollars. When we consider that today's normal tire is capable of delivering 40,000 miles, yet can be purchased for about US$70, we can see that the cost per mile is now only US$0.0018 per mile.”






Jay and his mother both had doctor's appointments at different places at about the same time, so I said that I would take Jay, as it was a shopping day anyway.

Misty and I went down there to get him, but he wasn't ready, so Misty led me around some different roads down there, and we had quite a walk-about.   When we were just about ready to leave, Jay's doctor's office called and postponed his appointment until today.

We were already in our 'going to town' clothes, so off we went.  First stop was at the health food store as I was out of Xylitol, (it metabolizes in the body without using insulin):, and coconut oil, (its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries):  I buy the NOW brand and it is cheaper on Wednesdays.

The van's inspection sticker had expired, so we stopped at an inspection station which had $5.00 off.  It passed with flying colors.  It sure is a good old minivan, I have had it for 2½ years now, and it just keeps on truckin'.  But I stroke the dash and tell it how good it is.  I know I shouldn't anthropomorphize it,  it doesn't like it!


On to some thrift shops, and I found a Braun MultiMix which has interchangeable attachments which make it a hand mixer, kneader, blender, and chopper, and doesn't take up a lot of space like my big food processor did.  It even came in the box to keep all togther.

MultiMix M 880

"The MultiMix hand mixer from Braun - a powerful all-rounder that rests in your hand in perfect balance."

Mine was $8, but they seem to run between $59-$174 depending where you buy.  The reviews are pretty good, too, some people even made nut butters with them.  With the price of almond butter these days, this will be handy.  I was looking for a small processor, so this worked out better.


Also, I bought two pair of pants, one navy, one light blue, and nice brass and beveled glass porch light, so I can get rid of the old plain one now.


Moen Brushed Nickel Four-function Standard Showerhead Jay bought a Moen shower head for $3:

"Moen Brushed Nickel Four-function Standard Showerhead Today: $95.99"

So he is happy, as his old cheapie one broke.


We didn't get to Lowe's or any other the other places on the list, but we had a good time perusing all the junk items for sale.


We ate at the China Buffet, and brought enough home for another day.

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