Thursday, March 22, 2012

RV: The Big 3 Expenses. Big Rig. Down The Drain. Receptacles. Backing In. Shelf Barriers. Diesel Cavitation. RV Fuel Cells. Booze Revenue Act.

For "tRaVersing, or RV Day":

Save $$$ on three of RVers biggest expenses

"Three of the biggest expenses for fulltime or near fulltime RVers are fuel, campgrounds, and eating out. But one of the great advantages of RVing is that you can easily change any one or all three of these expense categories to adjust to the changing economy or the fluctuation of your personal finances.

To save on the fuel expense, drive fewer miles between campgrounds, stay longer at each destination, drive 55 mph, avoid jackrabbit starts and quick stops, and keep your tires properly inflated. Go online to find the cheapest gas stations in the areas you travel. Join the Pilot Flying J RV club to get discounts on every fill up.

Save on campground expenses by staying at public campgrounds, like in the national forests, that don't have hook-ups or better yet, by boondocking free on public lands for several days a month. Stay longer at campgrounds and RV resorts where you can get a cheaper weekly rather than day rate. When on the road spend the night free at Walmart and Cracker Barrel restaurants. Check campground fees in a campground guide or online before choosing where you will spend the night.

You likely aren't pressed for time like you were when carrying a full work schedule, and therefore have time to cook. Your RV's galley, no matter what size, is fully capable of making tasty and nutritious meals. By shopping at local farmers markets and farm stands you can enjoy the freshest and healthiest foods. Make cooking a creative event, rather than something to get out of the way quickly. You will amaze yourself with how enjoyable relaxed creative cooking can be--and how much money you will save over expensive restaurant food."  From:


30 Tips to Cut Your RV Travel Expenses

Following are 30 tips that will help you save money while still enjoying all the fun, freedom, and flexibility that RVing has to offer:


Your Rig May Not Be Too Big for CG:

Take a second look if your rig is larger than the campground's maximum size limit

"When entering a National Park, National Forest, or State Park campground, do not be turned away because your rig is over the posted maximum size. In most cases, this limit indicates what size vehicle can be accommodated at ALL the campsites, though some--and sometimes many--will fit larger rigs. Before giving up, drive through the campground and look for these larger sites and measure whether you will fit. Remember that  overhangs can extend beyond the designated pad allowing larger rigs to squeeze in. Parking your tow or toad away from the campsite may also enable you to fit into the designated space. If there is a host or ranger on duty, ask about larger sites that are available."  From:


How to retrieve something dropped down your sink

"Never pay a plumber to retrieve something you dropped down your sink. Here's a simple trick that will remove the object quick and easily. You will wonder why you never thought of this. We assume this will work in an RV's sink as well as one in a home."

the video shows use a shop vac with a pair of pantyhose over the nozzle and suck it back out of the drain.  The little one-gallon shop vacs are very handy to have in an RV.


Fire Safety Tip from Mac McCoy
"In a compact galley, all combustibles -- from paper towels to curtains -- are apt to be closer to the stove, so use even more caution in your coach than you do at home. A box of baking soda -- the ingredient in powder extinguishers -- can be used in lieu of a fire extinguisher for minor galley flare-ups. Learn more about Mac and fire safety."


Replacing RV electric plugs

"Most RVers I hang around with have the impression that RV manufacturers do not focus on quality. They are of the opinion that RV manufacturers skimp and cut corners on material and labor in order to boost their bottom line.  Manufacturers seem to be more concerned about making money than satisfied customers.   I currently own what is considered one of America's high end motorhomes. To be honest, I will say it is well built where it counts (chassis and box) but I still run across stuff that makes me shake my head and say to myself, “What were they thinking?” Like the electric plugs (duplex receptacles) they purchase in bulk for a few cents (exactly what they are worth).

All my coach plugs are located on one circuit (dumb). So when Mrs. Professor plugs in her hair dryer in the bathroom and I'm running the toaster in the galley the circuit trips. She's learned to ask if the coast is clear before she turns on her hair dryer.
I recently experienced a power loss in all my electric plugs. It took me several days and help from my RV brand forum to locate the problem. One of the cheap electric plugs shorted out and it took me a while to find the offender. Once I replaced it, all was well until the others began to fail.   I replaced the plugs we use most often with heavy duty 20 amp duplex receptacles. You get what you pay for in electric components, so spend the few extra bucks and buy something that will give you good service.

In the video I go through step by step how to change out an RV electric plug.   Whenever your electric plugs loose power and all your other appliances (like your microwave) are working properly check the GFI first. Sometimes these trip and if you forget about them, you could spend a couple hours trying to fix the problem when all it requires is to reset the GFI.  I also recommend using electrician screwdrivers (instead of an electric drill with a screwdriver attachment) as they will quickly crank in electric screws and won't strip the threads like a power drill.

Here is the installation video - enjoy!

Staying plugged into the RV lifestyle" – Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing


The right way to back into a campsite

"There is nothing that labels you a camping neophyte than when you blow backing into a campsite with all your neighbors watching. To avoid embarrassment, plan ahead and practice. Make sure the person giving the directions can be seen in the mirrors at all times. If you are giving the directions, make sure you can see the mirrors--or the driver can't see you.
Use agreed upon hand signals for back up, go slow, turn right or left, hard turn or gradual turn, and stop. Or use a verbal communication device (walkie talkie or cell phone) to give clear and explicit instructions and to warn of obstructions. Don't yell--that really indicates that you are amateurs. If unsure about giving any direction, signal the driver to stop and walk up and discuss the situation. Then watch as the neighbors shake their heads admirably at your professional conduct." From:


Random RV Thought
Don't be afraid of spoiling the food in your RV refrigerator when you are driving. If the fridge is cold before you leave it will stay plenty cold all day long even when turned off. Just turn it back on when you get to your destination.


Keep your stuff on your RV shelves with this idea

"Full time RVer John Evers had a problem with his 5th wheel medicine cabinet.

Every time he towed his 5er the next time he opened his medicine cabinet stuff fell out. He thought about using an expandable curtain rod, but it wouldn't effectively keep the small bottles in place. Instead he used two thin pieces of wood about four inches wide as "fences" to hold his stuff in place.

He uses two pieces because they will easily slide into place then he secures them with a large clip you can get at any stationary store. This is a simple yet effective way to secure the small stuff

Thanks John for another great RV idea. Shutting the door to falling objects" - Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing


Diesel owners: Are you protected against cavitation?

"In our last post we dove into the deep pool of multi-colored engine coolants. In this follow-up post we’ll discuss a coolant related concern for you diesel engine owners: Cavitation.

Engines throw off excess heat from combustion by routing water along the cylinder walls–these are typically lined with a cast iron sleeve. As the piston travels up and down it brings with it a bit of side motion–causing the piston to strike the liner sleeve, “piston slap.” Think of this slap like the clap of the clapper against a bell: It produces a vibration. In the case of a bell, the vibration is in our hearing range, and is typically pleasant.

But the vibration caused by a piston slap is an extremely high frequency, not one we hear with our ears, and the results can be anything but pleasant. As the piston slaps the liner, the liner pushes out a bit, then quickly returns to its normal position. As it moves out small bubbles are created in the coolant and as the liner moves back in, the bubbles implode creating in scale, a huge shock wave. Left unchecked, these shock waves will repeat and repeat, hammering away at the cylinder liner until finally, tiny pits form in the liner. The pits eventually form holes allowing the engine coolant and lubricating oil to meet. Disaster is not long in coming.

Enter SCAs, or Supplemental Coolant Additives. These additives transform cylinder liner rust (iron oxide)–which is soft–into a much harder form. This hardened material resists pitting, actually healing itself, provided a high enough level of SCA is maintained in the system. Since SCAs typically contain nitrites, overdosing the system can also lead to damage as too much nitrite in the coolant will eat away at the solder that holds the radiator together. Hence, the need for using the right amount of SCA.

Figuring out the “right amount” is easy on doing a cooling system flush and recharge. By taking the known cooling system capacity, you simply read the chart provided by the SCA manufacturer and dump in the right amount. SCA will eventually need to be added to the system and system mishaps like a leaking coolant will require the addition of “make up” coolant. The use of system test strips will help you determine how much SCA to add. The strips are easy enough to use: On a cold engine, pop the radiator cap, extract a small sample of coolant, dip a test strip, then following the instructions for the proper timing of the test, compare the test strip to a color chart.

It’s not a bad idea to carry extra coolant with you on the road. If you dilute your spare coolant to the correct level to simply “dump in” the system, by having already added the proportional amount of SCA to this backup coolant, you won’t be needing to worry about diluting the system’s SCA when you add the makeup.

Not just every auto parts store sells SCA and finding the test strips can be even more difficult. We’ve found that diesel fleet suppliers can help, or drop into a truck stop that has a big rig repair facility on site. We use Fleetguard’s 3-way coolant test strips, which can be a bit expensive on the intial purchase, nearly $50 for a pack of 50 through However, we picked up a partially used bottle from a truck stop for $25. They do “date out,” but we’ve found that if we stick them away in the freezer when not in use, they’ll keep." Posted by Russ and Tiña DeMaris Published in Cooling, Diesel Engine


Zero-emission fuel cell back-up power now available for RVs

recreational vehicleUnit from Germany is the answer for off-grid campsites, providing access to 'Glee' reruns, night lighting and microwaves that brown.

"Fuel-cell cars have been a tomorrow technology as long as I’ve been reporting on them, but it looks like 2015 will be the year they finally go commercial, with hundreds of thousands (you read that right) planned for production as early as 2015.

Right now, it remains theoretical. The cars, including the Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle advanced (FCHV-adv), fuel up at Proton OnSite in Connecticut, are in test fleets, and the numbers are very small. And what is loftily referred to as the hydrogen infrastructure — the necessary network of filling stations — is lacking. There are maybe 70 of them in the U.S. (nobody seems to have an exact count), and only about 25 of those are open to the public.

But that’s all set to change, and even now fuel cells have made inroads — just not in cars yet. I love the fact that there are hundreds of fuel-cell forklifts at companies like Wal-Mart and Bridgestone-Firestone, and 1,000 or more in the pipeline. Why? It’s cost-effective, there’s no need to store heavy battery packs, and because the lifts are zero emission, there’s no problem operating them indoors.

And another major use is auxiliary power, providing electricity when it usually isn’t available. And that’s what led me to Smart Fuel Cells’ EFOY. Who’d a thunk it? This German company has built a successful business providing $4,000 to $6,000 portable fuel cell back-up power for huge RVs. As you know, what’s the point of going to a campsite if you can’t plug in what Albert Brooks, an RV owner in "Lost in America," refers to as a microwave that browns? And you won’t want to miss the repeat of "Glee," either. Right now, standard operating procedure means running the RV’s big engine, which is a colossal waste of fuel.

Some RV campsites have hookups for electricity, but many don’t, and gasoline generators are noisy and smelly. The noisy part means that some sites make you turn them off at night, which isn’t a liability of the fuel-cell alternative. The EFOY made by SFC uses a $65 plug-in methanol cartridge that you get off the shelf in 1,500 convenience stores in Europe (where it’s partnered with 50 RV companies), and 50 in Canada."  More at:


On This Day:

FDR legalizes sale of beer and wine, Mar 22, 1933:

"On this day in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Beer and Wine Revenue Act. This law levies a federal tax on all alcoholic beverages to raise revenue for the federal government and gives individual states the option to further regulate the sale and distribution of beer and wine.

With the passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act in 1919, temperance advocates in the U.S. finally achieved their long sought-after goal of prohibiting the sale of alcohol or "spirits." Together, the new laws prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of liquor and ushered in the era known as "Prohibition," defining an alcoholic beverage as anything containing over 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. President Woodrow Wilson had unsuccessfully tried to veto the Volstead Act, which set harsh punishments for violating the 18th Amendment and endowed the Internal Revenue Service with unprecedented regulatory and enforcement powers. In the end, Prohibition proved difficult and expensive to enforce and actually increased illegal trafficking without cutting down on consumption. In one of his first addresses to Congress as president, FDR announced his intention to modify the Volstead Act with the Beer and Wine Revenue Act.

No fan of temperance himself, FDR had developed a taste for alcohol when he attended New York cocktail parties as a budding politician. (While president, FDR refused to fire his favorite personal valet for repeated drunkenness on the job.) FDR considered the new law "of the highest importance" for its potential to generate much-needed federal funds and included it in a sweeping set of New Deal policies designed to vault the U.S. economy out of the Great Depression.

The Beer and Wine Revenue act was followed, in December 1933, by the passage of the 21st Amendment, which officially ended Prohibition."



The little boarders Muffie and Maddie had tired me out a bit, and I overslept.  There was no work scheduled around here, so I started to list Ray's Recessed Light Fixture Trims on eBay, and it's not finished yet.  We had stored them in my attic for safe keeping, and I made six trips up and down the stairs for different info on them, including the UPC Code, which was required by eBay.   It is easier just to advertise items on Craigslist or

Many people had emailed me about their rescue efforts for different animals, and problems with RVs that they hadn't checked out thoroughly before they bought them.  It gets depressing hearing about the same old problems caused by man.  After all day at the computer, the lack of exercise really bothered my back.   I was worn out from sitting and went to bed early.

The day before, it was tank-top weather when I got dressed, but when the rains came, it turned a lot cooler, now it will be warmer again.  It is going to be in the 80's for the next few days.

1 comment:

Gypsy said...

I agree with Jim Twamley's thoughts about the quality of RV's. I had what was a mid-level RV, not a cheapie nor was it a high-end unit, and everything looked spectacular. The wiring was CRAP! I could never use the electric setting for the water heater, the overhead light fixtures stopped working, and there were always problems with electric plugs. I bought the unit used, but the owner had driven from Nebraska to NY and decided what she really wanted was a Class C, so it was only gently used. RV Manufacturers are getting away with murder, and they will scream when even more cheaply made Chinese units begin to be seen.