Thursday, March 29, 2012

RV: Sparks Fly! Sealing Roof. RVer's Internet. Storage. Oven. Fridge. Vent Fan. Fire. Lube. Flashers? Water Tank. Road Cables. Solar Fan. Gloves. Sway Bar. Mice. Vietnam.

For "tRaVersing or RV Day, here are some varied subjects concerning RVs:

From an RV Doc reader:

Q: "I own a 2006 travel trailer. My question is when I plug the power cord into an AC socket with an adapter (15/20-amp) or without the adapter (30 amp), I draw an arc to the terminal spade lugs and over time they have become pitted. Why does this happen? Should I turn off the main trailer breaker before connecting to the power source?" Jim M., (Halifax, NS, Canada)

A: "Ah yes, when sparks fly. Contrary to what you might think, the bright yellow & green sparks you see when unplugging an extension cord or the shore power plug are not electrons zipping around, but rather tiny bits of superheated copper burning in the air. Where does that burning metal come from? Well it comes from the metallic contacts of your extension cord or shore power plug when they're plugged or unplugged under a load. That means that every time you plug and unplug your RV shore power plugs while the pedestal is powered up, you're giving up little bits of metal from your contacts, which eventually shows up a pits in the surface. And this is a slippery slope, since these tiny pits tend to spall off more metal creating even larger pits, and so on. Eventually you'll lose enough metal from your plug contacts that they'll begin to heat up under normal current loads. Not a good thing since they can get hot enough to melt the plastic plugs or even catch on fire.

What to do? Well, ALWAYS turn OFF the circuit breaker on the campsite pedestal before you plug or unplug any shore power or extension cords (The RV Doc's been telling RVers that for years!). After you're securely connected, you can then turn on the pedestal breaker. The bad news is that if your plug contacts are already pitted from years of plugging or unplugging under power, there's really nothing you can do to restore the surface. Sure, you can use a little emery paper to brighten up the copper surface, but deep pitting means that you must replace the power cord. Make sure you get all the connections wired correctly though, as an improperly wired shore power or extension cord can create a dangerous hot-skin condition. So check with the manufacturer or get a certified RV technician to wire on a new shore cord. Nobody wants to be shocked (or worse) from their RV."


How do I Reseal my RV Roof Seams & Sealants?

Question: "I am taking my RV out of storage and plan to inspect the seams and sealants on the RV roof for any damage. Can you tell me what products and methods work best for re-caulking your RV roof and how often the maintenance should be done?"

Answer: "That’s a great question and quite often I see written advice on this topic that is completely wrong.  Let me begin by saying that it is important that you use sealants compatible with the material your RV roof and other products you are sealing are constructed out of.

If you have the RV owners manual it will usually specify intervals that you should inspect and perform routine roof maintenance on your RV. This is extremely important because in many cases the RV warranty can be voided if these inspection and maintenance intervals aren’t followed.

With that said let me tell you a product I personally use to seal and maintain RV roofs. I use Dicor 501 LSW Self-Leveling Sealant. This sealant is used in the RV industry by many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)  and it is a popular choice for aftermarket use. One reason it is so popular is because it is compatible with EPDM and TPO rubber products, galvanized metal, aluminum and fiberglass roofs. So it basically works on all types of RV roofing.

Note: Whenever you are working on your RV roof exercise caution. A fall could result in serious injury or death.

When you inspect the seams and sealants on your RV roof look for cracked or dried out sealants that may be separating and allowing water to get through to the surface of the roof. If during your inspections you identify any potential leaks in the old sealant it will need to be resealed. It’s not that difficult to do. One important step is to see if the water has already damaged the roof surface around the area where it has penetrated the sealant. You can go inside the RV and feel around the area for soft spots or look for signs of water staining. If the roof structure is damaged it will require repairs much more extensive than we are discussing here.

Our goal is to identify potential leaks and seal the area before there is any damage to the roof. If I identify any cracked or separated sealant during an inspection I like to remove some of the old damaged sealant from the area prior to resealing it.  To do this I use a plastic squeegee similar to what is used when you do body work on a vehicle. They can be purchased at any auto parts store. Be extremely careful not to tear the rubber roofing material as you remove any old sealant. When the cracked or dried out sealant is removed from the suspect area and the surface is clean, just use the Dicor 501 LSW or other compatible sealant with a caulking gun to reseal the area.  That’s all there is to it.

If you read an article about resealing your RV roof and it says to get up on the roof with some silicone sealant to reseal a rubber roof the author does not know what they are talking about. Follow the inspection and maintenance intervals in your RV owner’s manual and reseal any potential damage with a sealant compatible with yor RV roofing material and your RV roof will last for many trouble-free years.

If you aren’t comfortable working on the RV roof take it to an authorized repair facility to have the work performed. You should also inspect and reseal all of the other seams and sealants on the exterior of your RVat regular intervals. Consult the RV owner’s manual or your RV dealer for sealants compatible with the surface you are attempting to repair.

Happy Camping, Mark Polk,


Part Time Mobile Internet Connections

"What do you do if you travel only part time, but need to have a reliable Internet connection? Well, you are in luck: there are several options these days for short-term Internet connections.

As fulltime RVers, we have no problem signing a 2 year contract for Internet service from Verizon, but we know many people who only travel part time.  What are their options for mobile Internet service?  A couple years ago, your only option was to rely on Wi-Fi which is very UNreliable!  Now there are several options for short term cellular Internet connections. 

The technology world moves fast, and nothing moves faster than cellular Internet plans, so take the information below as talking points only.  Check with your provider, and/or your contract for the details that apply to you.
Verizon is the focus of much of the information in this article since it is what we use personally, and it is the most popular service among RVers.  There are links at the bottom for information on other providers. Six options mentioned at:


Keep your laptop secure
"Laptop computers are some of the best friends an RVer can have. But laptops, and other computers, are certainly an attraction to thieves. Here are some tips to help keep your computing experience happy and safe."


Don't forget the little storage spaces

"When we load our RVs sometimes we pile things into the cabinets any old way just to get it done. When you are going to RV for an extended period, or have a small unit like a truck camper, storage space is at much more of a premium. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when setting up RV storage:

Be organized. Spending a little time now to stow your gear in a neat an organized fashion will save headaches down the road.

RV cabinets rarely come with shelves, and in fifth wheels the cabinets can be hugely tall. Quick fix: Add Closet Maid type wire shelving. Hint: make sure you put a lip on it, or mount it slightly tilted toward the wall with shelf liner to keep things from sliding.

One thing I saw years ago - turn your kitchen sink drain into a shelf for rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc. Thin cardboard, tape and scissors are all you need. Span the cardboard across the cross pipe of the drain and extend back to the wall or some other attachment point.

Don't forget plastic bins! Not only are they stackable, they're usually water tight, and can be put anywhere...under the bed, basement compartments, vanity, and so on.

Install cup hooks in a row approximately five inches apart on the ceiling of cabinet then place makeup, cotton balls, medicine, etc. in quart or gallon size plastic bags. Force a hole in the center top of the bag with the hook and then hang bag on hook. The bags are easy to remove and replace and keep small items organized.    Velcro is an RVers best friend!   Don't forget to mount things in your outside compartments. Home centers carry an abundance of little brackets, straps, and shelves to make your outside storage much more user friendly.

With a little time spent early on, your RV adventures can be easier and more carefree!"  By Chris Dougherty, Certified RV Technician


Keep loose items on shelves with bungee cords

"Keep articles on their shelves and from falling out of cabinets when driving rough or curvy roads with this simple fix.
Screw a cup hook or similar hook into the side of each cabinet opening about two to three inches up from the bottom. Stretch and hook a bungee cord between the hooks.
Bungee cords come in all lengths so purchase ones that fit tight when hooked. Adjust the height of the hooks based on the height of the items you are restraining (i.e., higher up for taller items). While in camp remove the bungee cords and then replace them before driving off."


Don't forget to service your range
"The RV kitchen range is a pretty simple device, and usually works when operated. However, without a little maintenance, it can fail, which will leave you up a creek without any supper, and that is not good!" Read more from RV technician Chris Dougherty.

Distribute heat more evenly in your RV oven with a pizza stone

"If you have ever made and cooked pizza you probably cooked the pizza on a ceramic pizza stone in your oven.
You can also use these stones when baking to even out the heat in RV ovens, notoriously uneven in their heat distribution.
Place under cookie sheets when baking cookies and under baking pans when cooking meat loaf, casseroles, pies, cakes, and other one dish recipes.  The stone will spread the heat more evenly under your creation reducing the chance of scorched spots."


RV DoctorFins inside fridge are icing up. Why?
"Dear Gary,
We are new full-timers and have noticed our Norcold refrigerator fins inside the unit are icing up. What causes this or is this normal? Should I ask how to prevent this?" --Casey D., (St. Louis, MO)
Read Gary's response."

No problem!
"Jim had a feeling his refrigerator was not cooling properly. He thought maybe he'd need to make a trip to an RV dealer for service. But then he tried something. And it worked. So, no problem after all."  Learn more.


How to clean your RV's Fantastic vent fan
"The RV Geeks demonstrate how to remove, clean and reinstall a Fantastic vent fan in your RV. The fans are used so often and move so much air that they can get really dirty. Once a year or so it's a good idea to remove and super-clean the vents. Here's a step by step guide to making your Fantastic fans look like new."


RV explodes at gas station.
"Don't let this happen to you!
A 1970-era motorhome exploded at a gas station in Williston, North Dakota last Sunday. One person was critically injured and a small dog may have been lost in the blaze. The motorhome was a total loss." Read more and learn how to help ensure this does not happen to you!


Lubricant for jets good enough for RVs.

"We all know how important it is to keep mechanisms and moving parts well lubricated to keep them operating properly, and to lengthen their useful life. The engineers at Boeing designed and licensed a rust and corrosion shield waterproof lubricant for use in the aviation industry, and now you can use this same lubricant on your RV.
The Boeshield T-9 lubricant is designed to provide long term protection of moving parts. It is designed to penetrate deeply into fasteners and fixtures, displace moisture and stop existing corrosion, dry to a clean waxy film, and lubricate and protect for months. Use it on awning hardware, RV steps, hinges, locks, windows and more." Boeshield T-9 can be found at    Also on eBay.


Using hazard flashers when you're stuck in the really, really slow lane


"In the hill country out West it's not uncommon to find 18-wheelers making the hard climb with 'warning' flashers a'blazin. To most RV folks it just makes sense. After all, crawling up a steep grade and traveling far less than "freeway speed," giving a bit of a warning to the folks coming up from behind is no more than sensible. What about RVers? Is it a good idea?" Read more.


How gross is your fresh water tank?
"RV fresh water tanks can be bacteria heaven. If you leave water in your tank for several months without cleaning it out, you may be conducting an aqua culture experiment. Green yucky stuff can overtake your on-board water system, clogging your pump and exposing you and your family to sickness. Here's how to check your water to make sure it's fresh." Read more.

How to maintain a safe onboard water supply
"There are two kinds of RVers, those who drink raw water right out of the tap and those who don't. If you are one that doesn't, you needn't concern yourself with water borne illnesses. But if you do drink from the tap, the following measures should keep you from picking up bad germs."


Will "rubber bands" stop your RV?

"Will "rubber bands" prevent your RV from crashing?
Those cable barriers in the middle of Interstates and other highways are supposed to stop a vehicle from crossing over into the oncoming lanes. Some people call these barriers "rubber bands." So do they work? You might be surprised."


Solar fan keeps you cool
. . . powered only by the sun
"Now here's a very cool device or should we say a very cool cooling device? This solar-powered fan does not plug in for its power -- the sun does all the work. So on a hot day when the sun is heating you uncomfortably, it can also help keep you cool with this handy accessory. Pick one up for next summer." Read more.


Glove up for RV dumping with nitrile disposable gloves
Jim writes: "I used to empty my sewer tanks bare handed. I didn't like wearing the traditional type dish gloves because they are too bulky and I wasn't crazy about latex gloves because they would easily tear. Last year I discovered nitrile disposable gloves." Read more.


No more white knuckle driving with RSS sway bars
"If you've been around RVs for awhile you have probably heard of the term "sway," even if you don't pull a trailer. It's a common term in the RV industry and it means a side-to-side movement. Sway is normally associated with a travel trailer being towed, but it can take on a whole new meaning for motorhome owners, too. So what to do? A sway bar. Read more. "


Yet another way to keep mice away

"It seems like every week we see another article about how to keep mice and other rodents out of an RV. Here's information about a product that is plant-based, and non-lethal to humans, even pets. If you are still having rodent problems and all other methods have failed, this might be worth a try


On This Day:

U.S. withdraws from Vietnam, Mar 29, 1973:

"Two months after the signing of the Vietnam peace agreement, the last U.S. combat troops leave South Vietnam as Hanoi frees the remaining American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam. America's direct eight-year intervention in the Vietnam War was at an end. In Saigon, some 7,000 U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees remained behind to aid South Vietnam in conducting what looked to be a fierce and ongoing war with communist North Vietnam.

In 1961, after two decades of indirect military aid, U.S. President John F. Kennedy sent the first large force of U.S. military personnel to Vietnam to bolster the ineffectual autocratic regime of South Vietnam against the communist North. Three years later, with the South Vietnamese government crumbling, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered limited bombing raids on North Vietnam, and Congress authorized the use of U.S. troops. By 1965, North Vietnamese offensives left President Johnson with two choices: escalate U.S. involvement or withdraw. Johnson ordered the former, and troop levels soon jumped to more than 300,000 as U.S. air forces commenced the largest bombing campaign in history.

During the next few years, the extended length of the war, the high number of U.S. casualties, and the exposure of U.S. involvement in war crimes, such as the massacre at My Lai, helped turn many in the United States against the Vietnam War. The communists' Tet Offensive of 1968 crushed U.S. hopes of an imminent end to the conflict and galvanized U.S. opposition to the war. In response, Johnson announced in March 1968 that he would not seek reelection, citing what he perceived to be his responsibility in creating a perilous national division over Vietnam. He also authorized the beginning of peace talks.

In the spring of 1969, as protests against the war escalated in the United States, U.S. troop strength in the war-torn country reached its peak at nearly 550,000 men. Richard Nixon, the new U.S. president, began U.S. troop withdrawal and "Vietnamization" of the war effort that year, but he intensified bombing. Large U.S. troop withdrawals continued in the early 1970s as President Nixon expanded air and ground operations into Cambodia and Laos in attempts to block enemy supply routes along Vietnam's borders. This expansion of the war, which accomplished few positive results, led to new waves of protests in the United States and elsewhere.

Finally, in January 1973, representatives of the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Vietcong signed a peace agreement in Paris, ending the direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. Its key provisions included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the release of prisoners of war, and the reunification of North and South Vietnam through peaceful means. The South Vietnamese government was to remain in place until new elections were held, and North Vietnamese forces in the South were not to advance further nor be reinforced.

In reality, however, the agreement was little more than a face-saving gesture by the U.S. government. Even before the last American troops departed on March 29, the communists violated the cease-fire, and by early 1974 full-scale war had resumed. At the end of 1974, South Vietnamese authorities reported that 80,000 of their soldiers and civilians had been killed in fighting during the year, making it the most costly of the Vietnam War.

On April 30, 1975, the last few Americans still in South Vietnam were airlifted out of the country as Saigon fell to communist forces. North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin, accepting the surrender of South Vietnam later in the day, remarked, "You have nothing to fear; between Vietnamese there are no victors and no vanquished. Only the Americans have been defeated." The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular foreign war in U.S. history and cost 58,000 American lives. As many as two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed."



Ray took the front and back trim off the cargo trailer to replace the butyl putty tape, and for safety reasons, I stayed while he was up on the ladder.  He cleaned, primed and painted the trim while I went shopping.

After I had been to Lowes and Kroger's, I went farther north to the RV store, but didn't get everything I needed at the last two places.  I forgot to get coffee, and even though I had called ahead, the RV store didn't have the light bulbs I needed for the trailer. 

One thing I bought was a new air filter for the mower, maybe it will start today.


Dizzy-Dick said...

I just purchased one of those Verizon mobile-potable wifi units. It works great. See my yesterday's blog.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Yes, I read it, DD. Thanks.
One day if I ever get to take my MH on the road, I will probably get one, too.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

The cable bill for TV and Internet has gone up again.
I might be getting a MiFi sooner than I had planned!
Happy Tails and Trails, Penny.