Thursday, May 10, 2012

RV Air Conditioner. Leaky Slide-out? Hitch Carriers. Picasa. Blue Ox Care. Transcontinental Railroad. First Pres. Phone.

For "tRaVersing or RV day":
Get your air conditioner ready for summer heat!

"The first blast of triple digit weather is threatening the southwest, and even RVers in Montana report warmer than normal temps. Could summer be early this year? It's a good time to give your RV air conditioning a spring tune up!

Let's start inside--with the air filters. Check your manual to find out how to get at those dust busters. Typically you'll remove a few screws out and remove a plastic grill. Some a/c filters can simply be pulled out and washed in warm, soapy water, completely dried, and put back in. Simple as it is, it's not a bad idea to do this a up to a couple times a month when RVing dusty areas; once a season elsewhere.

Non-washable filter can be replaced with an after-market filter called "electrostatic," said to grab more pollen and dust that the original. These aren't cheap, but are re-washable, and if they do as they claim, could be a godsend for those with allergy issues. Camping World carries them.

With a hose-type vacuum, suck up any dust you see, and if you can access any ducting, give it a good suck as well.   With the "hood open" on the unit, take a look at the mounting bolts that come down through the roof and snug up inside. These hold your unit to the roof and also help to keep a weather-tight seal. You may need to remove the trim, or "air box" to see them (and possibly expose yourself to wiring, so shut off the power to the a/c unit here). Make sure the mounting bolts are tight.

Next, head up to the roof, using a secure ladder and "walking boards" if needed so as not to disturb the roof. Again, make sure the power is "off" the a/c unit. First, take a look at the condenser fins that provide a broad surface for outside air to draw off the heat that's been pumped out from inside. The fins should be straight and true, not bent over onto one another.  Bent fins can be straightened out with a small slotted screwdriver or knife blade. It's a tedious task, but important for your unit to be efficient. Commercial "fin combs" can be had from an a/c supply. (Or use a dog 'slicker' brush)

Look over the shroud or cover, they often take hits from low branches, and UV rays can eat up plastic ones. Some may be fixed with fiberglass cloth and resin, and it's best to make the "fix" inside the shroud where it keeps weather out, but doesn't look horrific. A more expensive fix is to buy a replacement shroud.

With the shroud removed,check out the evaporator, looks like a small auto radiator. Use a brush to gently remove dust from it, or use an air hose to gently blow it out. Inspect the a/c motor, too. Some units have oil holes, often covered with a rubber plug--others are permanently sealed. If serviceable, pull the plugs loose and drop in three to four drops of "three in one" oil. Don't over-oil, less is better than too much.

Replace the shroud and make sure it's secure, lest if blow off your rig. Tighten the mounting screws--not too much zeal here! Firm but not over-torqued.

Time for a system test. Make sure you have enough "juice" available, most require at least a 30 amp service. Turn on the unit and let her rip. Hopefully you'll have oceans of cold air, ready for summer's heat.
New slide-out sleeve says goodbye to leaks, debris

"Leaks from your slide-out from a rain storm? Dirt, dust, and leaves when you retract your slide and the stuff just comes on in? Now an aftermarket supplier says they have the answer to those problems with a new slide-out sealing system. Here's more information and a video.

Made by Lippert Components, the new system is called the Solera Slide-Out Sleeve and Slide Topper. The Solera Slide-Out Sleeve attaches to both the slide room and the outside wall of the RV, creating a complete seal around the entire slide room. Dust, smoke, leaves, bugs, and debris are blocked by the sleeve against entering the interior of the RV-even when the slide room is retracted back into the RV.

The company says their genius includes a number of desirable features including no mechanical parts to break; velcro strapping that stops that nasty blown-away awning topper problem; no water pooling on top of the slide-out; no more ice build-up--it slides right off. While we haven't seen prices, Lippert claims their system is "a cost effective alternative to awning toppers."   More and video ( at:

Hitch Mounted Carriers...Getting It Up...And Safely!

"Since my RV isn't very large, I really didn't want to go the towed vehicle route (toad). I figured I could mount a small motorcycle on a carrier to the class IV hitch in back. I started researching hitch mounted carriers in general. From the small and inexpensive to the massive, hydraulic lift, expensive versions.

Since an average, small, dual purpose (on and off road) motorcycle would weigh around 300 pounds I went looking for a carrier that could carry at least 400 pounds, figuring the extra capacity would act as a "safety net" in case of problems. Seemed pretty logical to me. I have a 1999 Lectra VR-24 electric motorcycle that would eventually live on the back of the RV and charge from the excess power generated by my solar charging system after the batteries were fully replenished. It weighs about 258lbs. So far so good. Kind of.
More at:

Is Picasa the only software for managing all your travel photos?

by Chris Guld of www.GeeksOnTour.TV

"Aren’t digital cameras great? Just snap away to your heart’s content, no worries about wasting film, or costing more money, or taking up more space. You can see right away if you captured the image you wanted, and take more shots if you didn’t. I’ve been known to take more than 100 pictures in any given day when we’re traveling thru beautiful countryside. For RVers like us you can quickly rack up thousands of pictures!

If you put your pictures onto your computer, which we think you should, then you have lots of choices for what software to use for managing and editing them. At Geeks on Tour, we’ve been evangelists for Picasa more than seven years. It’s a free program that you download to your computer from Google. We teach several seminars on it, produced over 60 tutorial videos, have a website dedicated to Picasa, and wrote a book on it!     But, we know it’s not the only game in town." More at:
How to lubricate your Blue Ox towbar,  By the RV Geeks

"When the arms of your towbar are feeling kind of "sticky" (requiring a stronger pull to extend or retract them) it means the grease inside the bellows has begun to get old or dry and needs to be replaced. We re-lubricate our towbar every year as part of our annual spring cleaning and maintenance.

It's a quick and easy job that can be accomplished in short order by just about anybody with a couple of basic tools. As you can see in the video, ( no special skills are required."
More at:

On This Day:

Transcontinental railroad completed, May 10, 1869:

"On this day in 1869, the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah, and drive a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads. This made transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time in U.S. history. No longer would western-bound travelers need to take the long and dangerous journey by wagon train, and the West would surely lose some of its wild charm with the new connection to the civilized East.

Since at least 1832, both Eastern and frontier statesmen realized a need to connect the two coasts. It was not until 1853, though, that Congress appropriated funds to survey several routes for the transcontinental railroad. The actual building of the railroad would have to wait even longer, as North-South tensions prevented Congress from reaching an agreement on where the line would begin.

One year into the Civil War, a Republican-controlled Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act (1862), guaranteeing public land grants and loans to the two railroads it chose to build the transcontinental line, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific. With these in hand, the railroads began work in 1866 from Omaha and Sacramento, forging a northern route across the country. In their eagerness for land, the two lines built right past each other, and the final meeting place had to be renegotiated.

Harsh winters, staggering summer heat, Indian raids and the lawless, rough-and-tumble conditions of newly settled western towns made conditions for the Union Pacific laborers--mainly Civil War veterans of Irish descent--miserable. The overwhelmingly immigrant Chinese work force of the Central Pacific also had its fair share of problems, including brutal 12-hour work days laying tracks over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On more than one occasion, whole crews would be lost to avalanches, or mishaps with explosives would leave several dead.

For all the adversity they suffered, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific workers were able to finish the railroad--laying nearly 2,000 miles of track--by 1869, ahead of schedule and under budget. Journeys that had taken months by wagon train or weeks by boat now took only days. Their work had an immediate impact: The years following the construction of the railway were years of rapid growth and expansion for the United States, due in large part to the speed and ease of travel that the railroad provided."

Hayes has first phone installed in White House, May 10, 1877:

"On this day in 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes has the White House's first telephone installed in the mansion s telegraph room. President Hayes embraced the new technology, though he rarely received phone calls. In fact, the Treasury Department possessed the only other direct phone line to the White House at that time. The White House phone number was "1." Phone service throughout the country was in its infancy in 1877. It was not until a year later that the first telephone exchange was set up in Connecticut and it would be 50 more years until President Herbert Hoover had the first telephone line installed at the president's desk in the Oval Office."

Yesterday was a shopping day.

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