Thursday, May 3, 2012

RV Tips. Black Tanks. Solar Panels and Glue. Bank Robbery. Thousand Tr. Tenters Pass. Lifesaver. Water Bottles Banned. MADD.

For "tRaVersing" or RV day":

Bathroom and Blackwater Brainstorms

"Everyone has their favorite recipes for dealing with holding tanks and their cousins, RV toilets. Here's a few of them:
The Fan Club: So, you just installed a brand-new bathroom fan, huh? Let me spare you a little bit of misery--don't run the fan when you flush the john! For some reason fans have a quirky way of sucking the smell back up out of the holding tank. When you stop on the toilet pedal, the valve which keeps all those evil smells locked away in the holding tank opens, and with negative pressure exerted from above, oof-poof! Instant Peppi-le-Pew!

Holding Tank Level Indicators: Being able to tell how full the holding tanks are by pushing a button is great. Unfortunately, holding tank sensors are prone to being fouled. Jokes about "skin diver for Roto-Rooter" aside, nobody wants to get in the tank to do the cleaning. Alka-Seltzer to the rescue! Several RVers swear by this method.     Dump black water tanks, and rinse out with clean water. Now add five or ten gallons of water and a half-dozen Alka-Seltzer tablets and drive the rig a few miles. Depending on how groaty your sensors are, you may need to repeat the process. One other source recommended a two aspirin tablets and a half-box of baking soda instead of the Alka-Seltzer.   My question is, do you use the "cold remedy" brand in winter?

Drippy Dump Valves: The best recommendation when dump valves drip is to replace the O-ring in the valve--get them at any RV part supplier. For those too lazy to replace the O-ring, hold the dump hose directly underneath the valve when you pull the cap off--and don't get too close!

Holding Tank Treatments: Whatever you use to treat your holding tank, make sure it's biodegradable. Not only is it easier on the environment, many areas now ban the use of products like formaldehyde." By Mark Polk.

An in depth article about black tanks by The RV Doctor:

As dump stations close an Oregon company sees opportunity

"Operating a dump station is not cheap. Public sewer rates are rising every year and the cost to maintain private septic systems and pump holding tanks, common in remote campgrounds, are significant. “A campground with a 4,000 gallon underground holding tank would cost more than $1,000 to pump,” said Huffman, Sani-Star's director of sales and marketing. "An average pumping fee is about 25 cents a gallon plus round trip mileage by the truck. If you figure the average RV releases about 25 gallons per dump, that's only about 160 uses until a tank that size is filled.

Huffman said his surveys show that only about a third of RVers pay at honor-box fee locations. "That's not good for the bottom line," he noted. A key and lock system, also a common fee collection method, is labor intensive, slow and inconvenient for the RV dump consumer.

The Sani-Star system uses a patent-pending locking sewer cap that opens after payment and re-locks after dumping, eliminating no-pay drive offs. Customers pay by cash, custom token, coin or credit card at the dump station's kiosk or, if a merchant chooses, inside its store. There is also a reprogrammable keypad payment option. The system is currently in use at all Pilot-Flying J Travel Center RV dump stations across the USA, where spot surveys have shown higher fee compliance for Sani-Star sites compared to the traditional honor payment system." More at:


Boondocking Tips   Add More Solar Power

"The nice thing about RV solar power is you can "add on" to the system as needs increase. There are a couple of caveats to consider before you rush out and buy another solar panel. First, make sure your panel controller has sufficient "muscle" to handle the increased power. Add up the amount of current that all panels will produce, and ensure it doesn't exceed the panel controller ratings. Next, consider the amount of storage capacity you have. It doesn't make any sense to invest a lot of money in solar panels if your battery capacity will be outstripped. It's like pouring water into a glass. When the glass is full, to keep pouring is a waste. If your batteries are regularly getting fully charged with what solar panels you have, you'll need to add more battery storage capacity if you want to take advantage of more solar power." By Russ and Tina De Maris


Stuck on Solar

"Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:  I need your help. My husband decided we needed solar. He loves projects. He just told me he is glueing the solar panels to our motor home roof. I picture a cartoon with a motor home traveling down the highway dragging a couple solar panels behind. The problem is, I would fail to see the humor if the motor home in the cartoon was ours. I have used super glue and all the other adhesive wonders you see advertised and they never stand up to the reputation they portray on TV. My husband says that his 3M 5200 is different and that it will hold our heavy solar panels even in a strong wind, going down the road at 60 mph. I’m not buying it. He doesn’t want to drill holes in our fiberglass roof and use screws. I tell him he has one loose. Please help me convince him we are on a collision coarse with disaster if he insists on going with glue."
--Sticky Situation in Santa Fe

"Dear Sticky:
Have no fear. I just read the book, “On Whale Island.” The crazy guy who wrote the book is trying to survive a year on an island he bought off the coast of Nova Scotia and fixes everything with 3M 5200. He swears it will hold two planets together. I know a lot of people in the solar business use it. If you think your husband is crazy, I taped mine on. I used 3M VHB tape, kind of like 5200 in strips. So far, so good. It sounds like your husband did his homework. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this. As long as he cleans the area he is adhering to extremely well, you should have no problem. If you read the book I mentioned, you will discover how lucky you are to be married to someone who fixes things right the first time."
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Don't let your bank rob you--switch!

"After suffering flash burns from heated up customers last fall, Bank of America set aside plans to charge its customers a $5 a month fee for the privilege of using a debit card. Fear not, BOA is at it again, this time with plans to gaff customers with basic checking accounts with a monthly fee.

BOA's plans include an alternative to the fee-instead-of-free plan: Bank online, buy more of our products (read that "loans") or maintain a certain bank balance. Non-profit watchdog Consumer Reports says to be on the lookout for other banks to try and play this same sort of shell game.

A lot of us in the RV lifestyle have enough financial concerns to worry about without getting gouged by banks. What's to be done? First off, don't toss out those fluffy mailings that come with your bank or credit card statements. If your bank intends to change the way they do business, they'll often stick a circular in your monthly mailing, along with piles of useless adverts. If you don't pay attention to what they're up to, you won't be able to "opt out."

If you've got your money in a commercial bank, don't hesitate to yank it out and move it to a customer-friendly organization like a credit union. Used-to-be credit unions were pretty tight to get into, say those made up of employees of specific industries or groups. These days a lot of credit unions have memberships for Joe Everyman. You'll find credit unions often have really FREE checking accounts, better interest rates on savings, and lower rates on loans--even for RVs.

Many people shy away from getting out of an abusive bank relationship, simply because they aren't sure how to proceed, or imagine it will be an ordeal worse than they're undergoing. Here's a link to easy walk-through instructions on how to make a switch From:

PS. Wells Fargo is going to start charging more fees, too.

Thousand Trails announces new low cost tenters pass

"Tent campers can enjoy camping accommodations at popular outdoor destinations with a new annual tent camping pass offered by Thousand Trails. The pass provides campers with access to up to 90 campgrounds located across 24 states and British Columbia. With two tents and up to six people allowed per site, the pass provides campers very affordable vacation options in prime destinations for $249 per year.

For ease of planning, pass members can make reservations up to 60 days in advance online or by phone.

Situated in scenic and natural settings, the Encore and Thousand Trails campgrounds included in the pass program provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Mt. Hood Village in Oregon offers over 700 miles of groomed trails to explore. Rancho Oso's dude ranch in California is a great place for campers to experience their first horseback ride. Whether fishing for tarpon while staying at Florida's Sunshine Key or tubing down the Schroon River at Lake George Schroon Valley in New York, tenters can stretch their camping dollars with quality camping experiences with the annual pass.

More information is available at  or by calling (877) 522-1834.

A lifesaver?    Device summons help even where there's no cell service

"How do you summon help when you're camped out of cell phone range? The answer is a personal locator beacon. The device can summon help to your exact location using a satellite no matter where you are. Our blogger Dave Helgeson reveals more  about this potentially lifesaving device.

Grand Canyon bans water bottle sales

"Plan on hiking the Grand Canyon this summer? Better bring your own water bottle. The National Park Service is killing off the sale of pre-packaged bottled water in the park, but hasn't lost its concern for your health: Bring your own reusable water bottle and you'll be able to fill it up free throughout the park. Read more:

On This Day:

MADD founder's daughter killed by drunk driver, May 3, 1980: 

"On this day in 1980, 13-year-old Cari Lightner of Fair Oaks, California, is walking along a quiet road on her way to a church carnival when a car swerves out of control, striking and killing her. Cari's tragic death compelled her mother, Candy Lightner, to found the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which would grow into one of the country's most influential non-profit organizations.

When police arrested Clarence Busch, the driver who hit Cari, they found that he had a record of arrests for intoxication, and had in fact been arrested on another hit-and-run drunk-driving charge less than a week earlier. Candy Lightner learned from a policeman that drunk driving was rarely prosecuted harshly, and that Busch was unlikely to spend significant time behind bars. Furious, Lightner decided to take action against what she later called "the only socially accepted form of homicide." MADD was the result. (Charged with vehicular homicide, Busch did eventually serve 21 months in jail.)

In 1980--the year Cari Lightner died--some 27,000 alcohol-related traffic fatalities occurred in the United States, including 2,500 in California alone. After founding MADD, Lightner began lobbying California's governor, Jerry Brown, to set up a state task force to investigate drunk driving. Brown eventually agreed, making her the task force's first member. In 1981, California passed a law imposing minimum fines of $375 for drunk drivers and mandatory imprisonment of up to four years for repeat offenders. President Ronald Reagan soon asked Lightner to serve on the National Commission on Drunk Driving, which recommended raising the minimum drinking age to 21 and revoking the licenses of those arrested for drunk driving. In July 1984, she stood next to Reagan as he signed a law reducing federal highway grants to any state that failed to raise its drinking age to 21 (a change that was estimated to save around 800 traffic deaths annually); by the following year, all 50 states had tightened their drunk-driving laws.

MADD had expanded to some 320 chapters and 600,000 volunteers and donors nationwide by 1985, when Lightner parted ways with the organization. MADD went on to wage a campaign to lower the nation's legal blood alcohol content from 0.1 percent to 0.08. The group won a major victory in 2000, when the Clinton administration passed a law tying federal highway funds to states' adoption of the 0.08 standard. By that year--the 20th anniversary of MADD's founding--alcohol-related fatalities had dropped some 40 percent over two decades, and states with the toughest drunk-driving laws were beginning to treat alcohol-related fatalities as murder."


Jay and I went shopping.  At one thrift shop they had just got in a collapsible plastic dog crate.  I have a large regular one for Misty to sleep in at my daughter's house, but this one folds up, so it is much better.  Her traveling one is smaller, and more solid for seat-belting in, as I wouldn't want her to be thrown around in her crate in an accident.   Then, I found a keyboard slide-out for $2, to install under the desk we are making.

The afternoons are getting hotter, so the cats couldn't stay on the screen porch all day.

The cable went out before I couldn't publish this morning before I went to Lake Conroe KOA to meet, Rob, Debra, their dog Bale, and Arlene.  Of course if I could still use Live Writer it wouldn't have taken so long, and I might have made it under the wire.  I will be so glad to find out the fix for this 'Error 401', it takes all the fun out of blogging.

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