Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dog Bones for RVs. Surge Devices. Equalize Batteries. Water Heater. Road Spills. Leveling. Switch Lights Dead? Pres.Harding. UNIVAC.

For “tRaVersing or RV Day”:

RIDDLE:  There is a barrel with no lid and some wine in it. "This barrel of wine is more than half full," said Curly. "No it's not," says Mo, "it's less than half full." So how did Mo know?   See below.


“Most RV parks offer both 20- and 30-amp service, with many parks also offering 50-amp service as well. But what do you do if you're staying at a park that doesn't offer an outlet to match your plug? The answer: Dogbones.”

“A new RVer recently asked us how to plug their RV into a regular household electric outlet, so we thought we'd cover the basics of connecting different types of RVs into 20-, 30- and 50-amp electric service.
A standard 3-prong household electric outlet provides 20-amp service (sometimes also referred to as 15-amp service). Most medium-sized RVs (usually with only one air-conditioning unit) have 30-amp service, which uses a larger three-prong plug with two of the prongs at an angle. Larger RVs (usually with two or three air conditioners) utilize higher-power 50-amp service, with larger, 4-prong plugs.

A "dogbone" adapter (named for it's resemblance to the canine treat) attaches to the end of your RV's electric cord, and steps it up or down to match an available outlet. Since 50-amp service is often unavailable at smaller or more rustic RV parks, just about everyone driving a big motorhome (like us) carries at least one dogbone -- to convert their big 50-amp plug into the smaller 30-amp size. We also carry a second dogbone to further step down to 20-amp service.

It may not sound possible to power a large motorhome on less than 50-amp service, but it's really not a problem. It's all about power management. We know that we can't run both of our air conditioners and our electric water heater element and our microwave all at the same time unless we're on 50-amp service. But 30 amps is plenty to run 2 or 3 items at once. As a matter of fact, we just spent the entire winter in British Columbia in a 30-amp site without a problem!

Even a 20-amp connection is enough for us in certain cases. It will keep the batteries charged, allow us to watch TV, run the fridge, or power our big computer, or even microwave dinner... just as long as we stick pretty much to one of those things at a time. It's all about learning how much power each appliance in your RV uses, and living within the limits of the available electric service.
We would certainly never expect to park in a friend's driveway on a hot summer day and power our air conditioners by running an extension cord to a household outlet in their garage. Larger power requirements demand at least 30-amp or even 50-amp service... or firing up the generator.
It's a real luxury on a brutally hot August day to pull into a 50-amp RV park, crank up both air conditioners, heat water for showers, and microwaving dinner... all at the same time. Just don't expect to do that without that 50-amp connection!

Here's a great article that goes into a lot more detail about this whole topic:
Be sure to confirm that all methods and materials used are compatible with your particular recreational vehicle. Every type of motorhome, motorcoach, fifth wheel, travel trailer, bus conversion, camper and toy hauler is different, so your systems may not be the same as ours.” From:


Surging RV News!

“I have been hearing a lot about surge protectors to protect your RV electrical systems and appliances. Is there a surge protector that will handle both 50 & 30 amps? Or, do you have purchase one for the 50 and one for the 30. Thanks!” Walt A., (no city/state)

“You should obtain the surge device that is properly sized for the ampacity of the shoreline cord. If you have a 50-amp coach, get a 50-amp surge protector. If it’s 30-amps, yep, go with a 30-amp version. If you must use a 50-30 adapter at some point, just keep the surge protector between the 30-amp adapter and the shore cord.” Posted by RV Doctor. More at:


HOW TO: Maintain & Equalize RV Batteries

“Flooded, lead-acid batteries are the most common type of battery used in an RV. Keeping them clean and the water level correct should be part of your routine maintenance.
During the normal operating process, the batteries discharge and re-charge over and over again. This can cause sulfation, which is the process of sulfates in the electrolyte (acid) coming out of suspension (suspended in the liquid electrolyte) and attaching to the lead plates instead.
Equalizing the batteries solves this problem by "boiling" the batteries at higher voltage to break the sulfate loose from the lead plates, and putting it back into suspension, where it belongs.
Be sure to confirm that all methods and materials used are compatible with your particular RV.”



“SOLUTIONS to stop the weeping or dripping from your water heater pressure and/or the ‘temperature & relief valve’ (P&T) when your water heater is operating. Water weeping or dripping does not mean that the P&T valve is defective. Heated H2O expands. The water system in an RV is a closed system and doesn’t allow for the expansion. When the pressure exceeds the relieving point of the P&T valve, the valve will relieve the excess pressure by dripping water.
You can reduce the frequency of this occurrence by maintaining an air pocket at the top of the water heater tank. This air pocket will form in the tank by design - however, it will be reduced over time by the everyday use of your water heater. Also, it’s a good idea to flush your heater tank periodically to prevent accumulation of sediments in the tank.”

To replenish the air pocket and to flush the tank…
“Turn off the water heater. If the water heater has been operating, allow the water to cool (or take a quick shower to use up the hot water) ...
Turn off the cold water supply line and/or the water pump.
Remove the drain plug (or open the drain valve) on the water heater and allow it to drain completely.
Direct the water flow from a garden hose into the drain hole for a few seconds and allow it to drain out. Repeat until the water drains clear of sediments. Replace the drain plug.
Turn on the cold water and open a hot water faucet in the RV. As the tank fills, the air pocket will develop. When the faucet runs without sputtering air, you are done.
If the weeping persists after following this procedure, you may elect to have your dealer install an expansion or accumulator tank in the cold water line between the tank and check valve to relieve the pressure caused by thermal expansion.”  From: & The RV Repair Manual

Spills on RV seats? Here's how to clean 'em.

“Before you pack the RV for the big trip, it's a good idea to clean and protect the seats. Dirt, oil, and dust that get on leather and vinyl seats acts like a fine sandpaper, slowly wearing down the vinyl and the protective coating on the leather making them more susceptible to damage. Once weakened, leather and vinyl is more likely to crack and fade and it won’t hold up well to everyday wear and tear.

Buy a good leather cleaning kit which includes leather cleaning and protection cream, or a vinyl cleaning kit, which usually includes just a cleaner. Now make a protective detour before the trip begins. It will save time and money later on. You should also pack an absorbent towel or two in addition to one or two rolls of paper towels.”

Top vacation roadtrip spills -- and how to clean them at:


Can I level with my slide-out deployed?

New RVer asks: “Can I level with my slide-out deployed?
He wants to level the rig first, then deploy the slide-out. She wants to
level after the slide is out, because it seems like the rig "leans" a
little bit after the slide goes out. What's the answer?”
“The safest (and most warranty-wise) answer:  Do what your rig's manual tells you to do. Here's a lift from a Keystone manual: "The recreational vehicle must be level to avoid binding the slide-rooms. Remember, stabilizing jacks are not capable of supporting the weight of you vehicle! They are intended only to stabilize the unit maintaining a level condition. Non-leveled conditions cause sticking situations providing damaging strains on the slide-out mechanism."
This advice is pretty much standard among the majority of the RVing
crowd. If the rig is twisted, even a bit, it can put a real cramp on the
slide-out mechanism. Pinching your slide-out can make for a most
uncomfortable situation--particularly if you can't 'reel the unit back
in' when it's time to hit the road.
As to the case of the 'leaning RV,' we can only say: If your rig leans
after you deploy the slide-out, the most likely issue was not having
your unit properly settled in the first place. Were the levelers on firm
ground, or did they perhaps "sink" a bit into soft ground? Here's a case
for leveler or "jack boots" that give a larger surface area to those
little feet.” 
(from New


Oven tip: "Unless you are using your oven a lot, leave the pilot light turned off when you are not cooking. It uses a surprising amount of propane."

Staying Safe: Sewage Overflow
”If your black water tank overflows, you are dealing with human waste, which carries microorganisms that can make you sick if ingested. Be careful to use a disinfectant to thoroughly clean your hands and anything else that gets contaminated by waste from the black water tank.”

Trailer towing tip:
"Towing with the tongue high (or low) can overload one of your trailer
axles. Set your ball height to level the trailer when attached to the
tow vehicle.” -- From Trailers and Fifth Wheels Made Easy


Switch indicator lights dead? Here's a fix.

Got an electrical switch with an indicator light in it? These little lights illuminate to tell you that say, your water heater is on or your door step is "locked." The problem is, sometimes these little tell-tales die, leaving you "in the dark." Finding a replacement switch can be a costly (if not impossible) task. Here's how to do an inexpensive work-around: Add an LED indicator.
First, you'll need to match up your voltage need. Most stuff in our RVs is 12-volt powered, but you may run into some "shore power" switches.  Once you know what the voltage is, visit in person (or on the web) an LED supplier. A handy size indicator is typically about a quarter-inch in diameter. We found some on the web for less than $3 each. 
It's best to turn off the power before starting--especially when working
with shore power devices. On the switch panel (or nearby) drill an
appropriately sized hole and push the LED barrel, leads first, into the
hole. Using a similar sized flat push-on speed nut, push the nut over
the leads and flush up against the back side of the panel, firmly
holding the new indicator in place. Connect the leads of the LED to the
switch contacts where the existing wires connect up, in "parallel" with
the existing dead indicator lamps.” 
(from RV

RIDDLE ANSWER: Mo tilted the barrel until the wine barely touched the lip of the barrel. If the bottom of the barrel is visible then it is less than half full. If the barrel bottom is still completely covered by the wine, then it is more than half full.


On This Day:

Harding becomes first president to be heard on the radio, Jun 14, 1922:

“On this day in 1922, President Warren G. Harding, while addressing a crowd at the dedication of a memorial site for the composer of the "Star Spangled Banner," Francis Scott Key, becomes the first president to have his voice transmitted by radio. The broadcast heralded a revolutionary shift in how presidents addressed the American public. It was not until three years later, however, that a president would deliver a radio-specific address. That honor went to President Calvin Coolidge.”


UNIVAC computer dedicated, Jun 14, 1951:

“On June 14, 1951, the U.S. Census Bureau dedicates UNIVAC, the world's first commercially produced electronic digital computer. UNIVAC, which stood for Universal Automatic Computer, was developed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, makers of ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer. These giant computers, which used thousands of vacuum tubes for computation, were the forerunners of today's digital computers.

The search for mechanical devices to aid computation began in ancient times. The abacus, developed in various forms by the Babylonians, Chinese, and Romans, was by definition the first digital computer because it calculated values by using digits. A mechanical digital calculating machine was built in France in 1642, but a 19th century Englishman, Charles Babbage, is credited with devising most of the principles on which modern computers are based. His "Analytical Engine," begun in the 1830s and never completed for lack of funds, was based on a mechanical loom and would have been the first programmable computer.

By the 1920s, companies such as the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) were supplying governments and businesses with complex punch-card tabulating systems, but these mechanical devices had only a fraction of the calculating power of the first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). Completed by John Atanasoff of Iowa State in 1939, the ABC could by 1941 solve up to 29 simultaneous equations with 29 variables. Influenced by Atanasoff's work, Presper Eckert and John Mauchly set about building the first general-purpose electronic digital computer in 1943. The sponsor was the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, which wanted a better way of calculating artillery firing tables, and the work was done at the University of Pennsylvania.

ENIAC, which stood for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, was completed in 1946 at a cost of nearly $500,000. It took up 15,000 feet, employed 17,000 vacuum tubes, and was programmed by plugging and replugging some 6,000 switches. It was first used in a calculation for Los Alamos Laboratories in December 1945, and in February 1946 it was formally dedicated.

Following the success of ENIAC, Eckert and Mauchly decided to go into private business and founded the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. They proved less able businessmen than they were engineers, and in 1950 their struggling company was acquired by Remington Rand, an office equipment company. On June 14, 1951, Remington Rand delivered its first computer, UNIVAC I, to the U.S. Census Bureau. It weighed 16,000 pounds, used 5,000 vacuum tubes, and could perform about 1,000 calculations per second. On November 4, 1952, the UNIVAC achieved national fame when it correctly predicted Dwight D. Eisenhower's unexpected landslide victory in the presidential election after only a tiny percentage of the votes were in.

UNIVAC and other first-generation computers were replaced by transistor computers of the late 1950s, which were smaller, used less power, and could perform nearly a thousand times more operations per second. These were, in turn, supplanted by the integrated-circuit machines of the mid-1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the development of the microprocessor made possible small, powerful computers such as the personal computer, and more recently the laptop and hand-held computers.”



Ray took his son, and Claudia took her son, Jay, to their respective doctors, as neither Ray’s son nor Jay have driver licenses at the moment. So that gave me some time to catch up on a few things here.

It took about 10 minutes on the phone to England to arrange for my British Pension to go to the other bank.  I wasn’t put on hold for more than a minute, and that check will now go to the other bank.   That call to England cost me 27c with my prepaid  I called their 800 # to find that out, as it automatically tells me how much I have left, before I make a call.  But I could have looked at my account online, as it shows every call I have made through them. 

As I pay my bills with ‘Bill Pay’ at the bank, all those had to be moved from one bank to the other, too.  For me, it is so much easier to have them all in one place and just go ‘check’, ‘check’ down the list, at the beginning of the month and get it over and done.  I don’t like to use auto bill pay, as the bills would get paid at different times. That way I know how much is left over. Before I did it that way, I would forget one every now and then. That costs!

Bobbiecat had a relapse, and made a puddle in front of her box, so I had to get the mop and disinfectant out again.  I thought that maybe the sides of her box are too high for her now that she is 17 years old, so I fixed her up with one that has lower sides.

Sadie, the diabetic cat boarded here, was really trying to make friends with me, as she wanted me to let her out of that big cage. She wanted me pet her through the bars, and was so sweet to me, and made it known exactly what she wanted.  I was tempted to let her out for a little bit, so I called her ‘Mom’ who said a definite “No”, that Sadie had to stay in there. She was amazed that Sadie was being so friendly towards me, apparently she doesn’t let anyone pet her. 

Candy has also had a reversal of character, as she is usually a wild thing, climbing curtains, etc when at home, but she is being really quiet and well behaved here.  She rarely ventures out of the cage, even though the door is left open.  Their Mom also told to me to wait and see how she behaves in a week’s time!!  I wondered, what have I got myself into for the next few days!


Sandra said...

Sounds like the cats are like kids. They are little horrors at home and wonderful when they visit someone.

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

Lots of good RV info there ... great blog!

Those kitties are gonna keep you busy for a while, hey?

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comments, Sandra and Karen.

Sandra, Sadie showed her true colours the next day, and I am wounded. Great what you are doing to your house. You don't get cabin fever after all those years of full-time RVing?

Thank you, Karen, your blog does too. Cats are easier to take care of than dogs.
Congrats on the sale of your house, looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

Happy Trails, Penny TX