Thursday, June 28, 2012

Easy Trailer Re-hitching. RV Tires. Solar Install. Regulator. KillAVolt. 12v Socket. Tanks. Fridge. James Madison.

For “tRaVersing or RV Day”:

Easy trailer rehitching--use a level to get hitch height right!

“Folks who tow travel trailers and fifth wheels often struggle with hooking back up after setting up their trailer for livability. The problem is this: You unhitch and level the trailer; when it’s time to hitch up again, getting the front of the trailer to the right height to hitch up can be a pain in the neck.

Here’s an easy way to deal with this issue. Get yourself a simple bubble level like the one pictured. Mount it on the side of your trailer at the front of the rig. Fifth wheel folks will like this one, just mount it close to the switch that controls your "landing gear." Don’t use the double stick mounting tape included with the level, but rather, run a screw through the top center portion of the plastic above the level tube. Snug the screw down only far enough that you can push either end of the level up and down with some amount of force required.

Now when you unhitch, raise the front of the trailer high enough to unhitch--just off the ball in the case of a pull trailer, or just off the fifth wheel saddle plate. Now adjust the new level to where the bubble is showing level. You can now level up the trailer for livability--just don’t touch the "hitching level."

When it’s time to hitch up again, raise or lower the trailer until the hitching level shows "level" again. Now your trailer is at just the right height to roll right under and hitch up.” From:


How RV tires are developed and why some are a compromise.

"If a tire is being designed for a specific vehicle manufacturer such as Ford, Chevy, Toyota or BMW, there will be a number of tires submitted by competing tire companies all trying to deliver the best overall compromise in performance characteristics. Please note that all original equipment manufacturers have slightly different requirements but all make similar requests for performance improvements in many areas. In the future I will use the term "OE" to include these car and pickup manufacturers.

Compromise: Now is a good time to talk about some of the various trade-offs the engineer is faced with when trying to meet conflicting goals and customer wants. I am sure we would all like an RV that has all the interior space and amenities of a 40’ diesel pusher but gets 25 mpg and can be driven down crowded city streets without knocking off our mirrors. Oh yes, it should also cost under $30k. Well Bunkie, that just ain’t gonna happen in real life.

The same goes for a tire that handles like an Indy tire, is as quiet as the proverbial mouse, has great off-road traction, is good for 100k miles, and costs $25. One thing few people realize is that most if not all performance characteristics are a compromise.

For example: if you improve wet traction you probably hurt fuel economy unless you use a special type of rubber that costs double per pound and is more difficult to process. If you improve handling you might hurt ride and noise. When you improve noise you can significantly increase the cost of making the molds used in manufacturing. The cost of a tire mold can be as low as $10,000 and can approach $100,000 each. Depending on the production volume needs, a tire manufacturer could need 30 or more molds. The list of trade-offs goes on and on.

The competition for a tire application might start three or more years before scheduled start of delivery with two to five tire manufacturers competing for the contract, knowing that only one or two will end up being selected to actually provide tires. The costs associated with building and testing special prototype tires can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and are absorbed by the tire company. The only way a tire company can afford this type of activity is by landing a contract for a few hundred thousand tires so the costs can be spread out.

Unlike “OE”, an RV manufacturer may only need a couple thousand tires so a custom tire, designed for a specific RV would be cost prohibitive. Since the RV manufacturer won’t be trying to get custom tires, it doesn’t have staff engineers working on developing specifications for such tires. The RV company will in all likelihood either take what comes already on the cut-away chassis or the bare chassis for Class-C or A vehicles and in the case of trailers, may buy the tire with the lowest cost that can meet tire size requirements and expected delivery schedule.

For RV applications the one thing that is in the control of the manufacturer is “Reserve Load”. This is the difference between the load placed on each tire with the RV normally loaded and the load capability of the tires at specified inflation.”  From:


Add Solar power

imagesCAXQ7UEGA reader wrote: “Ran across what I think is a good system to add Solar power to your rig. The solar kit is made by Go-POWER. I have purchased one of their inverters and like it very much.
I did not shop around for price. You may find a better price on a different system. I'm only showing this as it does a good job of explaining the components of a Solar kit for your RV. The video is from YouTube and is very well done.

Disclaimer: I am not associated with Go-Power nor do I profit in any way from this post.     Here is the Solar kit sold on Enjoy”


New to solar? Don't forget the regulator.

“If you want to safely use solar panels on your rig, they need to have a system to stop them from charging when your house batteries are full.

At night, without a regulator system, the solar panels will turn into a "load" and actually cause your batteries to discharge. There are "self regulated" panels available, the trouble is, their output is so small it's hardly practical for an RVer. Commercially built solar panel regulators are like a visit to Starbucks. You can get plain (OK, with crème and sugar) or you can add everything in the way of bells and whistles. What do you get with your cappuccino?

Solar charge regulator isSome fancy regulators have built in meters that show battery voltage and
charge current--that's a great bonus--and even those that track your
battery "bank account" by showing how much power you've used, verses how much you've stored. Of course, the more you get, the more you pay.
What about prices? We've seen "charge controllers" as solar regulators are sometimes called, that will handle 20 amps worth of solar power for around $100--including a display that indicates battery voltage and the amount of charge current.

In one of our installations where only a single panel was to be used, we found a very plain regulator with LEDs that simply indicated if the panel was charging or not, for around $25.  A plain-brown-wrapper regulator that simply that stops charging when the battery is full, and restarts charging when the battery needs it is great if you're on a budget. Just make sure you always buy a regulator that has more capacity than you need now. Later if you expand your solar power "farm" on the roof, you won't need to invest in another regulator.”  (From RVSolar

Prevent an overcharging generator from 'frying' electronics!

“KillAVolt is designed to sense over-voltage at between 145 VAC and 155 VAC when an AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulator) fails to control the voltage at its normal operating range. When this high voltage is sensed by the KAV, it will instantly stop the engine, which in turn will also lower the voltage as the engine comes to a stop. Reversal of the high voltage prevents serious damage to your appliances that are attached to the generator. Circuit breakers only control amperage and will not disconnect from high voltage.

Surge protectors are only a false sense of security and are most effective for micro spikes found on utility voltage at your home. High voltage on a failed generator will go to between 196 (120v output) and 398 volts (240 output). This high voltage will destroy an RV full of appliances. Converter, microwave, electronic audio and video equipment as well as the Surge protector. Anything having an electronic switch will be toast! The KillAVolt will keep your sanity and allow your generator a chance for repair. Do not be fooled that an AVR is a protection device, it is not! AVR's are used by all synchronous generators to give a steady control of voltage when it is working. When its not working? Well you just read the possibilities! Don't be a victim of high voltage from your generator.”


Installing a 12-volt electric socket.imagesCAM4O2JO

“It seemed like an easy job to the Wanderman, Rich Miller -- installing a 12-volt socket near his bed so he could charge his phone while sleeping. But if you are a regular reader of Rich's, you know that things don't always go as planned for this creative but sometimes challenged handyman. Read his story.”


the refrigerator repairmaCool down that refrigerator
“Hot summer days can really raise the load on your RV refrigerator. Several things can help keep the chill on your cooler. First, reduce the number of times you open and close the box. If possible, park your rig so the back side of the refrigerator is shaded. An inexpensive, 12-volt (as appropriate to your RV electrical system) "muffin fan" mounted under the condenser coils on the outside of the refrigerator will help to blast off heat from the coils, increasing the cooling ability. Find voltage for the fan from refrigerator wiring using your electronic multimeter.”


Keep holding tank odors down in summer's heat.

“When it does come to treatments, we've lean toward the more "natural" kind, bacterial-enzyme treatments. We found them to be quite effective in keeping the odor down, and in keeping the tank free of build up. Ah, but when summer's warmth came, we did find some issues.

One foul smelling experience when the combination of heat and non-motion did "shut down" the bacterial action in our tank. That was bad! To get out of that problem we had to empty the tank and fill it completely with water and a large dose of baking soda. After 24 hours we emptied the tank, then started using it again with a fresh dose of bacterial-enzyme treatment. The odor was gone, and we were happily back in business.

Our experiences lead to warm weather holding tank tips: As we've already pointed out, the more often you dump, the happier you'll be. Here's the corollary: Keep moving! The more you stir up the contents of your holding tank (logically by driving) the less odor problems you can anticipate. Besides, the more you keep moving, the more of the country you'll see!

What about treating your gray water tank? Few RVers ever do much of anything about treating their gray tank. We recommend you abstain from pouring grease down the drain, but for the most part, a gray tank will give you few problems.” More at:


On This Day:

Former President James Madison dies, Jun 28, 1836:

“On this day in 1836, James Madison, drafter of the Constitution, recorder of the Constitutional Convention, author of the "Federalist Papers" and fourth president of the United States, dies on his tobacco plantation in Virginia.

Madison first distinguished himself as a student at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), where he successfully completed a four-year course of study in two years and, in 1769, helped found the American Whig Society, the second literary and debate society at Princeton (and the world), to rival the previously established Cliosophic Society.

Madison returned to Virginia with intellectual accolades but poor health in 1771. By 1776, he was sufficiently recovered to serve for three years in the legislature of the new state of Virginia, where he came to know and admire Thomas Jefferson. In this capacity, he assisted with the drafting of the Virginia Declaration of Religious Freedom and the critical decision for Virginia to cede its western claims to the Continental Congress.

Madison is best remembered for his critical role in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, where he presented the Virginia Plan to the assembled delegates in Philadelphia and oversaw the difficult process of negotiation and compromise that led to the drafting of the final Constitution. Madison's published "Notes on the Convention" are considered the most detailed and accurate account of what occurred in the closed-session debates. (Madison forbade the publishing of his notes until all the participants were deceased.) After the Constitution was submitted to the people for ratification, Madison collaborated with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton on "The Federalist Papers," a series of pamphlets that argued for the acceptance of the new government. Madison penned the most famous of the pamphlets, "Federalist No. 10," which made an incisive argument for the ability of a large federation to preserve individual rights.

In 1794, Madison married a young widow, Dolley Payne Todd, who would prove to be Washington, D.C.'s finest hostess during Madison's years as secretary of state to the widowed Thomas Jefferson and then as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Dolley Madison earned a special place in the nation's memory for saving a portrait of George Washington before fleeing the burning White House during the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 tested Madison's presidency. The Federalists staunchly opposed Madison's declaration of war against the British and threatened to secede from the Union during the Harford Convention. When the new nation managed to muster a tenuous victory, the Federalist Party was destroyed as America's status as a nation apart from Britain was secured.

After retiring from official political positions, Madison served Thomas Jefferson's beloved University of Virginia first as a member of the board of visitors and then as rector. In 1938, the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg, Virginia, was renamed in Madison's honor as Madison College; in 1976, it became James Madison University.”



Prime, my foster cat, has already found the aquarium in the grooming room, so I am glad it has a good hood on it.  She stares at that blue fish, and I wonder what is going through her head.

As it was Wednesday, it was shopping day, and Jay hadn’t been out of the subdivision for several days he wanted to go with me.  Misty and I went to get him, so she and Maddie had their walk-about down there.

The only important thing on my list was to try to find the right hasp for the cargo trailer’s bed, which I didn’t find, but I came home with a few things that were in half-price sales at thrift shops. I bought several nice tops, and Jay bought 2 pairs of jeans, and 2 pairs of athletic shoes.

images[9] Another bargain was a AA battery operated 6” x 6”x 1” electronic King James Bible, for $3.  It has a QWERTY keyboard and screen in a leather case.  Just type in the first three letters of the book, chapter, and verse, and up it comes on the screen.  Or just type in the book and scroll.  I don’t have any trouble finding the books and chapters in the Bible, but Jay does. I suppose his tablet would do the same thing, if he knew how to work it, though, but a lot more expensive to lose.

We didn’t even stop at a grocery store yesterday.


Dizzy-Dick said...

One nice thing about Conroe is that it has a lot of thrift stores and some fund good causes.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, Dick.

We only go to the 'do-gooder' ones. If they are privately owned for profit, we don't go there.

Happy Tails and Trails, Penny.