Thursday, June 13, 2013

Re-String Shade. RV Tires. Recoating Roof. RV Tips. Photos. RV Batteries. Geology Guides. Small Generator. RV Bedrooms. Meriwether Lewis. Pioneer 10.


For “tRaVersing Thursday”, or RV Day: 

HOW TO: Re-String a Pleated RV Window Shade

“During our 9+ years of full-timing, we've probably had to re-string our pleated day/night window shades around 10 times, or an average of about once a year. Part of the inherent problem with the design is that there needs to be enough tension on the cords to hold the shades where you put them, preventing them from falling on their own.
Unfortunately, keeping tension on the cord increases the friction of it against the hard plastic parts as you open and close the blinds. It's a delicate balance that sooner or later leads to broken cords.
A little time, patience and care are all that's needed for this task.
We keep replacement cord on hand for that inevitable time when one of the shades falls loose at an angle, letting us know that the cord is frayed and about to break.”


Morning tire vibration: Do you feel it?

“So you get up and after a nice hot cup of coffee you finish packing the motorhome. You have enjoyed the last couple of weeks at a real nice campground but now it's time to hit the road. The interstate is only a couple miles down the road, so you are soon on that nice smooth ribbon of asphalt. Then it hits you, just as it does almost every time you start out on a days drive: you feel that vibration. Is something wrong with your RV? Find out."


RV tires: How old is too old?

“Your tires' "birthdates" can be determined by looking for the "DOT code." Printed on a tire sidewall, the code begins with the letters DOT. The last four digits in that string of numbers are significant. The first two of the four digits are the week the tire was made, the last two digits represent the year. So a code ending in 2509 means the tire was made in the 25th week of 2009. You may have to look on the 'axle side' of the tire to find the DOT code – they don't make it easy.


DOT code shows 18th week of 2008

How old is too old? That's the big – and controversial – question. Nobody really wants to stick their neck out and say what's safe, and what's not. Some tire manufacturers will tell you their tires should be good for ten years. But ten years under what conditions? Cold weather? Hot weather? Driven 50 miles a week? Standing still under your motorhome or travel trailer for months at a time?

A 'rule of thumb' adopted by some in the RV world says replace your tires when they hit six or seven years old. In parts of Europe and Asia, tire manufacturers recommend replacement of tires every five years. Why not in the U.S.? It's a mystery – at least to the consumer.”  More at:


Does my roof need recoating?

QUESTION: "I have a 2005 Wildcat fifth wheel. Last Saturday I used the Thetford roof cleaner on the unit and when I finished and got down off the roof, I noticed what looked like a huge amount of small white particles that washed off the roof. Is this a sign that the roof is going bad or just normal wear and tear?  I noticed there were some areas that the black is starting to show through on the roof.  Should I consider having it recoated or is it too late? There are no cracks in the rubber." —Bill Cost

Answered by Chris Dougherty, RV Medics of New England:
"The problem you’re having is common, but it needs some attention. An EPDM roof (ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber) has layers. The top layer is white with a thicker black layer underneath. What you’re seeing is the top layer wearing or oxidizing, exposing the lower structural layer. While this is not a sign that you need to replace the roof, I would certainly apply one of the many EPDM coatings on the market, which will restore the white layer. It is good that you don’t have any cracks yet, and applying a coating will help keep it this way."


RV Tips

“Don't forget to keep a fly swatter in your RV. An option to getting rid of a fly is to open a door or window to let the fly flee. But that's gambling: instead of the fly flying out, two of its buddies may fly in. And then you have a fly-fest, which nobody wants. So a fly swatter is the way to go.”

“Have a backup plan for WiFi - Do you depend on the Internet for your living? Don't always count on the advertised "Wifi" service at the RV park. Have an alternative plan or carry your own cellular "hotspot."”

“A California court judge has ruled that a driver using a GPS system on a mobile phone was guilty of "driving while using a cell phone." The judge concluded that using a phone for anything is a violation of the intent of the law and keeps the driver distracted.”

A trick to expand your shower
”Feeling "closed in" in the shower? If your shower is equipped with a shower curtain, get a curtain tension rod, mount it a few inches outside the existing shower rod. Run the curtain over the top of the new rod, then back into the shower stall. Gives a few extra inches of space for your shoulders.”



From me:  Or get a curved shower rod.

And while you are at it, you can get a Hookless Mystery Shower Curtain.


Tech Tips from Mark Polk, Water hookup tip

”Always use a water pressure regulator when connecting to a water supply at the campground, and always connect the regulator directly to the campground water source, not at the city water connector on the RV. If you make the connection at the city water connection on the RV, high campground water pressure can build up where it connects to the regulator, causing the hose to swell and burst.”


A simple trick to improve your travel photos

“Chuck Woodbury shares a very simple technique to use when taking travel photos with people in them. It's amazing how many people don't understand this very simple technique that will vastly improve a photograph.”


How Are the RV Batteries Connected?

Q: “The two house batteries in my motorhome have been removed to be replaced. They were 6-volt batteries but the person who removed them does not remember if they were wired in series or parallel. The motorhome is a 2005 Cross Country. How should the house batteries be wired?” Will S., (Seminole, OK)

A: “Will, since all DC electrical components in your motorhome are powered by 12-volt battery power, two 6-volt batteries must be connected in series in order to provide a final, 12-volt output. Here’s another post that may be of help to you. Check this out.

Also, FMC Magazine published one of my in-depth articles, "The Balance of Power," you might find helpful. Feel free to contact FMCA and request a copy of the January 2012 issue.”   Posted by RV Doctor.


Geology Guides for Travelers

Dear Doctor Rock,

"Where can I find geology guidebooks to use while I'm traveling? I don't have academic or technical training in geology, but am very interested. Are there guidebooks written for the general public that would help travelers understand the landscape?"   Bill DeSpain,  Los Angeles

“Bill,  Are you ever in luck. Their is an entire series of geology guidebooks that should fit the bill.  Mountain Press Publishing in Missoula publishes the very popular 'Roadside Geology' series.”  More at:


A small generator may be all you need

“Many RVers own a generator for one reason: to keep their 12-volt batteries charged. Unfortunately, many don’t understand that bigger is not always better when it comes to generators and battery charging. Most converter chargers in an RV can operate on 1,000 watts or less of 120-volt electricity. Owning and operating a larger generator can be a waste of space and fuel.

The advantages of a smaller generator:
•Less fuel consumption means less fuel used and less spare fuel you need to carry.
•Takes up less space in your rig.
•Weighs less, which means less weight to carry around and haul down the road.
•Makes less noise while running than a larger generator.
•Emits fewer exhaust fumes.
•Easier to pull start than a larger portable generator.

Before you fire off a flurry of responses on how little can be done with a 1,000-watt generator, here are some solutions to potential "problems":

•It won’t run an electric coffeepot. Use the stove like your grandparents did.
•It won't run a hair dryer on high. No, but it will be fine for the styling (low) setting.
•It won't power a refrigerator and converter at the same time. Manually switch your refrigerator to LP gas.
•When a large battery bank is really low, the amp draw via a three- or four-stage charger blows the circuit breaker on a 1,000-watt generator. Try taking one or two batteries out of your bank (via a battery switch) for awhile and then bring them back online after the generator has had a chance to put some amps in the other batteries.
•It won’t power a microwave oven. No, it won’t; but an inexpensive 2,000-watt inverter will. For the short time most people run a microwave (warming coffee, zapping a plate of nachos, etc.), an inverter is more convenient than running a generator for a minute or two.
•It won’t operate an air conditioner. No, it won’t; but RVers boondock by choice. If it's too hot to enjoy where you are camping, move to somewhere cooler. And there are always fans!

Other helpful tips:
•Make sure the electric element on your water heater is turned off before starting your generator.
•For items that need long-term charging from a 120-volt AC source (cordless drills, laptops, etc.), consider a small inverter for your tow vehicle or dinghy that plugs into the cigarette lighter. Charge these items up while you run into town for groceries, sightseeing, etc.”  By Dave Helgeson


Floorplans! Front or Rear Bedroom?

“Sean & Kristy have a website They wander the globe on a walkabout, Airstream RV in tow.”


On This Day:

Meriwether Lewis reaches the Great Falls, Jun 13, 1805:

“Having hurried ahead of the main body of the expedition, Meriwether Lewis and four men arrive at the Great Falls of the Missouri River, confirming that the explorers are headed in the right direction.

On this day in 1805, four days after forging ahead of the main body of the expedition, Lewis was overjoyed to hear "the agreeable sound of a fall of water." Soon after he "saw the spray arise above the plain like a column of smoke.... [It] began to make a roaring too tremendous to be mistaken for any cause short of the great falls of the Missouri." By noon, Lewis had reached the falls, where he stared in awe at "a sublimely grand specticle [sic]... the grandest sight I had ever held."

Lewis and Clark had been correct—the south fork was the Missouri River. The mysterious northern fork was actually the Marias River. Had the explorers followed the Marias, they would have traveled up into the northern Rockies where a convenient pass led across the mountains into the Columbia River drainage. However, Lewis and Clark would not have found the Shoshone Indians nor obtained the horses. Without horses, the crossing might well have failed.

Three days after finding the falls, Lewis rejoined Clark and told him the good news. However, the captains' elation did not last long. They soon discovered that the portage around the Great Falls was not the easy half-mile jaunt reported by the Hidatsa, but rather a punishing 18-mile trek over rough terrain covered with spiky cactus. The Great Portage, as it was later called, would take the men nearly a month to complete. By mid-July, however, the expedition was again moving ahead. A month later, Lewis and Clark found the Shoshone Indians, who handed over the horses that were so critical to the subsequent success of their mission.”


Pioneer 10 departs solar system, Jun 13, 1983:

“After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10, the world's first outer-planetary probe, leaves the solar system. The next day, it radioed back its first scientific data on interstellar space.

On March 2, 1972, the NASA spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet. In December 1973, after successfully negotiating the asteroid belt and a distance of 620 million miles, Pioneer 10 reached Jupiter and sent back to Earth the first close-up images of the spectacular gas giant. On June 13, 1983, the NASA spacecraft left the solar system. NASA officially ended the Pioneer 10 project on March 31, 1997, with the spacecraft having traveled a distance of some six billion miles.

Headed in the direction of the Taurus constellation, Pioneer 10 will pass within three light years of another star--Ross 246--in the year 34,600 A.D. Bolted to the probe's exterior wall is a gold-anodized plaque, 6 by 9 inches in area, that displays a drawing of a human man and woman, a star map marked with the location of the sun, and another map showing the flight path of Pioneer 10. The plaque, intended for intelligent life forms elsewhere in the galaxy, was designed by astronomer Carl Sagan.”



Jay called early, around 7.30, very unusual for him.  He said that he was going to bring Maddie, their Yorkie, as her hair was getting in her eyes.  Maddie is a whiney little brat if she is here when Jay is here, too, so I don’t like grooming her when Jay is here too.  She is fine when he is not around.  I said I would bring some grooming scissors to cut her bangs, when I picked him up.  He was shouting into his phone, which is a bad sign.  Then he called back to say he couldn’t come as he had other things to do.  That suited me fine, as I was sure he was in a blustery, hung-over mood, and I don’t like being around him when he is like that. 

Jay is getting worse, and I may have found a sober guy to do the carpentry work around here. He is supposed to start the weekend after this one.

Yesterday, Ray and I could have installed the new screen wire on the screen porch, but he had other things to do.  Anyway, maybe it would be better if it wasn’t done until all the construction is done.  I don’t want anyone possibly poking a hole in the new screen with a ladder. 

LilMiss, Jim the mechanic’s malti-poo, (Maltese/Poodle) was booked for grooming on Friday, but I thought I might as well do her, so I called and that was fine with them.  Sometimes I groom her like Bedlington Terrier, and sometimes as a Poodle.  This time they wanted a poodle puppy cut.

At first, she is really good when she is being groomed, even though the rest of the time she is a hyper whirling dervish.  Then she gets bored with the whole process and just can’t hold still, even if I have taken her outside.  That’s when she wears me out for the rest of the day.

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