Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cruise Control or Overdrive? Parasitic Battery Drain. Fifth Wheel Hitching. King Pin Stabilizers. Many RV Tips. And A Laugh! Poor Richard's Almanack.


For "tRaVersing Thursday" or RV Day:

Use your cruise control or overdrive while towing?

"When towing a travel trailer, can you use the cruise control? What about an overdrive transmission? These are questions that can puzzle new RVers — and even some veterans.

First, cruise control. Here's a school of thought where most folks who've had cruise tend to agree: Towing a trailer with cruise control is fine — with certain caveats. Towing "on the flat" is a snap, and may save you fuel if your cruise control handles the accelerator. However, if you encounter a situation where your transmission begins to "hunt," that is, to move from one gear to another and back, then you may need to make a change. Usually the "hunting" can be stopped by simply slowing down or speeding up just a tad. If this settles the transmission down, well and good. If not, you may be back to "flying manually."

Cruise on hills can be a different story. We've found by our own experience that leaving the cruise control engaged when hill climbing is OK when the grade isn't real steep. On steeper grades the cruise will try to maintain speed, downshifting and eating more fuel. If you have a fuel economy gauge in your rig, try using the cruise while hill climbing and see what happens to consumption. We often tow up hills with the cruise "off" and holding the accelerator at a given point — this means slowing down, of course, and downshifting where needed, but it pays at the pump.

On the downhill side, safety is the chief concern. Cruise control won't hold your speed from going "over" the set-point, so on a steep downgrade we feel more comfortable with the cruise off.

Other places to forgo the comfort of cruise control include icy or otherwise slick roads, and in heavy traffic. We've found some bridge decks set up an awful "bounce" for our truck-and-trailer combination that's enough to rattle your teeth out. Drop off the speed control and slow down to get these nasty bounces under control.

For automatic transmission users, what about overdrive while towing? There were some trucks produced in the past that decidedly recommended against towing in overdrive. This is because by the design of these transmissions overheating could be a problem. Towing adds a heat load, and to keep the transmission cool, fluid is pumped through a radiator-like device to cool it off. In overdrive, some transmissions couldn't pump it fast enough to handle the added heat load, and the results could be really expensive.

First rule: Read your rig's owner's manual. If the manual rules out towing in overdrive, then lock out the overdrive. If the manual allows towing in overdrive, you could be conservative and safe by installing a transmission temperature gauge and keeping a close eye on it.

Finally, you may have a rig with a "Tow/Haul" switch. For many transmissions, that switch resets the shift points of your transmission to a selection more appropriate for the extra transmission load. It may also lock up the torque converter (reducing heat buildup), and may even lock out overdrive. Again, check your owner's manual to be safe." by Russ and Tiña De Maris


How to drain an RV fresh water tank

"Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, explains how to properly drain the fresh water holding tank of a recreational vehicle, whether a motorhome, travel trailer or other RV."


How to stop parasitic battery drain

"How to prevent parasitic battery drain, and manage the level of current being drawn from an RV battery.

The folks at Trailer Life show you how to find sources of parasitic drain on your RV, plus a device to show you if you are, in fact, inadvertently drawing power that will ultimately run down your RV batteries."


Fifth wheel hitching: an old-timer’s advice

"From several years of observations at campgrounds, it seems most RVers don’t know the importance of hooking up the umbilical cord from the truck to the fifth wheel trailer before trying to connect (or disconnect) the king pin to (or from) the fifth wheel.

This is necessary so you can apply the brakes on the trailer, and is a "must do" to avoid pushing your trailer off its leveling blocks or to prevent it from moving even a few inches — which would put great strain on the landing gear. If the trailer rolls or you don’t get a good king pin connection, your trailer can be sitting on the box rails of your truck — a very expensive experience.

Mind you, this advice is largely pertinent to those fifth-wheel owners who have "electric over hydraulic" braking systems. When you hit the brakes in your truck – or hit the control lever on your brake control, electricity is run back to a motor in the trailer that in turn, pumps hydraulic pressure to the trailer breaks. Conventional electric trailer brakes don't react in this same way. If your trailer brakes are electric, the only completely assured safety when hitching up to keep it from rolling is to tightly chock the wheels, on both the front and rear of the tires.

An old-time truck driver told me that in years gone by when a semitrailer was parked, it often had no brakes until air was applied to the trailer. Today’s semitrailers have spring brakes that come on automatically if the trailer loses air, much like activating a breakaway switch on your towed RV trailer.

One last important step to remember on unhooking: Disconnect the umbilical cord once the king pin releases from the fifth wheel so you don’t drive away and pull the wiring apart." by George Bliss


How useful are king pin stabilizers?

"One fifth wheel owner we know refuses to set foot in her fiver unless the front end is "supported" with a king pin stabilizer. She knows it's nuts, but she's afraid the trailer will topple forward if she puts her weight up there without the support. Not everyone is quite so paranoid, but plenty of fifth wheel folks put a stabilizer under their king pin. Is it worth it?

The answer to that question is subjective: Some fiver owners wouldn't do without, others simply scoff at them. Here are the facts and the fiction.

First, unless your DNA is related to Godzilla's, there's no way you'll "tip over" a fifth wheel by crawling up above the king pin area. The laws of physics (and proper RV design) simply won't allow it. So why a stabilizer? Most supporters point to less "rolling" motion when walking in the trailer. But keep in mind that motion in a parked trailer isn't just affected by a king pin stabilizer.

When you pull into camp and set up any rig, its own running gear, including tires, springs and occasional shock absorbers, are still going to give some bounce. Unless you get the tires out of contact with the ground, the running gear will still "give," regardless of the number of stabilizers and their location. Most who use a pin stabilizer report reduced "bounce" — never heard of one sitting still like a "sticks and bricks" home.

It comes down to how much bounce reduction is worth to you. King pin stabilizers have their drawbacks, among them:

Weight: To really get bounce reduction, stabilizers built of steel seem to work best. Users report lighter-weight aluminum stabilizers just aren't as solid as steel.

Bulk: You have to store them when traveling. Mama isn't going to put up with those big old clunkers in the fifth wheel — they'll be in the back of your tow vehicle taking up space. And while most king pin stabilizers are like tripods, having three legs, many users report the "bipod" two-legged variety of stabilizer that takes less space is less supportive than its three-legged cousin.

Not useful everywhere: Parked in a site not close to level, you may find the stabilizers won't work. If the ground under the front end of the fifth wheel slopes down, they may not reach the pin box. If the ground slopes the other way, the legs may be too long to work.

On the other hand, there is an unexpected benefit of a king pin stabilizer that many have commented on: They no longer bang their heads on the king pin. Of course, they may not be telling us about banging their shins on their stabilizer legs!" by Russ and Tiña De Maris


RV Tips:

Where is the best place to mount a portable generator on a fifth wheeler?

"You have several options for mounting your generator on your fifth wheel, but what is the best place? And all RVers do not agree. Check out these options and figure out the best place for you.


Clean your Plexiglas shower door without scratching it
"If your RV shower door is Plexiglas, it'll scratch real easy. Here's a recipe/directions for cleaning without scratching: To an empty spray bottle add 1 cup of water with ½ teaspoon of dishwashing detergent. Add ¼ cup of vinegar. Mix contents GENTLY. Now spray the Plexiglas with a light, thin mist. Let sit a few seconds and wipe clean with a soft, lint-free cloth. Wipe in large circles. Repeat until clean."


Interstate Rest Areas. A guide to rest stops across the USA.


Prepare for recipes for the road
"Favorite recipes look good for the road? Take a photocopy of them, note the ingredients needed. Next trip, pack the ingredients – and the recipes – in your galley items."


How to fix windshield chips yourself and save money. This could come in handy.


Keep your keyholes clear
"Some bugs like to lay eggs in little spots — like in the keyholes of locks on RV storage compartments. Once in there, the stuff's like glue. If your locks are steel, get small disc magnets from the hardware store and "stick" one over each lock."


Clean water stains off your RV ceiling
"Water stains on your RV ceiling? Take a clean sponge, impregnate it with hydrogen peroxide straight out of the bottle. Carefully rub the stain with the sponge and follow up with clean paper towels. Best to test an inconspicuous spot first, and be sure to protect the floor below where you're cleaning the ceiling from drips."


Keep wasp nests out of your RV
"Maybe you don't have any wasp screens, a simple preventive to keep those nasty mud-daubing wasps from taking up residence in your RV. See how Russ De Maris tackles the problem of uninvited wasps."


Barehanded dumper changes his ways.
"Jim Twamley used to dump his holding tanks barehanded. Then he came upon nitrile disposable gloves. That was it — no more barehanded dumping and the exposure to bad germs that came along in the process. Read more."


Is it a good idea to buy an extended warranty for your RV?
"In this short video aimed at new and novice RVers, editor Chuck Woodbury discusses the pros and cons of buying an extended warranty for your RV. While some RVers believe such policies are important, others disagree. Watch the video."


Use a laser pointer when loading your truck camper
image "When loading your camper back onto your truck, you must make sure that truck and camper line up parallel and stay that way.

Here is a clever way to do it using a beam of light from a laser pointer. See how."


Protect your Android device from hostile invaders
"The popularity of Android devices has begun to make them a target of the bad guys — not just the ones who'd like to steal your device, but those who'd hijack it through malware. But you can take measures to keep malware out of your device."


Tips for buying LED lights — saving power and money
"Conserving 12-volt power is one of the many fundamentals of becoming a seasoned RVer, especially a boondocker. Replacing the incandescent lights in your RV with LED lights is a great start. LED lights draw about one-tenth the amperage of the conventional RV bulbs while providing the same or in some cases more light. Read more."  The comments are interesting, too.


"Make sure other adults who travel with you are capable and confident in driving the motorhome or towing the trailer. It’s better to share the driving duties or, at a minimum, have the ability to drive if the need presents itself. Are you confident in driving or towing?" Tech Tips from Mark Polk


Taste fresh water first.
“Always taste water before adding to your fresh water tank from an unfamiliar source.  It’s a lot easier to keep bad water out than to GET it out.” Bill's Hints


"Don't bring your firewood from home with you to a distant campground. It could carry bad bugs. Many campgrounds these days do not allow such "imported" firewood."


Cleaning a black water holding tank with a Camco Swivel Stik

"Sometimes you won't get all the solids removed from a holding tank, including its walls. Here's a product from Camco that promises to easily dislodge waste deposits and odor-causing particles after a tank is emptied.

Patented holding tank rinsers with shut-off valves dislodge and flush stubborn waste deposits and odor-causing particles left after holding tank is emptied. Powerful rotary cleaning action reaches corners and walls of tank. One-quarter turn shut-off valve at your fingertips. All brass moving parts. Flexible Swivel Stik™ has a flexible 55-1⁄2" reach for basement holding tanks."


Product keeps mice out of your RV

"Randy Murray of Pete's RV shows you a product that will keep mice out of your RV, and potentially save you thousands of dollars of repair bills repairing their damage. Setting traps and scattering dryer sheets when an RV is parked is not enough to keep pests and their damage away. This product, says Randy, will do just that."



Ready to laugh?
"Read the tale about the proper lady and her restroom request.
Kids — and sometimes older ladies — say the darndest things, but even Art Linkletter would have been flumoxed by this letter sent by an older lady (presumably raised with a focus on the genteel side of upbringing) inquiring on a campground's facilities where she hoped to make a reservation. The campground manager's letter must have given her quite a flush in the face. Read more."


On This Day:

Poor Richard's Almanack is published, Dec 19, 1732:

"On this day in 1732, Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia first published Poor Richard's Almanack. The book, filled with proverbs preaching industry and prudence, was published continuously for 25 years and became one of the most popular publications in colonial America, selling an average of 10,000 copies a year.

Franklin was born in Boston in 1706 and was apprenticed to his brother, a printer, at age 12. In 1729, Franklin became the official printer of currency for the colony of Pennsylvania. He began publishing Poor Richard's, as well as the Pennsylvania Gazette, one of the colonies' first and best newspapers. By 1748, Franklin had become more interested in inventions and science than publishing. He spent time in London representing Pennsylvania in its dispute with England and later spent time in France. He returned to America in March 1775, with war on the horizon. He served on the Second Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. He was also instrumental in persuading the French to lend military assistance to the colonies. He died in Philadelphia in 1790."



When I was in the hospital I realized that it had been a while since I had updated my will.   So I called the lawyer and they took the details over the phone.  I'll go pick it up when it's done.

The weather turned into a nice 70°, so it was time DSCF0028to do some work outside.  Misty enjoyed sitting out in the sun, and soaking up some rays.  While the foster cats were playing in the Grooming Room, I let Ava, my 'new' old cat, out onto the screen porch in the front of the house, for the first time.  She looks like she has gained weight since she has been here.

DSCF0009-001 She usually likes to hide in my bathroom and look out the back window, so she had a different view at the front.  She is quiet and sedate, so I didn't worry about DSCF0029her jumping on the empty plant shelves and getting a leg caught, and maybe broken, in the rails. 

Energetic young Peekers would jump on those shelves, so I haven't let the foster cats out there yet.  Jay is in one of his 'moods' again, so I don't have anyone to help me to get the shelves out of there. 

Ray is still sore from the truck accident, and they imagehave now x-rayed his ribs, as one might be broken or cracked.  He brought my cats some of that 'cat grass' to eat, as his cat just loves it, but none of mine were even interested in it. 

Puddle-Jumper- (Small)Jim, the mechanic down the street, took my little old Puddle Jumper station wagon down to his shop to service it, and I knew it also needed something in the exhaust system. It is just driven here in the subdivision, like a golf cart, but it was getting noisy.  I hoped that it was just a loose pipe, but it was the muffler, so I ordered one of those. It was over $100 locally, but only $31 with free shipping, on eBay.   It should be here in a few days.  

The time went fast, and as you can see, I spent more time gathering a lot of info for this "RV Day".

No comments: