What we learned about towing, dinghies, and living simple

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As I mentioned before in a previous post, we are working on the 100 thing challenge. You can find that post here: https://rvfulltimers.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/what-are-your-100-things/

After doing a bunch of research, we learned so much about dinghy towing and living simply, we wanted to share with you. This was a true eye-opener.

We both owned very large trucks the 9 years we’ve lived here because of the challenges of driving on the snow here. We always felt safe. I originally had a Honda Accord when we first got here, but it rode too low to the ground and kept getting caught in snow drifts and snow berms (large hills of soft snow that make a car like that just go nowhere)

Now that we’re leaving, we both had to give up something huge. Two trucks we both really loved. We both realized it is just dumb to love a thing. Someday it will just be a pile of rust. People are more important.

This is when we started investigating what it means when you talk about dinghy towing. Everywhere you look in Alaska in the summer, you see these large 40 foot RVs pulling small cars behind them. They use a variety of methods.

You can do one of the following: (these are not all the choices, but they are the main ones)

Scissor-type towbars:

Use a scissor-type towbar that leaves all 4 wheels of the vehicle you are towing on the ground. You have to install some electronics in your tow vehicle (called a dinghy in the RV world) to connect the braking system of your RV with the braking system in your tow car.

Pros: Easy connect and disconnect

Cons: Fairly expensive, or so I thought. The towbars themselves tended to be around $1,000.00 for a good one, and the braking systems were fairly expensive, too – if you want one that is quality. You wear out your tires pretty good on the tow vehicle with this method. You cannot back up the RV and the tow vehicle with this method, if you get stuck somewhere. You have to get out, unhook it, and get your RV where you want it, then hook up the tow vehicle again.

Tow Dolly: You put the front wheels of your vehicle on a tow dolly, which looks like this:

Towdolly - put your car's front wheels on and strap in

You can read everything you ever wanted to know about a tow dolly and the laws governing them in Canada and the 50 states here:

http://towbartowdolly.com/blog/

This manufacturer provides customs documents for Canada as well, as he sells 40% of his tow dollies to our neighbors to the north.

Full Trailer:

Pros: You can back these up while backing your RV. They keep rocks and other road debris from damaging your tow vehicle. They also put no wear and tear on your tow vehicle (also called a toad). Some road damage can still occur, as these are open air type trailers. They can be just a frame or they can be a flat surface, like the ones you tow 4 wheelers and snow machines with.

Cons: Pricey, in the tens of thousands of dollars, at least here in Alaska. Tend to be heavy, which can really put a damper on your RV’s gas mileage.

Fully covered trailer: All the pros of the full trailer mentioned above, but no road damage would occur to your ‘toad.’ They would have the same cons of being very pricey and heavy, but for some people who are towing a classic car or pricey vehicle, it would be well worth it. You have probably seen these pulling Nascar race cars before.

I mainly wrote this article because we ran into a situation when we were looking at a Hyundai dealer to find a toad vehicle. We were looking at their crossovers and SUVs and had decided on one after reading the Official towing guide. We found out later that the Towing Guide was inaccurate on all accounts when it came to the Hyundai vehicle section. You can find the official towing guide here: (there’s also a really good article there about dinghy towing overall).

http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/dinghytowingguide/

I’m still not going to say which method is better for you. I am just outlining the different methods you could choose from. It is always best, if you are going to have a braking system and a scissor tow type of towbar installed, to have it done by an expert. Many RVers use Camping World or a dealer specializing in just towing. Just having your local mechanic install it all or doing it yourself might miss some very important steps. There are strict regulations for safety when it comes to towing a vehicle behind.

So, instead of using the towing guide to choose a toad, go to the dealership and look around. Ask questions in the service department. Read the owner’s manuals of cars you are interested in.

The Durango was one big machine we traded in

We chose a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring Coupe for our Toad

We are going to tow our Elantra using a tow dolly, as that is the recommended method in the owner’s manual because it is a front wheel drive.

So, by trading in two huge trucks, we’re saving $1,300.00 + a month on car payments, insurance, gas. We also don’t have to spend $3,000.00 + to ship them to Wyoming. Not to mention storage costs and not being able to tow either one. Talk about living simple!

Be safe and make the right choice for you!

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A Lion’s Head, A Glacier, Dall Sheep, and No Rain!

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This past weekend, we took another dry run in the RV. As I have mentioned before, we have been going out as much as possible to test the systems in our rig and make sure all is well before we set out on our permanent journey.
It has rained for 4 months straight this summer, and we’ve just about had it. So, this past weekend we took off for high in the mountains north towards the Matanuska Glacier. This area we went to is one of my favorite places in Alaska. The Glenn Highway has been designated one of America’s scenic byways, and it never disappoints.

The park is set right in the middle of a reserve that protects Dall Sheep, and it gives you a 360 degree view of them all over the mountaintops.

If you’re ever in Alaska, visit them as you come off the Alaska Highway between Glenallen and Sutton.

When you walk along the trails behind the RV park at Grandview, you get a beautiful view from the bluff of the glacier, Mount Wickersham, and an ancient volcano called Lion’s Head.
Here’s some of what we saw. Thought you would enjoy it.

Lion's Head - the ancient volcano with Matanuska Glacier in background

Mount Wickersham

Fireweed was breathtaking along the trail and bees were busy

Sign for the bluff trail surrounded by fireweed

RVs parked at sunset at Grandview RV Park

RVs parked at sunset at Grandview

Grandview Cafe

Sissie, our doxie and my bear-bait dog (just kidding)

Views of Dall Sheep are 360 degrees all around you

The best part about staying there this weekend? Sun! Sun! Sun! No rain. Clear, dry air. It was a relief I cannot even begin to describe. I just wanted to stretch out on the ground outside and soak up as much as I could. We’ve been Vitamin D deficient lately, like you wouldn’t believe.

Low Bush Cranberry along the trail to the bluff

Matanuska Glacier

Here’s a tip from some fulltime RVers who no longer shampoo their hair. They use something called “NooPoo” and it is very effective and inexpensive:

http://www.technomadia.com/2009/07/two-years-shampoo-free/

http://babyslime.livejournal.com/174054.html

Here’s one of my all-time favorite videos…and one of my favorite actors on TV:

How To Have a Really Great Camping Experience in An RV (even if you’re renting one)

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I wrote this several years ago for beginning campers.

We had an Alaska blog for about 4 years, and hackers trashed it several times.

This was another really popular article about RV camping from our blog that got wiped out during the crash. Here it is again for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

Step 1

Cabinets tend to fly open, making the contents inside dangerous projectile missiles.

Solution: Buy one of those packages of all different sizes of bungie cords. Hook a bungie from one cabinet knob to another. Tight enough to keep things in, but not so tight you mess up the alignment of your cabinet doors.

Step 2

Pets become projectile missiles if they’re allowed to run loose in an RV while you’re driving. They get under your gas pedal, fall all over the place, or just basically scare the crap out of you.

Solution: One word: KENNEL. If they cry, cover the kennel with a sheet or blanket so they can’t see you. Eventually they’ll get the idea. Kennel two of them together if they get along, so they can comfort one another.

Step 3

Cargo doors will sometimes unlatch and fly open while driving, leaving you with a lot less “stuff” when you get to your destination.

Solution: Latch and lock all doors AFTER you drop your RV off the leveling jacks (if you have them)

Step 4

Items inside cabinets tend to clang and tinkle and literally drive you batty while you’re driving.

Solution: We put a paper towel between plates, remove the glass dish from the microwave and wrap in a kitchen towel, and wrap cups with paper towels. When we get to our destination, we use the paper towels for cleanups.

Step 5 We see a lot of RVs driving down the road with the vents on top flapping and flying, and cargo bay doors unlatched.

Solution: Have two people do a “walkaround” before leaving. We learned this from watching pilots in the military do the walkaround for their aircraft, and it really does work. What one person misses, the other one always catches. This can prevent you from having to pay thousands of dollars in costly repairs.

Step 6 Checking and filling up tires on an RV can be very tough on your hands.

Solution: Before you leave the showroom with your new RV, make SURE they put extenders on your tire valves so you can reach the inner duelies. There’s nothing like being stuck in Denali National Park with a low tire and having to struggle to fill up an inner tire.

Step 7 Running your RV generator can sometimes cost you a lot with gas prices the way they are.

Solution: Turn off your generator if you’re just using your TV or radio or heating system or air conditioning if your RV has an inverter that lets those things run off the cabin batteries. Every once in awhile, do a check of your cabin batteries. If they need a charge, run the generator for a little while until they’re charged up again.

If you don’t have an RV with an inverter, a small Honda or Yamaha generator gets about 15 hours of use from one gallon of gas. This is what campground hosts in Alaska use, and it saves them a bundle of money.

Hint: We turn ours on just to make coffee or cook in the microwave. Otherwise, it stays off most of the time. If you sleep with a CPAP machine, buy a DC to AC converter that is designed for sensitive electronics (like cameras) and hook that into the DC outlets in your RV.

Step 8 Carrying things from the house to the RV is a BIG hassle.

Solution: When you can, try to buy two of each thing (like antacids or shampoo or things like that). That way, it’s already there.

Hint: We use those canvas bags you get at the grocery store to carry things back and forth. They hold a lot, and no plastic bags that tear.

Step 9 We tended to pack too much stuff when we first became RVers.

Solution: Think of everything in terms of days. How many days will we be gone. How much underwear or socks does that equal? How many meals? (always pack an extra meal or two in case something goes wrong with a meal you planned). Thinking of camping in terms of compartmentalized days helps a WHOLE LOT.

Step 10 Some stuff like pet supplies get forgotten.

Solution: Keep a small, extra bag of pet food and a bowl in the RV for those times you forgot their food or containers.

Step 11 The weather is a constant surprise.

Solution: Bring all types of clothing (especially if you’re camping in Alaska or someplace in the mountains). We camp in 20 degree weather at night, pouring rain, sleet and snow in May. You never know what you’re going to run up against. Bring lots of extra blankets, too.

Step 12 Keep getting eaten by mosquitos.

Solution: Avon Skin-so-Soft shower gel (original scent) in the shower, and the spray when you get out. Also wash your hair with the shower gel so they don’t bite your head. We also take Super B complex vitamins (from Walmart) and wear a B2 vitamin mosquito patch made by Agraco. It comes in a yellow package of 2 patches and does not contain Deet. These patches last 36 hours, and you put them on 2 hours before going outside. More info: AgraCo.com or 1-800-337-4169.

Hint: If you’re vacationing in Alaska and need some Avon, visit the Saturday (and Sunday) market in downtown Anchorage. The Avon lady is always at her booth.

Step 13 Washing dishes will sometimes use up a lot of the fresh water in your RV.

Solution: If you’re just going away for the weekend, put dirty dishes in a garbage bag and stuff under the RV in one of the cargo bay doors. Throw in the dishwasher when you get home. Use recycled paper plates (paper from paper and not trees). If you’re going to be on a long vacation, save up your dishes until you get to a campground and wash them in the water hose or someplace you’re allowed.

I used to marvel at people who were dumping their septic because they would have always have a sink full of dirty dishes. Now I understand why!

Step 14 Don’t sit in your RV for the whole trip, refusing to socialize with the rest of the campers around you.

Solution: Best conversation opener: “Where ya from?” RV campers LOVE to tell you where they came from – in great detail! RV campgrounds are for socializing and relaxing, not being a hermit!

Step 15 Don’t leave any food outside in bear-infested campgrounds.

Solution: There are hundreds of variations of bear-safe containers available at your local sportsman’s store.

Step 16 Keep a close eye on your gray water contents. If you let it get too full, it will fill up your shower with yucky water. Gray water is the water you’ve drained down your kitchen sink or bathroom sink or shower. Make it a habit to always push the buttons to check to see if your gray water is getting to the 2/3rds mark. We once had to drive to a dumping station (there aren’t many in Alaska) with a shower full of water, hoping it didn’t leak out onto the floor!

Step 17 Dump your black water (toilet water) only after it gets fairly full (2/3rds or more). It’s best to have it jostle around on your way home so that things like toilet paper don’t get stuck to the sides. That way, everything empties out when you empty the septic just before going home.

Step 18 Be sure to wear those nylon or other type of disposable gloves when emptying the septic. This is important, even if your system is like ours and is completely self-contained. Wash your hands afterwards and use some of that disinfectant for your hands, like Purel.

Step 19 Be courteous at the septic dump sites you go to. Many of them are offered free by gas stations. Throw away your disposable gloves after using in a receptacle instead of throwing them on the ground. Use the water hose always supplied to wash up around the area you just used. No one likes to look at other people’s yucky mess after they’ve dumped their septic.

Step 20 When it is getting close to the end of the season, empty your septic, then take a garden hose and run fresh water into your toilet or attach one to the flush valve if one is supplied with your RV. Pour a couple of drops of Palmolive or Dawn dishwashing soap down the toilet while flushing. (not too much, or it will foam up) Leave it really clean like this while it sits over the winter, or you will have a septic whose indicators don’t work correctly when Spring comes for the next season.

Step 21 Empty your black and gray water just before going home after every trip. Leaving it in there for a couple of weeks before you go again is not a good habit to get into. When you go to dump it, the smell will knock you over! I’ve been next to other RVs while they were dumping that do this, and I swear someone died in there!

Step 22 Keep your refrigerator on while driving and your propane tank on. We weren’t sure about this when we first started camping, but if you have a long ways to go before you camp, you don’t want your food to spoil. Most RVs now have a double circuit that switches automatically. When power is removed from the fridge, the propane kicks in to keep your food cold.

Step 23 When you start getting a couple of nights in the 40s, it is time to take your RV in to get it winterized by the dealer or other authorized RV repair shop. They flush out the lines and put RV antifreeze in the lines to keep them from cracking. Just before taking it to get it winterized, make sure you did Step 20 above. Once you get your RV back home to park for the winter, make sure you turn off the cabin batteries. (most RVs have a battery bypass switch for this)One winter, our dealer had our RV for a few months to fix some items, and one of their techs left the batteries on in Dec and Jan. They literally blew up inside the battery compartment and threw acid EVERYWHERE. They spent a long time cleaning up the compartment.

Automatic Icemakers and a CPAP Solution

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We had not used our RV enough to really understand all the systems, as I mentioned before, because of our Lemon Law hassles.

RVers know you learn something new just about every single day about this marvelous machine that protects you, keeps you warm, and takes you on magic carpet rides. We discovered something about our automatic icemaker that is not a well-known fact.

Here it is….wait for it….

Automatic icemakers don’t work unless you are hooked up to electric or somehow have your refrigerator on AC, NOT propane.

Huh. I never knew that. Our new RV service center is so patient with me. I value them so much.

Another thing I discovered that is a great CPAP solution for those of you who have to use one:

We tried several solutions, and this one is by far the best. I just happened to have to replace the TV in the bedroom with a lighter flat screen because it had become obselete in the digital changeover while the RV was out of service and because the TV that was in there made this horrible scraping noise when you opened the cabinet. Reason: the dummies who designed it put a pretty heavy television in there that was too heavy for the cabinet.

Anyway, while designing a new mount on the shelf for the digital, flat screen I was able to install a heavy-duty extension cord and bus bar in there. You see, your televisions and microwave are usually connected to your inverter so you can operate them on cabin batteries.

How convenient to be able to get to that outlet that the television was connected to. It also makes a great place to hook up your laptop or a reading lamp if you don’t like the ones in your RV.

We also plugged in some of those ultrasonic pests repellers to keep mice and bugs off our rig while it is parked on our land. The critters in our yard are amazingly active and numerous in the short, summer months here. I actually had mice follow us from our old house to our new one, on a bundle of lumber. This happened two years ago, just after I made this video:

Just thought these latest things learned would be of some help to you.

Have a fun day RVing!

Lynne

This is the first video we made after we got delivery of our machine:

Find Out Before You Get There And Our Alaska Adventures

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Have you ever gotten to an RV park you found in Trailer Directory or the Milepost or other directory, and it was a huge disappointment? Don’t you WISH someone had warned you ahead of time?

A really fantastic website I found out about in the Motorhome Association magazine told me where I could look before we get there. Being warned really helps. Create a free account, and you can add your own. The information you learn from it is so useful! I love this website. I know you will too.

Here’s the website:

http://rvparkreviews.com/

Also, if you’re interested in seeing some of our Alaska adventures, we’ve been making films of them since 2006. Here’s where you can find those:

http://www.youtube.com/Alaskablogvideos

Here’s one of my favorites:

Part 5 – Dry Runs and Facebook Connections

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Hello everyone,

Today is a good day to talk about dry runs. I will also talk about some great Facebook connections you can take advantage of, as well as a very interesting RV blog I think you’ll love.

I was thinking a lot about a family that decides to go full-time but has never gone camping before they decide to do it. I was thinking about the past 4 years of RVing as vacations and how much we have learned in that time. That time has been so critical to the future.

We finally got to take our RV out after fixing almost everything the dealer left broken. Our trip for a 3 day weekend was the first of several dry runs we plan to take this summer before we start full-timing permanently.

Why are we waiting before setting out on the road permanently? We started selling our house in May of this year, and the market in Alaska is a little slower and more competitive than usual. It has normally been a seller’s market in the past, (we’ve bought and sold houses here 3 different times before this) so it is taking a little bit longer than we expected.

However, this has turned out to be an advantage in many ways. It has given me a lot of time to really “discover” everything that our RV is about, and it has allowed me to plan things a lot better.

I think it is best for a family to try some dry runs so you can get used to everything. An RV is a complex machine, way more complex than we imagined before we bought our first one. We spent about a month reading the manuals before going out our first time because there was still snow on the ground. It is a good thing we had some time to study them.

There are several important systems you will want to understand. The most important ones in your dry runs are the hot water heater (you will probably have one like ours that heats up either with electric or propane). The best way to use your hot water heater is to heat it up just about 10 minutes before you decide to take a shower. Some RV parks frown on you keeping your water hot all the time, while others don’t mind because they charge a lot per day for renting a camping spot with full service. Nevertheless, your hot water heater will last a lot longer if you only turn it on when you need it.

Another system you will want to understand really well is your refrigerator. To avoid putting undue stress on it, I would suggest you only turn it on the night before or the morning of the day you’re planning to leave.

The septic system is another system you will want to learn a lot about. We always empty our septic on the way home from a camping trip, but we were told by a man we met in Tok, Alaska that the best way to use your septic is to keep it closed even when you are at a full service campground. Then, you empty it just before you leave. He said he also likes to drive it around and get it sloshed around good before emptying. This gets all the toilet paper and such “unstuck” from the sides of the tank. One thing you don’t want to do is to go on a camping trip, come back and think you’ll dump it before you go on your next trip. I’ve stood at septic dump sites next to RVs whose owners obviously do this. The smell is so bad, I cannot hardly stand it! To keep your system from getting dried up toilet paper and other unmentionables stuck to the sides, empty it when it is almost full and always flush it.

How to empty your septic: (put on vinyl or rubber gloves before you start)

Hook up your hose to the opening where the septic comes out. Make sure you snap it into place well before opening the valves. If you unscrew the cap to the gate and get a leak before you open the valves, make sure the valves are completely closed before continuing. Our RV, while we were struggling with the dealer to get everything fixed, had an annoying problem of dripping yucky septic drool on your hands after you open the cap and before you pull to open the gate valves. YUCK. We finally got that fixed after a year of complaining about it. It usually means the gate is faulty or the seal is bad.

To empty your septic with the least amount of hassles, open the black gate valve first, then open the grey water gate valve. Black water is your toilet, and grey water is your shower, sinks, etc..Opening the grey valve second allows it to flush any solids out of your drain hose as it is emptying.

Another part of this system that is important is the flushing out of your septic tank. You will want to do this every single time you empty your tanks. I’ve also had some luck with just a few drops of dish soap (not a lot or it will foam up too much) and about a 1/2 cup of vinegar added to your tanks while they are in use. I also use the little packets you drop into your toilet to keep the smell down, but I’m not particular about what kind I use. I usually just use whatever is sold by my RV service center, and not what I can buy at Walmart. The price is a little bit more, but the quality is much higher.

Ok, so back to flushing your septic tank. Our system control panel has a place where you can hook up a garden hose to a connection to flush the septic. The other end, you connect to the water hose connection you usually find at a dump site. IMPORTANT: do not turn on the water until you make sure you have a drain hose connected to your septic and the valves are open. The best way to make sure of this is to hook the flush hose up at the same time you hook the drain hose. Then, just leave the water turned off until after you have emptied both tanks. Then, slowly turn on the water to your flush hose and have someone inside close the toilet lid just to make sure. The flush hose you use for this purpose should be labeled and never used to make a city water connection when you are at a RV campsite. This hose usually doesn’t need to be more than about 15 feet long at the most.

If you don’t have a flush connection on your septic flushing control panel, you can still do this by having a longer garden hose (about 25 feet long) connected to the water connection at the dump site. Run that garden hose through the bathroom window and hand it to someone helping you inside. Have them point the hose down into the toilet and signal to you to start turning the water on slowly. Run this for a good 5 minutes or more. Have whoever is outside touch the drain hose to make sure they feel cold water running through. They can also carefully lift the drain hose out of the hole in the ground to make sure flushing water is coming out of it.

Wash your hands and use a disinfectant like Purel on your hands afterwards.

You will also want to know how your electrical system works. If you are connected to an outlet, such as at home or at a campsite, you will have full power (usually 20 amp or 30 amp or 50 amp) throughout your RV. Your outlets should all operate just like a house, and all your appliances will operate correctly.

If you are at a place where there is no connection to electrical power, you may want to use either a portable Honda generator (or other brand) and connect your electrical cord to it, or you may want to start your generator. You can usually start your generator from inside your RV or go under the hood where it is located (usually in the front of your RV if it is a diesel pusher) and start it with the start button there. The advantage to starting it at the generator itself is to watch the indicator to make sure everything is operating properly. The generator will have blinking lights or a steady light, depending on if everything is ok or not.

You can also do what is called “boondocking,” where you are not connected to anything electrical and are running off your cabin batteries. You would enable your inverter, if you want to operate your TV and microwave and heating system and things like that. The outlets will not usually be hooked up when you operate this way, however. Kind of a pain, but if you have 12 volt connections for things you want to plug in, such as your Iphone or GPS, you can just use your 12 volt connections in the cabin.

You will also want to operate your water system to make sure it is working properly. Make sure you clean the water connections at a campsite or at your home before hooking up a water hose. We have a dedicated short water hose that we only use to do this. That way, it is always a clean connection and not something someone else has contaminated. These are sold pretty much everywhere, and they are usually a 15 foot white hose and designated for an RV water system. We then hook up whatever other hose we have that goes from our outside water connection to that hose. Or hook it up to a campsite connection, but only after cleaning the outside connection with a spray bottle containing water and a small amount of bleach or a safe disinfectant.

Ok, so those are the systems you will want to become really familiar with on short trips before you set off on a permanent vacation.

Some other great tips I recently read are on this blog. They talk about a pre-flight check before you hit the road. Very good information:

http://wheelingit.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/pre-flight-check-what-to-do-before-you-hit-the-road/

Recently on our trip to check out the RV after it had been sitting through the lemon law lawsuit we were embedded in for 2 years, we found the refrigerator would only operate on propane and not on electric. We had never had any problems with the fridge before, so this was something important to know before we set out on the road as fulltimers. It was good to go and test it all.

We also found out the television in the back was not digital and had been sitting through that whole digital conversion, so out it comes and in goes a digital one. This wasn’t the only reason (we don’t get satellite in our RVs up here in Alaska, so the antenna is often one of the few ways to watch TV) but the design had been so bad on that TV that is was way too heavy for the shelf it sits in and often comes flying open during driving. So, a lighter television (small flat screen) is a smarter option.

Ok, so let’s talk about Facebook connections really quickly. I’ve found some really awesome sites on Facebook for the avid RVer that you might enjoy being a part of. Usually, once you have a facebook account, you can visit these sites and click on either the “Become A Fan” or “Like”  button. Once you do that, your facebook feed will always let you know about new posts from these sites. Here are the two I really love:

http://www.facebook.com/TheGoodSamClub

http://www.facebook.com/MotorHomeMagazine

Oh, and here’s one more very cool blog from the gorving website:

http://www.gorving.org/blog

Mr. Herzog is a writer who takes his family every year all summer to see the U.S. And the results are very very interesting.

Ok. Well, I’ll be back soon with more stuff, and I hope you enjoyed this post. Have a great, RVing day.

Camping ROCKS!

I feel at peace when I am RVing. How about you?

Dan after a weekend of camping - so happy!

Driving the Seward Highway, Alaska

Cooper Creek South Campground, Alaska

Part 4 – Tires, Smoke Alarms, Inverters, and Butterflies

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Hello everyone,

Today I decided to post about some more things you might consider if you’re getting ready to go out on the road as a fulltimer. We’ll talk about several important subjects briefly.

The first is tire pressure. I was reading my latest Highways Magazine from the Good Sam’s Club and my favorite column – the Technotes column. By the way, speaking of the Good Sam’s club, you might want to sign up for their membership as well as their Emergency Road Service just for a little piece of mind. We signed up only for the Emergency Road service for the RV because our trucks both still have good road service coverage through their extended warranties. As you probably read before, after we lost our Lemon Law Lawsuit we signed up for the Good Sam extended warranty coverage to fix anything new that came along. Turned out it wasn’t that our RV was a lemon. We lost because the guys at the dealership were a bunch of dumbasses and lied on workorders and in court, but that is another story.

Ok, back to technotes. A reader wrote in and asked him what kind of Tire pressure they should use. They had taken their RV to a service center that put the pressure indicated on the sidewall in the tires. The reader was wondering what the best tire pressure should be for their RV. The answer was something a little surprising. The tire pressure on the sidewall is the MINIMUM tire pressure you should have in your tires. After that, the more stuff you put in your RV, the more you should fill up your tires.

He said if you don’t know how much weight is on each tire, you can take your RV to a trucker’s weight scale to have it weighed. This costs a few bucks and will tell you how much is over each tire. Then, you use the manual you got with your tires (hopefully) and add tire pressure as needed.

Surprised about the minimum tire pressure number? Me too!

You can see the proper extenders installed here for the inner and outer dualies.

Another thing about dualies:

Both times we bought an RV, we had to ask for tire extenders to fill tires with on the dualies. This is a very good thing to check when you are inspecting your RV for the first time before buying. Look at the tire pressure valves. Are they easy to get to? We had a very low tire right in the middle of Denali National Park and had to stop to fill it up before we could keep going. Luckily we knew we were having problems with one of the extenders and had brought an air compressor along. (the extender had been put on wrong and was making the tire lose air).

Something else I learned about dualies: if the inner dualie blows, stop immediately. If the outer dualie blows, you can travel a short way to pull off the road.

Smoke Alarms:

Something else occurred to me last night that could be easy to forget. The smoke alarm batteries. Our rig had been sitting in storage for 2 years, so it was definitely about time.

Another thing I wanted to talk about was inverters and a CPAP machine. A CPAP helps someone with Apnea who cannot sleep properly. They often stop breathing during sleep. So a patient wears a mask over their nose or over their mouth and nose, and it is connected to a machine that pushes air into a person’s mouth and/or nose to help them breathe better.

When you’re boondocking (camping without electricity connected, so you’re relying on your cabin batteries for power), it can be a problem trying to make sure a CPAP patient is able to use their machine. My husband’s CPAP manufacturer makes a 12volt adapter that you can connect to the 12 volt receptacles in our RV. It cost about 35 dollars. Our only issue is that our 12 volt connectors are all up front, but an extension will solve that.

There’s another option, if your RV will cooperate. Most of our outlets do not connect to the inverter, so to connect another way, you would have to have access to one of the outlets that your microwave, or television, or DVD player is connected to. It varies so much with RVs that I couldn’t tell you what to do for yourself, but this will at least give you a place to go.

Another option is to go around your RV with one of those little receptacle testers to check to see if there are any other receptacles attached to your inverter. In our RV, we have a button on the Magnum Inverter control panel that allows you to turn on the Inverter while boondocking.

Pressing the on-off button to turn on the inverter

Your RV will be a little different, but the concept of an inverter is going to be very similar.

And one last note:

One thing I’m going to really miss after we head off on our fulltiming adventure is my garden. (though my knees and hands won’t miss it!)

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