Thursday, July 14, 2011
Being here is accomplishing some important things, though. The 15k A/C - Heat pump on the roof has been replaced by insurance. It was damaged in that tornado we were in on 4/16/2011 in the Smithfield KOA along with the thermostat.
Still a few little things, like the rear ladder, needed to be dealt with but I have managed to get a few coats of Red Max Pro on the front fiberglass end cap of DaKotR and 1 coat on the rear. This certainly makes it look better, is easier to clean and that should help us with the 10 year age limit on an RV that some parks capriciously enforce. I if an RV looks "spent" it might not be allowed to stay there. I, also, still need to fill some cracks that are developing in the caulked seams on the roof but they are not close to leaking and that can be done whenever weather permits. This time, I am going to redo them from scratch and then cover the seams with EternaBond seam tape. From what others have said, this should stop the bi-annual reworking of these seams on the end caps.
The other really big issue has been the generator exhaust coupling leak that has refused, for 7 years, to stay fixed. Now that we are planning to spend more time off the grid and have a residential refrigerator that will need shore power to cool, we need a dependable generator that will not kill us.
To this end, I pulled the generator out, one more time, and took the offending piece of the exhaust pipe to a welder... and he fixed it, permanently! Fixed in this way will make getting the generator in and out of the RV a bit more difficult but not impossible and now, we should be able to trust the generator when it is running. I am now waiting on some better weather to install it, again.
Along with this, I want to add one of those Generator exhaust extensions that take the exhaust up above the RV. I played with this for a little bit with a make shift arrangement and it was very nice. It made the generator even a lot quieter when outside and we never smelled any exhaust while it was running this way. That was always an irritating thing to keep getting whiffs of exhaust, especially when outside the RV.
We have always been concerned about leaving our dog, Katie, in the RV for hours and having the A/C go out. The replacement thermostat I got for the A/C unit has a Wifi remote access capability. As long as we have access to the RV's Wifi system we can monitor the temperature (and control it) in the RV from our Android Phones wherever we might be. Eventually, I plan to add a webcam link to watch over her, too. That would be nice and then, maybe we can figure out why she has to go around when we are away and tip over all the trash cans in the place. She rarely bothers anything in them but just goes over and tips them over and then walks away.
The garbage can is another matter, though, and is usually raided if we don't remember to put it up where she cannot get to it. A different fix is needed for that problem.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Hawley’s Camping Center in Garner, NC has been extremely helpful in getting my A/C replaced that was killed in the tornado of 4/16/2011. The A/C came in on tuesday evening and I got a call Wednesday morning about it. Although their service dept is scheduling about 3 weeks out, they were very accommodating given it’s July and we live in the RV.
The service Manager, Wayne, really bent over backwards to work us in and Robert, a great RV tech, did the same to get it swapped out and running.
In two hours, exactly, from when I pulled on Thursday Morning, I was driving out of their driveway, once again, a cool and happy camper.
I still have to get settled with the insurance folks but that is just paper work, now. I still have to fix the rear ladder but that ,also, can be worked out…. now that we can get up and move about the RV without slipping in our own sweat.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, I went to Hawley’s Camping in Garner, NC to see about a few things including scheduling the AC replacement.
When we were hit by the tornado on 4/16, it is likely that some electrical surge that was not completely handled by my surge equipment managed to get through to my AC, my UPS on the computer, my cordless phone and the thermostat on the AC. Unfortunately, proving this was the cause is limited to the simultaneous timing of the failures of these separate items.
It took 3 days for us to get power back but a small generator kept our refrigerator cold. The rest of the electrical stuff was off until full power returned. Even then, I only noticed the UPS was bad when the power dropped a day later for a few minutes.
The cordless phones, while powered on are only used when I have a good enough broadband connection to run my Magic Jack and the Wi-Fi service in the Smithfield KOA was just not solid enough to make that usable. I did not try to use it until we were in the Zooland Family Campground in Asheboro, NC some weeks later. It turns out that the base unit is now dead.
As for the thermostat and AC, those were not discovered until a few weeks later than the tornado and we needed the heat pump up in West Virginia and all it would do is hum for a couple of seconds and then shut off. I figured that the compressor is frozen, maybe due to the hole in the condensing coils on the roof from some flying debris during the tornado.
So, I need a new AC, Thermostat, UPS and Cordless phone. I have contacted Progressive Insurance and though it has already gotten complicated, I am still trying to arrange a meet with the appraiser and the Hawley’s service tech later this week (I hope).
I am certain that the AC is not repairable and in a leap of faith, I already ordered a replacement 15k heat pump ($1000 – prepay) so it will hopefully be here be installed before the weekend. I hope the Progressive guy comes through so we can get back on the road next week.
Meanwhile, I need to focus on fixing the exhaust connection on the generator and cleaning and glossing the rear fiberglass end cap of DaKotR.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I have tweaked and twiddled with the prototype pages I previously showed and have found more things that I would like to be able to do with it.
Though something of a programmer in my previous life, I am no HTML whiz so I look for higher technologies than the original hammer and chisels to create web pages. I still like Windows Live Writer and still want to use it to maintain most of this new format. So far, I have been unable to find a way to use it on the Google Sites platform that the previous prototype is built on.
I feel it is vital that readers can leave anonymous comments if they want. I will deal with the spam that comes through that window just so it is easier to use for most of you. Google Sites still does not have a reasonable way to let readers post anonymous comments so that is strike two for Google Sites… for now.
So, back to Blogger.com to see what I can weld together to get something close to what I am aiming for. Some of the private comments I got about my original Hub page were about how uncomfortable it was to look over the main page and I agree. Even after a lot of tweaking, it is still not as easy on the eyes as I would like so I have worked up another version of a hub page where all of my blogs are anchored.
What I have come up with is this: RVBudds.blogspot.com/
It is less complex to the eye and flows better. It lacks a lot of the borders, framing and fine tuning flexibility of the previous design, however, it does support commenting and I can use Live Writer to maintain it. That will save me a whole lot of time.
It also allows me to continue to use this blog as my DAILY blog so I don’t lose the continuity and my archives of posts and comments will continue to be available and grow with the site.
As before, one can get to any of my other blog sites from this one page but each of the other blogs it references can be individually “followed” if desired.
I will be adding a few features, like a SEARCH box for all my blogs, An archive list, Followers and much more but I really don’t want this hub page to get out of control with bells and whistles. I tend to over build when I get enthusiastic about a project and some of my wonderful wants turn into “why-in-the-worlds?” really quickly.
Please check it out and please leave comments (now that you can).
Saturday, June 4, 2011
For a number of months I have been working towards a different blogging setup that should make it a little easier for folks with specific interests to just follow those parts that they like.
I know that not everyone is interested in everything I write. Heck, I am not always interested in all of it at one time, either. Plus, I wanted the more technical material to be a little easier to find for reference purposes. Right now, a post for a single day may have some stuff about travel, a little work I did on a PC, a new problem that has cropped up on the RV, etc. This does give a sense of how my day went but it is almost useless for reference when I want to link back to a technical item that is buried in a journaling blog of the day.
I had the idea that on a main blog entry page, I could have the latest 1 or 2 posts from each of several other topically selected sub-blogs of mine. Anyone could just view that page to see what has been updated and go directly to a specific topic or blog. This is a little like blog readers do across a set of blogs but I like the idea of having a focus point that provides a jumping off place to start.
You can click the picture or just go to: https://sites.google.com/a/webdoms.com/rvbudds/ to access the new site.
I wanted the individual sub blogs to maintain their own RSS feeds and comments because I know that some people are only interested in one topic, like what travel related content I may post. This way, any given topical area can be separately subscribed to by anyone and they don’t even have to see the headings on any of my other blog areas if they don’t want to.
Still, there is nothing earthshakingly different for daily readers but I am hoping that this new format will make the content more aligned with your interests.
I will maintain some blogging on this site, too, until I am sure the new format is going to work like I want. Please comment here or there and let me know what you think, how you like (or don’t like) the new site and make suggestions. I really want to kick this up a notch and I don’t have Emeril in my back pocket to give a good BAM!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sure seems like the tropics are here, today, checking us out for some later hurricane activity…. Like RVers checking out campgrounds for future visits.
No an outside day, for sure so I turned to inside tasks like, finding the power brick for my printer. As usual, I stumbled across it up in cool, breezy West Virginia (See, I can change my mind) and put it in a “special” place so I would have it readily available. I think my special place was pitched out because I can’t find it anywhere!
Also, I have still not heard from Progressive about my A/C that was damaged in the Tornado in Smithfield, NC on 4/16 so I guess I am going to have to get pushy with them.
Dr. visit #1 went fine, today, Dr. visit #2 is tomorrow but I don’t expect any surprises other than some med changes. We will see.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
At the beginning of the year, we replaced our defunct Norcold LM1200 12cu ft. RV refrigerator with a standard 22 cu foot Household refrigerator. It was pretty much a test to see if we could work with it instead of a gas/elec RV refrigerator so we just used an older extra refrigerator we kept in the basement for summer water melons and beer.
In the past 6 months of use, it has never been a problem for us and even when we have been traveling unplugged for 9 hours at a time the freezer still stayed below 15 degrees. We are very happy with the household refer and especially with the much larger capacity and far better internal layout and flexibility it has over any RV refer we have seen.
Since this was a test, we left some of the labor to finish off the installation until we were sure we were going to like it and that it would be a completely satisfactory solution, which it is. One of the things left to do was to seal off the outside venting that was there for the RV refrigerator. Although I wrapped each vent door in a trash bag and pinned it shut, it looked odd and the winds on the highway shredded them pretty quickly. With them unsealed it has been like living with a window open all the time so before summer gets really hot I needed to finish this off.
The main thing I was concerned about was air infiltration. A secondary concern was just plain insulation which is problematic on the bottom vent because there is only 1” behind the refer and the air being exhausted when the refer is running needs to be able to circulate back into the interior of the RV or the compressor will overheat and it won’t cool very well.
The upper vent door was no problem and I fully insulated it with part of a bat of pink fiberglass insulation glued over the 4 mil plastic film I first glued to the backside of the door to seal out all airflow through it.
I think that this will work fine for the summer. I may revisit this later, to see just how well it is actually sealed but short of pulling the refrigerator and sealing the hole from inside the RV I don’t see much chance of doing it any better.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Let’s face it. Going from 2400+sq ft of house with a basement, garage, closets and such into a 400sq ft “everything” means that when you have a problem you need to be MacGiver.
Nick Russell has his Great White (Greg) and Geeks on Tour on his speed dial. These are his resources AFTER Terry the Terrific!
Others depend a lot on…. others when struggles pop up. However, just as in a stationary life, seeing deeper into what surrounds you can empower your creativity and return some real satisfaction when you solve a problem with little more than what is at hand.
For instance, this campsite at Pipestem State Resort Park in WV, really does not have a “patio” area. Sure, there is a fire pit that you can sit cross-legged at on the high side and stand on the low side with it at chest height.
But it is impossible to put the picnic table anywhere but on the pavement (where the RV is) or in the street and have it level enough that the salt shaker will remain upright.
This dropoff also made for a really big “last step” coming out of the RV.
Turn the picnic table into a mini patio and steps.
Looks a little scary but it is so solid that Merrily, Katie and I were dancing on it.
Once I got it leveled up I jack-strapped it tightly into the fold out RV steps and not only does it make it much easier doing the in-out thing but it is dead level for actually sitting down and eating (if it weren’t that we are parked under the caterpillar Oak hotel.) It also makes a great stand up work bench at the left end and that was a big help with all the outside stuff I have been doing.
See, innovation is not hard. One just needs to be open to the opportunities that are waiting to be used.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Beautiful day. Nice temps, nice breezes, no rain, no mosquitoes and we are parked under the Caterpillar Oak hotel. I have seen some bad caterpillar droppings from the oak in front of the house in Raleigh but this puppy has some prodigious cata-poop coming down out of it.
But that did not deter my attitude, today. I tackled a few more long deferred tasks, like patching the crack in the skin of DakotR at the bottom front corner of the bedroom slideout opening. It has been there since we bought it and I have made lame attempts to fix it a couple of times but never really did more than gush some goo onto it.
This time, I gouged out the gunk inside, widened and straightened the edges out and generally cleaned all around, all around before patching.
I used some Dyco 20/20 caulk and filled the bugger. I then patched over that with a piece of Eternabond Seam sealing tape.
That should hold it!
Another put off too long job was to replace the main awning rear arm lock. The original one never had a locked position. It just was pushed into place and would gradually work its way open in route. Last year I had bought a couple of new awning locks and managed to get the front one replace (cause it broke off) but never got around to it. Actually, I never seemed to be able to get myself, my drill and drill bits, my pop rivet tool and the new lock all together at the same time. It seems that one or another of these items managed to go into hiding.
I got them altogether today, though, and replaced the old one. One problem with the non-locking type is that it would not stay open and out of the way while trying to stow the awning and would jam between the main support and the spreader bar behind it, usually just as the awning was rolling in its last foot or so.
I also tackled the tar and gunk thrown up onto the lower front panel of the 5th wheel (I just gotta get some mud flaps on those fenders). The best combination I came up with was Turtle Wax Bug and Tar remover followed by a Marine black streak remover… now I just have to do the other 3/4s of that area.
The water pressure here is so high that without a pressure regulator it causes the filtered water faucet in the kitchen to drip constantly. I had a nice Watts Home pressure regulator which gave good flow but installed it in the house several years ago due to very high street main pressures. I just have to replace it as these RV pressure regulators just throttle back the water flow so much that a good shower is impossible.
It’s another thing to “pick up” when we get back to Raleigh. the list is getting pretty long right now even though we only plan to be in port for a couple of weeks.
I hope the rains hold off tomorrow, too, while I have the drive and clarity to work on some of this deferred maintenance stuff.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
West Virginia has some very upscale state parks that they call Resort Parks. Pipestem State Resort Park is about 15 miles east of Beckley and can be reached via state road 20.
The highways, other than Interstate, are the usual narrow, tight turns up/down/all-around roads one finds in the eastern mountains of NC, GA, VA, WV, TN, etc… you get the picture. WV roads at this time, might be in worse shape, maintenance wise, than some of these other states.
The RV sites in this campground are pretty nice with paved streets and drives but gravel patios. They are also small. Site 24 is the only one that we could get into, comfortably. There were a few others that we could have gotten into with a struggle and then park the truck elsewhere but most of them, including 24, were not very level.
I think the same crew did these sites that do the WV roads and don’t believe in level as being important. High water pressure >100 psi, makes a pressure regulator advisable and they have a sign in the office to that effect.
WE came here in heavy to light rains all day and that was day before yesterday. It is still “misting” with an occasional downpour.
A real disadvantage to traveling up these small WV state roads in this kind of weather is the ongoing problem of falling rocks. Yesterday, we drove into Hinton in the Smart which is only about 10 miles east but there were plenty of places that rocks of various sizes were on or on the edge of the road and plenty of rock pieces still scattered on the roadway.
Of all of the advantages of the Smart Car that we tout, ground clearance is not one of them. With a full tank and 2 people, 3” of clearance in the middle is only a dream so always go around stuff on the road, never just span it and expect it to not hit because it probably will hit something underneath.
Luckily, no damage but could have been bad.
We are planning to stay here until next Monday before heading back towards Raleigh for some appointments. WV parks have a NO REFUND policy so be sure you are going to stay for what you pay cause you won’t get any of it back no matter what.
Of the several WV State Resort parks, Pipestem was the only one that even had much RV camping available. These parks tend to cater to semi-camping in lodges or tenting up to pop-ups but I figure that the roads will probably deter most folks with anything bigger, from coming here. Guess that says too much about me.
For all the hype about the wonderful views in WV, that is old print. Everywhere we have been, the views from the roads are obscured by trees. Maybe in the dead of winter one can see fairly well but then, what would there be to see. So far, not that impressed with WV.
On, BTW, the toll road (I-77) charged us $9.50 per toll station going North to Charleston. That was $28.50 total. Coming back down it, we found at the last toll booth that Recreational vehicles are charged a flat $3.50. Of course, there were no signs posted anywhere other than for the $2 per car rate. The rest was assumed to be per axle and I have 6 by their count. Another WV “gotcha”. Not a happy camper in WV.
Monday, May 16, 2011
We were due to leave Rippling Waters CG today but.. we just decided that we would rather not… so we didn’t.
Weather has been quite comfortable and a hint of moisture in the air… and on everything else but no actual rain which is fine by me.
We will likely leave tomorrow and head for PipeStem State Resort park.. but not if we are not going to be able to get the Dancing With The Stars Results show, there, tomorrow night.
I managed to do a little fishing (catch and release, of course). First time I have actually gotten a line wet in a few years even though I always have my rig with me… I guess I am even more relaxed, here, than I have been in a very long time, so that’s a good thing.
We will see where tomorrow takes us.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Today was just an easy day from the get-go. I was up, as usual, about 6:15am, did some PC work then went back to bed and zonked out (technical term) really well for about 3 hours. Now, that’s the kind of rest I need to get every night.
We had planned to have an afternoon cookout with Donna B and her Mom and some of her relatives, so brunch was light.
About a 20 minute drive to Pinch, WV at 1:30pm and we met up with most of the whole family, about 15 of us in total.
The meal did not disappoint and neither did the company. As usual, her Mom overfed us and dessert had to be spaced out by an hour or so but it was worth the wait, too.
While we were there, one of her father’s old friends that lives only a couple of miles from the Pipestem State Resort Park near Beckley, WV, gave me some pointers on how to get there without getting on the Toll road. It may take a little bit longer but he said the roads are very good that way…. we will see on Monday…