Thursday, February 28, 2013

          It was bound to happen!  My house batteries needed to be replaced.  These are batteries that I bought back in 2007 when I bought the Road Ranger.  And I pretty much just ignored them since then.  I think I may have added water to them once.  That is NOT recommended care.  So my abused batteries had finally deep cycled their last and need to be replaced.  We have NEVER dry camped.  The only times that we have had to rely on battery power was when a storm took down power lines.  Because of the way we use our RV, I decided to not replace the two batteries with two new batteries but to only have one battery.  I believe that it will work with the way we use our RV.

I also cleaned the connections which had become slightly corroded.   I promise to treat the new battery with more care than I did the first ones.  Even an old dog can learn new tricks.

I remember Red Green's "Man Prayer"  I'm a man.  But I can change.  If I have to.  I guess.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Dangers of RV Distracted Driving by Ashley Burns, guest blogger

The following post is by Ashley Burns, a guest blogger, and is not copyrighted by Thomas E Williams.

The Dangers of RV Distracted Driving

Although distracted driving is dangerous for all drivers, individuals who are behind the wheel of an RV need to be especially cautious.  Even experienced RV drivers should realize that RVs require different handling than regular cars, so a small distraction can have a big consequence.  Each day, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver.  Since RVs are used for long travel times, drivers may be more tempted to engage in behavior that’s distracting and could cause a serious accident.

Many people seem to be aware of the dangers of using a cell phone or texting behind the wheel, but any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving is considered distracted driving, according to the Official U.S. Government website.  Eating, drinking, adjusting controls, and reaching for objects can take the drivers hand off the wheel or eyes off the road, thus increasing the risk of an accident.

Due to the size of RVs, making adjustments on the road is typically prolonged.  For example, braking is different, especially if someone is towing a trailer.  Heavy vehicles pick up speed on down slopes faster than lighter cars, so paying attention to the road is key.  RV drivers often have to deal with more distraction, as passengers tend to be talking, watching television, eating and playing cards, all of which can take the driver’s attention off of the road.  Drivers may want to eat behind the wheel, but eating while driving causes 80 percent of all car accidents.  Adjusting the GPS or even sipping a drink can likewise compromise safety.

Only 39 states have enacted laws against distracted driving, and those that do not have any are starting to take action.  Tampa held Florida’s first distracted driving summit to address issues such as traumatic injuries, teen driving education, and cell phone policies.  New laws could decrease the number of statewide and Tampa personal injury cases, serious medical complications, and lost lives due to automobile accidents.

Since RV drivers are handling some of the biggest vehicles on the road, it’s crucial that they give their full attention to the road ahead and the drivers around them.  Long travel times may cause temptation to eat behind the wheel, adjust the GPS, and reach for nearby objects.  But it’s important to take breaks at rest stops or switch drivers to ensure that drivers and families reach their destination safely.  Keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road to reduce the number of accidents and help save lives.

Originally posted 2013 February 07

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How to make and install insulated sun-blocking window covers for a stored RV.

How To

How to make and install insulated
sun-blocking window covers for a stored RV.

Here is the reasoning behind this project.  I will be storing my RV in Texas during the summer.  Now I am taking this part on hearsay but I’ve been told that the sun shines in Texas during the summer and it gets hot!  So as a precaution I am creating sun-blocking insulated covers for my windows.

Supplies that you will need:
·       Hook and Loop sticky back tape fasteners (I recommend the Velcro Industrial Strength because of the quality of the adhesive used)
·       Reflectix Insulation of the appropriate size for your needs.  (There may be other brands of similar material.  I just am not aware of any)
·       Self adhering label (optional)
Tools Needed:
·       Tape measure
·       Straight edge
·       Marker
·       Scissors
·       Template for the curved corners of the RV’s windows (optional)

        The first order of business is to measure the windows.  The insulation is going to be on the inside of the RV window.  So that is the important measurement.  You will want to measure the outside diameter including the frame, not just the glass.  I found by measuring the window frame both inside and outside the RV that the measurements were essential the same.  This may not be true on your RV.  However, because the measurements were ‘close enough for government work’, I chose to measure my windows from the outside as it was easier than working around furniture, window shades and curtains on the inside.
        Now this part is optional because it will not affect the purpose of the window covers, which is to block the sun and protect the interior of the RV from Ultraviolet rays and heat.  Most modern RVs have windows with curved corners.  You will need to have a template that matches that curve if you wish to have the covers match the windows.  As I said, you can completely skip this step and just leave the covers with square corners.  I found that the simplest template was a plastic lid that matched the curve perfectly.  Be creative try different cans, pots and pans et cetera.

        Once you have your windows’ dimensions, you can proceed to laying out your cutting pattern.  I found for my own purposes that when I laid out the patterns for the largest windows first, that I could then lay out the patterns for the smaller windows in the scraps.
        Now it is time to cut the material.  I began by using a razorblade knife.  However, it was easier to cut the curved edges with scissors.  Then I remembered watching how fabric is cut in a fabric shop.  Using nice sharp scissors, the fabric is stretch out and held tightly with one hand while the open scissors are simple slid along the cutline for the fabric.  This is so quick and easy that I abandoned the knife altogether.

        Once the insulation is cut, it is time to apply the Velcro.  The Industrial Strength Velcro comes in 2” wide strips.  (If they make smaller widths of the Industrial Strength, I have not seen it.)  You will need to cut several tabs of the Velcro.  I recommend about ¾” x 2” each.  Keeping both halves of the hook and loop meshed together, peel the backing from the ‘Hook’ half of the hook and loop Velcro tabs and apply to the window frame at strategic points.  I found that two tabs at the top and one on either side of the window was sufficient.  With the hook and loop sections still stuck together, remove the backing from the ‘Loop’ half of the set and press the insulation is place, adhering it to the Velcro.  To save yourself some frustration, remove the backing from one piece at a time because when this stuff sticks to the insulation, it does NOT come off without tearing the insulation.

        This part is also optional but recommended.  Add a label to the window cover that identifies which window is to be used on.  Example: Curbside Bedroom or Living room slide rear window.  It appears that RV manufactures can construct windows in an infinite range of sizes.  So labeling the covers can save you time and frustration.

        Now this final suggestion is given by my clever wife, Ella; store them flat (not rolled) behind your couch (assuming you have a freestanding couch).  This will save a lot of room in your storage bins.

2012 February 06

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

100% Sunblock Window Shade

2013 February 05
        I stopped at Lowe's the other day for the sole purpose of buying a roll of Industrial Strength Velcro.  I love this stuff.  Frankly I've been unimpressed ... no that's not right ... I've been unfavorable impressed by the poor adhesive on most of the Velcro I've bought in the past.  But this stuff sticks to what it is supposed to stick.  Now, I just wish I could find it in 3/4" widths which would be more convenient for most of my projects.

          The project for which I need the Velcro is insulated window coverings for the Hitch Hiker.  I purchased the roll of insulation before we set the appointment at the NuWa factory for repair of the slide out (Ultra Glide as it is referred to in the owner’s mantel).  
          Originally, the plan was to leave the HH in storage somewhere in the Austin Texas area.  So, I was going to cover the windows with reflective insulation to lessen the heat build up in the stored trailer.  Now that we are going to end up taking it back north with us, there is less imperative to cover the windows.  However, I have the supplies so I might as well make use of the good weather and proceed with the project.   
              The first thing that I do is measure the dimensions of the window.  Then I roll out the insulation, measure and mark my cut lines then cut it with scissors.  Now the corners on most RV windows are rounded not square.  So, I have a choice here; I can either leave the coverings square cornered or round them to match the windows.  I'm choosing to round them.  I have a handy shape gauge that makes it easy to exactly copy odd shapes.  However, that is with the tools that I left in Iowa.  So I improvise.  First order of business is to find something that matches the curve of the window.
        It happens that we have an assortment of plastic lids.  So I sort through them until I find one that matches the corner.  I mark the lid (Don’t tell Ella that I used a permanent marker on it … it’ll come off with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser … I think.) so that I know where the ends of the curve are.  Then it is a simple thing to transfer the template to the material and cut. 
        Now, as it happens, my windows already have half of a Velcro set (the harder hook side of the set) already all the way around the edge.  That is because I previously made storm windows of 8 mil. plastic and used the Velcro to hold it tightly in place.  Any way, now I just need to attach the softer loop side of the Velcro to the insulation.  I can just use tabs for this because, unlike the storm window, these to not to form an air tight barrier.  
          With the Velcro tabs in place I just need to identify where this particular cover is to be used.  Because I have some Christmas labels that are self adhesive, I use those and write the window placement on the label.  In this case it is the curb-side rear window.  Ta Da! One window cover done!  Ten to go.

Measure the window
Roll out the Insulation

Measure and mark

Find a template for the curve
Mark Corner Curve

Cut straight edges

Add Velcro Tabs
Label Which Window
Final Product in Place