Wednesday, May 20, 2015

RV venting

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We just let a dealer talk us into a vent cover for our automatic roof fan. It sounded like a great idea at first. When we leave for the day we like to leave the roof vent open and the fan on for our cat. It has a rain sensor, which is good and bad. It shuts when the weather turns wet, but then the cat gets less ventilation and that's not good on a hot day.

We figured with the cover it could stay open rain or shine and give Fuzzbutt continuous ventilation. Now that we are five hundred miles down the road we find the vent doesn't open completely under the cover, airflow is significantly restricted and after a hard rain the sensor still actuates the fan.

My husband says, "Live and learn." I, on the other hand, want to call the dealer and give him an earful for misrepresenting the product to us. Am I just creating more stress for myself? Should I call it a bad investment and move on?
--Venting in Virginia City

Dear Venting:
You have learned a great new lesson. In the future, before you make a buying decision, do an online forum search. You will find dozens of people who have already made the purchase and posted their thoughts on the pros and cons of almost every product on the market.

Perhaps the salesman was thinking less ventilation 100% of the time would be better than great ventilation part of the time. Most fans with all the bells and whistles have a manual mode. You should be able to bypass the rain sensor. If not you could easily remove it.

If you decide you really can't live with the purchase, the dealer may offer you a return if you ask. If not, sell it on eBay, recoup some of your loss and move on.

Sometimes it helps to give a product some time. It may work out better than you originally think. The cover should allow the fan lid to open the majority of the way, so the restriction you detect would be in the cover louvers. If it has a screen you may want to remove it since the fan is already screened into your interior.

If you are upset and venting more than the fan cover, you could overheat and blow a gasket. It's not good for you, your husband or Fuzzbutt.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RV cleaning out the pipes

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I hate to sound paranoid, but recently we put cash in a Forest Service Campground fee pipe and it came up missing. A ranger came around to collect from us and we showed him our receipt. He said there was no matching envelope in the pipe. After convincing him that we had paid, he took our word and honored our receipt.

Now every time I put money in one of those seemingly secure fee pipes I worry about it. Do you think I am being silly? We do this all the time and my husband says, "Get over it!"
--Nervous Nellie in Nevada

Dear Nellie:
Believe it or not, crooks with low aspirations have learned to fish envelopes from fee pipes. If you talk to a few host volunteers you will hear stories of string and gum, coat hanger fishing and super glue tangling.


Fee pipe security is really not your problem. Pay your fee, keep your receipt and leave crime solving to management. I am sure the ranger who talked with you has dealt with this problem in the past and will again in the future.

When dropping cash, check or charge card info into those pipes, you now know they could end up in the wrong hands. If it would help you sleep better, try using checks. Most low-level crooks, trying to support a meth habit, won't deal in checks, they want hard cash. But for security reasons, cash is probably your safest bet. Pipe heists are probably very uncommon, but caution is advised.

We always look the fee pipe over very carefully. Fake fee pipes have been used by crafty crooks. We also eyeball gas pumps for card readers that have been placed in the credit card slot to steal information. Having your card info ripped off is much more of a problem.

It happened to us in North Central Florida this winter. By the time we figured it out, the bad guys had pumped three hundred bucks worth of gas, Simonized their vehicle, ate at McDonald's and then celebrated with a stop at a liquor store.

The card company removed the charges from our account, but we were without a credit card for awhile until they issued us a new one.

There is a difference between paranoid and cautious. Two out of every five people suffer from paranoia. The other three are watching them suspiciously.

--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

RV Tow Row

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We bought a motorhome we love. My wife and I studied many RVs, how we would use one, where we would take one, and what type of floor plan we desired. That process went very smoothly. Now we are trying to figure out what type of tow vehicle to purchase and are currently at polar-opposite ends of the scale on what we need, what we can afford, and how we will use it.

We are not looking for any brand information -- we just want some clue as to what we should be considering so that we can both back off our demands and find some middle ground.
--Tow to Tow in Tampa

Dear Tampa:
It sounds like you two are very methodical in your approach to making a purchase. It's refreshing to hear you are both actively engaged in making decisions together. These are large investments that will affect both of you for many years. Getting it right the first time is not as common as you might think. With little information as to what your needs and wants are in a toad, let me just give you some food for thought. In the end you will have to make the final decision on your own.

There are all kinds of contraptions for pulling a vehicle behind a motorhome, protecting it from stone damage, and keeping it within safety regulations. If you like to explore back roads, you might want to consider high clearance and four wheel drive. If you are looking for extra storage, shop a small to mid-sized pickup. If you are hauling bikes or kayaks on the vehicle, think about rack space and fit.

Consider weight and towing capacity and how it will affect your fuel mileage. Even a light vehicle will most likely cost you a mile per gallon.

New or used? No matter what you do to protect a toad, expect stone damage, tar and road grime maintenance, and some additional tire wear from towing sway. If you observe the many other RVers pulling a vehicle behind a motorhome you will see a wide variety of choices. Some will need more accessories than others. The additional expense can include brakes, transmission pumps, dollies, lights and wiring.

I'm sure if you read the comment section of this post you will find many others willing to share their thoughts and experiences on how they made their choice.

Personally, I continue to buy old Saturn SL's on Craigslist. Unfortunately, they aren't making them any longer. They were too reliable and economical. They are also under 2500 lbs. and easy to dingy-tow four wheels down.

Our decision is based on easy to fix, easy to connect and disconnect and, because of the weight, fuel efficient while towing. Also, I don't have to take it to Best Buy or the Apple Genius Bar to get it fixed.

List all your needs and wants. Once you agree on those, there are many vehicles to choose from today. 

--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink