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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

RV solar weather forecast

Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We just bought two solar panels for our motorhome. My husband said it would eliminate the need for hookups. We spent almost two thousand dollars and now two weeks later he wants electricity.

We have been parked in Montana for two weeks in a national forest campground. Mostly it has been cloudy and rainy. I guess he didn't plan thoroughly enough. Our batteries have slowly died until last night everything shut down. So much for solar.

Am I being too hard on him? Do most people find these sun catchers sometimes helpful?
--Mostly upset with a slight chance of forgiveness in Lincoln

Dear Lincoln:
It would be my guess that your stormy disposition has been brought on by bad timing. They are solar panels, which is pretty self-explanatory. "That lucky old sun has nothin' to do, but roll around heaven all day." It is true that the sun shines every day at 72,000 feet, depending on high cumulus clouds, but that is not always helpful to solar panels.

You don't say what your battery bank is made up of, but for two grand I'm going to guess you bought some good batteries to enhance your system.

Go find some sunshine. You will feel a lot better.

We run 300 watts of solar into four 6v golf cart batteries from Sam's Club. It is budgeted with a real good controller. In five years I can only think of a half dozen times that it was dreary long enough, to put a big dent in our solar savings account. In those same five years it has paid for itself more than once in electric and convenience.

If you travel often you will become an appreciator of the magic of the sun to continually top off your batteries.

I am sitting in a National Park right now listening to several generators around me sucking fuel, making noise and pollution to accomplish the same thing my quiet panels are doing.

Hang in there. I see sunny days in your future.
--Keep Smilin', Richard E. Mallery a.k.a Dr. R.V. Shrink

Newest Dr. R.V. Shrink book
Crossing the Divide
Birdfeeding 101
Nuts About Squirrels

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dr. R.V. Shrink's new book

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are jumping on the RV travel bandwagon. We just retired but my husband has been reading your column for a couple years. There are many things we never considered until we read your postings.

Now as we have begun the journey we laugh at situations we have read about in your column. Our son just sent us a link to your ebook on Amazon. We had no idea it was even available. He actually works for Amazon in Seattle and knew we would be interested when he saw it.

Thanks for all the humorous insight into this life on wheels. We are truly enjoying every minute of it. A new adventure around every curve in the road.
--Newbie's in Newport

Dear Newport:
I have had your letter in my queue for a couple weeks waiting for the book to go live at all online distribution outlets. It is brand new. I know it is available on Amazon and should be available everywhere soon. Newest Dr. R.V. Shrink book

It is the first in a series I plan to publish over the next year or so. You can actually see a decent sampling of the book on Amazon by clicking the "Look Inside" option.

This book is a couple hundred pages of over 300 Dr. R.V. Shrink columns I have written for Chuck on his RVtravel.com site. I have always been a big fan of Chuck and his newspaper "OutWest" and his now very popular RVtravel.com.

I have been at this RV lifestyle my whole life and I still learn new tricks reading his newsletter every Saturday morning. It is a wonderful resource that has all the politics of advertising stripped away so that the reader gets a true picture of the industry and the lifestyle without a bunch of false facade from advertiser bias.

Thank you for your kind words about the column and helping me introduce my newest book to readers.
--Keep Smilin', Richard E. Mallery a.k.a Dr. R.V. Shrink, a.k.a Dick E. Bird

Other Books by Richard E. Mallery:
Crossing the Divide
Birdfeeding 101
Nuts About Squirrels

Thursday, September 8, 2016

RVer under pressure

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We just stopped for propane and the guy wouldn't fill us. He told my husband our attached tank did not look healthy enough.

We have a Class B Sprinter with about 100,000 miles on it. We bought it used and the tank does have some surface rust.

This guy poked it a bit and a big chunk of paint came off leaving an ugly rusted area near the fill cap. My husband just tried another propane station and the kid filled us up, no questions asked.

 I'm nervous, but my husband says the first guy was just over-cautious.

Are we on borrowed time? Please answer quick -- the tank seems to be located under my seat.
--Overwrought and Under Pressure in Portland

Dear Overwrought:
It sounds like you need a second, professional opinion and I would do it at the next available propane dealer. I don't have all the facts here. Is the tank even date stamped for a legal fill? A rig with 100,000 miles could mean old or just well-traveled.

All underbelly tanks get rusted, some more than others, depending on salt conditions. It's a good idea to wire brush them once a year, shoot some Rustoleum on them, and inspect them for any damage.

Most underbelly tanks are thicker than regular bottles, some up to a 1/2 inch. If you are just losing surface paint it could be fine, but a propane dealer would be a better judge of your condition with a hands-on inspection.

Even if your husband is confident you have no issue, it might make you feel better to hear it from a guy that works with equipment like yours everyday.

If it is outdated, it can be inspected and re-stamped, it can often be reconditioned, or worst case scenario, replaced with a new tank.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink