Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Husband gets the RV "stink eye"

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We just started a trip that will last two months. My husband is raising a stink and I keep complaining about it, which makes him even more cantankerous than he usually is. We have a 1989 travel trailer. It seems our exposed plumbing outlet for the black water tank is cracked right were it is connected to the tank. It is a slow, steady, smelly drip. Every time my husband tries some new super-duper glue or filler, he tells me it's fixed. Every time I tell him it's leaking again he gets mad and frustrated. I know it's a lousy job and hard to deal with on a trip, but I just can't stand smelling like an outhouse every place we park. Should I just put up with it or keep giving him the stink eye. --Odiferous in Oregon

Dear Odi:
In your husband's defense, these are some of the hardest leaks to deal with and actually fix without having the tank replaced. There are many products that claim to be "stop leak" for ABS plastic, but they do not often work for any length of time. Not letting it drip onto the ground should be your first course of action.

Put some sewer deodorizer into a small bucket and contain it. If you can completely dump and dry the area around the suspected crack, I may have a solution for you, no pun intended. I have used this several times in the past and it seems to work better than anything else I have come up with. Get a small ABS fitting and grind or break it into very small pieces. I use a bench grinder that turns the ABS into thin, semi-melted, ribbon-like pieces.

Gather this material into a small can and add Acetone until it covers all the ABS pieces. Let this set for a couple hours, stirring occasionally. You will end up with ABS paste. By applying this paste to the dry, roughened area around the crack, the solution should meld into the fitting and crack. Let this dry and then add a couple more layers if needed. If nothing else it should last the rest of your trip. Often a new tank is the only remedy, which should be pretty straight forward if the tank is exposed. So work on this together and stop giving your husband the stink eye. --Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Volunteer Tour of Duty

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I decided we needed to change things up a bit in our travel routine. We decided to try volunteering at the National Parks. I don't really want to be a campground host and find some of the citizen science projects or trail maintenance more appealing. My wife likes to participate in the visitor information services. We find openings at various parks that satisfy both our wants, the problem seems to be time commitment. My wife wouldn't mind staying in one place for six months at a time, I however like to move around a lot more. I think two or three months in one place would be perfect. We have a much harder time securing volunteer jobs because I refuse to drop anchor for half a year. It tends to cause some hard feelings when she finds a position that is appealing and I won't go along with the time commitment. Shouldn't volunteers have more flexibility?
--Vulnerable Volunteer in Virginia

Dear V:
You do have flexibility, it just doesn't sync with each position you apply for. Volunteer services have become a great boon for both the public and private sector. It is especially popular with the RV traveling crowd. What originally started as a work for hookups barter, between campground hosts and camping facilities, is now expanding into hundreds of positions. The popularity of these programs has generated thousands of volunteer applications all over the country. It has also created competition for many popular areas and jobs that appeal to a great number of people. Often an administrator will select an applicant that is willing to do an entire season over one that desires a partial term. The two of you must work out what time commitments you are willing to make and compromise. The more you can offer in terms of skill and flexibility should boost your chances of landing the volunteer jobs that appeal to you. Applying for more than just one position in one area will also increase your chances of securing a job that fits whatever terms you decide work for the two of you. If you can't find the perfect volunteer job, try one that is not as appealing. Life's and adventure. You might stumble into a job you love and have never considered. You will be surprised how many opportunities to do other things are spawned from an original volunteer position.

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sizing up your RV

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are shopping for a new RV. My husband wants a giant bus type motorhome and I would like to see us in something smaller. I don't care if it's a trailer, 5th wheel or motorhome, I just think it will be easier to travel in something less large. He thinks he needs the biggest thing that rolls on tires, I think we might feel more comfortable in something more conservative. Do you have any suggestions on finding a happy medium?
--Bigger not always better in Birmingham

Dear BB:
Size has a lot to do with how much you can afford and how you plan to use your rig. I always suggest talking to people who actually own the types of rigs you are seriously thinking about buying. Go to a campground or RV park and walk around. You will find most people are generous with their experience. You will hear a lot of people with 40+ foot rigs mention it does have some drawbacks as to where you can take them. It's not only your skill as a driver, but also the vegetation and terrain you find yourself navigating. If you plan to visit a lot of Forest Service campgrounds, you will find yourself limited. Many National Park campgrounds have put size limits on RV's. You have many more options today in the space department. Manufacturers are putting slide-outs on everything from mega motorhomes to pop-up campers. If you can't go long, go wide. I had a problem one year with my 27-foot Class C in a Florida State Park. After playing computer, campground bingo, I finally snagged a site reservation. When I arrived the ranger said I would not fit in the site. I assured her I would. She followed us down to the beach and watched as I backed into our compact little piece of heaven. I made it by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin. If I had not fit, she would have given me my walking papers. Any length will take planning. Rig size will also determine where you stop for spur of the moment sight-seeing. Recently, driving Hwy. 70 across the top of Wisconsin, my wife and I saw two mature Bald Eagles and their young feeding on a deer carcass. We wanted to stop, but there was not enough shoulder to pull off with a Class A motorhome. We also pull a Saturn which sometimes makes you think twice about historic sites that come to a dead-end. Information is king. The more you know before you plunk down your hard earned money, will help you make the right decision, big or small.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

GPS relationships

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I think my husband and I might be the fossils you were talking about last week. We are beginning to do weird things. For example, we have a new GPS with a woman's voice. My husband does not get along with her at all and I do not believe her half the time. We have started to call her Sacajawea and talk to her as if she was a real person. Do you think we are going nuts in our new RV or have you heard of this behavior before?
--Directionally Challenged in Chaco Canyon

Dear DC:
I sometimes wonder, but I am hoping it is normal behavior. Like your husband I have had relationship issues with the female voice on my GPS. I broke up with the first one. She was a Garmin. I bought a TomTom and that relationship is rocky. My wife won't let me call her what I want so I call her a witch, as in (which) way do you want me to go this time! It only makes sense that voice recognition and synthesized voice communication give cold plastic hardware a personality. In most cases the GPS voice tells us exactly what we ask for. A study shows that 80% of those using these units have never read the manual and do not understand many of the basic functions. It's actually a great way to see a lot of country you would normally miss. Besides, if you didn't have her to argue with, you might be arguing with each other. I consider mine a stress reliever. I think when they get a bit more sophisticated they will have a GPS unit that can argue back and really tell us where they would like us to go..
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink