Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How much will you pay for an RV swoosh?

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Now you've done it. Since your column on removing weathered decals and painting them back on, my husband has been out buying painting supplies. Now my husband wants to be a painter. Is this really a good idea? Shouldn't we just replace the decals with new vinyl ones?
--Cautious in Claremont

Dear Cautious:
My mother always said, "If somebody jumps off a building, does that mean you're going to jump off a building too?" Meaning, of course, don't be a follower. But I was always the first one off the building.

That doesn't mean everyone should jump after me. I look at this project as a learning experiment. I have actually tried different materials in different spots to see what looks the best and what holds up the best. The jury is still out. If you can talk your husband into waiting a year, I can let you know how it holds up.

Besides the One Shot enamel paint, I also did a swoosh with Rustoleum oil based enamel in a rattle can from Ace Hardware. They both look fantastic at this point.

Much depends on how you have protected your coach. I have always used Poly Glow to protect mine. When I removed the vinyl the glass beneath is like new. I wet sand it a bit to give the paint a grip. Masking it is the hardest part. After the paint dries for a few days I protect it with several coats of Poly Glow, which gives it UV protection as well.

After removing several decals with an eraser wheel, masking, painting and protecting with PG, it looks great. I see no downside unless the paint doesn't hold up.

My first choice was to replace the vinyl. I went to Winnebago, who sent me down the road to a company that sells all their old stock. Just one big swoosh was $70. A rattle can of Rustoleum is about $5.

I am guessing the paint will last longer than the vinyl, but to know for sure you will have to stay tuned.

Remember, the pioneers got the arrows and the settlers got the land. If you want to avoid arrows wait a year and I will let you know how this method has withstood the elements.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

RV Painted Lady

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I need help quick. My husband thinks he's Rembrandt. Our motorhome decals have started to fade and crack. He got a bid last year in Arizona to have them removed and replaced for just under $4,000. With sticker shock in his eyes he began surfing the web for other options.

All I have heard for months are methods others have used to fix the problem. Some people paint over the decals, some remove and buy new decals, some remove and leave them off, some remove and repaint them, some spend $15,000 and have the whole rig painted professionally.

My husband has decided to remove and paint them back on. This all sounds realistic, but my husband is a retired accountant, not a sign painter. I'm afraid we might be traveling down the road looking like the many graffiti-painted train cars we see passing on the rails.

Can you convince him this is not the way to go?
--Painted Lady in Lordsburg

Dear Painted Lady:
You wrote the wrong guy. Like your husband, I think I'm Rembrandt. I thought about being Van Gogh, but I just couldn't get into the ear thing. I can't tell you the best method because I am still in the experimental stages. Like your husband I hate to spend big bucks on vanity vehicle exterior makeup.

I think it is great when people take the road less traveled. Break out of their mold and try something bold.

It sounds like your husband has done his homework, learned from others' mistakes, and now is ready to make some of his own.

It is not that earth shattering. If it looks bad you can always remove it.

After going through the same web search process, I decided to remove my decals with an eraser wheel, lightly wet-sand the ghost area, mask it off with good automotive detail tape and spray it with One Shot sign painter's enamel.

This paint has been used to put millions of boat names on fiberglass sailboats, so I thought it might work fine on my motorhome. By next year I can tell you how it holds up. So far it looks better than factory. It can't be any worse than those cheap vinyl decals that come standard.

The hardest part is masking all the swooshy decal patterns. Use 1/4 inch professional masking tape to make the close radius turns.

Another option is to park your rig overnight near the Chicago rail yards and see what you get. It could be really cool.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

RV pony express

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have started traveling part of the year and living in a fifth-wheel. So far it is everything we thought it would be. We are slowly working out the kinks.

One problem that drives us crazy is shopping online. Over the past few years a majority of our shopping is online. We miss the convenience now that we are on the road.

I noticed in last week's RVtravel newsletter that Amazon is beginning to sprout delivery lockers around the country. That's great, but for now we are very frustrated with a lack of options for having our online purchases delivered to us.

We spend more time and money driving around looking for items we want when they are right here on our screen yet unreachable.

Can you deliver for us a few ideas?
--Frustrated in Freeport

Dear Frustrated:
It will get much easier real soon, but you don't have to wait for lockers to appear. You would be surprised how many places are willing to let you ship your items to their address. You just need to plan ahead a bit and be willing to ask.

We have had items shipped to many state parks in our travels. The packages are delivered to the gate office and they let us know when they have arrived. The majority of commercial campgrounds will do the same.

With Amazon, you cannot specify which carrier you want, or can you? I was told if you use the words, "PO Box" in your address, Amazon automatically ships your package through the USPS. It just has to be within postal package sizes. So pick a small town post office (that's important) and give Amazon your shipping address as "PO Box General Delivery."

When I long-distance hike I ship myself boxes of food and my Amazon purchases this way, and the post office will hold it for up to 30 days.

One more nugget of info. You have to use the "Standard Shipping" option. This takes several days, so plan accordingly. Prime member packages go UPS or FedEx.
Order ahead to give your package plenty of time to arrive. That way you know it will be there when you show up and not have to drop anchor too long waiting for your ship(ment) to come in.

Same with your mail. Pick a small town post office. They are less busy, more helpful, and less likely to lose your mail.

This works 70% of the time with Amazon. If the item is shipping from a vendor other than Amazon they may not agree to ship, but that should happen at checkout.

You could get ahead of the game and get your own drone. Amazon is not delivering with them yet, but you could go pick it up.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

RV Walsmarting

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are going to take our first major road trip with our new travel trailer. We bought it just for weekend camping but decided this summer we would go to Alaska. I read a lot of online RV forums, so I am aware of how many people use Walmart as overnight stops while traveling.

While planning our route from Ohio, I scheduled several Walmart stops during the first week of the trip while we are making time and doing big miles. I never realized how this part of the planning was going to freak out my wife. It seems so foreign to her. She had never heard of such a thing. She said, "If you call that camping, then count me out."

How do I convince her that this is standard operating procedure in RV circles?
--Walsmarting in Wooster

Dear Walsmarting:
In the future, try not to get so far ahead of your wife in the world of RV education. As you discover the little nuances of the RV lifestyle, while cruising forums, mention them to your wife so she is not suddenly bombarded with new ideas the day you shove off.

I can see where she is coming from. In her mind she is picturing all the picturesque campsites she has seen in the magazines. She has put herself in a comfortable chair next to a glass smooth lake, drinking a glass of wine, watching the sky turn crimson at sunset. Now you tell her she is going to be next to the grass-lined retention pond on the tarmac at Walmart. You need to ease her into these changes.

Explain to her that this is not going to be the Walmart Alaska tour. It is just a safe and convenient occasional stopover that Walmart considers another customer service. It also gives you both the opportunity to browse the stores and pick up items you might have forgotten, rent a RedBox movie, get a good night's sleep, and best of all, "It's FREE!"

She will be much more comfortable with the idea when you arrive and find several other RV's already there taking up the best spots.

She will certainly get her fill of beautiful campsites where you are headed. On the return trip, she will be a full-fledged member of the RV fraternity, suggesting convenient Walmart stops on your route home to Ohio.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

RV Chairperson

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband and I are always fighting over the driver's captain chair. The driver's chair swivels all the way around when we stop and faces out into the living/kitchen area. The passenger seat swivels, but only part way because the dinette bench is in the way.

I think we should just shop for a longer motorhome, with a floor plan that allows both seats to fully swivel. My husband says that's the economic equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

We live in this space full-time and I want it comfortable without drawing straws for "the chair."
--Redesign Chairperson in Chautauqua

Dear Chairperson:
I feel your pain. I also understand your husband's resistance to solve a problem of inconvenience by throwing money at it.

I have always wondered why manufacturers stick with design engineering that does not allow many passenger captain chairs to fully swivel. I assume they just want to deploy standard equipment into standard floor plans and not confuse the buying public too much.

This exact problem bothered us when we looked at rigs. We wanted to stay under 30 feet, but by going with a unit that was just two feet longer, we could have both chairs swivel completely around.

We decided to take the road less traveled. If you are handy at all, you can redesign and remodel your rolling castle to fit your personal needs pretty inexpensively.

A simple change solved three inconveniences for us. We removed the dinette bench that blocked the passenger seat, ripped out the carpet and put in Karndean Loose Lay vinyl plank flooring. We replaced the dinette bench with two nice chairs that slide in under the table on that side. The flooring solved the refinishing problem under the old dinette bench and made motorhome housekeeping much more convenient.

I said, three things. We also hated craning our necks to watch TV at the front of the motorhome where the manufacturers find it so convenient to stuff a tube on the ceiling above the dash. We turned that space into a cupboard, moved the TV to the cupboard above the dinette table and attached it to a full-swivel TV bracket. This bracket allows the TV to drop down and turn a full 90 degrees. Now we can sit in our comfortable, full swivel captain chairs and watch our normal level, full-swivel TV.

All this will cost you less than a grand if you can do some simple flooring.

This does not solve all problems. We still fight over the popcorn.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink