Wednesday, November 30, 2016

RV Lonesome Dove

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have just started doing more remote camping or, as some of our friends call it, "boondocking."

My husband is much more comfortable with this arrangement than I am. We are not just parking on the side of the road somewhere. We are birders and we like wild, natural places.

I am very comfortable staying in most of these areas, I just don't like heading out for the day and leaving our RV and all of our worldly possessions. We have never had a problem, but I think about it all day long while we are out hiking or driving around the area.

Should I just "get over it?" Am I being too paranoid?

Thoughts please.
--Unsecured in Utah

Dear Unsecured:
We all have our own threshold when it comes to security. Every boondocking site has its own set of circumstances. Sites can be too populated, too unpopulated, too remote, too accessible or even on the cusp of illegal. I think we have stayed in all those places and I will admit some of them made me a little nervous, and my wife very nervous.

You have to decide between the two of you where you draw the comfort line. Personally, I would feel better leaving my RV for the day in a well used BLM desert than a Walmart parking lot. When traveling we use Walmart for overnight stops a lot, but seldom do we leave our rig there and go off to town.

I would suggest making your RV look occupied as much as possible, learn as much about the area as you can, and try to find others camping.

Once you have made your decision, go with your gut and enjoy chasing your birds. Stuff happens, and it can happen anywhere. If you talk with other RVers that boondock, you will discover that few have ever had major problems.

That said, my good friend just had half a bike stolen off the back of his motorhome while parked next to a very nice urban bike trail. He had his expensive mountain bike locked, so the thieves just took the front suspension and wheel.

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” --George Burns

--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RV water world

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
It's jump or swim around here. I need your help. I feel like I am married to Jacques Cousteau. We have had a water leak for almost 2 years. My husband refuses to have someone else solve his problems. We did stop at the Winnebago factory last year on the way home, but they were too busy to look at it. He then bought a cable with a camera on the end to explore the nooks and crannies of our rig where the holding tank is situated. That device turned out to be a joke and he sent it back to Amazon.

Yesterday he came in with a big grin on his face and said, "Eureka, I found the leak!" Although the leak seemed to be coming from the top of the tank, it actually turned out to be a small crack in the tank just at the top edge. This crack location made it look like the water was coming over the top edge of the tank like a waterfall. I felt relief until I realized that now he is on to the discovery phase of the fix. You might say he is fixated.

Should I just let him do his thing or have him committed? --Donna in Dripping Springs

Dear Dripping:
It seems like a long time to have a water problem. I hope it has not caused more problems than you currently have. There is an old adage, "Penny wise and pound foolish." Letting a problem go too long might cost you more than just aggravation in the long run. Glad you finally discovered the cause.

I know that Winnebago roto-molds their own tanks. I believe they use low density polyethylene. About the only way to repair them is plastic welding. Your husband can attempt it himself inexpensively by purchasing poly welding sticks of the same material as the tank. It can be melted with a soldering iron. I have also seen a new product called "TAD poly weld" that claims it will adhere to, and seal, polyethylene.

Your other choice would be to have the tank replaced, which in most cases involves more labor costs than material. Hopefully one of the cheap fixes work.

I would wait until the work was complete before having your husband committed. --Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Beady RV tire people

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I have heard that owning a motorhome or a boat has been compared to throwing money into a black hole. We have been experiencing that lately. We bought six new tires a couple years ago at the cost of almost $4,000.

Recently, we decided to add a tire monitoring system that we see advertised in (TireTraker). What we didn't realize is there is a possibility of problems if our tires have balance beads in them. We never even thought about this when we purchased tires. We now see on our tire invoice that our tires were balanced with beads instead of weights.

My husband wants to just buy the monitor system and take our chances that everything will be fine. I don't want to spend $500 to see if the beads will clog the sensors or not.

Can you talk some sense into my husband's careless attitude about sensors?
--Tired in Tucson

Dear Tired:
I emailed TireTraker and received this answer from the company:

 "As long as a filtered valve core was/is installed there would be no issue. If it’s just the normal valve stem, then the beads could leak and damage the sensors. The Lifetime warranty covers the monitor and the sensors should they fail by no fault of your own. We would repair/replace any components for the duration of your ownership."

You might monitor the comments on this post. Perhaps someone has tried using a pressure system with balance beads and will post their experience. I do know you will spend as much to have your beads removed as you will on the system. I also have balance beads, and like you, had no clue I was getting them. I just assumed when I bought tires I would get weights.

For those thinking about tire purchase it would be wise to make that decision ahead of time and not let some tire business make it for you without even asking. Someone specializing in RV tires will probably have the equipment to balance large tires. Many businesses do not and opt to toss a bag of beads or powder in each tire for balancing.

I am no tire expert, but have been told by a few professionals that the powder can damage tires and wheels.

At this point your cheapest option would most likely be new filtered valve cores. I am curious myself and will ask Chuck if he can query his tire expert. (We have asked RV tire expert Roger Marble to weigh in on this subject, and he will post his comments below.)

Until then keep a close watch on your husband's beady little eyes and don't let him do something foolish without first exploring all other options.
Consider a tire monitor system.

--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Monday, November 7, 2016

RV SuperSize It!

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I think we bought too much motorhome. It makes my husband nervous to drive. He's always saying, "I just want to park this sucker."

We are now headed south for the winter and he will only drive on interstate highways, stay in commercial campgrounds with pull-thru sites and use truck stop sized gas stations.

Today was our most stressful yet. We pulled into a Flying J and pulled up to a gas bay that had another truck in it. My husband thought it was leaving because it was not fueling. Once he pulled up tight behind it we noticed there was no driver. We were blocking traffic and could not back up because of our toad.

We were getting the stink eye from dozens of people for several minutes until a woman finally came out of the store embracing a month's worth of junk food. She had left her vehicle at the pump while she went shopping, yet everyone was annoyed with us.

I think we should lose about ten feet of living space, but my husband says we will take a bath on downsizing.

Are we stuck? I wanted to see America, but not at 65 mph rocketing along some super slab. Help!
--SuperSized in Santa Fe

Dear SuperSized:
I have no idea what size your motorhome is, but obviously too large for your driving comfort. I agree that you would most likely take a bath downsizing, but there are other options. I would start with investing in some driver's training. Yes, there is such a thing. Many people bite off more than they can chew when choosing a big rig, adding a toad and other toys. They are so big and powerful that I have seen people take out electric and water facilities while leaving a campsite and not even realize it.

Becoming comfortable with your home on wheels is essential to happy travels. Be aware that size will limit you at times as to where you can camp, drive, park and fuel.
You describe one of my pet peeves with your story of pulling into the gas station. You will always have to deal with people who are not courteous. It doesn't matter what size rv you have. That said, the bigger the rig, the more planning involved in making your approach to a campsite, fuel pump, dump station etc.

Don't wait too long to look into driving lessons or downsizing. I have witnessed people destroying there whole RV making one swing through a campground they never should have attempted. That route can often lead to more of a loss than a bad trade.
--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

RV Robo Ranger check-in

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I think I may be too old to travel. I just spent a half hour with a Robo Ranger trying to pay my camping fee at a National Recreation Area in Arizona. My eyes are still in good shape, but the plastic screen on the Robo Ranger was sun bleached and almost impossible to see through. I was on my knees, holding my hand over the screen trying to create enough shadow to read the crazy thing. Every time I reached the point where the machine wanted to charge my credit card it froze and reset itself to the beginning without charging me or issuing my stub.

I finally discovered I had to wait until I reached that point in the transaction to slide my card.

I had a lot of questions as to where I should park, but no ranger or host to ask. I am sure my government is saving a ton of money not having any personnel to pay, vehicles to transport them, buildings to house them, and pensions to someday pay them, but why do my campground fees continue to rise? Is it to pay for all the vandalism here?

Should I take a computer class in campground check-in, or just sell my RV?

I would move to a nearby Forest Service, concession run campground, but they have already closed for the year. Concession run campgrounds close as soon as seasonal numbers drop, even though the weather is still perfect for camping.

I've heard you can't teach an old dog new tricks. That must be true in my case, because I can't even figure out what these bureaucrats are thinking.

Do you think now is a good time to sell my trailer?
--Tech protest in Page

Dear Page:
I feel your frustration. It does entail a continual learning curve to survive in the camping world. But think of it as exercise. It is probably good for your knees bending to address a Robo Ranger. They say challenging your brain is your best defense against Alzheimers. Figuring out how to give money to the government will someday be as easy for you as using a self car wash. They both soak you, and there is no one to complain too.

You bring up a great point about the concession run, forest service campgrounds. There should be a contractual stipulation that makes them operate earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Most have no water system to freeze, they just do not want to be burdened with the cost of running them without continued high occupancy.

Maybe the government will eventually do away with concessioners and implement more Robo Rangers. It might be a wise move to take those computer classes now if you are going to hang onto that trailer.

In my humble opinion an Iron Ranger makes a lot more sense. No moving parts, the customer fills out all the paper work, it doesn't use electricity, it's maintenance free, you can still use your credit card, and they even take that stuff that people once carried---CASH!
--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink