Our Visit to the “Voice Of America”

Our Visit to the “Voice Of America”

One of the benefits of attending the Dayton Amateur Radio Association “HamVention” every year is to spend time with my long-time (notice I didn’t say “old”) friends.  Dave, Ed, and I grew up together in the 60’s in Redford Township, Michigan – a western suburb of Detroit.  We played together, we rode bikes together, we got in trouble together and we attended school together (since the 2nd grade) and we also got our ham radio licenses together – all first licensed in 1969.

This year at HamVention we decided we’d like to take a trip away from the main venue and visit the site of the Bethany Transmitting Station of the world famous Voice Of America (VOA) located just off I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.

VOA Bethany Transmitting Station

The VOA Bethany Relay Station was designed by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation.  Although the actual recording studios were in New York City and later moved to Washington, D.C., the signals were relayed through dedicated AT&T long distance telephone lines to the transmitter site near Cincinnati.

The VOA began in 1942 as a radio program designed to explain America’s policies during World War II and to bolster the morale of its allies throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. After the war, VOA continued as part of America’s Cold War propaganda arsenal and was primarily directed toward the western European audience. In February 1947, VOA began its first Russian-language broadcasts into the Soviet Union.

With the words, “Hello! This is New York calling,” the U.S. Voice of America (VOA) begins its first radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union. The VOA effort was an important part of America’s propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The initial broadcast explained that VOA was going to “give listeners in the USSR a picture of life in America.” News stories, human-interest features, and music comprised the bulk of the programming. The purpose was to give the Russian audience the “pure and unadulterated truth” about life outside the USSR. Voice of America hoped that this would “broaden the bases of understanding and friendship between the Russian and American people.”

The Bethany site encompassed hundreds of acres of land for the huge rhombic antenna farm that could be switched to direct the 1.2 million watts of radio frequency programming to different locations around the world, depending on the time of day and atmospheric conditions.

In one of the pictures above you can see my friend Dave talking to the last remaining employee of the VOA at this site — Dave’s getting quite a history lesson.

Note the windows at the top of the tower in the first picture – It kind of looks like an airport control tower.  I asked our tour guide the purpose of that tower.  His response … “for sharpshooters”.  This Bethany Relay Station was specifically placed here because of it’s distance from the east coast stations where they could be more susceptible to enemy attack.  Even though the Bethany Station was so far west, they still stationed military armed personnel to protect the Voice Of America to make sure the message always got out.

Due to new satellite and internet technology, the need for the high power RF radio broadcast stations has diminished and the station was closed as an active transmitting site in 1994.  Fear not however as the Voice Of America still broadcasts every day from their studios in Washington D.C. and their programming can be heard on the internet and on some local PBS network stations around the country.  Find out more and listen to VOA live at https://www.voanews.com/

And thanks to dedicated volunteers, we were able to tour the museum.  Take a look at the pictures below.

Here’s a few pix of us boys at the Dayton HamVention and at the VOA

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Just Havin’ Fun With The Dogs On The Water

Just a goofy post here – nothing of consequence, but Sara and Stu have come to visit us here at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park for a few days and last night after supper Stu and I took the dogs for a nice (cool) boat ride on Big Star Lake.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

“Driveway Surfing” Is A Blast!

Not sure if there’s an official definition of Driveway Surfing, but my definition is; When an RV’er spends the night on someone’s (often a fellow RV’er) property rather than in a commercial campground or RV park.

Our spot near Ocala, FL in the coolness of the towering pines

This is not only a less expensive alternative to commercial facilities, but much safer than the often-used boon-docking (dry camping) at Wal-Marts, Cracker Barrels, Truck Stops, highway Rest Areas and the like.

The term “Boon-docking” by the way, also known as “dry camping” in the RV’er’s world is stopping/staying at a location that does not offer any utilities or other amenities.  Most RV’er’s are traveling in self-contained units meaning they carry their own water (and waste) tanks and have a means to provide limited electricity to the unit for lighting, water pumping, and sometimes more.

We’ve found that the big added benefit of these overnight stays are the wonderful welcomes we get from our gracious hosts.  We often spend the afternoon and into the evenings together sitting around the bonfire trading stories of our RV’ing and life experiences.  Sometimes we even have dinner together.

Although Kathy and I first became aware of this wonderful benefit of full-time RV life through our membership in Boondockers Welcome, we soon found out that there are other opportunities out there as well.  We’ve found that the Airstreamers (Wally Byam Caravan Club International) along with FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association), and Escapees RV Club members have programs similar to the Boondockers Welcome program.  Another program mentioned to us by many other RV’ers is Harvest Hosts.  Although some of these programs require a nominal annual membership fee in order to access the database and reservation software, others are free to club members.

Here are some pictures we’ve taken as we’ve traveled and met other RV’ers using our “Driveway Surfing” privileges utilizing BoondockersWelcome.com.

Roger and Jan – Randall, Kansas

We were warmly welcomed by our first BoondockersWelcome hosts Roger and Jan to their farm near Randall, Kansas in spring of 2016.  Roger and Jan have a beautiful “earth” home that they custom built on the family farm that Roger was born on.  While Jan prepared dinner for us (a very welcome surprise!), Roger took us on a tour of the 1000+ acre farm that their son now manages and farms (along with Dad’s occasional help).  Roger and Jan have traveled all fifty states, 6 of the 10 Canadian provinces, and down into Mexico.

Click on any of the pictures to see an enlarged view

Coyote & Angel – Ocala, Florida

Our next fantastic visit was to Coyote and Angel’s log cabin retreat near Ocala, Florida.  And what a treat it was!  They’re both retired now, but both have a colorful past and have enjoyed rebuilding over 30 classic and antique cars and trucks in their retirement.  They’re also very creative and have built a wonder-filled outdoor experience that  the pictures below can only begin to explain.  Utilizing BoondockersWelcome, they invite RV’er’s to come and spend the night and they offer their retreat to host car shows, weddings, and other private events.  Since our visit Coyote and Angel have sold their motorhome and bought a vintage Airstream travel trailer and are planning on taking a trip up to Michigan this summer and we’re looking forward to seeing them again up there while we are at our Workamping job at Baldwin, MI.

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

Perry, Ginny, and Georgia – New Boston, TX

Now Perry and Ginny (along with Memaw Georgia) eagerly welcomed us to their home near New Boston, Texas and they showed off their southern hospitality by treating us to a great BBQ rib dinner.

We also enjoyed meeting another Boondocker couple there (Brad & Elaine) who had just returned from a month long trip to New Zealand to visit their daughter.  We all had a great evening together talking and laughing.

Be sure to check out the video below of Ginny and Perry’s “Alpine Village” that they’ve put together over the years.  Ginny told us that after we leave they were going to take it all apart to dust and clean and then put it ALL BACK TOGETHER AGAIN!  Glad it’s not MY job!

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

 

Germantown, OH – Lynn & Jackie

On our way back to “the old home place” in Ohio this spring, we took advantage of the invite by Lynn and Jackie at Germantown, Ohio (near Dayton).  They had us in for a wonderful home-cooked spaghetti dinner and the next day (we stayed two nights) Kathy and I toured the U.S. Air Force Museum adjacent to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  We also toured the Wright Brothers Museum and the original Bicycle Shop, then spent the late afternoon at Carillon Historical Park where they have nearly 35 buildings there originally built anywhere from the 1870’s to the 1930’s.  The second evening we went out to a local Mexican restaurant and then Jackie and Lynn treated us to a wonderful farewell waffle breakfast just before our departure!

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

Jason – Fairhope, Alabama

This stop was different in that we were not in the driveway of someone’s home, but rather their business.  Jason, a former school teacher turned restaurant owner is a RV’er wanna-be.  Having some restaurant experience in his past life, Jason opened this restaurant about 11 years ago and now is ready to sell and hit the road.

He’s joined all the RV clubs out there, is constantly reading RV’ers blogs and watching YouTube videos about the RV lifestyle and invites RV’ers to his restaurant so that he can have the opportunity to meet and learn from others.

RV’er friends of ours (that we had met in Arizona in 2016) were staying at an Escapees RV park just a few miles away, and so they came on over and we had a great night together enjoying shrimp PoBoys and fried clams.

In the morning, I went on over to the kitchen early while Jason was prepping for the lunch crowd.  I followed him around enjoying the fresh hot coffee and talking about our life histories and RV’ing.

Click on any of the individual pictures to see an enlarged view

 

As we’ve said before, “although seeing the sites as we travel around the country is great … the really wonderful experiences are the new friends we make along the way”, and we thank Boondockers Welcome for helping us to that end.

Driveway surfing is just one more way to experience the good life … maybe you’ll try it someday yourself!

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

We’re Ready For Something Different – What’ll It Be?

We’re Ready For Something Different – What’ll It Be?

We’ve been on the road now for about 18 months and traveled from Vermont to California and the Upper Penninsula of Michigan down to central Florida and so many points in between.  Here’s a map showing where we’ve been.

Where We’ve Been

We’ve been working along the way.  We’ve been working in RV parks as hosts and workampers.  Generally, this means that we put in 15-20 hours per week in exchange for our RV site and utilities.  This saves us about $500 each month while at the same time giving us enough time off to immerse ourselves in the area and see the sights.

We’ve come to realize that although our experiences so far have been wonderful and rewarding, we want to move a little more often than once every 3-6 months.  We seem to get “hitch-itch” at about a month in to our engagement.  That’s why we’ve made arrangements to work at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October and the Big Tent RV show at Quartzsite Arizona in January.  And we’ll pick up other jobs in between.

In an effort to become a little more mobile and move on down the road a little more often while still being able to work in exchange for our site, we’ve discovered another opportunity.  There’s a whole big movement out there that not only would accomplish OUR goal, but serves others and our Lord at the same time.

Enter Christian mobile work groups.

Along the way, we’ve met several folks that are part of one of these Christian based mobile work teams.  We’ve found about a half dozen active groups (and there are probably more).  Generally these volunteers work as teams in local churches, bible camps, orphanages, schools, and even some disaster stricken areas.

The host church (or agency) typically provides the RV site and utilities along with at least one hearty meal during the day.  The 3 or 4 work days per week are usually about 6 hours long and the week is interspersed with sufficient group worship, prayer, and fellowship time around the campfire or on “day trips” away from camp.

The video below shows our trip this past week over to Piney Woods Baptist Encampment in Woodlake, Texas about 90 minutes northeast of Houston.

We found out that Piney Woods is one of 39 Baptist camps in Texas.

This is an awesome camp that is capable of hosting about 1000 campers at a time and boasts multiple buildings that include lodging, dining, worship, and recreation centers.

The camp has about 25 full-time staff to support the programming and the facilities and besides the “mobile” volunteers that I’m talking about in this blog post, they also hire 60-70 summer college aged camp counselors to work with the camp attendees.

I could go on and on, but I encourage you to visit http://www.pineywoodscamp.com/ to find out all about this wonderful camp for kids and adults alike.

In the meantime, take a look at the video below to come along with us on our tour!  After the video, I’ve listed some links to the Christian based mobile volunteer work groups that we’ve discovered in case you’re interested in learning more about them.

Kathy and I have already joined Volunteer Christian Builders and have sent applications to join NOMADS and RVICS.  We plan on being able to serve one or more of these groups 2 or 3 times each year in between our other gigs.  Maybe we’ll even meet you at one of these worthwhile projects!

Until then, safe travels to you and yours

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Kathy Asked … Are We Too Heavy?

Kathy Asked … Are We Too Heavy?

One of the benefits of belonging to the Escapee’s RV Club is the opportunity to have your rig (and tow vehicle) weighed.  They call it their SmartWeigh service.

The SmartWeigh station at Livingston, TX

Although you can get weighed at many of the truck stops around the country, the Escapees service includes weighing of not only the rig as a whole or weighing of each axle, but also the weight of the rig (or vehicle) on EACH CORNER.  This helps the RV’er to know how their load is distributed within the RV and where you might need to move (or remove) weight to get your rig within specs for a safe ride.

The manufacturers weight rating label is typically (not always) located inside the rig either on a wall or inside one of the cabinets.  I’ve seen travel trailers that have them on the outside of the rig as well.  In any event they should be located either inside  or made of a material such that they will not easily get worn or be destroyed by weather or people.

In addition to the Weight Rating Label (glued to the back wall) in the cupboard above the couch, I’ve taped other pertinent info (like the paint color codes) on the inside of the door
The Weight Rating Label shows TOTAL weight rating with and without liquids and passengers, but NOT axle ratings

Note that the weight rating label I reference above DOES NOT indicate the individual Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR), only the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  This label shows the math using some known (& unknown) standards.

Our rig when filled with fuel, water, and 770 pounds of humans, still allows for a Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)  of 1770 pounds.  But how is that weight actually distributed?

For a more complete and accurate assessment of your rig’s weight, it is important to know the individual Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) and the tire manufacturers recommended inflation pressure for given loads.  If you bought your rig new you should have it with your Owners Manual papers.  If you bought yours used like we did, you should be able to find this information online at your rig manufacturer’s (or chassis) web site.

Click here to see the data sheet for our Freightliner chassis.

From the chart that shows in the link above, you can see that our Freightliner chassis has a Front Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) of 9,350 pounds, a Rear GAWR of 17,000 for a total Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,350 pounds.  This is the TOTAL that includes the RV, fuel, water, passengers, and cargo.  I can’t explain why the sticker inside the cabinet states 26,850 while the Freightliner chassis data calls out 26,350 pounds … a 500 pound difference.

If the weight was evenly distributed, this would allow for 4,675 pounds on EACH front tire and 4,250 on each of the four rear tires.  Remember that these weight ratings are for the AXLES, not the tires.  That’s a separate issue we’ll cover further down the page.

Enter the SmartWeigh system.

The SmartWeigh “pad” at Livingston

The pad is a long and level concrete pad that the customer can drive their motorhome and toad (or truck and trailer) onto at the direction of the weighmaster.

The driver stops as directed by the weighmaster, where then the individual scales are placed into depressions or cavities in the concrete so the driver can then safely and smoothly roll forward onto the scale when directed by the weighmaster.

One of the scales in place ready to drive onto

The weighmaster moves the scales from axle to axle (1 scale on each side) and records each individual wheel weight.  Again, it’s important to know not only HOW MUCH weight you are carrying as compared to the manufacturers specification, but WHERE you are carrying the weight so as to provide the safest possible loading.

SmartWeigh also provides the owner with a detailed data sheet of how your rig compares to the manufacturer’s weight rating.  Here’s the data sheet with our numbers.

You can see that our front corner weights are under the Front GAWR by 1250 pounds but we’re a little heavier on the passenger side, so we need to move some of our cargo in the basement from the curb side to the road side.

The rear axle weighs in at 17,550 pounds, 550 pounds OVER the GAWR for the rear axle so we need to lighten the load by removing some items and/or moving what we are carrying more toward the front of the coach.

SO NOW LET’S TALK TIRES …

We ride on Goodyear tires designed for motorhome use.  The model # is G670 and the size is 275/70R/22.5.  The manufacturers data chart shows the maximum load per various cold inflation pressures.

Goodyear tire inflation chart

I generally run the coach tires at 100 p.s.i. cold inflation pressure.  You can see on the chart above that at 100 p.s.i. the front TIRES are capable of carrying 5,850 pounds.  You’ll remember that the SmartWeigh chart shows we’re carrying 3,900 and 4,200 so we’re well under the limit on the front.  We could run 85 p.s.i. and still be well within the safety margin.

Since we have “duallys” on the rear axle (two tires on each side), we therefore split the total corner weight between the tires.  The chart shows that at 100 p.s.i. we can carry 5,390 on each tire or 10,780 pounds on each rear corner.  SmartWeigh tells us we are running 8,900 pounds on the curb side and 8,650 on the road side, again well within the manufacturers load limit for 100 p.s.i. inflation pressure.  And again, we could run 85 p.s.i. on the rear as well.

Speaking of tires and proper inflation pressure, be sure to check out my post about Electronic Wireless Tire Inflation Monitors and the importance of being safe on the road and how these relatively inexpensive devices can save you time, trouble, money, and very possibly … your life!

The SmartWeigh service is available (by appointment) at Escapee RV Parks in; Livingston TX, Bushnell FL, and Congress AZ by calling one of the numbers on this page of the Escapees RV Club web site.

In the meantime … safe travels to you and yours.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Visit To The Orlando “HamCation”

One of the perks of being in Florida in February is the opportunity to attend the Orlando “HamCation“.  This is the 2nd largest of it’s type in the country with the Dayton “HamVention” being the largest.  I’ve attended Dayton probably 20 times or so over the years, but this was a first for me to attend the Orlando gathering.

Both events, along with hundreds of other much smaller shows around the country are shows that attract Amateur Radio (ham) Operators where they have an opportunity to buy and sell at the flea market, discover new products presented by the manufacturer’s reps, attend educational forums, meet friends they’ve talked to on the air, eat food trailer goodies, and basically just have a good time rubbing elbows with other like-minded folks.

The Back Story …

Similar to what Mr. Rapin was putting up in his yard

I was introduced to Amateur Radio in the late ’60’s when I was about 12 or 13 years old.  A neighbor of mine, a kindly rolly-polly white haired man named Mr. Rapin was assembling a HUGE antenna of sorts on a very tall tower in his back yard.

Being curious (and bored) kids, my buddy Eddie and I rode our bikes down the block to see what Mr. Rapin was up to.  He took four of us neighborhood kids under his wing and that summer kept us off the streets by allowing us to spend time in his radio “shack” listening to him talk to folks around the corner and around the world.

Mr. Rapin inspired the four of us neighborhood boys to take an evening adult education course (taught by Mrs. Penny) at one of the local schools, study for, and ultimately pass the F.C.C Amateur Radio Exam.  Three of us (Herb WB8BHK, Ed WB8BHL, and Dave WB4EWS formerly WB8BHY) now live in different areas of the country but still stay in touch weekly if not daily.

Sandy & Ed (WB8BHL)
Dave (WB4EWS) & Robyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al Rapin (WA8BVP) has been a “Silent Key” for many years now but Eddie and Dave and I still talk about him and the effect he had on our young teenage years by keeping us out of trouble.

Back to the point of the story …

Kathy and I were staying at the Escapee’s RV Club park at Bushnell, FL and we drove the coach over to the Central Florida Fairgrounds on Wednesday so we would be assured of a good spot in time for the hamfest to open on Friday.  We were rewarded with a prime spot at the north end of the fairgrounds against the lake.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were parked in the same area as a good-sized group of RV’ers from the WBCCI (Wally Byam Caravan Club International). The WBCCI members are owners of Airstream RV products and this is the company that Wally Byam started in California back in the 30’s.  They are still in business today and being owners of an Airstream motorhome ourselves, Kathy and I were interested and took a tour of the Airstream factory, now in Jackson Center, OH back in October of 2017.  You can see my post about that tour by following this link.

The fairgrounds accommodated hundreds of RV’s and most of them sported antennas of some sort as the hams were there “living the dream” and soaking in all they could.  Of course not everyone was in an RV, many just drove their car in from surrounding states and were staying at nearby motels.  But being right there on the grounds for all the action was great!

The pictures below show just a spattering of what when on at the event.  My buddy Ed who has lived in Orlando for over 25 years now came on over with his wife Sandy and the girls took off doing what girls do while us boys toured the flea market pointing at some of the old “boat anchors” as they’re referred to now because of their size and weight and picking up what goodies we could afford.

You’ll note that some of the pictures below look a bit “cloudy” because of the heavy fog each morning, but they give you an idea of where we camped and the inside of some of the buildings.

 

Unfortunately our friend Dave (WB4EWS) wasn’t able to join us at the HamCation as he had to attend a business meeting in Hawaii (tough job, eh?)

But we will all be together again this May in Dayton for the annual Dayton HamVention.  Our son David (N8SVS) and grandson Garret will also be joining us in Dayton as they live only about 3 hours away in north central Ohio.

In January of 2019, Kathy and I will be enjoying the Quartzfest in Quartzite, AZ and in February of 2019, we’ll mosey on down and take in the Yuma Hamfest at Yuma, AZ

In the meantime, very best “73 de WB8BHK” (hamspeak for Goodbye from WB8BHK)

Maybe I’ll find you later down the log book!

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Great February In Florida

Great February In Florida

NOTE: We are currently back at Livingston, TX for a couple weeks while we volunteer at the annual CARE Center Health Fair at the Escapee’s RV Park.  We’ll be leaving here Mar 31st and heading back to Ohio (for a bit).

WOW!  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  Now that we’ve got good wifi for the next couple of weeks, maybe I can get caught up a little, eh?

We were Workamping at the Escapees “Rainbow’s End” RV Park in Livingston, TX from mid-October to mid-January and then we took off to Florida for the month of February.  A little vacation for us with no “work” like we’ve been doing since hitting the road fall of ’16.

What a great time we had …

Our reason for going to Florida was not only to get a little better (warmer) weather than what we’d had for the last 3 months in Texas, but even more so to be able to visit family and long-time friends.  Some of these folks now live in Florida full-time while others are either regular “sno-birds” or maybe are just on a short vacation from the frigid north-land to warmer climates.

In any event, thanks to Facebook, RVillage, and GMail we were able to actually meet up with and spend time with 15 different couples as we enjoyed our Florida getaway.  You can click on any of the pictures to see the caption of who it is we visited and where.

While traveling and workamping have their rewards (being able to see the sights and helping to pay the way), by far the best part of this full-time RV lifestyle is the opportunity to hook up with old friends and meet so many new ones along the way.

We are blessed to have this opportunity to travel.

Our plans for the near future include; heading back to Ohio in April to visit family, then up to our Workamping gig in Michigan for the summer at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort, while fall of 2018 will take us to Albuquerque, NM where we’ll be working at the annual International Balloon Fiesta, then on to our leased lot at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ for the winter with an excursion in mid-January to Quartzite, AZ to work at the “Big Tent” RV Show.

We haven’t planned spring and summer of 2019 yet, it’s a little too early to start nailing anything down, but we hope to be somewhere in the northwest U.S.

 We hope you’ll ride along!  Oh, and by the way, feel free to comment down below – it’s great to hear from you TOO!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Workamping Fun at Rainbow’s End RV Park Livingston, TX

We are wrapping up our Workamping experience at the Escapees RV Club park known as “Rainbow’s End.

This was the first park built in the system back in the late ’70’s.  There were a handful of die-hard full-time RV’ers that donated their time and their talents to build this park.

This is also the home of the clubs National Headquarters and mail service that serves nearly 10,000 members and handles 25,000 pieces of mail daily.

We arrived October 15, 2017 and Kathy has been working in the office 8 hrs/week checking in new arrivals and taking reservations on the phone.  I’ve been working 12 hrs/week outside maintaining the grounds and the buildings.

In exchange for the combined 20 hrs/week we receive a free full hook-up site and utilities.  Laundry allowance is not provided.

Here’s a 6 minute video that I put together showing some of the amenities of the park and what the workampers get involved in during a typical week.

I’m also learning to use a new video editing software, so please bear with me and some of the features I’ve been experimenting with like; titles, transitions, voice-overs, fade-in and fade-out, and music.

Please remember to SUBSCRIBE to our You Tube channel by clicking on the icon in the lower right corner, and if you’d give the video a “thumbs up” too, that’d be wonderful.

Thanks for riding along with us and we look forward to the time we can meet up down the road.

Although we’re currently in Livingston, TX … we’re heading out Jan 14th for Florida for the month of February, then back to TX the last couple weeks of March, then (through Ohio) and up to Baldwin, Michigan for our summer workamping job, and in the fall of ’18 we’ll be in Albuquerque, NM working at the International Balloon Fiesta for a few weeks before we head to our winter home at Casa Grande, Arizona.

Here’s the video

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

How Do We Know We’re Not Going To Freeze Down Below?

Call me worried … call me paranoid … but when winter comes (even in east Texas) and shows it’s ugly head, I worry about whether or not we are really set for any below freezing temps.

Having worked as a Realtor the last 20 years of my working life, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see vacant homes get nearly destroyed as a result of freezing temperatures.

On the surface, everything seems fine.  But in a very short time-frame things can turn ugly in a hurry.

The video below shows a couple of steps we take to make sure that we can get FAR below freezing temps outside and still have a safe water supply in our RV for both drinking and bathing.

If you have any other safeguards that you take to protect your RV, or for that matter your sticks ‘n bricks house, I’d be interested to hear about what steps you take.

Thanks for reading and thanks for riding along.  Safe travels to you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Suspension and Steering Upgrades To Our Coach

I’m always looking at other RV’s out there … comparing what others are driving (and living in) against what we are driving and living in.  All in all, we both are quite satisfied with our current home on wheels.  It’s a 2002 Airstream 36′ diesel pusher motorhome.  It’s built on a Freightliner Custom Chassis and is powered by a Caterpillar 3126 (300 hp) 6 cylinder diesel engine paired with an Allison 3000 6-speed electronic transmission.

It has enough room for us .. with one 13′ slide out that includes the couch and kitchen and another smaller slide out in the bedroom.  The body and the paint finish is in very good condition and now that we’ve remodeled the interior, it really feels more like home to us than ever before.

To see what we’ve done inside, you can follow this link and to take the exterior tour, follow this link

However, as the driver, I wondered if we couldn’t make some improvements to the ride and handling and so I started to read (and watch You Tube videos) on some of the upgrades that were applicable to our unit and what they would do for us.  After a few months, we finally took the plunge, ordered the components, and had a local RV shop install the parts for us.

 

 

 

 

Saf T Plus Steering Stabilizer

The first upgrade I wanted to do was to add a Safe-T-Plus Steering Stabilizer.  I had talked to other RV’ers who had installed one of these and they told me it made the driving so much easier and far less tiring.  As we criss-crossed the country over the last year, I found that I was always moving the steering wheel back and forth correcting and over-correcting every time we got a gust of wind or when a large tractor-trailer passed us.  It seemed I was always fighting the wind.  Now, after installation, the stabilizer keeps the rig running smoothly down the center of the road with very little help from me.  I can actually take my hands off the wheel totally for a few hundred feet.  The difference is amazing.

The stabilizer is a shock absorber that is self centering.  It resists being pulled all the way open and also resists being pushed closed.

It’s a very easy installation that can be done by any driveway mechanic, that is, providing you have an impact wrench, a torque wrench, bottle jacks and jack stands capable of supporting the weight of your truck or motorhome.

One end of the stabilizer mounts to the axle and the other end attaches to the tie rod with “U” bolts so it can be adjusted easily after installation if necessary.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second upgrade was the installation of a new steering Bell Crank.
The bell crank bolts onto the frame and is the pivot point that provides the 90 degree connection for the idler arm that attaches to the tie rod and the steering gear box. When the bell crank gets old, the needle bearing tends to wear and excessive play and slop in the assembly transfer and is manifested as  loose steering control at the driver’s wheel. By replacing this component, we further tightened up the front end so it only responds to my pressure on the steering wheel and not to every bump and hole in the road.

Here’s a short video that explains the difference between a factory original equipment bell crank and the Super Steer SS-100 Bell Crank

The third upgrade we did was the installation of Motion Control Valves. These are really nothing more than small orifices that install in each air line supplying air to the airbags adjacent to each wheel.  These orifices slow down the rate at which air moves into and out of the air bag. The reason this is helpful is that after installation it lessens the amount of side-to-side rocking of the coach when we drive into or out of a driveway, especially if we’re approaching the curb or drop on an angle which is typically the case.  Those of you who drive a large motorhome know what I’m talking about. It’s when you pull out of a gas station and the whole coach rocks side-to-side so violently that the cupboards fly open and out come the glasses and dishes! By slowing down the rate of air travel from one bag to the other, the violent rocking is minimized as well.

Another short video from Super Steer on the Motion Control Valves and what they do.

Here’s a short video from the manufacturer showing the easy installation of the steering stablilzer, the motion control valves, and the bell crank assembly;

Our final suspension/steering upgrade was installation of a rear anti-sway bar. The coach already had a front anti-sway bar installed, however as the guys were under the coach installing the other components, they found that all the bushings in the front bar were GONE!  They had worn to the point that they had just fallen out of the brackets. The shop ordered new bushings and got them installed along with all the other work.

The anti-sway bar is connected between the axle (suspension) and the frame and once installed lessens the “roll” so often experienced from wind and passing trucks.

The rear anti-sway bar was ordered directly from Roadmaster, as Amazon did not carry this part. Normally, it’s a pretty simple bolt-on installation, but as it turned out, Roadmaster had installed their product on a chassis SIMILAR to mine, but not identical.  Because of this, there was some drilling to be done by the shop and that took extra time since the frame is about 3/8″ thick.

But all in all, the job was completed along with installation of a new slide topper (to keep rain off the top of the slide and subsequently into the coach) and we’re “Happy Campers”.

Installing the slide topper

I know it might seem like we’ve spent a lot of time and energy updating and repairing our home on wheels, but the way I look at it, it’s still a LOT less expensive than buying a new quality-built coach and we really like being debt free.

Thanks so much for riding along with us on our journey and we hope to see you “down the page” or better yet “down the road” somewhere!

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Better yet, it’d be great if you left us a comment .. Thanks again

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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