Readying for our trip to Q

Q? For the benefit of those of you who are not RV’ers, Q stands for Quartzite, a small town in western Arizona. The town explodes in the winter with hundreds of thousands of RV’ers who choose to live in the desert for the winter. More on that later because I plan on writing to you while we are there so I can share the experience with you. In the meantime, follow this link to learn a little more about where we’re going.

Since we’ve been here at Rovers Roost since about mid October, we’ve been having fun with our neighbors, and doing a few little projects around here.

We thought that maybe we were having a temperature control problem with our fridge. We had an Indoor/Outdoor thermometer in there for years. This unit showed us the refrigerator temperature and the room temperature. One day I noticed it was up to 49 degrees – Yikes!

Problem was, we never knew if the fridge was ever actually in cooling mode or not. If the thermometer indicated 40 degrees, was the control circuit calling for cooling? These RV fridges don’t have a compressor, they rely on heated ammonia gas to provide the cooling and that process is nearly silent.

I wanted to know what the control board was saying … was it firing the gas solenoid or the electric heating element? Was it trying to cool at all?

Off to Amazon to order a couple little lights that I could install into the wall next to the fridge to tell me when it’s calling for “cool”.

These little guys work great for the 12 volt gas solenoid. I just drilled a hole in the wall next to the fridge, connected one wire to pin 2 of J4 on the control board and the other wire to ground. I chose to use the blue colored light for gas since the gas flame is mostly blue.

I used this green 120 volt panel light for the 120 volt electric heating element. I hooked the two wires in parallel to the existing wires on J7 and J8 of the fridge control board. These wires go to the electric heating element in the boiler.

Then (also on Amazon) I bought a ” New and Improved” Indoor/Outdoor thermometer. This new one comes with one sensor inside the display (for the room temperature) and 3 additional sensors for remote locations. We put one in the freezer, the second in the fridge, and the third one outside. So now we can see at a glance all four temperatures (and humidity). The outside sensor is currently hanging on the rear grill of the coach because it’s in the shade. I don’t want to permanently install it on the coach, because then it’s apt to be in the direct sunlight more often than not. I wonder how long it will take for me to forget it’s hanging on the back by a paper clip and lose it as we zip down the freeway at 60+ mph!?

Indoor temp is 74.8, freezer is -1.7, fridge is 34.7 and outside is 39.8
Will I remember to take this off before we head down the road?

If you think you’d like one of these little gadgets for your rig/home, you can order it direct from our Amazon store by clicking on the link below.

Turns out after installing the new 4-station thermometer and installed the indicator lights, we now realize that the fridge controller is working just as it is supposed to. When the temp rises, the control turns on and a few hours later, the temp is back down to where it’s supposed to be.

These RV fridges don’t cool as quickly as a residential fridge with a compressor full of Freon, so we just have to be patient after loading it up with groceries from the store or putting in a new gallon of lemonade or freshly made liter of hot tea!

Although our storage shed on our lot was new a couple years ago (just before we got the lot) the original paint from Tuff-Sheds was pretty lame. It was spray painted before being assembled and the paint is “flat” and a thin coat. This front (with the window) wall faces south and gets super-heated sun rays all year long, especially in the 100+ degree summers.

I knew if we were to protect the wood siding from deteriorating, we need to put a good heavy coat of exterior paint on it (and probably re-paint regularly)

Kathy decided she wanted different colors so a few weeks ago I bought some Sherwin-Williams Weathershield Semi-Gloss Exterior paint and painted the trim the green color (per her instructions of course!)

Our shed trim painted – but still the original siding color

This week we went back to Lowes and bought the lighter color for the siding so I could at least get the southern facing wall painted before we leave for the season.

The shed south wall painted with the new lighter color

I’ll do the other three walls next winter when I have more time.

Today is Sunday and we’ll be heading to Q on Thursday so I still have some small remaining tasks left to do. Need to mount and secure the bikes on the bike rack, regenerate the water softener and fill our fresh water tank (54 gallon) with fresh softened water, take down my ham radio antennas, clean the windshield on the coach, put the chairs and tables in the basement, get our on-board propane tank filled before we leave the park, and bring the WAVE 6 Catalytic heater up from the basement for use when we are boondocking at Q.

This heater will keep us warm as the sun goes down and we won’t need to use any electricity to operate it. It just gives off a cozy warm radiant heat.

I’ve already got the CB antenna mounted on the car – did that last week. I’ve got things set up so I can move the CB radio from the coach to the car. I don’t normally use the CB, but it’s one of the requirements from the caravan leader for our trip to Mexico in February. I’ll install it back in the coach before heading to Q so we can monitor any freeway problems along the way.

And I found a small wooden shelf on our “trade table” at the clubhouse last week. People put their unwanted items on the table, others pick them up and put a few bucks in the bucket to help pay for some of the activities in the park.

I’m not sure what the previous owner used it for, but we want a wall mounted spice rack. I found some leftover oak, ripped it down to the right size on the table saw in the shop, and attached two strips to the front of the shelf. Primed it with exterior latex, spray painted it dark brown and am planning on installing it on the wall today. This will clean up our kitchen table.

I added 2 bars on the front to keep items “in” while we drive & sprayed it a dark brown
With the rack now on the wall, we have a lot more room on our dining table

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

Any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them as best I can. Please put questions and comments in the comment section below rather than email so that others can benefit from our conversation as well.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

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

What’s our engine thinking?

Well, we all have gauges of some sort on our vehicle that tell us the REALLY important things like “You’re Outta Gas!” or “I’m getting too hot!“, but there’s a lot more information that all our newer (since 1996 or so) vehicles have that can be extracted from the on board computer (known as the Engine Control Module) and, if you have the right device, then display that data on a screen so the driver can see and monitor the engine load and performance. On diesel trucks and motorhomes, this data is sent by the ECM to a “Deutsch” connector. On pick-up trucks and passenger cars they use an OBDII (On-Board Diagnostic) connector.

One such device for diesel engines in Motorhomes is BLUEFIRE FOR MOTORHOMES.

I discovered this device and it’s associated app while visiting the Quartzsite “Big Tent” RV show in January of 2019. Their display of the user interface caught my eye and so I went over and talked to Mark Fredrickson who, as it turns out is the developer of both the plug-in adapter and the free app available for Apple, Android devices and Windows 10 computers.

This device (called the adapter) plugs into your diesel vehicle Deutsch Connector. In our case, there is a round 6-pin Deutsch connector mounted just inside the rear “hood” of our coach just over the top of the radiator (labeled Diagnostics). There is another duplicate connector mounted under the dash. These are the connectors that the mechanic would use for diagnostic purposes.

This is what our (6 pin) adapter looks like

The really sweet thing about Bluefire for Motorhomes is that the adapter is BLUETOOTH which means the adapter talks to your phone/tablet/laptop wirelessly and this means that you don’t have to deal with any unsightly wires coming out from under the dash AND you don’t need to provide any power to the adapter since it gets it’s own power from the Deutsch connector.

The BlueFire for Motorhomes App is free and can be downloaded and installed from Apple Tunes, Google Play, or the Microsoft App Stores. It will run completely in Demo mode so you can get a feel for it’s capabilities before purchasing an Adapter.

The cost of the adapter starts at $150.00 (for a 6 pin Android/Windows adapter) up to $190.00 for the 9 pin (newer motorhomes) Android/Windows/Apple adapter. You will need to look at your Deutsch connector to see if it’s 6 or 9 pin and also decide what platform you are going to run it on (Apple/Android/Microsoft).

If you need to use Bluefire on a pickup truck or other vehicle with an OBDII connector, then order the appropriate adapter from the link in the box below.

Since our motorhome is a 2002 Airstream on a Freightliner chassis with a CAT 3126 engine and a 6 pin Deutsch, we were able to purchase our adapter for $150.00

Since the app is FREE, I urge you to download the app and play with it in DEMO mode. This will allow you to learn about all the various settings and learn about how you might want your “dashboard” to look like. To use the app in DEMO mode, from the main menu (or control panel) click on SETTINGS & then UN-check DO NOT SHOW DEFAULT DATA.

Your custom dashboard is completely customize-able. You select which gauges you want displayed, what style the gauge will be (circular, text, or linear), what colors you want, and all gauge placement. Here’s a shot of how I set up my dash for our motorhome.

My Bluefire dash on my Galaxy 8″ tablet (in demo mode)

You can see that I have 8 circular gauges, 8 text gauges, and 3 buttons on my dash. And I still have room on the screen to add more. I can even place a dynamic map on the dashboard that works off the GPS.

This is the tablet I’m using for Bluefire. My laptop was too big. I would have to set it on the dash and then I couldn’t reach it from the driving position. My Android phone is too small and it mounts on a long flexible neck that tends to bounce around during travel. This would make it too had to view the gauges, so the 8′ tablet was the way to go for me.

Here’s the base that I bought to mount the tablet. I screwed the mount right into the dash just to the left of the back-up monitor left of the steering wheel. It’s a very solid mount and does not allow the tablet to jiggle or bounce around as you travel down the road.

In the screenshots below you will see just how many parameters there are that the ECM sends to Bluefire and you can make gauges on your custom dashboard displaying ANY of these parameters.

Be aware that not ALL motorhomes ECM’s will transmit ALL of these parameters. My coach is an older (2002) and there are a few pieces of data that just don’t come across (like coolant LEVEL) because my coach doesn’t have a sensor that feeds into the ECM for that.

I DO however have a LOW WATER light and buzzer on the Freightliner dash that warns me … which by the way I found DOES work as we were climbing a steep hill, the coolant in the reservoir shifted to the back thereby exposing the sensor and setting off our LOW WATER alarm!

It’s very easy to operate. Here’s how I turn it on and start to use the system.

Turn on my tablet, enable Bluetooth and open the Bluefire app. I have my settings set to NOT bring up default values when not connected (ignition off). Start the engine. Push CONNECT on the app control panel. Push “TRIPS” on app control panel and enter the name of my trip that I’m starting. Push START TRIP. Push one of 3 buttons on Control Panel (either DASHBOARD, DRIVE, or REPAIR) to view graphical data being sent from the ECM.

DRIVE and REPAIR each have multiple screens (you can scroll up and down) that show you every possible parameter that your ECM might be sending to the adapter.

Using the TRIP function all the driver has to do is start and connect the app to the adapter, enter the name of the trip, (i.e. Chicago to St. Louis) and then push START TRIP. The app and the ECM do the rest of the work. When you stop for fuel, push FUEL FILL-UP – the app will ask you if it’s a total or partial fill. At the end of the trip push STOP TRIP and you’ll see the results on-screen and a report will be emailed in a csv spreadsheet format. The spreadsheet is amended with another ROW after each trip so all your trip(s) data is automatically saved in a nice compact format for easy retrieval at any time in the future.

Screen shot of the TRIP screen.

Here is the link to purchase the Bluefire For Motorhomes Adapter from our Amazon Associates Page. If you order from Amazon (through this link) or the BUY NOW button below, then we will be paid a small fee from Amazon and the purchase doesn’t cost you any more.

Here’s a link to their Getting Started Document that’s 23 pages long and really explains a lot. I don’t think this document was available when I started using Bluefire or maybe I just never saw it — I learned by experimenting.

For a quick look at some of the App pages follow this link to the Bluefire web site.

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

Any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them as best I can. Please put questions and comments in the comment section below rather than email so that others can benefit from our conversation as well.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

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

herbnkathy solar install

While we were on the road this year, I made an appointment with Brian Boone to have our solar power system upgraded when we got back to Arizona.

We set the appointment for November 18th in Quartzsite. Brian worked for Discount Solar for ten years installing new systems before going out on his own.

Welcome to Quartzsite

Brian and his wife Sue are full-time RV’ers themselves and travel the country posting their upcoming locations on their Facebook page so other RV’ers can make appointments when it works for both.

Since our RV Park at Casa Grande is only 3 hours from Q, it was an easy drive for the day and a half it would take for the install. Brian was able to make arrangements with a local church to allow us to use their parking lot for the duration.

Our first night at the church parking lot

After arriving Sunday afternoon in Q, we had dinner at the famous Quartzsite Yacht Club where they had Karaoke and it was a blast!

I ordered all the equipment for the install from Continuous Resources back in October and had it delivered to me at our RV park in plenty of time to load up in the Saturn to take along with us to the install site. By doing it this way Brian doesn’t have to carry any bulky, heavy, and high priced inventory. He does however, carry a wide variety of cables, connectors, and hardware needed to complete the installation.

6 solar panels, 2 solar controllers, Inverter, remote panels, switches, and fuses

The next morning Brian and crew showed up about 8:30, set up their work station and got right to work.

Since Brian is having a little trouble with his knees lately he solicited the help of his friend Devin to do some of the work that would require kneeling and squatting.

We installed (six) 200 watt Hightec RCL-M200w solar panels on the roof, two Blue Sky 3024i controllers, two power disconnects, fuse, and a Magnum 2000 watt full sine wave inverter. Both the inverter and the solar controller(s) have remote monitoring and control panels wall mounted in the kitchen. We mounted these on the wall because we didn’t have any cabinet conveniently located that we could mount them into.

Our next upgrade will be to replace the four Trojan T-105 flooded cell batteries with four Battleborn Lithium 100 amp hour batteries but that’ll be a while since they are so pricey.

Although the job was finished Tuesday about noon in time for us to make it back to Casa Grande, we decided to stay a 3rd night because a bad wind and rain storm was headed our way. By early afternoon the temperature dropped about 25 degrees and the wind went from “still” to 20-30 mph gusts.

Look at the sky as the storm was heading in … eery

So we spent another night at the church and then headed on home on Wednesday.

If you’re considering installing or upgrading your solar system, I recommend that you check out Brian Boone’s Got Solar or Got Solar? Solar Brian on Facebook.

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

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

Finally – The Leak Is Fixed!

We bought our Airstream motorhome (2002 model) in late 2015 and shortly afterward we noticed that part of the oak trim down by the floor was stained as if it had been wet at some time in the past.

This is the 6″ wide oak trim that runs the height of the living room slide

This piece of trip runs from floor to ceiling on the slide immediately behind the driver’s seat.

Initially, before we replaced all the carpeting with vinyl plank flooring, we were not really aware of the leak because it was small and “wicked” into the carpeting under the couch in the slide. But when we removed the carpet and padding to prepare for the new vinyl flooring, we could then see the effect the water leak had on the carpet and the padding.

This shows the subfloor and the new vinyl plank flooring being installed – the spot that showed evidence of water was located behind the driver’s seat

Since that time we’ve been watching the floor behind the driver’s seat very closely anytime it rained when we were parked with the living room slide in the out position. We never saw any water when the slide was in, but it seemed anytime it rained – even just a little – produced a small puddle of water on the vinyl floor.

We’ve worked at making sure we carefully leveled the coach anytime we parked at a new location. Using the hydraulic leveling system, we would have the coach tipped slightly to the left so as to allow any water on the top of the slide to run off outboard.

Hydraulic leveling system controls
The boys at West RV in Livingston, TX in Jan ’18 installing our new slide topper

We even replaced the slide “topper” in hopes that this would cure the problem. No luck. So we resigned ourselves to the need to bring the slide in anytime rain was in the forecast. Although this is not a HUGE deal, it is inconvenient for whoever is trying to see the TV while sitting on the couch. And since this person is typically KATHY, it was becoming a thorn in MY side if it was going to rain and I decided it was time to pull in the slide!

The way our coach is designed, the TV is mounted on the left side of the cabin, so if the slide is “in” then the side wall of the slide comes in and partially blocks the TV from view of anyone sitting on the couch

But now that we’ve been basically in one place for a few months, and there’s a shop here at the RV park that has tools we can use , we’ve taken this opportunity to get into some repair and update projects …. and this slide issue is one of them.

I got a step ladder from the shop and started taking a good look at the top of the slide. I also took a good look at the bedroom slide as well since we never get any water in there. “What is it about the bedroom slide that’s different from the living room slide?” I asked myself.

Once I got up on the ladder (knees shaking) I looked closely at the bedroom slide and the top and side gaskets. The picture below shows how the side (vertical) gasket tucks in BEHIND the top (horizontal) gasket. In addition, ALL the gaskets are glued to the body of the coach from the INSIDE, so they had to be installed at the factory first before the slide was installed in to the opening. The light green metal box in the picture below is the frame opening in the body of the coach. With this gasket configuration, any water that might pool on the top of the slide is caught by the top gasket and wind (or pitch of the coach) allows it to run to the front or rear end where it then drips off the edge and onto the ground below or onto the vertical gasket (that takes the water away at the bottom). This is the way ALL the gaskets should be installed in all the slides.

BUT … Look at how I found the gasket on the front of the living room slide!

Living room slide gasket installed incorrectly

Two things are wrong here. First, the vertical slide gasket is installed on the OUTSIDE of the body opening instead of the inside. Was this installed incorrectly from the factory in 2002? Or did someone have the slide out sometime in the past 17 years and replace the gasket (incorrectly) for some reason?

Secondly, the side (vertical) gasket is “outside” of the top horizontal slide gasket. This always then allows any water on the top of the slide to travel toward the front of the coach and immediately run in behind the side gasket and on down the wall of the slide and into our living room!

Since it wasn’t feasible or practical for me to move the vertical gasket to the inside of the body opening (without removing the slide) I found the solution was to trim a little off the top of the vertical gasket so that it could be tucked in under the top gasket. I then put an ample amount of silicone sealant on the lap joint to keep it in that position.

My fix was to trim the vertical gasket and tuck it under the horizontal gasket

Right after I made this change, we hit it lucky and it rained for about 2 solid days here in Arizona. At times the wind was about 25-30 mph. And you know what?

NO WATER ON THE FLOOR!

My Airstream buddy Ed Leland down in Florida has the same make, model, and vintage coach as ours and so I’m anxious to find out how his is put together and if he’s ever had any problem with water infiltration. I know he’ll read this post and I’ll bet he’ll go right outside and take a close look!


Here’s the 100% Silicone Sealant that I used. It’s available from our Amazon Store by clicking on the image below.

Thanks for riding along …. Oh, and by the way … we have a new logo for our brand … whatta ya think?

Our new logo … We’ll use it on our web site, YouTube channel, and more
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

repost: The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless

I just learned of this family’s plight this morning.  Their story is nearly unbelievable, although I’ve been reading more and more about the generally poor quality of RV’s built today.

In talking with other RV’ers (weekend warriors or full-timers) we hear time and time again about how so many RV manufacturers are pushing crap out the door.  And when it comes to standing behind the products they make, their response seems to be “who, me?”

If you’re thinking of buying that new RV, I urge you to take a close look at what’s on the used market.  The thousands you can save can go a LONG way toward changing out that outdated flooring or fixtures.  And generally the frames (although they may have a little surface rust) and the structure are made of much heavier (stronger) materials.

When you look at the older (10+ years) rigs, pay attention to things like; leveling jacks and other frame components.  Now compare how beefy they are to the ones on current model rigs.  Look at all the cabinet work inside and compare.  How many of the new rigs have real wood?  It may look pretty, but get up close and you’ll likely see (and feel) that it’s nothing more than a man-made composite covered with a high grade contact paper.

Yes, I know … the older rigs don’t have the bells and whistles the new rigs do.  But do the bells and whistles do us any good if our rig is in generally such poor shape after just a couple years that we no longer are able to use it?

Don’t believe this can happen?  Read this one couples story via The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless

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?

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

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!

Please subscribe to our You Tube channel “herbnkathyrv” and please help us by giving us a “Thumbs Up” on our videos and “Liking” our blog posts here on herbnkathy.com

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

Airstream Motorhome Exterior Tour

Are you a current RV’er?  Do you travel pulling a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer? Or do you drive a motorhome and pull a car or truck behind?

We’ve had a fifth wheel trailer in the past and this is our 2nd motorhome.  We enjoy the freedom that the motorhome gives us, along with the ease of parking when it comes to our evening camping spot.

We’ve owned this Airstream motorhome for about two years now and although we’ve looked at other rigs out there – both newer and older along with bigger and smaller … we think this 2002 36′ coach is just right for the two of us and our full-time RV travels.

I made this video of the exterior of our coach to give others who might not be aware of some of the features of many class A motorhomes an idea of what to expect.  For those of you who might currently own a motorhome, it might be interesting for you to see some of the differences between ours and what you currently own.

Although there are a lot of similarites from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, there are also a lot of differences and this video just points out some of the features of our 2002 Airstream 365 XC Diesel Pusher motorhome.

I hope you enjoy seeing our coach and what it has to offer.  I’ll be publishing a companion video that will feature the interior and further explain some of the inside systems.

In the meantime, we just completed our interior remodel (paint, light & bath fixtures, etc) and you can see that video by following this link

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

Interior Remodel Of Our Airstream Motorhome

We bought our 2002 Airstream motorhome from the original owner who was selling it in W. Virginia.  We found it on Craigslist.  We were replacing a 2003 Monaco Monarch gas motorhome because I had always admired Airstream products and I really wanted a diesel pusher coach.  This one was a little unusual in that it is green in color (we like different) and besides, it fit our budget!

Our maiden voyage was from our (then) home in Ohio to visit Kathy’s cousin Judy in Encinitas, CA.  Once we completed that trip successfully and the coach was still in one piece and Kathy and I were still talking to each other, we made the decision to go RV’ing full time.  I retired from my real estate business and we left Ohio permanently for our “home on the road” on September 6, 2016.

Since that time we’ve traveled just under 20,000 miles and gone from Ohio to San Diego, to Ohio, to Vermont, to Ohio, to Arizona, to Ohio, to western Michigan (and the UP) and back to Ohio (via Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana) and most recently down to Texas for the winter.

Where We’ve Been

In all that time and miles, we’ve discussed numerous times what we like about our new home and what we would change or make sure we would get in our “next” rig.

We’ve been to RV dealers and we’ve been to a few RV shows in the past few years and we’ve climbed in and out of countless motorhomes.  We know what we like and what we don’t like.

We’ve come to the conclusion that we LIKE WHAT WE HAVE, save a few exceptions.

The new RV’s have a lot more bells and whistles but, like so many manufactured products today, “they just don’t make ’em like they used to” and the RV industry is not immune to this phenomenon.

I’m not going to get into what we don’t like about some of the new rigs because I don’t want to offend anybody.  Our rig, although 15 years old, is just getting “broke in” with about 69,000 miles on it’s Caterpiller 3126 diesel engine.  It purrs like a kitten (tiger) and rides like a dream and looks like new (when it’s washed!)  And it’s paid for.

But, since we made the decision to keep the “big green machine” as Kathy calls it, we decided to invest some money into making it less dated inside and also to beef up the engine and suspension/steering systems.  We wanted to make it closer to perfect.

I’ll be detailing the suspension and steering upgrades in a future post, but for now I’ll show you what we did on the inside. The video below details all that we did including; flooring, wall paint, window shade boxes, wall sconces, lavatory towel racks, light fixtures, and so on.

We’re happy with our remodel work and happy with our home on wheels.  She’s only 15 years old, so we hope to have her around as long as we are on the road … and who knows how long that will be?

In the meantime, we plan to continue to enjoy our travels and workamping experience and we hope you find your travels safe and wonder-filled.

You can follow us on our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv and of course here on the blog at www.herbnkathy.com.

If you are on Facebook, join us at facebook.com/herbsells

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
NOTE: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.