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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Hello
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 19:56:45 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

Amylee wrote:
> >From:  (Scott Leahy)
> >Snag one of the campground guides while you're there, Woodalls and
> >Good Sam's are a couple that I know about. They feature ratings of the
> >various campgrounds.
> >
> I didn't know there was even any guides. I told you guys I was new at this.
> Thank goodness for this newsgroup.

A couple of others.  "The Interstate Exit Authority" is a
must-have.  It is a printed database of (by their description) all
RV-oriented resources within a mile of every exit on every
Interstate in the US and Canada.  Particularly of interest is the
listings of dump stations.  I bought mine at an RV store but you can
also probably call 800-494-5566.

Second book.  The Rand-McNally Wal-Mart road atlas.  You want the
Wal-mart version because it lists the locations of all the US
Wal-Marts.  If you're new to this group you might not be aware that
Wal-Mart and to a lesser extent, K-mart officially allow RVers to
park overnight in their lots.  You typically park at the most
distant end of the lot, sleep and leave before the morning's
business day starts.  No amenities (even though you might spot an
electric outlet on a light pole, don't use it.) and no camping
(don't build a camp fire in a buggy!)  Though some people in this
group turn their noses up at sleeping at Wal-mart, we find it quite
nice.  When we're traveling (as opposed to camping), we drive until
we're tired, grab a Wal-mart for a few hours' sleep and head out
again.  This is a much better alternative than paying $15-30 or more
in a campground just to stop and rest the dogs for a few hours.

> >Be sure to check the
> >condition of all belts and hoses. Radiator hoses that look swollen
> >around the ends or feel soft and mushy should be replaced. Same with
> >belts that are cracked or glazed.

Let me add a few more items.  My theory is to be prepared for just
about any reasonable malfunction on the road that could stop the
trip.  Even though I might elect to have a garage do the repairs
(have not yet), I want to have the right parts on hand.  This is
important because even though my MH is based on a Chevy chassis, the
parts guys seem to have trouble finding the right parts.

I carry the following:

Spare tire
Extra lug nuts
A couple of lug bolts *
All hoses
All belts
Fuel pump
Water pump
Spark plugs
HEI ignition module
Voltage regulator for alternator
bearings and brushes for alternator
sparkplugs and a couple of plug wires.
plenty of fuses
Headlight bulb
tail light bulbs
lamps for the house fixtures
brake fluid
battery cross-connect relay
Diaphragm and gaskets for the fresh water pump
guillotine valve for holding tank
Silicone RTV gasket sealer
A selection of worm-type pipe clamps
Couple of square feet of galvanized screen wire. ****
Couple of rolls of 100 mph tape (AKA duct tape) <-- high quality
roll of electrical tape.
some 10 and 14 gauge wire.
Selection of crimp connectors (eyes, forks, butt splices, etc)
A few feet of plastic water pipe
Some water pipe fittings 

If your engine is fuel injected, you (or your mechanic) should
identify the electronic modules that are most likely to fail and
stop the engine.  Typical items include the MAP or MAF sensor, water
and air temp sensor, gas pressure regulator, idle air control, etc. 
Since this stuff is expensive, I get mine at the junkyard (for my
EFI'd car.)

Tools include:

Full tool kit (sockets, open ends, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.
digital volt meter
120 volt trouble light
300 watt inverter
120 volt air compressor - Campbell-Housfield brand **
12 ton bottle jack
large truck cross type lug wrench
Tire plug kit
Enough hardwood blocks to safely block up an axle while changing a
tire.  Do NOT rely on the jack!!! Also useful for leveling. ***
Stick-style butane lighter.
Several disposable flashlights - These are best because they are
cheap and thus can be kept fresh, then thrown away when used up.
350 watt Honda portable gas generator. *****

This sounds like a lot of stuff and there are probably some things I
forgot to list but it all fits in one storage bin on my rather small

IN addition, make sure you have a change of clothes for everyone and
enough food for a meal or two at all times.  You never know when a
breakdown will strand you.  Also make sure you have jackets for
everyone.  Rough to be broken down in the cold without the means to
stay warm.

A couple more tools I find to be invaluable are a pair (or more) of
FRS radios and a GPS receiver. The Family Radio Service radios have
so many uses that I can't list them all here.  Anytime we separate,
the radios go with us.  Say the wifey wants to go mall crawling. 
I'll stay in the MH and read or nap.  IF she sees a good restaurant
or something I might be interested in, she can give me a shout. 
Especially useful if your kid wants to go off and explore the woods
(or the mall!)  Range is about a mile under most conditions.  I
looked at most everything on the market and selected the Motorola
TA280 SLK TalkAbout radios.  About $110 each.  FRS radios are
available for as little as a third of that but they tend to be low
performance units.  I got mine at Office Max.

The GPS receiver is also useful for many things you might not
realize.  I don't have one of those fancy units with the built-in
maps or anything.  Just a basic Garmin receiver that I paid $60 for
at a flea market.  It will give me fixes, store routes and show my
progress along the route.  here are a couple of my uses:

Navigating large outdoor shows.  I like to go to Rod Runs and old
car shows.  We just returned from the Daytona Turkey run.  These
things are so large that if you see something you might like to come
back and revisit, you'll have a very hard time finding it again. I
simply log each location as a landmark and dictate what the landmark
into my little voice organizer.  Then when I want to go back and buy
the boat anchor (literally or figuratively) that I didn't want to
have to drag around all day, I just GOTO that landmark on my
receiver and it points the way.  

Exploring.  Last weekend, we decided to explore Daytona away from
the speedway.  I stored the campground's fix as a landmark before we
left.  We drove all over the place.  When I was ready to return to
the campground, I simply set the GOTO route to the campground.  I
then took whatever roads required to keep the route marker centered
in the display.  I ended up kinda spiraling in to the campground but
I got there with no stress and without my wife having to try and
read a street map while we were in motion.

Reversing course.  Most units have a "backtrack" mode that will
return you to your starting place.  Mine takes a fix every 10
minutes for several hours.  Activating the backtrack mode routes me
back along this route in reverse.  Thus I can go exploring (on foot
or in the vehicle) and never worry about finding my way home.

Two things to look for in a basic receiver are battery life and
speed of satellite acquisition.  Battery life can range from as
little as 4 hours to a couple of days.  My little unit will run 24
hours on a set of batteries.  A modern receiver should acquire
enough satellites to compute a fix in about 15 seconds.  I have a 10
year old unit that takes over 15 minutes!  To check this out, simply
take the receiver out in the open away from electrical interference
and trees, turn the unit on and see how long it takes to get a fix. 
With a unit that rapidly acquires a fix, you can turn it off when
you don't actually need a fix to save the batteries.

One more bit of advice.  Pay close attention to what everyone is
saying about tires.  We're used to not paying much attention to our
tires until they wear out.  There is enough safety margin built in
to modern tires that we can ignore some dry rot on the sidewalls
(little cracks).  Not so with RVs.  The manufacturers tend to load
the tires right up to their absolute max rating.  Sometimes a bit
over.  There is still some safety margin built in but this goes away
as the tires age.  If you don't absolutely positively know the age
of the tires on your new MH, buy new ones.  A blowout on a tall,
topheavy vehicle is no fun.  Another aspect is the damage a blowout
does even if you don't wreck.  I had a tire (owner swore it was 4
years old, turned out to be 10 years old) blow out right after I got
my present unit.  The steel belts ripped off the fiberglass body
supports, the holding tank drain valve, the box that held the shore
power cord and the protective sheath over the propane line.  Plus it
punctured the steel box that constituted the wheel well.  Had
someone been riding on the seat built onto that wheel well, he would
have received a little surprise to the butt! Had I not been able to
repair all this stuff myself, it would probably have cost a thousand
bux or more to fix.

Most importantly, get ready to have fun!  Our RV is the single most
enjoyable purchase we've made in our marriage.  I only regret we
didn't do it 20 years ago.



*  If you (or your mechanic) breaks a lug bolt or two while removing
a wheel, you can press in new ones IF you have the replacement
studs.  If not and it's past regular business hours, good luck.

** This compressor looks a lot like the 12 volt auto compressors. 
The difference is it actually moves enough air to pump up a tire.
Runs on either the generator or the 300 watt inverter.  The inverter
costs $59 from Autozone.

***	These blocks are also useful to support the other end of the lug
wrench while you bounce on it to break a lug nut loose :-)  Let's
see..  I weigh 300 lbs and my lug wrench is about 18" to a side. 
That's 450 ft-lbs of torque even without bouncing.

**** A couple of pipe clamps, some "100 mile an hour" tape and some
screen wire will hold a busted radiator hose together until you can
conveniently repair it.  Wrap the burst with duct tape.  Wrap some
screen wire around the tape.  Wrap some more duct tape, extending
out several inches past the burst.  Clamp a couple (or more if you
have them) of pipe clamps around the whole assembly.  Refill with
water and drive off.

*****  This little generator has many uses.  It makes enough power
to run the 12 volt stuff in the RV without having to be on shore
power, run the main engine or the built-in generator.  It is super
quiet and will run all day on a gallon of gas.  And if I manage to
kill both the house and engine batteries (been there, done that),
then this generator will charge them enough to get going again in
just a few minutes.  It weighs about 15 lbs and is about the size of
a shoe box.

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