SNU November 2015 Newsletter

SNU Folks,

The November 2015 Newsletter has been posted – Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the November newsletter: 2015 Region 12 Rally -|- SNU November luncheon -|- SNU Business (Don & Jerry-reports from the R12 rally) -|- Rally Success -|- WBCCI, Some Historical Highlights -|- Top Ten Knots

November lunch at the Plaza

Saturday November 14, 2015 the SNU November Luncheon will be held at the Plaza Hotel located at 801 S. Carson Street in Carson City. It is across from the Ormsby House. The luncheon room is on the second floor which is accessed from the hotel lobby.  Please RSVP to the SNU at

Mesquite Rally Canceled

Due to damage from recent flooding in Death Valley, the SNU rally at Mesquite has been canceled.

Keep Informed about the SNU




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Shoulder Season

It is a challenge: winterize the RV or take one last spin. Joe Laing (Marketing Director for El Monte RV,) explains why Why fall is the best season for road trips — “Autumn travel means fewer crowds than summer, better weather than winter, and big savings on vacation costs—if you’re willing to do your homework“.

The leaves are turning, the birds are migrating and it’s time for bargain-minded travelers to plan some time away. Bring an extra sweater and plan to play cool weather golf—the discounted greens fees and uncrowded courses will make this your favorite season. Walk a rocky beach and then go back to the lodge for cocoa by the fire. Learn a mountain dance or two at a folk and bluegrass festival. Take a ranger-led hike in search of elk in heart of a national park.

Days are getting shorter, campfires more delicious, weather less predictable, and there is a tang in the air. It is invigorating is you are prepared.

For the SNU Folks – don’t forget Mesquite Spring in Death Valley at Halloween. A trip down U.S. 395 will likely feature fall colors and perhaps even snow-capped peaks in the Sierra. Maybe also snow covered roads on the passes so keep a close watch on and perhaps plan your route a day or so in advance with Weather Underground’s road trip planner.

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Maps, USGS, online

From the other side of the country the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Equipped takes note of Nearly Every USGS Topo Map Ever Made. For Free. from the USGS Map Locator and Downloader — “an incredible treasure trove for both map junkies and casual hikers alike.

One important thing to note is that, in general, the most recent topo maps listed are markedly different from their predecessors. Part of the new US Topo Series, these maps have been created as PDFs with geospatial extensions (GeoPDF), which gives you the ability to turn on and off different layers (contour lines, place names, water features, etc.) for viewing, depending on what information you are interested in. Unfortunately, however, trails are not currently included as one of these layers—a significant drawback for hiking.

Lastly, and one of the single-most useful online tools I’ve discovered in recent years, is the ability to overlay every USGS topo map on top of Google Earth, another free (and extremely powerful) tool to add to your trip planning quiver.

While you might be able to take the digital copy down to a local printshop to get a large paper copy, buying the paper copy from the USGS store might get you a better copy at less cost. There’s just something about a big map with lots of detail that isn’t there with the same map viewed on a display. Each has its uses: one is great for virtual exploring with a big table and a good light. The other works for active navigation and map editing. It’s also a lot easier to carry around an extensive map library when it is in the form of digital storage rather than large sheets of paper.

Right now, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Equipped blog has posts on the status of the New England fall color and Railbikes. Looks like a good blog to watch, even if I’m getting back east anytime soon.

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SNU October 2015 Newsletter

SNU Folks,

The October 2015 Newsletter has been posted – Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the October newsletter – Mesquite Halloween Rally -|- Review of Glass Creek rally -|- November lunch at the Plaza Hotel -|- Welcome Sloan/Wainwright & Kirksey -|- SNU elections -|- Dues for 2016 -|- Favorite Traditions

Death Valley Halloween Weekend – Come visit the Sierra Nevada Unit at its October Death Valley Rally at Mesquite Spring Campground near Scotty’s Castle and Ubehebe Crater, Thursday October 29th through Sunday November 1st. Don and Gail Williams are hosting this rally. They’ve got some tours lined up and some special meals planned. For more information contact Don or 951.264.0219

Keep Informed about the SNU



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Glass Creek Rally

A big campground off US 395 between June Lakes and Mammoth was the substitute locale for the SNU Obsidian Dome get together.

See the photo gallery!

It is interesting that the campground was near full on arrival but thinned out for the weekend. The full timers and the weekend warriors with their toy haulers seem to enjoy this spot. It’s a lot like Hat Creek used to be with a big flat area under the pines adjacent to a creek. This one is getting somewhat civilized as roads and camp areas are being better delineated but many camp spots are large enough for several rigs and there is a lot of open space between them. While the SNU was there, the place was very quiet with little dust and traffic, despite the number of campers.

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SNU September 2015 Newsletter

SNU Folks,

The September 2015 Newsletter has been posted. See the newsletter index. Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the September newsletter: Prosser Rally Review -|- September Glass Creek Rally -|- Schedule Changes -|- Membership Renewal -|- Stella Byam & the Triad -|- Region 12 News -|- Sleeping in your Airstream

September Rally At Glass Creek

Glass Creek Campground is the site for the SNU rally Thursday September 24 – Sunday September 27.  This campground is 4 miles south of the turn off to our usual Obsidian Dome site. To get to Glass Creek turn west from US 395 on Glass Creek Road. (the turn is immediately at the bottom of a long steep grade. If you pass it, there is a cross-over just south a bit at Deadman Road) This is a USFS free site with 66 camp sites and accommodates large RV’s. There are fire rings so we can have campfires. Bring some wood.

Keep Informed about the SNU


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Roughing it smoothly

Ray Whyte is a Canadian handyman with a Prowler. He’s put together a 122 page book (PDF) available for free on his website. The book is well worth the download and probably even a donation as requested. There are a lot of pictures, personal anecdotes, tips and tricks, suggestions, and just plain good advice. Whether you want to see how to weld on an additional entry step or sew together a tire cover, Ray has his story, with pictures and sometimes links to YouTube videos.

Books like this are enjoyable for the pictures,  the sharing of common experiences, and the many ideas to peruse and consider. The price on this one can’t be beat.

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Prosser Creek Reservoir SNU plus Norcal Rally

The rangers and the campground host both remarked on the abundance of aluminum that weekend.

Photo galleries and seminar notes are up at the rally page. Check it out!

Photo Galleries:
Rally photo gallery 1 -|- Rally photo gallery 2 -|- Bird Banding

Presentation Handouts:
Off Grid Camping -|- Don’s Handouts -|- Solar Energy -|-

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SNU event update and schedule changes

There are a few changes in the remaining SNU 2015 rally schedule.

* Thursday September 24 – Sunday 27 2015 the rally location has changed from Obsidian Dome to Glass Creek Campground. Glass Creek Campground is 4 miles further south of the the turn off to Obsidian on hwy 395. It is an NFS free, semi dispersed campground. It is more accessible than Obsidian, near Glass Creek and has access to hiking and off road trails.  Here are some links to the Glass Creek area and campground.

* Thursday October 29, 2015 – Sunday November 1, 2015 are the dates for the SNU rally at Death Valley Mesquite campground. This Rally is hosted by Don and Gail and they have a lot of ideas for special activities.

* Saturday November 14, 2015 – the Luncheon will now be held at El Charro Avita in Carson City. The original site has new owners and the place is no longer suitable for an SNU luncheon.

Mark your calendar and plan to join us!



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Proper tire inflation

The problem of under inflated tires has become an issue big enough for the government to require many new vehicles to have tire pressure monitoring systems.  Under inflated tires are inefficient and can lead to traumatic tire failure. This is why the Les Schwab tire store leaving me with tires below pressures specified on the vehicle driver door placard and below the tire manufacturer’s recommendations for the load on the tire were a concern.

Since tire pressure is to be determined when the air in the tire is at ambient air temperatures, taking the vehicle down to the tire store to get pressures checked is not usually a good idea. A tire that has been run a few miles or has had tires sitting in the sun should be considered a tire in use. About all you can do with tires that are in use is to realize that a hot tire is telling you it needs more air. Never let air out of a tire except when you can measure the pressure when you are sure the tire and the air inside it are at the same temperature as the air temperature in the shade. Manufacturers take into account diurnal temperature changes and other factors when they make recommendations for tire pressure so you should only adjust pressures with the tires at at ambient conditions and not service conditions.

On RV tire safety, Toyo says:

“The amount of air pressure in a tire determines the load that can be carried safely. Every Toyo tire will have the maximum load and inflation molded into the sidewall of the tire. This load and inflation ratio should never be exceeded. Tires for RV applications are subject to a variety of severe conditions when compared to automobiles or trucks. Underinflation of a tire can cause poor handling, irregular wear, and decreased fuel economy. It also causes extreme heat build-up within the components of the tire which can lead to failure. “

“Toyo Tire does not recommend an “inflate-to-the-load” policy for RV tires. Tires that are inflated to accommodate the vehicle’s actual loads do not have any inflation safety margin. Consequently, even a minor loss of air pressure will cause the tires to be under-inflated and overloaded. Toyo Tire’s policy is to observe (as a minimum) the tire pressure established by the vehicle manufacturer as indicated on the tire information placard.”

The base issue is heat build up. A tire has a foot print, a flat spot on the pavement, whose size depends upon the pressure in the tire and the load on the tire. As the tire rotates, there is flex in the tire as the flat spot moves to a different spot on the tire. That flexing of the tire causes internal friction and that friction causes heat. With additional pressure or less load on the tire, the flat spot is smaller and the flexing, hence the heating, is reduced. That is one reason why it is a good idea to check tire and hub temperatures when you stop during travels. There are two issues in heat monitoring to consider. One is how to measure tire temperatures and the other is how hot is too hot. Most RV tire web sites don’t really say anything on this. Dieter Motor Sports has this:

The best indicator of correct tire pressure is tire temperature. The air pressure acts like three springs inside the tire holding the car up. Overinflation causes the center to push too hard, creating excessive heat. Too little pressure causes insufficient push and reduced heat in the center. Our goal is to have the entire width of the tire share the workload evenly. If one section of the tire is overworked it will overheat and wear prematurely. Tire temperatures will never be perfectly even across the tire. But if a linear reading within 10 degrees can be achieved, far greater tire wear and performance will result.

Even more specific is a racing cars website.

Using an infrared thermometer, you will get a surface reading that may be 10-40 degrees cooler than temperatures taken with a probe type thermocouple. 

Three readings are taken on each tire: inner tread, center tread and outer tread. Inner and outer readings are taken one inch from the tread shoulder. Write down the readings for evaluation. Check with your tire manufacturer to find the recommended operating temperature for your tires. A typical operating range for a DOT-R tire is 180 ˚F to 200 ˚F with a hot pressure of 37 to 43 psi. You want to see no more than 20 degrees difference in temperatures across the tread, with the inside being slightly hotter than the outside.

Another website with guidelines for a hot tire is the Bridgestone page on airplane tires.

A “Hot Tire” is defined to be a tire heated by aircraft operation (Braking) or by exposure to sunlight and having a surface temperatrure higher than ambient temperature by at least 30°C. A “Hot Tire” may also result from operating with an abnormally large tire deflection.

Tires are not recommended for further use when tire surface temperature exceeds 225°F (107°C), or when brake heat creates temperatures that exceed 300°F (149°C) at points where the tire is in contact with the wheel surface.

RV Guidelines

Tire wear isn’t usually an issue with RV tires. A bit of over-inflation is better than trying to get an ‘exactly right’ pressure according to some chart or whatnot. Trailer tires, especially, should be inflated to the max sidewall indicated pressure. Extra wear near the center of the tread from an inflation margin of safety is likely to be minimal over the life of the tire in most RV use.

A stop for a walk-around every couple of hours is not only good for avoiding DVT and muscle issues but also a good time for a quick scan of tires and hubs with an IR thermometer. You don’t need to get as specific as in the racing car website but you should look for anomalies – one tire significantly different from the others – and tires that are quite a bit warmer than air temperatures.

A good TPMS or tire pressure monitoring system will help you avoid problems. It will warn you before you start if any of your tires need air. On the road, you will get early warning of tire failures so you can pull off the road and minimize damage from a flat tire. Monitoring the TPMS readout will familiarize you with how your tires normally respond in service as they warm up and their pressure increases.

Start your RV maintenance and safety procedures with proper tire inflation.

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Caveat Emptor: Les Schwab Tire Store

The saga started with the TPMS going to alarm about 5 miles out from the rally site. The flat tire suffered from old age and that meant replacement was needed. The Les Schwab Tire store 954 in Fallon was among the closest I could find that had the tires I needed in stock and was able to replace them on a Friday afternoon. Having a friend who knew people who worked there and a store with a big regional brand added confidence that the store could take care of my tire problem.

Strike one was the error rate. Tires were not inflated to either tire or vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. This is a safety issue. The valve stems billed on the invoice were not on the tires. This is a proper service issue and a reason to suspect consumer fraud. The odometer was misread. This is a potential warranty problem. The tire DOT date indicated that the tires had spent 10% of their expected lifetime on the shelf. That reduces the value of the product purchased.

Strike two was response to notification of these errors. I sent a letter to the store manager describing the issues and suggesting that procedures and policies might be changed to reduce the odds of them happening again. The manager called in response to my letter and asserted that the errors were insignificant or just matters of judgment. The ‘computer did it’ was the reason why billing for product not delivered shouldn’t be considered fraud. My concerns were shrugged off.

Strike three was the response to suggestion for improving the store’s quality of service. The idea of fixing the invoicing system was met with laughter. The idea that things might be done differently to reduce errors was dismissed. There seemed to be no interest in quality of service improvements.

Caveat Emptor! (wikipedia) You are not likely to be at the top of your game when out on the road and you don’t need added burdens. Yes, you should always carefully check what you purchase but you are on their home turf, not yours. You need commercial partners you can trust to help you get things right. You don’t need to work with vendors who add to your concerns or issues that might need to be addressed later. 

The issues raised about tire inflation, tire age, and RV issues are worth a review. Posts on these topics to follow!

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SNU August 2015 Newsletter

SNU Folks,

*The August 2015 Newsletter has been posted*

Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

_Topics in the August newsletter_
Weed Heights Highlights -|- Joint Rally with NorCal -|- 2016 Membership Renewal -|- Region 12 Newsletter -|- Airstream Trailers -|- An Academic View of WBCCI -|- Numbers and Names -|- Automotive Tech

*August Rally At Prosser*
The first ever joint rally with NorCal will be at Prosser Family campground near Truckee Off Hwy 89. The dates are Wednesday August 5 to Sunday 9, 2015. Hopefully you have reserved your site and will be joining us for this rally. SNU members Don and Gail and NorCal members Claudette and George have come up with a full agenda for this weekend. If you can’t make the whole rally, feel free to stop by for a visit.

*Just in*
Due to a cancellation, there is a site available for the Prosser Rally. If you want to attend, contact Claudette Paige for details ASAP.

 For more information:

Keep Informed about the SNU
 * SNU 2015 Rally Schedule – Mark your calendars
* SNU Facebook page
* What’s new on the


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SNU Prosser Rally update

SNU Folks,

Special Announcement

Claudette Paige with NorCal is working with SNU member Don Williams on the joint rally at Prosser August 5 – 9, 2015. Hopefully you have reserved your site for this exciting rally. It looks like most of the campground sites are taken.

Here is some current info on that rally.
I (Claudette) just found out that the Independence Lake Preserve, managed by The Nature Conservancy, has a “tour” of Independence Lake on August 8. They only do 4 of these special tours from July to October. Independence Lake Preserve is 10 miles north of Prosser on 89. They could lead a tour on the 8th, Saturday afternoon at 1:30. They will need a list of names of people going on this tour. Any SNU members who are coming to this rally should email Claudette ASAP to sign up for the tour

To see what is available at this newly added (2010) Nature Conservancy preserve go to this link.

On recommendation by SNU member Jeni Root, Diane and Anita checked out Independence Lake in 2007. Although not appropriate for a rally it is a beautiful place. See the photo gallery.

Claudette has been working on some other possibilities for the Prosser rally. These include the option to attend the musical “Fantasticks” at Sand Harbor on Thursday night. Another idea is to plan to take the Squaw Valley gondola to do some hiking from Squaw Valley’s High Camp. You would have to make your own reservations for these activities.

Don has proposed these ideas for rally activities: Water Use Management -|- A sourdough pancake breakfast for Saturday morning and roll into a short discussion of sourdough -|- Dutch Iron Cooking (provided no limitations on wood or charcoal fires) -|- Electrical System Management -|- Unexpected Repairs; broken rivets, loose screws, sagging doors, water leaks etc -|- Alyeska the Great Land Caravan slide show

See you at Prosser!


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SNU newsletter July 2015

SNU Folks,

The July 2015 Newsletter has been posted. Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the July newsletter: Sweetwater Rally Review -|- Weed Heights July Rally -|- 2016 Dues -|- Welcome Ken and Sandra Dillon -|- Possible change of venue -|- Death Valley Rally -|- Frequently Asked Questions About WBCCI -|- Gopher Holes -|- Blue Beret -|- 2016 SNU Rallies

July Rally At Weed Heights

Thursday July 9 to Sunday July 12, 2015 The SNU rally will be at the full service RV Park in Weed Heights near Yerington. This is a nice place up on a hill with nice large trees to park under and great views of the valley. The turn off to Weed Heights and the RV Park off Hwy 95 is well marked. If you can’t make the whole rally, feel free to stop by for a visit.

Keep Informed about the SNU


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Don Featherstone, R.I.P.

U.S. News reports that Don Featherstone, creator of pink plastic lawn flamingo, dies in Massachusetts at 79.

Featherstone, a trained sculptor with a classical art background, created the flamingo in 1957 for plastics company Union Products, modeling it after a bird he saw in National Geographic. Millions of the birds have been sold.

His legacy lives on at many Airstream gatherings. What is about the pink flamingo yard decoration and an RV rally is something to ponder – some other time, some other place.

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Sweetwater 2015

Perhaps the recent storms and a road washout were the major interest items but the gathering of friends in such scenic country was at yet a higher level

See the photo gallery!

Missed ya’ – maybe nest time?

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SNU June 2015 Newsletter

SNU Folks,

The June 2015 Newsletter has been posted — Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the June newsletter: Lassen Rally Report -|- June rally at Sweetwater -|- Von Gallion -|- WBCCI International Rallies -}- SNU business (Don Williams delegate, Region 12 updates)

June Rally At Sweetwater: The SNU June rally will be at Sweetwater Summit Thursday June 11 to Sunday June 14 2015. The area is located on highway 338 in Nevada, which comes out of Bridgeport as California highway182. If you are heading north on Nevada 338, at the Sweetwater Summit there is a large parking area to the right with a weather gathering station at the south end. From the southern end of the parking area, there is a short dirt road that goes behind a small knoll where the area flattens out. You’ll see us as soon as you go around the knoll.

Keep Informed about the SNU


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Lassen Rally

The residue of the Lassen RV Resort SNU Rally remains. Good memories … and a bunch of pictures!

See the photo gallery.

The 2015 Lassen Rally Page has links to the photo gallery as well as to other items of interest in the area and to a second Rally photo gallery (with waffles!). There’s a lot to see in the Fall River valley and plenty of scenic views of a special part of California.

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Fort Crook Museum Photo Gallery

Fort Crook was an outpost in Northern California near Burney Falls in the Fall River Valley area. Now there is a museum near McArthur, CA.

Fort Crook was established on July 1, 1857, to protect travelers on the Shasta – Yreka Road and the Lockhart Ferries. Built by Company A, 1st Dragoons under the command of Captain John W. T. Gardner, the fort consisted of 25 – 30 log buildings enclosed by a pine-pole stockade 12 feet high.

About twenty years after the California post closed, another Fort Crook was established near Omaha, Nebraska, now Offutt Air Force Base.

Fort Crook (2) (1857-1869) – A U.S. Army post established in 1857 as Camp Hollenbush by Captain John W.T. Gardiner and troops from the 1st U.S. Dragoons and the 4th U.S. Infantry in Shasta County, California. Initially named for Assistant Surgeon Calvin G. Hollenbush and later renamed Fort Crook for 1st Lieutenant George Crook, 4th U.S. Infantry. Abandoned in 1869 and returned to the public domain in 1881. [Fort Wiki]

A visit to the museum was on the schedule for many at the SNU Rally held at the Lassen RV Resort. See the photo gallery of the museum tour! Lassen RV Resort is just a few miles east of McArthur and Fall River Mills. If you want a spot for your RV where you can feel like you are camping in the scrub oak yet have all the conveniences ready to hand, this place is a good choice. 50A hookups, pool, and varied settings for the RV.

See the photo gallery of the museum tour!

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SNU May Newsletter

SNU Folks,

The May 2015 Newsletter has been posted click here. Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there.

Topics in the May newsletter: May Rally at Lassen RV Resort -|- Ft Sage Review -|- Don Damoth -|- Joint NorCal rally -|- SNU Business -|- Region 12 updates -|- Helen Byam Swamborn -|- Firewood -|- Cali Rally review

May Rally At Lassen RV Resort

Lassen RV Park is a full service RV Park located one mile off of Hwy. 299 and eight miles east of McArthur. This is 175 miles North of Reno via Hwy 395. Friday’s dinner will be a BBQ. Everyone should bring their own meat to BBQ. Saturday we plan on a brunch with Randy’s special waffles. If someone has a back up waffle iron they could bring, that would be a big help. Rally participants could also bring some berries or melons for the brunch. Happy hours and other activities will depend on the whims and motivations of the rally participants.

Keep Informed about the SNU


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