Archive for General

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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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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Folding chairs have come a long ways from the wood and canvas variety. Even the aluminum tubing with wide plastic webbing has nearly disappeared. The basic issues remain: something comfortable to sit in that is out of the way when on the road. Gismodo found A Comfy Compact Camping Chair That Packs Away Into Its Own Legs.

At $100 it’s not cheap, let’s get that out of the way first. But at just two pounds and eleven inches tall when folded away inside its tripod legs … hen deployed the Treo chair can support someone up to 250 pounds in weight. … The seat is also elevated about thirteen-inches off the ground so it’s easy to climb in and out of. And assembly looks to be much simpler than the MENSA test that is putting up your average tent,

Might be worth considering if those $30 Harbor Freight directors chairs aren’t your thing or you need something compact for the bug-out bag. For RV camping, also see Amazon Folding Camp Chairs from under $20 to as much as you might want to spend. If the joints are getting a bit stiff and you need a bit higher seat that is easier to get out of, see Slumberjack Big Tall Steel Chair (Khaki)

(note, the Amazon links are affiliate links, clicking on them to view stuff on Amazon helps the website)

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Don’t tell the Pope: reducing global poverty

Mark Perry says It’s the greatest achievement in human history, and one you probably never heard about.

“Dartmouth economics professor Douglas Irwin has an excellent op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal — “The Ultimate Global Antipoverty Program,” with the subtitle “Extreme poverty fell to 15% in 2011, from 36% in 1990. Credit goes to the spread of capitalism“. Here’s an excerpt:

“The World Bank reported on Oct. 9 that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty had fallen to 15% in 2011 from 36% in 1990. Earlier this year, the International Labor Office reported that the number of workers in the world earning less than $1.25 a day has fallen to 375 million 2013 from 811 million in 1991.”

“The reduction in world poverty has attracted little attention because it runs against the narrative pushed by those hostile to capitalism. The Michael Moores of the world portray capitalism as a degrading system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yet thanks to growth in the developing world, world-wide income inequality—measured across countries and individual people—is falling, not rising, as Branco Milanovic of City University of New York and other researchers have shown.

Capitalism’s bad rap grew out of a false analogy that linked the term with “exploitation.” Marxists thought the old economic system in which landlords exploited peasants (feudalism) was being replaced by a new economic system in which capital owners exploited industrial workers (capitalism). But Adam Smith had earlier provided a more accurate description of the economy: a “commercial society.” The poorest parts of the world are precisely those that are cut off from the world of markets and commerce, often because of government policies.”

Enabling people, securing property rights and rule of law, not via top down governmental control has proven effectiveness. This isn’t what the Pope is advocating as a solution to poverty although he says he isn’t bashing capitalism. It isn’t what much of the population is advocating, either, as the ‘exploitation meme’ as one excuse for one’s ills has a lot of adherent’s as well. 

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Sale on! Cameco leveling blocks and chocks at Amazon

Amazon has a sale on today for Camco leveling blocks and chocks. The yellow Camco blocks are $25 on sale while the Tri-Lynx 00015 Lynx Levelers, (Pack of 10) orange blocks are running at $32. The Tri-Lynx seems to have a slight edge in user ratings. (affiliate links – check the links and support the website!)

Note that Amazon is now collecting sales tax for Nevada.

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On being a pawn: shutting down your touring destinations to influence your political views.

You may have heard the news about the political budget fracas. Did you know you are a pawn in the game? Warren Meyer runs a business you may have encountered at campgrounds. He has posted his Plea to Stop the White House From Closing Privately-Funded, Privately-Operated Parks. It is a letter to his Congressional representatives. In past shutdowns, he was left alone as his company hired people and fed money to the treasury. There is a difference this time.

“today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.”

If you plan to visit Washington D.C. to view the memorials and other sites, you might want to look into the saga of the WW II vets as well. Besides erecting barriers and increasing enforcement staff to block off a site never intended to close, people are being hired to protest the government ‘shutdown’ to try to counterbalance the veterans removing the barriers and visiting ‘their’ memorial. Apparently, spending government funds to close down tourist destinations is a critical government security issue, even if it is of the sort that generates funds for the government and jobs for part time RVers. Be aware of what actually is as it may not be what you are told.

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A reminder about things not to do at a campground

Dave Seminara is in to tent camping. That just makes it harder to escape some of the obnoxious things other campers do. He lists 7 things not to do at a campground. It is a familiar list. Read. Remind yourself. Remember.

“One would think that campers would know not to snap the branches off of trees for firewood, drive fast around the campground, liter, and leave a fire unattended, but I’ve seen people do all of these things. Everyone slips up occasionally but a little common courtesy goes a long way, especially in the great outdoors.”

It’s sorta’ like picking a spot in the middle of a big dispersed area, getting set up, and then having someone else come along and decide to set up right next to you. Perhaps they think you chose a desolate spot because you need company or something? That something might include 24×7 electricity, music, dog poop avoidance games, and similar stuff as well.

It is one thing to be friendly and say “Hi” but entirely another to be oblivious to the needs and desires of others.

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A place to camp, or something else?

The Coyote Blog notes When Environmentally Sustainable Actually Was Sustainable

“The US Forest Service has built more campgrounds, by far, than any other entity in the world. For decades, particularly in the western United States, the USFS had a very clear idea about what they wanted in a campground — they wanted it to be well-integrated with nature, simple, and lightly developed. They eschewed amenities like pools and playgrounds and shuffleboard. They avoided building structures except bathroom and shower buildings. The camp sites were simple, often unpaved with a table and fire ring and a place for a tent. They used nature itself to make these sites beautiful, keeping the environment natural and creating buffers of trees and natural vegetation between sites. I have never seen an irrigation system in a western USFS campground — if it doesn’t grow naturally there, it doesn’t grow.

This has proven to be an eminently sustainable design.”

The BLM and USFS both follow this idea but other agencies appear more prey to the ‘PC Campground’ problem – like maybe state and local park departments.

“Over the last several months, I have been presented with plans from three different public parks agencies for parks they want to redevelop. Each of these have been $10+ million capital projects and each one had a major goal of being “sustainable.” I have run away from all three. Why — because each and every one will be incredibly expensive and resource intensive to operate and of questionable popularity with the public. Sustainability today seems to mean “over-developed with a lot of maintenance-intensive facilities”.”

Agencies that use public facilities as bragging points tend to miss one big market. Some people just want to camp in the woods and wilds. If they want a resort or to hold a convention, they’ll find a place that does what they want. Dispersed camping is popular in large part because it doesn’t offer anything except access to the land. Most RV’s are fully able to spend a weekend off grid and take out anything and everything the bring in. Doing that is the essence of ‘sustainable’ and the idea of leaving no indication anyone was there at all.

Now, if the USFS and BLM would just upgrade the ancient campgrounds to better accomodate RV’s a bit larger than people used fifty years ago …

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SNU October rally weather alert and change of venue

SNU Folks,

Schedule Changes

Please note the changes in location for the October rally and the November luncheon

October rally

The rally location for Thursday October 25 – Sunday 28, 2012 has been changed to Lahonton Beach 7.

A frontal system will be moving through later this the week with snow forecast for the Austin area on Thursday. That makes driving over Bob Scott Summit an iffy situation. It also means the road to Hickison is likely to be snow covered (check the picture on the above link). It has been decided that being closer to home, at a lower elevation is a lot less risky and hopefully it will make it possible for more of you to join us for the last SNU rally of the year. This rally is also when we will be electing SNU officers for 2013.

November Luncheon

The November 17, 2012 luncheon has been changed to El Charro Avita in Carson City.

Due to several issues that cropped up with the Gold Hill hotel, including attendance guarantees and finances, it was decided to change the location of the November lunch to El Charro.

Please email the SNU or call 775 972 5011 and rsvp for the November 17 luncheon no later than November 13, 2012.

We look forward to seeing you all at the October rally at Lahonton and the November lunch at El Charro.

For the latest on the Sierra Nevada Unit, check the website homepage.


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Conference on park management in Reno 7 November

The 2012 Recreation Partnership Conference will be at the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno on 7 November.

“Despite declining recreation budgets, a number of public agencies have been able to keep parks, campgrounds, and recreation areas open and well-maintained using public-private partnerships for park operations. At this conference, you will learn how these partnerships work and you will meet and network with leaders in both public agencies and private companies who have experience with these partnerships.”

The question at hand is how to keep public campgrounds and parks open. States threaten to close state parks due to budget constraints. Parks and recreation facilities are seen as budget drains. There is a way to turn this around that benefits both the government agencies as well as the people who use the facilities. That is what this conference is all about.

There are a lot of misperceptions regarding private management of public parks. That sort of management is not a simple task. It is a private and public partnership where expertise and experience is needed on both sides in order to do it right. You can hear about the US Forest Service (USFS) Program History, The California State Parks Initiative, Wilderness Issues and Legislation and other issues at this conference. It is intended for the professionals so the going might be a bit heavy. Thanks to Warren Meyer, and President, NFRA for providing notice of this event.

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Self contained tourists – selling the community benefits

Ken sends this link from ‘down under’ by the Campervan Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA). It is about the Self-Contained RV Tourist and Economic Benefits.

“Over the past decade the Self-Contained RV Tourist market has continued to expand, and has now emerged as one of the most important and sustainable sectors of the tourism industry. It is increasingly important to effectively understand this market and its needs, and provide facilities and services that will attract this emerging tourism segment to your region.”

Facts and figures follow and they present an interesting profile of the RV experience that seems to fit with U.S. RVers as well Australian ones. Some of the facts to think about: the RV and camping industry has been growing at an annual rate of about 15% over the past seven years and that is likely to continue due to the ‘baby boom’ demographics; it is one of the most stable markets since 2000. RVer’s do spend money, need few services, and can make a significant contribution to any community that welcomes them.

In the U.S. Walmart seems to have the data presented well in hand. Others seem to have difficulty with the potential. If your community is one of those that doesn’t get the link between economic health and a friendly attitude towards the RV community, the link can help make the case for change. If your RV association is struggling, seems weak in the knees, or has lost its focus, the CMCA is providing an example to illustrate just what an RV association can do to raise the flag, find focus, and garner support and enthusiasm.

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Find your antipode

Ever wonder about that idea of ‘digging to China’ ? Free Map Tools has a map tunneling tool that will show you your antipodes on a map. For the territory, the antipode is in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar.

The site has a few other tools that might be fun to play with …

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Forests slowly closing to all but the elite

The Arizona Daily Sun reports on the conflict between the full timers and the badge carrying rangers in the National Forest Service.

Darrell and Rose found a camper, a van to pull it, and some solar panels for power. Now married, the Eddlemans live out of their recreational vehicle in forests around the Southwest with their dog, Freeway, and have seen a lot of the country.

They now hike and visit with other campers.

She paints.

He fishes.

“I like this lifestyle a lot,” Rose said.

Just one problem, in their view: The Kaibab National Forest doesn’t want them around and is recently stating as much.

Actually, living in the forest is illegal, say Forest Service officials, pointing to federal law.

One of the surprises was that the ranger didn’t cite staying past the 14 day limit by a day or two, he saw the Quartzite BLM LTVA sticker and decided on a residency use ticket. “Federal law prohibits building or “occupying or using a residence” on national forest land.” The ranger decided their MoHo was a residence. The implication is that any RV could be similarly categorized at any time on NFS lands.

This treatment is unfair and a form of discrimination, they say, particularly when other presumably wealthier campers with homes come and go from campers that sit for months and face no penalties.

“We’re normal people,” Dallas said. “We just live in the woods.”

Another aspect of this is the MVUM or motor vehicle use maps that the NFS publishes. You need to consult those maps to make sure that you don’t take your vehicle to where it is not allowed (anymore). It also brings to mind the land management companies comments about volunteer hosts and ‘badge and gun’ rangers in their attitude towards problems with campers.

This starts to get one thinking about Robin Hood and the Sherwood forest.

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Down under: Mango Farms – flooding February 2011

Floods happen. In Australia, February is summertime and our friends there sent pictures of the flooding at the mango farms.

See the photo gallery!

That’s a flight difference of something like a third of the circumference of the globe needing nearly 20 hours flight time from Nevada.

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Digging out from winter

The news now is that Lake Tahoe is about full and won’t be rising any more this year. It was only a couple of months ago that folks were digging out from the reason why the lakes and rivers are so full now. Rich and Barbara have a good photo-essay on what they were up against last winter.

See the photo gallery!

Just a few short months .., maybe the pictures will help you feel cooler!

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Automotive tech: they don’t build them like they used to.

Popular Mechanics lists 23 Ways Your Car Is Better Than Your Dad’s – Auto Industry News – Popular Mechanics and Wired lists ten examples of Hidden Tech That Makes Modern Driving Better. A lot of these items increase comfort and reduce fatigue and are in tow vehicles as well as the everyday automobile.

Active noise canceling systems and acoustic glass help make for a quieter ride. Direct and minutely controlled fuel injection along with turbo charging systems provide more power for less engine at better fuel efficiencies. Integrated GPS is being used to determine sun angle and adjust climate control. Magnetorheological dampers adapt the suspension for driving conditions. Security is improved making vehicles a more difficult target for thieves. Sound systems make the stereo of yesteryear, even the home ones, look rather anemic and low-fi.

The reliability is also a target. Engine alternators are producing 1.6 kw and fan belt driven pumps are moving to electrical. Tires get better traction, are less prone to damage from road hazards, and last longer. Engines and drive trains often come with warranties up to five times (or more) as long as they did in the past.

They don’t build them like they used to and much of the improvement is behind the scenes and stuff we take for granted.

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California state parks in memory

A couple of photographers with a pessimistic (modern) outlook on things has started 70in70. They plan to visit each of the 70 California state parks scheduled for closure to create memories of what they think will be lost to future generations.

There are other options available to California but closing public recreation and historical facilities may better suit political whims. At least there’s a new blog with lots of pictures if all you can do for now is a virtual visit.

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When is spring?

One of the traditional indicators of spring is when Tioga pass finally clears for traffic. It looks as if it will be a bit late this year. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that not only is the pass opening going to be a bit late, the Half Dome climbers will also have to wait.

Heavy snow on Half Dome has also prevented crews from placing cables on
the mountain. The cables are used by hikers to help them climb to the
summit. Park officials say it’s unlikely the cables will be in place by
Memorial Day.

Another issue is the spring run-off. The Arizona Daily Star says the Colorado River runoff picture stays good. It’s about 120% of average this year. In the Sierras it is more than 150%, which is why Tioga pass will take a while to clear. Meanwhile, in Reno the pear and crabapple bloom is in full swing but the Peavine snowcap says tomato growers need to wait a while, yet.

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(very) lightweight travel trailer

Over at Neatorama is the story about A Travel Trailer Light Enough to Be Hauled by a Mobility Scooter.

The Environmental Transport Association (UK) developed the QTvan — a travel trailer that can serve as a shelter for users of mobility scooters. It contains a bed, a 19″ television screen, and a kettle. Available options include a satellite dish, a gaming console, and a heater.

pictures and video at the link. check it out!

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Have an old 35 mm film camera?

If you’ve got a lot invested, money or otherwise, in a 35 mm film camera and just don’t want to let it go despite no more Kodachrome processing labs and other problems, RE35 might be something to consider.

It is a digital sensor that acts like a 35 mm film canister. It has a flexible sensor that rolls out in place of film and is available in 4, 8, or 12 mp versions. Pictures are uploaded via USB cable to your computer.

The device is one of those ‘real soon now’ technology things – it might be available by next fall, maybe. Right now, the tech specs section of the website says “coming soon.” There are obviously some interesting challenges. One might be the need for film cameras to advance film to cock the camera for the next shot. Another will be cost.

But, if it all comes together, it might just put some more life into that old camera kit you used to use for travel photography.

take note, though, what was is not now on that website:

Thankyou for your interest in Re35.
Some good news:

The feedback to our “product” has truly been overwhelming. It seems Re-35 really addresses a need and people worldwide can‚t seem to wait to get their hands on our “product”.

The bad news:

Some things are to good to be true!
Re35 does not really exist. We (the design company Rogge & Pott) created Re35 as an exercise in identity-design. We invented the “product” because it was something, that we had wished for for a long time (as many others). We launched the website and sent out “press releases” on April first – thinking, that the date would make clear, that Re35 is just wishful thinking – a classic April Fools Prank! And we had to take the site down because of too much traffic.


All this attention Re35 ist getting might actually be good for something. It proves, that there is a gigantic community of photographers with analog equipment out there that is desperately waiting for a product like this to come along.

We hope there are no hard feelings

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