Archive for Owner’s Guide

Collateral damage: Distracted driving

The trend seems to be to pass a law to govern every aspect of going down the road. That is why one judge determined that It is Illegal to Use Phone GPS While Driving in RI. Since the distracted driving laws only mention cell phones as a source of distraction, using an equivalent device like a dedicated GPS navigation device might be OK.

“…Based on the plain language of the statute,” the judges wrote in their decision, “a reader may be looking at any visual display on the phone’s interface and be in violation of the statute. To hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the statute: to prevent drivers from distractions caused by operation of a cell phone while driving.”

That is going to get interesting when you consider that even dedicated GPS devices are getting on communications networks to get traffic information and updates. There’s also whether a tablet used for navigation will qualify as a cell phone or whether the built in display on some modern cars, cars that use the cell phone network in various ways, will also run afoul of the law.

There is also a need to be concerned about laws that restrict where you can put driving aids and how they are visible to the driver. You can’t assume common sense or safety has anything to do with whether or not you are going to be ticket bait on the road.

Then there’s the autopilot thing. Lane assist, automatic braking, cruise control, visibility assistance cameras, and other safety devices are also targets where the law might have unintended consequences producing collateral damage.

Take care!

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Where is the Great Basin?

The question isn’t simple. You’d think the Great Basin was the area of the ancient Lake Lahontan or the area that drains into the Carson Sink. Links: Here Are a Few, But Great, Great Basin and Great Basin Divide Links provides a few other thoughts about the boundaries of the Great Basin. A Google Earth image is provided:

Google Earth image of the West with a lot of lines. The Great Basin divide according to me is in magenta, wrapping around the Great Basin. Note the two possibilities at Pahranagat Lake, and no Salton Sea.

It seems that the Sierra Mountains define the western border, The Snake River drainage is to the north and the Colorado River drainage defines the eastern and southern boundaries for some. That gets into a lot of territory over a wide range of elevations with most of it desert of one sort or another.

The blog has some interesting exploring of Nevada with a geologist’s point of view. It is a good resource for touring the Great Basin and getting a better handle on what you are seeing.

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Outcomes and the cost of camping

On the Coyote Blog: Minimum Wages and Price Increases To Customers: A Real World Example Today in Arizona. He manages about 35 public campgrounds and parks in Arizona and more in other states. Politics hit his business which mean they hit you.

We will have to look at our financials for each permit, but my guess is that on average, we are talking about camping fee increases of $2 and day use fee increases of $1. This range of fee increases will actually not cover our full cost increase, but we will try to make up the rest with some reductions in employee hours.

This is one impact. Labor laws also limit how he can engage with volunteers and camp hosts and how he can render site services. For those of us that want to get out and enjoy public lands, this is just one side of the squeeze. The other side is in the growing restrictions on land use and when, where, and how we can use public lands and what can happen to you if you miss something. Think the NFS motor vehicle usage maps as an example and consider that with the stories about how the maps in GPS navigation systems and other maps often have errors. An error in the map isn’t a government problem it is your problem. 

We are slowly legislating ourselves out of access to our own country.

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PotPourri: Updates and other stuff. A link to a special report about mobility issues.

Doin’ the winter thang? See the page on preparing for winter.

You can find links to the update to the Bower’s Mansion photo gallery in the Destinations page for Washoe County and the Education History page.

There’s a ‘72 International Sovereign added to Show’nTell.

For happy Airstreamer’s gathering to discuss their favorite hobby see the group shots gallery. There’s also the Dale & Virginia SNU memories photo gallery for a bit more detail on this topic. Then there’s the Traveling with Pets photo gallery, too, for yet another take.

This was a year for wheel bearings and the Owner’s Guide Maintaining section covers winterizing and other topics as well.

Karen sent this link to Truck Camper Magazine about the conflict between the mobile lifestyle and the mobility issues we face as we get older.

Truck Camper Magazine examines the importance of mobility in current and future truck camper design. With 85 million Baby Boomers in the USA and Canada, this topic requires more industry attention. … To be clear, many truck camper owners have yet to experience these symptoms, or haven’t been slowed down by them yet. However, they are thinking about this eventuality, a concern often triggered by caring for their elderly parents.

Perhaps the most obvious sign that mobility is a priority for truck camper owners is the sheer quantity of mobility-focused modifications submitted to our monthly mod contests.

It’s routine to have improved camper step systems, deep bumper set-ups, comfort-improving dinette re-configurations, and even cabover assist handles submitted for the contests. Perhaps an even bigger tip is that these mobility modifications earn a lot of votes, and have won multiple times.

Truck campers are a particular challenge in that they are usually well off the ground and on the very small side for RV’s. Trailers tend to get people thinking about motorhomes due to difficulties in managing the hitch. Motorhomes can be large but they usually need a lot of stairs to get up to floor level. Age isn’t the only issue, either. People tend to be larger now they they used to be. That means there is more of a need for extra headroom as well as toilets with higher seats and other accommodations for taller, wider, and heavier – and even more active – people. 

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What about the RV experience and the community?

Bill Kristol has a conversation with Justice Clarence Thomas: Personal reflections on the Court, his jurisprudence, and his education. Near the end of the conversation (at 1:05:30), Justice Thomas mentions that has been a “motorhomer” for 17 years and notes that “there is a wonder out here” with people who share a common experience. It “keeps you normal” he says to get out with others who share his interest in the RV experience. “You’re with the rest of your country rather than isolated from it” he says.

That is the other part of the RV experience. It is not only to experience the land first hand but also to share that experience with others. That builds relationships and friendships and community. 

The conversation also provides some insight into growing up Black in the south after WW II. The story is an example of just how much is possible. Worth listening to.

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Winter tires and waterless hygiene and winter

Two items on the blogs – separate but both relate to colder temperatures and being prepared. One is about tire pressure and the other about how to keep clean when water isn’t plentiful.

On Autoblog they advise that When seasons change, check your tire pressure.

If your car has tire pressure light, you may notice that it comes on more often in colder months. You check the air, adjust accordingly and continue on. The following week, the light comes on again. Is it a fluke? Most likely not. As the weather gets cooler and temperatures continue to drop, so does the air pressure in your tires. Generally, for every 10 degree change in air temperature (either hot or cold), the tire pressure will change about 2%, which means that standard-pressure tires may change about 1 psi. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider the drastic temperature change between sweltering summer and frigid winter days, you may see a 4 to 5 psi loss. The more psi you lose, the more likely you are to face some challenges on the road. Here are some reasons as to why you don’t want to skip out on checking your tire pressure this fall and winter

Of course, the best thing you can do for your tires is to get out on the road. That’s also good for your RV as well. On the other hand, winter roads can be hazardous and cold weather can be challenge on many fronts. If you do need to leave the RV unused, look around on the I’net as there are a lot of ideas about how to best prepare your RV for a lack of exercise. On the other hand, if you do have the opportunity for some cold weather camping, here’s one issue for you.

Another one is from the prepper’s about Waterless Hygiene and How to Keep Yourself Clean. If you can’t run the RV water system because the weather is too cold or if you are extreme dry camping and really have to conserve water, you still need to pay attention to keeping clean.

there are actually products on the market that provide you with quite a good cleansing using no water at all [see link in original article]. A bottle or two in every bug out bag would be a wise investment.

Also check out the Living section on the website. One section has articles about dealing with condensation and staying warm and some of the other winter camping issues. 

Think Spring!

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Winter is ahead – be prepared!

It’s home from the last scheduled rally of 2016 and time to start acting on buttoning up for the winter. This year, we’ve already had one winter storm and there is another parade of such storms going through NW NV this weekend. Normally, concern about freezing isn’t a big deal until Thanksgiving and the kind of freeze that gets into the RV systems isn’t really that big a risk until after Christmas. This weekend’s storm might actually get some snow on the ski resorts well before Thanksgiving which should be an unusual gift for them. So precautions need to be taken.

At this time of year, I usually just depend upon an 800 watt electric heater on a very low thermostat setting or a Thermo-Cube (Amazon link) as many heater thermostats don’t work so well in the 40 degree range needed for freeze protection. The heater needs to be one with a fan and it should be placed to help circulate air in the RV as even a little bit of circulation will avoid cold spots and reduce condensation issues. You might also open up any cabinets or drawers that hide plumbing so they aren’t hidden from inside air.

The first thing to do in getting ready for winter is to open all the drains. Dump the waste tanks, drain the fresh water tank, open the drains for the water heater and the hot and cold pressure lines. Keep in mind that RV holding tanks are vented so they are bacterial colonies. Even the disinfectant used in potable water supplies fades so that storing fresh water in the RV is not really a good idea for more than a week or two.

Some winterize by using air pressure to ‘blow out’ the water in the lines. This is not a good idea. There is a risk of over pressure in the system and residual moisture in the nooks and crannies – especially in mixing faucet valves and low spots. You also need to be careful not to use an oil compressor as you need clean and dry air. The best bet is that potable pink RV antifreeze.

Before you get into the anti-freeze routine, you need to first install a water heater bypass kit (see Amazon link search results) and a diverter kit (Amazon Camco) so you can feed your water pump and pre-filter from a bottle of antifreeze rather than from the fresh water tank. You will also need to bypass or remove any water filtering and conditioning equipment you have including faucet mounted filters. If you’ve got that done, you should be able to get pink flowing in all the faucets (both hot and cold) needing only a gallon or two of antifreeze. The flow to get antifreeze in all the valves should provide enough pink into the drain so the traps are protected, too.

For the water heater, the easiest way to drain it is to pull the drain plug and flip the safety release valve to let air in. Cameco has an anode rod with a valve on it (Amazon link) for aluminum tanks for about $17 that handles both water heater needs – the anode rod to reduce corrosion and the drain valve to make it easier to drain the water heater tank.

Keep in mind that a critical part of the antifreeze routine is the spring flush. When it’s time to get ready for the next active season, make flushing the antifreeze a part of the sanitizing maintenance. Use a quarter cup of bleach to fifteen gallons of water in the fresh water tank, set the feed diverter back to the tank, and then fire up the pump to pressurize the system. At each faucet, let the water flow until the pink is gone and you can smell the bleach. Again, make sure both cold and hot get flushed. After you get the bleach smell at each faucet, let it sit for a few minutes while you drain the tank. Then put some fresh water in the tank and flush that through the system to remove any smells of bleach or antifreeze. Sometimes is takes a few drain and flush routines to clear any hint of a smell. Usually a disinfectant flush and a plain water flush gets things usable and an outing or two will finish the job.

The Amazon links provided here are affiliate links – you support this website by using them to investigate products. Another resource is Walmart online. They have most of the Camco RV line for online purchase, too.

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Thinking of buying? Watch out.

When I put a 26′ Argosy up on Craig’s List not too long ago, I was rather surprised by the scam warning – and by the advice to go cash only as even cashier’s checks can bounce (see nerdwallet). Sure enough, more than half the inquiries I got from the ad fit the Craig’s List warning profile. But that isn’t the half of it.

Steve Lehto, an attorney in Michigan, says on YouTube Don’t Drive While In Possession Of Cash!. His 18 minute video is about civil asset forfeiture. If you get stopped by a guy with a flashing light, gun, and uniform (law enforcement officer) for some reason or other and he sees you have a good chunk of cash, he can take your cash on the pretext that it was ill gotten gains. You have to sue to get it back and that can be time consuming and costly. As with a lot of things, the risk may be rather small but it needs attention. Lehto provides an explanation about why it should be a concern.

Most people have never heard of Civil Forfeiture and are unaware that the police can seize cash from you and claim that it is the product of a criminal enterprise. They do this, often with no evidence, and they get to keep the money! This problem is widespread and there is a simple solution. I explain the solution but I know that the politicians will not fix this problem because of the way they profit from it. — www.lehtoslaw.com

Is a cashier’s or certified check a risk? Here is what the FTC says:

However, just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good. It’s best not to rely on money from any type of check (cashier, business or personal check, or money order) unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with or, better yet — until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

So what do you do? The FTC site has a list of ways to protect yourself and some other good information. 

OK. That’s the money side. How about the product side? Lehto has some good videos about purchasing used vehicles, warranties, and the various issues that can be encountered. 

Caveat Emptor! It pays to know what you are doing. A friend can help, especially one with the experience necessary to check for condition of the mechanical parts and who knows what is important and what is less so. A friend can also help balance out the emotional side of things, too. You also need to know values and that should come from the ‘blue book’ sources as well as from watching actual sales and examining advertisements and from web sites that provide value information that shows how condition, age, and features all impact price.

Then there’s the DMV. In Nevada, it used to be the big problem was just getting the owner’s signature in the right box on the back of the title. Now it’s a case of having to download forms from the DMV website and making sure they are all filled out properly. That Argosy was titled in the name of the family trust and that now requires a notarized trustee signature for a vehicle sale. Things are getting complicated. Take care.

 

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Virtual exploring – finding a place to camp before you get there.

What with Google’s Earth and Maps and other resources, you can explore before you go from home. All you need is a decent I’net connection and a PC or tablet (screen size matters in viewing satellite pictures!) Dave Helgeson’s 26 Minute YouTube video include tips and techniques you can use to determine if a spot you find is suitable for an RV stayover.

Published on Oct 4, 2016
This is part three in a series: RV Boondocking expert Dave Helgeson presents his popular seminar “Boondocking Using Google Earth.” Even if you have boondocked for years, you’ll pick up some valuable tips here about how to find places to camp “in the middle of nowhere” before you even leave home! Dave will show you how to spot promising locations by using Google Earth, and then determine how to get there, and even to know if the terrain suitable — even level enough — for RVs. This should be a must-view for all RVers who like to camp away from the crowds using their on-board systems to sustain them for days or even weeks at a time. Nearly all the locations Dave shows you are on public lands, where the camping is free.

Google Earth will tell you the altitude as you traverse the pointer over a route. From that you can tell if the road has a significant grade or elevation change. Dave didn’t mention that Google maps will provide an altitude profile when you set the transportation mode to bicycle. So, if you can get maps to show you a route from, say, the highway to your campsite, you can see a graph of altitude along the route.

Others have used the satellite and road views to check out fuel stops as well as to look for camping areas. It’s virtual touring where you can see if an actual visit is feasible for your rig. One caveat though: things change. We had a gully wash out on the road to our Sweetwater Summit camping area that was almost enough to block getting through. That was due to recent rains and providing a reminder that surprises can happen, especially when you get off ‘official’ routes and roads where there isn’t much traffic. Take care. Be prepared.

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Trailer sway

U-Haul has put together a trade show demonstration to illustrate the effect of trailer loading on handling. Jalopnik says you can Learn About The Dangers Of Towing From A Toy Mustang On A Conveyer Belt. See the short video.

This is even likely less bad than a full-scale, real-world situation would be, because that conveyer belt is going at a steady, constant speed, and the car’s front wheels remain rigidly straight. In reality, once the swinging starts, the Mustang driver would likely be alternating cranking the wheel in a panic while jamming on the brakes, taking some time between these two acts to lavishly soil their pants.

So, take it from some toys on a conveyer belt: be careful how you distribute the weight of what you tow!

The steering issue needs emphasis as well. Because of the sideways push on the rear of the tow vehicle, oversteer (wikipedia) is common. That means that corrections to compensate for the trailer wiggle tend to produce more steering than intended. That means a correction to the correction is needed and that is what is called a positive feedback loop (wikipedia). That’s the source of oscillations and the last thing you want with trailer sway is an oscillation.

The video emphasizes that the first step in effective trailer handling lies in proper trailer configuration and loading. This is why Airstream has its water and holding tanks low down and near the axles. It is also why Airstream tends to have longer axle to hitch distances than many other trailers. The load distribution in the trailer involves the interior design as well because that determines the location of heavier objects (like the appliances) and the storage lockers. 

Tow vehicle loading, suspension, and configuration are also a part of the equation. That influences steering and the vehicle response to disturbances. Effective handling is not a simple phenomena. There is much you can do to make for a comfortable driving experience but you also need to be aware that training and experience are needed and that road and environmental conditions can bring surprises. 

Take care. Drive aware. Be prepared.

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1 in 200 on the Oregon Trail

Preparedness Advice talks about Foods Carried on the Oregon Trail that provides an interesting comparison for the modern traveler.

The Oregon Trail was an exhausting, sometimes treacherous, 2,000-mile journey that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between. Over half a million stalwart souls were brave enough to leave the relative comfort of civilization at that time and venture off into strange and unknown lands.

We know a surprising amount of the Oregon Trail experience because so many travelers wrote journals, sent letters home, and even wrote books and newspaper articles. True Accounts of Life in a Covered Wagon and Ox-Team Days on the Oregon Trail are vivid, first-person accounts of this harrowing journey.

Most of these pioneers traveled by covered wagons, which were pulled by oxen and horses. Those wagons carried not only passengers and a few personal belongings, but over 1000 pounds of food! They were hoping to add to those food stores with hunting, fishing, and foraging, but none of that was guaranteed, so they had to give careful consideration to the most essential food items.

The journey from beginning to end took from 4 to 6 months. When you think about how much food your family consumes in that time frame, it’s a lot of food.

Travelers brought books, Bibles, trail guides, and writing quills, ink and paper for letters. About one person in 200 kept a diary.

Then consider what they had for roads, maps, directions, and all those other things we take for granted today.

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Road trip games

Jonathon Ramsey on Autoblog: Our Top 5 Favorite Road Trip Games Of All Time — (No, We’re Not “There Yet”).

Road trip games, those boredom-battling tests of concentration and quick vision meant to speed the hours, are some of the closest things we have to auto mythology.

Like early tales of Zeus and the Chupacabra passed down by oral tradition, they mean a lot to us, some of them make us laugh and some scare the pants off us, and no one knows from whom, when or where they originated.

I Spy, Road Trip Bingo, A is for Armadillo, Alphabet, Cow Poker … what are your favorites?

These days, it seems that parents are looking at other ways to keep the kids occupied. Consider the Raspicar wireless media server projectI wanted a way to stream video files to different Ipads and ipods I own to entertain my 4 children during long car drives.” Maybe the Pokemon Go phenomena will get an adaptation to automotive travel? 

It used to be we’d get maps at gas stops and plot travels and take notes on locations on the paper maps. No more. It’s electronic maps, wikipedia, and a whole lot of games on a tablet. Things have changed.

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USGS topographic maps courtesy National Geographic

There’s another way to get those high resolution USGS topographic 15′ and 7.5′ maps courtesy of National Geographic. See ngmaps.maps.arcgis.com. This should come up with a US overview. You need to hit the +/- buttons to zoom in and drag to the area of interest. Once you zoom in far enough, you’ll see a grid of red markers on the map. Click on one of these markers to pop up a map reference. Click on the map icon in the box and you’ll get a 5 page PDF with the first page a 15′ index to four 7.5 minute maps on the following pages.

Of course, you can also go to the USGS store and order the traditional paper copies or get free online versions (if you support the proper plugin). The NFS also has maps which have a lot of detail to the national forests for hikers and campers. If you are planning on travel in the forests with any vehicle “The following motor vehicle use maps have been prepared and issued under 36 CFR 212.56, and identify those roads, trails, and areas designated for motor vehicle use.” The MVUM are needed so you can make sure to keep your vehicle only on authorized roads.

To avoid the experience of those who blindly followed a personal navigation device (GPS) and have a tale of doom to tell, keep in mind Rule 1: never travel blind. Know your maps and where they came from.

The USGS and NFS maps have a lot of roads and trails you would not want to take your RV on. The state map have road maps a bit more suited for planning an RV trek (Nevada Department of Transportation Maps here). You can also often get a free paper map (Request a Nevada State Highway Map) that shows the major roads and has good tourist and visitor information as well.

The problem with PND/GPS maps is that they are hidden and electronic and the only source you know about is the brand name on the device. Fortunately, technology is making it easier to keep maps up to date, to cross verify maps with other sources, and to obtain current traffic and hazard information. The 511 home (nvroads.com) now provides links to highway cameras so you can see current traffic in some areas. Google also provides road traffic flow information for those who are using cell phones with location turned on. Waze is a social media app that can be used to report traffic situations, too. 

Maps can be fun, educational, and attractive art as well as utilitarian. The options available now are incredible. Be informed. Travel safe.

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Nash 100 years setting the stage for the modern car

Jason Torchinsky repostrs that the Nash Turns 100 Today: Here’s Six Reasons Why It May Be The Most Influential Car Company Ever.

Nash Motors would have been a century old today, and while I suspect that most modern gearheads probably don’t give Nash much thought, they really should. For a defunct car company, we still feel Nash’s influence a surprising amount, in ways that are pretty basic and fundamental to how cars are today.

Nash was a player in developing Flow-through ventilation and modern car HVAC systems that are now taken for granted. The minimalists can also look at Nash’s Reclining seats and car-sleeping ideas. A lot of things we take for granted these days was non-existent not that long ago. Many baby boomers might remember cruising down 66 through the desert with only an evaporative cooler stuck in the window. Big innovations and small ones have made a lot of the risk and discomforts of getting there as things fading in memory.

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Cutting back. Changing times. WBCCI Amateur Radio Service Nets

It’s a sign of the times. AJ4UX says the WBCCI sponsored 20-meter International RV Service Nets [are] Discontinued.

When WBCCI was created in the 1950’s, the primary need for amateur radio was for communications for caravans which roamed far and wide across North America and into the rest of the world.

Because we have been unable to recruit volunteers to manage these two nets, the low participation primarily due to poor propagation, and the replacement by an extensive network of mobile telephone service over North America, the officers decided to discontinue sponsorship of the two 20-meter nets.

The other three nets, all operating on 40 meters, are healthy and have a full complement of net managers and net control stations. These nets, spanning the lower 48 states and into all Canadian provinces, continue to provide excellent contact among net members for social, technical and communications purposes.

The 40 and 20 meter bands are popular for mobile operations. 40 offers regional propagation characteristics most of the time while 20 is better for DX or distance contacts. For local communications, the 2 meter amateur band, often with repeaters, and the CB radio service were used. CB does not require any testing or paperwork for a transmit license so it was very common for in-site rally news and communications. 2 meter with repeaters did require some paperwork and a technical and regulatory test for a ham license but it worked well for metropolitan area coverage.

Cell phones now cover most of these communications needs for sitewide, metropolitan, regional, and national coverage. In addition to voice, they also provide SMS for short text messages and I’net access for information sites and discussion forums. As the cell network has built out and the technology has become more prevalent, the need for CB and ham radio communications has dropped. CB is now nearly just a vestige and ham radio moving more towards the hobbyist aspects with the Preppers coming in because they see it as a doomsday backup.

There is more here, though. “unable to recruit volunteers” and “low participation” bespeak of change. This change is related to the recent ‘rogue Trustee‘ brouhaha in the WBCCI. It is about the Annual WBCCI rally being an order of magnitude smaller than in its heyday – despite Airstream cranking out trailers as fast as it can and despite the iconic nature of the brand and its vintage attractions. The need for in-person meetings to make decisions and printed matter distributed by the post office to communicate and inform and the disappearance of special costs and fees for long distance telecommunications, are technological advances that have diminished the need for the traditional local club operating in the traditional manner with a newsletter and a monthly gathering to decide what to do and how to do it. There are also social changes that divide personal loyalties and provide alternative means for satisfying social needs that diminish the need for the traditional local club. 

For each of us, these changes provide more options for us to express ourselves and find satisfaction and meaning in life. For traditional groups, it means finding ways to adapt to a membership that is not so bound to the group. This is not going to be easy. It will be exploring many new ideas. It means tripping and stumbling and growing and exploring. Errors will be made. Ideas will die. But some ideas will surface and flower. People will get angry and do harmful things. Our mettle will be tested. 

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Families, Kids, Pets, and the RV experience

The Family Corner has been updated. Camping isn’t just for the retired, ya know!

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Summer reading

Looking for something with a bit less fluff than the usual for keeping the mind exercised this summer without having to dip into the wallet? Take a look at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

On Vietnam, the volumes include Military Communications: A Test for Technology and Engineers at War as well as everything from a history of the special forces to logistics to medical evacuation to social and general history material. 

Choose your war, from the Revolution to Iraq and you’ll find reading on about any military topic from unit histories to medal winner stories to global government and social issues. There’s enough good stuff to find your own gems.

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What can I tow?

G.R. White thinks tow ratings are overrated. This is despite efforts like the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2807 tow-rating standard.

Alongside power, economy and payload, trailering ratings are the Holy Grail of light truck marketing. However, despite recently adopted Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards that put everyone on the same footing, the value of tow ratings is almost irrelevant in the real world.

There’s only one way to know what your pickup can tow, and it involves a trip to the scales, knowledge of what Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), GVWR and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) are and how to calculate it all. Sure, the salesman is correct when they say your truck could pull this or that, but will they be in court or the service drive with you if something goes wrong?

The problem is that measures like in the J2807 standard have carefully specified conditions and assumptions and the actual usage may or may not reflect those conditions and assumptions. White also runs afoul of the measurement problem in his suggested solution as well. J2807 is an attempt at a s usability measure determined by actual performance evaluation. Weight ratings are engineering specifications that are estimated from design and materials considerations. A key item that should raise a red flag is when White refers to the legal system as the only time that argument has any merit is in cases of gross negligence.

Of course, you do not want to abuse the engineering specifications for your rig but you do need to be aware of their source. GAWR and wheel and tire ratings, for example, are close to individual component specific and that means they need careful attention. GVWR is more vague as it is about the vehicle as a system of parts. GCWR is even less precise as it depends upon assumptions about frontal wind area and other factors that depend upon specific circumstances. It also pays to keep in mind that, as engineering specifications, these ratings have a safety margin built in and there are also usually conditions and assumptions considered that can be manipulated for special circumstances. Speed and temperature are two of those conditions and assumptions that can be manipulated to adjust ratings, for instance. Sometimes, like for tires, these conditions are actually specified.

If you remember a family RV experience as a kid back in the 50’s or 60’s, you will recall a family sedan or station wagon with a 100-200 hp engine and a three speed transmission towing a trailer weighing maybe a ton or so. Downshifting on nearly any grade was to be expected and their wasn’t much in the way of creature comforts such as air conditioning or even bucket seats. These days, the tow vehicle is an SUV or pickup truck with nearly double the power of that old sedan and a transmission with double the gears, too. The trailer likely ways four tons or more. People seem to get irritated if their automatic transmission downshifts out of overdrive going up freeway grades and turning off the AC as suggested on I15 going East of Baker is not a consideration.

Yes, it’s prudent to make sure your rig is competent and capable before you buy but people also learn from experience. You find a tow vehicle and a trailer that fits your needs and is comfortable for your RV experience. The choice isn’t a permanent one as your needs, interests, and preferences will change over time. Equipment also keeps getting better, too.

Take care. Drive safe.

 

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Don’t buy blind

Steve Lehto says Don’t Buy An RV! – Lehto’s Law Ep. 45 in an 18 minute Youtube video. He’s a consumer protection lawyer and has lots of sad tales to tell.

Published on Aug 19, 2015 — Why you shouldn’t buy an RV – or what you should know before you do. Recreation Vehicles are very different from cars when it comes to how the law protects you.

His point is that an RV is a complex collection of many systems put together by folks under a lot of pressure and often bought by people who don’t really know what they are getting into. Automotive Lemon Laws and consumer protections are not as stringent for RV’s and the risks are significant.

Caveat Emptor (wikipedia) applies. Know what you think you are buying. Check to see that what you think you are buying is most likely what you are paying for. And know the RV lifestyle needs and requirements related to the particular RV you are buying. Expect things to break or not work as you expect and know what to do when that happens.

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Mosquitoes, Zika, and Consumer Reports

Lifehacker reports that the Consumer Reports’ Mosquito Repellent Rankings Are Now Available for Free. It’s been a rather wet spring in NW NV and that means not only a lot of weeds but also a lot of bugs, including mosquitoes. A decent repellent can make for a much more comfortable outing.

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