Archive for December, 2004

Making a ground

Merry Christmas!

We are thinking of Roy and Bonny this morning. They headed to the Texas coast for a warm winter but it seems that that part of the country is getting a white Christmas for the first time in a hundred years. Don and Marilou are camped out in the Florida keys and even that may not be far south enough. Meanwhile Bob and Katherine headed out for a tour deep into Mexico. Best wishes and safe and happy travels to all!

I am wondering when those Lynx people, or one of their competitors, will start featuring electically conductive leveling blocks and jack stands. Making an electrical connection between your rig and the earth is not usually an issue the typical RV enthusiast worries about unless he has found some fear mongering lightning literature or electric connection manuals for the generator or something.

Grounding your system does four things: (1) It drains off accumulated charges so that lightning is NOT HIGHLY ATTRACTED to your system. (2) If lightning does strike, or if a high charge does build up, your ground connection provides a safe path for discharge directly to the earth rather than through your wiring. (3) It reduces shock hazard from the higher voltage (AC) parts of your system, and (4) reduces electrical hum and radio interference caused by inverters, motors, fluorescent lights and other devices, and not least . . . [Windy Dankoff. Grounding and lightning protection]

When it comes to lightning, your biggest hazard is going to be from broken tree limbs falling on to your rig or from flying debris. As long as you stay inside your ‘Faraday Cage’ RV skinned with an electrical conductor, a lightning strike isn’t like to do any damage to you.

If you are a radio enthusiast then grounding for less interference can be a good idea. A tent stake with a wire to the RV frame is usually good enough if you don’t trust a metal stabilizing jack pressing directly on the ground.

For the electricians, note that your rig does not have what is called a service entrance. This means that the 110v electric (household) plugs and things in your rig do not have the safety ground and neutral connected. Your RV depends upon what you plug it into for the safety ground whether it be a park outlet or a generator you bring along. This is heavy electric code stuff so just be aware. Even some electricians forget that there is a chapter in the code book for RV’s and that an RV is not a house, electic wise.

How about cats and Christmas?

For your holiday cookies, here is how to make your own cookie cutter

build your own pipe organ

The winter solstice occurs Dec. 21 at 7:42 a.m. ET. It is when the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, and marks the official beginning of winter. Find out where to see the planets in the morning sky at

In making a parking lot for a German bus terminal, a 2000 year old Roman truck stop was discovered. see

Pink ‘flying gopher’ gifts
Holiday Flamingo Claus print

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Does your furnace work?

A furnace is a nice thing to have on a cold winter’s morning in your RV. But if you wake up in the middle of the night to a screeching noise or in the morning to a cold chill and the sound of a motor trying to blow cold air on a dead battery (bad news for both the motor and the battery), you know your furnace is saying it needs a bit of TLC.

Like batteries and tires and a lot of other things in your RV, consider yourself fortunate if you get more than five years on a furnace without having to spend money to keep it going safely.

When a properly functioning furnace fails, the odds are that either the motor bearings decided they lasted long enough to satisfy the permanently lubed criteria or a safety device decided it could not longer stand holding the weight of the world away from disaster. You can tell you have a ‘normal’ problem when you call the local RV parts place and, sure enough, they have it in stock for about double what the discount place on the net sells it for.

The screech usually means $120 for a new motor plus a half hour shop time to replace it.

A furnace blowing cold air continuously means that some safety has turned off the burner, a condition called lockout. This could be the device to make sure the blower fan is working or the one to make sure the burner is lit or the one to make sure the inside of the furnace doesn’t get too hot. You can sometimes tell the age of the furnace by how many safety checks they have – newer ones have more. They run about $20 each plus probably a half hour shop time.

There are, of course, other things that can go awry. Mud daubers can clog up the burner vents, Control boards can fail. Wires and connections can come loose. Crud can get into the blower and clog it up. Burners can get out of adjustment. But furnaces aren’t really that complicated so they can usually be fixed without too much trouble, just a big pain in the wallet.

How to trouble shoot your furnace – also a good introduction into the various parts and what they do.

Here is a catalog of spare parts for the furnace at Mark’s RV

One way to survive cold weather in your RV

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How about cats and Christmas?

For the ‘Do It Yourself’ crowd:

For your holiday cookies, here is how to make your own cookie cutter

build your own pipe organ
With reasonable woodwork, you can have a pipe organ in your RV.

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What is February doing for Thanksgiving?

Wake up in the morning and find a thick blanket of snow everywhere. Its standing 4 inches deep on top of an eighth inch thick twig. And the storm is then followed by more than a week of record breaking, bone chilling cold.

What is this February weather doing visiting us for Thanksgiving?

For one thing, it certainly lets you know whether or not you properly prepared your rig for winter, except your probably won’t find out until next spring when things thaw out and you try to get all the systems going.

Don’t forget – picnic at Hersey’s Sunday!

See the owner’s guide about winterizing, keeping warm, catalytic heaters, understanding HVAC, and even a slide show about replacing a furnace.

RV Roadie is putting together a website to tell you what fulltiming is really all about. What do you think? good information?

Understanding Batteries, Issue #1 – Why batteries need replacing looks like a good place to find out more than you might ever want to know about how and why batteries fail. The Australian experience provides a good basis for Great Basin desert life as well.

As you might guess, there are some out there who worry about things others of us consider rather off the wall. Consider, for instance, those who buy an Airstream because the aluminum makes a good shield for radio waves. They probably have Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie, An Effective, Low-Cost Solution To Combating Mind-Control in their bookmarks for when they are outside the Airstream. Or, if they are a bit more discriminating, tin foil hats.

Battery charging is always an issue, especially when its cold out and the you need to keep the furnace running. You can find out how to turn a lawn mower into a battery charger – but I don’t know if any neighbors are going to be very happy listening to a lawn mower going for four or five hours every day.

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Tires are something you should be able to take for granted. Tread wear is seldom a concern for trailer tires. There are some things you should do to make sure your tires live to a ripe old age and to make sure that you minimize the risk of failure as much as possible.

The first issue is to make sure you have the right tires for your trailer. Size is most obvious as the tires have to fit on your wheels and have sufficient clearance in your wheel wells.

Tire type will usually be ST (special trailer) or LT (light truck). ST tires have better aging protection while LT tires are more likely radials and may provide a better ride.

Load rating has a hidden gotcha. It needs to be just right and not too small nor too large. Excess tire capacity may be more than your wheels can handle, require higher pressure filling, and can create a harsh ride that can damage your trailer over time. Insufficiently rated tires will run hot and might fail at an innoportune time.

Keeping proper tire pressure is one of the most important routine maintenance items you can do. If in doubt, fill to the max rated pressure specified on the tire sidewall. Check the tire pressure before each trip and daily while on the road. When you check tire pressure you should also make sure your lug nuts are tight, too.

The Michelin RV tire guide

A petition calling for tire dating

Are you a high-tech redneck?

astronomy picture of the day

The museum of unworkable devices

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