Archive for September, 2006

SNU Rally: Lahontan State Recreation Area

Nevada Division of State Parks – Lahontan State Recreation Area says campsite 7 is the improved one. SNU will be just past that on the open beach. Its on the west side where the pavement ends going north around the lake.

Chapter 47-Ecological Subregions of the United States is the rundown for the scientists out there.

From the intersection of US50 and 95A at Silver Springs, head south and look for the big sign on the right hand side of the road. Turn left on Fir Avenue. Past the railroad tracks, there is a Y in the road – take the left branch and head north. You’ll pass the ranger station where you can pay your fees, then the dump station. Then the road heads up around the lake. Follow it until the pavement ends and you have the site.

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Wiring your generator ground

OSHA has some information for you if you want to wire your genset (generator and motor set) properly or if you want to learn about what is involved in portable generator wiring safety. Grounding Requirements for Portable Generators is a 2 page fact sheet and Wiring Design & Protection  is the code.

Most RV gensets operate off a cord plugged into an outlet on the genset or have the genset mounted and grounded to the vehicle frame. For these conditions, a earth ground isn’t needed.

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The DHMO Threat

The DHMO threat has been an issue for quite some time now. We are entering a time of year when the major threat from this chemical changes from accidental inhalation or withdrawal to property damage.

Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death. 

To get up to date and find out more about this threat, these sites will help you out.

Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division – dihydrogen monoxide info

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Dihydrogen Monoxide

Hydrogen Hydroxide: Now More Than Ever!

The upcoming SNU rally will be at a site near where recent deaths have occurred due to DMHO.  Since most rally attendees do not engage in the sorts of activities that put them at that type of risk, they will probably be relatively safe from that risk. That does not mean care should not be taken.

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End of an era: R.I.P PPF

See the report: Sentinel & Enterprise – Pink flamingo plant closing

“We’ve had people in tears that there’s a potential they won’t be able to get plastic pink flamingos,”

Union Products Inc., the original manufacturer of the plastic pink flamingo, will close its doors by Nov. 1, according to the company’s president.

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What to expect at an Sierra Nevada Unit rally

If you want to be prepared, here is one the WBCCI Sierra Nevada Unit folks have put together to help you know what to expect before you dive in.

What to expect at an SNU Rally will walk you through the process from registration to standards to activities to fees, kids, pets, traditions, and PPF.

Plan to join SNU at Lahonton Reservoir for a September 2006 Rally.

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Equinox Time — The Equinox Error: The Fallacy of Fall’s Arrival reports on the fine points of figuring sunrise and sunset times.

Whatever. Tommorrow we’ll be into that quarter of the year that is the last half of the annual progression of shorter days. For the northern hemisphere, that is, where it is known as fall or autumn. It is where the weather gets interesting and sets the stage for the colder weather to follow. It is the marker that you need to prepare your rig for freezing temperatures and make sure that you have your winter preparedness kit in your vehicles.

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Coach Net describes sources of RV calls

RV News reports that Top Operational RV Issues Preventable, Coach-Net Says. More than a third of the problems relate to engines, followed by brake and suspension problems then batteries then slide outs down to a quarter of calls involving grid power problems.

As the article notes, these common problems are almost always preventable by proper maintenance and use. That part is up to you.

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CO Detectors and Alarms have 5 year life

Jeff Wisniewski, Vice President for MTI, suggests that you replace your RV carbonom monoxide (CO) alarms and detectors if they are more than five years old, RV News Magazine reports.

MTI recommends you consider this RV Safe T.R.I.P. Tip:

  • Test and inspect all CO alarms installed on RVs weekly and each time the RV is taken out of storage. Replace alarms that do not work.
  • Replace all CO alarms that are more than five years old. The date code is usually on the back of the alarm.
  • Install CO alarms approved for use on RVs when replacing old units. Add alarms on older RVs.
  • Prevent accidents by being aware of the potential sources of CO in and around your RV. Never ignore or disable a sounding alarm.

The five year lifespan idea appears to have something to do with all gas detectors. It seems they get something like a stuffy nose and can’t smell very well after a time. More research is needed to verify this.

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The straight dope on oil and gas prices

Cecil Adams took on the question How is the market price established for crude oil? in a Straight Dope column that might help you get a better understanding of why gasoline (and diesel) prices go up and down the way they do.

What you see as the price at the pump is only the tip of the iceberg. Its not just supply and demand. There is an impact of anticipation and planning for stability in business, too.  The market for oil and its derivatives like gasoline is a highly varied and quite competitive global market. Cecil provides an answer that will give you some idea of just how complex it can be yet still boil down to a simple price per gallon at the pump.

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Trailer Brake Control

One of the endless “mine is better” debates is that about trailer brake controllers. It usually seems to dwell on the better way to determine brake demand. The choices include hydraulic pressure in the vehicle brake system, brake pedal position, inertia changes, and pressure on the brake pedal.

But all of the modern controllers use smarts to tailor the trailer braking. It is these smarts that determine how to read the brake need and convert that to a trailer brake control signal.

The key to modern brake controllers is in these smarts. They all detect pedal use whether via direct sense or brake light activation. Then they all use some method to determine the actual braking need and adjust trailer brake current as per algorithm. How they use this information is where it gets felt by the seat of the pants driving experience.

The Prodigy is a good example. It is separated from others in its line by its smarts. Its firmware has been updated several times to fix bugs or accomodate emerging trailer brake technology. I think if you look, you will find that the other modern controllers have similar history. The built in controllers using the vehicle control computers are the next step. After that will likely be smart trailers – which has been tried in the past but without the cheap computing power and control capabilities now available.

BrakeSmart is an example of a controller that senses hydraulic pressure. Before ABS (anti-lock braking system) braking, the hydraulic pressure could power the controller’s trailer brake current. The current generation just use the hydraulic pressure as an indicator of brake need.

Tru-Control Brake Controller and the Sens-a-BRAKE uses a pressure sensor on the brake pedal.

Jourdan 2020 Utlima is one that senses brake pedal position. It is an entrepreneur effort that has recently been bought out by Camco.

Prodigy Brake Control by Tekonsha is one that uses inertia sensing. This is a modern varient of the kind of brake control you find on some U-Haul trailer hitches. When the driver hits the brakes, it detects the braking and applies the trailer brakes to match.

Ford has started to introduce trailer brake controllers integrated with its vehicle control computer. This means the controller has many more inputs to help its smarts control the trailer brakes. There are possibilities for significant braking improvements.

The new electric pumps for trailer hydraulic brakes are also making an impact. Controllers used to assume that trailer brakes were activated by magnets which depend upon current and can be pulsed for efficiency. The electric hydraulic pumps don’t need the current and don’t like the shenanigans for magnetic efficiency and don’t act like electric brakes. So the controller smarts have to be upgraded to accomodate the new hydraulic pumps.

In the future we might see trailers starting to include some of the smarts that are now common in cars and trucks. These include ABS braking systems, adaptive sway control, adaptive hitch loading, and who knows what else. Hang on to your seats. It will only get better!

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Signs of the season: winter tingles

The Air Races in Stead aren’t like the Reno Balloon Races a week or two earlier. Low flying jets make it known that something is up.

And the weather also seems to recognize the Air Races.

This year, a cold front blew in and ran the temperatures down by thirty degrees. Yes, it’ll probably go back to ten degrees above nominal but last night it was twenty below nominal. And that means frost and the threat of freezing. It is a reminder that you will need to pay more attention to preventing freeze damage in your rig on the risk that a storm will blow by.

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West Nile an issue at Lahontan

The mosquito born West Nile disease has been a problem near Lake Lahontan this year. This means it is a good idea to pay particular attention to preventive measures if attending the SNU Rally this September. See SNUZE » Blog Archive » Mosquitos – don’t bite me!

For a good rundown on information for individuals, see El Dorado County Public Health West Nile Virus Information For Individuals

Odds are pretty good that you won’t suffer this one but there is a risk and the risk is greater for those over 50. So take care and be aware.

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12 Volt Compact Flourescent at Wal Mart

You know its time to start thinking about RV anti-freeze. That’s $3.5/gal at Wall Mart right now.

There was a new item in the RV section that looked interesting. You know those compact flourescent lightbulbs that you can get to replace standard household lightbulbs? They are sometimes called swirleys because they look like an ice cream cone swirl on a light bulb base.

Camco RV now has one for your RV that costs just under $9.

The RV bulb looks just like the houshold bulb but is designed for 12 volt operation. It uses the standard E26 edison base, just like regular light bulbs so you can use just about any common household lamp for them.

You just have to make sure not to plug it into 110v household outlets.
The Camco bulb says its “engineered for RVs” and “solar ready.” It is a 15 watt bulb and puts out the light equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent. The color temperature is 2700k which is rather warm for a flourescent. That means you get a lot of light for a bit over an amp of current from your RV battery. That’s the same current draw as the more common 12v incandescant bulb uses but a whole lot more light.

Wal Mart is pushing these CF (compact flourescent) lights for its household energy efficiency image. Now it has one for the 12V RV as well that can be an inexpensive (compared to the fixtures at Camping World) way to get a lot of light in the RV that doesn’t drain the battery.

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