Sunday, March 12, 2017

Two Small RoadAbode Projects - Getting Ready for First trip of 2017

As a rule, we don't utilize RoadAbode for trips in December, January, or February. These months are usually too busy, or too cold to be travelling. Some of our favorite campgrounds and resorts are not even open during these months. Our first trip is usually planned for March, still too cold for some in our "neck or the woods." For those of us "Up North" it's a time to plan our summer trips, or look at some pictures of some of the fun we had in years past.
Winter months are also a great time to get some repair or upgrade projects done. This year, we treated ourselves to a new queen mattress at Christmas. Our old mattress was a spring mattress that needed to be replaced. Springs were starting t wear through!  What still made our bed comfortable was our great RV quilted mattress topper. Since last year we had purchased a twin size foam mattress for when we turn the dinette into a bunk, we decided to get the same style IKEA mattress for our rear bed. As usual, RVs are just a little different than home. Queen Beds. A standard queen bed in your home measures 60 by 80 inches. Though newer RVs now have standard queen size, (even king size) older RVs have either three-quarter queen, which is 48 by 75 inches, or a queen short, measuring 60 by 75 inches. RoadAbode has a queen short. IKEA does not carry RV mattresses, but we "customized" one of their queens for our bed. The model we purchased, the MINNESUND, is a firm foam mattress with a zippered cotton cover. We were able to unzip, and slice down the end of the foam with scissors to size, We just folded over the extra material at our feet. We could of left the length, except it would have made walking around the bed difficult.
New Mattress!
We also noticed at end of last camping season the ceiling material was starting to sag over top of the front bedroom. It looked that the moulding piece that held the poly resin sheet material just warped from the weight over the years, allowing a gap to appear. Three short sheet metal screws and a partial tube of adhesive latex caulk helped get it back in place.
One of the screws to hold it in place.

RoadAbode's "Finishing Specialist" taking care of the bead of caulk along the moulding
 A small project we did a few years ago which as proven to be very handy is a shelf above the microwave. I beleive we picked up at IKEA, a great place to pickup items for RV living. Their furniture and accessories are sturdy, and many built for small spaces. The shelf is just two simple brackets with a wide shelf. Great for holding some baked goods or other foodstuffs while camping. We usually don't use the shelf while travelling, but probably could with the addition of a non-skid mat and short bungee cord. Quick and easy to install, One thing you always need when RVing - more storage!
Our Above the Microwave IKEA Shelf
Looking forward to our next trip out!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Birthday Thoughts and Happy New Year!

What a CRAZY year 2016 has been!  Though things didn’t always go as I had planned, I’ve felt really blessed this year. I'd like to share how I've experienced that prayers DO get answered . Here’s some of the things I prayed for.

I actively prayed to “see new sights”  and travel more. Didn’t happen as I had expected – but glad it did. Don’t really have the time or money, but GOD gave me the opportunity! Since my company was bought out last year, this year I was able to travel (expenses paid) to the following for my new employer.

  • Birmingham Alabama – Worked with a great team, and had some delicious BBQ!
  • Los Angeles California – First time west of the Mississippi! Met other team members, Could see the Hollywood sign from my workspace, and tried Korean BBQ and sushi for the first time!
  • Hackettstown New Jersey – Had an amazing drive to and from on some backroads of Pennsylvania and New Jersey
  • Columbia Maryland (twice) – Learned the joys of Jimmy Johns and a Phillips Crab Pretzel
  • Buffalo New York – Smallest plane I ever had flown (prop, not jet) Took a trip to see Niagara Falls, with a bonus of fireworks! Buffalo has best wings ever!
  • Chicago, Illinois – Did “The Loop” Hiked along Riverwalk, The Navy Pier, and Millennial Park. Ate authentic Deep Dish and first time for Poutine. Was blessed to meet friend Dina and family – and her new granddaughter  - enjoyed a meal together - found out we had the same flight home!
  • Jacksonville, Florida – Was able to take a road trip along the coast to St. Augustine, hit the beach, hike an estuary, and enjoy conch fritters!

I actively prayed for better connections with my family. God allowed me to see how parenting has changed for us. I’ve learned that I’m a “father of adults”. Discussions are better, and time together is now less about moulding our girls into proper young ladies, and more about allowing them the discovery of who they themselves have grown to be. With less stress to worry about raising two ”little“ girls, this year Amy and I spent some quality time together – even if some of that time is lounging in our living room, Netflix on the TV, snoring with each other J
It’s a blessing that even at 19 and 24, our daughters still love to travel with Amy and I. We love to spend time in our motorhome, revisiting old haunts, and adventuring into new ones. It’s one of the ways I love to reconnect, and recharge together. Places RVed in 2016:

  • Lancaster – A regular favorite, but having snow made it extra pretty.
  • French Creek State Park – Relaxing and hiking in the place my parents loved.
  • Amherst, New York – Emily’s choice (two thumbs up!) – to visit the town that poetess Emily Dickinson lived her life in. Some cool hiking and a side trip to the Eric Carle museum made it even better.
  • College Park – Planned to hit Washington DC - didn’t - and glad we hit some new sights instead!
  • Jonestown Pa – There is something calming about setting up camp next to a stream.
  • Central PA  “Guys Trip”  with Ed and Kev - great travel partners as usual.  New Traveler Little Liam caught SO many fish! Got to tour a coal mine and walk around Centralia. Went to Knoebels for the rides – stayed for the food!
  • Man Caving – So it may seem counter intuitive to have alone time, but it is really healthy to do. Sometimes I enjoy doing work on our RV, making her more homey, or just sitting and enjoying some quiet time in my “mobile mancave” to revive on my own.

I actively prayed to have time to help others more. I had to step away from serving with Roxborough Church Youth Program, and the ASH Theater Group for kids because of  my responsibilities at work. I missed helping them, but could not devote the time needed for those outreaches. Amy chose to start a new job – at the church, an outreach to those with food insecurities. “The Table” serves neighbors and families that need good food – The Table provides not just canned and boxed items, but fresh produce, meats, and baked items too! Pickups of those items many times occur on weeknights, or weekends after the donating grocery or bakery closes. Perfect timing for me to lend a hand. It’s been a blessing to know we are helping families in our own neighborhood that are in need. It’s been both challenging and fun helping by my wife’s side when I can.
I’ve also served as an elder at Roxborough Church for two consecutive terms of office. Per the by-laws I need to take at least a year off. Though I’ll still serve as I can, I’ll use the time to discern details of what GOD has planned for my path as I am getting older. There are ideas and possibilities that come before me as clearer, and I want to be faithful to what I believe I’m being led to.

Do I feel some prayers went unanswered? Of course. Some situations in my life are still not as I would like. There are still many wrongs in this world that need to be corrected. I ponder and question how those who should be leaders are acting, or see our world as something that is to be theirs to take, with no giving in return. Why some I know have so little compassion. That some people I pray for have a differing perspective of what is important. But I need to remind myself that it is “In His timing, not mine.”
Looking back at 2016, there were plenty of surprises in my life. I’m thankful for each opportunity that was given, every challenge met, every win, and every failure I need to learn from.
Wishing you a Happy New Year, and that you can find the blessings you’ve experienced in 2016.
I’m looking forward in 2017 to what GOD is bringing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

RoadAbode Fall Project - Adding a Fresh Water Tank Access Port

RoadAbode Project - Adding a Fresh Water Tank Access Port
We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of living RV life with RoadAbode. One item I always wanted was easier access to our fresh water tank. RoadAbode does not have a gravity fill spout like some RVs, so water needs to be either pumped into the fresh water tank or come from a pressurized source while boondocking (dry-camping). I've always wanted the ability to clean the inside of the fresh water tank. Currently it is a sealed system, so the only way to clean currently is to run a few capfuls of bleach thru the city water connection into the tank, and then let that slosh around as we drove down the highway. I usually would do this procedure by putting some bleach into the hose, and then connecting to the city water inlet on RoadAbode, then to a water bib (faucet) and set my water system in RoadAbode's basement to be able to fill the fresh water tank. Not hard, but I was never sure how clean the tank really was - with no visual or other inspection.

Boats that have self contained fresh water systems have watertight access ports, why not RoadAbode? I found a few RVers (who were also boat owners) that had added their own ports, so I did some reading on boating forums and planned how to do this project.

Parts List
Below are the parts I purchased on Amazon, had at RoadAbode, or purchased at our local Big Box Hardware Store:

Water Tank Access Port

Prep Work
First I had to access the fresh water tank. RoadAbode's is under our queen bed in the back, so even though the under storage is hinged with hydraulic lift arms to hold it up, it was easier to get the mattress and bedding out of the way. I just pulled the whole mess forward to the living area and leaned it against the refrigerator.
Bed without mattress. Plywood not finished in any way!
I used one of our LED lanterns to provide lighting to see my work area. The under storage is split front to rear down the middle. One side holds the water tank, the other plumbing, electrical, and the water pump.  There is a protective piece of plywood - painted black - over top of the water tank which I removed and slid to the other side of the under storage.
Once the tank was accessible, I wiped it down with a clean hand towel to remove the residual dust that was sitting on top of the tank.  I opened the access port, and using the outside mounting ring as my template, I drew on the tank with the marker. I drew around the inside diameter, knowing I would need to cut a little larger to fit the mounting ring into the hole I was going to make.
Tank marked, now comes the scary part - cutting!
I selected the spot for the hole closer to one end and not the middle for a few reasons.
First, and most important, the top of the tank sloped inward to the center. When I was testing various places to put the port, it would not lay flat in the center. The best place where it laid "flush" on top of the tank was closer to the front.
Second, to access the port while camping, it would be easier near the opening of the bed. If one person holds the mattress up, the other can even work there - to visually inspect the tank, or just to add some bleach, or a few gallons of water.

Actual Work
Cutting the hole was about as difficult as I expected, maybe easier in some respects.
The blade of my utility knife was brand new, and sliced into the plastic easily. The tank material is not as heavy as I expected. I cut approximately 1/8" outside the marker line, knowing I would have to trim a little more for a nice, snug fit. First I worked around the making slits around the mark. I just pushed the knife in for each slit, and extracted. I did not want to twist the knife, which could crack or break off the thin blade point. Then I worked to connect together the slits made using a sawing, or "old-fashioned can-opener" motion. The hardest part was thinking about "I'm cutting a hole in a perfectly good tank. Hope this is not stupid!"
Here we go!

Half way done

20 minutes later, a hole appears!
I was happy to see that the water was very clear - no film on the inside edges of the tank, and smelled good to! There are tiny "ripples" of sand resting on the bottom, which next time we winterize I am hoping to clean out  - now that we have an access port!
They are hard to see, had to darken in the photo - "sand ripples"
I test fit the port mounting ring, and noted the areas that needed to be trimmed. I trimmed this way about six to eight times - test fit, trim...test fit, trim..... and so on. I prefered to cut to little, than too much. I did this until I had the mounting ring "pop" into the hole. I also made sure the port screwed in well - so that the pressure of the tank against the mounting ring was not warping the mount in a way I could not see. Everything fit nicely though.
Hole trimmings - eww - look like toenail clippings - dime for scale.
Test Fit - Now to apply the sealant
After test fitting, now came the moment of truth - sealing the port in. I used aquarium safe sealant - figured if it was safe for fish, it should be fine for us. I generously applied it to the underside of the ring (sorry, no pictures, I didn't want silicone goop on my phone) and also applied to the tank outside the hole to help with adhesion. I pressed the ring in, and then attached and started the stainless steel screws in their mounting holes. (but did not tighten all the way down just yet) I ran my finger on the inside of the hole, and could feel the sealant oozing through more in some places than others. I ran my finger around to help it even out into any crevices I felt around the rim, being very careful not to get on the threads of the port - where the access panel screws into the mounting ring.
After that first pass, I did do again after the screws were all fastened down. I tightened the screws evenly across from each other, so the port seated nicely, and some sealant was seen coming out of the outer top edge of the ring.
The sealant needs to cure for 45 minutes, so I left the port open allowed that to set while I sat with a drink and some reading. I did check the fit of the port and felt the underside of the hole for any more sealant pushing through. (no problems)

The hardest part of the cleanup was remaking the bed! There was sealant left, but from my previous projects, I knew the tube would harden before I got to use the little bit left. Throwing it away is still cheaper than having someone else do it! I had a few stainless screws left, and used them to hold down a piece of loose moulding in RoadAbode's rear bedroom.
New Fresh Water Tank Access Port In Place!
The total job took about 2 - 2 1/2 hours including waiting for the sealant to cure and cleanup. Glad I used the utility knife, It worked fine (though slow) and my original idea of using a drill and small coping saw would have gotten plastic dust both inside and out of the water tank. That would have been messy.
Only thing I would have changed was using #8 size screws - the #6 Screws were small, but seem to hold fine. 1/2" length seemed about right. Time I guess will tell.

Thanks for reading, hope this description of the install is helpful if you are planning to do the same job. Happy and Safe Travels, see you down the road!