Monday, November 30, 2015

RV Tire Blowout and Replacing our Sewer Valves

Last trip of the Season. Just winterized all the tanks at Country Acres in Lancaster and got RoadAbode ready for storage. We were about 30 minutes from RoadAbode's storage home when Amy noticed the oven rattling more than usual. "Did you forget a pan in the oven?" I asked. Just after she checked and was making her way back to her seat when there was a loud BANG from the rear drivers side of RoadAbode. Another blowout! We had just experienced one on the guys trip back in July, and was planning on replacing the rest of RoadAbode's tires during the winter.
 As safely as possible I moved to the right to get out of busy Route 202 traffic. I pulled to a stop on a median area between an on ramp and traffic lanes. I did a quick check of damage. The fit we were towing was fine, the tire itself was shredded, and to add to the damages, the sewer valves were totally missing! I could see some of their parts already knocked by traffic curbside, but most of both grey and black tank gate valves were nowhere to be seen. From previous blowout experience I wanted to find a safe place for service to change to RoadAbode's spare. So gingerly with hazard lights flashing I made my way off the next highway exit. Not familiar with the roadways but knowing that there are plenty of business parks in the area, Amy used google maps to find the closest off the exit. Being Sunday, their parking lots were empty. We pulled in and called our service - Good Sam - to contact a local company. After being on hold for 15-20 minutes as they tried to find a service. They were able to contact someone, but it would be five hours till they could arrive! Our location was actually 30 minutes from RoadAbode's storage, and from our home, in different directions.I let the dispatcher know this. They conferred with the tire service, and after making sure RoadAbode was parked safely, we all agreed to have the work done Monday morning. I moved RoadAbode to the far side of the parking lot, but visible to the roadway. We disconnected the Honda Fit, gathered our essentials to go home with and left a sign in case police checked on why an RV was parked in the business park.
Not where I left her for the night - but looks good - since you can't see the flat tire
On Monday, I let my boss know I would be taking the morning off, then set off to sit with RoadAbode and wait for the tire change. Rush hour traffic was a bit more than it had been on Sunday. While sitting in traffic, I got an early call from the repair guy verifying the address and location, and that he was on his way. Then 20 minutes later - got a call that he was done! His only issue was that he could not get the spare to go up underneath RoadAbode again.
De-treaded and split tire failure
When I got to RoadAbode, I threw the tire in the back of the Honda Fit, hooked up to RoadAbode, and drove her to storage. Later in the week I setup an appointment to get new tires installed. 

What to take-away from this?
  • Do have a Road Service. Even though it took an extra day, it would have been even more cumbersome without a starting point to work with. It's worth the investment.
  • Keep your head about you. Pull to a safe place and take time to assess the problem. As long as everyone is safe - you'll get through this.
  • Along with the above, remember it's an inconvenience. Maybe you lose some time and it will hit your pocketbook, but it's really is not that bad sitting in your RV - with a bathroom and plenty of food and drink - and waiting it out. Maybe you need some reflection time!
  • Make sure to communicate well with the dispatcher and service. If they tell you a long wait time, see if you can find alternatives. Can they check with another service? If safe to move, can you limp along to another spot that is closer or safer? Or like us, can you arrange to do it at a more convenient time/day?
Not the adventure I prefer to have in RoadAbode, but still galad to be out and travelling with her!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Trouble on the Road - Tire Failure

RoadAbode - Trouble on the Road : Tire Failure
It's not something you expect, but it does happen. The last time this happened, it was also on a Guys RoadTrip. On the way home from Gettysburg, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, RoadAbode shook and rumbled a bit, and I heard a loud, almost ripping sound. My buddies looked at me questioningly, and I let out a quiet "damn!" as I put on the hazards and looked for a place to pull over. I already knew what had happened. Tire Trouble. Fortunately it happened right before a wide emergency pull-off area to park RoadAbode into.. I jumped out and inspected the damage.  The tread separated from the inside, curside dually tire.  It was pretty close to the stretch of highway it happened to last time. Conditions were the same. Extra hot day, and I had verified the tire pressures before leaving. Thankfully there was no damage to the Honda Fit we tow, even though it had just run over the remnants of the "road gator" we left behind. To add a little more injury, as the tread left our now bald tire, the road gator must have banged our tailpipe, which exhausts behind the wheel, up into the bottom our side wall, crumpling a small portion of filon.
At least no one got hurt, and it's all fixable, right?
Sitting on the side of the Road
Waiting on Service. Glad we were at a good pull-off on the PA Turnpike
After calming down, I dug out my Good Sam Card and called the number. Not a direct line, I needed to wait for the prompts. It was comforting to hear the young lady first verify we were in a safe location. She then took my member info, and started her search for a company that would change our tire. From her questions, she did not seem knowledgeable about RVs. Also, she needed a street address or town to try to pinpoint where we were. I knew we were headed east on the PA turnpike, and our mile marker, but finding a town to help was not exactly easy, even using Google Maps on my smart phone. She finally reached a tow operator that was currently on another job, but could be to us in two hours. Well - guess we'd have to wait. I though about turning on the Generator and house air-conditioner, but RoadAbode was on a 1/4 tank of gas - fine to get back home but maybe not to run the genset for a few hours too. So we broke out the camp chairs, sat in the shade of a nearby tree, and proceeded to wait.
Not much went on. I decided to grab a trash bag and gloves and clean up our little piece of PA Turnpike paradise. Then I disconnected the Honda Fit so we would be ready to change out the tire. The few tools the service would need I readied - a tool to crank down the tire, and a tool that gets the locking nut off the wheel covers. A dump truck passing by also blew a tire - right across from where RoadAbode sat. The driver just kept going.
RoadAbode - Location on the PA Turnpike
Where we were for 3 & half hours
About forty minutes into our wait I received a call from Good Sam. Seems the service company would need to add another hour to our wait time! "Can you see if there is someone else available?" The woman from Good Sam said she'd call me back. 10 minutes later she said she had another company and they would arrive in 40 minutes. It was Abel Brothers. They fixed RoadAbode last time!
I decided to run the genset and air-conditioner to cool off a bit.
Within 30 minutes two young guys pulled up and began work on RoadAbode.
They were good guys and we talked a little about camping and RVing - one had even been to Gettysburg in the past few weeks. They were curious about my tow setup, and showed them how it worked - and what cars with automatic transmissions could be towed.
It was obvious that one was teaching the other. They went over how to chock the wheels safely, and how to get the tires off without damage. Within thirty minutes - they were done! It was a hot day, so I got each a large Gatorade from RoadAbode's fridge. They were happy for that!

Since the "blowout" we've replaced both duallys on the curbside. I'm also keeping the tires at about 5lbs less pressure than I use to. We've had three trips since, with no issue.

Guys fixing up RoadAbode

RoadAbode Tire Trouble - Damaged Sidewall
Damage from the tread giving way and wacking the tailpipe up and into RoadAbode's sidewall 

Guy's RoadTrip 2015 ~ Experiencing Gettysburg

Each year, I gather a some friends in either July or August for a Guy's RoadAbode RoadTrip. The playbook usually incorporates a few of the same elements year to year that seems to make the trip successful. Some solid local eats to try.. Some sights to check out. A short driving distance to a winery,  brewery, distillery or perhaps a combination of a few to sample. A campground with a view, or beside water. If we can get them, both. Something cooked over a campfire. Over four days we take these elements and jumble them together, and usually what's created from this mix is a relaxing weekend with great friends. This year was no exception.

Traveling to Gettysburg

My two travel companions for Guy's RoadTrip 2015 have traveled in RoadAbode before. Kev has been my best friend since high school, and Ed and I volunteer together at our church. Not until our guy trip together years ago did I realize Ed and Kev knew each other - and we all went to the same high school. They've been great as travel partners.
Taking the day off from work, I left at 10:30am - picked up buddy Ed not far from RoadAbode Crews residence in Philadelphia. Then off to the Northwestern Suburbs to pickup buddy Kev. Kev is actually pretty close to where we store RoadAbode. A short ride to RoadAbode  loaded our weekend gear, connected the Honda Fit behind with our towbar, and off we went.
The traffic and weather were on our side - which made the ride up really easy and enjoyable. We pulled into Gettysburg Campground about 2:30pm, a half hour before check in. The staff was already waiting, ready to wave us in and give us instructions on the registration process. Made sure to use my Good Sam membership discount -  something I've forgotten to do in the past.
We got RoadAbode settled and leveled in her campsite, setup camp chairs, lit a campfire - and we're home!

Campsite at Gettysburg Campground

The campground is on the outskirts of the town of Gettysburg, but located so that you can easily get to the center of town, or the battlefields in 10 minutes or less. The campsite we had, site 183, backs up and has access to Marsh creek. While setting up our campsite, it was great to hear the creek babbling behind us, and be shaded in an almost picnic grove like setting. The main road is paved, but the campsite access roads are all well maintained gravel. The only item I wish was closer was the shower house - but its not an item that should deter someone from wanting to utilize this particular campsite.
Enjoying an adult beverage fireside

The Town of Gettysburg

The town of Gettysburg is quaint, branching out from it's towne centre's roundabout to plenty of touristy activities pertaining to the Battle fought in 1863. There are battlefield tours offered by car, bus, scooter and horse drawn carriage. Boutiques specializing in battle memorabilia from both sides of the conflict are plentiful. Eateries from simple to elegant abound. Small, local museums offer a glimpse into what life was like during those three hot muggy days of July in 1863.
There is more to do in Gettysburg than one can take in on a long weekend. Below I list the best of what we experienced in this historical place.
"Olde Timey" Baseball Exposition we found!

The National Park Visitors Center

If you want to get a feeling and understanding for what happened during the Battle of Gettysburg on your own terms, then your first stop should be The National Park Visitors Center. You'll have the ability to stop at what interests you and move through what does not. Pay the Combined ticket 12.50 (discounts are out there) and see the Movie, the Cyclorama and the Museum
The movie, A New Birth of Freedom,  is narrated by Morgan Freeman and sponsored by the History Channel. The 15-20 minute film gives visitors a short overview of what led to the battle, and the aftermath.
As you leave the theater, your exit leads to the entry of the Cyclorama. This restored 360 degree art installation was first created in 1883. Cycloramas were the  "3d movie" of their time, depicting famous events. The Gettysburg battle is dramatized with lighting, music and narration. The base of the painting is built into a diorama, giving the viewer a feeling of being part of the action.
After leaving the viewing platform of the Cyclorama, don't miss the hallway depicting how the painting was found and subsequently restored. The history behind the painting's creation and finally finding a home in the visitors center is one of my favorite areas of the museum.
Once you leave the Cyclorama, you enter into the museum proper. Where the film painted with broad strokes, the museum tells the story in detail. Historic information from the politics, to the battle plans, and the individual stories of soldiers and town folk of Gettysburg are found. There are places to linger and learn about the history of what caused this turning point of the Civil war to occur.Short movies, dioramas and artifacts all help to tell the story.

The Battlefields

View from Little Round Top toward Devil's Den
A visit to Gettysburg is not complete unless you visit where the three day battle took place. Truthfully, you cannot step anywhere in or surrounding Gettysburg without having set foot in a place the battle took place! Gettysburg town center was overrun by both sides of the conflict, with homes and businesses becoming impromptu field hospitals or staging areas for soldiers. Plenty of historic placards help tell about those pieces of the story. The areas where the largest loss of life and fiercest battles raged are outside the town. Simple places names like The Peach Orchard or The Wheat Field tell little of the horrible loss of life that happened in these places. Other's like Devil's Den give a slight insight of what happened to the men that battled there.
To help understand the battle, you can sign up for one of the many tours or even hire a private guide. Being a bit frugal, I downloaded podcasts with maps available for free from a partnership between and Gettysburg National Military Park. The stories behind Devil's Den were some of the most interesting to me. There are many podcasts on this site, interspersed from throughout the Civil War's battle locations. The primary Gettysburg battles are all included with interesting narration and maps on the site.

Wineries & Eateries

Besides history, there are plenty of places to dine, enjoy local brews or wines in Gettysburg. As with many tourist areas in our nation currently, there are distinctive local breweries and small wine makers popping up in the region. Part of the fun at these quaint establishments is talking with the server during a tasting about the area, and learn of what makes their beverage distinct. Having a local's insight into the area can be helpful, and may even offer up some information about a local spot off the beaten path.
Here were some of our favorites for a bite or a drink in Gettysburg.
For pizza, Tommy's is the spot. Hand tossed with fresh ingredients with a nice choice of sides make this a popular spot. Check out one of their specialty pizzas for something with a little more of an interesting kick!
For some unique breakfast choices, check in on Lincoln Square to the Gettysburg Bakery. You can of course get your fill of delicious european inspired pastries, muffins and other baked goodies. But - check the chalkboard for the daily breakfast/lunch specials. Their sandwiches are thoughtfully made, flavorful combinations. Just thinking of the Smoked Salmon on warm Bialy I had with an accompaniment of fresh fruit gets my mouth watering! Eat there - or take with! Extra points for some great coffee blends - the Ethiopian was a nice morning treat.
Smoked Salmon, Herbed Cream Cheese on Freshly Baked Bialy
If you are looking for more standard "fill ma' belly" breakfast fare, then check out Dunlap's. Large Hotcakes, great omelets, good service and nice seating (booths) area.  Have to say we went back for a few burgers at lunch and the meal was not as good as our breakfast.
If you have a hankering for ice cream, then of all the choices in Gettysburg - head to Mr. G's for handmade deliciousness. Right by Alumni Park, on the corner of Baltimore and Lefever Streets, the scoops are relatively large, chock full of whatever flavor you choose. There's plenty of seating areas both inside and out. Be warned - there are some interesting period ring toss games outside you may get hooked on before or after having a cone! If they have the Salted Caramel on the board - it was my favorite for the weekend - try it!
Ed, checking out the Selection at Mr. G's
Coincidentally, my favorite Gettysburg area adult beverage - Black Bear Cider - is served right next door. At Reid's Orchard, Winery and Cidery, step up to either the cider or wine tasting bar, and then settle on a glass (or bottle) of your  favorite. Head out the backdoor and if you time it right, you'll be able to enjoy one of the musical groups that are regularly booked there - no cover. (Protip - if you don't enjoy tasting wine or cider, then get a cone at Mr. G's, sit on one of the benches facing Reid's, and enjoy the musical entertainment just as well)
Clip of the band "Across the Pond" at Reid's Orchard, Winery & Cidery

The other winery we were able to partake of was located back on Lincoln Square, Hauser Winery. The tasting and seating area has a definite "upscale feel".  When we visited, we were the only patrons, and were able to relax and spend some time with our tasting. Besides red and fruit wines, they also produce Jack's hard cider. The visit was fun, but the wines were not my favorite. (I am a more dessert wine drinker)

Highlights of This RoadTrip

Staff of The Gettysburg Baking Company
  • Dropping our camp chairs into the low waters of Marsh creek behind RoadAbode, while chilling with an adult beverage with friends. A few friendly ducks and people on inner tubes floated by and said hello!
  • Breakfast at Gettysburg Baking Company - Fresh ingredients, and friendly staff  - located on Lincoln Square in the heart of the towne of Gettysburg. This high-end bakery has been open at this location since January 2015, but has been serving the area since the 1990s. Want fresh and tasty? Check them out!
  • Relaxing behind Reid's Cider House, enjoying the band Across the Pond while sipping Black Bear Cider and picking at a cheese plate.
  • Visiting the farmers market while antique cars rolled by in Lincoln Square
  • While in the National Park Museum, listening to Ed explain some of the similarities and differences of battlefield medicine from Civil War to when he served our country as a medic.
  • Finding the memorial for Abner Doubleday by chance (there are memorials EVERYWHERE in Gettysburg) after watching the "olde timey" baseball exposition.
  • Grabbing some rolls, brats & cheese at Kenny's Market and having a "weenie roast" over the campfire as the sun set.

With it's history, eateries, wineries and natural areas, Gettysburg is a place to kickback and just enjoy. There are more options than just learning about the battle in a weekend. Plenty of tasty restaurants and cafes, eclectic shops and places to unwind are found in this small town. Whatever you choose - you will find something to enjoy. The RoadAbode Crew plans on visiting again!
Have you been to Gettysburg? What do you think we missed? What's your favorite place to catch a bite while there? Comment below, we'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oh No! I Broke RoadAbode's Toilet!

Oh No! I Broke RoadAbode's Toilet!
Yes, I Think RoadAbode's Captain did it! Co-pilot saves the day!
While on our June Trip, just as we were about to depart from Jonestown KOA and head for Delaware Seashore State Park, Amy noticed the floor in RoadAbode's restroom was wet. Really wet. She checked around and could not see a leak point and I surmised (without actually looking) that the seal or flooring at the base of the toilet had failed. Amy started the process of putting down towels to dry the area while we got RoadAbode into "Travel configuration" for our trip southward. We talked how we could remedy the situation, either stopping somewhere along the way, or down in Delaware. Amy went back and after toweling some more, decided the water was not "used" - thankfully - but clean water!
So where was it coming from? 
RV toilet DiagramWe could not see any drips from the inlet in the back of the toilet, and the pressure (we always use a regulator) was not abnormally high. Holding the handle and letting the water run while flushing, Amy discovered the issue. A seam that connects the bottom pedestal to the area right under the seat had small droplets of water leaking out. Behind the seam is where the water flows to get the "swirling" action to flush down the toilets contents. After over ten years (and probably my big butt) of use, it no longer was a water tight seam.
We might be able to fix this!
Though we had a tube of window caulk on-board, We decided to stop somewhere along the way and pickup some Silicone sealant - like what they use to seal aquariums. I've used this in the past for sealing cracks and such - that are not under pressure. Fortunately, the way the toilet is built the channel that the water is traveling through behind the cracked seal is not under pressure. The channel just directs the water around the upper edge of the bowl. Using the silicone should work.
While underway, we instructed the girls that they could use the toilet, but we would keep the water pump off. To flush, they would just use a filled water bottle rather than the flush valve. on the toilet. Amy scouted out a Walmart that was not too far off our travels in Delaware. Once there, the girls found the exact silicone sealant we were looking for in a nice, small tube - perfect for the job. Amy made sure the seam was dry, and liberally applied the sealant to the toilet. According to instructions, it had to cure for 24 hours.  So we let it do it's thing until the next day. (probably a little less that 24 hours) It was no longer tacky and the seam was completely covered and enclosed in the silicone. We put on the water and tested with the valve. It worked! For the rest of our stay we had no water issues from the toilet. Will be using for our upcoming guys trip to Gettysburg. We'll see how it holds up. So glad and blessed that I have a wife who is a quick thinker and can handle a little stress while out in RoadAbode.
broken toilet fixed
silicone applied
broken toilet fixedbroken toilet fixed

We are looking at newer toilets, and may purchase one in the near future. If you have any experience with a toilet you like of don't like, we'd love to learn from you. Write in the comments section below!
Happy travels!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

RoadAbodode's June RoadTrip

This June for our annual "Afterschool RoadTrip" we ventured to parts familiar to us, and beautiful interesting new territory. The landscapes and surrounding areas of each were relaxing as we would like, but still offered more activities to take part in that we could possibly do in our week away. Since part of the fun of having a motorhome is travelling, we stayed part of our time in the woodlands of South-Central PA, then moved on to our first stay in the First state - Delaware.
Panorama of our Jonestown KOA Campsite next to the Swatara Creek

First Leg of RoadAbode's June Trip

We need to store RoadAbode outside the city. This slightly limits what the girls can pack - which I believe is a good thing. We pack up our tiny Honda Fit coupe with the possessions needed for the week, and head to RoadAbode's home at the storage yard. Once there, we all pitch in to more the load. We also prep the Honda Fit with tow lights, as we use it as our "toad" - pulled  behind RoadAbode with a tow bar. The Fit is the second car we've had a tow bar setup installed on, and makes as a perfect little car to explore wherever we are.. We pull RoadAbode out of her spot, pull the Honda Fit behind, and connect the car to the tow bar. Our eldest daugher has been helping connect up for years now, and knows the process. Amy does the drivetrain process - each car that is towable has a specific way to shift gears and get ready for towing. Finally we check each other and  are on our way!
It helps that we have four android phones with us. We have some favorite Apps we use. My smartphone is used as our GPS using Google Maps. (we still consult a printed map as well from time to time, or utilize campground directions) Amy's is used to scout out eateries, grocery stores or gas stations along our route. Hers is also used as our main phone if we want to contact the campground or anyone else during our drive. The other two switch off between listening to music, or consulting the Internet for interesting things to do at our destination or sights as we travel. And yes, sometimes the girls will ignore us up in the cab for a while and just use their smartphone to read or play a game, especially on longer trips.
I forgot to mention Molly, our Lhasa Poo pup. She can be found either sitting on Moms lap, on the couch with one of the girls, or way in the back snoozing on our bed. She really enjoys the RVing life!
On this trip our first destination was only two and a half hours away. We arrived at Jonestown KOA about an hour before check in, but they were gracious enough to check that our site was ready, and one of the young ladies escorted us to our site. There was a car parked not in our site, but close in front of it, making it difficult to pull in. The KOA staff right away checked with campers in the area, and quickly figured out it was a guest of someone staying at a Kabin close by. (They were having a birthday celebration for a child there) What some would have found aggravating turned out pretty nice, because it gave us a chance to meet the neighbors and find out how the weather's been, and where they were from.
Our site was perfectly level, so we connected the essentials of water, electric and cable, then set out to get Barbeque! Within a 15 or 20 minute drive of the KOA sits a building that looks more like a feed store than a place to get good eats Shakedown Barbeque. is located on firehouse lane, which is a small winding farmers road off the beaten track in the middle of cornfields. Inside this establishment you find some of the best pork, brisket and chicken barbque you can have. Sit inside, outside, or take with - you will not be disappointed. Large portions of flavorful meat - with delicious sides. They also occasionally have live music to enjoy outside.
Reconnecting at waters edge

After getting our fill of pork and brisket, we headed back to RoadAbode. Normally we'd wade the creek looking for crawdads, fish or other creatures but because of recent storms, the waters of the Swatara were too deep and swift. Our plans for tubing or canoeing right from our site would have to happen another time. We sat a bit outside watch the waters, relaxing, reading and reconnecting. It's one of the joys of RVing together as a family.. As the day turned to twilight, we decided to play a game of monopoly. It's fun to be a little competitive, and maybe even chat a bit how just life - like monopoly - isn't always fair, but we can still help one another out. After an enjoyable competitive game, we watched a little cable, did a little reading, and headed off to bed.
Dogs are probably more excited about camping than we realize. Monday - At the crack of dawn, Molly was waking me up to go out and explore. New sights and especially new smells were waiting for her to check out. And there are chipmunks and squirrels to chase after! I enjoy our walks as well. There are usually a few other early rising dog owners to say hello to, and sometimes we get surprised by seeing a doe or groundhog along the way. Additionally, since we are on vacation, I really dont want to waste too many moments laying in bed!  Once Molly had sniffed and marked new territory, we headed back to RoadAbode for her breakfast, and my first coffee of the day.  Remoting into work to check server processes was next on the agenda.
Once everyone was up we start planning the day. Since playing on the rain swollen Swatara was off the menu of activities, the girls decided to do one of their favorite past-times - thrifting. I enjoy hunting out a good bargain too, so finding some  places to stop was as easy as asking "OK Google, show me thrift shops" We found a line of them on Route 422 in the nearby county of Lebanon.  First thing is breakfast - and as a treat we head first to The Farmer's Wife Family restaurant in Ono, down the road from the KOA on Route 72 about 20 minutes. Great meal, quick service and not expensive. Having some plate-size pancakes with farm fresh sausage and eggs was perfect for a vacation treat! The girls thrifting finds included dresses with hoop underskirt (different stores) they will use as costumes for our church's Vacation Bible School, and Amy found a new Vera Bradley purse for $12 (apparently that's good)
PA National Guard Museum Exhibits
Back at RoadAbode, lunch was a healthy salad since we were still pretty full from breakfast. In the afternoon, we took a short ride over to Fort Indiantown Gap. Though the National Guard Museum was already closed, we still enjoyed looking at the aircraft, tanks and memorials relating military history. Back at RoadAbode, our day progressed with lots of lounging, reading, or relaxing watching TV at our campsite till evening. A few games of cards were in order to close out the night.
On Tuesday, since the creek was still relatively high and murky, we decided if we wanted to do any boating, Memorial Lake State Park in the middle of the Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard training area was our best bet. We took the the short ride over, only to find out that boat rentals are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We still enjoyed a short hike around the lake, but no boating this RVing trip out! We had some brats grilled over the fire for our evening meal, and enjoyed a game of clue for our the night's entertainment.
Memorial Lake State Park Boat Launch

Second Leg of RoadAbode's June Trip

After a relaxing few days at Jonestown KOA, it was time for a change of venue! Wednesday was our pack up and travel day. We've never stayed in the state of Delaware before, so we let Google map our drive down to our next stop - Delaware Seashore State Park. We stayed in the new North Inlet Campground  Here is a Photosphere of our Campsite. You can drag the photo around with your cursor for a 360 view of our campsite.

Most people call the bridge by the campground the Indian River Inlet Bridge. It's given name is the Charles Cullen Bridge, after a state highway commissioner of the 1930s . This beautiful cable bridge was built in 2012 and replaced a string of wooden and girder steel beam bridges.  Check this link to learn the history of the bridges that spanned the inlet in this location over the years.

After setting up RoadAbode in our campsite facing the bay, we jumped in the car and took a ride to check out the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. Parking in Rehoboth is all metered, and open parking was hard to come by. We lucked out and found a spot only a block away from the southern end of the boardwalk. The boardwalk is one mile long, quite short compared to the Atlantic City (4 miles) and Wildwood (2 miles) boardwalks we grew up on. It still has all the excitement of "Jersey Shore" boardwalk, just in a more family friendly "fun size".  Being a bit hungry, one thing we had to try were the famous Thrashers Boardwalk fries. Hot authentic boardwalk French fries were a great treat as we wandered up the boardwalk and poked our head in a few of the shops. Amy saw a funnel cake stand and decided to partake of one of her favorite desserts. If you've never had this concoction, it's simply a cake batter drizzled by a funnel (hence the name) in a rotating pattern onto boiling oil, and flash fried. The crispy yet doughy mess is then lifted, drained and placed on a paper plate and liberally coated with powder sugar. There are versions that include chocolate, whipped cream and fruits - but my wife is a woman with simple tastes :-)
While waiting for us to pickup Amy's order, the girls sat and people watched from a nearby bench. They also looked onto the dunes, and found a tiny bunny nibbling on the sandy. Never though of rabbits living on the beach! After the bunny sighting, we headed back to our Honda Fit, (meter almost out) and out of Rehoboth beach, back to our North Inlet Campsite.
The sky as the sun was setting looked like it was on fire from our campsite, and the bridge light in blue gave this spot an almost patriotic feel. Great end to the day.
Sun Setting over the North Inlet Campground of Delaware Seashore State Park
Indian River Inlet Bridge at Night
The sun is up early here! Guess it should be, since we are right by the Atlantic Ocean. For a June trip, this probably was the most drastic environment change we've experienced. From stream and woodlands to a ocean beach spot with no mature trees at all in one day.
Molly was ready to walk before 6am, and with the sun already up, so was I . This new campground is aligned between the bridge and the US Coast Guard station. There is also a public access parking lot directly next to the bridge. All the roadways are black macadam, and the walkways white cement. As we walked around the campground, there were only one or two campsites that those residing there felt needed leveling blocks or jacks. When we set up, we basically pulled in, checked the level, and then setup. Besides being well laid out, this campground also has very nice shower facilities, and even a great laundry room with large washers and dryers. Include that we have full electric, water and sewer hookups, and this is probably the nicest and well equipped state park we have enjoyed camping.
Down past the campground if you continue walking the inlet road is the marina and Hammerheads Restaurant. Plenty for Molly to sniff on her morning walk!
Today we stayed mostly close to camp. The girls headed to the beach, while I stayed back with Molly and enjoyed just watching the people and boats on the Inlet, and some light reading.
Claire and Sophie of "ComedySportz World Tour"

On one of Molly's walks we noticed a Class C motorhome with "Comedy Sportz World Tour" emblazoned on the side and back. A quick Google search and we found the story of Claire and her pup Sophie. So Amy and I wandered over, and interrupted Clair relaxing and reading a book outside her RV. Seems Claire had a great idea as an office dweller for Comedy Sportz - which is an improv group with locations in major cities through North America. She pitched a travel and marketing campaign - via a motorhome. She got the go ahead!
You can follow Claire, Sophie and their travelling comic companions as they criss-cross the country to visit and work with other comedians. Check out ComedySportz here.
Back at RoadAbode, though we all did snack as the day went on, we decided to head out for an early dinner. Using a Google Maps search for restaurants close to us, we found the highly rated Nalu in Dewey Beach. We piled in the car and headed over.
Tiger Shark hanging from the ceiling of Nalu
Only a 10 minute drive from the campground, Nalu is a Hawaiian surfer themed bar and grille. With open swing-out windows, palm trees, totem poles, tiki bar, and huge Tiger Shark hanging from the ceiling, we had the feeling we were sitting at an outdoor luau. The decor, may be over the top, but really put us in an island frame of mind. If you ever get the chance to head there, make sure to try the HUGH Nachos, and a plate of bacon wrapped pineapple. Plenty of tasty choices on the menu, many with a Hawaiian twist!
After being thrilled with our dining find and filled with a tasty mix of seafood, pork and more, we headed back to camp. There were a few excited people pointing and taking pictures as we were about to enter RoadAbode. A pod of dolphins were swimming up into the bay! It was so cool to see dolphins - right from our picnic bench! Did not get good pictures, but you can see the dolphins a bit in this video.
To end the day on a literal high note, the Park staff had scheduled a musician to play in the pavilion leading to the beach. As the sun set, a mix of laid back beach and old rock ballads drifted through the campground. After the music, everyone was invited for a beach campfire featuring toasted marshmallows. Great way to bring a close to the evening!
Since Friday was predicted to be wet, we planned a few inside activities in Rehoboth Beach. Traffic was crawling through Dewey and Rehoboth. Looked like day trippers and weekenders were clogging the roads. We stopped at the Fractured Prune for a breakfast of doughnuts. Their specialty is made to order hot donuts. Unique flavor creations abound, with combinations of sprinkles, toppings and glazes to make your own taste sensation. I went with a staff favorite - Maple glaze with cinnamon sugar named a French Toast doughnut. The girls went with a mint chocolate chip concoction, and a berry mix of some sort. We all enjoyed our sweet treats!
Our main stop was to the Nassau Valley Vineyards. Beautiful grounds with well kept colonial buildings, the Winery was quite busy readying for an afternoon wedding and serving other tastings. We opted for a self guided tour, showcasing the history of wine-making more than the winery itself. Once we were able to get a tasting (requiring an additional wait after our tour) we tried a few wines on the sweet end of the spectrum. We did end up with a bottle of True Blue Blueberry and Peach Ambrosia - more for the novelty than because of the taste. The True Blue is produced from 100% locally grown blueberries. Still was fun to try some different vintages, and enjoy a short walk through the art gallery and grounds. The girls day seemed to be made more by meeting the vintner, who was a surprisingly young muscular surfer type that seemed to catch all the female eyes in the room. The young man being just a bit shy when introduced by the ladies who led our tastings seemed to make him even more interesting.
We decided to stop for some "touristy shopping" as we headed back to RoadAbode. One place that caught the girl's eyes was The Sea Shell Shop. Connected to a mini golf course and ice cream parlor, the store seemed to have the trifecta of tourist traps rolled into one. Filled with all things nautically inspired, the girls found some trinkets to keep for themselves and for a few friends back home. I did well with my new motto "simplify." I don't need more clutter, though some of the items available were pretty.
For our last full day enjoying the North Inlet at Delaware Seashore State Park, Amy baked a light breakfast of homemade buttery croissant rolls, which we devoured while watching the boats entering and leaving the Inlet. After cleaning up, we headed out to find out what the Mid Atlantic Sea Glass & Coastal Arts Festival was about. We learned that collecting sea glass, much like collecting gemstones, is become a "thing." People look for certain colors, shapes and love the jewelry and mosaics created with the glass. If the glass can be authenticated as from a certain age bottle, or from a period type of glass - it has more value. The items we saw were beautiful, even while walking among the booths in a slight drizzle. There were plenty of other artisans there with paintings, carvings and various interesting artwork - all ocean and beach themed. Add that they had some food and a live steel drum musician, and it was a downright good time.,  The girls picked up some seaglass to remember the trip, and a few other items. After, we walked and perused some of the stores on nearby 2nd street.
Some Island sounds during the Sea Glass Festival

The rest of our day we just enjoyed lounging at RoadAbode reading and enjoying our campsite by the sea.

Sunday was our reluctant pack-up day, and we left at 11:55 am - right before our Noon checkout. We were not in a hurry to leave! I was surprised the traffic was not heavier on the way through Dewey and Rehoboth Beach. In face, we kept moving pretty well until we were at the Pennsylvania border. If this had been coming from the New Jersey Shore, we would have been in bumper to bumper traffic for over four hours all the way home! We made the trip back to storage in a little over 2 and half hours.

We really enjoyed this year's trip, even though we were no more than 3 hours away from our home in Philadelphia. We had a nice mix of things we'd enjoyed before, and some new places to discover. We definitely recommend both Jonestown KOA and The North Inlet Campground at Delaware Seashore State Park. If you've been to these places, we'd love to hear what you enjoyed - or didn't - in these places. Hope to see you down the road! Happy Travels!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Relaxing at Jonestown KOA

Our Campsite along the Swatara Creek at Jonestown KOA
We've stayed a few times at this campground, before it was even a part of the KOA network. At our first visit it was still named Lickdale Campground. We discovered the park by talking to the owner at an RV show in Oaks, PA - outside of Philadelphia. The conversation was friendly, and the park sounded like our type of campground. Plus, we had not camped in the area before so soon after arriving back home we booked a stay. We're glad we did!

Jonestown KOA is near the juncture of I-78 and I-81 in  Southern-Central Pennsylvania. Being within a mile or so of the interstate seems to make the campground a great stop-over point for travelers heading toward northern or southern destinations. From the brief conversations we've had with other RVers - and the license plates on the motorhomes, trailers and fifth-wheels we see - there are plenty that make this a regular stopping point while passing through Pennsylvania. There are even special, easy access & pull-through campsites for these come-n-go RVers.

The camp store is what you want a camp store to be! in fact, the locals use it as their "go to" convenience stores. The store, which is also the camp office, has frontage on Lickdale Road where it intersects with State route 72, making it truly convenient in and out. The store does not stock just your essential camping items, but has a full deli, Ice cream shop and even tasty broasted chicken - that can be delivered right to your campsite!
To top off the activities at Jonestown KOA, they also sell tickets for, and will shuttle your family to, Hersheypark.
The amenities and location of Jonestown KOA are all great, but what draws us to this campground are its camping spots directly next to the Swatara creek.
Swatara Creek & the Lickdale Bridge
Each camp pad along the creek has a concrete patio, with steps leading down the bank to the the water's edge.  There are plenty of Sweetgum, Oak and Maples to shade your site. Depending on the height of the creek from current rainfall, you  can sometimes wade in, or just fish from your campsite. The campground also rents tubes, kayaks and canoes. They will shuttle you to a entry point upstream to start your journey. Nothing like floating on the water and being able to beach your craft at your own campsite!

If you want to go check out local cuisine, there are plenty of great small restaurants to partake within a twenty minute drive or less. We have two favorites:
Shakedown Barbeque is located on a little windy farmers path called Firehouse Road and may look like a feed store from the outside. But inside you'll find the awesome mouthwatering goodness that only excellent Barbeque can provide. The portions are big enough to share, or take home some to enjoy later at your campsite. Whether Pork, Brisket or Chicken, don't forget to get a side of crispy, seasoned fries with your order. If you are wondering what to wear, go comfortable. We've seen everything from biker leathers to dads in polo shirts. Everybody seems happy because they are eating tasty BBQ and enjoying the eclectic mix of blues music and the Shakedown's cordial staff..\
Menu Board from Shakedown Barbeque

Farmer's Wife Family Restaurant (no website) in Ono,PA  is a no nonsense eatery. We've enjoyed great breakfasts, lunches and dinners there. The menu is stuffed with variety, and the prices are very reasonable.

Things to do in the area besides HersheyPark include Indian Echo Caverns, Linda's Speedway (Where Jonestown KOA sponsors a driver) Swatara and Memorial Lake State Parks, and the National Guard Museum Aircraft and tank displays. You may even see the National Guard doing practice maneuvers.
We highly recommend Jonestown KOA as a great base for checking out Central Pennsylvania!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

RoadAbode's New Roof - One Week Later

Wanted to give an update a week after our application of Liquid RV Roof. Our aches and pains are just about subsided. The roof is nicely sealed and bonded to the old roof.
Take a look at some before and after shots - my apologies for not getting the exact same angles on these before and after photos
Before Cleaning the Roof
This shot above was while taking off our MaxxAir Covers. You can see the gray or ashen color of the roof. It didn't have cracks or rips, but it felt thin and chalky when you ran your hand over it.
Day After Applying Liquid Roof
The picture above shows how the roof looked the day after application. The roof is smoother and shiny now. Notice there are what look like wrinkles or bubbles on the new roof. The week after when we visited to put the Maxx-Air Vent covers back on - they were almost all gone. According to our reading this is a normal occurrence when applying Liquid Roof. I did find a small bubble while Amy was putting the vent covers on, and decided to gently press it down - as Amy scolded me for doing so. It went down and stayed down and seemed pretty solid. Pretty confident the roof will be holding up well.
Oh yeah - that black thing you see in almost the middle of the photo? A grasshopper or locust decided to get stuck. 
A Grasshopper or Locust - Now Gone
The bug pretty much fell apart a week later. 
As Amy put the vent covers back on, we noticed we can still smell the roof (it has a particular "new rubber" smell), so it is still curing.

Toward the back - a Week Later
I took another photo as Amy was working on the MaxX-Air covers. You can see there are no bubbles now in the new roof, so the roof seems to be adhering to the old material  well - as we had read it would, and had hoped.
Roof Edge and look - no bubbles!

The only area I am not satisfied with is a section along the driver side edge of the roof. Really nothing wrong with it - except I can see some of the old roof right on the edge. This might be because we pulled the painters tape off early. Later in the camping season I'm considering using some dicor lap sealant along that edge just to make sure we are sealing the old roof material as best as we possibly can. 

Any questions or comments, let us know! Safe Travels - hope to see you camping or on the road!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

RoadAbode ~ Coating with Liquid RV Roof ~ Learn from our Mistakes!

Coating with EPDM Liquid RV Roof
In retrospect, this ended up being one of the toughest jobs (physically) we've done so far on RoadAbode.

We've done plenty of different upgrade, maintenance and repair jobs on RoadAbode. From repairing our entry steps to updating our couch and dinette seating areas and fixing small section of delamination. On all these jobs we research, read, ask questions and finally undertake the project. Most times it comes out pretty much how we envisioned, or even better!. Our recent project undertaken - removing our cracking decal stripe went so well that perhaps when tackling this latest project one week later, I was a bit too confident in our abilities to recoating the entire roof the way we did.
The recoating was a success, and RoadAbode's roof is completely recovered and looks great. We got the job done and are glad we were able to finish. If you would have asked us how the job was doing halfway through, we might have not been so positive. Below, we hope we can be informative and help if you decide to undertake this job. We'll be posting what EPDM is, what tools we used, the actual work,  what we think we did right, and what we could have possibly done better.

What's EPDM and Liquid Roof?

RV roofs are usually covered by either fiberglass, or a EPDM rubber membrane, which is what RoadAbode's roof is made from. EPDM is used for buildings with flat roofs, in the automotive industry for door seals, for pond or pool liners, and of course, RV Roofs. It's perfect for RV roofs because of it's elasticity in cold and hot temperatures, and it's durability against UV rays. If we would have used EPDM sheet material, we would have had to remove the old membrane, all the vent covers and air conditioner, and re-glue the new material back on. For us, that would have been a near impossible task - without having multiple days and a dry place to store in between
The product we used is Liquid Roof by EPDM Coatings Inc. Liquid Roof is made specifically for RVs, and  is true EPDM rubber, and is the only one sold in liquid form. It makes installations easy. It can be described as a liquid version of single-ply EPDM membrane sheet product. When sold, it includes a catalyst additive in a separate bottle that must be mixed with the the liquid EPDM. Once mixed, the material will bond chemically to the old roof material. When cured, it is all one piece.
Tools used to Apply EPDM Liquid RV Roof
Tools used to apply EPDM Liquid RV Roof

The Tools

For a month before, I researched, bought and made sure we had the tools needed for the job. I knew that some of the tools would be used once - cleaning liquid rubber out of the roller cover or brush did not seem worth the time, or doable after. We had paint rollers, we just needed to get covers that had a short nap. We didn't want the rollers to hold the Liquid Roof as much as push it into place. I purchased the least expensive brushes possible - but wide. These were great for getting under the air conditioner (something we were not moving) and for cutting in along the vents and edges of RoadAbode's roof. I also purchased painter's tape for around the edge, to prevent dripping on the sides. The tape we used was 2 inches wide. Dripping didn't present too much of a problem because the Liquid Roof product is so thick. Still glad we protected the sidewalls. One tool that is very important and did not have was a drill driven five gallon paint mixer. This made sure the catalyst was thoroughly mixed with the Liquid Roof. To complete my "roofing" tools I also used RoadAbode's extendable ladder, a five foot folding ladder, tarp to work on while mixing or pouring the product, and the five gallon bucket full of EPDM Liquid RV Roof.
Before we could start laying down Liquid RV Roof, we had to make sure it was clean. To do that we used a  hot water and light bleach mixture, a mop, and a soft-bristled brush (one that we use for our car wheels worked nice)
Tools are together - time to get started!
Time Lapse of washing the roof and rest of RoadAbode

The Work

Cleaning the Roof We started gathering tools at 7:30am, and by 8am were getting on the roof. Amy first removed our MaxxAir vent covers so she could could clean well and access underneath them. To remove them, we first started with a ratchet, but found my drill was not much noisier for our neighbors at 8am, and was much quicker.
Removing MaxxAir Vent Covers
Removing the MaxxAir Vent covers
Washing was accomplished with a mop, two gallon bucket and a few capfuls of bleach. In past years when we clean RoadAbode's roof we did the same, and it works well for us. For stubborn stains or grimey areas, we used a soft bristle brush to help move the dirt along. As Amy washed, she inspected the sealant around vents, TV antenna and any other cutouts on the roof. RoadAbode is stored near a quarry, so we washed the roof well three times, and between each wash, rinsed with plenty of water from our hose with spray nozzle. As Amy was washing the roof, I was washing and cleaning RoadAbode's sides, plus front and back cap.I washed with a regular car wash liquid and an extended handle brush. I used a black streak remover on stubborn spots with a rag.  After Amy was done washing the roof, I did one more wash of RoadAbode for any residual roof stuff, and then we let her dry in the sun. We were now at Noon.

Mixing Liquid Roof
Mixing Liquid RV Roof
Prepping for Liquid RV Roof Application After a 30 to 40 minute drying period (the sun was beating down that day!) we started taping out with the painters tape around RoadAbode's front and rear cap, and sides. We wanted to keep the Liquid Roof  off the sides and on the roof! We used Two inch wide painters tape, which was easy to work with. We used part of one roll (we had purchased two) As Amy finished taping I opened up our tarp, put together our drill & paint mixing bit and started to open the can of Liquid RV Roof. The top is metal, and clamped tight. I had to use my pliers to grab each metal tab and pry the tabs up. It took a few tries to figure out the best way to quickly grasp and pull each tab. Once open, inside the can was a separate section with a bottle of catalyst placed inside. Pulling up the plastic section liner revealed the Liquid Roof product.
Since Amy finished with taping, I recruited her to pour the catalyst in while I started the paint mixing. With the vortex of paint moving, she poured it right down the middle as I mixed. The catalyst has a slight purple hue that quickly gets lost in the white of the Liquid Roof. How long to mix? Depends on what you read. The top of the can said two to three minutes. The label on the catalyst did not list a time. The online instructions said ten minutes. I made sure to use up and down strokes and move around the sides to get everything evenly mixed well. I stopped after eight minutes.
Time to apply our new roof!

Applying Liquid RV Roof Carrying a fifty pound bucket of goo was not on either of our agendas in the heat, so we opted to sacrifice a dollar store beach pail to carry up the ladder. We just used a throwaway larger plastic cup to dip-n-pour from the larger container to the smaller. This worked pretty well with the Liquid Roof, which has a consistency of warm marshmallow fluff.First portion of the job was cutting in around the vents and edges of the roof. This took longer than I expected, and the now mid-day heat did not help to speed up the process. Cutting in was done using two and thre in wide brushes. We also removed the top of the Refrigerator vent to more easily paint Liquid Roof around it. As Amy continued working around the vents and sides, I put away any tools or items we were done using. Amy took a much needed water break and rested inside to recoup from the heat. I did as well. After our fifteen minute break we resumed with coating the roof. Amy was able to work more quickly with the roller, but we found the cover kept slipping off. We exchanged  the roller with one that fit tighter and less issue. Amy worked From front, down the driver side, to the back, and finished on the passenger side.
She was exhausted, and needed to lay down to recoup this time. It's then when I realized we still had lots of Liquid Roof left. After about 40 minutes, she felt well enough to had up small buckets to me as I poured more material on the expanse of the roof, and spread with the roller. It was slow going and hard to do leaning over from the side of RoadAbode, but I was able to do. It was not the preferable method, but did get the job done. We went through lots of gloves and had to start using some backup "food service" gloves that ripped more easily, and tended to slow me down.
Once we used most of the Liquid Roof, we started cleaning up. With my rush to finish using the product, I did get a good bit on the ladder which needed to be cleaned off.

Our Finished Roof (Air conditioner you see is our neighbors)

The Finished Project

Though it was a tough job, we love the results! The next day we took RoadAbode back to where we store her, and will be putting our MaxxAir vent covers back on later in the week. We did see some bubbling, but expect these to go down as the product cures per others experience.  RoadAbode has been with us for over ten years, so this project was needed.

What We Did Right

Looking back at doing this project, there are the areas we think we did well.
Protected our Skin with Sunscreen and Gloves - It was a very sunny day, so we made sure to use sunscreen. Even cloudy days you need to protect if you will be in the sun as long as we were. We wore throwaway vinyl gloves - they kept our hands clean as we handled the brushes roller and buckets used with the Liquid Roof. We went through quite a few pairs.
Stayed Hydrated - We made sure to drink plenty of water. Even more so because the day was hotter than expected, we tried to get into the shade and drink every 30 minutes or so. Amy ignored that a bit and we could see that her recoup time was not worth it. Plus who likes feeling queasy when trying to finish a job? Hydrate - and take breaks if you are in hot weather - and full sun.
Collected our Tools - Before we began, we made sure to have our tools at the ready. There was less hunting around, and more "grab and go" to get this project finished.
Used a Tarp - We used an inexpensive tarp. No matter how careful, some of the material ended up on the tarp. We did our mixing and pouring from the large five gallon to our smaller pail over the tarp. It also gave us a place to lay our brush and roller when we took a water break. Afterward, anything that we were not saving (and we did not try to clean the brushes or roller at all) was put into the empty can of Liquid Roof, or into the tarp and disposed of. I could imagine how much more work it would have been trying to remove solidified Liquid Roof from our sidewalk.
Started Early - We started gathering tools and readying our work area at 7:15am. Between washing the roof three times, and RoadAbode's sides twice, then letting dry, applying material to the final cleanup, we worked for a good nine to ten hours.
Washed/scrubbed the roof well - We wanted to make sure the Liquid Roof adhered well to the existing roof, so we washed with a bleach and water (mostly water) solution three times and rinsed between each wash thoroughly. We used a combination of a household strip mop and a soft bristle brush to remove anything loose, and make sure the roof was clean. We have washed the roof before, but probably never this well.
Rinsed Well - Rinsing with a strong jet (but not a power washer) is important. The spray left the existing roof material that was in good condition alone, but removed and washed away the dirt. I've seen videos where the white material was stripped from the black EPDM completely with a pressure washer, this is not what we wanted to accomplish. Ours old roof was still adhering well, and we want to the new material to bond to and build up onto what was existing.
Taped out the Edges - After the Roof was clean, and had dried completely, we taped the edges. Liquid Roof is pretty thick, but just in case we pushed to far to the edge, it gave us a line of protection all the way around RoadAbode. If it had dripped down her sides, it would have been another mess to have to clean up!
Read the Instructions - We read the instructions, but I think that some information on the website, and the PDF instructions linked via our email receipt may be contrary to one another. In the very least some measurements are off, or terms interchanged. We should have also read the Q&A facts on the website, which would had cleared up some of our questions like how long to cure, and how thick a layer we can put down. It's not brain surgery, but having more information would have helped.

What We Could Have Done Better or Differently

After all the sweat, sore muscles (and almost tears) these are the things we would do - differently.
Worked in the Shade - If we had the room, or place to park her it would have been better for us to work in the shade. The sun really took it's toll on us as we worked throughout the day. Maybe an overcast day or less heat would have sufficed and kept us happier campers.
Wore Sunglasses - We experienced the same problem as snow blindness - when you've been out playing in or shoveling snow too long on a bright day. Go back inside and everything looks dark, and the lights have a pink hue! Because the roof is white (once clean) and the product is bright white, it was disorienting when coming off the roof and going in the house to grab a drink or rest in the shade. Sunglasses would have helped.
Use a Rubber Squeegee - to spread out the material moving the material is more like spreading marshmallow fluff than paint. I had seen recommendations to use a squeegee, I just did not heed them. I should have.
Kept Better Track of  Product Usage - This was probably our biggest issue and what extended our day so long. Amy was doing the bulk of the roof work. She's great at painting walls at home because she gets the paint spread well and doesn't over use. The exact opposite idea should be used with Liquid Roof, and I didn't emphasize that idea to her enough. When she had coated the roof and though she was finished - there were still more than two gallons left in the five gallon bucket! We spread too thin!. She was exhausted, and we could now not  walk on the roof to apply. So I stood on our ladder reached over, and poured the product on in sections, rolling over what she had already laid down. Fortunately, it still did not have a skin formed from drying yet, so as I applied and spread over the roof with the roller, the product leveled itself out onto the roof. In our rush to get the rest of the product on the roof, I ended up getting some on our ladder (which we use for RoadAbode's front bunk) on the pole for the roller, making it difficult to control and on me. So cleanup just took longer, and seemed more difficult since we were already hot, and tired. We did pretty good at keeping our emotions in check - and got through the issue. According to my reading afterword, "You can apply too little, but not too much". Just increases curing time. Lesson learned and noted.
Leave the Painters Tape on Longer - I did not find till after in reading how long to keep the painters tape on the sides of RoadAbode. We pulled off after we had cleaned up. We were worried that the Liquid Roof would adhere too tightly to the tape. Later reading we did on the EPDM website stated to leave on till the next day.
Do the Project Over Two Days. I read thisc idea on the EPDM website the night we were done. Since you only have 4 hours to work once the Liquid Roof can is opened and mixed, we could have purchased and opened  a separate gallon first - to do the cut ins. Then next day roll and squeegee the five gallons on the roof. This idea would have cut the project into more manageable parts for our achy muscles.
Read the Q&A on EPDM Coatings Website - The Instruction PDF we got via email from the company is not very concise. The Q&A area of the website answers questions I didn't even know I had. I think some of how we would have done the project would had changed had we read these first.

Follow the link more information on Liquid RV Roof - Remember to check their Q&A section.

We'd love to hear from you - have you done this project? How'd it work for you? Did you do anything differently that we did? If you have questions, tips or comments leave  them below.

Monday, June 08, 2015

RoadAbode - Removing Old Decals

As a family living the "Weekender" RVing Lifestyle, though we want to go and play as many weekends in our RV as possible, some we have to stay put and do the maintaining of our home away from home. We've noticed that over the past ten years the top stripe decal on RoadAbode has become very worn looking. Faded and cracked, it really takes away from how the rest of RoadAbode's exterior looks. The other decals are in good condition, and have few crazing marks or dullness. We decided that for this season removing the stripe would be the best option. We can decide later if we want to replace it, do a different type decal, or leave the area blank.
Over the winter I had done plenty of research, both on RV forums and various blogs and YouTube Channels. There were plenty of people with opinions how to remove the decals. Using a heat gun. Using WD-40 to soak the decal. Using turpentine to rub on the decal. Using a scraper after soaking and rubbing..  The best information - both concise and with tips on "what they'd do differently," came from a video posted by full timers Laura and Sasha. Though they were removing all the decals from their fifth-wheel, the information they shared still made the process completed on RoadAbode much easier. I modified my process compared to how Laura and Sasha worked slightly.

Gathering the Tools.

The eraser wheels Sasha used were by 3M. Each wheel cost between $25 and $30 dollars. In part of the video, Sasha mentioned that he had seen a less expensive, off brand wheel online that might have done the job just as well. A quick search on Amazon and I found the wheels he meant - six eraser wheels including a drill adapter for $50 including shipping. I ordered a set.
Packaging of an eraser wheel
The next great tip Sasha mentioned was to use an electric, plugged in drill for doing the majority of the work with the eraser wheel. The constant running of the drill at high speed just wore out the batteries too quickly on the cordless he had. 
Old reliable. Probably twenty or more years old
I had an old Craftsman power drill that was up to the challenge. One thing that concerned me but was unfounded was the bit that screwed into the back of the eraser wheels was fairly smooth where the drill chuck gripped it. It never was an issue.
WD-40 and Goo-Gone Didn't need 'em
I also brought along WD-40 and Goo-Gone Cleaner. Neither was needed. The only other tools I used were some rags to dust off the "eraser shavings" from the sidewalls and my five foot ladder from home. RoadAbode's extendable ladder leaned against RoadAbode would have worked, but I would have been working more closely to the sidewall, with less room.

Safety First!

Before I forget, I did use safety goggles to keep the eraser shavings out of my eyes, and a pair of leather work gloves I use on jobs like this because I always forget and grab the drill too close to the chuck. On Sasha's suggestion, I wore my oldest jeans and workshirt - and glad I did. It wasn't all that "dirty" but a combination of rubbery grit and dust. By the time I was done I felt like a whole elementary school had saved up all the eraser shavings from a years worth of figuring out math problems and dumped it on me. I was thankful I wore a long sleeve shirt - it kept a good bit of the stuff away from my skin. I even wore some older (but sturdy) boots I had at home. One think I could have used was maybe a dust mask to filter some of the shavings. It wasn't really fine dust, but pretty sure I'll be blowing my nose to get eraser stuff out for a few more days.

The Actual Work

Removing the stripe was not as bad as expected. I thought that it would take two or more full days to get the job done. I expected little bits and pieces of the decal to stubbornly stick on, but there was no issue. The stripe on both sides and back of RoadAbode came off in about four hours. I wasn't rushing and took my share of water breaks too.
 I noticed that when I first started using the wheel some of the color of the stripe would get smeared and be difficult to remove. It seemed to be from a coating on the wheel itself, perhaps to seal the rubber wheel and give it a longer shelf life. Once that was gone, the stripe really just started disappearing. I tried to keep the whole edge of the wheel evenly against the side of RoadAbode. I remembered that Sasha had problems keeping the wheel wearing evenly. I had finished one side and was half way through the second when the drill was getting really hard to control. The Wheel was out of round. Rather than get hurt trying to work with the half used eraser, I switched it out. Made the work go way easier - and quicker. 
A new wheel on the left, half used on the right
In relation to other jobs I've done on RoadAbode, this job went pretty well. I did only use two eraser wheels, but already am thinking of removing "Petey," Coachman's Dalmatian mascot on the front cap and rear of RoadAbode. Petey is the only other decal that looks worn around the edges.

Her's a little time lapse of the work on RoadAbode:

If you have any questions or want to share how you've removed decals, let us know in the comments section below. See you on the road!