Friday, February 12, 2016

Easy RV Repairs Anyone Can Do

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Tapes are available for almost every RV repair job from plumbing to slippery steps. The secret is to know the right tape for each job

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Get It On Tape
    If you’re all-thumbs as I am, you can still do many RV repairs. Tapes can stop a leak, insure  a great paint job, improvise a vise until glue dries or keep a screw from working its way out of its hole again.
    Save money, save face, perhaps save your RV. Here’s the story.

    Duct Tape does everything from sealing air ducts to making prom dresses. If you need a performance duct tape that can bond tightly and take harsh sunlight, one brand In use is Gorilla Tape. 

    Electrician’s or Vinyl Tape needs a clean, dry surface but it’s a good all-around tape. Keep a roll handy. 

    Foam Tape is a sticky back with a neoprene foam layer that serves as a cushion. 

    Masking tape is made to go on and come off easily. It has little strength. For painting, pay a little more for a high-performance masking tape that can take dampness and/or high temperatures while sealing a bleed-proof edge. 

    Non-skid tape is a sturdy, stick-down tape with grit embedded in it. Use it to put non-skid strips on a slippery spot such as the entry step or shower floor. 

    Reflective tape comes in rolls and in stick-on patches. Keep them on hand to make a temporary reflector on a tree or post at a campsite where you’ll be in and out after dark. It’s easy to unstick and discard them. Keep one or two extra patches or some tape with your road  emergency supplies. In case of an accident at night you can put instant reflectors on any part of the scene. 

    Sports Tape is found in the drug store. It sticks to itself to hold a bandage in place and it is totally ouch-less to remove. 

    Teflon Tape, also called Thread Sealing tape is for all plumbing except propane and other fuels. 

    And more tapes. Iron-on fusing tape is a quick and easy way to fix a hem. Fabric tapes come in different colors and strength for repair of vinyl, leather, canvas, garments. Luminescent tape glows in the dark. Two-sided sticky tapes come in wimpy strengths for paper and crafts and up to tiger-tight for the toolbox. Don’t forget Velcro tapes too. They are found sticky-back and non-sticky up to industrial strength. 

     I found them all on Amazon.    Start here with Self-Fusing Silicone Rescue Tape for air-tight, water-tight seals, then add other tape essentials to your shopping basket. 

See Janet Groene’s easy recipes for camping and RV travel at

Friday, February 5, 2016

RV Women Sparkle Plenty

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Come Clean
     Cleaning up is a team sport in camping and RV travel.  The way to “get ‘er done” is to have the right products on hand to make the job safer and easier for yourself, your crew, your RV and your earth.
    That usually means using different products from the stuff you keep under the kitchen sink at home.
     Technology has changed and that’s a good thing. When you buy cleaning products specifically made for camping, automotive and RV they are more friendly to the environment, more suitable to the construction materials used in your tent or RV, and they often contain a special ingredient such as UV resistance or a cleaner-lubricant.
    Here are some RV cleaning aids that I personally find helpful
    * Bamboo perforated towels look and behave like your favorite brand of paper towels except that they can be washed and re-used dozens of times. They are more absorbent than paper towels, dry quickly and they're tough. I use them as paper towels, place mats and table napkins. 

    * I’ve been using my rechargeable Bissell turbo floor sweeper for several years and it continues to amaze me with its pickup power.  It isn’t a vacuum cleaner, which means it’s featherweight to carry and stow. Yet it picks up like a vacuum.
     One charge does the whole floor area in my 21-footer several times over. It’s easy to empty and would be easier still if Gypsy Dog didn’t have so much long hair. ( Here is a tip. I bought the largest, sharpest seam ripper I could find and use it to cut through hair tangles on brushes in sweepers and vacuum cleaners. Seam rippers are sold with sewing supplies).  

    * Cleaning plumbing fixtures in an RV is a special problem. Often they’re made of plastics that would by ruined by abrasive household cleaners sold for porcelain toilets. Chemicals  must be friendly to the environment, safe to use in your own grey and black water tanks , safe  for the campground septic system and safe to contact everything else in between such as seals and pipes.  Most important, toilet cleaners have to squelch the odors that many RV and portable potties are known for. 
    I like these drop-in cleaners  to flush once a day.  This cleaner is gentle but effective for the toilet bowl.

    * Enzyme cleaners work biologically on stains and, better still, on really stubborn odors such as the stink that lingers if a tomcat sprays one my tires or a nearby bush. When I can buy anything in a concentrate, I do. That means I can carry more cleaning power in less space. This concentrate makes gallons of enzyme cleaner for stains and stinks.

     * Interior Defense is specifically made for  auto interiors including cockpit seats, doors and the dashboard. That area takes a lot of harsh sun. These surfaces need a cleaner with UV protection.

    Lastly is my basket of microfiber cloths and a space-efficient hanger for drying them indoors or outside.  I can never have too many clean, lint-free cleaning cloths. These are machine washable and last for years.

See Janet Groene’s easy recipes at

Friday, January 29, 2016

When Your RV Needs a Do-Over

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Do you yearn to live in your RV and travel full-time?  Janet Groene's book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition,  covers it all including home schooling and earning a living on the go. Order here

Ready for a total , tear-down RV-novation? Here's how.

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Home Improvement
    Everybody these days seems to be re-doing an RV, but their way may not be right for you  Some people are flippers, who do a quick cosmetic re-do to impress an eager buyer, and others are perfectionists intent on restoring a vintage RV to its original look regardless of the cost in time or money. Then there are RV owners like yourself who simply want to make the RV more suitable to your personal travel lifestyle. 

    Here are some things to think about. 

    * “Just as in buying new shoes it’s important to try on new RV furniture,” urge the folks at Custom RV Interiors in Vancouver WA. They find that 40% of  furniture ordered from websites or catalogs is returned because it doesn’t fit the space, the people or both. Before buying new furniture, visit the showroom. Push back in the recliner. Pull out the sofa-bed. Raise and lower the convertible coffee table.

    * Drive the RV to a specialist in RV renovations, preferably one that specializes in your brand. Some manufacturer offers do-overs for their own brand. It’s a plus if workers are familiar with your RV’s materials, plumbing, wiring and so on.

    * Companies that specialize in RV interiors include Classic Coach Works, Lakeland FL, (800) 971-0017; in Chester, MD, (410) 643-9594; Jacobs’ Upholstery in Spokane WA (800) 322-0526 and Custom RV Interiors, Vancouver WA, (306) 576-1036.

    * Thick, cushy, padded carpeting is nice but when you're replacing floor coverings, be aware of any thickness you’re adding. It could mean that doors don’t open or slides get stuck. If you’re replacing carpeting with a hard surface, consider weight. Tile and hardwoods are heavy.

    * Work with a specialist in RV window coverings, which play by special rules. Specialists know how to measure odd-size windows, secure curtains top and bottom so they won’t wear out from the swaying underway, line draperies to protect against UV and temperature extremes, and get a perfect fit that closes securely for privacy in crowded campgrounds.
    * Allow extra time if plumbing, wiring or structural work are involved. Adding an ice maker may mean installing new pipes. Replacing a shower stall with a Jacuzzi tub may mean new wiring and perhaps stronger support under the floor. 

    If you’re into a total, tear-down make-over, this is the time to consider adding a central vacuum system, in-floor heating, a bigger generator or solar system, a new computer desk,  overboard exhaust vents over the stove, a recharge station for all the rechargeables on board, the latest security system and new tankage. 
    The better you dovetail these sub-contractors, the sooner life can return to normal. Insider tip: Even if you can't afford the full installation, now is the time to stub in wiring and plumbing so you can add the expensive item later.

    * Wherever possible add insulation and sound proofing. They’re inexpensive and almost weightless while adding to heating/cooling efficiency and noise control.Replace old windows for new ones with the best heat-transfer ratings, then install them with a first class caulk job. 

* Before starting a re-do,  reserve a storage locker for everything that can be removed from the RV. Your belongings will stay safer, cleaner and workers will have more room to do their thing.

Each week Janet Groene posts easy recipes for RV cooks at Camp And RV Cook.
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