Winegard Rayzar Automatic Antenna

TVAntenna

Our coach, the Castaway, is equipped with three television sets.

When I was a kid, we only had one. A black and white TV set. No remote. But we did have a big TV antenna on top of the roof.

You see, back then, this thing called cable TV wasn’t in the market.

We were able to bring in a handful of channels from our big TV antenna, five in all. Two were American stations, two were English language Canadian stations and one was a French language Canadian station.

Yes. Those were the days my friend.

Our coach has a satellite dish with access to hundreds of channels, a digital antenna which finds whatever digital TV channels are in range, along with an extensive array of digital video entertainment from Blu-Ray and various Internet-based video channels.

So why do I even care about a limited set of cable TV channels that may be available when I am at a site?

Well, I wanted to see if I could connect to cable TV as part of the shakedown of the coach.

I went and purchased a 50-foot cable and I tried to hook it up when we were at our site in Petoskey, Michigan.

First problem: where, oh where do I connect the cable? It was obvious where the cable TV connection was at the site as it was at the same post as the electrical hookup.

I could not find a cable TV connection on the service side of the coach. One of our neighbours, also in a Dutch Star, was kind enough to point out where the connection was housed. It was hiding under a covered port in the same part of the basement compartment as the shore power reel.

Sigh.

Well, I went ahead and connected the cable from the coach to the post. So everything should work now, right?

Inside the coach, our TVs allow us to automatically scan and program channels coming from either a cable TV service or an outdoor TV antenna. Under the TV’s system setup, you make a choice on the source, antenna or cable, and then let the TV set do the work.

Only, no cable TV channels.

I tried it several times on all three sets.

No joy.

Bad cable? Perhaps. And, until I picked up another one, I would have to make do with the several hundred other channels of video at my disposal. Which is what we wound up doing.

But it bothered me. Why wasn’t it working?

I was reading through this post on the iRV2.com website and something stood out about cable TV connections.

The Winegard Rayzar Antenna control panel.

You see that little green light in the photo?

Winegard Control Panel

The one over the button that says “ON/OFF”?

Well, it turns out that if you want to pass the Cable TV signal through to the TV sets, that little green light has to be dark otherwise the only signal present in the antenna line is the signal coming from the Winegard antenna. The cable TV signal from the site will be happily ignored.

Lots to learn about all of the various systems in our coach. Wish me luck.

Clearance

Note to self: always check clearance.

Packing Lists

Packing

I like lists. Especially packing lists.

I love creating packing lists.

Actually, I love what packing lists represent: freedom. Freedom from having to remember things. Freedom from the worry that something important was left behind.

Over the years, I have continually refined packing lists. Because we travel frequently, travelling light — and hopefully carefree — does take a bit of planning. Packing lists are a big part of that planning.

I’m still getting used to the idea of an RV packing list. It is a bit different when traveling around in a house on wheels. There is already a fair amount of stuff in the coach.

I have built a packing list that spans three pages. Here is page 1:

Packing List

I broke the packing list down into the following categories:

  • Documents
  • Electronics
  • Household
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Linens
  • Pet Supplies
  • Tools
  • Miscellaneous
  • Clothing

As the forthcoming trip will be our third expedition with the coach, I will be vetting the list to ensure that we have all that we need, and nothing more. As we get closer to the travel date, I will finalize packing list and use it to check that the items are on board and ready to go.

This takes a lot of the stress out of preparing for a big trip. And, if we have forgotten something, it gets added to the list. Or, if we really did not need to bring something along, it gets dropped.

Who knows. Maybe in a few years, the very idea of a packing list becomes obsolete as we travel around full-time. But for now, it helps me to be prepared.

Climb That Mountain

Everest

Or, five things I learned from detailing our 40-foot coach:

Lesson 1: Patience

I had estimated about 24 hours when I first planned our approach to detailing the coach. I’d say I was closer to 30 hours to complete the job. Applying the paint sealant by hand and then buffing by hand takes considerable effort and time. Especially when climbing up and down ladders. I had to reframe my reference in terms of how long it would take to detail the coach and I had to be attentive when on the ladder. No rushing!

Lesson 2: Tools

Getting the right tools for the job makes the experience a lot easier. Still, I missed one very critical tool.

I had all of the requisite cleaning supplies to wash the coach down prior to applying the sealant. I listed all of those supplies in this post. With all of my planning, what tool did I miss?

My Porter Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Random Orbit Polisher.

I have one in my toolbox for detailing my cars. Why didn’t I use it on the coach? I’m a bit baffled. Maybe because I thought it would be difficult to operate high on the ladder. Maybe because I thought it would be difficult to keep my balance and I might drop the polisher, or I might fall. Maybe because I was worried about getting caught up in the power cable.

Whatever the reason, I would not do this job again by hand. I would learn how to safely work with the Porter Cable polisher.

The most useful tool? The water blade. I have a smaller handheld water blade but I am going to purchase the 18-inch blade that I can mount on an extension pole. The water blade literally made drying the coach a breeze.

Lesson 3: Weather

The paint sealant I was using, Rejex, is sensitive to the weather. RejeX should be wiped on, allowed to dry for 10-20 minutes until it forms a haze, wiped off, then allowed to cure for 8-12 hours. Rejex also does not like the heat. 85F/29C or lower. And Rejex does not like the rain.

Weather in our area can be quite volatile. Even though the weather forecast predicted no rain, the day I was working on the driver’s side of the coach, a thunderstorm came rolling in just as I had finished the last section. It poured. Looks like the paint sealant held on though. If the weather is unstable, best to wait for a better day.

Lesson 4: No Pain, No Gain

This type of job does exercise an entirely different set of muscles. When you spend 8 hours or more working non-stop on a motorhome, you will feel the pain. I was unable to finish the whole coach on a long weekend. Day two was the driver’s side and on day three I was too sore to continue. I finished the passenger side the following weekend. If the muscles are too sore, it may be too dangerous to be perching on ladders 10 or 12 feet up in the air.

Lesson 5: Satisfaction

I have to say that when I finished detailing the coach I had this sense of a significant accomplishment. Like climbing a famous mountain, I did it!

Masterpiece

Masterpiece

The Newmar Full-Paint Masterpiece Finish is one of the most stunning and durable in the industry.

It is also one of the more demanding finishes to detail because of the overall size of our motorhome.

I started to detail the Castaway yesterday. I was able to complete the rear cap, the front windshield and the lower front cap. The rear cap turned out to be fairly straightforward.

The weather has to cooperate. It is always best to wash and detail a vehicle when it is cool and there is no direct sun.

I used a two bucket system for the initial wash. Both buckets have a capacity of 5 gallons and both buckets have a grit guard. The grit guard fits in the bottom of the bucket and extracts grit from the wash mitt. The dirt settles at the bottom of the bucket so your wash water stays clean.

One bucket holds the wash. I use Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash and Shampoo and Conditioner. Terrific product.

The second bucket holds rinse water.

I have a microfiber wash mitt and a microfiber wash pad on an extension pole. Given the height of the Castaway, I have to use a pole to reach the top areas of the vehicle.

I gave the area a good rinse and then washed the rear cap from the top down. I refreshed the wash mitt and the wash pad frequently. On the top area of the rear cap, six times and on the bottom area of the rear cap, six times. I refreshed  by rinsing out the pad or mitt in the rinse water bucket and then loaded new soap from the wash water bucket.

Once washed, I gave the area another good rinse. And then it was time to dry.

I have a lot of microfiber drying towels. They absorb so much water that I was able to do the rear cap of the Castaway with three towels. For the upper part, I had to be on an 8-foot step ladder, barely high enough to reach the very top of the coach. I carried two towels with me. One to absorb most of the water and the second to lift off whatever water remained on the surface.

Given the width of the rear cap, I had to reposition the ladder four times to cover all of the top areas.

Now that this area was clean and dry, I could apply the paint sealant. I am using Rejex for the coach. From their website:

RejeX is a water-clear, thin film polymer coating designed to provide an ultra-high-release surface. RejeX is commonly used as a paint sealant providing a high-performance alternative to conventional wax-based products to maximize protection and shine on vehicles of all sorts, including aircraft, cars, motorcycles, boats and RVs.

Very straightforward product to apply. Just like a wax, a small amount of product gets applied to the surface and, once it dries to a haze, buff to a high-gloss shine.

Rejex wants 12 hours to cure so I had to check the weather to make sure I would get those 12 hours. And I did. The rear cap looks great. I spent roughly 2 hours on the rear cap.

The front cap was a lot more involved because of the windshield.

For the windshield, I clayed the glass, I polished the glass, and I applied two coats of water repellant followed by a lengthy buffing session. The water repellant was challenging to buff out. I used Griot’s glass treatment products all around.

Because the windshield is so large and so high, I had to use the step ladder for the entire process. I divided the windshield into four zones and went to work. All told, it took about 4 hours just to do the windshield.

As I started to run out of time, I could only apply sealant to the bottom half of the front cap.

The water repellant is impressive. I could see the morning dew literally run off the windshield.

My mission later today? Complete one side of the Castaway. I am planning to tackle driver’s side.