Posts

A Super Clean Windshield

The windshield must be clean.

And not just clean. Super clean.

Inside and out.

I always clean the windshield before we start a drive and I always clean the windshield when we set up at our site. There is nothing like a really clean windshield. No haze, no streaks and, for a few minutes into the drive at least, no bugs.

My approach is probably a bit different than most.

I use product from Griot’s Garage: Window Cleaner, Glass Cleaning Clay, Fine Glass Polish, Glass Sealant.

If the exterior windshield requires a major treatment I will clean the windshield, clay it, clean it again, polish it, clean it again and then apply sealant. A final buff and clean and the glass is all good to go. I will usually do a major treatment on the exterior windshield once the sealant is no longer repelling water.

Otherwise, it is regular cleaning of the exterior windshield with the glass cleaner.

The interior of the windshield uses an approach that I took from a ChrisFix video:

Works like magic.

He has another video on how he deals with the outside of the windshield. A bit different from my approach and it does yield a great result.

The RV Geeks use steel wool to clean their windshield. I’m not prepared to try that technique. Some mixed views on that approach in the auto detailing community. But here it is just in case you want to give it a try on a windshield you don’t like.

RV Blogs We Follow

Follow

Well, it turns out that our blog is not the only one focused on the RV lifestyle. Thank heavens.

I have been blogging since 2004, which seems like such a long time ago now, and my personal blog gets a lot of traffic. The RV Castaways site, being new, is just starting to build. If you are visiting us for the first time, welcome!

We have been following a lot of blogs since we started our journey into retirement. There are, of course, many sites that we visit every once in a while and, no doubt, a vast number of them that we have never visited at all.

Here are a few of our favourites.

Gone With The Wynns

A very impressive website created by a very impressive couple. In one sense, they almost singlehandedly convinced us to make our dream of travelling extensively in an RV a reality. Jason and Nikki have left the RV community to explore somewhere else, something to do with water I think, and we do miss their RV stories however the spirit of adventure still continues. One of our favourite sites and we continue to follow them on their new adventures.

RV Love

Marc and Julie fulltime in their RV even though they are still working. And they have really upped their game with their newly designed website. I know how much work it takes to build a quality website and to produce quality videos. They put a lot of effort into creating great content and their videos have helped us with a lot of our questions about the RV lifestyle.

RV Geeks

Peter and John have a wide following due, in part, to their wonderful how-to videos. We have learned so much from this website. Everything from how to empty our black tanks to leveling our coach.

Wheeling It

It was this post, 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Fulltime RVing, that introduced us to Nina and Paul. Nina posts regularly about their travels and she does an amazing job reviewing the campsites they visit as well as the process they follow to plan their travels here, here and here.

Outside Our Bubble

Well, what can I say? David and Brenda do march to the beat of a different drummer! Highly energetic and passionate, we have gained a lot of insight from them on both the technical and non-technical aspects of the RV lifestyle. And David had founded AVS Forum many years back, a site I used to visit all the time. A guy who is passionate about technology and audio? Of course I love his website.

iRV2.com

I go here every day. I spend most of my time on the Newmar Owner’s Forum. Such a great community of people here. Although, for now, I have been lurking. Still a bit shy to post.

Life In The Slow Lane

I’m not sure how I stumbled onto Mike’s blog but he seemed to be in a very similar place in life to me. He was nearing retirement, looking at purchasing a Newmar Dutch Star to go travel fulltime, and his approach to blogging was very helpful to us particularly with his journey to purchase his RV. We’ve traded a few emails and he does post from time to time on the iRV forums. He always has lots of great content to share.

The Good, The Bad and the RV

Mike and Karla have created a really great website. They also travel in a Newmar Dutch Star. Mike has taught me a lot about how to plan for and equip an RV. Check out some of his thoughts on How To’s and Gear and Gadgets.

 

Tanks

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Checking the panel and what do I see? Freshwater tank, 1/3. Gray tank, 2/3. Black tank, 2/3.

Time to top up the freshwater tank and empty the gray and black tanks. The gray tanks contain whatever material was drained down our sinks. The black tanks contain the waste from our toilets.

I guess that stuff has to go somewhere.

This will be our first time dumping our tanks. We will be heading over to our local KOA and we will give it a try.

There are lots of how-tos on the web. I found these two videos to be the most helpful in terms of getting a sense of the process.

Jason, of Gone With The Wynns, provides a clear, step-by-step video. He mentions that the first thing that you should do is put on your gloves although in the video he does handle the sewage hose before donning them on. Probably best to get those gloves on right at the start.

The RV Geeks provide a really thorough walkthrough on emptying the tanks. Their wet bay is very similar to ours so I found this video very relevant.

What are some of the key points to remember for a newbie?

  • Wear protective rubber gloves.
  • Dump the black tank before the gray tank. The gray tank can clean the residue from the sewage hose when you dump it after the black tank.
  • Wait until the black tank until it is at least two-thirds full before emptying the tank. And don’t leave the black-water tank valve open when hooked up at a site. Liquids will drain from the black tank which will leave solid waste behind. That will make life difficult later on as solid waste will accumulate in the black tank.
  • Use a high quality sewer hose.
  • Carry an extra garden hose for rinsing. Store the sewer hose and rinse hose away from the drinking water hose. In our coach, we have a separate compartment for the sewer hose.
  • Never use the fresh water hose for rinsing sewer hoses or the dump station area.

RV Electricity

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We have some learning ahead of us with the new coach. The electrical system is the one that will likely take the most effort on our part. We don’t know how to use electricity on a coach.

Well, I mean we know how to turn things on and plug things in. We just don’t know how all of the various systems work together.

Our coach will have three separate electrical systems: 12-volt automotive DC, 12-volt DC coach and 120-volt AC coach. Power will be generated from multiple sources including the on-board generator, shore, batteries and eventually solar. We will have an inverter, an automatic transfer switch, an automatic generator start on low battery, a surge protector and an energy management system.

In short, if you will pardon the pun, we will have a complex electrical system to manage.

There are several resources that I found very helpful in terms of learning more about the electrical system of an RV.

The first one is from RVTechMag.com.

I’ve created this tutorial to help explain some of the basics of electricity as related to RVs. It’s certainly not going to turn every RVer into an electrical engineer or service tech but it may help many of us to better understand the basics of electricity and how it relates to RVs in general. I’ve organized and categorized topics so that they begin with raw basics and build from there. That way you can either start at the beginning or skip the stuff that you know and go right to your area of interest. You can use this as a study course if you wish or simply a reference source to refer to as needed.

The second is from RV-Dreams.com.

I was thinking about what I should cover in a “Basic RV Electrical” section. Then it dawned on me that I would want it to be really, really basic. I asked myself this question: What is the absolute minimum I need to know about my electrical system…

Gone With The Wynns offers a lot of great video tutorials on solar.

Solar power is our main source of electricity on the road and we’ve learned way more about it than we ever wanted to! From our current and past RV Solar Systems to simple explanations on what it is and how it all works, we try to keep things as simple as possible with these complex RV electrical systems. Click on any of the posts below for more information on solar, inverters, chargers and portable power.

And finally the RV Geeks offer a variety of video tutorials on electricity for RVs.

RV Essentials

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What else do you need for a new RV? That was the question we faced when we finalized the date for picking up our coach from the dealer.

We did a lot of research on the web and we found advice on everything from cleaning supplies to folding bicycles.

We then made a list of essential items for our RV.

Electrical (Surge Protector and Dogbone)

The very first two items we knew we would need for the coach: surge protection and a dogbone.

As we have a fully electric motorhome we wanted to make sure that the electricity coming into the coach would be protected from surges and inappropriate voltage levels.

We went with a Surge Guard 50 Amp hardwire unit. This product monitors the electricity and shuts off the power when it detects surges, open ground, open neutral, low or excessive voltage, miswired pedestals, reverse polarity, or elevated neutral current conditions that could damage electronic equipment in a coach. We had it permanently installed in one of our bays.

We also picked up a 50 Amp/30 Amp dogbone. This adapter allows us to connect our 50-Amp service to a 30-Amp outlet.

Our coach is equipped with a 50-foot power reel so we did not need to buy any extension cables.

Water (Regulator, Sewage Hoses, Filter)

Our coach has a 50-foot hose on a power reel for water so we did not need to purchase a standalone hose for drinking water.

We will need a separate hose to rinse our sewage tank.

As water pressure can be quite variable at campsites, we picked up an adjustable water pressure regulator with a guage and splitter. The splitter is used to keep one line dedicated for drinking water and the second line dedicated for sewage tank rinse.

A guage on a regulator allows us to set the water pressure ourselves. We will set the regulator at 65 psi.

We also opted for a sewage hose kit with ground hose holders and a clear elbow joint to connect to the tank.

RV Geeks has an excellent video on how to dump and thoroughly clean your black tank. It showed us everything we needed for dealing with the black tank. You can find the video here.

We have a water filter on our coach however we are going to be looking at a more sophisticated water filtration system. Not right away mind you. But we do think it is an essential part of an RV.

Wheels (TPMS, Wheel Covers, Compressor, Gauge)

Weights and tires. Weights and tires. It does not take much research to understand the importance of knowing the weights of the coach at the corners and making very, very sure that the tires are properly inflated and maintained.

Coach-Net highlights the main causes of tire failure here.

We are still researching a tire pressure management system (TPMS). There are quite a few in the marketplace. TireTraker seems to be one of the most popular systems. We won’t be heading out on the road without a TPMS.

To protect the rubber of the tires, we will be getting some wheel covers. Not sure that we will get anything too fancy. Just something basic to prevent any damage from the sun.

We will also be getting a portable air compressor to inflate the tires. The Viair 400P-RV is probably the one we will purchase.

Finally, a good quality tire pressure guage to check the tires. Even with a TPMS, I suspect having a spare gauge will come in handy.

Technology (GPS, CB Radio, Dash Cam, Boosters)

Although the coach is equipped with an in-dash GPS, we think it best that we have a second RV-specific GPS for the co-pilot. I know from experience that it is best for me to be focused an the driving and not on reviewing or updating a GPS while in motion.

Garmin offers the RV 760LMT. I use a number of their GPS products and like them.

A CB Radio might seem somewhat old-fashioned in an age of smartphones. That said, when we are out on the road, we cannot always count on cellular particularly in the more remote areas of Canada. A CB Radio will let us listen in to the truckers and give us a bit of insight into road and weather conditions as we ride. We will go with a Cobra 29 LX. Because we have a fibreglass RV, we will also need a No Ground Plane CB Antenna. Lots of them here.

A dash cam will help keep a record of our travels, and in the hopefully unlikely event of an accident, a digital eyewitness. We’ll probably go with a Garmin as well. Perhaps this one.

The last bit of technology will help boost our cellular connection as well as our WiFi. We haven’t firmed up our decision on products yet. What we did do was purchase The Mobile Internet Handbook from Chris and Cherie at Technomedia. Highly recommended.

Odds and Ends

A variety of other items that we think will also be essential for our RV:

  • Jack pads for when we level the coach
  • Folding ladder to get up on the roof of the coach as the Dutch Star does not provide one
  • A tow dollie for our car
  • An RV foam fire extinguisher

We will no doubt find more items that we consider essential once we hit the road full-time.