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Two Tired

Tire1

Well, I hope the second new tire will be covered under warranty otherwise it will be an expensive first long trip with the Castaway.

There was no doubt that parts of the I-75 in Michigan were in horrible condition and it could well have been a pothole that caused the sidewall bulge. Whatever the cause, we had no choice but to get the tire replaced.

Trying to get the tire replaced proved challenging. Lots of phone calls between ourselves, our dealer, Newmar, Michelin, assorted Michelin dealers in Michigan and, finally, our roadside assistance service, Coach-Net. Coach-Net got the job done and covered the cost of sending a repair truck right to our campsite.

With a tire on the back of the truck, Steve, our tire repair guy, got ready to work. First, all of the power tools.

Tire2

His first task was to position the tire jack. We did not have to pull our own jacks up and we did not have to bring our slides in. Nor did we have to unhook our services.

Tire3

Steve made the job look easy, way too easy. That tire and wheel weighs in excess of 100 pounds or more.

Tire4

For sure we would not get very far with this setup.

Tire5

Steve deflated and then removed the original tire from the wheel and mounted the new tire on the wheel all within about 10 minutes. He was even thoughtful enough to inflate the new tire.

Tire6

Then it was simply a matter of repositioning the wheel and making it secure.

Tire7

And now we have a coach that we can drive again. I sure hope we don’t have another event on the I-75 going home. I may complain from time to time about the highways in Ontario but they are as smooth as glass when compared to sections of the I-75 in Michigan.

Tire8

With the tire replaced, we can begin our journey back home. Bright and early tomorrow morning. Our first stop will be the Cummins dealer in Saginaw to get a software update for our Engine Control Module. From there, we will stopover at the Port Huron KOA before making our way home on Wednesday.

RV Essentials

20160506_castaway_cay_049

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.