First Aid App

We all know that it’s important to have a first aid kit located in our truck and travel trailer. It’s a best practice to be prepared, because who knows when an accident will happen. It’s not like we plan on slipping, tripping, or not paying attention, then a injury happens.

If you’re like me you probably have your cell phone with you most places you go. If it’s a smart phone (android or iphone) there is a app that I think is worthwhile, it’s called itriage. The following video by healthagen will give you a good overview of what itriage can do.

This app could be very helpful when you are away from home and not familiar with the community you’re visiting. It can help you find medical facilities in situations where you need medical help, but it’s not necessary to dial 911. It can help you figure out if you should call 911, or visit your family doctor when you get back home. This is a great app not only for a vacation or camping trip, but while you are home too.

Do you use this app? Do you use any other app like it?

RV Surge Protector

Surge protectors seem to be a gimmick of the RV market right? Only if you’ve never experienced a surge while at a RV camp site. According to Decisive Magazine power surges are fairly common, and the results can be devastating. Personally I have never experienced a power surge or brownout while at a RV campground, but I have experienced both in a residential setting. All my expensive electronics at home and work are plugged into surge protectors. Why? Because a power surge fried a couple circuit boards. In fact at my work the fire department insists that all our electronics be plugged into surge protectors.

Pete Leighton the owner of Main Street RV, Mesa, AZ said, “We just repaired a RV that had it’s wiring burned by a power surge in a local camp ground.” He said, “The campground assured the RV owner that they hadn’t had power surges.” Pete said he loaned the RV owner his personal surge protector, and as soon as the protector was plugged in, it tripped, meaning there was either a power drop or power surge.

The wood and fabric in an RV make it a quick hot fire if one breaks out, RV.NET has a great post on fire safety worth reading. Make sure your fire extinguishers are working and you know how to operate them, but that’s a completely different blog post.. A simple addition of a surge protector can help reduce the risk of an electrical fire.

Do you have a power surge or brown out story? Has a surge protector saved your RV? I’d like to know.

Email Pete ( at Main Street RV tell him I promised a deal on a good quality surge protector.

New Concept Camping

I was surfing the net looking for RV & camping information when I bumped into some cool discoveries that I thought worth sharing. On the Blue Nose RV Trails site I saw two tiny RV options. The first one didn’t seem that appealing to me, but the second one caught my attention. It’s called the Swiss Room Box. You have to see it in action to appreciate the invention & design.

They have two versions of the commercial on you tube. This one is not directed at families, but I didn’t want to post the same thing that Mike Porter from Blue Nose did.

I’d love to see this thing up close. It appears to be 4 cubes, and a couple additional pieces. You mix and match some of them to create combinations like a table, or bed. Some of the others are dedicated for the stove, shower/sink, and food storage.  Unfortunately it is not being sold outside of Europe at this time, while they figure out some electrical conversions. It’s not cheap either it cost roughly $9,000.00. These portable boxes could revolutionize how people camp. For the price you could buy a pretty nice used RV or a couple cubes that you could store easily in a closet and take in you minivan. Would you consider buying the “Room Box”?

Vintage DIY Help

May be you have a vintage trailer that has been sitting around your backyard, and unlike some very creative people, you can’t think of what to do with it. So it sits collecting dust (mold, mildew, and dry rot)

or may be you just have an older trailer that needs some repairs.

I found a resource, actually they found me first on Twitter, that has a collection of everything you might need to find parts, learn how to for some of the common repairs, or sell what you think is just junk in your backyard. It’s the Tin Can Tourists.

As I started to click through the pages I was impressed with the wealth of information and the amount of helpful links I found. It’s a great site if you’re looking for help with a vintage travel trailer.


Hail No

I was searching the RV forums and found one talking about a trailer that was hit by softball size hail. The question led to a discussion on the quality and craftsmanship of RV’s. The following comment gives some good advise that I felt was worth repeating.

“Looks to me like you have all the information to buy a unit that will satisfy your quality concerns.  Nothing like maintaining a vehicle for a period of time to point out poor design, or poor quality.  Looking at a new rig at the dealer (I always suggest a show where side-by-side comparisons are easier) and really inspecting it can give you the information on quality.

A few things I’ve learned to look at – Does the wiring look neat and organized, or are their bundles of wiring behind the sink or converter, wiring pulled across underside that should have been secured?  Are wood braces cracked by screws or staples?  Is there excessive caulk covering poor fitting trim.  Are their screw-heads dog-eared out from poor workmanship?  If you stand back and look at the rig, are lights, trim, windows in line and mounted straight?  Are the axles sized with enough extra capacity or are they the minimum for the weight of the trailer?  Are the axles provided with shock absorbers?

I’m a professional QA/QC person, and travel the country (and a few places outside the US) to buy transit vehicles, commuter rail cars, locomotives, and subway cars.  My experience is that if it “doesn’t look right” it most likely isn’t.  Finally, it is possible to make and sell a perfect RV.  Problem is no one can afford it.  Quality is what we, as consumers are willing to accept.  You may want a Lexus, I may think a Ford is fine, both of us will be happy if our expectations of quality are met, neither if the vehicle is a lemon.

No travel trailer is made to withstand softball sized hail. Your best plan for that is store it under cover, and make sure you have insurance coverage.  How often does hail like that appear anyway? I’ve never seen or heard of it in the West.

There is wisdom in knowing what you are buying and a quick look for quality control will give you a pretty good idea of what you are getting into.


Long Trip w/ Kids

When I was a kid we went on long trips as a family that after awhile led to comments from siblings like, “don’t cross this line” or a dad who said, “Do you want me to stop this car?”. Once those comments were said you were pretty sure the family excitement about a fun vacation was over.

Today many vehicles are equipped with DVD players, or families can bring along a portable DVD player. They are great tools for long trips, but do you want your kids to miss all the sites along the way? We took a road trip from Portland, OR to Phoenix, AZ. There are many of those miles that are just boring and plain, but there are several places that you just need to take in the view. We planned our trip around some significant landmarks and mapped out reasonable drive distances for us (8-10 hrs per day). We took the standard fuel/meal breaks too.

We limited DVD/electronic gadget time to evening hours or long boring stretches of highway. We did allow some texting to friends and family, but the remainder of the time we tried to engage their minds with questions about our surroundings or state facts. We would pull up state trivia pages on the cell phone and and award points that would lead to a prize at the end of the day. Our kids got into this I’m not sure if it was the competitive nature of boys or just a fun way to pass the time. We also played the standard alphabet games using signs along the road. Besides that we had car seat totes equipped with travel versions of games like Othello, battleship, and decks of cards. We even through in math and spelling card too. Of course answers to these also counted toward the end of the day prize, which ended up being a special dessert or candy.  These totes were changed around each day to keep the games fresh and fun for the kids. I never once heard the comments I did when I was growing up, and I never threatened  to stop the car. A little pre-trip prep can help your kids engage in their surrounding, and make for some great memories later.

What have you done that has worked on a long trip with kids besides movies?

DIY: Replace a RV Marker Light

As I have mentioned before my Trailer is a 1986 model. UV rays and temperature changes take their toll on plastic over time, and marker light lenses are no exception. The lenses on my trailer are cracked, faded, and letting water inside the housing.

I picked up some new marker lights at Walmart for less than $3 ea. I will walk you through the process of changing the entire marker light. It’s pretty simple. First remove the 2 screws, and then the red lens should pop off.

The only thing holding the housing to the trailer at this point is some plumbers puddy. Gently pull on the housing and it should pull away from the trailer, be careful the wires in the back should have room to pull out, but could catch. You don’t want to break a wire and have it stuck inside the wall where you can’t reach it.

I’m not sure if all trailers use the same color coding for their wires, but on mine green is for the power side of the marker light and white is the ground. If you are not sure you can pull off a taillight and see what colors are connected to the bulb and what color is grounded to the trailer body.

I replaced the yellow wire nuts with new ones because the old ones were rusty inside. I also put some electrical tape on the wires to keep them together (RV’s bounce and rattle going down the road). I placed some plumbers puddy on the upper edge of the marker light, this lets water run down if it gets inside, but makes a nice seal on top. It is also being used to keep the housing mounted even and tight.

I screwed in the new marker light housing, and put a liberal amount of caulking around the housing. I did leave weep holes on the bottom side to allow for water drainage.

I snapped the new lens on and it’s good as new. The entire process took about 20 min. It’s as easy as that.

Inexpensive Update For Old Trailer Flooring

My trailer is a 1986, it’s old but it’s paid for. The floor itself was in good shape, but the floor covering was not great (honestly half of it was really bad – the carpeting). We decided the carpeting had to go, and the linoleum could use an update. I know how to lay down sheet flooring, but the thought of working around all the corners and cabinets seemed challenging. We thought we would try stick on tiles. We found the cheapest tile @ $.29 a square and it had a 80’s look too. I wasn’t sure if the sick on tile would stay stuck with the temperature changes. It’s stayed in place for over a year now.

Here’s what you need to do:
1. Remove the carpeting (linoleum is installed the entire length even under the carpeting, do not remove)
2. Make sure there are no staples or tacks. I pulled most but had to pound a few down and grind a few.
3. Remove items that you can like the toilet or tables.
4. Use a product like TSP to clean the linoleum. It gets rid of wax and dirt.
5. If you have any tears in the old linoleum you can use a skim coat to level out the flooring. Any bump or dirt will show up with the shine of the new linoleum.
6. I started my first row at the door way. Remember you need to keep tiles square (a little bit off shows up way off on a long run) existing cabinets & walls should be square.
7. Slide the tile close to the wall leave about a 1/8″ gap. I found these tiles need a little room for expanding and contracting.
8. Slide the next tile snug against the previous tile. Start with that edge pressing down working your way to the next edge.
9. You can cut the tile with the protective paper still on as you perfect the fit around items like cabinets. Remember to leave a little room for the tiles to expand.

Here’s my final product.

Game: Cornhole Toss

Cornhole toss or corn toss as it’s called is another simple game that can provide hours of friendly competition for the family. It’s a perfect camp activity because it doesn’t require  a lot of space to bring along. The basic rules ask for a level rectangular area between 21′ to 30′. The simple objective is to toss a bag (filled with corn) into a hole in a board roughly 30′ away. Learning the skill to toss and slide the bag into the hole can take awhile to master, but a novice can enjoy the game too.

A friend of mine, and his buddy make custom sets. Sno-Kent Custom Cornhol’n they’re in the Seattle area, but I’m sure they would ship a set if you ask. They make the cornhole sets as a hobby. P.S. I don’t get any kickbacks, or ad fees, just giving a friend some air time.

Basic Awning Tip

This tip may-be extremely basic. I wish someone would have told me what to do on my maiden voyage with our trailer. On our first trip we pulled out the awning, it was a beautiful day. The awning provided great shade. That night the rain rolled in and the water pooled. In a trailer you know it’s raining because you can hear it, but unlike tent camping you don’t have to get out of your warm comfortable bed. If you roll your awning out level, like I did, you will find out how strong your awning is. The next morning I noticed the awning canvas was sagging. We’re not talking a small amount of water. Fortunately the awning held up, but it could have easily buckled or ripped.

Now when I set up the awning I always leave one side just a little lower than the other it allows the water to run off that side of the awning. Look at the ground to figure out if their is a better side to lower  that will allow water running off the awning to drain away from the trailer.

Anyone learn this lesson after your awning broke?