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Here is a Dashcam video we shot some time ago while exploring the mountains in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, East of Puerto Vallarta in our Jeep YJ. This is still one of our most memorable trips.
Things we have learned from our experiences
You can also see some photos of our Mods HERE
Whatever you do, do not leave home or even plug your rig in without a good power regulator and surge protector. We have the Progressive Industries PT50C 50 amp portable electrical management system and it has saved our buts more than a few times in the last 3 years. We paid about $350 for ours. Here is an Amazon link to the newer model of what we have Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X Portable RV Surge Protector - 50 Amp
TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
Another do not leave home without it item.
Ours has saved us at least 5 times in the last 3 years. Each time we managed to stop before we ruined the tire. We purchased the Eez Tire 10 wheel system online. The unit has worked flawlessly however plan to change batteries every year. The batteries are CR1632 available on Amazon and are not expensive (I think about $3.00 each). Here is the link: 2 Pcs Duracell CR1632 1632 Car Remote Batteries
I liked the way this model mounted on the dash. We are not using an extender on our 38' Fifth Wheel. Here is an Amazon link to the unit we have. EEZTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System - 10 Sensors (TPMS)
We run a 7" Tablet on our dash running the Sygic Truck/RV App. As a tech, this is my go-to program for navigation. I does it all including heights, length and weight restrictions. We back this up with Google Maps in towns and cities as it seems to be more accurate about 95% of the time.
Truck Power train Monitor
We run another 7" tablet on our dash running the Torque App connected to the OBD port via Bluetooth. This gives us Engine and Transmission oil temperatures, Boost and can be configured for a bunch of other info.
We run an extra Nexus 5 Phone as an Inclinometer and have it mounted on the overhead console of the truck. It gives us an accurate reading of how steep the hill really is.
You can see some photos of our Mods HERE
Quit messing around with built in antennas on laptops and other computers. We have a Dell all in one computer that came with built in WiFi. I disabled it and installed the C. Crane US3 Super USB WiFi Antenna 3 High Power Long Range 802.11 B G N Wireless with 30-Foot USB Split Cable and did some weather proofing so I can run it outside off the back of our rig on the ladder. Now when we are told the WiFi is weak or only available in the office, I just say "thanks" and smile to myself as I know I will have full strength in our rig.
For the past year we have been using Cricket Wireless. We have the Unlimited Package. This gives us 22 GB each for $55 each if we do autopay with them with our credit card. If you don't do autopay it is $60 per month. This service had worked well for us over the last year of 20,000 miles and travel all over the USA, Canada and Mexico. Both the phone and data worked well. The only catch is you must use 50% of your plan in the USA over 3 month period.
Update, January 2018
We have now subscribed to another 5 Gig Cricket line that costs us $10 per month after discounts as an add on line and we use it to hotspot our rig when we are away. We have an active weather station and other connections that we need to have online all that time. When we are "home" we use our unlimited plans to hot spot. Our total Cost now is $120 per month. (Two unlimited phones and one 5 Gig phone).
We run a program called Connectify Hotspot 2018 Max on our Dell Desktop. This program can redistribute one connection to all our devices in the rig and hide the fact that it is doing it. All you have to do is fire up the computer, login to the park WiFi, start the program and hit share. It creates a HotSpot that any device that has your password can connect to. I think I spent about $50 for this program.
We replaced our std TV antenna with a small outdoor, one piece HD TV antenna and mounted it to the arms from the old antenna so that it can still be folded down with the crank from inside the rig.
We purchased the KING VQ4550 Tailgater Bundle - Portable Satellite TV Antenna and DISH Wally HD Receiver. We throw the Dish on the roof and just run the cable though the window as in remote areas the signal is not strong enough once we run it through all the connections on the built in wiring on the trailer.
Update. I have since run "through the wall" connectors for both the dish and the WiFi antennas on the slide wall of our RV.
Tools to lower spare for truck and trailer
The 2001 F350 tire can be lowered without a special tool by inserting a 5/8 5pt socket into the tube behind the hole in the rear bumper with a long (about 36 inch) 3/8 extension. I purchased both a Harbor Freight.
Give the extension a sharp rap or two with a hammer to pop the socket over the key. Then lower the tire and remove the whole winch assembly from the bottom of the truck. Once you have it off, you can pry out the key and all you have left is a 3/8 hole that can be accessed in the future with a long 3/8 extension. No more security but who will know you did this.
The Mobile 2006 Suites spare can be lowered with a 5/8 socket.
Adjust Fresh Water Pump in RV
There is a small Allen screw on the top of the pump where the pressure valve is. Turn gently either way to stop the pump from pulsing while running the faucet in the RV. You should not have to turn the screw more that an turn or two either way.
The Dirty Stuff 2017
To solve the problem of not having a full hook up for Sewer and having to move to a dump station every 3 to 4 days, we purchased a Flojet RV Waste Pump and installed a tank in the back of our truck. Now about every 3 days, I just run the hose to the truck tank, switch on the pump then drive the truck over to the dump station and dump. Easy and clean. We are quite popular in COE campgrounds when people see what we are doing.
Our solution to no sewer hookups
Update July 2018
My Flojet pump started shutting off after about 40 gallons or about 5 minutes. It seemed to be overheating. It would stay off for about 2 minutes then run again for about 30 seconds then shut off again. I sent an email to the factory and promptly received a request for the Model, Serial number, a copy of my receipt and mailing address. 10 days later I received a brand new pump kit, carrying case and all! Now that is what I call customer support!
Check out Simple Tire online and order your tires then shop around for someone with reasonable pricing to install and balance the new tires. I saved more than 50% changing all 10 of our tires. We installed Sailun Tires all around and are very happy with them in over 20,000 miles of use.
Block and Chock and Leveling
Stop messing around with trailer leveling. Get the Andersen 3604 leveling chocks. I wish I had done this years ago.
They are available from Amazon.
Update: May 2019 I installed the LevelMate Pro II from Amazon. You install a littel transmitter in your RV and install an app on the phone and you can see if you are level without getting out of the driver's seat.
Truck stuff cooling
Install a heavy duty transmission oil cooler. Easy to do and it will prevent your transmission from overheating Change your Transmission oil to a good quality synthetic oil.
weBoost Drive 4G-X RV - December 2017
We ordered our weBoost from Wilson Electronics at and received it at our RV Park in a few days
It was a relatively simple installation with great installation instructions
The LTE signal dBm level went from 112 to about 67 dBm. A huge increase and a very noticeable difference in browsing speeds.
We are really not in a very fringe area where we are for the Winter. We had 3 bars on our phones before and now show a full 5 bars
Music, Music and More Music Stuff
I play a lot of amateur guitar, mostly Country and some Bluegrass music. I have a 1976 Ovation Balladeer and a Taylor 414ce-R. I have converted all of my paper music books to computer using an App called Song Book and I run it on an old Android 10 inch tablet and a Lenovo Flex 4 HD 14 Touchscreen 2-in-1 Laptop. Currently I have over 520 songs that have the lyrics and chords and many have the music linked to the lyrics. I love music Jams in the parks we stay in. Works great for me. If you are interested in sharing my SongBook files for free, send me an Email and I will share my DropBox folder with you.
I recently started using a D'Addario sound hole guitar tuner on my Taylor. I love the discreet convenience of it. I ordered one in July of 2018 and it quit working properly in Dec 2018. Factory replaced it.
Yesterday Jan 23, 2019 the clip on tab broke off it. I just went back to Amazon and purchased another. I hope this one lastes longer. I did re-glue the tab but I don't trust it much. They are under $14.00
We have changed out almost all of our lights on our rig to LED bulbs. I found them on Amazon from a company call Yitamoto. Cheap but they work just fine and at less than half the price of others I have found. One thing I want to stress, is that if you change the surface light on your GE Profile Microwave/Convection Oven, be sure to note that the bulb must be a 110 volt!. I did not pay enough attention to this and installed a 12V. One big snap sound and it burned out the motherboard on the Microwave. Ouch! That cost me about $250 and I did the replacement myself.
I had seen all manners of transporting and storing step ladders, none of which appealed to me. I found a collapsible folding ladder online that is 7' long and folds up to about a 4" square by 7'. It fits in our storage bay perfectly on our 5th wheel and is easy to access and simple and safe to use.
Weather Station Install
We actually have two Acurite Weather Stations in our RV and both are wireless.
One is a four sensor (Base plus 3 remote sensors).
The base monitors room temperature
The remotes monitor basement, fridge and freezer temps.
The second is a 5 in 1 indoor/outdoor weather station with wind speed, humidity, outdoor temp, rainfall and indoor temp.
This system is also broadcasting to Weather Underground every 15 minutes and can be seen on the main page of our site.
Propane Tank Monitoring - November 2017
We installed a dual tank monitoring system this year. Here is the Amazon link where we purchased it: Tank Check LP with Monitor Kit
We like it however the included gauge inside is not accurate for our 40 lb tanks. It will show the last half of the tank only. The system can used the free app for your phone or tablet. With the app however, your readings are accurate. I talked to Mopeka online and they say they are coming out with a new monitor in 2018 that will work for all tanks.
Update June 25, 2018 I had a small problem with one of my monitors and emailed Mopeka. They send me a whole new two sensor kit with a new monitor that is now accurate for our 40 lb tanks. No charge, no questions! You can not get better service or support than these guys!
Current Draw Amp Meters 2017
I installed two digital meters (one on each leg) on the incoming A/C power lines near the breakers. I flush mounted these in the cabinet. These were real easy to install and it is nice to see the load on the power system.
DROK AC 100-300V 100A Digital Voltage Current Multi meter
Camera Stuff 2017
Santa recently brought me a new camera and lens to replace my Canon T2i with a 18-270 mm lens. The new camera is a Canon T7i with a 18-400 lens. We still have and use both cameras. The T7i is a nice upgrade with higher ISO capabilities and has WiFi and full remote control from my Android device. This lets me control both still and video shooting but not the zoom.
We also have a LG360 camera and a GoPro Fusion 360 camera. Love the new GoPro. The GoPro is full remote control from an App.
Air Conditioner Replacement 2015
I did ours a couple of years ago. After a lot of research, I would recommend you stay with the Penguins. You have to change them with the correct models if you want all your wiring to work. Yes you can change the one out for the 15,000 one as all the wiring is the same. Yes you will have to change the thermostat. Easy, plug in swap. Your can get around it by changing the motherboards in each AC but that will cost you almost the same and they did not recommend it.
I bought ours at Dyers online and I had to give them the exact model and serial numbers of our existing ones. They called Dometic and got the right model numbers and pricing and guess what, they were not on sale.
I did the install myself and it was real simple if you have household and automotive wiring experience. It took me about 3 hours to change both units.
I had to rent a material lift from a rental company to safely lift them to the roof of the RV. It was under $100 for this.
My wife helped me by cranking up the lift and positioning the units so I did not have to drag them around on the roof.
They come off with 4 lag bolts. The new ones come with a gasket and you just set them down connect the wires and then bolt them back down. If memory serves, I had to drill two new holes and plug two old ones to make them fit.
My total cost at that time was under $2000
I was quoted over $4000 to have them changed at a dealer.
Here is valuable information and a direct quoted message from Mr. Bill Menheniott on Facebook: "I installed a bedroom AC unit after we bought our unit without one. DRV places the unit over a roof rafter so that the air return is one side of the rafter and the supply is the other. Two holes need to be cut in the roof - one each side of the rafter. Normally only one large hole is cut - in between rafters. I took the shroud and the cover off of the rear unit to figure out how they did it, and then it was fairly easy to figure out. The only critical part is knowing where exactly to cut. We have a vent in the bedroom and I was able to remove that and see where the AC should go. The AC itself is lag bolted down to 2X4's that DRV puts in the roof space for reinforcement."
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to get hold of me.
Call Dawn (if she is still there) at Dyers Online at (866) 713-3429
Here are my notes from my records at the time:
New Salon Sept 10, 2015
15K Heat Pump
Mod # DOMETIC 651816CXX1C0 White
New Bedroom Sept 10, 2015
AC only 13.5K
Mod #PENGUIN AC, HIGH CAPACITY,WHITE, CCC2 T-STAT REQ'D
The dip switches are located under a screw on cover on each AC unit after removing the Shroud.
Zone 1 - Salon. Be sure to change dip switches on Roof. Heat strip off, Heat pump on.
Zone 2 - Bedroom A/C only Zone 2
Dometic CCC2 Polar White Comfort Control Center II Thermostat
Patio Awning Repair - May 2018
Our manual patio awning was damaged in a freak wind storm. It tore the material and broke two end brackets on the upper rafters.
I managed to cut about 1 inch off each bar, re-drill the holes and purchase new brackets from www.camperpartsworld.com for $7.01 each plus shipping of about $9.00. I also had one damaged foot on the vertical bars and that one cost me 19.95 plus shipping. I had not noticed it when ordering the other parts.
The shipping times were 4 days for the parts.
I ordered new awning material from Shade Pro. I am still waiting for this and will update when I have it installed.
Okay the material arrived today (under a week shipping)
I ordered new awning material from Shade Pro for $199 but it does not have the protective cover when rolled up. The material is great quality and I had to drill holes in the end cap of the roller to slide out the old material and slide in the new. Fortunately the roller was locked in the out position. I first slide the material into the two tracks on the roller then moved the whole detached assembly to the back of he rv so I could start feeding it into the track on the RV a foot at a time while stopping to move the assembly so the material would not bunch up. This whole thing took about 45 minutes with all the fussing around.
Once the material was in place and the hardware re-attached to the RV, I released the roller and rolled it up as normal. Perfect and we now have a new awing for under $250. My neighbor had the same problem and he just spent over $1600 to have his replaced.
Suburban 12 gallon Water Heater repair
Our heater stopped working and showed a fault light at switch inside
I diagnosed as follows:
I listened at heater outside and both heard and saw the igniter fire okay. I could also hear both solenoids clicking. I disconnected each individually to be sure.
I checked for full propane tanks and loosened the connection at the water tank to check for gas flow. All was good.
I also checked the small trap tube from the valve to the burner tube for blockage.
I then checked for voltage at the positive terminals at each of the solenoids on the gas valve on the heater. I had 13.1 V DC on each lead.
I checked the grounds with an Ohm Meter. All good.
I ordered from Amazon Suburban 161109 Gas Valve for $45.53 Note: My old solenoid had a number SW 12DE Type 780 on it but I cross referenced it with the above number.
I received the Solenoid the next day and installed. All is good.
More Coming soon