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RE: Paid Caravans to Alaska Worth it?

I've made the trip multiple times by myself or "leading" someone else up and back. When I've done it I kept track of all my expenses (fuel, meals, camp fees, extras, etc) and I can typically do a round trip spending most of the summer in Alaska for a little over %5000. (I have to admit that my camping fees while in Alaska are nothing though as I camp in a friend's backyard.) I've talked to a couple of people who have done the caravans and the $10,000 price is pretty typical. What I found interesting is that at the stops they make they have one or two pre-arranged side trips you can make to "see the sights". While that sounds nice I was amazed at what the organizers has selected for some of these side trips. Certainly not the ones I would have taken and many of the better sights didn't seem to be on their list of approved/pre-paid sites. So while traveling in a caravan may offer some peace of mind (at a price) it also might be very limiting on what you can see and do. As for finding camping spots along the way, that's never been a problem for me and I don't make reservations ahead of time. Now once you're in Alaska it could be totally different, especially if you want a spot to stay on the Kenai during the summer fishing season. And, there's a lot of traffic on the Alaska Highway in the summer months. If you get in trouble and need some help someone will always stop and offer assistance.
bob_nestor 07/07/20 02:07pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Longer closure gathering momentum...

Keep hearing about a lot of positives on vaccines and such, but nothing solid. Seems many companies and governments are working on it. We had 2 trips auto-cancel on us, and now our summer vacation is to a local state park to camp vs. mountains or ocean view campsites. I just hope a serious vaccine is found and implemented soon.... The problem with a vaccine is that it targets a single variant of a virus. There are a dozen or so flu viruses each with it's own vaccine. They try to guess each year which three strains might be present and put those three vaccines into the flu shot. Sometimes they guess wrong and it seems they can't put more than three into a single shot. The COVID-19 virus has been reported to have already mutated into as many as 30 different variants and if so there's not much hope of stamping it out with a vaccine. We probably should have been focusing much more attention on treatments than vaccines. It may be painful to hear but I suspect our best chances of dealing with this longer term come down to 1) herd immunity, 2) virus disappears just like SARS did, or 3) good, inexpensive and effective treatments for those infected.
bob_nestor 07/01/20 06:56am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: 100 watt Solar decision

Unless you're really running the refrigerator on propane and only using the 12v for the control board, your setup won't work. The refrigerator running only on 12v for cooling will drain your batteries in a few hours or less. If you are running on propane then your setup will probably work as long as you've got good sun for a decent amount of time striking the solar panel almost directly head-on. But unless you can recharge the batteries to full charge state every day you'll probably notice less and less battery power after a few days. (Unless you're using Lithium-Ion batteries.) My previous RV was a Class B and I had a portable 120W solar panel. I used 12v only for the refrigerator control board, minimal lighting, and to run the furnace fan for a few minutes on cold mornings. With pretty good sun for long hours I found I could go about 3 or 4 days before the battery needed to be really fully recharged as the solar just wasn't getting me there. My batteries were deep cycle 6v flooded.
bob_nestor 06/27/20 10:54am Travel Trailers
RE: Basic questions about Class B's

I notice most class B's have small FW tanks and very little storage. For those that dry camp how do you carry extra water? Also are there any class B's made with a slide and some kind of basement storage? A class B is essentially a modified van chassis.....so no under storage to speak of and certainly no slide. The next step would be a small class C which would be a manufactured coach body placed on a CUTAWAY van chassis. That depends on the model/manufacturer. I had a Roadtrek 210 Popular which is a Class B and it had quite a bit of outside under storage. About 1/2 my camping was dry camping with it and I could go about a week between dumps and water fill ups; 3 days when I was camping with a friend. One just needs to adjust to the storage available. Coming from tent camping I found the storage quite adequate and I actually camped comfortably a couple of summers in it. My general rule is if I have something in the RV that hasn't been used in the last 3 camping trips, it's not necessary and it comes out of the RV.
bob_nestor 06/07/20 08:46am Class B - Camping Van Conversions
RE: how much is too little to spend on a used Class C?

I’ve been reading a lot about the danger signs and what to watch for. But I still have one question: is there a price under which you know a class C is not worth buying? Thanks! A lot of people don't understand or confuse cost, price and value. Simply put, "cost" is what the seller has invested in the unit or product. "Price" is what the seller is willing to let it go for, and the difference between cost and price is profit or loss for the seller. "Value" is what the buyer is willing to pay to acquire the product. So a sale is possible when "value" is equal to or exceeds "price". (Negotiation is a process of adjusting the "price" and "value" between seller and buyer.) BUT if you value a unit significantly more than the seller has priced it at it might be a good deal, the seller may be in a financial bind needing to sell at a loss, or the seller might know something about the unit that you don't. In any case you'd be able to get it for less than you expected and that should be a warning that you're spending too little to get what you think - unless you understand the reason for the difference.
bob_nestor 06/05/20 08:39am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Improving Fridge Cooling

First, absorption units do better on propane and 110v than they do on 12v. The 12v is only there to try an maintain temps while traveling. Second, minimize putting warm things in, so limit the number of times and the length of time you have the unit open and try not to put a lot of things in at the same time that aren't already cooled down. Third, they all work by transferring the heat to the outside via the cooling coils in the back of the unit. For most installations that uses just normal airflow over the coils - since hot air rises it brings in cooler air at the bottom and exits at the top. Units installed with a top roof vent work better than units with the top vent on the side. Most manufacturers don't follow the recommendations for clearances in the back where the coils are and usually allow too much space. Limiting the space to the recommendations using baffles and such helps with the airflow. Adding fans can help, but be careful. Just moving a lot of air may not be as effective as moving the right amount of air over the coils. Faster air can create a turbulent airflow and a laminar airflow is what you want for maximum heat transfer. Finally, since the unit's performance is based on the ability to transfer the heat outside thru the coils, the temp difference between the air at the coils and the outside air is important. Try not to park your RV in such a way that the sun is heating the area where the refrigerator is located. And remember that at most the unit can probably create about a 40 degree F temp difference, so it will work better when the outside temps are around 70 than it will when the temps a pushing triple digits.
bob_nestor 05/25/20 10:52am Tech Issues
RE: Nexus Viper Class B+

B+ = Unicorn, Leprechaun, Fairies, honest politician. They don't exist. If it's a coach on a cab chassis, it's a class C, or a Super c. Give it a rest. If people or companies want to call a Class C without a cabover a Class B+ who does it hurt? Just because RVIA hasn't blessed the term doesn't mean it's the end of the world. People give their RVs cute names too and that's not blessed or authorized by RVIA either.
bob_nestor 05/12/20 07:12pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Android vs Apple

Although I'm a long time Apple user, for cell phones I've always gone with Android until recently. I switched to the iPhone SE 2020 version. There are differences between Android and IOS, but I've managed to find all the apps I want and I'm getting used to the iPhone user interface. One of the reasons I think Android phones are cheaper is that they're typically engineered for optimal use on a single provider's network. You can move some phones between say AT&T and T-Mobile, but when you dig into the details you typically find that your limited to only certain features, bands and frequencies. And over time the carriers drop some of the less used features and/or reuse some of their bands and frequencies for newer technologies making your older phone less and less capable. The selling points for me on the new iPhone is that it basically covers all the carriers in a single model, something even Apple wasn't doing in the past. So since I bought it outright and it's unlocked, I can switch to any carrier I want to whenever I want. The other feature is that it is a dual-SIM phone, so I can have two phone numbers on two different carriers - nice for traveling especially outside of the Continental US or for trying out different service providers. Sometimes the roaming partner for your carrier doesn't have the best coverage in place you might be, so being able to get an in-country service plan for a short period of time is a nice option. The only downside that I saw with the iPhone SE is that it doesn't support the upcoming 5G capabilities, but I figure it will take a few years before that's built out enough to really be useful outside of major metro areas. (Side note, the three cell tower companies are trying to build out the necessary towers for 5G and their stock prices are showing it too.) Plus the older 4G LTE will be supported for quite some time into the future. But $400 for a cell phone was a big pill to swallow as I generally don't go over about $150 and keep it for two years. I've always done pre-paid, no contract service plans and bring my own phone so being able to switch service provides was a big plus for me. There are some deals one can find on the new iPhone SE and it may be possible to get one for about $200 on a contract that can be terminated after a few months though.
bob_nestor 05/03/20 11:01am Technology Corner
RE: Good Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner

Be aware that standard readers will not read all the codes on most diesel trucks if you have one. That generally calls for a more expensive reader with a pack for your truck model unless something new has come out. A basic reader just connects to the OBD-II port and implements the protocols for reading the data from the CAN bus and usually makes that data available vie USB or Bluetooth connection to a smart phone, laptop or other computing device. An app on the computing device does the work of decoding the codes, so just about any cheap reader will work if you're going to use it with a smart phone or computer, but you need to then find an APP that does the decoding you're interested in. All will handle the universal codes but if you want access to vehicle specific codes you need to find an APP that offers that option. Almost all the APPs available will work with any reader that provides the data via USB or Bluetooth. Many of the lower cost apps also don't include the ability to reset codes on the vehicle. More expensive OBD-II readers can operate without the need for a smart phone or laptop and incorporate decode logic for the codes they read, but generally come with the same limitation of being able to handle universal codes but may not be able to deal with vehicle specific codes without firmware upgrades.
bob_nestor 04/25/20 11:20am Tow Vehicles
RE: Anyone use a swivel wheel platform?

I looked at doing a hitch mounted carrier for my motorcycle, but didn't like the weight calculations related to the Moment Arm. Some of the reputable motorcycle carrier manufacturers won't even do one for anything but a larger Class A. The two main problems they worry about are frame extensions and the Moment Arm which unloads the front end of the vehicle or 5th wheel. I used a small motorcycle trailer for a few years, but pulling a trailer has some limitations such as being able to easily back up. So I ended up with a Swivel Wheel trailer that I bought from CruiserLift (FastMaster), a trailer manufacturer in Katy, Tx. Visited their shop, talked with the owner who had one set up for me to look at, and ended up buying it. He and I talked a lot about the engineering of the trailer and some of the problems people run into with it. The biggest problem is poor handling caused by improper mounting - the trailer should be mounted with the hitch side lower than the wheel side so the trailer is always tracking by "going downhill towards the towing vehicle". I towed my new purchase back home behind a 2-DR Jeep Wrangler which was sometimes squirrely when towing my old trailer, but the swivel wheel tracked behind the Jeep like it was on rails.
bob_nestor 04/24/20 11:26am Fifth-Wheels
RE: Covid 19 high risk poll

I'm 70 and in pretty good health so I guess I'm not considered high risk. But in my tracking of this pandemic it seems like everyone is pretty high risk until a vaccine is developed or the population develops a herd immunity. Some of the stats at this point that I've found: 40% of the hospitalizations are for people under the age of 50 Survival chances approach zero if a patient is placed on a ventilator 90% of the US population which has tested positive are still not fully recovered; 70% of the world population testing positive are still not recovered Of those who were infected but now no longer test positive the death rate is 21% for the world and 40% for the US African-Americans have a significantly higher infection and death rate from this virus. There is just so much the medical community doesn't know yet about this virus and what we don't know could kill us.
bob_nestor 04/13/20 06:18am RVing with Disabilities and General Health Issues
RE: Entrance steps won't go out

Have a friend who had the same problem on his 2006 Dutch Star. We determined it was the motor that needed to be replaced. I suspect the motor developed some flat spots, probably from road vibration, and if it stops in one of these areas it won't be able to start to move the steps. I'd crawl under his rig and rap the motor with a rock and he'd open the door activating the switch and that always jarred things enough that the steps would come out. Be very careful if you do this though and make sure you keep your arms, hands and fingers out of the way of the moving mechanisms.
bob_nestor 04/11/20 06:25pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Stimulus Check , what are you going to do with yours ?

I won't be getting one, which is fine. As someone else stated the purpose of this is to jump start the economy. My son plans on spending his eating out in order to help out what restaurants survive. However, there will be many who will need to replenish savings or use it on bills. Ditto. I've got a feeling a lot of people may not have read the fine print about those stimulus checks, or maybe they're living a bit too close to the edge financially to be RVing.
bob_nestor 04/03/20 06:54pm General RVing Issues
RE: water pump problems

On some RVs if the water is set to "city water" and you turn on the pump it will just pump water from the fresh water tank back into the fresh water tank making gurgling sounds and not sending anything to the faucets. Discovered this helping a friend de-winterize his Class A Dutch Star.
bob_nestor 03/29/20 07:51pm Tech Issues
RE: Fantastic just quiet!

one day it was working the next day it was not. Checked fuse and its OK. Then went to switch which is controlled by cover; it seems alright. Fan is approx. 16 yrs old. Need suggestions. Thanks in advance for your input. How did you verify the cover switch? Did you make sure the plunger moves freely up and down and also test the continuity with the plunger in both and up and down position? Typically the plunger gets stuck in the down (off) position so when the cover is raised the switch is still open circuit so the fan doesn't run.
bob_nestor 03/26/20 06:57pm Tech Issues
RE: Spring Shakedown Trip cancelled

north carolina state park campgrounds are closed till further notice. trails and restrooms are openI just got kicked out of a CA park. Only a few campers here, well away from each other, yet they're not allowing camping but keeping the restrooms open for day use. A lot of us snowbirds rely on these parks on our way home. This doesn't make any sense to me. Yes, seems bassackwards - even parks where the spots are close together provide the suggested social separation. But worse yet, is leaving the restrooms open. One of the ways the virus is transmitted is thru fecal material and without aggressive daily (or hourly) cleaning of the restrooms they're just big stinky petri dishes for this virus.
bob_nestor 03/21/20 11:11am Travel Trailers
RE: RV storage - how much room is needed?

I would angle that drive towards the direction from which you want to back in. Straighten it out after you get it in the drive. A 13 foot wide road is nothing and that ditch isn't going to help. The layout of the road and driveway looks very much like my own setup, although the street in my case is 24' wide with a deep ditch on the far side. I've had people who claimed to be good "backer-uppers" back into my driveway with their Class A's and towables who had difficulty managing that right angle turn into my driveway. Have lost my mailbox and a couple of storm drains as a result. The suggestion to angle that driveway to the street is an excellent one!
bob_nestor 03/21/20 10:41am General RVing Issues
RE: What can I do to revive an old VHS recorder/player

Other than general cleaning and replacement of belts and possibly capacitors in the power supply. I can only make two comments. ONE: There is a service that will convert VHS to DVD/Cloud/MP4 for you for what they claim is a reasonable fee (never used 'em) Second: is why "It only works via RF".. There is an anti-copy code on the tape if you try to copy it without a code breaker the DVD recorder will refuse. I don't do a lot of video work But I used to do audio by the ton.. Same issue with digital transfers of audio. Analog did not have that issue. I discovered years ago that if you have both VHS and Beta (or Sony Mini-8) the copy protection is removed when you copy from VHS to Beta or Mini-8. At that point the copy can be copied back to VHS of DVD. No code breaker needed.
bob_nestor 03/21/20 10:32am Technology Corner
RE: Solar Charge Controller question

I'm confused with what I need, PWT or MPPT? Either will work, but a PWM one will be less expensive. The MPPT controllers can generally extract a bit more solar energy, but in a solar setup found in most RVs that advantage will probably be negligible and not worth the extra cost.
bob_nestor 03/21/20 10:26am Travel Trailers
RE: Battle Born Charging

" Are you sure about the float? Seems like it should be 13.6v or HIGHER, not lower." You didn't read the BB replies in the link. :( Also note how they distinguish a float from a storage trickle, and how the float should be with working the battery and not while on shore-power and no cycling of the battery if the float is above 13.6 Lots of good info in those BB replies on all sorts of topics raised. Actually I did a lot of research on the BB batteries before I installed them over a year ago and at that time the setup in my RV was fine with them. They recommended using an AGM profile on my solar controller since mine didn't have a Lithium setting. I've since replaced with a newer model that has a Lithium profile and it uses a float voltage of 14 for Lithium and 13.7 for all other battery types. So if the float is to be 13.6 or lower and my batteries bulk charge up to 14+, then I can maintain my charge level with a 6v supply? After all, 6v is less than 13.6v.
bob_nestor 02/18/20 02:27pm Tech Issues
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