A few projects around the "House"
Having two and a half weeks at Big Cypress RV Resort afforded us an opportunity to catch up on a couple of small projects we’ve been putting off during our travels. Don’t get me wrong, we did our share of sightseeing and excursions during our stay, but there were definitely a few open days allowing us to get some things done. Let me discuss a couple of those projects:
- Shortly after we left the Tampa area, heading for Big Cypress RV Resort, Betsy called me on the radio and said something was hanging from the front left bumper of the Big Tow’er. She said it looked like an orange towel or a piece of material. So to check it out Betsy passed me in the Pilot to take a look. To both of our surprise, she said the left front turn signal was hanging from its’ normal spot next to the headlight. Shortly thereafter, we stopped at a Rest Area and I got out old trusty Duck tape and reattached it in the correct place for the remainder of the trip. Fast forward a couple of hours as we are rolling into Big Cypress to settle in across the street from Annette and Mike. After we get settled in, Mike says, “Hey, did you know your right headlight is burnt out?” I believe I simply said, “Really??” So the headlight was out on the opposite side from the turn signal that fell out. Betsy and I got together and decided that it was probably not much more money to replace both headlights and front turn signals than it was to replace the headlight bulb and the broken turn signal. A quick search online and I found I could get all four lights, including bulbs, for approximately $170, delivered to my doorstep at Big Cypress RV Resort. So with the lights in hand a couple of days later, I cleared my schedule one afternoon and got to work. The project took about 2 hours and was even doable at my skill level. After 17 years the old headlight lenses were cloudy and due for a change anyway. It definitely gave the Big Tow’er a cleaner look and more importantly the lights work every time you turn them on now.
- If you are at all familiar with Suburban RV hot water heaters, then you are aware that they contain an anode rod. An anode rod is a solid metal cylinder that gets screwed into a water heater’s drain plug to prevent the steel water heater tank from rusting inside. Anode rods are made from aluminum, magnesium, or zinc, all metals that will “sacrifice” themselves through electrolysis and save the exposed steel water heater tank from a similar fate. If you have a Suburban water heater, the tank is porcelain-lined steel and requires an anode rod to prevent corrosion of the steel tank. Well, Charlie has a 12 gallon Suburban hot water heater which provides us with nice hot water for our showers, dish cleaning, hand washing, etc. Since Charlie is our home, we definitely use our hot water heater more than a weekend / vacation camper owner. Our hot water heater fires several times a day as necessary. So after approximately 7 months of daily use, I thought it was time to drain and clean the tank, and take a look at our anode rod (#adlink). The process is fairly straight forward. You first turn off the hot water heater, both the propane and 120V switches if so equipped. Ours can be heated with both, so I turned them both off. I then closed both propane tanks for good measure. I utilized the outside shower to run all of the hot water out of the tank. So 12 gallons of wateris more water than you would think, but eventually my flow of water from the shower went from hot, to warm, to cool. I now had a tank of cool water and could safely open the drain plug and let the water out. With the tank drained, I attached my tank cleaning wand (#adlink) to the end of the hose and flushed out the tank. A good bit of small particles flowed out of the tank and on to the ground. With the tank adequately cleaned, I turned to inspecting the anode rod. Our anode rod had less than 50% remaining, so I chose to replace it while I had it open and will check it again in 6 months. Here are the links to the tank cleaning wand and anode rod we used (*affiliate link*).
- We have found ourselves situating Charlie on his site several times during our time on the road and having to estimate how far a particular slide is going to be from some obstacle. Betsy had found a helpful hint on some blog or form of social media, to use a stick and have your slide distances already measured and marked on the stick. So we made the decision to use something we already carry on the backside of our basement door as our measurement tool, our trusty broom. Charlie has five slides in a variety of sizes, so our broom has multiple tags on it. Betsy got out her label maker so now our broom marks say exactly which slide they are referencing. So easy anyone can do it. We have definitely used our trusty broom several times already to keep our slides away from trees, power pedestals, or whatever other obstacles we may find on our sites.
- If you’ve been following along on our journey, you know that our tow vehicle, the Big Tow’er is white. They say a black vehicle is hard to keep clean, but Im here to attest that a big white truck ain’t easy either. It does take a beating on the highway and keeps a lot of bugs and dirt from hitting the front cap of Charlie. So with an empty site across the street at Big Cypress, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give the Big Tow’er a bath. Hose, bucket, sponge, soap, and long extendable brush out and ready to be put to work. I’ve always enjoyed washing vehicles, but I have to admit the Big Tow’er is a workout. But a sunny day in South Florida is a great setting for this type of workout!
- The Big Tow’er has an intermittent problem that doesn’t happen that often, but seems to crop up at the most inopportune times. When you turn the key about three quarters of a turn you pause and let the ABS system run through its’ checks, which is three audible clicks. After this, you turn the key the rest of the way and the big Cummins engine fires up. Most of the time! Sometimes that last quarter turn results in a dull click as the lights disappear from the dashboard. This can be frustrating, to say the least, when you are trying to move your house. After reading some online forums, it was suggested that one of the first steps in troubleshooting this problem is to make sure your batteries are putting out a full charge. So back to the empty site across the street went the truck. At this point I consider site 35 to be my personal workspace. At least until somebody new arrives. Removing a couple of bolts on the driver-side steps and the lower faring allowed me access to the battery box under the driver’s seat. The Big Tow’er has four batteries wired in series. So I carefully removed the cables from all four batteries and got out my trusty Volt on meter. Thanks Texas Professor Terry Cooper for giving me the knowledge and confidence to use my meter. All four batteries tested around 13.0 volts, just as they should have. Satisfied that I could remove the batteries from the troubleshooting workflow, I cleaned all of the terminal and connectors and hooked everything back up. An hour or two well spent.
While on the subject of Mr. Fix-It projects, let me tell you about something that gave me more confidence and has saved me money! If you are looking to learn a bit more about how your RV systems work and how to do preventative maintenance and repairs, I highly recommend looking into the RV Maintenance Tech Course. I completed the course in July 2016 and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. If you decide you would like to take the course, we would love if you would include that you were referred by: Russ Gibbons AMB103.
For more info on the course visit, www.rvtechcourse.com. You an read more about my personal experience taking the courses by reading my previous blog posts: