Category Archives: RV Articles

Lake Gaston and Who Ordered This Hurricane?

We have been on the road now for over a year.  During that time we have managed not to have any liquid sunshine (rain for those that don’t camp).  I was sure today was going to ruin a perfect record, but the Lord was watching out for us.  I got started with my tear down chores around 8:45 AM and no rain, oops liquid sunshine!  By 9:30 we were pulling out of Skyline Ranch and heading to Lake Gaston.

I drove for part of the way and it tried a few times to start raining, but then stopped.  Daisy took over driving for the last part of the trip.  This was a long day, with over 240 miles to travel.  Wouldn’t have been too bad except the route took us on all kinds of back roads.  Speed limit said 55, if you were suicidal!  We got here around 2 PM and got set up, again no liquid sunshine.  But I am beat.  Not sure what the issue is, but I feel like I was run over by a herd of buffalo.  Really beginning to think my medication needs to be thrown out the window.  I am on blood pressure meds yet, don’t have a problem with my blood pressure and never have.  When I talked to the doctor about them, he said you are on it for high blood pressure.  When I told him I don’t have high blood pressure, he was kind of stumped.  He did drop the one med down to half a dose.  But I’m still having problems.  Guess I should talk to him again.  Maybe see him when he takes a vacation in FL this Winter hehe.

Anyway we are at Lake Gaston, Littleton, NC for a couple of weeks before heading to Myrtle Beach.  We have my mother-in-law with us and we will be dropping her off when we get to Myrtle Beach.  Then we head South to FL.

Lake Gaston is a nice campground that is getting ready to close for the Winter.  Most of the activities are done and the pool is closed.  They are on a 30+ mile long lake so I am sure we can find something to do.  We managed to get a 50 AMP 3 point site near the lake.  WIFI is good for Verizon.  Will be putting up the new antenna next week after all the rain is done.  Did I mention that we are scheduled for rain everyday until next Monday!  Something about a cold front and then a hurricane coming ashore somewhere around VA/NC border.  A couple of our Facebook friends that live in the area said they are calling for 10 inches of rain.  Will have to wait and see.

Well tonight is going to be an early night for me.  Being retired I can go to bed any time I want and I am going to hit the sack early.

I will be posting a how to article soon about our antenna set up.  I need to get one more cable adapter ordered so that I can hook up the WIFI antenna to the new WIFI router.  The cell phone set up is all done.  I also moved the antenna to the front of the slide to make hook up easier and reduce the length of the cables I was using.  Hopefully that will increase the gain and improve the signals.  Article, pictures and results will be posted soon.

We moved again.

One of the neat things about being retired on the road is we can change our minds, or should I say, Daisy can change our minds.  Our plans were to head to the Northeast after the holidays.  Well we have decided to stay in the Philadelphia area for the Summer.  So instead of a week at PA Dutch Country we will be staying for 3 weeks.  Then a few weeks at Timothy Lake South and 3 more weeks at Sea Pines before heading back to either Hershey or PA Dutch Country in the Fall.

I wanted to talk about a restaurant that we found here in Lancaster.  It is called Manor Buffet right on Lancaster Blvd before it turns to 30 and 463(?).  This is an all you can eat place with some really good Sushi and a nice variety of it as well.  They also have steak and seafood and a Hibachi, not to mention a lot of the standard stuff.  Prices are bad either, at $13.95 per adult dinner.  Only down side for us was the desserts.  The ice cream leaves a lot to be desired, but the Chinese donuts are pretty good.

If you haven’t heard, my RV books are done and available on http://rv-inspection-service.com or Amazon.com.  There are four books.  Three of them are eBooks one each for Finding, Buying and Using the RV.  The last book (only on Amazon at this time) is a printed version of all three books.

I’m an Author!

You may have received an email by now that I have been writing a series of books about Finding, Buying and Using the Perfect RV.  These books are now available on http://rv-inspection-service.com (another one of my websites).

In the first book, Finding the Perfect RV, I discuss how to find the perfect RV for you.  Whether you are a weekender, seasonal for full timer.  I tried to use my experience of the last 40 years to make sure it was relevant to all types of campers.

The second book, Buying the Perfect RV, I discuss the inspection of the RV before purchasing, the financing, insurance and other aspects of purchasing an RV.  The checklist alone in this one should make it worth while as well as save you from some costly mistakes.

The third book, Using Your Perfect RV, is mainly for those that are new to the recreational vehicle world.  Maybe you are moving up from tents to RV or just taking the plunge.  Here we discuss, safety, tires, packing, weight management, unpacking, setting up etc.

Each of these books has a set of checklist so you don’t miss anything while finding, buying and using the perfect RV.

You can read about the books at Using Your Perfect RV.

 

Creating videos

I have been learning Camtasia.  Camtasia is a video creation package that allows you to bring life to Power Point Presentations, Photos and Videos.  You can do a lot of amazing things with it.

I am a Dri Wash n’ Guard Manager.  I have written a manual on how to start and run a RV Detailing business.  Here are two videos I have created this week with Camtasia.

Detailing Chrome

Detailing Tires

 

Are you thinking of buying an RV?

If you have been following any of my posts, you probably are aware that I have another website dealing with the RV Inspection business.  I try each day to write an article about things to inspect when buying a RV whether it be new or used.  Inspecting a RV is time consuming but worth the effort.  If you can’t do it your self it would be best to have someone do it for you.

The website is called RV Inspection Service (http://rv-inspection-service.com) and I also have a Facebook page on which I post the daily articles (https://www.facebook.com/groups/814797521893318/)

So if you are looking to purchase a new or used RV, please take a few minutes to read up on some things to look at before spending your money on that rig.

 

RV Inspector Training and Certification

When we were at PA Dutch Country, I stumbled across an advertisement for training that was being offered at the campground to become a Certified RV Inspector.  Think of this as a Home Inspection but for RV.

Daisy and I looked over the information and talked to Terry Cooper, the instructor as well as Steve Anderson, he runs the Workamper News organization.  After some thought I decided to sign up for the training.  It was 5 days of RV systems, testing and general knowledge.  After passing the exam on that Friday, I became a Certified RV Inspector.

The training requirements didn’t stop there.  But before I continue, I want to explain why we spent the money for this training and the upcoming opportunity.

Although we have both lived in RV for over 12 years and I have a background as an automotive mechanic, I wasn’t comfortable with the RV systems and being full time traveling around the country, this seemed like a great way to gain the understanding required to maintain the RV.  In addition, the inspection business sounded interesting and maybe a way for us to supplement our income from time to time.

The second part of the training required to perform inspections was to pass the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice Exams.  I got those done this week.  Now I could have stopped there and been Certified to do inspections.  But that would mean finding my own business.  Anyone that knows me, knows I am not a sales person.  One of the things we found out during our training was that Terry and Steve not only are teaching people how to be inspectors, but they are hiring them as sub contractors to perform inspection through a company called Inspection Connections.  To be a subcontractor however, you needed to complete a third course, which I am happy to say will be this next week for me.  Once that is done, I will be able to perform inspections around the country for Inspection Connections.

I am already putting the information I have learned to good use.  On Facebook at on RV Inspection Service I am writing Tips of the Day providing tips of what to inspect before buying a RV.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Working for a living

We have been on the road now for several months.  Finances are looking ok, but there is always that one something that you would like to have, or the unexpected breakdown or extended stay, family obligation etc. that needs to have some funding.  Daisy and I knew this when we hit the road and have been looking at different opportunities to earn extra money.  Here is what we found that hopefully will work for us.

I have always found AMSOIL to be an interesting product.  25,000 mile oil changes in the car, really appealed to me for a lot of reasons.  Then I looked at the RV diesel engine and found out that I may never have to change the oil in it.  Truckers running AMSOIL run for over a million miles without changing the oil, just a new filter and oil analysis and they are on the road again.  This seems to me to be idea for the full time RVer.  Finding a place to change oil is not as easy as it sounds and the oil changes in a big RV can be expensive.  So a couple of years ago I signed up.  I am now starting to let people know about the products and using as many as I can in our vehicles.

Recently we talked to another couple about a dry wash and wax product.  Seems that many campgrounds do not allow you to wash your rigs or charge you for the extra water.  Well we had a couple of demonstrations of the outside and inside products.  Daisy was floored!  We have, or should I say had, a few bad spots on the rugs and furniture.  A 30 sec demonstration, PROVED that these dry wash products worked!  So we are becoming distributors for Dri Wash and Guard.  Now Daisy has something to get excited about and so do I.

Lastly, I have been taking training on becoming an RV Inspector.  Think of this as Home Inspections for Recreational Vehicles.  This is a fairly new field and I will be working with RV Inspection Connections.  I completed my certification as an RV Inspector and will be taking the Advanced RV Inspection course the middle of Nov.  Once that is done, I have some business paperwork to complete and a couple of live inspections to do.  By the time we get to FL in January, I should be ready to roll.

None of these by themselves will make us rich as we will only be working them part time.  But with our retirement and savings we shouldn’t need much.  Basically, we want to sure up the savings accounts for when that day comes that we need to spend some.

If you are interested in earning some extra money with a business of your own or you have any questions on AMSOIL, Dri Wash and Guard or the RV Inspection Services, please let us know.  We will be glad to answer them or put you in contact with someone who can answer your questions.

Raymond Laubert
23 Pinewood Circle
Hatfield, PA 19440
rlaubertsr @ gmail dot com

 

RV Inspection Training

Well this week while staying at PA Dutch Country, I am taking RV Inspection Training and pursuing the Certified RV Inspection.  Over the next few months I will probably be writing about this process and what I think of it.

Today started our training at 7 AM.  7 AM!  We started off with a presentation by Steve Anderson, owner of Workampers.com.  Steve will be covering the business side of inspecting RV.  Terry Cooper, is the instructor for the practical side.  Terry is a Master Certified RV Technician.

We covered basic electronics today, which for me was easy, having been in electronics in the Air Force for 21 years.  Later this week, I will probably be brain dead as we cover propane and air conditioning systems which I know very little about.  Terry has agreed to use my system for propane issues as we have a propane leak.  Maybe after he is done, I can turn on the propane heater 🙂

I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the requirements for becoming certified and working with Steve and Terry at Inspection Connection.

Well, it has been a long day and all this mental work has kicked my butt.  So, until tomorrow, have a great night.

Easy Leveler Block Modification

If you have a problem getting down under your rig, this may help when placing your leveler blocks.

Get four 10 x 10 inch or larger blocks of 2 inch treated lumber, four plastic leveler blocks, eight 2 inch wood screws, screw driver, drill bits and drill.  You will also need an awning hook.  You know the thing that you use to pull the manual awnings down with.

Place one of the plastic levelers in the center of a piece of wood and screw it down with two screws.  Do this for all four pieces.

Step 1 - Screw plastic levelers to block of wood
Step 1 – Screw plastic levelers to block of wood

Next drill a 1/2 inch hole in opposite corners of the wood.

Step 2 - Drill 1/2 inch holes in opposite corners of the board.
Step 2 – Drill 1/2 inch holes in opposite corners of the board.

That’s it.  Your done.  Now you can use the awning hook to push and pull the wood with leveler blocks under the rig’s levelers.

Completed Project
Completed Project

 

How to travel full time on a limited budget.

We have been living full time in an RV of one type or another for over 10 years. One of the questions asked a lot is how much does it cost. Now everyone is different, but I thought I would provide some information on what we have found and how it works for us as a guide line to living in an RV.

Full Timers fall into 2 basic categories; Traveling and Stationary. One of these is more expensive than the other, can you guess which one J. For this article I am going to cover the information based on the category of full-timing.

Traveling Full-Timers. This group of RVers travels from place to place depending on many different circumstances. It could be job, adventure, seasons, commitments or any other personal reasons. They may travel hundreds or thousands of miles between stops. Their stays in any one place may be for days, weeks or months at a time. Titles for Traveling RVers include “snow birds”, “workkampers”, or just plain RVers.

Cost for traveling RVers generally are the same for other types of dwellers. You have rent, gas, fuel, insurance, food, clothing, entertainment, bills etc. One of the primary ways to reduce your expenses is by camping in a campground that has a reduced rate for campers. This could be a membership campground, discounts by associations such as Good Sam, AARP, Passport America, or some other organization. You can also reduce your cost by staying in a place for a month or more. Most campgrounds have monthly rates that are about the same as a 10 day stay. For example, if the daily rate is $35 per night and monthly rate might be $350. Another way to reduce your expenses (over time) is to belong to a campground membership. There are several out there, but it seems they are merging into bigger organizations. This is not a bad thing, at least at the moment. An organization that has hundreds of campgrounds, I think is a better deal than one with only 5 or 10 campgrounds, if you are going to be traveling. We belong to a membership organization that has quite a few campgrounds, mainly up and down the East and West Coast. Our stays in the campgrounds are free and include all the utilities. We are limited to 21 days per stay, but can move to another campground and start over again. We essentially live rent free as long as our wonderings allow us to use the campgrounds in the membership.

For those times that we cannot stay in a membership campground we have discount cards that allow us to stay at a reduced rate. The rate can be a percentage off or a flat rate. We have several different discount programs. Resort Park International (RPI) is a hybrid of membership and discount. You have to have a membership in another organization before you can purchase the RPI Discount. The rate of camping in an RPI campground is $10 a night. In our case we can camp for 14 days and then have to move on to another campground. Passport America is a discount club that does not require and memberships in other organizations. It offers a discount of up to 50% off the nightly rate at thousands of campgrounds around the country. Here you simply show your card and save. The Saving can be huge. A few days camping and you could save the price of the program. Save even more by becoming a lifetime member.

Next to campground fees, one of your biggest expenses will probably be fuel. Not much we can do about it other than keep the vehicles in good shape, tires at proper pressure, etc. But we can save a few cents per gallon and earn rewards to put some money back into our pockets. There are several programs out there to save a few cents per gallon. We have a diesel Class A. The tank is 80 gallons and we get about 7-8 MPG. Good Sam has a discount program with Pilot and Flying J that saves $.03 per gallon. It may not seem like much but if you travel full time going 20,000 miles a year, you could save up to $85 or so. Next our credit cards are reward cards as well. We earn 1.5% back on all purchases, even fuel. So that fill up of 60 gallons of diesel just paid back another $3.60. Again the 20,000 miles a year trip would return a little over $171.

Food is another expense for the RV that we all have. One difference for the RV family is that space is limited and the refrigerator is smaller as well. So shopping at the big clubs is not an option for savings. Fortunately, we tend to travel around the country where the weather is warmer. Which means fruits and vegetables are growing. Farmers markets are a great place to save money, get better quality foods and to meet and talk to people about the local area. You can search the web for local farmers markets or go to National Farmers Market Directory (http://nfmd.org) to find one near you.

Lets talk about utilities. Depending on the length of stay, campground and membership used your utilities may be free or you may have to pay for electric, cable and Internet. For us, because of our membership camping, most of our utilities are free. We get 30 Amp electric, water, sewer hookups free at the membership campground and discount campgrounds. We do have a satellite system which we pay for, but may campgrounds offer free cable and you can always use an antenna to capture the over the air local TV stations. Internet is another issue. While many campgrounds are beginning to offer free WIFI, the speed and connections leave a lot to be desired. Some still charge up to $7.50 per day for WIFI. There are solutions available including using your cell phones or dedicated cell phone plans to provide Internet access. They can be very expensive as well. Currently, I do not think there is one solution that meets everyone or even a majority of users requirements.

So what is the solution for us? Internet is important for us on the road. We keep in touch via email, search the web for things to do in the area, entertainment (Hulu, Netflix, etc.), download books, update our blogs and keep up with friends and family via Facebook. So what are the options? First, you cell phone plan will probably have data included. This is the most expensive option. Verizon for example can cost you easily over $150 a month if you stream video once a week along with heavy Internet usage. But for light users it may be the best option as most plans come with 10 GB of data monthly at ‘no additional charge’. Millenicom (www.millenicom.com) is another option for data users. They offer a plan for 20 GB a month for $89. They also use the Verizon Network so they have very good national coverage. Effective May 1, 2014, you can add increments of 20 GB per month to your account if you need more. This is much cheaper than Verizon for the same service. Still this is expensive for a lot of people. The next option would be to use the campground Internet, if it is available. Free is always the better option for those on a budget. But my experience is that campground Internet is usually poor. There are several reasons for this. First is that WIFI is a shared resource, meaning that the more people on it the slower the connection. Second it is distance intolerant. The further away from the antenna you are the worse the signal and your connection. There is not much you can do about the number of people on the network other than try to use it when others are not. Weekdays, early morning or late at night would be the best time. Weekends and evening are the worst time to try to use a shared network. There is something you can do about distance from the antenna. You could select a site close to the antenna. Ask at the office where you could park that would ensure a good signal. Or you could install an antenna and amplifier in your RV that would capture and boost the WIFI. There are several on the market. Word of advice, you want a unit that support 4G WIFI signals. These are new and just coming on the market as of 2014. Many changes in this area due to FCC regulations. The manufacturers have to have the units certified etc. and it is taking them some time. The advantage of having one of these systems installed is that you should be able to pull WIFI signals from up to 2 miles away for your use. The cost of the one we have is around $350 and includes a high gain antenna and amplifier.

The next area would be maintenance. We have full timed for over 10 years. We recently purchased a used Class A that we had to pick up from SC. Not knowing much about the rig, I decided to buy an aftermarket Extended Warranty Program. These programs cover repairs to the rigs when something goes wrong. Now let me say that the companies are in business to make money. In my case, I purchased a year program with a $1000 deductible. The cost of the insurance was about $1300. I will not be renewing it. I have had a change to go over the rig with our mechanic and RV technician. Both have given it a clean bill of health. What we will do is put money away for repairs.

Maintenance is very important for your rig. Annual cleaning and waxing is a must from top to bottom. A good car wash detergent with a liquid wax will do fine. Treating he roof with an appropriate cleaner and conditioner should be done at least once a year. Greasing or servicing the jack will keep them in working order for years to come. Depending on the type of rig (motorized) you may need to do oil changes, etc. just like on a car. I found that AMSOIL works well. 25,000 mile oil changes for full timers mean once a year oil change.

So there you have it, how to travel full time on a limited budget.  It can be done.  Those of you that are still working, can find work on the road.  I will write about it in another article.  Those that have a limited income, it can be done.