Search This Blog and the Web

Loading...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shine bright like a diamond

After overhearing a friend tell his wife that "Gary has a cool little camper, but boy does it need a bath." I decided it needed more than a bath. The gelcoat of the Scamp's fiberglass shell had become dull and caked with dirt and grime and tree sap etc.

I have been following various threads on restoring the shine to a fiberglass boat or camper, and the consensus is that it is a three step process. Clean and degrease, remove the "chalk", coat with floor polish.

Floor polish?

Apparently through years of experimentation or desperation people have discovered that ZEP Hi-Gloss wet-look  floor finish will make your fiberglass shine.
 http://www.homedepot.ca/wcsstore/HomeDepotCanada/images/catalog/15964.021709009798_4.jpg


Now for a confession: I skipped step two. After power-washing the Scamp and scrubbing most of the grime off the next step is to scrub some more with Barkeeper's Friend. It is a powder, like Comet, but safe for fiberglass. this seemed like it should require power tools, and I promise I will get to it soon, but I wanted to see if the $30.00 gallon of floor polish would really work as advertised.

Before washing:





What do you think? The picture shows only one coat. Since I'm going to scrub it off I stopped at one coat, but the blogs say to use several thin coats for maximum shine. Check back in a few weeks to see the final 3-step results.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Opening day!

Nothing is more exciting than opening day. Whether it be baseball season or hockey season or camping season, opening day is often a rush. Rush to get tickets, rush to get a campsite.

I will be camping in August. I know that because I had to make reservations in February. My June trip will be booked this week, but a friend tells tales of calling at least 50 times on opening day for reservations at the same campground! Which brings me to my topic. With all the internet possibilities, and services like http://www.Reserveamerica.com, why is it that some campgrounds still do things the old fashioned way? The campground in question is run by the town where it is located. You can even go to the town's Web site and see all sorts of information about the campground, (however, oddly, there is no site map), such as hours of operation, phone numbers and even their AOL email address... Ah there's the problem. Is AOL even still in business?

The only way to make a reservation is the following:
1. Call the campground during business hours.
2. Mail a deposit check.
3. wait for confirmation in the mail.

While it has never happened to me, they truly will not confirm the reservation until they receive the check. They do not take credit cards.

As I said this method has always worked, but what if you are in the middle of a road trip? You are hundreds of miles away from your mailbox, and you want to make a reservation??

Let's fix this. If you run into a similar situation let them know this is the 21st century, let them know about ReserveAmerica.com or the KOA. Maybe they are not aware of the options out there.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Get on the bus!

Look familiar? Not the iPad, the USB plug and that little adapter that you can use to power and charge USB devices from 110V outlets. USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices are more numerous now than 12v devices. You can get anything from a USB powered coffee maker to a USB powered Christmas tree. I'll bet you have a phone, tablet, or other device that requires USB either to run or to charge. In fact I just purchased a nice little portable AM/FM radio by Meloson that uses rechargeable battery that, you guessed it, charges off of USB.


I do have a DC to AC inverter that has a USB plug, but it is inconveniently located on the fascia of the lower bunk. Considering that at any one time I would have at least two or three USB powered devices I have decided to add an additional combo 110v and USB outlet.


Newer Technology and others offer this outlet to solve most homeowners' problem of having too many cables and not enough plugs. For about $15.00 you can replace a standard 110v outlet with one that also offers two USB ports. I chose this one because it has technology that senses a full charge and cuts off the USB power. Hopefully preventing any damage to my devices. The additional two 110v outlets will also solve the problem of having my only 110V plugs adjacent to the dinette/bed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You'll get a charge out of this post

Winter once again and time to button up for that long winter's nap. This year I have an extra duty to perform. Besides covering the Scamp ( which didn't work out so well last year) I will need to remove the battery and maintain its charge for the next few months.

I checked the Voltage just before removing the battery, and it was reading 11.4V. It had been sitting since October, and I really didn't know what to expect. I've read where letting a 12V battery get below 10.5v is bad for the long term health of the battery. Hopefully this isn't too low to be properly maintained.

When in use the Scamp's  WFCO converter/charger takes care of battery charging and maintenance. I use a Battery Tender when the battery is out of the Scamp.  There's a good article on Batteries and charging here.

Battery Tender and Battery Tender Jr.

I have used a Battery Tender Jr. to maintain my motorcycle battery for years. They are designed only for maintenance, and not recommended to recharge a fully discharged battery. They provide 750 milliamps of power, and cut out when they detect a full charge.

http://batterytender.com/resources/float-charging.htm/

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Afterall it is Fall

One full season complete, and I think I have most of the bugs worked out. I spent my last camping trip of the season split between New Hampshire and Maine; Plugs out in NH for two nights, and plugged in (with an electric heater!) for two nights in my brother's summer place in Maine. I still have great difficulty backing up, but luckily the trailer and Tucson combo is small enough to get turned around in some very small spaces.

I still have things I want to do to the interior. Shelves for electronics, and for storage. I am looking at the  http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30216536/ at IKEA. Modified slightly it should fit in the closet.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The big chill

For those times when I am able to connect to shore power I was thinking I would purchase one of those little Dormitory fridges. At $25.00 and most likely only a year old they can easily be found in thrift shops shortly after the colleges close for the summer.  Finding one was not a problem. Fitting one is. The Cabinet under the stove has an opening of 17.5" wide, and 19"deep. While it is possible to find a 17.5"wide little fridge the one I found, you guessed it, is 18.5" wide. Sure it is easy to trim the opening, but what is not so easy is making a new, matching cabinet door. So for this coming trip I will set the fridge outside and secure the door with bungee. Hopefully a hungry bear won't decide to just take the whole thing.

UPDATE: Well it worked out fine, almost. I pre-chilled the little fridge at home and then set it inside my Tow Vehicle and plugged it into a 400W inverter. It did not keep its cool. Plugging it in at the campground however re-chilled it in an hour or so.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Plugs Out

Sorry Emma:
I have to apologize to my niece Emma who was trying to help me while I filled the fresh water tank on my Scamp before I headed out on my first plugs-out test ( battery only ) camping trip. I grabbed the hose and turned the water on, then went to fill the tank. Emma is three, and about three feet tall and got a face full of water as it splashed back out of the fresh water filler. Plugs-out should also apply here. The fresh water tank has no air relief valve to allow air to escape as the tank fills with water. With nowhere else to go the air rushed back out the filler hole and soaked my Emma. I plan to remedy the situation by adding a one way vent. Emma got to change her outfit, which I know she loves to do.
An Aquarium check valve should do the trick. http://www.petmountain.com/show_product/11442-519247
Penn Plax Aquarium Check Valve Air Filter

Minor successes:
After that little mishap I was off for the weekend to camp in a State Park on cape Cod that does not have electric or water hookups. I was expecting this, and had a fully charged battery. A 110V/12V DVD player with screen, a 110v Fan, and a Sirius Satellite radio that runs off of 12V. I was grateful that it all worked, and that despite a severe lack of counter space or shelf space I managed the weekend without tripping over wires and bringing the whole thing crashing down around me. I definitely want to install some sort of shelf in the corner near the front door to hold a small TV DVD combo, or radio.It will probably have to be a removable one so as not to interfere with the top bunk whenever that is in use.

Minor mishaps:
Leveling a small trailer is in many ways more difficult than leveling a larger one. Larger trailers have leveling jacks! the Scamp has a tongue jack, and some adjustable feet in the rear. No jacks on the sides! While I managed to pull in to the site it became quite obvious that there was no level area that I could park the trailer. Leveling front to back can be done with the tongue jack, but without any option side to side I spent a weekend juggling pots and pans that tended to slide off the cook top, and beer bottles that slid off the counter! I have been told of a jack that fits on the tire of small trailers. http://www.amazon.com/BAL-R-V-Products-Group-28050/dp/B000BH5MAA At $119.00 the price seems kind of steep.
BAL R.V. Products Group 28050 Light Trailer Tire Leveler

I think I'll stick to using my car jack and laying some LEGO style blocks under the tire. http://www.amazon.com/Camco-44505-RV-Leveling-Blocks/dp/B00480BWCI

Saturday, April 28, 2012

uplifting delight

It has been a while since my last post. This is what happens when work gets in the way of play.
However busy I may be I can't ignore the fact that camping season is nearly here. I know that some people will say that they camp year-round, but in New England most campgrounds do not open until mid May. So with that in mind there are still a few things I want to do before heading out. Tops on my list is installing the LED dome light over the dinette. NOT easier said than done. My 13ft Scamp with fiberglass shell was never designed to have an overhead dome light. No wiring, and more confounding, no place to mount a fixture. Fishing the wires is not a big deal. A small slit in the rat fur and an electrical tape will pull wires easily enough. But how to mount the light?


There are three options: Drill through the roof fiberglass and rivet it, just like everything else is riveted to the shell, glue it to the shell, or affix it, somehow, most likely with Velcro, to the rat fur. I chose a mix of the second and the third by gluing it to the rat fur. A dollop of construction adhesive, and a prop to hold it tight to the ceiling while it dries. This still leave me the other options, and a fourth option courtesy of http://www.fiberglassrv.com Gluing or epoxying a wood mounting block to the fiberglass shell and simply screwing the light to the mounting block. For now we'll see how well the construction adhesive holds up.


UPDATE: For some reason this fixture burned out after only an hour or so of continuous use. maybe a bad fixture, but some people suggest it may be a case of over-voltage, and that LEDs are more susceptible to over-voltages than other, more traditional bulbs are.



2nd install photos this time cutting a spot on the rat fur and gluing a wood block directly to the FG shell.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Electrifying events

Finding a location for the WFCO power converter in a 10ft camper is not an easy task. There are certain requirements: A flat vertical space at least 7" tall by 11" wide,with a depth of at least 8". It must be easily accessible in case of a tripped breaker or a blown fuse. It must be near the majority of existing electrical wiring. That left me with really only one choice. the left side of the sink cabinet. Not optimal, but it'll have to do. The converter has a flip open cover that in this case butts up against the dinette's seat cushion ( and thus the bed).
Initial installation required cutting the hole into the fiberglass cabinet. Not something I really cared to do since the cabinet in the Scamp is a structural component. Much like a fiberglass boat, the interior fittings on the scamp help provide structural integrity. The two black straps you see in the photos are metal rods that are attached to the upper cabinet which itself is attached to the roof. The rods prevent the weight of the upper cabinet from stressing the roof and causing it to sag. I'm hoping that once the converter is installed, and reinforced with wood and epoxy backing, the integrity will be as before.
Note the duplex 110 outlet to the left...I replaced the existing one with a GFCI version. It ain't the way I wanted it, [but] I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!
God I love a good Godfather II reference. RIP Fredo.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Instant Expert

Batteries have become a passion of late. I have become an instant expert on battery types, relative costs, pros and cons, and the problems that arise when you have no clue how big a battery really is. After months of research and advice from fellow RV owners I decided to go on a gut hunch and ordered the Exide Orbital 34XCD Sealed Maintenance-Free (AGM) Deep-Cycle Automotive Battery. Available from Amazon for $142.00. It seemed to me to be a good compromise between a $85.00 Wal-Mart battery and a seemingly overpriced $190.00 Optima battery. Contrary to reviews on Amazon this battery came with both top and side connectors. This comes into play as the story continues.

I wanted to mount the battery on the inside driver's side compartment of my 13 ft Scamp for a number of reasons. Theft, Weight distribution, easy access to the battery, and access to storage. Try as I may I could not find a locking battery box to mount on the tongue of the camper.  I have heard tales of campers returning to their site only to discover that someone has liberated their battery...Keeping batteries outside used to be the norm, but since AGM batteries are sealed there is little possibility of it venting hydrogen gas, so I decided to mount it inside under the front bench. Initially I wanted to put it on the driver's side in order to balance the weight of the water tank, but for some reason the battery was about 1/2" too tall to fit there. It did fit on the passenger side though.
My idea was to use top mounted cables with wing nut connections to enable me to easily remove the battery for in-between use charging. However the wing thing wasn't working. The battery case wouldn't allow them, so I thought about it...I really only need to remove the battery during the winter. The converter will charge it between uses. Realizing that, I went with side mounted cables and covered the top lugs. This gave me the extra 1/8" clearance I needed. Otherwise I would have had to rout out some space on the storage area cover.

Next I wanted to mount the DC to AC converter as close as possible to the battery. They seem to work better with a shorter cable length. The converter is mounted on its side, and I made a cut in the fiberglass seat to access the receptacles. Not the most convenient spot, and had the battery fit on the driver's side as intended the outlets would have been tucked in the corner. However since these will rarely be used it seemed an acceptable compromise. Now I am looking for something to dress up the hole I cut. initially I thought I could use one of those outlet covers that people use in the garden or garage, but the converter's front plate is too large. maybe just a bead of caulk, unless you can think of a different type of outlet cover.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Three Fails in a row.

Yesterday it hit 65 F. so I went to uncover the Scamp and start work on some of the electrical and other minor things. This led to a series of failures and facepalms.

My first discovery: Blue tarps are not waterproof. I had all good intentions last Fall and purchased a canvas drop cloth and blue tarp to cover the Scamp. The idea was that the canvas would prevent any scuffing of the fiberglass while the blue tarp would keep things dry. Things did not go as planned, as when I removed the blue tarp the canvas was soaked, and some green slime had taken over parts of the top of the Scamp.


My 2nd discovery: The replacement handle I purchased for the tongue jack isn't a 100% replacement. It fits, it cranks, but it doesn't fold properly. The built in stops prevent it from folding more than about 60degrees.  It'll be fine, and certainly makes it easier to adjust the jack.















Also I made a feeble attempt to add some storage for hoses and drains. I built a 4 ft long by 4 in PVC pipe with screw caps on either end and attempted to mount it to the underside of the tongue. In concept this is a good idea. However the failure of it all is that I spent $18.00 on a 10 foot section of PVC pipe, and another 25.00 on fittings and brackets only to discover that A. I had 6 ft of PVC pipe already in my basement that has been sitting there for 25 years. (this discovered immediately after cutting the newly purchased 10ft pipe as I went to store the unused section -right next to where I stored the previously unused section 25 years ago.), and B. The brackets aren't quite right, and the pipe is not a snug fit against the frame. I think I'll have to fashion some U shaped brackets out of threaded rod. I've seen that done on the FiberglassRV forum.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Insure I can Insure I can

Like The Tittle Engine that could I am approaching the long hill climb to the RMV. Round Two: Preparing for the upcoming season I am now in the process of re-registering the trailer. Two things have happened , well three really. (1) I lost the license plate. It probably fell off 5 minutes after I left Rome. I'm not really sure if it matters, since (2) all trailer registrations have to be renewed annually in MA. I knew this going in, and thought it absurd since most auto registrations are good for two years*. Finally (3) I changed insurance from Progressive to Allstate.

Allstate does not have a physical presence in MA. Which begs the question: How do I get their stamp on the RMV form? Perhaps there's a new device or system of interconnected communication that could help? But alas this is Massachusetts, and we are talking about and the RMV.  Form One must have a stamp!

A call to Allstate hooks me up with a lovely lady in Mumbai who at first tells me that Allstate does not insure campers in MA. (So did Progressive if you recall.) I, now an expert at this, informed her that all I needed was an endorsement proving insurance-just like for my car. This seemed to work. However the nice lady in Mumbai can't do it and has to transfer me to another department which at the moment is not answering their phones. She promised she would send them a message and that they will call me.... we'll see how that goes.

* Seriously? One year registrations for trailers? If Massachusetts didn't change the director of the RMV more often than most people change underwear they may be able to address this and other absurdities and anachronisms. E.G. The MA RMV does not notify you that the trailer registration has expired, so I guess there's no automatic renewal, no on-line option for trailers. The most egregious offense, they stopped notifying people that your driver's  license is about to expire!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Barking and Clucking

Remember a few posts ago I mentioned that I was purchasing a 15 gallon Barker waste water tank? Well it arrived, and quite frankly I am underwhelmed. The cost of these units seems extraordinarily high compared to the amount of thought that actually went into the design of the unit. Please understand this is not a complaint about quality, the tank and the components are made of quality materials, rather me just shaking my head and clucking at the poor user interface. First, the tank comes complete with a 1 ft section of hose, far too short to reach the gray water outlet on my rather small Scamp. Three to five feet would be far more useful for most people. Second, it came with a 3"solid cap, and a 3" discharge cap for dumping waste water, a 3" by 4ft wire wound coiled vinyl tube, and a hose clamp. Nice except the tube does not fit over the discharge cap. No amount of force could make it fit. Now I see this as a quality control problem too. Did anyone at Barker try to assemble these? Third, the so-called tow handle. Supposedly this is designed to wedge under the tank's molded plastic handle and allow someone to tow it to the dump station. Really? It has no mechanical attachment to the tank. From my early assessment, towing this along most camp ground roads could easily dislodge the handle from the tank. (Please reply if your experience is different) Finally other than a cap tether, the lack of any storage or attachment points for these various accessories. Would it have killed them to mold in a place to store the hose and handle, or add a tether to the garden hose cap at the top of the tank?

Problem solving: I can't do much about the missing storage points, but I did find a cheap alternative to the ill fitting 3" dump hose. WalMart has a $3.47 cap that has a standard garden hose attachment point. Now since this will always be a grey water tank I think the garden hose outlet will be plenty adequate for dumping. For the price of these tanks I think that the manufacturer should offer this instead of the plain Jane cap that comes with the tank, and they should probably make sure hoses fit the caps they were intended for.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Complete darkness For Sale... Sold

SOLD      SOLD     SOLD

The previous owner made a wonderful set of room darkening curtains for the Scamp. Very nice indeed, but I prefer some transluscence. If you prefer complete darkness ( They actually made these so the kids would sleep later...) check them out on eBay.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/300663381763?item=300663381763&viewitem=&vxp=mtr


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Show Power

Yesterday I went to the Boston RV show with a few camper buddies. I knew going in that Scamp would not be an exhibitor, I was there to tag along as one couple decided whether and when to upgrade their own RV, and to see some parts dealers. I had a shopping list, but was disappointed to find only one parts dealer at the show. Also disappointed to see that his prices were not so show special. I wanted to purchase a 15 gallon Barker waste water tote. He had it at $126.00 plus Mass' 6.25% sales tax. I have found them online for as low as $94.00 including shipping...tax free.


For a while now I have been on the fence about which power converter to buy. I need to start assembling the pieces required to rebuild the 12v system in my Scamp. As we were touring through the RVs on display I began to notice that almost all of them used WFCO converters. I have had my eye on one on eBay for some time, so this morning I went ahead and purchased it. The WFCO 8712.
The WFCO8712 features
30-amp main AC breaker and a total of up to three 20-amp branch AC circuits can be installed (breakers not included). DC circuits include LED lights that illuminate to indicate open circuits.



Warranty Period : UL® and cUL®-Listed.  FCC Class B
Two Year Limited Product Warranty



Output Power : 12 amps DC output



I'm pretty sure 30Amps AC will be more than enough to power my 10 foot Scamp. Currently (current-ly, get it) it has a 15Amp main breaker. I have been told by some that 12Amps DC is quite enough, and not enough by others. So far I will be powering 4 LED dome lights, a standard car radio, (this will be discussed in an upcoming post), an exhaust fan, and possibly a TV/DVD player. I will have 12v plugs for people to visit with their Game-Boys, or iPads, and when I am not on shore power I will have 110V from the 400watt converter mentioned in an earlier post.

Somewhere out there is an electrical wizard that may be able to tell me if 12amps (DC) will be enough, but for now I'm satisfied just by the sheer number of manufacturers that use it, that the WFCO brand is the way to go.

addendum 2/10

I just received the WFCO 8712. Nice looking, well built unit, but the manual is lacking. For example it states that on the AC side the 8712 supports a 30 amp main and up to three branch circuits. Not so much. The box only has room for two breakers. Sure I could take one of those spots and install a double breaker, but the other? Is it for the mains power? Is it another branch? Is it both?... Somewhere out there someone has published a better manual. I saw it, I just didn't bookmark it at the time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

First Light


A 59 degree day in February gives cabin fever a whole new meaning. So today I unwrapped my Scamp and ventured inside to begin the installation of the new LED lights. Part one is simple enough, replace the two existing OEM incandescant fixtures with the new LED ones. The OEM lights are riveted onto the fibeglass cabinet above the sink and stove. It became a matter of drilling out the old rivets and replacing with the new. Finding long rivets is a problem. The Home Center had a fairly limited choice.  The longest I could find was 1/2" and that required me to drill new mounting holes on the LED lights. The built in holes would requre a much longer rivet. The new fixture is taller than the old, but not as wide, so that leaves two holes visible from the old rivets. As of now I will leave them but I hope to find some little caps or plugs. Oh, by the way I wasn't able to test these new lights. I still have no battery. but am thinking of the Exide 34X. Seems to be a good compromise. it is an AGM, deep cycle multi-duty, and at around $150.00 fits my target price.