Matt Silver

Monday, 07 May 2018 18:13

RV Wall Fasteners

RV Cypress Trail Velcro WIKIPEDIAFastening something to an RV wall presents some problems, but none that can’t be overcome.

RV walls typically are hardboard or paneling on studs or insulation. Neither surface holds screws adequately.

Here are some solutions for attaching to an interior RV wall:


Velcro keeps wall-mounted artwork stable and safe. Buy adhesive-backed strips, placing the “hook” strip onto the picture and the “loop” strip on the wall. Velcro should hold moderately sized frames and art in place even over unsettling bumps.

Although strong, this method is temporary. Simply pry off the fastened artwork, then apply an adhesive remover, such as Motsenbocker’s LiftOff, to remove the strips from the wall.

Self-Tapping Screws

self tapping screws for motorhomes

RV wall studs measure only 2x2, or smaller, not 2x4 like home framing. You may be able to attach directly to them. Locate studs with an electronic, battery-operated stud finder, available at hardware stores, home centers and online. Get one that finds not only studs but also electrical wires. A good example is the Zircon StudSensor e50, about $25. You can use this tool at home as well as in the RV.

Once you mark the studs’ location, you can use self-tapping wood screws to fasten a shelf or TV mount directly to them if the mount doesn’t span two studs, attach a strip of wood ¾-inch or thicker onto the studs, then attach the mount to the wood strip. Before attaching, turn the edges the wood with a router and dress it up with stain or paint.

gorilla glue for motorhomesGlue

A strong adhesive such a Gorilla Glue will mount light items, as long as you can find a way to hold the object in place until the glue sets. But beware: Removing the object my leave a marred wall, so be sure you won’t want to take it down later.

RV Cypress Trail TektonPop Rivets

Pop rivets require, in addition to a drill/driver, a pop rivet tool, about $12 at discount or hardware stores, or home centers. They make a neat, strong, nearly flush bond and require smaller holes than an anchor would. You may need a helper to hold whatever you’re mounting:

  1. Mark in pencil the location of the object you’re mounting and the mounting holes.
  2. Drill holes appropriate for the size rivet you are using, taking care not to drill clear through to the exterior fiberglass or siding.
  3. Hold the object you’ll attach so it’s aligned with the mounting holes.
  4. Insert the rivet through a mounting hole, up to its flange.
  5. Place the end of the pop rivet tool over the mandrel on the rivet and squeeze the handles together until the mandrel pops.

As you squeeze, the mandrel’s inner end reshapes the body of the pop rivet assembly into a second flange on the inside of the wall, holding in place the object you’re mounting.

RV Cypress trail wall fasteners Hollow Wall Anchors

Designed for fastening to hollow doors—also found inside RVs—these anchors are about an inch long, which is shorter than the anchors used to attach to a home wall. The anchors come with machine screws that thread into the anchor. The procedure is simple:

  1. Drill a hole of appropriate diameter, taking care not to drill clear through to the exterior fiberglass or siding.
  2. Remove the screw.
  3. Use a hammer to tap the anchor into the hole.
  4. Insert the screw and tighten it with a drill/driver and an appropriate bit.

As you tighten, the anchor will draw toward the interior wall, spreading out flat against the back of the interior paneling. That creates a flange considerably wider than the threads on a screw.


Are you ready for some music—your kind of music?

It’s a quick trip from Cypress Trails RV Resort & Spa to some big-time Florida music festivals beginning this month. Whatever your musical preference, you’re bound to find a festival that caters to it.

RV Cypress Trail Billy Idol Wikimedia Commons

Among the festivals are those focusing on country, hip hop and rap, dance and house, and punk, and one that combines rock, jazz, oldies and other genres. Headliners include national stars.

Mixed Genres: Sunfest Music and Arts Festival

If you like lots of different types of music, check out the Sunfest Music and Arts Festival in West Palm Beach. The organizers book 50 bands that run the gamut of styles on the festival’s three stages: Fifties rock, R&B, pop, country, reggae, jazz and metal.  Headliners include Billy Idol, Girl Talk, Logic, Nathaniel Rateliff, Incubus, Zedd, Ice Cube, Sublime and DNCE. The art show includes paintings, sculpture, photography and jewelry. Sunday night fireworks end the fest. May 3-6.

Hip Hop, Rap: Rolling Loud

Welcome to Miami. Rolling Loud, a national touring event, rolls into Florida for a three-day show of top hip hop and rap performers in Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium and Bayfront Park. Headliners are J. Cole on May 1, Travis Scott in May 12 and Future on May 13. Just some of the additional artists are: Friday, Lil Uzi Vert, N.E.R.D and Young Thug; Saturday, Migos, Wiz Khalifa and Cardi B; and Sunday, Post Malone, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Juicy J. No camping. May 11-13.

Country 500 at Daytona

That’s not the name of a race, but how’s this sound for a starting field: Toby Keith, Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley, Billy Currington, Tyler Farr and Randy Houser? The Country 500 music festival at Daytona Beach has two stages. Yes, there’s parking for cars and RVs on the famed Daytona International Raceway infield, where it’s always a party. May 25-27.

Dance/House: Sunset Music Festival

marshmellow dj

House and other dance music fills the bill at Sunset Music Festival in Tampa, at the Raymond James Stadium North Lot. This is a three-day Memorial Day weekend party with entertainment on three stages. Artists include Marshmello, Excision, Illenium, Rezz and other dance music  artists. No camping. May 26, 27.

Punk: Vans Warped Tour

If you or your kids are into punk, you’ll have three Florida dates to choose from for Vans Warped Tour, but you’ll have to wait until August: Tinker Field, Orlando, Aug. 3; MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater, Tampa, Aug. 4; and Coral Sky Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, Aug. 5. This national tour features multiple stages at each Florida show and more than 30 acts, including 3Oh!3, Bowling for Soup and Simple Plan. Aug. 3-5.

Country: Gulf Coast Jam    

Labor Day weekend becomes the last party of the summer—and one of the biggest—at the Gulf Coast Jam in Frank Brown Park, Panama City Beach. Headliners this year are, as usual, some of the biggest names in country: Florida Georgia Line, Friday; Eric Church, Saturday; and Thomas Rhett, Sunday.  Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

The websites for each event include links for tickets and hotel accommodations.

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

Wednesday, 04 April 2018 20:14

The Lure of Florida Car Shows

If your favorite song is “The V8 Candy Color Sapphire Blues,” here’s good news: Many West Coast Florida car shows are easily reached from Cypress Trail Luxury RV Resort. (Disclaimer: There’s really no such song, but there oughta be.)

If you go to a custom hot rod or street rod show, you’re likely to get the blues only when you think about your first car, or the best car in the neighborhood that some kid down the street was lucky enough to own. Or maybe you’ll just remember everybody crammed into the car with you back in the day

Different Types, Varying Appeal

RV 36 Chevrolet Street Rod wikipedia

You run into one or another of six kinds of cars at shows:

  • Hot Rods. Manufactured between 1920 and 1948, hot rods are typically a Ford or Chevrolet but may be another brand, with heavily modified or replaced engines, suspensions, transmissions, interiors and bodies. Emphasis: Power, polished looks.
  • Rat Rods. Like hot rods, rat rods have heavy modifications, including chopped (lowered) roofs, but often have an unfinished look—sometimes they are made to look even more beaten than they are, with paint that’s flat, not glossy. Parts are often from cannibalized cars that are different makes and models, then made to fit. Emphasis: Ratty appearance.
  • Street Rods. These older cars are also highly customized and powerful, with comfort and reliability more the order than racing. They are likely to have air-conditioning, power accessories, and modern cooling systems. A lot of Fifties cars, such as the ’55 and ’57 Chevy, might fall into this group. Emphasis: Cruising in comfort and style.
  • Muscle Cars. Dating to the Sixties, starting with the Pontiac GTO, muscle cars expanded rapidly to fill the demand of the post-WWII Baby Boomers. Examples: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevelle and Nova, Olds 442, Plymouth Roadrunner and Barracuda, Dodge Charger. Emphasis: Style, speed.
  • Tuner Cars. These are the custom cars of today’s youth. Volkswagens and Audis figure prominently, along with BMW, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other brands. Horsepower modifications are prodigious, often through electronic programming and turbocharging small four-cylinder engines. A loud free-flow exhaust is almost a requirement, but so is a killer sound system. Emphasis: Power, electronics.
  • Classic Cars. Usually 30 years old or more, classics are maintained in or restored to original condition. Prized examples would include Corvettes, MGs, Triumphs, Packards, Deusenbergs, and full-size Detroit-made convertibles. Emphasis: Original condition.

A few shows also display motorcycles.

West Coast Florida Shows

Here are just some car showcases:

NSRA Southeast Street Car Nationals. April 6-8, Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa. Cars and trucks 30 years and older. More than 1,400 vehicles on display.

Jaguar Concours d’Elegance. April 15, 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Port Charlotte Conference Center. Nothing but Jags, some of the most beautiful carts ever created.

The Villages Special Cruisers. Third Saturday of every month, The Villages, where Lake, Marion and Sumter counties intersect along Routes 301 and 441. Classics, rods, muscle cars.

Dupont Carts & Coffee. Every third Wednesday at the duPont Car Registry headquarters, 3051 Tech Drive, St. Petersburg. Exotic cars and super cars, all in the duPont Registry.

Car shows vary considerably. Lance’s Cruisin’ to the Hop is a series featuring cars and music. Caffeine and Classics enables you to browse some of the most desirable consignment cars around at the Streetside Classics indoor dealership in Tampa. Find those events and many others at FLAcarshows.com. The site’s event calendar lists shows by day and month in a simple click-the-date format.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 20:04

Automated Trailer Backup

It was surprising enough to see cars and trucks that could parallel park themselves. Now there’s one more tricky driving task that’s been automated: backing up a trailer.

On F-150 pickups made since model year 2016, and on the Expedition full-size SUV, Ford offers what the company calls Pro Trailer Backup Assist. It will back up a trailer without the driver having his hands on the steering wheel.

Many are thinking, “If you can’t back up a trailer, you shouldn’t own one.” Maybe, but it’s possible a driver doesn’t have the neck mobility he once had. Or maybe another driver in the family struggles with trailer backing. Either way, it’s help—and besides, it’s optional.

Electronics Make It Possible

Like any electronic automotive capability—delayed windshield wipers, anti-theft engine immobilizers, cylinder deactivation, blind-spot monitoring, keyless start, smartphone links, hands-free lift gates—the technology is likely to proliferate. Although it hasn’t yet, it’s also likely to gravitate to smaller, cheaper tow vehicles.

Land Rover has a similar system, and Chevy dealers offer an after-maket system for some Silverados that have blind spot monitoring.

How Trailer Backup Assist Works

 Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 3.20.26 PM

Let’s see how the Ford system operates. Three things enable automated trailer backup to work: electric power steering, a backup camera and a programmable onboard computer.

Each trailer, to be backed up by the truck’s system, must be identifiable by the system. The system will store up to 10 trailers—great if you tow an RV and, say, a boat and a snowmobile trailer. Renting a towable cement mixer? You can enter that into the system, too.

Park the truck and trailer in a straight line on level ground. To enter a trailer into the system, first place a sticker on the frame of the trailer, from 7 to 22 inches from the center of the ball. Because of this requirement, gooseneck trailers and fifth wheels won’t work. Place the sticker on either fork of a “Y” frame.

Then take four measurements, in this order, and write them down: from the license plate to the center of the ball; from the center of the ball to the center of the sticker; from the backup camera to the center of the sticker; and from the tailgate to the center of the trailer axle, or to the md-point between axles on a dual-axle trailer.

Get into the truck and enter the information into the computer. Press the “on” button for the backup control, and use the arrows on the steering wheel to choose and select commands, numbers and letters on the screen. Name the trailer, then go through the menu to select trailer type, brake type and brake effort (higher for bigger trailers). Input the measurements in order, identified as “A” through “D.”

Look: No Hands

To use the system, shift into reverse with your foot on the brake. Turn the backup assist on and twist the knob to the left or right—whichever direction you want the back of the trailer to move. Then take your foot off the brake and your hands off the wheel. The truck will steer itself. You’ll have to apply gas and brakes. If you need to go in the other direction, stop and twist the dial again.

Repeated as often as needed to get the trailer where you want it.

Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 3.10.14 PM

New RVs, whether motor homes or camper trailers, have three safety detectors every RV needs: smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) and liquefied petroleum gas (LP).

If you have an older camper, or maybe have adult offspring who are buying an older model as their first RV, the detectors may need maintenance or replacement. Some older models may lack the detectors altogether.

Smoke Alarm

Smoke detector for RV

If your smoke alarm uses a 9-volt battery (rectangular) or any other battery, replace the battery when you change clocks for daylight savings time or standard time. (Daylight savings time arrives Sunday, March 11.) Just as important, press the test button weekly. Place the alarm on the ceiling near the sleeping area, far enough from a ceiling vent that could carry the smoke away from being detected. A hard-wired alarm is powered by the 12-volt RV electrical system and has an internal backup battery.

Here’s what you may not know: An RV needs a dual-sensor smoke alarm. A typical sensor detects ionization from a cooking fire or, say, a brake fire when the lining overheats. A second, photoelectric sensor detects smoke from an electronic fire, from an electronic appliance, such as a refrigerator or microwave oven, catches fire.

An example of a dual-sensor alarm is the Kidde Pi9010, which costs about $23, or is available in multiple packs.

Battery replacement: With semi-annual clock change; if you store for the winter, replace each spring

Test: Weekly and before each trip, by pressing a test button

Detector replacement: Every 10 years

CO Alarm

Kidde Pi9010 CO2 detector

Carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible—and deadly. It first may cause dizziness, nausea, blurred vision and a headache. It’s especially dangerous at night, when you may feel no effects. The detector is best near the sleeping area, away from a ceiling vent.

An RV has multiple sources of CO: an LP-burning stove, the motorhome’s exhaust and the generator’s exhaust. The exhaust system doesn’t have to be faulty for CO to enter the RV. Carbon monoxide can work its way in if:

  • You’re parked so the exhaust empties into the wind.
  • You’re too close to a snow bank or extremely heavy vegetation.
  • A window catches the fumes.
  • The structure of the RV has a leak, especially underneath or around the generator.

Test: Weekly and before every trip, by pressing a test button.

Replacement: Every five years.

LP Detector

Atwood RV LP detectorLiquified Petroleum gas is liquid under pressure, with vapor at the top of the canister. When the valve is opened, the vapor—a gas made to smell—flows through the connected lines. It’s typically not a problem when tanks and lines are sound. LP gas is explosive, but it can make you sick before it reaches combustible levels. The detector alerts you well before danger levels.

Sources of LP gas are the tanks, lines to the stove, refrigerator and furnace, and the LP-fueled appliances themselves. No defect is required for an LP buildup; leaving a burner on can do it.

LP gas gravitates toward the floor. An LP detector should be mounted within 18 inches of the floor, on a wall inside the RV and near the sleeping area. It’s also the reason an LP detector is best purchased separately from a CO detector, and not as a single unit carrying both sensors, since CO is better detected on the ceiling.

An LP detector is hard-wired into the 12-volt system that runs off the battery bank.

Test: Weekly by pressing button

Replace detector: Every five years.

Remember when you were a kid and you enthusiastically told your friends, “And some day, you’ll be able to take a vacation in outer space!”

And they all laughed. Hard.

Guess what? The last laugh may be yours. The day of getting your kicks in space, if not on Jupiter and Mars, isn’t far off. You can learn a lot about private spaceflight by visiting the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, just north of Cape Canaveral and an hour east of Orlando. All U.S. government manned space flights have been launched from Cape Canaveral, including trips to the moon. If you time it right, you can even watch—just as you envisioned—private space flights being launched.

So far, private SpaceX flights are unmanned, but today’s launches and spacecraft recoveries—even the rockets will be reused—are all leading to the day when you’ll park the RV, prepare for spaceflight and take off. Boeing is partnering with SpaceX to resume human space flight launches from the Cape.

Kennedy Space Center is about a 3½ hours’ drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort, regardless of the route you choose.

Watch a Launch

Privately owned SpaceX, headed by Elon Musk, launches fights from the government facility periodically. And NASA still launches there, too, as it did March 1 by sending a weather satellite into orbit. Check online for the launch schedule. Another launch is planned for an undetermined date in March.

Private SpaceX Falcon 9 launches are scheduled for April 2 and April 16. SpaceX intends to launch a government-sponsored crewed flight to the International Space Station some time this year. It would be the first crewed spaceflight launched from the U.S. since the last Space Shuttle flight in 2011.

Even if you visit on a day with no launch planned, there’s still plenty to do and see, in


cluding interactive exhibits.

Meet Astronauts

Until those private space flights arrive, astronauts are still a pretty exclusive club.

NASA schedules appearances by U.S. astronauts throughout the year. Visitors can take a tour with the astronauts, hear th

em speak and have lunch with them. To s

ee who is appearing and on what dates, check the events schedule.

U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

astronaut hall of fame Alan Shepard wikipediaThe U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center, enshrines the original U.S. astronauts, the Mercury 7, and more than 80 others. Among them are the late Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and the late John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. A statue of Shepard stands at the entrance.

If you’re a golfer, imagine how far you could hit a golf ball on the moon, where gravity is lower. Shepard, who was known for his mischievous sense of humor, didn’t imagine; he actually did it. That was some sand trap. Other Hall of Fame members include the late Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon, and the late Sally Ride (“Ride, Sally, ride!”), the first American woman in space.

On April 21, two more astronauts will bring total membership in the hall to 95: Dr. Thomas D. Jones and Capt. Scott D. Altman. Tickets will become available. Check the events schedule.

Admission: $50 per day/adults; $40/children age 12 and over; $46/military adult age 12 and over; $37 military child 3-11 years; $46/seniors 55 and over. One-year unlimited admission, $75/12 and over; $6

0/children 3-11.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 17:03

Rev Up Your RV To Take in Some World-Class Racing

Three auto races that are among the world’s best-known will be held during the first three months of the year — all in Florida.

Two races are for sports cars, and the other for NASCAR stock cars.

RVs are welcome at all three events, with multiple days of activities available. Nearby campgrounds and RV resorts also are available online.

Here are the three events:

Rolex 24 at Daytona

Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona

A twice-round-the-clock endurance race for sports cars, the Daytona 24 is part of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Drivers typically take hours-long shifts, but each car is intended go full-out for a full day, with stops for fuel, tires, driver changes and repairs. Many cars succumb to the stresses on engines, suspensions and cooling systems.

The checkered flag is waved after 24 hours, and the winner is the car that has traveled the farthest. It’s entirely possible that a car that has led for hours can fail with minutes to go because of a blown tire, a failed bearing — or an empty tank.

Date: Jan. 27-28. Location: Daytona International Speedway. RV Cost: $200 (plus race tickets) to $920 (including tickets for two). Tent camping: $40-50 per car (plus race tickets), to $400 per car (includes 2 infield race tickets).

Daytona 500

This is the first, richest and most famous race in the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The cars have identical purpose-built chassis covered by bodies that simulate those of street sedans. They’re powered by modified V8 engines. The 2018 Daytona 500 will be the 60th. The race culminates 10 days of events, beginning with practice. Pole qualifying will be Feb. 11, and qualifying races for the remainder of the field, Feb. 15. The 500 runs the Sunday of President’s Day Weekend. Supporting races fill the week.

Daytona racing began on the actual beach — even Henry Ford raced there. The first speedway race was in 1959. The high-banked oval is super fast.

Premium RV campsites for $2,700 and $2,915 are already sold out, but others may be available.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 18 Location: Daytona International Speedway. RV Cost: $640, $1,030, $1,250, $1,480 (all include 2 infield passes). RV Cost outside raceway: $600 or $1,600 (must have already purchased race tickets). Tent camping:  $429 or $800 per car (includes two infield passes).

Mobile 1 12 Hours of Sebring


This is the 66th year of the 12-hour international sports car race, which began as a 6-hour event on a converted airstrip. Many improvements have been made to the facility since the early days.

Like the Daytona 24, the Sebring race is a stop for sports car manufacturers and drivers pursuing the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It may be only half as long, but it’s no drive in the park. Last year’s winners covered more than 1,300 miles — at speed. The race starts in daylight and ends at night — 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

RV parking is much cheaper at Sebring than at the other venues, and for a good reason: There are no RV hookups. So, if you go with your RV, you’ll be dry camping. Showers are available onsite, however, and there are many food vendors. Advance reservations are recommended. Buy race tickets at the same site.

Date: March 14-17. RV Cost: $95 or $125 (add $5 if purchased at gate).

The inertia of motion is a tough competitor. Unless you play good defense, it usually wins. Items not secured in place in an RV can crash and break, or just scatter and make a mess.

Here some ways to keep things in the right place in an RV that’s constantly moving forward, turning or bouncing.

Drawers and doors

It’s easy to get drawers and doors to stay shut with friction, spring action or hook latches. Take your pick.

RV RV Parts Country Roller

A simple spring-action roller catch and clip combination is cheap and effective, and probably will be for years. Catches like these have been around for about 60 years, maybe longer. This mechanism is not especially pretty, but it’s out of sight inside the cabinetry.

A brass bead catch works on much the same principle. It’s also quite effective, and it looks a lot better. It costs about twice as much.

RV RV Parts Country brass

Then there’s the designer push latch. It’s black and is designed to withstand 10 pounds of pressure. It costs about three times what the roller catch does. Whether it looks better than the brass bed catch is a matter of taste. You can compare at RV Parts Country. Price: $3 to $10.

RV Parts Country designer

Inside the cabinetry

It’s also important to keep drawer and cabinet contents from sliding around. Here’s a simple solution for dishes. Line the drawer bottom and shelves with rubber anti-slip liner. It’s cheap and comes in a choice of colors. Cut it to fit with ordinary scissors. To keep dishes from sliding, cut squares of the liner and place them between dishes. The dishes won’t slide, nor will they clatter over bumps. Keep cutoffs as jar and bottle openers. Put one in the toolbox, and one or two in the kitchen. (Small squares of this material sometimes are packaged and sold as cap grabbers, for nearly as much as a whole roll for a shelf or several drawers. Use the cutoffs!) Price: $4 to $6 per roll.

RV duck shelf liner

You can also use a dish holder. Dishes will stay in place and be organized. You can get vertical holders, such as the Camco Stack-A-Plate, which comes in a set of two sizes, for 9 ¼ and 7 ½-inch dishes and has a non-skid backing. Price: About $10.

camco stack a plate

A flexible solution is the Rev-A-Shelf Pegboard. It measures 39¼  inches x 21¼ inches. Cut it with a table saw or circular saw to fit a drawer — or two. The maple board has attractive pegs that hold items of different sizes and shapes, depending on where you place the pegs. Price: About $70.

Cutlery simply needs a divider, similar to what you would use at home. The Rev-A-Shelf CT-52 series comes in four sizes and three colors. Each can be trimmed easily with a utility knife for an exact fit. Price: $12 to 16.

RV Rev a Shelf themine

The Bath


So many bottles and tubes and jars! You can probably buy a purpose-made over-the-door caddy for these, some of them made of terrycloth and quite attractive. But over-the-door shoe storage is probably better. Shoe hangars are available in plastic — a necessity in a wet bath. And clear plastic lets you see exactly what’s in each pocket.

Assign each member of the family a row. A travel container can hold, say, a toothbrush or a razor, and that container can slip into a shoe pocket. That helps to keep things neat. Price: About $10.

Of course, there are some steps you can take that help to prevent damage. Flexible plastic kitchen utensils for cooking won’t make much noise if they’re hanging

Slide outs are a popular feature for good reason: They offer extra watertight interior space without hindering ease of travel.

But slide outs are not a feature that can be used and otherwise forgotten. Slide outs should get periodic maintenance, none of it particularly difficult or time-consuming. After all, you don’t want to get stuck at Crossing Creeks or any other camp because you can't retract your slider.

Here are maintenance steps to keep your slide out working smoothly, reliably and without leaks.

Seals Need Protectant

protectantDeteriorated seals can let water enter the interior. Interior water can cause rust, staining, and mildew, which in turn can cause odors and trigger allergies.

Keeping seals pliable and free of cracks keeps out water out — air, too, when driving. The key is preventing dry rot, which means preventing damage from ultra violet rays carried in sunlight.

Rubber seal conditioners are sold by RV dealers and camping suppliers, at home centers and online. They come in liquid form, sometimes with a built-in applicator, or as towelettes, which are used as applicants. The liquid, which can also be applied with a rag or sponge, is more economical.

Apply the conditioner/protectant by following directions on the container. It’s typically just sprayed or wiped on and allowed to dry. A frequently used slide out or one that is exposed continuously to sunlight should get a fresh application monthly.

Slide Out Mechanical Parts Need Lubricant

DryLubeThe moving mechanical parts of a slide out are no different than other automotive moving parts in that they require constant lubrication. A lubricant that is properly selected and correctly applied can do its job for up to a year.

A dry lubricant sprayed onto moving slide out parts forms a thin layer that does three things:

  • Allows operating parts to move without sticking
  • Blocks moisture, preventing rust
  • Discourages the buildup of dirt and road debris

Preventing dirt and grime is why dry lubricants are best for slide outs. Wet lubricants attract dirt and dust. Check your owner’s manual, however. If it says to use a wet lubricant, do so to keep your warranty intact, perhaps switching to dry after the warranty expires.

Don’t forget to lubricate your manual override. If power activation fails, and you can’t find the electrical malfunction, you’ll have to resort to muscle power. Activating with a ratchet and socket, or a supplied crank, takes work, so the smoother the manual system’s operation, the easier the task.

One Other Consideration: Battery Health

Slider rooms usually operate off power from a 12-volt battery bank. For that reason, check your bank for proper condition. Periodically, and before long trips, check:

  • Water level if batteries are not sealed, adding only distilled water if low
  • Cables for tight connections and cracks
  • Voltage, using a multimeter set on DC

Wear goggles, gloves and long sleeves when working on batteries. Slow-charge a battery that’s low and leave it unconnected, then check again after two or three days to see if it holds a charge. If not, have a pro test it and, if necessary, replace it. Replacing all batteries simultaneously is best unless the batteries are fairly new.

These steps should keep your slider working for a long time. 

Does your RV have cast iron cookware onboard?

It should. And I don’t even want to hear how old-fashioned cast iron is. It’s been around for more than a century, and it’s proven its usefulness.

Cast iron cookware comes in varying sizes and styles. It is great in an RV because it’s probably more versatile than any other cookware. Versatility translates into saving space, a major consideration. Each piece can perform multiple duties, so you need fewer pieces of cookware overall.

You’re thinking: How can a frying pan be versatile? Well, your cast iron skillet is not just a frying pan. You can fry, and you probably will for many a breakfast: bacon and eggs in one, pancakes in another. But you can also concoct a good-sized batch of really good pasta sauce, stew or homemade soup. Braise meat or fish. Heat up a quick can of soup. Grill ham-and-cheese sandwiches (and they’ll be the best you ever had). This is just on your stovetop.

Being all iron, these skillets can go in a conventional oven, not just on top of the stove. That means you can bake a cake or pie (fruit for dessert or meat for a meal), bake a deep-dish pizza, bake bread, roast meat, slow-cook pork so it’s extra moist, and heat leftovers (with far better taste than if heated by microwave).

Still not convinced? A cast iron skillet also can be used over an outdoor grill or even over a campfire. Did I mention that cooking with iron cookware increases your iron intake? It does. Really.

Seasoning Cast Iron Keeps Food from Sticking

You’ll have to keep some good potholders or mittens handy, and hot pads for preventing burns to a counter or table. You’ll also need cooking oil to prevent sticking and to season your iron skillet.

Season the skillet? Your skillet will last, if not forever, at least for generations. Seriously. You may want to do this in your home kitchen and then move the skillets to the RV. Here’s how:

  1. While it is still warm, hand wash your skillet with salt and hot water, scrubbing with a nylon brush and/or plastic scouring pad. (Never use a wire brush or metal scouring pad on cast iron.)
  2. Pat dry as thoroughly as possible, then heat on the stovetop for about 10 minutes. This prevents rust.
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Use a paper towel to rub the skillet, inside and out, with cooking oil.
  5. Place upside down on the middle oven rack, over a cooking tray or foil for drips.
  6. Bake for an hour.
  7. Allow to cool with the oven door open.
  8. Remove when cool, but use a mitt to be safe.

Seasoning should last for months — without food sticking. Wash between seasonings with hot water or salt/hot water, and a nylon brush and/or plastic pad, but no soap; dry on top of the stove, using heat as above. Lightly coat the inside after drying with cooking oil. If food begins to stick, do steps 1-8 again.

Is there a downside? Cast iron is heavy. It may not be a good choice for children — but you’ll be there to help. 

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