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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

13 ways to screw up your RV

Very good tips, thanks to Howard Jaros and multibriefs.com. Links provided:

May, 2016 During our 14 years of RV travel, eight of which have been full-time, Pam and I have witnessed a few RV fails and managed a few of our own, too! From those past experiences, I would like to share 13 ways you can screw up your RV. Hopefully, you may find these useful in your RV travels.

1. Check the electrical pedestal before plugging in

Early on, we learned this lesson the hard way. We were using an EMS with our RV, a $350 unit, which protected our RV from electrical issues. But when we plugged into one RV park pedestal, it blew up the unit. We had to send it back to the manufacturer to get it fixed.
What if we had plugged in the RV power cord instead? 240 volts of electricity would have been sent through the 120-volt electrical system and ruined every electrical appliance in the RV.
The easy solution is to carry a voltmeter and check that the RV electrical pedestal is wired properly. You need to verify there are no reverse polarity issues, there is a proper ground, and the proper voltage is being delivered to your RV.
I now do this every time I plug into an RV park's service. There are times when I have to contact the RV park office and request a member of maintenance to assist us before accepting 120-volt service from the RV park.

2. Don't travel with the propane system on

Most RVers travel with the propane system energized during travel to keep the RV refrigerator working. These units will work on either electric or propane.
Using the propane system while traveling seems to make sense — no generator required. However, what if during travel the propane system is damaged due to road debris or another failure? That could expel high-pressure propane gas into areas that could erupt in flames due to hot components or sparks during highway travel.
Most RV manufacturers recommend turning off the propane during travel.
We learned this one the hard way with a small RV fire early on in our full-time RV living. We traveled with the propane system energized because when we rented RVs, that is what they recommended we do. But then we learned the truth, so please don't travel with the propane system turned on.


3. Don't overload your RV
One of the worst things you can do is to travel in your RV while it is an overloaded condition. Overloading puts excess stress on the RV suspension and the vehicle's tires.
If the weight that is applied to these systems is more than they are designed to handle, it could lead to disastrous results during travel. You do not want to have a tire blowout while traveling at highway speeds.
The best way to avoid this situation is to know the load-carrying capacity of your RV. You can acquire this information from the RV's data plate. Any RV that was manufactured after the year 2000 now has a yellow label that will state the RV's cargo carrying capacity.
You can estimate the amount of cargo you place in your RV given the cargo carrying capacity rating. But the best way to know if you are overloaded is to weigh your RV when it is loaded for travel with all your personal items aboard, the RV fuel tank full and the amount of fresh water you plan on traveling with.
There are organizations like the RV Safety and Education Foundation that set up weigh stations at RV shows and rallies. You can make an appointment to have your RV weighed at each tire. If the RV is a towable unit, the tow vehicle will be considered as well.
Once your RV is weighed at each tire, only then can you know if you are overloaded based on the maximum load the axles and tires can carry.

4. Don't use your RV fridge when the RV is not level

Most people don’t even think about this one, but once you understand how an RV absorption refrigerator works it makes complete sense. It is also a huge safety issue. If the RV is not level during the cooling cycle, the cooling unit can overheat and cause a fire.
If you look at the slight angle of the cooling unit tubes shown in the photo to the right, you can see that if an RV is in an unlevel condition during operation, the flow of liquids and gasses will not be able to complete the cooling cycle correctly. If this happens, the system will have to work harder to complete the cooling cycle. The unit runs hotter to compensate for this unlevel condition.
Operating the refrigerator for an extended period like this can ruin the cooling unit — and these are expensive. Also, it can run so hot that it can destroy the cooling unit. If the emergency cut-off switch does not do its job, the unit could catch fire.
If you heed my earlier warning to not travel with the propane system on during travel, you will never have to worry about this situation. When parked for camping you should assure a level condition for the RV and therefore safe and effective cooling for your RV refrigerator.

5. Don't plug and unplug your RV with the pedestal power on

If every 120-volt appliance is off in the RV, this is not such a big deal. But that is usually not the case. Plugging and unplugging from the electrical pedestal with electrical load can create an arcing condition.
This condition could damage whatever was turned on inside the RV. Over time, continued repetition of this can lead to plug damage.
Plugging and unplugging the power cord with the power on is not like turning the power on and off by the electrical breaker. It is a more abrupt and possibly destructive way to deliver and remove electrical service from an RV.
The simplest thing to do is to be sure to turn the electrical pedestal's breaker off before plugging in and unplugging from the 30 or 50 amp power source.

6. Check cold tire pressure before travel

One of the quickest and safest things you can do for your RV before you travel is to check your tires cold pressure. This does not take long, and it can save you from a highway mishap.
Your tires are supporting the entire weight of your RV. If there is too much or two little air in the tires, that will affect their function. Tires that are not inflated to the correct levels can suffer from damage to the structure of the tire and lead to a tire failure.
RV tires have a cold pressure value located on the sidewall of the tire that show its maximum inflation pressure. In other words, the pressure of the tire when it has not been driven on, and that has not been sitting out in the sunlight. A hot tire can read five to 15 psi higher than a cold tire. Checking inflation pressure when a tire is warm will lead to underinflated tires.
If you are unsure what the correct pressure is for your tires, refer to the data plate either inside or outside the RV. It will list both axle loads and suggested tire pressure settings. Using a good truck-style pressure gauge, set each tire accordingly. If you have trouble reaching the valve stems of your tires, consider adding valve stem extensions, so this will be an easy thing to do each time you hit the road.

7. Don't back into an RV site you have not first looked at!

Now this is just my opinion, but it can save you a lot of headaches if you take the time to see where you are going to park before pulling up to an RV site with your RV. Sometimes, a preparking check of your RV site could save you from having to move to another site because the one you were given just did not work.
Why is this so important? What if the location of the park's utility services are too far away for your RV to reach them? What if your electrical cord is not long enough to reach the electrical pedestal? What if you don't have enough sewer hose to reach the sewer inlet? How about reaching the water service? What if there are tree issues and slide-out issues?
It is better to resolve all these things before you go through all the effort of parking your RV. Just ask at the RV park office if you can check things out before hand.

8. Check your batteries regularly

Your RV batteries will most likely require that distilled water be occasionally added. This is necessary for them to function properly. If this simple maintenance item is ignored, it could be costly.
A good deep-cycle RV battery used for the 12-volt DC house system can cost $100 or more. For larger RVs that have four or more of these, you don't want to miss out on extending their life by simply checking the batteries' water level regularly.
For those who use their RVs regularly, it is best to set up a schedule to check water levels in every battery at the start of the month. That way you will never be left with batteries that ruin your RV adventures because they are not able to hold a charge.

9. Use an EMS on your 120-volt electrical system

One of the poorest sources of electrical power for your RV can come from RV parks. It is possible to plug into an RV park pedestal and ruin all the appliances and electronics inside your RV. Why does this happen? It can be from an improperly wired electrical pedestal or an electrical surge or short.
The only simple way to avoid this problem is to use an electrical management system. They are designed to plug into the RV park electrical pedestal. The RV is then plugged into the EMS.
These devices check for high and low voltage, frequency, grounding and polarity. Some even offer more diagnostic functions. But what is most important is that if the power coming in is corrupted, the device will not allow voltage to flow to the RV, thereby saving you from a costly repair. If there is a sudden surge that could destroy your electronics and appliances, the EMS will take stop the excess voltage from entering your RV.
And of course, as I mentioned earlier, it is always a good idea to take a voltage meter and double check that the electrical pedestal appears to be wired correctly.
Don’t leave your RV plugged in without one of these attached to your power cord.

10. Know how old your tires are

In addition to verifying proper tire inflation, knowing the age of your tires is extremely important for your safety and that of your RV.
The National Transportation and Safety Board came out with a statement recently stating tires that are 6 years old or older should be replaced. It does not matter how much tread they have left or how well they have been maintained. At that age, the rubber and the compounds that protect the tire are no longer able to do their job.
You can verify your RV tire's age by looking for the DOT code located on the sidewall of the tire. It may be facing out so you can see it or it may be located on the inside tire wall. It is only stamped on one side. For tires manufactured after the year 2000, you are looking for a four digit code. The first two digits denote the week the tire was made and the second two digits are the year of manufacture.
So, looking at the picture here, the tire shown was manufactured in the 25th week of the year 2014.

11. Check your RV roof regularly

Most serious maintenance problems that arise in RVs a few years down the road come from issues on the roof. When sealant degrades and cracks due to flexing and UV damage, the possibility of water damage increases. Over time, these issues can lead to structural weaknesses and possible failure — especially around slide-outs.
If you use your RV for full-time living, it is best to check the roof of your RV on a monthly basis. Add it to your first-of-the-month regular maintenance items. While you are checking those batteries, take a quick look at the roof and examine all sealant joints around roof penetrations, at the front and rear cap joints, and along the rail trim of both sides of the RV.
Once water penetrates the internal structure of the RV, it is difficult to reverse the damage. Mold will quickly develop, and the odors that come from that are extremely hard to remove, not to mention that is not the kind of environment you want to live in.

12. Don't use the wrong sealant on your roof

So, you were up on the roof of your RV, and you found areas where the sealant has failed. How can you fix it? First off, don't take shortcuts or you will be fixing it a short time later.
The best way to find out what type of sealant you should be using is to refer to the RV manufacturer's documentation. They should have outlined what maintenance items are recommended and the types of sealants that were applied to your RV. Having that information you can buy those products and repair the damage properly.
That being said, don't apply sealant over existing sealant unless the product manufacturer outlines how to do that properly. For example, silicon sealant is easy to use and make repairs with, however, silicon sealant will not stick to itself long term. New silicon applied over the old sealant will peel off within a short period.
It is always better to remove the failing sealant and repair the roof joint with a fresh layer of sealant. Follow this recommendation, and you will save yourself from a lot of work and expense later on!

13. Run your RV generator on a regular basis

Many people think that by using their RV's generator, they are going to wear it out. They also think that when it comes to trading in the RV, low generator hours adds value. Guess what: It does not make a difference.
RV generators are one of those items that unless you run it on a regular basis, you are doing damage to it.
Regularly exercising your RV generator is the only way to keep it running efficiently.Not running it on a regular basis can cause moisture to buildup in the fuel system, thereby causing poor performance. In a 30-day period, the fuel in a gas-powered generator can begin to gum and varnish the fuel system. This can cause the generator to be hard to start and not able to run at a stable speed.
Onan recommends their gasoline generators be run at a minimum of 50 percent load for two hours every four weeks. So, if you have a 4,000-watt generator, running the AC unit would suffice to meet this criterion. This action is necessary to keep moving parts lubricated and to rid the fuel system of moisture. The two-hour run time is recommended over several shorter run cycles.
This is an easy thing to do while traveling with your RV. During travel, fire up the generator, and if you are traveling in the warmer months, fire up the AC unit. Just be sure to apply a 50 percent load on your generator based on its output wattage.
If you have a diesel generator, the same principle applies. Regularly running it will reduce internal moisture and help to keep all the seals lubricated.
If you are unable to regularly exercise your RV's generator, you can add a fuel stabilizer to the diesel or gas system and run the generator under load as recommended before. This will help to treat the entire fuel system and prepare it for longer-term storage. However, the best maintenance for an RV generator is to simply run it.

Howard Jaros and his wife Pam have been traveling the country in RVs for the past 14 years — eight of which have been as full-time RVers. They currently run an RV inspection business out of their RV, and they work with the NRVIA to assist RV buyers and sellers by performing a type of home inspection on RVs. They provide a valuable service by helping to determine if an RV is safe, road-worthy or a possible money pit. For more information about them and their activities, please visit yourfulltimervliving.com or usedrvinspection.com.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Review - Hiya Mobile Caller ID & Blocker App

geekwire.com
If you are getting fed up with robo-calls, spam and fraud calls on your smartphone, I’ve found a newer app called Hiya that I started using a few weeks ago. Whitepages.com has spun off it’s caller ID business and app as a new company called Hiya. They provide a free app that identifies who is calling you and if it’s a scam or fraud call.


If I get a call that I don’t recognize, I’ll let it go unanswered and wait for Hiya to identify the caller. If it’s a fraud, scam or spam call you can choose to have Hiya block it permanently. It even tells you the type of suspect activity such as identity theft or IRS scam, telemarketer, etc. Hiya uses features such as call and text identification, real time spam and spam detection and call blocking. With the latter, you can automatically block known spam numbers. The call and text identification works for both incoming and outgoing calls, regardless of whether you have them on your contacts or not.


It’s been working great for me, identifying calls that are not showing up on other caller ID sites such as Truecaller.


Alex Algard, who is founder and will be CEO of Hiya, said in a statement:
"For smartphone users, it's never been more important to know who is on the other end of the line, particularly as more bad actors look to infringe on that personal space with spam calls. We've made great strides incubating this business at Whitepages, but now is the right time to transition to a stand-alone, start-up company. I'm excited that Hiya can be fully focused on the huge and growing opportunity to provide a better phone experience for all mobile users worldwide."


The only “issue” I had with the app is that on some calls Hiya is slow to identify while the call is ringing, but as soon as it stops I can look and see if it was a spam call. Other times, as soon as the call starts ringing it shows immediately. It’s really not a problem as I can call back an unanswered number right away if Hiya has no warnings on it.

It’s a great app. I was getting so frustrated with spam and fraud calls that I had stopped answering any caller that I didn’t recognize, then wonder if I had missed an important legitimate call! Best of all, it’s free! You can’t go wrong with this service. You can link to their site by clicking here: hiya.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to get the most out of your CB

Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:

Truckers know a CB radio helps them avoid traffic jams, bad weather and tickets, but not enough know how to get the maximum performance out of their equipment.
“Everyone considers them to be plug and play, but they’re really not,” said Matthew Brehm, a quality assurance manager for DAS Products, which manufactures RoadKing CB radios. “A little attention can boost their performance drastically.”
What kind of performance can a driver expect from a CB? In optimal conditions (flat terrain, no tall buildings, low humidity and a well-tuned setup), signals might travel seven to eight miles, Brehm said. Four miles is more typical and that might shrink to a few blocks on a humid day in downtown Chicago. While location and weather are beyond your control, there are simple things you can do to improve your CB’s performance.
Here’s a component-by-component guide to getting the most out of your setup:
Antenna
The antenna is the most critical part. It’s where signals are received and transmitted, and the type, location and tuning of the antenna are crucial to performance.
Antennas come in a variety of types and designs by materials, length and location of the coil. The antenna coils can be base-mounted, mid-mounted or top-loaded. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Whichever type you use, make sure the coil is above the top of the truck for optimal performance (but low enough to clear underpasses and trees). RoadPro brands Francis, K40 and Wilson offer a variety of high-performing antennae in different models and mounts.
Radios and antennas need to be tuned to each other. RoadKing and other brands have built-in SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) meters which make this easy. Brehm said drivers should tune before every trip and certainly when getting into a different truck.
The SWR measures the amount of power being transmitted through the antenna, which determines how far the signal travels. Using the SWR meter as a gauge, incrementally lengthen or shorten the antenna until it is performing at maximum efficiency. (Detailed instructions can be found in the manual).  
Unlike the radio itself, antennas, even the best ones, don’t last forever and should be replaced every few years. Keep them clean of dirt and oil and check the sheathing for any nicks or holes.       
Radio
Taken care of properly, these can last for decades. Brehm said the most common performance problems are caused by a lack of grounding. Grounding was easier when more components in the cab were made of metal, but that has changed with addition of more plastic parts. He recommends running a grounding wire from the back of the unit to a metal part in the cab that’s connected to the chassis, such as a seat post bolt.
Mics
CB radios typically come with a basic dynamic mic, which most drivers discard in favor of superior, noise-canceling mics, like those made by Astatic and RoadKing. Soft-spoken drivers or those who work in particularly noisy conditions might prefer amplified mics.
Coaxial cables
It’s easy to overlook the cables, but they tie the whole system together and a poor-performing cable can hurt. Make sure to get a cable with the proper connectors and one that is shielded from interference, like those made by Wilson. “The more shielding you have, the better signal you’re going to get,” Brehm said.
And there’s one more thing Brehm would like to add to those upgrading or installing a CB radio: “Read the directions. I never used to until I started writing them and now I know how much good information is in there.”

http://www.roadprobrands.com/


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Owner-operator turned broker, freight agent

overdriveonline.com
First in a series on career paths written by and thanks to Todd Dills and overdriveonline.com. Follow the links to read the entire series:

Roads not taken, part 1: Owner-operator turned broker, freight agent

Jan, 2015  The traditional career advancement for leased owner-operators has been to get operating authority and run as a full independent, then if circumstances line up adding trucks to grow the small fleet. Yet many drivers and owner-operators have prospered in other jobs within the industry. While there’s no guarantee a nondriving job will boost your earnings, plenty of truckers have found good money, opportunity for advancement and better quality of life after coming off the road. In this series, find typical industry opportunities where over-the-road experience gives you a leg up.


Though he’s only 28, Bryan Lundberg has run as an owner-operator and managed a small fleet. He and his father operated the fleet, KAL Logistics, and at the height of Lundberg’s involvement, he was responsible for 18-19 trucks, eight of them company-owned.
Lundberg recalled the purchase of his Cat-powered 2005 Kenworth W900L when he was 19 or 20, shy of the 21 years required to drive interstate legally. “I just continued to do custom work on it,” he says.
On the eve of his 21st birthday, Lundberg wasn’t out partying with friends. Instead, he was parked off Interstate 90 in Luverne, Minn., waiting for midnight so that he could cross into South Dakota.
“I pulled a step deck. It was really good money, but you had to go where the freight went.” Weeks out became months out. After Lundberg and his wife moved to Arizona, with a new set of lanes to tackle, getting back got harder, clouding the anticipation of starting to grow his family. “I thought, ‘Well, I’ve built up a lot of contacts. Maybe I’ll get into more of the customer side of things.’”
Well before joining the all-employee Allen Lund Co. brokerage last year, Lundberg became an independent agent for a carrier-affiliated brokerage, thinking he might be able to use those contacts.
Former owner-operator Lindley Johnson did the same in 2006 following about a decade of trucking, the final five or six years leased to Landstar System. Johnson’s now owner-operator of the Landstar-dedicated LKJ Agency in Iron Mountain, Mich. “In late 2006, I decided to take all those business cards and names and contact numbers that I’d saved over the years and try to do something with them,” he says, starting up the agency as a one-man show.
The agent model among brokerages is akin to the leasing model at carriers, and Landstar’s agent model fits the mold to one degree or another – its agents, like its owner-operators, are independent businesses operating under the larger entity’s authority in a dedicated relationship.
“I didn’t do a single drop of business with any of those guys,” Johnson says of his long-saved contacts. He eventually made his way with others after a tough transition. He advises those interested in getting into freight brokering/agenting to be prepared to build slowly.
“It got really tight moneywise,” he says. “I lived on credit cards for a little while. Truckers always think that brokers have it easy, that the brokers are the ones making all the money. It was very interesting, overnight, to be on the other side of those phone calls and negotiations.”
What to expect for income, compensation in brokerage
His driving background “gave me instant credibility with drivers,” even though he didn’t trumpet it. Instead, it’s evident in the way you talk about lanes – “a certain phrase, or understanding that tarping something is going to be time-consuming.”
Like the independent owner-operators with whom they often negotiate, brokers wear a variety of hats. Over the course of a day at nonagency-model company Allen Lund, says Lundberg, he might spend more or less time negotiating with a trucker or making sales calls to potential new shipper customers, the latter his primary role as a business development specialist.
“Everybody here deals with the customer service end of things,” whether that’s a shipper or a trucker, Lundberg says of the Lund Phoenix office where he’s based, handling about 70 percent produce. “I still get involved with the truck stuff on a daily basis. Say a driver had an issue here or there – I’ll check to see if something’s legit,” such as if a particular pickup-and-delivery schedule is realistic.
On top of the task Lundberg’s title at the company suggests, as a former owner-operator himself, “I don’t want to distance myself to where I lose touch with” the realities of the road, he says.
Former owner-operators and drivers bring something of value to the brokerage world. Says Kenny Lund, operations vice president at the brokerage his father, Allen (a former trucker himself), built from the ground up, “We love recruiting brokers out of the driver pool. They definitely can work with the carriers better. They can speak that language.”
The ability to translate a trucker’s concern to the shipper becomes key, and if there is any drawback to hiring former truckers as brokers, from Lund’s point of view, it’s a tendency to advocate too much for the carrier. “As a broker, we really have to be as unbiased as we can” when disputes arise, he says. An independent who’s secured his own direct freight will be well suited to the role, something small fleet owner-operators who’ve ever brokered excess freight will know.
For Lundberg and Johnson, it’s working for the moment, though both readily admit they miss driving. However, Lundberg wouldn’t give up the time he’s able to spend with his 2-year-old son. “I leave for work at about 4:30 in the morning and get home by 5 every day,” he says. “I spend nights and weekends with him. He is in love with cars and trucks. We can sit on the couch for hours watching YouTube videos of tractors and cars and trucks.”
Roads not taken, Part 2
Lundberg and his wife have discussed what might happen after their children have grown up and left home. “I think we will hit the road again,” he says. “I will never be the type to sit around in retirement sitting at the coffee shop solving the world’s problems or playing my second round of golf.”


http://www.overdriveonline.com/roads-not-taken-part-1-owner-operator-turned-broker-freight-agent/

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lottery Winner Uses Jackpot to Start Meth Business

Credit: Johnson City Police Department
Story thanks to R. Robin McDonald and dailyreportonline.com. Links provided:

Maybe he just watched too many episodes of "Breaking Bad."
After Ronnie Music Jr. won $3 million last year in the Georgia Lottery, prosecutors say he decided to use his winnings to invest in an illegal stash of crystal methamphetamine and guns and then market them across the South.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia in Brunswick announced that Music has pleaded guilty to federal charges that could carry a potential penalty of life in prison.
"Music decided to test his luck by sinking millions of dollars of lottery winnings into the purchase and sale of crystal meth," said U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver. "As a result of his unsound investment strategy, Music now faces decades in a federal prison."
A felon with a history of violence, drug possession and multiple felony gun convictions, Music was on probation when he struck it rich last year playing the Georgia Lottery, according to court records. He won $3 million with a $20 instant scratch-off ticket called 100X The Money, according to news accounts of his win.
Music said at the time that he and his wife intended to put at least some of his winnings into savings. But federal prosecutors said Music chose instead to invest his winnings in criminal activities. During the investigation, prosecutors said federal agents seized more than $1 million in methamphetamine, a large cache of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, which they seized along with more than $600,000 in cash and multiple vehicles, including a Dodge Charger and a GMC Sierra that Music bought last year.
Last September, four alleged members of Music's posse—who have also been indicted by a federal grand jury in Brunswick—were caught attempting to sell 11 pounds of crystal meth with a street value of more than $500,000, prosecutors said. The investigation, they said, revealed that within a month of winning the lottery in February 2015, Music had used his winnings to begin buying quantities of crystal meth for resale.
Police in Tennessee stopped Music's vehicle after federal agents witnessed him picking up money intended as payment for four pounds of meth that Music was found to have in his possession along with $22,000 and a 9 mm pistol, according to Music's plea agreement. At that time, according to his plea, Music claimed he was just a courier. According to his plea, he still faces possible additional felony drug and gun charges in the Western District of Virginia.
Music's attorney, Ronald Harrison, had no comment.

http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202763681240/Luck-Runs-Out-After-Lottery-Winner-Uses-Jackpot-to-Start-Meth-Business