TBUTLER

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About TBUTLER

  • Birthday 08/26/46

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Sandpipers Resort, Edinburg, TX
  • Interests
    Aviation, travel, photography, astronomy, hiking, bicycling, tennis, golf, bowling

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  1. And Off We Go...

    Nice description of your travels. Great pictures. Lovely coach. I'll be looking forward to your next entry.
  2. Tire Pressure, Load Capacity, etc

    I was a graduate assistant for a geology course at the University of Missouri, Rolla, for several summers. One summer we needed some wood blocks for an activity. I purchased a 2x4 but didn't have a saw so took it to the shop that supported the class needs at an engineering school. I asked for blocks which were square, 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches. The person I was talking to asked me what tolerance was allowed. In an engineering school, it wouldn't be uncommon to have a requirement for a tolerance of +/- 1/10,000 inch. For my needs, +/- an eighth inch was sufficient but it did make me think about accuracy and tolerance in making measurements. In that light, I offer the following comments... In talking about vehicle weight, don't overlook Brett's comment about fuel tanks. One of the things that makes knowing vehicle weight on a motor home so important and difficult is that the weight is constantly changing. Fuel, diesel or gas, and propane will change as a motor home travels down the road. On an extended road trip, waste tanks will fill and the fresh water tank will slowly empty. Point #4 implies a degree of accuracy that can't be achieved in a vehicle which is constantly changing weight and weight distribution. When you have your vehicle weighed by RVSEF, their form has a place to indicate tank levels and instructions for calculating what the full tanks would add to the weight of the vehicle at the time of weighing. While it would be unusual, you have to inflate your tires for full tanks which will result in slightly over--inflated tires most of the time. The likelihood that your tire inflation is perfectly on-the-dot correct for your current weight is very low and the expectation that it could be kept perfectly correct for your weight is something that would be impossible. +/- what? Thinking about tire inflation, one major consideration has been missed. What is the accuracy of your measuring instrument? Has your tire gauge been certified for accuracy? How old is it? How long has it been since it was tested for accuracy. I have had tire dealerships compare readings from my tire gauge with the main gauge for their shop. I don't know what the requirements for testing their gauges but comparing different tire gauges shows a 10 pound difference between two identical tire gauges is not uncommon. Your average tire gauge is not a precision instrument that you may think it is. The same is to be said for tire pressure monitoring systems. You will find that the sensors show differences from one to the next. Two tires which show exactly the same pressure on my tire gauge show different pressures on the TPMS. Taking a tire pressure reading itself will introduce small errors in the system. Apply the gauge, you hear a brief hiss, release the gauge from the tire valve, another hiss, losing air pressure each time. My TPMS sensors have to be screwed on, more hissing as I quickly screw them on the tire valve. How much pressure is lost? Is that the difference in the readings of the two TPMS sensors? Bleeding the pressure from tires will quickly let you know that a lot of hissing goes on to lower the pressure a pound so I suspect it is a very minor difference. +/- what? When getting a starting air pressure for the beginning of the day, it is important that the tires not be sitting in the sunlight. A tire sitting in sunlight will warm quickly and the pressure will read higher than a tire in the shade even if both were at the same pressure before sunrise. Adjusting the pressure on a tire which has the sun shining on it can result in wildly different pressures between tires on one axle where one tire is in sunlight and the other in shade. This is why I never sleep late on a day when we are driving. Unless you are parked in a very shady location or inside a garage, there is only one way to get an accurate before driving air pressure reading from your tires, get up before the sun hits them. +/- what?
  3. Inverter

    An inverter takes 12V DC power from the batteries and produces 110V AC power. If you want or need 110V AC (like the electric in your house) in your coach, then the inverter should be on. If you don't need 110V AC power, you can turn the inverter off. We leave ours on all the time. Just our preference, not a requirement. Louise doesn't like to reset the clocks on the microwave and alarm clocks, etc. Also, we may turn the TV on when we make a stop to check weather, news, etc. Our coach is just like home, we have 110 V AC all the time...
  4. Padre Island

    Here is a link to the Golf Courses in the Rio Grande Valley. Most of these are public courses. There is a map so you can see the distribution of courses throughout the RGV and there is also a link to each of the courses so you can check their rates. If you come to spend the winter, you will find some courses that offer a winter season membership which will reduce your cost considerably. I'm certain there are also other RV parks throughout the RGV that have golf groups that get discounts for playing at a certain course regularly. Regarding golf and the weather in March, you can count on warm (80's daytime) windy (15 to 20 regularly) weather. Most of our spring weather is rain free and largely cloud free as well. The south Texas winds can be a challenge for any golfer. Yesterday we were on the Los Lagos course, an Edinburg city course. We play that course every Monday in a group from our park. The group rate is $32 with a cart, $21 if you walk the 18 hole course. We have also played a number of other parks in the area. Temperatures yesterday were 73 degrees at our 8:00 tee time and were in the mid 80's by the time we completed our round of golf. Winds yesterday were 20 to 25 with gusts to 35. I had to put my hat in the golf bag. It was that or lose it in a lake! Being used to the wind, my game got better as the day got windier! I play for the fun of chasing the ball around the course and for the exercise that results. Our golf courses are also populated with a variety of interesting and beautiful birds seen up close many times. American White Pelicans, Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Black Necked Stilts, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, Long-billed Curlews and an assortment of ducks can be seen on the courses in the RGV. We do learn to watch out for fire ant mounds. Standing on one of them will definitely ruin your day. Some courses are better about controlling them than others. There actually are RV's headed north right now. That will accelerate as we get closer to Easter. By early April at least 50% of the Winter Texans will be on their way north. I can assure you that almost any park in the RGV has a place for you to stay right now. The area is busy with a population of over 1 million in the the RGV area. South Padre Island will have a booming population around Easter and spring break for Texas schools. Spring break activities (concerts, parties, etc.) are scheduled March 7 to 21 and Easter this year is April 1. I'd plan to be somewhere other than South Padre Island during that period of time. Stay elsewhere in the RGV and visit SPI once the spring break crowd has dispersed.
  5. 97 HR Endeavor LE DP Entry Door Alignment

    Another thing to check is the door hinges. Our entry door is anchored to a single swing arm at the top. When wracked by a gusty wind, the hinges will bend. I didn't know why our door was difficult to operate until the door was caught by a very strong gust that visibly bent the upper hinge. The door would barely close. After removing the door and straightening the hinge, the door worked better than it had in years. Now I'm very protective of the door in gusty winds. I went on to replace the original hinge with a new one. You can call Monaco Customer Service at the phone number in your owners manual, 877-466-6226, to get the replacement hinge. Then again, we're talking a 97 HR, maybe Monaco might be able to help or you might have to go to the RV salvage yards to find a replacement.
  6. Heading To Alaska This Summer

    Like desertdeals69 we did the trip on our own. You will get hundreds of stories, some good, others not so... We like you had done extensive long trips and been in Canada and all over the US. We always travel on our own, did a tour with Fantasy RV this past spring, Kentucky Derby. Wasn't so much a tour as an event. We were parked the whole time. Travel was in the immediate area on tour buses. Your experience will be different. We traveled at our own pace, sometimes stopping at rest areas overnight, others in parks. This was 2006 and internet was still sketchy but most parks had service, slow but usable. We had mail delivered to locations in Alaska (full timers). Most parks along the way and in Alaska had wash facilities available and we used them frequently. Your coach will get dirty, again and again. Distances in Alaska are great, bicycles give you limited distance and being on a schedule you won't have the flexibility of slow travel. You may or may not find them to meet your needs. Among the trips we took was leaving the coach in Dawson City and driving our toad 500 miles one way (most gravel) to Innuvik, an Inuit village well inside the Arctic Circle in northern Canada. Wouldn't have wanted to miss this but doubt you will have that time allowance or even that particular stop on your tour. Fuel and food are available all along the route though you will want to fill up at most towns along the way as they are widely spaced. Your tour guide should be able to give you guidance regarding these but it isn't a major concern. There is a publication that I would recommend to anyone going on their own, The Milepost. It has tons of information and advice regarding your trip. Much more than I would ever attempt. Your tour I believe will give you some independent time to explore on your own and you may find interesting things in this guide as well as more specific answers to your questions about the coming trip. We took car excursions into Denali NP to the distance allowed (about 20 miles) and had time to do several hikes and stop for a ranger talk. Drove car several times into Wrangell St. Elias NP, once to stay several nights at Kennicott the other to do some remote hiking outside Gulkana, both long trips (70 - 80) miles on gravel roads. We had not one flat tire on coach or toad but some people undoubtedly did, no broken windshield, just dirt, dirt, dirt. And, we occasionally had a closet dumper, hitting the frost heaved road a little too fast will magically lift all your clothes hangers off the clothes rod in the closet. Happens to all, trailers, motor homes, nothing to do but laugh and try to go a little slower next time. We saw quite a few vehicles with visible damage, saw a wrecker haul a pickup with 5th wheel attached out of roadside brush/ditch and drive off. Drive cautiously at all times. Did I mention dirt? If it is raining it is mud, if it is dry it is dust. Dust on road repair areas where you are driving on dirt - they control the dust with calcium chloride which will make... mud. Parking lots at grocery stores may or may not be paved. Pull into fuel pumps, you will be on gravel or dirt. Alaska is a US frontier and you get the total experience in every way possible. Oh, one other thing you may want to consider. There are credit cards that do not charge for currency conversion. We have one that we use for any travel outside the US. Saves us a bunch not having to pay 3% or more to convert from $$ to some other currency. You will get a discount in Canada, their currency is something like 75 cents to our dollar. It wasn't that way in 2006! We crossed into Canada on Memorial Day and returned to the lower 48 on Labor Day. It is the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy.
  7. HEEELLLPP! Tire Information Overload!

    TPMS = Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Sometimes you get some warning. I had a blowout several years ago, the tire monitor didn't alarm until we were stopped. Great for catching a slow leak, even a fast leak but may not give any warning before a blowout. I put a system on our coach after we had a blowout on the left front tire. Don't want that to happen again but then there is no guarantee. The alarms have been well worth it for the several puncture/leaks that we had. Stopped before significant tire damage, no damage to vehicle. In one case, we were headed off into never-never land, hundreds of miles to next service. The alarm when off right at the road that was our last chance for repair before going into the wilderness. Back on the road in three hours. Without it may have been days and who knows how many hundred dollars more to get the help we would have needed. We have Pressure Pro, there are many other brands, each with their own differences. Search the forum (top right on this page for search box) for TPMS or for tire pressure to get quick access to past discussions and thoughts from others on different brands. As far as valve stems, Monaco at the time of your coach manufacture used flexible valve extensions which attach to the wheel hub, about as convenient as you can get. If your coach still has them, I'd use them. We haven't had any problems with our is 14 years. I am in the process of replacing them this year. I ordered a set from Monaco. Despite the bankruptcy (post 2008) and several sales and reorganizations, you can still call Monaco Customer Service at the phone number in your owners manual, 877-466-6226 to order parts. They will want your coach serial number (not the VIN) and will be able to look up all the parts that were used to build your coach. I had my coach in the shop, had the parts person call, he did use the VIN, got the correct parts to replace a couple of corroded dock lights on our coach, exact replacements! If you need replacement extensions or other items, try them first to get original equipment items.
  8. HEEELLLPP! Tire Information Overload!

    As Carl says, find the original tire size on the wall behind the driver's seat. That is a fixed requirement for your tires. Next, answer - for yourself - how many miles you will drive your coach each year. Being new to this, you may not have a real good idea, just think about your plans for travel. Are you taking off across country and doing that year after year, or is this for weekends and the occasional week of vacation. If your driving plans involve occasional short trips you will want a different quality of tire than someone who is traveling 10,000+ miles a year as we do. Either way, you won't wear the tread off those tires in the 7 years that will be the age limit for the tires. There are many foreign brands of tires on the market with strange names, some are good, some perhaps not so. I've had Goodyear and now Michelin. I like the Michelin better but they are the most expensive and may not be justified for your travel plans. I have run the standard truck tires on our motor home, the Michelin tires we now have are a standard truck tire. The Goodyear G670's that Wayne mentions are built specifically for motor homes. I've had those, also good tires. With high mileage you may see some uneven wear but for limited use you should never notice a problem. That is basically all you need to know to select your tires. You will want the front tires balanced (for smoother ride) and aligned (for better steering). You can also have the rear tires balanced. I've done it both ways and now have the rear tires balanced. Since you are new to the coach, I would have an alignment done. Once you experience driving with a properly aligned coach, you will be in a good position to judge when the next alignment might be done. I always align new tires when I put them on just to make certain that I get the best life from the tires. Poor alignment can cause uneven tire wear and if bad enough can make the tires unserviceable in short order. You will have to request these services as an extra expense, most tire dealers will tell you that truckers don't have their tires balanced. You want your coach to ride more like a car than a truck. Weighing your coach is necessary to determine the proper inflation for your tires. Your tires will be capable of carrying a greater load than will be on the tires. Inflating them to the maximum allowed may result in a stiff ride which can be uncomfortable. You can get tire loading charts from the tire manufacturer's web site or perhaps from the dealer where you purchase your tires. Inflate your tires to support the weight you get from your weighing. Add 10% to the tire pressure again to ensure safety. Slightly over-inflated tires will be safe. Under-inflated tires will fail, sometimes catastrophically. Because these are large tires, small differences in temperature can make real differences in tire pressure so it is good practice to check the tires each time you travel in the coach. Yes, that does mean when you are in a campground for a weekend and start to leave to return home you should check the pressure of each tire to ensure it is properly inflated. Before you weigh your coach, you should load it with fuel, propane, water and all the things you plan to take with you on a trip. It is important to know what weight the loaded coach will be carrying. If the weights show considerable variation from one side of an axle to the other side, try to adjust the loading to get them closer to the same. It will not be necessary to get an exact same weight, 10% or less difference would be ideal. While we are at it, go back to the information on the wall behind the driver's seat in the coach. It lists several weights for your coach. You want the total weight for your fully loaded coach to be less than the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). GVWR does not include anything you are towing. That would be the GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating). The chart also lists limits for each axle separately so check your weigh ticket to be certain neither of your axles is carrying more than its limit. If that is the case it will be necessary to shift some of the things you are carrying or to leave more stuff at home. Then, start with the weight of each of the tire locations. We refer to that as corner weights. Because motor homes can be loaded very unevenly, you need to know what weight each front tire is carrying. The same is true for each pair of rear tires. The weight and inflation chart will show the weight dual tires carry differently but it is the weight for each tire (half the weight of that end of the axle on each tire). For each axle you will use identical tire pressure for all tires on that axle. All tires must be able to hold the weight on heaviest end of the axle they are on. If you are unable to find a location where you can get corner weights, go to the local truck stop and get axle weights, divide by 2 and add 10% to get a reasonable estimate of your required tire pressure. Welcome to motor homes. Don't let all this overwhelm you, take it one step at a time. Buy your tires, have them mounted, weigh the coach, adjust tire pressure to match the weight of the coach. Go out and have a good trip!
  9. CG Recommendation: Kansas City Area

    Campus RV in Independence, MO is where we frequently stay. It is a small park with concrete pads and full hookups at a reasonable price. Sites are all back in, no pull through sites. The obligatory railroad is not far away if you like to sleep to the sound of the occasional train! It is kept clean and the management has always been friendly. You can walk around the downtown area just as Harry S Truman did years ago! The Truman presidential library isn't far away. FMCA discount. Definitely get reservations, city parks can be busy for any number of festivals and other events, holidays, weekends, etc.
  10. Atwood 8520 Furnace Won't Start

    The sail switch on our furnace is easily accessible. It is in the fan housing mounted on the side toward the outside opening. I think it was four screws to remove the cover from the fan and the switch was right on that cover. The coach isn't in the driveway right now so I can't give model and year information. Ours failed once and I had it replaced by a repair shop. The second time I removed it myself. I was showing Louise how it worked, flipping the switch, and a ball of fuzz fell from the switch housing. I put the same switch back in the furnace and it is still working today, something like ten years later. Depending on your furnace, it might be a user serviceable or replaceable part.
  11. On our way...

    Very nice account of your return to the RV lifestyle. I hope you keep writing, even after the "new" wears off the experience.
  12. With fond memories of our last convention in Gillette, WY we have jumped at the chance to register for 2018. The facilities were excellent, we enjoyed the various trips offered and had a lovely time. I used the link on the e-mail announcement to get to registration. I looked for a way to access registration here on the website but couldn't find it. I guess it will surface sooner or later. Louise and I are going to try working the welcome committee this time. We're looking forward to welcoming you to Gillette in July!
  13. Lack Of Air Pressure

    Less than 15 hours from problem to solution. What a great crew this is!
  14. That is pretty much my point. If you are taking money you have stored away, you have to consider the returns on that money which you are giving up. In the case of current returns in the stock market, that would not be a good exchange unless you have a horrible interest rate on our motor home loan. If you have money in a savings account, sure withdraw it, I don't know where you can get a return on savings or even money market accounts that equals a loan interest rate. But then if your savings account is your emergency fund, you are giving up that level of security that you have built up. Come one emergency and then you have to find a loan at the going rate. You could secure it with your home or with your motor home.
  15. I'm interested in the details of "self financing," how exactly do you do that? Where exactly does that money come from? Savings, retirement plan, investments?