Pullback

This blog of mine is the one I started with. It is mainly about being a full timer in an RV traveling over north America. I started a daily blog for my family to follow which morphed in the blog I use actively now after we bought our house. I am really not a full timer anymore since we have the stick house. So if you have a hankering to see what I am up with, please pop over to

https://tumbleweedstumbling.wordpress.com

Thanks!

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Home – Our Little House on the Prairie

Driveway View –

We will be taking possession of this tiny little house in Alonsa Manitoba April 29th. As you can see it has a great big driveway for our rig. We decided to buy the house which is almost exactly 2X the floor space of our travel trailer because of the difficulty with the shoulder season in Manitoba and finding campground that were nice with big lots that didn’t charge a fortune and were open longer than Victoria Day to Labor Day long weekend. We now have a perfect summer campground and a place to store some stuff and when the day comes we can’t go south each winter, we will have our retirement home. We are currently in South Dakota on the trip home.

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A Worthy Cause

I have never before used my blog to ask for funds for a worthy cause but this is an emergency and involves something I care deeply about, which is saving sea turtles and educating people about the marine life in the world. Please have a look and if you can donate and pass it along to anyone who might be interested in helping.

Thank you!

https://www.tilt.com/campaigns/clean-water-for-gulf-specimen-aquarium/contributors

see it on You Tube

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My new toy – Washing Machine Suitable for a Travel Trailer

Laundry is one of those chores that no one really likes but needs to get done. For the last five years we have collected our laundry until we had nothing left to wear and then made a trip to a laundromat where we would wash, dry and fold and use up an afternoon. We often had issues with laundry getting moldy or smelly after sitting for a week. It’s always been a chore and the cost adds up. Typically we spend $10 – $15 a week in laundry fees.

We had two events that finished us with doing without our own washing machine. First we were in a lovely little spot in Manitoba and we had to drive an hour and a half to find a laundromat. Second the cat decided to barf up a hairball on our bed and we had no linen. Yuck!

After researching various options and comparing prices we decided on a Panda Small Compact Portable Washing Machine Pan30 Drain By Gravity. It is a washer/spin dryer. As you can see, it is really small and sits nicely in our tub for washing. We got it for under $200 USD including shipping from Amazon. When not in use, the machine stores in a nook in our bedroom. It is remarkably light and easy to lift. I have no trouble moving it by myself. The weight is only 28lbs. And the measurements are a mere 22.83 × 14.17 × 25.59.

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I have scent allergies, another issue in a public laundromat so we use unscented products only. It takes 1/4 cup of detergent to do all the laundry. By putting it in the bathtub I can use the shower head to fill and the gravity drain which goes into the bathtub drain. I can also see us using the machine outdoors in the right location.

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While the machine fills I carefully sort the clothing into whites and darks and then subdivide those into heavily soiled and lightly soiled. Towels are the heaviest so those we do separately. I run the wash cycle for fifteen minutes.

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One of the nice things about the machine is that it is possible to reuse the wash water. I take the laundered stuff, squeeze it out by hand and then put it in the spinner and then add more laundry. In this way the amount of water used is really low, which will become important in same places we camp. The spinner can only spin one large item like a towel or pair of jeans but even so, it quickly spins out the load. As I do the spinning I can set aside and toss back in anything that didn’t get clean, like white socks. Once the whites are washed, I drain the machine, and refill it with clean water. I then rinse the whites. After rinsing the water is pretty soapy so I throw in the towels into the now soapy rinse water and, if necessary add some more soap. Once the towels are done, I continue with the dark stuff. It usually takes one more tub full to rinse the dark stuff and then one last tub full to rinse the towels. It took a bit of practice to optimize the whole thing but I can do a typical 2-3 days of laundry using four fills, or about 20 gallons total. I do the spinning for a full 5 minutes after the rinse and the laundry comes out almost dry.

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We will not entirely give up using laundromats. The machine is too small for large blankets. I did do our sheets but my husband’s terry cloth housecoat was almost too much for the poor little thing. I also think it would be inconvenient to be using the machine “on the road” when driving each day. It is a bit of a pain to not be able to toss things in and leave and then come back and have them all washed. I may regret not trying to find weight and space for the 81lb Panda small automatic which costs twice as much. So far I don’t. I run each wash cycle for 15 minutes and in between moving laundry from sorted piles, to wash to spin to rinse to spin, I do dishes, cook, or any number of other chores. Best of all, no more smelly mouldy laundry in the corner waiting for laundromat day.

(Next post the matching dryer.)

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More Stuff That Works – RV Black Water Macerator Pump

An RV black water macerator pump is not something you use while staying at a typical full service campsite. This device IS beyond handy while parking in places like the driveway of friends and relatives without RV hookups. At our current stop, we are parked in a horse corral behind a bunkhouse. The macerator works by sucking the black water yuck out through a macerator that resembles a garbage disposal in a sink. By first macerating the yuck, you get a uniform stinky liquid that can easily go into any toilet, sink or other direct connection to the sewer system. Warning, it will stink until the brown water is gone. We are dumping into the toilet of the bunkhouse. It stinks until we’re done and the toilet is flushed. Since we are also showering in the bunkhouse, we only need to empty the black water once a week. We are using our trailer to work and cook in while we stay, so this means we can also use the bathroom in the trailer without worrying about how to dump. We have also used the macerator while boon docking to dump before pulling out. (Always check first, especially in the north, to make sure you are not dumping your raw sewage into a rainwater disposal.)

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The macerator itself fits into a nice little black box in which I also keep a dedicated needle nose plier, a spare fuse, and a container of sanitizing gel. I also recommend having two sets of spare impeller parts. The impeller has a bad habit of failing without warning and this is one job you don’t want to be stuck waiting for spare parts for. One spare part is seen with the macerator box. I have had to replace the impeller twice in five years. Spare parts are available only when ordered on line. Replacing it is actually relatively easy as long as you make note of how you took it apart so that you can put it back together the same way.

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Standard RV sewer outlet. We arrived in heavy rain and trailer sunk. Normally it’s not that low to the ground. We are using the $39 sewer cap add on since I toasted our grey water valve by trying to force it while frozen last year in Washington state. We were quoted $400 for replacing the grey water valve so we decided to just add this thing on instead. I recommend this addition as one of one’s must have spare parts, just in case you are ever left with damaged valves and need to move without dripping all over the highway.

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The macerator is hooked up with fresh water intake on one side a standard hose. The fresh water intake has its own flow control valve (green in this picture). The output side connects to a standard garden hose. The manufacturers recommends no more than 50ft of hose but we have found it works just fine with 100 ft. We hook up to the batteries in the front box. The handle control has a fuse in it so if you hook it up backwards the fuse burns out instead of the device. Idiot proof. I keep a box of spare fuses and one in the macerator box because of my own idiot moments.

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The procedure is open the black water and grey water valves first and let the grey water back flush into the black water side. This prevents clogging and makes sure there is enough liquid for the macerator to macerate the solids. After a couple of minutes, when the glugging mix noise stops, start the motor. The mixture is sucked out. The pump noise changes when it has no water. The pump requires flowing water to stay cool so you need to shut it off as soon as the yuck is pumped out to avoid burning out the motor. Close the black water valve and then open fresh water intake valve to backfill the grey water side with fresh water. Run the pump to clean. Close the grey water valve. The repeat the flush for macerator. If you let the fresh water intake run through the pump until the hose is thoroughly flushed as well, life is much more pleasant at disconnect time. (If I am camping at a place without a fresh water connection I will take a shower with the plug in tub and after pumping out the black water, close the black water valve, and pull the plug using the shower water in the tub for the flush.)

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As you can see from this photo, if properly flushed using the fresh water intake valve, you are not stuck with anything too yucky when you take the macerator off. However there is always some hair that needs to be removed. This is what the dedicated needle nose pliers are for. (The pliers are handy for changing the fuse when I am idiot too.) Repacking all the wiring is the hardest part. Elapsed time is typically 20 minutes from start to finish.

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Typical RV lights as No-See-Um and other insect control device.

One of the not so nice things about arriving in our winter location in Florida is we are parked in a lower spot near a marsh and the No-See-Ums are a problem. We have No-See-Um screening which keeps most of the nasty little biters out but some always follow us in. We accidentally found a neat solution. If the light covers are set with a small opening (2mm) then the bugs are more attracted to the light than they are to us, and they crawl inside and promptly die instead of biting. While we were in Alabama we got inundated with Lady Bugs and we tried to catch and release as many as possible before we left. However, we kept finding Lady Bugs in our trailer for days afterward. Soon after we arrived in Florida I set the lights slightly open to catch No-See-Ums and soon had two more Lady Bugs. As you can see in the picture, the trick works using both incandescent and LED diode lights.

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Lady  Bugs and some No-See-Ums in the yellowish incandescent light on the left and No-See-Ums caught in one hour under bluish LED diode lights. The bugs will be completely desiccated to an easy to dispose of form that only requires removing the light cover and then tipping the contents in a waste basket. I prefer to wash the light covers after emptying. I do the light covers once a week after washing the dishes unless a cover is really full.

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View of standard RV lights showing how much space to leave on left and the whole light on the right.

A simple easy way to control flying insect pests.

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Hauling Water

I often get questions about how to haul water when an RV site doesn’t have running water handy. How exactly do you get enough water to fill the tank and how exactly do you store the storage container when you are done hauling? We use a handy dandy small modified water bed style bag made by “Fold A Tank” from New World Manufacturing for under $50. I like things that work! Since I complained so much last post, I decided to do a post on something that I bought which worked even better than I expected.

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Name

This bag folds neatly and can be put away in a sturdy box. I use an old Tupperware one I had kicking around. Sturdy is better to prevent it from getting punctures. The box also contains assorted parts and a repair kit it came with in case of punctures. I added a bottle of water purifying stuff just in case I am ever stuck without a safe water supply. In 5 1/2 years this has not happened, but I am prepped for if it ever does.

Unfold

Water bag needs to be unfolded.

Place

Bag is placed on the roof of the pick up. You want it to be up high because it needs to siphon off at the other end. If you have to go a long distance on the highway it would be better off in the back of the truck.

Undertosecure

I slip the bag partly under the cross bar we use for the canoe. This means when full the bag is nice and secure. The manufacturer warns that if you turn the corner fast with the full bag on top….well just don’t do that.

Attach to water source

Connect the hose at both ends and turn on the water. I highly recommend asking permission first. We’ve only been turned down once. In this case, the public library was also the town’s officially designated campground water source.

Filling

Here the bag is filling. You can see the little valve that is essential. Open while filling, closed while driving, open while draining. I have discovered it is important to get that sequence right or you’ll get all wet and the whole process takes a lot longer. While it fills you stand around and wait for locals to come by and say something intelligent like “Getting some water, eh?” It is also important to actually be standing around monitoring the filling for reasons having nothing to do with enjoying riveting conversations with the locals. The manufacturer does not recommend overfilling. There is a little valve on top that is good for removing any air bubbles and it might prevent a rupture if you go for coffee but then again, it might not.

Return

The bag is full and we’re ready to return. Elapsed time since departing our campsite, 20 minutes.

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I place the hose nozzle with male to male adapter into the trailer fresh water fill port. Our tank takes 40 gallons to fill and the bag carries about 50. The siphon process is slow and typically takes about 30-45 minutes to finish. I normally shower while the tank is being filled since it had ten gallons extra anyway. We also top up any of our smaller water jugs if they are low.

Because the bag empties by a siphon drain process, the bag ends up virtually sucked empty and can be neatly and easily folded and put away. Total time including my shower, under one hour. The amount of water hauled is enough for us to live on for two days, including daily showers and dishes. Being able to camp where there is no running water can save a lot of money. For example, by hauling our own water twice during a week stay (we also filled up the trailer directly at the library before parking) we spent 2 1/2 hours hauling water for one person and 1 hour for the two of us hauling our honey wagon to the dump site and emptying it. (I am not including my photographer’s time.) 5 hours meant a $149.70 in savings over the nearest full service campsite in town and divide that by two of us working for 5 hours and it works out to $29.94 an hour (tax free). Plus we got to camp in a lovely place on a lake out in the country instead of in a gravel parking lot on the south end of Winnipeg. And we got some exercise and had fascinating conversations with the pleasant friendly local town’s folk.

Posted in fall camping, Retirement, RVing, spring camping, Uncategorized | 1 Comment