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What Is Giardiasis And Are You At Risk In Your RV

Kimberly 56 comments

Are you at risk for Giardiasis?

Well, if you have an RV, the short answer is unfortunately “Yes”.

Your stomach is cramping, you’ve got aches and your fatigued.  You decide you’ve caught a stomach bug and start disinfecting your camper.  Like you anticipated, other family members start coming down with the same symptoms.  Living in tight quarters, you start to suspect you have Norovirus, or the Cruise Ship bug, and you break out even more bleach.

But the bug never goes away and you start to notice the symptoms are becoming very pronounced.  Explosive diarrhea, lots of vomiting, loss of appetite, bloated abdomen and my personal favorite – burps that can clear a room! Now you know, your family is not traveling alone anymore!

Giardiasis (beaver fever) in humans is caused by the infection of the small intestine by a single-celled parasitic organism called Giardia lamblia.

It can enter your camper through your fresh water connection and is impervious to low temperatures.

To protect yourself, attach a filter with a micron rating of 3 or less to your outside connection and add a teaspoon of bleach to a 40 gallon fresh water tank.

If you suspect you have Giardiasis, seek medical attention promptly, as prolonged cases can cause chronic illness.

Thoroughly disinfect your entire water system (tanks and pipes).  Iodine is your best defense against giardiasis, but household bleach will work too, as does boiling.

It is never advisable to drink straight from a stream or outdoor water source without proper filtration and water treatment.

And as always, hand washing goes a long way in keeping your traveling family healthy – so soap up often!

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RV Cooking 20 sq ft Kitchen

Kimberly 38 comments

Surviving cooking in a 20 sq ft RV kitchen…

We visited with some relatives recently and when I walked into her kitchen I found myself wanting to drop to my knees in veneration. She had a kitchen island that was larger than my entire RV galley. Really. She’s not wealthy and doesn’t live in a 4,000 sq. ft. home or anything – but her kitchen was like water to a thirsty desert nomad. This island had a sink, more electrical plug-ins than my whole house, and a counter that I swear was glowing. I looked for any excuse I could to be in that kitchen helping her. No running out of counter space to set down the measuring cup after pouring the oil into the cake batter, no giving the teenager a dirty look because she’s decided she needs to get something out of the kitchen junk drawer NOW – when you’re putting together dinner. You know what I mean. It was ‘fun’ to be in that kitchen.

I realized when we returned home that it’s not normally ‘fun’ cooking in my kitchen these days.  Not that I used to spend hours and hours there making everything from scratch, but I did enjoy cooking and baking most of the time. Not so much anymore.

So as we enter our 4th month as full-time RV-ers I’m finding myself a bit frustrated. You see, I’m still trying to get used to working efficiently in my kitchen. I’m the type of cook who likes to get all the ingredients out for a recipe, and then after I add them, I put the container away and wash/rinse whatever I used to measure it. So when what I’m cooking is in the oven, there isn’t a huge mess left over to clean up. You just can’t do that in 20 sq ft. – there is no room to get everything out at once. Yes, the sink has that cutting board piece that fits on top to double as ‘counter space’, but I sort of need access to the sink itself to put dirty spoons, cups, etc. in. And yes, the stove has a cover that folds down over the burners so I can use that as ‘counter space’, but again, I usually need a burner.

So I’ve been getting out each ingredient, one at a time, measuring it and then putting it back before I can move on to the next thing. That just bogs me down, not to mention that I have to keep looking at the recipe for the next ingredient. (While some of the RV’s I’ve looked at – especially those beautiful 5th wheels  – have kitchens that are almost full-size, that’s just not the case in my 31 ft, Class C motorhome.)

As I sit here gazing at my kitchen, trying to visualize ANY type of remodel or tweak that would give me more working space, I know it’s not going to happen. My hubby has already added a hinged piece to the end of the existing counter to give me another square foot of space. There is simply nothing else to be done.

So the change from feeling bogged down to finding the fun again has to happen with ME. Maybe I’ll try scooting the folding table from in front of the couch a little closer to the kitchen when I’m cooking. That would give me another 3+ sq. ft. of work space; practically doubling what I have now. It has an easy wipe-off top, plus the height of the table is easily adjustable. And when I’m done, it just goes back in front of the couch to become my laptop/working table. As I keep reminding myself, flexibility is the key thing here – so I think I’ll give it a try. If it works, yay! If not, I’ll be back next month to let you know how my family is doing with eating chicken cooked on the barbecue (and no side dishes) every night.

This month’s recipe:

Okay, I’ll admit it; I really am not a big fan of watermelon. I know, there’s probably something genetically wrong with me, but hey, it is what it is. But being a good, self-sacrificing wife and mom I do on occasion buy a watermelon for the hubby and daughter. And while they would be content to simply sit and eat chunk after chunk of the stuff, juices dripping down their faces and onto their shirts (shudder) I decided to try something else. I stumbled across a watermelon pie recipe and while I didn’t really like that one, it gave me a jumping off point to come up with my own. I had a small piece and the other 3 at dinner polished off the entire pie!

Watermelon Pie

Purchased graham cracker crust

12 oz thawed Cool Whip

3 oz gelatin powder (I used a mixed melon flavor – any mixed fruit would work)

1/4 cup water

2 cups watermelon – I used a little melon ball scoop, but you could also cut the melon into bite-sized chunks

To prepare filling, combine whipped topping, gelatin powder, and water. Gently fold in watermelon and spoon into the graham cracker crust. Chill for 2 hours.

Kimberly Travaglino is the Cheif Editor for Fulltime Families Magazine.  She can be reached at kimberly@fulltimefamilies.com

RV Kids Screen Door Lock

Kimberly 58 comments

One thing we learned is that the lock on the screen door doesn’t hold any weight. A few times the baby almost fell out the door and down the metal steps.

We all know this could have been a disaster. My solution to this was installing a gate lock on the door. This is very easy to do and won’t allow children to accidently fall out the door.
I positioned the lock so it can be reached from both inside and outside the door. I found the lock at the local hardware store and paid about $5.00 for the part.
To install the lock, all you need is a 1/8″ drill bit and pliers. Drill the hold in the frame of the screen door and on the wall next to the screen door. Use the pliers to tighten the hook and eye to the holes you drilled.
That’s it!!! Now your screen door is kid proof.

RV Education

Kimberly 33 comments

I was searching the internet for some good resources for RVers when I found this cool series called RV Education 101.  This series has books that include Deep Cycle Battery Care and Maintenance, Checklists for RVers, and RV Care and Maintenance just to name a few.

These books could be a valuable resource whether you are a seasoned RVer or new to the whole adventure.

You can check them out here:

https://www.fulltimefamilies.com/recommends/RV101

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rear View Camera On Travel Trailer and 5th Wheel

Kimberly 19 comments

Install a Rear View Camera on your Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels

When towing your travel trailer or 5th wheel, the hardest thing to do is see behind you.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s behind you such as other vehicles, pedestrians, trees, etc?  This camera system comes in handy for day-to-day towing / driving, backing up into your campsite, or even just seeing where other vehicles are on the road with you.  They give you better visibility than a conventional rear view mirror even when you’re not towing.  With the optional camera add-on to your tow vehicle as well, you can now hook up to your travel trailer or 5th wheel without guidance from another person to direct you.  I personally know this has saved my marriage on numerous occasions.

When picking your equipment to purchase, look at what best fits your budget and features you would like to enjoy.  Some features include night vision, monitor zooming, widescreen, color camera / display, and foot marker lines.

Some of the high-end radios / DVD / GPS combo head units come with camera outputs.  If you use this feature, there is no need to purchase a monitor because the camera will interface directly with this setup.  I would also suggest that if you plan on purchasing this type of system, you may want to have a dealer install this product in your tow vehicle if you are not familiar with car stereo installations.  You can come back to this article if you choose to install the camera portion yourself later.  You would just skip the monitor install portion and connect the video cables to your installed monitor.

There are two other kinds of monitors on the market today.  One is a stand-alone monitor that can mount to your dashboard by Velcro, two sided tape, or screws.  The other style monitor hangs from the existing rear view mirror in your tow vehicle.  This monitor is good if you plan on having a camera mounted both to the tow vehicle and the trailer you are towing.

There are many systems on the market that can leak water and make picture quality unbearable.  I have found that the license plate mounted monitors have a tendency to capture moisture and come out on the image making the video quality poor.  I suggest using a name brand product such as Pyle, Audiovox, or Sanyo just to name a few.  These systems generally come with the monitor, cutting tool for the camera mount, and one camera.  They do sell cameras that are already installed in sealed boxes and it may be wise to use one of these if you don’t want to build your own as laid out in the article.  These tend to be more expensive though and will work great with this system.

This system that I am about to show you and explain how to install will give you the advantage of having eyes in the back of your head at all times.  Most diesel pushers and Class C motor homes come with these handy gadgets, so why should 5th wheelers and travel trailer owners have to sacrifice this convince?

I do not recommend the wireless cameras due to the clarity and signal loss you will encounter from the rear of your tow vehicle to the cab where the monitor is installed.

Follow this simple step-by-step process and you too can enjoy all the benefits of having eyes in the back of your head.

All of these items can be purchased from your local Radio Shack or equivalent store.

Tools Needed:

  • Wire Cutters / Butt connector crimpers
  • Philip Head Screw driver
  • 50 FT of 18 Gauge Power Wire
  • 2 – 2 Position 12 Volt Switches (only one needed if not installing second camera)
  • Butt Connectors (Blue in color)
  • Butt connector rings (Blue in Color)
  • Self taping Screws
  • Bolts and Wing Nuts (Optional) See step 3 under preparing the camera(s)
  • Washers
  • Electrical Tape
  • Wire Ties
  • Electric or Cordless drill
  • Drill cut out tool (Size varies depending on camera.  Some of them come with the tool when you purchase the camera)
  • 1 composite Video Splitter (not needed if only installing 1 camera)
  • 2 composite Video to Video extenders (Female to Female) (Only 1 needed if installing 1 camera)
  • 1 50 FT composite video cable (Yellow plug)
  • 2 Project Enclosure Box(s) (6x4x2″) (only one needed if not installing second camera)
  • 4 small “L” bracket(s) (only two needed if not installing second camera)
  • Clear Calking

Camera Components Needed:

  • 2 Rear View Camera(s) with night vision – (1 if not installing one on your tow vehicle.)
  • 1 In vehicle camera monito

The first thing to remember before installing this system is that it is not difficult.  There are a lot of parts involved, but they all plug together and no real modification is needed to your trailer or tow vehicle.

In these instructions we are going to assume that you are installing 2 cameras.

Preparing the camera(s):

Step 1:

Take the 2 project boxes and cut a hole with your drill through center of the box.  Cut both the front cover and the back of the project box.  It helps for perfect alignment to keep the cover on the box while your drilling through both sides.

Step 2:

Insert the camera into cover of the project box through the hole you just drilled.  Tighten the camera holding screw that was supplied with the camera so the camera is secured in the box.  Feed the camera wires through the back of the box and add some caulking to the edges of the cover for the project box.  This will help keep moisture and water out.  Put the cover on the box and tighten the screws down.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the second camera.

Step 3:

Using the “L” Brackets, mount them with 1 screw on each side of the project boxes.  This will provide an up and down swivel motion used for when you need to aim your camera.  You can substitute screws with wing nuts and bolts for this part so you can easily tighten or loosen the brackets from the side of the boxes for ease of adjustment.

Trailer Wiring:

Step 1:

From the back of the trailer run the single 18 gauge power wire to the battery on your trailer.  You may want to run the 50’ component cable at the same time, but this wire will need to run to the front of the trailer.  When running the wires, find a good spot to hide the wires.  This would include running the wire under the trailer and using the wire ties to hold the wire you are running to the trailer frame, other wires, or propane pipes.  Stay away from the trailer brake wires so you do not interfere with their use by accidently disconnecting or cutting them.

Step 2:

Once you have the power wire run, crimp on a ring but connector to the wire on the end near the battery, but do not connect to the battery yet.

Step 3:

Run the ground wire from the camera to the frame of the trailer.  Try not to extend this ground if you can due to a better ground is a shorter ground.  Crimp on a ring butt connector to the ground wire.  Use self-tapping screws and a washer to connect the ground to the frame.  You may want to drill a small pilot hole in the frame so that you can get more leverage on the screw.

Step 4:

Use one of the 2 position toggle switches and cut the power wire you ran where you would like to install the switch.  The switch cannot be exposed to weather, so you can install this in either the battery box or somewhere in the trailer.  Just remember that both ends of the wire will be connected to the posts on the switch.  It doesn’t matter what wire connects to what post, just as long as each of the two wires are on separate posts.  The switch will be used to turn the camera off when your trailer is parked.  You can leave it on all the time, but it does draw minimum power from the battery if left in the “on” position.

Mounting and connecting the camera:

Step 1:

Now that all the wires are run you can connect the camera.  Mount the camera at your desired location on the trailer with self-tapping screws.  Use the calking and calk the screw holes that you made in the trailer.

Step 2:

Connect the composite video cable to the camera by plugging the male end of the cable to the female end of the camera video lead.

Step 3:

Connect the power wire to the camera using the (blue) butt connectors and then connect the ring butt connector to the battery on the trailer by using the screw from the battery terminal that holds the terminal down to the battery.

Step 4:

Go back to all of your butt connectors and use electrical tape to wrap the connectors.  This helps to keep moisture and dirt out of the connectors.

Tow Vehicle Monitor wiring:

Step 1:

 

Find the position in your tow vehicle where you would like to mount the monitor.  Mount the monitor using the provided hardware.  This would include Velcro, screws, or two-sided tape.

 

Step 2:

 

Run the wires from the monitor to power and ground of the tow vehicle.  You will need to take the power wire and connect it to a switched power in the tow vehicle.  I suggest using the radio remote turn on feature or radio switched power “on” wire.  Cut the wire you choose and using the (Blue) butt connector, crimp the two wires together.

 

Step 3:

 

Locate a good ground for the monitor and mount that either by crimping it to the radio ground or to a ground directly on the vehicle chassis.  If you choose to mount on the chassis, crimp on the end a ring butt connector.   Using a small drill bit, start a pilot hole and then using the self-tapping screw, mount the ground wire.

Step 4:

Run the composite video cable from the monitor to the rear of the tow vehicle.  This will connect to where you plan on mounting the camera.  Run the cable out of the vehicle via the firewall grommet and down the engine compartment.  Then run the wire under the vehicle using wire ties to tack the wire in place.  Again, avoid the break lines and this time, the fuel lines.

Step 5:

Connect the composite wire splitter to the composite video cable that you just ran to the rear of the vehicle.  Connect one of the composite video extenders to the splitter.

Mounting the Camera on tow vehicle:

Step 1:

Find a place where you would like to mount the camera on the tow vehicle.  I recommend mounting it on the license plate frame or on the bumper in a place where it will be out of the way from either your tailgate / rear door from opening and from bumping when either backing up or someone was to bump you.

Running the power wire for the camera:

Step 1:

From inside the tow vehicle, route an 18-gauge power wire from the power you choose on the radio to the rear of the vehicle where the camera is installed.

Step 2:

Using the 2-position switch, connect the switch in between the power lead for the camera and the power cable that you are splicing into.  This will be used to turn the power off to the tow vehicle camera and will allow the video to pass to the monitor from the trailer.

Step 3:

Ground the camera on the tow vehicle to the chassis.  Crimp the ground wire with a ring butt connector and mounting using the self-tapping screws.  You may want to drill a pilot hole to make it easier to mount the ground.

Connecting the camera(s) to the monitor:

Step 1:

Connect the composite video cable to the camera by plugging the male end of the cable to the female end of the composite video splitter.

Step 2:

Go back to all of your butt connectors and use electrical tape to wrap the connectors.  This helps to keep moisture and dirt out of the connectors.

Using your new camera system:

You are now ready to connect your trailer and get video from the new camera that you just installed.  Using the camera in the tow vehicle, back up using the camera and connect your trailer as you normally would.  In your tow vehicle, flip the toggle switch that turns off the camera on the vehicle.  You should now have a blank screen.  Get out of the vehicle and connect your composite video cable to the extension cable you installed on your tow vehicle.  Turn on the switch on the trailer that powers on the camera.  When you get back in the vehicle, you should now see what is behind the trailer on the monitor.  For trailer disconnection, just reverse the procedure.

RV Towing Accessories Help You Stay Organized

Kimberly 37 comments

Like most of us that camp, we tend to bring more than we can carry, or even need and that does not help us stay organized. My family and I have recently been living fulltime in our 5th wheel and find that storage is a hot commodity and staying organized is the key.

With only 350 SQFT of living space for 6 and one outside storage compartment, it is very difficult to find room for the sewer hoses, water hoses, and other things that you wouldn’t want to store with your folding chairs and kids toys. On our 5th wheel we have a 2” trailer hitch receiver installed on the rear bumper. This comes in handy to add storage to your rig without taking up extra space. If you don’t have one of these nice receivers installed, any welding shop should be able to fasten one on for a fair price and as you will see, it is worth its weight in Gold.

There are many different style trailer hitch racks that can be purchased. They make ones that fold up when not in use, have siding so you can strap cargo down, and ones that are completely flat with a metal mesh bottom like shown in the image above. The kind that I purchased is the one like in the image above because I needed the ability to mount a cargo box to the rack. This gives me the ability to have more covered weather proof storage.

The cargo box that I recommend is one made of hard plastic with little or no metal parts. This will keep the latches, etc. from rusting in the weather. Once you find a box that you like, place the box on the rack where you would like it mounted and mark with a chalk on the bottom of the box where you will drill the holes. Depending on the size of the box you may want to drill 6 – 8 mounting holes. Once the holes are drilled, place back on the rack and use 2 washers (1 per side), a lag bolt, and 1 nylon nut to mount the box to the rack. Once the box is mounted, find yourself a nice weather resistant lock and load it up with stuff that you will use to connect your RV at the campground, or other outside stuff. This will help keep your basement and inside storage clean and organized.

Hint: When searching out the perfect box, look on Craigs List for “Plastic Truck Boxes”.

Any questions, please email support@fulltimefamilies.com

Reese 5th Wheel Slider Hitch

Kimberly 37 comments

When I first started pulling a 5th wheel I was overwhelmed by the amount of options I had for towing this beast I was planning on purchasing.  I wanted a name brand that knew would hold up to the abuse and needed the slide features since my truck is a short bed pickup.  Didn’t want to smash out the back window when backing the rig up into tight spots.  After weeks of research I found the Reese Towpower 30056 from their Pro Series line.  This hitch has the name I wanted, the tow capacity needed for pulling my 12K lbs monster, and the best price in these series hitches.  I have had the hitch installed in my truck for almost a year now and it still looks and performs as it did the day I installed it.

That’s right…I installed it with the help of a friend of course.  The hitch took about 4 hours to install and is one of the easiest installations I have ever done when it comes to hitches.  The kit comes with universal mounting rails and all hardware needed to do the job right.  Once the rails are installed, the rest of the hitch is installed by rods and pins.  This is great because when you are not using the hitch, the hitch can be removed freeing back up all that cargo space that was lost.  The only thing that stays in the truck permanently is the rail system.  I have pulled over 10K miles with this hitch, checked all the bolts, and none have even come close to loosening up!  I plan on doing my entire cross country trip on this hitch and will never worry about break down or heavy wear.  There has been no sing of either of these concerns in the 15K miles I have gone so far!

See you down the road!

LP Remote Change-Over Indicator

Kimberly 26 comments

Most of the RV’s on the road today tell you everything you need to know about liquid, battery, and power levels with the RV’s onboard sensors.  The one thing that is most commonly missing is how much propane you have left in your tanks.   This is an important need to know especially if you’re camping in cold weather.  What would you do if you ran out of propane in the middle of the night and your family had no heat to keep warm?  With this simple solution, you will always know when your primary tank is out of fuel and you are running on your secondary / reserve tank.

My 5th wheel has (2) 30 lb tanks.  I know exactly when I need to refill the primary tank by an amber light that comes on when I automatically switch over to the second tank.  In order to accomplish this modification your RV needs to be equipped with a Marshall 250 series 2-stage LP regulator or similar model.  You can verify this by looking at the image below.

As you can see, the regulator has a “Red” indicator on the top with a black cap on it.  You will also notice that the regulator has a 3-position lever.  The straight up and down position turns the propane gas flow “off” and the left and right positions is the tank selector.  When setting the regulator flow position lever for this modification, make sure you point it to what you are going to use as the primary tank.  Once the switch over takes place, it will automatically change the flow of fuel to your second tank.

To install this change over indicator, you will need to run the supplied 25 FT wire from the place where you plan on mounting the box to the LP regulator.  I recommend mounting the box next to your AC / Heat controls in your RV or next to the RV tank monitor panels.  You can then drill a small hole in your wall and fish the wire down to your propane regulator.  Be sure when fishing the wire, you do not catch or pull any other wires in the wall.  Take your time and move the fish slow through the wall.  To hang the wire to the RV, you can use wire ties.  Be sure to stay away from the electric break lines and fuel lines.  You don’t want to wire tie to those due to possible pinching or splicing into the wires.

One you have the wires run, mount the LED / Battery box to the location on the RV wall you have selected with the supplied self-tapping screws.  Install the 2 AA batteries into the battery box.  At this point you can connect the regulator indicator plug to the regulator.

Remove the “Black” cap on the top of the regulator.  You will just pull gently on the cap and it will pop right off.  Using the new regulator cap, gently push it onto the regulator making sure that the pin in the middle of the cap is going into the hole that you exposed when you removed the original cap.  Using the 2 wire nuts that were supplied, twist the wires together.  There is no color coordination or right or wrong.

Testing the new LED change over indicator:

Turn on both LP fuel tanks and make sure the tank selector is pointing to the primary tank.  Now, turn off the primary tank only and you should see the amber LED light turns on.  If you start your stove or LP hot water heater, you should still get a flame on both devices.  Now turn the primary tank back on and the LED light should go off.

Any questions, please email support@fulltimefamilies.com

Kimberly Travaglino is the editor of Fulltime Families Magazine, the official monthly publication of Fulltime Families Camping Company (https://www.fulltimefamilies.com). A company that supports families fulltime rv adventures or aspirations. We have the S’most Fun!

 

 

Easy Satellite Tripod Setup

Kimberly 28 comments

One of the hard tasks of setting up your campsite is getting your satellite dialed in just right.  Using the stand tripod with the hardware that comes with it requires you to use tools to adjust and align your skew, elevation, and azimuth.  Replacing the hardware with simple nobs can save you lots of time and energy.  These nobs can be purchased at any hardware store such as Home Depot, Lowes, or Ace hardware.  All you have to do is remove the original hardware that came with the dish and tripod and replace them with the knobs shown in the picture.  Once you have the settings in place, just tighten the knobs by hand and you’re ready to enjoy your favorite TV shows.

Another trick I’ve learned is to make the mast of the dish able to fold up for storage.  The mast (where the LNB is connected to) and the dish are spot welded together.  If you drill through the spot welds, you can use a blot to hold the mast in place when in use and also, when you are in travel, you can fold the mast up and use the same bolt to hold the mast in place while in travel.  Dishes are very bulky items and by getting the mast out of the way, it can make storing the dish much easier.

 

 

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