I know the title must have you a little curious. Don't worry, I'm not going to start a physical fitness campaign (even thought it's a great idea), at least not for my dear readers. I'm talking about exercising your rig. Most folks with 5vers don't have much to worry about if they use their tow vehicle regularly. Motorized RVs are a different breed and diesel RVs even more so. A good place to start is with the misconception about mileage. Strange as it may seem, a high mileage, well maintained diesel pusher may be a better buy than a similar, low mileage unit. Well maintained diesel engines can easily make 500,000 miles and a lot of truck engines don't get overhauled till the million mile mark. Diesels, and their drive trains, plus other components, do not fare well sitting idle. Algae can breed and grow in the fuel and condensation and moisture can infiltrate the air and fuel systems. A Class A coach, especially a diesel, is meant to stretch its legs. If you have a diesel and have to sit, start and run the generator under load weekly. A lot of diesel owners don't know that they can adjust their idle with their cruise control; just like truckers. If you have that feature you should always sit at high idle (around 1000 rpm) if parked for any length of time. Like the generator, you should also run your diesel engine at high idle weekly. One area that diesel owners neglect is the care and maintenance of their air system. Most diesels have air bags (which makes the ride so wonderful) and air brakes. Most also have a drier, because clean, dry air is a necessity for the system to work properly. The drier will have a filter and desiccant cartridge that should be changed annually. Periodically, the brakes should be bled down and allowed to recharge. The brakes also have slack adjusters that should be inspected regularly. You can conduct a Google search on all of these things or visit a truck maintenance facility and ask some questions. Although mileage is a factor when considering the purchase of a gas rig; don't forget that most folks don't put a lot of miles on them on an annual basis. If you're a weekend warrior, a well maintained gasser might be right up your alley. Either way, if you're going to sit for any length of time, the same advice vis a vis exercising applies. Finally, PLEASE weigh your rig when you are loaded and ready to hit the road. For one thing you don't want to overload it and it gives you a target for setting your tire pressure. IMHO you should purchase a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) if your rig doesn't have one. Finally, after years of experience and owning both class A's and 5th wheels, here's my advice. If you think you're going to travel a lot and utilize your rig regularly a diesel pusher is the way to go. It causes me heartache to see expensive diesel pushers parked and ignored. A well trimmed out 5ver also works fine for fulltimers or over the road travel. If you long term camp or use your rig for things like work or as a park model, a motorized rig is not the way to go. Some may argue, but a Class A gasser just doesn't work for extensive travelling. Most lack the air ride and heavy duty chassis found on a diesel pusher. The lighter chassis also affects your load capacity. Hopefully, this has been helpful and enlightening. Now, go out there and exercise!
Saturday, June 13, 2015
We descended upon the oil patch, wide eyed and innocent, in a abused and used motorhome. Add to that we had no idea of the depth of experience or integrity of RV repair in South Texas. I will not bore you with details as most of my dear readers know that we spent thousands of dollars trying to keep that motorhome running. At about $500 a visit, we slowly grew too realize that the majority of the mechanics knew little more than we did. That was especially difficult to deal with in specialty areas such as air conditioning and electricity; trades I was wholly ignorant in. It was a shocking wake up call since, back in Oklahoma, we had an honest, knowledgeable and reasonable RV tech and mechanic. Notice I said RV tech and mechanic separately. This is especially important when it comes to motorized RVs, because they require two distinct specialties. For instance, it is a rare mechanic that works on both drivetrains and RV roofs. Since we couldn't find a decent RV tech, or get one to come out to the patch, I embarked on a crash course in RV systems. I am blessed to be mechanically inclined and I also had a father that imparted a ton of knowledge. Along with that I am a certified welder and possess a Federally issued Airframe and Powerplant license. The Information Age has provided an endless source of knowledge via the internet and I am a voracious reader. It then seemed only natural to share this knowledge with others, especially those stuck in the oil patch with little or no hope for needed repairs. I soon noticed that more and more folks were contacting me and asking questions. A Face Book page followed (Gate Guard Info and RV Maintenance Tips) and more and more folks turned to it; saving themselves a ton of money. When a tech had to be called or the RV went into a shop, folks were at least better prepared. Information is your friend, especially when dealing with some of the repair techs that prey on RVers. A typical service call involves at least a $100 fee to just come out; then a mysterious sliding scale for labor, plus parts thrown in for good measure. If, after you have exhausted all other possibilities, you have to call out a tech or head to the shop, get the fees and costs up front. Like a dentist a thousand dollars doesn't go far in the patch or shop. I feel especially blessed knowing that I have saved folks some money, shared some knowledge and given them some peace of mind.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Every endeavor and job evolves over time. Rule changes, environment changes, pay changes (hopefully up), uniform changes; you name it and all of us have probably experienced them. As my dear readers know I have chronicled how much the face of gate guarding has evolved since those heady "wild west days". I, for one, enjoyed the craziness. We had utter chaos going on; I suspect much like the days of the gold rushes of yore. There were people that had no business, much less the qualifications, to be out here. That included gate guards, by the way. If you could fog a mirror and understand basic questions in English, Armenian, Spanish or whatever language, you could secure a CDL. Nepotism ran rampant, feeding the good old boy network. Caterers were everywhere and food and drink flowed. We had drilling, fracking and production running willy-nilly all over Texas. Dusters be damn, let's continue drilling! Eventually some organization took over and fracking companies caught up to the drilled holes, followed by organized flowback and production. All of this was because of stratospheric oil prices, which eventually were choked by OPEC. The road might go on forever, but the party had to end in the patch. (apologies to Robert Earl Keen) I remember sitting for a week or two with nary a visitor after drilling had completed. Hell, we were even forgotten on a gate once! Those things rarely happen anymore in the brave new world of sub $100 a barrel oil. If there is a day or two gap between operations anymore, the entire gate guarding ensemble is pulled off the gate. No easy task for both the gate guard and his or hers security company. A revolution is occurring, with more and more guard shacks taking over gates normally manned by a couple in an RV. Used to be you could get a security job over the phone. We even completed the whole process via the mail and Fed Ex when we started. Now security companies have the luxury to pick and choose who they want on their gates. Those guards with a "past" that burned their bridges are slowly being ousted and having trouble securing work. In a way it is good for the profession, as professionalism is always appreciated by the suits in corporate. That won't keep me from reminiscing about the camaraderie of following a rig and running balls to the wall 28 hours a day. We once drilled a hole, including setup and tear down, in about a week. We went from spud to TD in about three days! I have an idea that I witnessed history in the making and it will probably never happen again in my lifetime.