Category Archives: Safety

Don’t You Read The Manuals First?

A few days ago in Edmonton we watched the neighbor open some adult-proof vacuum-packed tough plastic-enclosed something or other. We never did figure out what Dave was opening, maybe a flashlight combo-pack or something like it. What struck us was how he very carefully, using aviation snips, cut open the package on two sides so he could reach carefully in and extract the instructions.

That’s all he removed, the instructions. Everything else he left in the packaging. And he seemed to read thoroughly the instructions. Wouldn’t it be a sad punch line indeed, for the instructions to say at the bottom, “Do Not read the instructions — install batteries and test device first”?

If you pilot an airplane (not RC, I mean the ones with 30′ to 230′ wingspans) you probably read, retain, and respond to information from, the instruction manuals. I’m pretty sure of this. Some of you probably are active or retired pilots — let me know if I’m wrong on this.

I read an exchange between a couple of pilots today that went sort of like this:

Pilot 1 said, “We’ve always done the event on the second Wednesday, always. It’s in the manual. They should have followed the manual.”

And pilot 2 responded, “What were they thinking? Someone isn’t reading the manual.”

Okay. A couple of us might be guilty of not following what the manual says. And not just on this issue, of scheduling a particular event on the day. There is doubtless great cause for following the manual if you are a pilot. Lots of very bad experiences almost certainly would reflect unfavorably upon their failure to follow prescriptive rules. Even emergencies likely are well addressed in the pilot’s instruction manual? They must be.

There’s an interesting, although not sourced, paragraph on 1950’s military disdain for manuals’ nonreaders in this Wiki article,
“The phrase RTFM was in common use in the early 1950s by radio and radar technicians in the US Air Force. Operators frequently did not check simple faults, for example checking whether a fuse had blown or a power plug had become disconnected.”

Gary KB0H suggests in his nicely written article our failure to read the instruction manuals may not be all our own fault.

Also check out dogbert’s approach this short instructive youtube video on use of manuals — it may not help but is fun.

A long time ago I had responsibility for installation, operation and maintenance of a large hospital’s critical environmental, electrical, and medical gas equipment services. We did this all according to the manuals. There was no other conscionable or effective means of insuring everything was copasetic with the equipment. We operate and maintain our great cowboy cadillac the same way for the same reason — we don’t want any surprises in sometimes critical functioning.

Back to the email exchange between the pilots, they were writing about and copying to another officer of a club. Their resounding smugness was very telling. They apparently read and follow manuals better than some of their younger (and non-pilot) counterparts. A lack of proper training is the problem with young people these days, I tell you!

A few weeks ago I stopped the truck awhile for Deb’s Father’s Day conversation with her pop. Given this downtime in the cowboy cadillac pilot’s seat I wanted for amusement. Messing with Deb was out of the question, important phone call. Didn’t really have time to walk down to the beach and besides, the winds were gusting over 30 mph so truck cab felt pretty good.

Hmm, maybe I can just explore the Kenwood ham radio (TM-D710a) while Deb talks with pop. I scroll through all the many buttons, watching the display in a manner not possible while driving the truck. What’s this button labelled “POS”? First thought goes to Men In Black and the black Ford LTD “POS” — do you remember it? Will Smith called it a POS but was quickly proven wrong as it did flying and other things our parents’ cars never could.

What does this radio’s POS button do? Lo and behold, this function is NOT in the manuals. Notably, neither of the two manuals for this very complicated vhf/uhf radio say a word about reading the manual. I read them both again last night. I do read them each time I have a question about the radio — how do accomplish some programming or task — and the answer is not always there. Hmm, maybe manuals aren’t what they used to be?

But I’ll wager you still read the manuals if you ever did. Dave has this good habit. I don’t. What about you? Which is it?

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr


Searching for Woody Hi-Q in the desert

Herb and Lois are full-timers we met through ham radio rallies years ago.  Debbie and I  have fun with them and share many interests including walking.  This day Debbie and Lois drove to Quartzsite on a shopping trip.  Herb and I agreed we might take a little walk while the girls were away.

Herb and I left our campsite intending to stroll about looking for Woody, the Hi-Q antenna guy.  Herb has a couple of Hi-Q ham radio antennas (neat stuff!) and brought along some money to buy a few more parts from Woody.

I assumed Herb knew where we were to look and I had no idea whatsoever where Woody might be camped.  Had we talked a little more about our prospective walk I would have figured we were really just on a walkabout in the desert south of Quartzsite.  Which is fine but I would have brought along more stuff than I did.

SAR guys tell us the basic rules for trips into the desert

The search and rescue guys had only two days before given a presentation to our large group.  These SAR guys provided very clear precautions  before striking out into the desert and Herb and I violated all but one.  Good news, we did have a portable ham radio and a cell phone with good service and battery.  We had no water, no sandwiches, no sunscreen, no camera, and had left no note as to our walk plans.  And, if I had remembered it, we had a quite capable compass in my Suunto wrist computer/watch.  The compass would have been helpful if I had remembered it AND if we knew what bearing to take.  You do need both, a compass isn’t as useful if you don’t know where you want to go.

So Herb and I set out along a pretty decent road from our camp, walking briskly.  After 45 minutes we see a settlement a mile or two (or three) ahead in the desert and decide we’ll keep going in that direction.  We arrived a the housing development (park model development?) after another 45 minutes, or two miles walking, and spent twenty minutes walking 3/4 around it.

We were at least two miles from Quartzsite and not sure whether we could find Debbie and Lois there and hitch a ride back with them so we struck off across the desert toward (we thought) our encampment.  Bearing on a distant landmark in the mountain range well to the southwest, we headed across the open desert watching for the road we had hiked in.  It was a well-traveled road we were sure we “couldn’t miss”.

More than two hours later we had missed the road without knowing it.  We also didn’t realize we passed well west of our campground and extended our walk a couple of miles.  Thinking we needed to change our approach we headed for some buildings to our east, and encountered a dirt-biker heading by us.  He told us we had a several miles on a new course to reach our campground and pointed the way.

My next RVing antenna?

Fortunately the dirt-biker was correct on the direction and overestimated the distance a tiny bit.  We entered the Road Runner BLM “campground” from a new (for us) angle.  We saw this antenna — it was worth the walk to see this antenna holding the little camper down.  Herb and I marched, triumphant at our 10+ mile walkabout, into the campsite.  And drank a gallon of water each.

Next up — pictures and descriptions of our week in the desert (no, not walking) with 400 other amateur radio RVs at the 2012 Quartzfest Rally in Quartzsite.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-20112 Dreamstreamr

Travel Trailer and Truck Weights

Full-timers reputedly take everything with them in their RV. There’s no “home” for your stuff except your RV, the home you live in year around. Stuff can get heavy, especially when stuff is densely packed. And RVs have specific limits on hauling heavy stuff. We don’t want to run around the country without any books, food, water, or gear. We could simply declare everything is “a critical need” no matter the weight. Bad idea. How do we figure out how much we can take?

Many RVers have pulled truck and travel trailer across the CAT scales at a truck stop somewhere. Perhaps you’ve stopped by one of the state’s weighing scales? Any of these seem to provide a reasonable look at compliance with overall weight restrictions. Trucks and trailers each have maximum allowable weights, called gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR. The truck and trailer also each have gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) specific to each axle.

The truck has an additional rating you might need to look for a little deeper, the GCWR or gross combined weight rating. This is the maximum allowable total combined actual weight for truck and trailer. You cannot use the two vehicles’ listed weights for this, you need to know what your fully loaded weights are. The CAT scales provide you these total weights for the truck and the trailer for under $10 USD.

You won’t obtain weights for any given corner, or tire load, from these truck scales. They weigh across the entire width of the axle for the weight supported by the left and right tires of each axle. Portable scales can provide weights for each individual tire’s load. We had not attended any rally offering this more detailed weighing and were interested in how balanced, side to side, our truck and our trailer are.

front wheels go onto the two scales first

A prime reason for us to attend the Escapees rally in Marion this past weekend was their SmartWeigh program. Mark Nemeth, Escapees technical advisor, supervised and documented the wheel by wheel weighing of our trucks and trailers. This accurate weighing system provides this information beyond what we obtain from CAT scales.

pads keep the unweighed wheels level to the others

We learned the load per tire for all eight tires. The first weighing was truck only, front axles first. Not surprisingly, Jim’s side weighed thirty pounds more and corresponds closely to our difference in body weight. The rear axles highlighted a 250 pound difference, probably attributable to the 295 pounds of gasoline remaining in the fuel tank on the truck’s left side and the 150 pounds of tool box at the left rear.

must be a diesel-pwr truck, mine doesn't weigh this

Twelve percent imbalance from left to right may not be a big deal but probably explains the utility of tires rotation, eh? More importantly, we want to be attuned to weights distribution for safely towing our full-timing setup down the road.

Our trailer’s weight on the axles is 5,650 pounds. This is good, our axles rating is 6,000 pounds so we are 350 pounds under the maximum rating.

Unfortunately the axles aren’t loaded equally. The front one is 3,200 pounds and the rear is 2,450 pounds. So we plan to raise the hitch head’s height to move weight from the front axle to the rear. We will re-weigh the trailer’s axles afterward.

We learned our weight-distributing hitch needs a little tweaking. Jim knew the hitch wasn’t loading quite enough to the truck’s front axle. The trailer’s weight distributing hitch is still allowing the trailer to push the truck’s rear fenders down over an inch and raise the truck’s front fenders one-half inch. The weighing shows in more detail the problem with the trailer hitched to the truck — five hundred pounds added to each truck rear wheel, and fifty to one hundred off the front wheels. We don’t want to see weight subtracted from the truck’s front end.

Our hitch head is already mounted at the draw bar’s top holes. Jim plans to tear the hitch head down and paint it so it’ll look as good as the a-frame and other hitch parts. Then he will invert the draw bar to provide additional upward adjustment and raise the trailer’s front two inches. He will adjust the hitch ball’s tilt away from the truck to increase the loading to the truck’s front axle.

We could have obtained these results from CAT scales easily enough. But the CAT scales would not have shown us our side-to-side loading. Our trailer’s rear axle weight is equal from side to side. The trailer’s front axle is two hundred pounds heavier on curb side and we don’t think we can effect much change on this — we’re not ready to move the case work or holding tanks. And the truck is less than two-hundred pounds heavier on the curb side, which we can account for and alter by relocating some of the truck bed’s heavier contents.

We have corrections to make on the hitch and fine tuning on our loads. Jim has another project, again. Then a trip to the CAT scales to verify the improvements.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

The Knee You Save May Be Your Own

We’re towing toward the NC mountains tomorrow and looking forward to a five-day rally with the Escapees Club. This will be our first Escapees event although we’ve been members since 2005. Escapees conduct annual, regional, and local rallies and special activities. We’re glad to have this opportunity to try one.

Some electrical & water connections are harder to reach than others

Several years ago, at a fairgrounds rally, we unhitched the truck from the trailer and proceeded to connect water and electric only to realize the electrical outlet was too far from our trailer. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to remain hitched until checking utilities performance and location and the whether the trailer is sitting level? Yep, we try to remember this every time we park and it’s working well for us.

Okay, we now have that part figured out. One major unhitching issue remains — stowing the hitch-head. What’s that? Can’t we just leave the hitch-head in the truck’s receiver? Or is the better question, should we remove the hitch-head from the truck’s receiver? YES, remove the hitch-head from the receiver as soon as we level the trailer and assure we can reach utilities without moving. The correct answer is a resounding Yes.

If you could prevent a painful, expensive and unnecessary injury to your shin or knee or very expensive repair to your car’s front grille, would you consider it a good savings measure? Or maybe it is only a good safety measure? Either way, you have the prerogative and power to prevent painful and expensive damages. Just remove the hitch-head from the receiver after you park your trailer.

Our hitch-head (the part on which the ball sits and into which the weight distributing bars insert) is typical in size, length, and heft to other brands and types. Some folks don’t use weight distributing hitches (to distribute hitch weight to truck’s front axle and trailer’s axles) and tow with a hitch ball attached to the end of a drawbar. Either arrangement displaces the hitch ball between six and ten inches rear of the truck’s bumper.

Would this arrangement, when carried without a trailer behind the truck, have any impact upon pedestrians or other vehicles? It depends upon whether someone were walking around the rear of the truck, or if the truck is backing toward another car or truck or fence. If you’ve bumped your shin on one of these, you already know what we’re talking about.

How would you like to do this to the car behind you?

Or if you were to back your truck one foot too many you could easily put the stinger or hitch-head through the grille, air conditioning condenser, and radiator of the car parked behind you. Good thing you have insurance — this one required $3,200 in repairs to our sister-in-law’s sedan. Probably there would not have even been contact had the stinger not been stored in the receiver and projecting 12 inches behind the truck. Or if the guy hadn’t backed up toward the take-out window he had just left to ask for another biscuit.

This is how our club members showed us to store the hitch-head, under the trailer’s coupling. We don’t have to lift the hitch-head to get it here, we simply pull the pin in the receiver tube and pull the truck away from the trailer. The hitch-head stays coupled to the trailer as we pull the truck forward a few feet to park it. Then we swing the hitch-head around and under the coupler and a-frame.

hitch head stored under the trailer's coupling

The hitch-head is far less likely to sustain damage here than mounted on the truck. We won’t put the hitch-head through someone’s fence, wall, or car grille if we don’t have the hitch-head on the truck. And just possibly we will prevent a very painful, expensive, and unnecessary injury to someone’s shin or knee.

Our hitch-head is locked into the trailer’s coupler and the drawbar has a locking pin through the hole to reduce the chance of someone accidentally hitching to our trailer and taking our home away. No lifting involved, no back muscles invoked, we level the trailer hitch to the truck’s receiver, pull the pin at the truck’s receiver, and pull the truck forward a few feet.

Prevention costs you nothing. And you might save $3,000 on repairing someone’s car grille, or $30,000 on a knee repair. Swing the hitch-head on the trailer’s coupler, under the a-frame. The knee you save might be your own.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

How did I survive childhood?

Family legend holds that mom’s favorite baby was pulled from the beach by the tide and a bystander from another family saved me, perhaps ignoring my sister’s insistence that I was supposed to be going for the big ride.

Another family story tells of my yanking down a cuckoo clock onto my head before I was five years old. Before I was seven I had experimented with electric current by cutting an electric lamp’s cord with dad’s uninsulated pliers. I have the pliers still, over fifty years later and they have a neatly cut circle in the middle of the cutting jaws.

Age eight provided me the privilege of owning both a bicycle and a pocket knife. Thirty-two birthdays later I also received a bicycle helmet, my first one, because 98% of bicycle-related brain injuries are preventable. And 100% of pocket knife injuries are preventable by prohibiting people from carrying or owning pocket knives. Some people act amazed when I profess we didn’t hurt ourselves or others throwing our pocketknives at each others feet at school in games of mumbly-peg. 

I shot hundreds of rounds at NRA rifle practice without hearing protection. I built a go-kart, fueled it with a gasoline-alcohol mixture, and fell off it at speed in a rough asphalt parking lot, without body armor or a helmet.   

I built small bombs in our garage on an air force base, hunted squirrels with sling shots, filled my jacket completely around with M-80s to sell at school. I melted styrofoam cups with gasoline to make gelled gasoline, but didn’t know what I did it for. I built and fired tennis ball cannon from beer cans reinforced with tape and wire and fired with lighter fluid. Some people have died from injuries from far less exposure.

I shot a bicycle spoke with a slingshot (it was an accident, really!) into and up the back of my hand and rather than self-report and subject myself to the pain of a tetanus shot, I used an x-acto knife to open the path of the long subcutaneous puncture and washed it out thoroughly with Phisohex soap.

I didn’t wear safety glasses when i exploded entire rolls of toy pistol caps in a six inch mechanics vise (and perhaps ruined the vise after the twentieth or thirtieth time). I wonder if Mike Morrisette’s dad ever noticed changes we probably wrought on his vise. I connected 110 volts to carbon rods I had removed from D-cell batteries and sharpened, to create an arc lamp — it arced alright and, of course, I didn’t have safety or dark glasses on. I did, thoughtfully, have leather gloves on for this handheld experiment. But I couldn’t see anything in the garage for a few minutes afterward.

 I didn’t wear ear or eye protection when we threw lit M-80s into a hole, covered them with dirt, then reached back over the hole to recover the new army-style folding shovel. Yeah, the earth erupted and filled my eyes with flying dirt and rocks. The shovel was okay. 

 I didn’t wear eye or ear protection when I exploded 27 caliber crimped blanks on the concrete garage floor with the back of dad’s axe. I did realize, though, I might need some shin protection when I noticed the old plastic kerosene jug was leaking where it took a hit from shrapnel from the exploding copper shell on the crimped blank. 

I learned to check overhead before starting to chop on something with a hatchet. A few well-placed blows to a wall stud of our garage and I found myself recovering from being knocked out from a blow to my head. A one gallon steel tiki lamp, perched atop the wall, had fallen right onto my soft head. 

I walked the dog barefoot in the snow. I played tennis barefoot on hard courts, sometimes gratefully finding cooler surface on the painted lines. Heck, sometimes I think I grew up barefoot. 

I don’t suffer from diseases contracted through my bare feet. I’m a pretty good shot and I still have my hearing. My uncorrected vision is really good for someone my age. I still have all my fingers and toes, all my body parts are essentially original equipment, slightly reinforced but not replaced. I never contracted tetanus, although I did get hepatitus forty-five years ago from water skiing in the Mississippi River (who knew THAT danger of water skiing?). I still wince when I hear or see something moving over my head — I might should put steel toe reinforcement inside my golf hat?

I should have reviewed this list and considered the resilience of children and youth before my two children came along. I think I would have given them more time outside, more room to explore, more leeway to experiment with cool stuff.


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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

Isn’t alcohol lighter than water?

We’re overweight. What’s new, right? I mean, aren’t something like sixty percent of Americans overweight now? Except I don’t mean “us”, but our home. How much does your home weigh? You don’t know? Who weighs their home? We do, up to 2X/year. How else can we maintain any margin of safety relative to our trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) or our truck’s gross combined weight rating (gcwr)?

Jim likes to pull occasionally into a Flying J or Pilot or another truck stop with scales. He can pull the truck and trailer onto the scales platform and, for less than $10 and five minutes, we obtain a printed weight report for each of the truck’s two axles and for the trailer. We try to have our home weighed once or twice a year.

How’s it working out? Not too badly for having moved everything from a 3,000 sf house into a 184 sf trailer. Well, not everything — it wouldn’t fit. We moved what we thought we should and could take with us. We tried to be very judicious about our belongings, only taking what we thought we would need and use.

Gradually we have accumulated stuff. Mostly the increase seems to be food, clothing, and books. Wait a minute, aren’t these the only things we have in the trailer? Not really, since we have cookware, place settings, radio equipment, and cleaning stuff, too.

Still, the trailer has gained weight in the three years we’ve been full-timing. Here are our weights over the past four years:
date              trailer truck
25-Sep-06 5580 7400
12-Aug-07 6060 8160
17-Aug-07 6040 8080
4-Jun-09 6120 8840
22-Oct-09 6220 8760
28-Mar-10 6400 8700

The first weight is one of our first outings with this trailer, packed for a weekend. The next two are in the first week of our maiden voyage as retirees, on our 8,000 mile shake-down cruise. The weights, interestingly, are pre-solar panels (60 pounds), pre-6 volt batteries (50 pounds increase) and pre-roof-mounted ham radio antenna (40 pounds?). Also, we had a weight in 2008 (not shown) that is 800 pounds heavier and we attribute it to scale (or math) error and tossed it out.

Our last three weights are current, last year and last week. And we decided we have finally reached the tipping point. We are officially over-weight. Last year we emptied the trailer’s outside storage bins (curb side and rear) of all weighty gear, including chemicals and shoes. Nice thought, but this left a lot of work yet to be done.

Today we earnestly started cutting out excesses in our rolling home. First to go? Bose Sound System sub-woofer and Almost Invisible speakers, comprising 20 pounds, are de-mounted and heading for storage where they’ll await another, heavier home sometime in our future.

Next? We pored through our clothing totes in the trailer and found almost five pounds (woohoo!) of clothes to give away or store for backpacking or winter. The stored ones will stay with us, but in the truck which has almost limitless weight capacity. Well, not really, since the gvwr is 9,200 pounds and we’re already at 8,700.

And we’re carrying all the gear we have room for — the truck bed is full enough already. We lack no tools or fun gear. We will swap out Jim’s golf clubs and add our backpacking gear for some adventures in Washington or Oregon late this summer or fall. Our challenge, then, is to find the stuff we aren’t using and don’t really need but just happen to carry along.

The best examples are our pretty Airstream books, or our complete Martinis and Medicine MASH dvd collection. We can’t watch but so many episodes in a year’s time, and as much as we love the books we spend more time reading books and periodicals. Speaking of periodicals, we’ll save a few pounds if Jim will catch up with Debbie on Time, Appalachian Trail Conference, Carolina Alumni Review, and QST magazines so we can carry fewer of these.

And we have increased our food stocks without any regard for weight totals. Who wouldn’t? What do you want to do without, beer, chocolate, or ice cream? Nah! We want them all! And the truck isn’t a good place for these items. But we can move ten or twenty pounds of canned and other dry goods to the truck.

What else can go? We have carried two spare sets of sheets and one spare set of towels. And have never needed them. We can wash and dry either in one day and put them back in service. Rarely do we have overnight house guests needing linens, although once we did have a granddaughter stay overnight two nights. Okay, we’ll shed the oldest set of bed linens and the remainder comprise almost five pounds more we can move to the truck.

This weight reduction will help, but we could cut the most weight by keeping our fresh water tank empty. Jim prefers to maintain the fresh water tank full. But at 39 gallons X 8.3 pounds per gallon, we can trim some part of 320 pounds right there. Traveling without fresh water isn’t a great idea, but we can carry less than a full tank. Lacking water, if we get thirsty we’ll still have a case each of beer and wine and a few fifths of liquor, right?

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

What I don’t know about drinking water can hurt me

We lived many years in Charlotte, NC, and benefited from a well-run municipal potable water treatment and distribution system. Some folks turn up their noses at muni water supplies and prefer bottled water or well water, perhaps without investigating the difference in qualities.

Public water systems maintain stringent monitoring, process controls, and reporting to meet or exceed mandatory EPA guidelines (FDA standards for bottled water are far different from EPA’s tap water standards, according to NRDC). There are, of course, always exceptions but, given a highly regulated water source and an essentially unregulated one, we’ll generally stick with the EPA-regulated water source.

Full-timers may be less familiar with local water supplies than home owners and sometimes this can matter significantly. Have you ever considered asking the local tap water supplier about the water quality? Shouldn’t you know if the park is under a boil-water condition, or “the water is okay but no one drinks it”? Wouldn’t you like to know what you’re drinking?

We’ve started asking about the water source and quality if we’re going to connect to, or fill from, a park’s supply. You may get a funny reaction from the park’s office staff (even if they are the manager). Sometimes they’ll say, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about it, I’ll find out.” We’ve been told, it comes from the adjacent housing subdivision and is whatever they get.”

And we learned at one park, “The well water is untreated.” We needed to fill our potable water tank, but didn’t want to store untreated water in it. Cleaning the interior of a water storage tank is much more difficult than keeping it clean. Or do you believe what you don’t know won’t hurt you? You can’t see in the tank, and the gradu isn’t showing up in your ice trays so everything is okay. Wrong.

How do we maintain our RV’s potable water system? We provide the following not as a prescription for your use, nor as a superlative to anyone else’s methods. The following is what we have done for the past five years. We wish we could show you a picture of the inside of our tank (or maybe we shouldn’t be looking in there anyway).

> We keep our fresh water tank full as much as we reasonably can. We can treat what is under the water line, we cannot treat above the water line. Air space above the water line is space for growing stuff on the tank walls. Keep the tank full most of the time.

> We change the fresh water on a regular basis, even if we haven’t used it. Water treatment is our friend (many people will argue this, but this is about us) and inhibits organic growth in our fresh water tank. Chlorine treatment doesn’t persist in stored water.

> We don’t put untreated water into our potable water tank. If the park offers only untreated water then we’ll treat it during the tank filling (more on this later). We don’t have a nifty siphon pickup attachment for our fresh water (white) hose. Instead we use a piece of NSF grade clear tubing two feet long to siphon from a one quart container of the bleach and water solution. We mix the solution following guidelines for emergency treatment of drinking water from EPA.

We found a helpful link to system cleaning procedures as well as normal chlorination here. We also have used guidelines from an EPA document, emergency disinfection drinking water. The EPA guidelines are similar to what Jim followed in treating institutional potable storage tanks in his previous lifetime.

An interesting side note comes from monitoring our drinking water pitcher. This pitcher is clear plastic and sits upon our counter-top. The pitcher holds almost a gallon of drinking water and receives artificial light or indirect sunlight all day. The pitcher has an integral filter cartridge. And, within three to four weeks, we start seeing green film in the pitcher.

The filter’s advertisements claim, “Lowering levels of sediment and chlorine–evident to the nose and mouth–enhance water taste while health concerns are addressed by reducing copper, mercury, and up to 98% of lead commonly found in tap water” (Amazon ad). Relevant in this discussion is the reduction of chlorine in the water. No algae inhibitors, so here grows the stuff! We thoroughly wash our pitcher every three or four weeks when we notice visible green in the bottom of the pitcher. Can you wash your RV’s fresh water tank so easily, and how do you know when to do so?

We mentioned earlier, we cannot readily see inside our fresh water storage tank and aren’t sure we really want to. [I think I’ve seen some pictures of old potable water tanks removed from RVs — not a pretty site. We couldn’t find them to attach for this article.] We do want to maintain our fresh water tank in a reasonable manner and believe we can do this by following three simple guidelines.

> We keep our fresh water tank full as often as we reasonably can.

> We change the fresh water on a regular basis (drain and refill at 3-4 week intervals).

> We don’t put untreated water into our potable water tank (if the source is untreated, we’ll treat the water while filling our tank).

Our RV has an inlet water sediment filter with a large cartridge in a plastic canister. The whole house water filter keeps rocks and other debris from clogging our valves and faucets. We mentioned above we also use a Brita water filter for our drinking water. We do not use bottled water and don’t buy water (RO or other processes).

Whenever we stay in an area for a few days we become accustomed to the local water “flavor”. Filtered through our counter-top pitcher, the water makes good tea and is fine in our re-usable water bottles. Why incur additional costs (and increases of disposable plastics to waste dumps) of bottled water? Or dumping quarters or dollars in the RO water dispensers?

We believe we are providing safe and sufficient quality water for our uses with the above steps. This has worked for us. What do you do?

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr