Thursday, February 12, 2009

RV Creativity

RVers are always looking for ways to conserve, especially those who boondock (park without hookups.) It's always a question of how long our water will last and how long can we go without dumping the holding tanks (lovely topic, but a popular one in the RV world.) Ron has recently made some adaptations to the RV to improve the quality of life while still conserving.

As do a lot of fulltimers, we leave our water heater off unless we have a specific hot water purpose - like a shower. Even the dishes usually are washed with water heated on the stove. Ron especially hated that morning cold water washup and recently did something about it. Following suggestions made by our mechanical genius, our good friend Pete, he installed a timer on the water heater. The timer turns on the water heater automatically first thing in the morning and turns it off 20 minutes later providing nice warm water for those morning ablutions.

He hooked the timer in the water heater circuit at the existing switch. He also put a switch in series with the timer so that the timer system can be manually bypassed. The new timer and switch are in parallel with the existing water heater switch so we can also manually turn on the water heater. The previous explanation is Ron's and if you want any further clarification, you'll have to ask him. All I know is that it works like magic! And it only took us two days to figure out how to program the timer.

The next problem he tackled was how to avoid wasting water while waiting for the hot water to travel from the tank to the sink. Once again he was inspired by Pete's brilliance. First he purchased a 24 volt sprinkler system valve, some tubing, fittings, and a momentary contact switch (yes, that's what he said.) He tapped into the hot water line under the bathroom sink and installed the valve. He then piped the valve output to the city water input line which leads to the fresh water tank. He found 12 volt power nearby and wired to the switch and then to the valve. When the switch is held in the 'on' position, the valve opens and bypasses the water in the hot water line back to the fresh water tank. (Yes, it does work on 12 volts, even though the guy in Home Depot said it never would.) The only imperfection in the system is that the valve diaphragm chatters a bit at shut off, but we can live with that.

Once again if you have any questions, ask Ron.

Although these are both marvelous innovations, they still don't compare with Ron's invention of a little over a year ago. For months, he had been mumbling something about wanting to raise and lower his solar panels from the ground. We all just patted him on the back and said, "Sure, sure." Well, he showed us all. If you haven't seen the video demonstration on Diana's blog, click here to be amazed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


To answer those of you who asked, Ron and I have no plans to get off the road at this time. After Ron finishes his dental work in April, we'll be off to Kentucky and Tennessee - both are states we haven't spent a lot of time in. Our little Mesa house is just a winter place for us for now, although who knows what will happen in the future.

Almost as shocking as buying a house, we have checked into an RV park for a month. We wanted to face east or south for the morning sun on these cold winter mornings. After looking at the park's few available sites, we took the only one we could fit into. Ron's parking abilities were well tested backing into this spot. I would never have attempted it.

We do face south, but the neighbor's carport shades us in the morning - humm, didn't think about that.

The park has a hiking club and yesterday we joined them for a hike in South Mountain Park. This is a city park right in the middle of the Phoenix metropolis. The mountain rises about 1000 feet above the city and, when the pollution isn't too bad, you can see forever. We drove up to the lookout and were pretty impressed.

With our 'over 55' crowd (some way over), a visit to the restroom is critical before a hike. This was only a 'one-holer' so it took awhile.

Then we were off, but the leader made sure we stopped often to admire the scenery (at least that's why he said we were stopping.)

The most famous landmark on this trail is Fat Man's Pass where you squeeze through these fallen boulders.

This is harder for some people than others. Poor Joe is 6'6" and just a big guy. He ended up backing out and having to find a way around.

Ron, however, made it look easy.

Once through, the hike takes you though lovely Hidden Valley with some additional challenges along the way.

We were so excited to spot these exotic animals along the trail!

It was really a lovely hike and, at about four miles, just long enough and challenging enough to suit us.

Today was our friend Bertie's birthday. She invited us to her gorgeous house where we laughed and carried on with other WIN friends. After all, that is what the WINs do best. It was a very special evening - Happy Birthday, Bertie.