Here’s a photo of a back wheel of our Newmar Mountain Aire motorhome. My husband, Rick, gets credit for this idea: we have spinners! We have yet to see another motorhome with them. It has been fun to watch people’s reaction to them during our travels. They point and give us a thumbs-up, honking to make sure we know we have their approval!
Brenda Guse, F282034
I recently utilized the Michelin Advantage program member benefit, which reduced the cost of buying a set of six tires for my Dutch Star motorhome by a significant amount. I went to TCI Tire Centers in Lancaster, Texas (3101 N. Houston School Road; 972-228-8280).
Assistant center manager Jim Hall was a full-time RVer for several years. His knowledge of motorhomes was comforting to me when they started jacking up the rig to change out the tires. His staff is fully aware of the Michelin Advantage program and able to complete the paperwork correctly. They also keep RV-size tires in stock.
I recommend this facility to other FMCA members needing tires. TCI has locations in many other states as well; see www.tirecenters.com.
Peter J. Conlon Jr., F387638
Boosting Wi-Fi Signals
Editor’s Note: In the January 2012 “Readers’ Forum” column, Sylvia De Turck asked fellow readers for ideas on how to improve weak Wi-Fi signals in campgrounds (page 16). Below is a sampling of letters received in response to her question.
I have had the same problem and found a great solution. It is provided by JefaTech and is a wonderful Wi-Fi repeater. While in camping areas with fringe or weak Wi-Fi, this unit does the job. I have been using it for about two years now. I have no affiliation with the company.
Steven Ballard, F394514
I use a hotspot MiFi. It is a cassette-sized adapter that has 5 GB, can have four users at the same time, about 30 feet apart, and logs on instantly. I use it for Hotmail, q.com, and my work e-mail. I teach online, so I need quick access, security, and portability, and it is used in our RV all of the time. My husband uses it at home on the laptop while I use a conventional ISP on my desktop. It costs $50 a month — a heck of a deal. It is totally secure, as it requires a specific password.
Nan Guthrie, F363624
Regarding Wi-Fi on the road, what works best for our whole family is to just use our smart phones as Wi-Fi hotspots instead of relying on the campground. Most smart phone carriers will allow for you to add the feature to your phone for a few months out of the year, then simply cancel the feature for your non-traveling months. There are several ways to get this feature, so contact your mobile phone company for more details and pricing.
Dana Berner, F422401
Most Wi-Fi devices associated with laptops or personal computers have a range of approximately 300 feet. The range can be extended by using a higher gain directional antenna or putting an amplified omnidirectional antenna on the roof of the coach. Elevating the antenna improves the likelihood of being within the line of sight of the nearest campground Wi-Fi access point. This significantly improves both range and performance.
Typically this type of connection is established by using a Wi-Fi router for all of the networked devices in the coach and connecting an external amplified antenna to the router, using either CAT 5 or CAT 6 cable. All of this effort improves connectivity to the campground’s Wi-Fi, hotspot but, unfortunately, there is no guarantee the campground will actually have sufficient bandwidth to support the needs of all of the users in the campground.
Keith Cooper, F418397
We have a TravelNet system by Winegard, which uses two cellular antennas, a cellular router, and a Wi-Fi router installed in our coach. The system is available at Camping World for about $400. Installation requires about two hours of tech time, depending on where it is placed in your RV. A monthly cell service (digital) fee is added to our cellular bill (we have Verizon).
Being cellular-based, our system rarely has problems acquiring a signal, and speed is great. We even got reception (in town) in northern British Columbia, Yukon Territory, and Alaska.
Now we never have to ask about Wi-Fi availability when we stop, and we can conduct secure business without worries.
Robert & Sharon Schneidler, F375599
While we were staying at Pechanga RV Resort in Temecula, California, I decided to do a load of whites in our motorhome washing machine while my wife was away. But I had neglected to reopen the gray water valve the last time I dumped the black water tank (I wanted some soapy water to flush the hose), so the gray water tank overflowed through the shower and onto the carpeted rear floor.
We found a carpet company in the area (Superior Cleaning, 951-708-1422) that did a splendid job of extracting the water. After three days, with commercial dehumidifiers and blowers, the coach was dry, and we departed for our final destination, San Diego. There, we met with our Geico insurance adjuster, who looked the coach over and gave us the okay to have the carpet and tile redone when we got home. We chose RV Renovators in Mesa, Arizona (480-962-6789), and they did an excellent job.
Open the gray water valve when you’re using the motorhome washing machine!
Jim & Janice Grissom, F216188
Foggy Windows Fixed
The windows on my 2008 Fleetwood Terra LX fogged up on both the passenger and driver’s sides, so I asked fellow FMCAers in The Challengers chapter for their advice. In one case, I was told the windows should be removed and shipped back to Fleetwood in California. I also tried to get them repaired locally and was quoted $600 plus labor for one window. I finally found Lazydays in Seffner, Florida (800-350-6728).
They allowed me to watch the entire procedure. I was very impressed. They did both windows in three hours, solving a serious safety issue.
I am telling my fellow chapter members about the procedure; so far, six other members need the same work done on their coaches. If you’re in central Florida, see Lazydays for your window upgrades and repairs.
Edward Kelly, F86727
Getting Batteries To Work Together
Gary Bunzer provided a nicely written article that states what I have been telling owners and clients for years about batteries (“The Balance Of Power,” January 2012, page 46). You see, for many years, I did work on boats. A lot of that work was upgrading the onboard electrics and usually adding to the house bank. This often involved some strange cabling.
I continually had to explain that the batteries should be the same (manufacturer part number and age, at least; same date code helps, too), or they would not play together nicely. It is very seldom that I read any article about 12-volt systems that I do not have some disagreement with; this is about a first. I learned everything I know about batteries (that actually matters) from two men that worked on World War II submarines. They had to know what worked; the fact that both survived the war in the Pacific would indicate that they learned something. I have built on their information.
The only thing I would like to add is that if you have a bank made of parallel batteries and it starts behaving strangely, break it apart, charge each section separately, and try again. If you really read Gary’s article, he does detail that some strange things may happen as the bank ages.
Thank you, Gary.
Matthew Colie, F412229
Stopping For Brakes
As we were driving near Glencoe, Alabama, on a Saturday morning, our motorhome seemed to be pulling to the left. I thought the tire had low air pressure, and pulled off to check the problem. A good Samaritan stopped also, named Phillip, and lay down on the ground to check beneath the tire. He said the brakes were hot. He suggested a nearby shop and even led us there.
The owner, Mr. Aaron Gulledge, was too busy to get us in, however, and made a couple of calls to truck shops. After not getting any results, he said he’d repair it himself. The shop was full, with four men busy.
He and a helper did a very quick and professional job, and to my surprise it took less than two hours. The cost was half of what I expected.
If you need help or repair near Glencoe, Alabama, call G&G Auto Service (309 Chastain Blvd. W.; 256-492-2360).
Bill Morrison, F242960