Tag Archives: projects

2018 – Project: Dish Tripod

I’ve written about my satellite TV setup before, mostly in reference to the Winegard Carryout I used for a few years. You can read those posts here:

As I mentioned in the later reviews, I finally decided I was happier using a regular dish rather than the Carryout.  The reasons are in the final review so I won’t rehash them in this post.  All this to say that for the past few years I’ve used the home style dish and intend to keep on using it.

IMG_20180303_100148.jpg One of the weak links in this setup, though, is the tripod.  I inherited a small, very basic one, that is rather flimsy.  If the ground is unlevel, I put something under one leg to attempt to level it.  I also stake it out with guy wires to hold it steady in the wind.  It works but is far from an elegant solution.

I’ve been looking at the TV4RV tripod for some time.  However, it is pricy and I had a hard time pulling the trigger on it.  Finally, though, I went for it and I’ve just finished setting it up.

IMG_20180303_100219.jpg The tripod is actually a modified surveyor’s tripod; each leg can be adjusted independently.  A compass is supplied that fits right into the top of the tripod, and you are supposed to aim the direction before you ever mount the dish onto the tripod.

The whole setup took about 15 minutes and I think in the future it will take less time than that.  In my case the new tripod was set up right next to the old one, so I just moved the dish from one to the other.  In other words, there wasn’t much aiming involved in the initial setup.  However, I’m fairly confident that it won’t be hard to master the setup process.

IMG_20180303_111056.jpg The whole thing is supposed to be attached to the ground using one of those screw in doggie stakes.  In my case the ground was too rocky, so I ended up using an alternative method using two tent stakes.  Also, you are provided a bungee cord, but I opted to go with a strap.  Of course, different situations will call for different anchoring solutions, for instance, using a 5 gallon bucket of water.

So, I now have the Cadillac of portable dish tripods.  I’ll report back on any future discoveries I make while using it.

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Reflecting on our 2017 Adventure

IMG_6081.JPG Our 2017 Adventure had both ups and downs.  It was a year with several unexpected expenses that included a broken windshield and various camper repair projects.  Later on we decided it was time to put new tires on the camper.  At four and a half years they still looked good but camper tires are notorious for failing at about that age.  We also ended up putting new tires on the truck, but, sorry to say, that came after a major tire failure that did damage to the truck.  Not long after that the truck ended up in the shop for a bigger repair.  After working through the issue with the warranty company, the repair ended up costing us hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.  Still, it was an expense that hit the bank account pretty hard.  The lesson learned wasn’t a new one, but still hit us in the wallet: when it rains it pours.

2017 also brought some medical issues our way, some are still ongoing.  That reminds us of another old lesson made new: life happens, even when you are living the RV dream.

20170319_175836.jpg During the year we tried a bit different approach to travel.  Rather than moving every 1-2 weeks during the months when we aren’t volunteering we decided to slow down in the early spring while we waited for warmer temperatures up north.  We spent a month on the Alabama coast, then another month near Knoxville, TN.    The result was mixed.  The month in Alabama wasn’t bad at all.  We were in a park that had lots of winter people and lots of interesting activities.  The month in Tennessee, so close to the month in Alabama, seemed longer.  The campground was crowded and the weather was wet.  All this added up to a less than enjoyable stay for us.  Lesson learned: be careful when scheduling longer stays to be sure the campground/area is worth the lengthy stop and don’t schedule longer stops too close together.

While we were in Indianapolis we were joined by our son and family for a few nights.  The camper was really crowded.  Still, it was fun seeing our loved ones and accommodating our “guests.”  None of us would have enjoyed this set up for a longer stay, but for a few nights it was great and we would happily do it again.   The lesson learned is that changing things up for a special occasion can be fun even if it is inconvenient.

We enjoyed family a couple of other times during the Adventure, spending a week near Jackie’s brother and his wife, Jim and Phyllis. This was followed by a couple of stays near Jackie’s family in Iowa.  Then in the fall, my sister Susan joined us and traveled with us for a couple of weeks.  These family times are a real bonus and make traveling even more fun.  Same lesson: it’s a real bonus being with family and friends.

We always enjoy worshiping with the various congregations we visit in our travels.  This year we especially enjoyed the Church of the Nazarene in Summerdale, AL.  Being that this was one of our longer stays we got to know the folks a bit rather than just being one or two Sunday visitors.  Then, we finished the year by filling in for a month for a pastor friend of ours in Denison, TX and then accepting an interim assignment (still ongoing) at Baytown, TX.  A good lesson is that while being a perpetual church visitor is always interesting, nothing takes the place of being part of a worshiping community.

20170511_122726.jpg During 2017 we towed the camper nearly 5000 miles, visited 17 states, and stayed in 34 different places.  This year, when we arrived in South Dakota we completed visiting all 50 states (although not all in the RV).  We started and finished the year volunteering on Battleship Texas.  This marks our fourth season of wintering in this unique location on the Houston Ship Channel.   We are still working on our 2018 Adventure and expect to continue our journeys in this New Year.

2017 Project: Bigfoot Leveling System

20170614_150431.jpg We really like our Hitchhiker II LS 5th wheel. However, we’re missing a few extras that the newer rigs have. A couple of months ago we decided that for the foreseeable future we’d like to make a few upgrades and keep our current 5th wheel. The biggest upgrade for us was adding a power leveling system. We found that the Bigfoot Leveling System by Quadra was highly regarded by most everyone. This is a powerful hydraulic system. They make a fully automatic system – just push the button and it figures out what is level by itself. We opted to save nearly $900 and install a single pump, manual, four jack system. With this system you have a remote control and using the bubble levels already mounted on the camper you level the camper. The guys at the factory told me our 5th wheel was a bigger project than many and it took a day and a half to do the install. The good folks at Quadra were nothing but helpful and professional. They even let us sleep in the camper while it was parked overnight inside their facility. This is a new system for us, but we found ourselves on a rather un-level site our first night out with it. It took just a minute or so to bring the camper perfectly level. Jackie and I were both all smiles watching it work!

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2017 – Water Alarms

IMG_0030.JPG Here’s an inexpensive add on that might save some money by detecting water leaks early. We put one of these alarms in the bay of the 5th wheel. The other is under the kitchen sink. Hopefully, they are unnecessary and will never be used. However, just one event in which we are given early warning will make these water alarms worth every penny. We got them at Lowes.

2017 – Project: Replacement Propane Alarm

20170323_134619.jpg About 5:00 AM today we woke up to our propane alarm going off. It seems that propane, carbon monoxide, and smoke detectors are all programmed to die or at least run out of battery somewhere between 2:00 and 5:00 AM – at least that’s been our experience!

Seriously, we change out the batteries on schedule and seldom have that happen. However, the propane detector is wired into the RV batteries so it is generally out of sight and out of mind. That’s my motivation for writing about this now: since the propane detector is wired in it doesn’t start chirping due to batteries dieing it’s easily taken for granted.

Here’s the thing – these vital safety devices have a limited lifespan. Depending on who you ask they are intended to last 3-7 years. Ours was about 10 years old and it still tested okay when we thought to check it or set it off accidentally when cleaning next to it. That is until around 5:00 this morning.

I got up, pulled the ground wire off of it so it would be quiet and closed the propane tank valves just to be safe. Today we headed out to the RV supply store and bought the replacement. They aren’t cheap by any means and if yours is nearing the end of life you might want to shop online and save some money.

In our case, it seemed wise to spend the extra money, support the local supplier, and get the replacement. Swapping the units out took all of 3 minutes. If you haven’t checked your safety devices in a while this might be a good day to do it…and don’t forget the easily forgotten hard-wired propane detection alarm.