The kids secretly recording “Let it go” from Frozen

It’s not exactly camping related, but it’s hilarious and worth 45 seconds.  When Sandie was going through her phone she found this video on there.  While visiting the grandparents the kids swiped her phone and recorded this performance without us knowing.

How to replace travel trailer steps

When we first picked up our travel trailer we noticed that the previous owner mangled the stairs.  It was originally a double step and the bottom step was missing and the top step was badly bent and twisted.  Initially my plan was to hammer, grind and weld on it until they were straight and make due with just a single step, but that plan quickly changed.

Original condition of the steps

After we lifted our trailer and gained an extra 6.5″ of height we were now in need of at least double, and more preferably triple steps.  After taking some measurements I decided to go with the Stromberg Carlson SM-24-30 7″ Triple Rise Manual Step.  I didn’t do much research on alternatives and went with Stromberg Carlson because that was what the trailer was originally equipped with.

The install took a few hours to complete and the hardest part was the removal of the old steps.  It took a lot of cutting, grinding and hammering to get them off, but it wasn’t too bad.  After enough beating the steps finally fell right off.

Once the steps were off, fitting the new unit was fairly easy.  I jacked the new steps into place, installed temporarily with screws and then replaced the screws with lag bolts.  There was one piece of trim that the previous owner added that needed to be removed for clearance which I may add back someday if I trim it.  Lastly, I screwed the steps into the trailer frame to finish it off.  I wasn’t sure if the steps would clear our driveway so I didn’t weld them, but I’ll go back at some point to weld them as well.

Take a look at the below video to watch the install from start to finish.

The Stromberg Carlson steps do the job, but there’s a bit of play when using them.  They creak and flex while climbing them, but I expected that as I’ve noticed it with other trailers and considered it normal.  Fast forward to the Hershey RV show where we climbed in and out of trailers all day long and I quickly realized not all steps are created equal.  With my recent installation I unexpectedly turned my attention to the differing quality of steps and took notice of the Flexco units.  Compared to the all other steps we’ve used these are ROCK SOLID.  The difference is night and day.  After this revelation Sandie spent the rest of the day hearing me tell her how awesome the Flexco steps are and how I wished we had the.

New steps installed

How to fix travel trailer stabilizers for $0.48

When we purchased our travel trailer the last thing I bothered looking at were the stabilizers.  I noticed they were there, but with all the other issues I didn’t look, or care to look, at the condition of the stabilizers.  When we got the trailer home I noticed that the ends of the jacks that are used to crank them down were stripped, deformed and thin.  At that point I just decided to use them up until they broke and then replace them.

After a few trips they finally gave up.  One end broke in half and another was stripped enough that I needed to resort to the hand crank.  After using the hand crank just once the metal began to split.  Being the know-it-all hard head I am I decided to fix these stabilizers instead of replacing them.  The worst that could happen is I botch the repair and buy some new ones which was my original plan anyway.

My big plan was to cut the old deformed ends off and weld on some 3/4″ nuts.  I hit the garage and dug up a handful of 3/4″ nuts I already I had sitting in a bin then drug out the welder and grinder.  I was now on my way to fixing the rear stabilizers for 48 cents worth of nuts!

The materials and tools I used to complete the project were:

  • 3/4″ nuts (one for each jack you’re fixing)
  • 100amp flux core welder
  • Angle grinder with cutoff & grinding wheel
  • Long 3/4″ bolt to hold the nuts while grinding
  • Wire brush
  • Spray paint

The project was pretty straight forward and took maybe an hour.  All I did was cut off the damaged ends, grind the ends flat and weld the nuts to the stabilizer jacks.  I repaired both rear stabilizers and saved around $100 and plan to do the same thing to both front stabilizers which are in slightly better shape and still usable.

Below is a short video showing how I did it from start to finish.

 

 

2015 Hershey RV Show

We look forward to the Hershey RV show each year, but as it got closer it started to look like we were going to miss all the fun this year.  We were finally able to get out there for the last day, but were forced to try to squeeze 2-3 days worth of exploring into just 5 hours.  On top of that we had the kids in tow which made moving through the sea of RV’s at a reasonable pace almost impossible.

When we arrived we parked across the street in the free show parking area and headed over.  Once through the gates all the kids needed to get a free tote bag and they all needed to fight for the right color.  From there we needed to track down the registration tent to get our “Press Badge” that allowed us to film for the day (it also seemed to attract some discussion from friendly dealers and repel some making snap judgments looking to make a sale).

Because of the time crunch dilemma we had we decided to skip over areas that didn’t apply to us.  Since we’re towing with the Suburban we skipped most 5th wheels and truck campers.  We turned our attention to bunk houses between 24-29′ and under 6,500 lbs dry.  This allowed us to move through the show at a speed that gave us a chance to see what we came to see in a short period.

Follow along as we take you through 30 RV’s in 12 minutes.

For the record our favorite trailers at the show, in no specific order, were:

Dutchmen Aerolite 242BHSL
Forest River Surveyor 245BHS
Evergreen Sun Valley S283BH LTD

Knoebels and Centralia, Pa

I’ll just admit up front that I was not too keen on the idea of Knoebels.  Considering that the amusement park is free to enter and allows dogs I was a little concerned it would not be very well kept.  The campground was also around $35 night and at that price point I didn’t know what to expect.  We typically reserve full hookup sites and their sites were available with electric only.

In preparation for the lack of on-site water, we filled our tank before we arrived.  In retrospect, this was not the best way to do it.  When we arrived we entered the campground from the back entrance instead of the front where the water filling station is located so it was a good thing this particular trip.  Now that we know the correct entrance we can fill up at the campground next year.  We also brought bottles of water with us so we didn’t have to buy water at the amusement park.  This worked well as the kiddos got dirtier and dirtier and our water supply began to run low giving us extra water for brushing our teeth.

Prior to going to the campground, we made a quick trip over to Centralia, Pennsylvania.  For those who do not know about the Town on Fire, it is at least worth a Google search.  Graffiti highway is interesting but be forewarned that there are some graphic drawings and crude language.  Our oldest informed us of a few “curse” words, as she put it.  Other than that the younger ones were too busy running down the abandoned highway to notice much.

Family on the abandoned highway in Centralia, PA
Family on the abandoned highway in Centralia, PA

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We didn’t get to see too much of what was left of the town, but there’s not much left to see. There are a few houses left and as of the 2010 census only 10 people still live in the town.  The kids were getting restless in the car so we decided to leave after about an hour and check into the campground.

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So many people had told me that they enjoyed the Knoebels Amusement Park so it was nice to run into some of my family at the park.  There was something for all the age groups so everyone had a great time.  Dogs are also welcome in the park which was a big draw for us being that we recently adopted a standard poodle who’s quite attached to me.  I didn’t think she would enjoy staying in the camper while we were at the park so we brought her along.  She did very well as did the other dogs we encountered over the two days we stayed.

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The amusement park well exceeded my mildly low expectations.  To give you some perspective, a friend told me that it was like a traveling fair or carnival that never left.  With that picture in mind, I have visions of some unsavory types manning the old rides with questionable safety, lots of grass, mud and food all over the place.  This was simply not the case and was very clean considering all the dogs. The paths were paved much to my delight. Many of the employees were older and seemed to enjoy watching all the families enjoy themselves. One in particular gave Failte (our dog) some treats after asking our permission and gave me a few extra that came in handy later in the day.

Sweet moments - seconds before she threw rocks in her brothers face
Sweet moments – seconds before she threw rocks in her brothers face

As I mentioned above, this park is free to enter which is wonderful for adults who are not planning on riding rides or who may only want to ride a few. The rides themselves are very reasonably priced. Most of the roller coasters are $3 which I think is a steal. For our family of 6 with varying ages of kids, the ticket were the best buy for the money for us.

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The campground is a short walk to the park.  We were able to head to the park in the morning, eat lunch there, go back to the campsite and relax, eat dinner and then head back for the rest of the day without feeling like we were being run ragged.  My only two complaints about campground would probably be the size of the campsites and the bath houses.  The campsites are very small and it felt cramped with all our small amount of gear set up.  The bath houses  also didn’t have paper towels or hand dryers to dry your hands.  I know they are keeping expenses down this way; however, I found it odd. Whoever thinks to bring paper towels with them to a public bathroom?

All things considered, it will definitely be a destination to hit again.