How to winterize your RV water system

Now that we’re into November here in Pennsylvania it’s time to do the dreaded dead.  It’s time to winterize our travel trailer.  It’s a sad day in the RVcircus household because it means less camping and less camping just plain stinks.

Every year I see a million questions asking how to winterize an RV.  I also see just as many answers as to how it’s done.  This year we’re adding our own opinion to the pile.

What you’ll need:
1 1/16″ socket (if you have a Suburban water heater)
RV Waterline antifreeze (I buy 3 gallons and avoid anything with alcohol)
Blowout plug (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Air compressor
Winterizing kit (Amazon Affiliate Link) < this is optional, but well worth the cost to install

That being said, checkout the below video to see how we do it.

If you have tips of your own or questions leave them in the comments below.

Silicone glow stick clips using Proto Putty – Inspired by The King of Random

Well, this may have been one on our most over complicated projects, but it’s something I wanted to play with and I needed an excuse (not necessarily a good excuse).  I’ve been wanting to try Sugru (Amazon Associate link) for a long time now and never got around to buying some and when I saw this How to make Proto-Putty video I needed to give it a shot.  I didn’t necessarily make these clips because they’re a great idea, but more to see what could be done with Proto Putty.

We tend to give the kids glow sticks while at the campground and after we get inside the kids leave them everywhere.  I’ve been meaning to add hooks for them to hang by their beds for some extra light, but I decided it would be much more fun to make some overkill silicone brackets to hold them.

To get started you’ll need:

100% clear silicone #1
Cornstarch
Food coloring
Something to mix the silicone
Disposable plates or bowls
Maybe some disposable gloves

To see how we did it checkout the below video.

For a great step by step tutorial check out Grant Thompson’s How to make Proto-Putty video.  If you’re looking for an easy way to hang glowsticks you can just use a hook.

How to make a whiteboard for the RV

A whiteboard?  If you know us, you’ll also know organization and planning aren’t our strong suit.  We struggle with keeping organized when on the road and that includes having notes scrawled on random scraps of paper tucked in corners throughout the truck and trailer.  Well, to combat this weakness we decided to make a central place to keep notes while camping.  And to accomplish this menial task I wanted to use power tools to do it.

The idea is simple.  Our RV refrigerator has removable front panels that we’ve already removed and painted to match the walls.  So, we removed the panels (the only thing holding them in is some plastic trim and double sided tape) and replaced them with whiteboard paneling that we picked up at Home Depot for $10.  All you need to do is remove the original panels, cut replacements the same size and slide them back in.  I used a table saw to make all the cuts, but you can use a circular saw, jig saw, hand saw, razor knife or any other sharp tool capable of cutting paneling.

To see how we did it take a look at the below video.

Minute Tips: Securing RV cabinet doors

When I made the drawers for our tall cabinet I intended to use push-to-open drawer slides to prevent the drawers from smashing the door open when on the road.  Well, I ordered the wrong slides and instead of returning them and waiting for the slides I wanted I decided to use what I had.  I was hoping the spring loaded cabinet door catch would keep everything put, but was pretty sure I’d be dealing with this down the road.

When the drawers aren’t loaded all the way everything stays closed just fine, but when we have them loaded up for longer trips the weight slams the drawers into the door and they blast open.  While on out trip to Tennessee we made a pit stop at Home Depot to pickup some magnetic catches to help the door hold those drawers in place.  I ended up picking up two heavy duty magnetic catches for the task and left them in the cabinet for a month and a half and it turns out you need to install them for them to work.  The time has finally come to install them giving us our 2nd Minute Tips video, so check it out below.

Minute Tips: Replacing axle grease caps

If you like your videos short and sweet this new Minute Tips series is for you.  In our first video in this series we show you how we remove and install axle grease caps.  Checkout the video below:

How to make a cordless drill mount for the RV

Well, after a few years of digging through the toolbox for my drill every time we setup and breakdown camp I finally got sick of it.  I needed to find a way to keep a cordless drill handy for putting the stabilizers up and down.  I wanted the drill in the same place each time I needed it and I don’t think that’s asking too much.

I’ve been planning to add some basic drill mounts to the workbench at home and was leaning towards a basic PVC mount that a lot of YouTube woodworkers have done.  So for this project I started with that idea and added a few features to make it roadworthy.

Here’s a list of supplies and tools I used for this project:
* Short (7-8″) section of 3″ PVC pipe
* Old piece of thin shock cord/bungee cord
* 1/2″ thick piece of foam (floor mat)
* Contact cement (I use Barge cement)
* Paint
* 3/4″ wood screws
* Drill
* Dremel
* Jig saw
* An old drill to keep in the RV

Once you have the materials together the build is pretty quick and easy.  It took me less than an hour to get it together and painted and I was winging this build (like most of our other stuff).  Checkout the below video to see how I did it and I’ve included steps below just in case you need them.

Step 1: Cut a section of 3″ PVC to length.
Step 2: Cut the slot to the handle to fit it.  Make sure the trigger rests below the bottom of the PVC.  I used a jig saw to rough out the shape and a Dremel to smooth it out and tweak the shape of the opening.
Step 3: Drill 1/4″ holes on the side to attach a piece of shock cord.  This will hold the drill in the mount when driving down the road.
Step 4: Heat and flatten the top of the PVC.  I wanted a flat area to mount this to avoid having the weight of the drill shake the screws loose.
Step 5: I used contact cement to attach a 1/2″ thick piece of foam to the inside top of the mount.  This was to stop the drill from jumping up and resting on the trigger while the shock cord pulled the drill forward into it.
Step 6: Paint it a pretty color.  There’s nothing better that a flashy tool holder, so I went with black.  I used black Plasti Dip for that extra bit of bling, but feel free to use any color you want as long as it’s black.  I think Henry Ford was onto something there.

This was a simple and cheap project that served a well needed purpose.  Have you done something similar or have a better idea?  Post it in the comments below.

How we make RV pizza

So, for those of you that know us this will be no surprise to you.  Pizza Friday is about as holy of a tradition as you can get in our household and will not be missed for anything, including camping.  It’s been difficult to adhere to when traveling, but we’ve resorted to going out for pizza, getting take-out, and suffering through pre-made crusts in the RV.  Well, we recently had a friend introduce us to Wewalka dough and thought it would be perfect for RV camping trips…and we were right!  This has been a huge step up for us in the way of pizza while camping and have also started using this at home instead of handmade dough.

Our new pizza routine is to make sauce before we leave the house and pack pizza dough and cheese.  Don’t forget a pizza stone (don’t leave it in the oven when traveling), peel, and pizza cutter!  Checkout the below video to see how we do it.

We’ve only found this at Giant locally, but click here for their store locator.

They also have a $1 off coupon on their website.

Smart Tiles one year update and installing some more

Well, it’s been a year since we’ve installed our Smart Tiles back splash and wanted to give an update.  When Sandie came home with “Tile Stickers” I must say I was more than a little hesitant.  My initial reaction went something like “There’s no way I’m putting these fake a** tiles on the wall”, but after reading up on them I decided to give them a shot.  At about $10/sheet I was also put off by the price, but considering there’s no need for thin set, grout, floats, sponges and a messy cleanup they all of a sudden start to look like a great value.  Plus they won’t chunk off the wall while we’re bouncing the trailer down the road.  Checkout the below video to see our Smart Tiles update and watch us install them in the bath.

Now having them installed for a year I must say that I’m a believer.  If you know us, we’re not exactly easy on anything we own and these Smart Tiles are holding up wonderfully so far.  There’s absolutely no signs of wear and the adhesive (which I wasn’t all that confident in) shows no signs of quitting.  I must say I’d recommend these tiles to anyone looking to improve the looks of their RV without breaking the bank or sweating too much.

Since I installed the original back splash I’ve been squirreling away some scraps to add to the bathroom at some point.  Around the bathroom counter we have some shoddy plastic trim that’s cracked and broken and I’ve wanted to do something to make it look nicer for a while.  Now that our back splash has made it a year I guess it’s about time to do the bathroom and finally throw the rest of my scraps away.

If you haven’t seen the original Smart Tiles install video you can check it out here:

How to install an RV exterior shower

Well, we finally installed an exterior shower in the travel trailer.  With 4 kids we’ve had this on our list, be it at the bottom of our list, for a while now.  We kept putting it off until a recent don incident bumped it WAY up the list.

After our last trip I cam home and scoured Amazon for exterior showers and went completely based on ratings and whether it had Prime shipping.  I ended up ordering the Phoenix exterior shower (Amazon Associate link) and had it at the house in two days.  My initial impression is that it’s a cheap faucet in an OK enclosure…nothing special there.  One thing to note is this shower didn’t include any mounting hardware.

As for the install, it went about as expected.  Cut hole in siding, install enclosure, and connect to water lines.  Here’s a list of tools and supplies I used for the install.

  • Phoenix Exterior Shower
  • 1 1/4″ hex screws
  • Butyl tape
  • ProFlex RV sealant
  • 1/2″ faucet flex hose (2 of them)
  • 1/2″ Shark Bite Tee (2 of them)
  • 1/2″ PEX tubing
  • 1/2″ barb to 1/2″ thread PEX fitting (2 of them)
  • 1/2′ PEX crimps
  • PEX crimp tool
  • Tubing cutter
  • Pair of 7/8″ wrenches
  • Saber Saw with fine metal blade
  • Drill with hex bit and drill bit

To see how we installed the shower checkout the video below:

Now that we have the shower available I think we’ll be using it more than we can imagine.  There’s really no limit on the mess the kids have been able to make, so I think this is one of the additions that will really make life easier.

Building a small RV – Rust removal and painting the frame

Today marks our first milestone in our travel trailer build project.  With the first coat of paint we’re now done our tear down and we’re officially starting to build it back up.  Checkout the below video to see our progress.

 

We started by cutting some unneeded steel from the frame.  This was the mount for the popup lift and a runner that the factory used to attach the sub-floor.  We won’t be using either, so they were removed to save a few pounds.

After the frame was cleaned up we attached a wire wheel to the grinder and went to town.  Being that the pop-up camper is 15 years old we had plenty of rust to attend to.

Once the rust was removed I applied Klean Strip Phosphoric Prep & Etch to the frame to take care of the rest of the rust and let it sit overnight.  In the morning I went back with a soap, water, and scrub brush to clean the entire frame.

The last thing we did was apply paint.  I used Rustoleum Rust Reformer as a base coat and then Rustoleum Satin Black on top of that.

With the frame cleaned and painted we’re ready to start laying out the floor plan and building on top of it.  Stay tuned for more up updates and don’t forget to check us out on YouTube.