Friday, July 25, 2014

RV Boondocking Project - DIY Installation for a Reverse Light

One of the most difficult tasks when boondocking is backing your RV into a suitable area. This can be made even more challenging if you don't have reverse lights on your RV and it's starting to get dark. In many cases, In our case, we usually don't reach our destination until it's gotten pretty late in the day. Without decent back-up lights, you could risk serious damage to your RV.

RW, Jr.'s RV didn't have any reverse lights and it really made it difficult to back-up when there wasn't much daylight left. To remedy this problem, I installed an LED spotlight on the spare tire carrier on RW, Jr.'s RV. If we wind up getting set up late in the evening, we don't have a problem because of a lack of daylight.

.The main obstacle was making a mounting bracket for the light. Replacing the existing taillights with ones that incorporated reverse lights was a pretty expensive proposition and they wouldn't have provided very much additional light. Standard reverse lights aren't very bright and wouldn't be a lot of real help when it gets dark.

I used an old aluminum bracket and a piece of 1/2" electrical conduit that was in my junk pile to fabricate a mounting bracket. It only required a couple of holes to be drilled in the spare tire mounting bracket to attach the light. I mounted it in a centered position that enabled the light to be used to its maximum advantage. This gave the maximum amount of light coverage.  

The light was wired directly into the trailer wiring harness to the reverse light wire which hadn't been hooked up. Now RW, Jr has a spotlight that works any time he is backing up his RV. He can also see me when I'm guiding him into place if it's dark. I used a  10W 12V DC LED Floodlight for the reverse light. It's water-proof and puts out a lot of light.

Got boondocking light?

Staying above the water line!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wilderness Water

Wilderness Water

Many times when hiking trails you will come upon water sources in the wilderness. This could be a small pond, stream or simply a depression where water has collected. It is important to remember to avoid the problems that are inherent in any source of wilderness water before using it. Any water source should always be filtered and treated to remove any possible contaminants to avoid serious problems that could affect your health and ultimately your survival. 

Simple Survival Tip

Proper water treatment methods should always be used before consuming water from a wilderness source.

Got wilderness water?

Staying above the water line!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Stay Safe from Summer Storms with These DIY Home Projects

Every day, hundreds of lightning bolts crash down from the heavens onto the earth below. For the Scandinavians, just as thunder was the embodiment of Thor, lightning was the embodiment of the hammer he used to protect humans from the ever-present threat of giants. These days, there may be fewer giants in the woods, but menacing electrical storms can still wreak havoc on your property. Luckily there are many small things you can do around your home to prepare it for the worst.

1. Remove Debris: Broken branches, building materials, lawn furniture, or other loose items around your home have the potential to become dangerous projectiles in the midst of a storm. Take time to assess your backyard and complete any tree removal or limb-trimming you feel is necessary.

2. H2O to Go: If a severe electrical storm is in the forecast, your power grid and city water system might both be at risk of going down. Fill up buckets, bottles, and even your bathtub for washing and drinking. Ice bags in the freezer can also help- a couple days without power may cost you a couple hundred bucks in rotten food. Fill freezer bags with water and keep them in the freezer, then use them in the event of a blackout to help food stay cold longer. When they thaw out, you’ve got clean drinking water. Before the storm, you can also make a rainwater collection system for very little money and store hundreds of gallons of water to use for your garden, plumbing, or other uses.

3. Repair Your Roof: In order to prevent leaks and severe damage to your roof during a downpour, you should carefully inspect your roof gutters and shingles. Doing minor repairs early on is much better than cleaning up the after-effects of indoor flooding. Start by examining chimneys, skylights, and plumbing vents for moisture. Look for algae stains on interior plywood, wet insulation, or rust around nails, since these are some telltale signs of leaks.

4. Solar Sump Pump: For remote areas needing pumping without access to power, a sump pump with solar batteries can provide the answer. Install a couple of small solar panels to charge the portable water pump’s batteries, and you can go “off the grid” with your portable pump. Some people live in areas where storms may leave them without access to a working electrical grid for weeks or even months; in these cases, it can be very useful to have a battery backup to keep solar electricity in reserve for nights and cloudy days. Solar energy is catching on among many in the United States, and in Canada you can even find alternative eco-friendly energy plans through various informational websites that can let consumers bypass main fossil-fuel based providers altogether.

5. Fill Your Gas Tank: Keep a full propane tank handy so that you and your family can still enjoy a hot meal if you have a gas grill and meat in the freezer. In times of lengthy outages, you can always grill the contents of your fridge before the food spoils. Filling your car with gas before a storm allows you to turn it into an additional survival tool. Cars can be used to charge cell phones, provide heat, and even function as a generator with a power inverter. Your car is also your means of emergency transport and without power, gas stations in your area will be unable to help you refill your tank.

Each storm is unique, and presents its own unique set of challenges, but having some survival tips in mind can help put the odds in your favor. With all the time and money you’ve invested into your property, being prepared is just plain common sense.

Beth Kelly is a freelance blogger from the Midwest and the author of this guest post.

Thanks go out to Beth for some great tips.

Staying above the water line!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Riverwalker’s Gear Review - Instafire

Being able to start a fire is one of the best skills you can develop. It also usually requires some form of kindling or fire-starting material to make the task of building a fire easier and simpler. You also want to get that fire started quickly before it gets dark. Here’s a quick review of Instafire.

RW, Jr. left me in charge of the firewood for a short boondocking trip we were on and unfortunately my wood pile had gotten wet from a brief rain shower the day before. Wet or even damp wood can be extremely difficult to start a fire without some help along the way. It was time to check out the firestarter product from Instafire.

Instafire is fairly inert and very safe to handle. Although you should be able to start several fires with a single package, I opted to use the whole package. It does start easily with a match or a lighter and doesn’t flare up like charcoal starter or other readily flammable types of firestarters. It comes in a fairly rugged package that still manages to be easily opened by hand. A pile of the Instafire mixture was dumped in my hand and then added to the wood in my fire pit. With a quick flick of my Bic, I had a decent flame going right away.

 It also burns really hot!

Advantages of Instafire:

!. It’s very safe to handle (non-toxic) and doesn’t impart fumes to items being cooked over the fire.

2. It lights easily with a match or lighter. These are the two most common means of starting a fire used by most people on a regular basis in most circumstances.

3. It works well for starting charcoal without the usual fumes from charcoal starter or ashes blowing in the wind from using newspaper.

3. It burns extremely hot and handles large chunks of damp wood with ease.

Disadvantages of Instafire:

!. It can be a little pricey but is available in larger containers to reduce the cost.

2. Although the package stated you could start several fires with a single package, it’s difficult to gauge how much is needed when your wood is wet or damp.

Instafire worked really well to get my fire started. It had no problem with getting my damp wood chunks burning. In less than thirty minutes, we had a decent fire. I probably wouldn’t use it on a regular basis but having some handy in case your firewood is wet or damp couldn’t hurt. It can also help if you have someone that has a low tolerance for some of the other types of chemical firestarters.

Got firestarter?

Staying above the water line!


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