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Sunday, March 26, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *M* Macerator (a.k.a. PoopEater!)

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter M now!


We all do it.


We sure do.

We use the toilet.

Well, most do.  Some prefer to do the natural thing in the woods. That's okay I guess.  But when you have a motorhome, it usually has a bathroom that contains a toilet.  And that stuff has to go SOMEWHERE~  Right?

When our black tank is just about full (the toilet stuff is called the black tank) then we need to find a place to dump it.  Also our shower and kitchen sink water (the grey tank). Our black and grey tanks each hold 50 gallons, and our freshwater tank holds 100 gallons.

Now, most folks have to pull up stakes, stow the gear, and look for the nearest dump station.  That usually involves a monetary fee to whatever campground is nearby.

Steveio has this SUPER DOOPER POOPER TOY to play with.... called a Macerator! It's similar to a garbage disposal.  It grinds up the errrr ummmm tank waste, and pumps it out a hose with pressure. Enough pressure to go uphill and over humps or even into a household toilet!

It pumps it out of a long skinny 3/4" hose, even uphill, to dump at far away locations like an inground septic tank, and then we follow up the process with the grey water from the sinks and shower to rinse out the dedicated hose.

It is great for many RVing situations, besides saving on dump station fees:

  • -Many RV sites with sewer provided are only designed if your RV is backed into the site.  But our motorhome has a solid back wall in the bedroom.  If there is a pretty view, we may pull in forward so the view is out our front windshield in the living area of the rig.  That puts the sewer opening on the wrong side for us.  The macerator can help with that.
  • -Or if sitting in someone's driveway it can dump tanks into a septic or even a toilet. (done that)
  • -Or if at a poorly designed dump station that is too slanted to dump properly by gravity. (seen that)
  • -Or if at a campsite with sewer available but the sewer pipe is a foot off the ground (seen that)
  • -Or if at a curved road leading to the dump station and no way to line up 40 foot rig at their hole (seen that)

We do not use the "blue" RV holding tank deodorizers anymore as they can introduce bacteria-killing products into our septic tank.  Septic tanks and sewer systems need certain bacteria to keep them running properly.  We pour in a few tablespoons of RidX liquid septic tank treatment into our RV tanks to keep them working properly until they are dumped.

Here is a link to one like ours on Amazon that is for a marine use: Jabsco-18590-2092   Steve chose the marine type one over the ones available thru RV dealers because some of their impellers are only plastic.  Here is what it looks like.

Steveio took a standard drain cap that goes on the bayonet mount of any RV drain pipe.  He cut an inch and quarter hole in the middle of the cap with a holesaw bit on the drill.  That allowed the cap to fit right over the opening on the bottom end of the macerator in the pic above (he removed and discarded that grey elbow fitting in the photo)

He also drilled four small screw holes in the cap to line up with the four holes in the housing, using screws to hold it tight, along with a bead of silicone between the cap and the housing.

The discharge end on the left side of the machine has a 1 inch barbed fitting.  He attached a 1" piece of clear plastic hose (to be able to see the "progress of material" going through the hose)  At the end of the clear hose he attached a piece of threaded hose fitting to screw a black 3/4" hose that is 50ft long that goes into a septic, drain hole, sewer system etc. That long black hose is dedicated to dumping only, never to be used for anything else. Coils up in a 5 gallon bucket for storage in the motorhome basement.

The electrical line of 12 volt power was wired up to a 12volt plug cigarette lighter type with an ON/OFF switch on the line.  He installed a 12 volt powered outlet in our compartment near the drain valves to power the macerator when in use.

Now the macerator can hook onto the bayonet mount of the RV drain pipe when in use. It can then be removed and stored in a tote in our basement compartment when not in use.

With the adapted cap, it just hooks onto the bayonet mount
of the drain outlet on the motorhome. 

We last used it when we were in Florida a year ago.  We were parked for 6 weeks in Mom's backyard. There isn't any septic cleanout or septic tank access close to the house. So Steve chose to run the black hose up and into the bathroom through the window and have it flush right into the toilet.

Once the black tank contents are done running through the machine, the motor changes sound in pitch and it's done. We then shut it off and close the black tank handle.  Next comes the grey tank (shower and sink water) valve is pulled and turn it back on and run through the machine.  This also helps to rinse the hose out before storing it away.  It is a good idea to screw the two ends of any hose together during storage to prevent leakage or intrusion by insects. 

We got the job done, and our tanks are now empty.  I did not take any pics of the ummm errrr process, as you can use your own imagination.  The clear section on the macerator hose is there to observe the situation, and once both of the tanks are emptied, then we run some fresh water to flush everything out. The machine and the black hose are dried off and stowed into a separate bin away from our other compartments.

That is the poopy way to handle your RV holding tanks!


It has been rain rain rain on and off for the last three days.  I have been doing some sewing, but it's a secret so I can not say anything yet until after next Saturday.  I don't think my kids or grandkids ever read this blog, but you never know. They might.   I wish they would.  If they wrote blogs I would read theirs, faithfully. 

Oh well, I know my darling dad-in-law Paul does, because he comments on mine all of the time!  He thinks I should publish my motorhome modification blogs into a DVD format and sell it. Hmmmmm I wonder? 

We spent a busy Sunday afternoon going from store to store (we both HATE shopping!)  going to Lowe's, Home Depot and Menards.  We were comparing prices and getting ideas for all of the upcoming projects on Steve's Honey Do List!   We got a lot of ideas, and figures and help and fun stuff in our brains.  Now for the warmer weather, some official stuff, some deliveries and then find a few more pennies to pay for it all!   

Our son Dan and wife Heather, along with their kids and their Auntie Kim and Grandma Peggy just got back from a fun filled week in Florida at Disney.  We have been having such a time reading along on Facebook and watching videos and seeing pics of all their adventures.  What a great vacation for them! I can't wait to hear Allegra and Mason's excited re-telling of their exciting vacation. 

School is out next week so we are going to take the oldest grandson Jameson for a day or two.  I think we will find some projects for him, and do some cooking, and just hang out and have some time together.  He hasn't had an overnight since camping last summer, so it's his turn now. Gotta be fair and take them all, but space them out a bit so they don't wear US out!  LOL 

Tuesday is going to be an exciting Loom Getting Day for me!!!! A long time ago I sold a wonderful table loom to my friend Linda.  She has had a lot of other looms come and go in her studio in Tennessee and decided that this one was not in high demand.  So she offered to sell it back to me.  It is all boxed up and on it's way on the UPS truck, destined to arrive on Tuesday at my house. Wheee heeee!   It is a favorite of mine, and I always kinda regretted letting it go.  It's the smaller 4 harness  Tools of the Trade that I sold her when I got the heavier 8 harness one.  Now I will have both, and honestly the smaller 4 harness is easier to take along camping. 

The 4 harness on the left and the 8 harness on the right....

Well, the cozy fire is going on a damp wet rainy night.  We are thankful that it's warm 42 degrees and not freezing rain and ice.  March is almost over, but we are known to get snow and ice in April too.  Steve leaves early tomorrow morning for his Old Fart Party Bus job, and I am glad he is not driving on icy roads. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *L* Ladder, Lights and Louverectomy~

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter L now!


Ladder (telescoping):
Steveio said he just HAD to have one.... so I bought this for him about ten years back for Christmas. He had NO idea it was coming and was pretty surprised. Our friends, Rich and Mary, had a collapsible ladder for their motorhome  and Steveio was drooling over it.

the ladder

It reaches all the way up to the motorhome roof, as our rig does not have a built-in ladder on the back. I think it is 12 feet tall.  Just perfect for the motorhome and stows away in a small space next to his tool drawers.

Ladder helpers:
These are foam blocks that are made to haul a canoe on the roof of a car or truck.  But Steveio figured out that they would clamp on the sides of the ladder. Here they are on our regular household aluminum ladder.

Here they are while using Steve's telescoping ladder. Not only do they protect the painted edge of the roof or the awning (like in this photo)  ..the foam surface also grips to prevent the ladder from sliding or slipping sideways!

Light Replacements:
Our rig had two of the most useless "map lights" on each side of the cockpit area. The lights were very dim, and didn't shine down, they showed out instead. arggh!

Steve took care of that right away.  It was my idea to paint a used CD disk with black paint for a backing fixture base for the new lights.  I am happy to say they work wonderfully now.

map lights replacements

We also replaced some of the 12 volt lights with LED bulbs. I am not nuts on the blueish green light they emit, but Steve seems to like them. We use them when the power is going down and we are not getting much sun on the solar panels till the next day.

led light replacement1
LED bulbs use a lot less power than anything else.  We will soon upgrade all of our lights to LED’s now that price is coming down on them.

Little speakers for MP3 player:
I know I am a bit of "old school" with a tiny MP3 player.  But this little device runs forever on a AAA battery.  Even old batteries from other things like remotes or flashlight that are seemingly used up will still play for hours yet on this little MP3 player.  The speakers let me play it without using power on the rig, or wearing down my cell phone to play music from my own files on the phone.  It is pretty basic and I load up the songs by plugging in the USB end of the device into my laptop and copy them over. Easy peasy.

The speakers we ran across on a clearance one time at Walmart years ago.  They do not need any power source of any kind, they just run off whatever device you plug them into.  They deliver such a clear good sound, better than any other speakers we have tried.
little speakers for music

We like this little set up so much, I bought two more of the little MP3 players and two more sets of speakers I found on Ebay.  I have one set in our house and one out on front porch to enjoy tunes and not need to be plugged in. I can take it outside and set on the table, or bring into the bedroom and set on the bedside table.  Of course I can use it with headphones too.

P.S. for me it's all Celtic, New Age and soft 70's like Jim Croce, John Denver, Carly Simon and Neil Young.  Then for fun it's Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel and America.  For Steve he has a full set of The Sounds of the Seventies that we crank out when he is feeling frisky!  LOL

This is a common modification among the Safari owners of this vintage.  It really helps to increase the air flow around the engine compartment. I just love the phrase that fellow Safari owners coined to describe the process!

That is it for the letter L .... tomorrow we will start out with the letter M---- and an early Happy Birthday to our youngest daughter Heather who turns 32 tomorrow!


Steve didn't have to drive the Old Fart Party Bus today... so he set to working on the inside of the attic fan installation.  See yesterday's post for the resaon and the outside portion. 

He started out in the upstairs hallway with a ladder and went up into the crawl space (scattering insulation all over the floor!)  I handed tools up and down while he did the technical stuff. 

The fan installed easily and he had quick access to a power supply to plug into. He tacked up the cord with little clips to be sure it never falls down into the insulation.

While he was up there, he didn't find any family treasures (sorry Paula, Laura and Debbi)  But he did find a piece of newpaper from 1978 with an ad for Joann Fabrics in the Milwaukee Sentinel!

Our oldest daughter Erin and husband Waylen had a little lunch date today, and brought their oldest daughter along with them to Waylen's place of work.  She got to learn about air craft maintenance! haha  Wonder if she will grow up to be a pilot? Or a mechanic?

The reason she was along for the day, was because it was time for her annual checkup. I will post this totally embarrassing pic of her, so 20 years from now she can holler at me! 

I love the look on her face,
 and I can just hear her admonishing her mother 
for taking the pic in the doctor's office....


Monday, March 20, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *L* Light Fixture Fix, Attic Fan and Loom Wheels!!

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter L now!


Light Fixture Fix:
That danged Steveio always finds more projects to work on in our motorhome. As soon as I think we are completely done with upgrades, he finds something else to do.  Steve decided to take some 12 volt fluorescent lights from in the bedroom area and adapt them into the large 120v AC household type fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen ceiling.

Because we rarely camp with electrical hookups, we don't use that kitchen 120v AC light fixture, so it just sits there, looking pretty.   But it IS in a great location and illuminates a large area if you are cooking or working on something at the table.

There is a lack of a decent 12 volt lighting over the kitchen stove area unless we have the inverter on to power up that fixture or the one under the convection/microwave in the stove hood.  Both of those are 120v AC only.  Seems crazy to start the inverter or generator to just have some light while cooking with propane?   There are only 2 smaller 12v DC fluorescent fixtures under the cabinets, along the sink and countertop by the fridge, but none over the stove.

Sooooo Steveio came up with this bright idea.  And just HAD to try it out------

Our bedroom has tons of light fixtures, both 120v AC and 12v DC.  Thirteen light bulbs in all!   Inside the valances on each of the windows are hidden 12 volt single tube fluorescent lights.  We NEVER use them in the bedroom because we have so many other lights, mainly within reach of the headboard of the bed.  To use the ones in the valances, you have to get up out of bed to turn on and off by the switch on the far end of the valance.   I think they have been used once or twice in the last ten years.

Soooooo Steveio took down the valances and removed the light fixtures.   Easy Peasy.  It was only two dry wall screws to take them down, remove the light, cap off the wires, and put the valance back up.

Next he took down the reflective covering on the large 110 volt household fixture in the kitchen.

At first he tried adding the 12 volt lights to each side of the original fixture, but they didn't seem to reflect downwards as well.  So he changed horses in midrace and removed the 120v AC light buls and ends completely.

He accessed the 12 volt power by removing a speaker from the ceiling and reaching in and over to the wires by the Fantastic Fan nearby....   For the switch that originally controlled the 120v AC fixture, he created a loop using the same wires.  So nothing is changed on the wall, or trying to fish new lines, or any new switches needed.

Steveio respects electricity and double checks all lines with his Fluke meter. 

Plus.. he is tall enough to do the work without having to stand on a ladder!!!!

And here are the two 12v DC fluorescent fixtures mounted in the cavity space left by removing the 120v AC fixture.   They are a little shorter than the old one, but work just as well.

Also a while back, Steveio insulated the top layer of the cavity with pink rigid insulation.  Otherwise it was very cold to the touch in the winter, with nothing between it and the outside roof!   I am sure it helps on the heating and the air conditioning as well.   Just look at that happy man!

 Another Motorhome Modification project, well done by my Steveio! 


I mentioned in my last blog that Steveio has made up a honeydo list of things he wishes to accomplish this summer around Our Old House.  If you had read my blog last year, you might remember us making a whole house fan setup through our scuttle hole into the attic.  Here is that blog post:

The fan idea works very well. It gets our cooler AC air from the main floor to come up to the second story, especially at night.  But after weeks on end of hot humid horrible weather, we realized the ridge vents in our roofline were not enough to dispell that hot air out of the attic.  We noticed by the end of the summer some white specks of mold growing on the rafters and roofline inside of our attic!  Steve sprayed it all down with bleach to rid ourselves of it... but he knew we had to come up with a better solution for this year. 

At first he considered ripping out our chimney and using that open space to make a cold air return from our upper floor all the way back down to the basement.  But that would entail first getting a different water heater (power vent or tankless) because our current one is vented up the chimney. Our furnace is already vented out the side wall.  

But to make this open space for a cold air return, it would mean opening up the walls on two floors to access the space.... and once we ripped out the chimney brick by brick and then adding a ductwork liner ... it was going to be pretty crazy.  Add to that he would redo some of the plumbing at the same time to run in that open space, as well as redo the walls in our bathroom where he would be ripping out the chimney.. and on top of it he wanted to replace the toilet with a taller one!  WHEW! 

We came up with Plan B.....  

How about we just add a power attic fan that is thermostatically controlled to take that attic air and blast it outside through the gable end vent???   YES! 

After a little research, last night we took a drive to Menards to pick up this unit. It is thermostatically controlled and we can mount it in the attic facing out the vent in the gable.  That should take care of our problem. 

 Steve decided our small gable end vent was not large enough,
so he bought one of these and had to make a bigger opening. 

Today he has three separate runs with the Old Fart Party Bus.... and had time in between to come home and work on it (he doesn't take pay for hours in between runs so he is on his own time, just in case you were wondering)

He got out the ladder 
and this part of the house luckily 
has an upstairs shaker porch
to set up on so he is not wayyyyy up high on a two story ladder

He removed the old rectangular vent.... 

A few zips with the saw,
a few hammers and bangs and booms... 
look at that! 

(he just has to trim a bit on the excess siding pieces before putting them back up) 

While at Menards, at the same time, we picked up a few things that I needed for my own repairs on my looms.  

On both of my Newcomb Looms, the take-up lever usually bangs downward when released and swings under the loom (out of reach).   To try to solve that some time back, I put in a little screw to help catch it in a more accessible position.  That works sometimes, but when you bang on the loom, the lever sometimes hops off that little screw and still swings downward out of reach. Argh! 

I thunked and thunked and wanted some kind of a little metal hook that would have a tall end to it, but not stick out too far.  I found hooks that were wide but not tall enough. Steve said get them and he would "operate on them" for me----  hahahahah

He took two of the hooks and went into the garage and rebent them to the shape that I envisioned.  I unscrewed the two screws and installed these new hooks of each rug loom.  My hero!  Now they function exactly as needed. After advancing the rug, the handle drops down into the slot of the hook and does not bounce out during the weaving process. Thanks Steve! Now both of my Newcomb rug looms function better than before!

The other project idea I had in mind were 
taller better casters on this little white bench.
The ones I had put on last year were too small 
and bound up on the carpet at times. 

So my Hero Steveio swapped them out for me 
with the new ones I bought last night. 
(old white ones on the left and new grey ones on the right)

He had them done in no time. They were kinda tricky because the legs slant in on an angle.  But he was able to make them work, even if the new casters I picked out were almost too big on the base plate.  See... I use this bench for a rolling table surface for my Tools of the Trade 8 harness table loom!  I clamp it on with a couple C clamps and then I can roll it out to the front porch, the livingroom, or even out to the motorhome if I want. 

But the main reason is to roll it away into the corner for storage when not in use.  In the past I struggled to lift it and set it down on the carpeted floor by myself. It's kinda heavy and it's a very hard to angle to lift or lower the loom. It is hard to slide across the carpeting because I like to snug it back in this corner.  Soooo work smarter/not harder!  

It makes my work area just that much more organized.
When done, we had to put back the two doggie perches where they 
keep an eye out for the mail lady, the neighborhood dogs 
or the squirrels and rabbits in the side yard!  

Okay... Steve is back from his second run of the day. 
Now he has until 3 pm before he leaves again.
 I better go give him a hand installing that attic vent! 


Now to install the inside power fan. That should be pretty easy. He wanted to get this done before it gets too hot to be up in the attic. It is only about 50 degrees today, so that is a perfect time to get this project done.