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Friday, February 16, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *H* Headlights, Heater, Hooks, 1 Year and ANTS!

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 H now!


Headlight Replacement:
As many of you know, we HATE to drive at night!  The Safari motorhome's headlights are very dim. Various Safari owners have tried all kinds of work-arounds to fix that problem.  It's just the way it was designed and the bulbs that were selected when built in 1996. Some owners have used relays to increase the voltage to the headlights to make them brighter. Some have installed different LED headlights to overcome the problem too.  Trying to fit different bulb/lens shapes into the existing fiberglass framework and grill is a problem too.  Well.... Steveio took a different approach:

He bought two 65 watt type headlights from Fleet Farm (a locally based Farm/home store in the midwest) for $19.95 each. Sylvania H4666 They were the same size and shape as the headlights we had. 

He creatively bent one of the three prongs that was slightly manufactured at an angle on purpose.  With gentle persuasion of a pliers, he was able to match up the new prong on the far left to match the configuration to our original Safari plug.  Voila....   

We took it out and night and realigned the headlights in a big dark parking lot at the back of a local factory nearby. We made sure it was not too high, and not aiming too far over to the oncoming traffic either. (my pet peeve on other vehicles coming at me!)

It was a HUGE difference.... 
much more than we ever expected!!!  

With this type of lighting, we won't mind night time driving when we choose to do it.  

Some people with Safari motorhomes have opted instead to install a "relay" device to add more power to the headlights to make them brighter.  We didn't do that, but this is what they shared on the Safarimotorhomes Yahoo Group that I manage with lots of information about the Safari motorhomes: 

Adding Headlight Relays
Many Monaco/Safari coaches were originally wired with the headlight and dimmer switches directly controlling the headlights. That is, there was no interposed relay, so all the headlight current passed through both switches. Due to the voltage drop across the switches, and the length of wiring, the voltage at the headlight bulbs was far below 12 volts, and thus the headlights were quite dim. Attempting to use higher wattage bulbs only makes the problem worse, as the higher current causes even lower voltage.

The most successful way of correcting this is to put two relays in the circuit (one for high beam and one for low beam), so that the high current path for the headlights is “battery to relay to headlights to ground”. The lower current "headlight control" path becomes “battery to headlight switch to dimmer switch to relay coil to ground”. You can use the same type relays that are commonly found in the electrical bay (the bay with several cube-shaped relays, fuses, and connections). In most cases, the circuit from the headlight switch to the headlights passes through this bay anyway.

Specifically, the relay type you need is 30 Amp, 12 V, SPST (single pole, single throw, although double throw will work as well), available at Radio Shack or auto parts stores. You can use a Radio Shack part number 275-226 or a Tyco (formerly Bosch) relay with specs of 12V 30A.

There will typically be 4 or 5 blade-type connections on the bottom of the relay, labeled as 30, 85, 86, 87, and (optionally) 87a. You can use corresponding female compression connectors on the wires that you will connect to the relay.

The most difficult part of the modification may be finding the two wires that come from the headlight hi/lo switch (the steering column mounted switch you use to set the headlights to high or low) and go to the high and low headlight filaments. With any luck, they will pass through the bay where you want to mount the relays. Cut these wires and connect them to the relay terminals as follows: High beam wire from switch - to terminal 85 of relay 1; Low beam wire from switch - to terminal 85 of relay 2. Wire going to headlight low beams - to terminal 87 of relay 1; wire going to headlight hi beams – to terminal 87 of relay 2. A new ground wire from terminal 86 of each relay to a good ground point. 12V power wires to terminal 30 of each relay. These last connections should include inline 20 Amp fuses. The power source should be one that is always hot (not switched on by the ignition switch). Usually you will find a copper “bus bar” or connection strip that feeds other relays and circuits and can easily supply the needed current. You will not use terminal 87a of the relays, if present. 

okay... now back to our own modifications and improvements:
We have a nice propane Olympian Wave 8 heater in our motorhome, and also the original propane ducted furnace (which eats up a lot of battery power for the blower). 

Sometimes, when we are camping at a site with power hookups included, we like to run a little electric heater to take out the chill.  We tested various ones in the store, noting the noise level, the appearance and the size to fit in a little area of our closet....

This one is the winner! It kinda looks like a chiminea terracotta exterior on a fancy little stand.  (It's really a thick solid plastic) and it either rotates or sits still.  It is very quiet and does not tip over too easily.  I like to set it in the bathroom to warm it up before taking a shower. It is thermostatic in 5 degree increments, with a HI and LO fan speed too.  Plus a tip-over safety switch is nice.  We can set it right up on the kitchen table and blow backwards to the bedroom to circulate the heat.

 Sometimes it is the little things that make you just a little more comfortable.  Ahhhhhh

I found these acrylic hooks one day at Walmart. They are great for extra hanging space in the bathroom to dry towels or hang clothes while taking a shower.  They can easily lift off and flip to the inside to hang wet raincoats or umbrellas to drip dry off in the shower/tub enclosure.  They do not rattle much and don't scrape the top metal trim as much as the first ones I bought which were metal. 

I like these so much I bought a few more for in our house too! 


Is has been ONE YEAR since Steve took on a part time job. You might remember on January 1st 2017, he retired from the State of Wisconsin.   He managed to be retired for a mere 6 weeks.  Arrggh!  He went and took a job driving the handicapped accessible busses and transport van for the county.  It's called the ADRC and he transports non-ambulatory folks in wheelchairs, mostly from nursing homes and assisted living centers back and forth to doc appointments, dialysis and discharges from hospitals after surgery.  He drives part time, about 15-20 hours a week. It's a flexible schedule and there are enough rotating drivers that he can take off bigger segments of time if we travel or he is ill.

It has gotten so he is finding himself in charge of some of the same folks over and over... his "repeats"  who are requesting "that really nice friendly tall guy who drives good!"  awwwwwww! His schedule is usually to nearby clinics and hospital, so he often gets to clock out and come home for lunches or in between transports. The dogs are always excited to hear the BEEP BEEP BEEP of the back-up alarm as he manuvers it back into the driveway.  After driving that 40 ft motorhome, he does quite well with the little "Old Fart Party Bus" (We fondly let the grandkids refer to it with that name!)

Speaking of docs, we have to head out soon to doc appointments of our own this afternoon.  Our health insurance changed us to only using docs and clinics down in Fond du Lac and south of there.  Fond du Lac being the closest to home, about 22 miles. It's our first appointment with our new family physician so we are hoping all of our records were changed over from the old docs.  We gave them 4 weeks to do it, and called again last week to each one to make sure things got transferred. They said it did, so we will see!  From previous experience, I never trust any of them to follow through anymore.

I hope that we don't pick up any new bugs from the visit.  We have masks to wear into the clinic and we are going to wear our outdoor gloves on our hands until we are actually in the examining rooms.  When we get out, we have a bottle of hand sanitizer to slather on when we reach the car!   hahahah but after being hit with this crap three different times since January 1, I don't care to pick up any thing else!

Now for the last word in my title:  ANTS! 

Since the weather warmed up, and the snow is melting, we suddenly have discovered ANTS in the kitchen by the sink!!!!   Black long skinny ones. They are not carpenter ants and don't have wings. We know last summer there were a bunch of this type out on that side of the house, and we noticed them using our new fence as a bridge over the house. The fence meets the house RIGHT by that part of the kitchen!

It is a lower spot of narrow ground between the houses that gets really saturated and leads out to the storm sewer grid up front by the street. Many years ago as the houses were built here, we are told there is a long horizontal underground natural aquifer that runs the length of our block, right down the middle between the houses on the street behind us. We noticed the other day the water just running across the sidewalk and into the street between the next two houses down the block.  I think when the ground is really wet after a rain, or melting snow, the ground between all of our houses gets saturated as water makes it's way to the storm sewers.

Lasts summer, was when we first noticed those ants walking on our fence. We had sprayed the outside liberally during the summer and fall and really haven't thought about it since.

Till now!  ACK!   On Wednesday, Steve got some Home Defense spray and did the outside, especially where the ground is all squishy and wet from the melting snow.  He then went into the basement and sprayed all of the foundation sills and the floor joists below.  Next he came up and removed all the things in the cabinet below the sink and sprayed down into all of the  water and drain pipe access holes and along the cracks where the wall meets the floor. He also sprayed around the garbage can slide out cabinet as well.

Last night I came down for a drink of milk about midnight, and flicked on the light. I found NINE more ants!!!!  All hanging out sipping from the sink around the drain where there is a small crease of water.  .... DIE ANTS DIE!!!!  I squished them all and sent them down the garbage disposal.  Then I did a big glug glug glug of bleach down into the disposal as well, and ran it with hot water for a long time.

Today we are going to pick up some stronger stuff, maybe granules for the side yard.  Then try to spray something stronger into the cracks some more or even up under the siding from the outside.  I also put out some ant bait pieces.  The ants are supposed to eat it and take it back to their nest, and kill the others.  The nest must be somewhere in the wall itself.

I have never had ants in the house in the middle of winter in Wisconsin!!!! 
 Global Warming, anyone? 


  1. For ants I use Terro liquid ant baits. They work with in a couple days and are the best thing I have found. Keep up away from pets.

    1. Yup.. those are very good for the sweet eating or food eating ants... The kind that sneak in the house in the summer (especially if the grandkids spill some juice or melted popsicle inside the front porch). The Terro work GREAT for that!

      These are some other longer larger black ants. I don't even know what they are. We bought the Raid brand baits because the label named about 15 or 16 different types. Let's hope it does the trick?

      If not I will go get some Terro ones! Thanks!


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