How to Maintain a Healthy Black Tank

As a mobile RV tech I have addressed many black tank problems, ranging from simple clogs to tanks that have fallen off their supports. An RV black tank has a very important job to do and works well when it is given the proper tools and conditions. The black tank is not complex, and works by breaking down the solid waste into a slurry, allowing it to exit the tank without clogging. The solids are broken down by bacteria and lots of water. Some of those bacteria give off methane, others do not, and methane is one of the chemicals that gives black tanks their unpleasant smell. The key is to encourage the less-stinky bacteria to flourish and keep the stinky buggers away. Given a good environment and enough water, the solids are broken down within 24-48 hours.   Here are some questions I’m frequently asked about black tanks: I …

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The second time our Keystone Laredo blew a bearing on the highway…

In July 2020, on our way to the worst work camping gig, we were coming down the hill into Tehachapi, California, and the truck alerted us that it’d lost the signal to the trailer brake. We immediately pull over, I run back to check the plug, thinking it’s a simple problem. It was fine, but I smelled burning and when I got back to the truck, David said “we’ve got flames out there.” We ran for the fire extinguishers, and David put it out quickly. It was the same bearing that caused us to spend a cold night on the interstate back in November 2019. This time, we got lucky (or so we thought) because it was early in the day, and all the parts stores were still open. We even had a spare bearing. Unfortunately, the bearing and race had welded themselves to the spindle, so it wasn’t quite …

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Quick Tips: Turning off the beep on our RV Lock!

We love our keyless RVLock. It’s so convenient to be able to come and go securely and without a key, plus we can share the code with friends and family if there’s ever an emergency and someone needs to get inside. The one thing we don’t like about the lock is the default beep when locking/unlocking. It’s extremely loud, and we can ALWAYS tell when someone else in a park has the same lock we do. But you can turn off the beep! Just hold the 1 button for about 5 seconds, until you hear a quick double beep. That’s it! If you change your mind and want the beeps back, do the same thing, and you’ll hear a quick single beep. Share this tip with your RV friends!

Broken Service door

On one of our hops across the country while hooking up our fresh water, the door fell off in my hand. The problem turned out to be a broken retracting plastic pin on one side of the door hinge. The door attaches to the utility cabinet with one fixed pin and one spring retracting pin. Both pins are plastic, the retractable one is the one that broke. When it broke, the spring and remaining bits of pin disappeared into the gravel, never to be seen again. I made a few inquiries as to how to get a new one but since we were traveling I secured it with some tape and forgot about it. We made it to our summer location and work calls started flowing in so I continued to rely on my good brown tape to hold my access door in place. At the end of the season …

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Ram 2500 Airbag Suspension Installation

We travel full-time in our Keystone Laredo 335MK travel trailer and pull it with a Ram 2500 pickup truck. Our truck has no problem towing our trailer. We use an Equalizer brand weight distribution hitch to even out the load. While traveling, we have noticed the rear of the truck tends to bounce when we travel over rough roads. Even with the Equalizer hitch, the truck tends to squat in the rear just a bit, this can affect the vehicle stability and reduce the headlight effectiveness. We try not to tow at night but the few times we have we got flashed at by oncoming vehicles quite often. To help these issues out we decided to invest in an airbag suspension system. We went with the Air Lift, 57289 Load Lifter 5000′ kit. The kit is manufactured to fit our Ram 2500. I was able to install their kit using …

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Making use of unused space in an RV

Like a lot of travel trailers, we have a pass through storage area under the nose of our trailer. I recently had to do some repair work to our water pump that is located in this storage area behind a carpeted false wall. This is also where our leveling system controls are mounted. There was quite a bit of unused space in this utility area enclosed by the false walls. After completing my water pump repairs I removed the two false walls and cut the shorter wall down to allow the front wall to move back. The new space will allow us a couple more square feet of storage. The control panel for the leveling system is still usable in this area but I will be relocating it in a future post to make it more user friendly.

RV Lock Keypad Replacement

We installed an RV Lock keyless entry about a year ago, and we love it. We can hit the pool without worrying about where to keep our keys, we never get locked out, and it looks real slick on the rig. Unfortunately, the cover started to crack several months ago. We worried moisture would get into the lock and damage, it looked bad, and it could be considered a security risk because the most commonly used keys are the ones more likely to show wear first. We posted about it on our Instagram account, and am excited to report that RV Lock reached out to us to offer to send us a replacement face plate for the unit. They’d upgraded the materials used for the keypad and said the replacement should last much longer. The new plate looks thicker and sturdier than the cracked plate. We were also pleased to …

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Heading in my new direction

I am officially an RVSA Certified RV Technician! We’ve been full-time RVers since September 2018, but only on the road since July 2019. Jen and I have been planning and working to fulfill our dream of full-time RV travel. Making this transition meant letting go of the career that had sustained me up to this point. I spent much of the last 20+ years working as a operations and equipment maintenance supervisor in the manufacturing industry. I was very good at my job but I was fed up and burned out. The politics, dehumanizing management, and frustrating environments meant each day was a soul-sucking blender. We budgeted, scrimped, and saved in order to help make the transition possible. I have always been a hands-on person and enjoy fixing and making things. My favorite job was the three years I spent working as a residential electrician before going back to school …

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RV Surge Protectors, and a Positive Experience When One Failed!

A surge protector for your RV is a must, because you never know what you’re going to get when traveling from one RV park to the next. One bad surge could fry everything in your RV, or just one very expensive thing (like an air conditioner), which is more than enough inconvenience, should you be so unlucky!

We picked up the Progressive Industries SSP-50XL surge protector with the weather cover (they make 30-amp versions too), because it was reasonably priced and came highly recommended by other long-time RVers. We’ve been really happy with it– we plug it into the pole when we park, make sure the power’s good, and then plug the rig in. It’s easy and painless, and once we’re hooked up, we’ve got the peace of mind that we’re protected.

When we plugged into a new site a few weeks ago, the protector indicated that we had good power, but no surge protection. To our knowledge, we’ve never had any surge events, and the plug was still in good condition. There are two sets of LEDs for redundancy, and since both were out, we had to assume we’d lost our surge protection entirely, for whatever reason.

A surge protector with only the blue "good power" lights lit, when the green "surge protector" lights should also be lit.

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