If you read about our struggles doing laundry on the road in my post, "Airing Our Clean Laundry," it will be no surprise that we decided to take the bull by the horns and buy a dryer to use with the washing machine we had already purchased. As with most fifth wheels below 34', our 32-footer does not have pre-plumbed-and-wired space anywhere in the rig for a washer/dryer set or combo, so it took a little ingenuity.
Our purchase of the Giantex washing machine happened well before we went full-time, thinking that, in the case of not having a laundromat available, at least we would be able to hang clothes outside on a line. The Giantex washer allowed us to use the shower for water and drainage and I installed a splitter and quick-connect system from the shower head fitting for easy hookup and disconnect. I also set up a storage spot for it next to the dresser in the bedroom. It has a 1.6 cu. ft. (8 lbs.) capacity, about half of the average household washing machine, but otherwise it is a fully automatic washer/spinner, just like at home, sans an agitator.
In addition to rainy weather, one serious problem we have encountered in more and more parks around the country is a rule against hanging clothing outside to dry. Since we dislike using park or small-town laundromats for several reasons (pet hair, excessive lint, color staining, rising expense, poor temperature control, and the latest incompatible payment cards, to name a few), we found a solution- a home-style dryer that uses 110v power and has excellent heat venting. The Costway dryer uses 850W and can dry up to 10 lbs., a good pairing with our washer. Its relatively small size allowed me to make space in the 5th wheel's basement and I don't even need to move anything to use it. Just pop open the compartment, open the dryer door and set the controls. Per their description, "According to the material and weight of the cloth, you can set the time length or different mode for drying: Cool (0-20mins): cool down the temperature, Warm (30-120mins): dry and cool cloth, Anti-wrinkle, Hot (120-200min): for drying large quantities or bulky item, Air dry (0-80mins) run with cool air to freshen."
Both of these machines are relatively quiet, another huge bonus for RV living. Doing laudry once per week is now convenient and takes only part of a day, unless we're doing linens and towels. This is one of the few drawbacks of having such small units. The size aspect and the time spent in having to move, connect, disconnect and dry off the washer when needed prevented 5 stars on the washing machine, while the dryer's often limited ability to dry a full 10 lbs. of wet clothing as advertised keeps it at just 4 stars.
Regardless of the downsides, we highly recommend this particular pair of machines for doing laundry in an RV.
The MORryde steps had been on our radar since last summer when one of our friends bought them for his large 5th wheel. My wife has stumbled down our rickety fold-out steps and we were concerned that the next time might result in serious injury. We were fortunate that just as we were going to purchase them we met the MORryde manufacturer's rep at the Escapade we attended in Sedalia, MO. When I approached him about publishing a review about the product he was anxious to sell it to me at dealer's cost, and he offered to install it for us, which we accepted.
The steps were installed in about 15 minutes by removing the doorway's base plate, setting the step assembly in the doorway to center and adjust position, lowering the steps to the normal position on the ground and screwing the threshold support to the floor at the doorway opening. One problem with my particular installation was that because my rig is lower to the ground than most 5th wheels, my screen door is not perfectly aligned on the threshold. I believe I will be able to lift the door on its hinges by 3/16" and it will then close freely.
That assumption made, the step kit is a fabulous upgrade from the fold-out stairs that came with the 5th wheel. First off, it sits firmly on the ground when in place, so the steps are solid. Second, the rise is only about 8" from step to step, and third, the steps don't overlap, meaning that you have a more natural step-down than when they are stacked up over one another. The feet are independently adjusted so that the stairs work better on uneven ground, and they are set back from the front of the bottom step so you don't have to step around them to or from the ground.
When the RV is being prepped for travel, the step apparatus swivels up into the doorway and locks into the door jam. The screen and outer doors then close like normal as the steps are held inside the RV in place. To re-open the doorway, you open the outer doors and turn a handle that releases the jam locks, then swivel the unit back down to the ground. Once down, the legs should be adjusted for ground angle. The unit is light weight aluminum and my wife has no problem handling the set-up or set-down. The steps also sport anti-slip grip strips.
Nothing is perfect and there are a few concerns with the MORryde solution. After years of being able to lift my steps out of the way regardless of whether the screen or outer door was closed, you can't do that when these steps are down. Both doors have to be open.
My friend found out while camping in Moab last month that his rig's frame was too high for the step unit's legs to reach the ground, even when fully extended. He had to use blocks to bridge the gap and support the steps, which wasn't ideal.
The aluminum steps and grip strips seem to attract dirt and are not easily cleaned. We ordered step covers and I would assume that will resolve that issue for us.
nou can also purchase a nice hand rail with the steps, but once attached, the rail enters the RV with the unit when put away. Our 5th wheel has a kitchen floor cabinet directly in front of the door, which didn't leave room for the rail inside the rig. Instead, we purchased a rail to replace the outside hand rail that came with the RV, a larger rail that will help support us farther down the steps than the original.
What to do with the existing steps? MORryde also sells a toolbox that fits in the enclosure the replaced steps left behind, and we are anxiously waiting to visit where we had it delivered. But, you can leave the original fold-out steps in place or remove them -- the new steps don't utilize or affect that space at all.
When you order the steps, you must know the width of the doorway they'll be fitting in and the distance from level ground to the threshold. Ours is a 30" doorway, 38" from the ground. There are also 3-step versions for smaller RV's. The issues notwithstanding, I gave this product 5 out of 5 stars for its sturdiness, durability and ease in installation.
The kit arrived and I found it very well-packaged, though missing what I think would have been very helpful, which I'll explain in a moment.
The system consisted of a wireless router, a roof-mounted antenna with an attached cable, an AC adapter for city power and a 12-volt power adapter, in case that's the power source you would like to install. What it did not come with was a weather protection grommet for the antenna cable coming through an external wall from the roof. A few months ago I installed a Weboost cell signal booster and that kit did contain a grommet for its antenna cable, which was very convenient. Before I could install the SkyPro kit, however, I had to find a suitable grommet. Over a few weeks I tried several places, including Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart and Ace Hardware, as well as a couple of electrical supply stores. I finally did find one a couple of days ago, not the ideal part but adequate, at a True Value Hardware store in Odessa, Missouri.
In the meantime, we found ourselves camping last week in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, with no cell signal at all. Remember that you can't boost a non-existent signal (32 times 0 is still 0), so the Weboost didn't help. The campground had wi-fi but, like we have found in many campgrounds, we couldn't make a good enough connection to get actual Internet access. I had the WiFiRanger SkyPro Pack with us, still in the box waiting for the grommet, and decided to get it out and turn it on without mounting the antenna. Internet withdrawal is painful and a great motivator, as it turns out.
The start-up and connection to the WiFiRanger router was exceedingly simple and the dashboard easy to access. In a couple of minutes I connected to the router with my laptop, connected the WiFiRanger to the campground's public wi-fi, and immediately had Internet. I was truly impressed. Remember, the SkyPro antenna receiving the signal was sitting inside my rig on a table, not yet installed on the roof.
When we moved out of the house last month to become full-timers I had moved our home network into the 5th wheel, but we were experiencing difficulties. The Linksys router was really meant for a landline-type of Internet connection, i.e. cable modem, DSL or similar line. It had a single setup available for an Internet bridge, meaning that I could choose either my Verizon MiFi or my AT&T Mobley unlimited Internet device to set up, but not both. In addition, my network server drive needed to be connected to the router via Ethernet cable and our wireless printer via wi-fi. Obviously, the Mobley with the unlimited data plan would be our preferred Internet connection, followed by the Verizon, followed by whatever public wi-fi was available.
The problem was that in order to change the Internet bridge on the router from the Mobley to the Verizon or to another connection, I had to disconnect the wi-fi on my laptop, power it down, connect the laptop to the router with an Ethernet cable, power up the laptop, and hope Windows 10 didn't refuse to connect and run the router's utility screen. Often when I did connect successfully and make the change, the network drive and printer were unavailable. It was a royal pain that was forcing me to look for alternatives.
Guess what? The WiFiRanger router resolved all of those issues. It has regular Ethernet ports and a regular wi-fi connectivity like my Linksys had. However, its dashboard allows me to choose among all of the wi-fi connections it sees within its 1.5-mile range, as well as lets me prioritize the connections so that the AT&T Mobley can be the first and foremost on the list, but would fail over to Verizon automatically.
Its interface also allows me to easily set up another wi-fi connection on the fly and all my devices would automatically get the new Internet access. The Mobley, for example, has a limit of 5 connections, so we might want to free them up on the network to stream on a TV, so I could simply change the WiFiRanger router to use the Verizon during that time.
With everything connected and set up, the router has been running flawlessly. In fact, I completed the roof-mount installation this morning and reconnected all of the devices, and the router didn't flinch.
Another benefit of the SkyPro Pack is that when you are connected to a shared public connection, such as in a campground, the device tends to get priority for Internet access from that source because of the strength of the connection (compared to other, unboosted, connections).
When I receive free products to review, especially more valuable equipment, I typically scrutinize it to a higher degree than if I purchased the equipment myself. This is to make as sure as possible that the value I gained isn't reflected in the review. In this case, I just can't rate this any lower than 5 out of 5 stars. It's that good.
The package arrived quickly and I was anxious to try it out. The bundle was easy to unpack and it came with an easy-to-follow 1-page instruction sheet. I set up the unit on its tripod and connected the coax cables (backwards at first, my fault) but left the power unplugged for pre-testing.
I have a factory-installed HDTV antenna but have not always had good results, which is why we were looking for an alternative. Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where we are currently staying, is in the Denver metropolitan area, so there are several channels available. However, our digital reception has been sketchy on many of those channels.
For the pre-install test, we set the TV to do a fresh scan of channels and stepped through them. We counted 25 digital channels that had been detected and that had reasonable reception. There were 8 channels detected that either had no picture or had poor reception.
We plugged in the power on the OmniGo and rescanned for channels. There was a remarkable difference: 74 digital channels detected that had decent (or excellent) reception and 3 channels detected that had no picture. In addition, most of these channels were crystal clear, rather than the sometimes pixelated screens on the unboosted roof-mounted antenna.
Click to set custom HTML
The PressurePro package was compact and easily unpacked. The directions were fairly well laid out and we were able to follow them without much confusion. The kit came with a monitor, 4 sensors, a power cable and an antenna wire. Our truck already has pressure monitors built in for its tires and our purpose for the PULSE is to monitor our 5th wheel's tires.
We were getting ready to leave for our first outing of the spring and wanted to test the monitoring system. The first step made sense -- fill the trailer tires to the desired pressure, in this case, 80 psi. I have a nice portable compressor and each tire was about 10 lbs. low from sitting through the winter. Once filled to the proper level, we proceeded to run the detection process, which entailed placing a sensor on a wheel's tire pressure valve, starting with the left front. The monitor connected with the sensor and we moved to the next, then the next, and last was the right rear tire. The first three tires showed 78 psi each, but the last one only showed 68. When the alarms were set, one immediately went off because it detected more than a 10% difference across the axle, in other words, the right rear tire was more than 8 lbs. less than the left rear.
That was a problem, because that "low" tire wasn't low. We had no choice but to turn off the system until I could double-check the pressures. Once at the campground, I checked the tires and even slightly over-inflated the problem tire. We tried to repeat the process but the monitor didn't detect the sensors, even with the antenna wire outstretched as far as possible, until I tried turning on the truck engine. Magically, it began to work fine. The over-inflated tire now showed the over-inflation and I adjusted it back to normal. The sensor also adjusted its reading.
I am assuming the PULSE monitor will continue to work as advertised. It did the rest of our trip home and since then. The safety factor should not be ignored. Tires often show signs of an issue before they blow, i.e. overheating or loss of pressure, and the PULSE monitors for these and other factors. We has a sense of security knowing they are being monitored while we are on the road, often in the middle of nowhere.
I rated this 3 out of 5 stars due to the difficulties we had during the installation. I don't know whether our experience with this product is common, but overall I believe it works very well, so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.
You can purchase the PressurePro PULSE monitoring system directly from the manufacturer using this link:
I had to post this update (and upgrade the rating) since this monitor saved us a tire or worse yesterday.
The monitor has been working well for the past few weeks. We were traveling on Interstate 196 yesterday morning on our way back to Buchanan, MI, from our short stay in the Mackinac Island area. Also in the truck were my wife, daughter, son-in-law and our Cairn terrier, Lucy. The alarm sounded when the left rear tire pressure went from 80 to 70 psi, then we watched it drop to 45. I immediately got off the freeway and pulled over. By that time the pressure was 0 psi. I got out to inspect the tire and, sure enough, that tire was completely flat. All five of our 5th wheel's tires had been replaced with a new set just about a month ago.
We called Good Sam's Emergency Roadside Service and a tow truck was dispatched out of nearby Grand Rapids to swap the flat tire with the spare. Within a couple of hours we were back on the road without any further damage done. Evidently the flat was caused by a bolt or screw we hit in a construction zone on the Interstate that punctured the tread but didn't stick in the tire, thus the quick deflation.
Without the monitor installed and working perfectly, that tire would most likely have blown apart, since I never heard or felt anything when it happened, or even after it lost pressure. Who knows what damage that would have caused? Serious accidents can occur due to blowouts, so it may well have saved us from a catastrophe.
I can now positively recommend the PressurePro PULSE!
The packages came and one was larger than I anticipated. The flexible solar panel stood 49" tall by 22" wide. The product description described the lamination as "Aluminium + ETFE + Silicon cell + EVA + Tedlar" but it just seemed like a thick, rugged fiberglass panel to me.
I am a novice at solar technology and the instructions were not easy to figure out, but I eventually did. The controller came with a template for placing mounting screws on a backboard, which I installed in the front compartment on the back wall behind the new Lithium Ion batteries I just hooked up.
I felt foolish when I found that the cables coming from the panel and the extension cables to the controller were keyed, a set of male and female for each that were reversed for positive and negative so that you can't cross-connect them once you've wired the controller and batteries correctly. The controller had three sets of connections in which to insert and tighten bare wires -- one pair for the solar panel, one for the batteries and another for a load, in case you are powering a device directly. I did have to make the battery cables and strip any ends being connected to the controller.
With everything set up, power flowed with no issues. My battery monitor is Bluetooth-enabled and I was able to see the input into the batteries okay, but since the batteries had a full charge, little electricity was drawn. I was happy that it still showed power, however.
The flexibility of the panel is impressive. It weighs about 6 pounds and is stout but can be flexed for temporary mounting on a curved surface, such as an RV front cap. However, from the manufacturer: "Once in a while bending may be possible, but we do not recommend long - term bending to affect the life of the panel." My main purpose for using a solar panel is to charge my batteries when boondocking, allowing for minimum use of my generator. I am confident that this setup will work great.
I rated this 4 out of 5 stars only because the instructions could be better written and/or illustrated and I did have to do some of my own cabling.
The package was simple to open and included 2 aluminum stabilizers and each had a nice vinyl carrying bag. It's important that we tested with two stabilizers because to truly stabilize an RV you need to steady the rig in two directions -- front-to-back and side-to-side. As suggested by other users of the product I installed one under the rear bumper (below left) and under the frame in front of the door (below right). Ideally I would have centered the stabilizer under my bumper but I have a receiver clamped there so I moved it over.
When we first purchased our 5th wheel, the sway and vibration when we walked through the rig was awful. One of our first after-market purchases was a king-pin tripod and that did improve the stability when parked, however, not enough. For example, when we were in bed and one of us got up to use the bathroom or grab something from the kitchen, the one still in bed was usually awakened, not by the mattress, which had been replaced by memory foam, but by the sway and movement of the trailer. Last fall, while camping in Pueblo, CO, a windstorm hit with 55 mph gusts at about 11 pm and we never did get any sleep that night.
I have to say, for the money, these stabilizers work very well. Their unique design makes setup easy -- you simply get your rig leveled and supported like normal, then unfold and place the stabilizers where you want them, attach the ratchet strap and tighten. This is probably a 2-minute operation unless you struggle with ratchet straps. I have been using them at work for years so I didn't have this problem, but they are simple enough to master.
The improvement was immediately noticeable and continued to impress throughout the evening and overnight. We are camping with friends this weekend prior to going full-time next month, so this was important to us. As if to aid me in the product test, a significant windstorm hit us last night. We felt some sway but the difference from the previous experience was remarkable. We were able to sleep through the night with minimal movement of the rig.
View and/or purchase the product here on Amazon
Don't forget to buy at least two...
The vertical arms of the unit are adjustable, allowing it to be used when the RV clearance (frame to ground) is from 14 to 28 inches. I believe that installing one in front of the door also helps to eliminate movement from entering and exiting the rig.
The stabilization is not perfect, probably more like eliminating 80% of the annoying sway and wobble. I'm sure I can spend several hundred dollars and install permanent sway bars and stabilization jacks to the chassis to be virtually motionless, but for a little more than a hundred dollars, no installation and about 5 minutes to set up or take down each time we are camped, this is a great solution.
The package was simple to open and unpack its contents. It's mostly self-contained, with the air hose and nozzle packed in one compartment built into the case and the power cords in another.
I needed an air compressor in order to keep my 5th wheel and pick-up tires at 80 lbs. As you may know, this amount of pressure isn't always available at gas stations or supermarket chains. I went searching and at first found a Black and Decker battery-powered unit that also had a large-volume hose for blowing up rafts and tubes. I purchased that unit and during just the 2nd use of it, the cheap valve stem connect nozzle broke, never to be usable again. Not impressed with the quality of the product, I went back to my search and bought my second choice -- the above-mentioned Campbell Hausfeld inflator.
Even though it doesn't have the large-volume output, it does have adapters to do the job, and the tire valve stem connector appears to be of superior quality compared to the Black and Decker unit. The gauge goes up to 300psi and it is advertised to inflate to 230psi. Although I just needed it to inflate to 80psi, the top end made me more comfortable with the product.
This unit also has a 12-volt cigarette adapter for charging or running 12v electronics or other devices using an inverter, limited to 10 amps. Their documentation shows you can power an 8-watt TV for 14 hours and a 55-watt light for 2 hours. I don't have this need for now, but, again, it's a comfort to have that ability on the road full-time.
Today I attempted to top off my RV tires, taking them from 70 psi to 80 psi. All 4 tires had dropped the same amount over the winter. On a full charge, it took the unit about 20 minutes to accomplish the full inflation. This is actually quick for one of these small portable inflators. I had a machine a few years ago that would have taken over 2 hours to raise the tire pressure that much. The B&D inflator would have been over an hour for this exercise.
The second tire only partially inflated before running out of battery power. This is the only drawback I found with the CC2300 -- one full charge would only handle one pressure raise of 10 pounds. It would most likely do much better at lower pressures, say 32 or 40 psi, but for my needs, I may have to consider a more expensive unit. For under 50 bucks, though, it's difficult to complain.
For the time being I'm going to stick with this model and plan ahead for multiple charging sessions. Recharging doesn't take long, just about an hour or so, and my needs are simple.
For the price, I highly recommend the CC2300 model from Campbell Hausfeld.
The package was simple to open and review its contents. It came with 2 magnetic tank sensors and 6 metal clips for the bottom of the tank. I was excited to try this product because I had already bought magnetic strips that attach to the side of the propane tank, which supposedly change color as the propane level drops along their indicator markings. They didn't work at all.
I had some deja vu, however, when the app I downloaded, Tank Check, didn't connect to the sensors after following the directions both in the packaging and on the app. The app had a spinning icon saying it was scanning for the devices, and that continued for several minutes without success. At first I thought they might have dead batteries -- I've come across that before -- but my multimeter proved that to be incorrect. I re-installed the disk batteries, put the covers back on and tried again. My wife joined me and noticed that a couple of instructions ahead said to press the sync button 5 times after it connected, so we did that, before it connected, and voila, up came each one onto the app. After that, everything worked perfectly.
We then installed the metal clips to the bottom of the tanks' base in order to lift the tank slightly off of the flat floor of the compartment so that there would be more room for the sensor once applied to the bottom of the tank. There were a lot of negative comments about these clips, which evidently may have been plastic in the past, but these metal clips worked fine.
I placed the magnetic sensors on the bottom of each tank and checked the app. Sure enough, the full one showed 100% and the mostly empty tank showed at 28%. The app lets you name the tank and select the size among 20, 30 and 40 pounds, and once I selected 30 for my tanks, the monitor changed that level to 23%. I replaced the tanks in their compartment and went inside the rig, and the monitor app worked fine.
There is a hardware monitor you can purchase if you didn't want to use a phone app, and I'm pretty certain the app is available for both Apple and Android phones (mine's a Moto Z). One other drawback was that once the sensors were connected to my phone, my wife could not connect to them. That means if I'm not around, she can't monitor the tank levels. Not a big deal, but it is a small annoyance.
Overall I'm impressed with the product and highly recommend it. It's long been a pain having dual propane tanks without knowing the propane levels. I'm happy that is no longer the case. You can purchase the tank monitor from Amazon at the link below.
The Tech Support department from the manufacturer contacted me to clear up a couple of things. First, regarding multiple devices syncing up with the sensors:
"The sensors can be paired to as many phones and monitors as you like. If your wife downloads the app, then opens it the scanning icon will spin, when that happens press the "sync" on the sensor again and it should pair to her phone. They will communicate to your phone, the monitor, and her phone as well with the same reading. Any phone after an I phone 4S or a Galaxy 4 would be able to pair no issue."
Then, to answer a question in the comments below about whether the devices would be okay to use if the propane tanks were on the tongue instead of a compartment:
"The magnets are rated at 3# each and there are multiple sensors are installed on motor home tanks as well, so they are exposed to rain and tire wash daily. They are sealed from the elements, and Mopeka has them warranted for this type of exposure as well. You are correct on the support feet, they were made from a rubber, now they are metal to solve the customer concern and feedback we received. "
Well, I had the best of intentions. Really. The combination of my book release Friday (amazon.com/dp/B079CM9H2D), tracking the various marketing tactics for said release, interacting on all my social media accounts about that book, launching my Patreon page, and converting and publishing my most complete collection of poetry in the Amazon Kindle store (amazon.com/dp/B079WHD5ZQ), I just plain ran out of time.
I have received, either by purchase or by donation by manufacturers, several products to install, test and write about. I will be including that information -- how I acquired the product -- in my review as well for sake of transparency. So far, I will be reviewing:
Hopefully, weather will cooperate while I work on the 5th wheel next weekend. If so, I'll get 2 or 3 of these products installed and tested. Currently the forecast for Denver for next Saturday and Sunday is 48 degrees and partly cloudy. Hope that holds ...