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Rich Schroeder
2 years ago

I am a paid subscriber and new to RVing as of Aug. 2017. So I have been reading and learning all I can about RV camping in my 1999 32′ class A motorhome.
But now maybe it is time I can help others out. On our 24 day trip recently we came upon road construction and ended up with black smears all over the RV (even high up). At the next campsite we tried to clean it all off but were not very successful. At home then I made a concerted effort to get that stuff off and what worked best for me?- Weiman Glass Cook Top (heavy duty) cleaner & polish!! My wife has been using at on our cooktop in our home so I thought I’d try it.
Now I know of the warnings that an RV finish is not the same as my car so I tried it carefully. But I have been very happy with the results. The product is available at Wal-Mart and I am not getting any commissions for this.It works great for those sticky bugs as well!

PennyPA
2 years ago

Okay. Because of Mike’s comments and the letter writer’s experience, I ordered Sperry Model7504 GFI . My question is that on the online instructions (what if you don’t have a computer?) it says:

4. Will not detect two hot wires in a circuit.
5. Will not detect a combination of defects.
6. Will not indicate a reversal of grounded and grounding conductors

Should I be sending this unit back or are these things I really don’t have to worry about?

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  PennyPA

Actually, Sperry is more honest than most outlet tester manufacturers. Those are the limitations of ANY 3-light tester. However, combine it with the Non-Contact Voltage Tester side and you’ll catch a LOT more miswiring problems. But you still may not find 100% of them. There will still be a few possible wiring faults you can’t detect, but not lethally dangerous ones. Add in an advanced surge protector from Surge Guard or Progressive, and that’s as good as you can get without going down the rabbit hole.

The wiring problems left will require the addition of a Ground Loop Impedance Tester ($300) and a 10kW load bank ($3,000 to $5,000) plus several digital volt and clamp-ammeters, along with someone with extensive electrical engineering training plus a background in RV and campground wiring (like me). And even though I have all those expensive tools and experience, it can take me upwards of a day or more to figure out a really complicated power problem, although thankfully most wiring problems are quite simple.

Always remember that no matter what a meter tells you, you should NEVER feel a shock or tingle from any RV or electrical appliance plugged into an outlet. If you do feel a shock, then something is wrong with your meter or testing method.

Leroy Stephenson
2 years ago

Have you ever considered having some corner of the newsletter where campground/ RV park owners could contribute suggestions to improve the experience for customers AND park owners? I am sure that there are many owners that could contribute stories to help explain how some of our rules and concerns came into being. I’m not sure anyone knows Rv’ers and RVs more than an involved campground owner. I love your online newsletter. Keep up the good work.

Lauri C
2 years ago

Pardon my ignorance, but regarding the shorted-out pedestal, can you use a regular volt-meter to test it?

Wolfe
2 years ago
Reply to  Lauri C

Don’t worry about apologizing — the problematic folks are those who don’t bother to ask for what they don’t know and continue anyway.

As far as testing pedestals, here’s how I inexpensively test and with what:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p37z_G9CLRo

I’m sure Sokol (and thousands of others) have similar test procedures if you don’t like my voice… 🙂

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Wolfe, please don’t lump me in with the “thousands of others”. I review every test procedure I write about for industry best practices and safety, have them peer reviewed by several of my EE colleagues for written clarity, then run these articles and videos by the manufacturer’s legal departments for proper wording. What I don’t want is my readers getting confused by all the other voices on the Internet and making an expensive or even deadly mistake. I’ve looked at dozens of videos and read hundreds of articles and forum responses that are either incorrect or dangerous or both, and if I find any references to them on my forums I will delete them immediately.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Lauri C

Lauri C: I don’t see a comment about a shorted-out pedestal. Can you let me know what you’re referring to?

Steve Barnes, Kamloops, BC
2 years ago

Great article Chuck and Mike.  Yes, you are doing something important.  Hearts may not be twittering; it could be hearts going into atrial fibrillation or my pacemaker exploding.  
.
If you go on website cited you find 21 Stray Voltage Testers.  Can you help us as to which ones are appropriate and cost effective?  What to buy?
.
Hmmm?  Wonder what it would do to pacemaker.  The clinic advises stay away from magnets and gas chain saws although no one with any authority can say why about the chain saws.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago

Give me a few hours and I’ll make a short list of the best Non-Contact Voltage Testers for you all. I have at least 8 or 10 different ones in my test kit and know which NCVTs work the best for this application.

Wolfe
2 years ago

The theory is that (at least some) chainsaws emit terrible RF interference, which could theoretically mess up electronic devices nearby. I can’t say how “credible” that theory is, but I have heard noise in audio electronics too near chainsaws.

Obviously, if you’re someone who experiences even brief dizziness or “long blink” fades, you’ll want to stay away from operating dangerous toys anyway.

john stahl
2 years ago

Chuck,
Tell me what pedestal tester to purchase and I will buy it myself and I will report the results to you. We probably use 20 to 30 different pedestal hook-ups each year. Thanks for all you do.
Blessings!

Wolfe
2 years ago
Reply to  john stahl

I don’t think you need “extra special” test equipment as much as a good understanding of what you’re looking for and how to test safely to yourself. To be ultra-cheap, a 50-cent voltmeter and $1 direct-contact tester will test everything including RPBG if you know how to read them. Most folks use more convenient equipment.

I do smirk when people comment on hooking up to several different pedestals in the *same year* (gasp!)… I average 2 days/pedestal myself, but will travel less this year, so I’m probably close to your count.

I wonder how conscientious our newly deputized Special Pedestal Inspector Taskforce should be in checking vacant-site pedestals? Do we get shiny badges that identify us as SPIT folks so we don’t get SPIT on or SPIT out? ROFL…

Ortep
2 years ago

You can sign me up too for the “Pedestal Tester” position. We’re leaving for a 6-8 week trip in August and already have reservations at 8 campgrounds (W/E sites) and expect to be staying in another 4-6 CG as we figure out which direction we’re heading.

Mike Jackson
2 years ago

Re. Knowing Grades. An excellent resource for knowing what grades are where, as well as good descriptions, is “Mountain Directory West for Truckers, RV, and Motorhome Drivers” published by R&R Publishing, INC., Baldwin City KS. $16.95. We use it whenever planning a trip here in the West.

Gary Graybill
2 years ago

We have an intelligent surge protector made by Progressive. Will this detect/protect our RV from “hot skin” condition? Or should we still get a non-contact voltage reader?

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Graybill

There are NO surge protectors manufactured that will detect or protect your RV from a hot-skin stray voltage due to an RPBG miswired outlet. And these surge protectors really only test “upstream” for an open or hot ground. So if you have a portable version it’s still possible to have a break in your shore power ground connection between the surge protector hanging on the pedestal and your RV chassis. They just don’t exist. Adding a Non-Contact Voltage Tester is a great way to find these potentially deadly stray voltages.

Michael Theis
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Sorry to bother you Mike but I would like some clarification. I have a Camco circuit analyser which also has surge protection. Will this detect a hot skin situation or should I add another tool to the toolbox?

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Theis

Which model? Camco makes two variations, a cheaper one that’s offers only surge protection, and a more expensive model that also includes a disconnect relay in addition to surge protection. The more expensive version such as this one https://tinyurl.com/yczemefk will disconnect your RV from the pedestal if the voltage goes over or under set limits or the ground is open.

But Camco’s cheaper version such as this one https://tinyurl.com/y7ylxv7g can’t disconnect your RV from an over or under-voltage pedestal. It only offers surge protection, which should shunt voltage spikes away from your RV electronics.

Now to your original question. Neither of these technologies can detect or protect your RV from a hot ground created by a Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground. Nor can they disconnect your RV from a Reflected Hot-Skin/Stray-Voltage from a campground that has lost its EGC (Equipment Grounding Conductor) back to the service panel. Finally, they can’t detect or disconnect your RV from a problem in your shore power cordset because these surge protectors are “upstream” of your shore power cordset.

For all of the reasons above I believe that adding a $20 Non-Contact Voltage Tester (NCVT) from Southwire, Fluke, Klein and others is still a great safety idea. It takes only a few seconds to add this proximity test to your hookup procedure, and it will find virtually all hot-skin/stray-voltage conditions.

I’m getting ready to do a shoot-out review of half-a-dozen different NCVTs so please stand by.

Michael atheis
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Thanks so much Mike. I will wait to read your shoot-out review.

Dan Delisse
2 years ago

I plug-in to a pedestal in a rv park.I plug into the 30 amp outlet and found out shortly that 30 amp outlet was actually putting out 50 amps. I made one of these testers and never had problems since. To get a better reading on Campground outlets it is recommended that an additional test be performed .Go to https://www.myrv.us/electric/Pg/testing.htm to make a 30 or 50 amp RV outlet Tester. Testing Campground and other RV Electric Service.

Wolfe
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Delisse

Not sure what you’re saying by “30A putting out 50A” — testing could reveal a 240volt TT30 (VERY wrong) but you wouldn’t know amperage capability until you put a 50A load on the outlet and the breaker failed to trigger.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Delisse

Dan, what you’re saying doesn’t make sense electrically. Do you mean that a 30-amp outlet was putting out 240 volts like a 50-amp outlet? That would be very bad indeed, and I’ve written about that extensively.

Dan Delisse
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

yes 240

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Delisse

Any 30-amp pedestal outlet miswired with 240 volts instead of 120 volts is very dangerous to your RV’s electrical system, and can cause many thousands of dollars in damage in just a few seconds. It’s also one of the reasons that ALL pedestals should be metered before plugging your RV into it. And this is one more reason you should get an advanced surge protector with a disconnect relay. It will automatically prevent any high voltage from getting into your RV’s electrical system. While many RV owners complain about the $300 to $400 additional cost of an advanced surge protector, I think it’s cheap insurance for you and your RV. And remember, they’ll also warn you about an open-ground which can enable a Hot-Skin Stray Voltage. And that can be life-threatening. Can you provide more information on the name and location of this park? Sounds like they need a call from me….

Rob S
2 years ago

Re: ‘Walk and Talk’: My wife & I use a two-way radio with a voice-activated mike. Two advantages: hands free and we can talk at the same time.
I NEVER move if I am unable to see my wife in the mirrors or the camera – regardless of the radio availability.

Ray from Dallas
2 years ago

Love the emagazine. My comment is actually a request. Could you explore the world of RV insurance and poll your readers on their experiences and recommendations? Thank you.

Joe Azzara
2 years ago

Stop the annoying pop ups. They are blocking your articles. If not, you’ll loose readers. Don’t get so greedy that you need this nuisance.

Admin
Chuck Woodbury (@chuck)
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Azzara

Joe, where are you seeing the offensive popups? We do not intentionally use them. I’ll try to block them if I can find the source. — Chuck

Ron
2 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

I’ve notice recently that when I expand the text (to make larger so my old eyes don’t have to strain so much to see), the adjoining ad on the right side will also expand and move over to cover a portion of the text. In order to move the ad back over, I have to reduce the size of the text back down to your posted size. The ads are not pop ups.

Pete Belletto
2 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

Chuck, I appreciate the information you presented on possible grounding issues with rv hookups. My question to you is, “is there a grounding device we could put between the hookup portal and the rv that would protect the rv?”
thanks

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Pete Belletto

Pete, actually you should address that question to me, but Chuck forwards any of these questions to me anyway, so it’s all good. There is no grounding device or other gadget you can place between your RV and the pedestal to “ground it” safely. That’s because you’re not really “grounding” your RV with a properly wired shore power plug. You’re “bonding” the RV chassis to the neutral line in the campground’s service panel, which is also “bonded” to the neutral of the transformer up on the pole. What’s so confusing is that the word “ground” is used for a lot of things that don’t have any relationship to the earth ground beneath our feet. I’ll do a full article sometime explaining this, but even an 8-ft “ground” rod pounded into the soil and connected to your RV chassis with a heavy wire doesn’t actually “ground” your RV as required by code. Don’t feel bad if this seems confusing since many electricians I talk to don’t understand it either. So stay tuned for learning!

Rob
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Azzara

Joe turn on pop up blocker on your browser, also install a adblocker extension on your browser. So you know browsers also have privacy settings that state “Do not track me”
Google how to stop popups on my pc or mac for further instructions.
Rvtravel doesn’t generate popups.

John Matheny
2 years ago

I am a paid subscriber and enjoy both the daily tips and the weekly newsletter. I have been following the commentary on electricity and have followed your advice and have both a surge protector (Camco 50 amp) and a non contact voltage reader. My issue is that sometimes when we hook up to shore power the electricity in the camper won’t come on even though the surge protector light is green. I remove the surge protector and plug directly into the pedestal and it works. Am I doing something wrong with the surge protector?

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  John Matheny

Which model Camco surge protector are you using? There’s a basic MOV version that doesn’t have a relay and costs less than $100, and an advanced version with a disconnect relay that costs over $200 IIRC. Let me know which one you’ve got and I’ll posit and answer.

Jane Ayers
2 years ago

Ok, Chuck, I’m confused. We recently bought a diesel thinking that it would handle those grades better than a gas RV however in your article, “How to interpret highway road grade signs” it is stated, “Beware, diesel engines don’t have nearly the compression braking of a gas engine.” Can you explain further, that statement seems completely opposite of what we have been told. Thanks, as a contributing reader I appreciate all of your great information each week!

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Ayers

Well, this is something I know a good bit about. A gasoline engine develops braking from the vacuum created by the throttle plate being closed. So when you take your foot off the “gas” there’s a fair amount of engine braking effect. On the other hand, diesel engines don’t have throttle plates, controlling their speed by the amount of fuel that’s injected on each power stroke. So when you take your foot off the “gas” (actually diesel), there’s no engine vacuum to provide braking. That’s why big diesel trucks employ something called an engine brake.

The original Jake’s Brake (Jacobs Brake) is a piece of engineering genius that changes the exhaust valve timing to turn 2, 4, or all 6 cylinders into an air compressor which heats up the air on the way through and provide braking. This occurs when the truck driver takes his foot off the throttle and has the engine brake engaged. A Jakes Brake can provide a few hundred horsepower worth of engine braking, but tends to make a lot of noise. That’s why you see signs going into towns that say “No Engine Brakes”.

There’s a variation of this that’s an exhaust brake which can be retrofitted on many diesel engines with a mechanical valve train. However, you can’t install an exhaust brake on a Sprinter diesel since Sprinters have hydraulic lifters, and the back pressure of the exhaust brake will cause the exhaust valves to hold open a bit on each stroke, eventually ratcheting the hydraulic lifters up enough during the compression stroke to allow the valves to hit the top of the pistons. That’s because a Sprinter diesel is an interference engine and the valves and pistons come close enough together to make contact.

Simple, right?

Rob
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

You are one well-rounded individual Mike,

Great job and thanks for all your great advice,

Rob

Deanna
2 years ago
Reply to  Jane Ayers

Hi Jane,
Does your truck have an exhaust brake? It can become your best friend on a steep grade. Do you also have the towing package? If you use the tow/haul option with your exhaust brake, you should be fine on a steep grade as long as you don’t go too fast. I know some who also use cruise control set at a reasonable speed. As stated, don’t go any faster on the way down than your last speed on the way up. I personally avoid any grades over 7%, if possible, but I’m hauling 20,000#.

Mike Henrich
2 years ago

Sign me up to be a pedestal tester! Love that idea. I’m an electrician so this is right up my alley.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Henrich

Excellent. Chuck and I should have the Stray Voltage Patrol up and running by the end of July. Stand by for full details.

Pat Belletto
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

We just ordered a voltage tester. Thank you for this article!! Electricity, while wonderful, is too scary and we don’t remember that.

Wolfe
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Henrich

MS: Will there be a formal signup, or just reporting faulty pedestals to a central resource?

I just hope campground owners/managers welcome the effort as a “free courtesy inspection” rather than annoyance; the times I’ve reported faulty wiring at campgrounds, I’ve been dismissed as being “overcautious.”

I’m also curious how you’re going to confirm repairs are actually made? At one site they “sent someone to repair it” and the open ground was unchanged. Requiring a professional electrician’s receipt could be overkill, but repeating amateur repairs could be a more literal “kill”…

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

My thought right now is that we’re going to require a registration, but first every participant will have to take a basic online test. Also, I’m not going to have everyone fully test all aspects of pedestal power at other campground pedestals, only their own pedestal. But each Patrol Member can use an NCVT to inspect any pedestal or RV they walk by for a hot-skin stray voltage without touching it at all.

Admin
Chuck Woodbury (@chuck)
2 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Wolfe, we’ll have all our ducks in a row by the time we launch this. If you have suggestions, let us know. But whatever concerns you have about our program that you expressed here will be handled by our staff, a pretty straightforward process. — Chuck

Wolfe
2 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

Sorry, I was just thinking out loud re: the difficulties surrounding this and curiosty got the best of me — not at ALL criticizing this *very* needed attention. I look forward to the launch!

Thanks for spearheading policing quality in manufacturing, coordinating this safe pedestal effort, as well as whatever you’re up to with low-cost campgrounds. RVT has certainly been taking on a lot lately! 🙂