RV Camper's Survival Guide

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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Aug 19, 2014 4:14 pm

I'm not sure about Cedarville but if you can make it over Cedar Pass, the Chevron on the corner in Alturas has a dump station, over on the far side of the building. Easy, and no rancher shoots your ass.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby pink » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:32 am

And it's illegal to dump even greywater.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:01 pm

Out there, dumping gray water, I'm not sure the law will be your biggest fear. I don't recommend dumping on someone's land out there. They already don't like you, and aren't afraid to teach you some manners.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Karinahularina » Thu Sep 11, 2014 11:10 pm

Hi all,

I scoured many of these forums before we hired our RV this year and wanted to reflect on my own experiences and provide tips for others who may be as anally retentive and over-organized as me. It was my third burn but my first in an RV and despite the hellish logistics I would definitely hire one again. Hopefully it will be easier second time round. This post is mostly geared at international burners who have limited time and resources and so there won’t be any mention of swamp coolers and hexayurts.

The booking process:
Like everyone says – do this early, AKA by December the year before. Every week you leave it the price goes up. Every RV in California will be rented for BM so don’t worry if you’re only stuck with Cruise America to chose from. It ultimately comes down to bad luck if yours breaks down or the generator stops working. Don’t delay – just book now. Also, understand that there’s really only about 4 major companies that rent RV’s. Road Bear is actually Star Drive, Motouris is also known as Pure RV, Apollo is also known as Star RV etc.

You might find it easier to use a ‘broker’ like ideamerge.com who has access to multiple RV companies and their real-time availability and they might have customer service staff in your country that you can speak to on the phone.

Important to note: whether using a broker or the RV Company directly – understand that filing in the online form to check RV availability for your dates means nothing. They might say they have a 5 person RV left at $3500 but they actually don’t have it in stock or it’s actually $4700. Availability online does not reflect actual availability - you need to speak/email a real person to confirm there are some left and at what price.

Understand how your RV works before you pick it up:
Watch this video http://bit.ly/YC87H0 (there are probably others for the other companies). You don’t need to know most of the stuff about rigging things up to camp sites – you won’t be doing that.

And thanks to Michael for compiling this helpful guide – print and bring with you. http://titanradiator.com/rv/Burning_Man_camping.pdf

In summary – there are two separate batteries; one for the engine and one for ‘everything else’ i.e. to run the fridge, the lights inside, the water pump etc. Therefore the fridge stays on and cold the whole time as it runs off the accessories battery (and uses the propane gas tank as fuel, not the main gas tank). A panel next to the door indicates the levels:
• of gas you have left to run the fridge (you will pick it up with a full tank and this will last the whole week easy)
• of grey water filled up from sinks and shower
• of black water levels filled up from toilets
• of fresh water left on board (don’t use for drinking. Washing dishes and self is fine)
• of battery power left for the generator. The generator runs off the main gas tank and uses about a gallon an hour. This powers your air con. The generator also powers the ‘accessories’ battery. It generally wont let you turn it on if your fuel tank is less than a quarter as it saves fuel so you can get home. (We bought a bottle of 30 weight generator oil out of over-preparation anxiety but never used it).

Picking up your RV
When we booked ours the pickup location was listed as SF but it was actually Fremont, about 50 mins away. We caught the BART to Fremont station from Downtown/Union Square then a cab. I initially imagined there might be about 20 or so RV’s and if we got there early we would get the best pick. Not so. These RV pickup depots are huge with about 400 vehicles in them and your RV is already assigned. Expect to spend at least 2-4 hours here waiting to get your paperwork then your vehicle. They will be super busy on burn pickup days so don’t expect much attention or a guided tour of how to use the RV. They just handed over our keys and were like ‘have a good time’.


Gas
Get it is Wadsworth. Fill up as it’s the closest reliable place to BRC (closer then Reno) and you never know how much gas you will use in ingress/exodus or with your generator on playa. It cost about $200 to fill ours up.


If hiring an RV from San Fran don’t leave it to Reno to get your supplies
There are Wal-Mart’s, hardware and grocery stores all over the i-80 that wont be overcrowded and will still have a full supply of sleeping bags, baby wipes, vinegar and shade options – use them. We ended up buying all our food from a 24 hour Savemart in Truckee and it was blissfully peaceful and took 30 mins. Similarly a hardware store that wasn’t in Reno was happy to cut some metal poles to size for a fellow camper’s shade structure.


Cleaning supplies
We bought a broom, dust pan and broom, vinegar, spay bottle, carpet matt, a bunch of cleaning cloths, paper towel, gardening gloves and latex gloves, all of which came in handy. A sink plug and dishwashing liquid will be added next time.

Driving the RV
We had three people – one to drive, one to navigate and one to nap and this worked well. I preferred driving exodus as no lane changing was required and it’s pretty straightforward. I managed with highways ok as there are wide shoulders and big lanes, albeit I did have sweaty palms. Everything is fine if you have someone in the passenger seat for moral support and navigation. Don’t let this put you off hiring one – you will be fine. Even on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

Hints and tips: staying dust free and cool
This is the part that makes hiring an RV all worth it. With a bit of minimal effort our RV was clean, cool and dust free the whole time. We easily slept till 11.30am when needed and could nap even without the air con on. I have to admit that having the RV did make me a little less social this year as I would have spent more time in communal shade structure otherwise. But as much as I’d love to bring excess tents, shades structures, fark tents, and make hexayurts, this is not realistic for international travellers who are limited to one suitcase and whatever they can buy in Reno that they are prepared to throw out or gift afterwards.

Silver bubble wrap on windows with gaffer tape is a must
We bought a big roll and a small roll from Lowes I think it was. Cut it to size for each window. Tape over the whole window with painters/gaffer/blue tape. Yes its expensive but it works and doesn’t leave sticky reside like duct tape does. If you cover the whole outside window including the seams no dust gets in, really. Even in dust storms. Also cover the inside two air vents/windows above the beds, from the inside. You can probably do all this in the line while waiting to arrive at the gate – leaving the windscreen till last obviously. We had to get on each others shoulders to reach the outside top windows – fun! I imagine ladders would also work but be less hilarious for on lookers. This worked sooo well. It was like being in a 5 star hotel compared to previous years camping. Dust free, cool and clean.

Cover seats and dash with old sheets
I brought a bunch of old sheets sheets for home and they worked a treat. Over the drivers and passengers seat, dashboard, over the beds and over the table seats and lounge chair. The RV was so easy to keep clean this way. You could probably also buy these at a good will/charity store but being an international burners it was easier just to stuff them in my suitcase.

Close dashboard vents and tape up
Self explanatory.

Ban shoes
Use a bucket/tub at the door for shoes. Never allow shoes in on anyone. Have a piece of carpet/matt at the top step so people can sit down to take off their shoes. Our RV stayed sooo clean just by doing this.


Emptying the grey and black water while on playa AKA getting an RV service
We were lucky we were part of a theme-camp that prearranged and paid for this to happen on the Thursday and someone in our camp was allocated to arrange this. It went seamlessly and meant we weren’t worried at all about overflow. You can flag down the RV service trucks on playa and pay $50-75 cash if you want this service. It can be a pain to actually sit around and wait for them though and take up your valuable time. Pre arrange if you can. They also fill up fresh water I believe but that’s never really an issue as you will have your own drinking water in battles – the main issue when hiring an RV is that grey and black water fill up too fast…

How to avoid grey and black water filling up too fast
There are more elaborate threads on this but essentially:
• Don’t have too many people in the RV. We had 3 in a 5 person, worked well.
• Don’t poop, only wee in the toilet
• Don’t shower
• Don’t leave any water running e.g. washing dishes (buy and bring a sink plug)
• Use water sparingly
• Turn the water pump off when not in use.

Problem solving: dead accessories battery/generator
We had a problem in that when we picked ours up from the rental company the accessories battery was flat i.e. the engine worked and we could drive around but we couldn’t turn on the fridge, air con, lights, water pump, levels indicator, generator. Of course there were no others to switch it with as it was burner central pick up time so we were stuck with this sucker. It was a shitty battery and got worse over the week but we kept temporarily bringing it back to life by starting the engine while parked, revving the accelerator to give the generator enough gas to switch it on at the panel till it kicked in (requires one person in the drivers seat and another at the panel) and then leaving the generator on for at least 20 mins to an hour so that would charge the accessories battery enough for the water pump, lights, fridge etc. to work. Such a pain in the arse to do this at 3am when everything started beeping ‘I’m flat’ but hey it’s all part of the radical self reliance fun. We were just unlucky to get this RV. Therefore our fridge worked ‘sometimes’ and the air con worked when we could be bothered going through this process. Keep the water pump switched to off when not in use.

Problem solving: leaking black/grey water
Our RV didn’t come with a ‘cap/cover’ for the grey water hose underneath. We found this out the hard way when we realised grey/black water was leaking straight onto playa (yes we mooped it out, yes it was gross). Make sure your grey/black water valves are ‘closed’ before you start using any water on board (find them underneath the RV and push them in to close) and keep a funnel and large bottle underneath any valves while parked on playa just in case.

Cleaning the RV
We had read forums about how this could take 6 hours and costs $200-$500 bucks. It took 2-3 of us 90 mins and cost, wait for it, $15. We took it to a self-service car wash in Reno where you pay for the time used for the hose and vacuum. It took 20 mins to clean the outside with a high-pressure hose (and was ridiculously fun) that had lots of different detergent/pressure options, including an engine clean and shammy air dry. Don’t forget to do the undercarriage. The inside we wiped down with cloths, vinegar-water and then vacuumed everything including curtains. Because we used the outside silver bubble wrap and no shoes rule, there was hardly any dust in it anyway. Also the rental companies aren’t super fussy about the level of cleanliness, they just want it to be clean enough to hire to someone else i.e. no layer of gross dust. When we returned ours they said of the 200 returned that day most were pretty clean and only about 6 people returned there’s completely dirty/filthy so they were overall happy with burners.

Getting rid of trash and everything else
Wholefoods in Reno had a depot set up this year collect to not just trash but all recycleables, old bikes, non-perishable food, our sheets and pillows and sleeping bags, kitchen stuff etc. We just donated them $20 to take literally everything off our hands, most of which was going to local charities. Everyone wins.

Hope this is helpful to someone!
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Jovankat » Thu Sep 11, 2014 11:43 pm

Wow. Great first post! I was in an RV my first year and nearly everything you wrote brought back memories, even down to picking up in Fremont. Thanks for posting this I had to explain the two battery and generator to a campmate who had booked and RV this year, this would have been super handy.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:16 pm

went to Burningman last 2 years with no spar tire for the truck :( Thought I had one , but its a regular 3/4 ton ford rim , I needed the camper special rim so the bigger brakes would clr. The spar I bought in a junk yard , on way to BM just as I left cedarville the right front starts to whomp whomp like its got a flat , I slow down it went away , I sped up it returned . I stopped and looked at tire and it looked ok , later found a soft spot on the side wall after i got back home . After I stopped in Nev , and took off again , it went away and didnt do it again till last week end , so I thought Id change it and get another. So I found out Ive had no working spar this whole time , I was ment to go to BM :)
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:56 am

got the new tire , but noticed the front wheels are hard to turn when they are on a jack. When going down the road everything is quite and no brake smell , but something is dragging both front tires down. I see why im geeting such low mpg :(
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Jackass » Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:37 pm

Is it 4WD?
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:39 pm

nope
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Jackass » Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:48 pm

It has to be either your brakes or bearings...Sticking caliper/pads, bad brake hose, wrong grease or over tight bearings.

I'm betting on wrong grease/over tight bearings...
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:00 pm

Jackass wrote:It has to be either your brakes or bearings...Sticking caliper/pads, bad brake hose, wrong grease or over tight bearings.

I'm betting on wrong grease/over tight bearings...


going to tear appart next weekend and replace brakes and bearings
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Wrath » Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:36 pm

Karinahularina wrote:Don't poop. Don't shower.

Seems like that takes away the best aspects of an RV!
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:43 pm

Tatonka's Tonka is a pretty darn decent '72 F250, 2WD. That means drum brakes, which should be zero drag unless they are adjusted too tight, which isn't likely because they get looser with use, but it's possible. I'm thinking wheel bearings, which are cheap and easy. It's gotta be one or both of those two things, they ain't nothin' else up in there.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Jackass » Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:54 pm

In that case look for deep grooves in the backing plates where the shoes sit, sometimes they fall in and can't get back out or will operate erratically. If so, you can weld them back up and grind them flat and smooth again...
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Sun Sep 21, 2014 6:32 pm

it has drums in back and disc in front , very large ones with dual pads .
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:43 am

Wow really? Every one I've seen or owned had drums up front until '75!
In that case I'd suspect the brake calipers first. But even if all is well discs offer a bit of resistance.

Edit: I was always dealing with 4WD trucks, which kept the old drums for a few more years after the 2WD ones got discs.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:20 pm

It has the disc because its a camper special , it sucks because I have to find a camper special rim for a spar tire .
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:22 pm

both sides the rotors need resurfaced , and the pistons of the front are stuck and not moving in and out like they should . The drag is caused by them :( will have to dissasemble and clean it up .
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:28 am

disassembled them and found no fluid getting to the calipers , lines must be plugged :( got the pistons out and these things are tight , I cleaned everything lubed the seal and the piston , it will go in ( very hard push ) and will not come back out . The spring between the pads is suppose to push the piston back after releasing the brakes , but those pistons are tough moving ? Left rotor is 24.5mm min and its at 24.4mm , so Napa wouldnt resurface it , found a small shop that would ,and will pick it up today. I will ask him about the piston travel . Still got a exhaust leak and a small oil leak just started , and a transmission gasket to fix . Also still have to find a 3/4 camper special rim so I can have a spar tire .
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Jackass » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:13 pm

The inner liner in those brake hoses will collapse on the inside, although they look fine on the outside. You may be able to find rebuild kits for those calipers, the piston and bore should be smooth with no pitting. You should take a serious look at all the rubber components of that brake system, the fluid along with all the rubber is probably shot. The seals on the pistons will swell if they're old when you take the pistons out and they are exposed to the air, you should only put those back in with NEW seals. Don't use brake parts cleaner to clean rubber anythings, it will swell the rubber to the point of being useless.

There is no spring that retracts the caliper piston. When the master cylinder (brake pedal) is released, the passage for fluid to return to the master cylinder lines up and pressure on the pistons is released and allowed to go back to where it started. There is an adjustable pushrod between the master and the brake booster. If that's not adjusted correctly brakes will drag as the fluid pressure passage doesn't quite line up with the return, leaving residual pressure on the pistons.

If you bought this truck and don't know what the previous owner may or may not have done on it, you may want to check the brakes from tip to tail, everything. The worst situations I've ever seen on vehicles are (previous) owner induced. They make chicken shit repairs, or their "buddy" claims they "know how", or they hire a cheap hack to "repair" said vehicle. The brakes are one system you don't really want to gamble with... You white knuckle much?
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:33 pm

found a actuator for the front disc system after the master cylinder then the hoses go to the calipers. The pistons are a little pitted and the rubber
seal may be swelled like ya said. Will price them today. The springs inbetween the brake pads arnt very strong , not enough to retrak them.

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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Jackass » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:50 pm

Sounds like the proportioning valve, there's rubber in there too. Sometimes those stick or hang up as well, usually it affects the rears. Those are some monster calipers! The springs are there to prevent the pads from dragging when the brakes are released.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Elderberry » Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:39 pm

It all sounds Greek to me. (But I admire the fact that you are all so knowledgeable on the topic.)
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Fri Oct 03, 2014 2:18 pm

priced all the parts and rebuilt calipers were cheaper , they will be in today. The rebuilt parts would have had to come from florida .
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Oct 03, 2014 2:27 pm

One of the worst conditions I ever saw was someone topped up the master cylinder with AT fluid instead of brake fluid.

This combo created a substance resembling jello, and as you use the brakes, it would heat up, swell up, and engage the brakes to the point that they would lock up.

This took a few miles to do, so it would strand you far from help. :roll:

I would flush the system just to be safe.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:21 am

will flush it , i have to anyway the lines are plugged :)
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Canoe » Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:41 pm

Coming in late, and Jackass has covered it, but I would emphasize:
Jackass wrote:... you may want to check the brakes from tip to tail, everything. ...

Do check over everything he's said. Make sure you understand it.
This isn't something to lego parts until it appears to work. You need to know that each component in that system is working properly and will continue to do so for your journey. And don't think because it's an RV and the parts are heavy duty that that gives you wiggle room. It doesn't. An RV is heavy and needs heavy duty parts to handle heavy duty braking, and to keep working, on the hills and in the heat.

I just put pads on for a friend, and while he believes me that I know how to put pads on, he won't believe me when I show him that the caliper bracket and pins need replacing on one side, and it needs the rotors either turned or replaced. And, apparently, he said he doesn't need the rear rotors off to inspect the shoe/drum emergency/parking brake parts inside the rotor - as he never uses it... just change the pads please. But he's "being safe" becasue he bought top grade pads.

P.S. when you lube pistons to install, it has to be with the correct lube, or the piston won't move like it should. I use Ate Bremszylinder-Paste. Try it if you like fast brake response with fine graduations when adjusting your applied foot pressure.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Sat Oct 04, 2014 6:53 pm

all the parts to rebuild it were more expensive than just ones already built , so I got the rebuilt ones 2 of them was 110.00 with core exchange. To rebuilt them myself was 135.00 in parts.
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby tatonka » Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:43 pm

they packaged one of the calipers in the wrong box , ended up with 2 right fronts :( . Replacement arrives tomorrow along with some rain :(
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Re: RV Camper's Survival Guide

Postby Bless » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:36 pm

Amen. Fucking Freemont is NOT the same as SFO. It's not even close.

Thankfully, I just made my reservation for next year in Santa Rosa. Much more convenient.

+1 to making your reservation a year in advance.
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Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:43 pm
Location: District of Columbia
Burning Since: 2012

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