When Diane and I are on the road there is one cardinal rule I follow when it comes to the RV kitchen–STAY OUT! LOL. Well, that’s not entirely true, I am allowed to do the dishes.
I’m happy to let Diane handle the cooking because she makes delicious, healthy food and presents it beautifully, artistically. BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE… Diane’s a whiz at multi-purposing: finding multiple things that can be done with one thing or another, and this is advantageous to RVers who are always battling to minimize the weight of things and the space they consume. When it comes to the delicious homemade muffins that Diane bakes (recipe follows) she’s found some silicone baking cups that not only take up a lot less room and weigh a lot less than a traditional muffin tin but they can be used in the RV or at home for many things besides baking muffins and cupcakes. So, with no further adieu here is what Diane has to say about the OXO Baking Cups and easily baking some delicious, home made muffins in the RV…[READ MORE]
There is an insidious hidden problem with the installations of many RV furnaces putting them on a collision course with a premature death. Yours could be one of them. Mine was.
I discovered a problem with my RV furnace, a problem I know for a fact that other people have had, and one that may go undiscovered until it’s too late. Actually, the problem has to do with the ducting, specifically a failure to sufficiently duct the furnace at the RV factory or in some cases ducting that has become damaged or clogged for one reason or another. This problem was causing my furnace burner cycle on and off excessively, sending it toward an early grave, or at least a premature repair and one that should not be unnecessary.
It appears my RV was “under-ducted” to coin a phrase, that Arctic Fox did not installsufficient ducting so that the furnace could properly expel the hot air it makes. I don’t see why everyone else with the same make and model RV as mine wouldn’t be experiencing the same problem and I know for a fact that other makes and models have had the issue as well. The insidious thing about all this is that you may have the problem and never know it. You may even wind up paying for repeated repairs to your furnace that should not have been necessary, and still never know what caused the problems.
I noticed that when I would turn on my RV furnace the fan would start to run first, then, a few seconds later I could hear the gas burner turn on. That’s as it should be. You may have to be close to your furnace and listen to it carefully in order to hear the burner ignite and burn. What should happen after that is that when the RV reaches the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat the burner should shut off and the fan should keep running another minute or two until the furnace has had a chance to cool down somewhat. Then the fan should shut off.
That’s not what was happening in my RV. Instead, after running a few minutes, and before the RV had reached the temperature set on the thermostat, I could hear the burner shut off. The fan would keep running. Then in a minute or so the burner would start up again. This cycle would repeat every few minutes–burner on, burner off, burner on, burner off, all the while the fan kept running.
Here is what was happening: the fan and burner would start as they should, but because there wasn’t adequate ducting for the furnace to expel the heated air into the RV the heat would back up in the furnace and the burner would overheat. This tripped a safety mechanism, the high temperature limit switch, that would shut off the burner until the fan cooled the burner down to a safe temperature when the burner would then reignite. The furnace was working perfectly but the safety mechanism, the high temperature limit switch that shuts of the burner when it overheats isn’t designed and built for frequent cycling. It was headed for a premature death. Insufficient ducting was restricting the hot air flow out of the furnace causing the safety mechanism to repeatedly activate, sending my furnace hurtling toward the repair shop prematurely.
My furnace was almost certainly behaving like this for a long time before I ever noticed it. Probably since the RV was brand new. Why would I suspect anything was wrong? After all, when it got cold in the RV and I turned on the heat the furnace would in fact heat the RV, but I never noticed the on-again-off-again cycling of the burner because the fan kept running all the while, or if I did notice the burner turning on and off I never thought anything of it. As far as I knew everything seemed to be working just fine… but it wasn’t.
When my RV furnace comes on the fan starts running and then the burner ignites. If things are working as they should the burner will stay lit until the RV reaches the temperature set on the thermostat. Then the burner will shut off and a minute or two later when the furnace has cooled off a little the fan will also shut off. When the burner cycles on and off repeatedly every few minutes it’s a sign that something is wrong. There is a good chance there is a blocked vent or duct, or the manufacturer of the RV did not build in sufficient ducting to allow the furnace to properly breathe. Don’t think your RV manufacturer is above that!
To confirm the on-again-off-again activity of my furnace burner I put my digital meat thermometer’s probe over the floor register of the heating system nearest the furnace. When the temperature rose to about 175º I could hear the high temp limit switch trip and the burner shut off. I watched the thermometer fall to about 140º and I could hear the switch activate, the burner ignite, and I watched the thermometer rise back to about 175º. This cycle repeated over and over until the RV finally reached the temperature set on the thermostat and the burner then fan finally shut off. That ain’t supposed to happen. The burner shouldn’t cycle on and off repeatedly. It should go on once and stay lit until the RV comes to temp and then it should shut off. Once on, once off. That’s all.
I spoke with a tech at Suburban, the maker of my furnace. After explaining the repeated cycling of the furnace burner and the high and low temperatures it was bouncing back and forth between I was told my furnace safety mechanism was working as it should. I was also told that the on-again-off-again action of the burner likely pointed to a restriction in the ducting and that under-ducting by RV manufacturers was a problem Suburban had encountered before.
I understand that my Suburban SF-35FQ furnace has the equivalent of 11 outlets: seven 4″ round outlets on the sides and one large rectangular outlet on the bottom that counts as four round ones. The specs for my furnace say that a minimum of four of the outlets must be used so that the furnace can properly aspirate but the tech told me using more than four is better. In my RV the manufacturer used only the rectangular outlet on the bottom of the furnace which would count as four round ones and this would meet the minimum requirement, but, they also put some 90º bends in the ducting which creates resistance in the airflow within the ducting and it appears that it effectively reduced the airflow to below the minimum requirement thereby causing my furnace to overheat and the safety mechanism to cycle the burner on and off excessively. The installation manual says “Avoid making any sharp turns in the duct system. Sharp turns will increase the static pressure in the plenum area and could cause the furnace to cycle.” That seems to be exactly what was going on in my RV. It would seem my RV was under-ducted at the factory. Thank you Arctic Fox.
You could be having this same problem and it could be going on unbeknownst to you. It’s an under-the-radar kind of thing. I don’t say this so as to create a panic, but it would be worth paying attention to your furnace. You could test it by letting it run for 20 or 30 minutes while listening carefully to see if you can hear the burner turning on and off. If it does not it’s likely fine at least in regard to an overheating burner, that is, assuming your high temperature limit mechanism is functioning properly. If your burner does cycle on and off repeatedly then you may have a blockage in the ducting or your RV manufacturer may have failed to provide sufficient ducting for your furnace. Restrictions in the ducting, by the way, can be caused by insects, critter nests, damaged ducting or the build-up of crud over time. Your furnace would be more likely to experience the problem I have outlined on a warmer day when the air it breathes into its combustion chamber isn’t as cold as it might otherwise be. When it is breathing colder air this works against the burner overheating.
I solved the frequent cycling of my RV furnace by adding another duct. I removed one of the 4″ knockouts on the left side of the furnace and ran some flexible ducting to a register nearby. I can feel a strong airflow coming out of the new register and I tested my heater by letting it run 20-30 minutes and it didn’t cycle on and off at all. Not once. Problem solved.
Should you undertake a similar repair make sure to follow the furnace manufacturer’s instructions or hire it done by a qualified shop or individual. (Good luck with that!) Also be certain the ducting you get is up to the task. Not all of the flexible ducting on the market is suitable for the temperatures encountered in a heating system such as those you find in RVs.
Cutting the hole into which the new register would fit took a bit of figuring. I didn’t want to try to use a keyhole saw because I thought it would be too hard to control and may splinter the surface of the soft luan wood. I couldn’t remove the panel I was cutting into so that ruled out a coping saw. I might have been able to use a 4″ hole saw but that might have splintered the surface and would have been an expense. As it turned out there is a bit that looks like an ordinary drill bit but it’s made to be used like a router bit. (See my reply to John in the Comments section for more information about cutting bits.) You drill a hole into the surface you are cutting with the tip of the bit then move your drill sideways using the side of the bit to cut. I already had Black and Decker RTX rotary tool like a Dremel tool and it came with one of those bits.
Below is a list of the things I used to install the new duct and register The links have my Amazon Affiliate code embedded so if you buy any of these things through the links I provide I may receive a small commission. These items appear in the photos above. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
ThermoPro Food Thermometer
Inexpensive but fast reading and quite accurate. It allowed me to watch the rise and fall of the temperature of the air coming out of our heat ducts in real time, up and down between 140º and 175º, back and forth, over and over.
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This article is about setting things up to RV with bicycles on board. There may be more involved than you would at first think.
We’ve all seen cars, trucks and RVs traveling down the road with bicycles on the back. The bikes are generally either hanging from or resting upon a bicycle carrier. It should be easy enough to set things up in order to bring our bikes along with your RV, right? Umm… maybe not! RVers may have more things to consider than somebody throwing their bikes on the back of their car for an afternoon outing. [READ MORE…]
Not long ago I wrote a post about a kitchen gadget called a Chef’n which is a small, hand operated vegetable chopper that we use around the RV kitchen and our home kitchen as well. As I wrote in the opening remarks of that post it was a departure from the kinds of things about which I usually write. The same can be said about this article too because when it comes to most things that have to do with cooking I’m a dumbass.
I do know a thing or two, however, and today I’m writing about something I never thought I would: smoke flavoring. There’s not a whole lot to know about it, but when Diane, my wonderful partner confessed she hadn’t heard of it I figured there may be others in the same boat.
Smoke flavoring, or liquid smoke, if you don’t know, is a seasoning that imparts that delicious, smoky, BBQ flavor to foods. Amazingly, it’s not a gimmick. The stuff is made by burning wood chips, often hickory, applewood or mesquite, and running the smoke through a condenser. As the hot smoke runs through a pipe that is chilled it cools which causes moisture in the smoke to form as water droplets on the inside of the pipe. These water droplets are full of the smoke flavor and are drained from the condenser, concentrated and packaged for sale. The stuff I use is Wright’s Liquid Smoke, hickory flavor.
Besides the fact that it does an amazing job of imparting that delicious smoky flavor, easily, there is no junk to be found in the stuff that I use–nothing artificial, no preservatives. Here are the ingredients as stated on the bottle: “water, natural, hickory smoke concentrate”. That’s all.
I’ve been using liquid smoke for years and love it. Wright’s is super concentrated. Just a few drops is enough to give a delicious smoky flavor to a large pot of soup or a half dozen hamburgers. The stuff seems to keep really well too. The fact that it is so concentrated and has a long shelf life means that the smallest, 3.5 oz. bottle usually hangs around in my fridge for years. And it isn’t expensive!
There are hundreds of recipes that use liquid smoke. AllRecipes.com alone has 290! I like to use it in my lentil soup. (This is a really great recipe from Jane Brody, BTW. Easy too. Everybody to whom I’ve served it has raved about it and you probably will as well.) Using liquid smoke in soups, for example, allows you to create a smoky flavor in foods that you otherwise might not be able to. How would you BBQ soup, for example?
Whether or not you’re on the road in your RV or hanging around in your sticks and bricks home, when you’ve a hankerin’ for something smoky tasting and can’t manage the BBQ, a little liquid smoke may be just the ticket.
I’m hardly the kind of person from whom you’d expect a review of a kitchen gadget–usually I write about things like solar panels, batteries, GPS units, motorcycle clothing and the like–but this review is in fact about a kitchen gadget which hints at the influence a certain wonderful woman has had over my life 🙂
Now, to be truthful, most people would be and should be alarmed should I write about preparing food. Why? Just taste my cooking… and I use the word cooking very, very loosely. Fear not, however, because I cannot take credit for this review. It was written by Diane after using the Chef’n for many months. While I am the chief bottle washer in the RV my lovely companion, Diane, is the head cook, always making delicious and healthy meals for the two of us. Thank you, Diane!
Diane has used the Chef’n many times. I think it fair to say she recommends it because it does a good job, is small, lightweight, uses no batteries or electricity, and doubles as a storage container: all things which are plusses when operating in the cramped quarters of an RV sometimes without a ready supply of household electricity and where the weight of things can really matter. Available for under $20 it’s also inexpensive.
Now, to be honest, not everything I touch in the kitchen turns to mud. Although there may be some debate about it, I do declare that I’m pretty darn good when it comes to making a peanut butter sandwich. There is one other dish I can do a bang up job with, and that’s lentil soup. For that I use the Chef’n to chop up the carrots and onions which it does quickly and easily saving me quite a bit of slicing and dicing, not to mention all those tears.
Chop large pieces of fruit, vegetables, boneless meats, herbs, nuts, and even ice without electricity; perfect for pesto, hummus, salsa, guacamole.
WHY YOU MAY WANT THIS:
Small, lightweight, no batteries or electricity, doubles as a storage container, works well.
The product description on Amazon is accurate in that it REALLY does chop food. As its name implies, it is designed to chop, not puree. It’s absolutely wonderful for things like onions, carrots and egg salad. I was able to make cauliflower rice (but not mash), my hummus and guacamole came out more grainy than creamy, and soft fruits and tomatoes had more texture than blender smooth. That being said, I didn’t mind the compromise because I could boondock and have my hummus too!
Ease of Use:
It is not too tough on the hand as far as gripping the handle, but pulling out the cord does take some back and forth arm movement that requires average mobility. It has only a 3 cup capacity, so it’s good for about 2 servings depending on your recipe, but I didn’t find any problem in making things in several batches for a larger crowd. I even made my regular double pie crust recipe in it! I just had to divide the recipe and reload the Chef’n a couple times and then combine the batches. In fact, this gadget is so quick and easy to use, I often opt to use it even when I have a full-sized blender/food processor available!
•Comes in 3 colors: red, black or green
•Non-slip ring on the bottom keeps it stable
Adding ingredients – The top of the blade mechanism has a recessed hexagon for connecting to the lid. It can collect finer ingredients like flour and prevent the lid pin from engaging properly. Put a finger over the hexagon when pouring into the chopper.
Cleaning and Storage – Take care hand washing the very sharp blades! Make sure the chopper is completely dry before storing it to discourage mold, especially if you are on the road. The care instructions do caution not to submerge the top because the cord is enclosed and won’t be able to dry out, but otherwise it’s even dishwasher safe. (The Chef’n VeggiChopper is available here.)
[Editor’s note: the article titles “It slices, it dices…” is taken from a very old TV commercial which as I recalled has many times been parodied and as such is intended to be humorous. The Chef’n chops.]
When we bought our new RV it was for us a sizable expenditure. Such being the case we considered things we could do in order to protect it. A good polymer treatment for the paint was one thing. Another was a Progressive Industries 50 amp hard-wired electrical management system (EMS) in order to protect the electronics from, among other things, power surges, high and low voltages sometimes encountered at campgrounds. Progressive makes a number of EMS systems, some intended to hang on the power pedestal and some to be hard-wired into the RV.
Another measure of protection we purchased was a 50 amp voltage regulator, a Hughes Autoformer. This device can boost campground voltage when it falls dangerously low allowing you to safely use equipment that might otherwise be damaged by the low voltage. They also make a 30 amp model. [READ MORE…]
In my previous RV I only had 110 volt household current when I was plugged into shore power at a campground, when I ran my disturbingly noisy generator, or when I turned on my inverter to power the single, dedicated outlet I had installed along with it. This last method involved running extension cords from that outlet to other points inside (or outside) the RV where I wanted or needed household current–inconvenient and a tripping hazard.
Upon getting a new RV my plan had always been to have an inverter installed that would supply power to all of the RV’s existing 110 volt outlets so that power would be available throughout it without needing to run extension cords–a more convenient and aesthetically pleasing arrangement that would also eliminate the hazard of tripping over extension cords.
When I started looking at all that was involved in wiring an inverter into the RV’s electrical system it soon became apparent to me that it was outside my wheelhouse of skills. So, I decided to have that done professionally later on, but until I could hire it done I was comfortable doing a more simple trip-over-the-extension-cord style hookup that would at least provide us with some AC until the professional installation could be performed. [READ MORE…]