Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Refurbishing the RV Hot Water Heater…

Tools Used

We had no sooner arrived in Raleigh North Carolina when we noticed we had a problem. When getting ready for a shower we couldn’t seem to get any hot water from our faucets. So in typical fashion I hit the internet and start searching for solutions to our problem.

I initially eliminated a power issue as all breakers were fine so that left me with an issue with the hot water heater itself. A new one runs nearly $500 dollars but there are a few replaceable parts which are not very expensive and will most likely fix the issue with the unit not making any hot water.


After thoroughly searching the internet and reading other’s problems with their 10 gallon Suburban hot water heater (Model SW10DE)  I came to the conclusion that the problem was one of three items. The three most likely components which may have failed were the heating coil, the thermostat and the electrical on/off switch. While there are ways to test each of these using an ohm meter for shorts, as cheap as these three items were (under $50), I decided to simply order all three to refurbish the hot water heater. After all it is 11 years old. I also had a anode rod from before so I will replace it too while working on the unit if needed.

Working on the unit required a few tools as pictured in the header photo. First things first - power was turned off of the water heater (both gas and electric) and as an added precaution the entire RV because I hate electrical surprises… With the power off the next thing to do was to shut off the water to the RV. Next I turned I turned on the faucets inside to release all the water pressure. To get to the water heater I have an outside panel I removed to gain access to the anode rod. I removed this using a 1 1/4” socket on a half inch drive. With the rod removed the water would drain out completely. My anode rod was only about 25% dissolved so I decided to keep using it and save the new one for a later replacement.


With the water heater anode rod out I attached the water heater spray tool to a hose and used it to rinse out the inside of the hot water heater. I inserted the end of the sprayer tool into the hole left by the anode rod removal. I made sure to aim it up, down and all around to remove a lot of “stuff” which was mostly hard water deposits and anode rod pieces. Afterward I put the anode rod back after putting some Teflon tape on the screw edges to ensure it won’t leak after tightened down. I should mention that I didn’t elect to replace my Suburban Pressure Relief Valve since it seemed fine (photo – above right).


Next I needed to remove a piece of the gas protective tubing in front of where the heater element is. These connections don’t have any pressurized gas in them so it was entirely safe to remove the piece by removing one nut and unscrewing the other end (see above photos). With this piece removed I took out the three 3/8” hex-screws holding in the cover for the heating element (see picture below left) and then removed the two wire leads by using a Phillips screwdriver. With the leads out of the way I used a 1 1/2” heater element socket to remove the old element. I had to do so to get the element out as it is slightly recessed – see picture below right (item on right is element and on right is anode rod).


The old element looked okay but was heavily crusted with calcium deposits (photo below left). Some of the deposits had even bridged across the element so I opted to put in the new one. I replaced the heating element by simply reversing how I uninstalled it. I made sure to use some Teflon tape on the threads before tightening this item too. With the heating element replaced I moved on to the next item.


The on/off electrical switch I had was very hard to switch on and off so it too would be replaced. It was easy to remove using a flat head screwdriver to slowly and gingerly pry the switch up. It had some small tabs securing it in place and once I had the switch lifted enough it slid out. Then I used a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the wires one at a time and put them on the new switch making sure to put the wires in the proper order. I pushed the switch back in place and this task was done.


Lastly I unscrewed the two 3/8” hex-screws from the thermostat cover and the first thing I noticed was a burnt char on the insulation behind the cover. Lifting out the insulation exposed a burnt contact on the thermostat. This was definitely bad. One nut in the center held it in place and using a 3/8” socket I removed the thermostat and put the new one in making sure to put the plastic tube in as well as it is how the unit can be manually reset. I pushed the wire leads back on the new unit, put the nut back on and screwed on the cover to finish the job.



I turned on the electricity and water, then waited until all the air in the lines was purged. Once the inside faucets stopped “burping” and water flowed from both the hot and cold water sides I turned on the hot water heater and water for about 15 to 20 minutes to see if it all worked well. Success!  We now have hot water again and we won’t need to worry about the hot water heater for a while….

NOTE: We are now in Raleigh NC at Jordan Lake Campgrounds to attend some pre-wedding parties for our daughter and after Labor Day we will stay at the Outer Banks for a while before returning back to Raleigh NC…

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cruising through West Virginia and the Blue Ridge Parkway…

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We sure enjoyed our stay in Cincinnati but we must continue to push eastward to Raleigh for some pre-weeding festivities prior to our daughter’s wedding. We had a one night planned stay at the Sandy Springs Campground in Stout, Ohio. Man we should have made a better choice of routes as we ended up on a state road that was not only very narrow but there were also lots of low limbs forcing us center the road at times. Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic but it was still a bit disconcerting…

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We pulled into the the campground  which was quite nice sitting on the banks of the Ohio River as we could look out our windshield and see Kentucky on the other side. The RV park is a nice little park and a Passport America park so it was a bargain for our one night stay. Hurry if you want to visit this park as it is up for sale. We drove around the area to sightsee a little, then simply relaxed at camp the rest of the day.

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The next day was another travel day. We originally planned a one night stop in West Virginia but I just couldn’t find a park close enough to the toll road that would suit our desires. As a result we would go ahead and drive on through West Virginia. We had 289 miles to travel this day which is a very, very long day for us. Therefore we put together a crock pot (which we have had since we were first married – yes, it’s avocado green) for a dinner of Carne Guisada.  We stopped for lunch about midway at WV casino where with their free-play dollars we were able to leave with enough to cover the tolls and some of the diesel. After the stop we continued on down the road until we pulled in for a few nights stay at Fancy Gap Cabins and Campground located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Fancy Gap, Virginia.

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It’s been a while since we had been on the Blue Ridge Parkway so we drove quite a ways down it. We had never been on this part of the parkway but there was a place I wanted to see on it. We drove a short distance to the Blue Ridge Music Center. This cool little museum run by the National Park Service not only educated us about music and specifically the evolution of the banjo from its beginnings in Africa but there was also a daily jam going on between 1 and 4 pm.

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Today’s music was a couple playing a mix of folk and light county and although we didn’t stay a long time to listen we really did enjoy this stop on the parkway. Afterward we drove along more of the parkway, took a short hike and also saw a nice black racer in the road along with a few deer. We then drove over to check out the town of Galax but were a bit disappointed in this small town which is also home to the Old Fiddlers Reunion. I guess I had higher hopes for Galax that what we found.

Back at the RV it was time to pack up for our last leg to the Raleigh North Carolina area…

NOTE: We are now in Raleigh NC at Jordan Lake Campgrounds to attend some pre-wedding parties for our daughter….

Sunday, August 19, 2018

We had a Blast in Cincinnati… Who Would’ve Thought?


I was so excited when John told me we would be staying in Cincinnati as I love to explore cities. In fact one of my bucket list items is to immerse in city life by living downtown in a big city for a season or at least a month. Our friends John and Jane stopped RVing to live in Cedar Rapids  Iowa and visiting them gave me a taste of what life in the city is like. They live in a loft downtown and walk to EVERYTHING they need such as grocery shopping, doctor visits, hair appointments, restaurants and the gym. Seems like fun to me!


Anyway in researching Cincinnati I discovered a downtown trolley called the Bell Connector. The route was only a little over 3 miles long but went to many of the downtown sites I wanted to visit. I found that the fare is 2 dollars a person and could be purchased in a phone app. Next I grabbed the Downtown Cincinnati app which had several free self guided downtown tours, one of which followed the streetcar route and would point out the interesting architecture along our route. It also had tips for parking locations and I decided the easiest place to park from our RV site would be Findlay Market which is also a stop on the streetcar route.


The North Lot for Findlay Market was easy to find via our GPS and would be only 50 cents an hour with the first hour being FREE! After paying for parking we meandered around east and west Findlay Market which featured fresh produce and craft vendors along with many colorful buildings. Next we found our trolley stop and began our tour. John helped me look ahead at buildings of interest on the architecture app while I paid attention to our next stop which would be Washington Park.

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Washington Park features a massive old circa 1800's building now serving as a music hall for the city. It was once a cathedral and is really stunning. The surrounding park has a waterfall and musical fountain which kids enjoy splashing in . It has a huge green space with many inviting chairs and benches beneath large shade trees as well as some civil war history which we also explored.

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Back on the trolley our next stop would be Fountain Park which features a huge fountain and a stage for music as well as a huge big screen TV on a bank building which showed a REDS baseball game while we visited. There are many shops and restaurants so we walked the full two blocks all around the square and stopped to visit the Contemporary Art Center which was a free museum of 6 floors featuring interesting art.

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Back on the trolley we went to the BANKS which houses the Reds baseball park and the Bengals Football Stadium which I definitely wanted to see. While there we also saw the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Riverfront Park. The park is expansive and scenic as the impressive 1800's John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge dominates the landscape.

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Walking along the river was a blast. We enjoyed the Queen City sign and took pictures of it not really knowing its significance at the time. Later we realized it is the nickname of Cincinnati because during the westward expansion it became the fastest growing city in the west. Thus it was dubbed the Queen of the West or Queen City. The highlight for me was the REDS ballpark! Its courtyard is open to the public, the vibe and the sculptures are fabulous! I loved it.


From the Banks we ventured over to Rock Bottom Brewery for a cold beer before catching the trolley to once more enjoy the murals, the buildings, the parks and the beauty of Cincinnati! What a great day!

NOTE: We are now in Raleigh NC where we will stay for a while as we attend some wedding related functions for our daughter’s upcoming wedding…

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Exploring the University of Cincinnati in Ohio…

As I mentioned last time we stayed one night at the Rising Star Casino RV Park which I must say has a very nice park along the banks of the Ohio River. We really liked this park and Sharon especially enjoyed gym/spa facilities available to us as guests. The evening before we left I also relaxed in their hot tub and a had the sauna all to myself as we were able to use these facilities as well.

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The next morning we had planned a stay in Indianapolis but the park we wanted to stay at was full due to the pre-season National Football Game being played there. Therefore we fell to our backup plan and drove to Cincinnati, Ohio for a three night stay at the FMCA campground. When I first explored the Cincinnati area for campgrounds I found a few near the city but one stood out - FMCA campground. However I wasn’t a member of FMCA so I realized I would not be able to stay there.

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I thought about joining but it was $60 to join and $20 per night to stay at the park making it a pretty pricey stay. Then as I was reading the benefits of being an FMCA member I discovered that members can stay free at the park for two nights per month and even better they were having a $10 discount to join. So instead of paying $120 to stay three nights after becoming a member we paid only $70! Sweet!

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Our first afternoon after our arrival at the FMCA Campground we decided to drive over to explore the northern part of the city and walk around the University of Cincinnati. Wow… we were impressed with the University of Cincinnati as it was much larger than anticipated. They have around 45,000 students enrolled on the campus and there were a lot of very interesting building to explore.


We checked out the campus athletic facilities as well and the University of Cincinnati boasts having one of the best NCAA basketball programs in the country. Their stadium is very nice and was receiving a facelift when we were visiting. Lots of construction taking place on campus made walking around it a bit tasking but it also allowed us to explore other areas on campus we may have missed without the detours. It was a great day and we look forward to exploring downtown as Sharon has a sightseeing plan.


NOTE: We are now at the FMCA Campground in Cincinnati Ohio. We will stop for one o more night in Ohio before crossing the state of West Virginia…