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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Free lunch? Line up here.

Ah, Granddad told you there was no such thing as a free lunch. With all deference to Gramps, RVers (and others) can still get a free lunch (breakfast or dinner, too). Here are two offers to pay attention to.

This July 14 is "Cow Appreciation Day" at all Chick-fil-A restaurants. Come in dressed as a cow, and you'll be given a full meal. Ah, just what does that require? "Fully dressed as a cow" means an effort to be dressed like a cow from head to toe. "Partial cow attire" means just a cow accessory, such as a cow-printed hat, vest or purse. People dressed in partial attire will be awarded an entrée vs. a full meal. Fully attired cows get their choice of any breakfast, lunch, or dinner meals – and kids pick a Kid's Meal.

What about the fine print? That old "partial cow attire," means anything accessorizing, and it's good for an entrée. Not sure where to get a cow costume? Here's the outfit's suggestion:

Start with items that you already have at home - cow-printed accessories stashed in your closet will work perfectly. Hats, vests, scarves, neckties, pants, shoes, pajamas - just about any cow-spotted item will work. Just make sure you're covered head to toe.

Wear white, and then just add spots. Throw on a white T-shirt with white pants (even sweatpants) and stick on your spots using black paper. You can cut spots out of construction paper and tape them to your shirt and pants. If nothing else, you can grab an old white T-shirt and color black spots all over it with a marker - and you'll still get a FREE entrée.

Not feeling too creative and want an easy costume? Search the Internet for "cow costumes" and you will be flooded with full-body costumes available for purchase.

Now mind you, that's just ONE day. Here's an offer from IHOP that you'll be able to take advantage of more than once: Sign up on IHOP's e-mail list, and you'll get free birthday meals and more! You'll flip over the perks of membership — like a FREE full stack of their famous Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity® Pancakes! As a member, you'll get these delicious pancakes on the following occasions:

Right away (just for signing up)
On your birthday
On your 1-year anniversary of joining

Follow this link to the sign up for IHOP, and within 24 hours of signing up they'll email you your first FREE meal offer.

When Russ and Tiña De Maris aren't out scouring for deals, they may be producing their podcast, YourRVPodcast. Check it out.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

This could save you thousands on refrigerator replacement

Of all of the things that can break in your RV, one of the most expensive issues you'll face is if your refrigerator goes kaput. And sad to say, RV refrigerators don't have immortality -- they do eventually croak. When that happens, what do you do? The standard answer is, "Buy a new refrigerator."

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Many RVers have learned that there may be alternatives. If the refrigerator is in otherwise good shape, replacing the cooling unit – the usual problem when an RV reefer turns up its toes – is a far less expensive proposition than replacing the entire unit. And if you're a "handy sort of guy or gal" you may be able to save even more by replacing that unit yourself. We know -- we've done it.

Not too long ago, however, an RV tech who recommends replacing cooling units over replacing refrigerators where possible, ran into an interesting and disturbing situation. The customer brought him an RV with a three-year-old refrigerator that suddenly quit cooling properly. The tech did all the appropriate tests and could only get the reefer down to 50 degrees. He installed a new cooling unit, and low and behold – same problem. A closer investigation revealed that the insulation of the refrigerator was soaked with water. The tech called the manufacturer – Norcold – and says that the company told him that since the refrigerator was "saturated," the only fix was to toss out the entire unit and buy a new one.

The tech had been trained by a company that specializes in rebuilding cooling units, and trains folks on how to do this. You may have heard of the Ford School. The tech called in his instructor, who got involved. "Just how would a refrigerator get so saturated?" he wondered. He says that Norcold's explanation is that the fault is an RV "ventilation issue." And "throw the unit out." Rather than stopping at this point and condemning the unit, the techs dried out the saturated insulation and took steps to seal the refrigerator. They then put the old cooling unit back in, and sure enough, the refrigerator now works fine.

We did a little research and found a number of RV owners who over the last few years have likewise been told that a "saturated" refrigerator" cabinet is a death sentence. And there seem to be a large number of Norcold 1200 series refrigerators that have this mysterious "ventilation" caused issue. Checking street prices on these units, replacement costs of pushing $4,000 (plus labor for removal and installation) would seem a pretty hefty price to pay if these units can be dried out, sealed, and put back in service.

So here's one to file away in the back of your mind. Maybe even print out a copy of this story and put it in your documentation file. If you have a Norcold 1200 series reefer, you may be ahead to talk to a Ford School trained technician. Here's a link to a video from the Ford School that goes into more detail on this topic. And here's a link to a list of Ford trained technicians.

Russ and Tiña provide a more tips to RVers on their weekly show, Your RV Podcast.