Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stuck at home? Why not buy more toys?!

At home in Fort Worth... 

I enjoy a fairly generous leave allowance in my government job, but I burned a good deal of it recovering from hip surgery. Until the leave balance accumulates again, I will be on a pretty short leash in terms of time available for travel in the next several months.  This means we will be restricted mainly to short trips taken over extended weekends.  We took Phannie to San Antonio recently in a caravan with Bubba and LouAnn in their new coach that he has named “Woody.”  (You’ll have to ask him about the name; I’m not going there.) 

We enjoyed the trip immensely, and it was my first time driving Phannie after rehab.  The only casualty was a broken end cap on the entrance door awning, that damage having happened as we left home and struck a low hanging tree limb not far from our neighborhood.  The awning still works, but the broken end cap is being ordered by Bobby, my new mobile RV service tech.  If you ever find yourself in need of a first class RV repair service in the DFW area, I strongly recommend Bobby Dowdle at (972) 697-6325.  He’s also an expert satellite TV technician.

Corralled as I am by the leave gods, I am using this time to add more improvements to Phannie.  (What better thing to do with my money since I’m not spending it on diesel fuel right now?) 

The first “toy,” as Sandy calls these things, was a Pro Fill battery watering system, sorely needed in Phannie because Tiffin didn’t see fit to install the batteries in a pull-out service tray in 2006 Phaetons—in my book, a major oversight! This makes checking the water levels in the house batteries very difficult and the engine batteries almost impossible, because these are even further out of sight behind the house batteries!  I'm thinking about having the engine batteries moved to a small compartment adjacent to their current crowded location.

The Pro Fill System

Phannie's crowded battery compartment with Pro Fill installed

The next improvement was to replace the cockpit map lights.  The cheap plastic ones with tiny bulbs that Tiffin installed at the factory were almost useless in terms of brightness.  The only value of these things was perhaps to enable you to find a map; you certainly could not use them to make out any map details.  Lighting a candle would have been an improvement!  I ordered a couple of nice LED lights from Camping World, and they fit perfectly in the space available over the front cockpit seats.  They cost about $100 for the pair, but they are obviously of high quality and provide more than enough light for map reading (not that we do much of that now, with GPS and all).

The original two-bit map light over copilot's seat; Tiffin should be ashamed.

The solution:  About $50 from Camping World

Installation - A Snap!

Light galore - What an improvement!

The next “toy” was an induction cookplate.  I had been reading about these for some time, waiting for the prices to come down and, being a gadget freak, I just had to try it.  It is truly a marvel, and I’ve added a video here.
Induction Cookplate

So, what’s shaping up here with Phannie and all of her new accouterments is a very expensive static display.  We've got to get on the road so we can try out all the new stuff!  By the way, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned retirement day in a while.  The date I had set is not far off!  Will I actually take the plunge?  Who knows… I can’t wait to find out!


  1. nice to see a post from you! sounds like you are busy improving the DFW economy!

  2. Those LED lights look great. Would be a great improvement of our puny lights we have in our Allegro Bus. Thanks for the info.

  3. Nice. I bought a Pro Fill system for my coach batteries and never installed it. I replaced the 2 with AGM maintenance-free batteries. Prices have come way down recently. LED lighting is the way to go. I am replacing bulbs as I go which can lead to some lighting variance if you don't get them from the same manufacturer. Love our induction cooktop.
    See you down the road.

  4. With the improvements to the rig, the next rip will be even better:)

  5. butterbean carpenterApril 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Howdy NRH resident,
    I read in a blog the other day that you STILL MUST VISUALLY CHECK your batteries every 3-4 months, even with the Pro-Fill system, as it can sometimes 'clog' up.. I want to get one too, also... And LED lights!! I thought you were ON for retirement or the Emperor would lay you off... Glad you can still drive Phannie!!!


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