FMCA West Springfield Family Reunion

FMCA Reunion – The Real Deal

The FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Rally or Reunion started Wednesday, August 3rd.  For a first-timer like us there’s more to see than time permits, plus Jeff volunteered to help out at some seminars.  Good thing some of the seminars were ones we wanted to attend.

Video added 9/11/2016

FMCA 94\'th Reunion

Wednesday

Jeff’s first seminar to help out on was No More Foggy Windows – by RV Glass Solutions, headquarters in Coburg, Oregon.  Geno, the customer service manager described the options we RVers have when faced with windows that fog up.  We were especially interested in this seminar because our dual pane door window fogs up.  Usually it’s not bad, but sometimes it’s pretty hard to see out of.  This is a safety issue because Jeff needs to see out this window sometimes when he’s driving Lola!  We had the big bedroom window fog up, but had that replaced under warranty when we first purchased Lola.

Geno said that pilot and co-pilot side windows are the most common windows to fog probably because of the extra heat from being in the proximity to the windshield.  Jeff suspects that opening and closing the door may also stress the co-pilot window too.

You can remove dual pane windows then separate, clean and re-seal them.  RV Glass Solutions offers this as an option.  There are other vendors at the FMCA reunion that offer this as well.  If too much moisture has seeped between the dual panes the glass may actually get etched and cannot be restored.

A second option is to replace the dual pane window with a new window that has two sheets of safety glass laminated together.  This has the benefit of not having a vacuum seal that could fail.  Even if the lamination fails, this would take decades according to Geno.  Since the  laminated glass solution is the same thickness as the dual pane window, installation is relatively easy.

Another option is order new dual pane windows either from the OEM or a window manufacturer.  On a related note, door windows are often more challenging to repair (or replace) than other side windows.

RV Glass Solutions can ship windshields and side windows to local glass shops for installation.  In addition, they have service bays at their Coburg, Oregon, Phoenix, Arizona and will soon be adding a Florida site.

We liked the laminated glass replacement option that should provide a longer life and plan on using RV Glass Solutions in Florida later this year.  If you are in the Vancouver Washington area, see the video from The RVGeeks of replacing RV windows here.

Jeff also assisted in two more seminars on Wednesday – From Housecars to RVs (an overview of RV history in the US) presented by Al Hasselbart and New Solar Solutions (flexible solar panel advantages) presented by Summit 2 Solar.   It was interesting to note the differences of opinion of the flexible vs. rigid solar panels.  If you are shopping, be sure to check out the differences.

We both went to the Alaska RV Adventure – a chaperoned RV trip to Alaska through FMCA Tour Connections.  They have some fun trips planned to Alaska with a variety of schedule options.

Thursday

On Thursday Jeff took the first 3 hours of a 6 hour RV Safety course and Christine went to the Full Timing RV Seminar then talked to Curtis Coleman – CEO of rVillage.  The RV Safety course was amazingly informative.  It was sponsored by the RV Safety & Eduction Foundation (RSEF).  Lots of good stuff in both seminars.

The Full Timing Seminar was presented by members of the Full Timers Chapter of FMCA. Christine enjoyed the wellness on the road, establishing residence and meeting other Full Timers.  They had a great list of items about Is Full Timing for you?

  • Are you outgoing and eager to meet new friends?
  • Are you able to enjoy each other’s company, even in a confined situation?
  • Is your health good enough to enjoy traveling in an RV?
  • Is such a major change in your lifestyle going to be a problem?
  • Will you enjoy traveling new roads and seeing new places?
  • Will you be confident and comfortable driving a “big rig”?
  • How well do you handle stress (accidents, breakdowns, interrupted plans…)?

A common comment was to shop around for local chapter(s) to join.  That’s where the real comradeship occurs.

In the afternoon we shopped until we dropped ordering new bedroom blinds and buying stair covers, replacement toad towing lights, Tire Pressure Monitor Sensors (TPMS) for the toad and exchanged batteries for the existing TPMS sensors on Lola.

The Texas Tenors were the evening entertainment.

Friday

Friday saw Jeff taking the last 3 hours of the RV Safety course, then we both attended the Freightliner Fireside chat presented by Freightliner.  Jeff assisted at the RVs of China seminar (another seminar by RV historian Al Hasselbart) and the Personal Mobility Devices seminar.  We both browsed through the vendor area again before Jeff attended the Diesel RV Club annual meeting.  The club (chapter) manages what looks like a very good RV Diesel forum.  You don’t have to be a member of the Diesel RV Club to join and participate in the forum.

Saturday

On Saturday Jeff attended the Cummins Onan Generator seminar.  That was a really good session talking about generator use and maintenance.  For example – exercising the generator (at least 2 hours per month) and describing the AutoGen feature to monitor the power and automatically turn on if there was a power failure.  This is especially important if you keep pets in the RV while you are out or want to cool off the RV before you get back to the RV.

Our last seminar for the Reunion was Saturday afternoon where we met a number of people from the Western FMCA area at the area seminar.  We got a list of chapters in this area.

We were really in non-stop mode during the whole week – and enjoyed every minute of it.  We look forward to meeting more FMCA members and attending some rallies.  Since rallies (vs. reunions) are much smaller with typically 15 to 25 coaches this provides a better chance to meet other RVers.

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

FMCA West Springfield MA – Setup

Our First Rally: Setup

FMCA Family Reunion at West Springfield Massachusetts

We left Louisville, New York and drove 146 miles to Lake George just east of the Adirondack Mountains.  It was nice having my co-pilot back in her seat instead of driving the Pilot.  However, when we got to Lake George the magnetic tow vehicle light cable had broken, and and we decided Christine would drive the Toad the 157 miles  to the FMCA convention in West Springfield.  We arrived Monday August 1st in the early afternoon.  We expected warm weather so we upgraded to an electric site.

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Monday night it rained like crazy.  One of our neighbors said we had 3 inches of rain, and accused Jeff of doing an Oregon Duck rain dance! Hahahaha

What to do with pets

It is not practical to take pets with you for every activity when you are in the RV.  The biggest concern is heat.  The second concern is damage done while you are out.  The third concern is noise from excessive barking.

Kickin\' back in the RV

The Dog House

When we were in Oregon last Thanksgiving we stayed at the American Legion in Eugene, Oregon.  The few times we socialized with folks at the Legion and left the dogs in the RV we had at least one barker.

Heat

We keep a safe environment for our dogs by leaving the A/C or heat on while we are gone.  If you have full hookups, just set the A/C at a safe temperature or keep windows open and fans going to keep the air circulating if the outside temperatures are not too high.  Remember, an RV like an automobile can quickly heat up when sitting in the sun even if the outside temps are comfortable.

As a backup to shore power, many generators have an automatic mode that will monitor if shore power has failed and the A/C needs to be turned on.  Test this function before relying on it.  Our Cummins Onan generator has an AutoGen function that provides this functionality but Jeff needed to go through the process a few times to verify.

If you are not connected to shore power then you can use your batteries to power a small cooling unit such as the Dyson Blade.  Remember that your inverter and the cooling unit will draw lots of power.  Most A/C units draw too much power to run off of batteries.  Our A/C unit requires either shore or generator power to even start.

Last, you use your generator to run your A/C if you don’t have shore power available.

Besides regulating the heat inside the RV always keep water available for your pets.

Conditioning

On Monday we left the dogs in the RV a couple of times for 15 minutes, and they were fine.  Our routine at our sticks and bricks house was to give the dogs a Kong treat with apple, carrot and peanut butter, then leave.  They get more excited about getting a treat than having separation anxiety.  We did the same for the FMCA rally plus turned on the TV for them for some background noise and it worked.  On Tuesday we left them a couple of times for an hour or two and didn’t have any problems.

We thought one of us would need to be with the dogs in the RV during the entire rally, but after a couple of days they were fine.  Now both of us can attend seminars – divide and conquer if necessary!

Volunteer Orientation

Jeff volunteered to help with seminar setup & monitoring and attended an orientation Tuesday evening.

Overall Impressions

General check-in for the rally was Monday and Tuesday.  It’s amazing to see a couple of thousand RVs congregate in one location and not see havoc.  A few times we saw 15 or 20 RVs in the staging area, but they were quickly parked in their assigned area.  The setup crew that came in the previous weekend had the lots and streets labeled.  FMCA has the routine down.  We heard a few grumbles about mistakes made, but those seemed to be few and far between.

Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles