Members RV Travel Newsletter Issue 935

    14

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    February 15, 2020

    If you would like to read this week’s issue with the ads included, click here.


    Editor’s corner

    With Chuck Woodbury

    M

    ost of us, I suspect, use a small, portable space heater in our RVs to supplement our onboard heater. For one thing, it saves propane. I’ve used such heaters for years. I’m aware that they can cause fires if they become defective or are positioned too close to something flammable. So I am very careful. So far, no problems.

    My heater

    Portable space heaters are available in most big box stores for $30 to $50. They provide steady heat at high and low settings and can be placed wherever needed in the RV. Some RV parks prohibit the heaters. But in all my years of RVing, I have never been asked even once if I were using one.

    Until three weeks ago, I never suspected that my trusty little cube heater was an accident waiting to happen, even a fire waiting to happen.

    I had noticed that its cord was showing some wear. My immediate reaction was to toss it. But ever-frugal Gail suggested we simply buy a new cord. And so we zoomed over to Home Depot, paid a few dollars and were all set.

    The first step was to open up the heater to attach the cord. But look below at what we encountered when we did that! All that brown stuff is dirt, human hair, pet fur and other materials I couldn’t begin to identify.

    Gail and I were horrified! The thought never crossed our minds that the heater could accumulate so much stray material.

    At this point, I was not sure if the heater, as is, could be a fire hazard. So I emailed these photos to our RV electricity expert, Mike Sokol, and then called him. “Could this cause a fire?” I asked.

    “Absolutely,” he said, without even pausing to think about it.

    Gail and carefully removed all the brown gunk and placed it on a towel, which you can see below. It was a shock to see it all in one place.

    We changed our minds about replacing the heater. Gail asked me how long I had owned it, and I couldn’t remember. It may have been 10 years. We figured that even if it were only half that old — knowing that space heaters can cause fires — we should play it safe and get a new one. We’ll clean it once a year.

    We caught a lucky break on that old heater. If the cord hadn’t been noticeably frayed, we may have used it for years to come. That might not have ended well.

    chucksignature

    MY HEAD IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE
    I have been alone now for a week, and, as usually happens, I turn into a writing machine, literally writing either for real or in my dreams. Right now, I am so full of words that I feel like my head is about to explode. Read more.

    My Roadside Journal

    (about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)


    Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter

    KOA to open new park: RVs not welcome
    • Will your RV be banned from your neighborhood?
    • Good Sam gets a finger in the RV storage pie – and you may have helped

    PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …


    Keep informed
    Current Wildfire Report.
    National Hurricane Center.


    Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips

    Avoid an RV “power drag” with a checklist.
    Safety water shut-off but still with full flow.
    Use chip clips for no-swing hooks to keep things handy.
    Cheap grommet can save your day – and your awning.
    How to tell if your black tank is almost full.


    We recently asked you: Do you have a favorite campground or RV park? We published the results here, creating a guide for you of your fellow RVers’ favorite spots. We update this weekly, so please continue to tell us your favorite campground or RV park by commenting on this post.


    A new travel season means a new safety checklist!

    A new RVing season is upon us and those who are getting their rigs ready for the travel season need to be sure to check their tires, alarms, alert systems, and fire extinguishers. It’s important that you know when you bought things, when they were last checked to make sure they still work, and when batteries were replaced. Read more.

    The truth about Butt Wipes and RV holding tanks

    By Emily Woodbury
    It was a Tuesday and I got a knock on my door from my trusty (and well-loved) Amazon delivery man. I didn’t think I had ordered anything but, then again, sometimes I forget. I opened the box and saw an army-green box inside. What the…? A 42-pack of Bob’s Butt Wipes. Wow! Just what I’ve always wanted! As much as I can appreciate the importance of butt wipes, I was sure I had not ordered these (I didn’t have that much wine…). Continue reading to find out where this “gift” came from and if they’re “flushable,” as claimed.

    Is 11 a.m. too early a checkout time?

    Do you think 11 a.m. is a fair checkout time at RV parks, or should the parks let us stay a little longer? Unlike a motel, where a bed needs to made and the bathroom cleaned, in most RV parks the minute you leave, the space is ready for the next camper. So what do you think? Be sure to take our poll, too.

    Want to camp in Yosemite this summer? Good luck!

    Bookings for reservations in Yosemite National Park (California) in the Yosemite Valley open on Saturday, February 15, at 7 a.m., Pacific Time. For a few precious minutes, folks will vie to snap up a camping spot for dates from June 15 to July 14. According to a piece by Maura Fox in outsideonline.com, if you play your cards right, you might (emphasis on might) be able to secure a site. Read more (hurry!).


    Brain Teaser

    A boy left home running. He ran a ways and then turned left, ran the same distance and turned left again, ran the same distance and turned left again. When he got home, there were two masked men. Who were they? (Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter.)


    Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles

    Incredible new “teardrop” trailer sleeps six…but how?
    Tire ramps or blocks may damage your tires
    Pros and cons of having slides out with snow
    Golf carts? You’re kidding me, right? Really?
    Why is there no pressure in RV fresh water plumbing system?


    Reader Poll

    For full-timers who sold their sticks-and-bricks home: Do you miss it?

    Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.


    What we learned about you last week

    We changed things up a bit this week. Read about what we learned, or what we didn’t learn, here.

    Zero to 60 mph in three seconds? Is a Hummer your next truck?

    With the country’s continued increase in truck sales and electric vehicles, several mainstream manufacturers are combining both components of the automotive industry into one vehicle. General Motors is taking the idea to an extreme. The Hummer … will be unveiled for the second time on May 20 as a new powerful all-electric pickup — the Hummer truck. It may be hard to imagine, but the truck will have 1,000 horsepower and will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds (really?) according to GM’s images and videos. Learn more.

    The award for the RV with the coolest paint job EVER goes to…

    Wow! Have you ever seen an RV like this? We don’t know who painted it, or who it belongs to, but we want to find out so we can hire them! Pretty neat, eh? Check it out!

    Fifth wheel burns to the ground in 20 minutes. Totally destroyed!

    From super reader Steve Barnes: A quarter-mile from our site on BLM land 25 miles from Yuma, AZ, a 38-foot fifth-wheel erupted in fire. … It only took 20 minutes from the start of the fire for it to burn to the ground. It is all fiberglass, plastic and imitation (plastic composites) wood. Read more and see the depressing photos.

    A tow vehicle that seats 18 – You haven’t seen this before!

    It’s a school bus … it’s a fifth wheel … it’s a bus-wheel! Ever seen anything like this before? We found this on the CampingRoadTrip.com Facebook page, but we’d love to know who owns this. Now the real question … Can the fifth wheel sleep all 18 bus passengers? See it here.


    Popular articles from last week

    Falling tree crushes travel trailer, pinning RVer inside.
    How to tell if your black tank is almost full.
    Readers reveal their favorite RV mods or add-ons.
    Readers’ favorite RV parks and campgrounds. Stayed at any of these?
    RV Tire Safety: Air compressor – How big do you need?
    How to add an instant bathtub to your shower.
    This RV has its very own fire truck.
    Pipe thread tape: Use the right color, the right way.
    RV Shrink: RV awning – Use it, don’t lose it!
    The peace and satisfaction of “living small”.
    Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, February 8, 2020.
    What we learned about you last week (February 1-7).


    Another nomination for longest RV

    Another nomination for longest RV (includes tow vehicle and whatever else is being towed). Can you top this? Email to editor@rvtravel.com

    Resources

    Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror StoriesRV AdviceRV ElectricityRV Parks with Storm SheltersRV Buying AdviceNorthwest RV CampingSouthwest RV CampingFree CampgroundsNEW Budget RV TravelNEWER RV Videos plus Texas RV Camping and Florida RV camping. And please join our group on RVillage (like Facebook except just for RVers).

    Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks. This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers.

    The RV Show USA
    Listen each Wednesday evening on Facebook or YouTube for the live taping of America’s only syndicated radio program about RVing.

    The RV Death Spiral
    Read the eight-part series of editorials by Greg Gerber that the RV industry never wanted written. Download the PDF.

    RV Clubs
    Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.

    Motorhomes on Fire
    This is not pretty – dozens of videos of RVs burning up. But the point is to help viewers understand that RVs burn fast, and they need to practice good fire-prevention habits and practice an escape plan … just in case.

    What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
    In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.

    Save bandwidth while watching YouTube videos
    How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.

    Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.


    Ask the RV Shrink

    New RVer uncomfortable with everything new; smartphone to the rescue

    Dear RV Shrink:
    We have just started traveling most of the year in our new RV. The most uncomfortable part for me is familiarity – or, rather, lack thereof. At home in our own little world we had our favorite restaurants, mechanics, stores and hiking trails. Now everything is foreign to us as we move from area to area. How do others manage this issue? We ask lot of questions, but everyone has an opinion and many people think differently than we do. —Quandary, Looking for Tips in Quartzsite

    Read the RV Shrink’s advice.


    DO YOU POST VIDEOS ABOUT RVing on YOUTUBE OR FACEBOOK? If so, embed them at the RV Videos group on Facebook. Spread your fame.


    Ask the RV Doctor

    What do to about RV siding delamination

    Dear Gary:
    I have a 2004 RV with a wood frame. Last summer I noticed what I believe you call “delaminating” on the front section. The camper’s exterior fiberglass appeared to be rippling. I suspected this was related to a leak so I resealed the entire front of the RV. Recently, during a heavy rainstorm, I found some water in a closet which verified there was in fact a leak and also that I didn’t catch it when I resealed the RV. If I can get the leak to stop will the “delaminating” continue? Can you repair “delaminating” without peeling back the entire exterior? If I get the leak to stop, will problems continue (dry rot, etc.)? Am I in deep trouble or what? —Dennis D.

    Read Gary’s response.


    RV Electricity

    Can reversed polarity alone cause dangerous hot-skin voltage?

    Hey Mike,
    I replaced the valve on my black water flush-out system today and noticed that when I touched any metal part of the frame of my trailer, I could feel an electrical current running through it! Not enough to really shock me, but certainly enough to cause some discomfort. It doesn’t matter where on the frame I touch, either – it feels the same. What is going on? Could reversed polarity on the battery or shore power plug be causing this? I have a 2010 Rockwood Roo 23 RS. —Gus

    Read Mike’s response.

    This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:

    Can I hook up two surge protectors? Mike explains all about basic and advanced/EMS surge protectors, and whether you can use more than one at a time.

    Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.


    RV Tire Safety

    Heat, high speed and the “magic” in ST tires

    Heat generation in tires is primarily the result of a combination of high speed, high load and low inflation. … However, drivers have complete control over the speed/load/inflation factors. … Ever wonder why RV trailers seem to have a lot of tire problems but your daily driver (car or SUV) doesn’t? Roger Marble explains, as well as why LT tires would be his first choice in any trailer application where heavy loading was required, and why he doesn’t “buy” the new claimed high-speed capabilities of ST-type tires. Learn lots more here.


    Building an RV Park

    See the envisioned campground – plus more updates

    From Machelle James: When you build a commercial property in your town, there needs to be something called a neighborhood meeting. … We had 12 neighbors show up to this meeting and I would say overall it went very well. We previously met with a graphic designer who made artist renderings of our campground. When I saw how they came out I almost cried with joy! Read more and see the planned campground.


    The RV Kitchen

    Rice-Free Chicken Fried Rice

    Going with the grain. With so many different grains in the supermarket spotlight these days, why not try a new one each time? Add new texture, appearance, taste, nutritional makeup. For this recipe you’ll need 3 cups of cooked wheat berries, barley, quinoa, couscous or oat groats. It’s also fun to try the many different types of rice for variety. Get the recipe.


    The Digital RVer

    Planning the Grand Adventure – 50 U.S. landmarks

    From Chris Guld: Google My Maps is one of my favorite travel tools, so when I see something like this epic tour of 50 U.S. landmarks, I am challenged to create the tour using My Maps. You could do the same by using this spreadsheet of 50 U.S. Landmarks and import it into your own custom map of any trip you want to make. Chris tells you how here.


    Tax Corner

    All about keeping records for tax purposes – What you can’t do!

    Question: How long do I need to keep my tax records? Can I dispose of them once my current year return is processed?

    Read Neil Seidler’s answer.


    Reader’s Recipe: Hazel’s Ziploc Omelettes
    “I’ve used this recipe and shared it many times. It’s quick, easy and delicious. Great for camping. It works well with a group – just have each person write their name with a black marker on a quart Ziploc bag. Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and the omelettes are a great conversation piece.”
    Get the recipe here.


    Reader letters

    Reader gives up! “No new RV for me. “

    Dear editor:
    Thank you for your truly informative newsletter. I am retired and was looking to buy a Class B for extended travel. But after seeing all the problems you point out with RVs and their poor construction, useless warranties and general reliability problems, etc., I’m going to pass. As well, many of your readers indicate that now good campgrounds are either over-full and very hard to reserve or increasingly expensive. Municipalities can’t seem to differentiate between citizen RVers and the expanding homeless. They are no longer RV-friendly as far as I can tell. Boondocking in Southern Arizona with 100K other people or sleeping in a Walmart parking lot doesn’t seem like fun. I think sadly that the golden age of the carefree RVer is over. —Harvey Schuck

    Read the editor’s response.


    Facebook Groups of Interest

    Washington RV Camping Group
    RV Around America
    Campers Life

    PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror StoriesRV AdviceRV ElectricityRV Parks with Storm SheltersRV Buying AdviceNorthwest RV CampingSouthwest RV CampingFree CampgroundsNEW Budget RV TravelNEWER RV Videos plus Texas RV Camping and Florida RV camping.


    Trivia

    Did you know these familiar sayings are from William Shakespeare?
    • Wild goose chase – from “Romeo and Juliet”
    • You can have too much of a good thing. – from “As You Like It”
    • Break the ice. – from “The Taming of the Shrew”
    • Love is blind. – from “The Merchant of Venice”
    • “Knock, knock!” “Who’s there?” – from “Macbeth”
    • It’s Greek to me. – from “Julius Caesar”

    Bumper sticker of the week

    “Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.”

    Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com

    Joke of the Week

    Allan Colgan commented on a joke in a recent newsletter, as follows: “The Laugh of the Day reminds me of the time my son, who was in third grade and in a new school district, told his teacher that I had married 250 women. Since we were in a new school district the teacher had no idea I was a minister until I attended the requested parent-teacher-principal meeting.” Thanks, Allan!

    Worth Pondering

    “Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” —Winston Churchill


    Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?

    Read it here | Back issues


    If you have not contributed to RVtravel.com for some time and would like to do so again, you may do so here. Thank you.


    RV Travel staff

    CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com

    Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily, Woodbury, Russ and Tiña De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Bob Difley, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.

    Honorary Correspondents: Loyal readers who regularly email us leads about news stories and other information and resources that aid our own news-gathering efforts.
    • Mike Sherman • George Bliss • Tom and Lois Speirs • Alan Warren • Steve Barnes + others who we will add later.

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    Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.

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    14 Comments
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    cee
    7 months ago

    My very very quiet Vornado is a closed system… no way to open and vacuum it. I wonder how long I can use it before the accumulated dust and dirt make it unsafe. Frustrated with manufactures who create our “throw away” society!!

    JBC Cripps
    8 months ago

    Good warning regarding accumulation of dirt/dust/etc. in your space heater. I’m not sure how this might apply to full-time RVers but those who still have a brick & mortar home – you needed to clean the refrigerator filters, etc. (no less than twice a year). Furnace filters regularly (depends on filters you use). Don’t forget to pull out the fridge and stove a couple of times a year to get all the stuff accumulated underneath. I am always surprised at learning that someone we know has not moved or cleaned the fridge/stove in 10+ years. They have no idea of the danger that lack of maintenance is creating.

    Becca Ray
    7 months ago
    Reply to  JBC Cripps

    Also-check & clean fans regularly as they accumulate fire feeding dirt/dust/debris too.

    Thomas
    8 months ago

    See! Does that mean we better ck our electric fireplaces?

    Roger Marble
    8 months ago

    “Gunk” in small space heater. While your heater had a bundle of wires that acted like a filter and some more basic heaters only have a fan and heating element, it’s not unusual if you think about it. Any device with a constantly running fan is just like a vacuum cleaner. The difference is the vacuum had a dirt collecting bag you change every now and then. Back in the early 90’s I re-built and re-furbished old PCs as a hobby. First thing I would do is open the case, set the open “box” on a stand out-doors and using high pressure air blow each unit out. Always did this outside because every computer I have ever opened up shows signs of collecting dirt, dust and “gunk” It might be a good idea for people that are a bit mechanically inclined to open the box of any device they have that runs with a fan and to clean it out using a real vacuum or compressed air source. If they don’t want to open up a small space heater maybe consider tossing the old one out and getting a new one every few years if they use the heater a lot.

    Jeff
    8 months ago

    Good Morning Chuck:

    Now this is only my personal opinion, but I DON’T USE Space Heaters in any capacity. Even in our Sticks and Bricks home. They are simply dangerous, no matter how many safety features they have built into them.

    They are nothing more than a FIRE Hazard, even with a UL or National Fire Code rating.

    I would recommend to all RVers, if you have a Space Heater in your RV. JUST GET RID OF IT!

    The last thing you want to do is wake up in the middle of night to a FIRE!

    Get RID OF THEM!

    Bob p
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Jeff

    I agree they are hazardous, but in a recent cold front here in west central FL a couple of space heaters saved our butt. After several weeks of warm weather I had not considered checking our propane level. As the cold front passed through in the middle of the night and temperatures fell into the low 50s my wife, who is an early riser turned the thermostat up to take the chill off, NO HEAT! Waking me up and checking propane level we were out. Calling the local gas company I was told the delivery driver would get to us some time this WEEK. Time to get out the space heaters, 5 days later our tank was filled, as a side note anyone deciding to winter in Dade City FL propane delivered to you motor home has a $2 per gallon delivery fee so you pay $5 per gallon. Our daughter and son in law next door to us in their 5th wheel takes his tanks out to the gas company and refills for $3 per gallon. I’d say that is a rip off, never come back here again.

    John T
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Jeff

    Complete drivel.

    Mark B
    8 months ago

    RV Fires – Electric Space Heaters:
    https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Amazon-Recalls-AmazonBasics-Ceramic-Space-Heaters-Due-to-Fire-and-Burn-Hazards-Recall-Alert

    A recall of 377,000. Recalls and reports exist; electric space heaters do have failures.

    Suggestions:
    1) 1500 watts is like playing with fire. Choose heater that can selectively supply less (ie 600/750/900/1000 watts) and only use that 1500 watt setting for a few minutes to warm up the RV when you return.

    2) Must have: built-in thermostat. If your heater is not cycling on/off with a thermostat, then you may be pushing components to their maximum. That means potential for melting of the cord, internal wires or surrounding carpet, wood, cardboard and other materials.

    3) Compact heaters seem great for size constrained RV, but options like oil-filled heater spread the heat out over a larger surface area meaning potentially less danger because that heat does not need to be so intense.

    Tommy Molnar
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Mark B

    Years ago I had a DeLonghi oil filled heater in my bedroom. Luckily I was home when the thing caught fire in the electrical control box. I quickly pulled the plug out of the wall and a crisis was averted. I’ve not had one of those types of heater since.

    Charles Doe
    8 months ago

    i’d like to make a comment about your poll regarding the 11:00 am checkout time. i have no problems with it. why am i checking out? because i am going somewhere else. we like to get to our destination at or before 4:00 pm in the afternoon. so if we wait until 11:00 to leave that’s only 5 hours on the road. we actually try to leave earlier than 11:00 such as between 9 and 10.

    what irks me more is parks that will not let you check in before a set time such as 1:00 or 2:00. if i happen to be at the park and there are spaces open why do they impose that check in time limit? that is the one that doesn’t make sense to me.

    finally i realize that there are no absolutes in the rv world. what works for us may not for somebody else.

    Bee
    8 months ago
    Reply to  Charles Doe

    Charles,

    There is usually an established window between check-out and check-in which provides time for maintenance/camp host staff to clean and prep the campsite for the next occupants. Most campers tend to leave the campsite like they found it when they arrived, some leave it better, a few leave it worse and will cause you to ponder what their home might look like. A number of other factors are involved, i.e., when campers leave after checkout time, that reduces the time hosts/maintenance have to prep the site for the next occupants, especially if there are a large number of campers departing in that window.

    Your last sentence pretty much says it all. There are a few who don’t care and have never walked in the shoes of host/maintenance staff.

    Happy Trails……..

    Jim Beattie
    8 months ago

    Keep up the good work I have my own TV and I deliver RV to dealership so I tell people that I meet at campgrounds about your news letter and most people want to hear the truth about the RV world