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RV Daily Tips. Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Issue 1868
Welcome to RV Travel’s Daily Tips Newsletter, where you’ll find helpful RV-related tips from the pros, travel advice, product reviews and more. Thanks for joining us. Please tell your friends about us.

If you shop at Amazon.com we’d appreciate you using this link. We get an itty bitty commission if you buy something, but they add up and help us pay our bills (most importantly our hard-working writers!).



Today’s thought

“If you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.” ―Ayn Rand


Need an excuse to celebrate? Today is National Wine Day!

On this day in history: 1953 – The first public television station in the United States officially begins broadcasting as KUHT from the campus of the University of Houston.



Tip of the Day

The best ways to ensure your RV’s fridge works properly

By Gail Marsh
“Hey, grab me a lukewarm beer from the fridge,” said no one ever! We rely on our RV fridges to keep our “cold ones” cold, right? Did you know that there are simple but important things you can do to ensure that your RV’s fridge works properly? It’s true. Read on and you’ll see.

Read More


Today’s RV review…

2022 Braxton Creek Bushwhacker Plus 15DS – an affordable “unicorn”

Tony writes, “Small camper. Dry bath. Affordable price. That’s not a combination you see very often, but it appears that the Braxton Creek Bushwhacker Plus 15DS is just that “unicorn” combination. … Overall this could be a great choice for a couple or a parent and child who want to get away now and then and have a nice way to do so. With an MSRP of about $20,000, that means dealerships may have them for much less than this—and that means a lot of value for the dollar.”

Click here

For previous RV reviewsclick here.



 CONTEST!  Is this your RV?

Win a $25 Amazon gift certificate if today’s RV photo shows your rig
Every day we post a photo of an RV either submitted by its owner or by our editors as they move about the country.

Click here to see if your RV made it into today’s issue.


Ask Dave

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

Can I just swap my RV’s Interstate batteries with lithium?

Dear Dave,
Can I just remove my RV’s two Interstate 12-volt batteries and install 2 new lithium 100 Ah batteries? —Paul, 2018 Cedar Creek Hathaway 5th wheel

Read Dave’s answer



What The Forecast?!! Laugh-out-loud weather app gives it to you straight!

By Tony Barthel
This week I want to talk something goofy. And, for those of you who might be offended by the use of words your mom told you not to say, this may not be the app for you. My wife has a weather app installed on her phone called “What the Forecast?!!” and while it isn’t nearly as useful as the NOAA weather app, it’s significantly more entertaining. The app allows you to see what’s happening outside your own window but with snarky and often NSFW (Not Safe For Work) descriptions of said weather. Click here to read more about this hilarious app.


Reader poll

How important to you is socializing with other RVers at campgrounds or RV parks?

Tell us here


Helpful resources

NATIONAL TRAFFIC AND ROAD CLOSURE INFORMATION
ROAD AND TRAFFIC CONDITIONS ACROSS THE NATION
WEATHER ALERTS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
LATEST RV RECALLS
DIRECTORY OF RV PARKS WITH STORM SHELTERS
THE BEST RV TRIP PLANNER APPS AND TOOLS

Did you buy a lemon RV? Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.


?????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
This is PERFECT for RVers! Leave your valuables in plain sight and nobody will ever know! How? Well, you’ll see!


Quick Tip

Where to put that stabilizer jack crank?

If your crank is creeping around in a storage compartment, you may find that when you need it most, it’s crawled to the middle of the compartment, just out of reach. Get yourself a couple “garage storage hooks” like these, screw them into an appropriate location in your basement storage compartment and hang that cranky crank (or anything else that gets away) where it’s in reach and can’t get away!


“Why I love my RV”

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, RVtravel.com readers tell in their own words why they love their RVs. 

From Matt Siegel
2022 Fleetwood Discovery LXE

“Time on our RV trips is special. Our family can be together without distraction from everything in and around home. We talk, we walk, and we strengthen our connection. Reading, grilling, and enjoying s’mores around the campfire wouldn’t happen any other way. Our RV is awesome. It has all the comforts of home anywhere we drive. We’re travelers, not so much campers, so we enjoy everything our Discovery has. What do I love most about our RV? Everything!”

If you’d like to see this feature continue, please tell us about your RV. Come on, do a little bragging! Click here.



NEW! On this day last year…


Website of the day

The Great American Stations
This website is all about America’s beautiful train stations. Explore the stations and learn how you can be a part of building and maintaining great American train stations.


Popular articles you may have missed at RVtravel.com

• RV awnings: Everything you need to know
• The 1973 Ford Explorer pickup – A wacky RV concept!
• 8 tips for cleaning glass shower doors. No more grime or streaks!


Recipe of the Day

Ganache Filled Coconut Macaroons
by Susan Bartley from Beaverton, OR

We love macaroons! Rich, buttery, sweet, and filled with coconut flavor, these are delicious macaroons. Macaroons can be dipped in chocolate, but adding a super chocolaty ganache in the center just steps these up a notch. Once baked, outside these macaroons have just the right amount of crunch. Inside is chewy and delicious. A fancy, but easy-to-make, cookie.

Click here for the recipe


Trivia

Hidden cameras in photocopiers helped the U.S. gain access to Soviet secrets during the Cold War. In 1961, CIA agents realized that the Soviet Embassy was on lockdown and only high-clearance Soviets were allowed to enter or exit… except the Xerox repairman. They approached the Xerox VP with their idea: hide cameras in each copy machine to photograph every document that the Soviet clerks photocopied. The project was successful and tens of thousands of documents were viewed by the U.S., which helped them navigate the politics and conflicts of the Cold War.


Readers’ Pet of the Day

“Charlie is a ten-year-old Tibetan Spaniel mix who just loves to veg in his favorite spot on the arm of the couch. ‘Where are we going today, Dad?'” —Phil Wade

Send us a photo of your pet with a short description. We publish one each weekday in RV Daily Tips and in our Saturday RV Travel newsletter. No blurry photos, please! Please do not submit your photo more than once. Thanks!

Pet First Aid: The basic kit you should carry with you at all times. This is important!



Leave here with a laugh


Did you miss the latest RV Travel Newsletter? If so, read it here.
Oh, and if you missed the latest Sunday News for RVers, make sure to catch up here.


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Editor: Emily Woodbury

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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.

RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

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This newsletter is copyright 2022 by RV Travel LLC.

RV Review: 2022 Braxton Creek Bushwhacker Plus 15DS – an affordable ‘unicorn’

Small camper. Dry bath. Affordable price. That’s not a combination you see very often, but it appears that the Braxton Creek Bushwhacker Plus 15DS is just that “unicorn” combination. RVtravel.com reader Steve H. asked me to look into this model, and it is indeed all those things. Not seeing much information out in the world, I realized I’m camping in Shipshewana several blocks from the factory. So I spoke with Jim Jacobs, the CEO of Braxton Creek. 

Braxton Creek is a small RV manufacturer located in Shipshewana, Indiana. At present they build two main lines, having started making small teardrop trailers and then moving into the Bushwhacker Plus series. It’s is a larger, more traditional travel trailer. 

If you’re into vintage trailers, the Bushwhacker Plus might almost be a “canned ham” trailer—but not quite. However, it is similar to something like an early rpod from Forest River. That model has been a huge success for that company. Braxton Creek is experiencing similar success with the Bushwhacker Plus. 

Highlights of the Bushwhacker Plus 15DS

There are things that I really liked in this small trailer, including the fact that the whole top of this is one large piece of fiberglass front to back. That explains the advantage of the teardrop or canned ham shape. To facilitate this, the air conditioner is mounted into the sidewall rather than on the roof. The AC the company is using is a 5,000 BTU wall-mount model. 

They also use a torsion axle suspension and feature high-performance vent fans. The front kitchen sports a two-burner stove and a smallish sink across the front. There’s a microwave below the counter surface and a cabinet. There are no drawers, but there is an open storage bin that runs the width of the top of the kitchen.

The 15DS has a proper dry bath with a separate shower. This is quite an accomplishment in a trailer of this size. 

The 15DS puts a 12-volt refrigerator on the camp side but still leaves space above that for a shelf and a cabinet. The very back of the trailer features two jackknife couches facing one another. Four people could legitimately sit here and enjoy a meal or have a game night. Windows on either side open for air flow. 

Surprising amount of space

In some ways this is almost a Tardis-like use of space. For a trailer of this size, there is a surprising amount of space in here. I had no issues standing up in most of the trailer, especially the bathroom and kitchen. 

In the model I saw, the raised shower deck meant that ceiling height was limited. But Jim Jacobs said that future models will have a skylight over the shower to alleviate this. I was in a prototype. 

My wife, Peggy, came with me on the tour and noticed that there is a lock on the bathroom door. That’s not something you see in RVs most of the time. I also liked the flexible shower door with integrated wiper. 

I also like how Braxton Creek does the sewer valves on this, which pull away from the camper. Many of these run parallel to the camper, which gives you an odd angle and little leverage. 

Observations

When you’re this far below the average market on price, some things have to give. That’s just normal.

In this case, there are no stabilizer jacks on the front of this trailer. I can imagine this might be one of the first things you’d want to add. Also, there’s just one propane bottle on this, which isn’t that big of a deal. But you’ll definitely want to keep a watch on propane levels because Murphy’s law dictates that you’ll run out in the middle of the coldest night and, with just one tank, there’s no switching over to the full one.

I will say I’ve seen more than a few comments in various places about the quality of some of the components on these trailers, primarily the wood in shelving and such. This could simply be a single individual’s observation, or it could be how the company can build such a well equipped trailer at this price point.

From what I saw, the wood and build materials were on par with the rest of the RV industry. I’m finding more and more first-time RVers are surprised at how things are built compared to regular passenger cars.

Summary

Overall this could be a great choice for a couple or a parent and child who want to get away now and then and have a nice way to do so. With an MSRP of about $20,000, that means dealerships may have them for much less than this—and that means a lot of value for the dollar. Since these are smaller, multiple units can be hauled to the dealership on one truck, thus lowering shipping costs, as well. Those have risen significantly. 

*****

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has an RV podcast with his wife, Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

##RVDT1868

Ask Dave: Can I just swap my RV’s Interstate batteries with lithium?

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Dear Dave,
Can I just remove my RV’s two Interstate 12-volt batteries and install 2 new lithium 100 Ah batteries? —Paul, 2018 Cedar Creek Hathaway 5th wheel

Dear Paul,
It is not wise to just replace the old lead acid or AGM batteries in your rig with lithium without checking to see what type of charger you have. According to the owner’s video Forest River has on their site, they use a WFCO converter that is a standalone model and can be several places inside the unit. We just upgraded a Thor Challenger with lithium and had to do some research to find where it was. It was finally found under the bed pedestal.

We started underneath the bed and removed the false panel and only had access to the water heater. Then we pulled off the mattress and found this access panel and still had to remove the hinged platform to get access to the converter.

This converter simply charges the batteries at 13.6 volts for several hours until they reach 12.6 volts and then drops to a maintenance charge of 13.2 volts. This will not hurt your new lithium batteries. However, it will not charge them sufficiently and will take a long time. So you will pay $1000+ for each battery and only get 65% usage. I have also found these under kitchen cabinetry, so plug the unit in and listen for the distinctive hum of the fan.

Does the RV have a larger inverter?

Another consideration is if your unit has a larger inverter. I believe it does for the residential refrigerator that is in some of the units. The larger inverters will also charge the batteries and may have a multistage charger that starts with a bulk charge of 16 volts to break up sulfation in lead acid batteries. That will not be good for your new lithium batteries. Ours had a Xantrex Pro 1800, which we found in one of the outside compartments. But it did not charge the batteries; it just powered the two TV outlets and a few more. We unplugged the rig and found the refrigerator light went off, so we knew it did not power the refrigerator.

The next thing to check is if you have a solar panel system and charger. These can also provide either a bulk charge or insufficient charge.

Make sure the cable is heavy enough

We elected to replace the WFCO with a Progressive Dynamics model designed for lithium. We worked with Dennis in the technical department to verify the correct charger as well as the right gauge wiring from where our converter was located running to the batteries. Since we had over 20 feet, we needed to make sure the gauge would be sufficient for the higher voltage. Luckily, Thor had used a heavier-gauge wire, so we were fine.

It’s important to verify your cable is heavy enough to handle this, as well. Here is the new converter in the rat’s nest that Thor has under the bed pedestal. This model also has a charge wizard that allows the owner to set the desired function, including storage.

The last consideration is a quality lithium battery, as there is some real junk out in the market. We have been researching for a couple years now, as lithium has gotten more popular, and went with the Expion 360. We came across this through Zamp Solar, who we have been working with for more than 6 years. The founder of Zamp Solar sold the business to Dometic, and started Expion 360, as his own RVing trips were not going well with some of the poor-quality batteries.

Their batteries use only high-quality cells that are connected mechanically. They are not soldered, as the solder will not hold up with the rigors of the RV road. Many of the cheaper lithium batteries are made overseas and designed to sit in a climate-controlled residential setting. Do your homework and check out Expion 360 here.

Before and after the lithium battery

Here is the set of Interstate 6-volt batteries connected in series that were shot and the new lithium batteries with 200 Ah capacity!

Oh, and one more thing. Do you need a DC to DC charger that will protect your engine alternator or, better yet, protect your lithium batteries from a large alternator in your tow vehicle going down the road? To find out if your vehicle needs this, visit Expion 360 and check out the technical section.

For further information watch this video from electricity expert Mike Sokol: RV Electricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Can you just “drop in” lithium batteries?

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

Read more from Dave here

HAVE A QUESTION FOR DAVE?

We have started a new forum link for Ask Dave. Please be as brief as possible. Attach a photo or two if it might help Dave with his response. Click to visit Dave’s forum. Or send your inquiries to him using the form below.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

##RVDT1868

How important to you is socializing with other RVers at campgrounds or RV parks?

7

When you’re at a campground or RV park, do you like to socialize with your fellow campers? Is a visit to a campground or RV park not complete unless you make a few friends, maybe sit around a campfire or meet up for a cocktail hour? Or do you generally prefer to keep to yourself?

We suppose your answer probably depends on if you consider yourself to be extroverted or introverted, but maybe at a campground, it doesn’t matter. Is it nice knowing your neighbors, after all.

The best ways to ensure your RV’s fridge works properly

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“Hey, grab me a lukewarm beer from the fridge,” said no one ever! We rely on our RV fridges to keep our “cold ones” cold, right? Did you know that there are simple but important things you can do to ensure that your RV’s fridge works properly? It’s true. Read on and you’ll see.

Packing your RV refrigerator correctly

Wait! There’s a wrong way?! Yep. The mistake I’ve made is overpacking our RV fridge. There needs to be some space between foods and/or food containers. Why? For air circulation. That can’t happen if you cram too much into your fridge. Here are some additional tips so that you’ll avoid my mistake.

  • Keep sides clear. Instead of cramming food items up against the sides of the RV refrigerator, leave some space. That will allow air to move from top to bottom and the reverse for good circulation throughout the refrigerator.
  • Plan ahead. Get the most from your RV fridge by planning meals ahead of time. That way, you’ll buy only what you need, and the fridge won’t become overloaded. Many times, I’ll actually make our meals at home and freeze them. (Hint: Rectangular and square containers stack easier and take up less room than round ones.) Even if you plan to grill burgers, you can form patties ahead of time, slip them into a stackable container, and save some space in your fridge.
  • Repack certain foods. Some foods can be taken out of their original packaging and put into one that takes up less space in your fridge. Think: condiments. Who uses an entire 32 oz. bottle of ketchup in one weekend? Not me. Try these. I also separate some items (like a bag of onions) and take only the number needed.
  • Purchase smaller amounts. We use milk for breakfast cereal. That’s it. No need for us to get a whole gallon of it. Besides, a quart container takes up much less space.

Increase space in your RV fridge

  • Ditch the ice maker. A friend we know removed the ice maker from their RV refrigerator. We purchased a fridge without one. The ice maker takes up a lot of space that we’d rather use to store frozen foods. Depending on the amount of ice you use, this may be a good option for you, too. The old-time refillable ice tray will provide your ice and also allow room for quite a bit of food! Or you can opt to buy a standalone ice maker. Check out this article on the best portable ice makers for RVers.
  • Use bins or baskets. No one likes scrabbling around food items in search of that elusive olive jar! Your refrigerator doesn’t like it either. Every time the fridge door opens you lose cool air from inside. If the door hangs open for several minutes while you chase down the olives, the fridge will need to work to cool the warm air that’s streaming inside. You can avoid the “open door problem” with baskets or bins. I like to put grandkids’ snacks inside a clear, plastic refrigerator bin. When they want a snack, they just remove the “snack bin,” close the fridge door, select a snack, and quickly put the bin back inside the refrigerator. Hint: Measure carefully before you shop for a bin or basket.
  • Organize how you place food in the refrigerator. The trick here is to let others know about your organizational method. If you keep all of your fresh produce inside the left, bottom drawer, you’ll know exactly where to look and retrieve it. By keeping salad dressing inside the right fridge door, you can grab it quickly.

Extras

  • RV refrigerator/freezer temp monitors. We purchased this wireless temperature monitor. It allows us to read the inside temperature of the freezer and the refrigerator without opening either door. The built-in alarm is also a great feature. If the temp in either the freezer or fridge warms beyond our set temp, the alarm will sound.
  • Refrigerator fan. This fan really helps to keep the air circulating in our RV refrigerator. I like it because it takes up little space, can be powered on/off with a switch, and has an activated charcoal pack that helps absorb odors. The pack is replaceable, too.
  • Shelf braces. There are so many different types of shelf brackets and braces. Check them out at your local RV store or online. Be sure to have your exact measurements before making a purchase. The braces that came with our RV refrigerator do such a good job keeping food items in place that I haven’t had to buy any add-on brackets. It’s nice to know they’re available if the need arises.

How about you? Do you have some RV refrigerator tips and tricks to share? Please note your ideas in the comments below.

RELATED

##RVDT1868

Is this your RV?

If it’s yours and you can prove it to us (send either the photo you submitted or a photo of your RV if someone else submitted the photo), tell us here by 9 p.m. Pacific time today, May 25, 2022. If it’s yours you’ll win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.

If this isn’t your RV, send us a photo of your RV here (if you haven’t already) for a chance to win in future issues.



Last week one reader claimed their $25 Amazon gift card: Rick Cunningham of Sandy, Utah.

We’ll have another photo in tomorrow’s RV Daily Tips (sign up to receive an email alert so you don’t miss the issue or those that follow). Some of these photos are submitted by readers while others were taken by our editors and writers on their travels around the USA.

Stop saying “someday.” A lesson learned the hard way

By Lisa Adcox
Last October 25th changed our lives. My husband, Rick, had a stroke and life got turned upside down. We were workamping in Mission, TX, and boom! It happened.

Rick was a very healthy man. He was very active, but the stroke didn’t care. Life got crazy. Hospitals and doctors in your life can be stressful. Suddenly my active workaholic husband no longer could do things he loved in the park. He was the head maintenance man. He upgraded electrical boxes, plumbing and any other issues that came along. Also, he was involved in the Helping Neighbors program in the park. We had made friends and decided to make this park our home base. The owner and manager were happy because they now had a maintenance man there 12 months a year.

Suddenly he couldn’t do what was needed. The other park employees were beyond supportive. We could not have done it without them.

Then it came time to make a hard decision. Should we go back closer to our family or not? Our kids were really guilting us to come back to TN, so after hospitals, doctors, and therapy, we decided to leave TX. It was a very hard decision. Other workampers and guests stepped up to help us get ready to move. Then, friends we met early on when starting our workamping experience came to help us get our travel trailer home since my husband couldn’t drive after his stroke.

Next was saying goodbye to friends we made and to the lifestyle we love. We shed lots of tears. Now, after being away for four years, we are back in our hometown in a house closer to our family. It’s been a big adjustment.

I am so happy we jumped into full-time RVing and got this experience when we did. We met so many many wonderful people along the way. We have some that are lifetime friends. How lucky to have seen so many beautiful places in the U.S.!

Now, I am thinking I may have another big goodbye coming. We have sold our truck and are selling our travel trailer. The tiny home we love. We hope the new owners will love it as much as we do.

If you are procrastinating going full-time and find yourself saying “someday,” well, someday may pass you up. We have wonderful memories and friends we met living this lifestyle. Maybe one day we will meet more if Rick’s health gets better. He is doing great but still has a long way to go. I hope to continue reading here and seeing all the fun things others are doing. Stay safe everyone.

Also by Lisa:

Related:

FT30

SpaceX introduces Starlink RV internet for RVers

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On Monday, May 23rd, Elon Musk’s SpaceX introduced a new high-speed internet service specifically aimed at RVers. “Starlink RV” features immediate shipment of Starlink hardware and eliminates the previously long wait time for both equipment and service.

The company announced the service on its customer support page, stating that it provides “Immediate access to high-speed, low-latency internet on an as-needed basis at any destination where Starlink provides active coverage. The service can be paused or un-paused at anytime. At this time, there is no waitlist – all orders will be shipped shortly after the order is placed. However, supply is subject to network and equipment availability.”

Starlink did not elaborate on its statement that the service “can be paused or un-paused” or what effect that might have on the monthly subscription cost. RVtravel.com has reached out to SpaceX for clarification.

But the news about Starlink RV is not all good

While this is an exciting development for those seeking broadband service while traveling, the news was not all good. SpaceX raised its monthly fee for Starlink RV and will now charge, in addition to the standard initial $599 for the dish, $135 per month for the service. The RV service is no different than the standard residential service in terms of service coverage. In addition, Starlink advises that subscribers may experience “degraded service” and speeds in populated areas. The company also cautioned that the service is still not set up for use while moving down the road.

The Starlink Service Map is a fluid tool for seeing where service may be lowered or non-existent. It is constantly changing because SpaceX is conducting a feverish effort to launch dozens of new Starlink satellites every week. Last week alone, the company launched 106 satellites from its two launch sites at Vandenberg, California, and Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX has put more than 2,300 satellites into low-earth orbit and has stated that its constellation will eventually reach 42,000. Thus, prospective Starlink RV subscribers who may be wary of signing up after reading the caveats on the service’s website should note that Starlink service is expanding rapidly.

We will post more about this RV-specific service as it develops.


##RVT1054b

RV Daily Tips. Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Issue 1867
Welcome to RV Travel’s Daily Tips Newsletter, where you’ll find helpful RV-related tips from the pros, travel advice, product reviews and more. Thanks for joining us. Please tell your friends about us.

If you shop at Amazon.com we’d appreciate you using this link. We get an itty bitty commission if you buy something, but they add up and help us pay our bills (most importantly our hard-working writers!).



Today’s thought

“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.” ―Matt Haig


Need an excuse to celebrate? Today is National Wyoming Day!

On this day in history: 1935 – The first night game in Major League Baseball history is played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field.



Tip of the Day

A simple fix for a toilet bowl that’s not holding water

By Nanci Dixon
Our toilet bowl is not holding water and we need a simple fix. Everywhere we researched said we needed a new toilet bowl seal. Unfortunately, that meant completely removing the toilet to replace it. Even worse, every RV tech we talked to said “Nope,” they “don’t do toilets.”

No toilets in stock

Even Tiffin won’t replace seals, they replace the whole toilet. The smell was so bad in our RV’s toilet that we considered replacing the whole thing like they were suggesting, but just like so many other supply chain problems, there weren’t any toilets in stock to do so.

Continue reading


Today’s RV review…

Dutchmen Kodiak Cub 177RB, a no-slide mighty mini

Tony writes, “My own experience with Dutchmen products, in general, has been very positive. This trailer offers a lot of usability in a small package, so it may be a great choice for some travelers.”

Click here

For previous RV reviewsclick here.



 CONTEST!  Is this your RV?

Win a $25 Amazon gift certificate if today’s RV photo shows your rig
Every day we post a photo of an RV either submitted by its owner or by our editors as they move about the country.

Click here to see if your RV made it into today’s issue.


Ask Dave

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

Why does my RV’s electric awning retract only intermittently?

Dear Dave,
When I try to roll up the awning at the side of the coach, it rolls about half-way and then stops. It acts like it doesn’t have enough charge in the battery, but it is full. I’ll wait about 5 minutes and then it may finish rolling up. It will eventually roll all the way up. When rolling it out, there is no problem; only when going in. There are two 6-V Trojan batteries, 3 years old, with 13.6 volt charge; plugged into shore power. The water level is OK. —Ernie, 2006 Tiffin Allegro Bay

Read Dave’s answer



Avoid trips to the store – Regrow veggies in your RV from scraps!

Stop going to the grocery store so often to buy fresh produce! You can easily regrow veggies from scraps. Nope, it’s not science fiction. This is real. Real food that you can grow for free! In an RV! What could be better? You just need to rethink typical food scraps… Continue reading, then start regrowing some veggies!


Reader poll

Which TOP TWO of these amenities do you prefer most at an RV park?

Tell us here


Quick Tip

Motorhoming: To toad or not to toad

Our first year RVing, we drove our 1994 Class C motorhome to 48 states without a tow vehicle. This meant Heath drove our rig through cities like Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, Cleveland, San Francisco, and many others.

What we liked about NOT having a tow car: We saved a couple thousand dollars by not having to buy a tow package or tow dolly. Driving without a tow car was one less stress factor as a new RVer. We saved a few minutes of time when leaving campgrounds and arriving by not having to hook up a tow car. Better gas mileage. The ability to visit more places. For example, if we towed a car, we wouldn’t have been able to take the Pacific Coast Highway all the way from LA to Portland because of the 30-foot limit.

The downside of not towing a car: If we wanted to visit major cities, we had to drive our RV into downtown areas. Trying to find a 29-foot parking spot was always stressful. Our RV was our only vehicle for errands. If we wanted to make a quick run to the grocery store, we had to pack everything up and move.

From “A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV: Everything I Wish I Knew Before Full-Time RVing Across America.” (Updated 2020.) Available on Amazon.



NEW! On this day last year…


Website of the day

10 common travel scams, and how to protect yourself when traveling
Not all of these apply directly to RVers (you probably don’t take taxis too often), but they’re still really good to know about and keep in the back of your mind. We do NOT want you getting scammed, and scammers are getting very sneaky these days!


?????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
You can absolutely buy this. No, really, you CAN buy this! Don’t believe us? Well, just POP on over here and realize you CAN buy it!


And the Survey Says…

We’ve polled RVtravel.com readers more than 1,500 times in recent years. Here are a few things we’ve learned about them:

• 28 percent have flown in a hot air balloon at least one time.
• 22 percent say that urban/city roads are their least favorite kind of roads to drive on.
• 16 percent do not have children.

Recent poll: Have you ever met a celebrity or other well-known public figure on an RV trip? (The comments are fun to read!)


Recipe of the Day

Easy Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
by Annelise Friedman from Las Vegas, NV

Crock Pot recipes should be dump and go, and that’s exactly what this macaroni and cheese recipe is. No need to pre-boil the pasta. The noodles absorb the evaporated milk and cheddar soup. The end product is creamy, cheesy, and smooth. A great recipe to bring to potlucks or if you want an easy side dish.

Click here for the recipe


Trivia

No matter what you call “soda” “pop” “soda pop” or “cola” it all falls under the “soft drink” category. But what makes it “soft”? Well, “hard” drinks refer to alcohol, even centuries before “soda” or “pop” was invented. The term “soft drinks” was said in contrast to hard drinks to indicate that they had no alcohol in them. After the 17th century when the carbonated beverage industry needed a blanket term that would apply to all soft drinks, no matter the regional slang, they adopted “soft drink” to serve as an umbrella term. This is why other beverages like juices and teas, even though they’re non-alcoholic, aren’t called “soft drinks.”

*Why does milk look so… perfect in cereal commercials? Well, the part of the cereal industry has a trick up its sleeve! Read about it in yesterday’s trivia


Readers’ Pet of the Day

“Sophie the French Bulldog loves the view. Plus we get many smiles and waves.” —Mike Daw

Send us a photo of your pet with a short description. We publish one each weekday in RV Daily Tips and in our Saturday RV Travel newsletter. No blurry photos, please! Please do not submit your photo more than once. Thanks!


Helpful book for camping areas managed by the National Park Service
This recently published book from The Ultimate Public Campground Project describes 2,241 camping areas across the United States that are managed by the National Park Service. If you’re looking for new places to camp, this is the book for you. The project has been growing since 2008 and now has a website and an app too. Learn more or order.


Leave here with a laugh

(But if sooo many of us have that talent, is it really so “special”? Just sayin’.)


Did you miss the latest RV Travel Newsletter? If so, read it here.
Oh, and if you missed the latest Sunday News for RVers, make sure to catch up here.


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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.

RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers.

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This newsletter is copyright 2022 by RV Travel LLC.

RV Review: Dutchmen Kodiak Cub 177RB, a no-slide mighty mini

As written before, I’m doing my best to work through all the requests and emails you have been kind enough to send me. One reader, Mike E., asked me to take a look at the Dutchmen Kodiak Cub 177RB.

This is a relatively small single-axle travel trailer with no slides. But there is a surprisingly large amount of fresh water storage for a trailer this size. 

Highlights of the Kodiak Cub

This is exactly the same floor plan as my previous trailer, and there’s a lot I like about it. When you consider the size, it’s imminently maneuverable. It’s a relatively simple box with no slides, and all the features are accessible all the time. The biggest difference between this model and what I owned is that the bed in this trailer is always in place as opposed to being a Murphy bed design. 

Another thing I really liked about this trailer is the bathroom. This is a pretty spacious bathroom in that it spans the entire width of the back of the trailer with a shower on one side and sink on the other. 

One of the fancier touches in here is the backlighted medicine cabinet which makes a halo of light around the medicine cabinet. Ooh la la!

On the subject of lighting, there are a couple of motion lights in here, as well, that can be set to automatically come on when the light senses motion. Further, there is a strip of LEDs across the whole front of the storage compartment, which is a nice touch. 

I’m also a fan of the more traditional folding entry steps in this trailer, although we upgraded ours with a Lippert Solid Stance Step Stabilizer. 

Another surprise, to me, was the cargo carrying capacity in a single-axle trailer at 1,862 pounds. That’s a lot more than I would figure.

Observations

There aren’t a lot of surprises in here but there are a few things worth noting. The stove is a simple two-burner flush mount propane stove. However, there’s no provision to light the stove—so make sure you bring a lighter of some sort. We’ve all gotten super fancy over the years. While this seems like such a big deal nowadays, it’s how RV stoves were for decades.

But this does have a distinct lack of counter/prep space. Yes, the stove has a flush mount glass cover and the sink, too, has a cover. But using either or both of these devices then limits the space available.

In our trailer I took the rail mount that was intended for our outside table and put the same rail mount inside, thus increasing counter space. It worked great.

Look into the laminated floor in the Kodiak Cub

There is one thing I think you should look into if you’re considering one of these and that’s the laminated floor. First of all, this concern is based on some personal experience at the dealership, but also a lot of complaints I’ve seen on YouTube.

For trailers that get very little use, these laminated floors are often just fine. But if you’re using it very frequently, some people’s experience with these floors is that they tend to get soft. Now, am I saying this is a lousy design? I don’t know.

I do not have a statistically valid sample—only empirical data based on a small sampling of people. But I would look to see if there are older models of this line at a dealership before I make a final decision.

In fact, our own RV tech expert Dave Solberg answered a question about these floors from a reader in his column. You can read it here.

I will state that this floor construction is quite different than the one used in Airstream and Ember RV products, even though those are also laminates. It’s the foam at the core of this flooring that is my concern.

In Summary

My own experience with Dutchmen products, in general, has been very positive. This trailer offers a lot of usability in a small package, so it may be a great choice for some travelers. 

Based on the huge volume of readers who have responded to reviews of trailers with no slide rooms, both in comments here but also in emails to me, I think there’s a much larger market for no-slide models than the RV industry realizes. But the RV industry is populated by decision-makers who don’t often go RVing—which is such a disappointing fact to me. 

*****

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has an RV podcast with his wife, Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

##RVDT1867

Ask Dave: Why does my RV’s electric awning retract only intermittently?

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Dear Dave,
When I try to roll up the awning at the side of the coach, it rolls about half-way and then stops. It acts like it doesn’t have enough charge in the battery, but it is full. I’ll wait about 5 minutes and then it may finish rolling up. It will eventually roll all the way up. When rolling it out, there is no problem; only when going in. There are two 6-V Trojan batteries, 3 years old, with 13.6 volt charge; plugged into shore power. The water level is OK. —Ernie, 2006 Tiffin Allegro Bay

Dear Ernie,
I’m not sure what make and model your awning is. However, A&E electric awnings were used frequently back in 2006. I do believe it is a house battery issue since waiting a few minutes allows it to work.

How the system is designed

So let’s look at how your system is designed to operate on the 12-volt house power. Since you did not provide the floorplan, we do not know for sure what battery bank your coach had originally, what type of converter it has, or if it has a larger inverter that would charge the house batteries.

Typically, Tiffin used four 6-volt batteries connected in series and then parallel. You can verify that by looking at the tray design. You can get by with two 6-volt batteries connected in series. However, they will have fewer amp hours, drain faster, and cycle more often. I would suspect your 3-year-old batteries are not very good at this point.

Fully charged batteries should read 12.6 volts when not being supplied power by either a converter or inverter. I am curious as to where you are seeing the 13.6-volt “charge,” as this would indicate that the converter or inverter is trying to charge the batteries. When the batteries get low, the converter or inverter will provide a charge of 13.6 volts until the batteries get to 12.6 volts, and then drop to 13.2 volts. So, if you are seeing 13.6 volts somewhere at all times, it seems the converter recognizes dead batteries.

Possible reasons for the awning to intermittently retract

There are so many “gremlins” when it comes to the 12-volt system and the operations of components that can cause things to work sometimes and then not another. In your case, since the awning works extending through the entire cycle, it’s most likely the weight of the awning fabric is helping push the tube even with low power. So when it is retracting, the weight is causing resistance and needs more power or amp draw.

If the batteries are sulfated, they show a good charge and drop like a rock when a load is applied. Since waiting for 5 minutes helps it finish, then it indicates the batteries have been allowed to rejuvenate slightly to retract.

Even if you are plugged into shoreline power and the converter is supplying power to the 12-volt system, it might not have enough amperage to supply everything. Try turning off all 12-volt components other than the awning, or attach a 12-volt charger on the booster setting, and see if that works. If it does, we can assume the batteries are sulfated and the charger is weak. If not, then we need to look at the awning itself.

Motor inside the awning tube

Most awnings have a motor inside the tube that turns and moves the awning in and out. Any resistance in the arms and pivot points will make the motor work harder and have a higher amp draw. Check all arms and pivot points to make sure they are lubricated to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) specifications and that they are not bent. A slightly twisted arm will create enough resistance to cause severe amp draw and create this situation.

Also check to make sure the fabric is rolling up on the tube straight or in-line and not “stair stepping”. This would indicate a misalignment of the fabric and also cause resistance.

If all this is verified, then it could just be a motor getting weak which could be checked by a technician using an amp draw meter. However, I would start with verifying power, lubricating pivot points, checking the fabric alignment, and making sure the arms are not bent, and hopefully you will find the culprit.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

Read more from Dave here

HAVE A QUESTION FOR DAVE?

We have started a new forum link for Ask Dave. Please be as brief as possible. Attach a photo or two if it might help Dave with his response. Click to visit Dave’s forum. Or send your inquiries to him using the form below.

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##RVDT1867

Which TOP TWO of these amenities do you prefer most at an RV park?

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Perhaps you just need a spot to stay for one or two nights and the amenities don’t matter to you. But perhaps you’re staying somewhere for one to two weeks (or longer) and the amenities are at least a bonus, if not important.

When looking at the list in the poll below, which top two of these do you most prefer at a campground or RV park? Is it that they have great Wi-Fi and a dog park? Or is it that the park is clean and has lots of space between sites?

Remember, you can vote for two items, so please pick your top two amenities before clicking “vote.” If you answer “other,” please leave a comment and tell us what that ‘”other” would be. We want to know! Thanks.