Beginner’s Guide to RVing Newsletter #109


Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to RVing from The information we present here every Monday through Friday is for brand-new RVers – those in the market to buy their first RV and those who just purchased theirs. If you are an experienced RVer, this material may be too basic for you.

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Friday, December 4, 2020

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DID YOU MISS reading this morning’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter? Good stuff there.

RVing Basics

Water keeps your black water tank happy
“If staying in one place for an extended time, excess toilet paper is not the problem … not using a sufficient amount of water is. Water is your friend, and the more you put into your black tank the better. Granted, you will fill your tank quicker and have to dump more often, but the large amount of water compared to the toilet paper will insure that when dumping, everything will be dumped out.” Thanks, Ron, for keeping us flush!

Fire extinguisher maintenance
Got a fire extinguisher in your RV? Of course you do! When was the last time you picked it up and paddled its behind? The factory-provided fire extinguisher is a “dry chem” unit that blasts powder out of the nozzle with a jet of inert gas. Well, that’s what it’s supposed to do. But bouncing down the road tends to make all that chemical powder settle at the bottom of the case and, when needed, it may be so packed together it won’t come out and do the job of killing the fire. At least once a year, pick up your extinguisher, flip it over, bottom side up, and give it several good, sharp raps. A rubber mallet is ideal, but a screwdriver handle works, too. Now shake it around and listen to hear that powder move around. And check the gauge while you’re at it – if it’s below the “charged” level, get it serviced immediately.

Quick Tips

Keeping your distance on the highway
“I try to leave a healthy distance between me and the vehicle in front of me and especially when driving my motorhome. The problem with that is when you leave a large gap, someone will always try to fill it and there goes your gap. The faster you go, the more apt this is to happen. So, with the motorhome, I find I can maintain this distance better when I’m traveling pretty much the same speed as the big rig tractor trailers and the higher-speed vehicles will pass up the gap.” Thanks to Ron!

Does your motorhome entry door rattle?
At the end of the day are you finding yourself dingy from the rattling of your entry door? One RVer reported his near-case of insanity after a cross-country tour. Since the adjustment screws on his aging RV were rusty and he feared stripping them, he stopped at a Camping World store for advice. Their solution was a roll of weather stripping – and only $69, install-it-yourself! A nearby Lowe’s yielded a roll for about $6. Put the sticky side of the weather stripping to the metal on the door, with the spongy side coming into contact with the already existing rubber strip. A little more “oomph” is required to close the door, but the rattle will be history.

We welcome your Quick Tips. Submit them here. Thanks!

Today’s RV review…

In today’s column, industry insider Tony Barthel reviews the new 2021 Riverstone Reserve 3850RK Fifth Wheel. As he reports, “This is a floor plan that pays homage to the fact that a lot of people now are able to take their work on the road and combine the enjoyment of this wonderful land with some time behind the desk paying for that adventure.” Learn more.

Did you read Tony’s review yesterday of the 2021 inTech RV Terra Oasis? If you missed it, you can read it here.

For previous RV reviewsclick here.

ABC's of RVingBy RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury
Book for newbie RVers a must-have!

If you are planning to buy your first RV or are just getting started with your first rig, this book by editor Chuck Woodbury should be a must-read. The ABCs of RVing answers important questions that newbie RVers don’t even know enough to ask! Read this, and you’ll save countless hours of research and avoid making costly rookie mistakes. It’s available in both a Kindle version and printed edition.

“If you could tell someone new to RVing just one thing, what would it be?”

From the editors: We asked our readers this question recently. Here is one response: 

“If your RV is a travel trailer, after backing into your camping site and leveling, place wheel chocks on both wheels BEFORE unhitching! Don’t remove those chocks until you’re hitched up and ready to leave. Chocks: first on, last off!” —Gary Stone

Random RV Thought

No matter how well you plan, your RV’s kitchen cupboard will always be one item short when you settle into the campground to prepare a meal.

• If you’re a member of Facebook, be sure to sign up for our groups RV Buying Advice, RV Advice and Budget RV Travel. For a list of all our groups and newsletters, visit here.

• If you buy a defective RV and are unable to get it fixed or its warranty honored, here is where to turn for help.

• If you need an RV Lemon Law Lawyer, Ron Burdge is your man.

Why you should never finance an RV for 20 years!

Read previous issues of Beginner’s Guide to RVing newsletters here.

RV Travel staff

Need help? Contact us.

Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editors: Emily Woodbury, Diane McGovern.

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 or this newsletter. 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 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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Matt Johnson
4 months ago

Also regarding fire extinguisher tips most rv’s have them placed by the door, which is a stupid place to put it, if you are already at the door your on your way out and don’t need it. I place one at opposite ends of the RV as well as somewhere near the kitchen that is easy access from the stove or cooktop surface that you use. Also one in an a outside compartment and in the tow vehicle.
Just an old firefighters suggestion.

4 months ago

Check your fire extinguisher for the expiration date and replace or refill. But before replacing or refilling, practice with it outdoors. Don’t do this on a windy day or near neighbors, vehicles, etc. The powder is very fine and I’ve seen it blow 100′.

Mike Albert
4 months ago
Reply to  Irv

Good information. Also, it is very difficult to clean up

Mike Albert
4 months ago

As far as the extinguisher goes, ALL dry chemical units will have some settlement and packing. As a fire safety instructor, and from NFPA, at least once a year, turn over your extinguisher and tap the bottom to break up compacted, settled chemical. Afterwards, shake it a bit. There is NO fluid in the dry chemical. Do this for your home extinguishers too and always make a fire escape plan from your RV and Home. Practice with escape drills and make sure everyone knows how to use the extinguisher and knows the meeting place outside in case of a fire. DO NOT re-enter a structure once outside for any reason at all! Install smoke detectors and change batteries twice a year when you change clocks back and forward. Better yet, buy TEN year battery units. Check dates on those and CO detectors to.
Stay safe !

Mike L
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Albert

When using the word fluid in my comment it was meant to mean the chemical remained free flowing. Again, today’s ABC extinguishers do not experience chemical packing. Regardless, if one wants to turn the unit over and fluff the agent monthly it’s OK with me but offers little benefit.

Michael L
4 months ago

Although I agree it is important to care for your fire extinguisher so that it will work and is available should you ever need it, I must comment about the advice to turn it upside down and give it a few raps. This is an old requirement on extinguishers some 25 to 30 years old. Manufacturers have improved the chemical being used in fire extinguishers today as well as other improvements to the extinguisher itself. It is NO LONGER necessary to turn the extinguisher upside down and to rap it. The chemical use in fire extinguishers today stays quite fluid and will surely discharge if and when the handles are depressed. My advice is to keep the extinguisher clear of obstruction, know where it is, check your gauge monthly, never use the extinguisher for a door stop or hanger and read the use instructions on the extinguisher TODAY instead of the day you may need it. Also, you should have more than one.