Saturday, October 23, 2021


Beginner’s Guide to RVing Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 33

rv travel logoWelcome 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.

This newsletter is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thanks to all of you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

If you did not get an email notifying you of this newsletter, sign up here to get one every time it is published.

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

Today’s Tip of the Day: An interesting way to find boondocking spots in the Southwest

RVing Basics

Is there a consumer guide that rates RVs?

The RV Consumer Group,, offers this service. Some RVers claim the group has been a big help determining quality and/or dependability of a coach. Others say the group’s reports (not cheap) were a waste of their money. Based on such varied reports we do not endorse the organization.

The best bet in determining the quality of a particular RV is to talk to people who own one, read reviews online on Internet forums, and then be sure to carefully inspect the unit you are interested in buying. And be sure the vehicle displays the oval-shaped seal of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. To qualify, a manufacturer must comply with hundreds of safety specifications that are essential for a quality unit. Be wary of any RV that does not display this seal.

Is it easy to find campgrounds?

In most cases, yes, but it’s becoming more difficult all the time with so many new RVs being sold or rented. It’s probably easier in the West than in the East because campgrounds are more plentiful in the West and there are far more public lands. But you will find campgrounds everywhere. Altogether, there are about 16,000 private and public campgrounds in the USA. They range from primitive sites operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service, to luxury resorts with golf courses, health clubs, swimming pools and saunas. Many websites list these campgrounds.

What do you mean by “primitive campsites”?

Primitive campsites are those with no utility hookups. There may or may not be a water spigot in the campground, and if there are toilets at all, they will usually be the outhouse variety. RVers in most rigs, with their onboard 12-volt electricity, generators, water tanks, waste holding tanks and bathrooms, can live comfortably in a primitive campground for a few days, and usually cheaply because primitive campsites are the least expensive places to stay short of a freebie Walmart or other such parking lot. And generally speaking, primitive campsites are farther off the beaten path, thus providing peace and quiet as well as scenic beauty.

Maintain those slide seals!
If you’ve heard a cracking or popping sound when extending your slide outs, it means your seals are sticking and/or drying out! Using a seal conditioner about every 8-12 weeks is recommended to avoid drying and cracking. Once they begin to wear and show damage, they are no longer working to their fullest capacity. We recommend using Thetford Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner – it works like a charm.

Quick Tips

A tip for “tightening up” loose screws
Regarding RVs with loose screws, Ken Wahl sends along this great suggestion: “Sometimes if a screw vibrates loose it’s because the screw has no more gripping ability in the wood – the hole is stripped out or too big, or the wrong size screw was used. To repair a hole that isn’t holding anymore, remove the screw then squirt a dab of wood glue in and add a few broken-off pieces of a wooden toothpick into the ‘gluey’ hole. This creates a wood plug. Let it dry partially or fully before you use this as the ‘new’ hole for the old or replacement wood screw. If the glue is a bit damp, this will add to the holding ability of the screw and hole. This old attachment trick with the new hole is stronger that the original arrangement.” Thanks, Ken!

Don’t use cruise control on wet roads
Reader Ralph Shrivalle cautions: “Cruise control should be turned off on wet roads. Tires can lose traction and cruise control can try to adjust speed by changing tire speed,” which could lead to a loss of control. Thanks, Ralph.

Tip for lining up trailer hitch and ball
Problems “seeing” when hitching up your travel trailer? Get two telescoping magnetic part retrievers at a dollar store, and stick/stand one on your ball and the other on the trailer hitch. Just back up keeping the sticks aligned, and when the one on the ball is pushed over, you’re lined up perfectly over the ball. Thanks to Wolfe Rose.

Electric can opener – have a manual backup
Electric kitchen gadgets are convenient and easy to use. Lots of RVers use an electric can opener due to arthritic limitations. However, if you regularly use an electric can opener, be sure to store a manual one in your RV as a backup in case you find yourself without power. Thanks to Ron Jones,

Remove scuff marks with vanilla extract
Still have a vinyl floor in your galley? Banish black “scuff marks” by rubbing them with vanilla extract on a paper towel

Protect your RV “pigtail”
That 7-way connector on your travel trailer or fifth wheel is a critical component. When not plugged into your tow rig, the thing is susceptible to the onslaught of dirt, rain and even bugs. Here’s a plug cover that slips right over your precious plug and keeps out the crud. One user says, “This works perfectly to keep the plug on my RV clear. I remove it when not in use and place it in my ‘RV emergency tool kit.’ This way, it’s not knocked around when driving.” Learn more or order.

Common Terms Used by RV Salespeople

LOT RAT:  An RV that has been sitting on the dealer lot for a long time and parts have been “cabbaged” (cannibalized) off of it for use in other RVs.

Another one next issue. Courtesy of the Burdge Law Office.

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: 

“To anyone buying an RV, I would say never trust an RV dealer or manufacturer. Do your research before buying. Most RVs, no, all RVs, will require you to fix something and often. Learn to fix everything yourself or you will become a bitter buyer when your RV is sitting in the shop for months on end due to extended repairs or lack of available parts.” — Paul Murphy

The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. He’s taken his 50+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that nearly anyone can understand. Covers the basics of Voltage, Amperage, Wattage and Grounding, with additional chapters on RV Hot-Skin testing, GFCI operation, portable generator hookups and troubleshooting RV electrical systems. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order 

Random RV Thought

Don’t fear spoiling the food in your turned-off RV refrigerator when you’re driving. If the fridge is cold before you depart it will stay plenty cold all day long even when turned off. Just turn it back on when you get to your destination. If it’s a super hot day with a long drive ahead, it won’t hurt to put some ice blocks in the fridge to help it stay just a wee bit cooler.

• 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!

RV Travel staff


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.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This newsletter is copyright 2021 by

Related Articles


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary Smith
1 year ago

Regarding stripped threads in wood, an old time carpenter taught me to drill through the stripped threads with either a 1/4 or 1/2 inch bit (depending upon how much you can hide) and glue in a short plug of hardwood dowel to screw into. If it ever strips out again, just repeat. Also, get rid of as many self drillIng screws as you can. They’re great for sheet metal but not so much for wood.

Jenkins Robert Michael
1 year ago

Similar to the question about RV ratings, is there a list of brands or models that would tell a buyer if the unit is entry level, mid level or high end? The idea being to know which are made better so if you are planning to full-time, you would know which brands to look at.

Chuck Bonelli
1 year ago

WRT to the question: “Is there a consumer guide that rates RVs?”

I also suggest looking at federal recall history – it may help you when it comes down to this one or that one.

1 year ago

What’s the point of the automatic high-flow shutoff in modern propane tanks? Isn’t it so there’s no longer a need to turn off the refrigerator while driving?

4 months ago
Reply to  Irv

That’s my take on it Irv. If there’s a broken propane hose and propane is escaping from the tank at a faster rate than what is intended, the valve in the propane tank will shut itself off as in it will close. It’s another issue where there are two sides totally divided. I checked with my insurance company’s research department and they say there is no danger in driving with your fridge running on propane.

Warren G
1 year ago

Regarding owner satisfaction of a certain RV, it seems like their are FB groups for most of them. Joining and following them for a couple of months gives one a pretty good idea of what owners think, as well as some typical problems.

Brian Jensen
1 year ago

You can always turn on your generator on super hot days to turn on the fridge and the air conditioner too.

1 year ago

I have to disagree with comments about RVIA. The owner of both Safari and Beaver motorhomes refused to join because of all the political crap, yet these were some of the absolutely best RVs ever made. I know because I owned one and our son worked for the company.

Roger Becht
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom

I agree. The RVIA sticker is like the energy star tags on appliances. There may be standards but the manufacturers don’t seem to care about being in compliance and there is no real policing to see that they do.

Bob M
4 months ago
Reply to  Roger Becht

From what I’ve read from RV forums and what I experienced on the two travel trailers I own/owned. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association don’t have anything to do much with Safety or quality of RV ‘s and parts or equipment used. Seems like they’re just a marketing gimmick. Wish Consumers Reports would start testing RV’s and materials used.

Connie VH
1 year ago

I just prepared a question for this space, then I clicked and filled out the Subscribe form just above this box.
But my post disappeared before I could submit it, and switched me to a Confirm Your Subscription screen. I did that, and when this page opened again, my post was gone.

What did I do wrong?

Jessica Sarvis (@jessica)
1 year ago
Reply to  Connie VH

I just recreated the issue. I believe that if you subscribe while there is a comment that hasn’t been posted yet it refreshes the screen, deleting the comment. Next time post your comment first and then subscribe to the notifications afterwards. You shouldn’t have anymore issues this way.

Chuck Bonelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jessica Sarvis

Love the responsiveness y’all demonstrate on every level. You are the best and should be the model.