Saturday, September 23, 2023


Beginner’s Guide to RVing Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 33

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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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

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

RVing Basics

Is there a consumer guide that rates RVs?

The RV Consumer Group,, offers this service with ratings on RVs only through 2021. Some RVers claim the group has been a big help in determining the 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 13,000 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.

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

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. 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!

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Editor: Emily Woodbury

Editorial (all but news)
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Help desk:
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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 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 2022 by RV Travel LLC.


  1. I have a 1998 Casita with the original refrigerator. We keep our drinks in an ice chest outside because that’s how my husband likes them, and we just keep mostly food in the fridge. When we travel long distance I put a couple Blue Ices from my home freezer into the trailer’s fridge and when we arrive, I switch the Blue Ices to the trailer’s freezer. When we get ready to leave, I move them back to the refrigerator. Our food stays plenty cold traveling the 10-12 hours from CA to OR without changing an accident with propane. I would imagine the newer fridges might keep things colder even longer than my 25 year old one! Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to put a few frozen containers of food in the freezer too!

  2. 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.

    • Drilling and plugging the hole also prevents the wood from splitting since most of the cabinets and ‘wood” in an RV is made of composite materials.. Drilling a pilot hole also helps.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

    • 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.

    • I never felt comfortable fueling my first motorhomes gasoline tank with what is considered an open flame in the refrigerator while fueling. So we never traveled with the gas on and never had issues with food going bad. Now we have a diesel pusher with a residential refrigerator so I’m fueling at the truck stops in the rear and further away from the gas pumps. However I do need to fuel my toad and will not do it while an RV is fueling which may have an absorption refrigerator running. The automatic shutoff is a mechanical part and mechanical parts are prone to malfunction.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  8. 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?

    • 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.


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