Saturday, June 10, 2023


Beginner’s Guide to RVing Newsletter #5

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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Monday, July 13, 2020

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

RVing Basics

What’s a fifth wheel travel trailer?

.Larry Page on

A fifth wheel trailer is much like a conventional travel trailer except it is built with a raised forward section for a bi-level floor plan. Fifth wheels, which are very popular with full-timers, are pulled behind a pickup truck using a special hitch mounted in the truck’s bed. They are very stable to tow and often very spacious inside. You’ll sometimes hear them called “fivers.” They are so comfortable these days, and so relatively affordable, that many people are selling their homes and living in “fivers” year-round.

What’s the difference between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel trailer?

Travel trailer (parked beyond van so appears smaller than it is)

First, the travel trailer is perhaps the most traditional and best-known recreation vehicle, having been around far longer than motorhomes, fifth wheels or other RVs. Generally, travel trailers are also the least expensive RVs (except folding camping trailers), and can be pulled by most vehicles. The more powerful the tow vehicle, the longer (and heavier) the travel trailer that can be towed.

Because of the special hitch required, fifth wheel trailers can only be towed with a truck, whereas travel trailers can be towed by cars or SUVs (and even a motorcycle, in their very smallest versions). On the road, however, a fifth wheel trailer is more stable and more easily controlled in windy conditions. Because the front section of a fifth wheel trailer hangs over the truck bed, the combined length of a tow vehicle and its trailer is shorter with a fifth wheel than the same size travel trailer.

Quick Tips

Using the roof air while driving serves two purposes
Most big motorhome owners realize that using the dashboard air often doesn’t cut it to keep cool while driving. Firing up the generator and using the roof air keeps the rig cool easily — with an added benefit: Since generators need to be “exercised” regularly, running the roof air while underway is a great way to get in that generator maintenance time.

Water pump cycling too frequently?
While water pump cycling is one sign of a plumbing system leak, it is also caused by air in the hot water tank. —Thanks to Lee Cataneo for the reminder

Be prepared in case of fire
One of my biggest fears as a full-timer is fire — not just something that could start in my rig, but also to a neighbor’s unit parked nearby. As a preventive measure, I use a water “splitter” or manifold at my site’s water spigot. One side supplies water to our rig, but the other has my extra 30-foot hose that I could use to fight a fire in my rig or a neighbor’s. This precaution, in combination with smoke detectors in our living area and one in basement storage, helps me sleep better at night. —Thanks to Jim Schrankel (Editor: Here are numerous affordable water splitters at Amazon.)

Size does matter
Is your vehicle licensed properly for its size? Some jurisdictions will move you from personal class to commercial class simply because of your licensed GVW (gross vehicle weight). Be sure this doesn’t happen to you as the rules change significantly. Being classed commercial may limit your hours of driving, keeping log books, having restricted routes, need to carry specific equipment, etc. —Thanks to George Bliss

Watch where you point your vents!
Got “pointable” air conditioning vents in your RV? Be careful how you point them! If you accidentally aim them at your thermostat, you may find the a/c system cycling erratically. The same is true for heater vents blasting at the thermostat.

We welcome your Quick Tips: Send to

Common Terms Used by RV Salespeople

BUY RATE: This is the interest rate that banks or financing institutions will charge on all contracts being financed. It is a “secret” number between the lender and the dealer which is the real amount of the interest rate that the loan starts out at before the dealer increases it for its own extra profit.

DE-HORSE: This is when you take a customer out of his trade-in and let him temporarily drive the newly purchased RV before the purchase has really been finalized on the dealer’s books. The idea is to keep the customer from shopping around and finding another deal somewhere else.

ETHER: Is a slang term used in association with its actual application. For example, putting someone in the ether. This is usually done in a closing situation and the customer is not completely aware of what is happening.

More next issue. Courtesy of the Burdge Law Office.

Camping with the Corps of Engineers
Many RVers consider Corps of Engineers campgrounds to be the best in the country. This guide is just for RVers — boat-in and tent-only sites are not included. Of all the public lands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has some of the best parks and campgrounds available. In fact, it’s the largest federal provider of outdoor recreation in the nation. Learn more or order.

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: 

“Do your homework, including reviewing the number of recalls your manufacturer has. Be VERY skeptical about what the salesman tells you. Be VERY thorough in checking out ALL of the systems. Be confident in the fact that dealership service after the sale will go wanting. Don’t waste your money or time on an extended warranty. Use the money on mobile techs who will attend to your issue quickly.” — Ray Leissner

Random Thought

If you get a splinter, here’s a way to remove it without using a needle. Simply lay duct tape over the splinter, or over the sore spot if you can’t see it. Pulling the tape upward and to the side should pull the splinter out. Hey, it’s worth a try.

• 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.

Run your RV air conditioner with a small generator
When the temperature heats up and you’re boondocking with only a small portable generator for power, you’re out of luck running an air conditioner. That is, unless you have a SoftStartRV. It’s inexpensive, simple to install, and makes running your A/C possible. Learn more or order at a special discount.

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 2020 by


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Tom Gutzke
2 years ago

Thanks for the splinter tip.I had forgotten all about it

P Hunkele
2 years ago

RE: Water pump cycling too frequently.
The water heater is supposed to have a pocket of air at the top.
Removing the air doesn’t allow for heat expansion of the water and may cause the safety valve to weep.

2 years ago

Not sure I agree with the “don’t buy an extended warranty…spend the money on a mobile tech” comment. Paying for a mobile tech without the backing of an affordable extended warranty can be very expensive (depending on the work being done). Instead, I would advise not buying an extended warranty from the dealer during the purchase process; shop around for an extended warranty just before your dealer and manufacture warranties expire. You can save $1,000’s of dollars by taking full advantage of the new purchase warranties and shopping around with the many extended warranty companies in the marketplace not paying a kick back to the dealers.

Gary Nichols
2 years ago

ETHER: Is a slang term used in association with its actual application. For example, putting someone in the ether. This is usually done in a closing situation and the customer is not completely aware of what is happening. — That tells me nothing. I don’t know any more of what “ether” means than I did when I read this.

Tom Monville
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Nichols

Same here

Tom Gutzke
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Nichols

I would think it means something like “being the effects of ether; – under the effects of a drug that can dull your senses and maybe render you unconscious, like a dentist would use. ” In other words, you become confused and unaware of what you’re doing until you suddenly sign on the bottom line without thinking through the situation. Now you won something you really didn’t want to purchase until you thought it out some more.

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