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August 27, 2023
Free, abbreviated edition
Lessons learned from deadly I-81 RV crash
By Randall Brink
n August 9, at 9:00 p.m., a Class A RV traveling southbound on I-81 in Franklin County, PA, blew a left front tire, crossed the median, and struck a double tractor-trailer rig headed northbound. The collision destroyed the motorcoach. The five occupants of the RV, the Molander family, including their dog, of Middletown, PA, all died, as did James Shade of Martinsburg, WV, the driver of the semi-truck.
Not much is known about the make and model of the motorcoach, the family RV trip, or the driver. However, one fact consistently mentioned in all news reports was that the coach’s left front tire blew out. The driver lost control of the RV and never recovered it. We may never know much more—the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told RVtravel.com that it is not investigating the accident. But the circumstances are entirely consistent with what can happen in the case of a blown tire at freeway speeds.
An excellent article by Russ and Tiña De Maris in this edition of RV Travel explains the dynamics of tire failure and how to maintain directional control of an RV in a blowout. Michelin Tire produced an instructive video on how to maintain control during a blowout event.
My own experience suggests that over time and hundreds of safe and uneventful RV trips, a driver, no matter how diligent, well-trained, or informed, can fall into a state of complacency. A state of complacency, combined with a lack of recent thought or practice of any emergency procedure, increases the odds of disaster in the event of an actual emergency. Compound that with darkness, fatigue, poor road conditions, or driver impairment and you have a recipe for disaster. (We are mentioning these circumstances in general; we are not passing judgment on this tragic accident.)
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Today’s RV review…
Palomino Pause 20.3—Yeah, but it’s worth it… for some
By Tony Barthel
There was a lot of interesting inventory at the 2023 FROG International Rally in Goshen, Indiana, but one of the RVs that got a tremendous amount of attention was the Palomino Pause 20.3 overlanding travel trailer. We’ve looked at these in the past, but it was interesting to go and touch and see it for myself.
RV Service Centers and Repairs Report
Auto mechanic asks, “Whatever happened to dealer goodwill?”
In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. This week Nanci Dixon relates more maintenance and repair horror stories, including one from a longtime car mechanic who always performed free services on the customers’ cars as “goodwill.” When he learned from the service manager at an RV service center that everything gets charged, even just to check tire pressure, because “this is how the techs are paid in the RV world,” he reluctantly paid his bill but also put back some items he would have purchased—and he hasn’t been back. And you’ve heard about karma? Well, there’s an example here. (Maybe if there was more “goodwill” from dealers and service centers, there’d be fewer instances of “karma.”) But there’s also a good report on Camping World.
How to survive a tire blowout
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A blown tire can ruin your whole day—or a whole lot worse. Tire blowouts are responsible for more than 78,000 crashes per year, ending in more than 400 deaths. In 2017, 738 people died across the U.S. as a result of blown tires alone. Are you prepared to survive a tire blowout? Preparation and following simple steps can make the difference between a tire blowout being an annoyance or a trip to the graveyard. Continue reading this potentially life-saving information.
Norcold RV fridges keep failing—I’m done! New Amish fridge is a winner!
Two of Jan Steele’s Norcold RV refrigerators have failed in the past year. She made the decision to: A) Be done with Norcold for good, and B) not buy another standard new cooling unit. So what came next? A recommendation for an “Amish fridge.” Her story unveils a small operation’s triumph against big names, promising reliability and freedom from RV concerns. Is she happy with it? You’ll just have to read to find out.
See RV crash test into wall at 40 mph. It’s scary!
In the United States, we don’t crash test RVs to determine their safety, to learn how they can be improved. One reason is that RV manufacturers do not want to show consumers how badly their products fare in a serious accident. It also costs a lot of money. In this video from the Swedish Transport Administration, you’ll see what happens when a small Class A motorhome slams head-on into a wall. It is very scary!
Around the Campfire
RVers and their RV awning woes
By Gail Marsh
When RV problems happen it’s always disheartening; but when the RV is brand-new, it somehow stings even more. Discouraged “newbies” joined the rest of us around the campfire last night. This was their maiden voyage with a new 38-foot RV fifth wheel. We all listened as they told about their awning trouble.
Little-known facts about license plates
By Gail Marsh
You probably played the “License Plate” game while traveling as a child. Parents often suggest this game as a way for kids to pass the time by finding a license plate from each state in the United States. License plates are more than simple child’s play, however. Check out the history and little-known facts about vehicle license plates here.
My morning routine has gone all wrong!
By Nanci Dixon
My email account has been hijacked with hundreds of daily emails! I have a morning routine: Every day I get up long before my husband, make the coffee and sit down with my iPad or computer and read RVtravel.com, then I read about new homes on the market to check prices, and then I go diligently through my email. I have somehow gotten on a wide variety of email mailing lists from quizzes to blogs, ads for RV maintenance, RV sales, old wheelchairs and walker searches for my dad, and the one I can’t resist opening, no matter how many emails have populated my inbox overnight—Recommended Reads. Continue reading. (Does this sound familiar?)
Lonely on your solo journeys? Consider joining the Wandering Individuals Network
By Jan Steele
When I first hit the road eight years ago, I admit I didn’t have a plan beyond the first six months. I was focused on one quest—redo a trip from 1965. Then I wanted to see family, and hit some national parks—but then what? I found out that wandering alone is lonely. I saw all these happy couples chasing their dream and that made me feel even lonelier. Continue reading.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter
- Did you know that wheel chocks expire? They do!
- Right site, wrong campground? Make sure to look at the details before booking a campsite
- How to choose the right RV storage facility
- A quick, easy way to make sure your RV stays cool at the next campsite
- A must-have for RVers? Walkie-talkies! Here’s why
If a stranger asked to use your RV bathroom, would you let them?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.
This past week’s questions that Dave answered:
- I just bought a used RV. There’s no water in it, so do I need to winterize it?
- We found water under the RV’s bunks. Will mildew paint take care of it?
- Are cleaning, reconditioning and spot sealing part of state safety inspection for RV?
- No leveling jacks on RV, so can I use just a block on the outside dual wheel?
- My RV’s undercarriage is covered in rust. Should I sandblast and undercoat it?
SEND US A PHOTO! Have you taken a photo of something funny? A funny sign? A funny RV? A funny animal? What about something crazy? A crazy scene? A crazy RV? We want to see! Send your photos to editor (at) rvtravel.com. Thanks!
See if you can match the Midwest state to its nickname
By Gail Marsh
Did you have a nickname growing up? I didn’t, but I always wanted one. Nicknames often mirror some characteristic about the nicknamed person. Someone named “Curly” may have naturally curly hair. “Slim Jim” might be a person of slight stature. You probably know that every state in the U.S. has its own nickname, but how well do you know the nicknames of the Midwest states? Read through the following list of Midwest nicknames and see if you can identify the state to which each nickname belongs. Good luck! Test yourself here.
Iconic Midwest foods you must try on your RV travels
By Gail Marsh
Growing up in the Midwest, food was just, well, food. Now that I’m older I’ve come to appreciate that there are specific foods connected to individual Midwest states, and they are all delicious! If you plan to travel and like to eat, you should check out these iconic Midwest foods.
?? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??
You will love this! Read the description, and you’ll love it even more! Never, in your wildest imagination, would you ever expect to find something on this subject… What a hoot!
In the RV shop with Dustin
Gadget makes RV battery maintenance EASY!
Join Dustin Simpson in the video below as he shows you how to use a battery filler for easy RV battery maintenance. Maintaining the distilled water in your RV battery has never been simpler!
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Another French press with neat features: Stanley Boil + Brew coffee maker
Tony Barthel looks at, yes, another French press. But hear him out on this one. It works differently than other French presses, but are the special features enough to make him like it more than other camping French presses? You’ll have to read to find out.
Traveling U.S. Highway 64 from Taos to Tres Piedras: Stops, sights, eats, and more
By Dale Wade
We have visited New Mexico annually for the past 40 years. During that time we have seen many changes in the towns and cities along the way. However, some places never seem to change. One of those is the road from Taos to Tierra Amarilla, U.S. Highway 64. Before we hit the Brazos Summit, here are a few stops along the way.
Brand-new book for cheap city and town park camping
In most cases, camping in city and town parks costs less than nearby private or other better-known public camping areas. In many cases, the overnight fee is $10 or less, with many sites still free. Some even include free or inexpensive utility hookups. Now, our friends at Roundabout Publications along with The Ultimate Campgrounds Project have published a directory of these under-publicized parks. The first edition of its “Camping in America’s City & Town Parks” is now available. Continue reading about this great new resource.
RV Tire Safety
Tire load range E, F or G. What’s the difference, and why should you care?
Tire expert Roger Marble found a discussion on load range in a Forum where the question “How strong of a tire do I need?” was being discussed. Read some of that discussion and Roger’s reasons for the need to understand tire load ranges.
Adventures in prospecting and boondocking, Part 6
By Randall Brink
The alpine coolness of June and July gave way to a dry August. We could feel hot breezes as heat radiated off the steep, rocky cliffs and ridges that surrounded us. Yet, our camp and prospect site near the cold mountain creek stayed cool. One morning in mid-August, we awoke with the pungent odor of woodsmoke in our nostrils and went outside to see the sky tinted in bluish haze. Wildfire.
Click here to read (Better put on your sunglasses for the glittery picture included. Just sayin’.)
Did you miss yesterday’s Latest News for RVers?
If so, stories you missed:
• Travel trailer stolen with RVers sleeping inside
• Love’s opens new location with 125-space RV park
• RV age discrimination? Washington “resort” tells older RVs to leave
• RV shipments continue to plummet
• Crowded campgrounds: East Coast “resort” rates up to $275 a night! Yikes!
• National Park visits break record, propel U.S. economy with unprecedented $50.3 billion visitor spending in 2022
• RVers show big interest in electric bicycles
… and much more
Recipe of the Day
by Mysti Bannister from Jacksonville, AL
This crab cake sandwich is delightful and reminds us of something you’d have at a seafood restaurant. The crab cake itself is filled with sweet crab meat and tons of fresh veggies that add flavor. The touch of horseradish and cayenne adds a little zip and spice. On a bun with a little coleslaw, these are great for lunch or a light meal.
Now here is a study, a scientific study, to feel good about! According to a new Gallup poll, it seems that saying hello to your neighbors can boost your health and sense of well-being. Where else is it better to say “Hi” than in a campground surrounded by neighbors? This is interesting!
Groove gap cleaning tool keeps bugs, dirt and grime out of windows and doors
This small, handheld groove gap cleaner cleans windows, sliding doors, shower door tracks, oven and sink gaps and more. This two-part gadget has a scraper, for scraping up debris and dirt, and a brush, for brushing it away! The elevated handle has finger grips for an easy hold. If it gets dirty, wash it with soap and water and it’s just like new. Learn more or order.
Have you ever seen the 2006 comedy “RV”? There’s one scene in it that is utterly disgusting, but laugh-out-loud hilarious. We hope this never happens to any of you! Watch the short clip here.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RVtravel.com All Star Team
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Gail Marsh, Dave Solberg and Cheri Sicard. Contributors: Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Dustin Simpson, Dale Wade and Tony Barthel. Moderator: Gary Gilmore. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen. Artificial Intelligence (AI) contributors: Johnny Robot and Milly MacWilly. Canine mascots: Archie and Astor “the Disaster”
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.
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