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Issue 814 • Week of October 7–13, 2017
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
Being on the road with an RV 24/7 has opened my eyes to things I could never see sitting at home — an old-fashioned one, that is — one without wheels.
I have many important topics I need to discuss. But they are in my queue for future issues because I don’t have the space here, and I get further behind every week. To explain more about this I will begin communicating with our most loyal readers, our voluntary subscribers, with regular videos and written updates about what is happening behind the scenes that I cannot find room to write about in this space.
These supporters deserve something extra for helping us remain free from pressure from big advertisers to sugarcoat everything. I recorded the video here (at low resolution to minimize your bandwidth use) to explain this better. Click it to play.
If you you are a donor but do not receive a video message from me by tomorrow (Sunday) evening (watch your email) please write to my daughter Emily at emily (at) rvtravel.com so she can let you know where it is and add you to the list.
I’m not a negative guy, in fact, just the opposite, yet what I am observing on the road and reading daily in emails from readers with serious problems with their new RVs upsets me. I want to do something. I explain in the video above.
I was reminded this past week about the quality of RVs being produced these day by bloggers Mark and Julie Bennett, who toured 14 RV manufacturing plants in the Elkhart, Indiana, area where most RVs are made. Here are a few things they saw, observed or otherwise learned.
They wrote: “Very few manufacturers. . . do thorough quality inspections of every single unit that rolls off their production line. It is more common to spot-check 20 to 40 percent of RV units for accuracy before they leave the factory.”
Only 20 to 40 percent? Can that be right? That means that well over half of new RVs are not even checked for flaws before heading off to be sold! We’re talking about a rolling home that is assembled piece by piece by humans, who I’m told sometimes make mistakes (or do things wrong in the first place). I’m glad that Boeing doesn’t operate this way!
Dealers who receive those RVs are supposed to fix the flaws. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. A friend told me recently about a couple who took delivery of their new RV and discovered screws protruding outside of the RV where the dinette had been attached! That’s crazy! Nobody along the line, manufacturer or dealer, noticed? How can that be?
ALMOST AS DISAPPOINTING was the Bennetts’ finding that the executives of RV manufacturing companies do not own or travel with an RV themselves. That’s pretty much common knowledge, but seeing it again made me mad. How can these leaders really know how you and I use our RVs? They can’t! Do they care that their rigs’ beds are too short for anyone over 5 foot 8, or that TVs are positioned where RVers need to bend their necks 45 degrees to watch, or that the bathroom is inaccessible with the slideout(s) in?
Most do everything they can to produce a rig that looks great at first glance. They know that most RVers buy primarily on appearance. That’s unfortunate: It’s what they don’t see without close inspection that matters most — cheap construction and cheap components — a recipe for inconvenience and repair bills aplenty down the road. RV makers are very clever at hiding their “cheap” work where it’s hard to see. So they concentrate on “bling,” by making a cheap rig look pretty. But like a wise person once said, you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.
The fact is, most RV makers these days are concerned more about profits than building quality products. There is such a shortage of experienced workers in the Elkhart area that many people hired to build our rigs often have no relevant experience. That doesn’t help matters.
Do you realize there is no magazine, website, podcast or YouTube channel besides us that regularly discusses these important concerns of RVers? Just us! Is that crazy, even scary — nobody else in the media cares?
And so the RVs roll off the production line and are sent off to dealers. Both the manufacturers and the dealers hope they can pass them off without the buyer looking too closely at how well they are built. Later, when they discover the flaws and request they be fixed, too often they must wait weeks, even longer, to get a service appointment, and good luck getting everything right the first time. If they get an RV that is a total piece of junk, too bad: RV industry trade associations fight every Lemon Law proposed anywhere in the USA.
Now, I know there are good RV makers (a few) and good RV dealers (quite a few), but there are not enough. And, sad to say, all those new buyers who buy into the RV mantra of “go where you want when you want” (which should be amended to “Go where you want, when you want, as long as you made a reservation a year earlier“) are sorely disappointed later at the reality of repairs as well as crowded, overpriced, often junky RV parks. Hello, Walmart!
The fact that the industry is doing nothing to lobby for more campgrounds and RV parks means that in a few more years of 450,000-a-year RV sales and no net gain in campsites, you and I will be hard-pressed to find a decent place to stay without paying through the nose or pulling into a back corner of a Walmart parking lot!
Some readers will think I am way off base with all this doom and gloom whining. But mark my words, see what happens in the next few years if record RV sales continue, forcing you and me to compete with those new RVers for campsites and repair services. Something must be done. If you have a spare million dollars that needs a place to call home, let me know and we’ll form an RV owners association to fight for better RVs, more places to stay, and lemon laws where none currently exist.
And if you want to help my staff and me get the word out about all this, please tell your friends to sign up to receive this newsletter so what we report will have more influence. And if you really care about us standing up for your interests then please voluntarily subscribe so I can invest more money into editorial without kissing the behinds of companies who don’t want the media saying anything negative about their products (did you see the recall notice we publicized last week about one RV maker who had installed the axles on its trailers backwards? Amazing!).
The Hacking Battle continues: Slimy creatures from around the world continue to attack our server to plant their spam or shut us down. We battle these creeps constantly with top security protection. In the last week we have blocked 245 hacking attacks from China, 188 from Turkey, 63 from the United Arab Emirates, and 118 from the good ol’ USA. Russia left us alone this past week for some reason.
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Some recent recalls:
• Highland Ridge recalls some Open Road 5th wheels.
• Ultra Lite trailers recalled: axles installed backwards.
• Thor recalls motorhomes: wipers installed wrong.
• Heartland recalls trailers for axles installed backwards.
• Forest River recalls trailers for fire risk from LP leak.
We have a winner! No more entries for this contest, please. The answer: Lego produces more rubber tires than any other manufacturer. Win this Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker. The winner will be chosen randomly out of all correct entries received by noon (Pacific), Monday. The question: What company produces more rubber tires than any other manufacturer? We bet you can’t guess. (If you need help, the answer is towards the bottom of the newsletter.) Email your answer to RVcontests (at) gmail.com. We can only ship prizes to addresses with a U.S. Zip Code. Only one entry per household. All entries must include your mailing address and telephone number (only used for mailing if you win) or your entry will be disqualified and we’ll choose the next (correct) entry. Contest ends Monday at noon (Pacific), at which time a winner will be selected by Random.org. We’ll let you know if you win.
Last week’s winner: David Grall of Folsom, Calif. He won the beautiful 2018 National Parks Calendar.
Is there a push for privatization of campgrounds on public lands? This year U.S. Department of Interior boss Ryan Zinke, or his staff, has met at least three times with representatives of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, who actively support privatization. The latter says Zinke is a “long time friend of the RV industry.” Source: High Country News (click for article).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has begun buying up RVs for use as emergency housing, to the tune of thousands in Texas and hundreds in Florida. The units are being bought from dealer stock in those states, stripped of “televisions, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, washer/dryers, kitchen islands, large entertainment systems, theater seating, outdoor televisions, or Murphy beds.” FEMA says the RVs will not be inhabited for more than six months. Source: Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association.
On the other hand, Floridians made homeless by Irma may, or may not, be getting relief from FEMA in the form of RVs. While the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association says “hundreds” of RVs have been purchased in the state by FEMA, as of October 2, media reports indicate only a handful have arrived in the Keys area. Monroe County officials there requested 9,200 units, but so far only 10 have arrived, of the 2,000 FEMA allegedly agreed to provide. Local officials in Florida’s southwest county of Collier say they’ve been told FEMA would only provide 1,000 RVs to the entire state. Click for more info. Source: usatoday.com
It’s official: America’s Largest RV Show, held last month in Hershey, PA, hosted yet another attendance record with 64,154 admissions, an 11 percent increase over last year’s record crowd. The show featured more than 1,400 new units, 157 booth vendors and 44 manufacturers occupying more than one million net square feet.
Portland, Ore., like many other large metro areas, is dealing with a problem of people living on the streets in RVs. Officials there think part of the problem is that people with an unwanted RV who don’t want to spend money to dispose of it simply give it away – often to homeless people. Now the city says, in effect, “Don’t give it to them – give it to us!” On October 29, Portland International Raceway will be turned into a free RV disposal site, where the city will accept unwanted RVs for free, and dispose of them on the city’s dime.
Camping World is “increasing its footprint” in Michigan, this time by buying up American RV in Grand Rapids. The company already has a presence in town, with a parts and supply store, but says it will now convert that into a SuperCenter.
October 15 marks the date of the “official” closure of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The lodge will shut down for six months on October 16, but camping will remain open until October 31. Day users can still travel the park until December 1, provided SR 67 is open to traffic.
Plans are in the works for a new state park in Maryland. Approval has been given for the state to buy more than 2,000 acres of land in three parcels near Kitzmiller. Future uses include biking, camping, fishing, hiking and hunting.
With fewer people taking up golf as a sport, course owners are losing money – or getting creative. In Crystal River, Fla., the owner of a course called The Plantation on Crystal River wants to convert his nine-hole establishment into a 300-site RV park. His vision would see RVers purchase lots at the park, and then if they want, allow the park to rent out the sites when the owners aren’t using them.
Waterless trap for your RV plumbing system
Make foul smelling odors a thing of the past!
Already used by major RV manufacturers, the revolutionary HepvO waterless trap is a fantastic alternative to a conventional ‘P’ trap and it won’t fail due to evaporation, movement, freezing or leakage. Its unique membrane prevents foul air from the gray water tank entering your RV and its in-line design helps create extra storage space! Save 10% off all purchases before 11/30/2017 using code RVTRAVEL10. Learn more.
It’s time to honor our fossils! Step into the shoes of paleontologists on October 11 for National Fossil Day to discover how these scientists piece together the ancient past. The National Park Service and partner organizations throughout the country will celebrate with events and programs that promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils. Read more.
As we move into October, many campgrounds around the nation begin a winter shutdown. Bucking the trend, many campgrounds are reopening in the Tonto National Forest of Arizona. The Forest Service reports it has installed “fee machines” in a number of campgrounds throughout its jurisdiction to enable easy site check-ins.
After Parks Canada officials pumped a reported $2 million into campground improvements at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, visitation rates jumped nearly a third. But not everyone is happy: A nearby KOA Campground owner says the money should have been spent elsewhere; he says his visitation numbers are down since the park’s campsites were upgraded.
Dometic is donating more than $400,000 worth of products to Habitat for Humanity to assist victims of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and volunteers working in those areas. Dometic, best known to RVers for its refrigerators, will donate a variety of products that will benefit Habitat for Humanity’s on-site hurricane relief efforts. Read more.
Missing an alligator? Just take a quick look in the RV park pond. That’s where Texas Game Wardens found a 9-foot gator that had gone AWOL from Estero Llano Grande State Park near Weslaco. A few days later the big reptile was found taking a bath at a nearby – but unnamed – RV park.
Nancy and Dennis Ferguson fled Florida with all their possessions in their motorhome to escape Irma’s fury. On the way home, they found their own fury on the freeway near Nashville, Tenn. A traffic accident lit their motorhome afire, and they bailed out – escaping with only the clothes on their backs – or so they thought. Then Nancy got a call from the folks at Carter’s Service Center in Joelton. In the wreckage, a blackened metal box was found containing Nancy’s wedding ring and those of her parents. All parties around were reduced to tears at the find.
Heat your RV with Electricity, not Propane!
SAVE $$$! Until now, the standard for heating recreation vehicles of all types has been to use bottled propane (LPG). With the CheapHeat™ system there’s a better option. Now you have a choice to change the central heating system between gas and electric with the flip of a switch. When you choose to run on electric heat rather than gas, your coach will be heated by the electricity provided by the RV park. Learn more.
In what may be the last approval of its kind, Kelowana, British Columbia, officials have approved a request of a farmer to construct an “agri-tourism” RV park on his land. The nine-site spot was actually approved two years ago, but not developed at the time. Since the initial approval, the use of chunks of farmland for RV parks to attract tourists has come under the cloud of controversy. As the mayor noted, “I don’t know if it’s something in the water, but sometimes farmers up there don’t always follow the rules,” referring to permitted uses under the law.
Freak circumstances led to the total destruction of a motorhome in Finley, Wash. The rig’s owner hadn’t operated the motorhome for some time, and left it parked in a grass lot. When the RVer decided he wanted to get the rig moving again, he started the engine, then left it running unattended for a few minutes. However, the rig’s air-bag suspension was “flat,” leaving the motorhome close to the ground – and the heat from the rig’s engine and catalytic exhaust caught the grass underneath afire – consuming the rig.
Tourism promoters want to put the scotch on an idea that would impose a tax on motorhomes traveling by ferry to Scottish islands. At least one politician in the Western Isles has suggested motorhomes be charged a levy for their visits, with the funds going toward road improvements. But tourism promoters say the idea is unthinkable, pointing out that motorhomers bring nearly $3 million to local economies each year.
A Chehalis, Wash., tow truck driver got quite a surprise after bringing in an RV that police directed should be impounded. The driver dropped off the rig at the impound yard then popped open the door – only to find a woman inside. Police booked the “passenger” for “residing in a recreational vehicle where prohibited,” and second-degree trespass.
Truck Bed & Tailgate Accessories.
Big selection at Amazon.com
Keep up with RV Industry news
throughout the week at RVbusiness.com.
This week’s Reader Poll
Are you active socially in a local or specialized chapter of an RV club?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.
Read the up-to-the minute responses from last week’s poll:
Is your tow vehicle or motorized RV powered by a gas or diesel engine? Click here for the results.
Northwest city has had it with Zombie RVs
One city in the Pacific Northwest is becoming overrun with old, beat up RVs that are unfixable with malfunctioning waste systems. In 2016 and 2017, the Portland Board of Transportation (PBOT) received more than 8,000 complaints about these derelict and abandoned vehicles. Read more.
The readers write – No trolls allowed
Here, as edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris, are recent remarks received from RVtravel.com readers, including the subjects of keeping it civil in our Comments section, Camping World (yea and nay), and vote for Chuck(?) to represent RVers’ interests. Interesting reading.
How to locate roof leaks
Roof membrane manufacturer Dicor offers tips on locating potential roof problems which, if caught in time, can prevent leaks before they cause costly damage. Learn more.
RVer admits rookie mistakes buying motorhome
In this 11-minute video, an RVer admits to what he did wrong when he purchased his motorhome. The mistakes he made are the same ones made by others day after day. If you’re in the market for an RV, this is well worth watching.
Can campground “cheater” box really provide 50 amps?
Mike Sokol, RV electrical expert, received the following question from an RVtravel.com reader: “I recently acquired a setup which has a 30-amp plug on one side and a 20-amp plug on the other. I was told that if you plug in one side to a 30-amp source and the other to a 20-amp source, you will end up with 50-amps. Is that right?” Read Mike’s response.
Is tilting your RV solar panels worth the trouble?
We’ve preached about the positive aspects of tilting solar panels to catch more of that “low on the horizon” winter sun. But some have wondered, is it really worth the hassle? Here’s a video that shows you what happens when one couple tilts their panels. Watch the video.
Even the simple repairs – Leaky RV faucet? It’s an easy fix
When Rich “The Wanderman” came back from his last trip, he found a small amount of water was dripping from underneath the lavatory sink faucet. It turned out to be a small crack where the threads on the faucet assembly screw onto the cold water pipe connection. It’s disheartening to find something like this, but with a tiny bit of knowledge it’s easy to replace the faucet and move on. Here’s how.
Restore them overnight with Caravan Sensor Cleaner
Caravan’s highly concentrated, bio-enzymatic formula is guaranteed to remove the debris causing your tanks to misread. No driving necessary. No dangerous chemicals. No strong odors. Perfect for full-timers and permanently parked RVs. Learn more or or buy at Amazon.com.
Thumbs up – September 2017
Need to hear something positive for a change? Here are some recent “thumbs up” letters or comments we’ve received from readers of RVtravel.com. Read more.
Explaining converters, inverters and generators – Part 2
Do I need an inverter?
In Part 2 of his series, Wolfe Rose explains the difference between converters and inverters and whether or not you really need an inverter in your RV. Learn more.
What you may not know about your CO detector
Ex-fireman and Certified RV Technician Chris Dougherty points out some features of an RV’s carbon monoxide detector that many RVers do not know about. Watch the video.
Drive the dirt trail without fear of getting stuck
If you’re a boondocker, or maybe a boondocker wannabe, think of how many beckoning desert tracks or forest roads to unseen pristine boondocking campsites you’ve discovered and decided not to take your rig there for fear of getting stuck. Then rethink that decision with confidence that if you do get stuck, you can get yourself out without too much trouble. Find out how.
Best demonstration of travel trailer sway danger
Trailer sway is dangerous and can ultimately prove deadly when it results in a crash. Here, we believe, is the best video demonstration of how trailer sway occurs and how to prevent it. Watch the video.
More venues for great outdoor photograph
When you’re home from your RV adventures, there’s nothing like looking back and pondering your travels with pleasure, especially if you have good photos to look at. If you catch the photo “bug” you might wonder about where to get some spectacular shots. Here are some tips on photography at National Wildlife Refuges, along with some sample photos. Read more.
Clean your RV… with beastly-good results!
Your RV’s not your car, it’s your “beast.”
Your RV’s large surface area makes it a beast that collects more bugs, grit, grime, soot and industrial pollution than your car does. And it may have different surfaces of paint, fiberglass, vinyl and aluminum. Click on the video to see Wade clean, shine and protect EVERYTHING with Beast Wash. Click here to buy, or learn more about, Beast Wash at the Wade Maid website.
Readers’ comments on recent articles
Recent popular articles that attracted high numbers of reader comments
• Reader frustrated by crowded campgrounds, inexperienced RVers.
• Does coiled extension cord heat up in storage bucket?
• Reader lists problems with his new 5th wheel.
• Keep those prescription costs down.
• An RVer’s guide to gearing up for astronomy.
• Is your tow vehicle or motorized RV fueled by gas or diesel?
More popular articles from last week’s issue
•Full-time RVing – Storing off-season clothing.
•Whom to believe on RV tire inflation?
•Don’t be a carbon monoxide victim.
•Custom install now available on RV dumping system.
•Reader’s Recipe: Casey’s Blueberry Pie.
•How to fix a sticky black tank valve.
Save your knees when working under your RV
Do you ever need to reach under your RV to grab something, adjust something, add air to a tire, or remove a leveling block? If you’re parked on dirt, gravel, hot pavement or other uncomfortable surfaces, your knees can take a beating! This kneeler pad, for about $7, will save the day. The RVtravel.com staff uses its pad all the time. Learn more or order
No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.
Click here to see many submissions from our readers about their RVs.
Keep warm this winter with a 12-volt warming blanket
Here’s a way to keep warm in your RV without wasting propane to run your heater. Just snuggle up with a warming blanket! This one operates on 12-volt, perfect for RV use. Stitched from 100-percent polyester fleece, the blanket is comfortable, functional, safe and gentle on your RV’s battery. Put it on your bed before turning in to warm your sheets! Learn more or order from Amazon.
Ask the RV Shrink
Trust issue when fueling up
Dear RV Shrink:
I have a problem with trust. I trust my wife, I trust my dog, but I can’t bring myself to trust gas station attendants that don’t trust me first. I know I should be setting an example for them, but it makes me nervous. Let me explain. I pull the motorhome up to a gas pump in small town America. I get out and the first thing I am greeted with is a sign that says, “Prepay before you pump.” I don’t use credit cards, so I have to go in to the cashier and hand him or her a hundred dollar bill (or more). Nine times out of ten I don’t get a receipt unless I ask. …
Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.
Lucy and Desi go RVing
Now, here’s the perfect stocking stuffer — Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz go RVing! In this 1954 classic — in gorgeous Technicolor — the famous couple (as newlyweds) invest in a 40-foot travel trailer and hit the road. The result is hilarious! The scene in which Lucy tries to make beef stew, a Caesar salad and cake in the wobbling, moving trailer is a classic! This DVD is a great gift for your favorite RVer! Learn more or order.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.57 (on Oct. 2). Change from week before: Down 2 cents; Change from year before: Up 32 cents.
Diesel: $2.79 (on Oct. 2). Change from week before: Up < 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 40 cents.
Protect your RV’s slideout
with this rubber seal lubricant
If you don’t take care of your slideout you’re asking for problems including dangerous, costly water damage. This rubber seal lubricant from Thetford prevents fading, cracking and deterioration. It cleans, conditions and shines, keeping seals flexible and protected from sunlight destruction. It is also useful on door seals and window seals. It’s a mineral oil product and also acts as a lubricant. Learn more or order
RV Fire Safety Tip
An emergency fire plan that can save your life – Part 12 of 13
Having a solid fire escape plan may help you replace panic with logical, life-saving actions if a fire occurs. Knowing exactly what to do and doing it quickly can make a big difference in an emergency situation.
Your success in a fire will have a lot to do with three main factors: recognizing hazards and taking adequate preventive measures, acting intelligently at the outbreak of the fire, and taking action to limit damage. Even when you’re prepared for a motor coach fire, it’s still shocking, scary and traumatic to experience. Give yourself an edge in preventing and dealing with a fire by being prepared. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy
Editor’s note: Choose from a wide selection of fire extinguishers at Amazon. Here are links from Amazon.com for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, LP gas detectors, and combination smoke and CO detectors.
Avoid moisture damage to your RV
DampRid FG50T Hi-Capacity Moisture Absorber, 4-Pound Tub eliminates musty odors in RVs and other spaces, protecting them from moisture damage for up to 60 days in areas up to 1000-square feet, and up to 6 months in a 250-square foot area. Don’t let your rig get damaged from moisture this winter. Learn more or order
RV Quick Tips
Tip for holding down sewer hose
From Russ, responding to a suggestion from Jerry W. to hold down a sewer hose with ziplock-type bags of water: “It’s better to hold down a sewer hose with small stones than with bags of water. I double or triple ziplock-type bags and fill halfway with small stones. They last year after year with no leaks and are heavier than water.” Thanks, Russ!
Test the RV’s features for noise before you buy
While in the final process of buying an RV, be sure to test the rig’s water pump and furnace to see how noisy they are. On some inexpensive RVs, the water pump may be poorly insulated and make a horribly loud sound. The furnace fan may be noisy as well. Also check for the placement of electrical outlets. On some units their locations will make little sense and prove inconvenient once you are on the road.
Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!
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.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Boondockers: Think tote tanks – Don’t leave home without one
With snowbird season just around the bend, RVers are starting to think about boondocking and tote tanks. Tote tanks? Not usually a popular topic discussed around a potluck campfire. But RVers will be RVers and tote tanks are an important addition to any serious boondocker’s arsenal of tools that will help extend his boondocking days and relieve stress. (What?) Learn more.
Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.
Need mail forwarding? Choose the best!
Choose Americas Mailbox! It’s the best, endorsed by RVtravel.com which has toured its South Dakota facility and interviewed its very customer-oriented owner. Many plans available. Learn more. Or view the video RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury conducted with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes.
Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions
Is sway control necessary for a short travel trailer?
I am a newbie to RVing. I just purchased a used Prowler 22-foot travel trailer and I am towing it behind my F-250. My question is, do I need a sway bar? I am getting mixed messages mostly leaning towards not needing one. —Tami W.
Secrets of RVing on Social Security
Author Jerry Minchey takes you on a journey that lets you discover how you can travel around the country and live the fascinating RV lifestyle for far less than it costs to live in your sticks-and-bricks home. Among other things, he shows you step-by-step how to enjoy the RVing lifestyle while traveling and living on just your Social Security income. Learn more or order.
with Bob Difley
What’s the deal with composting toilets?
What are your thoughts about using a composting toilet and then combining both the gray and black tanks as a gray tank? I have read that you can dump gray tanks when boondocking onto the local vegetation. Is that true? So, with an ample solar power system, a composting toilet and a fresh water tank refill pump system, would boondocking durations then only be limited due to food and other expendable supplies? Thanks. —Ken W. Read Bob’s response.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .
Read the most recent BoondockBob Blog post: Exploring California’s North Coast: Manchester Beach and Fort Ross
You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.
Temperature gun is ‘essential equipment’ for many RVers!
Just aim this non-contact IR temperature gun to measure the temperature of your refrigerator, tires, A/C output, or, heck, even your oven (and the list goes on). It turns on and begins reading the temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit with one press of the trigger. A laser light aids in aiming, and can be turned on or off. Many RVers consider this essential equipment. Learn more or order at a huge discount.
with Mike Sokol
I got shocked by my coach yesterday. An electrician came out and said the pedestal was good. When I shut off the rear air conditioner in my RV the problem went away. I had a surge protector hooked up, but found out it was bad so it didn’t work. I still believe the campground pedestal was bad but the electrician doesn’t really know how to test it. My question is why didn’t my coach smart system shut everything down and would a good surge protector at the pedestal prevent this from happening again? —Mark Whitford
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
WINTER IS COMING SOON:
Check out this huge selection of RV covers.
Your RVer Horoscopes for October
Did you miss Swami Hal’s RVer horoscopes for October in last week’s newsletter? No problem. He anticipated that (he’s good!) so you have another chance to check ’em out here.
Keep your coffee piping hot!
This legendary Stanley Vacuum bottle will keep your coffee hot for up to 24 hours and cold beverages cold for up to 120 hours! It’s perfect for a day away from the RV. Or make your coffee in the morning, pour it into here and forget about keeping the coffee pot on or using the microwave to warm the beverage up. Learn more or order.
RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble
What you should know about tire “safety margins”
Some people ask “How much ‘safety margin’ should I have with my tires?” While this concept is simple, the reality is quite complex – which Roger explains. Or you can skip the technical stuff and just read his important guidelines to obtain the best safety margin with your tires. Learn more.
The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Travel contributor Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. Mike has taken his 40+ 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.
The RV Kitchen
with Janet Groene
Shrimpburgers for two
Canned shrimp is just right for this recipe. You can always have it on hand and it mashes easily with a fork to make a burger. Make a meal of the burgers in Kaiser buns, sliced beefsteak tomatoes, a steam-in-the-bag vegetable medley and lemon gelato for dessert. Get the recipe.
RVtravel.com Readers’ Favorite Recipes
by Emily Woodbury
Stephen’s Easy-As-Pie (on a grill!) Paella
Paella is one of my favorite comfort foods. Perhaps it’s selfish that I’m featuring this recipe since it sounds so good to me for a chilly, cozy fall night’s dinner.
For those of you who don’t know, Paella (named after the type of pan it is cooked in) is one of Spain’s most popular dishes. Perfect for a campfire on a chilly night? I think so. Read more and get the recipe here
Microwave cover collapses for easy storage
When heating your food you don’t want to spend 10 minutes later cleaning the splatters inside the microwave. Here’s the solution — and perfect for RVers: it pops down flat for easy storage. Lid perforations allow steam to escape to keep food moist. Doubles as a strainer, too! Learn more or order at Amazon.com
Travel planning with one app? Not possible
Chris and Jim Guld, Geeks on Tour, spend the majority of their lives traveling, mostly by RV. They are in huge demand to teach seminars at conventions, rallies, etc., around the country so need to be very organized. Chris explains several travel planning apps she can’t live without and recommends some you might find useful. Is there a travel planning map you prefer, but Chris didn’t list? She’d like to hear from you. Learn more.
Special offer for RV Travel readers!
Visit the Geeks’ Store to buy a membership. Use the coupon code rvtravel and get a 20% discount off anything you order.
Astronomy for RVers
with Chris Fellows
Let the stars be your road map – Part 1
In this 3-part series, Chris will teach you how to walk out into the night with nothing but your senses and orient yourself in space. In Part 1, he explains how to find north, and the “North Star” – Polaris, anywhere in the northern hemisphere, locate and identify three constellations, and locate and name five bright guide stars – as “foundational information to build the rest of the night sky.” Learn more.
Help stabilize and keep your RV steps safe
The RV Save-A-Step Brace is designed to be placed under RV entry steps for safety. It stabilizes the RV steps and helps keep the coach from rocking — preventing sag and wear. The brace is made of heavy-gauge steel with a 3/4″ solid metal screw thread, 1000-pound load rating and 7-5/8″ to 14″ adjustment range. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
“See where you’re going to stay. . .”
Winterset City Park Campground, Winterset, IA
“Did you know that paradise can be found in Iowa? This small city park is surrounded by acres of forest, trails, covered bridges and is only blocks from the John Wayne Museum and small-town perfection. Take a peek and add this park to your itinerary.” See for yourself.
Jacob Lake Campground, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, AZ
“The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is ‘where it is at’ if you are visiting during the warmer months. Situated at a higher elevation, this side of the National Park also is neighbored by amazing Forest Service campgrounds like this one.” See it for yourself here.“
The motto of CampgroundViews.com is “Look Where You’re Going.” See videos or photos of nearly 16,000 campgrounds and RV parks “as they are,” not as shown in fancy, often misleading brochures. Learn, too, about amenities (water, sewer, pool, pets, cable, Wi-Fi, etc.). Do you own an RV park you’d like spotlighted on CampgroundViews.com? Contact Mark (at) campgroundviews.com
Endorsed by RV tire expert Roger Marble!
An excellent tire pressure gauge
The Accutire MS-4021B digital tire pressure gauge has an easy-to-read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI. It’s ergonomically designed with an angled head and a rubber-coated easy-grip handle. If you forget to turn off the gauge, don’t worry, it will automatically shut off. The included lithium battery never needs to be recharged or replaced. And all this for about $13. Learn more or order.
Good reading from RV123.com
• Terra Wind Amphibious Motorcoach in Action (Video)
• Featured App: Bushcraft & Survival Skills
• Easy Campfire Pizza
Don’t be without this Emergency Weather Radio!
For about $15, you can rest assured that anytime severe weather threatens, you’ll be notified, even if cell service is down, the Internet is down or power fails. The RVtravel.com staff travels with this small, handheld, battery-powered NOAA weather radio. If severe weather is on the way, the radio sounds an alert, followed by detailed information about the storm to let you know to seek shelter or move away. Get one for yourself and one for someone you care about who travels a lot. Learn more or order.
Free and bargain camping
Selah Creek Westbound Rest Area, Selah, WA
FREE: Overnight RV Parking is allowed. Location: Westbound I-82, Milepost22, serving WB traffic. Exit to the rest area, follow roadway around a curve, then keep L to Truck/RV area or keep R to Auto area. Pull-in Auto spaces are 28 ft long, so rigs up to that length can park there safely. The parking area is level, but there is little or no shade here. Restrooms, telephones, picnic tables, potable water, dump station. GPS: 47.621152, -122.35686
Walmart Supercenter # 5296, Barboursville, WV
FREE: Overnight RV Parking is allowed with permission from the store. Park along the west edge of the lot, farthest from the store; don’t obstruct traffic lanes. Level, lighted; believed to be quiet & safe. 3 restaurants within a short to moderate walk. Address: 25 Nichols Dr., Barboursville, WV. GPS: 38.42162, -82.25865
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 13,480 locations listed, is the largest and best resource for locating free and inexpensive places to spend a night in an RV. For membership information and a demo of the site, click here. A modest membership fee required, but try the free demo. Watch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.
Protect your RV’s slideout with this rubber seal lubricant
If you don’t take care of your slideout you’re asking for problems including dangerous, costly water damage. This rubber seal lubricant from Thetford prevents fading, cracking and deterioration. It cleans, conditions and shines, keeping seals flexible and protected from sunlight destruction. It is also useful on door seals and window seals. It’s a mineral oil product and also acts as a lubricant. Learn more or order
Upcoming RV Shows
• Fall Detroit Camper & RV Show, Oct. 4-8, Novi, MI
• Tacoma Fall RV Show, Oct. 5-8, Tacoma, WA
• California RV Show, Oct. 6-15, Pomona, CA
• Fall RV Show & Bargain Expo, Oct. 12-15, Oklahoma City, OK
• St. Johns Fall RV Show, Oct. 12-15, Elkton, FL – CANCELED due to Hurricane Irma
• Georgia RV & Camper Show, Oct. 13-15, Atlanta, GA
• Pittsburgh RV Liquidation Super Sale, Oct. 13-15, Pittsburgh, VA
• Toronto Fall RV Show and Sale, Oct. 13-15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
• Panhandle RV Show, Oct. 19-22, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
See the complete list of all upcoming RV shows.
Portable stove perfect for RVers
If you like to cook outdoors but don’t have an outdoor kitchen, here’s your answer: this propane/butane portable stove. It puts out 15,000 BTUs, making it the most powerful portable stove in the world. Just put it on your picnic table or other surface. Electronic ignition, too! Click here to order or learn more.
This week in history
Week of October 7–13
Compiled by Dell Bert
1871 – The Great Fire destroys much of Chicago.
1913 – Ford first uses assembly line at automotive factory.
1960 – CBS broadcasts the premiere episode of “Route 66.”
1967 – American Basketball Association debuts.
1975 – “Saturday Night Live” begins its long run.
1975 – Bruce Springsteen scores his first pop hit with “Born to Run.”
1997 – John Denver dies in aircraft accident.
If you have a morbid fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth, you have arachibutyrophobia.
Contest answer from above: Lego produces more rubber tires than anyone else by a long shot — a staggering 318 million a year, which is more than 870,000 a day! Nearly half of Lego sets include a wheel of some kind.
Bumper sticker of the week
There are two theories about arguing with women – neither work. —Thanks to Alan Stolldorf!
Funny/clever business slogan
From John Dankel: There is a white water rafting and outdoor adventure company on the French Broad River near Asheville, N.C., called Zen Tubing. Its slogan is “Get in touch with your inner tube.” —Thanks, John!
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker or business slogan? Send it to Diane (at) RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Wife: “The two things I cook best are meat loaf and apple pie.” Husband: “Which is this?”
Random RV Thought
Some motorhomes sleep five or even six people – that’s what the RV makers say. But, really, unless some of those people are kids, you’ll be packing along a heap of weight if that many people cram into a single RV with all their stuff. Too much weight is a very bad thing and sometimes even very dangerous.
“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” —Seneca (Roman philosopher, 4 BC – 65 AD)
RV Travel staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Dave Helgeson, Janet Groene, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Mike Sokol, Chris Guld, Julianne Crane, Chris Fellows, Wolfe Rose and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.
ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com.
About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Amazon.com. Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.
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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