Tuesday, September 26, 2023


RV Travel Newsletter Issue 848

Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 17th year of continuous publication, is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!

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Issue 848 • Week of June 2-8, 2018   #rvtravel

Editor’s corner 
With Chuck Woodbury
Chuck (at) RVtravel.com

I just left Elkhart County, Indiana, where 80 percent of American RVs are made. What an experience! It’s Boomtown America!

Downtown Elkhart. Wikipedia Commons

In Elkhart, a pretty town that looks a lot like Mayberry, RVs zip by on the road one after another. Turn a corner and there’s another factory, where RVs of every shape, size and manner of workmanship are cranked out like Big Macs. Workers show up for work in the wee hours of the morning, bust their behinds to meet their daily quotas and head home by 11. Good thing, too. Many, if not most, factories are not air conditioned. It would be hell to work here on a hot humid day. 

Signs everywhere advertise for help — in RV factories as well as fast food joints, where $100 bonuses are paid if you’re willing to flip burgers instead of assemble RVs. One Elkhart McDonald’s is sometimes so short-handed it can only open its drive-up window.

The unemployment rate is 2.4 percent. Show up at a factory looking for a job and if you’re not walking with a cane you’re in. Stay 90 days and get a $1,000 bonus (or more). I’m told background checks are a thing of the past at some factories, as are drug tests — in a region with a big drug problem.

One woman I talked with told me about a friend who works at a factory. “He goes to work at 3 in the morning, and runs around from one RV to another [she stressed the word runs] with a screw gun so he can get home before noon.”

HIGH SCHOOL GRADS (and dropouts) forgo college to work in the RV plants, taking the money while they can. Thor sends out PR folks to local elementary schools to inspire the kids to pursue careers in RV building. The Elkhart area advertises for workers around the country in places with high unemployment: “Come to Elkhart.”

Staples are commonly used to hold together framing in inexpensive RVs. RVtravel.com archive photo.

Nobody seems to even consider that another recession will come one day, as they always do. And when it does, consumers will stop buying RVs and unemployment will rocket back toward 20 percent, where it was after the 2008 crash. At the height of that recession Jayco’s sales dropped 60 percent, and the company had to lay off more than half of its workers. Ditto for other RV makers. Doesn’t anyone here remember?

This time in Elkhart I toured a Thor plant where they make the inexpensive Ace class A motorhome. Sixteen of us were guided around the huge factory. I observed the production process closely; much of the RV’s innards are held together with staples. I knew this beforehand, but seeing it is a shock. Most of what the workers do — good, bad or ugly — is covered from view once the RV is finished. Would-be buyers gawk at the final product at an RV show and say, “This is $40,000 less than the one over there and it looks just as good.” So they buy it, the “bling.”

When buying an inexpensive RV,  it’s a good idea to watch a similar model being built.

I visited the small Phoenix Cruiser factory a day later, where 22 people work, most of them there for 15 years or more. They build six Super B motorhomes a month and from what I saw they are good at it and proud. The company is a tiny minnow in a sea of giant serpents named Thor, Forest River and Winnebago.

What I concluded after visiting Elkhart, among other things, is this: Anyone who plans to buy a new RV should watch it being built, or at least watch the production process of an identical model. Determine if it’s stapled or screwed. See if there’s tender loving care applied or if it’s assembled by workers with staple guns racing to get home early. 


P.S. Our friend and filmmaker John Holod is holding a spring sale, offering his 10-set series of RV Adventure DVDs for only $80 (normally $20 each). Our favorites are the ones about his RV trips to and in Alaska (and the Marine Highway) and his most recent one about traveling Route 66 with an RV (much of the old road is still left). You can order single videos or the complete 10-DVD set by calling John directly at (313) 510-2350 or visiting his website. Check out a three-minute video preview of most of the DVDs.

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Comprehensive list of
RV-related recalls for May

The list of latest recalls on RVs and other vehicles and/or products of interest to RVers has been released by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list includes models from Forest River, Gulf Stream, Thor, Winnebago and others — plus several other vehicles commonly used by RVers. Is your RV or other vehicle on the list? Find out here.

Recent recalls
Jayco recalls some trailers: roof could collapse.
Jayco RV recalling some 2018 fifth wheels.
Keystone recalls trailers: Ladder may block emergency exit.
Jayco recalls some motorhomes: windshield wipers could fail.

America’s Largest RV Show returns September 12-16, 2018
See, compare, shop and buy from over 33 football fields of new RVs. Virtually every major manufacturer represented, everything from the smallest pop-up to the full-size motorhome. Visit hundreds of vendors including campgrounds, accessories, destinations, and services. Attend seminars covering subjects for beginners and seasoned RV enthusiasts. See you in Hershey, PA! Click here for more information.

The problem with free camping becoming the baseline
cover storyReading the comments on this and other websites about boondocking, overnighting in Wal-Mart parking lots and various other strategies to avoid putting money in our bank account,  I’m struck by the insistence that camping should be free — or if not free, at least really, really cheap. At such times, Oscar Wilde’s remark about “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing” comes to mind. Read more about what campground owner Andy Zipser has to say.

breaking-newsThe latest news about RVing from our newsroom
Our writers and editors have selected the most important, most interesting and helpful news about RVing from the past week and boiled it all down into a fast-paced digest. Click here to read it.

20% off RoverPass, unlimited booking to over 6,000 campgrounds!
RoverPass Unlimited is the all-access fast pass to booking campgrounds online. It allows you to search and book at over 6,000 campgrounds and RV parks without a platform fee. You’ll also get priority booking and one-on-one access with customer service representatives. Click here to receive 20 percent off an unlimited membership.

Is your RV overweight? Weigh it and be safe
At a recent RV rally, RVtravel.com associate editor Deanna Tolliver took the plunge and had her fifth wheel and truck weighed. Although many RV safety experts recommend it, she had been making excuses for not having it done (sound familiar?). Find out what is involved in an RV Safety and Education Foundation (RVSEF) weigh-in, and how easy and vitally important it is. Did Deanna’s rig pass? Find out here.

How to lubricate sticky RV dump valves
RV dump valves can get sticky over time, especially if the RVer is not using his RV full time and the contents inside the valve dry out, causing it to stick. But here from Doug Swarts of DrainMaster.com is the proper method to clean and lubricate the valve, as well as an alternate method. Learn more from the Drain Master.

WD-40: The all-purpose spray all RVers should have
Seems like every RV has at least a can or two of WD-40 for lubricating various parts. But there’s more use for WD-40 than just the occasional thread loosening. Here are several tips that may make for slicker RV trips.

California 5th wheel owners may need special license
Are you licensed to drive in California and tow a fifth-wheel trailer? If so, you may need a special license. Here’s the scoop from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

This week’s Reader Poll
What’s the biggest bill you’ve ever received for repair work on your RV?
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:
Would you recommend the make/model of your RV to a friend looking to buy an RV? Click here for the results. 

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 grey water tank entering your RV and its in-line design helps create extra storage space! Learn more

spyWhat we learned from you last week (May 26–June 1)
Jeesh! Another week has flown by – how is that possible? One week down, and a whole lot more we’ve learned about you from our polls here in RV Travel and our RV Daily Tips Newsletters. Click here.

Even the simple things – Bowls for everything
Last week Rich “The Wanderman” was on a short trip in his RV and had stopped for the night. As usual, he prepared a meal, but it occurred to him that he really doesn’t have enough bowls to cook with. Hmmm … What to do? Simple – find some durable nesting bowls that take up very little space and can be used for a lot of things. He found the perfect nesting bowls with snap-on lids – for cheap! Check ’em out.

Generators vs. solar panels – Which is best for your RV?
Many RV campers enjoy the freedom to explore state and regional parks as well as more remote locations, where hookups are often nonexistent. However, unless dry camping or boondocking stays are limited to no more than a couple of days, an ancillary electrical power supply is essential. There are really only two choices: generators and solar. Both are examined in this article.

RV trip planning has never been easier!
RV Trip Wizard saves you time by making RV trip planning simple. Plan safe RV routes, avoid unpleasant surprises, and research campgrounds before you arrive. Even find gas stations, propane, and dump stations along the way. All this and more in one easy to use system! Learn more here.

RV holding tank levers: Which is which when they aren’t marked?
You don’t have to be new to RVing to be a bit confused by some of the things RV manufacturers do. For example, here’s a quote from an RVer: “I have a 2008 Pilgrim Lite. And in my old age, I can’t remember which is my black tank lever and which is the gray tank. Front or rear? The bottom of the trailer is covered so I can’t see the pipes.” What to do? Find out here.

Get rid of foul-tasting water: Chlorinate your fresh water system
Foul- or stale-tasting water can not only ruin a vacation but may even be harmful. There is usually sufficient chlorine in most city water supply systems for safe storage in an RV, but if foul-tasting water persists, it may be necessary to treat the fresh water system from scratch. Here’s the approved method of chlorinating the entire fresh water system.


How can you end the “military” RV shower?
You know the routine, constantly turning off the shower to conserve hot water. That’s because most RVs have tank heaters with limited hot water. You never have to run out of hot water with a hybrid instant hot water heater. Find out how the Truma AquaGo®  gives you a real shower in your RV. Learn more here.

Most popular articles from last week’s issue
Save money on your RV with a Montana LLC?
Warranty expires while new motorhome sits 15 months in shop
How to check pedestal power when hooking up.
Bored snowbirds have “too much time” on their hands.
Why does fresh water tank fill up unexpectedly?
• Would you recommend your model RV to a friend looking to buy an RV?
Dealing with cancer as full-time RVer.

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.

No overnight parking at these Walmarts
See which Walmarts in the USA do NOT allow overnight RV stays.

RV Clubs
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.

Readers’ comments on the poor quality of their new RVs
RVs today are being built fast, and in many cases poorly. Here are some examples.

Did you buy a lemon RV? Here’s more about RV lemons and lawyers who will represent you if you need help.

Need an RV Home Base?
Then you need Americas Mailbox! You’ll enjoy great tax advantages with your South Dakota “residency,” like no state income tax and low insurance rates (second lowest in the USA says the Insurance Information Institute). Many plans are available. Click the video where RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury talks with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes. Or click here to learn more or enroll.

Ask the RV Shrink

Wife is scared to death of husband’s dangerous driving habit

Dear RV Shrink:
My husband is a terrible driver. He tailgates so close that I am always nervous. He says he’s comfortable driving close and gets perturbed when I tell him to back away. I especially get nervous when he’s close to a big truck. He has joked that he’s “drafting” off it to get better gas mileage. I don’t laugh and tell him he’s putting us in serious danger, but he either doesn’t respond or gets mad. …

Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his 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

Get rid of stinky toilet odors in your RV
The 360 Siphon Vent is amazing. Toss the cheap sewer and gray tank roof vents that come on most RVs and replace them with this miracle invention. It literally prevents odors and gases from invading your RV living space and helps speed waste breakdown, eliminating the need for chemicals. The RV Travel motorhome has had this device and we’re raving. Endorsed by the RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer. Many RVs now come with these as standard equipment — they are THAT good! Learn more or order.

gas-738Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.96 (on May 28). Change from week before: Up 4 cents; Change from year before: Up 56 cents. [Calif.: $3.64]
Diesel: $3.29 (on May 28). Change from week before: Up 1 cent; Change from year before: Up 72 cents. [Calif.: $4.00]

Goodbye Holding Tank Odors and Clogs, Hello Convenience!
The best just got better. Now you can get the unsurpassed strength of RV Digest-It Holding Tank Treatment in a convenient, easy to use drop-in pod. RV Digest-It has long been known as the premier all-around tank treatment for those looking for the best in both odor elimination and waste digestion – now you can add convenience to that list. Learn more here.

The RV Vet
With Dr. Deanna Tolliver, M.S., DVM

The tooth, the whole (pet) tooth, and nothing but…..

Dear Dr. Deanna,
We travel with our two dogs, Princess, a miniature poodle, and Ruby, a Boxer. Princess has really horrible breath. Ruby, not so much. My husband thinks that Princess just has “doggy breath” but I think it’s much worse than that. Could she have an infected tooth? —Ramona B.
Read Dr. Deanna’s reply. 

Remove ticks easily
from people or pets
This Tick Twister Remover Set will remove ticks, large and small, without squeezing it, reducing the risk of infection. It does not leave the mouthparts of the tick in the skin. It’s the safest and easiest way to remove ticks and in just a few seconds. Helps prevent Lyme Disease. Keep one of these in your RV. It’s tick season! Learn more or order.

extinguisher-697(3)RV Fire Safety Tip  

Keep your fire extinguisher full
Do not pull the pin and expel the contents to test your powder extinguisher. If you use a portion of the powder extinguisher, have it refilled or replaced immediately. When you have a fire extinguisher refilled, ask to shoot off the charge first (most refill stations have a special place where this can be done safely). This lets you see how far it shoots and how long a charge lasts. Courtesy: Mac “The Fire Guy” McCoy

Plan Your Getaway to Tropical Palms Today!
Tropical Palms is a hidden gem set on 69 beautiful sun-kissed acres that are perfect for your Orlando vacation getaway. We are approximately 4 miles from Walt Disney World Resort, 11 miles from the Orange County Convention Center and within walking distance from Old Town and Fun Spot. You will find our convenient location and affordable prices provide the perfect RV resort to enjoy all that Central Florida offers. Click here to learn more.

RV Quick Tips

Use a stud finder to check waste tank levels
Can’t tell how full your waste tanks are? Internal sensors “on the fritz”? If you can see and access the outside of your black or grey tank, you can use a stud finder to tell how full the tanks are. Stud finders measure density (not magnetism from nails but the change in density from hollow wall to stud). They can also tell you when you move from the top of the tank down where the water line is from the change in density. Stud finders are cheap at most big box hardware stores. Thanks to reader Darryl for the suggestion. [Here’s a cute one for less than $10 on Amazon.com.]

Ask ahead: RV park Wi-Fi tips 
Planning on using RV park Wi-Fi? Before you park, ask: Does your signal cover the entire park, or just my site? Is there an extra charge for using Wi-Fi? Do I need to know the network name (SSID) or a password? If you do, ask for the information when you make your reservation so if you get in after the office is closed, you’ll still be able to log onto the Wi-Fi service.

Do you have a Quick Tip? Send it to Russ (at) RVtravel.com and you just might see it here!

New & interesting finds at Amazon.com
See what really cool stuff Amazon is featuring today. It’s a whole lot of fun just browsing through all these great items. The selection changes every day, so check back often. You never know what you will find, which is part of the fun of visiting here. Check it out.

Gizmos and Gadgets

Tailgate table perfect for tailgate parties and camping
Is it too early to start thinking about football season and tailgate parties? Sports fans don’t think so, and neither does the Sports Fan website that is now offering its Boone Outdoor Sports Fan Tailgate Table. Perfect for the next big game, picnics, camping and other outdoor adventures, the table fits any 2-inch hitch and includes a hitch stabilizer for a solid fit in your receiver. More table room than a card table, and weighs less than 22 lbs. Read more.

Be sure to sign up for our monthly Great RV Accessories Newsletter. Click here.

gary-736Ask the RV Doctor
The RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions

Preventing mold in RV during sultry storage

Dear Gary:
I usually store my coach in Central Florida outside from April to December and I have a couple of questions: How do you stop dampness from building up in the RV with the potential of mold forming in the heat of the summer? My hatches have covers. Should I leave the hatches open slightly or should I close them tight? Should I cover the windows with a reflective barrier to prevent the sun from shining into the coach? Thanks for your help. —Barry R.

Read Gary’s response.

Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.

It’s tornado season: Be prepared!
For about $20, 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. Learn more or order.

bob-d-med399Ask BoondockBob
with Bob Difley

The Columbia River Gorge from Washington state’s scenic Hwy. 14

Hi Bob,
We’re visiting friends in Portland, then on to Idaho. What can you recommend for a route where it won’t be so crowded and maybe with some boondocking along the way? Thanks. —Bev and Matt

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: A bear in the woods: What to do when encountering large predators.

You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.

Camping with the Corps of Engineers
corps-book-748Many 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.

RV Electricity
with Mike Sokol

Can I use a welder outlet for 50-amp RV power?

Dear Mike,
I’m having some trouble figuring out the difference between my 50-amp RV fifth wheel plug and a 50-amp welder plug. I want to wire up a 50-amp outlet for my RV but have been told by my electrician that my RV is not 240 volts. I understand that each leg on the 50-amp outlet is 120 volts, but why don’t they consider this a 240-volt RV? I’m trying to explain this all to my electrician, but he seems confused. Thanks in advance and hope you can help me out. —David

Read Mike’s response.

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.

Amazon Deals of the Day!
Here are more than 1,000 special deals, just for today. And the items just keep on changing. If you can’t find a great deal here on something you want, then, well, you must not need anything. If nothing else, it sure is fun to poke around here to see the incredible array of cool stuff that’s available today at bargain prices! Click here for today’s deals!

RV Tire Safety
with RV tire expert Roger Marble

ST-type tire speed ratings – One man’s opinion

Roger discusses some science and engineering facts and history on the issue of speed limits on ST tires. After much discussion, he wonders: “What ‘magic’ engineering are tire companies putting in their ST tires that allows them to run 75 or 81 or even 106 mph without making any adjustments in load or inflation? And if they have this ‘magic’ engineering available, why aren’t they using it in their LT tires?” Hmm. Learn more.

Keurig Mini coffee maker perfect for RV
Once you use a Keurig coffee maker it’s hard to go back to making coffee any other way. This compact single service K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker will brew your perfect amount with a cup size between six and 10 ounces. Not only is it small to fit a limited counter space, but its platinum look is super attractive. Learn more or order. 

Available: 100% compostable pods. No plastic!

RV History
with Al Hesselbart

Sheldon Coleman, building a gear empire
In 1925, a young engineer graduated from Cornell University, joined his father’s company, and began a long career inventing and producing a wide variety of products and supplies to enhance the growth of the infant RV industry. As soon as kitchens started to appear in the early trailers and house cars of the 1920s, Coleman hot plates, stoves, lamps and lanterns were the RV appliances known to most campers. Continue reading here.

Al Hesselbart is the author of The Dumb Things Sold … Just Like That!” – a history of the recreational vehicle industry in America.

The RV Kitchen   
with Janet Groene

Turkey Dinner Pie
Turkey in a wedge. Easy to make, delicious to eat and a snap to serve, this is a real pie to serve in wedges. It’s an entire turkey dinner. Just add cranberry sauce and green bean casserole to the RV table and it’s Thanksgiving any day of the year. It’s good hot or cold, with leftover chicken or turkey. When you have one or two of these pies (cooked or uncooked) in the RV freezer it’s like having money in the bank. Get the recipe.

Check out hundreds of other recipes by Janet . . . and her many books at Amazon.com, including “The Survival Food Handbook.”


Best selling LED lights for RVs
If you haven’t converted your older coach to money- and energy-saving LED lights, or if you need replacement lights for your newer coach, Amazon is the place to go. Just check out the huge selection — we don’t think there’s a bigger source of LED lights anywhere! And great prices, as always. Learn more or order.

Digital RVer

GeeksOnTour will be back next week with a great app!

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.

Best way to fill your batteries
Fill this container with distilled water, insert the nozzle into the cell of your battery, then push and hold. When the battery is at the proper level, the water will automatically stop. Then move to the next cell, etc. You won’t over- or under-fill your batteries this way, helping extend their lives. Learn more or order at Amazon.

Free and bargain camping
From OvernightRVparking.com

Bass Pro Shop, Oklahoma City, OK.
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Small parking lot with no marked RV spaces. To the south of this lot, drive under Oklahoma City Blvd. to another larger lot, owned by city. Permission not required to park overnight in city lot which has four marked RV spaces. Address: 200 Bass Pro Dr. GPS: 35.46147, -97.5045

Cracker Barrel # 222, Monroe, MI.
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Store manager requires that RVers obtain permission before parking overnight. Park in marked bus/RV spaces. Level, well-lit, believed to be quiet & safe. Address: 1101 Ternes Dr. GPS: 41.923752, -83.3642

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 demoWatch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.

Best selling RV products at Amazon
We’re not sure about this, but our guess is that no other retailer has a larger selection of products and accessories for your RV than Amazon.com. In most cases, if a product is available anywhere, Amazon has it, and typically at a great price. Of all those products, click here to see the current best sellers. 

Upcoming RV Shows

• Tampa Bay Summer RV Show, June 7-10, Tampa, FL
• Green Country RV Show, July 20-22, Tulsa, OK 

See the complete list of all upcoming RV shows.

No space to carry a ladder on your RV? 
If your RV doesn’t have a ladder or you don’t have room to carry one (or you just need an extra ladder), then here’s your easy, inexpensive solution — a telescoping ladder from Wolfwise. It’s constructed from corrosion-resistant quality aluminum alloy, is lightweight, and can support up to 330 pounds. Learn more or order. 

The Baby Ruth candy bar first sold in 1922. It was named for President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, not the famous baseball player.

Bumper sticker of the week
Honk if you like noises

Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to Gail (at) RVtravel.com

Joke of the Week
My wife accused me of being immature. I told her to get out of my fort.

Worth Pondering
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

RV Travel staff 
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Associate editors: Deanna Tolliver and 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, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.

ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com.

cw501About 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.

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

This website utilizes some advertising services. Sometimes we are paid if you click one of those links and purchase a product or service. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc . RVtravel.co, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

RVtravel.com includes links to other websites. We cannot control the content and/or privacy policies of those sites. Please be aware when you leave this newsletter or any other section of RVtravel.com to read the privacy statements of any of those websites that collect personally identifiable information. Our own privacy policy applies only to RVtravel.com and its affiliated blogs.

This newsletter is copyright 2018 by RVtravel.com



  1. Good afternoon Chuck,
    Everyone has a right to their own opinion but your article was posted it on our Facebook page so I wanted to respond to you directly. I’m sorry you view the RV industry and its workforce in the light that you do. Please reach out to us privately if you have true concerns. Also, I hope that photo was not taken on our plant tour because we will have to request that you take it down. Photographs and videos inside the factory are strictly prohibited. Thank you kindly, Thor Motor Coach

    • Hello whoever you are at Thor. I’m not the only one who views the industry the way I do. That said, I tweaked the photo caption so that readers would not think I took it at your plant. I have been on many similar tours through the years (camera in hand), sometimes as a member of the media. And I have been in many RV repair shops, at accident scenes, and a month ago toured the world’s largest RV salvage yard in Carthage, Missouri where I took a million or so photos of RVs mangled in various ways — some revealing innards held together with staples. The point of my essay was to suggest to would-be RV buyers that they tour a factory where the model of RV they’re considering buying is made, not necessarily a Thor factory. I visited your plant because the Ace is a low-priced unit, and like all such RVs, the quality is not on par with an RV where more money is invested. I wanted to see that with my own eyes. The other tour I took in Elkhart, of the Phoenix Cruiser, was because it is a small company that my readers continually tell me builds quality RVs, and I wanted to see that, too. A Phoenix Cruiser does not come cheap, of course, but with the price comes the quality.

      I wouldn’t even be talking about this sort of thing if I didn’t get so many “help me” emails from my readers who bought inexpensive coaches (without examining them closely first, which was their first and perhaps biggest mistake), and then having to deal with repair issues sometimes for months, even years, afterwards. Thank you for responding. I seldom hear from anyone employed by an RV manufacturer. Nice to know someone is paying attention.

      • Thank you,Chuck.for standing up to one of the “culprits” of the RV industry. For too long they have been stiffing us “little people” out of our hard earned money.One day the door will swing the other way for them,like it did in 2008.

    • You don’t allow photographs during tours? That’s pretty sad. We did the Foretravel factory tour and took as many photos as we wanted.

      I guess they have nothing to hide and YOU do.

  2. We put 60,000 miles on a Phoenix Cruiser 23 in 10 years, and over all found it fine, and with good customer service when we needed a spare part shipped to us. But it was stapled together, just as our current Forester 2401 is.

  3. Have a question for Mike Sokol regarding his article about using a welding machine receptacle to power an RV.
    I have a 30 amp rig and when visiting my Son, I have configured an adapter to allow me to plug into his welding machine wall outlet and have a 30 amp RV receptacle on the other end.
    Have used it extensively over the past few years and was wondering if I am taking a chance on messing things up?

    • Other Mike,
      In theory, you could create a adapter cable that would allow you to use one of the hots and the ground in the 240-volt welder outlet to make a 120-volt hot plus ground and neutral. However, that would require you to be running load current through the ground wire (a really big No-No in the code), plus you would be creating your own G-N bonding point at the plug (again, another bug code No-No). Who built this adapter plug for you? Any electrician doing so would put his license in jeopardy and could be subject to a lawsuit if something bad happened like an electrical fire or someone getting shocked/electrocuted. Can you send me a picture of this thing? No, I’m not going to turn you into the code police, but I just want to make sure you’re safe. mike@noshockzone.org

  4. Some of us don’t have the extra $20k – so I guess we buy the stapled together “bling”. My ACE might not be the best by your standard but it is what I can afford and it serves me well. Been reading your great newsletter since I full timed in my 5th wheel (2003) and was disappointed in your comments like we all have an extra 20k to throw around I do enjoy the newsletter and will continue to support it.

    • Sam, we get letters every day about people who bought the “bling” and their RV ended up in the shop more than on the road. Many RVers have great experiences with inexpensive RVs. But too many have problems. Please don’t take my essay personally.

    • There are other options. The one I use is to buy a well maintained (with records) high end used rig.

      Someone else paid the big depreciation hit, and we get a high quality rig for a great price.

  5. I’ve been extremely happy with my Phoenix Cruiser for six years now. When I thought I had dented a side door panel, the owner Kermit Smith informed me that the door panel was defective and he replaced it at no charge. When I damaged my trailer electric outlet, he moved it up higher and would not take any payment for it even after I protested that it was my fault. Service like this commands loyalty.

  6. Chuck, you should visit Red Bay Alabama and take the tour of the Tiffin plant if you want to get some of your lost faith in the quality of American workmanship back. I don’t know if any RV manufacturer can be classed as perfect but Tiffin do come close.

    ps. yes I do own a Tiffin ( Allegro Bus).

    • Richard, if I ever get to the Red Bay area I will definitely tour the plant. I know that Tiffin is highly regarded for its quality products.

      • I have a $175,000. Tiffin , and the walls are stapled. My interior bathroom wall came loose recently when a cross piece of wood came loose!
        Some if this “light” framing is because they are trying to keep the weight down.
        I will repair this with small nails and construction adhesive.

    • Tiffin had a great rep when the “old man” (I am a old man too) was running the show. Now with the kids, not so much.

      Can’t even take older Tiffins into the factory any more for repairs and upgrades, correct? Or has that changed AGAIN?

  7. Visiting Cortez Colorado I marveled at all the big, expensive RV’s in the corner of the Walmart parking lot. Some had set up grills and tables. My Aliner was set up at Mesa Verde, lots of empty spaces. Several campgrounds in town, with spaces available. Arriving after the gates are closed for the night I can understand, but don’t lie to me on how expensive the RV park is.

  8. Glad you mentioned Phoenix Cruiser. Not only are their assembly processes first class it all starts with top notch engineering design. We have a 3100 model and LOVE it. Drove 17,000 miles from Florida to Alaska 2 years ago. 3 months in Alaska alone. Had one minor problem with the microwave after 100 miles of Top of the World Highway washboard rode! Down to 15 mph for much of 100 miles! A connection came loose inside the microwave.
    Definitely do a factory tour before buying an rv!

  9. The more horror stories I read regarding the new RVs, the happier I am that we bought an older one. Our gorgeous 94 Mallard TT is solid and well built.
    We love to snoop in the new RVs at a local RV dealership. But they usually pale compared to our old gal. I reached under one and tapped on the frame. It sounded like an empty coffee can!!! When I tap on ours, there’s a solid sound, not “ting ting”.
    At the New York state fair, we stopped to look at campers on display. A salesman approached and we told him we have a 94 Mallard that we love. He said (with total bravado) “your floor is made from several pieces and will warp and twist over time!!” I actually laughed in his face saying “it’s a 94!!! If it was gonna twist, it would have done it by now!!!” He looked so defeated, poor baby..LOL!!!!

  10. Re: the article on lubricating sticky dump valves has an error in the Conclusion – the orientation of valve handles and valve bodies should be different (by referring to the opposite ends of the valve, rather than being consistent and only referencing the same end of the valve for the problem cause and solution introduces the error). The way it is written, there is no difference in orientation for cause and solution.

  11. Article about Using a stud finder to check waste water levels: the photo of a stud finder in this article is a magnetic type (locates nails) not a density measurement stud finder. The stud finder shown in this article locates nails, it does not measure density.

  12. I’ve got a top for Russ. The standard battery service bottle doesn’t work in my Bounder 38N battery compartment, too tall. I use a squirt bottle w/nozzle then attached a length of 1/4 vinyl tubing to the spray port. I add the distilled water by placing the tube in the service opening and pumping the spray nozzle. I use a flashlight and mirror to check the level.

  13. I just wanted to alert you that you may have a problem with on of your ads. 12 Insanely cool gadgets. I tried to order a camera lens for my phone and I get a message that my credit card had been denied. I know there is nothing wrong with my card and I suspect it was rejected because of problems dealing with China. So buyer beware.

    • Jack, that was an ad served by google which literally delivers ads from hundreds of thousands of businesses every day. Generally, they are all legitimate. If you email me the website address of the site you mention here I will block it so it will not show up again on our website. — Chuck (chuck@rvtravel.com)

      • Chuck, I sent an e-mail to them advising that I had cancelled my credit card. I received an answer from hdzoom360.com advising that if I wanted to place an order to send inquiry to: https:/tinurl.com/yc827mt. All of this looks phony to me.

        I also ordered the stud finder only to fine that it uses magnets so it won’t work like the article states.


  14. Great article, Chuck. I have always been of a mind that a business has to make a profit, else it won’t be there very long. Still I wonder about campgrounds/rv parks that charge $40+ per night but offer a month at $400. That’s a 75% discount! The park’s expenses remain the same, so the expenses must be based on their lowest rate, right? In this case about $13 per night. So anything else is on the back of the traveler. Understandable grumbling from the short term camper.

    • Campgrounds offering $400 monthly also charge electricity. We stay at an RV park in California for a month each year. Our electricity bill is usually $200 plus…. Daily spaces usually only fill on weekends..

      • I like that places charge for what you use! And I understand the cost per KWH is marked up to allow the park a profit on it.

        That, to me, is fairer than charging my small trailer the same as some rig that runs 2 AC and Christmas lights 24/7.

  15. Your editorial just re-confirmed the terrible state of the RV industry. Construction with poor workmanship, low pay, long hours, little training, etc. A sad state of affairs. Then the repair facilities face the same issues as the rest of the industry. The poor buying public. A lot of ‘pretty’ but not quality coming out. Every RV trip is a new adventure in waiting to see what will break or not work next. Not much fun RVing when you have in the back of your mind ‘what will happen next?’ Thanks Chuck for all you are trying to do. It is truly a mountain to climb. Take care of your health. This can be a draining challenge.

  16. Thor uses screws to put together some wood parts as well. On a tour of the motorhome facility I watched a fellow assembling kitchen cabinets on a diesel rig. He had an apron full of screws and a screwgun. No drilling pilot holes, just screwing and cracking over half the joints. The tour guide came up behind me and said, “none of that will show when the side walls are put up.” The beat goes on.
    I believe Winnebagos are made in Iowa.

  17. I have ‘toured’ factory. Surprised they allowed you to photo that beautiful staple job. Toured Phoenix Cruiser, no hidden gotchas there.
    I own a Phoenix Cruiser.


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