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Week of June 15–21, 2019
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
o you store your worms in your refrigerator? All kidding aside, but when RVers talk refrigerators it is like opening a can of worms. Who’d have thought that gas/electric refrigerators versus residential refrigerators could create worse rows than a Chevy versus Ford discussion?
We’re not here to light that fire all over again. For those whose minds aren’t already set in concrete and may be wondering about the potential of installing a residential fridge in an RV, here are a few thoughts.
Yes, residential refrigerators do require shore power, or a reasonable facsimile. For those who predominantly hang their hats in RV parks with shore power available, power isn’t a problem. We’ve heard the argument both ways on the boondocking side. Some tell us that a few hours of generator power keeps even the largest of residential fridges cool, calm and collected. “Purists” would certainly disagree with that approach, but there are plenty of boondocking RVers who tell us that with a sufficient solar panel array on the roof and an appropriately sized battery bank to store the juice, running a residential refrigerator quietly in the boonies is certainly doable.
The problem, it seems, is cracking the code as to just how much of a solar array is sufficient to handle the needs of the household, including the electric fridge. Few fridge manufacturers publish duty-cycle information, that is, how much time is the fridge compressor actually operating. And, of course, that will vary depending on the ambient temperature outside the fridge and how often you pop open the doors. No simple “rule of thumb” will ever apply with so many variables involved.
Warranty and service
If your standard gas/electric RV refrigerator develops a problem, help is usually available. There are scads of RV repair shops around the country, and the original fridge comes with some sort of warranty, so if it poops out during that time you’re theoretically covered. Yes, residential refrigerators also come with a warranty – or do they?
Here’s a comment from a reader who contemplated a change-out to a residential refrigerator in their rig. “Before I purchased my Samsung RF18, I spoke to Samsung customer service about my plans. The Samsung rep said they did not recommend usage in an RV and doing so would negate any warranty.”
Another reader who had a factory-installed residential refrigerator in his unit wrote, “My reefer warranty expired and they sent me an application for an extended one-year warranty for $38. When I got it, the fine print said VOID if used in a recreational vehicle.” If you’re considering going for a residential unit, by all means, READ THE FINE PRINT.
Regardless of your refrigerator type, your warranty will eventually expire. Even if the warranty is still good and the fridge flakes out, who will service your cooler? As we mentioned earlier, RV repair outfits are drooling to fix your Norcold or Dometic. But what about a residential refrigerator? Here’s one experience an RVer had with his RV-factory-equipped Whirlpool side-by-side residential refrigerator: “It failed last January, but we couldn’t get anyone to work on it. RV dealerships and repair services wouldn’t because it was a residential refrigerator. Appliance repair services wouldn’t touch it because it was in an RV.” The owner had to toss out the broken fridge and replace it anew.
Click here to read more.
Notes, Updates, Etc.
• RVtravel continues to lobby for an RVers Association.
• Our RVtravel.com YouTube Channel has now exceeded 20 million views, with more than 64,000 subscribers. As of Friday afternoon, the RVtravel.com website contained 5,675 articles with 33,749 reader comments.
• We welcome your contributions. Submit news, ideas, letters to the editor or even articles that you wish us to consider publishing. Click here.
Exclusive in today’s member newsletter
• Podcast: RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury discusses his future with this website and newsletter, the challenges today’s RVers face, and how he envisions the future of RVing. 39 minutes.
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Editor’s Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
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I have a Winnebago Travato (Class B motorhome) and I am strongly considering a Class C. In reading your newsletter I see potential problems with some manufacturer’s models. Is there a manufacturer whose reputation shows I should avoid using his product? Or, what are the manufacturer/brands most RVers find satisfactory? —Roger B
Of the “Big Three” — Thor, Forest River and Winnebago, we think Winnebago gets the nod. Tiffin is also well-regarded. We really like the Phoenix Cruiser Class C, which is built by a small company with very high production standards. Our recommendation, however, is to buy a used unit — whatever the brand if it has performed well for its current owner and been well-maintained. But be sure to have any RV you plan to purchase — new or used — inspected carefully by a professional technician before laying out your cash.
My son, Charles Chambers, is a mobile RV tech working for the company RV Force here in Florida. He responded to a request today for service for an RV A/C that was not cooling. The fans were still working but the compressor would not start. He started by checking out the power source, wiring and the circuit board. He quickly discovered that a lizard had crawled into the roof A/C and crawled across a few contacts on the circuit board shorting out the relays that control the compressor. He replaced the circuit board and everything was working well. In the photo, the red arrow points to the deceased reptile. Here in Florida, we have these little lizards that accidentally cause issues. —Martin Chambers
Fascinating! Thanks for sending!
That was the RV week that was
• Shipments of motorized RVs continue decline.
• California town opening parking lots to RV street dwellers
• KOA campers feed pond alligator, force euthanization.
• Roadtrek North America gets new owner.
• Explosives found at Colorado River campground.
. . . and much more.
• Lance Camper recall: RVer in bed could fall, get stuck.
• Forest River recalls trailers: Improperly installed gas line could cause fire.
• Keystone recalls trailers: Pinched wiring could cause fire.
Happy Father’s Day to those celebrating this weekend. Did you know that the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington? However, it wasn’t until 1972 (58 years after President Woodrow Wilson had made Mother’s Day official) that Father’s Day became a nationwide holiday. You can read more about the history of Father’s Day here (and surprisingly, it’s pretty interesting!).
*Click on the picture on the left to enlarge. That’s editor Chuck Woodbury with his terrified daughter (now an RVT staff member), Emily, circa 1991.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA
Janet Groene reports each week on developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA and Canada. There’s a lot of good information here that you can use to plan your travels. Read the current installment of “Campground Chatter” here.
Twenty truths about buying an RV
Here’s about as good advice you can get about buying an RV. If you’re looking for an RV this feature article in yesterday’s Beginners Guide to RVing newsletter is a must-read.
How long will canned food last in your RV?
We answered that question in Thursday’s edition of our newsletter RV Daily Tips. Most food authorities say that canned food will last for two years or longer, but experts say that’s completely arbitrary. In reality, if a can’s seal is not broken it can last for many years longer. How many years? Read the opening essay of the newsletter.
A story of kindness for an RVer in need
By reader Martha Holmes
“My husband and I usually spent the month of February camping in Florida’s beautiful state parks. My husband did not like Maryland’s sometimes-bitter winters. We owned a tiny Kodiak Hybrid camper which was ‘just right’ for us. On one such trip, in 2016, my husband fell ill and was hospitalized. We were near the end of our campsite reservation and there were no available sites in the park after that.” Read how fellow campers rallied around Martha in her greatest time of need.
Have you ever lived continuously in an RV for a year or more?
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.
What we learned about you last week
Do you carry a generator with you when you travel by RV? How old are the tires on your RV? How much did you pay for your RV? Does your RV’s refrigerator run using mostly electricity or propane? How at ease are you when flying in an airplane? All this and more, right here.
Campground pet peeves – specifically, campground jerks
Liz Wilcox (who doesn’t mince words) lists some “campground jerks” she frequently encounters. We’re sure you’ve run into these folks, also. Do you have any others you’d like to vent about? Read more.
Bugs bugging you? Here’s a fun way to exact revenge
Rich “The Wanderman” hates bugs of all types, especially when he’s trying to sleep. He wonders why the common houseflies enjoy RV travel as much as we do. He’s found a “fun” way of taking them out … even in midair. Learn more.
Quick, inexpensive way to level your trailer!
Put your jacks up and down in seconds with minimal effort with this Camco scissor jack adapter. Just insert it in your drill and you’ll be level in a snap. And for about $6? A no-brainer if you’re tired of cranking your trailer up and down by hand. CLICK THE VIDEO to see a 30-second demonstration. Learn more or order.
Your safety while boondocking – your responsibility
One of the many joys associated with boondocking is finding those pristine, backwoods campsites or forest service campgrounds that have a minimal connection with civilization. … Just the way we like it – until a natural emergency strikes. Read more.
Do motorhome owners really need a “toad”?
Many fulltime RVers hit the road with a travel trailer or fifth wheel. At day’s end, they unhitch and have an “around town” vehicle ready for use. But for fulltimers who live in a motorhome, the decision has to be faced: Do we need a “toad” car to get around, or can we do without a car? Read some tips here.
Prevent needless alarms by over-sensitive smoke detectors
Jim O’Briant has a great tip for you in last Wednesday’s RV Daily Tips newsletter about a way to keep your smoke alarm from going off when, for example, you’re cooking bacon. His technique is so simple you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it. Read more.
You can have your very own sock hop with this vintage Victrola 3-speed Bluetooth suitcase turntable with speakers! It plays all your favorite vinyl albums in 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM speeds. How cool is that? Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Gary Galla of Raleigh, NC, who won a terrific electric grill.
Last week’s question: Ninety percent of the granite removed from Mount Rushmore was done with? 1. Jackhammers; 2. Dynamite; 3. Steam-powered laser beams
The correct answer: 2. Dynamite
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• RV Industry backtracks after RVtravel.com article.
• RVer Safety: Some thoughts on KOA manager pulling gun on couple, and Update.
• Do you have a generator with you on your RV trips? (Poll with many comments)
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, June 7, 2019.
• KOA manager arrested after pulling gun on picnicking couple.
• What happens when you tear off the black tank valve? Yuck!
• That was the RV week that was, June 1–7, 2019.
• Why not just inflate tires to the certification label level?
• What we learned about you last week (June 1-7).
Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks. This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers.
The RV Show USA
Listen each Wednesday evening on Facebook or YouTube for the live taping of America’s only syndicated radio program about RVing.
The RV Death Spiral
Read the eight-part series of editorials by Greg Gerber that the RV industry never wanted written. Download the PDF.
Motorhomes on Fire
This is not pretty – dozens of videos of RVs burning up. But the point is to help viewers understand that RVs burn fast, and they need to practice good fire-prevention habits and practice an escape plan … just in case.
What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.
Save bandwidth while watching YouTube videos
How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
If you shop at Amazon, would you use one of the links below to do your shopping?
The link in the blue bar above also works. Thanks.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of June 10, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.73. [Calif.: $3.75]
Change from week before: Down 8 cents; Change from year before: Down 18 cents.
Diesel: $3.11. [Calif.: $4.06]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 16 cents.
RV Fire Safety Tip
Safety tools can save lives, but only if …
There are plenty of fire and life safety tools that can save lives, but for them to be effective, they must be in working condition and you must know how to use them properly.
Need a reminder of how important this is? Check out some videos of motorhomes on fire.
Never struggle with opening jars again!
This jar-gripper is a favorite tool for many cooks and kitchen-dwellers. Never struggle to open a jar again! Simply place the gripper around the lid of the jar, lock into place and twist. Your jar will open with ease, and your hands won’t hurt afterward. This handy little gadget works on smooth and grooved lids and will adjust to fit just about every jar out there. It’s great for those of us with weak hands. Learn more or order here.
RV Quick Tips
Flies too fast to kill?
If you’ve spent a frustrating couple of hours running around the rig with a fly swatter and come back “empty handed” from the hunt, here’s a way to even the odds. Grab a bottle of Windex (or similar product), set the spray to a fine mist. Spot a fly? “Phasers on stun!” and blast them with the Windex. This will usually knock the boogers low. Now finish them off with the fly swatter. Whack away, Scotty!
Keep fresh tomatoes on hand while RVing
From reader “K-Barrett from the corner of Hither & Yon”
“Do you long for the first bite into a fresh tomato when you’re traveling in your RV around the country? For us, a good tomato is one of the most refreshing things you can find. Many sit on shelves and get bruised or ripen too fast, but a lot of farmers markets have green tomatoes by the box. (Ask if you don’t see them.) Buy a box and let them travel with you. Grandma used to say to keep some in brown paper bags, they will ripen slower. As they start to turn, pull them out and let sit on the counter or shelf for a day or so. They will ripen and give you that burst of flavor as though ‘just off the vine.’ In the meantime, if your penchant is for fried green tomatoes, you’re all set.”
Do you have a Quick Tip? Submit it here.
“Fly me away” – The high cost of air transport in an emergency
Your safety is always important, and we strive to present useful information that helps you maintain a level of safety so you can relax and enjoy your travel and camping experience. One aspect to keep in mind is the preventive measures you can take to avoid a huge financial hit in the event you suffer a medical emergency. We’re referring to helicopters. Learn more.
A DEET-free mosquito and tick repellent … that works!
Well, it’s that time again (unfortunately.) If you’re one of those people that mosquitoes love (we all know at least one person like this), this product is for you. A very impressive number of five-star reviews. This awesome DEET-free insect repellent works for mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects. Keep this one handy, folks. As RVers, there’s a good chance you’ll probably need this. Learn more or order here.
Ask the RV Shrink
A frightening example of the importance of vigilance while traveling
Dear RV Shrink:
We have had years of trouble-free travel around North America, meeting many wonderful people. However, we recently had a scare that has my wife very nervous. We were headed for Florida on a four-lane road when I noticed a car pull up beside me and look over my rig, then drop back behind my toad. … After several miles, my wife noticed a man on the overpass we were approaching. Suddenly she yelled, “He’s going to drop something on us!” I slowed but it was too late. Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
Get outside for National Great Outdoors Month
June is National Great Outdoors Month, and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy the Great Outdoors than in our RV life and work camping. Instead of being stuck in a house, or running errands in a car, or sitting in an office all day, for a change let’s hook up that camper and enjoy a long weekend or even a week in June, camping and enjoying creation. Read more.
Ask the RV Doctor
Is it possible to straighten an awning tube? If so, how? —Steve D.
In Part 2 of Mike’s 12-part series about basic electricity for RV users and how to protect yourself and your family from shocks and possible electrocution, he explains all about digital meters. Wow, is this helpful! Learn more.
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
If you missed the monthly RV Electricity Newsletter last Sunday, check it out here.
Be like Mike, use silicone!
Mike says: Never use any kind of petroleum-based products on rubber or plastic components in your RV, such as your trailer connector. That includes products such as Vaseline, WD40 or any other type of spray lubricating oil. Doing so will eventually break down the plastic and/or rubber components causing them to swell up and eventually disintegrate. The proper treatment is anything silicone-based. We use a lot of Heavy Duty Silicone in our shop for general connector cleaning and lubrication. It’s also useful on rubberized door sweeps and such. You can get some of your own here.
RV Tire Safety
Are some tires from China better than others?
To the Tireman: “You commented on not expecting long-life performance out of the lowest-priced tires. There seems to be something in all of the reports for ‘China Bombs’ in that there are a lot of reported failures. Is the hype bigger than the problem? Should well-maintained OEM tires last longer than what is being reported? Is it your assessment that the seemingly high percentage of failures is due to the OEM tires being cheap, low-cost tires? …” Read the rest of the question and Roger Marble’s response.
Best Club for RVers!
Click here to learn more or join Escapees. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
Building an RV Park
We are officially full-time RVers!
The flood of emotions that came over us when we packed up that final load: excitement, fear, happy, sad, joyful – you name it, we felt it. We said goodbye to our friends, family and Jenna’s teachers. At noon on a Thursday, we moved out and new owners moved in. Goodbye to the “old” house. We headed up the hill for our new life in Overgaard, AZ. Read more.
Say goodbye to goop!
Have you ever seen the sediment that collects in your water heater? You probably don’t want to. Camco’s water tank rinser is an easy-to-use gadget that is a must-have for any RVer. The tank rinser will get out all the yucky sediment that’s been sitting at the bottom of your water heater and, most importantly, will extend the life of it too. Read the many positive reviews, and get one for yourself here.
Buffalo, Wyoming, celebrates Longmire Days
The people of Buffalo, Wyoming, have a lot of reasons to be proud of their town: It has an important place in the history of the West. But also, in July the town holds a festival that Len Wilcox would really like to attend. It’s Longmire Days, held each year to celebrate the TV show that was created in their town. Read more or let Len read the article to you. Have you attended Longmire Days? How’d you like it?
Make the whole RV park laugh
You’ll want this shirt if you’re on a family vacation, this one if you own (or are buying) a Class C, this shirt if you haven’t mastered backing up yet, and this one you’ll want just because. It made us laugh out loud.
The RV Kitchen
Creamy Egg Skillet
A simple supper. Janet Groene usually starts any RV trip with a carton of hard-cooked eggs because they come in handy for snacks and every meal of the day. Serve them warm or cold, alone or in recipes. This hearty supper dish takes on a tangy bite of mustard and a touch of ham. It can be served over any starch but the easiest is crisp Chinese noodles. Get the recipe and a little bit of hard-cooked egg history.
The RoVing Naturalist
The life and death of a sentinel
The chainsaw smoked, sputtered and jerked to a halt. The fallen log reclining across the nature trail might have been dead but it by no means had given up the fight. … This cottonwood tree had been a fighter right up to the end and was reluctant to let go just yet. I tried to imagine what kind of life it had lived. Read more.
RV Short Stop
Update on the gut-busting Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant near Silver Lake, Oregon
The Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant, about four miles down a county road from nowhere in the high desert of Central Oregon, is a “well-known secret” around many a campfire where full-time RVers gather in the Pacific Northwest. When talking about the top five places to (over) eat a mouth-watering steak, the Cowboy Dinner Tree is frequently mentioned, followed immediately by the sound of smacking lips. Julianne Crane calls it “magical,” and you’ll be licking your chops as you read her post. There’s free RV boondock parking across the road. Learn more then hurry up and make your reservations.
Lap desk puts your back to rest!
If you find yourself using your computer on your lap, reading your Kindle on the couch, or having a hard time holding that heavy hardback, you need this lap desk! Staff writer Emily uses this when she works and highly recommends it. The desk has eight adjustable levels and even has a stopper to hold objects upright. Great for those who have lower back pain or terrible posture (ahem, Emily). Learn more or order.
Free and bargain camping
Harrah’s Northern California Casino, Ione, CA
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but please obtain permission from casino security. Park at far back end of lot. Not perfectly level, but manageable. The lot is well-lit, safe and quiet. Upscale restaurant and food court inside casino. Click here for more details.
Bill Frome Memorial County Park, Island Park, ID
ALMOST FREE! Overnight parking is allowed and there are about 35 large back-in RV spaces on gravel. No hookups, potable water or dump station. Fire pits and picnic tables are at most sites, and vault toilets are available. Pack your trash out with you. No reservations, first-come, first-served. Maximum stay: 14 nights. 2019 rate: Donation. Click here for more details.
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 14,000 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.
Upcoming RV Shows
Get rid of those decal “ghosts!”
If you use a coin to remove old decals from your RV, you may have an unwelcome guest when the job’s done: Decal “ghosts” – shadowy after-images imprinted in the Filon siding. The solution? A heavy-duty oxidation remover! Pour the remover onto a rough sponge and scrub the Filon in circles. The yellow oxidation will come right up and your RV will look good as new! The remover will also remove stains, scratches and water spots. Learn more or order here.
There are about one trillion bacteria and nearly 200 types of fungi on each of our feet. There are 26 bones in each foot (one less than in a hand), and there are about 250,000 sweat glands in our feet. Feet have nearly 8,000 nerves, many near the skin – which is why feet are so ticklish.
From Jerry Clausen:
I spent a college summer working at Mt. Rushmore (1966) and overheard the following comments (among others):
• “How did they get them [the faces] through the tunnels [on the road] on the way up here?”
• “When will the fog lift?” (“As soon as they get done wiping George’s nose, Ma’am.”)
Have you overheard a silly tourist question at a National Park or other well-known tourist location? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Bumper sticker of the week
Campers. Nature’s way of feeding mosquitoes.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
From Tom Hart
More from Church Ladies With Computers. These sentences (with bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
• Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.
• Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
• For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” —Albert Einstein
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Dennis Prichard, Len Wilcox, Sam Suva, Mike Sherman, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Emily Woodbury. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
REGIONAL AND LOCAL ADVERTISING: We can now run banners on RVtravel.com in your town or in a designated area near you, for example to readers within 100, 200, etc., miles of your business. Contact Emily Woodbury at advertising(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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This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com