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Week of September 21–27, 2019
This is the Non-Members, advertising supported, edition. Our members’ edition does not contain advertisements. Learn more about how to become a member.
With Chuck Woodbury
o you have an old RV, say, ten years or older? Have you ever had problems getting it serviced? The reason I ask is that I received a letter this week from reader Jere Engelman who bought a fifth wheel trailer from Camping World in 2005. Now, in 2019, it needs some work. The service representative at Camping World told him the company’s corporate policy was to not work on RVs older than 10 years.
I wrote to CEO Marcus Lemonis and asked if the 10-year rule was true. “Absolutely not,” he replied within a minute. He then forwarded my email (along with Jere Engelman’s) to Brock Whinnery, who oversees fixed operations.
Mr. Whinnery explained to Mr. Engelman that many RV makers have gone out of business and Camping World may have trouble finding parts to repair them. He said it would be unfair to owners of old rigs to spend two hours diagnosing a problem and then learn there was no part available for the repair. Still, he said, there was no official policy about working on older RVs.
That makes sense, but where does it leave RVers with older units that need repairs, whether at Camping World or any other repair shop? I welcome your comments below or at editor(@)RVtravel.com. I think we should discuss this.
SOME GOOD NEWS
If you wonder if we’re just blowing a bunch of hot air week after week, being “negative,” I have some good news. I believe our voice is being heard and being heard loudly. Cases in point:
After decades of talk (and more talk and more talk), the RV Industry Association is finally opening, on September 23, what it calls the RV Technical Institute, which will train RV technicians to get jobs serving and repairing RVs. This is professional training, not some one-week “mail order school.”
RV technicians are in huge demand, and because of the shortage, you and I may need to wait a month (or months) to get a service appointment. And then we pay $140 an hour to get our RV fixed, too often by an inexperienced tech who takes two hours to diagnose and then make a repair, when a well-trained professional could do it in half the time. That’s costing you and me a lot of money!
ALSO THIS PAST WEEK, Heartland, a subsidiary of Thor, announced from now on it will perform a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) on every single RV that leaves its factory. This is a big deal, as many manufacturers do not do this which means a lot of defective RVs get shipped to dealers (and sold to us). Some dealers will do their own PDI, but many will not. We ran a story not long ago about an RV delivery driver who said he was instructed to NOT tell the dealership what he found wrong with the RV on his trip.
“If you find something that needs to be fixed, just bring it back,” many dealers will tell a new buyer on delivery. And then when a customer finds something wrong, he or she might have to wait weeks, even months to get it fixed. Some RVers never do get the problems resolved. RV lemon laws are sketchy.
AND, FINALLY THIS PAST WEEK, Lazydays announced it will soon open a 30,000 square foot dedicated service center near Houston – no sales, just service! For the people around Houston, this is good news. Kudos to Lazydays.
My staff and I take some credit for these developments. With our honest, sometimes biting articles and editorials, we have rocked the boat of many RV industry executives, forcing them to address their often lousy workmanship, and lack of timely repair service. Our Facebook group RV Horror Stories allows RVers who got stuck with lemon RVs to tell their tales, and that’s really bad PR for the companies who build the shoddy units. It’s had an effect.
The RV industry wishes I’d go away. They won’t advertise with RVtravel.com, and some urge their cohorts to do the same. But I won’t go away. It’s discouraging at times, but it feels very good to see progress on issues that my staff and I feel need immediate attention.
I thank our members — those four percent of you — whose financial support enables to us carry on without being dependent on advertising, where there are often strings attached to keep our mouths shut about sensitive topics!
P.S. We are now publishing our RV Daily Tips Newsletter five times a week, Monday through Friday, not just Monday through Thursday. Check out yesterday’s issue. It’s good.
Also: Mark your calendar: The U.S. Forest Service will waive recreation fees on Sunday, Sept. 28, in celebration of National Public Lands Day.
And how about a little pat on our backs? We have now entered our 19th year of publishing this newsletter! This issue’s email notice was sent to more than 82,000 subscribers, and we’re moving fast toward 100,000!
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
- Do you get songs stuck in your head?
- Man puts RV on cruise control, walks back to make coffee.
New York Times best selling books: Click
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
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Winnebago buys Newmar
Winnebago Industries, Inc., announced this past week that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the privately owned Newmar Corporation, a leading manufacturer of Class A and Super C motorized RVs. Learn more.
That was the RV week that was …
• Some fall camping in New York is 50 percent off through October 14.
• Couple and four children survive motorhome crash 100 feet down steep embankment in Pennsylvania.
• Cavendish Campground, on Prince Edward Island, closed for a year due to severe damage from Dorian.
• Marcus Lemonis, Camping World CEO, is generously helping Grafton, Illinois, recover from flooding; but what’s up with his plan for a flag?
• Drinking water at Cocopah Bend RV & Golf Resort near Yuma, Arizona, could be contaminated.
• Canadian snowbirds who use Telus may find their cell phone temporary suspension fees tripled.
• plus much more …
• Thor motorhome recall: Battery cable defect could cause fire.
• Forest River trailer recall: Upper bunk may collapse.
• Jayco recalls some fifth wheel trailers.
• Entegra Coach recall: possible loss of steering control.
Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• A good way to store aerosol cans.
• Don’t get shocked when working on RV batteries.
• Tire loading. Do it right.
• Fixing a stuck black tank valve.
• Replace tires with same rim diameter.
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.
Is interest on an RV loan tax deductible?
Neil Seidler, CPA, CMA, discusses whether or not it’s possible to deduct the interest on your RV’s loan. Learn more.
FMCA announces stiff hike in membership dues
The RV club FMCA, which was once called the Family Motor Coach Association but is now simply called FMCA, has hiked its annual dues by $25. New members will now pay $85 to join ($75 for renewals), up from $60 to join and $50 for renewals. Learn more, and for current FMCA members please answer the poll: Will you renew your membership at this new rate?
Video: See RVs destroyed by Hurricane Dorian
If you’d like to get an idea of how an RV can withstand a major hurricane, watch this video from Emerald Isle, North Carolina, which was slammed by Hurricane Dorian in early September. The video illustrates why it’s a terrible idea to remain in an RV with a violent storm on the way. Watch it here.
The future of van life is here, and we like what we see
The Erwin Hymer group just debuted the VisionVenture, a concept built on a Mercedes-Benz chassis ready for the adventure seeker (that happens to have a beautiful interior that looks like a high-end city loft). It’s not on the market yet (and probably won’t be for a while), but it does remind us that Europe continues to make the American RV industry look bad… at least design-wise. Learn more.
Keystone debuts new trailer that sleeps 14!
And not only does it sleep a bunch of people, it has two bunks (four beds). So the question is, with 14 people, ya think there might be an occasional problem getting toilet-time? Read more.
Would you bend over to pick up a dime?
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
When was the last time you weighed your RV? When was the last time you ate a hamburger? What’s the chance you’ll sell your RV in the next year? How old were you when you first dreamed of buying an RV? At a restaurant, do you prefer to sit at a table or a booth? Will you head south for all or part of winter this year? All this and more, right here.
Electric motorhome now goes farther, but far enough?
Hop in your motorhome and never buy gas or diesel? That will soon be the reality in Europe – for those who buy a WOF Iridium EV motorhome. We wrote about the zero-emissions rig (with a bit of apprehension) last December. Our inability to get particularly excited about Iridium was tied to effective range-between-charges: a wishy-washy 124 miles. But now it’s up to 249 miles. Read more.
New coupler lock keeps your travel/utility trailer safe from crooks
Russ and Tiña De Maris installed a Bolt-supplied Off Vehicle Coupler to prevent their travel trailer from being stolen. Is it easy to use? Does it work? Does she recommend it? Find out here.
Video: Did fire department mess up on this RV fire?
In this three-minute video it sure looks like the fireman was terribly unorganized and wasted a lot of time before tossing any water on this blaze. The pickup was already toast, but his efforts seemed focused on it rather than trying to save the fifth wheel. What do you think?
Azuki the hedgehog goes camping
Emily Woodbury believes these pictures of Azuki the hedgehog (a real one) will provide you with your daily dose of cute. We agree. Click and get ready to smile.
Video: A simple way to do laundry on the RV road
RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury shows you a simple, almost free way to do your laundry as you roll down the road. Watch the short video.
Product review: Got gunk? Get Safe-T-Solve
Gunk. As defined in a press release from Iosso, gunk is “A sticky combination of lubricants, dirt, and other contaminants.” Evidently you don’t need to have a two-year-old to be plagued with gunk, but that’s another story. Read what Russ and Tiña De Maris think about how well Safe-T-Solve works to clean up all types of gunk here.
Oregon State Parks experiments with fall campsite discounts
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will offer discounted rates for electrical and full-hookup RV campsites at selected state parks during October and November. Click here for locations and details.
Video: Six amazing expandable campers
You’ll marvel at the creativity of the people who dreamed up these innovative camper trailers. All of them can be hauled by a small car or SUV. From what we can tell, all are made in Australia, where innovation in compact RV design seems to always be a step ahead of everywhere else. Check ’em out.
Win this cute night light
We love giving away stuff!
Oh, isn’t this just the cutest nightlight you have ever seen? The two adorable bears are roasting marshmallows over the campfire. You’ll be the envy of every visitor to your RV with this plugged in! Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, Tony Plumb of Glendale, Arizona, who won a 2020 large scale Rand McNally Road Atlas.
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• Camping World stock slides – closing dozens of stores.
• This may be the biggest travel trailer you’ll ever see!
• That was the RV “week” that was, August 31 – September 13, 2019.
• Keep that expensive battery bank alive – It’s easy!
• Just what does a “grade” sign mean?
• Five ways to unintentionally ruin your RV.
• Economic prospects for RV industry dimming.
• RV dealer and consumer advocate Gigi Stetler wins battle with GE.
• What we learned about you last week (September 9-13).
• RV Electricity – Don’t fix a blown fuse like this!
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, September 13, 2019.
Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping. You might also like Florida RV Camping. And please join our group on RVillage (like Facebook except just for RVers).
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.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of September 16, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.55. [Calif.: $3.50]
Change from week before: No change; Change from year before: Down 29 cents.
Diesel: $2.99. [Calif.: $3.90]
Change from week before: Up 2 cents; Change from year before: Down 28 cents.
Tiny LED button lamp perfect for RV’s small, dark spaces
This 6-pack of tiny, battery-powered LED “Button Lamps” is just what you need for your RV’s closets and storage spaces. The tiny lamp is ultra-bright and has all the power of a normal-sized lamp. Backed with a strong adhesive, these little lamps will stick to any surface. They’re waterproof and good to have in case of an emergency. Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife questions need for RV macerator pump
Dear RV Shrink:
We live in our nice fifth wheel about nine months of the year. My husband, probably like most men, likes gadgets. He saw a guy at the dump station with a grinding pump that allows black water to go through a garden hose. My husband thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He now wants to spend a couple hundred bucks so he can grind up stink and put it through a smaller hose. … Read the rest of the question and the RV Shrink’s advice.
Do as the owner does
Campgrounds are owned by Mom and Pops, corporations or sole proprietors that either love the industry or simply find it a good investment. Their interests vary but generally speaking, they want a profitable campground with little interaction on their part, save for the really great owners that actually mingle with the campers. When an owner hires a work camper, they expect them to think and act like the owner. Find out what’s expected here.
Best RVing books as recommended by our editors: Click here.
Ask the RV Doctor
Nonworking absorption fridge? Read this before replacing it
I have a refrigerator that needs to have the cooling unit replaced. Do you know of any place that I can get a new or rebuilt cooling unit for it? Thanks! —Tom R.
RV Electrical Safety: Part 7 – Wattage
Read about wattage in Part 7 of Mike’s 12-part series on basic electricity for RV users and how to protect yourself and your family from shocks and possible electrocution. In addition, this series could protect your RV’s appliances, entertainment systems and computers from going up in smoke. Learn all about watt’s up with wattage here.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
RV hot-skin test at Hershey. Choosing a Non-Contact Voltage Tester to check for hot-skin voltage on an RV.
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
Be like Mike: Don’t forget the fuse!
Mike says: Your RV has both 120-volt AC electrical systems (like your house), plus 12-volt DC battery systems (like your car). If the power goes out, it could be a circuit breaker (like in your house) or a blown fuse (like in your car). Always carry spare fuses that fit your RV’s battery system. Confirm the exact type and size of fuses your RV needs, then get a set of replacements. Here’s one pack, but be sure to check what your RV actually uses before ordering it.
RV Tire Safety
Truing a tire – Is it properly mounted?
Question: “On the Escapee’s forum, there was a conversation about tires, and someone mentioned truing new tires. IMO, truing of new tires today only covers up poor mounting procedure versus 40-60 years ago when tire construction was not as advanced. What are your thoughts on this?” —Fred
Read Roger’s response, including possible causes of tire vibration.
RV Short Stops
North Dakota Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
After driving several hours on the backroads of North Dakota, Julianne Crane and Jimmy Smith found the perfect RV Short Stop and rest area. It is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, including the re-creation of Fort Mandan where the Corps of Discovery spent their first winter. The interpretive center is open year-round, with plenty of room to park RVs. Note that there are large, clean restroom facilities that are open and accessible in the building even when the interpretative center is closed. Learn more.
RV Fire Safety
Be prepared in case of fire when towing
In case your tow vehicle ever catches on fire, practice unhooking it as quickly as possible to avoid spreading the fire to other vehicles. You never know when you might need that quick response.
Don’t take a break on your brakes!
Every RVer needs one of these!
Wonder what it would be like to have your brakes go out while you’re going down a long, steep grade? You might find out if your brake fluid is moisture-contaminated. Water in brake fluid boils and can wipe out your braking ability! Buy yourself a brake-fluid tester for less than $10 that warns you if there’s too much water in your fluid. Simply dip the tester into your rig’s brake fluid and you’ll be able to see where you stand. Learn more or order.
I would like to see an article about windows fogging on many RV models like on my 2012 Itasca Cambria motorhome. How do manufacturers just ignore this problem? What are the choices we have to remedy this problem? —Thomas Jarrett
Do you have advice for Thomas? Please leave it below.
I wanted to submit a Tip of the Day for the RV Daily Tips Newsletter, but will keep it to myself, since I only get attacked by all the naysayers on this website. No sense in sharing with anyone! —Jeff F.
I get it. We still have a small group of know-it-alls in our audience who love to tell everyone that they alone have all the answers and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. I think their education is cable TV or Facebook. I hope they all go somewhere else for their information so those of us who remain can engage in thoughtful, respectful conversation even if it challenges our own beliefs. —Chuck
New product, Brite Wash, promises effective RV cleaning. Click here to learn more.
The world’s largest…
If I climbed the world’s largest “catsup” bottle, I’d be sore from my head to-ma-toes! The historic bottle sits 170 feet above the ground in Collinsville, Illinois. Read about it here and watch an interesting video on its history.
Give your phone or tablet a full-sized keyboard
How neat is this? This tiny, collapsible Bluetooth keyboard connects to your phone and tablet so you can type comfortably. The 5-ounce palm-sized keyboard can be folded into your pocket or backpack to carry around. All you have to do is press “Connect” to quickly pair with your devices. Check it out here.
Free and bargain camping
Mount Washington Cog Railway Base Station (Marshfield Station), Bretton Woods, NH
FREE…kind of! Overnight parking is allowed for one night with the purchase of a Cog Railway ticket ($65 – $75 for adults). Additional nights $5/night. Park in the marked RV lot, which is one of the first two parking lots you see upon entering the property; verify this with staff. No RV size limit. Beautiful scenery and interesting historic railway. Restaurant on site. Click here for details.
Seven Clans Casino, Warroad, MN
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Go to the customer service desk to register to get a parking tag. Park in one of 12 diagonal back-in RV spaces. There are 4 – 5 20/30/50A E hookup pedestals on the grass, spaced out about every third parking space. Level, well-lit, quiet, and appears safe. Casino Wi-Fi reported to reach the RV area. Restaurant and cafe inside the casino. Click here for 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.
Don’t scream, just fix the screen!
This roll of screen repair tape is just what you need to fix those torn or ripped screens in your home or RV. Don’t waste money on a new screen! Cut as much tape as you need, stick it over the torn patch and you’re good to go. Learn more or order here…
Museum of the Week
The Pirate and Treasure Museum
St. Augustine, Florida
Ahoy! Even if you don’t have an interest in pirates, this is still a pretty neat museum. Museum owner, Pat Croce, is so obsessed with pirates that he has a skull and crossbones tattoo…on his tooth! The museum is designed to look like it would have 400 years ago during the “Golden Age of Piracy” and holds the largest private collection of pirate booty in the world. You’ll find more than 800 artifacts like pistols, cannons, jewels, gold doubloons, one of two surviving skull and crossbones flags, and the world’s only verified pirate treasure chest. You can electronically fire a cannon, stick your head into crates on a ship deck to identify cargo, and much, much more. Learn more on the museum’s official website here.
Upcoming RV Shows
Washington State Evergreen RV Show, Sept. 27-29, Monroe, WA
Austin RV Super Sale, Sept. 27-29, Round Rock, TX
Buy! Buy! Derby RV Sale, Sept. 27-29, Arlington Heights, IL
Indianapolis Fall Boat & RV Show, Sept. 27-29, Indianapolis, IN
Richmond RV & Boat Mega Sale, Sept. 27-29, Richmond, VA
Fall Detroit RV & Camping Show, Oct. 2-6, Novi, MI
California RV Show, Oct. 4-13, Fontana, CA
See the complete list of upcoming RV shows.
Camco vent insulator keeps you warm and cool!
Is your RV too cold in the winter? Too hot in the summer? Camco’s vent insulator and skylight cover features a thick layer of foam which helps stop heat transfer, keeping you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Installation is easy. The insulator is designed to fit standard 14″x14″ RV vents. Learn more or order here.
To be more efficient, Airbus is undertaking a study of its passengers. Among other things the airline will measure how often its customers use the bathroom and how long they have to wait in line beforehand. One goal: to minimize the chance of running out of toilet paper.
Bumper sticker of the week
You can’t fix stupid. Not even with duct tape.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
At a recent RVtravel.com staff meeting:
Diane: I have a “hot date” after our meeting today.
Diane: Yeah. A friend that I’ve known for 54 years lives near here so I’m going to go visit him, and check out his new-to-him Bigfoot truck camper … and his new full set of dental implants.
Chuck (cracking up): That’s pretty sad that when you get to our age it’s considered a “hot date” to go check out someone’s new set of teeth!
“To find yourself, think for yourself.” —Socrates
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris, Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, Bob Difley, Richard Miller, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Dave Helgeson, Sam Suva, Mike Sherman, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. 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.