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February 1, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury | Chuck (at) RVtravel.com
What modification have you made to your RV that has had the most positive impact on your RV lifestyle? That thought came to me in the shower this morning. Here’s why.
As I enjoyed the initial pleasure of the warm water, I noticed the drain was backing up — a full gray water tank! I routinely keep the gray water tank closed until it’s full or almost full, as we all should do.
For most RVers in my situation, dumping the tank would mean drying off, dressing and going outside to pull the cable valve — or convincing your partner to do the same. In bad weather this chore is no fun (you know that, don’t you?).
But, for me, I simply stepped out of the shower, took a step and flipped a switch on the wall. The tank began to empty as I returned to my shower. So easy! I bet you can’t do that!
A company called Drain Master, of Hollister, Calif., installed the electronic valve system three years ago (it’s a fairly easy do-it-yourself project, too). I have never had to step outside to dump my tanks since then, although I could if I wished to (there’s another switch in the sewer control bay). I will never own another RV without this system. And I mean never!
It includes a super-sturdy, permanently-affixed Waste Master hose, which has a cam-loc fitting instead of the typical bayonet fitting used by the RV industry (other industries do not use this cheap, unreliable system). The nozzle at the end of the hose can be shut off at the sewer inlet to further ensure no messy spills. I imagine the hose will last as long as most RVers own their RV (and probably long after).
The system’s inventor, Doug Swarts of Drain Master, has installed the same system as mine in many other RVs. But despite it being one of the most useful accessories any RVer could ever have, it has not gained wide popularity.
The Waste Master hose, itself, without the electronic dumping feature that I have, is more widely used but dwarfed in sales by cheap hoses that break or spring leaks every year or two. High-end RV manufacturers Foretravel and Newell include the hose and “push button” dump feature as standard equipment in their coaches. But other coach makers, for whatever reasons, do not.
Once you own the system, you will wonder why any avid RVer would not pay a little extra for this incredibly useful tool. I mean, how many times in the pounding rain or freezing cold have you cursed that a holding tank was full and you needed to go outside to dump? I never need to do that!
If you want to learn more about the hoses or the system like mine, you’ll find several videos here or you can call 877-787-8833 or visit Drainmaster.com. I’m sure Doug would be happy to answer your questions.
And now a question for you
What modification have you made to your RV that has had the most positive impact on your RV lifestyle? Please respond here.
RV sales headed back up? RV sales have been down the last year, but that may be changing. My friend Bob Zagami of the Boston RV Show reported that an informal survey during his “Introduction to RVs and the RV Lifestyle” seminar revealed that nearly all those in the audience did not yet own an RV and about two-thirds were attending their first RV show, which, by the way, set an all-time attendance record.
Finally, tomorrow we will introduce a new feature spotlighting all the RVs across the country that were stolen during the last month. Your help is needed getting them back to their owners, some of whom are distraught over their losses.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• New developments in slayings of Texas RVers.
• New Thor subsidiary to make RVs the European way.
• RV-related recalls for January.
• Wholesale shipments of RVs down across the board for 2019.
• Dometic Corporation moving some manufacturing to Mexico; U.S. workers lose jobs.
• Crash helmets coming for car drivers in New York?
• Two dead after RV steering tire blowout in Florida.
• Winter driving: Forget snow chains, use socks!
• NEW FEATURE: National stolen RV report. Have you seen any of these? Your help is needed to get them back to their owners.
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
We ask for your support
As you can imagine when reading this issue, putting it together along with another almost 400 newsletters each year takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Advertising helps pay some of our bills, but the generous contributions of our voluntary subscribers allow us to bring you far more important and unbiased information. If you value what we do, please join these readers by pledging your support.
Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Size your solar system for the real world.
• Electric power: You pay for it – learn to read the meter.
• Thermostat not working right?
• Watch your rear!
• Have hot water handy all day.
RVers fight insurance company over damaged RV and get $85,000
We received this note from Billy Walkowiak, the owner of Collision Safety Consultants. The company offers independent vehicle damage appraisals and inspections in the areas of vehicle diminished value, total loss assessments and pre-purchase and post-collision repairs. He wanted us to relay this information to our readers in case they should get into a situation where they cannot get their insurance company to reimburse them for damages they believe they’re entitled to. Read more.
Expo, classes set for RV technicians and inspectors
The National RV Training Academy will host an educational event and supplier showcase in Athens, Texas, in April to train RV technicians and inspectors. A total of 18 educational and social events are already planned starting April 7…. The expo will feature specialized presentations from certified RV technicians and inspectors, plus classes taught by several industry supplier firms, including Aqua-Hot, Dometic, Lippert Components, MORryde and Truma. Learn more.
The ER is busy after the Super Bowl, but it’s not why you think
It’s not just those who chase after the pigskin that can get hurt on Super Bowl Sunday – RVers and other football fans could be at a greater risk for hurt. Dr. Jeffrey Kalina, an emergency medicine physician in Houston, Texas, says the fans themselves wind up being victims: “The ER is usually busy after the game and we expect it to be no different this Sunday.” How can I get hurt if I’m not playing football? The answer may surprise you.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles:
• Is this the longest fifth wheel trailer?
• Another RV horror story
• RV has a rooftop swimming pool
• Reader comment: Shortage of RV spaces a big problem
• Exploring the country in an RV is not a “road race”
Are you worried about catching the Coronavirus?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. CLICK HERE.
What we learned about you last week
Full timers: What do you travel in? When buying your RV, how important was the exterior (paint or graphics)? What profession would you most like to be famous for? What device do you use the most when shopping online? Do you talk out loud to yourself? Have you traveled outside the U.S. in the last 10 years? What device are you reading this newsletter on? All this and more, right here.
See how RVers remodeled their rig. It’s gorgeous!
Don’t like the furniture in your RV? Doesn’t fit your style? Dare to remodel! Dare to decorate! Nanci Dixon’s neighbors, Jay and Leslie Pederson, recently completed a mini-remodel of their new 5th wheel. You’ll get inspired, or at least be very impressed, when you check it out.
Don’t be a Wiener(mobile)! Pull over for blue lights!
In this dog-eat-dog world, it’s important everyone have a firm grip on the bun – and the law. The driver of one of Oscar Mayer’s world-famous Wienermobiles got a thorough grilling in Wisconsin when he failed to pull out of the way of an emergency vehicle. How did the driver fail to cut the mustard? Find out in this hilarious post by, you guessed it, Russ and Tiña De Maris.
“Redneck” houseboat? Good idea or not?
This was posted on the Texas RV Camping group at Facebook. We’ve heard of barges for rent where you can drive on your RV for a houseboat kind of experience. But, really, is this setup safe? What do you think?
NEW! 2020 edition is here! Learn what’s along the Interstate
Never take a wrong exit off an Interstate. The brand-new 2020 Next Exit lists every exit along every Interstate and lists what you’ll find: gas stations (including those with diesel), campgrounds, truck stops, casinos, retail stores (by name), malls, factory outlets, drug stores, hospitals, rest areas & more. Very helpful even if you have a GPS. Learn more or order.
When in Arizona, keep your eyes open for “skunk pigs”
If you’re lucky when visiting Arizona you’ll see a javelina, sometimes called a “skunk pig.” They are commonly spotted in some Arizona State Parks. But, you ask, “What the heck is a javelina?” It’s one of the most approachable wildlife species in the state’s parks. They are near-sighted, often noisy and, well, they’re stinky! Read more.
You will never see another 5th wheel trailer like this!
A reader sent us this photo of a home-built fifth-wheel setup. It originally appeared on the Facebook page of Camden Trending. One thing nearly everyone agreed on was how cute this is. But are the before and after pictures even of the same van? What do you think?
RVs in Japan are a lot different
Check out this photo from a website that advertises an RV show in Japan, happening right now. In Japan, apparently, RVs are called camping cars. As you can see in this and other photos, they are far different from what we travel with in North America. Very interesting.
Popular articles from last week
• Porsche meets Newell: 2020 models out – Bring your checkbook.
• Why Walmart is banning RV overnight stays at more stores.
• Airstream’s far-out (wacky?) ideas of the future.
• RVer takes pride in cheating campground reservation system.
• Are Harry and Meghan moving to North America to become RVers?
• RV Tire Safety: Do not unnecessarily bleed off high air pressure.
• Is reusable toilet paper a good idea in your RV?
• RVelectricity: Finding short circuits in 12-volt systems, Part 2B.
• RV Shrink: Ripped off RVers considering extra security, i.e., “locked and loaded.”
• RV Doctor: How to adjust a Lippert slideout.
• The worst RV crashes and disasters we’ve ever seen!
• RV Electricity: URGENT! Warn your kids about the “Outlet Challenge.”
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, January 25, 2020.
• What we learned about you last week (January 18-24).
How to deal with bugs that go “splat” on your windshield
Every day, bugs end their short lives by splatting against the front of our RVs or tow vehicles leaving a greasy, sticky mess. What’s the best thing to use to make those windshields shine again? Find out here.
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.
You must keep road flares in the RV for emergency
You should always have road flares in your RV in case of an emergency. This pack of three bright, waterproof and shatterproof LED disks are perfect to keep tucked away. These bright lights can be seen from a mile away and can be used for traffic control, as a warning light or as a rescue beacon, and they can also be used for recreational activities such as camping and hiking. Learn more or order here.
Ask the RV Shrink
Size matters – Clarify RVing goals before choosing RV
Dear RV Shrink:
We are in the final steps of making our RV buying decision. Maybe we overthink things, but we are now at an impasse. My husband and I have recently retired [and] sold our apartment in New York City…. We are both avid wildlife photographers and have had this dream of traveling to every wildlife refuge in the country and spending a good amount of time at each one shooting stills and video. We know we want a motorhome so we can tow our Jeep. The controversy has come down to size. I am arguing for a small Class C, but my husband is insisting on a larger Class A. …
Ask the RV Doctor
Where’s the VIN on a fifth wheel?
I have been given a fifth wheel that has no title. I am in the process of obtaining that, but need to know where I can find the VIN number. An internet search has proved fruitless and those responding often tell me to look on the tongue next to the bumper hitch. Obviously, they don’t know what a fifth wheel trailer is. I’d truly appreciate your help. Thank you in advance. —Tina G.
Camping with the Corps of Engineers
Many RVers consider Corps of Engineers campgrounds to be the best in the country. This guide is just for RVers — boat-in and tent-only sites are not included. Of all the public lands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has some of the best parks and campgrounds available. In fact, it’s the largest federal provider of outdoor recreation in the nation. Learn more or order.
Hot-Skin/Contact-Voltage questions from the Boston RV Expo
By Mike Sokol
We’re going to take a one-week break from my expanded series on troubleshooting short circuits to give you some feedback from my RVelectricity seminar at the Boston RV Expo last weekend. … [T]he demonstration that got the most comments after the seminar was my hot-skin detection using a Non-Contact Voltage Tester. … So here’s a brief recap of what hot-skin voltage is, what causes it, and how to test for it with a simple $15 tester. Learn more and maybe save a life.
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
URGENT! Warn your kids and grandkids about the “Outlet Challenge”. Mike just saw this on the news, and while it’s not 100% RV related, it is indeed an electrical safety issue that could injure someone you love or even set your RV on fire. [Editor’s note: Unfortunately this latest “Challenge” is spreading like wildfire on social media. Please help get the word out how dangerous this is. It could cause blindness, serious burns, fires or even death.]
The latest monthly RV Electricity newsletter, Issue 27, arrives tomorrow. If you haven’t already, sign up for it here.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Tire warranty – How do engineers “read” tire conditions?
Roger Marble read the following on an RV forum: “Carlisle Tire’s warranty used to state ‘tires must be inflated to sidewall stated pressure or warranty is void.’ … How in the world do they determine if the tires are inflated to sidewall pressure? Is there a little gremlin with a report card in each tire?…” Roger explains how tire experts identify the probable inflation and load history of a tire. (Editor: Interesting stuff, and you’ll see part of the reason why Roger is a court-certified tire expert.) Read more.
Inflatable foot rest is comfortable for couch and passenger seat
Now that’s cool! Miss your favorite recliner no more! This inflatable foot rest is perfect for lounging on the couch, in the chair by the campfire, or in the passenger seat for long drives. Take it on a plane ride, or take it to the grandkids’ sports games (we know those can get long). It weighs less than 1 lb. and folds down small for travel. Learn more about this comfy foot rest here.
Building an RV Park
Machelle updates us on clearing the land for the RV storage area, some fun activities they have planned for their visitors, meeting some welcoming neighbors, upcoming meetings with more neighbors and Planning & Zoning, and learning a new term (what does pyroflatulence have to do with building an RV park?!). Read more.
The RV Kitchen
Shortcut Tortilla Soup
Tortilla soup warms up winter. We’re all for cooking shortcuts that save time, water, space and hassle in RV cooking but there is one shortcut that is a no-no in making tortilla soup. The vegetables (more is better) should not be rushed but are cooked to a dark, mahogany brown. Traditional recipes call for tortillas snipped into strips but my shortcut, which adds texture contrast and extra saltiness, is to serve with Fritos or Doritos. Get the recipe.
Slide Seal Conditioner improves slide out function, prolongs life
Replacing your slide out seals is not a chore you would look forward to. You can help prevent early deterioration – and necessary replacement – of the seals by treating them with a seal conditioner. Thetford’s Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner is formulated to prevent fading, cracking and deterioration on all types of rubber seals – slide out seals, window and door seals, tires and other rubber products. Learn more here.
The Digital RVer
Your smartphone can identify birds, flowers, products and more
Google Lens is part of Google Photos, and you can use it to quickly identify many things, both animate and inanimate. So, if you have Google Photos, you’re all set to identify just about anything. Wow! This is so easy! Learn how.
Make sure to have this Fire Extinguishing Aerosol in your RV
The First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray is easier to use and discharges 4 times longer than traditional fire extinguishers. With an aerosol nozzle and portable size, it’s suited for the kitchen, car, garage, boat or RV. The formula wipes away with a damp cloth & is biodegradable. Learn more or order.
I’ve just become interested again in purchasing a new RV so my wife and I can do some traveling now that I am retired. But after reading some of the issues about difficulty of places to stay and all the headaches RVers are having, Holiday Inn might be a better option. I’ll have to do a little more investigating before I lay out a bunch of money. Things apparently have changed since we traveled a few years ago. —Alden S.
It is a lot more crowded out there these days. How you travel (move a lot, stay put in one place for a month or so, etc.) will determine how much different it will be to travel now with an RV from when you traveled before. In general, reservations are much more important these days, often months ahead. Spontaneous travel is much harder unless you are willing to stay in Walmart parking lots because RV parks are full. We write about this all the time. — Chuck/editor
I am very frustrated trying to get warranty service on my 2020 motorhome.
Currently I am touring the good old USA in the warm weather (that’s what some of us like to do with our rigs) and need to have an issue with my toilet fixed as the gate valve will not operate. What really irritates me is when talking to the service departments of several dealerships on our route they’ve told me if we didn’t buy our RV from them they won’t service it.
What the heck is going on? If they would work on it, they tell me, it would be two months from now. If I buy a Ford or a Chevy on the East Coast and have a problem on the West Coast I don’t have to prove where I purchased it from.
Is this an issue that others have? Have you covered this before? In the end the toilet manufacturer will send me the parts so I can repair it myself. —Joseph B.
Facebook Groups of Interest
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping • Free Campgrounds and NEW Budget RV Travel.
The new 2020 Rand McNally Road Atlas has arrived!
Read more about why you should always have this with you here.
One billion toothbrushes will be discarded in the U.S. this year. Source: National Geographic
Bumper sticker of the week
“Okay, who put a ‘stop payment’ on my reality check?”
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
A woman, cranky because her husband was again late coming home, left a note saying, “I’ve had enough and moved out!” Then she hid under the bed to see his reaction. When he came home she saw him walk toward the dresser and pick up the note, then write something on it. He then made a phone call: “She’s finally gone…. Yeah, I know. It’s about time. I’m coming over. Put on that sexy nightie. I love you!” He hung up and left. Sure that he was gone, the woman came out from under the bed. Seething with rage and with tears in her eyes, she grabbed the note to see what he wrote. “I can see your feet. We’re outta coffee. Be back in five minutes.” —Thanks to Mark Schaffler!
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” —Mark Twain
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily, Woodbury, Russ and Tiña De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Bob Difley, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
Honorary Correspondents: Loyal readers who regularly email us leads about news stories and other information and resources that aid our own news-gathering efforts.
• Mike Sherman • George Bliss • Tom and Lois Speirs • Alan Warren • Steve Barnes + others who we will add later.
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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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