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February 15, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
ost of us, I suspect, use a small, portable space heater in our RVs to supplement our onboard heater. For one thing, it saves propane. I’ve used such heaters for years. I’m aware that they can cause fires if they become defective or are positioned too close to something flammable. So I am very careful. So far, no problems.
Portable space heaters are available in most big box stores for $30 to $50. They provide steady heat at high and low settings and can be placed wherever needed in the RV. Some RV parks prohibit the heaters. But in all my years of RVing, I have never been asked even once if I were using one.
Until three weeks ago, I never suspected that my trusty little cube heater was an accident waiting to happen, even a fire waiting to happen.
I had noticed that its cord was showing some wear. My immediate reaction was to toss it. But ever-frugal Gail suggested we simply buy a new cord. And so we zoomed over to Home Depot, paid a few dollars and were all set.
The first step was to open up the heater to attach the cord. But look below at what we encountered when we did that! All that brown stuff is dirt, human hair, pet fur and other materials I couldn’t begin to identify.
Gail and I were horrified! The thought never crossed our minds that the heater could accumulate so much stray material.
At this point, I was not sure if the heater, as is, could be a fire hazard. So I emailed these photos to our RV electricity expert, Mike Sokol, and then called him. “Could this cause a fire?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” he said, without even pausing to think about it.
Gail and carefully removed all the brown gunk and placed it on a towel, which you can see below. It was a shock to see it all in one place.
We changed our minds about replacing the heater. Gail asked me how long I had owned it, and I couldn’t remember. It may have been 10 years. We figured that even if it were only half that old — knowing that space heaters can cause fires — we should play it safe and get a new one. We’ll clean it once a year.
We caught a lucky break on that old heater. If the cord hadn’t been noticeably frayed, we may have used it for years to come. That might not have ended well.
MY HEAD IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE
I have been alone now for a week, and, as usually happens, I turn into a writing machine, literally writing either for real or in my dreams. Right now, I am so full of words that I feel like my head is about to explode. Read more.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
- Sit on the toilet and help the chef at the same time.
- A Valentine’s gift from Space 43 years ago.
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• KOA to open new park: RVs not welcome
• Will your RV be banned from your neighborhood?
• Good Sam gets a finger in the RV storage pie – and you may have helped
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 more than 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 help us become an even more valuable resource for you by pledging your support.
Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Avoid an RV “power drag” with a checklist.
• Safety water shut-off but still with full flow.
• Use chip clips for no-swing hooks to keep things handy.
• Cheap grommet can save your day – and your awning.
• How to tell if your black tank is almost full.
We recently asked you: Do you have a favorite campground or RV park? We published the results here, creating a guide for you of your fellow RVers’ favorite spots. We update this weekly, so please continue to tell us your favorite campground or RV park by commenting on this post.
A new travel season means a new safety checklist!
A new RVing season is upon us and those who are getting their rigs ready for the travel season need to be sure to check their tires, alarms, alert systems, and fire extinguishers. It’s important that you know when you bought things, when they were last checked to make sure they still work, and when batteries were replaced. Read more.
The truth about Butt Wipes and RV holding tanks
By Emily Woodbury
It was a Tuesday and I got a knock on my door from my trusty (and well-loved) Amazon delivery man. I didn’t think I had ordered anything but, then again, sometimes I forget. I opened the box and saw an army-green box inside. What the…? A 42-pack of Bob’s Butt Wipes. Wow! Just what I’ve always wanted! As much as I can appreciate the importance of butt wipes, I was sure I had not ordered these (I didn’t have that much wine…). Continue reading to find out where this “gift” came from and if they’re “flushable,” as claimed.
Is 11 a.m. too early a checkout time?
Do you think 11 a.m. is a fair checkout time at RV parks, or should the parks let us stay a little longer? Unlike a motel, where a bed needs to made and the bathroom cleaned, in most RV parks the minute you leave, the space is ready for the next camper. So what do you think? Be sure to take our poll, too.
Want to camp in Yosemite this summer? Good luck!
Bookings for reservations in Yosemite National Park (California) in the Yosemite Valley open on Saturday, February 15, at 7 a.m., Pacific Time. For a few precious minutes, folks will vie to snap up a camping spot for dates from June 15 to July 14. According to a piece by Maura Fox in outsideonline.com, if you play your cards right, you might (emphasis on might) be able to secure a site. Read more (hurry!).
A boy left home running. He ran a ways and then turned left, ran the same distance and turned left again, ran the same distance and turned left again. When he got home, there were two masked men. Who were they? (Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter.)
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles
• Incredible new “teardrop” trailer sleeps six…but how?
• Tire ramps or blocks may damage your tires
• Pros and cons of having slides out with snow
• Golf carts? You’re kidding me, right? Really?
• Why is there no pressure in RV fresh water plumbing system?
For full-timers who sold their sticks-and-bricks home: Do you miss it?
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
We changed things up a bit this week. Read about what we learned, or what we didn’t learn, here.
Zero to 60 mph in three seconds? Is a Hummer your next truck?
With the country’s continued increase in truck sales and electric vehicles, several mainstream manufacturers are combining both components of the automotive industry into one vehicle. General Motors is taking the idea to an extreme. The Hummer … will be unveiled for the second time on May 20 as a new powerful all-electric pickup — the Hummer truck. It may be hard to imagine, but the truck will have 1,000 horsepower and will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds (really?) according to GM’s images and videos. Learn more.
The award for the RV with the coolest paint job EVER goes to…
Wow! Have you ever seen an RV like this? We don’t know who painted it, or who it belongs to, but we want to find out so we can hire them! Pretty neat, eh? Check it out!
Does your RV have slide outs? Prevent early deterioration – and necessary replacement – of the seals by treating them with a seal conditioner. Read more here.
Fifth wheel burns to the ground in 20 minutes. Totally destroyed!
From super reader Steve Barnes: A quarter-mile from our site on BLM land 25 miles from Yuma, AZ, a 38-foot fifth-wheel erupted in fire. … It only took 20 minutes from the start of the fire for it to burn to the ground. It is all fiberglass, plastic and imitation (plastic composites) wood. Read more and see the depressing photos.
A tow vehicle that seats 18 – You haven’t seen this before!
It’s a school bus … it’s a fifth wheel … it’s a bus-wheel! Ever seen anything like this before? We found this on the CampingRoadTrip.com Facebook page, but we’d love to know who owns this. Now the real question … Can the fifth wheel sleep all 18 bus passengers? See it here.
Popular articles from last week
• Falling tree crushes travel trailer, pinning RVer inside.
• How to tell if your black tank is almost full.
• Readers reveal their favorite RV mods or add-ons.
• Readers’ favorite RV parks and campgrounds. Stayed at any of these?
• RV Tire Safety: Air compressor – How big do you need?
• How to add an instant bathtub to your shower.
• This RV has its very own fire truck.
• Pipe thread tape: Use the right color, the right way.
• RV Shrink: RV awning – Use it, don’t lose it!
• The peace and satisfaction of “living small”.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, February 8, 2020.
• What we learned about you last week (February 1-7).
The coolest Duck Tape Ever!
This makes every other roll of Duck Tape totally boring! This is so unbelievably wonderful — the tape is adorned with images of retro travel trailers! So quit using plain ol’ boring Duct Tape. A roll of this will cost you less than 6 bucks! Learn more or order.
Another nomination for longest RV
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 • Free Campgrounds • NEW Budget RV Travel • NEWER RV Videos plus Texas RV Camping and 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.
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.
Pan liners protect kitchenware while driving
These 9 pot protectors come in three sizes and are perfect for placing between pots, pans, plates and bowls while driving down the road. Nobody likes arriving at the campsite to find broken or scratched kitchenware! Learn more or order.
Ask the RV Shrink
New RVer uncomfortable with everything new; smartphone to the rescue
Dear RV Shrink:
We have just started traveling most of the year in our new RV. The most uncomfortable part for me is familiarity – or, rather, lack thereof. At home in our own little world we had our favorite restaurants, mechanics, stores and hiking trails. Now everything is foreign to us as we move from area to area. How do others manage this issue? We ask lot of questions, but everyone has an opinion and many people think differently than we do. —Quandary, Looking for Tips in Quartzsite
DO YOU POST VIDEOS ABOUT RVing on YOUTUBE OR FACEBOOK? If so, embed them at the RV Videos group on Facebook. Spread your fame.
Ask the RV Doctor
What do to about RV siding delamination
I have a 2004 RV with a wood frame. Last summer I noticed what I believe you call “delaminating” on the front section. The camper’s exterior fiberglass appeared to be rippling. I suspected this was related to a leak so I resealed the entire front of the RV. Recently, during a heavy rainstorm, I found some water in a closet which verified there was in fact a leak and also that I didn’t catch it when I resealed the RV. If I can get the leak to stop will the “delaminating” continue? Can you repair “delaminating” without peeling back the entire exterior? If I get the leak to stop, will problems continue (dry rot, etc.)? Am I in deep trouble or what? —Dennis D.
Come into the light!
Our favorite electricity guy, Mike Sokol, uses this Caterpillar pocket light for just about everything. He writes, “I bought one of these CAT CY1000 Pocket COB Lights a few months ago and liked it so much that I also picked up one for my dad. I’ve dropped it a bunch of times, and it still keeps working, like any of the other tough-as-nails CAT products.” It easily clips on to your belt, shirt pocket, or anything magnetic, so you can work hands-free. Chuck and Gail bought one too and love it! Learn more or order.
Can reversed polarity alone cause dangerous hot-skin voltage?
I replaced the valve on my black water flush-out system today and noticed that when I touched any metal part of the frame of my trailer, I could feel an electrical current running through it! Not enough to really shock me, but certainly enough to cause some discomfort. It doesn’t matter where on the frame I touch, either – it feels the same. What is going on? Could reversed polarity on the battery or shore power plug be causing this? I have a 2010 Rockwood Roo 23 RS. —Gus
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Can I hook up two surge protectors? Mike explains all about basic and advanced/EMS surge protectors, and whether you can use more than one at a time.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Heat, high speed and the “magic” in ST tires
Heat generation in tires is primarily the result of a combination of high speed, high load and low inflation. … However, drivers have complete control over the speed/load/inflation factors. … Ever wonder why RV trailers seem to have a lot of tire problems but your daily driver (car or SUV) doesn’t? Roger Marble explains, as well as why LT tires would be his first choice in any trailer application where heavy loading was required, and why he doesn’t “buy” the new claimed high-speed capabilities of ST-type tires. Learn lots more here.
Building an RV Park
See the envisioned campground – plus more updates
From Machelle James: When you build a commercial property in your town, there needs to be something called a neighborhood meeting. … We had 12 neighbors show up to this meeting and I would say overall it went very well. We previously met with a graphic designer who made artist renderings of our campground. When I saw how they came out I almost cried with joy! Read more and see the planned campground.
Refrigerator bars ensure nothing shifts while moving
It’s happened to most RVers – you open the fridge (even slowly) after a day of driving and a heavy jar falls on your toe – “Ouch!” Never have that happen again with these easy-to-install spring-loaded refrigerator bars. They’re also useful in cupboards and closets. Order for a good price.
The RV Kitchen
Rice-Free Chicken Fried Rice
Going with the grain. With so many different grains in the supermarket spotlight these days, why not try a new one each time? Add new texture, appearance, taste, nutritional makeup. For this recipe you’ll need 3 cups of cooked wheat berries, barley, quinoa, couscous or oat groats. It’s also fun to try the many different types of rice for variety. Get the recipe.
The Digital RVer
Planning the Grand Adventure – 50 U.S. landmarks
From Chris Guld: Google My Maps is one of my favorite travel tools, so when I see something like this epic tour of 50 U.S. landmarks, I am challenged to create the tour using My Maps. You could do the same by using this spreadsheet of 50 U.S. Landmarks and import it into your own custom map of any trip you want to make. Chris tells you how here.
Monocular telescope connects to phone, wow!
This is one of the neatest gadgets we’ve seen in a while! This waterproof monocular telescope connects right to your phone, so you can take photos of that bird waaaaaaay over there. You can now photograph anything up to 10x closer than before. Great for birdwatching, concerts or any sporting event. We already bought one! Learn more or order.
All about keeping records for tax purposes – What you can’t do!
Question: How long do I need to keep my tax records? Can I dispose of them once my current year return is processed?
Readers’ Recipe: Hazel’s Ziploc Omelettes
“I’ve used this recipe and shared it many times. It’s quick, easy and delicious. Great for camping. It works well with a group – just have each person write their name with a black marker on a quart Ziploc bag. Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and the omelettes are a great conversation piece.”
Get the recipe here.
Reader gives up! “No new RV for me. “
Thank you for your truly informative newsletter. I am retired and was looking to buy a Class B for extended travel. But after seeing all the problems you point out with RVs and their poor construction, useless warranties and general reliability problems, etc., I’m going to pass. As well, many of your readers indicate that now good campgrounds are either over-full and very hard to reserve or increasingly expensive. Municipalities can’t seem to differentiate between citizen RVers and the expanding homeless. They are no longer RV-friendly as far as I can tell. Boondocking in Southern Arizona with 100K other people or sleeping in a Walmart parking lot doesn’t seem like fun. I think sadly that the golden age of the carefree RVer is over. —Harvey Schuck
50 States, 5,000 Ideas, the best book for travelers!
This book from the experts at National Geographic showcases the best travel experiences in every state, from the obvious to the unexpected. Sites include national parks, beaches, hotels, battlefields, dude ranches, museums and more. Each entry provides detailed travel information and fascinating facts about each state that will help fuel your wanderlust and ensure the best vacation possible. The book also includes a section on the Canadian provinces and territories. Learn more or order.
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 • NEW Budget RV Travel • NEWER RV Videos plus Texas RV Camping and Florida RV camping.
Did you know these familiar sayings are from William Shakespeare?
• Wild goose chase – from “Romeo and Juliet”
• You can have too much of a good thing. – from “As You Like It”
• Break the ice. – from “The Taming of the Shrew”
• Love is blind. – from “The Merchant of Venice”
• “Knock, knock!” “Who’s there?” – from “Macbeth”
• It’s Greek to me. – from “Julius Caesar”
Bumper sticker of the week
“Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.”
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Allan Colgan commented on a joke in a recent newsletter, as follows: “The Laugh of the Day reminds me of the time my son, who was in third grade and in a new school district, told his teacher that I had married 250 women. Since we were in a new school district the teacher had no idea I was a minister until I attended the requested parent-teacher-principal meeting.” Thanks, Allan!
“Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” —Winston Churchill
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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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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