RV Daily Tips Newsletter Issue 1108


May 27, 2019

Welcome to another edition of RV Travel’s Daily Tips newsletter. Here you’ll find helpful RV-related and small-space living tips from the pros, travel advice, a handy website of the day, our favorite RVing-related products and, of course, a good laugh. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate your readership.

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Fear not freezing your outside shower

If you’re a fan of winter RVing, you may be concerned about freezing up the plumbing. One sensitive area: The outside shower – just waiting for that frigid air to slip past that thin plastic door and zap the mixing valve. Sean Engle is a winter RV fan, and rarely uses his outside shower – so he fixed his so it would be a lot harder to “put it on ice.” Do it yourself by
removing the hose and mixer faucet handles. Cut a piece of insulated board from the hardware store to go over the top of the mixing faucet. Now stick the handles back on to hold the board in place. Cut another insul-board to cover the whole mixer faucet assembly, this time with an appropriate notch for the door hold-closed mechanism to work, and hey, Presto! You’ve kept Old Man Winter away. More details at Truck Camper Magazine.

RV Electricity – This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:

Is there a cheap and quiet generator?

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Having three sets of keys means not losing all

“I have three complete sets of RV keys. One is in my pocket, one is in a secret but accessible place on the outside of the coach, and one is with my son (or friend) in a Fed-X envelope filled out with my account number ready to address and send to me in an emergency.” —Thanks to Joe Brignolo.

The “long and short” of trailer backing

Is it easier to back a shorter trailer than a longer trailer? No. A shorter trailer reacts much quicker to steering movements than a longer trailer – because the trailer’s axles are the pivot point and on a shorter trailer the axles are closer to the hitch ball mount on the tow vehicle. Backing up a pop-up or short travel trailer will require slower reactions and movements in the steering wheel than a longer trailer will. Tip from Mark Polk, RV Education 101.

Do you have a tip? Send it to Russ (at) rvtravel.com


Instead of buying a reflective jacket for you and the hubby, a reflective collar for the dog, some stickers for your bike and your shoes, just get some spray-on reflective spray and voila! You’ll save tons of money and most importantly, you’ll be seen! You can even spray some of this on your RV’s steps so they’re easy to see at night. It’s water resistant and sprays on clear. You can buy some of this neat stuff here.

Check out the long list of great RVing-related websites from RVtravel.com.

If Fido is hot in the summer, give him a treat to cool him off! Here are 13 great frozen dog treat recipes Fido will love. Woof, woof! (That’s “thank you” in dog.)


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RV Daily Tips Staff

Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Contributing writers: Russ De Maris, Bob Difley, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Emily Woodbury. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.

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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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  1. Regarding generator noise:

    To Curtis and his question: ” does anyone really care about generator noise?”

    Having stayed in many RV parks and other places all across the country I can absolutely assert that generator noise can be a big problem. It seems that there is often some one running their noisy contractor generator, totally ignorant of how annoying it is to all their neighbors – even those not right next to them.

    So yes, many, many people do care about generator noise and appreciate those who buy the insulated quiet models.

    • “Appreciate” away — it’s just not in the budget for many folks unfortunately. I’m right with you on 90db (true) contractor open-frame gennies, but the 65db Champion RV is still “acceptable” to my hearing. Most fulltimers invest in silent gennies, but the weekend warriors only running it a dozen days a year won’t drop $2000.

      • One thought I did have this past weekend at an all-generator campsite was why there aren’t more reasonable generator rental businesses. Renting from typical places costs 1/5th of the generator per day, making it absurd. If people could rent a nice quiet inverter genny for $10-20/weekend we probably would (especially renting from the campsite, almost like paying for a powered site. Campsites could even install gennies to create more AC sites?) — but then at that rate maybe it takes too long for the rental place to recover their investment?

        A few years ago I saw Predators for $400/2KW and $600/4KW, and still kick myself for not buying out their stock now that they’re 50% more…

        • I’m not sure about your math. I can rent a Honda EU7000 for $100 a day when I do shows, and it’s a $5,000 generator. So that’s 1/50th of the replacement cost per day. I can rent an EU3000 for $75 per day, and that’s a $2,000 generator, so that’s 1/26th of the replacement cost per day. That also includes maintenance and the first tank of gas where I rent them from. I’m pretty sure no rental house would stock a Predator generator, since they want them to last for a decade or more of hard use. I know that Honda Inverter generators are expensive, but they’re really commercial duty.

      • Your Decibel (dB) comparison is off. The difference between 60 dB A SPL and 90 dB A SPL is 30 dB. You can do this in your head by imagining that each 10 dB is another 10 times the power. So 20 dB is 100 times more, 30 dB is 1,000 times more, 40 dB is 10,000 times more, etc… A power increase of 1,000 times would appear to sound 100 times louder. The loudest 8,000-watt contractor generator I can find is rated around 75 dB SPL (A) at 23 feet. I’m not sure what a 90dB (true) SPL level is, but any 90 dB SPL generator I could imagine would have to fit on a trailer all by itself and not have a muffler. For fun, here’s a tutorial on how Decibels work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decibel

    • Totally agree about generator noise. I do a lot of Nascar events and camp at the track. There are a lot of inconsiderate campers running contractor generators at all times of the night. There are usually rules and regulations that the tracks have, but are usually never enforced.

    • I have several Honda inverter generators in the test lab already, and Champion has offered to send me any of their generators I want for a test. But I’ve not heard back from Harbor Freight just yet about sending me a few loaner inverter generators. Now if only I can find a sponsor to help pay for this test I’ll be glad to set them all up and do noise, power and fuel consumption tests. I have all the calibrated test gear to make this happen but this is days’ worth of work to do properly. Any potential sponsors out there who could help pay for this sort of independent test?

  2. Re: extra keys — I keep a backup keyring hidden inside a storage compartment, which itself is locked with a combination lock. You can get 3-dial combi-locks for a couple bucks, so get rid of your CH751’s for under $10 on most rigs.

    Re: actually using keys — this may surprise folks, but keys are less effective than you think. A honest man won’t check if you locked; a mildly interested crook will barely pause to kick a door or break a window. So, only the most casual vandal will be slowed by a locked door. Meanwhile, you’ll have been stopped thousands of times per year.

    • (Cont’d)
      One friend consciously leaves his car and house unlocked on the premise that whatever stuff he loses is worth less than his collective time opening all the locks. He’s probably right philosophically, in many situations. He may be right pragmatically as well: I myself have had $400 glass smashed to grab the $0.75 in my cup holder and a $30 radar detector. The damage far out-cost the theft. The only thing that stops criminals is raising the cost-benefit against them — and they don’t pay for your damage while stealing whatever. I still lock up high-value/danger items, but increasingly let the alarm and dog replace physical locks in low-risk places.

  3. I love the fact that my newmar has no “keyed” locks on the compartment or basement doors, they are all elctronic. As long as I have battery power or 50 amp power, I can get in and they automatically lock as soon as I put the rig into gear…

  4. Half the outside compartments on our S&S truck camper require the stamped steel Deco “D” key, of which I have only one, and it’s proven impossible to find another. The fellow we bought the camper from said, “no sweat.. a flat-blade screwdriver will open those locks!” I’ve tried to avoid that. In searching for Deco “D” blanks, I’ve come across multiple suppliers offering to sell most common RV keys by the bucketful (!) meaning not only is the CH751 key no protection at all, but probably most of the others as well. So, in truth, it’s only the owner who misplaces a key ring who is locked out… !

  5. We keep a spare key in our Hitch Lock…and have had to use it several times! Also keep a small amount of cash. Will add a trailer key to that also.

  6. Class A has ladder ( I won’t use) and Class B has no ladder
    Our extra keys are “ hidden” in the non locking Propane door area in our Class A and in magnetic box inside Frig vent in our Class B. They can’t fall off to the ground…America’s highways & roads has enough Potholes to test that all the time !
    I’m surprised more Trailer owners haven’t learned “The Swoop” method for getting ready to back into your site. It makes such a difference, but as we travel across America every year I watch so many struggle and struggle to back up.

  7. on inspecting a new to him GMC motorhome, a friend found 5 complete sets of hidden keys.
    my hidden spare key only will open rv door, no hidden automotive key, spare key inside rv.
    consider changing out your common as dirt ‘751’ locks on your compartment doors. get cyclinder style lock sets. no sense in having all your storage compartments raided.

  8. When backing up a long trailer always set your steering wheel at a almost full turn in the opposite direction you want the trailer to BEFORE you start moving.

    • Yep, the letter missed the obvious: jackknifing a short trailer isn’t the only problem. I have a lot more challenge getting my 35′ trailer towed by a 25′ truck to start turning soon ENOUGH in many places. By the time the trailer really starts to corner, my truck’s nose would have wiped out 4 campsites and the clubhouse. 🙂

      Just as you say, I’ve adopted “digital steering” when backing — near full-lock in small increments, or go straight back while “correct.” rolling too far with too gentle steering is where most folks go wrong.

      • cont’d:

        Backing a long trailer, it’s important to remember “anything you can do forward you can do backwards, the same path.” If you’ll HAVE to cut a corner leaving, you’ll probably need to cut that corner some backing in as well. And again, just just GO SLOW. I rarely need more than one approach to dock my rig, but I do sometimes get down to inching at a crawl. People will respect your 1-pass snail-parking more than 20 fast wrongs and cussing. 🙂

  9. I keep a extra set of ALL my keys in my motor home, I keep them hidden in a false cabinet. I hide a key to the door outside, hidden in one of those magnetic key boxes. Recently we had a couple come into our camp to join us & were setting up camp & one of them was out with a flash light looking for their keys to their camper that they had lost. Lucky for them one of our members was a retired lock smith & picked his camper lock. Thats when I decided I needed a way to have extra keys for every thing available! I also showed my wife my set up, just in case I forget where I put them. LOL

    • Dave T,

      Just being curious about the keys. I’m wondering how your idea really works in the event you lose them? Having all the keys locked up somewhere that requires a key to retrieve them. Where’s THAT key kept? -(If it’s not in your pocket with you other ones). Maybe your lock smith is traveling with you…just kidding.

  10. Probably the most important item to consider when backing any trailer up, is to find a good spot at the back of a supermarket parking lot and practice. Over five decades of RV’ing I have witnessed the hilarious to the tragic when it comes to RV’ers not having a dam clue about backing their rig into a spot.
    If it were up to me there’d be a category of licensing for RV operation like governments mandate for motorcycles, ambulances, big rigs and so on -you’d have to know a lot about what you were doing and have a good understanding of that rig before hitting the road. I estimate about 75% of everyone operating RV’s of every kind haven’t a clue how to use their exterior mirrors,

    • Ran out of words in the first installment, but I wanted to say, if you can’t operate using only your exterior mirrors you can’t pilot a big rig, impossible.

      BUT, top of list bugging me is seeing tourists come over here, especially those drive right hand drive cars in Europe, rent a motorhome, no training, no knowledge of anything necessarily, and hit our busy highways and by-ways. There are some tragic out comings of this every year, and yet neither Canadian or American governments correct this. If there’s a jurisdiction that operates otherwise, let me know, because as far as I know anyone with a valid drivers license no matter where it was issued is good to go – not good.

    • That goes for the behemoth land yachts that many rich old fools think they can race across the country in also.

      • And rich old fool’s MORONIC offspring. Saw some guy driving ‘Dad’s 45 FT DP with 30 FT enclosed trailer for his BMW decide he was too good to remove the trailer so he could back into his site. He decided to just cut through the sand. The rest of us had a real show as he buried it to the axles. He had to pay damages and a crew to dig him out before he was ask to leave.

    • You’re preaching to the choir, of course! (grin) Those who need to hear the warning are exactly those who won’t listen. And everyone else gets fed up with hearing the same “safety” rants over ‘n’ over again. Ol’ Ben Franklin said it best: “Experience is a dear teacher, but a fool will have no other!” (dear=costly) Truck driving schools use traffic cones to set up corner and parking stall zones. A typical student will “kill” quite a few cones before the light dawns, and they can back without damage. And that’s with a 48′ trailer… then they go out with a 53-footer on the highway. Let the fun begin… !

    • If it were up to me, there would be no government licensing of anything — because it has no effect on actual safety for many of the reasons you said, and only collects fees while still setting idiots loose.

      That said, back on topic, I took my first rig out soon after purchase and drove it in reverse around a parking lot, “landing” on selected parking spots at random. I was well used to driving boats and small trailers, but as you said NO rear visibility (side mirrors only) is a different creature. I’ve had people stop at my campsite and ask how the heck I got my current 35′ trailer where I did — once you’re comfortable backing, anywhere “possible” is no sweat.

  11. One more thing that will help with trailer backing for any size trailer is a 5 foot tongue instead of the normal 4 foot. Having a trailer built, go with the 5 footer!

      • Another thought about spare keys.- We once kept our rig in storage, where one day a coupe of thieves broke into several rv’s. They attempted to get into mine but weren’t able. One thing we noticed is that a couple of rv’s had spare sets of keys hanging prominently near the entry door. The thugs tried using several of these keys to break into surrounding rigs….making a big mess out of many locks. If you are one of those people who keep keys like this, consider another method. Frankly, I never saw any logic in it but I may be missing something.


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