Issue 876 • April 3, 2018
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RVing Tip of the Day
Get your rig “toad” out of trouble!
By Greg Illes
After more than fifty years of driving, and a lot of it off-road, I’ve had a bit of experience towing “dead” vehicles. But not everyone is well-versed in getting a no-longer-lively motorcar out of the boonies and back to civilization. It is a far more complicated matter than throwing a rope around a couple of bumpers and giving it the gas. Here are some caveats and tips on towing.
- If you can get a professional, DO THAT. Those guys do it every day and know how. Besides, if something gets messed up, it’s their nickel.
- If you are going to tow that dead vehicle out, you will need two active drivers, well-planned and coordinated with each other.
- Make sure that towing the dead vehicle is actually possible (on its own wheels) and that you will not cause further damage to driveline or chassis components. If in doubt, don’t tow.
- Unless the towed vehicle’s engine will start, it will not have any power brakes or steering. It can still be stopped and steered, but with great effort. Put the stronger driver in the towed vehicle. (If it will start, great, just leave it idling and you’ll have normal steering and brakes.)
- ALWAYS use a tow strap and NEVER use chains or steel cables. A tow strap has some “give” to it; chains or cables will destroy chassis parts during the inevitable jerks and yanks of towing. Never use ropes – they are simply not strong enough and will snap at the worst moment.
- If possible, use “tree saver” straps to attach to the vehicles’ chassis. This, too, is a potential area for damage. Attach to the strongest structures you can find – there’s a lot of force involved. Never attach to sheet metal, suspension or steering linkage.
- Turn on the emergency flashers in both vehicles.
- Triple-check your hookups before starting to tow. Remember, there will be thousands of pounds of force on your setup – be sure it’s secure and won’t damage chassis parts.
- Pull gently and slowly, making allowances for turns and dips in the road. The towed vehicle should be kept about 30 feet behind, and that vehicle has to steer to make adjustments for towing angles and speeds.
- The towing driver must never make quick changes in direction or speed, and above all cannot jam on his brakes. That’s a sure way to get rear-ended – what a mess.
- The towed driver must try to maintain a slight tension at all times in the tow strap, but not so much as to fade the brakes. This can be really challenging on long downhill runs. Take frequent stops to rest the brakes and the towed driver’s arms and legs (remember, no power steering or brakes).
- Maintain an even, slow speed, no more than 30 mph or you’re really pushing your luck. Don’t tow more than a few miles or you may damage the towed vehicle transmission. Don’t even think about towing like this on a major highway. But then, if you’re on a major highway, you can call a pro.
You do need a basic sense of “mechanical right and wrong” to do this successfully. As always with all these tips, if you’re not comfortable, confident and secure, don’t do it. Drive (and tow) safely.
Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.
Read yesterday’s tip: Use your roof to beat the heat.
Did you miss the latest RV Travel Newsletter? If so, read it here.
Prevent hose crimping and strain
. . . and extend RV hose life
This 90-Degree Hose Elbow eliminates unnecessary stress and strain on all RV water intake hose fittings. The elbow, with an easy-grip connector, is made of brass and is lead-free. Learn more or order for a great price!
It’s very important to keep your RV sealants fresh
The most frequent cause of damaging RV water leaks isn’t the roof itself – rather, it’s the sealants around vents, trim, windows, etc. Sealant doesn’t last forever, and your RV warranty requires you to keep sealants fresh.
With electricity expert, Mike Sokol
Here’s a quick update on my pedestal voltage chart. If you do happen to measure 0 volts between the two hot legs of a 240-volt outlet instead of 240 or 208 volts, then the campground has improperly wired the pedestal with a single 100-amp/120-volt service and jumped it to both sides of the outlet. While that will work for low-amperage situations, the current on the neutral conductor and contacts is now additive instead of being subtractive like it will be on a standard split-phase 240/208 hookup. That incorrect wiring in the pedestal will allow your shore power cordset to pull 60, 70 or even 100 amps of current through the neutral that was designed for 50 amps. Overheating with a meltdown, lost neutral connection, and even a fire is possible. So don’t use this pedestal and report it to the campground technician. If they won’t move you to another campsite with correct wiring, then best practice is to use minimal power for the night and then move on. If you feel your shore power cordset and there’s any sign of the connectors getting hot, then you’re using too much power and it could get dangerous.
Be considerate of your neighbors
Make sure your sewer hose and connections are “leak proof.” Remember, your “sewer” side is your next door neighbor’s “patio” side.
HOT TOPIC AT RV TRAVEL.COM
Why you need a smart surge protector.
Multipurpose Microfiber Duster
No more car wipes to dry up — this duster replaces all interior car products. The 10-inch dusting head is big enough to get your dash dust-free quickly, but small enough to leave in your glove box. The back of the duster doubles as a scrubbing sponge. Great for interior or exterior use on cars, RVs, motorcycles or in the home! Learn more or order.
WEBSITES OF THE DAY
Did you know we’re on Twitter? Follow us for RV news, information, advice, and to see what new RV gadgets we’re trying out!
Wonder what it’s like in India right now? Is it really that warm at the North Pole? Find out with Dark Sky! Live weather forecasts from everywhere in the world.
Click this. Answer a few questions and you’ll be helping to feed someone hungry. For each correct answer (these are mostly trivia questions) 10 grains of rice are given to the World Food Programme to help end hunger. [Note from editor: This is legit, according to Snopes.com. Interesting information.]
Protect your RV’s slideout
with this rubber seal lubricant
If you don’t take care of your slideout you’re asking for problems including dangerous, costly water damage. This rubber seal lubricant from Thetford prevents fading, cracking and deterioration. It cleans, conditions and shines, keeping seals flexible and protected from sunlight destruction. It is also useful on door seals and window seals. It’s a mineral oil product and also acts as a lubricant. Learn more or order
Flushable toilet wipes bad news for RVs
Those moist toilet wipes so popular today can be a big-time problem for your RV’s waste system, and can even plug the valves, which can be a big hassle to repair and cost a bundle once you find someone to do it. In this video hosted by RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury learn more. Hopefully, the advice will save you some frustration down the road, not to mention expense.
See all of our videos on our YouTube Channel.
2018 Large Scale Road Atlas now available
This 2018 Rand McNally Large Scale Road Atlas has maps of every U.S. state that are 35% larger than the standard atlas version plus over 350 city inset & national park maps & a comprehensive index. Road construction & conditions contact info is located above maps. Mileage chart shows distances & drive time between 77 North American cities & national parks. Tough spiral binding allows the atlas to lay open easily. Learn more.
MORE QUICK TIPS
Don’t poke holes to check wiring
Doing electrical work on your rig? Don’t be tempted to “poke a hole” in wire insulation for a meter probe or test lamp. Eventually that tiny hole may chafe its way open and cause you grief – and being so small it’ll be nearly impossible to find.
When arriving at camp at the end of your road day, do an inside “walk around” by carefully opening each cabinet slowly. If contents have shifted and want to jump out, you can be ready for it.
Batteries last a long time!
Motion detection nightlights can last a year on a set of batteries
When you need a nightlight when without hookups, these are great: they light only when they sense motion, shutting off after 30 seconds of no movement. They use no wires & install in less than 5 minutes. Use outdoors, too. Lights come in a 3-pack. Can last up to a year! Watch the short video for a demonstration or learn more (or order at a great price) at Amazon.com.
LEAVE HERE WITH A LAUGH
A man goes to a pet shop to buy a parrot. He asks, ”How much is the yellow one?” The clerk says, ”$2,000.” The man is shocked and asks why it’s so expensive. The clerk says, ”This parrot is very special. He knows how to type.” The man asks ”What about the green one?” The clerk says, ”He costs $5,000 because he knows how to type and can answer incoming phone calls.” The man asks about the red one. The clerk says, ”That one’s $10,000.” The man says, ”What does HE do?” The clerk says, ”I don’t know, but the other two call him Boss.”
RV Daily Tips Staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Russ De Maris, Bob Difley, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Deanna Tolliver, Mike Sokol, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.
ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com .
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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