Thursday, December 8, 2022


Boondocking: Shake, rattle and roll



Here’s a question from a reader of about boondocking. 

Dear Bob,
I’ve just begun boondocking and have traveled down some bumpy dirt roads looking for boondocking campsites, but it occurred to me that my motorhome is taking more of a beating than just driving on highways. Are there any critical problems that this kind of use could cause that I should be aware of? —Nick

Good question, Nick. The major way our RVs differ from our stick houses is the ability to drive them down highways and back roads (including logging roads in our national forests and dirt roads in the deserts, among others) to new and exciting locations. But that also leads to potential problems that you ordinarily don’t have to worry about with your stick house – unless there is an earthquake – and that is the shake, rattle and roll (remember that Bill Haley and the Comets song?) of driving on unpaved roads.

Leaking pipe in hard-to-see location

The rigidity of your RV bouncing down the road applies considerable stress on every fitting in your RV: all the screws, nails, bolts, shelf mounts and plumbing joints. If a shelf mount fails, the shelf falls down, or at least begins to loosen and you notice it and fix it before it dumps your TV on the floor.

But when a plumbing joint begins to fail, it could be with just an intermittent drop of water. And if that leak is somewhere hard to see – which most of them are – then that drop turns into many drops that could, if not noticed, over months or years rot out the wood sub-floor and some of the frame of your home-on-wheels.

The result is not pleasant, and it could cost a bundle to rebuild a rotted-out floor. So make it a point periodically – every four or six months – to look into those dark holes under the cabinets and behind drawers, at your city water connection, and around your shower, sink and water pump fittings.

Use a bright flashlight or headlamp, and feel around as well. If you see or feel dampness, locate the source of the leak and have it taken care of immediately, and have an expert check for rot the next time you’re in the shop. I had this happen to me and later wished that I had been wise enough to have performed more thorough and frequent inspections. 

Read more about boondocking at my blog.
Check out my Kindle e-books about boondocking at Amazon.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) .




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Gregory Illes
5 years ago

Agreed with John Springer – – don’t get your water pump too quiet. You really WANT to know when it’s running.

John Springer
5 years ago

One thing good about those noisy water pumps is that you can “hear” a leak someplace. If you don’t have any water running and you hear the pump rattle awake once in a while, you have a leak. If you go an hour or two with no rattles, your plumbing is tight.

5 years ago
Reply to  John Springer

To expand on what Springer said, i always pressurize and then turn off my water pump while driving/away hiking/between trips. If a leak develops unattended, you’re not flooding your rig. When you arrive, turn the pump on again – if it runs AT ALL, you’ve lost pressure somewhere and are leaking, so FIND where!