Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine April 2014

RV Consumer Magazine April 2014RV Consumer Magazine is the leading digital RV e-magazine designed to inform and educate the RV consumer on RV products, qualified RV information, RV videos, RV how-to topics and RV education. Please share RV Consumer with all of your RVing friends!

This month’s issue of RV Consumer Magazine features two RV spring preparation articles to help get your RV ready for the 2014 camping season, and don’t miss my article on The Evolution of RV Slide-Outs. In addition to these informative RV articles you can learn more about your RV with our RV how to videos and the interactive RV play & learn crossword puzzle.

There is also a PDF link to the magazine for those of you who don’t care for the flipbook style format.

Happy RV Learning
Mark Polk

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV 101® – 5 Important RV Spring Checks

Testing RV Battery

Truth be known, there are probably 50 or more checks we could make on our RV prior to venturing out on the first camping trip of the season. If you don’t want to perform 50 checks on your RV here are 5 checks I consider absolutely essential. P.S. If you are not comfortable working on your RV make an appointment with your local RV dealer to get your RV ready for camping season.

RV Batteries 

I like to start with the RV batteries. The condition of your RV batteries depends on how well they were cared for when they were in storage. A battery in storage will lose up to 10% of its charge every month. If you checked and re-charged the battery periodically during storage the battery should be ready to go. If you didn’t check and re-charge the battery the first step is to fully charge the battery.

Note: Water should only be added to lead acid batteries after fully charging the battery, unless the water level is already below the plates. The plates need to be covered at all times.

After the battery is fully charged check and add distilled water as required. If the battery was removed for storage reinstall it making sure it is connected properly. If you are not comfortable working around batteries let a qualified service facility check it for you.

 RV Water System 

After sitting in storage for several months the RV water system needs to be de-winterized, checked for leaks and sanitized. If your unit was winterized using non-toxic RV antifreeze you need to run fresh water through the entire water system until all traces of the antifreeze are removed. Hopefully no antifreeze was added to the fresh water holding tank, but if it was the first step is to drain any remnants of antifreeze from the fresh water tank. Next add some potable water to the fresh water holding tank and turn the 12-volt water pump on. Open all of the water faucets and run the water until there are no traces of the pink antifreeze. Make sure you open both hot and cold faucets. Take the water heater out of the by-pass mode (if applicable). If the water heater wasn’t bypassed the antifreeze needs to be drained from the water heater tank. Now you can replace any water filter cartridges that were removed for storage.

When I take the RV out of storage I like to sanitize the RV water system. Make sure all of the drains are closed and all drain plugs are installed. Take a quarter-cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water your fresh water tank holds. Mix the bleach with water into a one-gallon container and pour the solution into to the fresh water tank fill. Fill the fresh water holding tank with potable water. Turn the water pump on and run water through all hot and cold faucets until you smell the bleach. Close the faucets and let this solution sit for twelve hours. Drain all of the water and re-fill the tank with potable water. Turn the water pump on and open all faucets running the water until you no longer smell any bleach. It may be necessary to repeat this process to eliminate all signs of bleach.

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truck towing travel trailerThere are lots of concerns and confusion when you try to determine how much your tow vehicle can safely tow. There are weight ratings, terms, formulas and calculations that make it difficult for RV consumers to determine how much their tow vehicle can safely tow. My goal with this post is to take some of the confusion out of the equation.
Of course the first step is to verify the published Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight Rating (MLTWR) or tow rating for your tow vehicle. When you verify this information it is important that you know the year, make, model, cab and bed configuration, engine size, transmission and if the tow vehicle is 2WD or 4WD. Additionally and perhaps most importantly you need to know the rear axle ratio of the tow vehicle.

After you collect all of this information you can do a search on the Internet for towing guides. These guides are designed to provide correct tow ratings and information, or at least what the vehicle manufacturer claims is correct information. Try to use a towing guide published by the vehicle manufacturer for the type of vehicle you are searching for. Note: Pay close attention to any footnotes concerning your specific vehicle.

When you verify or locate the MLTWR for your tow vehicle there are two major concerns to safely match trailer weights with your published tow rating.

1)      Try to find a trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that is equal to or less than the tow vehicle’s MLTWR (tow rating). The trailer’s GVWR is the maximum weight the trailer can weigh when it is fully loaded for travel. By doing so, the tow vehicle is capable of towing the trailer even if the trailer is loaded to its maximum capacity. Most trailers have a significant difference between the dry or unloaded weight and the GVWR, and in most cases are not loaded to the GVWR.  This gives you a safer margin between the vehicle tow rating and the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) or how much the trailer actually weighs.

2)      After you find a trailer that meets the criteria in #1 add the weight of the fully loaded tow vehicle and the fully loaded trailer together and make sure it is less than the tow vehicle’s Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). The GCWR is the maximum amount of weight the tow vehicle and the trailer can weigh when they are combined. You can take the tow vehicle to a set of scales and have it weighed, and you can look at the trailer’s dry or unloaded weight and then add a safe amount to cover the weight of any cargo and personal belongings you plan to take in the tow vehicle and in the trailer when you go camping.

There are other important concerns like proper hitch components, brakes, and trailer tongue weight or pin weight for a 5th wheel trailer, but if the tow vehicle and trailer pass these two requirements you are working towards a safe trailer towing combination.

Of course lighter is always better where trailer weights are concerned.

To learn more about your RV take a minute to visit RV Education 101.

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

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cleaning RVWhen you are traveling and camping in your RV the exterior gets dirty quickly. The key to keeping your RV exterior looking new is to clean it often. If you allow bugs, dirt and black streaks to stay on the RV’s exterior surface too long it can be hard to remove. I like to thoroughly clean our RV after returning from a trip. Let’s look at my top 5 RV exterior cleaning tips for a new looking RV.

1)      Use a car wash soap that is compatible with the surface of the RV.

2)      Use a long handled brush with soft bristles to reach the high spots and use a wash glove or mitt for the easy to reach areas.

3)      When you use commercial cleaners, like black streak remover, always read the instructions for best cleaning results and to protect the RV’s paint and graphics from possible damage.

4)      Rinse the area you plan to wash first. Always wash from the top down. When you are rinsing the soap from the surface avoid spraying water in any of the appliance vents.

5)      You have probably heard lots of ideas for removing dead bugs from the front of your RV, but the best advice I can offer is clean it as soon as possible and use lots of water on the front of the RV to make the chore of removing bugs and road debris easier. I have had decent luck with bug and tar remover products too.

Well there you have it, a nice clean RV until you head out on your next RV trip.

To learn more about your RV take a minute to visit RV Education 101.

Happy camping

Mark Polk

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine February 2014

RV Consumer Magazine is the leading digital e-magazine designed to inform and educate the RV consumer on RV products, Qualified RV information, RV videos, RV how-to topics and RV education. Please share with all of your RVing friends!
In this issue of RV Consumer Magazine discover some of the latest technology for staying connected on the road, read the next installment of RV Hot Skin Voltage Conditions, learn more about boondocking in Quartzsite and enter a contest to win a free one-year membership to Harvest Hosts.
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV 101® – 5 Minute Fix to a Warmer RV

When you use your RV for cold weather camping it’s nice to have a warm place to retreat back to after enjoying some outdoor activities.  What would you say if I told you it’s possible to prepare your RV to be warm and cozy for cold weather camping in just 5 minutes?

Let’s give it a go!


Minute #1

The first thing we want to do is test the RV furnace.  Make sure the LP gas supply is turned on and fire up the furnace. The fan should come on and within a minute or so you should feel heat coming from the heat ducts in the RV.

lp-cylindersMinute #2

Check  the propane level in your LP cylinders or tank and check the condition of your auxiliary battery(s). The furnace consumes more LP gas than other appliances and requires a fully charged battery if you are not plugged into an electrical source.  Checking the propane level is self-explanatory and you can check the battery condition using the RV’s monitor panel or with a multi-meter.

truck-camper-lance-int-2Minute #3

Pack warm clothes, extra blankets and  don’t forget the electric blanket!  Sweatshirts, sweatpants and a good pair of winter socks makes resting and relaxing inside the RV much more enjoyable when it’s cold outside. For your personal protection in cold outdoor temperatures dress in layers and make sure you have the proper clothing and footwear to stay warm and protected when outdoors.

Minute #4

Pack a couple portable electric heaters. Supplementing the heat with thermostatically controlled ceramic heaters does wonders. These heaters work extremely well and you don’t need to be concerned about  fire or carbon monoxide.

overhead-fanresizedMinute #5

Keep the heat in the RV. Make sure all windows and vents are closed and close the curtains or shades to help keep the heat in. Remember heat rises, use some foam cushioning or aftermarket accessories to seal the area around roof vents.

Okay, it might take a little more than 5 minutes to prepare your RV for cold weather camping, but it’s worth it when the end result is a nice warm RV on a cold winter day. There are other concerns with cold weather camping in your RV, like protecting the plumbing system from freezing, but when it come to staying warm this 5 minute fix will do the trick during those cold weather camping trips.

Happy Cold Weather Camping,

Mark Polk

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV101® – RV Sewer Hose Tips & Tricks

Let me ask you a question, when you arrive at your camping destination whose job is it to connect the sewer hose, empty the holding tanks and disconnect and store the sewer hose when it’s time to leave. Well if you are the chosen one like me here are a few tips and tricks to help make the job easier.

smooth-and-threaded-pipeIt never fails, one day you are going to camp at a destination and discover you don’t have the right adapter for the campground sewer or dump station drain outlet. The reason for this is not only do sewer drain outlets come in different sizes, but some are smooth pipe connections while others are threaded pipe.

universal-rv-sewer-adapterYou want to take along universal sewer hose connectors and adapters like this one from Valterra Products that help make the job of connecting the sewer hose easier. With this connector it doesn’t matter if the connection is 3 or 4 inch pipe or if the pipe is smooth or threaded. This EZ Coupler universal adapter will fit them all.

sewer-hose-drip-capsWhen it’s time to leave and you empty and flush the RV holding tanks you need to store the sewer hose until the next time you need it. You don’t want all these long messy hoses taking up space and leaking all over everything. Something I never leave home without are a couple drip caps like these.

sewer-hose-compressedThey fit all standard 3” bayonet fittings and if you compress the hose and put a cap on both ends it saves space and keeps storage compartments clean.

So for all you lucky guys and gals who have the chore of RV sewer hose duty these simple RV sewer hose accessories help make your life much easier.

Click here to watch the video

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

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used RVs If you buy an RV and don’t have any money left in your budget to use and enjoy the RV it will be nothing more than a large lawn ornament sitting beside your house. So, the big question is how can you buy an RV on a budget that works for you?

In a nutshell the price you pay for the RV along with the interest rate and term of the loan will determine what your monthly payment is.

I would like to offer you my top 5 RV buying on a budget tips.

1)      The first step is to look over your monthly budget and determine how much you can afford to pay each month for an RV, without getting in a bind. Earlier I mentioned that the term of the loan was one factor that determines your monthly payment. The longer the term of the loan is the lower the payment is, but you need to be comfortable with making this payment over the entire life of the RV loan.

2)      How much are you comfortable putting down on the RV? Of course the more you pay in the form of a down payment the lower your monthly payment will be.  Most lenders require a 10 to 20% down payment in either cash or trade-in. Some lenders do offer zero down programs, but these programs have certain guidelines to qualify. The type of RV, dollar amount, term of the loan and your credit rating can all factor into these types of loan programs. Keep in mind with zero down the interest rate and monthly payment will be higher.

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