Recreational Park Trailers (RPTs) are designed to be used as temporary living quarters for recreation, camping, or seasonal use. In most cases these seasonal cottages are taken to a vacation spot, set-up and left there. This can be in an RV park, resort area, or a tranquil location in the mountains, or along the coast, usually within a few hours drive from the owner’s residence.

RPTs come in various designs but are normally one of two types. There are 12 foot wide models that are usually around 36 to 40 feet long. This type has a peaked, shingled roof and siding similar to a house or cottage. Twelve foot wide models need to be moved and set up by professionals with the proper type of equipment.

Another common type of RPT is slightly less than 8’ 6” in width and up to 39 feet in length. This type looks more like a travel trailer and can be transported by the owner with a proper tow vehicle, but the set-up usually requires trained professionals. They have slide-outs to give additional living space inside when they are set-up. Most park model trailers do not exceed 400 square feet.

Recreational park trailers are equipped with full bathrooms, kitchens, living room, bedrooms, heat and air, all appliances and are usually fully furnished. Because they are designed to be stationary, for the most part, many RPTs have full size appliances like you would find in your home, rather than RV type appliances. Prices can range from $25,000 to over $100,000.

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

Types of RVs: Type C Motorhome

Type C Motorhomes, also referred to as mini-motorhomes, are built on a cutaway van chassis. With larger and heavier models being built, some manufacturers are using heavy duty truck chassis’ with higher Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) capacities to build Type C motorhomes on.

Type C motorhomes range in size from 20 to 37 feet. They are the type you see with the sleeping area or entertainment center extending over the vehicle cab. This additional sleeping space makes the Type C a good choice for a family.

Some models can sleep 6 to 8 people. They are equipped with all of the amenities found in Type A motorhomes, and you have use of the amenities while you are traveling. The generator makes the motorhome fully self-contained.

Like other RV types they are available in entry level, mid-line and high-end models, ranging in price from $60,000 to $150,000. If you want economical transportation when you arrive at your destination you can tow a small vehicle behind the motorhome.

Type C Motorhome Pros:

1) Access to amenities while traveling

2) Good motorhome for families

3) Most are fully self-contained

Type C Motorhome Cons:

1) Added expense of towing a vehicle

2) Requires more maintenance & upkeep

3) Many have limited outside storage

 

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

Types of RVs: Type B Motorhome

Type B Motorhomes are the smallest of the three motorized RV types, ranging in size from 16 to 20 plus feet. They are conversion vans that have been modified and equipped with all of the comforts and amenities found in other RVs, in a compact size.

Type B motorhomes are easier to maneuver and park, more fuel efficient, and can be used as a second vehicle. They are popular among all types of consumers. A type B motorhome works well for one or two travelers, or can make a great family vehicle.

Some models can sleep up to four people and come equipped with toilets, showers, kitchen facilities, water heater, furnace and generator making them fully self-contained. Type B motorhomes are a popular choice among horse and boat owners as they can tow a trailer and still have living quarters.

Type B motorhomes are built on an assortment of vehicle chassis’ like Chevrolet, Ford, Sprinter, Ram Pro Master and they are powered by either gasoline or diesel.

Type B motorhomes can range in price from $70,000 to over $100,000.

Type B Motorhome Pros

1) Easy to drive and maneuver

2) Access to amenities while traveling

3) More fuel efficient than other RV’s

4) Good for travel and everyday use

Type B Motorhome Cons

1) Limited interior space

2) Limited storage space

3) Not as convenient for longer trips

 

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

Types of RVs: Type A Motorhome

Type A Motorhomes are the largest and most luxurious of motorhomes, ranging in size from 25 to 45 feet. They are the type you see that look similar to a bus, and depending on the price can be equipped with features like a washer and dryer, back-up camera, hydraulic leveling jacks, multiple slide-out rooms, satellite dish, home entertainment system and much more.

Type A motorhomes are built on a specially designed vehicle chassis and are powered by either a gasoline or diesel engine. Many people think it would be difficult to drive a Type A motorhome, but with power steering, automatic transmissions and great visibility any experienced driver can quickly adapt. No special driver’s license was required at the time this article was written.

You have access to all of the amenities while you are traveling, including the bathroom. Type A motorhomes are fully self-contained with an onboard generator. Type A motorhomes, like other RVs, are available in entry level, mid-line and high-end models.

Depending on the model a type A motorhome can sleep from two to six people, and prices range from $70,000 to $500,000. Some high end luxury bus conversions can cost more than $1,000,000. If you want economical transportation when you arrive at your destination you can tow a small vehicle behind the motorhome.

Type A Mootrhome Pros:

1) Extremely spacious

2) Access to amenities while traveling

3) More storage than other types of RV’s

4) Fully self-contained

Type A Motorhome Cons

1) Added expense of towing a vehicle

2) More expensive than many other RV’s

3) Requires more maintenance & upkeep

 

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

Types of RVs: 5th Wheel Trailer

Fifth Wheel Travel Trailers are the trailers you see that extend over the bed of the pickup or custom tow vehicle. This bi-level design results in fifth-wheels offering the most living space of any towable RV. They range in size from 21 to 40 feet.

Fifth wheel trailers require a special type of hitch to be installed in the bed of the truck. The truck must be properly equipped and capable of handling the weight; this includes the trailer pin weight placed directly over the rear axle of the vehicle.

Fifth wheel trailers tow and handle better than conventional travel trailers, and combined with spacious living quarters are often times the choice for fulltime RVers. Fifth wheel trailers, like other towables, are available in entry level, mid-line and high-end models. Fifth wheel trailer manufacturers offer many different floor plans. Two-thirds of all fifth wheels built today offer at least one slide-out and most have multiple slide-outs, increasing the already spacious interiors. Lightweight versions that can be towed by smaller trucks are also very popular.

Construction techniques vary from wood frame with aluminum siding to welded aluminum frame with fiberglass siding. Like most other RVs, fifth-wheels offer kitchen facilities, dining areas, living rooms, bathrooms and sleeping arrangements. Optional equipment like generators, make fifth-wheels fully self-contained.

Fifth wheel travel trailers can sleep up to six people, depending on the model and prices range from $14,000 to $120,000.

Fifth Wheel Trailer Pros

1) Extremely spacious

2) Tows and handles better than conventional travel trailers

3) More storage than travel trailers

4) Still have a vehicle to use

Fifth Wheel Trailer Cons

1) Requires a specialized tow vehicle

2) More expensive than travel trailers

3) Weight concerns & issues

4) Hitching and unhitching

4) Requires towing and backing skills

 

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Another addition to travel trailers is the Sport Utility Trailer (SUT), also referred to as toy haulers and Sport Utility RV (SURV). These trailers have living quarters in the front and cargo /storage space in the back.

There is a rear ramp door that lowers so you can load your motorcycles, ATVs or other toys that you want to take with you on a camping trip. Sport Utility Trailers offer cooking facilities, dining areas, bathrooms, slide-outs and sleeping arrangements like conventional travel trailers.

There are lots of options available including generators, making the SUT fully self-contained so you can enjoy out of the way places. SUTs come in a variety of sizes to accommodate what the outdoor enthusiasts want to take along. If you purchase a sport utility trailer it is important you know what the fully loaded weight will be, and that you have a truck capable of safely handling the weight.

The popularity of toy haulers lead RV manufacturers to build sport utility RV’s in fifth wheel trailer and motorhome models too, so prices can range anywhere from $25,000 to well over $100,000.

Sport Utility Trailer Pros

1) Available in travel trailer, 5th Wheel and motorized models

2) At campground you have a vehicle to use for transportation

3) More security & protection than a pop-up & hybrid

4) Doubles as a guest house

Sport Utility Trailer Cons

1) Requires a specialized tow vehicle

2) No access to amenities while in route

3) Requires towing & backing skills

 

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

Types of RVs: Hybrid Trailer

Another version of the travel trailer is a Hybrid Travel Trailer. The concept is a small, light-weight travel trailer with pull-out or drop-down bed ends, similar to a pop-up.

These hard-sided trailers can be easily towed with today’s smaller SUVs, and the expandable ends provide much more space inside when they are set-up. There is no rasing or lowering the roof. Hybrid travel trailers are equipped with many of the same amenities found in conventional travel trailers.

Hybrid trailers can sleep up to six people and prices range from $15,000 to over $ 20,000.

Hybrid Travel Trailer Pros

1) Lightweight and easy to tow

2) You still have a vehicle to use for transportation

3) More protection from the elements than a pop-up

4) Doubles as a guest house

Hybrid Travel Trailer Cons

1) Hitching & unhitching

2) No access to amenities while in route

3) Requires towing & backing skills

 

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

Types of RVs: Travel Trailers

Travel Trailers are a popular choice among RVers because of the wide variety of floor plans available. Whether it’s for two people or a family of eight you can find a model that will suit your needs. As with other towables a travel trailer can be disconnected and set-up when you arrive at your destination. This allows you the benefit of using the tow vehicle to make a trip to the store, or to go sight-seeing.

Travel trailers range in size from 15 to 37 feet and offer all the comforts of home. Most travel trailer manufacturers offer what I refer to as entry level models, mid-line models and high- end models. Think of it in terms like a Chevrolet, a Buick or a Cadillac. With today’s lighter weight tow vehicles almost all RV manufacturers are offering lightweight and ultra-lightweight versions too. Other types of travel trailers include hybrid trailers and toy hauler models.

Construction techniques vary from wood frame with aluminum siding to welded aluminum frame with fiberglass siding. Many travel trailers offer slide-outs, designed to provide more living space inside an RV. You press a button and the slide-out extends outward giving you additional living space inside. It’s not uncommon to see units with multiple slide-out sections in the living room, kitchen and bedroom areas.

Travel trailers like most other RVs offer cooking facilities, dining areas, living rooms, bathrooms and sleeping arrangements. Travel trailers can sleep up to ten people, depending on the model, and prices range from $15,000 to over $60,000.

Travel Trailer Pros

1) Good selection of floor plans & sizes

2) At the campground you have a vehicle to use for transportation

3) More security & protection than a pop-up

4) Doubles as a guest house

Travel Trailer Cons

1) Hitching & unhitching

2) Requires specialized tow vehicle

3) No access to amenities while in route

4) Requires towing & backing skills

 

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

Folding Camping Trailers often referred to as pop-ups are the least expensive RVs. They are designed to be lightweight and for the most part inexpensive while still providing many of the comforts and conveniences found in a travel trailer. A pop-up incorporates a lift system to raise the roof. When the roof is in the raised position there is a tent fabric, either one piece or several sections, attached to the roof and the box, and it expands out to accommodate the pull out bed ends.

The beds come in different sizes, and along with the box size determine the overall open length of the pop-up. Sizes range from 15 feet to 24 feet when open. The ends and sides collapse for towing and storage, and therefore take up little space when not being used. Most pop-ups provide standard equipment or features like a sink, stove, ice-box, fresh water storage tank, table, pull out beds, an LP gas supply, and a separate 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC electrical system. Many of today’s pop-ups have small slide out sections on the side, designed to give you additional living space inside.

Most pop-up manufacturers offer what I refer to as an entry-level line and a deluxe line. Some of the differences are in construction such as the roof and lift system, the size, and in how they are equipped. Options available for some pop-ups are air conditioning, refrigerator, water heater, furnace, dual LP gas bottles, inside or outside shower, upgraded interiors, awning, screen room and electric brakes. Top-of-the-line units may also include an interior bathroom for maximum privacy while camping.

Pop-ups are commonly referred to by their box size. What this means is the length of the box that is mounted to the frame of the trailer. For years, manufacturers offered 8-foot, 10-foot and 12-foot boxes for their pop-ups. Now innovative manufacturers are designing larger versions with 14-foot boxes, and off road models for campers who really want to explore America’s back roads. The closed length of a pop-up is measured from the front of the tongue to the rear bumper. Pop-ups can sleep up to eight people depending on the model and prices can range from $8,000 to over $15,000.

Pop up Pros

1) Lightweight

2) Doesn’t require a special tow vehicle

3) Fairly inexpensive

4) Compact & versatile

Pop up Cons

1) Set-up & take-down

2) Limited security

3) Limited protection in bad weather

4) Limited storage space

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RV Education 101® Releases RV101® at the Campground Publication

Wilmington, NC – October, 2017 – RV Education 101®, announced today a new RV101® at the Campground publication to help assist and educate RV owners and potential owners on numerous topics concerning RV Campgrounds.

Mark Polk, co-owner stated, “Last January we replaced our 6-year running monthly RV Consumer digital publication with a new monthly digital newsletter format titled RV101® This Month. Numerous monthly subscribers have contacted us requesting periodic issues similar to the old magazine style format. We recently made the decision to publish quarterly issues focusing on topics of interest to the RV consumer and RV enthusiast. We are happy to announce the first quarterly issue titled RV101® at the Campground is now available”

This latest RV101® publication coincides with many other web sites and social media venues RV Education 101® currently offers with the continuing goal of helping to educate RV consumers.

 

Dawn Polk added, “The campground issue offers suggestions on different types of campgrounds and campsites readers may not know are available to them, and other relevant information like pre-trip checks, campground set-up checklists and campground etiquette. We plan to release similar issues on topics RV consumers are interested and curious about on a quarterly basis.”

Download the RV101® at the Campground issue here 

About a year ago we purchased a permanent RV lot at the beach and put a fifth wheel trailer on the lot  so we could do some destination type camping. When we started using the camper for a few short weekend trips I noticed our cellular signal and internet connection was spotty at the campsite. We plan to use the camper more often after we get it set up the way we want and a poor cellular signal could be problematic, especially if we stay there during the work week.

Not long ago Wilson Electronics sent us a weBoost 4G-X-RV cellular signal booster to install in our motorhome and review the product. We travel a great deal in our RV and a good cellular signal is important to conduct business while on the road. We had excellent results with the 4G-X-RV model, so I checked to see what products weBoost offered for stationary RV applications. I wanted something that could extend the cell signal range at our campsite and provide a signal we could rely on. And I wanted quick data download speeds. Wilson Electronics recommended the weBoost RV 4G cell signal booster and offered to send one that I could install in the 5th wheel and review the product. The RV 4G model is designed specifically for stationary use and it meets all my requirements, so I was anxious to try it.

The way these signal boosters work is an outside antenna accesses voice and data signals from a cell tower and delivers those signals to a booster. The booster amplifies the signals up to 32 times and sends it to the inside antenna. The inside antenna broadcasts the amplified signal to devices inside the RV.

Read More…

I have been brand loyal to Dodge (Ram) trucks my entire adult life. I have owned seven Dodge trucks, three used and four new. I am now realizing brand loyalty is not always a good thing. Corporations change ownership, things change and it’s not always for the best. When you combine that, with today’s mentality in the workforce, brand loyalty can be extremely frustrating.

My experience with new Dodge trucks was good from 1999 through 2013. I drove my 2004 Ram 2500 for ten plus trouble-free years. My die-hard brand loyalty started to waiver when I purchased a new Ram 2500 truck in 2014. It had the larger 392 hemi which I really liked, but it also had a bad automatic transmission. Sometimes the transmission would not engage when you put it in drive or reverse, and when it did it made terrible noises and wouldn’t shift properly. I was patient and took it to the dealership on numerous occasions. They tried everything including replacing one of the internal pumps. After a number of attempts to repair the truck I received a call from Chrysler informing me they wanted to buy the truck back or replace it with another Chrysler product. I opted to add more cash to the deal and upgrade to a 2016 Ram 2500 Cummins Turbo Diesel.

I searched the new truck inventory on the Ram website and found a truck that was within my budget. It was in transit to the dealer and would be available soon. The truck was a 2016 Ram 2500 TD.  After a lengthy process the day finally arrived when I surrendered the 2014 truck and picked the new 2016 Ram up at the dealership. The new truck was everything I could ask for and the plan was to drive and enjoy the truck for many years, or so I thought!

On the way home from the dealership I noticed the truck pulled to the right. I had to hold the steering wheel slightly to the left to keep it straight on the road. At first I didn’t think much about it. It was a little annoying, but I figured I would have it checked when I took the truck in for the first oil change.

The truck continued pulling to the right regardless of what road I drove on. I am familiar with the crown in roads. Roads are designed with a crown to help shed water when it rains. We have a 2007 Jeep JK Wrangler and a 2007 Dodge Durango and when I drive either of those vehicles on the same roads they tend to drift to the right slightly due to the crown in the road. When I say drift I mean every hundred yards or so you need to make a slight steering correction because of the crown in the road. It is simply gravitational force that pulls the vehicle in the direction of the crown. But in my 2016 Ram 2500 it is not a slight drift, it is a hard pull. If you let go of the steering wheel you are going in the ditch. And rather than traveling about a hundred yards before a steering correction is required it happens about every 25 yards of travel. My 2004 Ram and the 2014 Ram never pulled like the 2016 Ram does. It is a safety issue.

When I took the truck to the dealership to have the oil changed and the tires rotated I told them to check the steering problem too. When I picked the truck up the service writer said the truck was out of alignment and they fixed it. On the ride home I immediately noticed it was still pulling to the right. The pull was no better than before. A few weeks later my wife returned to the dealership to have the steering checked again. They checked the alignment and handed her a computer printout  stating everything was within Ram tolerances. My wife called me and I told her to ask service manager to drive the truck with her to see what it was doing. They drove the truck and when he released the steering wheel it immediately went to the side of the road. He told my wife it is the crown in the road. I called the service manager and told him that was an unacceptable response, so he called Chrysler and opened a star case on the truck.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

RV Slide-out & Window Track Lubrication

Preventive maintenance helps keep your RV in tip-top operating condition – especially on the parts that get used the most. These two short RV videos demonstrate how to lubricate your RV slide-outs and RV window tracks. Sponsored by 3-IN-ONE® Slide-Out Silicone Lube and 3-IN-ONE® RV Care Window & Track Dry Lube.

 

Happy Camping,
RV Education 101
Subscribe to our RV 101 This Month: http://rveducation101.com/flipbook

 

Subscribe to our free RV 101 This Month newsletter. On the first of day of every month RV Education 101 sends an information packed RV newsletter on all topics related to RVs to our subscribers.  The monthly newsletter includes RV feature articles, RV play & learn crossword puzzles, RV videos, RV how-to information, RV DIY projects, RV tips and much more. Your email address will only be used for distributing this newsletter and will never be sold or given to another entity.

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Preventive maintenance is simple maintenance checks owners can make before a problem exists. For example if you check and adjust your tire inflation prior to leaving on a trip you might avoid a tire blow-out caused by an under-inflated tire. Watch the RV how-to video below to get Mark Polk’s top 7 preventive maintenance tips to help extend the life of your RV or tow vehicle’s engine. These simple RV preventive maintenance procedures can add years of life to your RV and/or tow vehicle.

For more helpful preventive maintenance checks for your RV check out the RV Education 101 RV Care & Maintenance videos, ebooks & download products

Happy RV Learning

RV Education 101

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

Is Downsizing RVs in your Future?

 I have done about every type of camping imaginable. I camped under the stars with nothing but a sleeping bag, I camped in pup tents with the boy scouts, I camped in less than desirable conditions throughout my military career in the Army, and I camped in every type of RV manufactured. As I got older the latter type, with more creature comforts, is by far the best type of camping.

When I sold RVs I remember telling customers once they own an RV with a slide-out it is hard to go back to one with no slide-outs. I should heed my own advice when it comes to downsizing RVs, especially when the RV you downsize to can fit in the living room of your other RV!

Let me start from the beginning.  A few  years ago I was looking for a camper we could use to film some upcoming video projects. I needed an RV with a metal roof and nobody I knew owned one.  I decided to look around on Craigslist and I ran across an ad for a used Lance truck camper. It was priced right, and it was equipped with many of the features I needed for the upcoming video projects.  The camper’s size, dry weight & estimated loaded weight worked for my truck at the time so I made the 3-hour trip and brought it home.

It just so happened Dawn’s niece was getting married at the time and I thought it would be fun to take the truck camper from North Carolina to Colorado for the wedding. Tip for a good marriage test: Take 2-adults and 3-dogs on a 3,500 mile cross-country RV trip in an 8 ½ foot truck camper.

I checked all the systems on the camper, fabricated some tie downs to secure it to the truck, carefully loaded it as not to exceed any weight limitations and we headed out on our next great RV adventure.

RV Downsizing Considerations:

One thought I had about taking the truck camper, rather than the motorhome, was saving some money on the cost of fuel. Our motorhome averages 7 ½ miles to a gallon.  I thought it would be possible to nearly double that with the truck, but when all was said and done we averaged about 11 miles to a gallon. We did use the truck’s air conditioner for most of the trip which had an impact on the over all miles-per-gallon.

It was definitely more difficult adjusting to a smaller RV after spending so much time in a larger RV. I always liked small RVs, but you need to seriously consider if a smaller RV will suit your specific needs. We usually travel with 2-adults and 3-dogs, so we need a larger RV with enough space to accommodate all the travelers.

In addition to limited interior space like the bathroom, sleeping arrangements, sitting areas and the galley area you also need to consider things like interior and exterior storage, the size of the holding tanks, fresh water storage, and LP gas capacity. When you are accustomed to traveling in an RV with a large shower, a big sofa and a walk-around queen size bed and you switch to a truck camper you can barely take four steps in without bumping into something, it calls for some major adjustments. And although some truck campers are equipped with on-board generators ours was not, so even spending a night in a Walmart parking lot can be more challenging.

That Colorado trip in the Lance truck camper was a fun adventure, and I wouldn’t change a thing, but the moral to the story is to select an RV that is best suited for you, your family and how you travel. Trust me when I say the right RV will make all your RV experiences the best they can be.

During the trip one of our friends saw a Facebook post about the truck camper and replied, “Nice, a traveling man cave!” When Dawn read the response she said, that’s exactly what the Lance truck camper is; it is your traveling man cave when you go to RV shows and business events by yourself.

Sometimes downsizing RVs makes all the sense in the world. I can envision us downsizing at some point in time, but it needs to be practical. For us it would probably mean going from a 36-foot motorhome to say a 26-foot motorhome, but most likely not an 8 ½-foot truck camper.

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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When you plug your RV into the power pedestal at the campground you have no idea what you are plugging in to.  The potential for problems is high since it’s quite common for your RV to be exposed to faulty wiring like an open neutral, open ground or reverse polarity. If expensive appliances and sensitive electronic equipment in your RV like inverters, microwaves, entertainment centers and refrigerators are exposed to improper wiring or faulty electrical power, even for a few seconds, they can be damaged beyond repair.

Another problem is, even with proper wiring,  your RV’s electrical system is exposed to other dangers at the campground. The quality of electrical service at RV campgrounds changes based on numerous factors, like old electrical connections, how many RVs are using the campground power and the load they are putting on it, faulty wiring and bad weather. Any of these conditions can result in exposing your RV to voltage sags, surges and spikes.

The operating ranges for 120-volt appliances in your RV are 103 volts to 132 volts. If you operate appliances above or below these ranges there is extreme heat build-up. Electric motors, circuit boards and electronics cannot withstand this kind of heat. The bottom line is your RV is equipped with highly sophisticated electronics and expensive appliances that need to be protected against all of these potential threats. Now that we understand what the threats are let’s see what can we do about it?

I highly recommend using a surge protector designed to identify and help protect the RV’s entire electrical system from the potential dangers I just discussed. You just plug the surge protector into the campground’s electrical supply, check for any faults indicated, and plug the RV power cord into the opposite end and you are done. But you need the right surge protector for the job. I personally use Surge Guard products.

Before we talk about the right product for the job I want to briefly explain what the term Joules means. When there is a voltage spike or faulty power supply the surge protector absorbs and dissipates the excess energy. The Joule rating measures the maximum amount of energy the surge guard product can absorb or dissipate. The higher the rating, the more protection it provides.

For the sake of an example let’s say you have a travel trailer with a 30 amp electrical system. A very affordable Surge Guard product that provides lots of features would be Model 44280. It is 120-volts, 30 amps with a 2100 Joule rating.

This particular model identifies faulty park power while providing surge protection. It features an easy to read LED fault chart. Note: If the display on the face indicates a faulty or improperly wired pedestal when you plug the Surge Guard into the campground pedestal do not plug the RV into the Surge Guard unit. Notify the campground office and have it checked.

 

 

The Model 44280 tests for and indicates:

  1. Open neutral
  2. Open ground
  3. Reverse polarity
  4. Open circuit/no power
  5. Surge protection status
  6. and overheating plug/receptacle

That’s a lot of bang for the buck! There is an entire family of Surge Guard products available for any size or type of RV. You can choose a portable model or hard-wire a unit into the RVs electrical system. There are numerous features available depending on the model Surge Guard you choose, and there are full protection models available too. Our motorhome has a 50 amp electrical system and I personally use Model 34850 Surge Guard. It is a full protection model that provides all the protection I need for my RV.

I think you would agree that some type of surge protection makes a lot of sense. Depending on the RV there can be thousands of dollars worth of appliances and sensitive electronic equipment that can be damaged in a short time after plugging in at the campground. There are different brands and different types of surge protection available, but the most important thing is that you have and use one that can do the job based on your specific needs.

Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk

RV Education 101

RV Checklists- The Original Checklists for RVers E-book PDF Price: $12.95

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When you travel by RV it’s a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected. This is especially true when you arrive at your campground destination. I could probably list 20 items that are helpful in making campground connections, but there are 10 items that help ensure reliable connections at the campground every time.

#10-Coax Cable

The majority of campgrounds you stay at will offer access to some type of cable television. To make the connection you will need coax cable. I keep a 25-foot roll of coax cable in the RV and I always had plenty of cable to make the connection from the RV to the campground cable connector.

#9-Disposable Gloves

I keep a supply of inexpensive disposable gloves on hand in the RV. They work great for all of your RV holding tank and waste-water management chores, and they are handy for routine maintenance on the RV too.

#8-Water Regulator

You never know what the water pressure will be at a campground. A water regulator helps protect your RV plumbing system from high water pressure that is common at many campgrounds. Always connect the regulator at the source of the water to regulate the pressure before it enters the drinking hose or the RV.

 

Watch a video for more information on water regulators

#7-RV Extension Cord

Sometimes the RV power cord is not long enough to reach the campground electrical connection. When this happens you need an extension cord that is compatible with the electrical system on your RV. Regular household extension cords are not rated for 30 plus amps.

Watch a video for more information on RV extension cords

#6-Stackable Leveling Blocks

Some campsites are fairly level and some aren’t. It’s a good idea to keep some stackable leveling blocks on hand in the RV. When you position the RV on the site you can use the stackable leveling blocks to level the RV, and if it’s a towable RV the leveling blocks can be used under the tongue jack or landing gear. Leveling blocks not only assist in leveling the RV, they provide solid footing when the ground is sandy, loose or wet.

#5-Water Filtration

I highly recommend some type of water filtration system. There are several types of water filters available, designed specifically for use with RVs. You can install an under the counter filter directly to a faucet  you use to drink from, or you can use an external filtration system designed to filter all of the water going into the RV.

Watch a video for more information on RV Water Filtration

#4-Electrical Adapters

When you travel in your RV you never know what type of electrical service will be available, and the day will come when you need an RV adapter cord to make the electrical connection at the campground. I recommend keeping several electrical adapters on hand in the RV at all times.

Watch a video for more information on RV electrical adapters

#3- RV Drinking Water Hoses & Regular Garden Hose

I recommend keeping an assortment of potable RV drinking water hoses in the RV. I keep a 4-foot, 10-foot and 25-foot drinking hose in the RV at all times so I can always reach the campground water supply. I take an ordinary garden hose for cleaning the RV and for rinsing and flushing the holding tanks. The garden hose should be green, black or gray in color. RV drinking water hoses are normally white or blue, so the colors will help you distinguish between the two types of hoses.

Watch a video for more information on RV drinking water hoses

#2-RV Sewer Hoses & Adapters

Like drinking water hoses, I recommend keeping extra lengths of sewer hoses on hand too. I keep a 10-foot and a 20-foot drain hose in the RV at all times. You never know how far you will be away from the campground sewer drain.  I also recommend using heavy-duty RV sewer drain hoses. They do not cost much more than a standard sewer hose and will last much longer. RV sewer drain outlets not only come in different sizes, but some are smooth pipe while others are threaded pipe. This is why I recommend an assortment of adapters to make the connection at the campground sewer or dump station drain outlet. I keep a universal RV sewer adapter on hand that fits most smooth and threaded pipe drain outlets at the campground.

Watch a video for more information on RV sewer adapters

 #1-Surge Protector for the RV

I highly recommend using some type of surge protector that will protect the RV’s electrical system from possible damage. There are several different surge protector products available. I personally use Surge Guard products on my RV. The surge guard I use protects the RV from faulty wiring at a campground like an open neutral, open ground and reverse polarity. It also protects against voltage sags, surges and spikes. The bottom line is your RV is equipped with some highly sophisticated electronics and expensive appliances that need to be protected against all of these potential threats. Watch a video for more information

I mentioned earlier that there are lots of helpful products when it comes to making connections at the campground, but these are my top 10 products for consistently reliable campground connections.

Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Last year I started having problems with our old bat wing style TV antenna on the RV, so I decided to replace it with a digital RV antenna. After some research on the topic I decided to go with the Rayzar Z1 HD digital RV antenna by Winegard. There were several reasons I selected this antenna. It is low profile, lightweight and it picks up free HD channels wherever you travel. Another reason I selected this antenna is because it can replace the existing antenna with minimal effort.

You can purchase the Rayzar z1 as a complete unit or as the antenna head with adapter. It would be easier and less expensive to go with the antenna head that retrofits directly to the existing antenna, but as I mentioned earlier our antenna has seen better days so I opted to go with the complete unit.

Caution: Exercise caution when you are working on the RV roof, a fall can result in serious injury or worse. If you are not comfortable working on the RV roof have the work done by a qualified RV service facility.

The first step was to remove the old antenna. I use a plastic scraping tool to remove the old sealant and access the mounting screws. Whenever you remove old sealant from a rubber roof be extremely careful not to tear the rubber roofing. Remove all of the sealant and the mounting screws, but do not attempt to remove the antenna before you remove the antenna handle on the inside of the RV.

 

Go inside the RV and remove the old antenna handle. Remove the Allen screw from the handle using the correct size Allen wrench. After the handle is removed the entire assembly can be removed from the ceiling.

Go back on the roof to remove the old antenna. Disconnect the coax cable and carefully separate the antenna from the roof. In most cases there will be putty tape under the antenna base. I use the plastic scraping tool to work around the base releasing the old sealant. Try not to tear the roofing material. After the antenna is removed clean any remaining sealant that was under the antenna base. As a final step I like to clean the roof surface with some denatured alcohol on a rag. Do not pour the alcohol directly on the roof surface.

If this was a new installation this is where you would select a location for the new antenna and drill a hole through the roof. Since I am replacing the existing antenna the hole is already there.

The instructions state to position the antenna in the hole with the arrow on the base plate facing the front of the RV, and draw an outline around the antenna base. The outline is used so you can apply an approved sealant around the inside surface of the line to seal the antenna base to the roof when it is installed. I prefer to apply the sealant directly on the antenna base so I know the screw holes are covered and I will get a good seal.

Connect the coax cable from the RV to the coax on the new antenna following the instructions. Position the antenna on the roof with the arrow at the base of the antenna facing the front of the RV.

 

 

There are screws provided to secure the antenna to the roof. I tighten the screws until I start to see the butyl tape ooze out around the edges. Remove any exposed butyl tape and apply an approved sealant over the screw heads and around the base of the antenna. This antenna has a smaller footprint than the original antenna so there were two existing screw holes in the roof that were not covered by the new antenna base. I added some sealant over the screw holes and as a precautionary measure I will add some roof sealing tape over the sealant after it cures.

You are finished on the roof. The remainder of the installation is done inside the RV. Install the plastic extrusion in the hole and rotate it until the keys line up with the bottom of the antenna. With the keys aligned push the extrusion up until it bottoms out. Check to make sure the antenna rotates and follow the instructions to cut the extrusion to the proper length for your ceiling.

Follow the instructions to assemble the new handle and install the handle using the screws provided. Test the operation of the handle by pushing up on the handle and rotating it in either direction. The antenna on the roof should rotate as the handle is turned.

If this were a new installation the next step would be to install the provided wall plate and make the 12 volt DC power connections and the coax cable connections. Since I am replacing the existing antenna I already have a video switch box to make my coax cable connections.

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After all of the connections are made turn the TV on and follow the TV’s instructions and perform a channel scan in the antenna mode. The new HD digital RV antenna will access local HD and digital broadcast channels in the area. To maximize the number of channels you receive you can fine tune the position of the antenna by rotating the handle.

Note: If you still have an analog television in your RV you will need a digital TV converter box to access local HD and digital broadcast channels.

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

RV Checklists- The Original Checklists for RVers E-book PDF Price: $12.95

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

RV Spring Preparation Checks


rv-at-garageIs your RV ready for the upcoming camping season?

When I park our RV after the last trip of the season I look forward to this time of year rolling around again, time to go camping. Last winter I was a little lazy and put the RV in storage knowing there were some maintenance related issues that would need to be addressed this spring. When you combine those items with routine spring preparation checks you need to dedicate some time to get the RV ready to go camping again.

If you follow my work you have more-than-likely heard me use the term preventive maintenance. I spent an entire career in the Army teaching young soldiers the value of preventive maintenance, and a second career passing the same valuable lessons on to RV owners. For those of you not familiar with the term, preventive maintenance is maintenance you perform on your RV, automobile, house or anything else before a problem exists. Preventive maintenance checks are designed to prevent or identify potential problems that could lead to mechanical breakdown, malfunction, or failure of a component or system on your RV. It consists of cleaning, inspecting, lubricating, adjusting and servicing your RV.

To go one step further with my explanation I like to explain that a lack of preventive maintenance and/or scheduled maintenance will eventually result in emergency maintenance. For example, if you don’t check the air pressure in your tires (preventive maintenance) the under-inflated tire over heats and prematurely fails resulting in (emergency maintenance).  Emergency maintenance usually leaves you stranded alongside the road, not exactly how you want to start the first RV trip of the season!

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

RV Extension Cords and Power Cords

Sometimes when you camp in your RV the RV power cord is not long enough to reach the campground electrical connection. When this happens you need an extension cord that is compatible with the electrical system on your RV. Valterra Products has you covered with their full line of Mighty Cord RV extension cords and detachable power cords.

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

RV Awning Care & Maintenance

awn-op-027Awnings are a great feature to have on your RV. There are several different types of RV awnings and they serve different purposes. There are window and door awnings that provide shade and keep rain away from your RV windows or entry door. There are slide-out awnings that protect the slide-out roof from debris and water. And there are patio awnings. Patio awnings extend the living area of our outdoor world. Similar to the front porch of your home, the patio awning provides us with shade and cover from a light rain when we want to sit and enjoy the great outdoors.

The awnings on your RV will provide years of reliable trouble free operation, if you take the time to do a little preventive maintenance and cleaning.

 Perhaps the most important component of an awning is the fabric. Fabric used on RV awnings is one of two types, acrylic or vinyl. Acrylic fabric is a woven cloth that lets air circulate through the fabric. This air circulation allows the fabric to dry quickly when it gets wet. Acrylic fabrics are water repellent, but not waterproof. Vinyl awning fabric is mildew resistant, but not necessarily mildew proof. Mildew can form on the dirt and dust that collects on the fabric. It will be worse in high temperatures, humidity and if the fabric is stored when it is wet.
awn-op-015Some awnings have an aluminum or vinyl wrap-around weather guard that protects the awning fabric when it’s in the travel position. When you open the awning for the first time each year, or if it has been stored for a while, you will need to inspect the awning fabric for any signs of mildew or stains. Remember vinyl awnings will mildew. To prevent dirt from embedding into the woven fabric of an acrylic awning fabric you should simply hose the fabric off on a monthly basis. Avoid scrubbing acrylic awning fabric. Scrubbing can remove the water retardant finish. For stubborn stains blot the approved cleaner on the acrylic fabric with a sponge or soft cloth.

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

RV Trip Planning Checklist

truck & 5th wheelWhen you are getting ready to take a trip in your RV there are lots of things that need to be done. Planning the trip itself can be overwhelming. Travel guides, magazines, state tourism boards and Internet sites offer valuable information to help you plan your next RV trip. To help make planning your trips a little easier I wrote this trip planning checklist. This is an excerpt from my Checklist for RVers e-book

 

Here are some tips to help you plan for your next RV trip:

  • Route your trip on a GPS designed for use in RVs or from an Internet trip planning site.
  • Plan your itinerary to include what campgrounds you plan to stay at.
  • Give a family member or a friend a copy of your itinerary and contact information.
  • Make campground reservations well in advance, especially during the peak travel season.
  • Limit your traveling to 350 miles a day or less. Not only will your trip be more enjoyable, but this will allow plenty of time to get set-up at the campground before it gets dark outside.
  • Make sure your emergency roadside service plan is up to date. If you don’t have an ESP you should consider getting one prior to leaving on your trip.
  • Check and refill any prescription medications you will need for the duration of the trip.
  • If you’re under a doctor’s care take a copy of your medical records.
  • Check the weather conditions where you will be traveling each day. Add a good weather app to your smart phone if you don’t already have one. Your phone may not always get a signal so take a weather radio receiver with you.
  • Don’t travel in the RV when there is bad weather, or during periods of high winds.
  • Add emergency contacts or other important phone numbers to the contact list in your phone.
  • Take a spare set of eyeglasses or reading glasses.
  • Take a spare set of keys for the RV and tow vehicle if applicable.
  • Make sure you have all your owner’s manuals and warranty information for the RV.
  • Take passports (if necessary) and check expiration dates.
  • Take a copy of your extended service contract in the event you need repairs on the road. If you don’t have an extended service plan you might want to consider getting one, especially for extended RV trips.
  • Conduct pre-trip checklists on your RV and on the tow vehicle if applicable.
  • Make sure everything is loaded in the RV.
  • Complete the home security checklist.
  • Make one final walk-around of the RV.
  • Have a safe trip!

This trip planning checklist does not cover everything required to plan an RV trip, but it’s a good start. You can add to this list to tailor it to your specific needs.

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2017

RV DIY® Floor Covering Project  

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Today we’re going to tackle an RV floor covering do-it-yourself project in our used RV project 5th wheel trailer.

Click here to watch other DIY videos on our used RV project 5th wheel trailer.

The original floor covering in the RV is showing some age and we thought it would be a fun weekend project to replace it. When it was time to decide on a new floor covering we wanted something that was rated for commercial traffic, and that looked good too. After some research I found Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl. Infinity LWV products are popular in the marine industry and they are making a presence in the RV industry too. Infinity offers numerous collections of luxury woven vinyl products in more than 100 colors. We decided on the Linen luxury fabric because it highlights some of the RV’s interior treatments. img_20161201_094755033_hdr

Infinity luxury woven vinyl is anti-microbial, soil and stain resistant, fade resistant and easy to clean. It has a dense cushion backing, and its pet friendly which is great for us. Here is how we installed Infinity LWV flooring in the RV.

The first step of the pre-installation process was to determine where we wanted the new flooring and then  remove the existing flooring, which in our case included carpet and vinyl.

With that done we can start on the installation. It’s important to note when you work with this product it must be rolled face out, with the cushion in. Do not crease the fabric at all. The warranty is voided if it is rolled wrong, creased, or if the product was cut, fitted or installed. Let’s get started.

Note: Prior to cutting the product inspect it for any problems. If the fabric does not meet your expectations contact Infinity’s customer support.

Preparing the Floor for Installation

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Top 5 RV Storage Tips

rv-storage-rv-cover

When temperatures drop we winterize our RVs so we won’t have problems next spring, but winterizing your RV is only part of preparing the RV for winter storage. Lots of folks don’t think about it, but proper RV storage procedures are just as important as winterizing the RV’s plumbing system.

Here are my top 5 RV storage tips:

These RV storage tips do not cover everything you need to be concerned about when storing your RV, but it’s a good start.

inspect-for-water-leaksRV Storage Tip #1
When preparing the unit for storage I always wash the exterior and clean the interior thoroughly. Make sure all awning fabric is clean and dry before stowing the awnings. This is a good time to inspect all of the roof seams, body seams and window sealant for any cracks or openings that would let water penetrate the surface. Water can get in the smallest openings so it’s important that you closely inspect all of the sealants. Consult your RV owner’s manual or RV dealer for sealants compatible with any surfaces you are resealing.

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Tire Inflation Question

RV tire label 5th wheelQuestion: Can you tell me the correct pressure to inflate my RV tires to prior to taking a road trip? My travel trailer tires show a max psi of 70lbs on the tire’s sidewall. I can’t seem to get a straight answer from our local shops, and I want to make sure I don’t overheat or damage them. Thanks for any information you can provide.

Mark’s Answer:

This can be a bit confusing, but I’ll try and explain it. Tire manufacturers publish tire load and inflation tables for the tires they manufacture. In a perfect world you would know what the actual load placed on the tire is and you could go to the load and inflation tables for precise inflation pressures based on that load.

Of course things never work out that way. Since we know this isn’t always practical there are a couple methods to help determine tire inflation pressure. On the front left corner of the travel trailer you will find a Federal Certification Tag or label and a Tire and Loading Information label. These labels display information on tire inflation pressure, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). The tire inflation you see on this label is based on the trailer’s designed load limits. If no additional weight is placed on tires this inflation pressure is accurate. The question is how much weight is placed on each individual tire? The only way to answer that is to have the RV weighed by individual tire position. If you can’t or don’t weigh the RV by individual tire position using the information on the certification label is the next best thing.

The inflation pressure molded into the sidewall of the tire is the maximum amount of air pressure you can ever inflate the tire to if a full load was placed on the tire. You can locate the maximum load range on the tires sidewall.

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RV steering wheelQuestion: We own a motorhome and my question is; when we are not using it, and this could be for several months at a time, should I start the engine periodically?

Mark’s Answer: The quick answer to your question is yes, but there are other factors that need to be considered too. You didn’t mention if the motorhome was gas or diesel, or if it does or does not have an on-board generator.

The primary reasons for starting an engine during storage is to keep engine components lubricated and to prevent the fuel from tarnishing and gumming up. Both of these conditions can result in expensive repair bills to correct the problem. Diesel fuel can tolerate storage better than gasoline, but you still have concerns about keeping engine components lubricated.

Here’s what I recommend:

The first step is to change the oil and oil filter on the engine and generator prior to storage. Acids accumulate in used engine oil and can corrode engine bearings.

Next, add a fuel preservative to the fuel tank if the RV will sit idle for more than a couple months at a time. You can purchase fuel preservatives at your local auto parts store. Purchase enough to treat the amount of fuel in the fuel tank. Add the preservative and run the engine and the generator long enough for the preservative to get through the entire fuel system.

Note: I also recommend filling the tank with fuel to reduce the amount of condensation.

These preventive maintenance steps will help, but I still recommend starting and running the engine and generator at least monthly when it is in storage. Running the engine allows the oil to lubricate the dry components of the engine, and it helps keep the RV batteries topped off.

I also recommend starting and running the generator on a monthly basis. Make sure you run the generator with at least a half-rated load for an hour or two. You can locate generator load ratings in the generator owner’s manual.

 

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer E-Magazine November 2016

rv-consumer-magazine-cover-november-2016Welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer E-Magazine. In this cold weather issue Mark discusses important topics like winterizing your RV, cold weather maintenance and RV storage. This issue also features a fall and winter camping tips article and three RV videos of the month.

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Happy Camping,
RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

How to Apply RV Sealants

apply RV sealantsPeriodic roof inspections and maintenance can extend the life to your RV roof and the work is not difficult for RV owner’s to perform.

Today I want to discuss the correct way to apply new lap sealant on your RV roof.

To get many years of reliable service from your RV roof it’s important to properly maintain the roof. A major component of RV roof maintenance is inspecting the roof sealants periodically. If there is a way for water to penetrate the sealants it will find it.

Caution: Safety first, whenever you are working on your RV roof exercise caution. A fall can result in serious injury or death.

When you inspect the sealants on your RV roof the key is to look closely for any cracks or separation in the old sealant where water could penetrate the surface. This means getting on your hands and knees and really inspecting all of the sealants.

Prior to resealing any sealants on the roof you need to thoroughly clean the old sealant, and the surrounding roof surface so the new sealant can adhere to the surface. I use Dicor Rubber Roof Cleaner to first clean the area, followed by some denatured alcohol on a clean cloth as a final preparation.

If the old sealant you are resealing has lifted or separated from the surface of the roof and can be removed go ahead and remove it. Otherwise it’s best to leave it alone and seal over the old sealant.

Make sure you use the correct sealant for the roof’s surface. Consult your RV owner’s manual or local RV dealer for the proper sealant. Use a standard caulking gun and run a bead of caulk over the area you are resealing. If you are sealing a crack or separation in the old sealant you don’t need to apply as much sealant as you would for a new application.

Touching up old sealants on your RV roof is not difficult and it can help prevent costly water damage. Click here to watch the video

To learn more about using and maintaining your RV visit www.rveducation101.com

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Is your RV Sewer Hose Long Enough?

sewer-hose-longHave you ever arrived at your camping destination only to realize the RV sewer hose wasn’t long enough to reach the sewer drain outlet? I think this happens to most of us eventually. To help solve the problem I recommend keeping some RV sewer extension hoses on hand in the RV.

There are several different types and sizes of extension hoses available.

 

For starters lots of RVs have offset drain outlets inside the sewer compartment making it difficult to connect to the RV drain outlet itself. There are 2-foot extension hoses, referred to as compartment hoses to help solve this problem. Some of these extension hoses have built-in rotating fittings making it easy to connect to those tight compartment fittings.

The day will surely arrive when you need additional length hose to reach the campground drain outlet.  There are 5 and 10-foot extension hoses available to add length to your sewer hose. Connecting two hoses together is easy with the standard bayonet fittings.

Keep in mind you get what you pay for; like everything else some RV sewer hoses are better than others. The vinyl wrap the hose is made of comes in different thicknesses, and heavier vinyl hoses are less prone to pin holes and wear. Some RV sewer hoses are made with better connectors for a secure leak- free connection at the campground.

You will be glad you have extension hoses on hand when you need them.  I personally keep a 2-foot, 5-foot and 10-foot extension hose in the RV, in addition to a 20-foot drain hose. Research the various brands of extension hoses available and purchase a couple different size hoses just in case. If your RV travels take you to different campgrounds I can almost guarantee you will need extension hoses someday. Watch the video

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer E-Magazine October 2016

rv-consumer-magazine-cover-oct-2016In our special RV 2017 edition of RV Consumer e-Magazine take an inside look at new 2017 RV makes and models inside America’s largest RV Show with Mark Polk. Read Mark’s interview with John Serro’s grandson about the new vintage style Serro Scotty trailer line being reintroduced in 2017, and read a review on Dometic’s new dual zone portable refrigerator/freezer that can refrigerate and freeze food at the same time.Get all of this and more in this issue of RV Consumer e-Magazine.

Read in PDF format

Read in Flipbook format

 

battery-cell-resizedHow much water should I add to my RV battery?

That’s a good question, but before I answer your question let’s talk briefly about checking the electrolyte levels in your lead-acid batteries. Checking the water level in lead-acid battery cells on a regular basis can save and extend the life of your RV batteries. The more a battery is used and/or charged the more water evaporates from the cells. I recommend checking the water level monthly and after each RV trip. If you leave the RV plugged in, constantly charging the battery, you should check the water levels bi-monthly.

Next it’s important to know you only add water to a fully charged battery, unless the water level is already below the plates in the cell. If the water level is below the plates add just enough water to cover the plates and recharge the battery. When a battery is fully charged the water level is at the most accurate level. This is when you should check battery water levels.

Note: If you are not comfortable working on or near lead-acid batteries have a qualified RV repair facility perform the battery maintenance for you. When you work around batteries wear goggles and gloves, remove all jewelry and do not smoke or use any open flames.

To answer your question when you add water to a battery you only fill the cell to 1/8 inch below the bottom of the fill-well or split-ring. If you look inside the battery cell you will see a plastic ring that extends down inside the cell roughly 1 inch. This is what is referred to as the fill-well or split-ring. The electrolyte solution in lead-acid batteries is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. If you add too much water a couple things will happen that can be detrimental to the battery and to you.

  1. Adding too much water can deplete the required electrolyte solution of acid and water resulting in compromised battery performance.
  2. Adding too much water will result in corrosion caused by overflow during charging. Sulfuric acid is extremely corrosive and can can ruin paint, burn your skin and damage clothing.

Over filling a battery is bad, but even worse is when a battery is under-watered. When a battery is not recharged in a timely or when the plates are not covered by the electrolyte solution the plates begin to sulfate. The sulfate material attaches to the discharged or exposed portions of the plates and begins to harden into crystals. Eventually the sulfate material cannot be converted back into active plate material and the battery is ruined.  Battery sulfation is the number one cause of battery failure. Always make sure the plates are covered by the electrolyte solution. When you add water to a battery only use mineral free water, distilled water is best.

Follow these basic battery maintenance procedures and add years of life to your lead acid RV and automobile batteries.

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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image

When I was a teenager and went tent camping in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania we packed coolers with ice to keep our food cold and frozen. I remember making runs to the local country store every couple days to pick up more bags of ice for the coolers.

Those days are long gone. Now when we go camping, tailgating, to a sporting event or on RV trips we take a portable refrigerator/freezer by Dometic. They come in a variety of sizes (from 28 to 95 liters) and with numerous options to meet your specific needs. If you are on-the-go and need to keep drinks or food cold or frozen these portable refrigerator/freezers by Dometic are essential equipment.

imageWe started with a smaller portable unit and when our needs changed we checked out the new CFX-95DZUS Dual-Zone Portable Refrigerator & Freezer. It is loaded with features and options, but the most unique feature is the separate compartments so you can refrigerate and freeze at the same time. One compartment is 54 liters and the other compartment is 40.5 liters for a total storage capacity of 94.5 liters. The dual-zone feature is available in the CFX-65DZUS and CFX-95DZUS models. On the CFX-95DZUS model you can set either compartment anywhere from -8 degrees F to +50 degrees F so you can make either  the 54 Liter side or the 40.5 liter side freeze or refrigerate (or both sides freeze or both sides refrigerate).

image It comes with removable wire baskets for easy loading & cleaning. The CFX-95DZUS holds 117 12-oz. cans so keeping your kids entire sports team hydrated, or keeping beverages cold for an outdoor party is easy. It also features a dairy compartment for perishables.
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The tough and tested exterior is made to endure the harshest outdoor environments. It has durable latches, hinges, and drop-down handles designed to stand the test of time. It operates on 12-volt and 24-volt DC power or 120-volt AC power. Just plug it in and the powerful but energy efficient compressor starts cooling immediately. There is a USB port to charge a mobile device, and it has a built-in battery protection feature that can be set to Hi, Med, or Low when you are using 12VDC. This feature prevents the vehicle battery from draining if the 12-volt outlet stays powered when the vehicle is not running.

imageThe features don’t stop there. When it is turned on you will notice a digital temperature display and a soft-touch control panel. The temperature an be set from -8°F to +50°F (-22°C to +10°C). The memory feature maintains presets if the system is turned off and there is a quick-chill turbo feature too.

imageThe CFX-95DZUS model also has an iOS & Android app to control the portable cooler functions with your smartphone. I mentioned earlier that these portable refrigerator freezers are great for RV trips, back yard BBQs, sporting events, camping and tailgating. If you are active and on-the-go and need to keep food and drinks cold or frozen check out these versatile portable refrigerator/freezers by Dometic

Happy Camping,
Mark Polk

RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Polk’s Top 10 RV Battery Tips

RV deep cycle batteriesThis article pertains to deep-cycle lead-acid batteries used in RV applications. Properly maintained deep-cycle batteries should last for 6 or more years. Unfortunately some RV owners replace RV batteries every year or two. Extending battery life is not that difficult, it just requires some basic care & maintenance.

Today I would like to offer my top 10 tips to extend the life of your RV and automobile lead acid batteries.

Caution: Always keep safety in mind when working around lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries contain sulfuric acid that is extremely corrosive and can cause severe burns or blindness. The hydrogen gas produced by lead-acid batteries during charging is very explosive. When you work around batteries you need to wear goggles, gloves and remove any jewelry. Do not smoke or use any open flames around batteries

My Top 10 RV Battery Tips

  • Routine maintenance and recharging a discharged battery as soon as possible will extend the life of the battery. The leading cause of dead lead-acid batteries is sulfation. When a battery is in a low state-of-charge small crystals start forming on the plates (sulfation) and if it remains in this condition for an extended period of time, without recharging, the battery is ruined. Sulfation starts when a battery’s state of charge drops below 80%, or 12.4 volts. Recharging a battery in a timely manner helps prevent sulfation.

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

How To Clean Your RV Roof

rv roof cleaningWhenever I discuss RV roof care and maintenance I like to start with the basics, washing the RV roof.

Caution: Safety first, whenever you are working on your RV roof exercise caution. A wet roof can be extremely slippery and a fall can result in serious injury or death.

I personally use Dicor’s Rubber Roof Cleaner, but regardless of the cleaner you choose never use products that contain petroleum distillates, citric ingredients or harsh abrasives on your RV roof. These chemicals will damage rubber roof membranes.

I like to start at the front of the RV roof and work towards the back of the RV. Start by rinsing the roof to remove any loose dirt or debris. Next, spray the roof cleaner on the roof surface. I use a medium bristle brush attached to a broom handle, but you can use a sponge or other cleaning cloth if you prefer.

I like to work in 3 X 3 foot sections at a time. Scrub the roof surface in a circular motion so the cleaner can really work into the roof’s surface.  After a section is cleaned rinse it thoroughly with water.

Note: It’s a good idea to keep the sides of the RV wet so rinsing the cleaner from the roof’s surface does not leave any streaks or stains on the sides, front or rear of the RV.

It may be necessary to repeat the cleaning process on stubborn stains, or on a roof that has not been cared for properly.

That’s really all there is to cleaning your RV roof, and this simple preventive care and maintenance procedure can add years of life to your RV roof.

Watch the RV roof cleaning video here

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer e-Magazine September 2016

Welcome back to another issue of RV Consumer e-Magazine

In this issue read Mark’s assessment of who is responsible for what when it comes to trucks towing trailers, discover some simple portable RV satellite solutions, and read a guest contributors informative article titled, Camp Hosts – Who We Are & What We Do. And don’t miss watching the featured RV videos of the month. All of this and more…

Read this issue in PDF format

Read this issue in a digital flipbook format

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

What kind of RV Roof do I Have? 

RV roof It’s important you know what type of RV roof you have so you can properly clean and maintain the roof. For the most part there are two categories RV synthetic roofs fall into:

1) Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer or EPDM

2) Thermal Poly Olefin or TPO.

You may have heard various techniques for determining the type of rubber roof you have, but you need a sure-fire method, so there are no questions left unanswered.

You should be able to locate this information in the RV owner’s manual. If not, the easiest method I know is to go inside the RV and locate an overhead roof vent.  Using the proper type screwdriver remove the vent trim ring.  Most RV manufacturers will leave a section of the roofing material stapled to the inside of each side of the framed vent opening.  If possible remove a staple so you can look at both sides of the roofing material. If one side is a white or a dove color and the other side is black it is EPDM. If the roofing material is all one color, top and bottom, it is TPO.  Some TPO roofing has a fleece backing too, but the thing to remember is if the roofing material is all one color it is TPO.

If your RV roofing is EPDM, and you want to make repairs or touch-up the sealants you can use Dicor lap sealant.

If your RV roofing is TPO you need to do a bit more research prior to using any sealants. Beginning in 2011 new forms of TPO roofing entered the RV marketplace. Basically if the TPO roofing was manufactured in 2010 or earlier or if it has a fleece backing you can use Dicor lap sealant for repairs and resealing. If the TPO roofing was manufactured in 2011 or later, or if it does not have a fleece backing you need to use the Dicor Ultra Sealant System for resealing and repairs.

 

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer Magazine August 2016

RV Consumer Magazine cover August 2016Welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine.

In this month’s issue discover another side of RVing referred to as park model living and destination camping. If your RV has an onboard generator, or you own and use a portable generator don’t miss the RV generator 15 minute tune-up article, and watch this month’s featured video titled 10 Tips for Hot Weather RVing.

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

What to Avoid When Buying an RV

5th wheel trailersPurchasing a Recreation Vehicle is the second largest purchase many people will make in their lifetime. When you make the decision to spend that kind of money it’s important you make wise buying decisions. I have witnessed many poor buying decisions during my time in this industry and I would like to offer some pointers on how you can avoid some of these pitfalls.

First on my list is making a hasty buying decision. What this means is purchasing an RV without doing any research beforehand. Hasty buying decisions are common in a high pressure selling environments. This is especially true when a salesperson tells you prices are only good for today, or once this model is gone we can’t get another one like it. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. Lots of folks purchase RVs at RV shows where the excitement level is high only to discover later it is the wrong type, too big, too small or too expensive. Whatever the circumstances are, a hasty buying decision can be a costly mistake.

That leads me to the next mistake people make. When I sold RVs it was common for people to be a bit intimidated by the size of RVs. The thought of towing a 30-foot trailer can be intimidating, so buyers decide on a 24-foot model instead. I tried to explain to folks when you tow a trailer you don’t really notice a difference between a 24-foot or 30-foot trailer. Sure it is heavier, but with the proper tow vehicle and hitch components the length of the trailer is not a major factor to base the buying decision on. This is true with motorhomes too. I can’t tell you how many people purchase an RV and after driving or towing it came back to the dealership wanting something larger. This is another expensive proposition.

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My favorite pastime is traveling the country in our RV. I enjoy visiting new and interesting places, and experiencing new adventures in the RV. I also enjoy keeping up with my favorite satellite programming during our RV road trips.  There is nothing quite like settling in the RV at night and watching your favorite show or a good movie on TV. The last thing you want to do is ruin your evening trying to set-up the satellite antenna, or acquire a good signal.

What I want in our RV is a super simple portable RV satellite solution. After some research I discovered the Carryout G2+ automatic satellite antenna  by Winegard.

Let’s start by looking at a few concerns you might encounter with RV travel and satellite TV reception:

  • Ease of set-up
  • Accessing the satellite signal
  • Viewing TV using more than one satellite receiver

Ease of Set-Up

If you’re like me you don’t want headaches and stress when it comes to setting up a satellite system in the RV.

Switches to change satellite provider

Switches to change satellite provider

I found the Carryout G2+ set-up to be really easy. You make a few simple connections and before you know it you are watching your favorite TV program. The G2+ system is compatible with multiple satellite providers. We use Direct TV and that is the default setting on the power inserter, but it can easily be changed. Just follow the settings in the instructions to change the switches to a different provider.

 

g2 connectionsNext you simply connect the supplied 25’ coax between the G2+ and the power inserter, connect the 3’ coax between the power inserter and your receiver, and connect an HDMI or coax from the receiver to the TV. After the connections are made power up the receiver, the TV and the power inserter and the automatic antenna will start searching for a signal. That’s all there is to it. It literally took less than 20 minutes to set the system up right out of the box.

Accessing the Satellite Signal

One thing I really like about the Carryout G2+ is that it’s portable.

roof mount hardwareIt works great for RVs, and it can be used on other camping trips, for tailgating, backyard BBQs and more. The G2+ also offers several mounting options. Some options include temporary tripod and window mounts and there are more permanent roof, ladder and vehicle mounts. My primary goal was to use the G2+ on the RV so I opted to convert the portable Carryout G2+ into a permanent roof mount using the roof mount kit available from Winegard.

sat on roofThe G2+ features the latest technology in satellite acquisition. It is small, but powerful and it is fully automatic. What that means is after the connections are made the automatic antenna quickly goes to work locating the maximum signal strength. Keep in mind if there are trees, buildings or other obstacles in the path no satellite antenna will get a signal, but with a clear unobstructed view to the southern sky the G2+ quickly locks in on the strongest signal.

Viewing TV using more than one Receiver

For the past 8 years or so we used and enjoyed an older Winegard satellite antenna on our RV. It works great, but one disadvantage is you can only connect the antenna to one satellite receiver in the RV. This meant if someone was watching TV in the living room and someone else was watching TV in the bedroom both viewers had to watch the same channel. When we decided to upgrade the antenna one requirement was the new antenna needs to have the capability to connect to two receivers in the RV.

satThe Carryout G2+ solved this concern too. The antenna has two output connectors, one for the main receiver connection and another for a second receiver. You simply run a separate coax from the second antenna port to another receiver in the RV. Now you can view any program you want on both TVs as long as both programs are on the same satellite.

If a portable satellite antenna is the best choice for you, based on your needs, I highly recommend the Winegard Carryout G2+. It works great for someone on-the-go and as a temporary or permanently mounted antenna for your RV. The G2+ is compact in size, easy to connect, and easy to use. It really is a super simple portable satellite solution.

For more information on the Winegard Carryout G2+ and other satellite solutions visit www.winegard.com

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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trailer tiresThere has always been confusion when it comes to the type of tires used on travel trailers and 5th wheel trailers, or any type trailer for that matter. I think lots of folks are somewhat familiar with what are referred to as P-rated (passenger) or LT-rated (Light Truck) tire designations because that is what we use on our automobiles, SUVs and trucks. When you purchase a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer and the time comes to purchase new tires people are confronted with a new type of tire designation, ST-rated or “Special Trailer” tires.

Before we get into what “ST” tires are I want to talk briefly about some misinformation concerning ST trailer tires. ST tires get a bad rap in general for several reasons. In many cases the reason for tire failure on a trailer is due to overloading the tire, improper tire inflation, the age of a tire or constant exposure to the elements. I can’t tell you how many times I hear stories about tires that only have 10,000 miles and plenty of tread failing for no reason. What doesn’t get mentioned is the tires are 7 or 8 years-old, have cracks in the sidewalls, and are exposed to the sun and other elements every day. In other cases some folks fail to mention a tire was overloaded by 300 or 400 pounds and the tire failure occurred while towing the trailer at highway speeds in 90 degree temperatures. I am not saying this is always the case or reason for trailer tire failure, but it is in many situations.

With that said the designation ST stands for “Special Trailer” tire. ST tires are designed specifically for use on trailer axle positions only. They are not designed for steering axle positions or the traction requirements of a drive axle. ST tires have strengthened sidewalls to help prevent the tire from rolling under the rim in turns and when cornering. The majority of ST tires have a maximum speed rating of 65 mph. ST tires feature materials and construction designed to meet the higher load requirements and demands trailer towing places on a tire.

There has always been controversy surrounding whether to replace ST tires with a good quality LT tire. There are some LT tires I think would do the job on a trailer, but at the end of the day if ST tires are properly matched for the application, properly inflated, properly maintained and not overloaded they are the right tire for the job, in my opinion.

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Refrigerator Tips & Tricks

RV refrigerator When summer temperatures arrive you want to make sure your RV refrigerator can deal with the heat. Today I would like to offer some tips and tricks so the RV refrigerator can do its job more efficiently.

The initial cool down process can take four to six hours. I recommend turning the refrigerator on the day before you plan to leave on your trip. To maximize efficiency it’s best if the food you put in the refrigerator is already cold, and food you put in the freezer is already frozen. Do not over pack refrigerator. Air needs to circulate through the compartment for best results. In most situations you have access to a grocery store while camping, so a two to three day supply of food should be sufficient.

fan in RV refrigerator

fan in RV refrigerator

A simple solution to assist with air circulation is to purchase an inexpensive, battery operated refrigerator fan. Install the batteries and place the fan in the front area of the refrigerator compartment blowing upwards. An inexpensive battery operated fan like this can improve the refrigerator’s efficiency as much as by 50%.

 

When you arrive at the campground the RV needs to be fairly level for the refrigerator to operate properly and for optimum performance.

inspect RV refrigeratorHeat created by the cooling process is vented behind the refrigerator. Periodically inspect the back of the refrigerator and the roof vent for any obstructions like bird nests, leaves or other debris that might prevent heat from escaping. The outside temperature directly affects the operation and efficiency of your RV refrigerator too. When it’s hot out try parking your RV, with the side the refrigerator is on, in the shade.

Try to limit how often you open the refrigerator or freezer doors and the length of time you leave the doors open. Every time the door is opened it can lose a few degrees of cooling.

Last but not least I recommend keeping a small thermometer in the food compartment. Food can begin to spoil at temperatures above 40 degrees.

RV absorption refrigerators do a great job for RV owners. It will do an even better job, and last longer, if you apply these simple tips and tricks to maximize the refrigerator’s efficiency.

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

10 Tips for Hot Weather RVing

Just in time for the hot weather! Watch this short “10 tips for hot weather RVing” RV how-to video to help you prepare the vehicle for the heat, and show you what you can do to keep the RV cool at the campground too.

Happy Camping,
Mark Polk
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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer Magazine July 2016

RV Consumer Magazine In this special edition of RV Consumer Magazine readers can take a trip through RV time at the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum, and read an informative article on how to protect your RV water system. You can also test your RV knowledge by playing a crossword puzzle on RV fresh water systems.

To view the PDF version, click here.

To view the flipbook version, click here.

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Trailer Tongue Weight Questions

weight distributing hitchQuestion: I read an article you wrote about the ideal ratio of hitch weight to overall trailer weight. The numbers you gave for trailer tongue weight were 10 to 15% of the loaded trailer weight, and the reasons you stated made a lot of sense to me. Recently I was talking to an RV salesman at our local dealership and he claimed the ratio didn’t matter if you use a weight distributing hitch. I am not sure if he is correct or not. I would appreciate your take on his statement.

 Mark’s Answer: He is correct about using a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH), but incorrect in saying the Tongue Weight (TW) ratio does not matter if you use a WDH.

Let me try and explain. The trailer tongue weight ratio definitely does matter. Too much trailer tongue weight placed on the hitch ball can cause poor steering, handling and braking, and too little tongue weight can cause the tow vehicles rear wheels to lose traction and contribute to trailer sway.

The amount of tongue weight does depend on the hitch system you use. For the most part there are two types of hitches, weight carrying and weight distributing. The term Weight Carrying (WC) hitch means that all of the trailer’s tongue weight is supported by the hitch itself. Weight carrying hitches are used for lighter trailer applications that don’t require a weight distributing hitch.

Heavier trailers with more tongue weight require a weight distributing hitch to lessen some of the tongue weight placed on the hitch ball. When you use a weight distributing hitch a portion of the tongue weight is distributed to the axles on the trailer and to the front and rear axles of the tow vehicle. In essence you use a weight distributing hitch to bring the amount of tongue weight placed on the hitch ball within the optimum range.

For the best towing scenario this tongue weight amount still needs to be in the 10 to 15% range of the loaded trailer’s weight. That is why there are different size weight distributing hitch systems, so it can be properly matched to the trailer weight you are towing. If you use a weight distributing hitch that is too big or too small you don’t get the proper amount of hitch weight and you are defeating the purpose of using a weight distributing hitch in the first place. Your RV dealer should be able to determine the proper weight distributing hitch for your particular application.

 

 

RV 101® by Mark Polk – In this RV how to video learn how to install and program the Tire Minder TM77 Tire Pressure Monitoring System on a motorhome.

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Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Should I Cover My RV?

RV cover on shelfI get asked this question a lot. What are the pros and cons of covering your RV? My answer is always, the pros outweigh the cons 10 to 1. The only real cons I can think of is putting the cover on and taking it off.

I am extremely fortunate because we have a garage large enough to store our RV in when we aren’t using it. Prior to building the garage I always kept the RV covered when it sat idle for a couple months at a time. Mother Nature can wreak havoc on materials made of plastic, fiberglass, rubber and vinyl, which is basically the exterior of your RV.

The sun is the primary threat to an uncovered RV, but wind, rain and snow aren’t far behind when it comes to damaging the RV’s exterior. It doesn’t take long for ozone and ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun to damage an RV. Early signs are when the paint on the exterior begins to fade. Eventually you start to notice other products like rubber, vinyl and plastic drying out and cracking.

Another problem is black streaks on the sidewalls of the RV. When it rains dirt and debris from the RV roof runs down the sides of the RV leaving those notorious black streaks. If you ever tried to clean black streaks from the side of a RV, especially one with corrugated aluminum siding, you know how difficult it can be. If you don’t get the black streaks off of the surface in a timely manner they get embedded in the paint and are nearly impossible to remove.

Covering the RV may not prevent all of this, but it helps slow the aging process down. A good quality RV cover also helps protect the RV from possible water damage when it is in storage. Anywhere the RV manufacturer cut an opening in the RV has the potential to leak, especially if the sealants have not been inspected and resealed on a periodic basis. An RV exposed to the elements for months on end can have a water leak you are not aware of, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage the following spring.

This equates to recouping the cost of a good RV cover over one winter.

I mentioned “a good cover” a couple times, and this is important. You not only want a cover that properly fits the type and size of your RV, but you want it constructed from material that can withstand the elements. You also want a fabric that is breathable. This lets air circulate and keep surfaces dry which helps prevent mold and mildew. Never cover your RV with one of those blue plastic tarps. Tarps or covers similar to that promote mold and mildew, and keep moisture and water in rather than allowing it to evaporate and stay dry.

With a little preventive maintenance and a good quality RV cover you can keep your RV looking like new and in better condition for many years to come.

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer Magazine June 2016

RVConsumerMagazineCoverJune2016
Welcome back to another information packed issue of RV Consumer Magazine. In this issue get some tips on how to prepare your RV for hot weather camping, discover what you can do to maximize your RV refrigerator’s efficiency, check out some common mistakes RV owners make and learn how to avoid them, and find out if you are RV educated by playing the RV crossword puzzle on RV awnings. Read all of this and watch this month’s RV videos in the June 2016 edition of RV Consumer Magazine.

 

 

 

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Water Filters, Do I Really Need One?

RV water filterTake a minute to think about the water system on your RV.

First, consider that you add and use water from a different source every time you take the RV camping. Second, consider that some water remains in the RV water lines and in the fresh water holding tank, even after you drain it. This water could potentially sit for several months at a time between RV trips and during storage.

These two points alone should convince you that filtering your RV water makes sense. I always recommend folks sanitize the RV water system every spring when you take the RV out of storage, and any time you detect an odor in the plumbing system. I will save sanitizing the RV water system for another post, so we can concentrate on water filtration.

After making the decision to filter your RV water you need to decide on the best water filtration system for you. There are several different ways you can do it.

  • One option is to filter all the water coming into the RV. Some people like this option because even the water you shower with is filtered. There are water filtration systems that can be installed directly into the RV’s plumbing system, and other water filters you simply connect in-line using the RV drinking hose.
  • To go a step further there are water filtration systems that use a single filter cartridge and others that use two cartridges, which usually means there is a sediment filter and a some type of carbon filter used in the system.
  • A third option is to only filter the water you use for cooking and drinking. In this case the water filter is usually installed in-line under a counter at the sink, or sinks you drink from in the RV.

There are numerous brands of filtration systems to choose from, and many are designed specifically with RVs in mind. Water filters are not difficult to install. You can do-it-yourself, or take the RV to your local RV dealer and have the installation done.

Regardless of how you do it, I personally think filtering the water is a smart decision and You can rest assured the water you drink, cook with and shower with is safe to use.

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Generator 15 Minute Service

Generator oil and filterYour RV generator is powered by an internal combustion engine. When it comes to maintenance internal combustion engines need two things to operate properly and help prolong engine life; it needs fresh air and clean oil.

In 15 minutes you can change your generator engine oil and filter and clean or replace the air filter. Here’s how you do it.

Draining engine oilThe first step is to start and run the generator for a couple of minutes. This warms the oil up making it easier to drain the crankcase. Just keep in mind the engine, oil filter and oil itself will be warm so be careful. Shut the engine off, place a drain pan under the oil drain plug or tube and drain the old oil.

Generator oil filter

 

When the oil stops draining you can remove the oil filter. Note: Not all generators use oil filters, and depending on the type and model of generator the location of the filter can vary. Consult your generator owner’s manual for more information.

Install oil filter

 

Wipe the area where the filter installs with a clean rag. Put a thin layer of clean oil around the rubber gasket on the new oil filter and reinstall the filter. Snug the filter to get a good seal, but do to overtighten it.

Add engine oil

 

 

Using a funnel add the recommended type and amount of new oil to the crankcase. Consult your generator owner’s manual for oil viscosity and capacity.

Check engine oil

 

 

Start and run the generator for about 30 seconds. Shut it off, wait a few seconds and check the oil level. Adjust the oil level as required. Check for any oil leaks around the oil filter and oil drain plug or tube.

Replace air filter

 

 

Internal combustion engines are basically big air pumps. The engine needs clean air to operate properly. Remove the air filter housing cover and check the air filter for cleanliness and for any dirt and debris.

New air filter

 

Sometimes it’s possible to clean an air filter, but for the cost of a new filter it’s easier to just replace it, and your engine will thank you for it. Usage on a generator is based on hours. Check the hour meter and record the oil, oil filter and air filter replacement in the maintenance section of the generator owner’s manual.

That’s all there is to a 15 minute RV generator service. Follow the service intervals recommended by the generator manufacturer and your generator will always be there for you when you need it.

Happy camping,

Mark J. Polk

RV Education 101

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Travel with Pets

 

RV travel with petsOne reason RV travel is so popular is you can travel with your pets. Today I would like to offer some tips to make RV travel with pets as comfortable as possible for you and your pets.

Consider the campground you are staying at. Are they pet friendly? Do they even allow pets? It is unfortunate, but some areas or campgrounds you plan to visit might have Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) or ban particular breeds of dogs. We always call the campground in advance to check the pet policy prior to making reservations.

  • Always keep in mind RVs can get extremely hot or cold inside depending on the outside temperature. Always make sure there is some type of ventilation and heat or air available when pets are left in the RV.
  • Never leave your pets in an RV for long periods of time without  checking on them periodically.
  • Always have fresh drinking water available for your pets. You never know the quality of the drinking water when you travel so it’s a good idea to take a container of water from your home that your pets are accustomed to, or use bottled water. Don’t forget to take the brand of pet food your pet is accustomed to.
  • Pets should always travel in a pet carrier or crate for personal safety.
  • Get a current health certificate from your veterinarian before traveling, and take the pet’s medical records with you.
  • It’s a good idea to have some photographs of your pets in the event they get lost or separated from you.
  • Update all vaccinations before leaving on your trip and take a proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Take flea, tick, and heartworm medications if you will be on extended RV trips.
  • Take your veterinarians regular phone number and emergency phone numbers. Get the phone number for a local veterinarian when you arrive at your destination.
  • Your pet’s collar should include identification along with basic information such as your name, address and a cell phone number. You can include an e-mail address too. Microchip your pets so people know how to contact you in the event your pet gets lost.
  • Take a harness, tie out anchor and a leash or chain. Give your pet plenty of room to move, but be cautious of traffic and obstacles they could get hung or caught on. We use portable exercise pens.Make sure there is shade. Never leave pet unattended.

This doesn’t cover all the information and concerns involved when traveling with your pets, but it’s a good start.

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer Magazine May 2016

RV Consumer Magazine Cover May 2016Welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine. In our 5th wheel project trailer special issue read articles and watch RV DIY videos on topics like sanitizing the RV water system, how to replace an RV toilet, how to reseal RV corner molding, how to repair RV sun damaged items, how to remove RV black streaks and how to lubricate your RV. This issue also includes a step-by-step article on how to reseal RV windows and an informative article questioning the assigned tow rating of a Toyota Highlander. Available as a Flipbook or PDF file

If you have RV friends and family send them this link so they can subscribe and enjoy RV Consumer magazine too.
Click to Subscribe Now

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Mark Polk
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Inspecting Your RV Roof Pays Dividends

RV roof sealantWater damage is at the top of my list for maintenance concerns on RVs, and most of the time it originates at the roof. There are numerous reasons for this. Every where the manufacturer cut a hole in the RV roof has the potential to leak, and everywhere the sidewalls and end caps meet the roof is another potential source for water leaks. When you add all the twisting and flexing that takes place on the road it’s just a matter of time before sealants give way to water intrusion and damage.

The good news is a little preventive maintenance helps avoid this costly damage from happening to your RV. Sealants used on RV roofs do a good job, but eventually they dry-out, crack and allow water to penetrate the surface. RV manufacturers are aware of these issues and if you read your owner’s manuals most manufacturers require routine inspections of the roof and sealants for the warranty to remain effective. The reason for this is simple, periodic inspections of the roof seams and sealants will reveal problems that can be corrected before it results in expensive repair bills.

There are safety concerns anytime you work on the RV roof, and if you are not comfortable doing this type of work have it done by a reputable RV repair facility. You also want to make sure the roof on your RV can support your weight. Some RV roofs are not designed to be walked on. Always exercise caution when you work on the RV roof, a fall can result in serious injury or death.

I always say the key to these inspections is to get on your hands and knees and thoroughly inspect all of the seams and sealants. A small crack or opening can allow water to penetrate the roof’s surface. If you find a potential leak you want to seal it with a sealant designed specifically for the roofing material on your RV. Consult your RV owner’s manual or local RV dealer for proper sealants. It’s not necessary to completely remove the old sealant unless it is cracking or peeling away from the surface. Clean the area thoroughly (you can use denatured alcohol on a clean cloth) and seal the area with a compatible sealant.

If you get into a habit of periodically inspecting and sealing the RV roof you will extend the life of the RV and avoid any issues with your RV warranty. For more information on you RV roof, roof maintenance and helpful videos click here.

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Deep Cycle Battery Maintenance Tips

Dry Battery CllWhen you go camping you depend on your deep cycle batteries, especially if you are dry-camping. To make sure your batteries are up to the task and to help extend the life of your batteries there are a few simple preventive maintenance (PM) checks we can perform.

Before we talk about lead-acid battery maintenance we need to discuss battery safety. Lead acid batteries contain sulfuric acid which is extremely corrosive and can cause severe burns or blindness. When you work around batteries you need to wear goggles and gloves, remove all jewelry and do not smoke or use any open flames. If you are not comfortable working on or around batteries have this maintenance performed by an authorized service center.

Battery maintenance is actually very simple. If you perform these PM procedures on a routine basis you can extend the life expectancy of your RV batteries.

The first thing you want to do is visually inspect the battery for any obvious damage. Any fluid on or around the battery may be an indication that electrolyte is leaking from the battery. A damaged or leaking battery should be replaced immediately.

Inspect the battery terminals, cables, and connectors for any damage and for good connections. Look for any signs of corrosion. Corroded battery terminals or swollen and corroded battery cables will severely reduce a battery’s performance. Clean any dirty battery terminals and connectors using a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and warm water. When you finish cleaning the cables and connectors spray the clamps with a battery terminal protector to assist in preventing corrosion.

Check the battery water levels. Checking the electrolyte on a regular basis can save your flooded lead acid batteries. I recommend checking it monthly. If you leave the RV plugged in, with the battery charging constantly I recommend checking water levels bi-monthly.  Single stage battery chargers can overcharge a battery and boil off the electrolyte. When you add water only use mineral free water. Distilled water is best. Only fill a battery cell to 1/8 inch below the vent well. Overfilling battery cells will cause battery acid to overflow. Water should only be added after fully charging the battery unless the water level is already below the plates. The plates need to be covered at all times.

Another tip is to always recharge a battery as soon as possible after it is discharged. The leading cause for dead lead-acid batteries is sulfation. Sulfation starts when a battery is in a low state-of-charge, and if it remains in that condition for extended period of time, without recharging, it will be ruined.

These are simple preventive maintenance procedures RV owners can perform to help prevent battery issues, and extend the life of your RV batteries.

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

How To Reseal RV Corner Molding

In this RV DIY® video host Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, demonstrates how to reseal RV corner molding using Seal-Tite™ Corner Seal by Seal Design an affiliate of Dicor.
Corner Seal Provides Better Leak Protection than Caulk-and-Molding Alone
When unfinished ceilings and walls join, large gaps can form between the unsealed edges. This is especially true when joining corrugated metal RV siding and metal S-Lock. Oftentimes the caulk in a caulk-and-molding system will not properly cover these gaps, or the leg of the molding does not extend far enough down the RV surface.

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Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer Magazine April 2016

RV Consumer Magazine April 2016 cover

Welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine, your premier provider for RV education and information.

If you are in the market to purchase an RV don’t miss this month’s feature article on “Things to Avoid when Buying an RV.” Get 10 RV battery tips to help make sure your batteries are ready for another camping season and find out how to select the right tire gauge for your RV tires .

Get all of this and more in the April 2016 issue of RV Consumer Magazine.

If you have RV friends and family send them this link so they can subscribe and enjoy RV Consumer magazine too.
Click to Subscribe Now

 

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Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV DIY® RV Water Heater Maintenance

RV DIY® with Mark Polk – RV Water Heater Maintenance Tips: Cleaning and flushing the RV water heater on a routine basis can help extend the life of the water heater.

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Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

How to Upgrade Your RV Flooring

Is it time for new flooring in your RV? In this RV DIY® video Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, demonstrates how to upgrade your old RV flooring with new Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl flooring.

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Mark Polk

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Toyota Highlander Tow Rating Questioned

I want to say at the onset I contacted Toyota on several occasions in an effort to get answers to my questions and to hear Toyota’s response on what you are about to read. Initially Toyota did respond and seemed eager to assist, but as more questions arose my requests for information went unanswered.

The Backstory

For years I looked on as vehicle manufacturers published trailer weight ratings that seemed too good to be true. In many cases these tow ratings were too good to be true, when a particular vehicle could not safely tow the amount of weight it was supposedly tested and rated to tow. This is what is commonly referred to as “the towing wars.” In a nutshell vehicle manufacturers sell more vehicles if they can tout “best-in-class” tow rating for a particular vehicle during a particular model year. And in my opinion it is an ego thing; not to be outdone by competitors they up the ante and claim their truck can now tow more than the other guy’s truck.

The towing wars continued for years and unfortunately the consumer was the loser. Folks based buying decisions on how much a manufacturer stated a vehicle could tow or haul, only to be disappointed afterwards. The problem, as I see it, was individual manufacturers developed and used their own methods to determine a vehicle’s towing capacity, but these tests and standards were not vetted. Manufacturers could say pretty much whatever they wanted and not be questioned. I watched this evolve into genuine safety concerns for consumers who purchased vehicles based on published tow capacities, with plans of towing a trailer.

Something needed to be done!

Interestingly several manufacturers must have acknowledged the problem too. Way back in the 90s the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) began working on standardized testing to use in determining trailer weight ratings. Ford, Dodge, GM and other truck manufacturers worked voluntarily on the committee tasked with developing a solution to the problem. It literally took years, but by 2010 it looked as though a solution was on the horizon. The voluntary standard, referred to as SAE J2807, was gaining momentum; making one believe manufacturers were on board with standardized testing for the 2011 model year. It turned out Toyota was the only manufacturer to use the new 2807 standard in 2011, and it would be several more years before others would follow suit.

Note: SAE J2807 is basically a standard that can be used to determine a vehicle’s Gross Combined Weight Rating from which a Trailer Weight Rating can be assigned. The formula is simple; GCWR minus Loaded Vehicle Weight equals Trailer Weight Rating. If all manufacturers participate the consumer can compare vehicles (all measured against the same standard) and determine the best vehicle for their needs.

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