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 buy 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. Trailer 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 with only 10,000 miles and plenty of tread failing for no reason. What people fail to mention is the tires are 7 or 8 years-old, have cracks in the sidewalls, and are exposed to the sun and elements every day. In other cases some fail to mention a tire was overloaded by 300 or 400 pounds and the tire failure happened while towing the trailer 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 the load or traction requirements of a drive or steering 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, 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 somebody checking on them periodically. If you will be away from your pets and the RV for an extended period of time leave a key with someone you can trust to check on them and in case of an emergency.
  • 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 of the twisting and flexing that takes place on the road it’s just a matter of time before sealants give way to water 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 getting on your hands and knees and thoroughly inspecting 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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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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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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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

RV Education 101

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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.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Braking Distance

RV Brake PedalGetting to your favorite camping destination is half the fun as the saying goes, but getting there safely is the most important thing.

When you are towing a trailer or driving a motorhome it takes longer to stop than it does in an automobile. The heavier the vehicle or combination is the longer it take to stop.

Understanding the braking equation can help? When you apply the brakes to stop a vehicle there are four phases that comprise the braking equation.

The phases are:

  • Perception time, or the time it takes to recognize you need to stop.
  • Reaction time, or the time it takes to apply the brakes.
  • Brake lag, or the time it takes after you apply pressure on the pedal until the brakes start to engage.
  • Stopping distance, or the distance you travel after the brakes engage.

Now let’s take a closer look at what you can do to improve the braking equation and get to your destination safely.

Of the four phases you only have control over one.

  • Your reaction time is your reaction time and there is not much you can do to improve it.
  • Brake lag varies with vehicles and different types of braking systems. On vehicles with air brakes it can take a half-second or longer. You cannot change brake lag.
  • The only control you really have over stopping distance is maintaining the RV’s tires and brakes.
  • That leaves perception time, the one phase you do have control over.

For example if you are traveling 55 mph and it takes you three seconds to perceive or recognize the need to stop you traveled about 240 additional feet before you start to react. If you are mentally alert and aware of your surroundings you can improve your perception time to less than one second. That means rather than traveling 240 feet before recognizing the need to stop you only travel 60 feet before you react. You will stop 180 feet sooner just by improving your perception time.

When you drive or tow an RV staying aware of what is happening in front, behind and around you will help improve perception time and improve your RV driving and towing skills.

This is an excerpt from our Drive your Motorhome Like a Pro DVD

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

How To Replace or Reseal an RV Window

There are different types and styles of RV windows, but one of the most popular is a clamp ring style window. When you install the window there is a clamp ring on the inside with holes around the perimeter so you can screw the clamp ring into the window’s frame. As you tighten the screws it clamps and seals the window in place. This is the style of window we are discussing today.

We purchased an older 5th wheel project trailer to produce some RV do-it-yourself and RV how-to videos on. The videos are basic upgrades and repairs RV owners can make on their RVs. The videos will be available on our RV Education 101 and RV 101 YouTube channels.

You might need to replace a broken window, reseal a window or remove a window to repair water damage, which happens to be the case with our 5th wheel project trailer. During my inspections of the trailer I noticed signs of water damage on the rear wall. After removing the interior paneling I saw a small amount of water damage around the window, and needed to remove the window to make repairs.

RV window clamp ringOn the interior window frame you will notice numerous screws. These screws secure the clamp ring to the frame and seal the window. Using the correct screwdriver tip remove all of the screws. Keep in mind when the screws are removed the window is ready to come out, so it’s a good idea to have somebody outside too. If the sealant around the window is still good it might take a little effort to get the window out, but it will come. You might also notice some small spacers around the window frame. Make a mental note where the spacers are located for installation.

RV water damage repairedWith the window and interior paneling removed I could assess the damage. In lots of cases it’s necessary to remove the corrugated aluminum sheeting from the exterior too, but the damage was minimal and I was able to make repairs to the window frame and wall from the interior. After the framing repairs were completed and new insulation was installed I cut and stapled new interior paneling to fit around the window opening. Now it’s time to re-install the window.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Don’t Do What That Guy Did to His RV

It doesn’t matter if you are a new RV owner or a seasoned veteran, we all make silly mistakes at some point in time. I usually encourage the use of checklists to help avoid making some of the more common mistakes RV owners make from time to time. When you use a checklist it’s not as easy to forget or overlook a certain step or procedure. But you can’t have a checklist for everything you do in your RV. With that said, in no particular order I want to offer some common mistakes RV owners make in an effort to prevent the same thing from happening to you.

RV toilet flushingOne common problem RV owners experience is odors coming from the black water holding tank. Most of the problem is associated with the way the RV toilet and black water holding tank is designed. RV holding tanks have a vent pipe going from the tank to the roof of the RV. The holding tank odors accumulate in the tank and can’t really be vented outside because there is no air pressure to help force the gasses (odors) up and out of the roof vent. When the air pressure is higher inside the holding tank, than it is inside the RV, the odor escapes into the RV by way of the toilet when you flush it. Some of this can’t be prevented but there are a couple things that help. One is to use plenty of water. The water level in your holding tank will help control odors. You need to get in the habit of adding more water to the holding tank whenever you flush the toilet. It is important you keep the water level above the contents of the holding tank to help control odors. And of course holding tank treatments help too.  Another problem is people don’t add enough water after they empty the holding tanks. You need to know what size holding tank you have and make sure you add enough water to completely cover the bottom of the tank, at a minimum, every time you empty the tank. And there are aftermarket roof vents designed specifically to help pull the gasses from the tank and vent it outside.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV 101® RV Tire Pressure Tips

RV 101® with Mark Polk – Tips on how the ambient temperature affects RV tire inflation. This video is intended to bring awareness to what can happen to tire inflation pressure when the RV sits in storage for weeks or months at a time.

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer Magazine March 2016

  CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE to this FREE E-Magazine HERE   Remember, when you subscribe, you will receive an e-mail that you must reply to that email in order to confirm your free subscription to this digital Magazine.

Welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine  March 2016, your premier provider for RV education  and information.

We offer both a  PDF File CLICK HERE
 
Get a jump on your RV spring maintenance checks, find out if your RV awnings are ready for another camping season, read Mark’s list of the top 10 consumables to keep in your RV and check out the new RV101 YouTube channel we just launched. Get all of this and more…
Enjoy this 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.

Issue # 176 of our RV Consumer E-magazine news  READ HEREhttp://rveducation101.com/flipbook/March-2016/

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

NOAA Weather Radio on the Road & at Home

Istorm rainingAfter reading one of my articles a person wrote asking why I promote the use of a weather radio during RV trips. His logic was, in today’s world you have smart phones with weather apps, TV and satellite dishes. Why would you need a weather radio too?

My response was, not only do I recommend traveling with a weather radio in the RV, but when we return home we keep it in the house. A good weather radio operates on 120-volt AC power and on batteries, keeping you up to date on weather conditions even if you lose power. A good weather radio has an audible warning to alert you in the event of bad weather. And you can receive weather service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24/7 from a weather station close to the vicinity you are in.

doppler map storm

 

 

Some would argue that a smart phone works off of a battery, has an up to date weather app and will alert you in the event of bad weather and let you see the Doplar radar map. I agree with that logic, but in some remote areas you travel in with your RV you don’t always get a strong signal for cell phone reception or the capability to send or receive data.

 

 

weather dataWe recently had a situation occur that reaffirms my thoughts on this subject. There was bad weather moving through the area where we live and the potential for tornadoes and flooding was high. We live in a remote area, away from cell phone towers and our phone reception is spotty at best. As the bad weather approached we lost our Direct TV satellite reception and the weather app on my phone did not work.

weather radio.I plugged the weather radio in and set the audible alert notification. In less than 20 minutes of turning the radio on the alert sounded and a weather service warning, from a local National Weather Radio office reported a tornado was spotted less than 15 miles from our house. Needless to say without the weather radio we would not have a clue a tornado was spotted or the location and path of the tornado.

RVs are not safe in severe storms like tornados and thunderstorms with high winds. At the campground a weather radio can alert you in time to seek safe shelter from an approaching storm. These are just a couple reasons why I recommend keeping a weather radio in the RV and in your house when you are not traveling.

Click here for tornado information and what to do

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Top 7 Tips to Extend RV Engine Life

Mark Polk’s top 7 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.

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Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Sewer Hose Tips and Tricks

Good to have RV sewer hose accessories that help make the job of emptying your RV holding tanks easier.

Happy Camping,
Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Trailer Towing Hitch Ball Tips

It’s important you use the proper trailer hitch ball for the job. Here’s a short trailer towing video explaining the various types, sizes and weight ratings for trailer hitch balls.

Happy Camping,
Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Tire Quick Tip

air compressor picToday I want to talk briefly about RV tires. I cannot tell you how many times I hear tires get blamed for a tire blow-out. The truth is if you dig a little deeper the tire itself is usually not the cause for a blow-out.
The load a tire can safely carry is based on several factors like the tire’s size, the load rating, and the inflation pressure. If you overload a tire, or don’t inflate it properly for the load it can result in tire failure. Understanding RV tires can be confusing. To help simplify it just remember it is the air pressure in the tire that supports the load placed on the tire. 
weight scalesAs an RV owner it is your job to make sure the tires are properly inflated for the load. The first step is to determine the actual load that is on the tires. The only way to do that is to have the fully loaded RV weighed, preferably by individual wheel position. If you discover a tire is overloaded you need to lighten or redistribute the load. After you know the actual loads you can go to the tire manufacturer’s load and inflation tables to see what the correct inflation pressure for the load is. This inflation pressure might be different from the information on the certification label and that is okay, but keep in mind you should never exceed the maximum inflation pressure that is on the tires sidewall.
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

My First Truck Camper

military van resizedI have owned and camped in nearly every type of RV there is. When asked my favorite type RV my response is a motorhome, based on convenience, but a truck camper is my favorite for camping in general. I relate my passion for truck campers back to my days in the military. In 1984, as a young Maintenance Warrant Officer, I was stationed with the 3/36th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 3rd Armored Division in West Germany.  This assignment would turn out to be one of the most challenging during my military career. The Cold War was still going strong, and we spent months out of the year deployed on field training exercises. My primary job was to keep all our assigned wheeled and tracked vehicles operational during this rigorous training schedule, and to oversee vehicle recovery operations.

To help make our maintenance operations more efficient when deployed I took an old M35A2 6X6 deuce-and-a-half truck and a run-down shop van and turned them into my maintenance operations center. This was my first truck camper.

We did not use tents because a mechanized infantry battalion was always on the move and the maintenance operation had to be mobile. On one side of the shop van we built shelving and small compartments to house hard to find parts. These parts could be used for barter, and to help keep our fleet of vehicles operational during field training exercises. On the opposite side of the van we built a counter top for our radio and communications equipment, and displayed maps on the wall above it to plot and track vehicle recovery missions. In the front section of the shop van we built some crude bunk beds for me and the Battalion Maintenance Supervisor.  The shop van was very sparse in amenities, but it had heat, lights and an inverter to operate the essentials like a coffee pot.

Over the course of the next three years I would spent countless days and nights running the battalion maintenance operations from that old shop van mounted on a 2 ½ ton truck. Those field training exercises were hard times, and you would get very little sleep, but the memories of that military truck and shop van would evolve into the passion I have for truck campers today.

Truck campers are equipped with all the amenities you could want but somehow, at least for me, bring back the basics of camping.  When we travel in our motorhome it is similar to being at home, but in a truck camper it seems more utilitarian. It is smaller and more compact, but fully functional. And as opposed to having everything packed that you could possibly need or want on a camping trip you only have room for the essentials. To me this is what makes camping fun.

We had a nice used Lance truck camper, but sold it and now I regret it. One of the most enjoyable RV trips in recent memory was a cross-country trip Dawn and I took in the truck camper. Two adults and three dogs were challenging at times, but fun and memorable. Like towable trailers it is important you have a truck that can handle the weight of a truck camper. We just purchased a new Ram 2500 with a 6.7L Cummins turbo-diesel and still need to be cautious of weights, especially with truck campers. This year we are planning a trip from North Carolina to Las Vegas to attend the SEMA and RVDA shows and from there to Louisville, Kentucky for the National RV Trade Show and then back home. If I have my way it will be in another truck camper on the back of the Ram pick-up!

Happy Camping

Mark J. Polk

RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
RV DIY® Channel http://rvdiychannel.com/
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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

RV Consumer Magazine January 2016

RV Consumer Magazine Jan 2016coverWelcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine

In this issue:

  • Explore what’s new in the world of RVs for 2016, and get Mark’s outlook on some trends helping to shape the future of the RVs.

To read flipbook version, click here.

To read PDF version, click here.

If you have friends and family who enjoy the RV lifestyle tell them to subscribe, and to like us on Facebook.

Happy & Safe Camping,

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2016

Cold Weather RVing Tips & Tricks

snow driving RVIf you’re like me you enjoy using your RV as much as possible throughout the year. This includes taking RV trips during the colder winter months so you can enjoy the beautiful winter scenery and activities like, snow-skiing, ice-fishing and snowmobiling. Winter RV trips are lots of fun, especially when you and the RV are prepared for the cold weather.

When winter approaches each year I get asked lots of questions about using RVs in cold temperatures. To answer some of these questions would require more than just a short article, and there are no guarantees that your RV can or will be completely protected from the harsh winter elements. With that said I can offer some cold weather RVing tips and tricks that would be helpful if you plan to use your RV during the cold winter months.

Note: These tips and suggestions are for short-term winter camping in your RV. If you plan to take extended RV trips in cold weather there are many other precautions and measures that need to be considered, like using insulated skirting around the bottom of the RV to help protect items from freezing. This article is intended to offer tips on how to protect your RV during cold-weather camping, but it is extremely important that you also understand how to protect yourself and other campers with you from extreme cold temperatures.

One of the first considerations is if you will be traveling in temperatures below freezing. If this is the case, and there is water in the RV water system, your plumbing lines or water heater tank could freeze, resulting in costly repair bills and ruining your winter wonderland RV trip. To help avoid this we travel with the RV water system winterized. It is much easier to winterize an RV than most folks think, and it’s not that expensive. I have winterized and de-winterized our RV three or more times in one winter.

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

RV Consumer Magazine December 2015

RV Consumer Magazine Cover December 2015Welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine.

In this issue:

  • Discover 7 preventive maintenance checks to help prepare your RV for cold weather camping
  • Extended Service Plans – Do you need one?
  • Why should you change automotive antifreeze?
  • Emergency items- find out what is on Mark’s top 5 list.
  • RV storage quick tips concerning the RV roof, tires and batteries

Get the digital Flipbook version here

Get the PDF version here

If you have friends and family who enjoy the RV lifestyle tell them to subscribe, and to like us on Facebook.
Happy & Safe Camping,

 

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

RV Consumer Magazine November 2015

RV Consumer Magazine November 2015 RevisedWelcome to the November issue of RV Consumer Magazine. With colder weather on its way this issue concentrates on winterizing the RV plumbing system and preparing your RV for cold weather storage. This is also a good time to inspect, clean, and reseal your RV roof, so we included some helpful tips and videos on RV roof preventive maintenance. If you have friends and family who enjoy the RV lifestyle tell them to subscribe, and to like us on Facebook.

Happy & Safe Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
RV DIY® Channel http://rvdiychannel.com/
Follow us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/RV-Education-101/77344605305

 

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

How to Back a Travel Trailer the Easy Way

backing-2A problem I see at campgrounds, and that I get asked about frequently, is how to back a trailer into a campsite. Backing a trailer is perhaps the most nerve-racking part of owning a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer. For some RV owners just the thought of backing the trailer prevents them from taking trips and enjoying their RV. Based on my observations at campgrounds backing a trailer has probably contributed to more than one failed marriage too.

If you tow a trailer you more-than-likely have heard different versions of the “best” or “easiest” method for backing a trailer, like: 

1) Put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.

2) Use walkie-talkies.

3) Look out the window, over your shoulder, and back-up.

4) Just use your mirrors.

5) Use a spotter at the rear of the trailer and watch their directions in the mirrors.

These backing techniques might work for some people, but the fact of the matter is they don’t work for most.

To be proficient at almost anything, like backing a trailer, requires practice but all the practice in the world won’t help if you don’t have a basic understanding of how it is done in the first place.

I learned to back trailers in the military, but working for an RV dealership is where I became proficient at backing trailers. We rearranged the entire sales lot about twice a month, moving and backing trailer after trailer. Eventually I was put in charge of organizing and setting up numerous RV shows where travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers had to be backed within inches of walls, obstacles, and other RVs.

To do this successfully, time and again, required a bullet-proof backing technique and a few general guidelines. Let’s start with the basics.

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In today’s age of technology consumers want instant access to the products they purchase. The new RV Education 101 App gives consumers what they want in both Apple and Android operating systems.

Android app on Google Play

RV Education 101, an RV training video and information company, envisioned the future of video content delivery nearly a decade ago, and continued working diligently to perfect it.

Owner Mark Polk said, “In February 2007 we launched our first instant RV video download program, but technology was limited at the time. Tablets and smart phones are forecast to be the majority platform for video by 2016 and we wanted to offer our customers a bulletproof method for instant video content delivery. Our goal was to perfect this technology, for both download and streamed video, so our customers could view the content with or without an internet connection. It took us over eight years of working with downloads to find a solution. Our new RV Education 101 video App perfected the instant video download process.”

The biggest technological feat RV Education 101 faced was developing a system that worked 100% of the time for portable devices using Apple and Android operating systems. Dawn Polk, co-owner explained, “Every time we got our current download process to work on one device a new product came out that it didn’t work on.” That problem was solved when RV Education 101 developed the new video App. Apps are faster, more convenient and provide additional functionality, like the capability to download videos directly to a device for offline viewing. The new App is appropriately titled “RV Education 101” and is available through both Apple and Android App Stores. The IOS App works on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. When you open the App’s main menu it lists all of the full-feature RV training titles currently available, and the consumer has the option to purchase individual chapters, or the entire video. Dawn Polk added, “And because it is an instant download with limited overhead we are able to pass the savings onto the customer.”

To go to the App go here: http://shop.rveducation101.com/apps-for-devices-c41.php

RV Education 101 is currently updating more RV training videos to add to the App. RV owners and consumers can select video titles that pertain to their specific type of RV and instantly download the videos to their device. After the download is completed there is no requirement for Internet access to view the videos.

RV Education 101 will continue to offer physical DVD sales via several Internet sites, Amazon and at physical Camping World Super Center Stores. However, Dawn Polk added, “Instant video downloads through the App Stores eliminate waiting for the product to arrive, shipping charges, and are priced lower because there is less overhead.”

RV Education 101 also offers a free monthly RV newsletter at www.rveducation101.com and hundreds of free RV video tips on their

YouTube channel

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

RV Consumer e-Magazine September 2015

RV Consumer Magazine September2015coverWelcome to the September issue of RV Consumer Magazine. This month Mark discusses Hitch Receiver Ratings vs.Tow Vehicle Ratings, RV Fall & Winter Safety Awareness, RV Maintenance After the Trip and much more. If you missed our RV Project Video Series earlier this summer check out all the RV DIY videos in this month’s issue. If you have friends and family who enjoy the RV lifestyle tell them to subscribe, and to like us on Facebook. Enjoy this issue of RV Consumer Magazine.

Happy & Safe Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
RV DIY® Channel http://rvdiychannel.com/
Follow us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/RV-Education-101/77344605305

 

hitch receiver weight labelThere has always been confusion over hitch receiver ratings as it pertains to tow vehicle ratings. This confusion applies to both motorhomes towing a dinghy and vehicles towing trailers. For example, when I was selling RVs many years ago I had a customer who just bought a brand new truck and came to the dealership to purchase a travel trailer. He and his wife found the perfect trailer on the sales lot and wanted some pricing information. When I researched the truck’s tow capacity I informed them the truck was not rated to tow the weight of the trailer they selected. The customer told me that was impossible because the truck salesperson showed him a label that stated the truck could tow 10,000 pounds. He proceeded to take me out to the truck and pointed at the label on the hitch receiver that read 10,000 pounds. I explained the 10,000 pounds on the label identifies what the hitch receiver is rated at, but the truck itself was only rated to tow 6,000 pounds. It was a very expensive lesson on finding the RV you want to purchase before you purchase the tow vehicle.
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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

RV Consumer e-Magazine – August 2015

RV Consumer Magazine Cover August 2015Camping season is in full swing and the heat is on so this month’s issue discusses hot weather preventive maintenance tips, consumable items you should always keep in your RV, and how to stay cool in your RV this summer. Also included are some newly released RV videos, and if you tow a trailer don’t miss reading the trailer towing tips article by Equalizer hitch. Enjoy this issue of RV Consumer e-Magazine.

Happy & Safe Camping,
Mark Polk
RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
RV DIY® Channel http://rvdiychannel.com/
Follow us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/RV-Education-101/77344605305

There are lots of things to remember when it comes to owning, operating and maintaining your RV and sometimes we learn things the hard way. In an effort to help prevent some of these common and expensive mistakes RVers make from happening to you I want to offer what I consider are the top 5 mistakes RVers make and how you can avoid them.

 
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When you go camping in your RV there are items that are essential like a drinking water hose and RV sewer hoses, and there are nice to have items like a GPS designed for RVs and a portable BBQ grill. Today I want to talk about consumable items that you should always have on-hand in your RV.

 

In no particular order here are the top 10 consumable items we keep in the RV.

1) For starters you need holding tank treatments to treat the black water holding tank after you empty it. There are dry and liquid type holding tank treatments available. I suggest products that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Camping Tip: After emptying the gray water holding tank you can add some liquid dish soap down all the drains and run the water long enough to get the soap past the P trap and to cover the bottom of the tank. The dish soap and water will help control odors and assist in cleaning the tank.
Read More…

In partnership with Keystone RV, RV Education 101 launched a series of RV DIY® project videos to demonstrate some RV how-to projects, RV DIY projects and RV product installations RV owners can do on their RVs.

Click on a title to watch the RV DIY Project Video:

How To Protect your RV Water System

How To Protect your RV Electrical System

Must Have Trailer Towing Accessories

How To Install a Maxx Air RV Roof Vent

Extend-A-Line Campground Clothes Dryer

How To Install an RV Battery Disconnect

How To Level a Travel Trailer

How To Install an Electric Tongue Jack

Click Here to Watch the Entire Playlist

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
RV DIY® Channel http://rvdiychannel.com/
Follow us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/RV-Education-101/77344605305

 MEDIA RELEASE

 May 4, 2015 (Hudson, MA) – The New England RV Dealer’s Association is partnering with a newly opened Cabela’s store at Highland Commons in Hudson, MA. The cooperative marketing event is designed to show Cabela’s customers how to enjoy all their great outdoor activities in an RV.
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We purchase RVs to travel the country and build lasting memories with family and friends. RVs are meant for rest, relaxation and fun, but what happens in the event of an emergency? When you travel to a different camping destination in your RV, on a regular basis, you need to be prepared for an emergency that can happen at anytime and anywhere.

This list could certainly be longer, but I want to offer my top 5 RV emergency items for RV owners.

NOAA Weather Radio1) The first item on my list is a portable weather radio. In today’s world of modern technology some folks think a smart phone with a weather app is all you need to stay informed of current weather updates. The problem with that thinking is we often travel through remote parts of the country in our RVs, where you don’t always have a good cell phone signal. A good portable weather radio can operate on batteries or 120-volt AC power and will warn you of potential weather hazards in and around the area where you are camping. Don’t forget some spare batteries.

2) Next on my list is a reputable RV Emergency Roadside Assistance Plan. There are lots of these plans available so take time to research and select a plan that fits your particular needs. Look for a plan that is designed for RVs, and see what other folks have to say about a particular plan on some of the RV forums. When you breakdown in the middle of nowhere, during your vacation, you will be glad you invested in a good plan. The plan can pay for towing expenses, lodging while the RV is being repaired, fuel, getting in a locked RV or tow vehicle, and to repair a flat tire. Some RVs have tires that weigh in excess of 100 pounds and require special equipment to change the tire. It can be dangerous to change a tire on any RV, and with a roadside assistance plan you don’t need to worry about it.

RV 101 - What's your RV Emergency Weather Plan?3) When you pack the RV for your next trip make sure you include a basic road hazard kit. At a minimum it should include a good set of jumper cables, a
heavy-duty flashlight, one or more reflective warning triangles, some basic hand tools, a fluorescent safety vest, a portable gas can and a good first aid kit if you don’t already have one in the RV. A few simple items can get you out of a jam and assist you in staying safe until help arrives.

 

RVs with Storm Approaching4) I recommend keeping clothing in the RV for all weather conditions. You might be traveling south during the summer months, but you never know when cold or wet weather will hit. And the heat or air conditioner might quit working when you least expect it. It is best to stay prepared by packing warm and cold weather clothing in the RV, regardless of where or what time of year you are traveling.

5) In addition to a good Emergency Roadside Assistance Plan I recommend a reputable RV Extended Service Contract. Again there are lots of these services available so shop around for the best plan prior to purchasing one. The roadside assistance plan helps in the event of an unexpected emergency and the Extended Service Plan helps pay for necessary repairs when there is an emergency. Nothing will ruin a trip quicker than spending $500 or $1,000 of your vacation money on a repair bill when you least expect it.

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
RV DIY® Channel http://rvdiychannel.com/
Follow us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/RV-Education-101/77344605305

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

RV Consumer Magazine April 2015

RV Consumer Magazine Cover April 2015It’s time to go camping, but is your RV ready for the 2015 camping season? In this issue of RV Consumer we discuss some post winter checks for your RV, RV exterior maintenance tips, how to give your RV awnings a tune-up and much more to help prepare the RV for camping.

If you have friends and family that RV send them this link so they can subscribe and enjoy RV Consumer too.

Read RV Consumer archives here

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

 

 

 

www.rveducation101.com

www.rvconsumer.com

www.rv101.tv

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RV DIY®

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

Green RVing 3 Part Video Series

In our Green RV Series we discuss some simple green RV initiatives you can take prior to leaving on a trip and when you use the systems on the RV after arriving at your camping destination. In the Green RV Series finale we discuss what we as campers can do to contribute to the green RV experience during our stay at the campground. This includes topics like energy savings, water savings, recycling, and using eco-friendly tank treatments and cleaning supplies. Watch the 3 part series below:





Happy RV Learning!

Mark Polk

RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/
RV DIY® Channel http://rvdiychannel.com/
Follow us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/RV-Education-101/77344605305

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

Tow Vehicle Rating Facts & Myths

truck & 5th wheelIt’s no secret that for years truck manufacturers have competed for truck sales by boasting to have the “best in class” tow ratings. I have always taken issue with this because the consumer is the loser in the end. Vehicles go through rigorous testing to determine tow ratings, but the problem is there was never a standard manufacturers had to meet or measure the vehicle against to determine a vehicle’s tow rating. Unfortunately this results in biased outcomes.

Let’s start with some background information

My journey into questioning tow vehicle ratings officially began in 2007 after I watched a television commercial advertising a new Ford F-150 with a fully-boxed frame could safely tow an 11,000 pound trailer. That television commercial culminated in my Let’s Talk Half-Ton Trucks article.

A couple years later I wrote a follow-up article after reading a full-size pickup comparison test conducted by Edmunds in 2009. Of the competitors involved in the comparison Ford had the lowest horsepower and torque ratings, but claimed to have the highest tow rating. In the comparison test Ford came in last place, towing a 6,500 pound trailer with a truck supposedly rated to tow 11,200 pounds! I would hate to see what would happen if you added another 4,700 pounds to the trailer’s weight to get to Ford’s advertised 11,200 pound tow rating. This resulted in my second article on the topic, 2010 Update, Let’s Talk ½ Ton Trucks

Now it might sound or seem as though I am picking on Ford, but they brought this on by the claims they made and advertised to the public. In 2012 a Ford truck owner wrote asking for help in determining what his actual tow rating was. He was confused because what he was told the tow rating was, and what was advertised in Ford’s towing guide were two different things.  After some research I discovered there were two different published tow ratings for the truck in question.  That lead to my Caution-Why Truck Tow Ratings don’t add up article.

During my time spent researching and writing these articles I did get a glimpse of promising light at the end of the tunnel. In 2010 I read information about a new towing standard called SAE J2807. This standard would be developed and used to determine trailer weight ratings for all tow vehicles. I don’t always agree with mandated standards, government or otherwise, but this is one standard I am in favor of. The way it developed, very briefly, was several domestic and foreign truck manufacturers worked with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to establish standardized testing across the board for tow vehicle ratings. The standard was written, revised, agreed on and established with an implementation date of 2013. This gave all of the manufacturers sufficient time to prepare for and implement the new standard. I applauded these manufacturers for voluntarily reaching this milestone, and anxiously awaited 2013 when the new towing standard would be implemented.

Unfortunately 2013 came and went, and one-by-one (with the exception of Toyota) truck manufacturers opted out of complying with the towing standard they all agreed to implement and use three years prior. That led to my SAE J2807 Truck Towing Standard article.

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Another fun-filled RV camping season will be upon us. There is nothing quite like loading the RV and hitting the open road to discover the next great RV adventure that awaits you. Each year when the peak travel season arrives we like to remind RV owners and travelers to take a minute and refresh their memory on all the safety stuff concerning RVs and RV travel.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine December 2014

RV Consumer Magazine December 2014

RV Consumer Magazine December 2014

In this issue of RV Consumer Magazine get some helpful RV tips and information on RV storage, cold weather RV maintenance, carbon monoxide safety and discover what Mark Polk with RV Education 101 considers to be the top 5 mistakes RV owners make and what you can do to avoid them.

Click here to subscribe to RV Consumer Magazine

Stay tuned for the next issue to get an inside look at what’s new and what’s cool with RVs for 2015.

Happy RV Learning

Mark Polk

Check out our NEW RV Product Catalog for complete descriptions and top order DVDs, RV books & Ebooks

RV Consumer

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

Top 5 RV Cold Weather Maintenance Tips

I would like to offer some simple preventive maintenance procedures you can follow to not only help prepare your RV for cold temperatures, but to also help prevent untimely breakdowns as a result of the colder weather.

Here are my top 5 RV Cold Weather Maintenance Tips
adding air to RV tires1) RV Tire Tips: During the warmer months of the year I constantly remind folks not to check tire pressure when the tires are hot, meaning after the RV was driven more than one mile. Hot weather and hot tire temperatures cause tire inflation to increase. But something seldom discussed is what happens to your tire pressure when the mercury plummets? The answer is, when it’s cold outside the air pressure in your tires drops 1 to 2 pounds for every 10 degree drop in temperature. This means if you have not checked the tire pressure in your RV tires since that trip you took last August your tire pressure could be dangerously underinflated when you head out for the holidays. The best advice I can offer is to get in a habit of checking and adjusting tire pressure monthly, so it is correct regardless of the temperature. This applies to your automobiles as well.

automotive antifreeze 2) Automotive Antifreeze Tips: When you talk about RVs and antifreeze most folks think about the RV antifreeze used to protect the RV water system from freezing. We will talk about that type of antifreeze in a minute but first I want to talk about the automotive antifreeze used in the RV or tow vehicle engine’s coolant system. Glycol antifreeze does several things to help protect your engine:

a. When it’s cold out it helps lower the freezing point of water.
b. The corrosion inhibitors that are added to the antifreeze help prevent scale and rust build-up in the cooling system.
c. It provides protection against boiling during the hot summer months.
d. It helps keep the engine operating at its most efficient temperature regardless of operating conditions and outside temperatures.
Just like engine oil the antifreeze in your RV or tow vehicle automotive cooling system needs to be replaced at regular intervals. If you have not had this service performed in the last few years check your vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended intervals and schedule an appointment to have it done.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine November 2014

RV Consumer Magazine Cover November 2014

Welcome to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine. In this issue:

  • Get some tips on how to make your fall and winter camping trips more enjoyable and stress-free
  • Discover how and why the axle ratio in your tow vehicle affects fuel economy and towing
  • Read about Mark’s progress on a tow vehicle restoration project for the 67 Yellowstone travel trailer
  • Get another great recipe from The Cooking Ladies
  • Find out what you can do to help protect your RV water system at the campground

Read all of this and more in the November issue of RV Consumer Magazine

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

 

Check out our NEW RV Product Catalog for complete descriptions and top order DVDs, RV books & Ebooks

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine October 2014

RV Consumer Magazine Oct 2014Welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine, your premier provider for RV education and information.
  • Mark walks you through America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey Pennsylvania to look at what’s new for 2015
  • For the RV do-it-yourselfer learn how to tune-up your water heater and keep it top operating properly
  • Get some trailer towing tips that are good to know
  • And discover another great camping recipe from our friends, The Cooking Ladies.

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Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV training DVDs and products available at: RV Education 101®

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine September 2014

 RV Consumer Magazine September 2014
Hi and welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine.
Our RV DIY Channel launch was successful last month thanks to all our readers. In this issue of RV Consumer magazine discover how to squeeze in a quick last minute summer camping trip, take a look inside Brazil’s RV industry and what it takes to have an RV built, discover how easy it is t o do some preventive maintenance on your RV water pump and get a great sweet onion casserole recipe from the Cooking Ladies.
Stay tuned for next month’s magazine when we concentrate on prepping our RVs for fall camping season.
Subscribe now so you don’t miss any issues

 

Mark Polk

www.rveducation101.com

www.rvconsumer.com

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine August 2014

RV Consumer Magazine August 2014 Hi and welcome back to another edition of RV Consumer Magazine.

In this issue we are excited to officially launch our new RV DIY Channel site. After a new RV owner learns the basics (RV Education 101) they want more advanced information about their RV. That’s where our new RV DIY channel comes in. You might say we are advancing from RV 101 level training to RV 201 level training with this new site. To help launch the new RV Do-It-Yourself channel we are including lots of videos and articles I recently posted at the site.

Take a look around the new site and for all the DIYers out there get started on some fun RV projects and upgrades on your RV now. Enjoy this month’s issue of RV Consumer Magazine.

Mark Polk

www.rveducation101.com

www.rvconsumer.com

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RVs and Bad Weather don’t Mix

RVs with Storm Approaching

A storm while RVing at the Outer Banks, NC

We just returned from an RV trip to the North Carolina Outer Banks.  One afternoon our campground neighbor asked if we heard about the campground in Virginia where 2 campers were killed and 36 were injured from a tornado that went through the campground.

You can read more and watch a video about the tradgedy here.

It wasn’t long after speaking to our neighbor that a storm rolled into the area where we were camping. We have weather alerts on our phone and we have a weather radio so we had some warning of the approaching storm (pictured).

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine July 2014

RV Consumer Magazine July 2014

It’s hot outside and in this issue of RV Consumer Magazine find out what you can do to beat the summer heat in your RV. Don’t forget to check out Part 2 of Mark’s Trailer Sway article and  get a great recipe from the Cooking Ladies. All of this and more in this issue of RV Consumer Magazine.

The big news this month is we are preparing to launch a brand new site called the RV DIY Channel. You might say we are advancing from RV 101 level training to RV 201 level training. Especially for those RV do-it-yourselfers out there. My plan is to offer informative RV DIY articles, RV DIY videos, RV DIY projects and to offer information on what I consider to be the keystone of a good maintenance program, Preventive Maintenance (PM).

Have a great 4th of July

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Happy Learning,
Mark Polk

RV at the Campground

A big part of the camping experience is the campground experience. Here are some tips and tricks to help make your next campground stay as pleasant and carefree as possible.

  • If you know where you’ll be staying make campground reservations at your favorite KOA campground in advance, particularly during prime travel season. With a reservation there will always be a site waiting for you when you arrive.
  • Plan to stop traveling while there is still plenty of daylight so you can get set-up, get settled in, and enjoy some of the amenities the campground has to offer.
  • When you arrive at the campground, ask to see the site before you accept it. Ask if there are any pull-thru sites available. If you are not proficient at backing this can ease the stress of having to back your unit into the campsite.
  • Make sure the electrical source is compatible with your RV’s electrical system.
  • Make sure the site will accommodate the length of your RV and vehicle.
  • If it’s hot outside request a site that is in the shade, if possible. This will help the refrigerator and AC work more efficiently.
  • Check the site for any overhead obstacles that might interfere with the campground set-up, and when you position the unit on the site make sure there is enough clearance for slide-outs and the patio awning.
  • Level the RV and chock the wheels before disconnecting from the tow vehicle (for towable RVs.)
  • Test the polarity and voltage prior to plugging the RV into any electrical source. After you test the electrical source turn the breaker off, plug the RV in and turn the breaker back on.
  • Campground voltage can fluctuate depending on the demand. You should use a quality surge protector to protect your RV’s electrical equipment and appliances in the event AC voltage drops below 105-volts or goes above 130-volts.
  • Keep a variety of electrical adapters on hand in case you need them. You should also have an extension cord that is compatible with the electrical system on your RV.  The gauges of wire used in standard household type extension cords are not suitable for RV hook-ups.
  • Use a water pressure regulator at the campground to prevent possible damage to your plumbing system from high water pressure. Always connect the pressure regulator at the water source, then connect the drinking hose to it.
  • Use a white drinking safe hose to connect from the water source to the RV. It’s a good idea to have a 4-foot, 10-foot and 25-foot hose on hand so you can always reach the campground water hook-up. Take a green or black garden hose for all other uses, like flushing holding tanks or cleaning the RV.
  • You should always filter the water going into the RV with a high quality filtration system. The 4-foot or 10-foot drinking hose can be used to go from a water filter to the city water connector on the RV.
  • It’s a good idea to have a 10-foot and 20-foot sewer hose available so you can always reach the campground sewer connection. Spend a little extra and get heavy-duty sewer hoses. Keep an assortment of sewer hose adapters and connectors on hand.
  • If you’re going to be leaving the campground for more than few minutes it’s a good idea to turn the water supply off until you return. Better safe than sorry.
  • Always stow the awning when you’re not going to be at the campsite, and leave it in the stowed position at night.
  • Lock your RV and secure valuables when you are not physically at the campsite.
  • Keep a spare set of keys for the RV and other vehicles.
  • Practice good campground etiquette and leave the campsite in the same condition you found it, or better.
  • If you travel with pets, respect other campers as it pertains to your pets. Always use a leash, control any barking and always clean up after your pets.

Hopefully these campground tips will help make all of your campground experiences good memories, rather than memories you would like to forget. For checklists like this and many more check out my Checklists for RVers E-book

Be safe & have a great time camping!

Mark Polk

www.rveducation101.com

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

RV Consumer Magazine June 2014

RVConsumerMagazineJune2014coverRV Consumer Magazine June 2014

Camping season is in full swing and we have some great RV articles and videos to kick off the season. To help make all of your RV trips safe and enjoyable this month’s feature articles discuss RV Tire Tips for Safer Trips and Trailer Sway Part 1 of 2. In addition to these informative RV articles check out our DIY RV tile project and get another great Dutch Oven recipe. Read all of this and much more in the June edition of RV Consumer Magazine: *NOTE some browsers do not allow the functionality of the video to have a stop button. To stop a video once it is playing, click on the Youtube button then close out of that window. Your video will stop and you will be taken back to the page where you left off.

 

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Happy Learning,
Mark Polk
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

2014 National Tire Safety Week

NTSWlogo

June 1-7 is National Tire Safety Week. Sponsored by the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association, The Be Tire Smart – Play Your P.A.R.T. program is designed to help educate consumers about tire safety and maintenance.

The RMA has a terrific website designed to help educate folks on tire maintenance and safety. Please take a minute to visit the site, download the free Tire Safety Brochure and learn some valuable information on tire safety & maintenance. This information applies to your automobile and RV tires.

P.A.R.T. represents the four primary areas of tire safety and maintenance. It’s an easy way to remember Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread.The following is is an excerpt from the RMA Tire Safety Brochure:

 

PRESSURE
Underinflation can lead to tire failure. It results in unnecessary tire stress, irregular wear, loss of control and accidents. A tire can lose up to half of its air pressure and not appear to be flat!

ALIGNMENT
A bad jolt from hitting a curb or pothole can throw your front end out of alignment and damage your tires. Have a tire dealer check the alignment periodically to ensure that your car is properly aligned.

ROTATION
Regularly rotating your vehicle’s tires will help you achieve more uniform wear. Unless your vehicle owner’s manual has a specific recommendation, the guideline for tire rotation is approximately every 6,000–8,000 miles.

TREAD
Advanced and unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to grip the road in adverse conditions.
Visually check your tires for uneven wear, looking for high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Also check for signs of damage.

Click here to download the free tire safety brochure loaded with great information

The RMA Tire Safety site offers a wide variety of tire safety and maintenance information like:
Tire Safety Quizzes, Tire Safety Brochure, Seasonal Driving Tips, Tire & Auto Safety Facts, How to care for your Tires, Tire care Videos, Tire Repair, Tire Basics and much more.

Happy Learning,
Mark Polk

 

RV battery maintenance

RV battery maintenance

Today I want to talk about one of the most important and most neglected components of your RV’s electrical system. The RV batteries. If your RV batteries are only lasting one or two camping seasons chances are they lack routine maintenance. We tend to take our RV batteries for granted. We depend on our batteries to be there when we need them, but in many cases we do very little to make sure they are maintained properly.

The two most common causes for RV battery failure are undercharging and overcharging the batteries.  Undercharging is a result of batteries being repeatedly discharged and not fully recharged between cycles. If a battery is not recharged the sulfate material that attaches to the discharged portions of the plates begins to harden into crystals. Eventually this sulfate material cannot be converted back into active plate material and the battery is ruined. This also occurs when a battery remains discharged for an extended period of time. Battery sulfation is the number one cause of battery failure.

The second leading cause of battery failure is overcharging the batteries. Overcharging lead acid batteries results in severe water loss and plate corrosion.

The good news is both of these problems are avoidable.

Read More…

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