Bill and Vicki T/Flickr Creative Commons
How many times have you driven down the highway and watched somebody dragging a trailer along behind them and that poor thing is just swerving left and right like crazy? How many of y’all thought, “Bless their lil’ hearts, they’re going to crash!” Well today I though we could talk a little bit about a few simple steps that will help to prevent that scary fishtailing motion from happening to you!
The main thing you can do is to ensure that your trailer is loaded in a balanced manner. This could be as small a trailer as a little utility trailer with your lawn equipment loaded on board, to a full fifth wheel luxury travel trailer. They all react more or less the same way to an out of balance load…they get unruly. What your looking for ideally is weight on the trailer tongue at the hitch. No so much that the front wheels of the tractor get light, but enough to ensure positive downward pressure on the hitch. In order to do that you need to add the load onto the trailer in such a way you have the center of gravity slightly forward of the trailer axle (or axles). You may have noticed that most of the heavy kitchen equipment is located on or slightly forward of the axle for example.
Another way to help reduce sway is to install a trailer sway control kit to your trailer. This is usually a series of dampers that help reduce a trailer’s oscillations which could also be caused by wind, bow wave of air pushed by eighteen wheelers, or even something as simple as unequally inflated tires. Sway kits are very common, and fairly easy to install. If you don’t feel up to installing one yourself, any competent mechanic can do it for you at a reasonable cost. Oddly enough we feature several sway kits on our website, come check ’em out!
oliver.dodd/Flickr Creative Commons
How many of y’all have ever heard of the NFPA? NFPA stands for National Fire Prevention Association, and they are the folks who have established the code by which Recreational Vehicles are engineered, constructed, and inspected with respect to fire safety and prevention. The standard set by the NFPA is in the NFPA 1192 document. Where am I going with all this? Well, if these fire preventative measures have been incorporated when your RV was being drawn up by the engineers, the least we can do as end users is to be fire-wise when it comes to utilizing these awesome vehicles with our friends and families right? Today we’re going to talk about some common sense fire preventing things we can do to keep our vehicles safe, and our insurance low!
Most RV’s have some sort of food preparation devices, correct? Oven, stove, hot plate, coffee maker, something, right? Well the most obvious thing you need right there in sight and handy is a fire extinguisher! When you wander by it every now and then, check the little gauge to see if the pressure is holding up. They also have service dates printed, so check those occasionally as well. They’re pretty cheap to replace once they’ve gotten old, and a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing the RV!
We talked in the last blog about surge protectors, but in a fire prevention scenario they will help remove voltage induced overheating of your electrical appliances and keep you from pulling the trigger on on one of those shiny, red, fully charged, and up-to-date fire extinguishers we were just discussing!
Something that may not get thought about, especially in an RV where storage space is at a premium, is storing combustibles near the stove or oven. And I’m not talking spray paint cans or spare gas cans for the generator, y’all know better than that; I’m talking the sneaky combustible stuff like paper towels or shopping bags.
Some of the older travel trailers and RVs had heat detectors installed that rang fire bells. If you still have them, service them and keep them up to date as well as install more modern smoke detectors please! And check those batteries!
If you need smoke detectors, extinguishers, and the like, come see us at the website for all your accessories!
State Farm/Flickr Creative Commons
What is the one item that every RV owner needs? It doesn’t matter whether your RV is a small trailer or a big diesel pusher, this one, small, inexpensive item can provide so much protection: you need a surge protector! Power surges happen to all of us and they are extremely harmful to RVs. A power surge can destroy something as simple as an electrical outlet or fry all the electrical equipment in the whole RV.
Let’s think about the simple little foul ups that could cause you to require lengthy, expensive repairs to your RV. It could be something as simple as plugging into a miswired pedestal. Or perhaps something as trivial as an over/under voltage situation at the RV Campground. Maybe it’s a hot day in August so everybody at the campground is running 2 air conditioners and the amperage draw is too much of a load for the camp’s supply. Or perhaps it’s an open neutral. Silly little things that could ultimately pry open your wallet and set your dollars free.
Well, we want to prevent those dollars from flying away off into the sunset right? Heck yes! So buy a surge protector and thank us later! We stock all kinds, from the simple inline plug type, all the way to the type you can hard wire in and permanently install. 30 amp, 50 amp, we got ’em! And the majority of them are on sale right now, click the link below to see the variety of stykles we have to choose from and pick one that is right for you:
PPL Motorhomes Surge Protectors
They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and are a “plug in and forget” bit of preventative maintenance that could easily save you from Empty Wallet Syndrome later on down the road. Nobody likes that burnt electrical smell, so order now and thank us later! You’re welcome.
Patrick Barry/Flickr Creative Commons
It’s not often we get into philosophical discussions in this blog but by gum, we’re going to today! There seems to be a schism among travelers these days: those that can navigate with a traditional map, and those that absolutely cannot get out of their driveway without their smartphone or hand-held GPS. This tends to cause a fair amount of discussion amongst the two groups with both feeling superior to the other. The attitude of “We do it the right way” get’s bandied about from time to time, but let’s look at this in a practical terms.
Maps are the oldest and most tried and true navigational aid in human history. Maps used to be so prized that map makers themselves warranted the highest respect, even the GPS crowd has heard of Magellan. But in today’s more immediate-result, instant-gratification, digital, and satellite-heavy technological world…maps are out of favor. And I think I know the reason why. In order to use a map you have to already know where you are. The downside to a map is: if you’re already lost, what good are they? Of course the map crowd’s rebuttal would be: if you have a map, how did you get lost? Using a map promotes situational awareness, keeping your eyes outside the vehicle, as well as the security that you know where you are, and how to get where you’re going.
GPS has to be one of the biggest advancements in navigation in history since the invention of the magnetic compass…as long as you have access to batteries or electricity. Putting a GPS in your smartphone was an incredible idea, so thank you to whomever’s idea that was. It is a more or less stress free form of navigation in that as soon as you turn it on, it tells you where you are. Routing however has been a little sketchy in the past and I suppose continues to be in some regard or other. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the following complaint “Man! Google Maps (or Mapquest, or insert your nav provider here) totally took me the long way around! The road wasn’t even paved!” So the irony is, to use the GPS in the most efficient way, you more or less need to be familiar with where you are and where you’re going. The awesome awesome awesome thing that GPS does in my opinion, is calculate distance and ETA for you.
So whichever camp you belong to, recognize that there is an alternative and learn the alternative as a backup to whatever method of navigation you are using. That was there is less fuel and time wasted, and your stress level stays low!
I love September so much. Mainly because it means that August is over and we’ve survived another Texas summer! But also it’s that time of year when school starts back up, football season is just beginning, the afternoons start to lose some of that habañero flavor, there’s one more long weekend coming up before things get too serious, tailgater parties at the ball fields, the good life. The whole month seems to be filled with somebody saying, “Not as hot as last week!” So now that we’re all coming out of the shade a little bit, and starting to socialize outside again, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a light show under your RV awning?
Imagine: you’re sitting in your lawn chairs, deck chairs, what-have-you… the grill is smoking, the sun is starting to edge closer to the horizon, the chips and salsa are set out, there’s a cooler with something drinkable cooling off inside it, and some good friends are there all enjoying each other’s company. What do you have left to do? That’s right, set the mood with some LEDs under the awning! They come in assorted colors, you control them with a remote, they can flash or strobe like Christmas lights, they’re waterproof, and are a whole lot of fun.
When we were camping last weekend in Matagorda at the LCRA park, there was a group of 5 RVs together enjoying their weekend getaway. They all had LED light strips on their awnings and it was just too cool looking. Two of them even had the lights set to rotate through the colors so one minute their trailer had a green hue, then blue, then red, and on and on. It’s time to think fall camping and fun and these lights really add to the festivities. I already got a set for RV NANA 2!
Check them out by clicking this link right HERE!
We talk a lot about the outdoor activities you can participate in in this RV Life, places you can go and enjoy nature, different routes you can take to get there and the like. But what about when it’s raining or nasty outside? What about if you just want to curl up an veg on the settee for a little while, switch that mind to autopilot and just relax? What if you want to go in the RV, hide from your spouse and kids and watch a little TV? Well, we’ve got the perfect HD TV antenna for y’all to try out! They’re inexpensive, way cheaper than a new cable box and can be used in the camper or RV just as easily as in your home!
The Rayzor Amplified Indoor HD TV Antenna has an approximate range of 70 miles, it is phenominally simple to install and believe it or not I have one in one of my guest bedrooms upstairs and it is terrific!! For a room that gets used maybe 6 times a year, the Rayzor is a much better deal than a new cable box. These antenna’s are made to be repositioned too, so if you have on in your Rv it is very simple to move the antenna for maximum reception. All you have to do after repositioning the antenna is to run a channel scan and you’ll be amazed at how many you can pick up, and how far away they are. These antennas even mount to windows! Just think of them the way you do your cel phone, chance are where you phone works best, the antenna will too. Oh, and since these antennas are flat, the “sides” of them get the least reception, so point that big flat area towards your signal.
If you’re interested is easy, portable HD TV coverage, click right here for details and happy relaxing!
Scott Wylie/Flickr Creative Commons
When we were in Matagorda Friday camping at the LCRA nature center and RV park, we saw the most beautiful stars we have seen since visiting he McDonald observatory in the Davis mountains. The sky was so clear and there was very little white light to distract from the beauty of the stars. The kids used the star gazer app to settle the battles over who named the stars correctly. Nothing better than the RV lifestyle. Beautiful stars, s’mores over an open fire and time with grandkids…priceless. So today I thought we could get a little “techy” and talk about some astronomy apps that’ll help identify what exactly it is that you’re looking at when you’re gazing up at a beautiful night’s sky!
One of the neatest apps is Starmap, available for iPhones. It displays suggestions for where to look and what’s available in YOUR night sky at that current time. It also dims the display and images are in red so as not to ruin your night vision! It is available for purchase and download here, and only costs $4.99.
Another great app for Android and iPhone is the SkySafari 3. It has images from the Hubble Telescope as well as images from NASA and actually comes with a subscription to SkyWeek magazine. It covers the planets in our solar system as well as their moons, displays maps of the sky with constellations, and is on $3.49. You can download it on iOs here, or Android here.
If you are a true beginner to stargazing and know little about what’s up there in the night sky, then Pocket Universe might be the app for you. You can literally point your phone at a star and it will make suggestions as to what you’re looking at based on the time, date, and GPS location of your phone. It can also quiz you on what you’ve seen to help reinforce you memory from night to night. It is available on iPhones, and you can purchase it for $2.99 and download it here.
One of the best things about the RV Life is getting out of town, a close second is being able to answer your grandkids questions like you knew the answer all along!!
photo from pplmotorhomes.com
We’ve all had those tropical-style Texas summer days, and more of them are coming. Hot, humid, sweat-soaked days where all you want to do at the end of it is step into a hot relaxing shower. Of course water tanks being sized the way they are in the RV, those marathon showers aren’t too practical. So I’ve been on the hunt for ways to make the shower run more efficiently for quite a while. Then I stumbled on the Oxygenics shower head. Their advertising claims that the shower head reduces water consumption AS WELL AS increases water pressure. Oxygenics also state that the head won’t clog from mineral deposits, and the usual easy-to-install, carefully engineered use of specialized plastics bullet points you read in advertising.
Well I’m here to tell you, I got one and I’m not sure I want to RV without mine! The pressure is noticeably higher than the stock shower nozzle and a by-product of that higher pressure is the ability to knock the soap and shampoo off quicker, which of course would require less water. Nothing is worse than trying to rinse off under a trickle of soft water and feeling like you can never get the soap off your body and the shampoo out of your hair. Even if your water is soft, at the least the pressure will help blast the soap residue off of you. It also lived up to the easy to install claim, as well as the anti-clogging function, as well as being very very inexpensive. I paid around $30 for mine! Now we carry them at PPL Motorhomes.com and are happy to report that our customers are quite satisfied with theirs as well. So if you’d like to add some efficiency and luxury to your shower, click the link below and shower in comfort!
Oxygenics Shower Heads
brykmantra, Flikr Creative Commons
I was bragging in the last blog about how great Texas is, singing the whole “Texas Is Bigger And Better” song, and then it got so coastal this week. Hot, humid, rainy, and condensation inside the windows all over town. While I’m grateful the state is getting welcome moisture this year, as well as our spring being an actual season this time instead of just the usual footnote-sized blip of nice weather, today was the day that air conditioning became one of those major priorities.
So I decided I really wanted to do an entire blog article on keeping your cool in the summer heat. We have a wide selection
of AC units in stock on the website and it’s definitely that time of year where we’re subtly changing from Almost Summer to Full-Blown Summer, so if you haven’t had the AC serviced yet or if it’s not keeping your RV, travel trailer, or fifth wheel properly comfortable it may be worthwhile to check with the manufacturer or in the manual to see if your RV is pre-wired for a second AC unit. Many of them are, and in Texas heat that second AC can make a difference between a wonderful RV vacation and one that is simply tolerable.
Of course, RV Nana happens to like the second AC unit for more than just the cool. When we had our fifth wheel, it was so nice to turn on the AC unit up front above the bed and take a nap or let that fan on the bedroom unit lull you to sleep. I have even been known to turn on the AC fan in the dead of winter just to have the noise! If you’re like me and you prefer that cool breeze and sleep inducing hum, please swing by the website and we’ll do our best to help make your summer more comfortable!
As I’ve mentioned previously, we have four seasons here in Texas: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and then when all that is finished we get to have August.
Right now, we’re in that portion of the year that’s best described as Almost Summer… we’re starting to get those warm afternoons here in Texas, the kind that never seem to stay long enough, and are quickly replaced with sweltering heat and humidity. With the warmer weather approaching, there are nights when the air conditioner is off and, depending on where you’re parked, the windows are open. Isn’t that nice? Yes it is, but it can get a little stuffy if there’s no breeze.
Allow me to introduce a line of air vents by MaxxAir. They are made of sturdy High Density Polyethylene with added maximum UV Protection. The standard models have a mounting system that prevents leakage of rain water into the RV, while at the same time allowing hot air, cooking smells, smoke, or musty storage odors to escape the RV. They fit onto the standard 14 inch square roof openings, and come in four common colors: Translucent White, Smoke Tint, Almond, Silver, and Champagne.
The updated MaxxAir II line of vents comes in the same popular color choices and size, but features a more streamlined, hinged housing. Not only that but the actual vent opening is doubled to allow more air to pass through while retaining that same water tight seal on the top of your RV. The hinged housing allows for quicker and easier access for cleaning, and this model can be installed over a high powered ventilator fan where the Standard model is not recommended for use with fans. Both models install easily without tools and are covered by a 6 year warranty.
So if your RV retains heat during those summer days, or smells stale and musty after winter storage, add a MaxxAir vent to the roof and breath that clean, fresh air! Visit our website to purchase yours!