Amy Meredith/Flickr Creative Commons
Have you seen those almost improbable sounding commercials on TV where the proud father and beautiful young daughter are standing side by side beaming at the camera and talking about their special family tradition of changing the batteries in the smoke detector on her birthday? First time I saw that commercial I rolled my eyes to myself at the sheer cheesiness of it, but the fact of the matter is… it’s very important to change the batteries in your smoke detector annually and it very much helps to remind you to do it on an important day that you actually remember. We change ours during the Thanksgiving holidays, and to my knowledge we’ve only forgotten once!
When it comes to these sort of safety features and RVs, there are a couple things other than smoke we should be concerned with detecting. Carbon Monoxide is the silent killer for sure, and our engines in the RVs produce it. Having a Carbon Monoxide detector in the cab of the RV somewhere is a very very good idea, especially with the older models where the seals and exhaust system might not be in the best condition. LP gas leaks should also be detected as early as possible.
We actually have a combination Carbon Monoxide/LP gas detector in our RV and it works great. It’s made by Safe-T-Alert, and mounts flush to the wall and powered by the 12V system which means we don’t have to worry about changing the batteries in these detectors! It’s incredibly simple to use and test too. Best thing is if the alarm goes off and you mute it…it will still operate normally in muted mode and if the conditions do not improve the alarm will re-sound. It’s a pretty handy gadget, and offers some peace of mind so you’re not worrying about what you can’t see! If you’d like to know more about these detectors, click right HERE.
Is it spring? If I ask that question will there be 6 more weeks of Winterpocalypse 2016? I don’t know, but this winter been a bit… um… nonexistent here in southeast Texas, I can tell you that. I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents would get the garden chopped in around Valentine’s Day because there would probably be one more freeze and that would be it for winter, but I’ve got to tell you in all honesty, I have no idea what’s going on with the weather anymore. It’s been so mild I feel like I should have gotten the garden in before Christmas!!
But thinking of spring and gardening and getting the RV cleaned up and ready for the road after it’s “long winter’s nap”, reminds me of a product we have here at PPL that is one of those frustration-reducing life savers. Have you ever gone out to the RV to hose it down and somehow your garden hose has gotten itself all twisted up and tied in knots? I mean, you haven’t used it since probably October (here in Texas anyway) and you know you stowed it away carefully, but as soon as you drag it out to the shed or driveway, there it is looking like a green rubber version of the Largest Ball Of Twine up in Kansas.
Well we have a solution for that problem, have you ever tried Neverkink Hoses? They’re great! You roll them up, and then…tah DAH! They unroll. Simple as that. They don’t get pinched and shut off water flow, you won’t spend hours untying your huge mess of a knot, they just stow simply, cleanly, and effectively. If you’re interested, we’ve got them, and they are NOT expensive, so come by the website and pick up one or two. Man they’re nice!
Have you ever found yourself in that situation where the campground doesn’t individual sewer hookups and you’d have to move the entire RV to the waste transfer station to empty the black water tank? What a pain in the neck that is especially if you’re there more or less permanent for a little while, with everything leveled and the yard pretties staked out. So what would be the easiest option for you at that point? Yep, you need a portable waste tank. Depending on the size of your black water tank, there are different options available for a portable waste tank.
Thetford makes a great tank called the Smarttote. They come in sizes ranging from twelve to thirty five gallons capacity. The larger models come with full castoring dual wheels at the front end as well as two wheels at the back to support the weight of the tank when fully loaded. Needless to say with this sort of system the primary concern, aside from the mobility of it, is how to get this thing serviced in the cleanest possible way. They have a patented system called “Permastore” where the 5 foot replaceable sewer servicing line is permanently housed and stored at the bottom of the tank. The hose is replaceable and comes with a bayonet cap to prevent spills.
Another way this tank design helps keep the servicing process as clean as possible is by featuring an auto-stop function that activates when the tank is full, preventing and overload/overflow situation and the mess involved. The hose is designed also so that it is a very simple load and unload, and the stows away tidily in case you need to make more than one trip to the transfer station per servicing. If you’d like to know more about these, please visit our website right HERE.
How many of y’all have had a flat, or tire losing pressure, and not realized it until it was too late? Maybe you couldn’t hear the flat over all the road noise, or couldn’t feel the pull because you’re running dual wheels or the RV had alignment issues already. It’s always an unexpected, unpleasant, and sometimes expensive option to have a flat when you least expect it. Not only does it mess up your schedule, but they always seem to happen when we’re wearing our good clothes too eh?
Well I’ve got a solution for this problem! Tire Minder has a remote monitoring system that will report on tire conditions for up to 22 positions. For those of y’all who have bumper pull or fifth wheel travel trailers this system can be a real life saver. Who wants to go through an unexpected blow out on the trailer at interstate highway speeds? I reckon everybody has enough gray hair already, don’t you? Well this system not only will report pressure fluctuations, but it will also send an alert when any of the wheels reaches a temperature of above 167 degrees! This system also will update the readings every 4 minutes and performs self-diagnostics of the entire system every 5 seconds so you will know instantly when an issue arises at one of the wheels.
For those of you with boat trailers, car haulers, or those travel trailers and fifth wheels as well, this system allows for temporary disconnect and reconnect of the trailer from the tractor or truck monitoring system. The information is displayed on a large, easy-to-read screen located within easy reach. The controls are very intuitive and simple to operate as well. Especially when you’re hauling a trailer, I feel like this is one of those items where you are better safe than sorry, not only for yourself and your property but as well as contributing to the safety of everyone else who shares the road with you. For more information, click right HERE.
Aw man, have you ever checked on the RV during the winter and smelled that faint yet unfortunate odor of mildew or mold? Did you start worrying about your slide out seals, or the seals on the windows or doors? Or at that point did you look up and start wondering where the leak was. All those rivets and seams up on the roof are potential sources for leaks, or even just a small seep, which can cause that smell that smells expensive to fix. If your RV is stored out in the open, snow will provide a pretty long lasting source of water to trickle in, and needless to say if you’re storing it down here in the Gulf Coast portion of the country for the winter then all that rain will supply the moisture to feed the leak. So what can you do?
Dicor Roofing Systems provide an EPDM Rubber roofing material that can not only seal the roof of your RV but also reflect some of the heat and UV rays from the sun helping to make your RV more energy efficient. They come in rolls that are 9.4″ wide, the material is quite flexible, and can even be used to retrofit older RVs. As well as helping eliminate liquid leaks and adding insulation to the RV, when this is added to your roof, it dampens the vibrations in the roof material and helps deaden out that annoying roof rumble when you’re traveling down the road! The installation kit comes with everything you’d need to get it installed, from adhesives and sealants to the tape as well.
It sounds like a lot of work, but believe me installing this on your roof yourself, or hiring your local RV Service Center to do it for you will be far easier than removing everything to get to the interior of your RV roof and chasing down a seep! If you’re interested, more info can be found right HERE!
Oh man, sometimes we’ve got to talk a little bit about the gray water and black water systems of these wonderful RVs. In the last blog we discussed how easy it was to upgrade the toilet in your RV, but today we’re going to talk about a product that really helps with dumping those tanks as well as flushing the entire system clean afterwards.
I can’t imagine that servicing the waste system of your RV is your favorite chore, it’s certainly the least glamorous, but it is one of the most important jobs when it comes to keeping your RV free from odor, as well as free from some of the sanitary hazards an inop waste system can create. Here at PPL we sell a lot of accessories, parts, and tools to assist you in keeping that RV up and running as well as being a very fun vehicle to enjoy with your family. The SewerSolution is one of those tools you can use to make those waste system chores a little easier and a little more pleasant.
The SewerSolution is a water powered jet pump system designed to help power the sewage out as well as flush the tanks once they are empty. These things are self-cleaning, so they’ll help keep your hands clean and sanitary, they have no moving parts to become stuck and they are very easy to install. Simply connect one end to the sewer pipe on your RV, connect a garden hose, and then the water jet literally pulls the sewage out of your system and propels it out the discharge line. While the water is running it liquifies the waste and toilet paper making it easier to remove and operates at about 8 gallons per minute. It’s as close to hands clean servicing as you can get, and the water cleans the lines after the tanks are empty! If you’re interested, more information and pricing can be found right HERE!
There are those days, and sometimes those parking situations, where a little help making that first step up into the camper or RV is greatly appreciated! Y’all have probably been there too: managed to park perfectly over that pothole so now the last step down onto the ground is almost twice the length it used to be. Pretty dangerous when you think about it, especially in the dark! So one of the ways to mitigate that problem is either carrying a small folding stool with you, or mounting those retractable step that you can extend when needed. It just depends on what kind of gear you’re camping in as to what you need, both have their advantages and disadvantages.
The folding stool needs no introduction, everyone has seen one in there Mama’s kitchen or out in Dad’s workshop. Their advantage is their portability, lightweight, and overall handiness. I mean you can sit on one next to the campfire, use one to step down from the RV, step up to reach something in the top cabinets, as well as use them to help out during maintenance. The disadvantage is that they need a fairly large area of fairly flat surface otherwise they tip over, and take you with them.
As for the retractable step, they are amazing! They’re very sturdy, rigidly mounted to the entrance door area of your camper or RV, they come in various sizes to fit various uses, and most of all they are always there when you need them. The disadvantage, of course, is they’re only able to be used in one spot…and if you’re independent like me…the other disadvantage is asking your son-in-law to help you get them mounted to the RV, I prefer doing things myself!
Both styles are beneficial, and help solve some fairly unique problems, so my suggestion is to have both available for all those “what-ifs” that seem to pop up. And why not? The retractable steps fold up and out of the way under the chassis, and the folding stool obviously folds up and you can stow them out of the way next to the fridge or where ever it fits in your own situation. Both styles can be researched, priced, and admired right HERE. Adding a step to your RV beats adding a limp to your life! Love y’all, Nana.
Photo: Diana Leblanc
OK, all of you know that my RV, RV Nana 2, is a beautiful 2008 Roadtrek with everything I need to hit the road on a minute’s notice. I always have it ready to go and it’s not unusual at all for me to just decide to head to central Texas to check out the antique stores or head to the coast to watch the waves.
In order to be ready to go, I have to make sure and keep it maintained. When I bought the RoadTrek, Eric at my office gave me some strict instructions for maintenance and I have been doing them religiously ever sense. It’s amazing that a few minutes every few weeks can save me so much hassle. Here are just a few of the items on my check list.
Photo: Diana Leblanc
1. Turn on the engine and let it run for a while. I normally hop in anddrive for about 30 minutes just to run it.
2. Turn on the generator and let it run. Again, I do this while I take
my little drive.
3. Check the ceiling vent and all areas for leaks. I haven’t had any
yet, but I want to discover them before they get too bad. RVs are
notorious for little leaks and the key to repairs is to catch the leak
4. Twice a year I check all the batteries. I’m not talking about engine
batteries. I mean the batteries in the LP detector, the house batteries,
even all the flashlight batteries. I like to be prepared.
5. I also take the time to move the RV out of the driveway and level it
up on the street in front of the house. This is the time for me to turn
on the refrigerator and make sure it is still cooling properly.
These are small steps that have helped me to enjoy the time I have to be in the RV, not on the side of the road or in a repair facility. I always have a notebook in the glove box with an ongoing TO DO list for the RV. It has everything from items I need to buy to restock before the next trip to a list of the maintenance I have done. And yes, my cell phone is a great help with my RV maintenance. I set a reminder on my phone every 30 days to help me remember to do all of this. It works.
Vicki Watkins/Flickr Creative Commons
For those of y’all that aren’t year-round RVers and who put their baby to bed to hibernate all winter, this article is for you. You’ve winterized your RV. You have gone down the checklist, everything is buttoned up, and you’re just waiting for springtime to arrive to pull the covers off and head back out on the road. You’re pretty much done for the winter right? You can park your feet on the coffee table and wait for the temps to climb back up right? Well sure, but there are some things you can check on during this winter break that will make your transition from hibernating to vacationing a little smoother.
For example, do you have your RV or camper trailer under a cover? Is it just a blue plastic tarp? Maybe think about using a breathable cover so mildew and mold doesn’t grow under the plastic tarp which you’ll just have to bleach and scrub on in the spring. Also, if you have a camp trailer, make sure that it’s stored with the tongue at an angle so rain or snow will run off and not just collect in big puddles. Water-based storage problems are pretty common down here on the Gulf Coast all year long!
Another thing to think about doing is if you are storing your RV or trailer on it’s wheels over the winter, move it forward a foot or so every now and then so the tires don’t “get square”. While we’re talking about tires, another thing that is good to do especially if you’re storing your camper outdoors is to place something between the tires and the ground. Think about a small sheet of plywood for example, something larger than the footprint of the tires. This will help prevent the trailer sinking into the ground during the winter. And don’t forget those chocks!
Winter is the slow time for a fair portion of the RVing community, but you can use this time to help your transition from shed to road be that much faster. And remember to come say howdy to us over at the website, we can help you with any parts or accessories you may require during the winter.
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!