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!
There is no better time than the present to winterize your RV. If you are new to RVing and this is your first winter not using your RV, you’ll want to develop your good winterizing habits now. So, if you aren’t using your RV, and aren’t storing your unit in temperature regulated storage, you’re going want to read the rest of this article.
For those of you who have never done this before, don’t worry, it might be intimidating, but it’s not a terribly difficult process. As for the rest of you, the seasoned vets, you need to pick your half-day day to get it done. I know, you’re pretty busy, but you know when it gets colder, you aren’t going to want to do it. Don’t put yourself at the mercy of nature; that can lead to costly repairs.
So, where do you start?
- If you have any inline water filters (don’t forget the icemaker) remove them and by-pass or drain the lines before starting.
- Drain the fresh water holding tank.
- Drain and flush the gray and black holding tanks. Clean the black tank with a wand.
- Drain the water heater. CAUTION: Never drain when hot or under pressure. (Make sure electric element (if equipped) is turned off.)
- Open all hot and cold faucets; don’t forget the toilet valve and outside shower.
- Locate and open low point drain lines. Using the water pump will help force water out, but turn it off as soon as the system is drained.
- Close all drains and close all faucets.
- By-pass the water heater.
If you have an air compressor available, do the following:
- Install a Blow-out Plug to the city water inlet.
- Apply compressed air, keeping the pressure less than 30 lbs/sq inch.
- Open each faucet, one valve at a time, allowing the compressed air to force the water out of the line. Don’t forget the shower, outdoor shower and toilet.
- Remove the drain plug from the hot water tank and allow the compressed air to blow out the remaining water.
- Reinstall drain plug.
…and here’s how you do it!
- Starting with the closest faucet slowly open each hot and cold valve until antifreeze appears.
- Repeat on all faucets from the closest to farthest away. Don’t forget the outside shower.
- Replace antifreeze jug as required.
- Flush the toilet until antifreeze appears.
- Turn the water pump off and open a faucet to release the pressure.
- Pour a cupful of antifreeze down each drain.
- Pour a few cups in the toilet and flush into the holding tank.
- Make sure all faucets are closed.
- Consult your owner manuals for winterizing ice makers and washing machines.
Click on the picture at the top of the article for even more information on the winterization process.
Now, you can still go RVing after you have winterized, you just can’t use any of the facilities. So, if you do want to take the RV out for a spontaneous Winter trip, make sure you stay at camping locations that have water resources. However, if you have any questions, give PPL Motorhomes a call. We can talk you though the process, or set up an appointment to do it for you.
QUICK HIT: Pick up your RV anti-freeze before the first freeze hits!
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.
amateur photography/Flickr Creative Commons
We’ve all been there. Imagine you’re headed down the road, it’s a beautiful late afternoon up in the mountains. You’re in between towns and you’ve got just enough time to make it to your campsite and get everything set up while it’s still daylight and then make it into town for margaritas at that place you both enjoyed so much last year. And then it happens. You get a flat. You slow down and start looking around for a place to pull over because the shoulders don’t look flat or wide enough. Once you find a wide spot, you pull over and the stream of cars behind you go whizzing by all headed into town to drink the margaritas you were so looking forward to. Doesn’t matter if you’re dragging a trailer or have a full size coach, it’s at times like these that you could use a helping hand.
That’s where a company like Coach Net comes in. They are a 24 hour roadside assistance service, so in the above scenario you would simply call the number on the back of your membership card and leave the rest up to them. They can even determine your location based on your cel phone, if you give them permission, otherwise you’d need to provide a location to the nearest mile marker or cross street. After that, simply describe your break down in as specific manner as possible so they can dispatch the corresponding equipment to your location. They are tied into a network of over 40,000 service providers nationwide, so if you need a tire, or if you need a tow they are standing by to help. Realistically, and hopefully, years will go by before you need to call them, but once you do they will quickly and efficiently respond to your call. And there’s no need to worry about paying for a service then submitting a receipt for reimbursement, Coach Net is pre-paid. So if you’re about to hit the road in a new RV, or one that is new-to-you, may I suggest getting this sort of coverage so that your next RV trip will be all the fun you hope it can be, and suggest that you hit our website for any parts or accessorires.
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!
Stephen Kruso:Flickr Creative Commons
Well y’all, there’s been a law on the books for the past few decades stating that trailers with a gross weight over 4500 pounds have to have an annual safety inspection. That includes travel trailers. Turns out a lot of folks either didn’t know about that law or just flat ignore it. Confusing matters further, the Texas Legislature decided back in 2013 that the inspection requirements will remain unchanged, but the inspection stickers will not be issued. The inspectors now send a notice electronically to the DMV showing compliance and then the inspections station issues a paper to the trailer owner certifying that the trailer has passed inspection and the trailer owner is now able to pay for registration. Inspection first, or no registration. As of 2016, the owner will have 90 days from registration expiration to have the trailer inspected
Of course inspection fees vary from county to county, but the state charges $7.50 and it is added to the $45 annual registration fee for the trailer. A $10 bridge and road fee could also be levied by individual counties as well as whatever fee the inspection station charges, probably in the $7-10 range. Worst case scenario, you’re looking at one more hoop to jump through and a grand total of probably not more than $75 per year for registration and inspection of your beloved drag-along. Of course as part of the inspection all the lights, brakes, and reflectors have to be installed and operational. Since the state will no longer issue the inspection stickers and a safety inspection is required prior to registration, the single registration sticker issued by the state will confirm at a glance that your trailer is in fact in compliance.
Of course some trailers have been neglected or have been rode hard and put up wet. If that’s the case please visit us at PPL Motorhomes for all your parts and accessories to help get that trailer back on the road!