Make the RV Cool(er)

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NH53/Flickr Creative Commons

Sorry if this blog is old news for you long-time RV’rs but there are so many new owners of RV’s out there I thought maybe they would find these tips useful. It’s Full Summer out there people, so today we’re going to discuss different common sense ways to help keep the RV cool during this hot weather.

I once saw an old man holding hands with what I assumed was his granddaughter in a Randall’s parking lot here in Houston, Texas. the little girl was asking him why he parked so far from the store when there were empty spots closer, and the grandfather said, “Because our spot is in the shade.” If you folks are new to Texas, or new to summer RV’ing, you should do your absolute best to park that sucker in the shade every time. Just that slight reduction in direct sunlight can make a huge difference, ESPECIALLY if your RV is painted in darker colors.

This may seem too simple to be true, but if you’re in an exposed parking spot try to park the RV with the awning on the west side. Then run it out and it will block a large chunk of afternoon sun from shining in the windows. While you’re at it, keep the rest of the window shades drawn to keep the sun from being as effective at warming the ambient air inside the RV.

Remember your grandmother’s house before they put in the window unit air conditioners? Or maybe your great-grandmother’s house? Or if you’re too young, perhaps you’ve been to the state capitol up in Austin? You might have noticed lot of the doors in those pre-AC days were built with transoms above them to help the house have good airflow through it. You can do the same in your RV using the vents to prevent a lot of heat from building up inside the RV while you’re out running errands or having that summer fun.

Swing by our website and have a look through our climate control, AC gear, vents, and awnings and we’d be glad to help you get that RV cooler!

 

Summer Fuel Economy Tips

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Darlene Hildebrandt/Flickr Creative Commons

Do y’all remember the lines at gas stations during the 1970’s? Do y’all remember President Jimmy Carter coming on TV to explain how tire gauges work? Well we’re going to talk fuel economy a little bit today. The summer driving season is upon us and granted, RV’s aren’t like driving a Prius…but…there are several things you can do to squeeze more miles out of a tank of gas and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.

Oddly enough one of the biggest influences on the range of your fuel tank is your right foot. For those of y’all who are lead foots or think your RV is a dragster, I’ve seen figures that show a negative effect on your range from five to thirty three percent! For the same reason, use your cruise control whenever possible. That constant speed, and constant RPM equates to a more efficient way of converting your fuel to miles. On the other side of the same coin, don’t just let the RV idle for long periods…just shut off the engine if it’s going to be more than a few minutes.

Sometimes an increase in economy can be achieved just with regular maintenance. Something as simple as a broken oxygen sensor can impact you by forty percent. And the same goes for the rest of the emissions systems, remember these engines are basically air pumps so anything that affects the air flow through the engine will affect your gas mileage. So with that said, air filter maintenance is also a key component to maximizing your mileage. Keep it clean or replace it often especially if you’re driving out west where there is a higher level of airborne dust.

So to recap…by all means check your tire pressures, don’t drive like a teenager, and keep up with the maintenance on your RV and the cost per fuel stop won’t be any higher than it needs to be. Also, we can help you get down the road with parts and accessories over at the website, so come say howdy!

Powercube!

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William Hook/Flickr Creative Commons

One of my favorite memes these days is a photo of a group of 20 Somethings walking down the street all of them doing something on their smartphones and the caption reads, “Where are you gonna stare at your phone this weekend?” I have a smartphone, and I use it when I need to but I guess I’m old enough not to stare at it like the gateway to some magical dimension…BUT…devices are here to stay and nobody can put that genie back in the bottle I’m afraid. So now that we’re all ready to live in modern times, the fact of the matter is this: our lives are electric.

iPods, iPads, smartphones, portable DVD players, laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, etc etc etc…everything needs charging when you’re traveling right? Used to be tensions would rise over who got to use the cigarette lighter socket to charge their flip phones, but we’ve come a long way since then baby. Now it’s not just the cigarette lighter socket chargers everyone needs…it’s USB plugs.

Well let me introduce you to a very nifty gadget. It’s called the Powercube and it speaks every language of charging. 5 devices can be charged at the same time, and it’s able to detect what voltage is required automatically! With three USB ports and two conventional wall outlet style sockets, all you’ll have to worry about is getting all the charging wires tangled up. Now this is the perfect thing to bring on a trip when you’re traveling with teenagers! If they’re still using devices with an actual keyboard, all you’ll hear is the dull clack of the keys. If that’s too noisy, buy ’em a touchscreen!

If you’re interested in one of these chargers, we have them on sale. And all the information you need is right HERE. Happy charging!

RVing with Kids

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Andrew Hyde/Flickr Creative Commons

Every now and again I hear folks talking about RV’ing with kids or grandkids, and the conversations tend to revert to hushed tones as though they’re spilling state secrets to ISIS or something. As though people will hear that they’re planning on packing the RV with kids and will immediately try to talk them out of it or stage an intervention. On the other side of the coin, I also hear people discussing a trip with kids as if the kids are the delicate, fragile ones who can’t handle being confined for the course of the road trip. Today we’re going to talk about a few things you can do that will help mitigate some of the problems you face when traveling with kids.

Schedule Regular Stops

This is so important. If you are traveling long distance in a day or perhaps a multi-day cross country trip, plan on stopping every 2 hours or so. If you can make these stops correspond with mealtimes that also helps. Stop at a Chick Fil A or McDonalds or someplace with a playground so those kids can run and MAKE NOISE! An added benefit is that once the kids know there is a scheduled stop coming soon, the “When are we going to get there?” questions will fade away.

Give Them A Map

I realize nobody has maps anymore and it’s all GPS, but buy the kids a roadmap each. Not only will they learn to use one, but they’ll be able to track their progress and therefore that dreaded “How Much Longer?” question gets another smack down. Plus the kids will be able to see what interesting sights are coming up and can make some suggestions on where the next stop will be. For example, “Hey Nana, can we stop at The Thing on I-10 in Arizona?” or “Carlsbad Caverns is off to the left, can we go there?”. They’ll take an interest in the trip, it’ll divert their attention from the passage of time, as well as teaching them a useful skill.

Road Music Revisited

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Jay Cross/Flickr Creative Commons

It seems like every day or two there are new lists posted all over social media that tout to have “The Top 5 Songs Of All Time” or “20 Of The Best Songs To Chop Broccoli To” (the writers of these lists have amazing grammar by the way) or even “Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs Of All Time” but when you click the link it’s not even an article by Rolling Stone, and there are so many advertisements popping up all over that seeing all 500 songs would take 500 days.

Everyone has an opinion on music because music is 100% subjective. You like what you like, I like what I like. For example, I love The Eagles. However in The Big Lebowski, Jeff Bridges’ character loudly and publicly dislikes The Eagles. And you know what? That’s his, and my, prerogative. That being said, almost nothing can tense up a road trip like arguing over the music.

The accepted rule is “Driver Controls The Stereo” and that should be true unless it’s gonna be a long trip in which case there should be some sort of “your CD, then my CD” arrangement. It’s fair. That way poor Jeff Bridges doesn’t have to listen to two The Eagles CDs in a row and I don’t have to listen to two Creedence Clearwater Revival albums back-to-back.

Even married couples with decades of experience dealing with each other don’t want to listen to the same music. So be at peace people! Just take turns, Your taste is not better than hers, and hers isn’t any better than yours. It’s just super individualized. So for the good of the trip, to keep peace in the vehicle, just suck it up and listen to her music, every other album. Next thing you know, miles have slipped behind you and you might even hear some new music that you can ALL like!

Come say howdy over at the website, we’ll get you squared away!

Distracted Drivers… Sheesh!

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Ethan/Flickr Creative Commons

OK folks, prepare for a bit of a rant. Several years back I began noticing that one of the key features on I-1o was damaged guard rails. And I mean damaged. Like the idiot who hit the rail didn’t even put on the brakes, just plowed into the thing. And there is a little stretch of road that I travel pretty frequently where no sooner does the county or highway dept replace the rail and install new posts than it’s peeled back and sheared off again more or less within 24 hours it seems. So is the problem that the rails are hard to see? Are they installed too close to an active lane? Is it sleepy truckers (which is what the big push was a few years ago)? Or is it bored motorists Facebooking their way down the highway?

Lord have mercy people, which is more important: being brielfy entertained on your trip by watching the video of that cat trying to jump off the dresser and slipping, answering a chatty text, or arriving at your destination with vehicle, life, and insurance policy intact? Now, some could say this is a generational problem…I mean after all the statistics show that the highest number of distracted driving accidents occur in the 16-24 year old age range, but the funny thing is when I was growing up that age group had the highest number of accidents as well and our phones were on the wall next to the kitchen!

According to TXDOT, over 500 people a year die in our state in distracted driving accidents, and 1 in 5 accidents state wide are due to distracted driving. Granted their definition is not just phone related, they also include the ladies putting on makeup, the folks fiddling with their GPS, folks who are eating lunch, changing a CD, and they even include folks who are READING. I love a good book, I really do, but reading one on I-35 driving through Austin, for example, isn’t a diversion…it’s suicide. So can we all just prioritize a little bit and while we’re in our cars just concentrate on getting from Point A to Point B through the maze of distracted drivers without becoming one ourselves? This has been an Important Safety Message from RV Nana, and I approve this message. Ha!

Hitch ‘Em Up!

Have you ever watched the endless minute adjustments being made by folks who may not use their fifth wheel hitch very often? Forward, reverse, forward, reverse, forward, reverse, pull out, readjust, start over. It’s even worse when they’re driving a long bed truck and the adjustments have to be amplified to counteract the longer pivot. Sometimes I just want to go knock on the window and ask if I can hitch ’em up real quick so these folks can get down the road, but I can never decide whether or not that would be rude or helpful. As they get more and more frustrated, you can just imagine them cursing the hitch, the truck, and the trailer.

Well I’m here to ease that frustration in a not-rude, very helpful sort of way today! For you long-bed truck having, fifth wheel trailer dragging folks who are tired of feeling like you’re wasting your time getting hitched up, Pullrite has an awesome light weight, high mounted fifth wheel hitch that will be the answer to your prayers! First of all the hitch is touted as the easiest fifth wheel hitch in the entire industry to couple. Secondly, it IS light, weighing in at only 52 lbs which means the UPS guy won’t even break a sweat lugging it to your door. And thirdly, what Pullrite has done in the engineering of this hitch is incredible.

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What they’ve done is combine the functions of the hitch plate, rocker arm, and crossmember into the king pin adapter, which clamps to the trailer’s king pin and mounts an upside down ball hitch. Then, a gooseneck coupler is mounted upside down onto a base which attaches to most industry rails (unless it has the bole mounted in the middle, call for details). A funnel is mounted to the gooseneck coupler so instead of fine-tuning your long bed truck, all you have to do is contact the ball with any portion of the funnel and you’re all hitched up! Plus, the funnel and ball are completely visible from the cab! How easy is that? They are available right HERE. You’re welcome!

Aw, Hail!

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Terry Presley/Flickr Creative Commons

I can’t remember if we’ve ever talked about hail. Of so, it’s been a long, long, long time and we might as well hit it again. So here we are mid-spring, the weather has been mostly wonderful. Central Texas, and North Texas too, have had some pretty powerful weather over the course of the spring and that belt of the state from north of Austin to the Red River gets strong storms pretty regularly. I still remember when Jarrell got wiped out by a tornado back in the 90’s. So what do you do when those storms are coming and they’re bringing hail and damaging winds with them?

Now it’s almost a cliche about RVs and travel trailers being beaten up by bad weather, but there is nothing more important than the well being of yourself and your loved ones. If weather is headed your way, and you don’t have time to get moving out of it’s path, your absolute best option is to seek shelter. That applies whether it’s straight-line winds, severe lightning, floods, hail, etc etc etc. Find yourself a sturdy, permanent structure if possible and get inside. Then keep away from windows and wait it out.

So you’ve made it through the storm and you’re looking your RV over immediately afterwards and it has taken a beating. We here at PPL can help you get it back to looking it’s best with replacement for all that damaged stuff up on top. I’m talking about replacements for refrigerator vent covers, vent lids, A/C shrouds, plumbing vent caps, and if you have punctures we even have self-adhesive rubber roof repair kits. Chances are if you have antennas mounted up top, they’ve taken a beating too. It’s amazing the amount of stuff we have up there that kind of gets forgotten about. So if you’ve gone through some severe weather, survey your RV or trailer, than call us and let us know how we can help you get back on the road!

 

Electrical Protection

Let’s admit it, sometimes we all procrastinate. For example, let’s say you’ve got a trip coming up where you’re going to take your beloved RV all the way across the country to some far-off destination where you get to go-see-do all kinds of neat stuff. The destination is wonderful and you’ve told all your friends what you’re going to do. You have the whole thing mapped out right? Well…maybe just the first night or so. You haven’t quite found a campsite out there in the middle because it doesn’t seem like many of the campgrounds out there have a website and you’ve been too busy to call.

When you finally do get around to calling, the person on the other end of the phone reserves you a spot but doesn’t inspire much confidence in you that they understand what you want or need or what you’re even doing there. Once you finally arrive at the campground a little while later, you could swear you can hear banjo music and you start thinking about running away as fast as you can like Ned Beatty should have done in the movie “Deliverance”. But you’re tired after a long day’s travel and now you’re stuck for the night. Thank goodness your RV is equipped with a permanently mounted surge protector because it looks like these folks have only recently even heard of electricity, much less know how to wire up the pedestal.

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Matthew Hogan/Flickr Creative Commons

Which brings me to the point. Mount a surge protector, or bring a portable one with you, so you know that your RV or travel trailer’s electrical circuits will be protected. Over voltage, under voltage, power surges, open neutrals, etc etc etc can all wreak havoc with your electrical system. Protect your investment, and prevent that awful burning smell by just installing that surge protector between your RV and the campground owner’s cousin’s wiring job on that pedestal, we’ve got them in stock right HERE!

It’s Snake Season, Watch Your Step

It’s that time of year again…snake season. Love ’em, or hate ’em, snakes are an integral part of our ecosystem and live in places that we as RVers love to visit. In fact all of us at PPL Motorhomes have our fair share of snake stories. Now, I didn’t choose this topic to frighten, or scare you, but more as an informative and educational piece. For example, did you know that 85% of snakes in Texas aren’t poisonous? That’s just one of many things I learned from the Texas Parks and Wildlife video below.

Remember, when we visit our forests and parks, we are visiting a habitat of wild creatures, so it is our responsibility to tread lightly and avoid contact with the wildlife. Snakes, like all other creatures, just want to be left alone. Watch when stepping over logs, or putting your hands in cool dark places. These are prime areas for snakes to be as they try to escape the heat.

Have any good snake stories? Leave me a comment below, or come into PPL Motorhomes and we can swap snake tales.