Prevent Your Minnesota RV from Dry Rot This Winter

Photo Courtest of RVBasics

Though I’m not sure why, some RV owners think that winterizing or storing your RV means you won’t have to perform any sort of maintenance during the time it’s in storage. This is a very common misconception, especially among new RVers. If you’ve decided to hibernate your Minnesota motor home, travel trailer or fifth wheel this winter, there are several things you need to keep an eye on. In my opinion, dry rot is the most important because it’s one of the worst things that can happen to your RV. Especially if it goes unnoticed for too long.

So what exactly is dry rot? To put it plainly, dry rot is a wood-destroying fungus that begins when moisture seeps into the interior of your RV’s walls. It soon starts to eat away at the insulation, wood, and anything else, leaving your RV structurally weak.  The worst thing about it is that there’s really no way to fix a wall that has been eaten out by dry rot without replacing the entire thing.

Those of you storing your RV outdoors are at the most risk for dry rot. So make sure you thoroughly inspect your RV for any leaks along the seals and rivets. The best thing to do is have a professional at your Minnesota RV dealership perform a pressure test. If your RV passes, then the next step is to purchase a high-quality RV cover. Using a regular, old blue tarp will simply not do.

If you plan on keeping  your RV in an indoor storage facility, then you need to check for leaks in the roof or walls. I strongly recommend buying a de-humidifier for the storage unit or RV. This will add additional insurance that there won’t be any excess water sitting on, in, or around your RV while it is in storage.

Dry rot can begin while your RV is stored away without you even knowing it. So if you ‘ve decided you want to put your RV away for the slow season, then you need to be sure you are doing your best to protect it from dry rot. If you’d like a professional to inspect your RV for leaks or run a pressure test, swing by one of Pleasureland RV’s four locations:  Ramsey, St.Cloud, Willmar or Brainerd.

Why You Need to Know the Height and Weight of Your Minnesota Motor Home, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel

When it comes to owning an RV, there are certain measurements, numbers, weights, etc. that you need to know and keep track of. The second you drive that new RV off the lot at your Minnesota RV dealership, you should immediately make a note of two things: the height and weight of your RV.

Earlier this year, we talked about the importance of knowing your RV clearance level. In case you’re new to this blog, I’ll briefly revisit the subject. When driving a normal passenger car, we often take for granted the clearance signs that you see in overpasses and drive-thru restaurants. This is normal because unless you’re driving a lifted pickup truck, odds are your car will clear practically anything. But this is not the case with your new motor home, travel trailer or fifth wheel. Here’s the best example of what can happen if you aren’t aware of your RV’s clearance level.

In order to prevent this from happening to you, you’ll need to physically measure the height of your RV. You cannot rely on the what it says in the owner’s manual because accessories are not factored in. The only way to be sure, is to measure from the ground up to the tallest point of your RV. I recommend making three measurements: the front, middle and rear.

Now that we know our clearance level, let’s move on to our RV’s weight. Weight can affect everything from your tires and axles to how it handles while driving. The number you’re looking for here is the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). This number tells you the maximum amount of weight that your RV is designed to carry including full tanks and passengers. If you are driving an RV that is over its weight, then you are putting yourself at risk of dangers that can occur while on the road including part failure.

Believe it or not, even the smallest things we keep in our RV, such as picture frames and books, add up. So it’s always best to monitor your weight using a professional truck scale. You can find these scales at truck stops or mechanic shops and they can give you an accurate reading of what your RV weighs. Be sure to have your RV filled to the max (fuel, water holding tanks, etc.) when you weigh it.

With owning an RV, comes responsibility. It doesn’t have to be difficult, which is why I recommend taking note of these two things the second you drive off the Minnesota RV dealership lot. Trust me, you’ll be saving yourself and your RV from unnecessary trouble down the road. If you ever need any help with measuring or weighing your RV, you can always swing by one of Pleasureland’s four locations in Ramsey, St.Cloud, Willmar or Brainerd.

Do You Consider Yourself a Good RV Driver, Minnesota?

Photo Courtesy of MobileLifeStyle

If you currently own an RV or you’re thinking about purchasing a new RV in the near future, then it’s probably safe to say that you’ve been driving for several years now. Every driver forms their own driving habits over the years and most consider themselves to be a good driver. But obviously, this isn’t true. Not everyone out there is as good of a driver as they think they are. In fact, more than 33,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents last year — most of which were preventable.

In the motorhome world, we tend to spend more time driving than the average person. Therefore, we of all people should practice safe driving and be considered the best drivers out there. You’d be surprised at how even the smallest things we do behind the wheel of our RV can make a difference. Let’s take a look at some statistics from Consumer Reports and see how we can prevent ourselves from becoming them.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for kids between 3 and 12 years old. By placing all children 12 and under in the back seat, you can reduce injury risk by 64 percent for children under 8 and 31 percent for 9-12 year olds.

Secure you children. Not only will this possibly save their lives in an accident, it will also prevent you from losing control of the vehicle due to the children bouncing all over the car.

Speeding is a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes, killing nearly 900 Americans every month.

This one is a no-brainer, don’t speed. Sure there’s a window of five to eight mph over the posted speed limit, but the only time you should ever exceed that window is if you are passing someone. This pertains to RV owners mostly because our RV, travel trailer or fifth wheel is much larger than our passenger cars.  (So this pertains to RV owners more than anyone.) As a bonus, not speeding will help with your fuel consumption.

In 2009, over 5,400 people were killed due to distracted driving and 448,000 were injured.

Keep your eyes on the road at all times. Don’t text, email, eat, play with the GPS or anything else that may cause you to become distracted. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds can result in a deadly crash.

The use of seat belts saved the lives of 13,000 people in 2008.

Buckle up. Seat belt laws are there for a reason, people. Should you happen to be involved in an accident, your seat belt will prevent you from flying through the huge windshield of your RV.

Another way to prevent an accident is preventative maintenance. Be sure to routinely check the tire pressure and tread of your tires, your fluid levels and battery. You should also always use your signals to alert other drivers of your vehicle and what you are planning to do.

As I mentioned before, a high percentage of motor vehicle accidents are preventable. So Minnesota RVers, what will you do to be the best RV driver you can be? Let us know!

Tire Care – Checking The Tread

The tread of your RV’s tires plays a crucial role in the performance of your vehicle as well as its safety. Knowing how to inspect the tread of your tires yourself and being able to keep a mindful eye on their condition is extremely important, especially for those of us who are avid Minnesota RV travelers.

In order to prevent dangerous occurrences while driving, such as skidding and hydroplaning, tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to a certain amount. All tires produced since 1968 have a built in tread wear indicator already in them to help you see any signs of tread concern, before it becomes a much larger issue. These ‘wear bars’ look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread and will begin to appear when tread is wearing down. When tire use degrades the tread depth to 1/16″ (1.5mm), smooth 1/2″ (13mm) bands seem to rise toward the surface. This indicates that these tires should be replaced. Many states have laws making this replacement mandatory once the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. These wear bars are the first sign that your tires need replacing.

Visually check your tires for signs of uneven wear before every RV road trip. You may have irregular tread wear if there are high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Tire trouble, if gone undetected, can shorten your RV tire’s lifespan. Unforeseen issues with your tires can only lead to money down the drain. Trouble detected can also give you clues to other areas of your RV that may need attention. Being aware of what to look for and knowing how to test your tire’s tread is RVing in the smartest way.

What Minneapolis RV Owners Should Know About Cell Phones and Filling Stations

Hey Minnesota RVers, have you seen the signs at filling station near the gas pumps that tell you not to use your cell phone while pumping gas? Recently I received an e-mail from a friend stating the dangers of cell phone use while filling up.

Safety Alert! There are several reasons why cell phones aren’t allowed in operating areas, propylene oxide handling and storage areas, or propane, gas and diesel refueling areas. For one, they can ignite fuel or fumes. Mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition. Mobile phones should not be used in filling stations, or when fueling lawn mowers, boat, etc. In fact, mobile phones should not be used, or should be turned off, around several other materials that generate flammable or explosive fumes or dust including solvents, chemicals, gases, grain dust, etc. The following is an e-mail I received stating the rules of being safe at the pump and some interesting facts about a study done regarding incidents where fires resulted in not following proper refueling etiquette.

 

To sum it up, here are the Four Rules for Safe Refueling:

  1. Turn off engine.
  2. Don’t smoke.
  3. Don’t use your cell phone – leave it inside the
    vehicle or turn it off.
  4. Don’t re-enter your vehicle during fueling .

Bob Renkes of Petroleum Equipment Institute is working on a campaign to try and make people aware of fires as a result of ‘static electricity’ at gas pumps.  His company researched 150 cases of these fires.

His results were very surprising.

  1. Out of 150 cases, almost all of them were women.
  2. Almost all cases involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas. When finished, they went back to pull the nozzle out and the fire started, as a result of static.
  3. Most had on rubber-soled shoes.
  4. Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished. This is why they are seldom involved in these types of fires.
  5. Don’t ever use cell phones when pumping gas.
  6. It is the vapors that come out of the gas that cause the fire, when connected with static charges.
  7. There were 29 fires where the vehicle was re-entered and the nozzle was touched during refueling from a variety of makes and models. Some resulted in extensive damage to the vehicle, to the station, and to the customer.
  8. Seventeen fires occurred before, during or immediately after the gas cap was removed and before fueling began.

Mr. Renkes stresses to NEVER get back into your vehicle while filling it with gas. If you absolutely HAVE to get in your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure you get out, close the door TOUCHING THE METAL, before you ever pull the nozzle out.  This way the static from your body will be discharged before you ever remove the nozzle.

Have you heard any additional information regarding the dangers of cell phones and gas pumps? We’d love to learn more about it!

Zap the Sap on Your RV Minnesota

During the summer months, the inside of your RV can get really hot. Even on a mild day of 80 degree weather, the inside of your RV can rise to over 100 degrees in just a half hour! There’s really no way around the heat, and you probably looked for any shaded area including trees to park under and try and combat it. The only problem with parking under those wooded areas (especially on a campground) is that your RV could become covered in sticky and relentless tree sap. Recently I noticed tree sap on the hood of my RV and I decided to give her a good washing to clean it off. Initially I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult and just required a little extra scrubbing. Boy was I mistaken. Normal washing techniques and car wash product just won’t do the trick. After doing some research about tree sap removal while trying to find the best product and method for the job, I found a few different ways that work well in order to zap the sap.

  • Bug and Tar Remover – Follow the directions and this should do the trick for most sticky sap situations, just takes some extra elbow grease.
  • Rain-X – This window cleaner works well by simply using a cloth and wiping it off.
  • Mineral Spirit – Wet a cloth with this product and rub in a circular motion.
  • Ice – Because the sap can be gooey and sticky, using ice to harden it can help you to simply chip it away.

With any method you choose to use to clean the tree sap off your RV, be sure to always read the directions carefully and try a test spot (like on the top of your RV) to make sure the product or method you use doesn’t harm your paint. If you know of any other remedies to rid your RV of tree sap, let us know!

Use Toothpaste to Clean Your RV Headlights

Have you started to notice while driving your RV at night that your headlights aren’t shining as brightly as they used to? Or maybe you’ve noticed that your headlights have a yellowy film on them. Often times, RV owners think that the problem is on the inside of the lens and will end up spending hundreds on replacements.  However, this discoloration mostly occurs because the outside cover on your lamps has become oxidized and simply needs to be cleaned up.

While there are many different products you can spend a good amount of money on to fix this problem, I have found a solution that is quite effective and hardly costs me anything – and they call it toothpaste. Sounds a little strange, but believe it or not your toothpaste can be quite versatile.

Step 1 – Get your run of the mill, white toothpaste. Notice the word paste and not the gel kind.

Step 2 – Apply the toothpaste to the plastic cover with a dry cloth. and rub in a circular motion until you start to notice the grime wipe away.

Step 3 – Rinse with water, and wipe away any residual paste with a wet cloth.

And there you have it. Clean, clear covers and better visibility at night! If you’re still having visibility issues or the headlights still appear dirty, feel free to give us a call or swing by. We’ll be glad to help you figure out if it’s indeed time for a new set of headlights.

Take Precaution When Working on RV Batteries

The summer months can be hard on your RV’s battery. Overcharging and high temperatures can kill batteries. So frequently check the batteries is extremely important and you may even have to preform some maintenance. This isn’t necessarily difficult, but there are some precautions you should take to avoid spilling or splashing electrolytes or a battery fire or explosion.

Let’s take a look at an excerpt from Gary Bunzer’s book, Woodall’s RV Owner’s Handbook, that details these risks and also provides safety guidelines for how to avoid an RV battery accident.

Risks of Spilling and Splashing Electrolyte

Why it’s Dangerous:

Spilled or splashed electrolytes can cause chemical burns to skin and eyes, destroy your clothing and damage wood, metal, painted surfaces under or around the battery.

How to Reduce Risk:

Protect yourself!

  • Avoid contact between electrolyte and skin, eyes, or clothing.
  • Wear splash-proof safety goggles when working on RV batteries
  • Wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves that extend up the forearms and an apron
  • Rinse off the gloves and apron before removing them

Protect the RV

  • Don’t let battery acid splash on any surface
  • Neutralize spilled or splashed electrolyte with a solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)in water
  • Rinse the spill area with clean water
  • Wipe dry with disposable material (rag or paper towel)
  • Use a small plastic funnel or battery fill bulb when adding water to the cells in order to prevent splashing

Risk of Explosion or Battery Fire

Why it’s Dangerous:

Flooded electrolyte batteries produce highly flammable hydrogen gas as a by-product of recharging. This gives rise to the risk of explosion or fire.

How to Reduce Risk:

  • Provide proper ventilation while working on the battery or in the battery compartment
  • Avoid sparks and open flame (don’t light a smoke!)
  • Always reinstall the cell caps before charging or discharging the battery.

 

If you are planning to do any work on your RV battery or need any help checking the battery, be sure to give us a call or come down and see us.

Properly Store Your RV Minnesota

Unless you’re a full-timer, there’s going to come a time when you’ll need to store your RV. Whether its for a few weeks or few months, proper storing techniques must be applied in order to protect one of the biggest investments you’ve made. If you’re planning on storing your RV on your own, here are a few things you should keep in mind and consider.

RV Storage Tips

  1. Get rid of the gas. If you’re planning on parking your RV for longer than a month, you may want to consider emptying the gas tank. Gasoline begins to deteriorate over time and can end up causing your engine some problems and causing you a chunk of change. This is especially true in the hotter months. If you’re unable to empty the tank, you can use a gas stabilizer.Stabilizers can preserve your gasoline for up to a couple of years but they can’t fix what has already started to deteriorate. Once your tank is nearly empty, measure out enough stabilizer to treat a tank of gas; pour it in your tank; then fill your tank with gas to about 95% capacity. Filling your tank to 95% capacity minimizes the possibility of condensation and still leaves a bit of room for expansion and contraction.  [ViringiaWind.com]
  2.  

  3. Custom-fitted RV covers. The best thing you could possibly do for your RV is buy a custom-fitted RV cover. Look for one that blocks sun damage, is water resistant, and fits your unit. Do not use a regular, old dark blue tarp. This will attract the sun’s heat and allows many areas for moisture to accumulate.
  4.  

  5. Tires. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t take tire care into consideration when storing their RV. It’s good to use tire covers to protect the rubber and prevent cracks and dry decaying from the sun. It’s even better to remove the tires all together and store them in a cool, dry place away from gasoline and oil.
  6.  

It may sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t have to be… you could leave it up to the experts. Storage services offer all sorts of cleaning and maintenance, and is probably your best bet if you are unsure of how to properly store your RV on your own.  If you need any advice or more information about properly storing your RV, don’t hesitate to give us a call or visit one of our four locations!

RV Decorating Ideas

How do you decorate your RV?

How do you go about decorating your RV?  When you spend so much time in a smaller space, you should get the inspiration to decorate.  Because it is so much different decorating a RV compared to a home or apartment, we found a article that gives you a great place to start!

RV living is very different than living in a stick house or apartment, but you still want your place to feel and look like your home. No one wants to live in a carbon copy of every other RV in the park yet you may be afraid to change things around too much if you are worried about the resale value of your RV. The truth of the matter is however that there are still lots of things you can do, without a radical remodeling job, to add style, ease, and individuality to your RV home.

Furniture is very important and you may want to consider purchasing a beautiful sofa bed in an up-to-date color and style to replace the standard (and often boring) couch that came in your RV.

If your RV is your home then it should make you feel good every time you walk in the door. Color can help with this, as often RV interiors are designed and decorated to appeal to the most people and somehow that often transplants into a bland look that reflects every other RV on the lot.

You might not want a bright green couch but if you do, go for it. Or, if you prefer to keep the couch that came with your RV, at least add some bright and beautiful throw pillows or toss a colorful quilt or throw across the back of your couch.

Curtains can be purchased, or made if you are handy with a sewing machine, that contrast with or that match your furnishings. Personally I can’t stand blinds of any kind, and that would be the first thing to go for me, to be replaced with an attractive set of curtains that I made myself.

Many RV owners pick a “theme” like western, vintage, nautical or country style, but I prefer to have a free hand and don’t like to limit my decorating in that way. However, done right, a theme RV decorating scheme can be very attractive. Just don’t go overboard with it. A subtle touch here and there works much better than cramming every inch of your RV with nautical items for example.

Lighting matters too, so be sure your RV allows for plenty of natural light and ventilation, as well as adequate lighting in the kitchen, and where you read, work at your computer, and other tasks.

An awning outside your RV adds a whole new dimension to your RV, virtually adding a new room to your home. Put a folding table and chairs outside under your awning and you’ll find yourself enjoying your stay in the great outdoors a whole lot more. Plus it encourages outdoor barbecues and eating outside which can be fun too.

Get rid of clutter in your RV. If you haven’t already given away or donated all the things you just don’t need anymore, or have room for in your RV, then do it now. Not only will it give you more room to breathe, your place will just look and feel better without all that excess stuff.

Make sure you have some family photos somewhere in your RV. You can make any place feel more like home when you add your own pictures. Change them around once in awhile, especially when you get wonderful new photos, or perhaps when the seasons change. Posters and lightweight pictures can also brighten up your RV, in addition to your family photos.Make room for your hobbies, you’ll want to occupy your time with things that are fun and interesting for you. Store the supplies in attractive wicker chests or other furniture. If you don’t have a place for the things you enjoy doing, then find one somehow. Either store in cupboards or chests or baskets, whatever looks good and you have room for.

Avoid sharp corners on furniture and cabinets. With the smaller space of an RV, you’d be running into those sharp corners too often for comfort.

There are even RV fireplace heaters with mantels. The best ones look very realistic and aren’t terribly expensive. Perfect for Christmas and the cold weather months.

Whatever you do to decorate your RV make sure it fits your needs and you like it. Don’t just stick with the furnishings that came with your RV, it’s your home now and the fastest way to feel comfortable and at ease is to decorate in your own favorite style, get rid of furniture, curtains, and other things that are not to your taste or, if used, that are too outdated.

How do you decorate your RV! Leave us a comment or come show us at Pleasureland RV!