Educate Yourself on RV Fire Safety

This has been a hard summer on the states with record-breaking temperatures and fire outbreaks. Thousands of acres and hundreds of homes have been lost in the lower states due to these fires, so I thought it’d be fitting to talk about the importance of fire safety in our RVs.

Photo courtesy BransonMo.gov

Did you know that fires are one of top contributing factors to RV loss in the US? RVFireExtinguisher.com said that more 20,000 RV fires are reported every year in the U.S., and about 80 percent of them were in gas-powered motorhomes. So what is the best way to prevent  a fire in your RV Minnesota? RVFireExtinguisher.com suggests the following:

To prevent, identify and put out fires there are several things you should have in place. As well as having a working fire alarm and carbon monoxide and LPG gas detectors you should also have working fire extinguishers. In fact, it is against the law in the USA not to have a fire extinguisher in your RV. The National Fire Protection Agency makes it compulsory to have a 5 pound BC fire extinguisher near every exit of the RV. Most fires in RV’s are type A fires meaning that they start from common combustibles such as paper and wood, so it is recommended that you keep a type A fire extinguisher in your RV as well as the BC which is for electrical and gas fires. It is also best to have five fire extinguishers in your RV – one in the driver’s cab, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, one in your towed vehicle and also one in storage as a backup.

Having a fire extinguisher(s) in your RV won’t help anything, though, unless everyone on board knows how to use one. If you can only remember one thing when it comes to using an extinguisher, remember to P.A.S.S. Pull, Aim, Squeeze and sweep! Here’s a helpful video that will show you exactly how to do this. If you need any help making your RV fire-safe, or just need a new RV, you can always give us a call or drop in.

 

How Can Full-Timers Keep Fit on the Road?

It seems as though fulltime RVing has become more and more popular over the years. This is probably because we have all of the luxuries found in our homes in our RVs. Not to mention the advancements in technology that allow us to stay connected in the real world. There is, however, one thing missing from our RVs – a gym. Sure we’ve seen the real fancy RV interiors with treadmills that come down from the ceiling, but that sure seems like an expensive way to stay in shape. You’d also have to be all right with a repetitive workout.

So what are some good ways full-timers can stay fit on the road without breaking the bank? The first, and probably the most obvious, way to do this is outdoor activities at campground. Go for a morning or nightly walk. Venture out on a hike. Not only will you get in some quality exercise, you’ll also be able to view the scenery and get familiar with your campground.

A lot of RVers will bring along a second form of transportation on their RV trips, especially if you’re traveling in a toy hauler. If you don’t already own a bicycle, consider getting one to bring on the road. Cycling is an excellent form of exercise, and as I mentioned above, you can get familiar with the campground and scenery.

For those of you with children aboard, you may have a bit of a harder time getting them out to exercise. Not to worry though, there are now really fun video games that give you a great workout right inside of the RV. These games are not only made for kids either. Adults can have just as much fun and get the same great workout. There is one little downside to this method of exercise — you’ll have to buy the game console (Nintendo Wii or xBox Kinect). If you do decide to take this route, and I strongly recommend you do especially if you have younger ones aboard, you should check out these games.


WII Fit Plus

Wii Fit Plus uses a scale-like controller, It uses a Wii balance board which does the weight and calculates your body mass. You can customize your routine and work out on specific target areas. Has cool stuff like yoga and strength training.

 

Active Life: Outdoor Challenge

You run, you jump, you tilt, you pump your arms and before you know it, you’ll find yourself lying on the floor listening to your heart pump madly in your chest. This collection of energetic mini-games is a bit of a mixed bag in the fun department, but it will sure make you work, and you can play it with a friend.


Xbox 360 Kinect – Your Shape Fitness Evolved

This game talks you through and walks you through the exact movements you need to get in shape. When you type in your age, weight and habits it will make sure not to over do it on your work out.  It has things like Tai Chi and yoga.


Kinect Sports

Full body controller. Work out and have fun with your family!

 

So full-time Minnesota RV owners, how do you plan on keeping fit on the road?

7 Tips For Backing Up and Parking Your New RV

I ran into a friend of mine who purchased his first RV, a 2002 Forest River Georgetown, at the beginning of the summer. I hadn’t seen him since he made the purchase, and I was dying to know how his first few RV trips had gone. Come to find out… he hadn’t taken his new RV out once! I couldn’t believe it! When I asked him why, he was a little bit reluctant to tell me, but I finally got it out of him. He didn’t know how to back-up and park the RV. At first, I was shocked that this had kept him from using his beautiful, new home-away-from-home. But the more I thought about it, I realized that he was probably not alone with this fear.

If you’re a first-time RV owner, getting out on the road can seem a little scary.  After all, RVs drive a lot differently than your average four-door sedan.  Whether it’s a motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer, there are several things you should know about backing up and parking. I found seven excellent and helpful tips from the Fun Times Guide that I shared with him and would now like to share with you.

7 Tips For Parking & Backing Up RVs

#1  Stop right where you are, when you reach the point where you no longer have clear vision of where you want to go. Never attempt to move into tight quarters, if you can’t see all possible hazards.  That is, unless you have someone positioned where they can see the obstructions and they can warn you.  Your assistant must be positioned so they can see both you and the possible dangerous situation

#2  Avoid places that are impossible to get into, or nearly so. Don’t blindly pull into an unfamiliar driveway, dead end street, or parking lot that doesn’t have a second exit.

When you pull into shopping areas, stay out near the perimeter and chose your parking spot so that you can simply pull ahead to leave. Don’t go down the aisles of parked cars — because you’re likely to be making a sharp corner in a confined spot, when you get to the end of the aisle.

 

#3  Learn to rely on your mirrors. An RV isn’t like the family sedan. Looking over your right shoulder and down through the center of your motorhome or tow vehicle to back up won’t work. You have to rely on the image in your side mirrors.

Straight vehicles, without trailers, are pretty easy to back up — because a properly adjusted mirror should give you a view of the side all the way back to the rear bumper. As long as you can see daylight between your RV and the obstruction, you’re good.

 

#4  Set up temporary parking & driving patterns, using safety cones or milk jugs. Head out to a closed supermarket parking lot and set up your cones like a driveway or camping spot. Practice backing into those spots until you can do it without hitting any cones.

 

#5 Practice blind side parking. If your luck is like mine, more often than not you’ll end up backing into a campsite from the blind side with your trailer.

The blind side is the right (passenger) side of your vehicle. It’s known as the blind side because at some point, as you’re turning, your tow vehicle will no longer be in a straight line with your trailer.  You will no longer be able to see what’s happening on at least one side of your RV. This is where an outside helper is essential to keep you posted on your progress.

A trick I’ve used to increase my range of vision when backing around corners is to readjust my side mirrors at a different angle as I start making my turn. Most motorhomes, and many trucks, have electrically adjustable mirrors that you can control with a switch from the driver’s seat. Adjusting the mirrors, as you proceed through the corner, will give you a clear view most of the way.

 

#6  Never rely on rear vision cameras, because they’re pointed down toward the ground behind you and don’t give you a broad enough picture. There are overhead obstacles to be concerned about too.  Low-hanging branches, building overhangs, even sagging power lines can hook your RV. By far the best way to back into a tight spot is to have a person (or even 2) outside watching all the angles. Maneuver with your windows down, and instruct your helper to talk loud enough so you can clearly hear them. A set of inexpensive walkie talkies can be very handy for just this purpose.

 

#7  Use extreme caution when backing a motorhome with a tow vehicle attached. In fact, backing up with a toad (car) on a tow bar more than a foot or so is impossible. Since the steering axle of the car being towed is free to track wherever it wants, as soon as you start backwards it will immediately turn the wheels, causing extreme pressure to be applied to the front end components of your vehicle in tow.

Damage can occur, because you will be skidding the car sideways, with the front wheels turned all the way to the stops. If you need to back up when towing a car, just unhook the car first.  After you’re situated where you can go forward again, re-hook the tow bar. It’s the only safe way to do it.

[The Fun Times Guide]

Something else that can seem tricky at first is backing into a camping spot (especially if the two spots next to you are both occupied). There is a little trick, though, that some of us RV vets use called The Scoop. Once you nail this technique down, you’ll be pulling into camp spots like a pro. Check out this little illustration video showing exactly how it’s done. If you need any help at all with anything RV-related, don’t hesitate to give us a call or swing by.

 

The Boondocking Code of Ethics

For those of you new RV owners who may be unfamiliar with the term, boondocking, also known as dry camping or primitive camping is basically camping without the electic, sewer or water hookups.  There are generally two types of boondocking – blacktop and boonies – and there is a certain code of ethics associated with each one that we should follow. The general rule of thumb is to always leave the place nicer than it was when you got there. Let’s check out some other rules we should follow.

Blacktop boondocking is when you pos up in a parking lot (Wal-Mart, Casinos, etc.). The main appeal of this type of camping is the convenience and budget. Some places have actually passed bans on this type of boondocking. To make sure bans aren’t passed, RV clubs like The Escapees, have come up with their own code of ethics for blacktop boondocking. They have even gone far enough to post a print out of these rules that you can leave on offender’s vehicles.

Blacktop Boondocking Rules

1. DO obtain permission from a qualified individual. This way you’ll never have to worry if you are violating any sort of code or law.

2. DO try and park out of the way. Most of these parking lots are huge, and most likely there are spots way in the back that will be vacant.

3. DON’T use your awnings, chairs, or barbecue grill. These things tend to send the message that you are here to stay.

4. DON’T use slide-outs if at all possible for the same reason as mentioned above.

5. DON’T use your leveling jacks on asphalt.

6. DO try and limit your stay – one night is best, and two is the absolute maximum. We recommend staying two night only if you must.

7. DO purchase gas, food, or supplies as a way of saying “thank you”.

8. DO leave the area cleaner than you found it. This one is sometimes dificult for people to folllow, but think of it this way… you’re only helping blacktoppers reputation climb by cleaning up. Even if it’s after other’s.

9. DO practice safety precautions. This is important in any situation.

You can print out of these rules and then leave them on offender’s vehicles. Everyone should know proper boondocking etiquette.

[The Escapees]

Now let’s switch gears and take a look at the guidelines we should follow for boondocking in the boonies. As you can probably guess from its name, this type of boondocking is done out in the wilderness. A lot of campers do this purely for the wilderness experience and enjoy the peace and quiet they wouldn’t necessisarily have at a slotted campground. The more serious boondockers even modify their vehicles with solar panels and an inverter to charge their batteries so they can freely camp in the beautiful wilderness.

Rules for Boondocking in the Boonies

  • Park in previously used areas. Do not create a new road or parking spot or run over vegetation.
  • Park away from other RVs so each can enjoy the peace and quiet. If you do have a generator you plan to run, park far away from other RVs and limit your use to an hour or so in the morning and another in early evening. Generator noise carries and is not part of the wilderness experience.
  • Respect quiet hours. Do not run generators or play TVs or radios loudly after 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m. (Some areas may have different quiet hours so check with the agency.)
  • In some areas dumping grey water on the ground is permissible. Always check with the agency first. Dumping black water on the ground is never permitted.
  • Leave the area cleaner than you found it. Dispose of trash in a trash container after you leave.
  • Read and follow the agency’s rules regarding fires, collecting firewood, and quiet hours. Respect time limits, which are typically 14 days.

Boondocking is one of my favorite aspects of owning an RV, but we have to remember to always follow that golden rule in order to continue boondocking for years and years to come. Leave the place nicer than it was before you arrived.

RV ABCs: Fifth Wheels

The hardest thing do when it comes to buying or renting a new RV is determining which RV is right for you. For the last few weeks, Pleasureland RV has been going through the RV alphabet in order to help make that decision a little bit easier. So far, we’ve discussed three classes of motorhomes: Class A, Class B and Class C. Now let’s move on to the towable class of RVs starting with the Fifth Wheel.

Fifth Wheels

Description: Fifth wheels are the most spacious RVs available, but don’t let the size intimidate you, they are delightfully easy to handle. They are towed by pick-up trucks with a special “fifth wheel” hitch and generally have taller ceilings and more slide-out rooms with as many as four in some models.

2012 Dutchmen Infinity 3470RE

Let’s see how CampingEarth.com breaks down the advantages and disadvantages of Fifth Wheels.

As with any type and style of RV, camper, or travel trailer, a 5th wheel has its advantages and disadvantages. Its main advantages are:

  • Easy Towing because of the gooseneck hitch.
  • Spacious and roomy inside. A 5th wheel has lots of room inside. If the weather outside is inclement, there is plenty of room for everyone to be inside enjoying the amenities.
  • 5th wheel can be detached at destination which frees up the towing vehicle for excursions and trips around the area.

The main disadvantages are:

  • A towing vehicle, outfitted with a special package to house the gooseneck hitch is needed. Because most 5th wheels are heavy, the towing vehicle needs to be heavy duty. But, on the bright side, manufacturers have begun to introduce lightweight 5th wheels that can be pulled by smaller trucks.
  • The steps. Some people don’t like the bi-level design of a 5th wheel travel trailer and don’t like having interior steps that lead to either the master bedroom that is typically housed in the area of the trailer that sits over the bed of the towing vehicle (although this area is also sometimes the living room area). If interior steps are a problem, you may want to consider a travel trailer or consider a motorized RV.
  • The cost. Fifth wheel campers are the most expensive of the towable RV’s which can make them too expensive for entry level buyers. If you really have your heart set on a 5th wheel, consider purchasing a used 5th wheel. There are some very good deals available on “previously road tested” 5th wheels.

Ready to make a decision? Come down and check out on this beauties! If you still haven’t found the right RV for you, stick around. Next week, we’ll continue with the towable RV class and talk about travel trailes.

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.

The Number One Source for North American RV Park Reviews

Hey fellow RVers, I have found the perfect web site for picking a campground! From rates to reviews, this site has it all! Whether you’re the type of person who likes to strategically map out your camping spots or if you like to decide at the last minute, it doesn’t matter. This site is fully compatible with smartphones!

First, you select Mexico, the U.S. or Canada. Then you can choose your desired province/state and narrow your selection even further (see image below). Once you’ve chosen your area, you’ll see reviews of all the campgrounds nearby.

 

Once you’ve selected a campground, you’ll find the general camp information on the left-hand side of the page including the number of sites and the latest rate. Below that are the campground’s contact numbers, website and a map view.

On the right-hand site of the page, you’ll find a section for the campground’s accommodations and the type of hookups provided. If you scroll down the page, you can read reviews of other campers.

Click on the image to be taken to this site's information page.

The other cool thing about this site is the ability to submit reviews. There are currently more than 133,900 user-submitted reviews. If you’d like to review a campground, all you have to do is choose “Downloads” from the main page and fill out a review form.

The site also features a search function, so if you already have a campground in mind, why not check out the reviews before hitting the road with your fifth wheel or motorhome?

This site definitely gets a five-star rating from me, and I highly recommend you check it out for yourself!

 

 

 

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 ABCs: Class C Motorhomes

Two weeks ago, we began working our way down the RV alphabet. If you’re in the market to purchase an RV, new or used, or just looking to rent an RV for an upcoming vacation, it’s important to have a general understanding of the various types.

RVs come in all shapes and sizes  and like everything else in life, there are ups and downs to each class of an RV. But I’m willing to bet you’ll have no problem at all finding the one that fits your lifestyle the best. In case you missed them, let’s do a quick recap of the two classes we’ve covered.

Class A Motorhomes. There are the big, square and boxy RVs that are considered the most luxurious due to their top-of-the-line ammenities. However, the biggest draw back to Class A’s is the fuel economy.

Class B Motorhomes. These RVs use a cargo ban as their base and are very easy to store. The biggest draw back to this class? Most likely the lack of a master bedroom. Because they are easier to store than Class A’s means they are significantly smaller. But if you’re looking for weekend get-a-ways or short road trips, then this Class may be just the one for you.

Today, let’s take another step down the RV alphabet and talk about Class C Motorhomes.  Think of Class C’s as a mini-motorhome.  You’ll get the same conveniences of a Class A in a scaled-down version and lower price. Though it’s technically smaller than a Class A, the Class C is equipped with full sleeping, kitchen, dining, and bathroom facilities.

 

Let’s see how The Fun Times Guide breaks down a Class C Motorhome.

Advantages:

  • It is somewhat easier to obtain service and warranty work on the driving portion of the RV than it is with a Class A motorhome. With a brand name cab and drive train, auto dealers can hardly say, “Sorry, it’s not ours.”
  • The smaller overall size can get you into secluded and more enjoyable campgrounds with plenty of beds to sleep the entire family.
  • Your mileage in a Class C motorhome may be a bit better than in a Class A, but not much.

Disadvantages

  • If your RV is one with the over-the-cab bed, it probably has a large window across the front of the RV. These are notorious for leaking water when it rains. I owned a used one and spent a good amount of time repairing water damage and sealing the window.
  • If you’re looking for open square footage, this probably isn’t the best RV for you. At the most, you may have one small slideout.
  • The ones that have a rear bedroom also have a long rear overhang beyond the rear wheels. You’ll get a heck of an excessive tail swing when you go around corners, you’ll be watching in the mirror on every maneuver to make sure you don’t tag someone.

Now that you have a basic knowledge of the three motorhome classes, maybe you’ve found the right fit for you!  If not, stick around. Next week we’ll take a look at fifth wheels! And remember, you can always come down and take a look at some of these beauties yourself! We’re more than happy to help you in your big decision.

RV ABCs: Class B Motorhome

Purchasing or renting an RV is a big decision, and it’s important that you fully understand the different types of classes of RVs. Last week, we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of Class A motorhomes. Maybe this was the type of RV for you, maybe it wasn’t! But as I’ve said before, there are so many types of RVs to choose from, and it’s important that you pick the one that is best suited for your lifestyle.

To recap, Class A motorhomes are the home-away-from-home, luxurious and large vehicles with top-of-the-line amenities. The major downfall though is the terrible fuel economy. Click here to read more about Class A motorhomes.

Today, let’s switch gears from the largest of the classes to the smallest. Class B RVs use a cargo ban as their base.  Storing these vehicles is much easier than a Class A and the difference in gas mileage is staggering. Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of this class.

Class B Motorhomes 

2008 Gulf Stream BT Cruiser

Advantages:

  • Many Class B RVs will fit right into a standard garage.
  • They make a great second family vehicle and the mileage will be quite a bit better than with Class A and Class C motorhomes.
  • Parking won’t be much of an issue since the typical Class B RV can fit into a mall parking spot.

Disadvantages:

  • You can forget the master bedroom. Most will have sleeping quarters provided by dropping a table or folding a couch. With the planned occupancy being comfortable for 2, even the ones that claim to sleep 4 will be cramped.
  • Many Class B RVs have such small interiors that if you turn around real fast, you’ll bump into yourself.
  • Everything is small in a Class B RV. Space is limited, so things like bathrooms and showers are squeezed into tight corners.
  • For entertainment, you might have a 9-inch TV and a car radio for a stereo. Life can be cozy for 2, any more than that and you’ll be tripping over each other. 

This RV class is perfect if you are looking for weekend get-a-ways or short road trips. Still undecided? Stick around. Next week, we’ll dive into a Class C.