RV Safety Tips

May 20, 2013

by Mark Polk
Mark is a frequent contributing author

 RV Safety Tips

It’s a new year and depending on where you reside a new RV camping season is upon us. When you hit the open road one very important aspect to keep in mind is RV safety. Safety is paramount when it comes to using and enjoying our RVs. From pre-trip inspections to setting up and actually using the RV there is always an element of RV safety involved.

Let’s take a look at my top RV safety reminders for a new camping season.

Number one on my list is tires. I could easily write an entire article on this topic alone, but I will try and sum it up in a few sentences. There are many reasons for tire failure on RVs. In addition to overloaded and under-inflated tires there is the concern for aged tires. Tires are designed and built to be used. The rubber used in tires ages faster when they are not in use, so more use results in longer tire life.

The problem is lots of RV tires don’t get used as often as the tires on our automobiles do. When tires are manufactured compounds are added to help protect the rubber from weather cracking and ozone damage. For these compounds to work effectively the tire needs to be rolling down the road, heating up and flexing, so the compounds can work their way to the surface of the tire and help protect the rubber from damage. When tires sit idle for periods of time they start to dry out, causing them to age faster. If your RV tires show signs of weather cracking or checking, or if the tires are more than 6-years-old you should have them inspected by a tire professional. A simple tire inspection could save you lots of time, money and headaches.

Number two is weight issues and concerns. This is another topic I could write an entire book on. Lots of RVs traveling down the road are overloaded, especially older motorhomes. To avoid becoming a statistic in relationship to overloaded RVs it is important that you understand how to properly weigh your RV. Always keep in mind that weighing your RV is a snapshot in time. Weights can and do change according to how you load and distribute the weight in your RV, and based on many other factors. You should get in the practice of weighing your RV periodically to stay within all weight ratings, and whenever an overload condition exists resolve the problem before using the RV.

The easiest way to sum this important safety topic up is to direct you to a site where you can download some informative brochures with easy to understand worksheets on weighing your RV. Go to www.bridgestonetires.com and click on the “Brochure & Catalogs” tab and then on the “For RV Owners” tab. Now you can download the PDF file and head to a set of scales.

Number three on my list is Carbon Monoxide safety. Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas is invisible, odorless, and deadly. Carbon Monoxide is created when any fuel is burned; this includes gasoline, propane, natural gas, wood, & coal. It is extremely serious when combustion by-products are not vented outside. Carbon Monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States each year. As for RVs CO gas can result from exhaust leaks from the vehicle engine or generator, improper use of portable gas powered heaters, improper adjustment of LP gas fired appliances and/or somebody else’s vehicle or generator when camping in close proximity to you.

Some important reminders about Carbon Monoxide:
• Inspect the generator exhaust system before using the generator, every time.
•Avoid leaving windows down and roof vents open when in close proximity to vehicle and/or generator exhaust.
•Follow all directions and safety cautions and warnings when operating gas powered heaters.
•Never use the range burners or oven to heat the RV!
•When cooking with the range burners use the range fan & always leave a window cracked open for fresh air and ventilation.
•Have the LP gas system inspected by a professional annually, or whenever a repair is made to the system playing online blackjack for a living.

Number four on my list is RV fire safety. For starters it’s a good idea to have more than one fire extinguisher available in your RV. I keep an additional fire extinguisher in an outside compartment of our RV just in case. Try and get in a habit of inspecting your fire extinguishers periodically and before each trip. Look to see if the arrow is pointing in the green area in the sight gauge. If it reads empty or needs charging replace it or have it recharged immediately. Inspect all components of the extinguishers to make sure they are in proper operating condition. Inspect the safety pin, handle or trigger, sight gauge indicator, inspection tag, hose or nozzle, tank, and labeling. Once a month you should turn dry powder extinguishers upside down, tap on the bottom of the extinguisher and shake it so any powder that settled on the bottom is released. If the powder is packed in the bottom of the extinguisher it may not discharge properly, or at all, when you need it.

Some important reminders about RV fire safety:
• If a fire starts get everybody out of the RV and away from the fire safely and have someone call 911 for help.
• Most importantly, do not risk your personal safety. If you cannot extinguish the fire in the first minute or so let the professionals handle it.
•Remember the word PASS. PASS is an easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher, especially during an emergency. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.
• In the event of a fire always remember you save lives first & property second!
• Test smoke alarms monthly & before each trip.
• Replace the battery in smoke alarms twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
• Instruct everybody in the RV on an emergency escape plan in the event of a fire.

Number five is LP gas safety. Your RV has an LP gas leak detector to assist in leak detection. LP gas leak detectors are located close to floor level because LP gas is heavier than air. Before each trip make sure the LP gas leak detector is operating properly.

If you ever smell LP gas or if the leak detector audible alarm goes off you should:
• Extinguish any open flames & pilot lights.
• Do not smoke or touch electrical switches.
• Evacuate the RV & turn off the main gas supply.
• Leave the door open & do not return until the odor clears.
• Have the system checked out by a qualified technician before using it again.

Number six is your emergency escape plan. What do you do in the event of an emergency and everybody has to get out of the RV quickly and in an orderly fashion. The National Fire Protection agency requires that RV’s have emergency escape windows. Make sure everybody knows where the escape window is located and how to use it. It’s a good idea to practice using it so you are familiar with how to get out of the RV in case of an emergency. You should have an emergency escape plan for the front of the RV and the rear of the RV.

Emergency escape plan safety reminders:
• Time is your biggest enemy. It only takes one minute for smoke to fill the RV.
• Design an escape plan specific to the needs of the individuals in the RV.
• Sketch your plan on paper and indicate which windows and doors can be used to escape.
• Review the plan with everybody.
• Instruct people on where the emergency escape window is located and how to use it.
• Practice your escape plan so everybody can get out of the RV in case of an emergency.
• Designate a meeting place outside where everybody will meet.

Last but certainly not least you need to thoroughly understand and practice these safety tips and reminders. In an effort to assist you with your RV safety training we are offering everybody a free 13 minute RV safety E-Course. Click here to access the free online RV safety training program.

Happy Camping,

Mark

Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University

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10 Most Visited National Parks

April 24, 2013

Grand-Canyon3

A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.
© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

by Rex Vogel
Vogel Talks RVing

More than 282 million people visited America’s national parks in 2012, an increase of more than 3 million over 2011.

A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.

It was the sixth highest annual visitation in the history of the National Park Service, despite nearly 2 million fewer visitors as a result of park closures caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Since 1916, the National Park System has recorded more than 12 billion visits.

“The National Park Service strives to represent all that America has to offer,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

“People come to national parks for many reasons—for recreation and to learn about American history by strolling through a battlefield. They come to listen to a park ranger at Independence National Historical Park and marvel at the Continental Congress. And people come to national parks for old-fashioned enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

National parks capture the story the United States, from its earliest days to the modern era.

Jarvis said, “The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and the opening of the César E. Chávez National Monument in 2012 help us to continue to explore how our nation of many faces and many voices has developed.”

The challenges left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy will become part of American history, too. The storm slammed into 70 national park sites from North Carolina Pokies to Maine. Some parks closed briefly, others for weeks while the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York remain closed for repairs.

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah.
© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The Statue of Liberty will reopen by the Fourth of July,” Jarvis said.

“It’ll take longer at the Ellis Island Museum. As we rebuild we keep sustainability front of mind. It is clear that our changing climate will bring more severe weather events, especially to coastal areas, and we must repair our iconic national parks to survive future storms.”

There are familiar park names in the Top 10 lists.

Gateway National Recreation Area in New York lost nearly 1.2 million visitors from 2011 because of Hurricane Sandy yet still made the Top 10 list of most visited National Park Service sites.

Most Visited Places of the National Park System (2012)

1. Blue Ridge Parkway (15,205,059)

2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (14,540,338)

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9,685,829)

4. George Washington Memorial Parkway (7,425,577)

5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area (6,285,439)

6. Lincoln Memorial (6,191,361)

7. Natchez Trace Parkway (5,560,668)

8. Gateway National Recreation Area (5,043,863)

9. Gulf Islands National Seashore (4,973,462)

10.  Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (4,970,802)

 

Most Visited National Parks (2012)

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9,685,829)

2. Grand Canyon National Park (4,421,352)

3. Yosemite National Park (3,853,404)

4. Yellowstone National Park (3,447,729)

5. Rocky Mountain National Park (3,229,617)

6. Zion National Park (2,973,607)

7. Olympic National Park (2,824,908)

8. Grand Teton National Park (2,705,256)

9. Acadia National Park (2,431,052)

10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (2,299,722)

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RV Exterior Maintenance

April 12, 2013

by Mark Polk
Mark is a frequent contributing author

 mark washing mh

If I said it once I said it a hundred times, RV’s are a major investment like your house or automobile. To protect your investment and get many years of reliable service, and use from your RV, there are certain measures you need to take. One important measure is maintaining the exterior of your RV. As time passes the roof and exterior of your RV begins to show signs of wear caused by constant exposure to the elements. Ozone in the air and ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun start to take its toll, which is first evident by signs of fading paint. The ozone in the air also causes products like rubber and vinyl to dry out, crack, and begin to deteriorate. The UV rays from the sun make this aging process happen quicker. If at all possible you should try to keep your RV covered when not using it, to help protect it from Mother Nature.

Maintaining the exterior of you RV contributes to extending the life of the RV and protecting your investment. If you let your RV go, without cleaning it for periods of time, it can be very difficult to get that new look back again. Maintaining the exterior of your RV primarily consists of routine inspections, and cleaning and lubricating items on the RV.

To extend the life of the exterior wash the RV frequently using a mild soap and water solution. You should always try to wash your RV after returning from a trip. Do not use harsh or abrasive cleaners. When washing the RV avoid spraying water directly into any appliance vents.

Metal sidewall finishes require routine maintenance to keep black streaks cleaned from the surface. If black streaks remain on metal sidewall finishes for prolonged periods of time it can be extremely difficult to clean or remove them. Use a commercial black streak remover. NOTE: Test all cleaning solutions on a small portion of the RV’s graphics before using them.

Waxing the exterior of your RV can be a difficult job, but it will help extend the life of your RV. Wax the exterior with a quality wax formulated for the type of exterior surface your RV has.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Exercise caution when waxing around graphics on the RV. You should wax the RV when water no longer beads on the wall surface.

Water damage on an RV is similar to progressive damage to a tire. The outside of the tire looks fine, but the internal damage over a ong period of time causes the tire to fail without any warning. The outside of your RV looks fine but the internal damage caused by water over a long period of time can result in the entire roof, floor or wall rotting away without you knowing it. Inspecting any and all sealants can help prevent expensive repairs caused by water damage.

You must look very closely for any cracks, gaps, and loose or aged sealants. Inspect the roof, sidewalls, end caps, moldings, windows, compartments and anywhere the manufacturer cut a hole in the RV. Inspect the interior for any signs of water damage. Look for discoloration or wrinkles in the wall panels or wallpaper and feel for any soft spots on the walls, around all windows, doors, vents, slide outs, or any other openings that were cut in the RV sidewalls.

NOTE: Always use the proper type of sealant to make repairs; if you’re not sure what type of sealant to use talk to an authorized RV repair facility. Have any water damage repaired immediately.

RV manufacturers use different materials to construct RV roofs. Consult your owner’s manual for the type of roofing material used and for the type of soap or detergent required to clean the roof. Keeping debris such as leaves, tree sap and branches off of the roof will help to the life of the roofing material. You should clean and inspect your RV roof several times a year.

Caution: Exercise caution whenever you are on the roof of your RV. A fall can result in serious injury or death. For RV roofs not designed to be walked on it may be necessary to use 2’ X 4’ or 2’ X 8’ pieces of plywood to help distribute your weight evenly across the roof rafters. If you are not comfortable working on the roof of your RV, have your roof maintenance performed by an authorized RV service center.

When cleaning the roof keep the sides of the RV rinsed off to avoid soap residue, streaking and any damage to decals, graphics or the paint finish. Never use containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives, or citric based acids on rubber or vinyl roofs. Cleaning the roof is only part of maintaining it. Every time you clean the roof you need to inspect the sealants around all of the openings and the seams on the roof. Water will take the path of least resistance and if there is the smallest opening it will find it. You need to thoroughly inspect the roof sealants for potential leaks and reseal any areas of the roof seams and around openings where you suspect a leak. Check with your RV dealer for sealants that are compatible with your roofing materia

Happy Camping,
Mark

Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University

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Count Your Blessings

March 23, 2013

by Joe Flahive
RVchurchesUSA Ambassadornumbers

“Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God hath done!” (from the song)

The lyrics of that old hymn, “Count Your Blessings”, written by Johnson Oatman in 1897, will undoubtedly stir fond memories in the minds of many RVers as they journey across America and beyond.

Whether “tenting” or enjoying the accommodations aboard any type of RV, there is a sense of freedom that exists within the hearts of the Camping/RVing Community. There are few experiences in life that give the participants such as sense of freedom as RVing.

We set many of life’s burdens behind while on the road – the seemingly unending list of repairs needed on our home, the landscaping project that has been put on hold more times than we can count, the responsibilities of our job which seems to demand more and more, to name just a few. Yes, RVing helps to, at least temporarily, provide a “time out” from the everyday stress and pressures we encounter.

During our travels we feel blessed to see new places and visit various RV campgrounds where we will make new friends and acquaintances as we share our faith-walk with God.

Many of these campgrounds will be forever etched in our memories as we associate them with the good times experienced in visiting the surrounding area. We’ll remember many details of the really good parks; the attractive landscaping, the nice wide travel lanes, the level pad sites, the friendly staff, the amenities (like swimming!) and fellowship with our neighbors.

An especially memorable experience that stands out among others is the rare RV campground where we have an opportunity to “Count Our Blessings” as we participate in a weekly non-denominational Sunday on-site worship service and/or Bible Study. Matt: 18:20 says that if even 2 or 3 gather together to worship, God is there!

It is often when the burdens of life are left behind that we clearly see the many, many blessings God has bestowed on us. It is then we have a strong desire to take time out of the week to acknowledge our thankfulness to Him. And it is then when on-site Sunday worship services at the RV campground are so timely and beneficial – when we can sing a few hymns, hear a sound Bible message and, along with other RVers of faith, express our thankfulness for all the blessings in our lives.

Oh, that God would raise up many RV campgrounds that offer perhaps the greatest amenity of all – a Sunday Worship Service – where we can take time to worship together, share our faith in Jesus and be an encouragement to those among us.

We at RVchurchesUSA are continually adding campgrounds that offer on-site church services to our searchable database for RVers and Campers.

If you know of such a campground, please let us know below or  email us.

Getting My Attention

December 25, 2012

by HLB
Contributor and author of Knowing His Name

She called me out of the blue,”Girl, you have been on my MIND! Let me pray with you. “He told her, half way across the country, that I needed more of Him.

He is Awesome.

I told her I just wasn’t feeling t. Christmas

Not because of the shopping, stress, busyness. Not that. Worse, my heart wasn’t in it.

And her text with the Truth that took me back thousands of years started to bring me into focus. Into marvel,really.

Luke chapter 2 tells the story about the shepherds in the fields, minding their own business of watching sheep. I thought about it. Not the most interesting work in the world. I mean, they’re sheep; how exciting could that have been?

So, there they stand, probably just as distracted and, dare I say it, checked out  as I was … am.  And, uhh…hello! An angel shows up, surrounded by “the radiance of the LORD’s glory”.

That’s what hooked me in. That’s my struggle, really. I want to see Him and His radiance. To see beyond the boring, the mundane, the restrictions of the box I live in, to see past the migraines, and to be struck in the middle of nowhere with the radiance of His glory.

He is Glorious.

Can you even imagine? It says they were terrified. Uh, yeah!?! The angel brought “good news” that will bring the people “great joy”. Well, the way they showed up would certainly give lowly shepherds good reason to believe their good news must really be good news!

It’s amazing, really. That the messengers about Jesus’ birth came with His radiance, glory, and fanfare. Yet, the Savior of the world, Who offers us freedom over sin and the opportunity to live with Him in eternity – He comes into the world as a baby, in a barn, in a manger. Humility I’ll never be able to relate to.

For us. For me. For you.

He is the Savior. The Messiah. Jesus.

He wants our attention. My attention. Your attention.

So that we can hear the good news that He came down to save. To love. Us. Me. You.

To do for us what we could never do ourselves – make us right with a perfect God whose radiance is so intense it causes people to drop to their knees.

Here it is: That great joy the angel talked about comes when we just believe that He came down to save us from ourselves, and that choosing Him as Savior is the only way to be right with God.

Even in my mundane, little box of life,  I can have great joy if I focus on His radiance and the Truth that He came for me. For you, too. Seriously, it’s hard to grasp.

But, I grasp it with whatever part of my mind I can, fall to my knees, and praise that God-baby Who grew into a God-man Who hung on that cross for my sins, and Who rose from that rocky grave and now sits on the God-throne, and Who, someday, will bring me to Him for a life of radiant glory with God-Himself.

Thanks, Sister. You know who you are.
 
Will someone please praise His name with me?

 

You can also follow HLB at Knowing His Name
 
We invite you to comment below:
 
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Leading and Motivating People

December 19, 2012

by Dountonia S. Slack as appeared on BellaOnline
a contributing author on RVchurchesUSA

by Mark Hunter of Glasgow, Scotland

 

In leading and motivating people, one must be driven by something or someone that is bigger than him/herself. For the Christian, that Someone is the Christ of the Bible.

Missionary C. T. Studd wrote, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” Hence, a meaningful leader must be a follower of Christ whose values need not be a pharisaic display of Bible-bashing or a well-dressed double lifestyle. Rather he/she is a humble servant whose allegiance is undeniable and whose public and private life is a testimony of the God he/she serves.

Phototaxis is the scientific word for attraction to light. A leader that follows the Light of Jesus Christ will motivate others to come-and-see the results of living a life guided by integrity, good character, truthfulness, kindness, and compassion. Thus, standing firm on the core values of Christianity, whose main goal in life is to glorify God in good times and bad, leads to greater rewards than monetary success or fame could ever bring.

Far too often, leaders are confused and discouraged by unmotivated followers. As a result, they try to find techniques, programs, and/or methodologies used by other successful leaders praying that he/she will have the same successful outcomes without knowing the supernatural strength or struggle the mimicked leader and his/her followers went through to attain the level of success that is admired. There is usually a period of self-examination, confession of sins, repentance, and forgiveness before a leader is in a position to motivate and lead properly (Psalm 32). However, many prefer to lead out of his/her own strength and wisdom hoping for immediate results instead seeking the Lord in prayer and allowing His strength to be sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Christ plus nothing equals everything! No other formula will work for the Christian leader. Nor will any other formula motivate and change the lives of his/her followers. The key is for the leader to ensure that he/she is not wasting his/her call on frivolity and folly like Sampson. Or, to become self-absorbed in lust and forced into the shadows, because of his sins, like David.

The Christian leader’s best weapon in his/her arsenal is the honesty, transparency, and integrity the “light saber” of Christ brings which is the motivation people are waiting for – leaders who understand that they, too, are weak and His Light exposes everyone’s weaknesses which is why every person needs His strength to build the things that last for His glory.

Dountonia is BellaOnline’s Baptist Editor

 

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Unfit and Unwanted

November 29, 2012

by Dountonia S. Slack as appeared on BellaOnline
a contributing author on RVchurchesUSA

Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you” (Matthew 26:11a NLT). But, maybe there is a way we can help curtail the poor epidemic. Isn’t it a good idea to offer incentives to poor men and women to get sterilized to prevent them from having children that tax-payers will ultimately end up paying for? Unfit mothers are having unwanted children everyday, why not do something to encourage them to stop having babies? And, let’s offer the wealthy, college-educated mothers to have more children as we limit/stop the uneducated poor from procreating. After all, it’s voluntary, no one would highjack these people to sterilize them. We’ll just take advantage of their desperation for money because that’s all they want/need anyway.

Our Sovereign God does not make mistakes. Even when we make mistakes or make a mess out of our lives, His plan and purpose will always be fulfilled in His time on His terms. Yes, there is overpopulation, children born to parents who do not want them or are unable to afford them, and some children are born with genetic defects that affect their developmental or mental growth. But, we are to “Open [our mouths] for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open [our mouths], judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy” (Proverbs 31:8).

It is easy to see the shortcomings of the poor. They wear their poorness openly. We draw many conclusions about them – they are unintelligent, lazy, unmotivated, deserving of whatever happens to them, unfit for society, and their situation is probably their fault. Today, to stop this travesty there are those who consider “controlling poverty” by paying poor women to choose sterilization so that they stop breeding more of a tax burden for the non-poor.

Even Darwin argued “that biologically inferior people threaten to deprive intellectually superior people of food and resources [which] established a scientific-sounding rationale for genocide, which is used today by the abortion-based population control and family planning establishments, as well as others bent to this day on improving the race by laboratory methods” (Rebecca Messall – The Evolution of Genocide). But the Bible says, “Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights… Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar?” (Isaiah 10:1-3)

God is concerned about the poor. We are commanded to take care of the poor. Our attitude about the poor must change in order to get in alignment with Biblical mandates. It is clear in Proverbs 14:31 that what we do to the poor we do to God – “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” A person, church, or a nation that believes it can rid the world of poverty through the injustice of voluntary sterilization is far from the Spirit of God.

“Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10). The unwanted, burden to the mother of multiple children could be the blessing a married couple that cannot have children has long been waiting for. Every life has a purpose no matter how small or grand the impact on humanity that life has.

Dountonia is BellaOnline’s Baptist Editor

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Gratitude

November 22, 2012

by HLB
Contributor and author of Knowing His Name

At the end of the day, is there anything that could possibly produce more gratitude?

He is Savior. He is Jesus.

And all else that I’m thankful for comes from Him, through Him, because of Him.

Thankful that I can praise His beautiful name.

You can also follow HLB at Knowing His Name
We invite you to comment below:
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Where Did All the Water Go?

September 26, 2012

by Mark Polk
Mark is a frequent contributing author
 

Checking the electrolyte level on a regular basis can save your flooded lead acid batteries. Check the water level monthly and if you leave your RV plugged in with the batteries being charged by the converter battery charger check it bi-monthly.

If your converter doesn’t have a three stage battery charger the battery is getting a constant charge of 13.5 volts. When the batteries are topped off this voltage is too high for a float charge and it can boil off the electrolyte.

When you add water only use mineral free water. Distilled water is best and only fill the cell to 1/8 inch below the fill well. Overfilling cells will cause battery acid to overflow. When this happens the battery will lose some of its capacity and corrosion will build-up on and around the battery. Water should only be added after fully charging the battery unless the water level is below the plates.

Steps for watering the battery

Remove the vent caps and look inside the fill wells. Check the electrolyte levels. The minimum level required for charging the battery is at the top of the plates. If the water level is below the plates add enough distilled water to cover the plates before you charge the battery.

Fully charge the battery before adding more water. When the battery is charged remove the vent caps and check the electrolyte levels. Add distilled water until the electrolyte level is 1/8 inch below the fill well. Replace and tighten all vent caps. Never add battery acid to a battery.

Caution: Lead acid batteries contain sulfuric acid which is extremely corrosive and can cause severe burns or even blindness. And the hydrogen gas that batteries produce when they’re charging is very explosive. When you work around batteries you need to wear goggles and gloves, remove all jewelry and do not smoke or use any open flames.

If you don’t feel comfortable working around lead acid batteries have the maintenance performed by an authorized repair facility.

Happy Camping,
Mark

Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University

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Tips Towing 4-Wheels Down

September 19, 2012

by Mark Polk
Mark is a frequent contributing author

I get asked lots of questions about towing a vehicle behind a motorhome, but perhaps the most common is “How do you know what vehicles can be towed with 4-wheels on the ground?” It’s not that complicated, but it does require some research. Today I am offering some tips on towing with 4-wheels on the ground.

You basically have three options when it comes to towing a vehicle behind your motor home. You can tow the vehicle with all four-wheels up using a car trailer, with two-wheels up using a tow dolly, or with all four-wheels down which is what we will be discussing in this article.

In recent years towing with all four-wheels down, using a tow bar, has become more and more popular. Some of the reasons for its growing popularity are the ease of hitching and unhitching, not having to deal with a trailer and the fact that more automobile manufacturers are building vehicles that can be towed with four-wheels on the ground without modifications. Note: It’s important that you understand all of the options available to you and that you take the time to research what method is best suited for you. There are many things to consider like the overall cost involved with the method you choose, weights, aesthetics, supplemental brakes, difficulty in hooking up and unhooking, vehicle modifications, warranty and more.

What Vehicles Can I Tow With Four-Wheels Down?

Before you make the decision to tow a vehicle with all four-wheels down you need to do your homework. There are some manufacturer approved vehicles that can be towed without any modifications to the drive-train or transmission, but there are a lot more that will require some type of modification to tow it with all four-wheels on the ground. There are many factors involved such as automatic transmissions, two-wheel drive vehicles, four-wheel drive vehicles, the type of transfer case and more.

Many vehicles with automatic transmission cannot be towed with all four-wheels down unless it is four-wheel drive, and even then it requires a transfer case that can be shifted into neutral. Front wheel drive vehicles with manual transmissions and most four-wheel drive vehicles with a manual transfer case are among the best choices for towing with all four-wheels down. Even if you have a vehicle that can be towed with all four-wheels down it’s quite possible that it will have towing speed and/or mileage restrictions. So where do we start?

Start by reading your vehicle owner’s manual to determine if the vehicle can be towed without any drive-train modifications. If the vehicle is approved by the manufacturer to be towed with all four-wheels down the owner’s manual will provide specific instructions on the proper procedures to use when towing. If the manual does not provide specific instructions on whether or not it can be towed with all four- wheels down, or if you’re unclear about any towing restrictions check with the vehicle manufacturer. Don’t hesitate to contact the vehicle manufacturer to get specific information about towing a vehicle. Your vehicle warranty could be voided from damage caused by towing a vehicle and not following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Do not rely on what a vehicle salesperson tells you. Almost all vehicles approved to be towed with all four- wheels down will include this information in the vehicle owner’s manual.

If you don’t already have a vehicle to tow a good place to start is Dinghy Towing Guides available on the Internet. Keep in mind they are only a guide and it is your responsibility to make absolutely sure the vehicle you are considering towing can be towed with all four-wheels down, with no drive-train modifications, before you make a purchase or actually attempt to tow a vehicle.

Note: Information in these guides are subject to change at any time! Always check the vehicle by year model too. Just because you could tow a certain model with all four-wheels down one year doesn’t mean every year model for that vehicle can be towed with all four wheels down. The vehicle manufacturer is the final authority.

These Dinghy Towing Guides normally include manufacturer approved vehicles for towing without modifications that can be towed at speeds of at least 55 MPH and for distances of at least 200 miles without any special procedures. Pay particular attention to any speed or distance restrictions that could ultimately affect your vehicle warranty. Also pay attention to the restrictions and special instructions listed in the footnotes. These guides list other valuable information like vehicle curb weights, fuel economy and base retail prices. Keep in mind the lighter the vehicle the better it is. It is easy to exceed a motorhomes receiver weight rating and the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). Note also that some models listed in their four- wheel drive version can be towed without modifications, but their two-wheel drive version of the same model cannot be towed with four-wheels on the ground.

Be sure and follow any special towing instructions or procedures found in the vehicle owner’s manual. You might be required to remove a certain fuse before you tow the vehicle, or to stop towing after so many miles and start the vehicle to allow drive train components to be lubricated. Following any and all special instructions can save you money and protect the vehicle warranty.

There are many reasons why some vehicles are not approved by the manufacturer to be towed with all four-wheels down. It may be that the vehicle will not track or follow the motorhome properly, or maybe a component in the drive-train could be damaged, and sometimes it is because of liability and warranty concerns. Another reason is the expense involved for a manufacturer to test and approve vehicles for towing with all four-wheels down.

The good news is, in many cases where vehicles are not approved by the manufacturer to be towed with all four-wheels down they can still be towed in this method by adding some type of aftermarket accessory. The most common problem is when the engine is not running components in the drive-train that require lubrication are not being lubricated. Towing a vehicle like this can result in thousands of dollars worth of damage, and/or possibly overheat and catch on fire.

There are specialty aftermarket products and modifications available such as drive shaft disconnects and/or transmission lube pumps that can be added so a vehicle is mechanically capable of being towed without damaging the drive-train.

Remco, the towing experts, offer a product line that adapts to approximately 80% of the vehicles in today’s market.

If for some reason the vehicle you want to tow falls in the 20% that cannot be modified for towing, for whatever reason, you still have the option of possibly using a tow dolly or a car trailer. All vehicles can be towed on a car trailer, as long as you don’t exceed weight ratings, and most front wheel drive vehicles can be towed with a tow dolly.

Happy Camping,
Mark

Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University

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Gas-Diesel-Tourque & Horsepower

September 5, 2012

by Mark Polk
Mark is a frequent contributing author

Explaining torque and horsepower can get extremely technical, and I want to keep this simple and easy to understand. With that said, torque is basically the force or energy required to move something.

Torque is the measurement of force, and force is measured in reference to a twisting or rotating shaft. In English terms torque is measured in pounds-feet, but is more commonly referred to as foot-pounds. So in keeping it simple let’s just say that torque can be thought of as the amount of turning force it takes to move one pound of weight the distance of one foot.

Torque can be multiplied through gear ratios. You have probably heard the higher the rear axle ratio the better the truck will tow. The axle ratio is the number of times the drive shaft must rotate to turn the rear wheels one revolution. If you have a 3.73:1 axle ratio the drive shaft turns 3.73 times for each full turn of the axle. So in a sense torque really equals towing capacity.

Horsepower on the other hand is torque X RPM’s. Torque is how much work is being done, and horsepower is how fast you get the actual work done. What’s interesting is, an engine rated at 350 horsepower only produces that horsepower at a rated peak power RPM. This RPM range, for a gasoline engine, is often between 5,000 and 6,000 RPM’s. When an engine is idling the horsepower is significantly lower, and as the RPMs increase so does the horsepower. When you are towing a trailer the engine speed is more likely to be in a lower RPM range, which means you are only using slightly more than half of the engines rated horsepower.

Horsepower is measured by a dynamometer. A dynamometer puts a load on the engine and measures the amount of power the engine produces against the load at various speeds. In reality it is measuring torque in pound-feet and converting it to horsepower. Even at the rated peak power RPM you really won’t get the rated horsepower, because a percentage is lost through auxiliary equipment on the engine and the process of getting it back to the wheels.

In a diesel engine the horsepower peaks at a lower RPM, and there is more torque at a lower RPM compared to a gasoline engine. This results in a diesel engine having much more power at a lower RPM, around the RPM range you will be towing at. This higher torque and higher horsepower at a lower RPM equates to better towing.

There are many other factors involved in the question of gas versus diesel that you will need to consider. What are the maintenance costs involved, cost difference between fuel types, fuel economy, your budget, and the resale value? Whether it’s for a tow vehicle or a motor home, take your time and make a well informed decision when comparing gas to diesel.

If the question is simply which truck will tow more or which motor home has more torque the diesel will win hands down, but I honestly have no complaints with our gas powered motor home either. Especially when considering the price!

Happy Camping,
Mark

Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University

[five-star-rating]

Some Things Never Change

August 30, 2012

by HLB
Contributor and author of Knowing His Name

You’ve heard it, no doubt: “God helps those who help themselves”. Sorry, it’s not true.

He helps those who come to Him, knowing they can’t help or fix themselves.

That’s me. Unable, weak, prideful (oh, so prideful!), forgetful, distracted (look, something shiny!), needy for help. So, thank the good LORD that He doesn’t give up on us! On me.

He is Good [lit: morally excellent, righteous, of high quality, kind, beneficent].

With a plate that’s more than overfull with things to change, I easily get overwhelmed. Knowing I don’t have it in me to change. I’ve tried. That time, those two times in a row, and that time, oh, and that time, too. Been circling those mountains for years, just like they did, for 40 of them.

And then, just when I least expect it, He moves me. Changes. Morphs. Grows. Stretches. Has me step into the river to cross over, feet wet. Reminds me each day of the things I used to forget. And I get closer to being more like Him. *sigh*

He is Faithful to finish what He starts in us.

What a God we have! One that won’t let us stay where we are, trying (but failing) to help ourselves. He gets in there and does the work, committed to the very end. He’s more committed to me than I am to myself, for sure.

As sure as the sun comes up each day (whether we see it through clouds or not), His unchanging compassion, and restoring/renewing power do, too, for those of us who believe He is Who He says He is.

He is Consistent [lit: not self-contradictory; fixed, firm].

Praise His Name, every day!

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