Thursday, November 3, 2011

Driving RV, Parts 1 & 2. Towables. Macerator. Tank Vents. Trailer Kills. Dumps. Spruce Goose. King Tut. Maddie. Pine Needles.


Thursday is "tRaVersing Day or RV Day".

Driving your RV, Part 1: Keep it visible

"Says the RV salesman: "If you can drive a car, you can drive a motorhome!" While many of the "driving" principles are the same, driving a motorhome--or any other kind of RV--can present challenges to the fledgling RVer. In a series, we'll discuss how to get used to driving (or towing) your RV. This is part 1 on how to ensure visibility in your RVing lifestyle.

Most of us RV because we yearn to see new places. But seeing in your RV is more than scenery, it's also safe operating and not clobbering anything along the way.

Looking forward: If anything, the view from most motorhomes looking ahead is clear, and sometimes a mite distracting. If you have a penchant for sticking things on the windshield, make sure they don't block your view. Keeping stick-ons low is best. Remember though, not all states are windshield "stick on legal." Yes, radar detectors are legal in Arizona, but if you stick them (or anything else) on the windshield you can be pulled over, even cited. I know from first-hand experience having done a "ride along" with a state trooper.

Side swiped? When evaluating a motorhome for purchase keep a close eye on side view. This is where motorhome designers often come up short. Windshield pillars can be in "just the wrong place" and adversely your view to the side, giving unwanted blind spots. Some motorhome side windows are so small or blocked up with hardware they too, mess up the view. You can't move them or eliminate them but you may think twice before buying a rig with "junk" in the way of your view.

Looking back: Rear-view mirrors are a CRITICAL issue with RVs. You can't just toss a look back over your shoulder to see what's going on, you must rely on mirrors. Again, motorhome designers don't always have it right, window frames can block the view of a mirror. It may not be necessary to pass up a motorhome that has this fault as you may be able to relocate the mirror for clear vision.


While mirror is good in size, tying up half with a convex mirror defeats the purpose. R&T DeMaris photo.


The larger the mirror, the better the view. One source tells us that they feel the minimum adequate size for a rear view mirror on either a motorhome or tow vehicle is 10" x 7".

If you're putting together a tow package and your OEM mirrors aren't adequate, skip the idea of adding a fender mounted mirror. They're just too far away from the driver's position to give safe judgment. Whatever mirrors you use, make sure they're mounted tightly and have no loose adjustments. A vibrating mirror will throw a distorted--even useless--image your direction.

Convex mirrors are a godsend to RVers. Giving a wide-angle view, they eliminate a lot of blind-spots where small cars may be hiding out and can keep you from a smash-up when lane changing. "Stick on" convex mirrors can be added to existing mirrors but they then reduce the amount of "normal" mirror image, making for an unsafe condition. You're better off adding an auxiliary convex mirror above or below the existing mirror, fixed on its own mount.

You may need to add extensions for mirrors on tow vehicles to get them out far enough to see around the trailer. Some factory equipped tow rigs (recent Chevy Silverado's as an example) have a wonderful setup: Push a button in the rig and the tow mirror extends out from the side of the rig. Done towing? Hit the button to retract it.

Rear vision cameras add a high tech back view. Some motorhomes come with these gems direct from the factory; they can also be added as an aftermarket item. They can be a wonderful asset when backing up into a site, or keeping an eye on the "toad car." Similarly, back up cams can be mounted in the bumper of a tow vehicle making it easier to back up to hitch a conventional travel trailer. "



Driving your RV part 2: Coping with size

"Looking at the RVs owned by some new RVers, you might think they made their purchase at a scratch and dent sale. While RVers, for the most part--including new ones--don't get in major accidents, "getting too close to something" seems to be a way of life for those getting accustomed to driving a "big" rig.

It's likely that compared to what you've been driving most of your life an RV is much bigger. Not only is it longer, it's probably much taller, and possibly a bit wider. Out on the open road these factors aren't usually a big problem. But put you and your RV in a tight spot, say maneuvering around a fuel island or small campground, and that size suddenly becomes a huge issue.

Keeping out of trouble with your new RV means two things: Knowledge and practice. It's important to be knowledgeable about your RV's characteristics. We're often surprised to find RVers who simply don't have a clue as to how tall their rig is. Get an accurate measurement, then write it down where the driver can see it. Using a "tape gun" or label maker and printing the information in large print really helps. Put the information close by: A good place is on the upper portion of the windshield. When you approach a low bridge or awning at a fuel station you'll have the information you need to know whether or not you can make the passage.

Some snicker at this idea, but a couple we know once got "off the beaten track" while towing their travel trailer in an unfamiliar town. Before they knew it, they tried passing under a railroad overpass and literally peeled the roof off their new travel trailer. It took several days out of their vacation plans and the help of their insurance company to put themselves back together.

Practice putting your RV through turns before you get in a ticklish situation. An empty parking lot, an assistant, and some cardboard boxes set up to simulate obstacles can help you see how easily (or how difficult) you can steer and make corners. A major issue that new RVers often run into (literally as well is figuratively) is the phenomenon known as tail swing.

Tail swing "happens" when you steer one direction and the rear end of the rig goes the other. How's that? We can illustrate it with a pencil. Take a pencil in your hand, holding it parallel to the floor. Pretend the point of the pencil is the front of your RV; the eraser, the rear end. Now "drive" your RV into a left turn. As you do, you'll find the eraser swings out to the right.

In an automobile you don't notice the effect of tail swing near as much, as the pivoting point of the car (the rear wheels) is fairly close to the rear bumper. In a motorhome the rear wheels can be quite far away from the back bumper, and the effect of tail swing is multiplied.

Now picture yourself at the fuel island with your big motorhome. You've parked close enough to the pumps to stretch the fuel hose to the tank. When it's time to pull out, if you don't pull far enough forward before making your turn, the rear end of the motorhome can easily meet up with stationary objects (like a fuel pump) with embarrassing consequences. This same effect can plague RVers yanking a trailer.

With a motorhome, carefully watching the rear view mirror can help you see where your tail swing can take you.

With a travel trailer, you'll be blind on the right side as you make a left turn and vise-versa. Practice is where tail swing problems can be accounted for.

Drive your motorhome in the parking lot with a spotter ensuring you haven't "hit" your obstacle boxes.

If you're dealing with a tow rig, the only way to get the "feel" for what your rig can and can't do is to have someone else drive it while you stand outside and see the tail swing effect for yourself. "    By Russ and Tina DeMaris


Towable RV choices: travel trailer vs fifth wheel

"So you've decided to buy a towable RV. So your choices are a travel trailer or a fifth wheel trailer. So what's best for you? As with other decisions in the RV spectrum, there is no single correct answer. Both have their strong points and drawbacks." Read more.


Learn What A Macerator Can Do For You!

"Macerator can help extend stays at non-hookup locations
Want to stay on a relative's property in the comfort of your RV but can't because your holding tanks won't let you? Want to stay at a pristine campground for more than a few days but can't because your holding tanks won't let you? Well, perhaps it's time you purchased a macerator

Or make your own:  or:  Scroll way ½ way down.


A good way to get rid of black water. Use your macerator to pump it into old milk-type jugs. Pack them in a box. Gift wrap the box and leave it in the back of your pick-up at a mall. Someone will steal it. (Works for garbage too.)


Timely Holding Tank Evacuation

Posted by RV Doctor

"I recently purchased a 2001 Jayco motorhome and the problem I have concerns the amount of time it takes to drain the gray water tank. The black water drains very quickly but when I drain the gray water the bulk of the water drains quickly but it take several minutes (up to 10+) of a steady trickling to drain completely. I've had the tanks flushed and scoped and I've personally inspected the drain valves and they are fine. I've also driven the right front tire up on blocks to help but nothing seems to work. Could you please give me an idea as to what the problem is? This is rather bothersome when others are waiting in line behind me." Carl, (Renton, WA)

"Barring any severe blockages inside the holding tank Carl, it is apparent a venting problem exists. As a holding tank drains, air must enter the tank from above. All holding tanks must be vented through the roof of the RV. In some cases, the vent pipe can fall down inside the tank, immersing itself in the contents of the holding tank. This effectively blocks off the vent, thereby eliminating the venting action of allowing air to enter as you try to empty that tank. This is why it seemingly drains normally at first; the weight of water forces the initial gushing. Venting allows air to enter the tank.

Here’s an analogy….place a drinking straw into a glass of water. If you simply lift the straw out of the glass, the water inside the straw drains out as you lift. Now place your finger over the open end of the straw and lift it out. The water remains trapped inside the straw until you remove your finger from the end. Liquid entering the holding tank must displace the air when draining into the tank and air must enter behind the contents during draining of the tank itself. That vent through the roof must work in both directions.

From up on the roof, remove the cover for that holding tank vent. If the ABS piping is not protruding above the roof a couple inches or so, chances are the vent has slipped down into the tank and made contact with the contents. In some cases, you can re-attach it correctly from inside the RV; in other cases, the holding tank must be partially dropped in order to repair that vent connection. A thorough inspection will reveal the best method. The other possibility, albeit slight, is that the manufacturer plumbed the drainage system without the requisite slope; water cannot flow uphill. This may not be your problem since you’ve raised the coach to try it, but it may warrant a closer look."


"Sad story about a 72 YEAR OLD WOMEN WHO WAS KILLED in an RV Park in Memphis while she & her husband were hooking up.  The Truck was not in gear – when it rolled she tried to stop it. An open door knocked her down and the trailer ran over her.  Be extra careful everywhere…"


  • RV manufacturer, Carriage, Inc., which closed earlier this month after failing to make a loan payment, may reopen again. A second lender is offering to provide needed funds to bail out the fifth wheel builder.


    Where do you go, when you gotta go?

    "When set up in an RV park, it’s not a problem, but on the road, or when boondocking, it gets a bit more complicated. Here are some possible places to dump your tanks:

    Highway rest areas

  • State, National, and Federal Parks (often dump stations located outside of the campground, but where not, you may be "stuck" paying a small fee. Better than eating it.)

    Local government sewage treatment plants (check out the phone book, call the main number and ask for the treatment plant)

    Truck stops. We point in particular to those catering to RVers, like Flying J. The "J" has instituted what some RVers think is a dreadful arrangement: An electronically controlled dump station, meaning you pay to convince the electronics to let you dump. If you have a Flying J RV customer loyalty card, the price is $5 to dump, and $10 without. We've found some Love's Travel Stops have free RV dump stations--they're a little harder to find."

    Or look at:



    Entrance to King Tut's tomb discovered-Nov 4, 1922:

    "British archaeologist Howard Carter and his workmen discover a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

    When Carter first arrived in Egypt in 1891, most of the ancient Egyptian tombs had been discovered, though the little-known King Tutankhamen, who had died when he was 18, was still unaccounted for. After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for "King Tut's Tomb," finally finding steps to the burial room hidden in the debris near the entrance of the nearby tomb of King Ramses VI in the Valley of the Kings. On November 26, 1922, Carter and fellow archaeologist Lord Carnarvon entered the interior chambers of the tomb, finding them miraculously intact."




    Spruce Goose flies-  Nov 2, 1947:

    "The Hughes Flying Boat—the largest aircraft ever built—is piloted by designer Howard Hughes on its first and only flight. Built with laminated birch and spruce, the massive wooden aircraft had a wingspan longer than a football field and was designed to carry more than 700 men to battle.

    Because of wartime restrictions on steel, Hughes decided to build his aircraft out of wood laminated with plastic and covered with fabric. Although it was constructed mainly of birch, the use of spruce (along with its white-gray color) would later earn the aircraft the nickname Spruce Goose. It had a wingspan of 320 feet and was powered by eight giant propeller engines.

    Development of the Spruce Goose cost a phenomenal $23 million and took so long that the war had ended by the time of its completion in 1946. The aircraft had many detractors, and Congress demanded that Hughes prove the plane airworthy.

    On November 2, 1947, Hughes obliged, taking the H-4 prototype out into Long Beach Harbor, CA for an unannounced flight test. Thousands of onlookers had come to watch the aircraft taxi on the water and were surprised when Hughes lifted his wooden behemoth 70 feet above the water and flew for a mile before landing.

    • Despite its successful maiden flight, the Spruce Goose never went into production, primarily because critics alleged that its wooden framework was insufficient to support its weight during long flights. Nevertheless, Howard Hughes, who became increasingly eccentric and withdrawn after 1950, refused to neglect what he saw as his greatest achievement in the aviation field. From 1947 until his death in 1976, he kept the Spruce Goose prototype ready for flight in an enormous, climate-controlled hangar at a cost of $1 million per year. Today, the Spruce Goose is housed at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon."


    Misty and I went to get Jay, as RAIN is forecast.  The recent winds have blown a lot of pine needles into the gutters.  Jay likes to get up on the roof and blow all the pine needles off the three roofs, and clear out the gutters so they will drain, so that is his job.

    I had taken some pictures of Jay's mother's little Yorkie, Maddie, who I had groomed the day before, with my old camera, which didn't come out, so I took some more with my new camera:


  • Maddie-Nov-2011














    While Jay was up on the roofs, Ray was caulking some places on the outside of the cargo trailer and I was raking up the pine needles.  I was just tired of having them underfoot, and no way to get rid of them.  They are slick when wet.

    Finally, just decided to put them in a pile.  We had so many that I had to rake it into 5 separate piles, as one pile would be just too large to burn when the burn ban is lifted.  Even then we filled two humongous plastic bags, and I'll just have to drop them off at a dumpster.  Our trash man doesn't take them.


    I measured the windows in the cargo trailer, so that I can start making the drapes, one day.

  • No comments: