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February 2012 Volume 2 Issue 2


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Traveling with Pets Aftermarket RV Products

Why Filter your Drinking Water? Snowbird Extended Stay RV Checks Interview with Tuson RV Brakes GM Top 7 RV Owner Maintenance Mishaps


Table of Contents

February 2012 – Volume 2, Issue 2


Pg. 5 5

RV Aftermarket Products

Here are some RV aftermarket products that can make your RV trips more enjoyable.


Why Filter your Drinking Water?

Find out why it is important to filter your RV drinking water and how to go about it.

16 Snowbird Season is Here! Stay Warm with Free Camping in the Southwest As winter moves in, it is time for many full-time RVers or snowbirds to begin the migration south for warmer climates.

Pg. 18


Traveling with Pets

For some folks RVs and pets just go together.


Snowbird Extended Stay RV Checks

Planning on staying put for a while this winter? If so, here’s a checklist that might help.

DEPARTMENTS 4 Editor’s Desk 10 RVing with Mark Polk & Friends An interview with Phil Stanhope, General Manager of Tuson RV Brakes LLC.


RV Industry Updates

21 Favorite RV


The Kissimmee Orlando KOA

Pg. 21


RV Product Spotlight

The RV Twin Trak turns one awning track into two


To get advice on your RV insurance or request an insurance quote, please give us a call at 888-774-6778. An Explorer representative will be happy to discuss your specific RV insurance needs.


From the editor’s desk

Mark Polk

Quote of the Month “For many years my passion for camping was roughing it in tents; my passion for camping remains, but the tents have evolved into RV’s.” ~ Mark Polk

I am looking forward to the 2012 camping season. We planned a few camping trips, so all that’s left now is to wait for the dates to get here and

RV Consumer Magazine 150 Bay Ridge Rd. Harrells, NC 28444 910-484-7615

I am a firm believer in, “ If you plan it, it will happen.” I think it’s important to plan your RV trips and lock in dates in advance. Last year we didn’t do that and our camping season was limited to a few short spur of the moment RV trips.

Publisher: RV Education 101

My goal this year is to plan, and take some fun RV trips. Tyler, our youngest son, still enjoys trips in the RV. I want to take advantage of that as long as possible. It seems like before you know it they are grown and gone. I hope the RV memories our boys have will be passed down to future generations of RVers.

Advertising Information: MEDIA KIT


Editor: Mark J. Polk Contributing Writers: Johnny Shelley Marketing Director: Dawn Polk

Copyright 2012 RV Education 101, all rights reserved, RV Consumer Magazine is published by RV Education 101. This publication cannot be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the publisher. Advertisers and/or advertising agencies or representatives assume all liabilities for any printed content appearing in RV Consumer Magazine. Articles and opinions expressed in this publication may not be the same opinion of the magazine, its staff or its advertisers.

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By Mark Polk

We all enjoy traveling and camping in our RVs, and I think most RV owners like to think of ways to enhance the RV experience. It might be a product to help improve the drivability, address a safety concern, or just a fun accessory to have when you arrive at your destination.

And you can monitor the towed vehicle tires too. I personally use a Tire Minder TPMS by Minder Research, Inc. There are lots of reputable TPMS products on the market, so list what features are important to you and see what TPMS product suits your specific needs.

I am not affiliated with the products I may mention. My goal with this article is not to recommend a particular aftermarket product, but simply to point out some products that might enhance your RV experiences.

Steering Stabilizer: If you own a motorhome you spend lots of time behind the steering wheel, and you want the drive to be as enjoyable as possible. What’s the old saying, “Getting there is half the fun.” Not long after purchasing our motorhome I realized I wanted to upgrade the steering . The steering can be severely affected by passing trucks, ruts in the road or high winds. Some steering issues can result in white knuckle driving experiences that quickly take the fun out of getting there. There are lots of aftermarket steering stabilizers and steering controls designed to keep a motorhome steering straight when you need it most. I personally use a product called Steer Safe, and I am very pleased with its performance. Once again determine what features you are looking for and research steering products available on the market.

GPS for RVers: The first product is a good Global Positioning System. The technology is available so why not use it. A good GPS can make getting to your camping destination less stressful. And a GPS designed with specific RV features is even better. Recently GPS manufacturers have stepped forward when it comes to catering to the RV consumer. Think about what RV features are important to you and research what GPS products are available in today’s market. But don’t throw your road atlas away, just in case. Tire Pressure Monitoring System: Now that we can find our destination in a snap we want to get there safely. The second product I recommend is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). There is no easier way to check the air pressure in your tires, monitor the tires for a loss in pressure, or detect high temperature conditions than with a good TPMS.

Go for the RV Gold Online Training Program


RV Aftermarket Products Surge Guard: When you arrive at your destination and plug the RV into an electrical source you confront a whole new set of potential problems. Next on my list is a product designed to protect the electrical system of your RV. You have thousands of dollars worth of sophisticated and sensitive electronic equipment in your RV. A few short seconds of faulty power can damage appliances and electronics like stereos, satellite systems, microwaves, televisions and computer equipment. I use a product called Surge Guard for added security and protection. It checks the power pedestal for improper wiring and it protects the electrical system from over and under voltage conditions. Better safe than sorry. Central Vacuum Cleaner: When you are at the campground, or when you get back home and it’s time to clean the motorhome this product makes the job much easier. I installed a Dirt Devil central vacuum cleaner designed specifically for RVs. The canister can be installed in an out of the way place with easy access to the inlet valve on the interior of the RV. The Dirt Devil is powerful, has a hose that extends 35 feet and comes with attachments that can be used on almost every surface in the RV. And no more concerns about storing a bulky vacuum cleaner in the RV!

Ventilation Products: Last but certainly not least is a product that helps with ventilation. If you’ve been around RV’s for a while you already know that your RV needs ventilation for many different reasons: to reduce heat build-up, to let stale musty air and cooking odors escape and to improve the inside air quality. Unless you fulltime, chances are your motorhome sits in storage for periods of non-use. If it is stored outside the roof vents can only be opened when the weather is nice. Roof vent covers solve this problem and many other ventilation issues we are confronted with. I use Maxx Air vent covers and other Maxx Air products on our motorhome. If you place vent covers on opposite ends of the RV it helps promote good cross ventilation. RV 101

Watch the Product Videos

Steer Safe Steer Safe Video

Surge Guard Surge Guard Video

Dirt Devil

Maxx Air

Dirt Devil Video

Maxx Air Video


By Mark Polk

Over the years I have written numerous articles about water filtration, water quality and sanitizing your RV water system. There are lots of reasons to be concerned about the water we drink, especially when it comes to RV’s. Traveling in an RV means you camp at different destinations and don’t really know anything about the quality of the water you are using or drinking.

It seems like every day you hear more and more about what is in the water we drink and how it can impact our health. I have always been an advocate for filtering the water in an RV, and I am always on the lookout for the best possible method for filtering water. At one of the RV conventions I attended I had the opportunity to talk to Jerry Rademan, president and chemist behind the Metal Trap Ultra Dual filtration system, by Hydropure Technologies. Jerry has a true passion for clean drinking water and water purification. He explained to me that the Metal Trap Ultra Dual System is the only filter system commercially available that will eliminate or significantly reduce all contaminants in one single system. He said, “The people at Hydro Pure Technologies are dedicated to our families and to our customers. We think there is no other food source that impacts the health aspect of our lives as clean drinking water! It is our goal to provide the best quality water that is available commercially.”

Then Jerry challenged me. He said he would send me a Metal Trap Ultra filter system and let me be the judge. Shortly after returning home from the convention I received the Metal Trap Ultra Dual water filter system. I installed the 6,000 gallon rated system on our RV. The installation was quite simple. Watch the water filter installation video here. The thing I really like about the Metal Trap Ultra Dual System is that it works for both well water and city water, so it only makes sense that it would be great for RV applications. continued


It filters out metals like iron, manganese, and copper and it also removes hydrogen sulfide, which causes the rotten egg smell found in most well-water sources. It also filters out chlorine and chlorinated organic compounds that can be carcinogenic and it removes residual pharmaceuticals, pesticides and herbicides that can find their way into our city drinking water. The metal trap Ultra dual system works on chemical oxidation, absorption and ion exchange principals that both remove and trap these metals and other unwanted contaminants. Most other filters work on physically straining the water, which doesn’t remove the contaminants that are dissolved in the water. When the water enters the Metal Trap filter the unwanted contaminants get oxidized and are trapped in the filter body. The activated carbon filters out the foul tasting and potentially harmful chemicals and contaminants. When the water enters the second filter it goes through a one micron sediment filter which filters out viruses, bacteria, fine silt, oxidized metals and un-dissolved calcium particles greater than one micron in size. The real test came after the system was installed, and it passed with flying colors. My wife said it lived up to Jerry’s claim when he said that water filtered through a Metal Trap Ultra filter system is better than any bottled water and better tasting too. RV 101

RV Consumer Demographics Water pressure at campgrounds can be extremely high and can cause damage to your RV plumbing system. Always use a water pressure regulator when you hook-up to the campground water supply. Always connect the water pressure regulator directly to the campground water source. This way you regulate the water pressure where the water pressure originates. It’s also a good idea to turn the water supply off if you’re going to be away from the campground for extended periods of time. RV 101

Did you know:  The average RVer is 48 years old.  The typical RVer has a median income of $62,000.  39% of RVers have children under 18 living at home.  RV owners aged 35 to 54 showed the largest gain in ownership rates.  RV ownership among those aged 55 and older has risen from 8.6% in 2005 to 9.3% Source: RV consumer demographics for RVIA from the University of Michigan


Make your least favorite job at the campground much easier by using an EZ Coupler Bayonet Sewer System with rotating fittings. Watch Video

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And fresh out of college, like many people in Iowa, I was involved in politics and served on the governor’s staff for six years.

Today I will be interviewing Phillip Stanhope, General Manager of Tuson RV Brakes, LLC. Tuson RV Brakes offers innovative cutting edge technology on electric-hydraulic brake actuators, electronic brake control systems and anti-lock braking systems for towable RVs. Let’s meet Phil. MP: Hi Phil, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk with RV Consumer e-Magazine. PS: Thanks Mark, it’s my privilege. MP: You and I have met and talked in the past, but can you tell our readers a little about yourself and Tuson RV Brakes? PS: Sure, I would be glad to. I’m Phillip Stanhope, General Manager of Tuson RV Brakes, LLC. I’ve been with Tuson for about a year and a half directing the efforts to develop, test, manufacture and market our line of trailer brake systems. Before that I ran my own small business for nearly ten years which also manufactured trailer components. Prior to starting my own business, I was a division manager at Titan International overseeing their product assembly and distribution system.

Tuson Corporation which is the parent company of Tuson RV Brakes, has been in business for nearly 25 years and is a component manufacturer and supplier to many well known companies such as Caterpillar, Parker Hannifin, Dometic, and Lippert to name a few. Tuson makes a wide variety of products but specializes in hydraulic components and electric motors. With this background, Tuson decided to enter into the hydraulic towable brake system business in 2010 with their own line of electric-hydraulic brake actuators and electronic brake control systems.

MP: Most travel trailers and fifth wheels manufactured use electric drum brakes and have for many years. Why should an RV owner consider changing to hydraulic brakes? PS: That’s true Mark. Electric drum brakes have been in use since the late 1940’s and over the years provided a level of performance that served their purpose. But consider all the changes in the RV and towable business in the past 70 years! Trailers have grown in size and weight and vehicle technology has advanced by leaps and bounds.


Meanwhile over all these years, the only change to electric drum brakes has been the constant pressure to cost reduce them with lighter materials, less friction material and so on. Cars and trucks used to have drum brakes and over the years there has been a major migration to hydraulic disc brakes. The reason; disc brakes offer about double the braking force with much less brake fade due to heat. Electric drum brakes, because they depend on an electric magnet, experience even greater brake fade because magnets become less effective as heat increases. There are other key reasons why cars and trucks have converted to hydraulic disc brakes: Disc brakes have very few parts unlike drum brakes with all the return springs, lever arms, pins etc. The cost of maintaining disc brakes in much lower than drum brakes and disc brakes never require adjusting. MP: That’s a very convincing argument. Can you elaborate on why the RV industry hasn’t converted to hydraulic disc brakes if they offer the consumer more features and benefits than electric drum brakes? PS: I believe there are two main reasons the industry has not switched to disc brakes. The main reason is that for the most part, consumers do not know much about the brake system on their travel trailer or fifth wheel and don’t worry about it until they have a problem, get a big brake maintenance bill or, worst of all; they experience

a stopping situation that gives them a big scare. . Let’s face it; brake systems don’t sell RVs. Interior and exterior features are the things that capture the buyer’s attention and help sell vehicles. In most cases the stuff under the frame is generally not even considered. Therefore, there is no consumer pressure to improve the brake systems. Secondly, there is always major cost pressure on manufacturers to be as competitive as possible. This has never been truer than in these difficult times.

MP: That’s all very true. From a cost standpoint what makes hydraulic disc brake systems more expensive than electric drum brakes? PS: The price of the actual brakes – electric drum brakes versus disc brake – is fairly close, with the disc brakes only slightly more expensive. However, the key cost driver is brake actuation. To actuate electric drum brakes you only need to run an electric line to the magnet and to modulate an electrical current which is done by the in-cab brake controller. With hydraulic brakes, an electric motor, hydraulic pump and brake lines are required to create hydraulic pressure to actuate the brakes. This adds significant cost (generally $400-$500) to the brake system.

MP: We have talked about this before; Tuson not only offers a hydraulic towable brake system, but something you call a network based, 4 channel anti-lock braking system. Can you tell our reader’s what that is, and what are the advantages of this type of system?

continued 11

PS: Well Mark, Tuson’s anti-lock braking system can be broken down into categories and that is probably the best way to explain it. I’ll start with the brakes. Brakes This is a building block type system. Starting at the foundation, Tuson’s system depends on hydraulic disc brakes which offer approximately double the braking force at highway speeds Brake Controller Tuson controls these brakes with a networkbased brake controller. Rather than using an inertia based brake controller that measures the rate of deceleration after you brake, Tuson’s electronic controller, known as DirecLink, plugs directly into the computer system of your tow vehicle. With this information, the Tuson system has a constant stream of data from your engine, transmission and real time speed. This means that when you step on the brakes, DirecLink manages the brakes of your trailer using data from your tow vehicle. With this technology, the brake systems of both vehicles are essentially working as one system. Another key element of DirecLink is the large color display built in that provides a wide range of diagnostic data to the driver in plain language. DirecLink automatically monitors electrical connections and many other diagnostic parameters and alerts the driver of any problems or failures.

Brake Actuation Mounted on the trailer is Tuson’s electric-hydraulic actuator (ActuLink) which takes the data from the DirecLink located in the tow vehicle cab and generates the proper amount of hydraulic pressure on the brakes. Tuson also has a patented two-way data network between the DirecLink and our electric-hydraulic actuator which uses the existing vehicle wiring (the “blue wire”). This network allows for data to be shared between the tow vehicle and the towed vehicle. This means that functions on the trailer can be automatically monitored and shared with the driver on DirecLink’s display. Towable Anti-Lock Braking Control For the ultimate trailer braking, Tuson offers a 4 channel anti-lock brake module that works in conjunction with the DirecLink and ActuLink. This module is linked by a digital network to the DirecLink and ActuLink and the towing vehicle and also monitors four wheel speed sensors mounted at the trailer wheels. Although the technology involved in this system with all the components and tow vehicle networked together is highly complex, it could not be more simple for the driver.


When you press the brakes, this system provides smooth trailer braking in complete harmony with your towing vehicle. In the case of slippery road conditions or emergency or panic stops, this system gives you the highest possible level of braking without locking your trailer tires. This dramatically reduces stopping distance and prevents tire flatspotting. In essence, you have four-wheel independent braking in which each tire is braking at the highest level of rolling resistance braking. When trailer tires lock, especially on slick highway conditions, the trailer will slide and lose control. By preventing tire lockup, this system dramatically increases vehicle stability during braking. In the case of triple axle trailers, the center axle is slaved to the rear (and sometimes the front axle based on the type of suspension) axle. I also want to point out that this system can be retro-fit on to any trailer. MP: I had the opportunity to see this system in action, so I am a firm believer, and as I like to say, you get what you pay for. Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

And, the more people who ask for and use this type of towable braking system, the more the cost will go down making this technology within more people’s reach.

Smoother braking, shorter stopping distances, greater vehicle stability, no more flatspotted tires and a wide range of system diagnostics make this an investment worth considering. MP: Thanks for sitting and talking with us today Phil. If anybody would like more information on this topic how can they contact Tuson RV brakes, or you for that matter? PS: You are welcome, and thank you. I encourage anyone wanting more information to visit our website at or feel free to call me direct at 847-816-8800.

Trailer Towing Tip

Tongue Weight (TW) is the amount of the trailers weight that is pressing down on the hitch ball. TW is a critical factor in how well the trailer will tow. Ideally for trailers that PS: I would just like to say that you may weigh over 2,000 pounds TW should be 10 to never need this type of advanced braking 15 percent of the loaded trailer weight. Take system. But, as you are traveling, with the the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW), which is the investment you’ve made in your tow actual weight of the loaded trailer, and multiply it by .10 and .15. This will give you vehicle, trailer and all your possessions the tongue load range you want to be in. Too inside; do you really want to take the risk. much TW can cause poor steering, handling The automotive and truck industry made and braking. Too little TW can cause the tow the change years ago, and for good vehicles rear wheels to lose traction and reason. contribute to trailer sway. RV 101 13

RV Industry Updates Livin Lite Recreational Vehicles recently reported an increase in consumer interest and sales in response to their recent product upgrades. The upgrades include a radius front profile on their all-aluminum and composite designed Camplite travel trailer line, and a new “wood look” interior package featuring Azdel composite material. The new wood composite interior gives the lineup a wood grain look and feel.

Greg Dischler, national sales manager at Livin Lite said, “Response has been tremendous from both consumers and dealers. Our website and Facebook pages have nearly doubled in traffic since we made these changes public.” For more info visit Livin Lite Winnebago Itasca Travelers (WIT) Club is now inviting Sunny Brook and Winnebago brand towable product owners to become WIT Club members. WIT is a club exclusively for owners of Winnebago Industries’ produced RV’s. Members are eligible to join any number of WIT Club affiliations, including national, state, local or special interest clubs, as well as participate in funfilled caravans and rallies held throughout North America. Members also receive numerous RV travel related benefits. For more info visit


RV Smart Tablets Available Now The RV Smart Tablet is a small portable media device that packs a BIG punch. The RV smart tablet is loaded with SIX of our most popular full-feature RV training videos, my best-selling book “The RV Book” (in e-book format) and as a bonus some of my most popular checklists for RVers. Note: There is an RV smart tablet for towable RVs and for motorized RVs. In addition to having all this great RV information sitting in the palm of your hand, the RV Smart Tablet can store your favorite RV pictures, songs, and e-books, and it functions as a digital voice recorder, calculator & calendar. The RV Smart Tablet is a $215 retail value discounted to only


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Snowbird Season is Here! Stay Warm with Free Camping in the Southwest By Johnny Shelley

As winter moves in, it is time for many full-time RVers or snowbirds to begin the migration south for warmer climes. There are many opportunities for free camping in the American Southwest. These range from free RV parks run by the city in order to attract tourists to vast tracts of desert where you can stay for months at a time. Quartzsite, AZ Quartzsite is probably the most popular snowbird location in the country. Every winter, this small town in the middle of the desert explodes into something approaching a small city as hundreds of thousands of RVers arrive for the rock show and the RV show. If you want to be around a lot of other full-timers or snowbirds, then Quartzsite might be exactly what you're looking for. There are five BLM dispersed camping locations within a few miles of town as well as a Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA). For $180 you can stay in Arizona's two LTVA areas from September to April. If staying put that long isn't quite your thing, you can stay at the dispersed camping areas for free up to 14 days out of every 28.

Carlsbad, NM Everyone knows about Carlsbad Caverns, but did you realize there is also a lot of BLM land in the area where dispersed camping is legal for 14 days at a time? Carlsbad Caverns is, of course, the big tourist draw in the area. However if you enjoy hiking, climbing or caving, there are many other recreation opportunities in the area. The nights do get a little chilly, but the daytime temperatures are balmy and the Guadalupe mountains offer some wonderful hiking and caving opportunities. Unlike Quartzsite, you may very well camp in an area where you can't see another camper or even a car for long stretches at a time. Padre Island, TX Maybe the beach is more your style. What could be better than camping on the beaches of southern Texas? The Padre Island National Seashore allows camping for up to 14 days. A vehicle pass costs $10 for 7 days, so it's not quite free, but it's pretty close. Padre Island is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world.

What is a Snowbird? The term snowbird is used to describe people (mostly RVers) who spend a good portion of the cold winter months in warmer climates. Snowbirds are made up of people from all walks of life. Many are retirees who have the freedom to migrate southward for months at a time. Others are business owner’s who can conduct business on the road, and still others are fulltime RVers who enjoy warmer climates.


Be a Good Neighbor When a campground gets busy it means more people, more RV’s, more children, and more pets which equates to less personal space for everyone. One of the reasons we enjoy getting away in our RV is to get some peace and quiet. Not everyone likes getting up early or staying up late, so please be considerate of other campers around you. Consider that last statement. Now imagine camping on a warm sandy beach and not being able to see a high rise condominium or hotel. If you get tired of deserted beaches, you can also head north to Port Aransas and camp on the beach in the city limits for a few days! These are just a few of the possibilities for this winter. There are many more spots throughout the southwest ranging from southern California to Texas that many snowbirds call home each winter. Sure, you could just head to a destination RV park and spend the winter in one place. Or, you could spend a little bit more money on fuel and stay at several of the wonderful free campsites on public lands instead. is dedicated to making free camping destinations accessible to the public. You can find many listings for free campgrounds throughout the United States and Canada with an easy to use map interface. Article Source:

New to RVs? Thinking about purchasing an RV, but not sure where to start? We have you covered with our educational book and DVD libraries. An Introduction to RVs DVD RV Training DVD by Type RV The RV Book RV Buyer’s Survival Guide book Insider’s Guide to Buying an RV book All books available in e-book format too

Watch Mark’s 17 episode award winning RV series online


Traveling with Pets



Pets and RV’s just seem to go together. One of the really great things about traveling in an RV is that you can take your pets with you. In many cases the main reason people buy an RV is so their pets can travel with them. Two of our dogs (Buck & Gracie) have traveled with us since they were puppies. Our most recent addition, Roxie, is a rescue dog and she took to traveling in the RV like second nature. All three get extremely excited when they see us loading the RV for another trip. It’s fun and convenient to be able to take your pets along with you, but I realized a long-time ago that certain precautions must be taken when you travel with pets. There were lots of things to remember about traveling with our pets, so to make it easier I included this checklist in my Checklists for RVers e-book.

 Never leave your pets in an RV for long periods of time without somebody checking on them periodically. If you will be away from your pets and the RV for an extended period of time leave a key with someone you can trust to check on the pets and in case of an emergency.  Always have fresh water available for your pets. You never know the quality of the drinking water when you are traveling so it’s a good idea to take a container of water from your home that your pets are accustomed to, or use bottled water.  Pets should always travel in a pet carrier or crate for their personal safety.  Get a current health certificate from your veterinarian before traveling.  Always take the pets medical records along with you.

& Roxie

First and foremost always keep in mind that an RV gets extremely hot and/or cold inside depending on the outside temperature. Always make sure there is some type of ventilation and/or heat and air available when pets are left in the RV.


 Update all vaccinations before leaving on your trip.  Take a proof of rabies vaccination.  Take flea, tick, and heartworm medications on extended trips.  Take a pet first aid kit and know what dosages of medication to give your pets.  Take your veterinarians regular phone number and emergency phone numbers with you.  Get the phone number for a local veterinarian when you arrive at your destination.  Don’t forget to take the brand of pet food your pet is used to and take a food and water travel bowl.  Take a walking leash.  Your pet’s collar should include identification along with basic information such as your name, address and a cell phone number. You can even include an e-mail address.  Take a harness, tie out anchor and a leash or chain. Give your pet plenty of room to move, but be cautious of traffic and obstacles that they can get hung or caught on. We use portable exercise pens.  Take grooming tools, pet toys and treats.  Take extra cat litter and the cat box.  Take some plastic bags for pet clean up.  Take your pet’s favorite bedding or crate.

 Take some old towels just in case.  Traveling can be stressful on pets especially if they are not used to it. When your pet is away from home and off their regular schedule it can affect their health. Perform a daily check-up on your pet. Look for anything out of the ordinary.  Stop often when you’re traveling and allow your pet’s to exercise and to relieve themselves.  When making campground reservations be sure and ask about pets. Some campgrounds offer kennels and boarding for pets. If your travel plans include day trips or extended travel away from the campsite inquire about these services.

Roxie’s Story

This checklist does not cover everything that you need to be concerned with when traveling with pets in your RV, but it’s a good start. You can add to this list and tailor it to your specific type of pet or your pet’s needs and refer back to it before a trip so you don’t forget anything. ~RV 101

Pet Traveling Tip Take updated photos of your pets with you on camping trips. If they should get lost you can use the pictures to assist in finding them.


We talk about black water holding tank odors all the time, but what about gray water holding tank odors? If you think about it over time lots of food particles, bacteria, grease and grime find its way into the plumbing system and the gray water holding tank. A conventional P-trap drain is designed to hold water and prevent odors in the gray tank from coming up through the sink drains into the RV interior. The problem with this is when the RV doesn’t get used for a while the water in the P traps can evaporate and the odors escape into the RV. Fortunately there are a few things we can do to help prevent this from happening. First and foremost try to prevent food or other grime from getting into the plumbing where it can collect and cause odors. Using a sink trap to catch the debris, and cleaning off dishes before washing and rinsing them helps a great deal. When you empty the gray water holding tank you can add an approved gray water treatment down the sink drains to help clean and prevent odors in the gray water tank. When I empty the gray water tank I put some dishwashing liquid down the sink and shower drains followed by some water. Dish washing liquid does a great job of breaking up any grease in the tank and works to control odors. As for the water evaporating from the conventional P traps you can replace the P trap with a HepVo waterless valve. The HepVo valve is a one way valve that allows water to run through it, into the holding tank, but won’t allow holding tank odors to come out in the opposite direction. It also takes up less room under the sink than a conventional P-trap and it can be installed in a vertical or horizontal direction. Watch Controlling Gray Water Odors Video

Learn to do some basic RV care & maintenance saving time & money

Don’t leave home without Maxx Air Products


by Mark Polk

The Kissimmee/Orlando KOA is your camping destination resort for all of the amazing attractions central Florida has to offer. Why spend the winter staying home in the cold. Pack up the RV and head to warmer weather and some fun in the sun.

You will also enjoy the playground, heated pool, hot tub, tiki hut, pet friendly dog-walk, wi-fi and all of the other campground's modern facilities and amenities.

Major interstates are easily accessible from this KOA campground and the Kissimmee KOA's staff will make sure you have a great experience at this beautiful resort. All of the sites are spacious and well- appointed, and there are countless things to do and places to go at this Florida destination.


Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum The Kissimmee Orlando KOA makes a great home base to return to after visiting all of the fantastic local attractions. All of Central Florida's Attractions are just minutes away including Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, Universal Studios, Island of Adventures, City Walk, as well as Sea World and Discovery Cove. There are over 100 attractions and restaurants within minutes of the campground from Air Boat Rides, Mini Golf, Championship Golf Courses, Outlet Shopping and more. This is one vacation spot that is a must for your RV bucket list of places to visit. So load up the kids, the RV, hook it up, fuel it up and JUST to the Kissimmee Orlando KOA.




Campground Tip We have actually pulled into some campgrounds and made a quick U turn to leave. It was easy to see in a glance that these campgrounds were not someplace you would want to spend the night, not to mention a vacation. Even if you research a website or campground directory before leaving on a trip there is no guarantee that it will be a safe, clean quality campground. So how can you know in advance that a campground will offer a clean, safe environment for you and your family? There are several reputable organizations like AAA, Wheelers RV Resort & Campground Guide, Woodall’s and Trailer Life that rate campgrounds on an annual basis. These ratings are based on important considerations like the campgrounds facilities and services, cleanliness, visual appeal, user experience and more. The rating systems may be slightly different, using stars or a numbered rating system, but the bottom line is where does the campground stands when it comes to meeting industry standards. So, when you’re searching through campground directories and websites for that perfect place to stay, check the ratings before you make any plans. It can sure make you feel better about choosing a clean, safe campground to stay at. RV 101

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Snowbird Extended Stay RV Checks by Mark Polk

Normally when you plan a trip in your RV you conduct some pre-trip checks to make sure the RV is prepared for travel. But what happens when you find that perfect campground or RV Park and stay put for extended periods of time? Do you conduct routine maintenance checks on the RV to make sure it is in a safe and operable condition while it’s parked? Most likely you do, but if not here are some of my Extended Stay Maintenance Checks. Inflate tires to manufacturers recommended pressure. Tires can lose as much as 2 - 3 psi a month. If you stay in one spot for three or six months the tire pressure could be dangerously low. If the unit is not being moved check and adjust the tire pressure on a monthly basis. Ozone in the air and UV rays from the sun shorten the life of your RV tires. Ozone causes tires to dry rot and deteriorate and UV rays make it happen quicker. This is especially true of the tires sidewall. Inspect your tires periodically for any checking or cracks in the sidewalls. If you notice any damage, have the tires inspected by a professional before using the RV. Keep the tires covered with covers that block out the sunlight when the RV is sitting in one spot or not in use.

Place some type of RV leveling blocks between the ground and the tires. Make sure that whatever you use is larger than the footprint of the tire. No portion of the tire should hang over the edge of the blocking. This can cause internal damage to the tire. There are actually several reasons for blocking tires. First, to make sure the RV is as level as possible so more weight isn't resting on one tire than on the others. Storage surface areas can cause your tires to age prematurely. You don't want to leave the tires in contact to any heat producing material or petroleum based material like asphalt for long periods of time. You also don't want them exposed to constant cold or moisture, like sitting on the frozen ground. The wood or blocking acts as a barrier between the tires and the ground surface they are being stored on. If it’s a motorized RV you should fill the fuel tank prior to parking it for a long stay and add a fuel stabilizer. Run the engine and the generator long enough for the fuel stabilizer to get through the fuel system.


If you are not using the generator you should exercise it monthly with a minimum of

Routinely test the operation of the carbon monoxide detector, LP gas leak detector and smoke alarm. Check the fire extinguisher monthly to make sure it is fully charged. Clean or replace air conditioner filters as required.

a ½ rated load on it. Consult your generator set owner’s manual for rated loads. Check and fill the water levels in all batteries and make sure the batteries stay fully charged. The electrolyte levels in batteries will be depleted through long term use. Check the water levels bi-weekly at a minimum. Many RV converter chargers provide a constant charge of about 13.5 volts which is too high for fully charged batteries and the electrolyte is boiled off, resulting in an early death for the batteries. You can use a digital voltmeter to measure voltage and get a quick picture of the batteries depth of discharge. A fully charged battery should read about 12.7 volts. Don’t check the voltage when the RV is plugged in, you will get a false reading. For a true reading of the batteries they should be tested after resting for 12 hours. Resting means the battery is disconnected from any charger or any load for at least 12 hours. Change the oil and oil filter on the engine and the generator prior to long stays or long term storage. Acids accumulate in used oil and can corrode engine bearings.

It’s a good idea to keep an ABC type fire extinguisher in an outside storage compartment where it is easily accessible. You should also keep an ABC type fire extinguisher inside the RV. If you tow a trailer keep an ABC type fire extinguisher in the tow vehicle too. Before moving the RV, after extendedstays or storage, check all fluid levels in the transmission, power steering, engine coolant, engine oil, windshield washer and brakes. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for proper levels. Start the engine and check for proper readings on all gauges. Check the condition of the windshield wiper blades and replace them if necessary. Check the operation of all chassis lights. Make sure the vehicle emissions / inspection sticker is up to date. Complete all pre-trip checks. I realize there are many other items that could be added to this list, but this is a good start. You can tailor this list to meet your specific needs. RV 101


By Mark Polk

RV Twin Trak

Have you ever been camping and wanted to add more than one item to the awning utility track at the same time? I don’t know about you, but I enjoy using a sunscreen during the daytime and patio lights at night. The problem is I need to remove the sunscreen to install the patio lights! Valterra Products has a solution for the problem. It’s called the RV Twin Trak. It’s very simple; the RV twin track converts one awning utility track into two. The twin track comes in six 3-foot sections. You simply slide the sections into the utility awning track. Once they are installed you instantly have two tracks available to use at the same time. The tracks accept all types of awning hangers, and now you can use two of your favorite awning accessories at the same time. Click for more information or to purchase the RV Twin Trak

Our goal at RV Education 101 to assist you in learning how to properly and safely use and maintain your RV. In this unique online RV training program we put the RV dealer orientation (walk -thru) class into video format so you can watch it as many times as you like, or need, until you are comfortable using your new RV. Click here for more information on the RV orientation

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By Mark Polk

There are lots of things to remember and to maintain on an RV. Sometimes we tend to overlook the simplest maintenance requirements on our RV. As the old saying goes, you can’t see the forest for the trees. These simple oversights can result in costly repair bills to correct the problem too. Let’s take a look at some common RV owner maintenance mishaps. 1.


Checking and adding air when the tires are hot. I see it all the time, people checking their tire pressure when the tires are hot. You should always check and inflate tires when the tires are cold, before traveling more than one mile. Hot air expands and will give you a false reading. If the tires are already hot wait several hours before checking and adjusting inflation pressure. Neglecting to periodically check the water level in batteries. 85% of lead acid batteries manufactured in the U.S. die before they should. One of the leading causes for battery failure is overcharging the battery. Overcharging a battery results in severe water loss and plate corrosion. This is a common problem with RV’s.

The RV converter has a built in battery charger and most RV owners are under the impression that if you leave the RV plugged in when the RV is in storage it will keep the batteries topped off. While keeping batteries topped off is extremely important the problem is that many, but not all, RV converter chargers provide a constant charge of about 13.5 volts which is too high for fully charged batteries and the electrolyte is boiled off resulting in an early death for the batteries. There have been advances in converter charger technology and many of today’s converter chargers are 3-stage chargers that will prevent batteries from overcharging. Another problem is during times of high battery usage and recharging the electrolyte is boiled off. Periodically checking and adjusting the water level in the batteries can save and extend the life expectancy of the battery. When you add water only use mineral free water. Distilled water is best and only fill the battery cell to 1/8 inch below the vent well.

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Not rinsing and flushing the black water holding tank after you empty it. The only way to get a long service-free life from the RV black water holding tank is to rinse and flush the tank after you empty it. Some RVs have a built in system for flushing the black water tank, but many don’t. If your RV doesn’t have a built in flushing system there are aftermarket products like tank cleaning wands and reverse flush valves that will assist in keeping your black water tank clean, clogfree and odor-free. Watch a short video on tank cleaning products.


Not performing pre-departure checks. I think nearly every RVer, at one time or another, has learned this lesson. Pre-departure checks or a final walk-around before leaving can save you costly repair bills. Common RV repairs relating to this are repairs to the steps, TV antenna, awnings and power cords. Take a minute to walk around the RV, and look on top and underneath before heading out.


Not periodically inspecting your RV for water damage. Water leaks on an RV can cause extensive damage and can be extremely costly to repair. To protect your investment and your wallet you need to take the time to inspect the RV for water leaks.

The outside of your RV may look fine but the internal damage caused by water over a period of time can result in the entire roof, floor or wall rotting away without you even knowing it, until it’s too late. To prevent a leak before it starts thoroughly inspect all roof and body seams, sealants and around any openings cut in the RV. Reseal any seams or sealants that show signs of cracking or separation. Consult your RV owner manual for inspection intervals and for the type of sealants compatible with different types of materials. 6)

Not performing routine safety checks. It’s not uncommon for RV’s to sit in storage for periods of time. If dry cell batteries aren’t removed from devices like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors they won’t work when you need them. By simply getting in a habit of checking the smoke, CO, and LP gas leak detectors prior to each trip you can prevent this from happening. Follow the testing instructions in the owner’s manual or on the device itself. If you remove dry cell batteries during storage remember to re-install them next spring. You also need to get in a habit of inspecting the fire extinguisher 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.


If it’s a dry powder type fire extinguisher the arrow pointing in the green doesn’t always guarantee that it will work. Every month you should turn dry powder extinguishers upside down, tap on the bottom of the extinguisher and shake it so the powder that settled on the bottom is released. Make sure you know how to operate the fire extinguisher too. A simple pretrip checklist can serve as a reminder to test all safety devices prior to leaving on a trip. 7)

Not maintaining the RV water system. The potable water system in your RV requires some maintenance to keep it trouble free. Something I’ve run into quite often is the complaint that there is a stale odor coming from the RV water system. When you return from a trip and you’re not going to use the RV for a while you need to drain the entire water system to prevent it from getting stale and musty. You should drain the water heater, low point water drains and the fresh water holding tank. Caution: Never drain the water heater tank when it is hot or under pressure. You can start by draining the water heater tank. Go to the outside compartment where the water heater is located. The drain plug, or petcock is normally located in the bottom left hand corner.

Remove the plug and open the pressure relief valve on top of the water heater to assist in draining. Caution: Never drain the water heater tank when it is hot or under pressure. With the drains still open you can turn the water pump on for a moment to help force any remaining water out of the system. Do not let the pump continue to run once the water stops draining. Close all of the drains. RV 101

Our RV Safety Features DVD addresses issues like: LP gas system, water system & electrical system safety, RV fire safety, CO safety, emergency escape plans & much more. Let RV expert Mark Polk help you make all your RV trips safe & enjoyable. More Information

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RV Consumer Magazine February 2012  

RV Consumer Magazine is a digital e-magazine designed to inform and educate the RV consumer on RV products, RV information, RV videos and RV...

RV Consumer Magazine February 2012  

RV Consumer Magazine is a digital e-magazine designed to inform and educate the RV consumer on RV products, RV information, RV videos and RV...