Friday

The Basic Safety Tools You Should Keep in Your RV


We all know that RVing is a great way to travel and there are endless benefits to having a home on wheels. From family bonding to enjoying the great outdoors - the RV lifestyle is one of adventure and fun. We also know that the unexpected can happen while out on the road, and it’s important to be prepared. Safety while RVing should be a top priority for every family, and if you keep these basic safety tools on hand, you should be ready if you’re ever caught in a sticky situation.
Fire Extinguisher - An RV is essentially a home you can take with you, which means they have more fire-related dangers than an average automobile. Having a fire extinguisher onboard is crucial and will be your first defense should a fire start. Make sure to keep your fire extinguisher in an easy to reach location, and inspect it regularly before traveling to ensure that it’s in good working condition.
  • First Aid Kit - This may seem like a no-brainer, but we couldn’t leave a basic first aid kit off of our list. You can either buy a prepackaged first aid kit or you can customize your own. Every family is different so before you hit the road, determine what items should be included in your kit to fit your specific needs. Here are a few basic items you can include: BAND-AIDs® (all sizes), scissors, tweezers, latex gloves, thermometer, antibiotic ointment, gauze, cold pack, heat pack, adhesive tape, general medication (pain relief, allergy relief, etc.), antiseptic wipes, ace bandage, aloe vera, flashlight, sunscreen, bug repellent, and hand sanitizer. 
  • Roadside Emergency Kit - Being out on the road is just one of the many benefits of RVing, but as any seasoned traveler knows, accidents unfortunately happen. From getting into a slight fender bender to having a flat tire - it’s important to always be ready. Having a roadside emergency kit in your RV can save you time and trouble when you need to pull over. There are tons of kits on the market that include items like: flares, flashlights, batteries, jumper cables, and more. 
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System - Tires are the foundation of an RV, so it’s important to keep them in top condition. There are many tire pressure monitoring systems on the market, and these systems are crucial to make sure your RV tires are at their proper pressure. The last thing you want is a tire blowout to occur while driving. A blowout is dangerous and can not only damage your RV, but it has the potential to cause accidents with other vehicles. Avoid the stress and gain peace of mind by getting a reliable tire pressure monitoring system. 
  • Basic Tool Kit - When you are far from home and a minor mechanical issue happens, what do you do? If you have an RV tool kit onboard you might be able to avoid going to a mechanic or calling a roadside assistance service (though we do recommend being a member of one). We suggest keeping a basic tool kit in your RV including a few basic items such as: a drill, drill bit set, hammer, socket set, wrench set, screwdriver set, pliers, electrical tape, etc. 
  • SPOT Tracking Device - As we mentioned earlier, RVing gives many families the opportunity to unplug and simply enjoy the great outdoors. If you are ever in an emergency situation where you do not have cell phone access/service you can use SPOT. This device uses satellite technology to provide location-based messaging and emergency notification technology so you can communicate from remote locations. 
We hope that you continue to stay safe on the road, and have confidence that you’ll be able to tackle a variety of safety issues that may arise with these tools. Check out our Pinterest board highlighting these tools and be sure to leave us a comment of some of the go-to safety tools that you keep in your RV!

Your April Industry News Recap


We love to keep you in the know with the lastest news and industry updates. So this month, we’ve selected five stories that you don’t want to miss. Take a look at some of the latest April headlines below.

The National Park Service Announces Changes - As RVers, we love exploring our country’s incredible national parks, and the National Park Service (NPS) has recently announced a few changes you should be aware of. In an effort to address aging park infrastructure and improve visitor experience, NPS announced they will slightly raise entrance fees in order to conduct the required maintenance to over 400 parks, monuments, and historical/cultural sites. Most seven-day vehicle passes will be increased by $5 and this will be implemented on June 1, 2018. But fear not - more than two-thirds of national parks will still be free to enter! Read More.

KOA Launches “Get Out There” Adventure Grants - KOA’s new Get Out There grant program was designed to encourage more North Americans to get outside and enjoy an adventure of a lifetime. Get Out There grants are available to all U.S and Canadian citizens and will provide the funds for recipients to go on a dream adventure of their choice. Sounds pretty awesome, right? All you have to do is fill out an application describing your dream adventure and why you deserve the grant and you’ll be in the running. Read More

Airstream Launches Fiberglass Line of Travel Trailers - We all know Airstream by their signature aluminum cased RVs and coaches, but the manufacturer has recently unveiled a new line of fiberglass trailers called “Nest”. The line will make its way to Airstream dealers later this month and will have a compact design that’s so light, you don’t need an SUV to tow it. The trailer manages to perfectly fit a two-burner stove, a microwave, and a wet bath. There are two available floor plans, one including a dinette that converts into a bed, and another with a permanent bed. We can’t wait to see these trailers in action! Read More.

BundutecUSA Debuts Pop-Up Truck Camper - BundutecUSA recently announced they will be adding to their truck camper line with the release of a new self-contained pop-up for half-ton trucks called “Wild”. The new self-contained truck camper will allow longer trips in the backcountry without having to go into town for service. Wild has an updated floor plan for those looking to enhance their camping set up. Read More.

Camping is on the Rise According to Newly Released Report - According to the 2018 North American Camping Report (sponsored by KOA), the total number of camping households in the U.S is nearing 77 million, which is an increase of six million since 2014. The report shows that RVers spent the most nights camping in 2017 and that more than one-third of RVers are now millennials. The report shares interesting and exciting numbers as we see more people joining the camping and adventure lifestyle. Read More.

Are there any RV-related stories that have sparked your interest this month? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Winnebago: Still Innovating at 60 Years Young


The year 1958 brought some high-tech firsts: the first microchip, the first passenger jet to Europe, and the first satellite. It’s fitting that the RV brand known for engineering was born that year too. Called Modernistic Industries for its first three years, the company in Forest City, Iowa soon took a new name: Winnebago. Since producing its first $895 Aljo travel trailer in 1958, Winnebago has shaped America’s RV industry one game-changing model at a time. Here are some highlights:


The 1960s
During a decade of unrest, a young Winnebago forged ahead to make quality, affordable RVs. Owner John K. Hanson adopted an efficient assembly line modeled after Detroit automakers. Company engineers developed a strong, lightweight material called Thermo-Panel, and paired it with a safer SuperStructure® framework, featuring interlocking cab and body.



Winnebago got into motorhomes—including the popular F-19, built on a Ford chassis, the famous D22, built on a Dodge chassis, the classic Brave, and the top-of-the-line Chieftain. The Chieftain made “luxuries” standard, including engine-connected hot water and padded interior walls.

The 1970s
Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” was an ironic theme for Watergate and an oil embargo. In the economic downturn, Winnebago’s optimistic Hanson said, “You can’t take weekends away from the American public.”

The company produced models that delivered more for the money: Winnie Wagon, an RV that could fit into a garage (like today’s Class B and C vans); the Minnie Winnie, Indian and the Chieftain, a luxury Class A diesel. By the end of the ‘90s, Winnebago served the American traveler with 23 motorhomes.



The 1980s
In a weak economy, voters turned to Reaganomics. But gas prices continued to be top-of-mind with consumers. Winnebago launched fuel-efficient new RVs one after another: In 1982, the Winnebago Warrior and Itasca Spectrum, which doubled the fuel economy of conventional RVs. Then the even-smaller Trekker, a 4X4 SUV on a Toyota chassis that led to the Toyota 4Runner.

In 1983, Winnebago rolled out three maneuverable models with fuel-efficient Renault diesel engines that delivered 22+ miles per gallon: LeSharo and Phasar motorhomes, and Centauri vans. The trio attracted many first-timers to RV ownership.


The 1990s
An end to the Cold War. The World Wide Web. The 1990s dawned with optimism. Micro-mini motorhomes were popular, led by the Winnebago Warrior and Itasca Spirit Micro Mini—both built on Toyota chassis.

On the other end of the spectrum, Winnebago introduced the bus-size Vectra for extended travel, followed by the wide-body Winnebago Minnie Winnie and Itasca Sundancer. In 1995 came two cult classics for opposite market segments: the 21-foot Rialta, a front-wheel drive Class B on a Volkswagen chassis; and the Luxor, an elegant diesel pusher.

In 1996, Winnebago mourned the death of its founder and Chairman of the Board, John K. Hanson, whose legacy of innovation lives on at Winnebago today.



The 2000s
The nation was stunned by 9/11, but business slowly recovered. By 2004, Winnebago was the top-seller in both Class As and Class Cs, and the “most admired RV manufacturer,” according to RVBusiness magazine. The company went on to expand every category with new models: 
  • The Ultimate Freedom and Ultimate Advantage, two top-of-the-line diesel pushers; 
  • The Vista and Sunstar, two affordable Class As that remain category leaders. 
  • The View and Navion, two Class Cs, and the first North American motorhomes built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis; and 
  • The Era, a fuel-efficient Class B van also built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. 
Today, Winnebago is still the world’s largest builder of RVs on a Sprinter chassis. Closing out the decade, a market crash tested every industry.


2010 to Now
Winnebago emerged from the Great Recession determined to thrive. In the last eight years, it’s expanded Class A diesel production, and acquired two companies (Sunnybrook RV and Grand Design) to make a big return to towables.

In 2014, the Winnebago Travato rolled out, based on a Dodge Ram ProMaster chassis. Together, the Era and Travato have catapulted Winnebago to the top of the B-van market.

Winnebago enters its seventh decade with the introduction of four revolutionary models for a growing customer base — the rugged 4x4 Class B Revel, the contemporary Horizon diesel pusher, the user-friendly Class A Intent, and the lightweight Minnie Plus fifth wheel.

As the next chapter dawns, RVs are certain to evolve, and based on its track record of 60 years, Winnebago will lead the way with new options for work, travel, live, and play.



To DIY or Not: When Should I Call a Mechanic?





Understanding when to choose the do-it-yourself (DIY) path or when to rely on the professionals is an important RVing lesson. Know your options with these tips from FMCA and the “RV Doctor” Gary Bunzer. 

Types of Service
Simply put, there are two types of RV service - crisis repairs and preventive maintenance. RVers need to stay on top of preventive maintenance to lessen the chance of an emergency repair situation.

Many RVers choose to take care of their RV’s preventive maintenance tasks on their own. These tasks are often seasonal to-dos, such as checking seals, checking fluid levels, cleaning air filters, and performing battery maintenance.

However, before you take on anything yourself, know the details of your RV’s factory warranty period. Oftentimes, during this period, all repairs should be performed by a certified technician. In some cases, warranties may be voided if unauthorized tasks are performed.

To DIY or Not?
So should you even consider performing maintenance tasks on your RV yourself?

An RV owner who performs routine service typically
  • is mechanically inclined or has past automotive experience. 
  • has an impressive assortment of hand tools and testers. 
  • has a keen interest in RV technology. 
  • camps in remote areas far from RV service centers. 
  • has a technical aptitude. 
  • is or has been a full-time RVer.
If you recognize yourself in these listed characteristics or are wondering whether or not you should attempt a maintenance task, here are a few points to consider. Keep in mind that this list is not all-inclusive and all items may not apply evenly across the board.

Know your physical limitations.
Ask yourself if you can physically perform a task. For some maintenance tasks, you will have to crawl under the RV or into a tight space.

Review your mechanical and technical aptitude.
Admit when the subject is beyond your knowledge base. There is no need to be a hero. You definitely do not want to risk converting a simple maintenance task into a costly crisis repair! It will cost substantially more to undo an error than to make an appointment with a service center.

Have a willingness to learn.
If you want to be able to perform routine maintenance items, be willing to do a little homework. Servicing propane-related appliances and components, for instance, mandates a basic understanding of the electronic and gas operation sequences. Learning requires reading and studying the literature that came with your RV. In cases where the owner’s manual has disappeared, check online or contact the manufacturer directly. Most manufacturers are more than willing to provide the manual you need.

Be properly equipped.
Some maintenance tasks require specialty tools, such as the long flue brush needed for cleaning and servicing an RV refrigerator. If you commit to performing tasks that need a specific tool, evaluate if the cost is really a savings in the long run. Also, can you easily purchase replacement parts? Even the most routine maintenance tasks can require purchasing new parts. An example: the replacement gaskets needed when performing RV furnace cleaning maintenance.

Consider the time factor.
Always plan your approach to any maintenance task appropriately. Realize that all maintenance requires time. Be sure to allot enough time to the task. You are more likely to omit a step or make a mistake if you are under pressure to complete a task hurriedly. Remember, the next time you perform that same task, the time element will be reduced.

If you feel comfortable with the points above, you are probably a good candidate to tackle an RV maintenance project on your own.


How to Succeed at DIY
If you feel like you just may qualify as an RV DIY-er, the following suggestions will help you get started:

Control your work area.
Having a clean work area is vital in avoiding confusion and keeping the RV clean. When servicing the appliances, for example, it is best to perform the maintenance tasks with the appliances left in the installed positions. An exception would be the RV furnace. Sometimes better results are attained if the furnace is removed and the work performed outside of the RV. Proper preparation will make any task easier.

Prepare your replacement parts.
When you begin a task, have all replacement parts prepared and laid out for easy access. If the new parts need any type of pre-assembly, do it before you become engrossed in the task. If some pieces in a repair kit will not be needed, separate them prior to beginning. This will simplify your repair and avoid confusion later when you’re left with unused parts.

Obtain the necessary support materials.
Have all wiring diagrams, service notes, installation instructions, etc. before starting the job. If you feel you may need more support information, postpone the maintenance until you have all the resources. A prime example would be if you are performing maintenance on any electrical item. Have a wiring diagram or schematic available. Most diagrams are usually included in the owner’s literature, and many will accompany the replacement part kits.

Have a back-up vehicle.
This is especially important if you are servicing a motorhome and it’s your only mode of transportation. It’s always advisable to have another available vehicle just in case. Whether it’s a neighbor’s truck or a second vehicle of your own, always plan to have transportation available in case of an emergency or if you forgot a part.

Establish a relationship with a local RV service facility.
This step is vital. Even though you wish to perform RV maintenance yourself, always get to know a local dealer or service center in your area. Aside from being there to order parts for you, techs can be a good source of information. They should work with you and not feel threatened that you elect to perform some of your own maintenance tasks. Obviously, you will need to rely on them for any task you decide not to pursue. All major repairs and many items that require specialty equipment are best left to the professionals.

A tip on RV generators.
Never attempt to adjust your RV generator yourself. This is definitely better left to your service shop. Many specialty tools are required since the generator needs to be load-tested while making governor and carburetor adjustments. Load banks and specialty testers are beyond the scope of the DIY-er. With an RV generator, every mechanical adjustment that is made has an electrical result. You cannot tune a generator by ear. 

A tip on propane regulators.
Never attempt to adjust the propane regulator without the use of a water column manometer. Changes in the delivery pressure, which is crucial to each appliance, cannot be determined by visually watching a burner flame. Too high gas pressure will damage many appliances, while too low of a delivery pressure will result in improper combustion and inefficient appliance operation.

Be a Confident RV DIY-er!
By carefully evaluating your technical expertise, gathering a resource library, acquiring the proper tools and parts, and having the right attitude, you may be a great candidate for RV DIY tasks. Many RVers find that performing their own RV maintenance is a source of pride, peace of mind, and enjoyment. Wishing you luck in your maintenance ventures and the ability to admit when you need to call a professional!

FMCA RV Club brings you this monthly tech tip to Enhance Your RV Lifestyle. FMCA delivers RV know-how to its members. Learn more at FMCA.com.

This information is for educational purposes. FMCA shall not be responsible nor retain liability for RVer’s use of the provided information. Prior to making any RV service decision, you are advised to consult with an RV professional.



Escapees RV Club’s 58th Escapade Set for May 27th - June 1st in Sedalia, Missouri


The Escapees RV Club’s annual rally, Escapade, will gather at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri from May 27 – June 1, 2018. This five day, fun-filled event focuses on the RV lifestyle and includes nearly 80 different workshops. From choosing the right RV, to in-depth lifestyle tips, to technical instruction - you’ll be sure to find a session that will be a perfect fit for you!

If you plan on getting to Escapade early, you’ll have the option to attend even more educational workshops and seminars. Early birds are invited to sign up for RVers Boot Camp, focused on the safe operation and maintenance of RVs. In addition to Boot Camp, Geeks on Tour will present a two-day workshop on smartphone photography and Google photos. Camp Reboot also takes place in the days leading up to Escapade, offering early arrivals the opportunity to get the most out of their smartphone during Escapade’s many activities.

In addition to Escapade’s vast educational workshops, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded friends who all embrace, know, and love the RV way of life. You’ll be able to relax at evening socials & happy hours, share advice, and swap stories of your travels - does it get any better than that? We don’t think so. Everyone is welcome at Escapade, so register today and be sure to tell your friends! We’ll see you in Missouri! 

Learn more and register here.