Friday

In Case You Missed It: May RV News




Keeping you in the know is important to us - so this month, we’ve selected four RV-related stories that we think are too good to miss Take a look at your May industry news below.

Winnebago ‘Travato’ Offers Volta Energy System - Trying to go off the grid? Winnebago has got you covered with their Volta Energy System, a lithium ion energy storage system that replaces the need for a generator. The system charges in just under 90 minutes with nearly 10,000 watt-hours of capacity – enough to power standard appliances including the main air conditioner for several hours or overnight. It charges while the unit is driving, idling, connected to shore, or through a MPPT solar charger (a 200-watt solar panel comes standard). The 2019 Travato will roll out this summer and we can’t wait. Read More

Keystone Hits Industry Milestone - Keystone recently announced they have produced their 150,000 ‘Cougar’ towable, which solidifies it as one of the all-time best selling models. The manufacturer selected Tacoma RV of Fife, Wash., as the recipient of the 150,000 unit (Cougar’s largest single location dealership). We certainly think they have a great reason to celebrate - congrats! Read More.

Wilson Electronics Intros New Cell Signal Booster - And for those of you who don’t want to go completely off of the grid, Wilson Electronics, a supplier of cellular boosting products, recently announced the launch of Connect RV 65. The new in-vehicle cellular signal booster is designed to provide cellular connectivity in a stationary RV. The device is compatible with all cell phones and wireless carriers and will assist users in call quality, reducing the amount of dead zones and faster download and upload speeds while parked at a campground or anywhere else! Read More

In Other Big Winnebago News… - The company announced the launch of an all electric and zero-emissions commercial vehicle platform. The commercial vehicle is based off of a Class A and is suited for urban and semi-urban short-range applications such as: medical clinics, bloodmobiles, mobile classrooms, etc. The vehicle has six batteries and delivers an expected range of 85 to 125 miles on a full charge. We’re excited to see all the good that this new sustainable RV can bring. Read More

Out of all our RV story highlights, which one sparked your interest this month? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Tech Tip: 10 Steps for A/C Maintenance


Summer is heating up! RVers, it’s time to perform routine maintenance on your roof-top air conditioner(s). Follow these steps from FMCA and the “RV Doctor” Gary Bunzer to keep cool and extend the life of your RV’s A/C system.


Performing Annual RV A/C System Maintenance
Overall, the average RV owner can perform this maintenance procedure in an afternoon. Prior to beginning, turn 120-volts AC power off at the breaker-box or unplug the RV from shore power.

Step 1
This is an easy first step; in fact, you are probably already familiar with this task. All A/C systems –home and RV – require filter cleaning; some as often as every three months. From inside the RV, access the A/C unit’s filter(s). On some units, the interior air delivery shroud will have to be removed. Consult the owner’s manual if in doubt. Remove and wash all the filters in warm water or simply vacuum them clean.

Fresh Jet 3200

Step 2
Check the positioning of the thermostat sense probe. That’s the thin, pencil-like, copper-looking device attached to the tiny tubing leading to the thermostat. Be sure it is situated in the direct flow of return air to the unit. Look closely for grime or film that may have accumulated from cooking oils and/or smoke. Gently clean the sense probe if contaminants are found. Take special care not to kink the small capillary tubing leading to the probe.

Step 3
Check the visible electrical connections inside the A/C unit. To eliminate the possibility of road vibrations causing the wire nuts to loosen, always wrap them with electrician’s tape. 

Step 4
With the interior shroud removed, check the condition of the mounting gasket located between the bottom of the roof-top unit and the roof. It will be visible from inside the RV by looking up into the roof opening. If the gasket looks compressed or if there is evidence of water leaks, it’s time to install a new gasket. Also, tighten the mounting bolts holding the roof-top unit to the inside unit if they are loose.

Step 5
From inside the RV, vacuum in and around all exposed portions of the unit to clear dust, cobwebs, etc. 

Step 6
If the unit is equipped with a wall thermostat containing unenclosed contacts, clean them by simply sliding a business card between them and gently pulling the card through the closed contacts a few times. This effectively cleans them without causing damage. Never file or sand thermostat contacts.

Steps #7 through #10 need to be serviced from the roof. Grab your ladder, and head on up!

Step 7
On the roof, remove the A/C unit’s outer shroud, exposing the motor and condenser. Look for a series of small drain holes in the mounting pan. These holes drain any moisture produced from the cooling cycle. Clean and verify that all condensate drain holes are open and able to drain.

Step 8
Inspect and clean the exposed condenser fins at the rear of the roof-top unit. Remove any debris that may have collected on or near the condenser. Check for mud dabber nests in this area. Straighten damaged fins carefully. It may be necessary to purchase an aftermarket fin “comb” to safely straighten severely damaged areas. Never use a screwdriver or other sharp object for this task.

Fin Comb
Step 9
Clean the area in and around the fan motor and compressor. Check the motor mounts for damage and/or fatigue.

Step 10
Look closely at the exterior shroud itself. Do you see any damage caused by low hanging branches or gas station overheads? Some minor damage can be repaired; however, if the cover has severe cracks, it needs to be replaced. Replacement shrouds are typically available for purchase at camping goods stores or your local RV dealer. As an alternative to the plastic shroud, consider an upgrade to a sturdier metal or fiberglass cover.

Remember that though the average RV owner can safely perform roof-top air conditioner maintenance, air conditioner repairs should be handled professionally. Stay cool this summer!

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.
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A First-Person Account of Two Must-Book Tours in Gettysburg


Written By: Sharee Collier, Editor of IndieRV Travel Network

We knew when we decided to head to Gettysburg we would need to book at least one tour! Listening to stories told by the certified battlefield guides, detailing the events of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War while being immersed in the actual battlefield was something we wanted to experience and something we needed the kids to learn about. This was a turning point for our country, just reading about in a textbook wouldn’t do justice. So we contacted the folks behind a few of the tours offered inside the battlefield and booked two we felt would offer a full spectrum experience for our family.

To be honest, it was probably information overload, but we didn’t know if we would be coming back to Gettysburg any time soon, so we figured we would do our best to give the kids a whirlwind adventure in Roadschooling History while here! The two tours I’ll tell you about are the best of the best and while you could just book one, I personally think the experiences are different enough to justify doing both!

Guided Battlefield Carriage Tour:
The maximum number of people on this tour is 10, so you can count on some personal attention and time to ask questions on this intimate and educational tour. A certified guide keeps your attention, as the Victorian Carriage Company says, “…listen to a play by play of three days that changed America's history.”


Our tour guide was a warm and welcoming middle-aged man who knew his facts, front and back. He was well informed, entertaining, and delivered the story in a way it made sense to everyone in the carriage-regardless of age. He gave modern day examples, related stories to the kids, life, and school, and even made a point to ask the quiz questions to keep you on your toes! The tour was a round trip ride from the Gettysburg Heritage Center, through the battlefield and back, that lasted about two hours.

I recommend this tour because of its personal nature. The story and the details are orchestrated based on the people in the carriage. Questions are answered with facts and lead to other interesting points not often told and sometimes forgotten. You can bring snacks, a blanket if it’s a little chilly or some warm hot chocolate- during the Fall & Winter!

During the ride, our guide passed around relics like bullets and fragments of cannon balls to help narrate the story, points of interests we were viewing out in the fields, and assure everyone understood the depth and historical significance of this bloody battle. 


At first I was a little worried about the graphics and gory details, since two of our kids are only 7, I didn’t want anyone to have nightmares and end up sleeping in my bed. Glad to say that wasn’t the case - if anything they just really enjoyed the story. History has a way of bringing out curiosity in the kids that they sometimes keep at bay.

After the tour, we took advantage of the time we had left to visit with the beautiful horses and thank our drivers and guide for an amazing experience.

Tips to Know Before You Go:
  • Tour will begin at scheduled time, rain or shine. 
  • Arrive 15-20 minutes early to get checked-in, park and get yourself settled without being rushed. You can also take some pictures with the horses during this time. 
  • Check the weather for the day and know what to expect. 
  • Bring sunglasses, blankets if it's cold, and some water to drink. 
  • Make sure to eat before you come! 
  • Ticket price doesn’t include gratuity. 
  • You will spend the entire 2 hours on the carriage. 
Check Out Their Website for More Details.

Gettysburg Double Decker Bus Tour:
Totally different from the personal tour we took with the horse-drawn carriage the day prior, this double-decker bus was packed with people and we were just lucky enough to get a seat for all of us on the upper level- where you just have to sit! Departing from the Gettysburg Tour Center, where you should plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early to guarantee you get a good seat, the tour goes through both the town of Gettysburg and the National Battlefield.


We plugged in our headphones that were provided by the guide and waited for everyone to settle in before taking off on the two-hour tour. The bus was packed solid and we were excited about this adventure!

Instead of heading straight to the battlefield, as we did on the carriage tour, we were first given a tour of the town of Gettysburg, which we all really enjoyed! Historical houses, markers, and points of interest were all topics of discussion and viewing them from the open air seating was fun and entertaining.

Before heading over to the battlefield, the bus cordially stopped at a local vendor where restrooms, coffee, ice cream and snacks could be purchased for the remaining hour ride. We took advantage of this, and I’ll be honest- the cookies at this little shop we amazing as was the coffee!

Driving through the battlefield again and especially on consecutive days as we did, you would think the story would get old- but with a new guide you get a new fresh perspective. Yeah, some of the story is the same, as you would imagine because they’re detailing a historical event based on real facts and events that took place, but the focus can be different which was great. 



On this tour, we drove up to Little Round Top, where the bus pulled over for a scenic treat. We all got off and walked around this little gem, taking pictures and chatting about what we were experiencing. The kids had a great time exploring the monuments, the cannons and chatting with the other guests. We took tons of pictures, and since someone offered to snap a shot with all of us in it - we actually have a family memory with all 6 of us to cherish for many years to come.

We loved the Double Decker Bus Tour, it was fun and educational and the time was broken up into smaller, more manageable segments, with the two breaks, that really helped to keep the little ones from getting too antsy. This is a great activity for families with kids of any age.

Tips to Know Before You Go:
  • Tour will begin at scheduled time, rain or shine. 
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early to get checked-in, park and get in line to get your seat. 
  • Check the weather for the day and dress appropriately if you plan to sit on the top. 
  • Bring your sunglasses, a jacket if needed and some water to drink. 
  • Make sure to eat before you come- or bring a small cooler, like we did! 
  • Stops last about 10-15 minutes each. 
  • Bring some cash for snack stops and a camera! 
  • Ticket price doesn’t include gratuity. 
  • Beware of low hanging branches as you drive through the wooded areas. 
Check Out Their Website for More Details.

*Click here for a FREE membership offer to IndieRV for RV Trader readers!*

AUTHOR BIO: Wife, Mother of four & full-time travel lover and doer- Sharee Collier, Editor of IndieRV Travel Network, is having a blast this year while showing other RVers the “Best of the Best” when it comes to places to go & things to see. 


Trader Online Web Developer

Tuesday

Eating Healthy on the Road



As RVers we are constantly on the go, and a lot of the time, grabbing fast food seems like the easiest option while traveling. But contrary to popular belief, eating healthy while on the road is actually possible and isn’t as hard as you might think! Check out our top tips on how to eat healthy while RVing.
  • Meal prep - Meal prepping is one of the top ways to save time and money in the kitchen - but it’s also a great way to eat healthy. Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time gives you no excuse to choose unhealthy options while on the go. We suggest picking one day a week where you plan out your (healthy) meals and begin prepping. It’s important to keep meals simple since you have limited space to cook in your kitchen on wheels. It’s also important to try to keep any perishable foods in airtight containers to preserve their shelf life. Check out some of these great tips for easy/healthy meal prepping.
  • Keep your RV stocked with healthy snacks - When you’re traveling from point A to point B someone in your RV is bound to get hungry. So, take away the temptation of those gas station treats and rest stop vending machines by having an RV that’s fully stocked with healthy snacks. Protein bars and trail mix are great, filling snacks that can be stored for long periods of time. Having fresh fruit on board is also a great option that requires virtually no prep time. Some other healthy snacks perfect for road trips include: Beef/turkey jerky, dried fruits, peanut butter, oatmeal, popcorn, string cheese, etc. 
  • Eat local - One of the many beauties of being RVers is that we have the luxury of traveling to new places and experiencing new things - food included! There’s amazing, healthy food all over the country and we encourage you to check out the local cuisine on your next adventure. A great way to do this is to check out a local farmer’s market. You’ll be able to find the best seasonal, healthy options that all of the locals are eating. To make it even easier, you can check out Local Harvest, a website dedicated to finding you the nearest family farms, farmers markets, and restaurants that all feature local foods.
We hope these three tips have you thinking about how you’ll choose healthier options on your next trip. Food is the fuel that keeps us going, so it’s crucial to pick healthy options that will give you the energy you need to take on the day. What are some of your tips on eating healthy while on the road?
Trader Online Web Developer

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!
Trader Online Web Developer

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!
Trader Online Web Developer

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.



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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.



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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.
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Experience the Wonders of Southern Utah



Craving an adventure that includes spectacular national parks, breathtaking scenery, and some of the country’s best hiking trails? Sounds like Utah might be the place for you! The state is home to a whopping five national parks, that are often referred to as the “Mighty Five”, and for good reason. These parks are absolutely stunning and are located fairly close together - making them perfect road trip pit stops. Check out what each of these famous destinations has to offer!

Zion National Park - Zion is actually Utah’s first, and most visited, national park. It's known for its red walls of sandstone surrounding the park as well as its jaw-dropping views. Zion is a hiker’s paradise with a large variety of trails ranging from easy family hikes to more difficult options. You won’t want to miss two of Zion’s most popular trails - Angels Landing and The Narrows. Angels Landing is considered one of Zion’s more strenuous hikes, but the views are worth every second. This hike is not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights, considering it has extremely steep and narrow trails. But, if you're looking for a thrilling experience - Angels Landing might be for you. The Narrows is another great option if you want to see and experience the crystal clear water of the Virgin River, which runs right through the center of Zion. Be sure to pack your waterproof shoes while hiking The Narrows - you’ll be actually walking through the river during this hike - a great way to cool off! In Zion, there’s truly something for everyone.

 
Image: Ted Nguyen

Bryce Canyon National Park - Bryce Canyon is home to some of the most beautiful sandstone cliffs years in the making. People come from around the world to see the park’s famous hoodoos, which are tall pillars of rock created by erosion. The hoodoos at Bryce Canyon are pinkish-orange in color and range from 5 to 150 ft. tall, often leaving travelers awestruck as the shadows change their colors throughout the day. While most of the other parks are warmer in summer months, you’ll want to remember to bring a jacket to Bryce Canyon due to the park’s high elevation (8,000 ft.). There’s so much to do at Bryce Canyon from hiking, to horseback riding, to skiing and snowboarding in the winter months - this park is sure to leave you feeling amazed and entertained. 


Image: Visit Utah

Canyonlands National Park - Canyonlands is Utah’s largest national park and has sweeping views as far as the eye can see. This park is the perfect stop for folks looking for the feeling of peacefulness and seclusion. Canyonlands is divided into three distinct districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze (it’s important to note that each district has its own separate park entrance). Islands in the Sky is the most easily accessible district and the panoramic views of miles and miles of canyons are not to be missed. One of the most popular spots at Islands in the Sky is Mesa arch. The trail to Mesa arch is fairly easy while still being breathtaking, making it a great option for beginners or families with small children. 

Image: Utah.com

Capitol Reef National Park - Capitol Reef is one of Utah’s national parks that might be considered a little out of the way for some - but that means fewer crowds to deal with! The park is filled with beautiful cliffs, domes, bridges, and last but not least, rich history. There are a few unique things about Capitol Reef, one being that the park is home to more than 2,500 fruit trees! Visitors are invited to take a walk through the orchards (that were originally planted by Mormon pioneers) and enjoy some freshly picked fruit. Sounds delicious after a long hike! Fremont Petroglyphs are another historical highlight of the park. You can still easily see the etchings from the Fremont people who lived in the area nearly 1,000 years ago. 

Image: Utah.com

Arches National Park - This park is famous for - you guessed it - it’s arches. This national park is home to more than 2,000 stunning natural sandstone arches that you have to see to believe. The most famous and popular arch in the park is Delicate Arch. This particular arch is featured on Utah’s license plate and people come from all over the world to take in its massive beauty. But arches aren’t the only thing you’ll find at this park - there are a variety of stunning geological formations sure to take your breath away. Arches also has tons of hiking trails for all ability levels, making this another a great park for families!

Image: Utah.com

There you have it! Now you can see why Utah has some of the most visited national parks in the United States. So, get packing and don’t forget your camera - your Utah adventure awaits!
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Tech Tip: Spring RV Exterior Prep



Are you itching to hit the road this spring? March is when many RVers dewinterize their RV, prepping it for the travel season. It’s important to not overlook your RV’s exterior. Here are a few reminders on behalf of FMCA and Gary Bunzer, the “RV Doctor.”

With frigid winter temperatures, chances are you haven’t been venturing outside over the past several months to take a close look at your RV. Now is the time to conduct a thorough inspection before you hit the road. A clean RV will more clearly reveal potential problems than a dirty one. So, unless you used a heavy-duty RV cover during the winter, a detailed washing of the RV is necessary. Begin by removing the protective boxes used to cover the plastic roof vents. Also, remove any tape or foil you applied over exhaust vents, such as at the furnace assembly.

After the coach exterior has been cleaned, begin airing out the unit. Remove the insulating foam inserts that were placed in the windows and roof vents and fully open each window and roof vent. While you are at each window, double-check the weather stripping and the exterior weep holes, ensuring they are still in good shape. If necessary, lubricate the slider tracks on any windows or screens that open.



Perform a complete and detailed inspection of all the roof components, seams, and edges. Now is the time to seal any areas that need attention. Inspect the roof air conditioners for damage incurred during the winter months. Carefully straighten any bent or damaged fins that may be exposed on the condenser coil. Once you get inside the RV, clean or replace the return air filters.

Inspect and operate all compartment bay doors, access doors, access panels, etc. Check the sealant around every window, as well as all components attached to the exterior sides of the RV. Lubricate all mechanical latches and keyed locks. Use a dry lubricant, such as Boeshield T-9. Many RVers use a product like WD-40 to lubricate latches and locks. Products like this should not be considered a lubricant; truly, they are water displacement products that prohibit rust and corrosion.

Operate and lubricate the moving components of all the manually operated awnings. Be sure to consult your RV owner’s manual; awning manufacturer recommendations can vary widely. Use a mild detergent to remove any mold or mildew that may have developed on the awning material since last fall.

Don’t forget to check under the RV and look for anything out of the ordinary, such as darkened areas on the ground that may indicate a leak. Inspect the areas that you made repairs to during the winterizing procedure last fall. You’ll want to make sure those repairs can withstand another season of travel.



Lastly, inspect and lubricate all of your RV’s slide-out mechanisms. Again, be sure to use only a dry lubricant on these mechanisms.

These exterior maintenance steps are a necessary part of readying your RV for the season. Inspecting the RV’s exterior is a step many RVers overlook, but it is an important part of the dewinterization process that should not be forgotten. Take the time now to help prevent potential problems down the road. Safe travels this spring!

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 a RV professional.




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How to Avoid Breaking the Bank on the Road



Some folks have the misconception that affordable RVing isn’t a real possibility - but we are here to prove them wrong! There are tons of simple ways to cut costs while out on the road (just like at home). Check out our 5 tips for RVing on the cheap:

Create a budget - The last thing you want to do while adventuring is plan a budget - but planning ahead can save you some serious cash in the long run. Before creating your RV travel budget, you should consider what you currently spend at home and how those costs might translate while on the road. It’s important to realize that everyone’s needs are different, therefore everyone’s budget is going to look a little different. Once you have a solid budget in place, it’s also a great idea to have some funds tucked away for any maintenance issues or unexpected expenses that might (and often do) pop up while traveling. 

Save on gas - Gas is one big expense that can’t be avoided while RVing - but we’ve found a solution or two to help minimize that cost. First and foremost, it’s crucial to make sure your RV is tuned up and in top running condition to help maximize fuel efficiency. Once you’re out on the road, there are many fuel related apps that can help save you money at the pump. GasBuddy is a popular app that can help you find the least expensive gas along your route - and when filling up an RV, every penny saved helps! It’s also a good idea to consider different types of gas cards that might work for you - we all love a great discount! 

Get your chef on - Food is another major expense when traveling, but meal planning and prepping can be a huge cost saver. Take advantage of your kitchen on wheels and minimize eating out on the road. 9 times out of 10, cooking in your mobile kitchen will be more affordable than eating at a restaurant (no tips required)! If you do want to try the local cuisine during your trip, we suggest doing some preliminary research to see if certain restaurants have any deals or specials available - check to see if kids eat free on Tuesday's or if Groupon has a deal.

Take advantage of free activities - Before spending money on fancy excursions, why not see if there are any free entertainment options along your route or at your destination? The U.S. is filled with so many amazing (FREE) parks, museums, beaches and more. Bank of America offers members who present a debit card and a picture ID on the first full weekend of every month one free general admission to select museums. Purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass is also a great option for people who love exploring our nation’s national parks. For just an $80 annual fee, the pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 Federal Recreation sites across the U.S. 

Consider going off the grid - If you think about it, it’s a no-brainer that RVing saves huge costs on lodging compared to hotel stays. But, it’s still important to consider the cost of where you’re parking your RV every night. Some campgrounds charge upwards of $30-50 per night, so if you’re looking to save a buck try free camping, also known as boondocking. If you’re not familiar with boondocking, it’s essentially camping without any hookups on public land (usually far out in nature, in someone’s driveway, or even in a store parking lot). If you enjoy going “off the grid” or a more primitive camping experience - boondocking might be a great money saving option for you! Check out Boondockers Welcome to find your perfect boondocking location. They are essentially the AirBnB of boondocking and our readers get $5 off the Guest Privileges Subscription using the code RVTRADER5OFF. 

We hope these tips have helped you realize that the RV life doesn't have to be expensive. If you’re willing to make a few budget-friendly changes, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars while out on the road. So, stop worrying about breaking the bank and get out there!
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Tips and Tricks for Traveling with Pets



It’s time to gear up for another adventure, and if you’re anything like us, you couldn’t bear the thought of traveling without your furry friends! Pets have the amazing ability to bring us the comfort of home on the road, but before you load up the whole gang (including Spike) - check out these tips for making your upcoming trip fun, stress-free, and most importantly, safe for your four-legged companions.

Prepare Your Pet - Does your pet do well in new situations and environments? If so, great! If not, going on a year-long adventure right off the bat might not be the best idea -- it’s important to ease pets into the idea of traveling. Starting out with a few smaller scale trips will help minimize the stress your pet might feel on the road. Another way to lessen their anxiety is by bringing items from home that they know and love like their bed or a favorite chew toy. Giving your pet enough time to acclimate and adjust to their new surroundings is crucial, and will make them feel safe and secure during longer trips in the future.

Know What to Pack - While packing for yourself, don’t forget about what your pet will need on your upcoming trip. Before hitting the road, make a checklist of all of the essentials. Here are a few basics we recommend bringing:
  • Plenty of food and drinking water (don’t forget bowls!) 
  • Collar (with ID tags) and leashes 
  • Vaccination/health records 
  • Any pet medications 
  • Bed or crate 
  • Toys and treats 
  • First aid kit 
  • Waste bags 
  • Litter & Litterbox (for the cats!) 
  • Outdoor zip line for your pet (Check it out here)
Do Your Research - Before you’re on your way to a campground, make sure they will actually allow your furry friend on the premises! Make a habit of calling any campgrounds or national parks you might be visiting to double check if they allow pets on their grounds. Once you’re in a pet-friendly park, it’s also important to be courteous to other RVers. This means cleaning up after your pets, never leaving them unattended in outside areas, and making sure your pets are on their best behavior in general. If for some reason you do need to leave your pet inside your RV unattended, make sure you’re mindful of the weather. If it’s a cold day, leave on your heater and if it’s warm, make sure the AC/fans are working properly and keep the blinds closed. It’s always a good idea to leave them fresh water and food so they don’t get antsy waiting for your return. Laws around pets in vehicles change from state to state - so be sure to keep that in mind, and ALWAYS put the safety of your pets first.

Get outside! - Exercise isn’t just important for humans, it’s extremely important for pets to have quality time in the great outdoors (especially during long road trips). Make potty breaks fun for everyone by taking a long walk or playing fetch with your pooch. It’s easy to put the blinders on and only focus on your next destination, but it’s important to enjoy stops along the way with your pets.

Around here, pets are considered a part of the family and we couldn’t imagine packing up the RV without them. So, if you follow these tips, there’s no need to leave them at home!

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FMCA Ready To Charm RVers in Perry



When FMCA rolls into Perry, Georgia, for its “Southern Charm” International Convention & RV Expo, March 15 through 18, it will be the Cincinnati, Ohio-based RV association’s 10th visit to the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter. While many attendees have partied in Perry during one (or more) of the previous conventions, this year’s gathering will have a new and improved feel that folks are sure to embrace.

“What we heard from attendees is that they wanted a nice variety of activities to keep them busy, but
they also wanted a chance to relax with friends, laugh, have a good time,” said Doug Uhlenbrock, FMCA’s Director of Events. “So we set out to make this convention more attendee-friendly. People don’t come to something like this to feel rushed all the time. They want to have fun at their own pace.”

The “Southern Charm” convention will feature many of the hallmarks of previous FMCA events. The seminar schedule will include more than 100 learning opportunities. From technical seminars presented by some of the RV industry’s leading experts to take-home craft classes, attendees can learn something new about anything related to the RVing lifestyle.

Another draw is the opportunity to visit the RV displays and check out what’s new. Outdoors,
hundreds of RVs will be parked, doors wide-open for inspection; you may just find your next home on wheels. Indoor exhibits will feature just about anything needed to make RV travels more enjoyable. To make sure attendees have an unfettered opportunity to visit the commercial displays, on day one of the event, Thursday, March 15, the exhibits will be the only major activity scheduled that afternoon.

When not learning or shopping, attendees look to be entertained, and the lineup for both daytime and evening entertainment during the “Southern Charm” convention will have folks dancing in the aisles, doubled over in laughter, or both. The fun begins on the first evening when Thomas Michael Riley opens with his unique brand of Texas country music at the FMCA Town Center tent. Later that night, attendees will welcome Big Mike and the Booty Papas, who will bring their energetic sound direct from Macon to the Town Center stage.

On Friday night, the fun moves inside Reaves Arena where The Grapevine will lead listeners back through the great days of classic rock. On Saturday, The Macon Pops light up the arena with their
take on well-known, well-loved songs from yesterday to the present. Last, but certainly not least, will be Jeanne Robertson to close the event on Sunday night. Jeanne will have attendees roaring in approval at her many humorous observations.

The good times aren’t limited to the evening hours. Attendees will be serenaded each morning during Coffee Hour. FMCA’s own Frustrated Maestros will perform on Friday and Sunday mornings, while Ah Surely!, a traditional Irish trio from Atlanta, will get St. Patrick’s Day off to a green start on Saturday. Plus, midday entertainment will take place at the FMCA Town Center Friday through Sunday. And no FMCA convention would be complete without the ever-popular Ice Cream Social.

Other activities are scheduled throughout the event. On Tuesday night, before the show begins, try
your hand at Card Bingo. Friday through Sunday, put some of that extraneous knowledge locked in your brain to good use at the daily Trivia Contest. FMCA chapter members will have a chance to show off their nautical skills by entering the Chapter Boat Race. Female attendees can get all gussied up and join in the fun at the Ladies’ Social on Saturday. If you enjoy singing – or just like to see and hear others on stage — stop by the Town Center on Sunday for Karaoke.

For many folks, the best times at an FMCA event are the ones spent with friends — both new and old – kibitzing about life. To make sure this aspect of the convention isn’t short-changed, there will be a midday break from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with no seminars or activities scheduled. Attendees can grab a bite to eat, return to the RV to walk the dog, or gather with friends. Other “timing” changes include shorter seminars; a later start time for the traditional Coffee Hour and seminars; and consistent start times for seminars throughout the event. Impromptu gatherings, and perhaps a few surprises, will be sprinkled throughout the four days also.

One thing’s for sure: If you’re looking to have a good time with several thousand of your closest
RVing friends, Perry is the place to be in mid-March. Come experience some Southern hospitality done up the FMCA way!

To register for the “Southern Charm” convention, visit FMCA.com or call (800) 543-3622. If you can’t make the full event and just want to stop by for a day, $10 day passes will be available at the gate.

Following Perry, FMCA reconvenes July 18 through 21 in Gillette, Wyoming, for its 98th International Convention & RV Expo. RV pardners are welcome to gather their wagons at the Cam-Plex Multi-Event Facilities for “Wanted In Wyoming,” a Western-themed RV hoedown. Visit FMCA.com or phone (800) 543-3622 for details.


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RV of the Year: Affordable Coach with “Million-Dollar Vibe”



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If you think Class A motorhomes all look alike, you owe yourself a look at the surprising new Horizon. The ultra-contemporary 2018 diesel coach won this year’s “RV of the Year” award from RV Business magazine. Along with the small 4x4 capable Class B Winnebago Revel, the Horizon also won RV PRO magazine’s “Best of Show” award at the RV industry’s national trade show in Louisville.

Handing Winnebago the trophy last November, RV Business editors praised the Horizon’s “authentically different modernistic interiors”—and predicted the Horizon would attract a new breed of first-time buyers into the RV lifestyle. In other words, the Horizon is not your grandparents’ coach.

“We had this dream to create a million-dollar look in something much more affordable,” says Mike Happe, CEO of Winnebago. “It looks and feels more like a Manhattan condo than a traditional diesel RV.”

Starting at $385,214, the Horizon is no small investment. But it sets a new bar for the high-end luxury category with a significantly lower price than other offerings.

After you’re struck by the elegant, clean lines of the 41’ to 43’ exterior (without the traditional “swoops”), the Horizon’s light interior greets you with a sophisticated vibe. A lot of design touches create this impression of soft vibrancy:
  • High-gloss laminate built-ins with LED backlit translucent panels 
  • Open floor plan with roomy meal prep, kitchen, and a dining area you can rearrange to fit the occasion 
  • Plenty of stainless steel, porcelain tile, and luxurious Villa furnishings 
  • Grooved countertop for self-drying dishes 
  • 50” HD TV that pops up directly across from the couch for easier viewing 
  • Full galley with residential French-door refrigerator and Induction cooktop 
  • Double-sink master bath and roomy shower 
  • 50” HDTV, satellite system ready, with soundbar and Blu-ray™ Home Theater System 
  • Ample, creative storage areas that “disappear” into the walls 
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