Feb 15, 2019

Top Dog-Friendly RV Parks & Campgrounds

If you’re anything like us, we can’t imagine leaving home for our next adventure without our dogs. Our four-legged friends are considered part of the family and we often ask ourselves, “what did we do to deserve dogs?” With SO many RVers out there, we know we aren’t alone. So to make sure you never have to leave home without little Fido in tow, we’ve compiled our list of top dog-friendly RV parks and campgrounds that will be sure to be a tail-wagging good time for both you and your pet!

Four Paws Kingdom - Four Paws Kingdom is located in Rutherfordton, NC and as its name suggests, is truly a kingdom for dogs. This campground is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is the first and only campground in the U.S. dedicated to dogs. Four Paws Kingdom includes a fenced in swimming pond, multiple dog parks, trails, a dog bathhouse, and even a grooming salon! There are also tons of benefits for you dog owners out there like RV hook up sites, WiFi, cable TV, and so much more.

Normandy Farms - Normandy Farms is located in Foxboro, MA and is a luxurious campground located deep in the woods between Boston and Cape Cod. This resort takes dog-friendliness to the next level by providing a 1.5-acre dog park, agility equipment, a dog washing station, dog walking services, and they even provide kennels services for your furry friends. They do have a few pet specific restrictions, but overall this campground is extremely dog-friendly if you meet those requirements. Normandy Farms is stunning and hosts a variety of activities for guests. The grounds and facilities are top-notch and have plenty of room for RVs of all sizes.

Lake George RV Park - Lake George RV Park is located in Lake George, NY and is thrilled to welcome pets on their grounds. The park includes a 2-acre off-leash dog park for dogs to run freely and get out any pent up energy after long days of travel. The “Bark Park” also includes a pet vending machine stocked with toys and treats - this is what doggie dreams are made of. Wait there’s more! The park also includes a dog splash pad to cool off on hot days and agility/turf areas for play. Dogs are also allowed in the indoor areas of the park including their main lodge, general store, and cafe. You won’t have to leave your dog anywhere when you visit this RV park!

Garden of the Gods RV Resort - Garden of the Gods RV Resort is located in Colorado Springs, CO and is truly camping at its best. You’ll have to pick your jaw off of the floor when you take in the surrounding views. But how does this park cater to your pups? Glad you asked. Garden of the Gods RV Resort is a pet-friendly park that includes an off-leash Bark Park for your dogs to run wild in. They’ll be able to interact with other dogs and get out all of their energy. This resort has plenty of RV campsites and offers standard, deluxe, and premium sites for RVers. This resort sounds like a win-win for both you and your pet.

KOA Kampgrounds - There are hundreds of KOA Kampgrounds across the country and they are all pet-friendly! KOAs have special Kamp K9 areas of their grounds where dogs can roam around off-leash and they often include washing stations. Many KOAs also have dedicated areas for large and small dogs so your dog can play safely.

There you have it! Our list of top pet-friendly RV parks and campgrounds. With these options, you’ll never have to leave your precious pooch at home. Bring Fido is another great resource to check out so you can see nearby pet-friendly locations. For more tips on traveling with pets, click here.

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Tips for Buying a Vintage Camper

Vintage campers have the ability to transport us back in time, have an undeniable charm, and are all the rage right now - which is why so many consumers are interested in purchasing them. But the real question is - is a retro trailer the right choice for you? Before you claim a little piece of history, there are a few things to consider when buying vintage. We’ll share a few questions to ask yourself and simple tips you need to know before buying that diamond in the rough.

Determine usage level - Before you buy, it’s important to ask yourself how you’ll be using your vintage camper. Are you planning on taking short weekend getaways or cross country road trips? You’ll want to determine what you’ll be using your camper for so you can decide on proper size, quality, and length to best fit your RVing needs. If you’re planning on parking your unit at specific campgrounds or RV parks, you’ll need to see if they have any restrictions on vintage units.

Gauge your budget - It’s time to empty out the piggy bank to see what finances you are working with before buying a vintage camper. If you are buying a full restored camper, you might be looking at a higher price up front but this could minimize future repairs in the long run. On the other hand, buying an older model can definitely be a more cost-effective option. But if you plan on renovating your camper, you’ll need to be prepared for any surprises that come up in the process.

Keep an eye out for water damage - We’ll say it louder for the people in the back. LOOK FOR WATER DAMAGE. When buying a vintage camper, you need to inspect the unit very carefully because the sad reality is, most vintage models have water damage that can be easily hidden. If there’s too much water damage, there’s a chance the whole unit will need a complete renovation. Anyone else hear a cha-ching? Fixing water damage can cost A LOT of money so here are the big things to look out for:

- Ripples on the interior walls of the camper
- Water stains
- Repainted walls (some sellers will try to mask the water damage by painting)
- Floor leaks/rotting
- Window and ceiling vent leaks

To DIY or to not DIY? This is an important question to ask yourself before you consider buying a vintage RV. There are many vintage RVs on the market that have already been completely renovated and restored, so if you’re looking eliminate the DIY work, those units might be your best option. If you’re toying with the idea of buying a true vintage camper, you'll want to assess your ability level and the time, money, and energy you want to spend on fixing up an older model. Renovations give you the ability to give your camper a custom feel, but it’s important to keep in mind that they also take time and effort to restore.

Check for any electrical damage - Electrical damage can be a dealbreaker when it comes to buying a vintage camper because to get to the root of the electrical issue, you will typically need to remove all of the interior walls. Unless you’re extremely handy, you will most likely have to bring in a professional. That’s why it is a good rule of thumb to make sure all the electrical systems are in good working order before making your purchase. It’s also a good idea to double check that the propane systems are working properly as well.

Fully examine the exterior of the unit - Before purchasing a vintage unit, you’ll want to take a look around the exterior of the unit to make sure it is in good shape. Check the panels and glass to make sure there are no cracks. A few dents might not be a dealbreaker, but if the exterior of the camper is in bad shape that means there is a higher chance of leaks down the road.

Know your towing capacity - It might sound obvious, but if you’re planning on buying a towable vintage unit, you need to make sure you have a vehicle that can actually tow your trailer. Vintage campers come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and weights, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when starting your search. You will also need to find out the towing capacity required and the weight of the specific unit you’re interested in to make sure it’s a fit for your current vehicle.

Make sure to keep our tips in mind if you’re on the hunt for a “seasoned” model. Vintage campers can be so much fun to own and the renovation process can be exciting, but it’s important to know everything that comes along with purchasing a vintage trailer. If you’re looking for a retro beauty of your own, check out our listings on RV Trader!
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Are You Ready for the Escapade Rally?

The Escapees RV Club’s annual rally, Escapade, will gather in the southwest city of Tucson, Arizona from March 17-22, 2019. This fun-filled event is right around the corner and is considered the largest and most extensive gathering of the Escapees community. Escapade brings together RVers from across the country for five days filled with fun, workshops, seminars, social gatherings, and so much more.

This can’t-miss event is designed to promote the RV lifestyle and is a place where RVers come together to learn more about recreational vehicles and all that comes with owning one. The rally hosts daily seminars on a variety of helpful topics - like choosing the right RV, in-depth lifestyle tips, and technical instruction - so you’ll be sure to find a session that will be a perfect fit for you!

While there is a huge focus on RV education at the rally, there is even more fun to be had. This year’s Escapade will host evening socials & happy hours where you can share advice and swap stories of your travels with fellow like-minded RVers. There will also be live performances by The American Rogues and Redhead Express.

Everyone is welcome at Escapade from part-timers, to full-timers, and even kids - particularly considering that Escapade has its very own “kidscapade”. Kidscapade is a free program provided by Full-time Families and is a perfect opportunity for younger travelers to meet new friends. There are sessions and activities planned just for the kiddos, so you can enjoy your seminars. 

Find your RV community at this year’s Escapade. To register for the rally and for additional information click here! If you can’t make it to Arizona, join Escapees next year in Rock Springs, Wyoming, for another week of fun June 21-26, 2020.
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FMCA Tech Tip: Low-Voltage RV Wiring Repairs

Low-voltage wiring repairs to your RV can be tackled by RV owners who have some basic knowledge and a few specialized tools. Learn how to perform simple electrical wiring repairs to your RV, thanks to the experts at FMCA.

Wiring is the backbone of an RV’s electrical system. Wires must be the proper size to handle the rated current flow for each device. If a wire is too small in diameter or makes too long of a run, the powered device will starve for voltage or current, and both the wiring and the device will overheat.

Think of wiring as you would a plumbing system. As the flow rate of water increases, so must the diameter of the water pipe to overcome the restriction of a smaller pipe. As the pipe length increases, a larger diameter may be required to compensate for the loss in pressure as a result of friction within the pipe. Electrical wiring operates on the same principle, so it’s important to use the proper wire gauge for the designated load. A circuit that runs fine on a 16-gauge wire may not be suitable if more devices are added to that wire. A larger wire gauge may be needed to handle the increased loads.

The wire gauge is not dependent on the voltage but on current flow, which is measured in amperes. A 15-amp circuit requires a 14-gauge wire, but if that load increases to 20 amps, a larger diameter, 12-gauge wire is needed. When choosing a wire size for a particular application, it’s important to determine the total current draw for that circuit and compare that with a wire-gauge chart.

Stranded wire, rather than solid wire, is used for low-voltage DC wiring in RVs. A big advantage of stranded wire is its flexibility. It also holds up better when subjected to vibration.

It’s important to understand that the insulation surrounding the conductor is sensitive to voltage. The insulation in low-voltage wiring is rated at a maximum of 50 volts and should never be used for high-voltage applications. Wiring specifically designed for higher voltage should be used exclusively on 120-volt-AC circuits.

Most low-voltage wiring insulation consists of two varieties, GPT and GXL. GPT wiring has a PVC jacket that is good for interior wiring and is rated to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. GXL wiring costs a bit more, because it has a cross-linked polyethylene jacket and is rated for 257 degrees Fahrenheit. GXL is required for use in hotter locations, such as engine compartments, but can be used anywhere.

Wire insulation prevents electricity from jumping out of the conductor to the surrounding environment. Insulation also provides some protection to the conductor. Eventually, though, a wire that is subject to vibration and is in contact with another object can rub through its insulation and may short to another conductor. If the short occurs to ground, the breaker or fuse should trip, but if it shorts to another hot circuit, you may experience any number of electrical anomalies. If the conductor shorts to the chassis or other metal component, the result may be a hot-skin condition, which in a high-voltage instance can be a serious, even fatal, hazard.

To prevent abrasive wear, wiring should be placed inside a protective wiring loom. The most common is corrugated split-nylon loom, which is available in various sizes. Rated at up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the loom protects the wire from damage caused by abrasion, chemicals, and heat. The split in the loom allows for easy access when inserting wires. The loom is easy to cut to the desired length with a utility knife. Nylon cable ties should be used to fasten the loom to the RV at suitable points.

Overcurrent Protection
Wires heat up as current flow increases. If a short circuit develops, the amperage spikes and the wire gets so hot that it burns off its insulation. That can start a fire, which in the worst case could consume an RV. That’s why overcurrent protection is needed for every circuit. Such protection can be in the form of a fuse or a circuit breaker. Fuses are disposable, so once they blow, they must be replaced.

Circuit breakers are more costly, but for critical circuits they can be reset and used again. Type I circuit breakers automatically reset once they cool and are the most common. Type III circuit breakers have a small reset button that must be manually pushed to restore power to the circuit. Remember that the portion of wire between the battery and the fuse or circuit breaker is unprotected, so it’s important to position the circuit breaker as close to the power source as possible to achieve the best possible protection. Circuit breakers must be matched to the wire gauge as well. Adding a larger fuse or breaker to a wire that isn’t designed to carry that much current defeats the purpose of the protection.

Proper connections must be made to securely attach wiring to the destination equipment or device. Simply wrapping a wire around a screw head invites failure. When a screw connection is needed, a loop-end wiring terminal should be attached to the end of the wire so that it can be securely fastened to the screw. Most auto parts stores carry an assortment of wire terminal ends that contain loop-end terminals. Stores also sell butt-end and flat-blade connectors, which are used to join two wires.

A PVC or nylon insulation collar surrounds the crimp barrel of each connector and is color-coded to identify the size of wire each terminal requires. A red collar signifies a terminal designed for 18-gauge or 20-gauge wire. A blue collar is designed for 14-gauge or 16-gauge wire, while yellow is rated for 10-gauge or 12-gauge wire. Selecting the correct terminal for a particular wire size ensures a tight connection that won’t detach.

You’ll need to use a crimping tool, but be careful, because some of the inexpensive ones do a poor job and the connection may pull apart. I suggest a crimp tool such as the Paladin Tools PA1308 or the S&G Tool Aid 18900. These tools, which have a die with three barrel sizes, perform a complete roll crimp on the fitting, rather than a single indent, producing crimps that won’t pull apart.

Many connections require running a wire to ground. Loose, damaged, or missing ground connections are some of the most prevalent issues when chasing down an electrical problem. Such ground connections attach to the vehicle’s frame to complete the circuit. Often, the connections are in a location that is subject to corrosion. As a preventive measure, protect the connection with battery terminal sealant. A ground connection should be to clean, bare metal. Remove paint that could hinder the connection, and use a star lock washer to help bite into the frame and make better contact with the terminal ring. If you use a bolt rather than a screw, a nylon lock nut or lock washer will prevent the nut from vibrating loose.

Soldering wires together makes a solid connection. However, battery and inverter cables pass large amounts of current, which can melt the solder. Such high-capacity connections should have crimped connectors. Crimping tools for large connectors are expensive, so your best option may be to find a truck or RV service center that can perform the crimps for you.

Corrosion Protection
When electrical current passes through two dissimilar metals, galvanic corrosion can occur. When moisture attacks connections, rust can form. Salt water and acidic vapor from nearby batteries hasten these forms of corrosion and inhibit the ability of the connection to pass current.

When making a soldered splice of two wires, it’s important to seal the connection and protect it from corrosion. Polyolefin shrink tubing is ideal; it forms a seal that protects the connection from the elements. Shrink tubing is placed over the wires prior to soldering and then slides over the connection after it has been soldered. Then, a hair dryer or heat gun warms the tubing and shrinks it to seal the wire.

Shrink tubing also can be used to seal the barrel ends of ring-style terminals to prevent corrosion from rotting the wire inside the barrel. This is especially important for battery terminal connections. Large-diameter shrink tubing for these cables is available in both red and black to identify positive and negative cables. When making a connection in a clean environment, such as behind a vehicle’s instrument panel, standard insulated butt connectors or flat-blade connectors generally are adequate.

Top-post batteries can receive further protection against corrosion. For example, to each post, add a felt washer that contains NOCO Company’s NCP2 corrosion preventative compound. NCP2 also is available in spray cans and can be useful for coating ground connections or terminal studs in areas that are exposed to the elements.

By investing a little time learning some electrical basics and having a few small tools, you’ll be able to handle most of your wiring repairs.

FMCA RV Club brings you this monthly tech tip to Enhance Your RV Lifestyle. FMCA delivers RV know-how to its members. Join today for just $50 — a savings of $10 just for RV Trader readers. Learn more at https://join.fmca.com/trader18.

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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