Filed under: RV Maintenance, Traveling Tips
Mark, My Words: Q & A with Mark Nemeth – May 2013
I hope you are enjoying this great RVing weather we’ve been having! Get out there and make the most of it. Maybe I’ll see you out there on the road. Remember, keep those questions coming! Email your RV questions to MMW@escapees.com.
Do you have Garmin maps for RVing? Seems the ones we have sometimes take us through towns, etc. Judy
Several of the major GPS manufacturers are now offering units that have been designed for RVers. Garmin offers the Nuvi 465 LMT Truck and RV GPS System, which is loaded with specialized routes and truck-friendly points of interest from the National Truck and Trailer Services breakdown directory. It includes four map updates per year for the life of the GPS unit. Magellan offers the RoadMate 9165T-LM RV 7″ GPS, which includes the Good Sam campground directory and free maps for life. Rand McNally offers the RVND™ 7720 LM, which includes WiFi®, dynamic weather, video input, and Lifetime Maps. It is loaded with campground and RV service databases, as well as RV- specific routes that are controlled by the RV information you enter (vehicle height, width, length, etc.). One of these units may be exactly what you are looking for. I have some hands-on experience with the Rand 7720, and I find it to be a very useful tool for the average RVer! You may want to try out each unit and see which one will be the best fit for your needs. Best Buy carries the Magellan, Radio Shack stocks the Garmin, and Camping World carries the Rand McNally units, so you can get some hands-on.
In your training seminar, it was said that tires would last “only” 5-7 years, so be sure to replace them then, even though the tread is not worn. We’ve been full-timing in our 5th- wheel for a year now, typically staying a week in a park and then moving on. We put about 20,000 miles on the truck in the first year, obviously less on the trailer as we were unhitched part of the time. I’m guessing about 12,000 on the trailer. Our trailer tires are wearing along the outside edges of the tread, especially the rear ones (2 axles). By observing the wheels while backing into a space in the RV parks, we can see that the rear tires slide sideways during the turn, and we think that is causing the excessive wear. It seems worse on paved surfaces and when the spaces are 90 degrees to the street, and we often leave some rubber on the street while trying to park. More so on narrow streets and narrow spaces, as the truck has a wide turning radius and there is a lot of backing and filling. The front truck tires are showing the same sort of wear, though much less. Is this sort of wear normal for the way we use the RV? Is the 5-7- year recommendation based on using the trailer for only 2-3 weeks a year, and we should expect to wear them out in 2-3-4 years, depending on mileage? Thanks, John and Vicki, 2012 North Ranch, Escapees RVers’ Boot Camp grads.
Hi, John and Vicki,
There are several possibilities. Wear on the outside of the tread can indeed be caused by the scuffing of the tires during sharp turns, but that wear is usually fairly light. If you are seeing significant wear on the outer edges, it could be caused by operating the RV over its designed weigh limitations or by alignment issues on the trailer axles. If you are sure you are not overweight and are seeing significant wear patterns forming, it may be a problem with the axles/suspension. It is easy to bend axles or suspension components with a curb strike, or even by backing into a really tight spot and jackknifing the trailer really tightly. That misalignment can cause odd wear patterns. Try to avoid really tight turns when backing by lining up on the site as straightly as possible before backing. It is better to work back and forth several times to get into a better position rather than to try to do a really sharp backing turn in one shot. As far as tire life is concerned, your RV tires should be watched for signs of deterioration, especially when they reach and pass the 5-year-old mark. All RV tires should be replaced at 7 years of age, regardless of how they look or how much tread is left on them. Trailer tires have a tough life and tend to wear at a faster rate than other RV tires. If the tread reaches the minimum safe depth (generally stated to be 3/32”), the tire should be replaced, regardless of age. RVs typically run at, or close to, or even over, their maximum load ratings 100 percent of the time. That is a very demanding tire application, and tires do degrade as they age. If you do have a tire failure or a tread separation, it usually does costly damage to the RV, so if your tires are getting old, worn out, or show any sign of deterioration or damage, get some new ones!
We have a fifth-wheel camper and plan on taking it from an area that is still having hard freezes to a warmer climate. Do we wait to de-winterize it (and not be able to use the facilities) until we get to our destination? Or is there something else we can do? Your articles are my favorite features of the newsletters. Thank you so much! Jenny
Thanks for your kind words! When an RV is placed in storage in a freezing climate, we have to winterize it carefully to protect the plumbing systems from damage. That is primarily because there is no source of heat inside the RV, and it will tend to reach ambient temperature. However, when we are living in the RV, we are heating the interior, and that helps prevent freeze-ups. Most RVs do pretty well in temperatures down into the 20s as long as we keep the furnace or heater running. If temperatures are going to be significantly lower along your route, you may want to leave everything winterized until you reach less severe conditions. If you don’t expect extremely cold traveling conditions, you may de-winterize the RV as soon as you start heating the living space and travel with all of your water systems up and running. If your holding tanks are exposed under the RV, keep them as empty as possible until you are out of the cold.
I have a 2007 Arctic Fox 31W, and recently the glue holding up the fabric ceiling has started to release the fabric. The ceiling fabric is now more than half detached in numerous locations. I contacted the factory, and they suggested rolling the ceiling to re- attach the glue. Didn’t work. They then suggested injecting glue with a large needle, then rolling to attach. I tried this in a couple of areas, and the glue bled through the fabric and stained the ceiling. I suggested to the factory rep that the glue used during construction had failed and that the glue manufacturer had some liability to repair. The factory rep disagreed with me and stated I should take the trailer to an Arctic Fox dealer and have them repair the ceiling. I prefer to do the repair myself, and I’m wondering if you have any suggestions to complete the repair properly. Thanks, Edward.
Once those headliners and ceiling treatments start to let go, it can be the devil to get them reattached! If you can get the manufacturer to treat it as a customer service or warranty issue, that would really be the way to go. However, if warranty repairs are not an option, there are some things you can try. If the material is covering a wood panel ceiling, as most are, careful use of a staple gun with short staples is one possibility. This is best for the carpet-type coverings, and you can generally get the staples to hide in the material fairly well. You can alternately use some sort of decorative trim washer and short screws to accomplish the same thing, but it all depends on what kind of material has been used for the ceiling. As you have discovered, spot repairs with glue are iffy at best and very difficult to do. A painful, but effective, repair is to remove large sections of the covering entirely, clean up the surfaces, and use an automotive upholstery cement to re-attach the covering. You could also choose to replace the old covering material with something different, like automotive carpeting or a similar material. That is quite a job and may be beyond the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers. Often, the covering is in one piece and extends into cabinets and edge trim. You would need to cut the covering with a sharp knife in sections and away from cabinets and edges to get it loose, and then use some sort of trim strips to hide the cuts after you re-attach it. Not a project I would choose to undertake myself. A final option would be to take the RV to a local service center and see what they would recommend. I’d call or write to the manufacturer first!
I have been trying to find out details about using generators during stays in unserviced parks. I have found references to certain hours that vary by park and noise limitations that are not fully defined. I have a 30-ft. 2006 Montana TT, so a built-in Onan-caliber generator is not a real option. I currently own a small two-stroke generator that I would like to bring with us when we cross the country this summer. I read that national parks have a noise limitation (is it 60 db?), but I can’t find what distance from the generator that limitation applies to. (A commercial jet can be 60 db if you get far enough away!) Also, are there any restrictions that would prevent me from using my two-stroke generator (smoke and all) in national parks that allow generators? Are there any special rules for California (or any other state, for that matter) regarding two-stroke generators? I have spent hours on the NPS site and elsewhere, but I can’t find this information. Can you help? Thank you, Gordon.
The National Park Service (NPS) noise limit for generators is 60 dba at 50′ from the source. Actually, the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Volume 1, states (in part) that “The following are prohibited:
(1) Operating motorized equipment or machinery such as an electric generating plant, motor vehicle, motorized toy, or an audio device, such as a radio, television set, tape deck, or musical instrument, in a manner: (i) That exceeds a noise level of 60 decibels measured on the A-weighted scale at 50 feet; or, if below that level, nevertheless (ii) makes noise which is unreasonable, considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct, location, time of day or night, purpose for which the area was established, impact on park users, and other factors that would govern the conduct of a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances.”
I’m not able to find any specific restrictions within the NPS regarding 2-stroke generators, but I suspect that the “impact on park users” clause above might apply to exhaust smoke. I do know that the sale of outdoor products utilizing 2-stroke engines is no longer legal in some states, and many public lakes and waterways have been trying to ban 2-stroke outboards and jet skis for years. There are a number of quiet alternatives available, like the Honda EU-series generators, and you’d probably be happier in the long run with a generator that is quiet and smog-free. I’m sure the neighbors would be happier, anyway! It’s also important to observe “generator hours” anywhere you are parked. Most parks restrict operation of generators of any type to specific hours during the day.
Mark Nemeth has been involved with all things RV for more than 15 years, including almost five years on the road as a full-timer. He is the RV education director for Escapees RV Club and oversees the highly acclaimed RVers’ Boot Camp and SmartWeigh programs. Do you have a question for Mark? Please submit your question via email to MMW@escapees.com.
Please remember, material will be edited. Because of the large volume of material and correspondence submitted, individual replies will not be possible, nor can we acknowledge receipt of your material. Selected questions will be answered in future issues of the RV Navigator newsletter in the Mark, My Words column.
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