Friday, June 26, 2009

ON the ROAD with your RV - HINTS and TIPS

On the ROAD with your RV- Hints and Tips

Parking and Turning Tips for the RV driver.

I finally took a specialized driving class for Coach owners, along with my wife, and boy was it worth the time. We spent half a day in a classroom, and then went out and spent a half a day practicing what we had learned in 40-foot Diesel Pushers with an instructor.

After this one day of instruction, even though we had previously owned and driven thousands of miles in two different RV Coaches, we felt much safer driving our new rig on the open road.

Here are some of the things we learned in the classroom and on the road part of the classes. We share these in the hopes that they will aid you in your travels also.

Remember the unofficial Rule of the Road for RV drivers: I learned the rule of the road for boating when I had owned and operated a HouseBoat for years on a large lake in Virginia. Basically the rule is that SIZE RULES!.

What this means is that the larger boat is harder to maneuver in the water than a small boat, so the larger, more cumbersome boat has the right-of-way in almost every confrontational situation.

 I was happy to hear from the instructor that this same rule applied for drivers of RV's especially the very large ones and the ones that are towing..

When you think about it, this makes sense. When it comes to a situation where you, in your big rig, towing a car, or whatever, must react or the smaller vehicle must react and allow the other vehicle to get out of the way.

Oh, the driver of the smaller vehicle may Yell and blow the horn, but just be polite, smile, shrug your shoulders and continue to wait for them to get out of the way. DO Not take chances trying to make impossible turns with your RV!


  • If traveling in Canada, make a note that 12-feet is equal to 3.66 meters, and post it on their dash as a quick reference when approaching an overpass or pulling into a fueling station.
  • The driver/owner of a Motor Home should always keep in mind that their Coach is longer, wider and taller than their automobile, and deserves the extra respect and thought when you are turning, stopping, accelerating, and parking the RV........ And the Tail moves!
  • When you are on the road remember that a tractor/trailer rig is nearly always at or near the US maximum allowed height of 13-feet and 6-inches, and if you watch them on the road, it should help stay out of trouble with overpasses and fuel stops.
Tail Swing or Off-Tracking
  • The number-1 accident with Motor Homes is caused by Tail Swing, and one should keep in mind that the average Motor Home has 2-1/2 feet of Tail-Swing when it is in a turn.
  • When stopping at fuel dispensers, keep your rig at least 3-1/2 feet away from the pump to allow for Tail-Swing when you pull away from the fuel dispenser.
  • What to do at an Intersection:

  • Notice the big white painted bar on the road at every stop sign/ stop light in the country. This bar is always designed to be set back enough to allow other turning vehicles to clear the vehicle sitting at the sign/painted bar, when they make a turn. So always stop at the white bar.

  • Situation One: When you are pulling up to a STOP sign/light and are in the left lane of 2 lanes, and turning left, you should pull up as close to the left line on the road as possible to allow for your tail to swing out and to the right when you turn left. Watch closely when actually turning, if there is a car too close to you on your right. And remember the Rule of the Road mentioned above.

  • Situation Two: When pulling up to a STOP in a single lane, and turning left, pull up as close to the left line on the road as possible to avoid your tail hitting any signs, fire hydrants or other things on the side of the road at the corner.

  • When to Turn: If you are driving a Diesel Pusher, you must remember that you are sitting over the front wheel, so whether turning left or right at an intersection, pull straight forward until your Butt is at the point where you need to turn, THEN turn the wheel. Everyone is used to their car, where they are sitting behind the front wheels, and turning the front end before "their Butt" gets to the turn location. You need to turn your Pusher as mentioned here.
When On the ROAD

  • Driving Gap: When on the road, try to keep at a 4 to 6 second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. This is equivalent to 400-500 feet and is a safe stopping distance.
  • Driving Speed: Try to keep your speed down on Interstate Highways, and drive at a 63 to 65 MPH speed and enjoy the trip and the scenery. If you drive at this speed, you will lose only 15 minutes in a 200 mile drive, and pick up as much as 2-2-1/2 MPG. And….Those people that keep passing you will pull in front of you, but will be long gone very quickly at the speeds they are driving.
  • Steady Steering: If you are driving down the highway, and it seems that you are constantly turning the steering wheel left and right, try lifting your head and looking further down the road. You will find that you will be moving the steering wheel much less, and still maintaining your position in your lane.
  • Looking Ahead: Try getting into the habit of looking 10 to 12 seconds down the road, so you will have more time to react to situations that arise that might require you to slow down, change lanes, etc.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Organize your RV information for quick and easy access.


It really doesn't matter if you have a Pop-Up Camper or a Motor Home, or whether it is shiny new, or one of the great old units on the road, you must put together a plan to organize all of the information on your unit. Please understand, THINGS WILL BREAK or STOP RUNNING! It is just a matter of time!

You can be prepared, or you can be that guy on the side of the road performing repairs, or even worse, you can be the guy in the campground begging tools to patch up his/her unit while their family and friends are all having a blast at the pool or whatever.

With a new unit, the manufacturer have provided the sales people with a package including all of the RV documentation in a bundle (large portfolio, or box, etc), and they hand it to you at the time of the sale. The better ones will walk you through the documents quickly, but remember, many RV sales people do not have an RV, nor do they have a clue what all of the documents mean so they are often of little real help if you have questions.

I purchased my last RV in Florida, from on of the largest RV dealers in the country. They have people that work for them, who come to you after your purchase, and walk you through the RV, and explain how to operate pretty much everything on and in your RV.

If I could do it over, I would have filmed everything he said and kept it for later reference. He spent a little over an hour, spewing invaluable information about my RV, and my memory retention level is not good enough to remember everything he said. And I already had 2 other RV;s before this last one!

When you get time later to open and go through the package, I guarantee you will be intimidated by the number of different reference documents on all of the appliances, accessories and gadgets included in your RV.

With a used unit, be sure to ask for this same package, as it is going to be invaluable to you. But, it is sad to say, many previous owners end up not having the package of documents when they trade or sell their unit.

If this is the case, you must go on a campaign to get copies of this documentation. Every piece of paper is valuable for your future reference. TRUST ME!

I suggest that you try the following methods: First, try to intimidate the dealer to; 1-find you a package for your year model, 2-copy someone elses document package for you, or 3- copy one from a similar model but from a different year.

Second, If the dealer is of no real help, get the manufacturers technical support or customer service phone number and contact them for any documents they can give you, or at least ideas on where you might find them. The next step that I suggest is to go to eBay, Yahoo, CraigsList, or any other web sales site and search for someone smart enough to realize they can get a few bucks for such documents.

Finally, the last two desperation ideas are; 1-whenever you go camping, hope to find someone in the campground with a similar model to your own, and introduce yourself and ask if you can copy whatever documents he/she might have, and/or 2-join the manufacturers club (almost all manufacturer has a club magazine or web site), and advertise tghere for a copy of the documents you need.

The real and final desperation move, is to write down the Model and Serial numbers on everything that you can find in the RV, and start web searching the appliance and accessory manufacturers, then request any manuals or documens they might have available. Some have good sites and are very supportive, and some have nothing but a phone number and expressions of sympathy.

Set up your own little Library Reference System:
Once you accept the fact that you might need the documented information, you should start looking for a way to manage it all for fast and efficient reference wen needed.

You will soon note that you have a lot of;
  1. important company names, address', and phone numbers
  2. web site address' with logins and Passwords
  3. Service schedules and part numbers
  4. and a pile of different sized appliance, engine, chassis, etc. documents
  5. many, many hand-written notes you have taken when talking with others that you need.

Now ..... I have met a lot of campers, many are older and set in their ways, and resist change, and especially technology, like Computers. Even if they are new to camping, they generally have their own ideas on how to do things, and more power to them.

I, myself am too old to tilt against windmills and change a world of stubborn old farts.
BUT ................... I strongly suggest the following procedures for the most efficient way to keep reference information stored and easily at hand. Take it and "Prosper" as Spock used to say, or do your own thing, or the scariest of all .... Do nothing!

Personal Computer:

I have a PC and I use it often. While at my home, or on the road, I pay my bills, I communicate with family and friends, I research information, I keep up with the news, I edit my photographs, and I have my own web site for my photography.

I can use spreadsheets, so I do have several spreadsheets that I use to;
  1. organize special web site address', phone numbers, passwords, etc. for quick reference,
  2. track my fuel consumption and mileage,
  3. record preventive maintenance schedules and parts and materials on everything,
  4. store photos that I have taken of my RV; behind every service door, the Engine compartment, the Generator, and all appliances for reference,
  5. and in addition I have scanned copies of many of the large and small appliance service documents.

Yes, I said I scanned documents.
With the price of today's printer/scanners, I even have a separate one in my RV, and a good rainy day project is to scan your documents on appliances and other RV equipment, and keep them stored on my hard drive in an organized folder. Of course,I keep the old documents, but I can add notes and pictures to my scanned documents that help me tremendously.

This Library System really helps me by having a quick digital reference when on the road, for almost everything I need when traveling.

Also, another advantage is that I can quickly print a paper copy of anything I have scanned/stored, and; take it with me to stores when; looking for parts, looking for help in a Campground, or to just lie beside me when I am working on something myself.