What’s the Mark of a Great RV Dealership?

What’s the Mark of a Great RV Dealership?

We are first time “Snowbirds” enjoying the AZ sunshine this winter. Here’s a tip if you’re thinking about getting a pre-owned RV. There are lots of RV dealerships here in the city of Mesa, and I’m sure several are exceptional. I’d like to tell you what I’ve been observing at Main Street RV in Mesa, AZ that I think may-be unique.

Just so there is full disclosure, I’ve shopped on several RV lots, just not here in Arizona. My brother is the owner of Main Street RV. I didn’t buy my RV from my brother, because there isn’t much bunk-house inventory in Arizona. So now you know my bias. Also know, I wouldn’t be writing this if I wasn’t personally impressed, even if we are related.

Main Street sm

We’ve been hanging around the Main Street RV lot this week, their motto is “Making Friends One RV at a Time” I always thought the saying was NICE, but I’ve realized it’s the core of their business. Main Street RV isn’t the biggest dealership around, it isn’t the smallest either. They only sell pre-owned RV’s. They truly work hard to make friends with their customers.

May-be this happens in all the RV dealership, but I don’t think so. This last week several past customers have stopped by just to say hi. They weren’t coming to look at inventory, they stopped by the office to talk with Pete. Even if he was really busy at the moment he took the time to chat. Some stuck around anywhere from a few minuets to several hours. One even spent the night on the lot, and he didn’t need to there are two Walmarts near by. I heard stories about families, life, and a lot of joking/laughing back and forth.

Someone else stopped in to talk to their head mechanic, the customer thought I worked there so they were asking me the questions. I told him Ben wasn’t in at the moment. The customers comment was, “I’ll come back later, Ben has a great reputation for good work.”

Main Street isn’t a high pressure sales lot. Sure they are in business to make money, but they make an effort to treat people well, making deals that are mutually beneficial. I talked to several couples who commented on how they love the rig that they bought here previously.

If you’re looking for a great RV dealership I recommend Main Street RV, they’ll treat you like a friend.

Rear Wall Repair

Rear wall Repair

I sure hope this isn’t a common problem among RVer’s. After driving on a rough road in Northern California, and 12,000 miles of driving around the country, we noticed a problem on our Jayco 345BHS.

20121217_134634.pngThis picture shows that the rear wall moved. The trim concealed most of the problem, but I noticed on the driver side rear, that the rear wall moved about 1/2”. A little surprised, I pushed on the wall, and with some effort it moved back into place. I have a little background in home construction so I figured I would be able to fix it.

I removed the bunk bed, and the corner trim on the inside to get a better look at the problem.

20121215_171928.pngI noticed the top of the wall was tight in place and the bottom was a part about 1/2”. I took a flashlight and shined it into the gap. I saw 4 screws, and noticed all of them were broken.

20121215_173805.pngI sure hope Jayco typically uses more than 4 screws to secure the wall, but that’s how many I found. I determined  the best way to repair the wall would be to remove the broken screws and add more to hold it together.

20121217_102400.pngI removed the one screw that holds the rubber cover inside the trim piece. Then using a screwdriver I pried loose the cover out of the corner trim.

20121217_102451.pngI then removed the screws that held the trim to the trailer. I carefully pried the trim away from the trailer.

20121217_134605.pngI bought 12-3” #8 screws & a long 1/8” drill bit. I marked the bit so I wouldn’t drill too deep.

20121217_134458.pngI drilled new holes between the existing wholes that held the trim to the trailer.

20121217_134626.pngI started from the top and worked my way down adding new screws and making sure each drew the wall tight. I used adhesive remover to clean the surface, and replaced the  putty tape.

20121221_214159.pngReinstalling the trim in the reverse order.

The job itself wasn’t too difficult, but the weather was a different story.

20121218_092726.pngIt snowed! We left for Southern California the next day. Have you had this happen?

Deep Cleaning with “Basic G”

You’ve probably never heard of Basic G. The “G” stands for germicide.You can use it like you would beach, Lysol, or Fabreze, but it cost much less.

Basic GIf you follow our adventure you know that we have purposefully been in warm climates, but we returned to the NW for the holidays. Like usual they have been wet.

When we first arrived at my Mom’s house, it was pouring down rain. We parked on the street, so we couldn’t open the slides all the way and block traffic. A nameless person, opened the living room slide part way to get laundry, but forgot to close it. After a couple of hours we learned that water leaked in and soaked the carpet. We did our best to dry it out before going on vacation to Maui, but returning two weeks later we had a significant musty smell in our home.

As a typical guy I went to do what most guys would do. Buy an air freshener. Bad idea. My wife was a professional house cleaner for 10 years, and being a good husband I learned a few tips from her. Usually in the form of, “Why are you doing that?” or “How come you’re using that?” I thought I would pass on one of the lessons I learned from her.

Air fresheners just masks the smell. The odor is cause by germs. Kill the germs kill the smell. A little Basic G in a carpet cleaner and we are smelling good again. We also sprayed it on the cloth furniture to keep them fresh too, just like you would use Fabreze.

We use Basic G to clean the counter tops, stove top, refrigerator, bathroom, A/C vents, and the floors. It’s as effective as bleach, but won’t fade colors if you spill it. I also use Basic G to sanitize our fresh water system every 3 months.

We bought a concentrated bottle of Basic G before we left in July, and we have only used about a half a bottle at this point. I expect it will last us all year. If you want tips on how to clean check out my wifes site Claire,s Healthy Home.


Repair RV Holding Tank Valves

I needed Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs to join me for this one, but I never got around to inviting him to help repair RV holding tank valves.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed when I would empty our sewer tanks that one of the valves had failed. We have 3 valves on our 5th wheel (bath-shower & sink, Kitchen-sink, and toilet) two grey water, and one black.

It seemed like the bathroom grey water tank seal was not working anymore. I waited until we were going to be parked for a couple of weeks and then took on the job.

Let me walk you through the job..

This is what you see when you look underneath our 5th wheel, probably fairly typical. You can’t see the tanks or fittings because they are protected and insulated.

#1. Remove protective layer. Mine has roughly 15 screws spread about holding it up.

Seen above, after I dropped the protective layer, the insulation is not secured and just falls off (it is off to the side). Now everything is exposed.

#2 You have to figure out what size valve your trailer uses. The black tank it pretty standard a 3″, but the grey water tanks are not standardized.

Here you can see two of the tanks and their valves. On the right is the black water tank, and the left is the bath-shower/sink tank. Each of the valves clearly state what size they are when you get close enough. Once you know the size you can buy a replacement at a RV Dealership with a parts department.

Unfortunately I needed to replace both my valves.

#3 Before you proceed any further make sure your tanks are empty and no one will be using them while you are working. tip: Flush them as clean as possible.

#4 loosen and remove the 4 bolts that are holding the valve in place.

#5 Once the bolts are removed, you can pull the pipe enough to slide the valve loose.

And slide it out.

Be prepared for some leakage.I put a bucket under the joint just in case, and as you can see there were some drips.

#6 Slide the new valve into place. Before you do this make sure the rubber seals are facing the correct direction.Make sure the seals are not pinched or stretched out-of-place before you tighten the 4 bolts holding the valve in place. Open and close the valve it should move smooth and pretty easily.

#7 Now attach the rod extension to the new valve.

#8 replace the insulation and protective cover and you are all done. It’s a pretty simple job, but it’s a dirty job.



Remodel Switch-A-Roo

Today I decided to rearrange the furniture in our 5th wheel. I still have painful memories of my Mom asking me to help her rearrange furniture in our house when I was growing up. It seemed the piano would get moved 3 times and then back to the original position.

Our dining table is located toward the back of the trailer, and the couch is toward the front. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to move since I’ve seen the other arrangement as an option.
switching positions I figured would make the kitchen/living area work better for us.

before RemodelThe hide-a-bed isn’t bolted down so that was easy to move. We would like to replace it but we wouldn’t be able to get the sectional we would like in the door. So hide-a-bed stays.

I opened up the dining seat to find 8 screws that held the dining bench in place.

screw patter for bench

I was actually surprised by how little held the dining bench in place, but it was easier than moving a piano.

I removed the screws on the bench and table feet, and everything slid out of place.

1 bench removedMoved the bench to the new position, and screwed it into the floor using the same screw holes.

1 bench relocatedI had to cut the trim in the corner to let the bench fit tight against the wall, and used the piece to trim behind the hide-a-bed. The joint is hidden by the hide-a-bed so it isn’t noticeable. I also traded trim on the exposed sides. Moving the long piece to the side the hide-a-bed moved to.

after remodel

Swagman Bumper Mount Bike Rack

How do you carry your bikes for a family of 5 when towing a 5th wheel? I thought it would be pretty easy to find a bumper mounted bike rack for the 5th wheel. At least in my search I couldn’t find one that was designed for 5 bikes. After much searching and reading owner reviews I found the Swagman bumper mounted rack. It’s designed for 4 bikes, but I figured I could hang a kid’s bike on the ladder if I needed.

A couple of reviewers said they couldn’t carry more than 3 bikes because their spare tire was also mounted on the bumper. That made me nervous, because mine is bumper mounted too but I ordered it anyway.

The swagman bike rack is designed for 4 – 30lbs bikes. This rack requires that your trailer bumper be made from strong material and mounted solidly. Some lower end trailers won’t have a strong enough bumper. I am impressed with the design of this rack. It was pretty simple to install, It took me about 20min. to open the box and have it completely installed. The design makes it easy to take the bikes on and off the rack. I added a bike lock, and a couple of bungee cords to keep the tires from bouncing out while we drive.

I’m sure I have voided any warranty on this rack, but I was able to mount 5 bikes comfortably on the rack. The 5th bike is basically resting on the bumper of the trailer; the rack isn’t holding much more weight. I did have to make a couple of adjustments. I removed one pedal and twisted the handle bars of the bike closest to the trailer back wall (avoiding scratches and gouging to the trailer), and I twisted the handle bars of the second bike too. I have to say I was impressed, I got 5 bikes mounted and my spare tire too. You can still see my tail lights too.

So far we have driven 2500 miles and I haven’t had any issues with the rack, and the bikes have stayed put.

Apps Perhaps

12 days and counting until we hit the road. We have been planning for at least a year and a half for our trip around the U.S. One of the ways we intent to save some money on our journey is to spend some nights in locations that are free. The term used is “boondocking” this could be in a primitive site in a national park, truck stop, casino parking lot, or a big box store like Walmart.

Here are a couple Droid phone Apps that I think will be useful as we travel:

Gas Buddy is the most well known and used app, so you probably already know about it. I use it all he time.

My Pilot: This app will tell you where the nearest Pilot Truck stop is located, how much fuel cost, and what amenities they offer such as showers and dump stations. I understand a truck stop is not a destination, but when you are just looking for a place to spend the night as you are driving from point A to B free is appealing to me.

I’m not close enough to a Pilot station to get a working screen shot. I’ll post one when I can.

My Dat Trucker Services: This app is similar to My Pilot, but isn’t limited to a single company. In addition to truck stops and fuel prices they list freeway rest area locations and Walmart stores. Since it is designed for truckers there are several other features that aren’t useful to me, but the ones mentioned might come in handy.

Update: When trying to compare prices, or figure out where the nearest fuel is this app is helpful. I actually use this app the most to find Walmart stores. When we are driving from point A to Point B we Boondock in Walmart parking lots. It’s the one place we can count on when we don’t have a reservation, but need to stop.

What Apps have you found useful?

Keep Your Fresh Water Flowing When it’s Freezing

If you are a fair weather camper keeping your water lines from freezing is easy, don’t go camping when it’s cold. The Year round RVer may find themselves visiting family, or traveling through areas of freezing temperatures. How do you keep that fresh water line flowing in those freezing temperatures?

One option is to connect to a faucet that has a mix of cold and hot water. This option usually isn’t available unless you are staying close to a house with a laundry sink near by. Often times the laundry room isn’t convenient enough to connect to your city water line. Who wants a hose running through their house out to your RV, especially when it’s freezing outside?

Most RV resorts that are open year round have heated coils wrapped around their outside water faucets. This is also an option you can use too. The Heated wire wraps around your water line.

This option works great as long as the coils stay tight to your water line. Usually you need to tape the coils to the hose. Then you need to remove the tape and coils when you are not concerned about freezing weather.

Full-time RVers can use a heated water line to keep the water flowing in freezing temperatures. The Pirit Heated Hose is another option

What I like about this hose is that you can use it year round as your primary city water hose, and plug it in when the temperatures start to drop around freezing.

What do you use?

Repair RV Holding Tanks

RV holding tanks (grey & black water) can be damaged by flying rocks, or dragging on rough terrain. Having a leak can be messy, and in most area’s is illegal. Replacing a whole tank can be costly, and what if it happens while you are out on the road? This could create some real challenges.

Minor damage can be repaired fairly easily, inexpensively, and pretty quickly. Most holding tanks are made of ABS plastic. You can purchase a holding tank repair kit or you can buy similar supplies from a local hobby shop. All you need is a gap filling cyanoacrylate adhesive with separate activator (similar to super glue, but thicker and dries slower) some sand paper, and fiber glass cloth.

Repairing a crack

  1. Empty the holding tank
  2. Clean off any dirt or grime around the damaged area (make sure it is dry)
  3. Drill a small hole at each end of the crack, this will keep it from spreading.
  4. Cut a piece of fiberglass cloth a couple of inches larger than the damaged area.
  5. Saturate the fiberglass cloth with cyanoacylate glue.
  6. Use your hand to spread the fiber glass cloth over the damaged area. (wear gloves)
  7. Once the fiber glass is in place apply the accelerator and you will have an instant bond.

This repair is strong and long-lasting too. The tank should be ready to use in 15-20 min.

Do you have a holding tank disaster story? I’d like to hear it.

Winterize Your RV Water System

If you are a fair weather camper than winterizing your RV water system is a must. When water freezes it expands, when it sits still on metal it rusts. The water lines and joints in a typical RV are not able to handle the pressure ice creates. The metal in your water pump (the bearings) will rust and seize the pump if they rust.

The winters in Oregon are fairly mild compared to other parts of the US. We usually have a week or so of below freezing weather, but not much more. If there isn’t any heat on in the inside of your RV, it doesn’t take too long for the RV pipes to freeze up.

The two common ways of winterizing the water system either involve compressed air or non-toxic anti-freeze. Which ever method you choose it is best to drain your hot water tank, and by-pass it.

1. Drain fresh water holding tank. (drain valve will be located out side the RV typically on the side wall, or underneath).

2.Draining the hot water tank

  • There is a nylon plug that unscrews near the bottom of the tank to drain it. Remember “Lefty loosy, righty tighty” It doesn’t take much to strip the threads of this plug.
  • Open a sink or shower hot water valve. This creates a vent for the water to siphon easily to drain all the water out of the tank.
  • If you have a hot water heater bypass installed, close off the tank after the water drains.

3. Option A (Compressed Air) purchase an air adapter that connects an air compressor line to the city water connection of your RV.

  • Turn on the 12 volt water pump (sink valves should still be open). Operate the pump until it runs dry.
  • Connect the air fitting to the city water connection.
  • Close all the faucet valves, except the farthest one.
  • Blow air into the city water line until water stops flowing. Close the faucet valve.
  • Open the next farthest valve repeating the process until you get to the closest faucet including the shower, and toilet.
  • Water is now out of the fresh water lines.

3. Option B (Non-toxic) Anti-Freeze. Use only non-toxic anti-freeze that is designed for RV water systems.

  • Pour a couple of gallons of the solution directly into the main water tank of your RV.
  • turn on the 12 volt water pump, and open individual faucets individually until all faucets are pouring out the anti-freeze.
  • Before using the fresh water system. It is recommended that you sanitize the system.

It is a good practice to pour a little of the non-toxic RV anti-freeze into the drains of each of your sinks and shower drain to keep the elbows from freezing and breaking over the winter.

4. Dump your grey water & black water holding tanks too.