The first set are some lessons learned since full-timing
05/02. These do not include
the hundreds of lessons learned by reading books and on-line before starting
or that we have put on our website at
www.skyaid.org/rv. I welcome your comments/corrections/suggestions. Henry
Lahore hlahore at skyaid.org
RV suggestions not just 5th wheel
Level the RV for your comfort, not for the comfort of the refrigerator
People waste effort leveling RVs for the refrigerator. Thirty years ago RV
refrigerators which were not leveled would fail after a few months of operation.
Now the coolant system in RV refrigerators no longer fails if the RV is not
level. Non-level refrigerators are less efficient, but they do not fail.
Eliminate clothes falling while driving by reversing clothes hangers
We found that rough roads would cause our clothes hangers to fall/jump off
the rods in the rear closet. Just reversing the coat hangers, so that the hanger
openings were in the direction of RV travel eliminated this problem.
Reduce driving fatigue
I reduce driving fatigue by using ear plugs, sun glasses, and Ribose ( a
supplement which helps replace ATP) .
“Books on Tape” are nice to listen to while driving
Books on Tape are available free from libraries and can be rented from
Flying J truck stops. Several internet companies also have “Books on tape” in
MPEG format which can be downloaded. I am considering subscribing to
www.audible.com which provides a free
MPEG player. Downloadable audible files are not practical unless you have a
fairly high speed internet download connection (we have a satellite link).
Noise canceling headphones are also very
useful, and only cost $50.
Make a night light
We needed a toilet night light. I powered it from the 12volt wiring in the
toilet wall. I purchased a bright (1600 mcd = 1.6 candle) LED from Radio Shack
and wired it in series with two 250 ohm resistors to make a night light which
constantly draws only 1/50 amp. Total cost was about $3.00. I connected the two
resistors near the 12 volt source so as to share the power dissipation and
greatly reduce the chance of accidentally shorting the 12 volt source.
RV clothes dryers are not all slow
Almost all RV clothes driers are slow because they condense the water before
sending it out of the RV. The Splendide clothes washer/drier however uses an air
vent but its wash function consumes 25 gallons of water. We don’t have this
washer/drier, just heard about from other RVers
Don’t depend on just a single ATM system
You should have a different ATM system card in case the first is missing,
cannot be read, or does not work with the current ATM machine, etc. Alternately
you could keep spare cash hidden someplace.
Ziploc bags and tote boxes provide great storage containers
We use a variety of Ziploc type plastic bags for food, spare parts,
projects, photos, etc. Tote boxes with integral lids are great stackable
containers in our RV, truck and non-moving long term storage. We of course label
the contents of the bags and boxes.
There are a variety of local and national mail forwarding services available
to RVers. We are using the biggest – Escapees
www.escapees.com . We must call in at
least one day before shipment. US mail is the cheapest forwarding method but
typically takes 3-4 days. We have gotten into a habit of having the mail
sent on Friday. It usually arrives on Monday while we are in the Western US, but
1 time in 10 it will not arrive until Tuesday , and 1 time in 30 it will not
arrive until Wed. We suspect that the Wed arrival is due to the post
office not actually getting shipment out of Texas until Monday.
Reduce engine failure by reducing cooling system cavitation
Antifreeze used to have an additive to reduce engine cavitation. Engine
cavitation can erode holes in the engine after many years. This was pointed out
by Bill Farlow in his book “Professors Farlow’s Guide to RVing” Vol1 $14
published 1998. A coolant additive which also reduces cavitation costs about
$5. It is only needed when flushing the coolant - once or twice a year.
Reduce engine failure by periodically testing lubricant for trace metals,
Many commercial truckers periodically send in a sample of the truck
lubricant to be tested. This allows early detection of wear and contaminates.
You may also use the test results to delay your replacing the lubricant, thus
saving some money. Cost of the test with re-paid mailing from
www.amsoil.com is $20. This tip was
also from Professors Farlow’s Guide to RVing” Vol1
Purchased Spring 2004
A low cost source of RV toilet tissue
The toilet tissue must pass the test of dissolving quickly in a glass of
water. The single ply Scott toilet tissue is one which passes this test. See
Scott tissue is available at many Wal-Marts
Under inflated tires will show increased pressure while driving.
Under inflated tires will heat up and increase their pressure when driven.
Over a long time tires which heat up will fail. We have lowered our tire
pressures from 95 to 75 lbs to improve the ride. Our “H” load tires are able to
easily support the load at this lower pressure. A nice web reference for tires
Tire air pressure caps
added Dec 2004- green turn red when the tire pressure decreases by 10%:
various pressures, such as 85lbs. about $7.50 each, including shipping
You can reliably sense the level in the black and gray tanks
Our RV black tank sensing is apparently fairly typical, in that it is
unreliable. Our black water monitor frequently indicates that the tank is
partially full immediately after dumping as the sensing wires are easily
coated. We are considering replacing the monitors at a cost of about $125 with
wireless monitors from
One model of Stud Finder nicely
indicates the water level when slid up the wall of the tank.
Zircon had 4 models at Home Depot.
Their 2nd lowest cost model ($20)
a nice red line and beeps to show the edge of the water (the edge of the water
is a stud to the sensor)
There was a nice review of Stud Sensors in July 2004 issue of Popular Mechanics
Had earlier auditioned the Stanley from Wal-Mart - but that did not do the job. new Sept 2004
We also clean the sensors by putting water softener into both tanks a few times
per year before traveling (sloshing water on the sensors).
Additions we have made 6 to 26 months after starting full timing.
sells a nice vacuum for RV: small, low cost, fairly powerful, good CR rating,
narrow enough head,
quiet, no detectable dust out of bag, variable suction motor controlled at
Added resistors in series
with the 12 volt lights. This greatly reduced the rate at which
the bulbs burned out.
1) reduces inrush current and 2) reduces the 13 volts down to the 12 volts
that the bulbs are designed for.
AC power consumption by replacing several incandescent fixtures with
bullet light gives us a nice bright light for reading without having to
turn on the inverter. Used a regular bullet lamp + 12 volt bulb+ replaced
115 plug with a 12V plug
windows block UV and heat in Teton and many other RVs– but absorb so much heat
that the RV heats up.
Our workaround to minimize heating up the RV and overtaxing the single air
conditioner is putting aluminum foil shielding inside or outside of the RV
We cleaned the ROOF which had gotten slightly gray after a year of dirt,
rain, etc. This reduced cooling load by about 2000 watts - so air
conditioner could keep up.
Thermopane windows expand at higher altitudes.
Wonder if we can travel above 12,000’ altitude with without windows breaking due to
the reduced air pressure at high altitude.
Electric blanket and portable electric heaters are nice and even heat when we
for all of the outside compartments – many of the RVs on the road have the same exact
keys for compartments.
Improved storage in closet with a
modified shoe shelf from Home Depot
the top of polarized AC plugs with white-out:
This allows seeing easily which is the top side for plugging in various devices which do not have 3rd
portable heater, electric blanket, laptop chargers, cellphone
toilet paper roll holder added on shelf above window in the toilet – used springy brass door stops
a “chop chop” thin transparent cutting sheet for kitchen. Stores easily in the
narrow slot above the microwave.
can be used to hold many places - including:
vertical grabber bar near toilet. It helps in getting up from the toilet
in that tiny room.
vertical grab bar in shower in 2006
Microfiber cleaning cloth is AMAZING. Helps cleaning al sorts of things: RV
exterior, steering wheel, woodwork, ...
It puts other rags to shame. You must buy at least one. I doubt that after
trying microfiber you will limit yourself to just one.
Available at many different locations, but the lowest cost appears to be Wal-Mart for about $1 each.
antenna channel reception seemed strange until we finally realized that the TV has to
“memorize” the channels at each new location.
tiny postal scale which is
normally stored in drawer, but hang it up when in use.
Sewer spill eliminator was a
great $30 addition when our waste water valves ceased to operate after a year and
it would cost
us perhaps $500 to repair since the valves are buried inside of our RV so as to
not freeze at 0 degrees. The sewer spill eliminator and exposed pipe would
probably freeze up now, but we have no expectation of being in such a cold area
- we are snowbirds now. Now sold at Camping World
www.TouchOfOranges.com (wood wax: bees and carnoble) This
product really restored
the shine to our wood cabinets.
Wireless thermometer was a nice
addition. Tells us the temperature under the RV.
Our previous window-mounted thermometer always lied when it was in the sun.
Battery lasts about 1 year. replaced in 2006 with $13 Wireless thermometer from
shower drain broke, as we were told would happen at some point. We replaced the broken drain pipe with a
This stops the stress fractures generated by the shower bouncing differently
than the plumbing while we drive down the road.
We reduce the rock and roll
of the RV if we are parked for more than a few days with scissor jacks (cost $1
at some auto wrecking yards)
Command strips are a great way to "glue" items inside of the RV, yet
leave no residue
when they are removed.
They come in different sizes: 1lb to about 20lb.
Available at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe's etc.
McNally Map of US/Canada which includes Wal-Mart locations is only $5 at Wal*Mart.
They also have very low prices on the Next-Exit book, another excellent RV book
water - we purchased de-ionizing cartridges.
cents per gallon, but eliminates having to clean the water pump, tanks, and
valves. We cleaned our tanks with vinegar.
yes, there are cartridges to filter hard water.
AC voltage: We tried an AC booster = Automatic Voltage regulator. Burned
out in less than 1 day.
However, we have seen one park which does not permit a booster, but lots of parks
Maintenance - you can do virtually all of your own periodic (semi-annual, annual)
maintenance on an RV..
The only professional maintenance we needed to pay for was Dometic Ref.
requirement that the annual inspection be done by a RV technician.
Added an rope to hold on to if we should ever have to use the escape window in
The original suggestion for the rope was printed in Trailer Life Magazine May
Our additions were use of a soft rope and loops instead of knots.
Ignite stovetop with a small
amount of propane. After years of RVing we have just learned that the
propane stove top burners (Atwood) ignite best with just a small amount of
propane. (Too much propane does now allow for the Oxygen needed for ignition) We
had often had to click the stove's piezo igniter 10 times to start the burners
before, and now it ignites with just 1 or two clicks.