A Few Good Tips for the Pennsylvania RV Newbie

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New to RVing? We can help. Everybody has to learn the ins and outs of RVing at some time. Hopefully, your mistakes and accidents will be minimal in the beginning.

I thought I would put together some things to think about as you prepare your new RV and yourself, to experience the RVing lifestyle like a pro!

  1. Take care of your black water tank. This is one of the most important things to learn about. If your RV doesn’t have a black water tank sprayer, dump plenty of water down the toilet to clean it out. Add recommended chemicals regularly to ensure that tank material biodegrades properly. Packets are the fastest and easiest to use and require the least storage space; just toss one down the toilet with a gallon of water. Use RV toilet paper; it biodegrades faster.
  2. Make a maintenance checklist. Make a checklist of things to do before and after each RV trip to ensure that you don’t forget any maintenance procedures while you’re learning. Make notes of anything that you need to keep an eye on so that you can check it consistently. You don’t want any surprises while you’re on the road.
  3. Keep fridge and pantry stocked. Keep non-perishable staples on-board all season so you’re ready for spur-of-the-moment getaways.  Make sure they are foods that will work together to make a meal.  Remember to use food before their expiration date.
  4. Keep clothing, gear on board. Keep a set of toiletries, toothbrushes, clothing, games, leisure gear, pet supplies, etc. on board so that you have minimal packing to do at vacation time.

This is just a very small list to get you started in your quest to become an experienced camper.  Did I miss anything you experienced RVers? Please share more tips in the comments below….

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

What Every New Pennsylvania RVer Eventually Discovers

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New RV owners usually have a lot of information to digest. There is so much to learn about owning, operating and maintaining a RV. Unless they know someone who can teach them all there is to know, these new RV owners are on their own to figure it all out.

Consider your first RV your training RV. This is where you will learn the ins and outs of how to operate propane, holding tanks, plumbing, electrical and backing up.

It helps you discover whether you prefer the convenience of full-service RV parks or dry-camping in primitive campgrounds, more commonly known as boon-docking.

Your ‘training camper’ teaches you how to equip, furnish and pack an RV. You learn just how much interior storage space (closets, cabinets, drawers) you really need (is there ever enough?). It reveals how critical the size and accessibility of the outside storage bays can be and the importance of cargo-carrying capacity and towing capabilities. Not to mention sleeping capacity as well. Did you really need the bunk beds?

It helps you determine what floor-plan, features and accessories would best suit your RVing lifestyle and needs. And if you really enjoy all that you learn about the world of RVing, there will be another new RV!

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Pennsylvania RVers Boost Phone and Internet Range with an Antenna

I came across this great post about external antennas for your RV or trailer. I would guess that 99% of all RVers travel with a cell phone to keep in touch, plus they have a laptop computer to get travel info and email. That’s all great and good as long as you stay in the city where the reception is good. But RVers usually don’t spend their vacations in cities, they like to explore the great outdoors in their RVs and trailers. Unfortunately, there may be times when you have to sacrifice the modern-day amenities of mobile phones and internet connections. However, if you get a long-range antenna, that possibility can be reduced.
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This omnidirectional antenna is a good antenna for maximizing your reach when you’re in the middle of nowhere!
Here’s one RVer’s method: This gentleman mounted a roof-mount style satellite dish base on the top of his motor-home, using the appropriate sealant to prevent water leakage. But instead of topping the mount with a satellite dish, he used U-bolts to mount a omnidirectional/tri-band cellular antenna. This one covers frequency ranges for both his cell phone and his wireless broadband/internet card.

He routed the connection cable from the antenna, down through the rig’s gray water holding tank vent line. Inside the rig he bored a hole into the vent line (where it was accessible from in the living area), routed the cable out of the vent line, and then used a sealant to both “keep the stink out,” and to act as a protective grommet to prevent friction between the vent pipe and the antenna coax. The whole shooting match plugs into either the cell phone, or into a jack in his broadband card. If your card doesn’t have a jack for an antenna, there are inductive couplers that attach to broadband cards, allowing you to rig them to an external antenna.

Once on location, it’s a simple job to climb up the RV’s roof access ladder, lift the satellite dish mount into its “working” position, then turn the antenna around to point to the nearest cellular site. With a 24dB gain, this setup will bring signal roaring in that might otherwise be lost in space.[RV Tech Tips]

Take the time this winter to add some accessories like this to your RV. Then in the spring you’ll have some new RV toys to play with!

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Pennsylvania RV Owners Be Aware! Please USe Safe Towing Tips

Defensive driving skills and practice result in safe, enjoyable towing

Towing a trailer is certainly not difficult, but it does represent a step up in complexity from driving a solo vehicle, requiring new awareness of combined vehicle length, trailer width, braking distance, turning characteristics and several other vital factors that must be considered while towing a trailer. Most of us drive trucks, SUVs or passenger cars daily, and graduate to RVs only occasionally. Thus, it’s always necessary to make a mental transition and try to keep the size and handling characteristics of the larger rig in mind. Allowing solo-vehicle habits to take over may result in a tendency to make turns too tightly, run over curbs, hit stationary objects such as overhanging tree limbs or to follow too closely.

Eyes on the Road
The first towing precautions are those that precede towing — matching the tow vehicle and trailer correctly, adhering to weight limits and making sure hitch selection and adjustment are correct, as described elsewhere in this guide. And it’s also important to refresh defensive driving skills. From there, the real fun begins. The combined length of tow vehicle and trailer, as well as the combined weight, must be in the forefront of your mind, right from the start. Maintaining extended following distances is one of the most important towing-related driving habits that initially is difficult to adhere to because we tend to fall into our typical driving habits. Even though trailer brakes may be functional, braking distances almost always are extended.

It’s also important to make lane changes carefully and slowly, and to allow extended distances for passing. Good, solidly mounted extendable mirrors with large reflective areas — adjusted properly — are also essential. Speedy traffic seems more tolerant of slow 18-wheelers than of slow RVs, which makes courtesy an important safety factor for RV owners because an irate driver trying to pass can be a serious safety threat; courtesy is not only the consideration of others, it’s a safety issue. Frequent monitoring of rearview mirrors is necessary; when a vehicle is tailgating and trying to pass, we should help by driving slightly to the right to give the other driver a better view of the road ahead, even if a passing opportunity does not exist at the time. We should use turnouts whenever possible and avoid following another vehicle so closely that a vehicle overtaking from the rear cannot return to the proper lane.

Time for a Brake
While RV brakes are adequate for most situations, care is necessary to avoid overheating, which can lead to brake fade. If brake fade occurs, it will likely be on steep downgrades. If this happens, friction will raise the temperature of brake pads and linings to extremely high levels, resulting in temporary loss of braking. The cure is prevention — downshifting to a gear range that is low enough to retard speed sufficiently that brakes need not be used more than occasionally. This way, enough braking performance is reserved to make an emergency stop, should it become necessary.

When braking on a grade is necessary, apply the brakes intermittently, with moderate pressure, and release the pedal to allow the brakes to cool. The action of electric trailer brakes should be apparent to the driver, and sufficient enough to handle the trailer’s weight. The controller should be adjusted so that maximum braking action does not cause trailer-wheel lockup. Improper controller adjustment is a major cause of inadequate braking, so it’s wise to study the manufacturer’s instructions. Travel-trailer instability (fishtailing) should not occur in a well-balanced, well-hitched combination, but if it does, independent activation of trailer brakes usually will bring the trailer back into line.

Back-Up Plans
All trailers require more space for turns, and travel trailers follow the tow-vehicle track more closely than do fifth-wheels, which track farther to the inside of a turn. There is need for continual awareness, which should eventually become second-nature after a modest amount of on-the-road experience. Fifth-wheel trailers are different to back than conventional trailers, and require more practice for someone accustomed to backing a conventional trailer. A well-used technique involves placing one’s hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and moving it in the same direction the trailer is intended to go. It’s more effective with travel trailers than with fifth-wheels, which often require more turning of the steering wheel. Hand-held two-way radios can allow an assistant to more effectively relay backing instructions to the driver.

Before each trip, it’s essential to check the tires to assure that inflation pressures match those molded on tire side walls (cold), or that they are appropriate for your load (consult load/inflation tables). Also, be sure to inspect all vehicle fluids and make sure trailer-wheel lug nuts are tightened to factory specifications. Trailering is a great way to explore the new horizons and a great way to check out the wonderful camping destinations that are available to owners of recreational trailers. But always keep in mind that defensive driving will pay off in safe travel.

If you have any questions about safe towing practices, call your central Pennsylvania RV Dealer at 800-722-1236.  We will gladly answer any questions that you may have.

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Portions of this blog are a re-posting of an article from Trailer Life Magazine

Pennsylvania Learn to Control Your RV Trailer Brakes

New technology improves safety and reliability for braking when towing…

Electric-brake systems have been employed for several decades on most trailers that have any significant weight. Each trailer with electric brakes, in turn, also requires that the tow vehicle be fitted with a brake controller. For a number of years, brake-controller choices have been extensive — all aftermarket and all electronic — but Ford changed the game in 2005 with the first trailer-brake-control system included as an integral part of the tow vehicle’s design. The trailer-brake controller is part of Ford’s Tow-Command System. Today, GM also offers a built-in control on select vehicles. Until the advent of anti-lock brake systems (ABS), most brake controllers were tapped directly into the hydraulic lines of the tow vehicle’s on-board hydraulic-braking system. They were often described as hydraulic/electric brake controllers, as they converted hydraulic pressure in the tow vehicle’s brake system to an electric signal used to activate the trailer’s brakes directly proportional to hydraulic pressure in the vehicle’s braking system.

A significant factor in elimination of this system was the advent of ABS because vehicle manufacturers’ cautioned against tapping into the hydraulic system. The controllers displaced a small amount of brake fluid, and with ABS systems, brake-cylinder volume was more limited, so manufacturers warned not to add controllers that displaced more than 0.02 cubic inches. The tap-in could not occur downstream of the ABS mechanism, so the pressure was on to devise alternate systems. Electronics were the answer, and many different types of aftermarket brake controllers were developed — none tied in with the tow vehicle’s hydraulic system, however. Even in the old days of hydraulic/electric controllers, all were sold in the aftermarket, until Ford became the first to offer a trailer-brake activation system installed at the factory.

Timer-Based vs. Proportional

1452115_P3-Brake-Control.jpgA timer-based brake controller has a timer that generates an output signal for your RV’s brakes that increases with the amount of time you keep your foot on the brake pedal. It doesn’t know whether you’re braking gently on a gradual downhill grade, or if you’re in a panic stop. The rate of increase in output (the slope of the voltage ramp) has no bearing on pedal effort, but can usually be adjusted for braking aggressiveness.

An inertia-based proportional controller generates an output that is, as the name suggests, directly proportional to your braking needs. Most proportional brake controllers measure the tow vehicle’s rate of deceleration by means of a pendulum. The quicker you slow, the further the pendulum is displaced, via inertia, from its at-rest position. This creates an electric signal to your trailer’s brakes that is proportional to your deceleration rate. Tekonsha and its sister companies use a series of LEDs and photoelectric detectors in their proportional controllers to determine the position of the displaced pendulum, and therefore determine the deceleration rate. Hayes-Lemmerz uses the Hall effect, a well-known physics principle involving moving magnets, to determine the pendulum’s position. All pendulum controllers are subject to some inaccuracies, as the pendulum can tilt slightly forward or backward on steep grades. Most such controllers employ a damping device to stabilize the sensor against vibrations, and the damper helps reduce the effect of the fore-or-aft-tilt problem. The pendulum’s position is adjusted through the level-control knob. This allows the pendulum to be oriented to a true vertical resting position to compensate for the angle of the brake-controller body (the “leveling” referred to in some timer-based-controller advertising). The level adjustment also allows the driver to pitch the pendulum slightly forward or aft of its normal resting position to set up the trailer so its braking is aggressive or delayed.

Most drivers prefer some braking effect from the trailer’s brakes on the initial touch of the brake pedal, and adjust the brake controller accordingly to provide this so-called threshold voltage. This adjustment produces some output (typically 2 volts), without the initial time period having passed or deceleration having occurred in the two electric brake-controller types. This time period, or deceleration event, is normally needed to activate the timer-based controller or the proportional pendulum-based controller, respectively.


Which is Which?
With dozens of different models of brake controllers on the market, many RVers may find the selection of the right controller difficult without some form of guidance. While budgetary considerations may force a user into one category of controller, this is a critical system where pinching pennies may not be advisable. When faced with the need for a panic stop, most drivers want a controller that will respond in proportion to their braking needs at that moment. Keep in mind that a timer-based controller can’t respond in this manner, as its output is fixed for a certain timed duration.

I hope this helps you understand what your RV brakes are doing while you are on the road.  If you have any questions about your brake controller or would like to upgrade to a newer one, give your central Pennsylvania RV Parts and Service Center a call at 800-722-1236.  Our team will gladly help you.

Safe Travel and Happy RVing!


Portions of this blog are a re-posting of an article by By Fred Pausch from Trailer Life magazine.

The top 10 Five-Minute RV Maintenance Tips.

Of course, Lerch RV has an RV service department with the latest in diagnostic and repair tools and parts that can handle just about any problem your RV faces. I say, why not just avoid RV problems all together. Here are a few quick and easy RV maintenance tips you can follow on your own to keep your camper in great shape from year to year.

RV Service, RV Maintenance, camper service, Lerch RV Service Department, PA RV DealerQuick & Easy Maintenance Tips for the DYI-er RVer

Check sealants twice each month – check the rubber sealants around your windows to make sure they’re tight and not cracking. Cracked or loose sealant can let air in which causes drafts and leaks.

Check tire pressure before every trip –this one should be a no brainer. Make sure your tires are fully pressurized before you set off on your next road trip – it’s an easy RV maintenance tip that will prevent blowouts and it also  improves your gas mileage!

Run generator 2 hours per month under 50% load –letting your RV sit unused for months is not good for the generator. Run it under a light load for a few minutes each month to keep it primed so that it is ready the next time you decide to hit the road.

Check battery water level–making sure your batteries have enough water in them is crucial to ensuring that they will hold their charge. Check your battery water level frequently and add distilled water when necessary. Disconnect your battery from your camper when not in use, to prolong your battery’s life, use a battery maintainer (trickle charger) to keep it up to charge.

Clean holding tanks regularly –clean out your gray and black water tanks frequently to prevent bacteria and odors from leaking into the rest of your RV. Black and gray water tanks can get really gross, really fast – this is one RV maintenance tip you don’t want to forget! If you have to spend a vast amount of time on the road, cleanliness is a must.

Lube slide rails and gaskets twice each year –make sure all your slide-out rails and all gaskets on your RV are properly lubricated to avoid friction. This will help make sure your slide rails stay in working condition all season long.

 Torque lug nuts before each trip – it is very important that you always make sure your lug nuts are fastened tightly before you head out. This RV maintenance tip is crucially important – if you’re not careful, your whole wheel assembly could fly off! Accidents slow down trips and can drain your pocket-book, this type can be easily avoided.

 Sanitize fresh water system each spring – this is an RV maintenance tip that you should follow at the beginning of the RV season. Before your spring RV season starts, make a point to thoroughly sanitize your fresh water systems to keep your drinking water fresh and clean.

 Properly winterize each fall –this is one of the most crucial RV maintenance tips that you can follow. Before the winter hits it’s absolutely necessary to follow all of the steps to winterize your unit to protect it from the winter cold and lack of use (if you need help, check out our previous posts about how to winterize your RV!).

 Retract awning during heavy wind and rain – this RV maintenance tip is extremely important. On at least one of your camping trips you’re going to have to weather a storm. Make sure your awning is pulled back – otherwise, it’ll collapse like an umbrella and bend like crazy. Not to mention could invert and go over your roof!

If you follow the above RV maintenance tips throughout the season, you may end up saving thousands of dollars in service costs! And remember, for all your RV maintenance and service needs, visit Lerch RV in central Pennsylvania.

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Looking for a job? The RV industry is adding them…

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RV company to grow, add workers

Open Range RV Company and the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation are excited to announce the expansion of Open Range RV Company at its facilities located in Shipshewana, IN.

Open Range RV Company, founded in Shipshewana in 2007, has quickly grown to become a leader in the production of high quality fifth wheels and travel trailers, and has been recognized multiple times with the “Quality Circle Award” by the RV Dealers Association. Open Range RV’s lines are recognized industry wide for their quality, innovative floor designs, amenities, and low weight amongst many other features. “The continued demand for Open Range’s recreational vehicles has spurred our growth over the past few years” said Randy Graber, President of Open Range RV Company. “We are thrilled that our customers continue to appreciate the high quality and wide range of towable RV’s that we produce, and this growth really can be attributed to their dedication to our brand.”

The company plans to add a 21,500(-square-foot) addition to their main campus located on the north side of Shipshewana, as well as adding new equipment to the facility, including a new CNC router. These investments will allow Open Range RV to operate more efficiently and produce an even better quality product for their customers. The project will also result in the addition of 10-15 new employees with an average wage of around $45,000. The Town of Shipshewana approved abatement requests from the company and the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation for ten years on the real estate improvements and five years for the personal property. “Open Range RV is a valued employer in the Town of Shipshewana, and we are glad that we can continue to build on our partnership with Open Range as they expand their operations here,” said Roger Yoder, President of the Shipshewana Town Council.

“Open Range RV Company has been a great partner in Shipshewana and LaGrange County, and we’re elated that they have continued to grow within LaGrange County” said Keith Gillenwater, Executive Director of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation. “Their continued growth in our community is a tribute to the quality craftsmanship that Open Range RV exemplifies, and truly is a testament to Open Range’s motto: “Enjoy the Journey!” We look forward to continuing to work with Open Range RV Company.”

About the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation

The LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation, established in 2009, is a 501(c) 3 corporation designed to assist business development needs. The LCEDC partners with local, regional, state, and federal agencies to attract, retain, and develop new businesses and entrepreneurs in LaGrange County and its communities. For more information about the LaGrange County EDC, please visit http://www.lagrangecountyedc.com or call at 260.499.4994

About Open Range RV Company

Open Range RV Company, based in Shipshewana, IN, is quickly becoming a leader in the production of high quality fifth wheels and travel trailers in just their third year of production. Open Range RV’s quality and craftsmanship was recognized with the coveted RVDA “Quality Circle Award” in 2009. For more information on Open Range RV, LLC, please visit http://www.openrangerv.com or at (260).768.7771.

Or if you feel like taking at look at Pennsylvania’s largest Open Range Dealer, visit Lerch RV.

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!