Are you a happy camper? If not read thes tips…

Trashy Campground image

It’s bound to happen if you are an RVer.  You will get to your camp site and realize that you have some less than ideal neighbors.  It may be little things such as loose trash or too much noise, or even sever such as people who try to get confrontational.  The best thing that you can do in these situations is to be the better camper and hope that they will pick up on some of your routines.

Being a great camper means more than having the best equipment, it means allowing everyone around you to have a great time without causing any problems.  Here are five tips from your-rv-lifestyle.com on how to become a better camper.

  1. Follow the rules: Individual parks usually hand you a copy of their rules when you register. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. It makes things easier for everyone involved – you, your neighbors and the park operators. Typical guidelines include reduced speed limits on campground roads for the safety of all involved. You are typically expected to unhook a dinghy before driving to your site. There are usually defined quiet hours when you should keep the noise down, turn off outdoor lights, generators – basically, the party is over.
  2. Eliminate pet peeves: Literally. Pick up after your pets. Stop excessive or extended barking. Don’t leave a howling dog unattended to bother the neighbors. Use a leash. Even if Spot is friendly, not everyone is an animal lover. Good pet-etiquette on your part helps ensure that the many RVers with pets are welcome at campgrounds.
  3. Parking the rig: Sometimes it is very clear how to orient the rig on a site – you may even have a cement pad. But in many cases, the only guideposts will be the hookup for electric and sewer. General campground etiquette is to stay on your side of that hook-up, and not have awnings or slide-outs encroaching on the site next door. Look at the campground map for a clue about preferred orientation. Or, look around you to see how other rigs are angled, if they are centered on sites or close to the utility hook up. You will get the most out of the space you have (and so will your neighbors) if you are all situated the same way. There are bound to be exceptions – we have been in many campgrounds with no uniformity in the size, shape or orientation of sites. The main objective in these cases is to just “guess the site” and fit the RV into it. But even then, the idea is to park in a way that gets everyone their fair share of privacy and room under their respective awnings. Common sense and campground etiquette go hand in hand.
  4. Late arrivals: If you are arriving at a park after normal quiet hours, attempt some degree of stealth behavior. Not that it is easy to be unobtrusive pulling in an RV. But keep the set-up to the minimum required for the night. Your neighbors will understand that you need to pull in and hook up. They have probably been in the same situation. But they will lose patience if they spend an hour listening to loud conversation, slamming doors and arguments over how to level the rig. Do what is essential and remember that tomorrow is another day. The same sort of courtesy should be used if you are making an early morning departure. Don’t keep the engine idling for an hour before you leave. Tidy up your campsite the night before.
  5. Sewer connections: Do them right. Make them secure. No torn hoses. In most places, your sewer connection faces the side where you neighbor has their “patio” area. Another time where being discreet and careful is part of good campground etiquette.

There are more tips in the article, and I recommend that you give it a good read through. When you become a better camper, you will have a better time on the road. If you are looking for a new RV to become the best camper you can be in, then check out Lerch RV, Pennsylvania‘s largest travel trailer dealer.

Advertisements

Protecting Your RV from Heavy Snow Loads.

Winter is here and once your RV is parked for the winter, it may be the last thing on your mind. Well at least until Spring. But if your RV is parked outside, you should start to worry. Especially if there is snow. High amounts of accumulating snow can serious damage your RV, costing you thousands of dollars in the spring.

Today, many RVs are constructed with lightweight materials, especially the materials used for the roof. When 12″ to

Hard to drive in weather like this.

18″ of wet slushy snow builds up on a lightweight constructed roof, the damage can be devastating, possibly collapsing your roof in. Even a few inches of snow can cause serious damage.

The ice buildup can be the worst damage your RV could endure. If the snow is not removed, the snow acts like an insulator and starts to melt the ice under the snow. The water can start to open up seams on your roof. It then can migrate throughout your RV, causing serious structural and cosmetic damage. If you don’t take care of the buildup snow during the winter, you could have a big surprise waiting for you in the Spring!

Here are some tips to keep your RV protected from the snow during the winter months:

1. Before putting your RV into storage, winterize the whole trailer. Not only do your pipes need to be winterized, but the items inside your RV need to be protected too. Make sure to remove all the food from the cabinets, remove anything that can freeze and bust, and clean your RV one last time before putting it up for the winter. Also, go through your RV and make sure there are no holes or entry points where mice or small critters could enter.

2. Unplug all the batteries and propane bottles from your RV. If you have a garage, store your RV batteries and your propane tanks in there during the winter months. Just make sure both the RV batteries and the propane tanks are secure and away from moisture.

If using a traditional blue tarp to cover your roof, make sure it is tied down securely.

3. If your RV will be stored outside during the winter, make sure to cover it. Buy an RV cover to cover the entire trailer or use a breathable tarp to cover the roof. A well fitted breathable RV cover is recommended. Whichever cover you decide to use, make sure it is secure, especially if the wind picks up. If you choose a tarp to cover your roof, make sure you purchase wheel covers for your tires. When putting on your wheel covers, make sure the covers are secure from the winter elements.

4. Once a snow storm is over, bundle up and go out to your RV to remove the snow off your roof. Even though you have a cover over your roof, that still doesn’t protect it from the heavy snow. Use a plastic snow shovel to remove the snow (DO NOT USE AN ALUMINUM SNOW SHOVEL OR A SHOVEL WITH A METAL TIP). Plastic snow shovels are less likely to tear or damage your roof. When removing snow from your roof, concentrate on removing the snow and leave any ice that has built up. Once the ice is exposed to the sunlight, the ice will start to melt and run off your RV. DO NOT USE A HAMMER TO REMOVE THE ICE: this will damage your roof.

RV winter covers available at Lerch RV in Milroy,PA

A breathable RV-specific cover is recommended for winter storage.

5. When removing snow, make sure to use a portable ladder that you can move around the RV. Do not stand on your RV roof! The extra body weight along with the heavy snow could collapse the roof in by just stepping in the wrong spot. Just remember safety first.

For more tips about protecting your RV from the snow, read “Winter Snow Load Can Seriously Damage Your RV” or “Heavy Snow Load Will Stress Your RV Roof To The Point Of Destruction.” Both articles are by Curtis at thefuntimesguide.com in the RV Road Trips section.

Common Sense Protection from RV Vandalism.

After speaking with several customers, I decide to do some research on RV vandalism.  Of course, to my dismay, vandalism of Recreational Vehicles is on the rise all over the country.  I recently came across a great article posted on Bish’s RV blog, on how to protect your unit from vandalism.  I thought I would share some high points from this article with my fellow readers.  Most of the well made points are common sense items. Such as removing high dollar value items, the same thing most of us do when we park our vehicles. Of course once a vandal does strike, the damage that results must be addressed.  Hard earned money must be spent in repairing the damage, and in some cases your insurance premium will go up.

If your RV or travel trailer spends a lot of time unattended or in a storage unit (especially during the winter months), there is a good chance that someone could break into your unit. Before putting your unit into winter storage, you need to take precautions to make sure your RV is safe from vandalism. Here are some tips to make sure your RV is protected from vandalism and robbers who cause it. These tips are not only for long-term storage.  We should all try to practice them on a regular basis.

1. Take all valuables out of your RV. This includes all electronic items. For motor homes with built-in dash radios, upgrade the system to newer system where you can remove the faceplate of the head unit.

Motorhome back window broken out

Vandals can cause serious damage getting to those high dollar items inside your coach.

2. Remove the roof ladder on the back of your RV (if possible). By leaving the ladder, you are giving a robber access to your roof. If someone really wants in your unit, they could kick in the roof vents to enter into your unit. This causes serious damage to not only your vent mounts but also to your roof.

3. Leave up a few window shades in your RV (about 10 inches). If a person is able to see into your unit before breaking in, they are less likely to break in if they see all of the electronic items have been removed. Do not leave up all of you shades, just a few main ones.

4. Ask the manager at your storage facility about their security system. See if they have a system or if there are any guards that come to regularly check on the storage lot. Also, ask for a lot space where all sides of your unit can be seen easily, especially the back of your unit. If your RV is backed up against a fence where there is a forest, a field or a close building behind it, this gives a vandal the perfect opportunity to enter your unit without being detected or seen.

5. Positioning your RV. Make sure when you back in your unit into the storage space that your RV is at least a foot away from the fence. Just because there is a security lock on the fence, doesn’t mean a desperate robber won’t try to climb the fence. If your unit is backed up close enough to the fence you are actually helping the robber enter into the storage lot. The vandal can climb over the fence, use your ladder to climb down into the storage lot or on your roof.

6. Lock the doors! Before leaving your RV, make sure all your doors and storage compartments are locked. This is particular true if your unit has a hamper access panel or under-bed storage that leads to a storage compartment. If you have deadbolts make sure those are locked too.

7. Check on your RV regularly. Check on your unit regularly, even if there is a security system in place at your storage facility. Just don’t forget about the unit after you have parked it. Make sure to check on your RV especially if you have a winter cover on it, this gives vandals an excellent ‘invisible cloak’ to hide behind.  So schedule visits to your unit.

If you are parked at a permanent site at a campground and only use the coach during the weekends.  Have your neighbors keep an eye on your unit for you, be sure to do the same for them.  Many bold and brazen vandalism attacks have been made in broad daylight.  The whole joy of camping and the RV lifestyle in general is to make friends, to help one another enjoy life, to establish lasting relationships in the RV community, and to create those lasting memories.  So help each other out.

Safe Travels & Happy RVing!

Testing your RV Batteries, the correct way.

With the changing of the seasons here in central PA and a wintry mix forecast in the weather,come some mandatory maintenance tips for your RV. One of which is checking the charge on your batteries. I think that many times we take this for granted, but a battery that lies dormant for extend periods of time will lose it’s charge. There is nothing more frustrating than a dead battery. The sad part is that is very easy to do.

Testing the battery state of charge is not difficult to do. There are basically three ways to test the condition of your RV batteries. Here is a great explanation from blog.rv.net:

  • The three ways are:1) You can use the monitor panel in the RV.

    2) You can measure the voltage with a digital voltmeter.

    3) You can test the specific gravity with a hydrometer.

Lerch RV, the place for your RV Parts.

RV Monitor Panel

The least accurate of the three testing methods is the RV monitor panel, but if this is your only means for checking the battery(s) it will give you a general idea of the condition. When you check the condition of your battery using the monitor panel make sure the RV is not plugged in to shore power, if it is you will get a false fully charged reading. To get a more accurate reading of the battery’s condition check the monitor panel when the RV is not plugged in and turn a couple of overhead lights on to place a small load on the battery.

Voltage Meter for RV Battery testing.
Measuring voltage with a voltmeter has its advantages. If you have sealed batteries your only choice is to use a voltmeter, and measuring voltage can give you a quick picture of the batteries depth of discharge, so you know when they need to be recharged. To measure the voltage you need a good digital voltmeter. Set the meter on DC voltage and connect the red lead to the positive terminal and the black lead to the negative terminal. A 12-volt battery that is charged should read 12.5 to 12.7 volts. Readings less than 12.5 indicate the battery state of charge is below 80% and the battery needs to be charged. A 6-volt battery that is charged should read 6.25 to 6.37 volts. Readings below 6.25 indicate the battery state of charge is below 80% and the battery needs to be charged.

The preferred method of RV Battery Testing.

The Hydrometer is the best method of testing your RV Battery

The preferred method for testing the battery’s state of charge is to check the specific gravity reading of each cell. This method is a little more involved, but it’s worth the time and minimal cost. You can purchase a hydrometer at an auto parts store for about ten dollars. The electrolyte in the battery cells is a solution of acid and water so you need to wear safety glasses and gloves and avoid any contact with your skin. The first step is to remove the vent caps and check the electrolyte levels. There has to be enough in the cells for the hydrometer to pick up a sample. If you have to add any water prior to testing you will have to charge the battery and let it sit for 12 hours before testing the condition of the battery.
Next, fill and drain the hydrometer at least twice in each cell before taking a sample. Take the reading and record it and drain the electrolyte back into the cell you are testing. Test all of the cells and replace the vent caps when you are finished. Specific gravity readings for a charged battery should read between 1.235 and 1.277. Specific gravity readings below 1.235 indicate the battery state of charge is less than 80% and the battery needs to be charged. If there is a .050 or more difference in the specific gravity reading between the highest and lowest cell, you have a weak or dead cell in the battery.

If that was a little difficult to understand, take a look at the video below. It is a great explanation of how the hydrometer works:

If you put your RV in long-term storage it’s a good idea to remove the batteries and put them in storage too. This is quite simple to do. When you remove a battery always remember to remove the negative terminal first and then the positive terminal. Knowing the battery state of charge and re-charging a discharged battery in a timely manner will extend the life of the battery.

Caution: RV batteries can be dangerous to work around. If you are not familiar with batteries or if you do not feel comfortable working around batteries you can always bring your RV in to us and have us take a look.

Frozen RV Slide-Out? All you need is a hair dryer.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Once again we are back visiting with my favorite RV driving instructor aka Jeff Daniels. This episode is one of the funniest yet, as Jeff transitions from RV Driving Instruction to RV Service Technician. Wow, this stellar fellow can do it all. I wish I would have stumble upon these webisodes earlier this year, however I believe this is the perfect time of year to share them. Since the cold weather is going to be coming sooner or later. From this wonderful video, I once again take away some great RV education, always carry a salon sized or industrial hair dryer and a large extension cord. Or maybe just use some good old common sense and keep your slide-outs in during extreme over-night temperatures. I will allow everyone to make their own conclusions. Keeping your slide-outs functioning properly requires very minimal maintenance through out the year. Your owners manual will list and inform you of any required maintenance. Also you can always contact your local Central PA RV Dealership for maintenance help with your slide-outs. Or you may visit the forums at Camping PA.com for RV friendly hints and RV maintenance tips. As you watch this episode, how many of us out there would love to Jeff’s tour manager?

Until next time Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Once again, here is Jeff Daniels:

Need to know more about required maintenance on your RV, please fee free to contact Lerch RV’s Service Department.  We will gladly have one of our qualified technicians help you.

Winter Tips for RV Storage

RV Storage Tips

Recently I have overheard some service customers asking about winter storage suggestions. I decided to gather some industry followed practices and compile a small list. Again many RV owners out there follow their own tried and true methods for RV storage. However after selling travel trailers and 5th wheels to an above average number of new campers this year, those new RV-ers are having to prepare for winter storage as novices. So this little list may be helpful to those of you who are new to this. Check out my past blog post on indoor vs outdoor RV storage.

Interior
Before winter storage begins, give your interior a good cleaning. Wipe down and vacuum the interior. That way you are one step ahead when Spring camping season comes around again.

Humidity
Moisture inside your camper can be very detrimental. You can help alleviate humidity in a couple of ways. Run a de-humidifier, although this is only a viable option if you have power to your RV through-out the storage period. If not, open a roof vent to allow excess moisture to escape (only while using a Roof Vent Cover like a MAX-AIR VENT COVER that still protects your roof vent while open).

Rodents
Remove all food or any odor producing items. There are many different types of rodent and pest control items and some we have heard include but are not limited to Drier Sheets, Commercial Applications, Moth Balls, and more. Some may cause allergic reactions so use your discretion. We recommend using an all natural repellent that is safe for kids and pets.

Batteries
Clean and remove your battery(s) and store them in a cool and dry place. Top off the water level and check and/or recharge them every month. Better yet keep a battery tender/maintainer hooked up to the battery, again only if you have accessible power during storage. Most people simply store them in their basement. Deep cycle batteries will self-discharge in a month or sometime less. Most RV batteries will have a draw put on them by the LPG Leak Detector and the climate control switch on the refrigerator. Make sure you have your climate control switch in the off position when your RV is not in use year round. A battery that has been discharged will not work as well or last as long. Use only distilled water to top the water levels off in the cells.

Water System
Winterize your coach according to the manufacturers recommendations. Do not put anti-freeze in your water heater. Dump all your waste water tanks and lubricate your dump and toilet valves with petroleum jelly.

Propane System
Turn off your propane system by closing the valves on the tanks themselves.

Seals
Check all seams and seals on your coach including slide-out, windows, roof vents, sewer vents, wall seams, and any other you may find. Caulk where voids in seams are apparent. Lubricate your slide-out seals with appropriate conditioner (available in our store).

Roof
Before and after winter storage is a good time to inspect your roof. A good roof cleaning will go a long way to preserve your roofing material. Only use appropriate and manufacture recommend roof cleaners. A clean roof will also benefit the side walls of your RV, by keeping a lot of dirt and debris from running down the sides, producing those tall-tale black streaks.

The above suggestions may not work for everyone. Always refer to you owners manuals for proper care of your coach. If you have any questions about winter care and storage, give your Central PA RV Dealership a call at 800-722-1236. Send a question via email to rvsales@lerchrv.com. We will gladly help as best we can.

Safe travels and Happy RVing!!

Indoor vs Outdoor Winter Storage

Winter is fast approaching the Northeast part of the country.  Most of us have wrapped up our camping season and are beginning to think about winter storage of our RV. Winter storage for your unit is a big decision to make.  No matter what RV storage option you may choose, make sure that you keep your RV insurance active.  An accident could occur over the storage period and you could lose everything!  Also remember to clean out all of your perishables and clean you unit thoroughly before putting your RV into winter storage.  This will help deter mice or other rodents from entering your unit and using for winter quarters.  Check out my Have a Rodent Problem post for more tips on preventing critter from entering and damaging your RV.  Winter storage is a personal decision.  So please be comfortable with whatever option you choose.Indoor Winter RV Storage

Indoor storage options usually include some of the following:

Heated Garage

  • Keeps all plastic components at a safe temperature.
  • Protects the unit from unwanted damage from the sun, wind and snow.

Steel Paneled Pole Building

  • Not a heated building, however it will protect your RV from the Snow,wind and winter sun.

Steel or Aluminum Carport

  • Protects your RV Roof from the snow and sun.  Since the sides of the carport are usually open, the RV will still be subject to the wind.

Enclosed RV Storage Facility

  • A rented, sometimes environmentally controlled, storage facility paid monthly.
  • Make sure that you understand your contract.  And what kind of insurance the facility has in case of damage.

Lerch RV, Milroy PA

Outdoor storage is usually the most common, somethings to consider are:

  • Outdoor storage offers a higher risk of vandalism, theft and damage occurrences.
  • To cover or not cover with a protective, breathable RV winter cover.  Please do not use the typical ‘blue tarp’.
  • Snow and ice build up on the roof, if you live in areas with high snowfall accumulations, you may need to shovel the roof off on occasion.
  • Close up all pop ups and hybrid/tent end campers.  Do not allow canvas to be exposed to the harsh winter.

This is just a small selection of indoor and outdoor storage hints.  Every RV owner has their own unique take on winter storage.  Most are tried and true, some others are just learning.  However you decide to store your RV, just make sure you do it properly, so you can continue to enjoy your coach year after year. Keep in mind that your Central PA RV Dealer offers outside winter storage for our customers at a very reasonable rate. To learn more please call 800-722-1236. Safe travels and Happy RVing!