Not All Snowbirds Have Wings

As refugees from the frozen north, snowbirds escape winter at home by migrating southward each year

For many, snowbirding isn’t just about having fun—it’s about avoiding the miseries of a northern winter. With the challenge of icy roads, shoveling snow, the cold, and being stormbound, is it any wonder so many of us like to escape winter?

Texas Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More and more snowbirds are now choosing RVing to the Sunbelt over flying to a rented or owned vacation home. RV snowbirding gives you the freedom to travel to different destinations, to leave and return when you want, and to enjoy the comfort of having your own stuff with you all the time. It’s your vacation home on wheels—how great is that?

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning. Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes. A key aspect of this preparation is making sure your home appears occupied.

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you’re new to the snowbird lifestyle or an experienced RVer, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO? (And how will you get there?)

Selecting a balmy snowbird roost is when all the fun begins. Choice is in rich supply.

Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many snowbirds are north-south creatures, meaning those from the Northwest tend to settle in Arizona, Nevada, and California; those from the Midwest flock to TexasMississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana; and those from the Northeast head for Florida.

Rio Bend Golf and RV Resort, El Centro, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you planning on heading directly south from your home location? Or will you cut across the country in a diagonal direction, exploring a whole new longitude?

Clermont Golf and RV Resort, Clermont, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choice of route is subject to your own inclinations. Do you want to visit friends or sightsee along the way, or—as might be the case in mid-winter—do you prefer to go hell-bent-for- leather to the Sunbelt?

Lakeside RV Resort, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maybe your plan is to head to a single destination, park there, and treat your RV like a cottage; taking day trips and excursions from one home base. Or maybe your plan is to visit several destinations, spending a few weeks or even a month at each. This is ideal if you’re attending festivals and events, or checking off a bucket list, like your top 10 national parks or roadside attractions.

Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Either way, experienced RVers know that your first step—after you’re comfortable driving the RV, of course—should be to plan your route and research your overnight stops.

Pro Tips:

Arizona Oasis RV Park, Ehrenberg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be realistic about how many hours you can drive in a day.

Reserve your RV parks in advance, based on your route. This guarantees you’ll have a spot to stop each night.

New Green Acres RV Park, Waterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make sure the park can accommodate the size of your rig. Plan to get there while it’s still daylight so you can park and set up and have time to relax.

Take holidays and long weekends into account: this will affect availability of camping sites.

Is Rover Roving with You?

Blake Ranch RV Park, Kingman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Furry friends have their own needs when traveling, too.

Make sure your dog is trained, fit, and healthy for the type of travel you plan. Take into account the type of transportation, activities, and living situation. Ensure your dog responds to recall and “leave it” commands for everyone’s safety.

Hill Top RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make sure your dog is vaccinated.

Worth Pondering…

We have chosen to be reasonably warm year-round, so we are snowbirds. Every year when I hear the honks of the Canada geese overhead at our home in Alberta, something in my genes starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose.” Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I line up the motorhome with that compass pointer and head for the Sun Belt.

What to Pack for Extended RV Trips

Here are the essentials for an extended RV trip including snowbird travel

Over the course of 22 years of our snowbird RV lifestyle, we have learned what we really need to pack and what we can do without. Our list of “essentials” has changed over the years based on changing needs and available storage space.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before leaving on our snowbird journey we go through the RV to determine the items needed and those no longer required.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following is a list of the items we currently pack into our RV for our snowbird travels to the U.S. Sunbelt. It should be noted that the majority of these items are never removed from the RV.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hopefully, if you are new to the snowbird lifestyle the following list will provide some assistance on the essentials required when planning an extended RV trip.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inside Items

  • Laptop computer, printer, camera, lens, and camera bag
  • Manuals for the motorhome and toad
  • Atlases and maps
  • Campground directories (Good Sam and Big Rigs)
  • Office supplies
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kitchen Stuff

  • Place setting for four people
  • Eating utensils
  • Coffee mugs and assorted glassware
  • Placemats
  • Small, medium, and large pots w/lids
  • Electric fry pan
  • Salad spinner
  • Roasting pans
  • Air tight plastic containers of various sizes for food storage
  • Toaster oven
  • Slow cooker
  • Kettle
  • Kitchen knives
  • Mixing bowls
  • Coffee maker
  • Cutting boards
  • Assorted utensils (spatula, ice cream scoop, can opener, measuring spoons, peeler, etc.)
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outside Items

  • Camping chairs
  • Folding tables
  • Outside mat
  • Tire covers
  • Tarp
  • Jack pads
  • RV Leveling Blocks (plastic stacking blocks in carrying case)
  • 5 gallon bucket
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utility Hookups

  • Fresh water hoses
  • Water pressure regulators
  • Sewer hoses, connections including clear plastic elbow, and support
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Coaxial TV cable
  • Progressive Industries Electric Management System
  • 30-amp extension cord
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cleaners & Lubricants

  • Windex
  • 303 Aerospace Protectant
  • Meguires RV wash and wax
  • Long adjustable pole with attachments
  • Silicone and white lithium spray lubricants
  • WD-40
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tools & Maintenance Items

  • Basic tool kit (Screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, hammer, tape measure, etc.)
  • Assorted screws, nuts, bolts, and washers
  • Heavy duty tire pressure gauge
  • Folding shovel
  • Duct and Gorilla Tape
  • Spare oil, hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid for motorhome
  • Distilled water
  • Funnels
  • Work gloves
  • Portable collapsible ladder
  • Heavy duty clippers with extendable handles
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Safety & Emergency Items

  • 4 fire extinguishers—bedroom, entrance, storage, and toad
  • Emergency road side reflective triangles
  • First aid kit
  • Spare batteries for LED flashlights, CO, smoke, and LP gas detectors
  • Battery jumper cables
At the Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wow! When I actually sat down and listed our stuff and it sure adds up. It’s hard to believe it all fits in our rig, but it does. Fortunately, our Dutch Star diesel pusher’s ample storage space and a decent amount of extra cargo weight capacity.

At the Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along with the reliability of Newmar motorhomes and the quality service provided by our dealer—Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia—the ample cargo carrying capacity was one of the reasons we chose it. Something to think about if you’re buying a rig for extended RV trips.

At the Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.

Securing Your Home for Snowbird Travel

Here are some things you can do to help protect your home while you head for warmer weather.

If you’re planning for snowbird travel or other long-term RV adventure, you need to prepare your home to be unoccupied for months at a time. A key aspect of this preparation is making sure your home appears occupied.

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Gila Bend KOA in Gila Bend, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop the Mail and Newspaper Deliveries

The mail is often a never-ending cascade of advertising and other solicitations—with bills and an occasional letter or card in-between. Left unchecked, mail will likely accumulate beyond your mail box capacity and potentially announce your absence. Thank you, junk mail.

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Pala Casino RV Resort in Pala, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thankfully, stopping the mail is as easy as going onto USPS.com and requesting your mail to be held or forwarded. For $1 you can have your mail forwarded for as short as fifteen days or as long as one year. After the first six months, you can extend for another six months. Even better, you can adjust the amount of time your mail is forwarded online. You can shortened or extended mail forwarding based on changing road plans.

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Jekyll Island Campground on Jekyll, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canadians have a similar mail forwarding system but pay a minimum of $52.95 for four months of mail forwarding within their province, $65.95 within Canada, and $152.95 to the U.S. For more information about mail forwarding in Canada visit CanadaPost.ca.

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is A+ Motel and RV Park in Sulphur, Louisiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For many, there’s nothing better than reading a physical newspaper or magazine. Be sure to pause those newspaper drops while you’re away, or they may give your absence away.

Even if you have your newspapers stopped, circulars and phone books may be dropped at your house. Again, ask your neighbor to check for these. There is nothing that says, “no one at home” like an accumulation of newspapers on your front step or at the end of your driveway. 

Snow Removal

Sometimes you can’t escape the snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arrange with a neighbor, relative, or commercial service for snow removal. Depending on the season of your absence, and your home climate, it may also be necessary to have someone help with lawn maintenance, weed control, leaf raking and removal, and lawn and shrub watering.

Did someone say “snow”? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Those with house plants should also make arrangements to have their plants watered and cared for.

Consider a Web Camera System

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Lake Osprey RV Resort in Elberta, Alabama. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With high-speed internet and a high quality camera, it’s possible to see a live video feed of your house and property from almost anywhere. That’s right, you can watch your house yourself when you’re away.

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many of the internet and security system companies now sell and install web camera systems for a monthly fee. On the other hand, there are companies that sell do-it-yourself kits including the web cameras, digital hubs, and software that allows you to install, set-up, and use such a system. Be aware that these web camera kits are not for the technologically challenged, and likely require running wire and cables throughout your attic and crawl spaces.

Never Post Travel Plans or Events on Social Media

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Jamaica Beach RV Resort on Galveston Island, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s common sense that you don’t run around telling everyone that you’ll be away and your house will be unoccupied, but that’s exactly what you do by posting your trip plans and adventure to social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. It’s also not a good idea to change your answering machine message to anything implying your absence.

Take Pictures

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Bentsen Palm Village in Mission, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Naturally you might think taking pictures is what you do once you’re on the road and exploring new places. While this is certainly true, you also should take pictures of your home and possessions prior to leaving. In case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, these photographs will prove what you had, and in what overall condition it was in.

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is All About Relaxing RV Park in Theodore, Alabama. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You may also consider photocopying your passport, credit cards, drivers license, and other important documents. Hopefully you will not need these images but having evidence of this information can make or break travel plans in case of an emergency.

The best part of the above recommendations is the peace of mind they’ll give you if you’re away from home. 

There are many alternatives to a northern winter. Pictured above is Rain Spirit RV Park in Clarkdale, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

We have chosen to be reasonably warm year-round, so we are snowbirds. Every year when I hear the honks of the Canada geese overhead, something in my genes starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose.” Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I line up the motorhome with that compass pointer and head for the Sun Belt.

October 2019 RV Manufacturer Recalls

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and 230 for 2018.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 13 recall notices during October 2019. These recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Jayco (4 recalls), Forest River (2 recalls), Keystone RV Company (2 recalls), Airstream (1 recall), Heartland Recreational Vehicles (1 recall), Cruiser RV (1 recall), Pleasure Way (1 recall), and Starcraft RV (1 recall).

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Jay Feather X19H travel trailers. The handles for the emergency exit windows may not allow the windows to open sufficiently for them to be used as an emergency egress.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will replace the emergency window handles, free of charge. The recall began October 11, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901441.

The Motorcoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Redhawk SE motorhomes. The seatbelt-unfastened warning light will not illuminate for approximately five seconds after the ignition is moved to the “on” or “start” position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”

GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the instrument panel cluster, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 16, 2019. Owners may contact GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782 or Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137.

The Lakes RV and Golf Resort, Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019 Eagle HT and Eagle recreational trailers. The gas range does not vent outside.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will install a range hood vent out the sidewall of the trailer, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 20, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901438.

Hollywood Casino RV Park, Bay St. Lewis, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2014-2018 Precept motorhomes built on Ford F53 chassis. The hydraulic lines may have been incorrectly routed too close to the exhaust without a heat shield.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and correct the hydraulic line routing as necessary and install a heat shield, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9903440.

Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Sabre trailers, models SRF261RK-C, SRF270RL-C and SRF301BH-C. The rotating pin box may come into contact with the 7-way junction box/wiring and cause an electrical short circuit.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will relocate the 7-way and junction box to a location that allows movement when the pin box is pivoting, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 30, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is 62-1085.

7 Feathers Casino RV Park, Canyonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Cherokee trailers, models CKT16BF-D, CKT16BFH-D, CKT16GR-D and CKT16GRH-D. The protective paneling may not have been installed around the distribution panel, allowing the distribution panel wiring to be exposed in a storage compartment, which can lead to damage to the panel and wiring.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install a divider in the storage compartment to ensure the distribution panel wiring is protected, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 30, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is 17D-1089.

Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Cougar 30RKD trailers. The 60″x29″ emergency exit windows over the dinette table in the cabin are missing a red handle and “EXIT” label.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will replace the existing black exit handles with red handles and add an “EXIT” label, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 5, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-360.

Dakota Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Cougar fifth wheels and travel trailers, models 22RBS, 23MLS, 25RES, 26RBS, 26RKS, 27RES, 27SAB, 27SGS, 29BHS, 29FKD, 29RLD, 30RKD, 31MBS, 32RDB, 32RLI and 34TSB. The wiring for the solar preparation kit may have been incorrectly wired to the wrong side of the 12V breaker, potentially allowing an electrical short circuit in the event of damage to the wiring.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and correct the installation of the solar preparation wiring, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 11, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-361.

River Plantation RV Park, Seviereville, Tennessee

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2016-2017 International Serenity, 2016 International Signature, and Flying Cloud trailers that are 19 feet long. The vertically-mounted inverter may contact the floor-mounted inverter fuse.

Airstream will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the location of the inverter and inverter fuse. If the inverter and inverter fuse are not mounted on the same surface, the inverter fuse will be relocated, and secured to the same surface as the inverter. In addition, a protective cover will be installed on the inverter fuse bar, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 extension 7401 or 7411.

RV Park USA, Comfort, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2020 Milestone recreational trailers. The wood backers for bunk supports were not installed on the slide out bunk end walls during manufacturing, possibly allowing the upper bunk bed to fall.

Heartland dealers will install wood backers to secure the bunk bed, free of charge, all affected vehicles were on dealer lots. The recall began on September 20, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cruiser RV

Cruiser RV (Cruiser) is recalling certain 2020 Southfork recreational trailers. The wood backers for bunk supports were not installed on the slide out bunk end walls during manufacturing, possibly allowing the upper bunk bed to fall.

Cruiser will notify owners, and dealers will install wood backers to secure the bunk bed, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 15, 2019. Owners may contact Cruiser customer service at 1-574-206-7920.

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pleasure Way

Pleasure Way Industries Ltd. (Pleasure Way) is recalling certain 2018-2020 Plateau, Plateau XL, Ascent and Lexor motorhomes equipped with a Fiamma F45 Eagle or Fiamma F65 Eagle awning. The awning drive mechanism may fail causing the awning to extend unexpectedly without input from the user.

Pleasure Way will notify owners, and dealers will install straps to keep the awning closed, as a temporary solution, free of charge. Fiamma will provide a permanent solution. Pleasure Way issued owners an interim notification on October 7, 2019. Owners may contact Pleasure Way customer service at 1-800-364-0189.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Starcraft RV

Starcraft RV (Starcraft) is recalling certain 2018 Comet Mini, 2018-2019 GPS, Autumn Ridge Outfitter, Launch Ultra Lite, Launch Outfitter 7, Autumn Ridge, Launch Outfitter, Satellite and Avalon and 2019 Mossy Oak and Mossy Oak Lite travel trailers. The fuse/circuit breaker wiring between the battery and the converter may have bypassed the 30amp fuse, creating an unprotected circuit.

Starcraft will notify owners, and dealers will install a fuse harness assembly to protect the circuit, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 22, 2019. Owners may contact Starcraft customer service at 1-800-945-4787. Starcraft’s number for this recall is 9902439.

Meahler State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Note: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Please Note: This is the ninth in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

The Snowbird Migration Is Underway

Winter is arriving faster than most of us would like which means it’s time to get in our RVs and fly south to warmer climates

The snowbird migration is underway.

The V-shaped flight pattern of geese heading south for the winter has become a symbolic image of frigid weather approaching. A similar phenomenon takes place with humans as thousands of Northerners flock south seeking refuge from the blistering cold.

Enjoy Oysters Supreme at Stingaree at Crystal Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From scenic views to five star dining and shopping, the US Sunbelt has become a major attraction for snowbirds—and the season is now in full swing.

Fledgling snowbirds often start as vacationers, but most evolve in flocks, following friends and family and regional or social enclaves into migratory communities. Snowbirds of a feather do tend to flock together.

Gila Bend KOA, a new snowbird roost in Southern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They are gilded nomads, prosperous enough to at least afford a camper, trailer, or motorhome.

And most of them seem to like company. At journey’s end: Happy reunions and outdoor play under mostly sunny blue skies. That’s a slice of the good life that snowbirds relish. Between golf, pickleball, bocce, hiking and biking, going to the restaurants— and just enjoying the weather: it’s phenomenal.

Hiking at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The weather is a driving factor in pushing snowbirds from fleeing the falling temperatures and their cold-climate and snowy nests following the first winter blast of the season. Life is good here, pleasant, easy, fulfilling, sunny, warm. That most of all, warm.

The weather is consistently warm in Anza-Borrego State Park in Southern California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Climate is a major economic driver for Sunbelt states as winter visitors flee their homes in colder parts of the country. Many snowbirds fill up the RV parks, resulting in millions of dollars being dumped into local economies.

Enjoying Cajun Country at Breaux Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Time was when snowbirds adhered to the calendar as predictably as swallows return, each March 19, to Capistrano or Monarch butterflies, each October, to Mexico. The Season began on October 15 and ended on April 15.

Snowbirds tend to migrate in waves with the early birds arriving in October, and another flock after Thanksgiving with the final wave following Christmas and New Years. Then, in the shift of seasons, they go again returning north anytime between March and May.

Mesilla Valley near Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Through both journeys, they change the lives of everyone else who comes, for however long, and of everyone who stays. Snowbirds create a demand for goods and services. They create additional jobs. The dollar impact of their presence is anyone’s guess.

Highland Hammocks State Park in Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No one tracks snowbirds in Florida. The chambers and tourist bureaus don’t.

It’s been ten years since a study has been done on the economic impact of winter visitors in Arizona, but at that time it was estimated that RV snowbirds injected more than $600 million into Arizona’s economy.

Relax in Mount Dora, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the eyes of many year-round residents, snowbirds are somewhat akin to houseguests: Good to see them arrive, good to see them depart. Snowbird season means greater traffic volume, more crowded supermarket aisles, endless waits to snag a table at a favorite dining spot.

Not everyone loves snowbirds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although year-round residents occasionally whine about more-congested roads, most will agree: Snowbirds inject vitality and dollars into the region. Local businesses will enjoy the economic boost until late March when things really start to heat up in the Sunbelt states and snowbirds start the trek back to their northern homes.

Find perfect winter weather in Venice, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And, snowbirds don’t just play and pay in paradise: Many volunteer. Opportunities for volunteering are available at hospitals and nursing homes, amusement and theme parks, museums and art galleries, visitor information and welcome centers, and other outdoor recreation facilities and attractions. Numerous nonprofit agencies rely on snowbirds to play an important role during the winter months.

Enjoying bird life © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For snowbirds that love recreational activities and enjoy interacting with other people, volunteering offers numerous opportunities for giving back to society.

If you choose to work while you play, enjoy your experience.

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day…

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

Raise Your RV IQ with These Tips

Steering RV owners both new and seasoned in the right direction with these tips

Your recreational vehicle is a vacation home wherever you want it, whenever you want it. It is freedom and security in equal measure. It’s Lewis and Clark on turbo-charge.

Whether you just bought your first RV or you have owned one for a while, nothing beats the ease and freedom of walking into your unit and hitting the open road. 

Before setting out on your next adventure, consider the following five tips to raise your RV IQ.

Travel with Propane Off

Travel safely with the propane turned off at the tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This is a common topic discussed around the campfire, and it is a bit controversial. The best I can do is to offer my personal opinion. It really is safer to drive with the propane supply turned off at the tank.

Travel safely with the propane turned off at the tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I believe that having the propane on while traveling increases the risk of a fire if you are involved in an accident. If a gas line is damaged or broken, and the propane tank supply valves are open, there will be a release of potentially explosive propane gas. That’s a bad thing. For this reason, I choose to run with the main tank valve off.

Travel safely with the propane turned off at the tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now, many folks will say: Hey, I’ve been running with the propane on for XX years, and nothing bad has ever happened to me. That may be true, but having the tank valves open increases your risk—it just does.

Travel safely with the propane turned off at the tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RVers want the propane on in order to run their fridges while traveling. Most folks find that, for the average trip, the refrigerator will maintain a low enough internal temperature to keep your food fresh. It is also possible to freeze some blue ice packs the night before and use them in the refrigerator compartment to help keep everything cold while traveling.

Extension Cords

If using an extension cord be aware of the dangers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you use an extension cord to plug in your RV to the shoreline power, it’s essential that you utilize the right one. We’ve seen it happen far too many times: an RV owner uses a standard orange extension cord with a 15 amp rating to run their 30 amp power center. This is asking for trouble as the excessive power draw can overheat the cord and connection which can melt the cord and possibly cause a fire. 

Give Me Forty Acres

Practice tow bar safety © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When I’m hooked up to drive down the road, my setup is 58 feet long. That’s 38 feet of rig, almost 15 feet of Chevrolet Equinox, and a few feet of tow bar.

As most of you know, when towing a car with an RV, you should not back up. Some tow systems allow it for very short distances, but most advise never to do it; depending on the manufacturer, you will void your warranty.

Practice tow bar safety © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s not an equipment or skills issue; it’s a physics issue. If you have experience backing trailers, you know that trailers move opposite to the rear of your tow vehicle; you can end up in a jackknife situation very quickly when in reverse. But, here’s the critical difference between a trailer and a toad: a toad has a steering wheel, and the toad’s tires can turn in all directions! You simply cannot back a toad the same way as a trailer. It will end up turning “Every Which Way But Loose,” as Eddie Rabbitt sang for that Clint Eastwood movie.

Practice tow bar safety © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since you can’t back up, it’s important to know your turn radius.You may wish to practice doing circles in a parking lot.

Install a Clear Sewer Hose Elbow

Clear See Through Elbow sewer hose connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No one really wants to see what is going on inside the sewer hose. They make those things brown or black for a reason. But the truth is that by installing a clear elbow at the end you can prevent a lot of potential problems down the road. Seeing what is going on in your hose allows you to check for undissolved toilet paper (in which case you might want to switch brands), to know ahead of time if a clog is about to happen, and to have visual confirmation that the tank is done emptying. Also, when you’re performing a black water flush you can easily see the color of the water, and when it runs clear be confident that the tank is clean.

Move Over Law

Practice safety © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Always be aware of emergency responders, including tow providers, when they are on the side of road assisting motorists.  More than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed since 1999 after being struck by vehicles along America’s highways. Each year tow company drivers are also struck and killed on the side of the road. Let’s do our part and be sure to change lanes. And remember, it is the law.

Practice safety © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

September 2019 RV Manufacturer Recalls

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

Camping at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, El Mirage, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and 230 for 2018.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 11 recall notices during September 2019. These recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (2 recalls), Keystone RV Company (2 recalls), Newmar (1 recall), Braxton Creek RV (1 recall), Lance Camper (1 recall), Thor Motor Coach (1 recall), Jayco (2 recalls), Entegra Coach (1 recall)

Camping at Portland Fairview RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Rockport box vans and service bodies, equipped with Uline Bulk Storage racks. Due to improper welding, the bulk storage beams may fail when loaded.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install replacement beams that were correctly welded, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin August 29, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-522-7599 or Uline customer service at 1-800-295-5510 or email at customerservice@uline.com. Forest River’s number for this recall is 29-1074.

Camping at Spartanburg-Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Catalina Travel Trailers. The fasteners securing the upper sleeping bunks may be too short, which can allow the bunk to fall.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fasteners to secure the bunk, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 9, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-825-8657. Forest River’s number for this recall is 205-1079.

Camping at Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2020 Crossroads Cruiser 29SI, 27MK, 28RD, 24RL, and 29RK fifth-wheel trailers equipped with Morryde Rotating Pin Boxes. These pin boxes may be attached with bolts that are too short.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the bolts, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 5, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-358.

Camping at Bellingham RV Park, Bellingham, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Hideout 25TH toy haulers. The trailers may be missing the Special Transportation Provision warning label in the garage area.

Keystone will notify owners, and dealers will provide the Special Transportation Provision warning labels, free of charge. The recall began on September 3, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-359.

Camping at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newmar

Newmar Corporation (Newmar) is recalling certain 2018-2020 Mountain Aire, Essex, and King Aire motorhomes. The bedroom fascia header may fall unexpectedly onto the bed.

Newmar will notify owners, and dealers will add screws and brackets to properly secure the fascia header, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 19, 2019. Owners may contact Newmar customer service at 1-800-731-8300.

Camping at Peach Arch RV Park, Surrey, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Braxton Creek RV

Braxton Creek RV (Braxton Creek) is recalling certain 2020 Bushwhacker trailers. The trailers may be missing the liquid propane (LP)/carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.

Braxton Creek will notify owners, and dealers will provide a plug-in 120 volt LP/CO detector, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in September 2019. Owners may contact Braxton Creek customer service at 1-260-768-7932.

Camping at Golden Village Palms RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lance Camper

Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. (Lance Camper) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Lance Camper 855S trailers. The 12 volt battery power and/or ground wire may contact the hot burner box of the refrigerator.

Lance Camper will notify owners, and dealers will install a clamp to secure the wire, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 14, 2019. Owners may contact Lance Camper customer service at 1-661-949-3322.

Camping at Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2020 Chateau, Daybreak, Four Winds, Freedom Elite, Majestic, Outlaw and Quantum motorhomes. The battery cables may loosen on the battery isolation manager (BIM) or battery isolation relay (BIR), causing premature BIN/BIR failure or electrical arcing.

TMC will notify owners, and dealers will install lock washers to properly secure the battery cable to the BIM/BIR. If the cable was loose, dealers will also replace the BIM/BIR, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 20, 2019. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000172.

Camping at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019 Embark motorhomes. The upper and lower steering shaft bolts may have been insufficiently tightened, allowing the steering column shaft to come loose.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and tighten the upper and lower steering shaft bolts, if necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in September 2019. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901434.

Camping at Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Eagle HT fifth wheel trailers equipped with MORyde Orbital or You Turn Rubber Pin Box Wedge Kits. The pin boxes may have been equipped with bolts 1-3/4″ in length when they should be equipped with 2″ long bolts.

Jayco will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the bolts and replace them as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 20, 2019. Owners may contact MORyde customer service at 1-574-293-1581 or Jayco at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901435.

Camping at Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Entegra Coach

Entegra Coach (Entegra) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Insignia, Anthem, Aspire, Cornerstone, Reatta, and Reatta XL motorhomes. The upper and lower steering shaft bolts may have been insufficiently tightened, allowing the steering column shaft to come loose.

Entegra will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and tighten the upper and lower steering shaft bolts, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in September 2019. Owners may contact Entegra customer service at 1-800-517-9137. Entegra’s number for this recall is 9901434.

Note: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Please Note: This is the eighth in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

10 RV Driving Tips

Whether you are new to RVing or not, these tips can help ensure that your trip will be problem-free

Most RVs are not particularly difficult to drive but there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your travels safer and more enjoyable.

The majority of drivers can adapt quite well to the increased size, height, and weight of an RV, but keeping alert, planning ahead, and driving cautiously remain top priority in the safe handling of your vehicle.

Driving Newfound Gap Road through Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check Lights before Traveling

  • Prior to starting your day’s travel check the functioning of all signal lights, 4-way flashers, brake lights, and head lights
Driving Highway 12 Scenic Byway in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mirror Adjustments

  • Adjust the side-view mirrors to barely see the side of your RV
  • Adjust the convex mirrors to include blind spots, keeping in mind that distances may be distorted
  • Check your mirrors every 30 seconds
  • Ensure that you’re driving within the painted lines
  • Be aware of the traffic behind you and whether they are keeping up with you, preparing to pass, or falling back
Driving near Glen Canyon Recreation Area in northern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Look Well Ahead

  • DO NOT overdrive your visibility
  • 90% of all driving decisions are visual based
Driving Organ Pipe National Monument in southern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leave Yourself an Out

  • Determine the lane of least resistance and safety
  • Maintain safe following distances
  • Leave room to change lanes when stopping behind another vehicle
  • Is there a way out of here?
  • DO NOT drive your RV into any place that you can’t see a way out of—especially if that RV is a large motorhome towing a car
Driving Highway 12 Scenic Byway between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Navigating Large Cities

  • Plan your trip in advance so that you can avoid going through large cities during morning or late afternoon rush hour
  • The best time to drive through major cities is early Sunday morning—during the workweek, you’re best to travel between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Driving Newfound Gap Road through Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Follow the Rule of 20 Percent

  • Fully loaded RVs have slower acceleration and take longer to come to a full stop than autos
  • To compensate, add 20 percent to everything you do, from increasing your following distance and judging if you have enough clearance to safely merging into traffic.
Know your height1 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know & Post Your Height, Width & Length

  • A major insurance claim is RVs hitting gas station overhangs, underpasses, and bridges

Solution: Post your exterior height, width, and total length in the motorhome or tow vehicle where it can easily be seen while driving

Height: Measure to the highest point such as air conditioner or satellite dish

Width: Measure to the outermost points such as mirrors, awnings, or handles

Length: Measure from the front of the vehicle to the end of the towed vehicle or trailer

Know your height, width, and length! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One Hour Rest Stop Walk-Around

Visually inspect your tow hitch connections and check for overheated and low tires every time you stop at a rest stop or refueling location. Pranksters have been known to remove pins from the hitch. Perform a walk-around that covers these visual points:

  • Check to ensure that tires have not overheated
  • Check tow bar or hitch and safety cables
  • Ensure that hitch pins or bolts are still in place
  • Check to ensure that the wiring harness is connected securely
  • Look under the chassis for signs of oil or coolant leaks
  • Check storage bay doors
Driving Organ Pipe National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turn Signals

  • Turn signals are valuable for communicating your intentions to other drivers; if you don’t signal, other drivers have no way of knowing what you plan to do
  • In an emergency pull completely off the road and use emergency flashers, flares, or some other emergency signaling device to warn oncoming traffic
And we arrived safely again… © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remember, Safety Is No Accident

Worth Pondering…

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 2019 RV Manufacturer Recalls

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

Camping at Smokiam RV Resort, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a recall?

When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and 230 for 2018.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality.

NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 10 recall notices during August 2019. These recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (3 recalls), Heartland Recreational Vehicles (1 recall), REV Recreation Group (1 recall), Gulf Stream Coach (1 recall), Thor Motor Coach (1 recall), Winnebago (1 recall), Vanleigh RV (1 recall), Tiffin (1 recall)

Forest River

Camping at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2013-2019 Starcraft Allstar, 2013 and 2019 Allstar XL, 2017 Candidate II, 2014-2018 Senator II and Senator II HD, and 2015-2019 Starlite vehicles equipped with Safe Fleet Prolo Roof Escape hatches. Due to a manufacturing issue, the roof hatch external handle may unexpectedly break under reasonable use.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will replace the hatch, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 13, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-800-748-3440. Forest River’s number for this recall is 05-1060.

Forest River

Camping at Texas Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Flagstaff and Cherokee Arctic Wolf recreational trailers equipped with MORyde Orbital or You Turn Rubber Pin Box Wedge Kits. The pin boxes may have been equipped with bolts 1-3/4″ in length when they should be equipped with 2″ long bolts.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the bolts and replace them as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 11, 2019. Owners may contact MORyde customer service at 1-574-293-1581 or Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-8954 (Flagstaff) or 1-260-499-2100 (Cherokee). Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1065.

Forest River

Camping at New Green Acres RV Resort, Waterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020 Columbus Fifthwheel Trailers. The rear ladder blocks the egress window on the rear wall, preventing the use of the window.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install an egress window, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 18, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-821-1487. Forest River’s number for this recall is 410-1071.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Camping at Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2017 Bighorn Traveler, 2016-2020 Elkridge, Elkridge Ex, 2019-2020 Milestone, 2017-2018 North Peak, 2016-2017 Oakmont, 2017-2020 Pioneer FW, 2016-2018 Prowler FW, 2017-2019 Sundance and Sundance XLTFW trailers. The A/C electrical connector may have been improperly installed, possibly causing increased electrical resistance and the connection to overheat.

Heartland will notify owners, and dealers will correct the electrical connections, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 6, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032. Heartland’s number for this recall is 99.01.47.

REV Recreation Group

Camping at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

REV Recreation Group (REV) is recalling certain 2016-2019 American Coach American Eagle and 2016 American Heritage motorhomes equipped with factory-installed rear air deflectors. The center mounting plate for the rear air deflector may have been installed incorrectly with screws that may loosen, possibly resulting in the air deflector detaching from the vehicle.

REV will notify owners, and dealers will properly secure the rear air deflector to the fiberglass cap with rivets, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 10, 2019. Owners may contact REV customer service 1-800-509-3417. REV’s number for this recall is 190709REV.

Gulf Stream Coach

Camping at Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. (Gulf Stream) is recalling certain 2017 Serro Scotty S14 RBR travel trailers. The Federal Placard label indicates an incorrect Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

Gulf Stream will notify owners, and dealers will replace the Federal Placard label, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in August 2019. Owners may contact Gulf Stream customer service at 1-800-289-8787. Gulf Stream’s number for this recall is GS072619.

Thor Motor Coach

Camping at Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Omni and Magnitude motorhomes. The battery tray may be improperly welded to the chassis frame, allowing the battery tray to detach from the chassis.

TMC has notified owners, and dealers will weld on an additional support to the battery tray, free of charge. The recall began August 8, 2019. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000171.

Winnebago

Camping at Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Fuse motorhomes built on a 2018 Ford Transit chassis and equipped with aluminum wheel feature code 63W. The wheel studs may be too long, preventing the lug nuts from properly securing the wheels.

Winnebago will notify owners, and dealers will replace the wheel studs with a shorter version, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 159.

Vanleigh RV

Camping at Harvest Moon RV Park, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vanleigh RV (Vanleigh) is recalling certain 2015-2019 Vilano and Beacon fifth wheel recreational trailers. The suspension shackles may be too short, causing them to fail.

Vanleigh will notify owners, and dealers will replace the existing shackles with longer ones, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in August 2019. Owners may contact Vanleigh customer service at 1-662-612-4040.

Tiffin

Camping at Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Allegro Open Road motorhomes equipped with Liquid Spring suspension systems. A hydraulic suspension hose may be routed incorrectly, resulting in contact between the hose and the inside rear tire.

Tiffin will notify owners, and dealers inspect the position of the hydraulic hoses. If found to be incorrect, the clamp position will be corrected and the hydraulic hoses and tires inspected for any damage. Damaged components will be replaced as necessary. These repairs will be performed free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-112.

Note: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Please Note: This is the seventh in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

Keys to Avoiding RV Accidents

A key to avoiding RV accidents is a basic understanding of the most common ones and how best to avoid them

Driving an RV is like driving a small house around the country—down highways, through back roads, and up and over mountain passes. And as more people join the RV lifestyle, it becomes increasingly important that RVers have a basic understanding of common RV accidents and how best to avoid them.

Driving safely on Scenic Byway 12 in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before you hit the road, ensure your recreational vehicle is roadworthy, and that you’re prepared in case of emergency.

Most of the common RV accidents can be avoided by preventive maintenance and proactive attentiveness.

Driving safely on Newfound Gap Road in Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While the hazards are numerous, taking simple steps to avoid them is much easier than finding yourself facing the consequences of an RV accident or mishap. Knowing the most common mistakes and having the knowledge to prevent them will keep RV drivers safe and their trip enjoyable. Accidents such as lack of clearance can cost more than just the expense of the RV repair—such disasters can harm the traveling family as well.

The Low Hanging Tree Branch

Use special care when driving to your camping site in an RV park with overhanging trees © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the problems with certain campground owners is that they can be sloppy about trimming tree branches that hang over their roads. They make the mistaken assumption that people who buy travel units know enough to look up as they drive through RV parks, but many do not. The problem is that many recreational vehicles these days sit high, so when you put that kind of height together with an overhanging branch, you’ve got the recipe for problems.

Use extra care when driving in or backing out of a camping sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One newbie learned this the hard way. She was pulling out of a campground and, although she was trying to be careful, she forgot to look up. Even though she was driving slowly, her roof hit a heavy tree branch, and she was unable to stop in time to keep it from doing major damage.

Know your clearance height and don’t take unnecessary risks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The branch actually curled the front portion of her fifth wheel roof back a few feet, and this also loosened and misplaced the area that was a few feet behind it. It was an expensive way to learn an important lesson.

Know Your Height

Know your height, width, and total combined weight © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know your height and always look up when you are driving in areas where overhangs of any kind are present. Sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people forget the extra height of an RV while driving. Hitting bridges, low hanging trees, and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip.

Use extreme care and caution on backroads. Pictured above Moke Dugway as it drops into Valley of the Gods in Southern Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In order to keep your RV in one piece and avoid getting hung up—literally— consider the following guidelines:

  • Pay close attention to posted clearance measurements
  • Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height (remember to include A/C)
“We’ll probably fit” doesn’t cut it! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We’ll probably fit” does not cut it—don’t take the risk

Also be aware that the typical width of an RV is 8.5 feet and the typical highway lane is 10 feet in width. This gives you about a foot-and-a-half to work with.

Learn From This Story

Lessons like these are hard ones, but people can avoid having to learn them if they take an RV Driving Course that is taught by a certified instructor prior to taking their coaches out on the road.

Use extreme care when approaching a bridge or tunnel with low clearance © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you want to protect yourself from having the kind of accidents you’ve learned about in this article, my best advice is to learn to drive an RV before taking it out on the highway, maintain it well, pay attention to what you’re doing when you travel, and always be aware of what the drivers around you are doing. Be proactive!

Drive safely! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE