Why Won’t This Thing Drive Straight?

When I first drove my RV I thought, this thing is going to drive like a Cadillac for what we paid for it.Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Driving it home from the dealership it was all I could do to keep it going straight down the road. I just blamed my inexperience in driving these big rigs and figured I would just get used to it.

Our first real trip in the RV was a short but educational one. After a couple of hours of driving I realized it’s not me it’s this damn RV. At first I thought, oh no whats broke or not working right. I was exhausted just from driving and moving my hands back and forth on the steering wheel to keep between the lines, and don’t get me started about when a semi passed us.

After returning home from our trip I went straight to the RV blogs to see if other people have had this problem. After hours of reading I found this thing called a steering stabilizer. Apparently it is a mandatory investment for your RV. It’s basically a shock absorber for your steering arm. It’s sole purpose is to keep your front wheels heading straights down the road.

I purchased a Road Master Steering stabilizer from my old friend Camping World. I brought it home and installed it myself in about an hour. It was a matter of tightening 6 bolts. You also need to adjust it on your steering arm so your RV doesn’t drift. I eyed it the best I could and bolted it on. After my first trip with it I was shocked how much better my RV drove, it was amazing. This is what I expected it to be like when I first bought it. I did have to make a small adjustment during the first stop on our trip, but other than that it performed flawlessly. Why on earth RV manufacturers do not put these on at the factory is beyond me. Not only does it make your RV easier to drive, but it make it safer. If you’ve ever experienced a front tire blow out, your RV want to pull to the low tire side and could cause a roll over. The steering stabilizer helps your wheels stay straight even in a blow out, it could be a life saving device.

I could go on and on about my Road Master Steering stabilizer, but I’m sure you have better things to do then read my ramblings. For more information I have attached a link below in case your interested in reading more, and if you don’t have one get one now.

*Helpful tip: When adjusting your steering stabilizer I found an easy way to get it right is when driving on a somewhat level road have your copilot place a piece of tape on the steering wheel, when your RV is going nice and straight place a matching piece of tape on the steering column. That way when you go to adjust it all you have to do is line up the two pieces of tape and your good.

 

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Road Side Assistance

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Any RV’er should have a good road side assistance plan, trust me they are worth their weight in gold. If you ever break down and need a tow it could cost you up to $2400.00 if your driving a Class A. It’s not like Jim Bob’s towing can just come get you in their pick-up truck, most RV’s require a heavy lift wrecker to get your RV to safety.

After reading about all the different plans and companies which provide road side assistance I decided on Good Sam. We have always used AAA in the past, but after reading some of other’s horror stories I decided to go with a company that works specifically with RVs. I read about people waiting hours on the side of a busy highway only when help arrives they did not bring the proper equipment for the type of RV they were driving, or the company that shows up knows nothing about RVs.

We have had Good Sam for a year now and have used it twice. The first time we used it more than paid for it’s self. We just got our Class A RV and noticed both inside rear tires were low prior to heading out on our first trip. I thought no problem I’ll just air them up. Nope not quite that easy. At the time we didn’t have valve stem extenders, (another item I highly recommend) and the only way to air up the inside tires was to remove the outside wheels first. Being that I didn’t have a 26,000 pound jack, I called Good Sam. Within 45 minutes a tow company arrived in my driveway to air up my tires. They removed and rotated my tires along with airing them all up. The total cost was over $400.00. I only had to pay $80.00 of it. Not only did Good Sam get somebody out there, but they text me the information of the company which was coming out, and followed up with me to ensure they arrived. Then again to make sure everything was taken care of. Great customer service.

Good Sam also covers all your vehicles in your family including any trailers towed behind your RV. Again I had to call them when the tire on our car dolly blew. They took care of all the cost and getting help to the side of the road without fail. Having Good Sam gives me the peace of mind when traveling across the country that if something goes wrong, help is just a phone call away.

For more info please click the banner below.

 Good Sam Roadside Assistance

Water Heater Upgrade

After living in our RV full-time for the first winter, we quickly learned what a precious resource propane is. Unfortunately refilling your propane tank on your RV is not as easy as just calling your local propane company to come fill it up. As you know it involves unhooking everything packing up and driving to your local distributor for a fill up. Sure you can purchase an external tank, but still there is the added cost of the tank itself, and purchasing propane which especially in the winter can be a big cost.

We started to look at what we could do to limit the amount of propane we used. We relied mostly on space heaters for warmth only running our furnace to keep our gray and black tanks from freezing and cooking on an electric grill and in the crock-pot. Still we were running out fast. We decided the culprit must be our water heater. It ran constantly it seemed even when we were not using hot water. When in colder climates your poor water heater has to battle the cold just to keep the water at temperature so it’s always ready for you.

Our water heater was only able to operate on propane and did not have the option to run on electricity. So I starting doing research on upgrading our heater, I don’t know if you’ve checked the price on a new water heater, but that was defiantly not an option. Eventually I stumbled across a little device called Hott Rod. After reading some reviews I ordered it from Camping World. When it arrived it was just a rod that screwed right into your drain of you heater, a thermostat that you just stick on your tank and a 110 plug.

I thought well looks simple enough lets try it. The install took maybe a hour, and went very easy, I thought maybe too easy. When I plugged it in I could only wait and see if my efforts would pay off. I turned off the propane to my water heater and crossed my fingers. To my surprise within about 30 minutes, I had hot water without using my precious propane.

We have been using our Hott Rod for almost a year now without any trouble at all. It is definitely one of the best accessories I have purchased for our RV. I highly recommend it for anyone with a propane only water heater you will not regret it. Our Hott Rod has paid for it’s self over and over in the amount of propane and headaches it has saved us.

For more info about the Hott Rod please click the picture below, you will not be disappointed.

Thank you.

To the 2017 Cleaning Attendants of Moonshine Beach:

Congratulations! You are the lowest bidder on a challenging United States Army Corps of Engineers contract. We hope you bid high. This job is going to push your limits and test your strength. You will question humanity by some of the things you will see. You will have so many stories that will make your friends cringe when you tell your tales of your days with the Corps.

Welcome to Moonshine Beach!

As long as you can handle monotonous days without ever leaving a 10 mile radius of the beach for 127 days, you will be just fine. Days quickly become indistinguishable. You will feel like Groundhog Day’s Phil Connors. You will live the same day over and over. The same people come in and grill the same outrageous amount of food day after day. Which means you will be carrying out and picking up the same outrageous amount of trash day after day.

There will be the occasional WTF moment that comes your way to break up the clone of days. Here are some of the unbelievable situations that will make you wonder what you did wrong in life to have to deal with what it sitting in front of you:

Poop will be found everywhere. Complete turds will be placed on walls. Toilets will be missed. Filled pants will be left on the floors.

Diapers will be found everywhere. They will be found in the grills, in the ditch, and water logged on the beach.

Feminine hygiene products will be found everywhere. They will be found on the bathroom floors, on the back of the toilets, in the open changing room, in the ditch, and on the beach.

Patrons bring trash bags that when filled are taller than you and lug around like a dead body. They will be left at the bottom of the hill in the picnic area. Patrons expect you to carry them out of there like you are the cleanup man for Al Capone.

Don’t fret. Two Old RV Dogs is here to help. We lived this life for one four month season. We are here to offer you tips and tricks that will make this endeavor easier on you (or at least soften the blow).

First off, here is our list of equipment that will make your job easier:

Golf cart or UTV – This is a MUST. You will need this for hauling out the bags and bag and cans and cans of trash. It is endless. You might think that your truck will work for this task. The problem is getting the overflowing cans from the grassy picnic areas, restrooms, and pavilion to the parking lot where your truck sits. Get the golf cart. You might be able to stay until September if you do.

8 garden hoses – Garden hoses are just not that tough no matter how they are marketed. You will use it nearly every night. They only last about 2-3 weeks. They break at the most inconvenient times. You will be hosing off the grease from the deep fryers that were hauled in by very dedicated picnickers from the pavilion floor and then SNAP! You are done for the night but you have a pavilion reservation you have to prepare the area for by the next morning. Keep two hoses on hand and don’t throw away your Walmart receipt.

High pressure wand sprayer attachment for your garden hose – You are going to have the weirdest stuff left on the pavilion, restrooms, and shower floors. The greater the pressure in your spray the greater chance you have of getting the floors clean.

1 gallon multipurpose pressure sprayer – This is the kind that you might use for pesticide or herbicide on your lawn. You are going to need this for coating the bathroom floors in bleach before you spray them out with the garden hose. Mopping is just going to smear dirty water around the floors. You want them clean so they can be dirtied up again by noon the next day.

Insecticide – There are spiders EVERYWHERE!! Watch for them when going in and out of your RV, going into the shower area, going into the utility closets…just anywhere really. Watch for them all the time. Don’t stay still too long either. They begin building webs on you if you stay still for about 5 seconds. This is not an exaggeration and you have been warned. You are responsible for keeping the spider webs that hang on the buildings to a minimum. Insecticide is also necessary for the dive bombing horseflies. They are the size of humming birds. One minute you are hosing out the pavilion and the next you are utilizing your high school gym class dodgeball skills in a futile attempt to keep a giant horsefly out of your hair. Good luck.

Gopher II – You will find this 3 foot long trash grabber in the pharmacy section at Walmart. It will save your back from all the bending you have to do picking up the trash off the ground.

Pyrotechnic single-shot pistol and Screamer Sirens – Ask a ranger for this before Day 1. Geese at Table Rock Lake are bold and they poop on everything. We didn’t care if they pooped on the beach. No one complained about rolling around in goose poop covered sand. But if there is a turd on the sidewalk or pavilion floor there is hell to pay. So don’t be afraid to shoot right in the middle of the flock to get them out of the park. It is one of the few pleasures of the job.

Quality trash bags – This will make all the difference in your work load. Regrettably, we bought cheap bags. It only took a bottle neck or the weight of a watermelon to challenge the integrity of our trash bags. Nasty garbage water resembling warm chocolate milk poured out of every bag when we did trash runs. If you don’t want to get covered in garbage water, spend a few extra bucks on tensile strength.

Now that you have an inside scoop on what you are going to need to make your job easier, here are our tips for keeping a motivated mind set. You have to keep up with the unstoppable beast or you will get eaten alive.

You are getting exercise. – With all the lifting of garbage cans and walking the grounds picking up trash you will get a workout every day.

Challenge yourself/make cleaning a game. – When I cleaned the beach I would challenge myself to pick up 100 cigarettes butts or 100 cellophane juice box straw wrappers or 100 water bottle lids because that amount of each are all on the beach every night. This kept me running around the beach picking up the little stuff between the big stuff.

You are giving back to the earth. – You are providing a great service to the planet you live on. Sicilian-American Iron Eyes Cody is smiling down on you for your back breaking efforts.

Be glad you are not having a day like the people you are cleaning up after. – When you find the poop filled shorts in the restroom floor, be happy you were not the one that had to leave them there and do the walk of shame to your car wearing only a towel from the waist down. They are the one having the bad day.

You can’t make everyone happy all the time. – You are two people cleaning up after thousands of people. Don’t stress about things that don’t matter or aren’t your job. Patrons will complain about the sand on the bathroom floors. Let them and clean it out at night after they leave. Patrons will linger after closing. Let the rangers write them citations if they won’t leave. Don’t take the job too seriously. The Corps is just happy you are here.

There is an end to this job. – It is only a few months long. You can do this just for the summer.

Treat yourself. – That’s right. Order a pizza for delivery at 10:30pm. Go get a Sonic shake or an Andy’s concrete after a rough night of cleaning. They are usually open until 11:00pm.

There is beer back at the RV. – If none of the above keeps you going, throw back a cold one and try to forget your day.

Okay, we know we have made this job sound less than appealing but here are all the fantastic things about Moonshine Beach:

Diversity – I have never seen so many cultures together in one place in Southwest Missouri. It is amazing. You will hear many languages being spoken. You will see many different cultural based wardrobes. In a day you might see Hispanic, Indian, Russian, Jamaican, and Asian families. This is very common at Moonshine Beach. I have seen an African-American family from St. Louis sharing the pavilion with an Amish family. Talk about two very different cultures side by side. Believe it or not, I even saw a Razorbacks tent next to a Mizzou tent.

You are getting paid to live on the lake. – It is an awesome view from your front door. You have no lot rent and no utilities. What an awesome set up!

You get paid the same on rainy days when no one shows up. – You will love stormy, rainy days. Most people stay home these days but as long as you show up you get paid.

Fireworks! – If you love fireworks shows you are going to love living at Moonshine. The Chateau sets off fireworks for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thursday… All the time there are fireworks. On the outlook peninsula a man who likes pyrotechnics set off a U-Haul full of fireworks. I have no idea who he was but on Flag Day we got a private fireworks show. When you clean during July look to the west. You will see Silver Dollar City’s fireworks show at their closing time.

Fun sights. – People come down to Moonshine Beach for the awesome sunsets. You will see some good ones. Watching the Branson Belle paddle across the lake all lit up at night makes you stop and watch even after you have seen it all summer long.

Then there are the weirdos. – I enjoy a good odd ball story. We had a man huff paint in the bathroom and try to swim across the cove between our site and the lookout peninsula. He made it. I was surprised. I thought he was going to need a rescue. We stood around and watched him for about 25 minutes swimming across the cove. He had to sit for a long time after he made it to the other shore. We also had a boy jump off the bridge into the same cove. He needed a good long sit too. You will have lots of good stories.

While we left out lots, we hope that we have painted an accurate picture of what you can expect this summer. Before you pull up your leveling jacks and drive off in the middle of the night, message us on Two Old RV Dogs Facebook page if you have any questions. We will offer what we can to talk you out of the RV driver’s seat. You got this.

Monday Morning Quarterback Review of Buying Our First RV OR RV Buying with Vapin’ Nate

OUR TIP TO YOU WHEN BUYING YOUR FIRST RV:

It is likely you will make several browsing trips to RV dealerships but one final trip to make your purchase. When you do make that final trip, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right with the purchase keep addressing the issue until you feel it is right or at least something you can accept. This is your new home not just another RV. It’s important that you are happy with your new home.

You don’t have a lifetime of experience with RVs so ask those questions until you are satisfied. Our lack of pressure on the dealership caused us headaches later on from a leaky ladder and rotting wall which we will discuss at a later time.

Our trip to the dealership started promising. An older, seasoned salesman greeted us, offered complimentary bottled water, and encouraged us to browse. He would be back with us shortly.

We made our way across the lot to the used class As via a route of new fifth wheel campers and new class As as if we were pretending we were going to take out a second mortgage to buy new. Brand new wasn’t going to work for us. Our goal is to live minimally, workamp and have fun not to continue to worry about bills. It was fun to see what was out there though.

Once at the used but not too used section we popped in and out of a few RVs we thought held potential. They showed nicely on the dealership’s website but we eliminated most of them quickly through small details. Most were dismissed by upholstery that looked like we will enjoy it when we are 40 years older, kitchen counters with empty spaces where the oven was removed, and a mirrored backsplash that reminds Katie of the ceiling of the “honeymoon suite” at the motor inn she cleaned on weekends back in high school.

Then at the end of the aisle of used but not too used RVs we found “Erv”. Erv had everything we were looking for in a RV. He had the Ford chassis, a couch, a dinette, and the deal breaker…a toilet in its own closet. We were interested and had questions to ask.

We tried locating our nicely dressed, complimentary bottled water offering salesman. Could we please get his assistance? Oh, no, no, no, my friend. Our seasoned salesman was replaced by Vapin’ Nate. When this tall drink of water presented himself to us with his soul patch, dirty white dress shoes and vape machine on which he constantly demonstrated his Freudian ways we raised an eye brow and glanced around for our original salesman.

Vapin’ Nate was all right but didn’t really take our questions and concerns seriously. He didn’t even take our purchase all that seriously. We liked his no pressure attitude to a degree. A little personal investment from him would have been nice. Which RV we buy was a pivotal decision in the transition of our lives to full timing.

Concern #1 met with Vapin’ Nates apathetic assistance:

We expressed out concern over the play in the ladder. Vapin’ Nate gave us a standard answer of “all RV ladders flex and move some.”

They all flex some? This ladder has the flexing likeness of Evenflo’s Joey Jump Up. Yes, we made the same faces as a six month old when we rode it as it was more of a ride than a climb. We dismissed this concern due to our lack of RV experience.

Concern #2 met with Vapin’ Nates apathetic assistance:

We expressed concern over a slight horizontal line about 1-2 inches from the floor on all wood trim, fixtures, and cabinets. Vapin’ Nate gave no explanation for the evidence left behind by every RV’s number one transgressor except the flooring was replaced recently. They had this RV on the lot for about a year with the old flooring in it. It was wood planks that were curled up. Now that the floor was replaced they have had lots of people looking at it. Vapin’ Nate reassured us that the actual floor was solid.

Come on, Nate! Get your head in the game! Vape juice ain’t free!

We were not getting anything of value from our salesman so we brought in our own RV expert, Ryan. His experience with RVs brought reassurance to our purchase. He reminded us of his previous advice. It didn’t have a faded exterior. Erv was likely protected from elements when stationary. He climbed the bouncing ladder to report back that the roof looked solid and leak free. As for the ladder, it was a gamble. We had to decide if we could live with the play in it.

Now back to the mysterious watermark on the wood. We used our super sleuth detective skills on the clues left behind by Erv’s previous life. What would cause a water line an inch off the floor and warped wood plank flooring? We took our best guess. We decided that the water line on the wood was from the water heater breaking and spilling water into the floor. The only evidence left behind was a small soft area in the bathroom floor, the water line, and new flooring. We could live with that.

Keeping in mind that all RVs both new and used require repairs as they are lived in 24/7/365, we found our new home. We could live with the faults we saw in it and attempt repairs as they came up. This was going to be a learning experience. We had a lot to learn which is exactly what our next step was.

Vapin’ Nate asked us to come back in a week when we would get our RV orientation and roll Erv off the lot.

Join us next time for Why Doesn’t This Switch Work? or The RV Shake Down with Damn It Ed!

Mingo And Ellie React to the News of RV Living

Unpredictable reactions from family members can be expected when you tell them you are giving up the American dream of owning a house and working 40 hours per week until you are 65 years old for the same predictable company. This is a concept that many are raised to strive to achieve. It is difficult for most people to understand the appeal of any other lifestyle.

We were anxious about telling family we were casting aside most possessions and embracing a non-traditional lifestyle. Breaking the news of our decision to fulltime to family and friends was met with different reactions. Family gave us raised eyebrows and the question of “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Friends gave us smiles and the exclamation of “I wish I could do that!”

No reaction compares to the epic emotional struggle expressed by our RV life partners, Mingo and Ellie, when the news was broken to them that they were along for the ride.

 

What Do You Want in Your First RV? OR In How Many Places Can an RV Toilet Be Positioned?

OUR TIP TO YOU WHEN CHOOSING YOUR FIRST RV: ERV

                Take your time to do your research. As novices we had no idea what features were available in RVs. There were features we never considered or even thought of. An extra few months of figuring out what will make this lifestyle work for you will pay off.

Basing your research on a wide variety of resources is a great idea too. Make sure you get someone with personal experience with RVs on your research team. Learning from other’s experiences has so much value. Here is our experience. We hope you learn from us.

Those of you who have just started looking into full timing are having some anxiety, intense discussions, and doing heavy research. One of the biggest topics we encountered was deciding which RV to buy. There are just endless options in RVs.

Even the location of the toilet has options. In a house it goes in the bathroom. In an RV it can go in unexpected places. You can have a toilet in its own closet like room. Seriously, a toilet by itself in a closet is an option. That’s all that is in there. You can have a toilet in the shower. I specifically searched Google and YouTube on how that works. Do you sit on the toilet while showering? I guess it isn’t that complicated because I didn’t find a clear answer. You can have a toilet in the middle of a hallway. Doors without locks on either side of the toilet are supposed to stop others from walking through the bathroom to the bedroom or kitchen/living room while you are dropping a deuce. The designers obviously live alone.

Being greenhorns, we were nervous that if we make the wrong choice our dreams of RV full timing would be forever impacted. The options, opinions, and debates are endless.

If we buy one with unknown engine issues and have constant mechanical problems, what will happen? Will the nonstop repairs make this lifestyle too difficult?

                If we buy one that ends up leaking, what will happen? Will the resulting damage be beyond repair?

If we buy one with the toilet positioned in a hallway, what will happen? Will Katie spontaneous combust from lit up embarrassment when Joe walks in on her sitting on the plastic throne with her shorts around her ankles?

The debates are endless I tell you. It is a completely personal decision on what will work for you.

We got started researching RV full timing just like you. Reading blogs and watching YouTube. There are some very informative people out there living the life you are dreaming of. They are ready to tell you all about it. Everyone has a fantastic story to tell. Keep Two Old RV Dogs at the top of your list.

Your ace in the hole is asking a professional mechanic about their experience. This was just as valuable as all the RV internet research we did. Katie’s brother-in-law, Ryan, has 20+ years professional mechanic experience and a decade of that is directly working with RVs. He was worth his weight in gold to us during the RV selection process. He had an answer for all our questions based on his personal experience.

  1. What RV engine did you work on the most?                                           A. Chevy
  2. What is the most common RV repair? A. Anything water related. All RVs have the potential to leak.
  3. What are some of the signs we will find on a RV we should question buying? A. Pay attention to any signs of water damage including on the ceiling. A faded exterior means the RV sat outside unprotected.
  4. Anything we should be prepared for that we don’t know? A. All RVs need repairs. RVs that sit for a while not lived in could take up to a year to work out all the problems you will come across. Are you sure you want to do this? OUR A. Yes, pretty sure…we can always buy another house if we can’t hack it, right? Right? Ryan, where are you going?!

Really, he was a huge help for us. We highly suggest you speak to someone in the know. (Salesmen don’t count.)

Through our research we decided we wanted the following:

  • Buy from a dealership. We will have the reassurance that everything will be in proper working order when we drive it off the lot. All paperwork will be in order. Clean title. No shady deals. (More on these little hiccups later) Buying from a private seller on Craigslist leaves the buyer with nothing to fall back on if there are problems with documentation or immediate issues with the RV itself.

 

  • Class A. Class B and class C models look like they are great for a vacation camping trip. We could visualize living in a class A. Buying a fifth wheel camper meant buying a truck too. We didn’t want the truck payment on top of the RV payment. Class A was the way to go for us.

 

 

  • Ford chassis. We enjoy learning from others. If one of our resources says other people are putting Chevys in the shop more than Fords, we will stick with Ford.

 

  • Couch and dinette. We didn’t like the look of a table and chairs. When we go to a restaurant we always answer “booth” to the table or booth question. So why not have our own booth at home? As for the couch, we can’t remember why we wanted a couch because we dislike it so much now. It is uncomfortable and awkward. We still have not figured out how to get both of us on it comfortably. It is garbage and we look forward to getting a couple recliners.

 

  • Used but no too used. Buying new means immediate depreciation in your purchase. All RVs have problems that need to be worked out by living in them. There is no getting out of that, not even by buying new. Finding used but not too used is an easy task. There are thousands of RVs with low mileage that are used 2-3 times per year by a retired couple that only drive it 50 MPH on newly paved highways. At least that’s what the RV salesmen tell us.

 

  • Toilet in its own room. For obvious privacy reasons.

These are the features that we thought worked for us. Our desires comprised a very reasonable list. We got to work looking for RVs online. We looked at local dealerships and searched RV Trader. Soon we found what we were looking for in a few different models online. It was surprisingly easy to find so many. We decided to take a trip to the dealership to narrow our list down to one through pricing, mileage, and lying around on RV couches that didn’t belong to us.

Our RV journey and learning experience is to be continued. Join us next time for:

Monday Morning Quarterback Review of Buying Our First RV

OR

RV Buying with Vapin’ Nate