Weigh Your RV For Safety Sake!

Is it really necessary to weigh your RV?  If you keep the tire pressure at the manufacturer’s recommended value, won’t that do?  Let me suggest what could happen if you are wrong.  If you put more weight in an RV then you thought you were actually carrying, and the tires are not set at the correct pressure for that load, or you are overloaded, this is what can happen:

  • Tire failures
  • Reduced handling capacity
  • Possible breakdowns
  • Increased stopping distance
  • Increased tire wear
  • Suspension component wear
  • More fuel used
  • Possible sway in crosswinds
  • And …. Increased Driver Fatigue!!

It is extremely important to get this right or you could suffer any one of these issues, if not multiple items.  To weigh an RV is a simple thing, and very important!  To know the load on each tire is the only way to be able to set the motorized RV tires at the correct tire pressure.

 

Can you guess and get close?

Yes, you can.  If you know what the RV weighs empty (it comes from the manufacturer with a weight sticker), and you load it based on the weight of each item you bring on board or group of items, then you can get pretty close to the weight that is placed on each tire.  But that is a pretty laborious task!  Wouldn’t it be easier to take it to an appropriate facility and get it right?

Weigh Your RV

          Pilot/Flying J Scales

I can tell you from experience that when you load an RV for travel: you put all your clothes, kitchen items, cleaning items, tools, toys, etc. inside, it is entirely possible to have hundreds of more pounds of weight on one side of the RV than the other side.  Is this a good idea?  Well, you can as long as it does not look like it is leaning to one side.  But then the most important thing to do is set the tire pressure accordingly.  As much as possible it is best to balance the load!  But, you can only do that once you weigh your RV!

 

So, where can you get this done?

Pilot/Flying J truck stops have certified truck scales that can help to determine axle weights.   Even some weigh stations along the highway are willing to help with this task.  But, for an RV, given its load variations due to tanks, fuel, and owners personal possessions, it is much better to weigh each tire to determine exact loads.  Once you have that information you can adjust for each RV trip thereafter.

If you are riding on ST tires, tire pressure is much easier to address.  They are inflated to the manufacturer’s maximum suggested pressure.  But, it is still recommended that you know what load is on each of the trailer’s tires!

Each Tire Being Weighed

Each Tire Being Weighed

There are services that use individual tire scales that can accomplish the task of measuring the weight placed on each of an RV’s tires!  They are very accurate and provide a printed weight sheet. Individual wheel weights are necessary to identify and resolve side-to-side balance and tire loading issues.  Once you know these values you can set your tire pressure, for each tire, based on the load it is carrying.  This is so important for traveling safely while on the road in your motorized RV!

Driving a Motor Home onto a Tire Scale

Driving a Motor Home onto a Tire Scale

Most times I have found these folks at RV shows, RV sales and service centers, and mobile folks who just offer this service.  Check locally with your RV dealer.  If that does not work, do a Google search for RV tire weighing services, or something close to that phrase.  You should be able to find someone near you, or perhaps near where you will be traveling to.

As a side note let me add some information about the liquids onboard an RV.  To help in your calculations, here are the approximate weights of the liquids RV’s can carry: water weighs 8.3 lbs/gallon, gasoline weighs 6 lbs/gallon, diesel fuel weighs 6.6 lbs/gallon, and propane weighs 4.5 lbs/gallon.  

These can add up fast, especially if you are traveling with a full freshwater tank: in a trailer with a 75-gallon tank, that can add 623 extra pounds. That may be needed if you are boondocking, but not if traveling from campground to campground.  A quarter of a tank of fresh water will do!

Okay, I think you get the idea!

Please take tire safety seriously!  Like the commercial says: “a lot is riding on your tires!”

 

Howard and Pam wish you safe and joyous travels!

 

Please feel free to leave comments if I can answer any questions you may have!

The Best 5th Wheel RV For You

What is the best 5th wheel RV for you?  Pam and I get asked that question a lot as we travel about. People see ours and wonder why we chose the one we did, and what would work best for them?

There are so many 5th wheel makes models and price points!  It is a huge task to decide on one that will work best for you!  Perhaps we can share some information that will help.

the best 5th wheel rv

2005 Freightliner Sportchassis and 2006 Newmar Kountry Aire

First, What Is a 5th Wheel RV?

There are several classes of RV’s out there: Class A Motorhomes  (bus style) Class B’s  (converted vans) Class C’s  (Class C motorhomes are generally constructed on cutaway chassis depending on the model. The cab is similar to a truck, with a bunk above, plus a rear bedroom) Travel trailers (a trailer pulled behind an appropriate tow vehicle) And . . . 5th Wheels

What Makes a 5th Wheel RV a 5th Wheel?

Actually, there is no 5th wheel at all. It is a hitch that ties the RV, which normally has four tires, to the tow vehicle.  That is typically a pickup truck designed to handle the weight of the pin that will be placed on the tow vehicles hitch.  The hitch allows the 5th wheel RV to stay attached to the truck and follow along as both vehicles maneuver from point to point. So, the RV needs the truck as its 5th wheel to be moved.

 

What Makes a 5th Wheel a 5th Wheel

What Makes a 5th Wheel a 5th Wheel

 

Why Would You Want a 5th Wheel Over Another Type of RV?

The Fifth Wheel RV offers maximum living space for any given trailer length. Usually, the master bedroom is located over the truck bed.  These units are sometimes called Fivers.  Many full time RVers have chosen them over other types because of maximum bang for the buck.  They are like a one bedroom condo on wheels.


Fifth Wheels are constructed with a raised forward section for the master bedroom, allowing a bi-level floor plan.  This style provides more room in the lower level area of the RV.  Add in a couple of slide-outs in the living/dining area, and a slide-out for the bedroom area, and it’s easy to see why they are more spacious, and the choice of many.

 

5th Wheel Front Bedroom Floorplan

5th Wheel Front Bedroom Floor Plan

 

Because of the hitch design, all 5th Wheels will require a pickup truck for towing.  Larger models will require super-duty pickups, and the largest Fifth Wheels will require a medium-duty RV hauler. Unless you already have an adequate tow vehicle, this requirement is one drawback to purchasing a fiver.


Adding the cost of a one-ton pickup to the cost of the trailer, and the dollars start to increase.  A New one ton production truck (Ford, Chevy, Dodge) can set you back as much as $65,000.  A NEW medium-duty RV hauler for towing a large Fiver can run from $50,000 to $150,000.  Just make sure you match the weight of the trailer adequately to your tow vehicle.  A good RV dealer can help you to decide what works best for your 5th wheel of choice.

The good thing about the new 5th wheels coming from RV manufacturers is that they are building them lighter, yet stronger.  This allows even a 45′ toy hauler to be pulled by a one-ton production truck.

howmuchcanmytrucktow1

What About Driving With It?

Towing a Fifth Wheel is much easier and much more stable than towing another type of RV.  The hitch being placed in the pickup bed, and directly over the rear tires of your tow vehicle, contributes to improved traction and handling.  If you can afford it, be sure to have a truck with an eight-foot bed.

Try not to go with short box trucks and slider hitches!  Now this is just my opinion gained from my experience as well as that of others.  They are not adequate to handle the demands of hauling larger 5th wheels on the road, and especially when maneuvering in RV parks!

 

If you forget to activate the slider hitch, you can create issues with the cab of the truck hitting the nose of the fifth wheel.  Any tight maneuvers while traveling can create a problem.  Watch this Youtube video!


 

What Are they Like Inside?

Fifth Wheels are available with a wide range of features and appliances. Some of these are normally found only in higher-end motorhomes: a washer and dryer, an onboard generator, residential refrigerators, and inverters.  They have all of the standard amenities and some not so standard such as ceiling fans and fireplaces.  We are also starting to see pop up big screen TV’s.


Would you like a larger bedroom with more ceiling height?  Some manufacturers are now putting the living room up front.  This makes lots of sense as it makes that area cozier.  It also allows the back bedroom to offer more livability features.

5th Wheel Front Living Room Floorplan

5th Wheel Front Living Room Floor plan

So, now that you know what it is . . .

What is the Best 5th Wheel RV for You?

This question is easier to answer than what the 5th wheel is.  The one that is best for you is the one that fits your budget, whether new or used and will suit the way in which you plan to use it.

Do You Want it For Full Time RV Living?

If so then you need one that is not cheaply built.  You can tell when you walk into an RV if it is well built or not.  Fit and finish always give it away. Are the showers flimsy and the toilet all plastic? Is the woodwork fake?  Are the floors spongy under foot?  How about the outside: painted fiberglass panels or just white gel-coat with decals that will eventually peel away.


This is just my feeling, but most well-built rigs are heavy.  There is a reason for that!  They build them to handle the full time RV use by using residential features: sturdy floor construction, one piece fiberglass shower or shower/tub combos, china toilets, high-end appliances, Moen faucets, Whirlpool fridges, heavy duty axles, larger G-rated tires, etc.


Again, just my opinion, and realizing that you get what you pay for, for full time living buy one in the 16,000 lb GVWR.  You will be happier in the long run!  If it is going to be your full time home, it is better to go overboard than not.

Also, consider this:

It is Better to Buy Quality in a Used RV than it is in a New One at the Same Cost?

It may be another option to consider!  We did!  We got a great deal on a two-year-old 5th wheel that was like new, but it was half the cost of what it was when it rolled off the assembly line.

What should you be looking for?

Does paint quality matter to you?  What floorplan will work best?  What about features and technology?  Will you have enough storage space?  Can you carry everything you want with you?  What is cargo carrying capacity?  Should I buy a new or used RV?

I want to address some of these issues by telling our story and the process of how we were able to buy and keep our first 5th Wheel RV for almost seven years!

The best thing Pam and I did was to rent RV’s for many years before deciding to get into the full-time RV lifestyle! We were at the point that a vacation in an RV was far better than other options we had done previously! And once we were out RVing, we learned so much about what we wanted in an RV of our own and what we would not.

Once we finally decided to start looking for the class of RV we had decided on, I researched my choice vigorously!  I set a budget and decided a used RV that was two to three-years-old would suit us best.  My determination was mostly based on an RV manufacturer that I thought had great quality. We also based that choice on one that we had rented from this particular RV manufacturer and the feedback of other owners.

I found the one I wanted, and it was only a couple of hundred miles away.  So, with our budget in mind, we took a drive to look at the RV.  It was just what we were looking for but about twenty-five thousand dollars more than I wanted to spend for it.  So we decided to continue our search.

As chance would have it, a few weeks later the dealership was having a close-out sale, and the price dropped twenty-five thousand dollars.  The RV was now right where we wanted it: priced right, two years old, it had hardly been used, and it looked like new, but it had a bad odor inside.  

It was not a mold issue, but a black tank odor.  It turned out they had never dumped the tanks after receiving it as a trade-in.  Once the tanks were emptied and the unit cleaned, the odor was no more!

We closed the deal and purchased our “new to us” 2006 Newmar Kountry Aire 5th wheel!  We now had our full-time RV living home, and we were delighted!  It was in our budget, it had all the space we required in the kitchen, it had plenty of storage below, it could carry the weight of the items we planned to put in it, the full body paint was stunning, and it appeared it had been well cared for.  As it turns out, we should have had a certified RV inspection done on the RV as I missed a few things that cost me money later on!

The point here is that because we spent a lot of time researching the RV lifestyle.  We traveled thirty-five thousand miles in all classes of rented RV’s before buying one, we spent the time deciding what would work best for us, we talked to other RVers about their experiences, and we did not rush into purchasing an RV!  Thus, we were able to enjoy our 5th wheel RV for almost seven years.  It worked out perfectly for us!

How About One For Traveling Two – Eight Weeks Out of the Year, with the Family?

This can be a much different story!  Most of the units in the forty to sixty thousand dollar realm will work because they are not being put through the demands of 24/7 and year-round living.  Therefore, a lighter weight rig will make getting out on the road in your own RV much more affordable.  Plus, a lot of these kinds of 5th wheel RV’s have toy hauler features that make traveling with the family very comfortable!

So, the best 5th wheel for you is the one that fits the way you plan to use it, your budget and the floor plan that will accommodate you and your family!

Best wishes on your search for the right RV for your needs.  Before you go, please leave a comment if we can be of assistance in your search.  We would like to hear what you are discovering as you search for the best 5th wheel RV for you!

And by all means, if you buy used, get it inspected just like you would for a home.  Do so and you will have worry-free journeys!

 

Blessings,
Howard and Pam

 

Again, please feel free to leave comments if I can answer any questions you may have!

5th Wheel Guide

Amazon.com_ Tow Your Fifth Wheel Like a Pro_ Mark Polk, Lorrin Walsh_ Movies & TV - Google Chrome 2016-02-09 13.22.27

When To Replace RV Tires

TIRE SAFETY MATTERS!

Of all the things on an RV that matter the most, RV tires should hit the top of the list.  When an RV tire fails, whether it is on a trailer, 5th wheel, motorhome, or any other class of RV, the damage that can be done is costly!  Think about the fact that the entire investment in your second home rides on rubber and air.  Unfortunately, when RV tires choose to fail is usually when you are traveling down the road at fifty-five to sixty-five miles per hour.  The cost to repair the damage can run in the thousands, not to mention a ruined vacation or even the possibility of loss of life!  So, let’s look at when to replace RV tires and my choice of Michelin RV tires.

when tp replace rv tires

When Pam and I purchased our first full time RV living home back in 2008, it was a 2006 that had been manufactured in late 2005.  It was barely used, looked brand new, as did the tread on the eight tires it had. However, there were very tiny cracks in the outer sidewall near the tire rim. I was not too worried about that though. They were the factory originals and the tread wear was nonexistent.  I suspect that the RV had not traveled much except for its trip from the factory to where we bought it. When to replace the RV tires was not even going to be a concern of mine for years, so I thought.

When we purchased our used tow vehicle, a 2005 Freightliner Sportchassis in early 2009, it had been kept garaged by the owner, and looked like new! The DOT code on the Michelin RV tires showed a manufacture date in early 2004. So, when I purchased this used truck, it already had five-year-old tires.

They also had very tiny sidewall cracks in a few areas.  Now Michelin RV tires are very highly rated, especially the XRV’s, so I did not worry too much about them either.  I figured I had a least a couple more years of use as they only had twenty-two thousand miles on them.  I did wind up replacing them in 2010 because it was not worth the damage that could have been caused by an aged related issue from a Michelin RV tire failure.

During an early summer trip in 2009, with tire pressure monitors installed on the 5th wheel, we headed for South Florida and ultimately to the Keys. The weather was hot and the tires were fifteen degrees above cold pressure.  As we neared our stop for the night, one of the tires started to slowly loose pressure: our tire pressure monitor system went into alarm mode.

We got to our planned stop safely as tire pressure loss was within safety limits, but I suspected the tire was shot. Fortunately, because of the tire pressure monitor system, I was alerted to the problem and was able to arrive at my destination safely.

when tp replace rv tires

Tire Pressure Monitors Installed on Dual Tires

Short end to the story is we had all eight tires replaced as the one troublesome tire had a hole through the tread and a crack right through to the belt.  The tires were only four years old.  But they had sat in the sun most of the time and had been stationary.  When tires sit they age more quickly.

With RV tires that roll and flex frequently, they wind up pushing emollients and waxes to the surface of the tire which protects them from ozone, cracking, and from drying out as quickly.  Tires that sit can develop flat spots and visible surface cracks that eventually lead to tire failure when the tire is heated up in travel.

So how do you know when to replace RV tires?  The best rule is to go no more than seven years if the tires have been used regularly.  If the RV sits out most of the time it might be better to replace them every five years. My tires were only four years old, and they failed.  I would attribute the early failure to being around the salt air, the RV sitting, and the tires not covered.

when tp replace rv tires

Four Digit DOT Code in Yellow: 31st week of 2005

If you are buying a used RV, be sure to not only check tire tread depth, even tread wear and sidewall tire cracks, but also check the DOT code on the tire.  The four digit code will tell you when the tire was made.

The tires can be as much as one year older than the RV itself – I found that one out the hard way.  Also, when your RV sits, use tire covers, take the weight of the RV off the tires either by using the RV jack system if available, and keep the tires away from ground contact as the tires can absorb water. RV accessory manufacturers make blocks you can use to pull the RV onto for this purpose.

And last of all, travel with a tire pressure monitoring system so you always know the pressure your tires are running at.  These devices allow you to travel without worry!  You will be able to avoid severe tire damage because you will know ahead of time that something is wrong.

If a tire should suddenly blow on tour trailer or toad, you will know instantly so you can pull over to avoid serious damage to the RV, and possibly your loved ones. Blown tires on inner duals can lead to RV fires!  The same can tear up the underbelly of an RV trailer, and you may not notice it for miles until some passerby waves at you to pull over!

Pam and I have seen many results of failed tires, and the damage done, from other RVers, and it is something to take seriously.  In deciding when to replace RV tires, the best rule of thumb is no more than five years, or as often as you can afford to.  At least monitor them if they are older, and be sure to travel at the proper tire cold pressure, based on your RV’s weight. If you do then you will have many miles of stress-free travels!

when tp replace rv tires

How do these things work?  All you do is screw the remote sensor onto any tire you want to monitor.  The monitor wirelessly sends a signal to the remote unit by the driver’s seat.  It will show current tire pressure instantaneously while you drive, or are stationary.

No more guessing what your tires pressure is at before you hit the road. And the monitors last for years!  If the pressure drops below twelve percent of total pressure, an alarm sounds for the driver to hear.  One saved tire, and the avoided RV damage buys the system many times over!  It’s really the best way to go for RV’s that don’t already have these installed, especially 5th wheel and travel trailers!

Blessings and happy travels,

Howard & Pam

Please feel free to leave comments if I can answer any questions you may have!

Home Sweet Home – Full Time RV Living!

2005 Sportchassis and 2006 Newmar Kountry Aire

2005 Sportchassis and 2006 Newmar Kountry Aire

So, how can you enjoy your full time RV living lifestyle sooner?   There are several ways to supplement income while enjoying your full-time RV living.   There is an option called work camping that allows you to trade hours for your RV site, as well as make additional income.

 

Workers are always needed in campgrounds for maintenance, office registration, site escort, security, cooking, retail sales, etc.   Some parks are so large they may have 450 seasonal workers and 175-year round folks.   It’s a great arrangement.

 

That is how Pam and I got started.   Workamper News is a great site to find these jobs.   You can post a resume and receive offers from campgrounds looking for people with your skills.

 

Another good option to create income is to have your own business – something you can do anywhere and does not involve product inventory, etc.   There are companies that need folks for online teaching, consultation, and customer service.   All you need is a phone line, a voice over internet protocol system, and a computer.    You can have a home office on wheels and claim a tax deduction (seek the advice of an attorney and cpa for more details).   The internet is exploding with ways to derive income.   You just have to sort out the scams and find the gems.

 

Where do you want to go next?

 

Imagine waking up to the call of nature, checking out the changing view in the bathroom window, putting on that pot of coffee and thinking about where you  want to go next.   “Where do you want to go this winter” is the question Pam and I face right now – ah, so many possibilities!

 

We are not sure yet, but once we are, we’ll be ready to hit the road and venture off to a new locale.   I think it’s time to head back to the beach for a few months.   We’re missing the sand between our toes!   We also need a supply of liquid grapes so you know what that means.   Off the Napa Valley!

 

We are thankful for the many friends along the way that have shared their experiences with us so we could learn from their mistakes, and not duplicate the same errors.   RVers are more than willing to share helpful advice if you ask them for it.

 

Some will just come right out and tell you whether you want to hear it or not.   But that’s okay.   We are all a friendly bunch and there are very few lemon trees out there.   It’s a great life!  Pam and I hope to see you out there someday.   Maybe you will be able to tell us that you saw Howard and Pam on our site, and you got inspired to just get out there!  Let’s hope!

 

Blessings,
Howard and Pam

 

UPDATE:  This was our first full time RV living home that we had from 2008 to 2015.  It served us well but needs changed and we opted to go to a motorized RV.  Read our other posts and you will learn more about why we did so.

 

Please feel free to leave comments so I can answer any questions you may have!

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