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Old 09-03-2010, 02:31 PM   #1
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Location: Enumclaw, WA
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Advice for first time RVrs

What would your advice be to someone new to RVs?

I am hoping that we can fill this thread with tidbits of sage advice from the experienced RV owners here that may be of help to first time RV owners. Without being to overly verbose, what piece of advice would you have?

Hopefully we can use this as a sort of "first timers guide" for future newbies that are lost in what to do from first time buying to how things work.

A warning though, if all you can say is "don't buy a Forest River product", your post will be deleted, this is meant to be constructive and helpful to anyone who is new or thinking about entering the RV lifestyle.

Also, if you are new, please don't post questions in this thread, you can do that in another thread in an appropriate area of the forums.

If this thread takes off and gets to be to long we will look at locking it and hopfully make it a "sticky" in an area that is most likely to be seen by new folks.

So come on all you experienced and wise ones, what advice do you have?

"I can fix it, and if I can't fix it, I can fix it so no one can fix it!"
Ed & Wendy
2009 Georgetown 378TS | 1998 Jeep Wrangler | 1998 Skeeter ZX202C
Nights camped in 2009: 53 | Nights camped in 2010: 55
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Old 09-03-2010, 02:31 PM   #2
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I'll start it off...

No matter if you have bought a new RV or a used RV, you should NEVER leave the driveway with it until you are comfortable and confident in how to use it and you are sure that everything is working the way it should.

A weekend "camping trip" right in front of the house is the best way to get used to an RV. Be sure you know how to fill the water tank, turn on the water pump, connect the sewer hose and dump the holding tanks. Use the RV on battery power only, run the furnace as needed and be sure it works and get an idea for how long your batteries are going to last you under normal circumstances if you intend to go dry camping (also known as Boondocking)

Familiarize yourself with the operation of the water heater (both gas and electric sides), refrigerator, furnace, stove and oven. Start the generator (if equipped) to be sure it works. Make sure the air conditioning works. Learn how to use the stabilizers or levelers and verify the operation of all the slides.

Bottom line is, an RV isn't like your house. Things work differently. Don't leave home and expect to figure things out as you go or you could be in for a very uncomfortable trip.

If you are an owner of a motorcoach (not a trailer) look into joining the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association). The FMCA has litteraly hundreds of local chapters you can join to meet other RVrs and go on monthly (sometimes more often) outtings. Learn from them by asking questions or having them show you how to do things while you are actually out using your RV.

"I can fix it, and if I can't fix it, I can fix it so no one can fix it!"
Ed & Wendy
2009 Georgetown 378TS | 1998 Jeep Wrangler | 1998 Skeeter ZX202C
Nights camped in 2009: 53 | Nights camped in 2010: 55
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Old 09-03-2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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Location: Upperco, Maryland
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1:Use this forum for the answers to your questions. There are no dumb questions, no one knows everything.
2: Occasionally things break!, remember it's rolling down the road bouncing around, so things will come loose or may even fall off.
3:Secure your items in the closets so you don't get clobbered when you open a door.
4:Try to keep your sense of humor when things go wrong.
5:Always do a walk around before going anywhere, check brake lights, headlights, running lights and flashers.
6:Remember to change the batteries in the smoke detector & CO detector when you change the clocks for the time changes.
I have 2 spare bulbs for every bulb used on my motorhome, same thing with fuses. I highly recommend a Multi-tester to check electrical problems, a good flashlight and an assortment of tools to fix small problems.

I rely on all of the Forest River Forum members for information on new products, modifications and help with issues I've encountered. This group of people really have some great ideas. Their experience and willingness to share their ideas is superb. They're always there to help assist everyone.

And if you're not sure what you need NWJeeper and I can help you spend plenty of money getting your RV to where you want it to be.

Most important

2007 Georgetown 370TS

Driver: Charlie
Navigator: Sheri
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Old 09-03-2010, 03:20 PM   #4
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Location: Galloway,OH
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Maintaining the exterior of your travel trailer is crucial. Inspect the roof regularly for cracks or gaps in seam sealant. Fill any gaps immediately. Water penetration is your enemy. If possible, cover your unit while it is in storage.
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Old 09-03-2010, 03:49 PM   #5
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Location: Manitoba
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If you get slide awnings, especially for the superslide, make sure to make something to put under them to stop the water pooling, which will stretch the fabric out of shape. I made an arch out of 1" styrofoam, 6 feet long, 6" high at the ends and a half inch higher in the middle. It is super easy to install (with a ladder), the awning fabric holds it in place, and it puts just enough of a rise in the center of the awning to direct the water to the ends.
Also, if you get an electric main awning, be sure to get the adjustable one so you can dip one end down to shed water. I don't trust the "automatic" dump feature, and you can direct the water where you want it to go.
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:03 PM   #6
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Ask for help, most things are simple. Verify your set up, hitches, weight distribution, etc., don't rely on the dealer. check your lug nuts, tires, including spares and know how to change them. get familiar with backing up, turning radius, stopping distance.
Use check list's.
Take your time and enjoy the experience.

2007 Chevy 2500HD CC
2010 V-Lite 30WRLTS
Nights Camped 2011 -64
Nights Camped 2012 -50
"I Live in My Own World, But It's OK. They Know Me"
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:19 PM   #7
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If you haven't already, purchase a good quality Ice Chest. Fill it with whatever makes you mellow, the use it to your advantage.
Remember, you're out there to relax and escape the hectic everyday things life delivers.

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Old 09-03-2010, 08:38 PM   #8
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Don't buy more trailer than your tow vehicle can handle!
2012 F150 FX4 Ecoboost, 2016 Surveyor 274BHS
2003 Yamaha FJR1300, Demco Premiere Slider
1969 John Deere 1020, 1940 Ford 9N, 1948 Ford 8N
Jonsered 535, Can of WD-40, Duct Tape
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:23 AM   #9
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Here's how to install a weight distribution bar and sway bars.
YouTube - Weight Distribution and Sway Control Installation -
Jan Goldfield and Donna Morse
Slidell LA

2009 Cherokee Grey Wolf 28BH
2009 Ford 150
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:17 AM   #10
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Location: South Hill, Wa
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Fifth wheel owners, I want you to repeat after me............

I will take the appropriate steps to NEVER drop my trailer on the bed of my truck.

I have personally known not one, but three different people that have dropped their trailers on the bed of their truck. Usually destroying the bed.

Pull test is good way to prevent this from happening depending on your hitch style, BUT and this is a big but, there are other ways to drop trailers. Brain farting is the number one reason. People get out of their rythem of doing things and get complacent.

Try and use a mental checklist and do things in order. Develope your own system.

The biggies for me are, undoing the kingpin lock with the landing gear still up, albeit with the wheels chocked, it still scares you. The other one is undoing the kingpin and getting ready to pull the truck forward with the truck still weighted down. I've also known someone who was hitching up and was too lazy to get out and adjust trailer height so it was proper, they knocked there landing gear off their wooden blocks trying to force the trailer on to the hitch. Trailer fell on the bed doing minimal damage.

My normal sequence is.....

Back truck up to trailer stopping short of kingpin.
Get out and adjust trailer if needed.
Set trailer height so that the trailer is about 1/2 to 1 inch lower than your hitch.
Open king pin jaws.
Back in to the kingpin till the trailer just jolts a little and set the parking brake.
Get out again and verify kingpin is locked.
Do a pull test if you so desire with the landing gear still nearly down.
Put landing gear up.
Hook up your breakaway and trailer wiring.
Go unchock everything.
Check lights.
Double check trailer for roadworthiness.

On a good day I can safely hitch up and be roadworthy in under 2 minutes. Try doing that with your WD hitch.
Good luck out there.

1999 Ford Superduty F250 PSD CC SB 6spd 4x4.
B&W goosneck/companion hitch, Airlift 5000 airbags.
2006 Sierra F28 Rear Kitchen 5th Wheel, 31' = 10k pounds.
Nights camped in 09-14, 2010-23
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