Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Friday, December 19, 2008


Today I decided to review our list of challenges encountered thus far. This for us was aggravated by the fact that although we are very happy with our 5th wheel, the dealership was lacking in professionalism worthy of such determined first-time buyers bound for full-time from the outset. We were gifted with a 5 minute tour of the rig which was about as personalized as a generic credit card mail offer. The best advice they gave was, "Don't hesitate to ask your site neighbours, they are usually very willing to help."I digress. Back to our list:
  1. Hitch setting
  2. Yolk height
  3. Understanding all features of the rig
  4. Thinning out our stuff
  5. Supplementing our stuff
Hitch Setting:
This was an important matter, especially with a large rig (ours is a 36', and for rookies, that means that it is 39 when you add the tongue length). The balance is found in the knowledge that the connection of the hitch must be centred over the rear axle, but with a short box on our truck, it causes sacrifice in the turning radius. The solution (hard learned as spoken by the dent in the driver-side cab on our maiden voyage) is that you set the hitch over the rear axle for the drive to the site, then if need be, reset it further back for tighter maneuvering once at the site when speed based control is no longer a factor. It is worth while to invest in an adjustable hitch for that point.
Yolk Setting:
This too, we assumed that the dealership set appropriately for rookies who were counting on their professionalism and knowledge. I might advise that you don't assume as we did. Many are true professionals, but you wear any short comings in this field, not them. Again, a hard learned lesson. We had an extra fuel tank added to the bed of the truck as fuel economy is very much at the whim of the wind, weather, roads etc. The same trip can take 1/8 of a tank on one trip, and 1/2 a tank on another just with difference in wind direction and strength.
The factory setting of the yolk or tongue hitch was left as it was for us, and therefore, the bed-nose clearance was only 2 inches. We didn't even know that it could be adjusted. We now have a fuel cap sized hole in the nose waiting for the arrival of spring and an opportunity to correct it. (White duct tape holding the gap for now)
We have now extended it down 2 settings longer.
Understanding The Rig's Settings:
Boy, still on this journey!! When you are green, many people don't fully grasp your "hue". Some of our basic unknowns include:
Stove Function - Although your stove may have an igniting feature, the oven requires manual lighting of the pilot. If you use your oven often, you can leave it in the "pilot" setting and it will hold a minimal flame for faster re-ignition.
Sewer System - Even when in a site of full hook-ups, it is better for your gauges and tank readings to close the black and gray water and let it build, then release every 2-3 days. This is especially applicable when in a colder temperatures. If it is trickling out on an as used basis in the cold, pipe freezing and breakage is more likely. Fortunately, this was a "see neighbours' issue" lesson.
Powered Appliances - Most people are aware that the fridge can switch from electricity to propane, but I didn't know that our hot water heater can function either way too. Not all do, but it took kindly neighbours to show us how ours works. Also from them we figured out how to ensure the water flow valves were set right. On our first set up, we found that from the overflow valve on the hot water heater that it was hot, but it wasn't releasing into the general water flow lines. One of the shut off valves actually needed to be shut in order to allow it to flow out of the heater. Apparently, when de-winterizing the rig for us, the dealership forgot to switch it. The on/off switch on the heater is for the power. For us, if you want to run it on propane, you control it from the inside panel.
Propane heaters-This season has proved especially useful in our learn curve in this matter. Did you know that propane has a bit of residue oil in it? (I didn't) Did you know that especially when it gets very cold, that oil can pool in low points in your lines - causing the cessation of furnace fruitful flow?? (I didn't) We solved this dilemma (3 days into an Oliver level deep freeze) by attaching a heat tape to the line and heating the oil. We left the heat tape on, but will plug it in only if problems arise again.
Anchoring Contents For Travel - Again, we relied on the dealer for wisdom on this matter. Our rig is one year before the conversion to plasma screen dominance for entertainment centres. Our living room tv is about 32", full tube. To anchor it, they had attached a "friction strap" as it was attached to a swiveling pull out shelf. They assured me that it would be we now have a 2"x6" board that we pad with a towel that gets wedged into the tv's cavity to brace it into place. Not everything needs to be taken down, but when in doubt, floor level prevents further experience of the gravitational pull of this great planet. It might be helpful to actually have a list of specific items that need securing, especially if you land in a site for any length of time where you allow yourself to truly "make yourself at home". Also, doors, cupboards and compartments should be secured. Although most have some degree of resistance to opening for the benefit of travel, weightier contents can shift and push doors open. Child-proof cupboard clips and such devices are often very helpful in this effort. I also place dowels in the tracks of my closets as the catches that secure them are fickle in their functioning.
Thinning Out Our Stuff
This is a challenge for anyone shifting to full timing. We did store some of our items, and truth be told, I believe there is a sale coming soon to the Pincher Creek area, but time and hubby's whims will guide that. The important thing to keep in mind is that if you are serious, and going to give it a few years to see if it works for you, then the thinner the better. For example, if you store half to a full house worth of items, and don't consider returning to the world of the fixed address for several years, is the cost of replacement less than the cost and risk of storing your old items. You may find that you thin, store some, then thin some more later. If this world works for you, the less you hold the better.
Supplementing Our Stuff
Although we had to get rid of a lot of things, we also had to buy some things to make things work easier.
In the kitchen I have had to get the small cookie sheets, and I also got a lot of the new silicone cookware. They work well, but for ease of removal, I still put them on the cookie sheet. I also have stainless steel pans as teflon is now overly flame friendly. For my pots, I have a corning-ware type produce so that I can both stovetop cook, and microwave. There is a bit more breakability in it, but if stored carefully, it should be minimal risk. I also have silicone collapsible measuring cups, flexible sheet cutting boards, and a large container for the large bulky utensils.
We put a pet door on the bathroom/bedroom door as the litter box is in the water closet (appropriate term for our style layout) I actually am using a very small pan that I converted Glory to before we moved in, and am using a pine pellet litter that I simply dump in the toilet when changes are required. I only require about 2 hands full of the pellets, and I scoop as she "goes".
As for power, we are in the process of looking for a 7000 w generator (with 50 Amp service, we are a thirsty beast for juice) and are going to get solar panels too, to allow for easier "dry camping".
We have a rather extensive DVD collection, and to compact it we have currently put them into binders and storage sleeves. I am going to revise it to bins as soon as I can find them as I was advised that the weight of them on each other can cause warping of the disks.
We invested in something my parents refer to as a "blue boy". Ours is a 15 gallon rolling container that can be used when your site doesn't have an individual sewer hook-up. You connect your sewer hose to it, drain, and haul to the nearest community dump site so that you don't have to hitch, and dump. Most RV parts places will know what it is, if not by that name, at least by description.
We found that investing in a couple moped style (bicycle frame type) scooters were useful too. As our vehicle is a 3500 Dodge 4x4, a more fuel efficient putt-about vehicle is useful.
(This list will build as I go, but for now that is what sticks out in my mind.)
I guarantee that not all posts will be this long, but I think I managed to scratch the surface of at least some of our greater learn curves.



  1. Well, I just learned something new: what the 'pilot' setting on my oven's knob stands for! :-)

  2. Hi There ! Just found out about your blog from the Escapees Forum.

    I plan to go fulltiming Fall 2009 and have a lot to learn. I read your troubleshooting encounters with lots of interest ! I absolutely don't have a clue about any of the 'mechanics' of an RV. I have to learn about generators, a/c d/c power, possibly solar panels etc. etc.

    I'm on the Internet so much I'm nearly going blind !!

    Anyway, I will follow your blog closely and wish you much fun and adventure ! I'm envious !!

    Denise (fellow Canadian)

  3. I will be sure to include any new things we learn as we go. We run diesel trucks (hubby pulls the house, and I tow the garage - a 26 foot utility trailer with his workshop in it.) So the generator options we are looking at include the possibility of a diesel one. (less jerry can cargo) We are also looking at solar panels, and the outcome of that research shall come this way.
    Anyway, I hope you can get a giggle out of the misadventures as well.