Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Older than dirt RV, or just old dirt

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have a perfectly functioning Class C motorhome that we have traveled in for 14 years. Over that time we have babied the engine, outfitted it with solar, new appliances, new upholstery, new flooring, extra batteries and many more conveniences. We know the rig and can fix most things on our own. It fits like a glove. Yet, my husband wants to sell it and get something new because the decals are faded. I’m afraid I may be next as I’m fading a bit myself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our rig and I am stubbornly refusing to agree to a new rig, a new payment, new brake-in period and new learning curve. Am I being selfish? Please give me some advice.
Old Fashioned in Oklahoma


Dear Old:
There is lots of information I do not have that would make the answer I give you vary. Your finances, how much you use the Class C, how many miles on it and the body condition other than the decals. So let me approach it from this angle. I am going to assume it is in great shape and your point is why spend money on something new just because your husband is bored with what you have and finds it unsightly. First, he may find the newer designs more convenient. Your rig probably has exposed sewer connections and no basement storage for example. Maybe it isn’t just the decals. There will come a point that updating is no longer cost effective. He may be thinking you are at that point. So many amenity choices are also personal choices. If, however it is simply faded decals, I can save you some money. For about $70 you can buy a product called PoliGlow that will make your rig shine like new. It is easier than waxing and when you are finished it will have a showroom shine. You will need to do this every year or so, but it’s very simple. It’s a two part kit. First part entails scrubbing streaks and marks off and then putting several coats of PoliGlow on with a chamois as if you were varnishing. Good luck with your new rig or your new look. I like both end results as long as both of you are happy campers.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The RV Check List

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We just tore the TV antenna off our rig. My husband blamed me immediately. I read the manual that came with our fifth-wheel and it doesn’t say anywhere, “Wife is supposed to crank TV antenna down before leaving campground.” I could have reminded him that he was the last one to watch TV, but I didn’t. I could have told him it was his job to check the exterior of the rig, but I didn’t. I could have told him we should share the responsibility and choke it up as a learning experience, but I didn’t. You couldn’t print what I did tell him but let’s just say it was loud and long. I know that is not how I should have handled the situation but it sure felt good at the time. What would you suggest?
Winegard Whining in Winnipeg

Dear Winnie:
You were both wrong. He should not have blamed you and you should not have doused him with a verbal flamethrower. Did it solve anything? I like your “could have” about calling it a learning experience. Arguing is such a waste of time and energy. You should also work on avoiding conflict by avoiding little disasters.

What you two need is “The Check List.” I talk about this all the time because it solves so may problems before they ever occur. It is not only important to make a list but to check it religiously before even starting the engine. Lists can be long, short or even compartmentalized. On this list you put important reminders like: Is the antenna down? Is the cat in, or still on his leash? Is the refrigerator locked? Is the tow vehicle hooked up correctly? Are the cupboards secure? Does the engine have plenty of oil? Are the vents down? Have we unhooked the power and water lines? What is the fuel level? Are the bikes secure? Are the tires inflated properly? Have I hugged my spouse today?

These small reminders will keep you in the habit of taking a few minutes before blast off and making sure all systems are GO. You might even consider an abbreviated list for short gas and rest stops.

When you replace the antenna, get the new design that never needs cranking up. The less cranking, will make you both less cranky.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My RV husband in a fix

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We bought a used motorhome recently and now live in it full-time. We love the lifestyle but it is causing my husband a lot of frustration. We are in the middle of this new learning curve and we find it very exciting. The problem arises when we have questions and get dozens of different answers. We recently had to replace the toilet. At the same time we tore the carpet out of the bathroom, put in a new sub floor and tiled. My husband was told by several RV parts dealers that there was no such thing as a closet flange extension to compensate for the raised floor. He was at wits end, and ready to pull the new floor up, when we walked into a parts store and found several of various lengths. This seems to be the norm as we maneuver through our shake down cruise. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can calm my husband’s nerves until we become more expert at this land yachting?
--Newbies in Nebraska

Dear Newbies:
I understand completely. First let me say, “Never, and I mean never, take NO for an answer.” When you have rig questions, repair questions, travel destination questions, campground questions, and yes, even Shrink questions, always get a second opinion. It can be very frustrating when repair people tell you something you find out later is just not true. Diagnostic fees at RV shops can run as much as $100 and hour. I have been tempted to start an on the road diagnostic business myself. I think I would be as good as many so called experts I have dealt with. I would charge people a hundred bucks to look at their problem and say, “Yep, she’s broken!”
Seriously, you can start researching many questions on Google, talk to other RVer’s, sales and service people, even manufacturer’s tech support. Again, never take the first answer you get. Information is often clouded by what the company is selling, or brands carried. Sometimes a service tech doesn’t want to sound uninformed and will give you a line of BS that will throw your train of thought right off the track. Think of your many small problems as lessons you need to learn on your way to RV utopia. It’s all part of the adventure. Before long you will be giving others tips on how to avoid the land mines you have already disarmed.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, July 7, 2011

RV Festivities

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We were camped last summer in Deadwood, South Dakota in a commercial campground. The second day the manager gave us a hospital band ID to wear on our wrist. He said it was going to get very busy and we would need this ID band to leave and enter the campground. He said it was the Sturgis motorcycle rally. We had no idea what to expect. By nightfall the campground was packed to capacity and the partying went on all night long. One woman came over to our site and asked for ice. I thought she was wearing a skimpy halter top but soon discovered she was topless with a tattooed halter top. We left the next morning but my wife thought we deserved a refund. It still bugs her. Should I have demanded my money back or just moved on?
--Harvey in Hog Heaven

Dear Harv:
I think it was worth a night’s fee just to have the story to tell about the woman with the tattoo. You are always going to run into the unexpected while traveling. It is part of the adventure. You will often stumble onto festivals you didn’t know existed. Sturgis is the Mother of all motorcycle rallies. The Black Hills are alive with rally goers and most campgrounds are filled to capacity with people “letting their hair down.” There are so many boomer bikers now (with no hair to let down) so the rally gets bigger each season. I would suggest you go with the flow and move on if you can’t fit in. The campground owners had no idea you weren’t there for the festivities. They probably could have rented your space ten times over. It sounds like they are trying to manage the crowds as best they can with the ID bands. You pay your fees and take your chances. Odds are in your favor that most of the time you are going to get exactly what you are looking for. I’m just curious, how long did it take to figure out it wasn’t a halter top?
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink