Improving Today’s RV Features

September 24, 2009

 

 

RV manufacturers are always coming up with new features and components each year on their products. But, it seems they never make any innovative changes to improve their existing hardware.  So let’s look at several items that could use some innovative design improvements.

Take security lights.  They are the lights found high up on the sides of many trailers and motor homes that we rarely use.  I see more of them glowing in the daytime from either being left on from the night before or turned on in error during the day.  I doubt many people really use them with any regular frequency.  So, how could they be improved to be a functioning benefit to the owner?   If they were to add a simple motion detector to each, with an override to disarm or switch force on, we would have a better mouse trap.  They would also contribute to what they were named after, namely security lights.  Additionally, to prevent them from lighting during the day, a photocell could be also included.

Still another item that comes to mind is tire safety.  We all know that tire pressure monitors that show the pressure, and in some cases the temperature of each tire is an expensive option.  But what about tire pressure warning indicators.  They don’t report the individual tire pressures, but warn of a low pressure condition.   They are required by law on automobiles and have been since they started phasing them in four years ago.  So why are these not required on motor homes?  After all, a heavy vehicle like a coach is probably far more dangerous if a tire event happens than a light automobile.

GPS operation is another thing that could use some tweaking.  Now I know they are designed to disable most, if not all, operator input while the vehicle is in motion, but come on.  I need to know when the next rest stop or fuel station is coming up, but I’m unable to request the information without stopping.  Sometimes stopping is not a safe option, especially in a large vehicle.  A re-design of the controls should be made, and this could be done keeping the safety issue in mind.  Perhaps a momentary switch in the navigator’s area allowing them to override this feature for occasional quick input would be in order.  This would ensure the driver could not make that input therefore not be distracted.  This certainly seems a no-brainer for vehicles equipped with a separate screen on the passenger’s side, as in fact, my coach does.

 

What about the outside mirrors on class A’s? Why haven’t any manufacturers given any thought to designing them with a power-in option?  They are available, and have been for years, on SUV’s and like vehicles.  Obviously, it is to make them somewhat narrower for tight garages, etc.  Well, if there is any vehicle that needs this, it has to be a wallowing class A squeezing through a tight toll booth or narrow passage.

And what’s up with some Cat engines. You have to use a grease gun to lubricate the zerk fitting on the water pump.  Hello, why don’t they use premenent lubricated sealed bearings like most other engine manufacturers?  I realize that Cat is no longer supplying over the road engines, but there are still quite a few of these out there.

I know that the RV market is a limited quantity when compared to the automobile production, but for the high dollar they command, some innovative product design is justified.   Well, I’m sure there are many more and perhaps you can add to this.

Trying To Build A Better Mouse Trap   –    Lug_Nut    –    Peter Mercer

 

 

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43 comments

  1. Avatar

    Joe Kentrus

    you wnat me to retype my comments, because you didn’t like the Captcha code. give me a break.

  2. Avatar

    Barry Zander

    Blog.rv.net suggested installing a heat-detection security light several months ago. We did it and are satisfied, except that the one I bought at Home Depot is overly sensitive. It goes on throughout the night.

    Your GPS concern is apparently well-founded, but if yours gets you where you’re going directly, you’re way ahead of us. We just bought one from Wal-Mart. It can’t even get us directly to “WLMARS.”

    And, one of the features of our GMC Sierra that we really appreciate is the fold-in mirrors. Great for parking in Wlmar parking lots..

  3. Avatar

    Joe Kentrus, These are things that are required on many such sites due to the nature of the beast. I know, it is easy to mis-type or use the wrong case. Give it another try.

  4. Avatar

    Barry Zander, Great input. You gotta’ love those power folding mirrors. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  5. Avatar

    Just so you know my GPS does have a way to turn off the safety system while moveing. in fact you can unplug it and still use it. works off of the battery. it is a 760 Garmin.

  6. Avatar

    Willie Combs, Great info, but almost, if not all,. built in factory GPS units are locked out for most input. Thanks for the great input.

  7. Avatar

    Thomas Becher

    If your’e worried about security, How about the doors to the coach opening into the “house” instead of out. I can’t see whats out there because of the crakled glass and both the screen door and the door swing out. I know it’s got something to do with cheaper but I don’t know what. The spook light is too far back to do much good around the door.

  8. Avatar

    Thomas Becher, Good point, however, an out swinging door is much more difficult to break into as it has to open out. You can not over power a door pulling on such a small handhold. External security mirrors may be the answer to observation prior to exiting. Thank you for your very appropriate input.

  9. Avatar

    catches the wind

    Entryway light switch placement. I have on my Winnebago 05 a set of toggle switches one of which is for the electric awning. The engineers could not have found a more inappropriate location. The bathroom fan has a dinky push light switch mounted on the fan. Great spot for folks with a bad back.
    A light list for each light indicating the strenght of the bulb. There is a difference on 12v bulbs. I could go on but you get the point.

  10. Avatar

    catches the wind

    I love this web site.

  11. Avatar

    Drew

    Nice going Lug Nut- I liked this alot.

  12. Avatar

    Liz Bard

    I agree about the fold in mirrors. We have them on our 2008 Saturn Outlook. Many a time I have pulled into a parking spot after I could not find a handicapped one (I have the tags), then before I can get out, someone in a bigger SUV parks next to me and I either have to pull out to find another spot or fol the mirrors in so I can open the door.

    The porch light is not very bright and it is so high, we paid our RV mechanics to change it for us. Neither one of us needs to be on a ladder that high. I like the idea of havig motion detector lights or where it is photo-sensitive to come on when it becomes dark. I also wish they were brighter or there was one on each side of the door.

  13. Avatar

    catches the wind, You are right on the random switch placement, it does seem that they put them where it is handy to install, not use. I would think this is an issue on most makes. Thank you for your great input.

  14. Avatar

    Drew, Thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed it.

  15. Avatar

    Liz Bard, Sometime you can put a brighter bulb into the door light fixture, but you must make sure it does not exceed the maximum wattage allowed. If you do exceed it may melt the lens or worse, cause a fire. Thank you for your contribution to this topic and your input.

  16. Avatar

    Melvin Morrow

    I believe another improvement that may be worthwhile is an alarm system. I purchased a self contained battery unit for use when I put my 5W in storage each year. A manufacturerer installed unit would be a good option.

  17. Avatar

    Johnny G...AKA The NYC Castaway

    Another good feature not mentioned in your article would be a Gallon readout to tell exactly how many gallons of fuel you have inside your tank down to the ounce. Those idiot gauges are outdated and need to be improved.

    Another good gadgit is to have a bluetooth device installed in a central location up front so when your driving you can receive your cell phone calls over the Coaches stereo.

    I could go on forever, but I only have a few more minutes before I have to get ready for work.

    Talk to you later.
    Johnny G.

  18. Avatar

    Melvin Morrow, Actually, a security system is already an available option on many makes. In fact I have the factory installed system on my current coach. It includes motion sensors (2), door, basement doors and vibration. Thanks for your input on this topic.

  19. Avatar

    Johnny G…AKA The NYC Castaway, Digital gallon readout is already available on most of the higher priced rigs. It would be nice if they included it on all, considering the price.
    Bluetooth is also an option on some radio configurations, in fact my coach has it. It allows dailing directly on the navigation touch screen and pipes the sound through the stereo speakers.
    Thanks for the thoughts and please let’s hear more.

  20. Avatar

    Les Walker

    There is an aftermarket Security / Porch light available for RV’s. The SMART LIGHT 1000, http://www.starlightsinc.com. We purchased one for our motorhome and it works great.

  21. Avatar

    Les Walker, Good information. Thanks for the link and your participation on this topic.

  22. Avatar

    Mike

    Still waiting for a blue tooth voice recognition input GPS so you can change settings or look for things while driving. The technology is there and only a few commands would need to be voice recognized, so where’s the product? (or am I missing it?)

  23. Avatar

    Mike, That’s a very good question. I think I may have it but have never used it. The navigation that I had specially installed at the factory has voice recognition for several things. Unlike the disc driven units, it has a 40 Gig. hard drive. Voice rec. can be used to select a certain song that automatically stores in the music library. The music library is automatically built by playing about four songs on a CD. By then it has recorded the entire disc and files it. I find voice rec. technology not that good, so have never bothered using it. But, maybe it is not safety locked while driving therefore may allow in motion programming and like commands. Thanks for the great thought, I will have to try it out. Thank you for your great input.

  24. Avatar

    John

    Hi Lug_Nut,
    There are many features we would like to have but we won’t see the in a hurry.
    Think about it, if the builders gave us all we wanted in a model year of production
    there won’t be anything new to offer for the next year and they won’t have anything to entice us to buy the new model. The power in mirrors should be standard, especially on the high mount style that you have on your coach. My neighbour has 2 F-450’s with power in mirrors that he parks on the street with them folded in.
    About the GPS, voice activated should be able to handle the request from the driver. We have to make our consumer voices heard at the manufacturer HQ.

    Cheers,
    John

  25. Avatar

    Hi John, You have a point regarding the manufacturers holding back some glizt for the next year’s model. The driver mirror on mine can not be reached out the driver’s window. So, I need a step ladder to adjust it……………………..I better not get started on that one. The voice of the consumer is I believe heard, but the engineering department wasn’t told. Thanks for you great input John.

  26. Avatar

    Peter,

    Nice write up. Looks like an old topic on RV.net but, I just got my email version. Very practical especially on the power mirrors. The US Customs at Port Huron, MI has the narrowest lanes I have seen. It has to be 2″ on either side of my mirrors. I wish I could move them just a couple of inches in.

    Good job on the Blogs and I hope you are well.

  27. Avatar

    Steve

    Seems that everyone wants a $1,000,000+ RV with all the good “stuff” for $150K or less 🙂 You got the money = you can get anything done. Cheers!

  28. Avatar

    Lug_Nut,

    How about gray and black water tanks with tilted bottoms? I’ve never heard an adequate explanation (other than lazy chassis manufacturers who don’t to design for it) on why these tanks have flat bottoms. Tilting the coach with jacks does the job, but it’s inconvenient and insensitive for those in line behind you.

    Bill

  29. Avatar

    Jim Morton

    To all manufactures,
    How about a sloping foor on slide outs. All it would take is 1 to 2 inches from inner to outer, make the water flow away from the coach. What is up with floor covering? Tile is nice but heavy, carpet is hard to keep clean, How about hardwood or laminate or even some of the high end linoleum. Not all of us live in our RV’s in a resort where there is no dirt.
    After living full time now for the past 5 years in our RV these are things we have learned. 1, change out the gas range to a electric glass cooktop this saves gas for heat and hot water. It is also less hazardus due to no flame from the electric cooktop. 2, Change the RV fridge to a household one and get an invertor to match it so it works while you are on the road. The house hold fridge will be twice as big inside and cost less than 1/3rd what the RV one did. Also it will last 10 times longer without a problem. 3, Get an RV with the TV placed so you don’t get a stiff neck while watching it. Nothing is worse than after watching your favorite team for a couple hours on Sunday and then not being able to move your head the next day so you can drive on Monday.

  30. Avatar

    JavaJelly, Hey Javaman, have not heard from you for ever. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Port Huron Customs booths, been ther, done that. Great hearing from you and thanks for the input.

  31. Avatar

    Steve, Sounds good to me. Put me down for two of those. Granted the more you pay the more you should get. Thanks for your post on this subject.

  32. Avatar

    Bill, Great point. I’ve seen many tilting the coach with their jacks. This is well worth adding to the “What were they thinking” file. Thank you for your great input and idea.

  33. Avatar

    Jim Morton, All good thoughts. Well the slanted floor thing we would have to think about. But, I have all the rest. My coach has an electric stovetop, a residential frig and a midship TV. Thanks for your valued input.

  34. Avatar

    John Shelton

    While it is totally separate from any factory installed vehicle locating security devices, DeLorme sells a VERY modestly priced GPS application that installs on your laptop computer and will get you either to Wal-Mart or to WLMRS according to your wishes. (I buy and use this device. I do not sell it)

  35. Avatar

    Gary

    I would love it if someone would come up with front landing jacks that could lift my 30 foot 5’er high enough to hitch. Drives me wild every time I have to hitch my aching old back to the hand crank. My wife has some cast iron in there but if she can carry it, the jacks SHOULD be able to lift it…

  36. Avatar

    Ernie Hadfield

    Someone at Cat must have listened. Engines mfg. after approx. the fall of 2002 have a permanently sealed fan bearing.

    Also, it’s pretty easy to make an extension using an elbow and a couple of grease gun hoses. My fan grease fitting is now near the bottom of the slobber tube.

  37. Avatar

    Lug_Nut

    John Shelton, MircoSoft also has a similar product, Streets and Trips, which I have used for years. They are also a great planning tool too, allowing you to do your trip plan at home rather than in the car. Thanks for your input on this topic.

  38. Avatar

    Lug_Nut

    Gary, Such devices are available and standard on some models. Either way it would be relatively simple to add on an aftermarket. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  39. Avatar

    Lug_Nut

    Ernie Hadfield, Glad to hear Cat finally went to a sealed bearing. That is a great idea going to a remote fitting. Well worth installing and makes the job a snap. Thanks for your great input.

  40. Avatar

    Steve White

    My biggest gripe has been the poor slides on the interior drawers. I’ve had to replace every one of them over the six years we’ve owned our Jayco Granite Ridge. Of course, now we bungee them shut when we’re on the road, but the plastic mount at the back of the drawer has broken even when bungeed. There must be a better way. The coach is great and we love it except for thoase blasted drawers and a couple of other minor irratants.

  41. Avatar

    Lug_Nut

    Steve White, Consider yourself fairly fortunite to only have one item that you believe is poor quality. Many have a host of what they believe is poor quality and some much more serious. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and for your input.

  42. Avatar

    Gary

    Lug_Nut – thanks for the note back. I got to looking and found some UltraFab front landing jacks that I am excited about. The old landing jacks only had one motor and it was way too small for the job. It also has small wire which may have contributed to the problem. The new jacks are much better built, the dual motor configuration has to be better and will offer at least twice the lifting power plus the wiring is much heavier duty. I need to do a little modification to get the jacks to fit but I will be able to lower both at the same time or tweek one or the other a little to get perfect leveling in front.
    I like this blog – You told me to look around, I did and once the snow is gone and I get to it, I believe that my back will heal up and my wife can keep the cast iron..

  43. Avatar

    Gary, Great to hear you have maybe solved an issue. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Without readers like you it has little value. Thank you for taking the time to post and for your great feed back.