From the desk of Firedude.
In part #1 I discussed academic essentials and here in part #2 I’ll discuss some of the more Tech type stuff. I’ve had recent inquiries from those ordering new RV’s in particular fifth wheels asking what add-ons to consider at time of purchase. I’ve learned through all my upgrades and through trial and error. I wish only I had known some of these things from the onset and it would have made life so much easier and lessened the out of pocket expenses later for such. Had I known many of these I would have ordered such when I bought the coach. Some I did.
Some things to consider here and remember some of these can be added as “gimmies” if worked out with the dealer during the time of purchase. It’s nice to have it included in your financing as the out of pocket is much less than if you do this yourself later down the road. Here are some of the items I suggest, but not limited to and may not fit all. They are just suggestions, especially for full-timers. potential full-timers and those planning on extended trips.

A Fantastic Fan or similar product

Fantastic Fan
These are a must in my book as you can exchange the air in your coach with outside air in just a mere minute or two. Mine is located above the bedroom. It also comes in handy when taking showers to evacuate the moisture from the hot shower. We all know moisture is one of an RV’s worst enemies.
Vent covers for all your rooftop vents including the Fantastic fan
These allow you to open your vents during rain and washing and not have to worry about getting drenched inside. I knew one fellow who had left his motor home for the day and left the vent open over the living area and as luck would have it they had a downpour and he had a lot of water damage.

Air ride hitch or pin box


This was one of the best investments I ever made. Unfortunately it was 3 years into full-timing before I did this. I have a TrailAir air ride pin box. There are other makes and models out there, but this is the one I chose. What a difference it made in the ride! Not only is towing less tiring and stressful the hard bumps and banging/jarring are now gone! This also saves big time on the wear and tear on your tow vehicle and trailer frame along with your contents! The ride is night and day difference.

Converters

Most converters that come with some RV’s are low end and just provide the basic function of converting your 110 volts to 12 volts for running light etc and other 12 volt items. These also provide a charge to your battery when you are hooked up to and AC power source. The problem is most “stock” converters continually charge your batteries with a trickle type charge never fully charging them as one might think. This continuous charge also makes the need to frequently check the water level in your batteries to prevent premature battery failure. I installed a Progressive Dynamics 9160 60 amp converter with a Charge Wizard, the Charge Wizard is fully automatic and monitors your batteries. When your batteries are fully charged it goes into the “storage mode” instead of cooking your batteries. Once every 24 hours it puts your batteries through a desulfation mode. This keeps the plates in the batteries clean and prevent premature battery failure and extend the life of your batteries which can be expensive as well as better performance. This was an easy install (swap out) taking only a couple hours and only cost me just under $300 delivered!

Batteries


How many do you need? Well this is a big question and whether or not you will run solar power or a generator and whether you will do a lot of dry camping and boon docking. Whatever type of batteries you buy make sure they are true deep cell/cycle batteries such as the ones I use namely Trojans. I use 2 and running my generator during the day and just before dark I can run all night with my basic stuff like a TV, computer, lights, water pump etc and have plenty of power left in the morning.

Inverters
Some have chosen to go with expensive 1,000, 2,000 watt inverters to run the items in their coaches Inverters simply convert your 12 volt battery power (12volt) to 110 to run items. I chose the less expensive way which has proved over the last 4 years to be very successful. I installed two quality 400 watt inverters, one for the TV, the other for my computer station. It’s all I need since everything else I use would run off the battery power. Both inverters were hard wired to the batteries and fused for protection. A very nice and clean install on my part if I don’t say so. By doing this it saved me a ton of money from purchasing an expensive inverter and much more difficult and comprehensive install. I use my Honda 2000 for running any big ticket items like the microwave or things like that. After hours I have plenty of power for what I need. I spent 6 weeks once dry camping and never had an issue and had all the power I needed. In fact I never had to hitch up to my coach once to dump or refill with water. More on those tips on my website.

There is more information on these subjects on my website under the Tech Tip section. I have taken the time over the past few years to publish my projects and money saving tips for inquiring minds. It’s all available in my RV Tech Tip Book and has a lot more on dry camping and boondocking techniques as well. Feel free to visit the site for more info. My tips and projects have saved people some major expenditures. Everyone feel free to chime in with their own suggestions as well here!

I had mentioned RVer’s Notebook in part #1 and anytime I do a mod or maintenance I also put it in my RV Notebook for future reference, much like a maintenance record of everything I do to the coach which could come in handy later down the road for many reasons. In fact all my RV records are kept there all in one convenient spot. My RV Notebook has really been one of the beast “add-ons” I’ve done as it seems I use it for everything I do. I like to be organized and using it lets me refer back to details on dates, parts and numbers, installs and other related info when needed. It also gives you reference if you were to sell your RV or needed to refer to the data for whatever reason. It’s always a good idea to document your mods. These again are just a few of my recommended tech essentials/mods for full-timing and many can apply to RV’ing in general. Again I’ve shared many money saving tips with my RV Tech Tips which has saved me and others literally hundreds of dollars and time which in this economy is important.

Build your own extended run time fuel tank for your generator at a fraction of the cost of retail, insulation projects, energy efficient cooling for the summer, learn about fluorescent lighting versus incandescent lightning and much more! Learn more about many other of my full-timing essentials…

* Generator extended run time fuel tanks. ***
* Energy efficient cooling .
* Installing a 3″ dump valve in a blue tote
* Beefing up insulation – Big Plus!
* Corrosion and Rust control
* Campsite Solar Light Tech Tip (Featured on RV Today!)
* Boondocking and dry camping solutions ***
* Work Station solution
* Progressive Dynamics Converter 9160 and Charge Wizard ***
* Running Fluorescent lights
* Washing, Waxing and Cleaning Tips

And more

http://www.thefiredude.com

Leave a Reply

9 comments

  1. John Shelton

    I have wondered since 5th wheel RV trailers became popular and then they began to be re-engineered with additional pivots, springs, etc., why do we even still use a 5th. wheel type hitch. The design of a fifth wheel coupling is such that the truck and trailer become a single, articulated vehicle with each unit contributing to the stability of the other. When this bond is broken with air bags, multiple pivots, etc., the characteristics of a single, articulated vehicle with each unit contributing to the stability of the other is completely lost. We then have nothing more (actually even somewhat less) than a super expensive gooseneck hitch. If all that we have is equivalent to a gooseneck (which could very easily be designed with a spring type “stalk” if desired), why do we not just design them with a gooseneck coupling and set a hitch ball in the floor, or under the floor of the truck bed and save all the mechanicals and dollars of a multiple pivot fifth wheel???? I just don’t understand the purpose of spending thousands of dollars for a coupling system that is actually inferior to a system that could be supplied for a few hundred dollars.

  2. John,
    The design concept actually is great. Not sure what you mean about spending thousands of dollars for a coupling system?? My TrailAir air ride pin box cost me $923 delivered and can only say what a tremendous difference in the ride and comfort not to mention less stress on everything bot the truck and trailer.

    When my wife had cancer surgery a couple years ago I was able to bring her home in comfort and had I had not gotten the air ride pin box we would have had to stay another week or more before she could travel. Even she was amazed at the ride. I’ve also noticed the difference in myself as not being near as tired after a long drive.

    My partner here has a gooseneck setup and he drove my rig some distance and was shocked at the difference. so much he got one. i also noticed that the contents of my coach were riding much better as well so for me anyway it’s a huge plus.

  3. Frank Heard

    I find the comments about the different hitchs very helpful. I am planning on going full time this summer. In looking for a new truck, I was wondering if a 4×4 is better than a conventional 2 wheel drive system for a fiver rig. I live in New England where the former setup is popular, but plan to spend the winters down south. Any advise is appreciated.

  4. Sid Burklund

    RE: Pin Box
    We have have just moved up from a 32′ fifth wheel to a 37 footer. The new rig has hot and cold running everything plus 3 slides.
    With regards to the pin box, I have all way’s used the OEM box with out any of the problems I have read and heard about over the past several years. My tow vehicle is a Ford F250 Quad Cab 4X4 diesel. The only thing I have done to it is add rear air bags.
    We live in the Northwest were we regularly travel on all types of roads with varying condition including gravel and dirt. I get no sway, porpoising or “chucking”. Am I lucky or am I missing something?

    PS We can travel without worry having open coffee cups in our drink holder

  5. Sid,
    I as many have found the air ride pin boxes a huge plus. There are many factors involved. Sounds like yes you are one of the lucky ones. I can only speak from my experience in that it made a world of difference in the ride for me and my coach as described above.

  6. Bill

    4×4 & dual wheels: Prior to purchasing an F350 for my fiver, the research I did indicated:
    1) Each adds significant weight to the load thereby reducing the capacity of the truck (you have to subtract their weight).
    2) I am not sure what the advantage is hauling with 4×4 ?? Anyone comment?
    3) Dual wheels save wear and tear on the pavement by distributing the weight, but that means 6 tires instead of 4 to purchase, balance, rotate, etc. Some people report more stability and a few other advantages. My experience is limited to a 30′ Cedar Creek, full time for only 3 years, so more experienced people may want to add to this.
    BOTTOM LINE for me, no significant advantage to either, with major weight capacity loss.

  7. Sid Burklund

    RE 4X4
    Bill,
    I have a F250 Quad Cab 4X4 Diesel that I use to pull a 37′ fifth wheel. For me it adds a bit of security as well as safety. for 99% of the time I pull in 2 wheel drive but I have on occasion pulled the rig over soft ground and have found 4 wheel drive just what is needed to insure I don’t get stuck.
    Regarding safety, we live in the Pacific Northwest and I have found my self traveling in our mountains in the spring and fall when we encounter snow fall. 4X4 works great here also.
    As a further point, we were crossing the high plains of Wyoming, in mid September when we encountered a early snow fall. I can tell you that when your 50 or more miles from the nearest town and it starts to snow real hard four wheel drive gives you a good deal of comfort. Then on the same trip on our return to the coast we ran into unreported snow when crossing the Rockies.
    For my wife and I, four wheel drive is a must for our peace of mind.

  8. I just had somebody I know get rid of their RV because they don’t drive it anymore, mostly due to fuel costs these days. I’m personally hoping that the cost of RV solar panels will go down by a lot in the near future, considering how much money they could potentially save folks instead of having to buy the extra gasoline to power their generators.

    In my opinion, a lower price-tag would definitely help to make RV solar panels something of an essential asset to both the RV enthusiast, and the occasional weekend campers.

  9. Stephanie Daiprai

    I have tried to read all your tips but several include a red “click here” and it takes you to a non-existent website. What happened?