As I mentioned yesterday, Tom and I spent the weekend at RVers Boot Camp. The name conjures up images of push-ups and standing in line, but everyone there was retired or close to it, and we know retired folks won’t stand for anyone telling them what to do! RVers Boot Camp is three days of classes put on by Escapees – an organization concerned with the rights and safety of people living in RVs. They provide mail service, watch the laws of various states as they concern RVers, and teach people what they need to know about living in an RV.
We started with several classes on RV systems: how they operate, how to get the best out of them, how to maintain them, and how to fix them. We learned about plumbing, electric (AC and DC), batteries, heating, air-conditioning, propane, slides, hooking up and hitting the road. Just like in our house, I had been letting Tom worry about these systems and work on them when they were broken, but now I feel like I have enough information that I can help him (or mess
them up with them myself).
We learned about tires. When your house is on wheels it is very important to have the right tires and to take care of them. We already had tire pressure sensors on our tires, which give us pressure and temperature, but we weren’t sure what pressure to use. Do you set the tire at the pressure on the side of the tire or set it according to load tables put out by the manufacturer? We learned to follow the load tables. We learned how to look for signs of trouble on a tire and how to drive safely through a blowout.
We learned about the importance of the right tow vehicle for our 5th wheel. You want something that is powerful enough to tow and strong enough, especially on the rear axle, to support the trailer. When we had our rig weighed, as part of the classes, we found out that our F450 is powerful enough, but the rear axles are not rated for the weight of our trailer pin. Hmmm. Looks like we will be shopping for a bigger truck.
The class that everyone talks about the most from RVers Boot Camp is the Fire Safety class. RV fires spread much more rapidly, produce more toxic fumes, and burn 600 degrees hotter than house fires. So if you have a fire in your RV, don’t try to fight it – GET OUT! After class, Tom and I bought several more smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, installed them, and then practiced getting out of the RV if they go off.
RV Boot Camp was a very valuable experience. There are things we wish we had known before we bought our rig, but they are things that we can fix – adapt and adjust – as we head on down the road. RVers Boot Camp is worth the time and money for anyone who owns an RV or is thinking about buying one, whether you live in it full-time or not. The most important message of RVers Boot Camp: be safe so you can have fun!