Saturday, March 15, 2008

RV Leveling Solutions

Sponsored by Jody's RV in Greenwood, SC

Visit us at www.jodysrv.com1425 Hwy 72/221 East,  Greenwood, SC  29649 Call us at (864) 227-6500 or email me at

Leveling the Camper

We've all been there ... you back into the campsite ... disconnect the unit from the tow vehicle ... level things up front to back, using the front jack(s) and drop the stabilizers ... only to discover that the unit is two bubbles out of level from side to side. Common sense (and your user's manual) tells you that your RV will function better and last longer if it is set up nice and level in both directions. Therein lies the rub. Unless you own one of the more expensive motor coaches, your unit came with no built in method of establishing a level East to West set up. Furthermore, and contrary to popular belief, the scissor jacks positioned at the four corners of the unit are NOT intended for use in leveling the camper!!! I wish I had a dime for every bent screw jack we've seen in our shop. 

There are many commercial products designed to address this need, some great ... some not so much. Recently, however, a solution has entered the marketplace that is far superior in my opinion to all other methods. I used to tout the virtues of the home-made 3-tiered ramps that I posted earlier. After seeing the levelers introduced by Andersen Hitches late last year, I have to say that they beat the tar out of my little home-made ramp. They are much lighter and much easier to use than even my old standbys and they take up so much less valuable space. I'll leave the instructions for the home built ramps but you really should take a look at the new Andersen levelers and their tire changing solution, the Rapid Jack, which is the best emergency jack for tandem axles I've ever seen. At just under $40 per leveler and around $60 for the Rapid Jack, they are cost effective and easier to use than anything I've seen. Here's a picture of the levelers.                                                     
You can see their products in more detail at their website here  ... along with demonstration videos, etc. Naturally, we have them in stock at our store so come on in, say hello to us and get a set for your camper.

For those of you who prefer the more traditional ramps, here are the construction details:

Materials List
1 - 10 foot, untreated (I'll explain later) 2" x 10"
12 - 1-1/2" Dry Wall Screws
Good Quality Waterproof Paint


Cut the first piece to 3 1/2 feet long, with a 45 degree bevel at one end. Cut the second piece to 2 1/2 feet long, again with a 45 degree bevel at one end and cut the third piece to 1 1/2 feet long and bevel one end to 45 degrees.
Stack the 2 1/2 foot piece on top of the 3 1/2 foot base, line up the sides and the butt ends and attach using 8 drywall screws spaced two across and evenly distributed (make sure the screws are countersunk into the piece to avoid tire damage). Stack the 1 1/2 foot top ramp at the top of the stack, line up the sides and the butt ends and attach with 4 drywall screws, again, countersunk. Sand thoroughly to remove any splintered surfaces and protect with a good quality waterproof paint. Properly constructed and with reasonable care, this ramp will last a lifetime.

Note: I do not recommend using treated lumber to build your ramp. Treated lumber is soaked in arsenic or other hazardous preservatives to slow decay and/or discourage infestation by termites and carpenter ants. These preservatives are poisonous and are not safe for use around small children or pets. Also, treated lumber tends to be heavier than untreated stocks and does not provide a good surface for the adherance of paint. Also, many RV'ers build these ramps out of 2" x 6" stock. While this works OK and is a bit lighter, the 10" stock provides a more stable base and allows for support across the entire width of the tire. Refer to your owner's manual, but most manufacturers recommend that the entire width of the tire be supported when leveling to avoid tread separation or sidewall damage.

To use your ramps, position the unit at the optimal location and, while still connected to the tow vehicle, check the East/West level by placing a torpedo level across the floor at the entry door. After determining which side needs to be raised, move the unit forward or back far enough to accommodate the ramp. Place the ramp behind or in front of the wheel to be raised and roll the unit up onto the first platform. Re-check the level and, if needed, move to the second or third level.
I often get the question "what if I need to go higher than the top level?" The top of the ramp is 4 1/2" high. If this doesn't get you pretty close to level, Bucky, you don't need a taller ramp ... you need a better campsite!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

RV'ing is STILL a Bargain ... Even with Soaring Fuel Costs!

Sponsored by Jody's RV in Greenwood, SC

Visit us at www.jodysrv.com1425 Hwy 72/221 East,  Greenwood, SC  29649 Call us at (864) 227-6500 or email me at

Is RV'ing Still Cost Effective?

With gas prices hovering around the $3.00 mark in the Southeastern United States, many people (including some seasoned campers) seem inclined to limit the use of their recreational vehicles to save a few coins. While, there is no doubt that escalating fuel prices have caused all of us to take a long look at our driving habits and their effect on our checkbook balances, much of this thinking is simply knee-jerk reaction to the changing gas station signage and the "bad" news that is constantly pouring out of the TV, radio and newspapers. some simple math, seasoned with a dose of logic and common sense can go a long way toward eliminating these unfounded fears and putting some ZING back into your life!

Let's assume for a moment that gas was still selling at $2.00 per gallon (yeah, I know it's never gonna happen but humor me!). Given that the average camping trip amounts to 120 miles (round trip) and an average fuel economy of 10 miles per gallon while towing, the total fuel cost for the trip would be $24.00. (120 miles divided by 10 mpg = 12 gallons x $2.00 = $24.00). Now, assume for a moment that gas prices go up a full dollar per gallon (yes, I know that this is exactly what just happened ... be patient ... you'll see where I'm going with this!). If you apply the same math to the round trip, (120 miles divided by 10 mpg = 12 gallons x $3.00 = $36.00) the entire round trip cost just went up a whopping $12.00! Ladies and Gentlemen ... if $12.00 keeps you out of the campground, gas prices are the least of your worries.

Finally, when one considers the cost of hotel accommodations these days vs. the daily rates at most campgrounds, it's an absolute no brainer!

Let's consider the following comparison:
Assume that one could find a decent hotel room in Myrtle Beach for say $115.00 per day in season (good luck with that one). When compared to the average daily rate of $80.00 at a resort campground, the savings become immediately apparent and significant, to the tune of about $245 for a seven-day stay. Take it a step further and stay in a State Park campground at $20 to $25 per day and we're saving enough to get our trip to the crab house for free!

The bottom line is this ... don't let the "bad news crews" from your favorite TV network rob you of the fun you can have using your camper. Their jobs, after all, dictate that they find something negative to report on. Not many people would watch the evening news if all they reported was how great things were.

Finally, when I tuck myself into the bed of my camper after a full day of enjoying the great outdoors I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the sheets are clean and that I won't wake up to any nasty little surprises like bedbug infestations or the dirt and germs that are left behind by careless tenants or an underpaid and unhappy cleaning crew. The restaurant in my RV never closes and the coffee is as fresh and delicious as I want it to be!

So go ahead and get out there and enjoy all that the RV lifestyle has to offer!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Care of Your On-Board Batteries

Sponsored by Jody's RV in Greenwood, SC

Visit us at www.jodysrv.com1425 Hwy 72/221 East,  Greenwood, SC  29649 Call us at (864) 227-6500 or email me at

How to Protect Your On-Board Batteries

Auxillary and engine batteries are not always maintenance free as they are in the newer types of automobiles. Water levels and state of charge are critical in freezing conditions. A discharged battery will freeze, resulting in potential splitting of the case, rendering the battery useless. Poorly maintained, defective and poorly charged auxillary batteries can and do cause many problems, including:

1. Improper functioning of furnaces and A/C's
2. Refrigerator may not cool properly or not at all

In order to avoid these problems, the following precautions should be taken:
1. Disconnect the negative cable or, if so equipped, use the battery disconnects whenever the vehicle is stored.. LP leak detectors present a constant draw on the battery and will drain the energy in a very short time.
2. Electric steps should be turned off when storing the vehicle.
3. Some refrigerators draw battery power even when turned off, particularly those equipped with High Humidity settings. This function needs to be turned off or set to "Storage" position to avoid battery draw.
4. Check the water levels frequently! Auxillary batteries are NOT included in the vehicle warranty. Most batteries carry their own warranties, which are only in force for a limited time.

Finally, keep in mind that batteries contain hazardous materials such as acids and lead and should be disposed of in a proper manner. Also, be careful when handling batteries as they emit explosive gases. Never service a battery in the presence of an open flame or other ignition source.

Take good care of your batteries and you'll have fewer problems with your electrical systems!