Trailer Life Everything about Travel Trailers and How To RV from Trailer Life Magazine 2019-04-24T18:52:49Z WordPress Trailer Life Staff <![CDATA[2019 Pismo Vintage Trailer Rally]]> 2019-04-24T18:52:49Z 2019-04-24T18:52:49Z

Hundreds of beautifully restored classic trailers and tow vehicles roll into Pismo Beach, California, each May at the biggest event of its kind in the country.

America’s largest vintage trailer rally takes place May 16 to 19, 2019, at Pismo Coast Village RV Resort in Pismo Beach, California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The 12th-annual event showcases loving restored classic travel trailers from manufacturers such as Airstream, Boles Aero, Shasta, Silver Streak, Vagabond and Westcraft, as well as one-of-a-kind RVs. Tow vehicles on display range from venerable Hudson, Ford and Chevy pickups to vintage woodie station wagons.

Yellow and silver vintage travel trailer at Pismo BeachThe public is invited to tour the old-time trailers at no charge on Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. While the event is open to the public, rally participants also organize their own private activities, including a Trailer Crawl, vintage-themed bowling event, pancake breakfast, potluck and pajama bicycle ride around the resort.

Pismo Coast Village RV Resort is located at 165 Dolliver Street, within walking distance of Pismo Pier. Public parking is not available onsite, so those who are not RV resort guests should park elsewhere and walk to the event.

Pismo Coast Village RV Resort
Pismo Vintage Trailer Rally 2019

“We’ll have over 300 vintage trailers along with their proud owners. All the units will be decorated inside and out in vintage decor as the owners celebrate trailers built between 1930 and 1979. Awards will be given based on people’s choice ballots, and we encourage visitors to vote for their favorite units.” — Jay Jamison, general manager of Pismo Coast Village RV Resort, host of the annual Pismo Vintage Trailer Rally

Promotional banner announcing 2019 Pismo Vintage Trailer Rally with a UFO in the background

Larry MacDonald <![CDATA[Pacific Rim Paradise, An Ideal RV Escape]]> 2019-04-19T19:14:03Z 2019-04-23T18:17:45Z

Although it takes some effort to get there from the mainland, a visit to the west side of Vancouver Island restores the mind, body and soul

As I write this, the view from the back window of our fifth-wheel is spectacular.
The setting sun is casting an orange glow over the seascape; gentle ocean waves are spilling over rocky islets and cascading onto a pristine sandy beach. Where are we? We’re in Paradise by the Pacific. More specifically, we’re settled into an RV park a few miles south of the community of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Getting There

If you look at a map of Vancouver Island, you’ll see there’s only one road leading to Tofino (pronounced tuff-EE-no).

An aerial view of the Tofino area off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Clayoquot Sound, blessed with lush old-growth forests, beautiful beaches and spectacular views.
Call of the Wild: Off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Clayoquot Sound, the Tofino area is blessed with lush old-growth forests, beautiful beaches and spectacular views.

B.C. Highway 4, known as the Pacific Rim Highway, bisects the island, beginning at Parksville and heading west 30 miles to Port Alberni. From there, it continues 60 miles to a T-intersection on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Turn left, and within 10 minutes you’re in Ucluelet (you-CLUE-let). Turn right, and within 30 minutes you’re at the end of the road
in Tofino.

Vancouver-Island-MapIf You Go

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Green Point Campground

Bella Pacifica Campground
Crystal Cove Beach Resort
Long Beach Golf Course and Campground
MacKenzie Beach Resort


Island West Resort
Mussel Beach Wilderness RV Campground
Surf Junction Campground
Ucluelet Campground
Wya Point Resort

BC Ferries
Black Ball Ferry Line
Washington State Ferries

For More Information

Municipality of Ucluelet
Tourism Tofino

Between these two charming seaside villages is Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which provides access to miles of rocky coves, sandy beaches and many designated trails through dense coastal rain forests.

To get there from the United States, board a Washington State Ferry in Anacortes or the Blackball Ferry in Port Angeles to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. From there, drive north on Highway 1, the Island Highway, for 70 miles to Nanaimo. If you take a BC Ferry operating out of two terminals in Vancouver, you will arrive in Nanaimo. Now drive 23 miles north on Highway 19 to Highway 4 near Parksville, head west, and you’re on your way.

Highway 4 is narrow and curvy in spots, so drivers need to keep their eyes on the road. However, passengers can gawk to their heart’s delight at snowcapped mountains,
crystal-clear streams and lakes, lush meadows and dense forests. A popular tourist attraction between Parksville and Port Alberni is Cathedral Grove, a stand of old-growth forest in MacMillan Provincial Park.

Here, an easy stroll through ancient hemlocks, Douglas firs and western red cedars will give you an idea of how most of Vancouver Island looked not much more than a hundred years ago. The parking lot cannot accommodate large RVs, and parking on the shoulder of the highway is not permitted, but no worries; you’ll see lots of similar trees on the coast.
Port Alberni is the only community along this route that has major shopping outlets, such as Walmart and Canadian Tire, so you may want to stock up with groceries and RV supplies, depending on how long you plan to stay on the coast. I would recommend at least a week to sample some of the natural, cultural and culinary riches this region has to offer. Outdoor adventurers and nature lovers may want to stay forever.

Funky yet surprisingly sophisticated, Tofino and Ucluelet are small, friendly towns chock-full of youthful energy, with upscale resorts, spas and restaurants that rival the world’s finest. We stayed the entire month of May in Tofino and a few extra days in “Uke.”

Early on, we stopped by the Tofino Visitor Centre to inquire about things to do during our stay. When I asked, “What are the top three things we absolutely have to do?” the friendly gal pulled out a map and circled three attractions: Chesterman Beach, theTofino Botanical Gardens and the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island. And those were just her suggestions in the Tofino area; there are many other activities all along the coast, including in Ucluelet.

We lucked out with warm sunny days during most of our stay — locals were saying it was unusual for May. Reportedly, the warmest weather on the coast is from June to September, with average daily highs in the mid-60s Fahrenheit. Bring some extra layers and rain gear, as coastal weather can vary widely from day to day. The winter months are considered best for storm watching, ideally from a beachfront cabin in front of a cozy fire. Winter is not suitable for RVing unless your rig is equipped for cold conditions.

A hump0back whale breaches in the waters off Vancouver Island
From May through September, humpbacks can be spotted in Barkley and Clayoquot sounds from tour boats and even from shore.

Whale Watching

In 2015 National Geographic rated Tofino one of the Best Spring Trips, primarily because offshore waters are spring feeding grounds for thousands of whales, mostly grays and humpbacks, and occasional orcas. Various whale-watching outfitters provide seagoing opportunities to observe and photograph these gigantic mammals, but you may not even need to go to sea. A local commercial fisherman reported that you could watch whales spout in 30 feet of water right off Chesterman Beach.

Not seeing any spouts off Chesterman, we booked a two-and-a-half-hour boat tour with the Whale Centre in Tofino. Howie, our experienced and knowledgeable native guide, introduced us to a dozen gray whales, some of which he recognized, such as one named Ghost Face. He also got us up close to sea lions sunning on a rocky islet, a cluster of seals thrusting above the water as if posing for the cameras, several tufted puffins, and a bald eagle perched on a cedar branch that responded to Howie’s screeching imitations by tilting his head in our direction. Check out the Whale Centre’s free whale museum and be sure and ask for Howie if you plan on taking this tour.

Paddling and Surfing

If you enjoy water sports with a little adventure thrown in, look no further. The informative map of Tofino and Ucluelet from the visitor center lists numerous operators that provide guided kayak and canoe tours to protected harbors where you can paddle with sea lions and seals while seabirds soar overhead. You might even see the occasional bear, as we did, foraging along a rocky shoreline.

Paddleboarders enjoy the waters off Vancouver Island
Tofino and Ucluelet are surfing meccas, and that culture now extends to the sport of stand-up paddleboarding. Paddleboarders can ride the ocean waves or explore quieter waters in inlets and coves along the coast.

Our encounter was actually on a beach in Ucluelet where my wife, Sandy, and I were walking our dog, Bella, along the water’s edge. About 50 yards away at the high-tide line, a large black bear was overturning rocks in search of tasty morsels. We had planned an escape route — swim to Japan! — if he decided we were a more desirable menu item. With some relief, we went our separate ways and survived to dog walk another day.

Planning Your Trip

Right on the Pacific Rim Highway, the Tofino Visitor Centre is packed with information on things to see and do and places to eat and sleep in Tofino, Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Helpful staff members are on hand to dispense travel literature and maps, answer questions and share their favorite local experiences. Parking is ample for RVs.

National Geographic also rated Tofino “one of the top surf towns in the world.” With waves
to suit all ability levels, surf shops that rent equipment and pro instructors, you’ll be riding
the curl before you know it. During our stay, top surfers from around the world competed while hundreds of cheering spectators lined the beach.

If you’re not quite ready to “hang 10,” you might want to try stand-up paddleboarding, which allows almost anyone to get out on the water and explore sheltered coves and bays. More proficient paddleboarders ride the ocean waves like surfboarders, except they stand up and paddle back out to catch another wave. Fun, and a great core exercise as well.


Within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve are eight designated trails, some with boardwalks that meander through old-growth forests and bogs. Others hug the coastline or lead to sandy beaches. The park charges a fee for use of these trails to help with maintenance. Several trails and beach accesses within the park are designated wheelchair-accessible.

Outside the park are additional free trails, such as the Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet. This easy, well-maintained trail has two sections: a circular 1.6-mile loop past the century-old Amphitrite Point Lighthouse and a 3.4-mile one-way stretch that undulates along the rugged coastline. Both offer awesome panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Closer to Tofino is Tonquin Trail (1.6 miles round-trip), which provides scenic vistas from a clifftop deck. A bench is provided for sitting and contemplating what’s important in life:
the answer is written in the waves.

The author’s dog, Bella, takes a break on a clifftop deck overlooking the ocean
The author’s dog, Bella, takes a break on a clifftop deck along the Tonquin Trail, an easy 1.6-mile round-trip hike through old-growth forest to the beach.

If you want to combine a short hike with a boat ride and a hot soak, many operators offer half-day tours to remote Hot Springs Cove, about 26 nautical miles north of Tofino. During our excursion with Ocean Outfitters, we again encountered whales, seals, sea lions and various seabirds. From the dock, a half-hour hike to the hot springs through an ancient rain forest is like a step back in time; some of the trees were already 200 years old when Columbus arrived in America. And no doubt, First Nations people used the naturally heated pools and waterfalls for an occasional happy soak.


If you have a hankering to get out on the water and catch a big one, more than a dozen sportfishing charters are available to satisfy your urge. Experienced guides who know how to catch fish — primarily salmon, halibut and lingcod — will take you off shore on safe, comfortable and fully equipped boats. If trout is more to your liking, several operators also provide remote fly-fishing excursions to lakes and streams. Fresh fish, crabs, prawns,

Local guide Tsimka stands next to a western red cedar on Meares Island’s Big Tree Trail.
Local guide Tsimka stands
next to a western red cedar on Meares Island’s Big Tree Trail.

clams and oysters can be purchased at several outlets in both towns, for those who just want to eat seafood rather than fish for it.

Cultural Events

Thousands of years before Europeans arrived, First Nations people occupied these lands. Currently, four tribes remain in the area: one in Ucluelet, one on Long Beach within the national park boundaries, and the other two near Tofino on outlying islands.

T’ashii Paddle School, a First Nations company, offers guided dugout canoe trips from Tofino to nearby Meares Island, including an exploration of the Big Tree Trail. Appropriately named, this boardwalk trail through old-growth forest has some of the biggest and oldest trees on the coast.

Tsimka, our guide, taught us how to paddle a seven-person dugout canoe (carved by her father), as well as some cultural traditions, such as paddlers singing a greeting song when approaching the land of another tribe. If a welcome song was heard in response, it was safe to go ashore. She sang the greeting song beautifully in her native language while stomping her foot to simulate a drum. Although we heard nothing back, we went ashore anyway.

Taste of Tofino

Every month a different festival celebrates some aspect of life on the coast, from art and music to shorebirds and whales. We enjoyed the Feast Tofino festival (April 26 through May 5 this year) where renowned local and visiting chefs combine their culinary talents to prepare unique “boat-to-table” full-course dinners. We were not disappointed by the array of seafood featured at Jamie’s Restaurant and Wolf in the Fog. The food at both establishments was so good, we wanted to lick our plates.

During our walk, Tsimka pointed out various trees and plants that were used by her ancestors for different purposes, and described how native people have struggled in recent years to protect homelands from clear-cutting by logging companies. After returning to the dock four hours later, we understood why the gal at the visitor center ranked the Big Tree Trail among the top three things to do in Tofino. Combined with the dugout canoe paddle, we ranked it number one.

Partly historical, partly natural, the Tofino Botanical Gardens provides a network of paths leading into a moss-draped rain forest, where garden plots display tropical plants such as palm trees and giant Himalayan lilies, as well as local plants: skunk cabbage, salmonberry and medicinal herbs used by First Nations.

Unexpected sculptures, driftwood shelters, a children’s garden, and a frog pond into which a local kindergarten class releases tadpoles each spring make this an enjoyable experience, one in which conservation and meditation are encouraged. A fine way to end the day is relaxing on the garden’s outdoor patio at Darwin’s Café, overlooking a landscape of flowering plants while enjoying organic tea, coffee and pastries.

The Kwisitis Visitor Center within the national park features interactive exhibits and during the summer offers interpretive walks that explore the natural and cultural history of the Pacific Rim. Various galleries in both communities sell aboriginal art, including paintings, carved masks, woven baskets and jewelry. Considered a must-see is the Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino, a traditional longhouse displaying original paintings and reproductions by native artist Roy Henry Vickers.

At Tofino’s Bella Pacifica Campground, a vintage Boler overlooks MacKenzie Beach.
From a shady campsite at Tofino’s Bella Pacifica Campground, a vintage Boler overlooks MacKenzie Beach.

What’s More

Both communities have fitness centers, tennis courts and miles of paved bike paths. Tofino also has pickleball courts, a regulation nine-hole golf course near the commercial Long Beach Airport, and a brewery that offers tours and samples of original craft beers such as Kelp Stout and Tuff Session Ale. Ucluelet has a “catch-and-release” aquarium where visitors are encouraged to learn about and handle various sea creatures, which
are returned to the ocean at the end of the tourist season.

Miles of sandy beaches provide various options: kite flying, bike riding, beachcombing, clam digging, exploring tidal pools or just relaxing on a blanket with a good read and beverage. If you enjoy bird watching, this area is world-class because of the numerous species that live here or migrate through in the spring and fall.

Worth Noting

When returning to the United States, U.S. citizens must present a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card or enhanced driver’s license.

A half-day outing that we often enjoyed started in late afternoon at Tacofino Cantina, a small food truck located at the back of a gravel parking lot. We didn’t mind standing in line for what is arguably the best fish taco on the planet. Entertainment is provided by crafty crows, snatching tidbits from the plates of tourists who leave them unattended.

For dessert, we walked across the lot to Chocolate Tofino for handcrafted gelato and chocolates to die for. The outing usually ended back at our RV site where I would build a campfire, stare into the embers and think about all I really want: peace, love, understanding and a scoop of salted-caramel gelato.

At the end of our joyful month on the Pacific Rim, we reluctantly retraced our route across Vancouver Island back to more mundane activities. With images of shimmering waves, sandy shores and towering conifers ingrained in our memories, we decided to set our watches on Tofino time: “Half the pace, twice the pleasure.”


Jeremy P. Elder <![CDATA[Change the Way You Camp as a Family with the Crua Clan Tent System]]> 2019-04-19T20:57:23Z 2019-04-22T14:30:21Z
 Crua Outdoors’ expandable tent system fits the whole crew, with a large air-frame Core tent and up to three add-on rooms.
Stack of Crua tents in their bags on the floor in the woods
Crua tents come bagged in these easy to carry totes / Photo: Jeremy P Elder

When you think of family camping, what comes to mind? Late nights around the campfire and retiring to the warmth of a comfortable RV, or bundling up in a cozy sleeping bag in a tent next to your spouse and kids? Or do both sound good to you?

We wanted to test something that would allow large numbers of friends or family members — or both — to be able to join us in experiencing the wonders of nature without everyone owning an RV. Wouldn’t that be great? How many times have you had to turn away people from your camping trip because there wasn’t enough sleeping room in your rig? We looked for a solution that would empower large gatherings to create lasting camping memories together. Enter the Crua Clan Tent System (MSRP $1899), which consists of four connected tents and three liners that can be purchased together as this set, or individually as needed.

Crua Core Dome Tent

Crua core tent with three Crua duo tents connected to it
Crua Clan system setup / Photo: Jeremy P Elder

The Clan tent system starts with a Crua Core Dome Tent ($699 MSRP). Right off the bat, even without all the other modular things that make this tent system so awesome (and we will get to those), ease of setup is the key here. Unlike the majority of tents on the market that rely on a standard pole system, the Core has an airframe that is set up with the included hand air pump. That’s right — an air pump!

The Core comes with a large ground cover, the tent itself, durable stakes and the air pump. They all fit into a carrying bag that fits inside your RV’s storage compartment or tow vehicle. It was easy to unpack the tent and ground cover, unfold them and start pumping. It’s just a matter of connecting the air pump to one of the no-leak valves and pumping it by hand. The tent frame will begin to rise in front of you, as if by magic. Each of the valves takes only about a minute of pumping to inflate fully, and then —  voila! — the Core tent is pitched.

Green Crua outdoors Core tent setup in the woods
Crua Core tent inflated / Photo: Jeremy P Elder

Crua calls the Core the “ultimate living space,” and we’d have to agree that it provides plenty of additional living and sleeping space right next door to your RV. On its own, the Core sleeps six with room to spare. The dome is approximately 7.5 feet high, allowing adults and tall teenagers to walk around comfortably inside. And when you want some fresh air, the Core includes a large front canopy, perfect for socializing out of the sun or rain.

Crua Duo and Cocoon

The Core’s 16-foot-by-10-foot footprint makes for an even roomier central gathering space when you attach the large open front door to the back of your tow vehicle or up to three Crua Duo add-on rooms (MSRP $219), each of which sleeps two people.

The Duo is a small but sturdy tent that has an optional inflatable insulation liner. This liner, the Crua Cocoon (MSRP $299), completely blacks out the interior of the tent and provides a sleeping-bag-like liner, keeping the heat out on warm days and the cold out on cool ones. You can see in the photo below the gray and orange Cocoon inflated inside of the Crua Duo tent.

Crua cocoon insulated tent liner inside of Crua Duo tent
Crua Cocoon insulated liner installed inside Crua Duo / Photo: Crua Outdoors

Core, Duo and Cocoon System

When the entire system is connected, you can think of the Core as the living room and the three Duos as bedrooms.

In addition to being an excellent standalone two-person tent, the Crua Duo can connect to the large Crua Core tent. With a simple pull of a zipper, the front canvas of the Duo zips up to one of the three connection ports on the Core and provides a waterproof seal.

Oh, and did we mention that the Duo and Core tents are fire-retardant? So not only do you get a welcome sleeping and living solution for guests outside the RV, but you can also rest easy knowing they are safe from flying embers that can occur when enjoying a campfire.

Camping Solution for the Whole Crew

When the entire system is connected, you can think of the Core as the living room and the three Duos as bedrooms. This is what Crua means by “the ultimate living space.”

Now you can enjoy the comfort of your RV and bring along large groups of people on your adventures. Just pull out the Crua system from your rig or tow vehicle, inflate the living room, zip on the bedrooms, and you’ve provided a three-bedroom apartment for your guests. If you don’t need three bedrooms or your campsite isn’t large enough to accommodate them, you can attach just one or two of the Duos, or use the Core tent on its own.

Core tent with three Duo tents connected on the beach with SUV in background
Crua Clan system set up on the beach / Photo: Crua Outdoors

For us, the point of camping with the family is investing in the things that matter most. Yes, I know this sounds slightly cheesy, but it doesn’t change the validity of it. We can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget how easy it is to escape it. It’s as simple as loading up and hitting the road.

With the Crua Clan system on board, you can plan for something even bigger. A group on a church retreat, dads taking a trip together with their kiddos, friends escaping to a much needed natural recharge, or a family reunion that can extend to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Camping trips can bring together groups for memorable late-night card games under the RV awning, intimate and hilarious conversations that can only happen around a crackling fire or molding an ongoing outdoor tradition that grows for generations. Lasting memories, unique experiences, generational legacies with your children, relishing in the sites and stops of the open road; this is why we camp. The Crua Clan system allows us to do it socially.

Check out our full review and setup of all three products in the video below.

Author, podcast host, and outdoorsman Jeremy P. Elder

Jeremy P Elder is an award-winning podcast producer and host, as well as the author of Topics of Heroes and its sequel, Topics Too, and also serves as the Digital Product Manager for Good Sam Enterprises, where he conducts new product reviews and his series on camping with his daughter for their blog, which can be found here.

Video: Jeremy P Elder

Bruce W. Smith <![CDATA[Redarc Dual-Input Battery Charger]]> 2019-04-19T00:10:57Z 2019-04-21T23:56:01Z

A state-of-the-art in-vehicle 25-amp DC-to-DC battery charger, the Redarc BCDC1225D is designed to fully charge a trailer’s battery bank while on the move. Separate 12-volt DC and solar inputs allow it to prioritize solar charging to take the load off the tow vehicle’s alternator. The compact BCDC1225D is compatible with AGM, gel, standard lead-acid, calcium and LiFePO4 batteries, and standard or variable/smart alternators. It can be mounted in a variety of locations, from the tow vehicle’s engine bay to the inside or outside of the trailer.

MSRP: $369.96


Jeff Johnston <![CDATA[RV Tech Q&A: May 2019]]> 2019-04-18T23:45:37Z 2019-04-20T23:23:21Z

Generator Selection

We purchased our first trailer last year, a 2016 Keystone Cougar 326RDS. We’ve used it quite a bit and absolutely love it. The only problem we had was when it was 110 degrees outside and the 50-amp circuit at the site was not working. We plugged into the 30-amp, and things powered up. The single air-conditioning unit we have was working but had trouble keeping things cool until nightfall. We also had the refrigerator running on electric. After a few hours, we opened the fridge to find that things were not cold. So we switched the fridge to propane, and it worked better.

The next day, maintenance fixed the 50-amp circuit. The fridge was switched back to electric, and things worked fine. We are now looking into getting a portable generator but are not sure which to choose. We are thinking 50-amp so everything will work properly. But we want one that is quiet enough so as not to annoy other campers or even ourselves. Do you have any recommendations for good-quality portable generators?

Tim Etner | York, Pennsylvania

Whatever you do, don’t buy the cheapest generator you can find. An inexpensive generator sold as a “contractor’s special” or some such will be OK on a jobsite for running a power saw, workspace lights and and similar equipment, but it may not be a good idea for delicate electronics found in today’s RVs. Ideally, an inverter-style generator is best for powering such fragile devices because it produces “clean” power, but those generators are more expensive, and one large enough to supply 50 amps of power is not going to be cheap,and probably not practical to haul around.

If you can get by with just 30 amps of power from a generator, some manufacturers have available kits to combine the output of two smaller generators. Honda sells a “piggyback” kit for its EU2000i inverter-type generator that results in 30 amps of available power. Other manufacturers offer similar products. (Check out Chris Dougherty’s “Power Couple” article in the January 2019 issue about the Energizer eZV parallel kit to connect two eZV P-series portable inverter generators.)

As for noise, each manufacturer posts sound specifications, listed as decibels or dB, for each generator. That’s what you need to look for regarding noise level; the lower the dB, the better. Check out Trailer Life’s “Portable Generators Are Power Players” for suggestions on how to choose a portable generator for RV use. Included with that article is a chart with some of the most popular generators for RVs and their decibel ratings, weights, run times and so on. It’s a good idea to research in advance what the policy is for generators for the campgrounds you’ll be visiting.

Chassis Service

Can you provide a guide for RV suspension, axle, wheel and brake maintenance in a future issue? A mechanical system overview and important maintenance intervals, checks and tips would be appreciated.

Paul Madey | Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

That information is readily available now, Paul, in the owner’s manuals for the components in question. You didn’t say what year, make or model of RV you own so we can’t make specific recommendations, but most new RVs are sold with a full complement of owner’s manuals that cover the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures, service intervals and so on.

If you don’t have these manuals, they are readily available online by searching a manufacturer’s website or doing a broader-based online search.

I recommend you go to the Trailer Life website, then choose the Tech Q&A section. We answer this and closely related questions many times in the RV Clinic column, and perusing the past letters posted on our website can likely give you even more specific information.

Freshwater Not So Fresh

We have a disgusting problem with our 2013 Keystone Passport’s 43-gallon freshwater holding tank. We usually don’t travel with more than 10 gallons, and much of the time the water goes mostly unused since we frequent RV parks with hookups. The water is refreshed on every one of our many outings. Several times we have sterilized the tank by adding chlorine and letting it slosh around before dumping and refilling.

Before our last outing in the fall, I unscrewed the tank drain cap and almost nothing came out. I poked a rod up the drain pipe and out comes an off-white gooey substance, then the tank drained. I believe there is more of that goop lurking in the drain pipe or the bottom of the holding tank. What the heck could that substance be and how do I flush and truly clean the tank?

Steven Smith | Eureka, Missouri

It’s surprising that the usual bleach-and-rinse procedure didn’t help, Steven, and it’s hard to identify exactly that substance. That’s what we might expect to see in a fresh tank that’s been in storage a long time or has not been adequately maintained, but your service details rule out those possibilities. As a suggestion, Thetford has a new product called Fresh Water Tank Sanitizer that’s a two-part, two-step system for cleaning a freshwater tank. Give it a try and see if that helps, and be sure to run the treated water through the entire RV water system to catch any goop remaining in the lines.

Tow-Vehicle Selection

I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but my family and I are new to RVing. We just bought our first travel trailer and are now shopping for a truck to pull it. The specs in the Trailer Life tow guides are different than what I see on the vehicle manufacturer websites, which are, of course, different than what I see on the vehicle window stickers, which are, of course, different than what I hear from the salesperson’s mouth! How do I know which is correct? Thanks for any help you can provide!

Fred Smith | Chicago, Illinois

You’re right, Fred, we do cover this topic on a regular basis. For starters I recommend you go to our website,, click on the drop-down Tech menu, then choose the Tech Q&A section. We answer this and closely related questions many times in the RV Clinic column, and perusing the past letters posted on our website can likely give you even more specific information.

See Related Story:
RV Clinic FAQ:
Top 20 Tech Questions

You won’t find a vehicle’s tow rating on every vehicle’s doorjamb data label or its window sticker, unless the manufacturer has changed its window sticker information range. GM and Ram have started putting trailering information stickers on their trucks listing the gross combined weight rating (gcwr) and curb weight for that particular truck. I also doubt that any one salesperson can have every truck hardware combination and its tow rating committed to memory, and many of them may misinterpret what they read in the manufacturer’s tow-rating guide. Salespeople may also be hoping for an easy sale, and they’ve been known to stretch things a bit.

A manufacturer’s towing guide is the best source of specific tow-rating details. That guide takes into account wheelbase, body style, engine, transmission, axle ratio and all the variables that contribute to a tow rating. These details, plus the inevitable footnotes that can accompany the ratings charts, will help you focus on the tow rating for the vehicle you have in mind.

As an aside, the Trailer Life towing guides we publish each year are compiled based on information supplied by the vehicle manufacturers. Due to publishing lead times, the information we receive may change by the time the same data set reaches the dealerships. If in doubt, go by the manufacturers’ towing guide, either in print from the dealership or online at the manufacturer’s website.


Bruce W. Smith <![CDATA[Diesel Tech Q&A: Fuel Mileage and Engine Cooling]]> 2019-04-19T23:54:45Z 2019-04-19T23:54:24Z

MAY 2019
Fuel Mileage and Engine Cooling

I own a 2006 Chevy 2500HD 2WD extended cab with 130,000 miles on it. I can’t seem to get more than 11.5 to 12 mpg, whether I am towing or not, on hills or flat land. Any suggestions? My other concern is that I can’t keep the truck cool when towing long grades like Oregon’s Siskiyou Pass. I have replaced the radiator and change the transmission fluid every 25,000 miles. I have had the gauges checked for accuracy. The truck is stock. I pull a 33-foot Dutchmen Grand Junction fifth-wheel trailer.
Doyle France

Doyle, your towing mileage falls right in line with most LB7 Duramaxes, which typically get from 10.5 to 13 mpg when loaded. But the unladen mileage is not normal. Your 6.6-liter diesel should be getting between 15 and 18 mpg cruising empty, from what we have seen during our test drives. Poor fuel economy can be the result of many factors, either separately or combined.

View of engine behind the grille and under the hood
Dirt, leaves and other debris can lodge in the coolers behind the grille, reducing their effectiveness and resulting in high coolant and engine oil temps when towing.

When was the last time the mass airflow sensor (MAF) was pulled out and cleaned with a dedicated MAF cleaner? The MAF tells the engine control module (ECM) how much air the engine is getting, then the ECM uses that data to regulate the fuel flow going through the injectors to achieve proper combustion. If the MAF is sending the wrong information, fuel economy (and power) take a hit.

Have you had the injector flow rates checked to make sure they are working properly? A good diesel tech can check them on a scan tool. If they are within +/- 4 in Park and +/-6 on the road, they are good. I believe GM specs say anything greater than 5 at idle indicates it’s time for new injectors. If the range is greater than that, you may need to have more fuel-system diagnostics done.

Of course, changing the fuel filter every 5,000 miles and checking and cleaning the air filter are normal maintenance items that contribute to fuel economy. One last item you may want to check is the brakes. “Dragging” brakes can hit mpg hard, and you may not even notice they are not adjusted or working correctly.

Engine Temperature

Duramax engine's two thermostats
The Duramax has dual thermostats. The front thermostat will be fully open when the coolant temperature reaches 95°C (203°F), while the rear thermostat will be fully open when the coolant temperature reaches 100°C (212°F). This arrangement aids in quicker engine warmup and prevents cavitation at the water pump when both are open.

Regarding your second concern, I’m not sure what temperatures you are seeing and what you consider “cool.” If you are using the factory gauge as your guide, don’t. It doesn’t show actual engine temperature. The way to see actual coolant temperatures is the digital readouts you get from an aftermarket monitor, such the Banks Power iDash or Edge Insight. Diesels run hot when they are being worked hard, with coolant temps being around 215 to 225 degrees. By then, the engine’s clutch fan should have kicked on, which is obvious in the GMs because of the noise.

When using an aftermarket monitor, compare engine oil temperature (EOT) against engine coolant temperature (ECT). That difference, called the delta, will tell you a lot about how good your cooling system is functioning. If the delta after the engine is up to operating temp is more than 15 degrees, with the EOT being the hotter of the two, you should have the cooling system flushed and engine oil cooler replaced. An engine oil cooler that’s not doing its job leads to overheating the EGR cooler because coolant flows through the oil cooler first.

An engine oil cooler replacement project
A restricted Duramax engine oil cooler can cause overheating issues. When the temperature difference between engine oil temperature (EOT) and engine coolant temperature (ECT) is more than 15° after the engine is at operating temperature, it’s probably a good time to have the oil cooler replaced.

A good preventive-maintenance regimen all RVers who tow trailers with diesels should follow is having the coolant flushed and replaced every 60,000 miles or three years. Coolant breaks down from age and heat, creating sludge along with acids that can create metal flakes in the coolant. Sludge and debris plug water passages so the system is operating at maximum capacity. Keep the coolant/antifreeze mix at 50-50 and always use distilled water. The minerals in tap water create their own list of coolant-clogging issues.

When was the last time you had the two thermostats changed and the radiator “stack” cleaned? Dirt and leaves can restrict airflow through the A/C condenser, intercooler and radiator, causing higher coolant temps.

Dirty EGR components
A clogged or dirty EGR system has a direct effect on a diesel’s fuel economy. A clogged EGR cooler also has a direct effect on engine cooling. The EGR valve should be cleaned periodically, and the EGR cooler should be checked whenever there’s a cooling or overheating issue.

When pulling grades, always monitor the exhaust gas temperature (EGT). When EGT hits 1,300 degrees, lighten up on the throttle or shift down a gear to bring the EGT down to 1,200 or less. Otherwise, you’re going to crack or melt pistons if the EGT is allowed to stay above 1,300 to 1,400 degrees for an extended period of time.

Do you run the transmission in Tow/Haul mode, and do you drop down a gear (or two) when pulling the grades — or are you lugging the engine? Lugging a diesel when towing really builds up heat. Shifting down and raising engine rpm — say, running between 2,100 and 2,400 rpm — will typically lower engine coolant temps when towing.

On a related matter, are you running an aftermarket transmission cooler? If not, it might be useful to install one. Aftermarket transmission coolers can drop fluid temps in that Allison by 15 to 20 degrees, which also aids in overall coolant temperature control.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons for having trouble keeping a Duramax running cool.

Bruce W. SmithA respected automotive and RV journalist and longtime Trailer Life contributor, Bruce W. Smith has held numerous editorial titles at automotive and boating magazines, and authored more than 1,000 articles, from tech to trailering. He considers his home state of Oregon a paradise for RVing and outdoor adventure.

Read More: Diesel Tech Q&A

See Related Column: RV Clinic

Trailer Life Staff <![CDATA[RV Resolutions: Cable TV Reception Fix]]> 2019-04-19T22:23:24Z 2019-04-19T21:59:07Z

In an RV Resolutions letter headlined “Reality TV” in the April 2019 Trailer Life, Herb Sims asked for help after struggling with “snowy” cable-TV reception in the living room of his fifth-wheel.

I have been dealing with a TV problem in my 2018 Keystone Cougar 368MBI ever since we bought it. The problem concerns poor picture quality on the living room 4K TV when connected to campsite cable service. The picture on the TV in the master bedroom is crystal clear. However, the picture from the same cable channel in the main living room is extremely snowy, to the point of being unwatchable. Over-the-air channels work just fine.

photos 1 (outer cover), 2 (booster circuit) and 3 (power splitter), shown top to bottom.After visiting several Facebook forums for Cougar owners, it became obvious that my problem was not unique, as others posted similar complaints. Being a NASA electrical engineer and working in the RF (radio frequency) and microwave field for almost 30 years, I felt qualified to troubleshoot the cause of the problem.

In our fifth-wheel, we have four cable drops. The first choice was to remove and replace all external cable drops, from wall plates to TVs, which did not solve the problem. I then removed and replaced the satellite/cable jumper cable behind the master-bedroom TV, and still no change. At this point it was obvious that the problem was within the walls, so I removed the cover plates to all four drops and began tracing the wiring, since I had no schematic of the wiring setup.

The first thing I noticed was that one cable had a significant gash in the outer cover (photo 1), which is a quality-control issue and should have been fixed at the factory. After that cable section was cut out, a new RF connector was installed, but this did not solve the low-signal quality to the living room TV.

Looking at the booster circuit (photo 2), I was able to determine the pinout and see that the booster/amp has two outputs to support two TVs in the fifth-wheel. (I have four drops in the fifth-wheel, so why did they use a two-output amplifier?)

TV Port 2 from the boost/amp goes directly to the master bedroom TV. However, TV Port 1 goes to a three-way power splitter (photo 3).

After much signal tracing using sophisticated microwave-test equipment, I was able to trace two of the three cables coming from the three-way power splitter — the two black cables. However, I was unable to determine where the orange cable ends.

One of the two black cables goes directly to the cable connection in my storage compartment, while the second black cable goes to the second bedroom plate. Removing that plate, I found there was another two-way power splitter to send signals to that TV in the second bedroom as well as to the TV in the living room. Looking at the living room TV plate, there was yet another two-way power splitter that sent the signal to the 4K TV as well as the surround-sound system for the AM/FM radio.

I must say that once I had the wiring diagram documented, it became exceedingly clear as to why my (and everyone else’s) living room TV was having so much trouble with cable service at the campgrounds. The only way I was able to get the living room TV to function was to bypass the other drops (external and second bedroom), but when we add TVs to those areas, we are back to where we started — with no functioning TV in the living room.

I have reached out to a number of people at Keystone but have received zero support in getting this problem solved. I am contacting you in the hope that you can put the weight and backing of your magazine behind a request to get Keystone to fix this problem.
William “Herb” Sims, New Market, Alabama

RV Resolutions forwarded Herb Sims’ concerns to the manufacturer and heard back from the customer-support department:

Keystone has been in contact with Mr. Sims. It is our understanding that he has agreed to work with a Keystone-authorized dealership and Keystone RV Company to resolve this concern. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
Alisha Howton, Customer Support ManagerKeystone RV Company, Goshen, Indiana

After taking his fifth-wheel to an RV dealership authorized to handle Keystone warranty work, Sims sent the following update:

I would like to thank everyone involved with getting this resolved in a very timely and satisfactory manner. Keystone (specifically, Alisha Howton) and Camping World of Chattanooga worked efficiently to resolve the issue. I have been extremely pleased with the results.
Herb Sims

Following publication of the above letters in the April 2019 Trailer Life, we heard from Herb Sims again:

In my original reply to RV Resolutions, I stated that everything appeared to be functioning. However, after further inspection, the repair simply moved the low-power ports to different TVs. I was focused on the living room TV since that is where the problem was most obvious.

Photo 4, showing second line from the distribution amp.Here is what I believe the repair facility did to “correct” the problem:

They ran a second line from the distribution amp in the master bedroom to the second bedroom (photo 4). That was absolutely necessary.

What was also absolutely necessary was to add a second cable running from the distribution amp to the living room TV, but they did not do this. The reason for this additional cable run is the living room TV and the AM/FM receiver share the same feed (through a 3dB splitter), which has not been replaced, and thus that signal is marginal at best.

They sent a powerful signal directly to the living room TV, which appeared to fix the problem, but they moved the low-power port to the spare bedroom. They also completely removed the fifth drop, which is on the outside of the camper, so now we cannot watch TV outside.

Here is what still needs to be done:
• Replace the Winegard cable/antenna booster amp with an eight-way active power splitter so that each port on the eight-way splitter is above +4.5dB signal level.
• Run a second cable from the new distribution amplifier to the living room TV/AM/FM receiver and remove that 3dB splitter between the TV and AM/FM receiver.
• Connect the eight-way splitter to the five original TV ports and the FM/AM receiver. That would use six of the eight ports on the distribution amp.
• Terminate the two unused ports with 75-ohm termination loads.
Herb Sims

Sims is working with Alisha Howton to get repairs made, and the fifth-wheel is currently at a Keystone-authorized dealership.  We will post updates if new information is provided.

Need Help Resolving an RV Issue?

RV Resolutions is Trailer Life’s forum for the settlement of conflicts between consumers and RV dealers and manufacturers, accessory suppliers and service providers. After exhausting all other resources without success, mail a typed letter to Trailer Life RV Resolutions, 2750 Park View Court, Suite 240, Oxnard, California 93036. Include copies of appropriate bills and correspondence along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Selected letters will be edited and published unless otherwise requested.

Kerri Cox <![CDATA[Family-Friendly RV: Jayco Eagle HT 264BHOK]]> 2019-04-22T17:46:09Z 2019-04-19T18:39:37Z

Jayco’s award-winning bunkhouse travel trailer has fifth-wheel features and high-end appeal. 

A big bunkhouse travel trailer with a homey feel, the 2019 Jayco Eagle HT 264BHOK has not only caught the eye of potential buyers, it received a commendation from the RV industry, taking the top spot in the Family-Friendly category at the 2019 RVX industry and media event.

What makes the 264BHOK a standout? For starters, it features an integrated A-frame/drop-frame chassis and a unique front-cap design that allow for additional storage spaces more commonly found on fifth-wheels. Another innovative feature is an interior cargo bay that fits gear like bikes and kayaks. The bottom bed flips up in the bunk room, offering storage that is accessible from a rear door. Floor-mounted D-rings help secure large items for safe traveling.

Looking from the front to the back of the trailer to the rear bunk room.
Looking toward the back, the bottom bunk flips up to fit gear in a space that is accessible from an innovative rear door.

The 264BHOK raises the bar for other bunkhouse trailers with a standard 15,000-Btu air conditioner and 17.8-gallon-per-hour DSI water heater, along with a MORryde CRE/3000 rubber suspension, Goodyear Endurance load-range E tires and Dexter axles with Nev-R-Adjust brakes.

Creature Comforts

Queen bed in master bedroom with a patterned bedspread and three pillows.
The well-laid-out master bedroom has a walk-around queen bed, mirrored cabinets and blue night-lights.

All Jayco Eagle interiors were updated for 2019, taking inspiration from current home trends. Buyers can choose from Modern Farmhouse decor, featuring rustic-white cabinetry, or the American Tradition package with more familiar warm woods.

With sleeping space for up to eight, the 264BHOK puts the private master bedroom up front, with a residential queen walk-around bed and a separate outdoor entrance. In the rear, the double-over-double bunks have a curtain for privacy. Also occupying the rear, the bathroom includes a good size shower, a porcelain toilet, a skylight, and ample counter and cabinet space.

The main living area features a convertible U-shaped dinette or an optional chaise lounge in the single slideout, across from the entertainment center’s large HDTV. For supreme coziness, an optional LED fireplace is available.

Looking from the back to the front of the trailer to the bedroom
The chaise lounge option provides a roomy gathering place in the single slideout, opposite the entertainment center.

The corner kitchen is outfitted with solid-surface countertops, residential cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances, including an 8-cubic-foot refrigerator on the opposite wall. A USB charging port is located here, in addition to a second port in the master bedroom. An exterior kitchen takes the cooking outdoors under the 19-foot awning.

Coming in just under 33 feet in length with a 9,995-pound gross vehicle weight rating, and retailing for $47,896, the 264BHOK feels like a high-end fifth-wheel at a fraction of the size and cost.Floorplan showing optional chaise lounge

Floorplan showing U-shaped dinetteManufacturer’s Specifications

2019 Jayco Eagle HT 264BHOK
Exterior Length:
 32′ 10″
Exterior Width: 8′
Interior Height: 7′
Exterior Height: 11′ 10″
Freshwater Cap.:  43 gal.
Black-Water Cap.: 32.5 gal.
Gray-Water Cap.:  32.5/41 gal.
LP-Gas Cap.: 14 gal.
UVW: 7,410 lbs.
Hitch Weight: 760 lbs.
Axle Weight:  6,950  lbs.
GVWR: 9,995 lbs.
MSRP, Base: $47,896

“Many buyers have asked for a travel trailer series with more fifth-wheel features. While we know the 264BHOK will certainly appeal to some first-time buyers, our key demographic will be veteran RVers who have already owned other Jayco products and have come to expect a higher level of quality or a more fully featured build from their camper.” — Chris Barth, Jayco Senior Director of Product Development

Author, blogger and photographer Kerri Cox.With her small bunkhouse travel trailer in tow, Kerri Cox has traveled near and far with her husband and two teenage sons, documenting their adventures on her blog, Travels with Birdy. When not on the road, she spends her time teaching and writing. Her words and photographs can be found in print and digital publications, including Trailer Life and the Good Sam Club Blog.

Sponsored Content <![CDATA[Sponsored Content: Tamron 18-400mm All-in-One Zoom]]> 2019-04-19T16:30:18Z 2019-04-19T16:20:15Z

Ken Hubbard, PRO PHOTOGRAPHER & TAMRON FIELD SERVICES MANAGERSometimes you just don’t have time to fumble around your camera bag looking for the right lens. That’s why whenever I am driving I keep a camera and lens at the ready and close by, allowing me to just pull over, grab and go.

This image of the bison is a perfect example of that exact situation. He was walking in the field next to the road, and the birds were flying around his head then landing on his back. I pulled over, grabbed my camera with the Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC PZD and ran to the other side of the road to get a better angle, just in time to capture two birds flying right at his head with four still perched on his back. This moment lasted only about 2 or 3 minutes as he turned to the left and started walking away.

Tamron 18-400mm all-in-one zoom
Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD (Model B028). For Canon and Nikon mounts Di II: For APS-C format DSLR cameras.

Being ready is the key to capturing these types of moments and having an all in one lens with this type of focal range allows you to be ready for almost anything.

—Ken Hubbard
Pro Photographer and Tamron Field Services Manager

For more information on the Tamron 18-400mm lens, 
please go to


Sponsored Content <![CDATA[Sponsored Content: Furrion Chill Rooftop Air Conditioner]]> 2019-04-18T15:17:16Z 2019-04-18T15:17:16Z

Stay cool this summer with the new Furrion Chill rooftop air conditioner

Furrion, a global leader of innovative products and solutions for the specialty-vehicle market, launched the Furrion Chill air-conditioning series. This revolutionary line offers consumers unsurpassed cooling performance combined with high-energy efficiency to keep everyone cool this summer. The series is comprised of a rooftop air-conditioner unit, a slim air-distribution box and a smart thermostat capable of controlling multizones throughout the RV.

Airstream trailer being towed by SUV in desert backcountry setting“RV travel peaks during the summer, and our new Furrion Chill line ensures everyone will stay cool despite the heat,” said Matt Fidler, cofounder and chief marketing officer for Furrion. “We designed and tested the system repeatedly until we were certain it was the best solution on the market. In testing, the Furrion Chill cools down faster and is quieter than competitor models, and its sleek aerodynamic design is actually nice to look at rather than the standard huge boxes you see on the road today.”

The Furrion Chill rooftop unit comes in three capacity models available in stylish jet black or white finish to blend in with the RV exterior. Offering superior cooling performance, the Furrion Chill utilizes dual fans to run more efficiently, cool down the RV faster and reduce operating noise so you barely know it is on. The air filters are able to be cleaned or replaced based on user preference. Careful consideration was put into the design to ensure easy installation and the ability to upgrade existing standard A/C systems to a Furrion Chill system. These units are designed to fit both ducted and non-ducted cooling systems.

The aerodynamic design features a UV coating to protect it from fading, and base and rear grilles to expel the hot air. Like most Furrion products designed for recreation, the Furrion Chill features Vibrationsmart technology that allows it to withstand the vibration from a traveling RV so the performance is never compromised. Furrion’s proprietary Climatesmart technology protects the unit in the winter months, protecting the components in extreme temperatures even down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

FURRION CHILL ROOFTOP AIR CONDITIONERThe Furrion Chill pairs with a single-zone or multizone Furrion Chill thermostat. Both offer a sleek, compact design with an intuitive touch display. The digital LCD display features a blue backlight, rather than the traditional white, because blue is easier to read at night and is easier on the eyes. They offer temperature control for the A/C, heat and control the fan for air circulation. Advanced features, including auto fan operation, auto restart and sleep mode, allow the consumer to tailor the output to their individual needs. The multizone Furrion Chill gives consumers the freedom to program the thermostat with two programmable timers and can control up to four zones.

The Furrion Chill system is complete with the air-distribution box. Ultra-thin, these boxes are easily mounted and blend into the ceiling. They are compatible with the the single-zone or multizone Furrion Chill thermostat. They offer two-way airflow for more circulation efficiency and are compatible with both ducted and non-ducted RVs. The detachable filter is easy to clean and pop back in, reducing waste.