The "How To" page is designed to for provide interesting and practical "hands on" information, especially for new RVers. Here you can find everything from "Safety Hints" to "How to Winterize". These are some things we have saved over the years that may help you.
Some common, and not so common, sense hints and "hands on/how to" information for better RVing:
Some great information on trailer electrical plugs (wiring and troubleshooting) is on a web site maintained by our friends at RVers Corner. It is designed for the average "do-it-yourselfer". It's called the "Dummy's Guide to RV Wiring".
Another great wiring resource can be found at RV Basics.
We received the following very excellent article concerning rubber roofs. We are posting this copyrighted article with the written permission of the Dicor Corporation and 303 Products.
We hope it helps you take care of your roof.
Date: Fri, September 5, 1997
This is a once-only Public Service Announcement. We will not mail you again or sell your address to anyone. Our goal is to inform RV users about their EPDM rubber roofs. Thank you for your time and patience.
THE TRUTH ABOUT EPDM RUBBER ROOFS
Approximately 75% of all Recreational Vehicles now manufactured have EPDM Rubber Roofs. Because of the advent of 'rubber roof treatment' products in the last few years, the tremendous amount of misinformation and lack of understanding about this material and it's proper maintenance, 303 Products, Inc. and Dicor Corporation (a leading supplier of EPDM roofing material) have recently published a public service announcement which details the facts...important information RVers need to know.
RV RUBBER ROOFS
THE TRUTH ABOUT EPDM RUBBER ROOFS
EPDM is one of the most versatile and long lasting materials ever manufactured for outdoor exposure. Most RV industry experts consider EPDM rubber roofing membrane the most dependable, most cost effective and easiest to maintain roofing material there is. Yet today's average RVer is deluged with information, a great deal of it misinformation, about rubber roofs. Consequently, RVers are spending millions on unneeded products, many of which may be harmful to EPDM rubber roofs.
This Public Service Announcement details the truth about EPDM and reprints manufacturer's guidelines on cleaning and maintaining the EPDM rubber roofing membrane on your RV. If you have questions after reviewing the material, please contact Dicor Corporation, the RV industry's largest supplier of EPDM rubber roofing. Dicors address and phone numbers are provided.
Misinformation, Mistakes & Money
EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. Engineering specifications describe EPDM as "ideal for outdoor applications because of its excellent resistance to ultra-violet light, ozone, oxidants, and severe weather conditions."
EPDM rubber roofing membrane is made to last 20 years or longer and has a 10 to 12 year guarantee depending on the brand. The guarantee does not require the use of any protective `roof treatment' or 'roof protector' product and recommends only cleaning. Unlike natural rubber (latex) or rubber blends (tires & wiper blades), EPDM does not require periodic applications of any product to protect it from ultra-violet light or ozone.
The statement or implication that you should purchase and apply a product to "protect" your rubber roofing from the elements is misinformation. Buying and using such a product can be a mistake and may even damage the EPDM membrane.
Petroleum distillates - Not For EPDM
Petroleum distillates are incompatible and should never be used on a number of plastics...vinyl, most rubbers and particularly EPDM. Engineering specifications for EPDM rate its solvent and oil resistance as "POOR". Dicor's Care & Maintenance instructions warn: "CAUTION: DO NOT use cleaners or conditioners containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives, or citric based cleaners. You may cause irreparable damage to your roof".
One of the mildest of solvents is mineral spirits, and DICOR even warns against this: "DO NOT use mineral spirits in a large area or allow it to soak into the membrane.
Laboratory tests conducted in July of 1996 evaluated the effect of a leading RV "roof treatment" product on EPDM roofing membrane using standard sunlamp and immersion testing procedures. The "roof treatment", which contained petroleum distillates, caused a 630% mass change (swelling). In the summary/recommendations portion of the lab test the scientist noted they would not recommend the "roof treatment" and perhaps more tellingly noted, "Per the MSDS, this product contains petroleum distillates, a substance that is known to be incompatible with .EPDM sheeting".
For your rubber roof, for the EPDM seals around slide-outs / pop-ups, in the baggage compartments or for the EPDM door and trunk seals in your car, petroleum distillates are a huge "No No". And don't be fooled by names such as "organic solvent", "hydrocarbon carrier", etc Petroleum distillates by any other name should NEVER be applied to EPDM. If you aren't sure about a product, contact the manufacturer and have them send you a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Look under the section entitled "HAZARDOUS INGREDIENTS". If it lists any petroleum distillates, do not use it on EPDM.
Q: Is it necessary to protect my rubber roof against UV light?
Q: What do I need to do to care for my rubber roof?
A: Periodic cleaning (See DICOR Care 8 Maintenance instructions).
Q: One manufacturer told me their roof treatment product had only a minor percentage of petroleum distillates, something like 20 or 30 percent. Does the percentage matter?
A: Usually percentages given are based on weight. Since petroleum distillates are significantly lighter than water, in reality 30 percent by weight might be 40% or more by volume. But it really doesn't matter. THERE IS NO LEVEL OF PETROLEUM DISTILLATES THAT IS RECOMMENDED.
Q: If I use a roof treatment product containing petroleum distillates on my rubber roof, can that void my warranty?
Q: If I'm going to buy a used RV and it has a rubber roof, how can I tell
if the previous owner used petroleum distillates and damaged the rubber roof? What would the damage look like?
A: Two things: First, swelling. Uneven thicknesses of material. Second, loose areas. Petroleum distillates soak in and cause the adhesive to loosen and the membrane to balloon. Then, when the swelling goes down and the membrane flattens out again, it may never again adhere properly or completely.
Q: Dicors Care & Maintenance instructions says you can use mineral spirits on stubborn stains. isn't mineral spirits a petroleum distillate?
A: Yes. But note the instructions say to use a cloth dampened with mineral spirits and then only to remove a stubborn stain; to never use a petroleum distillate (even a solvent as mild as mineral spirits) directly on the membrane, in a large area or allow it to soak in. In no way is "treating" the roof membrane with a product containing petroleum distillates recommended or condoned.
Q: Oxidation: My roof seems to oxidize and run down the sides when it rains. What's going on?
A: First, EPDM roofing membrane does oxidize slowly, it's supposed to. In a dozen years it may oxidize 10% of its thickness. This is normal. Cleaning as recommended will help greatly. At least four times a year, more often if your local conditions and experience warrant.
Q: The rubber roofing wraps over slightly on both sides of my RV and you can see it from the ground. It gets dirty and doesn't look good. What can
I do about this?
A: Clean the area and treat it with a product that will repel soiling and is safe for EPDM. One product that performs and lasts well, is safe for EPDM and is commonly available at RV stores is 303 Protectant"
Brite-Ply Roof Care and Maintenance
Proper care and maintenance of your recreational vehicle, including your Brite-Ply roof is important for trouble-free performance. Normal maintenance is simple, easy, and requires no special material.
(1) Keep your roof clean. Clean your roof at least four (4) times annually. For normal cleaning:
Recommended cleaner: RC100 Dicer Synthetic Roof & General Purpose Cleaner.
Caution: DO NOT use cleaners or conditioners containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives, or citric based cleaners. You may cause irreparable damage to your roof,
Use caution when working on top of your vehicle. The wet Brite-Ply membrane may be extremely slippery
(2) Beware of areas where fruit or tree sap or harsh environmental fall-out may stay on the roof for an extended period of time. These conditions may result in unremovable stains. If you are in these conditions, you may have to increase the frequency of your cleaning or premature deterioration may occur.
COPYRIGHT 1997 by Dicer Corporation, Elkhart, Indiana 46515
This Public Service Announcement is provided as a public service by:
303 PRODUCTS, INC.
When we first started RVing, Ann suggested we develop a "CHECK LIST" of things to do before towing the trailer, before leaving it for a week between weekend RV excursions, and making sure the hitch was hooked up correctly. Over the years we have developed a pretty comprehensive list of things to check. They have saved us from embarrassment or dangerous situations on more than one occasion. We hope they will help you, too.
Please note some of the items are repeated between getting ready to tow the trailer and leaving it for a week, simply because you have to check some of the same things in each instance.
To download a copy of the check list, click here to visit our Download page (Currently Under Construction). (It's all free.)
Please feel free to make changes necessary to suit your needs. Also, please feel free to share this with other RVers.
If you have suggestions for additional items, please send them along and we will add them.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE "NAIL IN THE REFRIGERATOR DOOR":
Just so you don't think we are nailing the door shut, our Dometic refrigerator comes with reversible hinges, so the door can swing either right or left. Remove the cosmetic plug from the upper unused hinge, and drop in a short nail, about an inch long. The nail extends down through the stationary part of the hinge into the refrigerator door. You now have an excellent method for making sure the door doesn't come open while traveling.
BEFORE TOWING THE TRAILER
READY TO HIT THE ROAD
(PARKED BETWEEN WEEKENDS)
Winterizing your RV can be a simple process, if you just follow the steps below. There are three ways to winterize your rig. I have listed them in order of our personal preference.
HINT: For a few dollars you can buy and install an adapter that will eliminate removing and reinstalling the fresh water line. It is a small three way valve that goes in the fresh water line, between the fresh water tank and the pump. You can easily pump antifreeze throughout he system by inserting the tube attached to the valve into a gallon of antifreeze, turning the valve and starting the pump. Simply turn the valve back to its original position and you are done.
15. shut the gray water valve.
SECOND BEST METHOD - Blowing Out the Lines
1. Drain fresh water tank.
THIRD BEST METHOD - Fill the Lines with Antifreeze
1. Drain fresh water tank.
WATER HEATER NOTE:
Installation is a pretty simple do it yourself project, or any RV dealer can install it for you. You will save the cost of the valve in just a few years with the value of the antifreeze you save.
We throw a lot of abbreviations around when we talk about weights and towing capacity, but do we really know what they mean? Here are the definitions for some of these terms:
Gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) The maximum the vehicle can safely weigh, including hitch loads, fluids, cargo and passengers.
Gross axle weight rating (gawr) The maximum weight a single axle can carry.
Gross combination weight rating (gcwr) The maximum combined weight of the tow vehicle and trailer and all contents.
Tow rating is the weight a vehicle is rated to tow. The tow rating may be reduced by the weight of additional cargo and passengers in the tow vehicle. This can be determined by subtracting the loaded tow vehicle weight from the gcwr.
Dry weight is the weight of the empty, unloaded vehicle. A manufacturer's dry weight figure usually does not include optional equipment.
Wet weight is the weight of an RV with its freshwater and propane tanks (and fuel in motor homes) filled, but no other cargo aboard.
Unloaded vehicle weight (uvw) The weight of the RV as built, including generator fuel, if applicable, but no cargo, fresh water, LP-gas or dealer- installed accessories. The uvw figure for a motor home also includes engine fuel, but not passengers.
Net carrying capacity (ncc) The maximum weight of all personal belongings, food, fresh water, LP-gas, tools, dealer-installed accessories and so forth that can be carried by an RV.
Payload is the available load carrying capacity of a vehicle.
How much can I safely tow or carry?
Date: Sunday, December 19, 1999
I presently own (along with the bank) a motorhome. We plan on buying a 5th wheel and a new Ford F-250 Lariat SC 4x2 Diesel 7.3 Longbed. I am presently interested in an 1999 Alfa Ideal (Alfa Leisure) ID31RL. I attached the spreadsheets in the hopes they may prove of benefit to someone else (or if you have any suggestions I would appreciate the opportunity to modify them).
The "PGWR" and other such "P" beginnings stand for projected personal use, e.g. after 3 years of steady Rving, I have a good idea of what our absolutely maximum load would be)
I use, and plan on using, the spreadsheet to evaluate different 5th wheels and trucks, to ensure the weight stays within limits.
NOTE: If you would like to download copies of these spreadsheets, click here to visit our Download page (Currently Under Construction). (It's all free.)