Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Delivery Checklist

In preparation of taking delivery of our new Roadtrek I made a checklist of all of the items we had to be sure to learn about from the dealer when we pick up the RV. I know that the dealer has his own review of all of the systems, but I felt that it was best to have a list to check off each thing that he tells us about and then look to see what he may not have mentioned that we need to be sure to know. For those who have owned RVs before this list is probably basic and things that you already know how to do, but for those of us first time RV owners these are the things are essential to find out about. In creating this list I went through every system that I can think of that is contained inside and outside of the Roadtrek. I have not included the basic vehicle operation but you may want to make your own list for that as well. That part should be pretty much like taking delivery on any new car.

I share this list with all of you first timers. Feel free to copy and use it.



Where to fill water - front and back

Where to attach city water

How to switch from tanks to city water

How to switch from one tank to the other

How to turn on water pump


How do you bypass the hot water heater tank

How to turn on hot water heater- how to light/ how to turn off

How to access water heater from outside

How to drain fresh water tanks and water heater if needed


How to turn on/off propane

Where to fill propane - is the propane full now


How to connect electric to outside outlet

How to switch from battery to electric and back

How to turn on generator

How to switch to generator from AC or battery

How to access batteries

Anything we need to know about the inverter or charging system


How to check oil on generator – where?

Generator maintenance?

What to run to put load on generator for monthly startup and how long.


How to switch refrigerator from battery to AC


How to light furnace

How to turn on furnace

How to set heat temp on furnace/thermostat


How to light stove


How to flush toilet

How to set up shower

How to uncap shower drain in floor

How to dump black tank

How to put hose into campground sewer outlet

How to dump gray tank

How to unclog macerator

How to put macerator hoses away

A/C and FAN

How to turn on A/C

How to turn heat on from A/C

How to turn on and control ceiling fan


Light switches?

Outlets? 12 volt outlets?

Where are the circuit breakers and fuses for RV


How to read control panel

Smoke/propane/CO alarms – how to reset, test buttons?

How to read battery level

How to read propane level

How to read water levels

How to read waste tank level


How to set up bed

How to put up antenna

Antenna booster switch?

How to swivel seats


How to lock outside storage

How to put spare up and down

How to open van hood

Any break in period for van or appliances

Where is jack? What is needed to know if jacking up van – where can’t jack be placed?

Where is the cable TV outside connection?

Maintenance of AGM batteries?




Nova Kool Refrigerator




Water heater

Water pump?



Air Conditioner


TV and DVD

Thursday, April 21, 2011

RV Movies

Aside from getting ready for the RV's arrival, what else have I been doing in anticipation? I have been watching movies that feature RVs. There are not many and they are all comedies. The top of the RV movies is the movie with the title. RV, starring Robin Williams. This movie is one of the funniest and the RV is like a character in the film. The scene of Robin Williams dumping the sewage tanks for the first time with the help of two want to be helpful RVer onlookers is one of the funniest - and to those who have no real experience around RVs sets up a lot of concerns in those considering spending some time in an RV. This was foremost in my thoughts when I first went out looking at RVs and had to ask the salesman if what I saw in the movie is what really happens. The answer - for the most part - is no.

There are a few movies on my must see RV movie list. The oldest of them is The Long, Long Trailer staring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. While the characters are very close to being Lucy and Ricky from I Love Lucy, they are named Tasi and Nicky in the movie - but everything that you might expect from I Love Lucy goes on in this RV movie. Putting it on recently I had to laugh right off at the scene of the two going to a travel trailer show and looking for the trailer in person that they had their hearts set on from the brochure. Just as it was when my wife and I went to look at the Roadtrek 170 that we had seen online and in a sales video, when the two of them get to walk into this small trailer up close there is barely room to pass each other and it is about five steps from front to back. As Tasi (Lucy) says, "Oh darn, it looked so big in the brochure!" That is exactly how we felt when we went into the smallest of the Roadtrek's - the 170 model. And then as the movie progresses and they buy a large trailer instead, there are the rocks. I have read a number of references to the rocks in RV forums and once you see the movie the rocks will stick in your mind as well. Tasi (Lucy) decides to collect a rock from every place that they visit, but she does not take a small, put in your pocket rock, she takes a large ten inch diameter rock - and the rocks add up. When the trailer must make it up and down a very steep mountain road, the rocks get loose! As my wife talks about what she wants to put in the trailer - cans of soup keep getting mentioned, I turn to her and say "Lucy, remember the rocks!" She knows exactly what I am referring to. This old film shows up on Turner Classic movies every so often and it is on DVD.

Another must see RV movie is Albert Brook's film, Lost in America. Albert's character and his wife take off to "find themselves" after leaving lucrative careers (sounds like me again) and buy an RV to go on the road "just like Easy Rider". All of their money is with them in cash as their "next egg". Well, you can guess what can happen and it does. The RV has a prominent part of this movie but it is not as central is the RV in The Long, Long Trailer or RV. Never the less, the movie is hysterical. See it with your wife - some day you too may need to have her repeat over and over again, "Remember the nest egg! Remember the nest egg!"

There is a recent movie that I had to see the first week it opened that I was told features an RV. It is called Paul. The character, Paul, is a space alien - an Area 51 space alien - who through a series of circumstances goes on a road trip across the US southwest with two guys form England. The road trip happens in an RV. The movie is both silly and very funny, but other than a short scene at an RV park the RV does not play much of a role in the film. Funny though.

There is another movie about RVs that no one remembers. It is an old movie starring James Caan named Slither. No not that one. There is a movie just a few years old also named Slither and that movie has nothing to do with RVs and nothing to do with the movie of the same name made in 1973. The Slither that I am talking about takes place when motor home RVs were novel and rare to see on the road. The characters are in an RV and being followed by an ominous RV with occupants unknown. I remember bits and pieces of this movie and I have not seen it since the 1970's but I recall that RV's in the movie were referred to as "Rec Vs" and this was spoken about throughout the movie. The film is a comedy adventure film. It never seems to play on cable or TV. There is a VHS tape of the film but no DVD. I would love to see this one again!

Now if you have never seen the movie, RV, and would like to here is a Youtube link for the full-length movie. I have nothing to do with it being there and I only pass along the link that is there to be found through Google... For your entertainment, RV...

Our Roadtrek arrives soon...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shopping - Getting Ready Part II

We will be picking up the Roadtrek in two weeks and we realized that there are things that we will need for that first night. An RV is like a home and like every new house or apartment moved into there is a need to set up housekeeping. We were in Pennsylvania for the day (for my birthday) and we took a shopping list that we have been putting together for months with us to purchase some of the things we need - or don't need - to get hooked up at a campground and comfortable for the night.

Why Pennsylvania? There are few places near us in NY to buy RV specific things and we do not like to shop on the Internet. I like to look at the item and hold it in my hand before I decide to purchase it - even if it is something that I am going to need to purchase anyway. Even stores that are in NY that are also in PA seem to carry a lot more variety of things than they do in NY including Walmart. One of the things that you see a lot more of are things for RV's. And besides, I like Pennsylvania. So we were going anyway - and would be in those stores anyway, so we have been holding off looking for things until we got there.

Since we made the decision to purchase the Roadtrek I have been doing research as to what is necessary. Along the way I have learned many things about how to hook up and what is involved in maintaining and staying in an RV. Some of this involves hooking up the water that comes into the RV. Some of this involves getting the electrical connections made so that you have 110 volt power. And some of this involves getting what you have put down the sink and the toilet back out again and away to where it needs to go. So we needed electrical connections and various plumbing connections, all specific to an RV or travel trailer. We also knew that we would need to make up the beds in some manner to sleep on that first night, and we figured that we might as well get what we will need for that rather than piece it together from linens in the house.

To hook up the electricity, what I have learned it that you need to do more than just take the plug from the long electrical cord connected to the RV and plug it into the electrical box at the pad at the campsite. The power for the Roadtrek is 30 amps maximum. Your home outlets are generally 15 amps with a maximum of 20 amps. The plug for a 30 amp outlet is a large round plug with three, large, oddly directed prongs. If you want to connect this RV to the power outlet at your home you need a converter plug to size the 30 amps plug to a 15 amp socket (your standard three prong house plug/socket). According to a book I have read and many questions that have been asked by RV neophytes like me and others and answered by much more experienced RVers, there is no problem connecting a 30 amp RV to a 15 or 20 amp circuit - you will only draw as much current as there is available. AND - get this - there is no problem connecting a 30 amp RV to a 50 amp circuit (used for much larger RVs). The 30 amp RV has circuitry and devices that will only draw 30 amps without damage to the RV. I have also learned that when you get to a campground you need to test the outlet BEFORE you plug into it to make sure it has correct polarity and the correct voltage flowing through it - 110 to 120 volts. Apparently, not intentionally, but not all campsite outlets are in the best of condition and it is not uncommon to find a problem outlet. So in the event that the 30 amp outlet is bad, you could use the 50 amp outlet - provided you have the correct adapter plug. Following me here - it does get involved. So, of course, what do I need to buy - a variety of adapters and electrical test equipment. Sure, after spending all that on the RV, you don't want to mess up the electrical circuits, right - so you just have to spend a little more. Some Walmarts in NY have the adapter plugs but not one has all of those needed at the same time - so that was on the list for Pennsylvania. A voltmeter is needed to check that the 110-120 volts is flowing through the outlet. That is not easy to find. Mostly it has to come from an RV store. There is a device that does the same thing and more called a Kill-A-Watt. These are used by many homeowners to see how much electricity different appliances use. I was told that it will also tell me the line voltage so I had been looking for that near home. The only model I could find in the local home stores was the more advanced model and I really wanted the basic one, so that was on the list for PA also. The polarity tester I could get anywhere - but what the heck - it was on the list for PA as well.

I also needed a water hose. The RV has a water inlet connection that has a garden hose connector on it and at the campground there is a hose spigot to attach to. Well, that should be simple. There are garden hoses anywhere. BUT- you will be drinking this water and regular garden hoses contain lead in the connections and in the hose material to keep it from being damaged by the UV rays of the sun. So you cannot use a household garden hose - unless you want to find out what lead poisoning is like. You must get a special "white" hose - and yes, the color of the hose is white with, sometimes, blue lines on it. This RV hose is safe to drink from. (Something to remember the next time you send your kids to take a drink from the backyard hose.) The hose(s) were on the list too. And in case you are not so sure about the quality of the water coming into that hose, you can get a water filter that connects to the hose connection. Might as well. And oh yes, the water pressure coming from the campground spigot might be too forceful so you need a special pressure regulator connection too. On the list...

This brings us to the waste disposal part of what is necessary - and, thankfully, very little is required to add to what is included with the RV. What I did see on a few campground listings is that they require a "donut". This is a rubber ring that creates a tight seal between your dump hose and the dump hole in the ground (actually, a wide pipe sticking up). Not sure if we will need that or not, but it is on the list.

Add to the list some normal things - four flat sheets (fitted sheets will not fit), pillows, pillow cases, and bedbug cases for the pillows because we don't take any chances. Then my wife decided that she would like to have some containers to hold food items in the closets like cereal, etc. After a long discussion about mice and the like and what is necessary to keep them out as best as possible. Airtight containers are a must and ones that can take some bouncing around. So with a bit of convincing, my good wife set out to look for containers that she likes that will fit in the limited cabinet space that there is. All of this and a bit more was on her list...

We did not spend the day shopping. We have learned in the last two plus years of not traveling overnight how to cram as much as we can into one short day - and it takes four hours to get to PA. We arrived around 2:30 and spent some time in some of our favorite places to visit. We drove through the farm roads. I purposely drove past the RV park that we will be staying at for the night that we pick up the Roadtrek. It is open now for the season again. All looked well - as it had when I drove past last Fall. We also went to take a look at another RV park that I knew as a local attraction many years ago and is now an RV campground. This one caused some concern because as we looked at the few RVs and trailers staying there, none looked to be level. All seemed to slant either up or down. Not a preferred thing to have where you spend the night in your RV.

Before dinner in probably my most favorite restaurant - an object of the trip to celebrate my birthday - we stopped in a local store nearby - a small country version of a department store. I knew that there was a good possibility that I would find some of the things on my list. Sure enough they had the Kill-A-Watt model that I wanted and the price was reasonable. Looking in the camping department, there was a small section of RV related items. There were 12 volt light bulbs - don't need any of those now, but will at some point I am sure. There was also a small bubble level that clearly showed all four directions that the RV could be off. What the heck, for four bucks, event though it was not on the list - I grabbed it. There were a few things that my wife looked for but did not find them. We were both surprised as this store has things that we usually cannot find anywhere else. You know those things that you say, I really could use X and then find out that you are behind ten or twenty years and X does not exist anymore - until you get to his store and surprise! there is X - new and still manufactured. We left the store to have my birthday dinner.

Dinner was great and could not be beat! After a look through the gift shop - most of the restaurants here have gift shops - we headed for one of the two Walmarts that we know are well-stocked in this area. It was 8:30 pm when we left for the store, list in pocket.

We arrived at the store and I said, let's do this in an organized way. We took a shopping cart and headed for the automotive section where the RV things are. There was a large full counter of shelves full of things for RV - unlike the small section of shelves (shelf?) at the local Walmart. There were all three adapter plug cords. There were the water hoses - we placed a ten foot one and a twenty five foot long one in the shopping cart. There was the water pressure regulator and the water filter. All went into the cart. I looked at all of these cords and suggested that we add a plastic box to the list to store them in. The rubber donut seal was out of stock. There was the box they should be in but it was empty. Ok. Off to look for more.

Next we went to the electrical department for the polarity tester. They were out of it. It must have been a busy day. Then off to the linen department with a stop off along the way to pick up a plastic box for the power supplies.

The linen department was a big disappointment. No flat white sheets at all. A selection of pillows but there were only three of the four we needed. They had others but each had something we did not like about it. My wife was concerned as the local NY Walmarts also had no stock on flat white sheets. Not to worry I said, there is another Walmart here. We will just go there next. It was after 10:30 pm at the time. We picked up a few more items including a set of seal airtight plastic storage containers.

While late night at 24 hour Walmarts should be relatively empty late at night, that is generally not the case. There are people in the store shopping. But there generally are only one or two cash registers open. There was a long line at the register. We waited until it was our turn and started to check out. The man at the cash register made a comment at the RV things we were buying. He "fulltimes" in a Fifth-wheel RV. That means he lives in the RV with his family full time. A fifth-wheel is like a trailer that is attached to the flatbed of a pick up truck. They are generally not that large. He liked it. He asked about our RV and he commented with a smile that we will find that we don't need some of what we are buying. But then he said, but maybe you will...

We left the store and it was almost 11 pm. Oh by the way when we got outside, it was pouring rain. The rain did stop as we were driving. We got to the other Walmart and went for what we were missing that was on the list. We were only able to get the polarity tester. Everything else here was out of stock. My wife was concerned and I said that since we had to go back to where the other Walmart is to buy gas and it is next to the road that we need to get to the turnpike we would go back. She could at least pick one of the better of the rejected pillows. Ok - we headed back.

She went into the store and I don't know why but I waited in the car. It seemed like forever. She called me on my cell phone and told me that she came upon a woman who was stocking shelves and asked about the sheets and pillows. Now, unlike at home, this employee said that she would actually go to the stock room to find out if there were any more. Off she went and came back with a carton of more pillows and a carton of sheets. My wife had her pick and got everything she wanted. This would not happen in the Walmart or any store near us in NY.

By then I went in to meet her and we went to the cash register. Now, at Walmart at midnight - every cash register shuts down and then must be reopened for the new day. This happens at all 24 hour Walmarts without fail. And it was five minutes to Midnight as we got on the single line. Too late. At the stroke of Midnight the closing crews came out and the registers shut down for about ten minutes or so. It was well after 12:30 am before we got back into the car.

We started home. This was a night when we really needed the Roadtrek. It was 4 am when we got home. All in all, a fun day! Really!

Oh, and reservations for our first campground have been made. We are all set for the day of delivery...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Roadtrek 190 Popular

I have written about shopping for the Roadtrek, buying the Roadtrek, and why, but I have not written about what the Roadtrek will have in it - or really what a Roadtrek is in any detail.

The Roadtrek is a Class B RV. Class B's are van conversion RVs. The RV is built on a stock van chassis. There are also Class B Plus RVs which also use a van chassis but the chassis is modified a lot and generally the RV becomes longer and wider. There are also Class A RVs which are the long bus like RVs and there are Class C RVs which are built upon a pickup chassis and generally have a sleeping area that extends over the cab of the truck. Class A and Class C are larger than the Class B RVs.

So what you get with a Roadtrek is a stock van from either Chevrolet or Mercedes and the interior is removed and rebuilt into an RV. Much of the outer body of the van remains - less with the Mercedes Sprinter van models. With the Roadtrek 190 Popular the exterior of the RV is the same as the exterior of a Chevy 3500 van. The roof is raised so the appearance takes on that of the passenger conversion vans that are commonly seen on the road. The give away in appearance between the two is the vent grill for the air conditioner that is visible on the back of the Roadtrek over the rear doors built into the roof. There are a few compartments built into the outside lower body sides, as well.

The length outside is 20 and a half feet. The height is 8' 9". The width is 6' 7". There is an optional spare tire carrier that attaches to the rear of the van with a second hitch connector and that adds about an extra foot of length. Added to the side view mirrors are RV convex mirrors below the flat mirrors. It drives like any other van. We did a test drive and could feel no difference in handling from our smaller passenger Chevy Astro van. We both test drove the Roadtrek and it was comfortable to drive. If you are out looking for an RV make sure you test drive it. There can be vast handling differences from model to model even within the same manufacturer.

It is once you open the door - any door that you see the vast difference from a Roadtrek (or any Class B) to the stock van that it is built within. With the Roadtrek 190 Popular starting at the front driving end of the vehicle the standard seats have been removed and the driver's seat and the passenger seat have been replaced with seats that can swivel to face the rear of the van. Behind the passenger seat is a third seat that can be turned into a bed when bridged with the front passenger seat.

Above is a view of the layout of the RT190P in both day mode and sleeping mode (right). No. 1 is a clothes closet. No. 2 is the two burner gas stove. No. 3 is the sink. No 4 is the location of the refrigerator below the cabinet and a microwave oven in the above cabinets. No. 5 is the location of the 19" flat screen TV with both cable connection and connection to a roof antenna that can be raised and lowered by a crank inside the Roadtrek. The cabinet that the TV is attached to with a swing out arm so that it may be turned to face the front seats or the bed area holds a DVD and stereo. No. 6 is the toilet and shower. No. 7 is one of the privacy doors for the toilet. No. 8 is the area that the shower extends into the aisle - on the floor a plate lifts up to reveal a drain for the shower water to run into. Of course, there is a shower curtain around this area that slides around into the toilet area when not in use.

You can see in the right image how the inside converts to beds at night. The Roadtrek 190 Popular features a full king size bed in the rear which can also be made into two twin beds with an aisle in between. When not a bed this area has a sofa on each side with a table that can be attached in the middle. There is also a table that swings out of the closet in the front to make another work/dining area.

For comfort there is an air conditioner that also has a heat pump to supplement a gas heater that is at floor level, an intake/exhaust fan in the roof with thermostat, hot and cold running water, plenty of well cushioned, comfortable seating, and the entertainment system that I have already mentioned. There is electricity - both 110 volt and 12 volt inside. A generator can provide 110 volt power or you can hook up a 30 amp electric line to an outside electric line. There are two 12 volt AGM batteries and an inverter that will power some of the appliances inside. The AC and the microwave must have the generator or an outside line to run as they draw the most amperage of any of the electrics inside.

So many ask, how do they fit all that inside a van? Well, it is tight. There is no mistaking that once you go inside one of these - actually any one of the Class B's. The photos, the videos, and the illustrations look like there is so much room inside. There is not. Each time that I have gone into one while shopping for it, I had to remind myself that yes, it is that small. There is just enough room to settle into what you are doing, but don't plan to pace the hall. The aisle is thirty inches wide. Two thin people would have no problem passing each other but that is two thin people. That is not saying that a Class B is not something that one can live in for several days to several weeks. It provides you what you need the most - a place to sleep comfortably and a place to use the bathroom. If you are inclined to cook while you are on vacation you have the capability to do that as well. The overall space does make for the need for a close, loving relationship. And during the day you are out seeing the sites. When we travel we tend to find a 24 hour Walmart at night to walk around in - so we will be coming back to sit for awhile and watch TV and then go to sleep.

Someone asked when when I described the interior, where is the bathroom sink? There is one - in a way. A cabinet under the kitchen sink holds an insert that is put into the kitchen sink to convert it into a bathroom sink. It is possible to order a Roadtrek with a self-contained bathroom - toilet, sink, and shower in one little room, but this takes up a lot of the additional storage/cabinet space that you have toward the rear of the passenger side of the van. We saw one set up this way and it did not really offer that much of a difference.

So what happens to all of the water and where does the water come from? Below the van there are four tanks. Two hold fresh water. One of those is located within the floor so that it can be protected from the cold if using the RV in the winter. One holds the waste water from the shower and the sink. The last one holds the waste and water from the toilet. The fresh water tanks can be by-passed if you hook up to a water line at a campground with a hose that attaches to the outside of the van. So what do you do with the waste water? You dump it, of course. At the campground or at various locations - even around here at marinas. The Roadtrek features a macerator dumping system. This is a hose at the outside of the van from inside one of the compartments that has an electric pump and grinding system that pumps out the toilet tank - called the Black Tank - first and then pumps out the sink/shower tank - called the Gray Tank - which flows through the black tank to give it an extra flush through. A process I am told is nothing like Robin Williams in the movie, RV. This, however, remains to be seen.

When we first went out to look at RVs I wondered why you just don't hook up the hose outside to the sewer connection and leave it there - let it work just like the plumbing at home. Well, I have since learned that if you do this you will not only clog up your black tank with solids but you will also have wonderful odors coming up from that sewer, through your toilet, and into your RV. At home there are traps and vents to prevent this that do not exist in an RV.

The toilet in the RV is a marine toilet - one that would be used on boats - not just by Marines. The toilet has two peddles. One that lets water into the toilet bowl and the other that flushes it all away into the black tank. Unlike the toilet at home that has water in it all of the time, if you did that in an RV you would be sloshing toilet water all over the floor as you drive. Makes sense.

The interior is nicely decorated. There are real cherry wood cabinets. The kitchen counter is granite. (I still do not understand why they would add the weight of granite to everything else.) There is both carpet and vinyl tile floors. We opted for the window screen package so that windows may be opened and nothing will come flying inside.

This is what we are looking forward to. There is a link at the side of the page to the Roadtrek website and you can see photos and videos for each model. Heck, add a laser beam and machine guns and you have the urban assault vehicle from the movie, Stripes!