March 2023
March 2023 cover
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March 2023
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March 2023
Volume 3, Number 3
group of people enjoying dinner at a picnic table outside their trailer
Sine Language
Boondocking is easily the hottest trend in RVing today — but owners must ensure that their rigs are equipped to provide enough power for going off-grid. Power-hungry appliances and accessories don’t run on 12 volts, so a reliable DC-to-AC inverter is a “must-have.” Here’s what you need to know about inverters — and a look at the top inverters available.
close up of stovetop burners
Cooking With Gas
There’s a lot to be said for retaining ownership of an older RV, but aesthetics generally isn’t their strong suit. Interiors, in particular, tend to age badly — and appliances of yesteryear were also a lot less efficient. When the owner of this 2008 Monaco Diplomat began experiencing problems with its cooktop, the crew at Carriers RV Service swapped it out in about an hour’s time.
man standing next to window blinds where only one side is pulled up
No Strings Attached
Actually, “no strings attached” is how you definitely don’t want to be, especially when they control your window shades. As RVE Technical Director Bill Gehr illustrates, however, when the cords controlling day/night shades give up the ghost, you can easily replace them — even while on the road. It’s a DIY-friendly fix that just requires some time and attention to details.
trucks with trailers all parked on a field
While the pandemic fueled a record surge in RV ownership, those new owners are discovering that the cost of a unit and, for a towable, a vehicle to pull it with are only the tip of the iceberg. But we won’t whine (much) about the outlandish costs of some RV parks.
futuristic looking trailer
With so many manufacturers turning their attention to all-electric RVs, it still looks like the first one out of the gate may be the Lightship, the creation of former Tesla executives. Meanwhile, Lance will be going into production of its Enduro off-road trailer — plus a lot more.
garbage disposal installment
An ill-tempered furnace gives a reader fits, while another asks about the possibility of adding a garbage disposal unit. Other queries revolve around replacing window valances and the removal process for ridding a 2006 motorhome of the former owner’s penchant for bumper stickers.
March 2023 cover
Darren Clausen (left) and Lee Edmonson roll up the cover to prepare Darren’s 2022 Grand Design Reflection fifth wheel for the summer. Photo by Bob Livingston
hand slipping a large switch
Down the Drain
Dumping holding tanks is one of those necessary evils that all RV owners deal with on an all-too-frequent basis. It’s tough enough when the valves are readily accessible. Cable-actuated dump valves used for more remotely located tanks get a bad rap for operational difficulties. These complaints, though, can be mitigated with the right products and proper installation.
man installing hinges on a screen door
Don’t Get Unhinged
Screen doors on an RV take a lot of abuse — and not surprisingly, the hinges may eventually give out. One solution — albeit a relatively expensive one — is to simply replace the door assembly. Here’s another option: craft new brackets out of angle aluminum acquired at a local hardware store. This will restore full use of the screen door for a fraction of the cost of Option No. 1.
man giving a thumbs up next to the tailgate of his truck
The Gate Keeper
A pickup truck’s tailgate is not a lightweight component — and when it freefalls when being opened, it takes a toll on the hinges and can damage the gate. Knowing that a “tailgate-opening assist” is one of the coolest features of new trucks, we set about creating a similar system on an older 2017 Ram 3500 dually — aided by an easily installed kit.
PUBLISHER – Bob Livingston
(805) 320-6909
[email protected]

EDITOR – Bruce Hampson
(574) 584-4616
[email protected]

(805) 340-5015
[email protected]

[email protected]

Business Office
26362 Douglas ave., Elkhart, in 46514
Advertising Director
Sue Seidlitz
(805) 816-8759
[email protected]
To subscribe electronically, log onto:, click on the “subscribe” icon and follow the prompts to add subscriber and payment information. Alternately, you may also mail to: RV Enthusiast Subscriptions, 26362 Douglas Ave., Elkhart, IN 46514. Subscription rates: Subscriptions for U.S. and Canada: $9.99/one year, $18.99/two years. Premier membership subscription rates available upon request.
Correspondence is invited from subscribers and readers of RV Enthusiast. Technical inquiries relating to RV function, maintenance, repairs and/or upgrades should be directed to Technical Director Bill Gehr at the above email addresses. Letters to the Editor should be directed to Editor Bruce Hampson at the above email address. Personal replies cannot be sent due to the volume of mail received. By forwarding letters to RV Enthusiast magazine, the author consents to allow letters to be published at the discretion of RV Enthusiast editors. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarification.
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Beware of Power Surges sign
always watching. Always alert.
You never know when trouble may spike. Unpredictable lightning and poorly wired campgrounds are always a risk. So protect your assets with Power Watchdog®. It’s the most inexpensive security investment you’ll ever make. And it can be your RV’s best friend.
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pit bull named Spike
Beware of Power Surges sign
Hughes Autoformers logo
pit bull named Spike
Beware of Power Surges sign
pit bull named Spike
always watching. Always alert.
You never know when trouble may spike. Unpredictable lightning and poorly wired campgrounds are always a risk. So protect your assets with Power Watchdog®. It’s the most inexpensive security investment you’ll ever make. And it can be your RV’s best friend.
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replacement module
All of our products feature an exclusive, replaceable surge module. If you get hit by a large spike, simply order a new surge module. And the first two years are free if you should need a replacement!
Power Watchdog amp
A full line of 30 and 50 amp surge protectors is available, some with auto shutoff. All have a *limited lifetime warranty. Visit our website for details and learn about our voltage boosters as well.
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FREE bluetooth app
Our PATENTED Bluetooth connectivity allows you to monitor live campground power conditions on your smartphone using the free Power Watchdog easy-to-use mobile app.
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© 2022 Hughes Autoformers, LLC
On the Road
By Bruce Hampson
The Rising Costs of Making Memories

n some ways, camping isn’t the relatively inexpensive lifestyle it used to be. I know, you can say that about anything when inflation is running at 8% a year or more — but campgrounds have really turned up the wick, pricewise, in the last few years as a pandemic-fueled surge in RV ownership led to an even bigger chasm between available campsites and potential campers.

It’s not for nothing that industry publications the likes of RVBusiness and Woodall’s Campground Magazine have carried stories about recent groundbreakings on new RV parks and resorts oftentimes bankrolled by major corporations, private investors and even trusts. These folks are used to making money, and when they see many RV parks and resorts bumping nightly fees by 10%, 20% or more annually — to say nothing of such things as implementing the same sort of “dynamic pricing” the RV industry once held up as yet another reason to forego vacations by planes, cruise ships, hotels and car rental agencies — they see dollar signs.

News & Notes

Tripping the ‘Lightship’ Fantastic

distant view of a truck towing a Lightship all-electric RV

Lightship, said to be America’s first all-electric recreational vehicle (RV) company, announced in early March the launch of the Lightship L1 — an aerodynamic, battery-powered travel trailer and the first purpose-built travel trailer with a self-propulsion system that enables near zero range or mile-per-gallon efficiency loss for the vehicle towing it.

Lightship co-founders Ben Parker and Toby Kraus saw an opportunity in the RV industry that reminded them of the early days they’d seen working at Tesla. Not surprisingly, then, Lightship is taking a clean-sheet approach to building an all-electric recreational vehicle the same way Tesla disrupted the established automakers. The Lightship team, which includes alumni from Rivian, Proterra, Lucid and Zoox in addition to Tesla, is leveraging their expertise in automotive EV development and design to deliver a truly unique experience.

Where’s the Heat?
a device being used to measure LP gas pressure in a RV
Inadequate LP-gas pressure is one of the more common maladies affecting furnace performance. Pressure should be checked if you suspect a problem with ignition; a dial manometer is the most convenient tool for checking LP-gas pressure and regulator integrity.
I have a 2021 travel trailer with a furnace that’s been giving me fits for quite a while. It’s a Dometic 30,000-Btu furnace but the model number escapes me. It’s been in the shop several times where the service person bench-tested the components numerous times and insists that it works fine. That’s all well and good — but I don’t have heat. The last time the “technician” replaced the circuit board and after I got the trailer back it worked just fine when I tried it at home. The first trip out, however, it again did not work! I took it back to the dealer and was again told that it passed bench testing and was working fine.

I’m getting a little frustrated. Do you have any ideas?
—Dennis Santino

Sine Language title
New DC-to-AC inverters you can count on when boondocking in white font
RV on lakeside after sunset with group dining
Sine Language title
New DC-to-AC inverters you can count on when boondocking in white font
By Bruce W. Smith

aking backroads to new adventures can be a lot of fun, but they are not without their challenges. As soon as you camp away from the conveniences of RV parks and campgrounds and that all-important umbilical electrical cord delivering the ability to camp with full hookups, you need a source of auxiliary power to operate the A/C, induction cooktop, refrigerator, dishwasher, ceiling fans, coffee maker and hairdryer among other appliances that plug into a standard 120-volt AC wall outlet.

Boondocking, or camping “off-the-grid,” means you have to rely on electricity provided by a generator or the RV’s battery bank to deliver the proper electrical needs to run 120-volt AC appliances and accessories. The downside with generators is they can be noisy and smelly, which takes away from the peacefulness of boondocking. Generators also require fuel.

Unfortunately, batteries don’t have the power on their own to run those power-hungry appliances and accessories — but their electrical energy can be modified and amplified using an inverter. The inverter takes the juice from the 12-volt DC house battery (or battery bank) and transforms it into 120-volt AC like that supplied by a local power grid. That’s why many new RVs, other than many tiny trailers, have an inverter as part of the factory-installed electrical system.

Cooking with Gas typographic blue fire illustrative title in uppercase letters form within a black border box next to a small fire stove burner slot image
A close-up photograph view of three fire stovetop burner slots
How to replace that old, outdated cooktop with a modern version — in under an hour
By Bruce W. Smith / Photos by the author

here’s a lot to be said for retaining ownership of an older RV, not the least of which is they have “good bones,” a solid build — and can be picked up for not a lot of money.

One place they tend to come up short, though, is in aesthetics. You don’t have to go back to the shag-carpet days of the GMC motorhome (built from 1972 through the ’78 model years, for those keeping score) to find looks that haven’t aged well. And, in the case of appliances, neither are they anywhere as efficient as those built today.

When the crew at Carrier RV Service in Eugene, Washington, was charged with replacing the three-burner cooktop in a customer’s well-cared-for 2008 Monaco Diplomat motorhome, appearances admittedly had something to do with it — “It didn’t go with the other upgraded appliances in the galley,” admitted Teresa Carrier — but it also had one burner that was inoperable, and finding replacement parts for the outdated and long-discontinued Atwood High Output gas stove was becoming a tougher task.

"No Strings Attached"
Bill Gehr holding broken window blind strings in RV
When the cords that control day/night shades — and other similar window coverings — give up the ghost, you can replace them, even while on the road. The process looks daunting, but in reality the fix is DIY-friendly.
By Bill Gehr / Photos by Lorie Swoffer

he window coverings of choice for many years have been shades controlled by some type of a string or cord that runs vertically on both sides. When they work, the operation is smooth — but when they break, the shades are rendered useless and drop like a rock. It’s a frustrating dilemma that most RVers have contended with until the proliferation of pull-down roller shades.

Most people open and close their pleated shades at least twice a day, so do the math: you can see why they have a propensity to break, usually at inopportune times. I’m a full-timer, which means window coverings are moved at least 730 times a year.

Fortunately, you can carry the cord and tools on board to make the necessary repairs without being at the mercy of service centers needing long lead times for appointments. My blinds see heavy use and after one of the chords came apart, I figured it would only be a matter of time before the rest of them started breaking, so I initiated the restringing process.

the Drain
cable actuated dump valves
Down The Drain
Cable-actuated dump valves get a bad rap for operational difficulties, which can be mitigated with the right products from Valterra and proper installation.
By Bob Livingston / Photos by the author

umping the holding tanks is one of those necessary evils that all owners deal with on an all-too-frequent basis. Once the black and/or gray tank(s) fill up, the contents must be dumped into the sewer or septic system. The process is easy: a special 3-inch hose is connected to the RV outlet fitting via bayonet nomenclature, the other end is tightly sealed into the sewer inlet, and the valves are opened with a T-handle.

In most cases, anyway.

Many valves are attached near the outlet pipe and readily accessible, while some are operated from a remote location using cables or switches for electric systems. When the cables break or the valves stick, you’ll have to tear into the bowels of the underbelly to make the repairs or replacement.

Quick Tech
Don't Get Unhinged
hinges on rv door being replaced
Don't Get Unhinged
When the hinges on an RV screen door fail, the typical solution is to buy a new door assembly — which is pricey. Here’s how to make new brackets out of angle aluminum — an inexpensive repair that restores full use of the screen door.
By Bob Livingston / Photos by the author

hen the hinges on the screen door break, it’s one of those “oh, no!” moments. While the screen door can be replaced by removing the screws in the hinges, it’s not possible to replace the hinges themselves when they break. Years of opening and closing can lead to broken hinges, a common situation, which rendered the screen door unusable on this older fifth wheel, and the cost — not to mention the labor — to replace the entire screen/entry door assembly can be daunting.

Fortunately, there is a rather simple solution: build new brackets to restore the function of the original hinges.

The process is not complicated if you’re the least bit handy — and it only takes about an hour to complete the job. You’ll need to purchase a short length of 1 ½-inch angle aluminum (although 1 ¼-inch stock may work, depending on the hinge size) at a local hardware store, which can be cut into brackets and mounted over the existing hinges. It may be hard to find a short length of angle aluminum, and since you’ll probably only need 9-12 inches worth, plan on having some leftovers.

Gate Keeper black typographic title in all uppercase letters form with white strokes around each letter
A portrait photograph of a man in a blue Patagonia jacket giving the thumbs up gesture grinning as the back bed/trunk door of the truck is open halfways on a gloomy cloudy day outside on a curb nearby a house and parked RV in the front yard
Gate Keeper black typographic title in all uppercase letters form with white strokes around each letter
A pickup tailgate that free falls when opening is disconcerting at best and prone to hitting into something at worst. Installing a strut to slow down the process levels the playing field.
By Bill Gehr / Photos by Lorie Swaffer

ulling a fifth wheel with a pickup truck makes it necessary open and close the tailgate several times a day. You know the drill: open the tailgate to hitch up, close to get going, open to unhitch, close to use the truck as a daily driver, open to unload chairs and other things, and so on. It’s not rocket science, but I can’t even remember how many times I’ve had my hands full and accidentally let the tailgate slam open. And, unfortunately, there’s a lot of weight in motion when the tailgate falls open — and over time, the wear-and-tear on the hinges can lead to expensive repairs, not to mention the sheet metal damage if you happen to let it fall onto the A-frame jack when a travel trailer is still hitched up.

Recognizing this dilemma, some new trucks are outfitted with a tailgate opening assist, which slowly regulates the downward movement. This convenient feature spurred me to seek out an aftermarket device that can do the same thing. Of course, the first place I looked was Amazon — and just what I needed popped up. There were several kits to choose from, so I relied on the reviews to find one that would not only work well but last without breaking; the other priority was ease of installation. As a result, I settled on the Tailgate Assist Shock Strut 43301 Silver Classic for $24.29. This kit is designed for the 2009-2018 Ram trucks, which fit the parameters for the 2017 3500 dually project truck.

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