May/June 2024
May/June 2024 cover
Preview Issue
May/June 2024
RV Enthusiast logo
May-June 2024
Volume 4, Number 3
smoothing out concrete
Stop Skirting the Issue
Besides improving appearances, trailer fender skirts actually do serve a purpose by keeping road spray under control. However, they are usually made of thin plastic and oftentimes will crack or even flop about before eventually taking flight. Here’s a simple fix using automotive fender bolts and locking stainless-steel nuts.
man installing suspension
Seeking a More Civilized Ride
The essential design of a leaf-spring suspension hasn’t changed much since the days of the Old West. Fortunately, the RV aftermarket has responded, with companies offering a plethora of suspension upgrades that can smooth out the bumps and limit premature frame and body wear to your towable.
different brands of toilet paper
The Great Wipe-Off
The dreaded “poo pyramid” is a real thing and can make cleaning out holding tanks a nightmare. Knowing what products to use can help — so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to test the most popular toilet papers on the market. How did yours fare?
installing a battery in a showerhead
Shower for Hours
Most RV travelers quickly learn how to take a “Navy shower” to save water — but there are alternatives. Ecocamel’s Orbit showerhead provides a super-strong stream while reducing consumption — and it can even soften the water.
truck pulling a trailer
Recreational vehicles aren’t perfect, but manufacturers are making improvements — urged on in no small way by the aftermarket. But it still behooves owners to educate themselves and be proactive in circumventing potential issues.
two people looking at and signing paperwork
Your first interaction with an RV dealer is crucial. In part two of our series, Campers Inn COO Ben Hirsh offers consumers tips on how to pick a dealer based upon its sales operations — from initial engagement to unit presentation, pricing and fees and post-sale availability.
RV slideout
The wear — and tear — on slideout toppers has one reader singing the blues, while another needs a bit of assistance on plumbing woes. And for anyone with an RV suffering from delamination, there’s also a “backyard” repair that can work wonders.
May/June 2024 cover
Adding bullet connectors to install ARP Fridge Defend components.
Photo by Bill Gehr
Special Section!
Cold & Safe typography
Cold & Safe typography
Special Section!
man grabbing an item out of the fridge
Absorption Refrigerator Maintenance Tips
Absorption refrigerators have been in use in RVs seemingly forever — and for good reason: the design is simple and works. But they also are susceptible to problems, especially if used off-level. You can prevent the refrigerator from overheating and extend its longevity by establishing a proper maintenance and cleaning schedule.
installation of a ARP Fridge Defend
Another Layer of Defense
Absorption refrigerators have an enviable safety record, but they aren’t perfect. Overheating is one strong possibility. To mitigate such a scenario, installing the ARP Fridge Defend allows for the monitoring of the boiler and absorber-coil temperatures. When threshold temperatures are reached, the device shuts the refrigerator down to allow for a safe cool down.
installation of a THIA
Whoosh — and the Fire Is Out
Fires are scary business, particularly in the closed environment of an RV. A professionally installed THIA (Tube+Heat=Instant Action) by Proteng is an automatic fire suppression system. Not only can they be used to protect your refrigerator, but the system can also be installed in electronic bays, engine compartments — even in your tow vehicle.
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.
AFFILIATE NOTICE: RVE Media Group LLC provides links to vendors and products, such as an Amazon Associates account, for informational purposes, but that may provide a commission if you purchase from that link. We often label these links with language that provides transparency if the destination is an advertiser, affiliate, or partner. Products are often provided to RVE at little/no cost for editorial testing purposes by vendors/suppliers. Under no circumstances does this affect the results of the test or install as published in RV Enthusiast. Sponsored content is identified as such directly on the content.

PRIVACY POLICY: Our complete privacy policy can be found at

Publisher’s Report
By Bob Livingston
Improved Suspension Systems — and Other Upgrades — Well Worth the Cost and Effort

t’s probably safe to say that RVers get into the lifestyle to spend time in natural environments — the outdoors, if you will. Yet, nature creates a long list of problems for RV owners as they struggle with issues caused by being where they love to be. Ironically, the same pleasures of nature that attract people to the outdoors can have a detrimental effect on how well an RV works over a long period of time.

Fortunately, RV owners are a patient lot — or maybe the lifestyle is so compelling that people simply take issues in stride just to be able to stay on the road and experience life to its fullest extent. No one ever said that RV ownership is free of stress, but neither is dealing with airports, airplanes, crowded hotels and lugging around all your stuff in suitcases. While there will always be components that need repair and maintenance, many problems are caused by critters and weather. And while rough roads wreak havoc on all vehicles, it seems RVs take the brunt of it.

Sponsored Content

Get Closer to What Moves You
Enjoy every journey with sounds from SiriusXM
closeup of hands on a steering wheel with a radio attached to air vent
What type of RV owner are you? Are you seasonal? Full-time? Adventure-seeking? Escapist? Family camper? All of the above? Whatever your reason to wander, you are all happy campers — because as the saying goes, “It is not the destination, it’s the journey.”

So why not enjoy every part of your journey with SiriusXM satellite radio?

For 15+ years and counting, SiriusXM has been serving up the best in-vehicle entertainment featuring popular on-air personalities like Howard Stern alongside your favorite bands, artists and music genres. Whether you’re traveling near or far, SiriusXM can provide coast-to-coast coverage both in and out of your motorized RV or towable vehicle.

News & Notes

Scout Campers Enters Pop-Up Segment with Yoho
quarter view of the Yoho pop-top camper from Scout installed in an all terrain truck bed; top view internal diagram of the Yoho pop-top camper
After four years of making hard-wall campers, Yakima, Washington’s Scout Campers has debuted its first pop-top model, according to a report at

Not only does the top pop, but the rest of the camper has also been refined and upgraded with the latest materials and tech.

The Yoho, which retails beginning at $27,900 and sleeps four, features composite panel construction with an aluminum exoskeleton, a one-piece monocoque composite roof, recycled paper cabinets with bamboo countertops, 4.9-gallon water storage with filtration, a Goal Zero Yeti 3000X cooler, 200 watts of solar, stainless-steel sink, 5-pound propane tank, Fantastic Fan 12-volt DC roof vent, dual 120-volt AC outlets, USB port, LED interior lighting, back porch light and smoke/LP-gas/carbon monoxide detectors.

Yoho weighs just 976 pounds and is designed to fit 5-foot, 5-inch truck beds with the tailgate off, and 6-foot beds with the tailgate shut.

For more information, visit

Choosing an RV Dealer
By Ben Hirsch
Part Two – Sales Operations
Landscape close-up outdoor photo view of a PROWLER branded RV trailer parked outside a Camper's Inn RV lot small office location setting area during the day with assorted clouds spread out in the sky

n our first article (“How to Measure Dealership Service and After-Sale Support,” RV Enthusiast April 2024) we explored how to choose an RV dealer based on their service operations. In this column, I’m excited to continue this journey — this time, focusing on the sales side of things.

How do you pick a dealer based on their sales operations? The sales process is integral to your overall RV ownership experience. Let’s break down what makes a good sales operation — and how you can make an informed choice when selecting your RV dealer.

Sponsored Content

Top Three Battery Tips for RV Boondocking
By Bryce Gregory, Systems Product Manager, Transportation and Specialty at EnerSys
rv parked at lake during sunset
Recreational Vehicle enthusiasts who spend a majority of their time camped out in the boondocks for peace and tranquility often depend on an increasing number of house loads for added comfort and convenience.

Also commonly referred to as “hotel loads,” house loads can include anything from entertainment centers, appliances and climate control to state-of-the-art safety and security equipment. In theory, these added amenities are nice — but they require much more energy to ensure long-lasting, dependable operation. It’s times like this where reliance on the battery system is high because it’s not only responsible for keeping the various onboard electronics up and running but it also must get the RV started when it’s time to head back to the hustle-and-bustle of normal civilization.

To remain off-grid in contentment and have a truly authentic camping experience with minimal interruptions, consider the following three battery tips for RV boondocking:

Top It Off
RV slideout
Bill, I have an older fifth wheel and the fabric on all three slideouts have pretty much deteriorated to the point where the material is tearing. All three slideout toppers are made by Dometic, and although the fabric served me well over many years, I was flabbergasted to learn how expensive it is to replace the material.

I’m pretty handy and a contractor friend has offered to help me make any repairs. What are your thoughts on replacing the slideout topper fabric and retaining the hardware?

—John Sealman

John, I’ve seen a lot of slideout topper fabric deteriorate during my tenure as a shop owner and it’s good that you’re catching the problem before it lets go and loses the spring tension. The best deal on slideout topper fabric is through Lippert Components (; it actually can cut fabric from a roll and offer it at a great price, which you can cut to size.

Sponsored Content

Safeguarding Your Adventure
Why Your RV Needs the Power Watchdog Surge Protector
Hughes Autoformers Watchdog surge protectors
When embarking on an RV adventure, the focus is often on the open road, the beautiful landscapes and the freedom of life on wheels. However, just as you protect your home’s electronics with surge protectors, your RV requires the same consideration to safeguard its electrical system and appliances. This necessity becomes paramount when considering the often fluctuating and unpredictable power sources encountered at different RV parks and campsites. Here’s why every RV owner should invest in robust surge protection — specifically the Power Watchdog by Hughes Autoformers, ensuring peace of mind no matter where your travels take you.

The Vital Need for Surge Protection in RVs
From smart TVs and satellite systems to refrigerators and HVAC units, your RV is loaded with high-tech gadgets that are vulnerable to the dangers of electrical surges. These surges can occur with little to no warning, often resulting from lightning strikes, faulty wiring or issues with a campground’s power supply. The consequences can be severe, possibly causing major damages that can cost thousands in repairs and replacements.Understanding the critical need for reliable surge protection, Hughes Autoformers designed the Power Watchdog, a surge protector that stands out in the RV accessory market for its innovative features and unmatched reliability.

Stop Skirting the Issue
closeup of trailer fender skirt on RV
Trailer fender skirts that flop wildly while traveling are sure to take flight someday — or at least crack and become unsightly. Here’s a simple fix using automotive fender bolts and locking stainless-steel nuts.
By Bill Gehr / Photos by the author and Bob Livingston

ender skirts that trim out the wheelwells on fifth wheels and travel trailers improve the appearance and actually serve a purpose by keeping road spray under control. However, they are usually made of thin plastic and are screwed in place — leaving a bunch of threads and points exposed on the other side of the lower metal siding. Not only do these screw ends exude an unfinished look, they can rip your skin when working in that area or even trying to wash away road grime.

Likely, these screws are driven by power tools on the assembly line which, considering the thin material, makes it difficult to get a good feel when they are sufficiently tightened — often resulting in overtightening. Many times, self-drilling screws are driven so tightly they distort the plastic and pull the skirt in toward the siding. I’ve seen hundreds of skirts where the screws were even pulled through the plastic. When this happens, it’s only a matter of time before these fender skirts litter the side of the road.

Seeking a More Civilized Ride
man installing super spring system
Looking to upgrade your travel trailer or fifth wheel suspension from a system in use since the days of the Old West? Consider the plethora of aftermarket suspension upgrades that can smooth out the bumps and limit premature frame and body wear.
By Bob Livingston

ulling a fifth wheel or travel trailer down the road is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” propositions. You’re riding in the tow vehicle, surrounded by luxury and quiet — but inside the trailer, the highway “wrecking ball” is having its way, overcoming a suspension that’s reminiscent of covered wagons. The overwhelming number of towables today are suspended by equipment that does little to control the bouncing and hammering shelled out by roads that have seen better days.

Leaf springs alone cannot prevent stored items from being disheveled or, worse, ejected from their cabinets. Frame damage over time is a constant fear, and the entire floor, wall and roof structure can be compromised by undulating pavement, potholes and damaged sections of the roadways.

toilet profile graphic
The Great Wipe Off! typography
toilet profile graphic
various brands of toilet paper neatly stacked on an RV counter
All the toilet tissue used in the test. There are many choices on the market, but this test focused on the most common brands found in RV stores and online. Nature’s Call (bamboo), Nature Pure and Better Boat are not familiar names to most RVers but can be found online.
Comparison tests of popular — and some lesser-known — toilet paper brands reveal that not all products are created equal, but they are pretty close
By Bob Livingston / Photos by author
Editor’s note: RV Enthusiast originally published this article in its June 2021 issue. Because the care of blackwater holding tanks — and its infamous potential for creating the dreaded “poop pyramid” — is a continual source of concern for RVers and because RV Enthusiast has welcomed many new readers in the years since, we’ve opted to republish it here. It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek story — but one that may assist you in selecting what products you tote on your travels.

V owners have a love-hate relationship with their holding tanks. Usually, the most problematic of these is the black tank — a waste receptacle which can clog, create havoc with the monitor sensors and (as we’ve probably all discovered on occasion) emit terrible odors. If you’re looking for answers to why these tanks cause so much pain, just look in the mirror. Owners are known to neglect regular maintenance, introduce the wrong type of toilet paper — and use too much of it — fail to add proper chemicals and follow erroneous dumping procedures. The Internet is full of reasons why these tanks create stress among owners, but many of the “solutions” are technically inaccurate and will themselves lead to additional problems.

Cold & Safe typography
Absorption Refrigerator Maintenance Tips
man grabbing a bottle of coconut water out of a refrigerator
Keeping food at proper storage temperatures is only part of the story; preventing the refrigerator from overheating and leading to possible damage — or even a fire — can be mitigated through proper maintenance and a couple of safety devices.
By Bob Livingston and Bill Gehr

key element for any RV to enjoy true self-contained status is, of course, a refrigerator — and for many years, an absorption process to keep food cold and frozen has been an industry staple. These refrigerators are designed to promote self-containment and the associated freedom of operating RVs off the grid. Over the years, the industry has moved toward compressor-style refrigerators in 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC (residential) configurations, which is becoming more popular every day, but with a universe of 15 million RV owners, it’s no surprise that absorption refrigerators that run on 120-volt AC power or LP-gas are found in millions of RVs — and are still commonly used in new models.

For some, it’s hard to understand how cold is made from heat, but the concept of using ammonia and hydrogen compression systems for refrigeration has been around since late 1800s. Absorption refrigerators for RVs were developed somewhere around 1956 by Electrolux of Sweden, and although the systems have been refined over the years, the concept remains the same — and they still make sense for RVers who like to spend time off the grid and don’t have the battery capacity (or don’t want to make the investment in an expensive solar array, large battery bank and an inverter) to keep a compressor working without running out of power.

Cold & Safe typography
Another Layer of Defense
person using a level to check if the fridge has been installed straight
If you park off-level, the ARP Fridge Defend will automatically shut down the refrigerator if it senses that operating temperatures have risen to a predetermined level, preventing damage.
Installing an ARP Fridge Defend protects an absorption refrigerator from overheating by turning it off when operated off-level or if it gets too hot from other conditions.
By Bill Gehr / Photos by the author

ll gas/electric refrigerators now (or fixed under a recall) have safety devices to limit high temperature. To ensure any possibility of overheating is mitigated, I am a true believer in a safety device called the ARP Fridge Defend that’s been on the market for quite some time and has a strong reputation for controlling overheating. Essentially, this device monitors the boiler and absorber coil temperatures. When threshold temperatures are reached, the device shuts the refrigerator down for a period of time predetermined by internal electronics — which in turn allows for a safe cool down.

This device is especially important on the road if you’re climbing or descending mountains or when parked off-level long enough to cause damage. The company also offers optional fans that can be installed in the back of the refrigerator or inside the refrigerator box to improve airflow, something I also opted to do.

Cold & Safe typography
Whoosh — and the Fire is Out
RV on fire with smoke coming out of it
Absorption refrigerators can be protected via a THIA by Proteng automatic fire suppression network — and better yet, these unique devices can be routed throughout any RV to include electronic bays and engine compartments. You can even protect a tow vehicle.
By Bob Livingston / Photos by the author

ires are scary business — and even more intense when an RV is involved. It behooves all RVers to plan for an escape in the event of a fire, knowing that’s their best — and often only — line of defense. Anyone who has witnessed how fast an RV burns can attest to the fact that trying to extinguish a fire with the puny extinguishers typically provided with a new or used RV is usually futile. You need to get out fast.

The good news is that emergency exits must comply with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes required of all RV builders. The better news is owners can up their line of defense with a professionally installed THIA by Proteng automatic fire suppression system (

Fire suppression systems have been around for a long time and commonly are found in race cars and other similar entities. Typically, they are expensive and complicated to install. Proteng’s approach is completely different — an offshoot of providing protection for expensive race cars — and although its simplicity is refreshing, it does take someone with expertise with these components and certification from Proteng to install the system.

Close-up portrait photograph view of Ecocamel’s Orbit showerhead with water coming out of the showerhead and vector illustrations of four time analog clocks spread out layered on top of the photograph
Shower for Hours typographic title in dark marine blue with a black outer stroke applied behind the letters
Ecocamel’s Orbit showerhead provides a super strong stream while reducing consumption and softening the water
By Bob Livingston

aking a shower in an RV is not exactly exotic. Most showerheads push out a boring stream of water, designed to get the job done with little fanfare. Multiple showerheads or a rainforest fixture can up the entertainment factor appreciably, but adding such hardware may not be possible without major modifications to your rig. And even if the accoutrements in your shower invite lingering, water consumption plays a pivotal role — and don’t forget the limitations on hot water capacity (unless, of course, you have an instantaneous model like Truma’s AquaGo or Airxcel’s Aqua-Hot).

Ecocamel (, based in London, England, with a stateside presence in Saint Petersburg, Florida, offers showerhead products that bring a tingle back into an otherwise lackluster experience.

RV Enthusiast logo
Thanks for reading our May/June 2024 issue!