November/December 2022
November/December 2022 cover
Preview Issue
November/December 2022
RV Enthusiast logo
November / December 2022
Volume 2, Number 11
man installing a new window awning on his RV
Window Awning Renewal
Awnings aren’t impervious to the weather and after years of exposure to strong sunshine, the fabric will deteriorate — and eventually come crashing into the sidewall at some point. You can replace the fabric rather than purchase an entire new awning, though — and using a heavy-duty fabric from Tough Top Awnings will make the retrofit last for years.
man painting the roof of his RV
Going P(V)C
It’s a fact of life that many RV roofs which utilize a membrane-type roofing material will need replacing at some point in time. Weather takes its toll, to be sure — but the biggest reason for replacement is a lack of owner maintenance. Fortunately, it’s a task that someone with a familiarity with DIY projects can take on — and we show you how.
hand using a screwdriver on an electrical box
Smooth Operator
Some folks think that slideout rooms — which improve livability while in camp by leaps and bounds — are the greatest invention since the RV itself. Unfortunately, anything mechanical is bound to break down, and slideouts are known for refusing to extend or retract at the most inopportune times. Luckily, the popular Schwintek system can be repaired on the road.
truck pulling a trailer in the snow
The Joy of Winter Camping
While snowbirds run from the cold, there are those RVers who relish the solitude and beauty of places less traveled in the wintertime. Preparing your RV for more demanding service will turn any extreme-weather trip into a memorable adventure. This is not a time to learn as you go, however, so here are some tips to ensure that your rig is equipped to handle the weather.
close up of gas pump handles
Much like a previous scare concerning DEF, stories are circulating about a possible diesel fuel shortage. Unlike the DEF tale, however, this one may have wings. There are a number of reasons why the diesel supply has dropped, but perhaps the most critical of them is a shrinking number of refineries needed to turn oil into distillates.
aerial view of warehouse being built in a dirt lot
Jayco’s new 70,000-square-foot facility allows the OEM to perform PDI checks on 100% of its units, while Winnebago is establishing an Advanced Technology Innovation Center to fuel new concepts. Meanwhile, Lippert — a company that leads the industry in charitable giving — has created reRV, a program allowing RVers to make an impact during their travels.
two people lifting a cooling unit for a refrigerator
What do you do when your toilet is leaking — and it’s not made anymore? Should you replace a nonfunctioning refrigerator — or swap out the errant cooling unit? Why are sewer gnats coming up the shower drain — and why isn’t this portable generator powering up a new 2022 trailer? Readers asked the questions; RVEnthusiast Technical Director Bill Gehr answered them.
November/December 2022 cover
Next year promises to be a highwater mark in RV development — and we’ve showcased 19 of the top new RVs for 2023 in this issue, exclusive to RVEnthusiast readers.
PUBLISHER – Bob Livingston
(805) 320-6909
[email protected]

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

(805) 340-5015
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Business Office
26362 Douglas ave., Elkhart, in 46514
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Sue Seidlitz
(805) 816-8759
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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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On the Road
By Bruce Hampson
It Looks Like Diesel Prices Won’t be Coming Down Anytime Soon

Vers have seemingly grown accustomed to shortages in recent years. First it was parts availability caused by shipping and trucking backlogs as a world flush with cash and stuck at home began buying everything from lumber for housing upgrades to electronic toys. Then it was RVs themselves (impacted by the aforementioned parts shortages). And let’s not forget the hubbub caused by supply-chain issues revolving around DEF (diesel exhaust fluid).

Now, it’s diesel fuel.

A number of sources have reported in recent months that a diesel shortage is looming. According to a mid-October report from the Energy Information Administration, distillate supplies — which include diesel, jet fuel and heating oil — were at their lowest point since 2008 and represented a supply of less than 26 days. Other sources peg diesel availability at its lowest point since 1951 — an era when the population and, hence, diesel demand was far less than it is today.

Like the earlier reported shortage of DEF, part of the problem is sanctions placed on Russian imports both here and abroad due to the ongoing war in the Ukraine (Russia is a major producer of urea, used in DEF, as well as oil and natural gas). As reported by Forbes, prior to the sanctions the U.S. was importing nearly 700,000 barrels per day of petroleum and petroleum products — most of them finished products that boosted distillate supplies.

Sponsored Content

Protect Your Lifestyle with the Right Service Contract

Purchasing a service contract (extended warranty) for your motorized or towable vehicle might seem hard to justify — but the right service contract will mitigate future problems, save you money in the long run and get you on the road faster. It’s critical, however, to look at your options — not all service contract/extended warranty companies are the same.

What should you look for? Here are a few differentiators between extended warranty providers and a few industry “best practices” for getting a claim approved.

Top 3 Extended Warranty Differentiators

1) Claims Department Staffing — To begin with, look for a corporation that has an in-house claims department — larger organizations farm out the claims process, reducing customer service. In-house claims adjusters reduce the approval process time by leveraging combined years of experience and have direct contact with leadership for escalations and increased dollar thresholds for faster payment processing. Having in-house administration also increases the likelihood you get the same adjuster with knowledge of your unit/past problems. Ensure the hours of operation are 24/7 in the United States, with the ability to talk to someone and not just upload documents. An experienced, well-seasoned staff also will know labor rates and replacement part costs across the country — which can mitigate repair facilities overcharging the customer.

News & Notes

Jayco Achieves 100% PDI

Jayco broke ground recently on a 70,000-square-foot facility intended to allow the manufacturer to inspect 100% of its towable and motorized RVs prior to shipping to dealers
Jayco broke ground recently on a 70,000-square-foot facility intended to allow the manufacturer to inspect 100% of its towable and motorized RVs prior to shipping to dealers.
Jayco announced the opening of its newest Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) facility on the Jayco campus. The building on Southridge Boulevard in Middlebury, Ind., is approximately 70,000 square feet and will accommodate four lines running simultaneously, according to a company representative.

This is the fifth of Jayco’s dedicated PDI facilities and allows for 100% of all Jayco, Entegra Coach, Starcraft RV and Highland Ridge RV products to go through an exhaustive PDI (pre-delivery inspection) before being shipped to a dealer.

The 100% PDI initiative includes all Jayco manufacturing locations: Middlebury and Shipshewana, Ind., and Twin Falls, Idaho. These rigorous processes include the inspection of numerous aspects and components of the entire product lineup and follow additional audits and quality checks performed on the production line before the units arrive at the dedicated PDI facilities.

Cooling Unit on the Fritz
Picture of a cooling unit on the fritz

Replacing the cooling unit will usually save $600-$700 versus buying a new refrigerator.

A few months ago we purchased a 2019 Winnebago Micro Lite trailer. We were unable to use it right away, so it was stored for a little while. When we got ready to go on a trip, the electric mode on the refrigerator did not function. Somebody told us to try it on gas to determine whether there was something wrong with the electric side — and, of course, the gas function did not work either. We talked to a local RV technician, who said that more than likely the cooling unit had failed, which seems unusual for a 3-year-old RV. He gave us a price for a new refrigerator, which seemed awful high for such a small refrigerator. We love the trailer, but we really can’t afford $2,000 for a small refrigerator and we were hoping maybe you had some sort of a solution.
— PJ Wilson

It’s unfortunate that the cooling unit failed. I concur with the technician, since the refrigerator should have worked on one mode or the other. If you want to verify your technician’s diagnosis, set the refrigerator to the electric mode and let it run for several hours and then remove the back access panel. To the right of the refrigerator, you’ll see an insulated round, metal, vertical section that contains the boiler and to the left of that you’ll see the black pipes and coils. The insulated tin section should be rather hot to the touch — be careful that you don’t burn your fingers as it could be very hot. If the refrigerator is level, on electric and the box does not cool, the cooling unit is definitely defective.

Window Awning Renewal title
After years of exposure to strong sunshine, the fabric will deteriorate and likely come crashing into the sidewall at some point. Tough Top Awnings supplies heavy-duty replacement fabric that’s designed to last for many years and can be retrofitted by experienced do-it-yourselfers.
By Bill Gehr / Photos by the author

indow awnings are one of those little luxuries that can make a big difference when the sun beats down and heats up the interior. They also help deflect the rain from entering the RV while the windows are open during warm summer storms. Unfortunately, the sun also preys on the fabric —vinyl or acrylic, the latter being more durable and usually better looking — even when it’s rolled up, unless it’s protected by a metal or flexible shield. As I’m a full timer, my window and patio awning are out most of the time — and the fabric is always exposed to the sun. Even so, the acrylic fabric managed to hang in there for 9½ years before it deteriorated to the point where it was likely to tear or, worse, let loose and break the window and/or damage the exterior siding.

Yea, it will happen.

Determining whether or not the fabric needs to be replaced can be accomplished by simply going up a ladder and examining the fabric (rolled up or extended). The threads usually are the first thing to deteriorate, so take a close look to make sure they are not frayed and/or coming loose. Vinyl fabrics often become brittle to the touch and extremely faded, which means replacement is just around the corner. When I had my RV repair shop, many customers over the years asked whether the fabric could be re-sewn or if the poly cords (the parts that go in the rail on the sidewall and roller tube channel) could be reattached; the answer is usually “no.” If the fabric is brittle, the heavy-duty sewing machine will just tear the awning fabric apart. But it can be replaced, saving the cost of replacing the entire awning.

The Hottest New RVs for 2023! title
RVBusiness RV of the Year 2023 emblem
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem
RVBusiness RV of the Year 2023 emblem
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem

op-up shops are the rage today — “flash” retailers opening short-term spaces that last for just a few days, often to feed a fad from athletic shoes to fast dining entrees. Imagine, though, if this concept took over an entire city; as you drive down major routes, you spy location after location displaying their top designs for the coming year.

Yup, you’re in Nirvana.

And it really does happen. That’s kind of how Elkhart, Indiana, looks during the Elkhart RV Open House. It’s four hectic days where virtually every major (and many smaller) manufacturers gear up to introduce their new models to RV dealers that fly or drive to northern Indiana from most every U.S. state and Canadian province. It’s estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 dealer personnel visit Elkhart during this late September event.

Winnebago HIKE 100 FLX
people at an RV open house looking at a Winnebago
RVBusiness RV of the Year 2023 emblem
A host of off-grid components and a new off-road-worthy suspension push this relatively lightweight travel trailer to the forefront of the trending “overlander” RV segment — with plenty of crossover appeal.
By the RVBusiness and RV Enthusiast staffs

electing a single vehicle as the year’s best is never an easy proposition no matter what the industry. Within the RV arena, with its multitude of manufacturers, it’s even tougher. That’s a big reason why RVBusiness magazine, the nation’s premier RV trade journal, expanded the finalists for its prestigious “RV of the Year” award from four to nine for the 2023 model year. Following two years when the industry’s foremost trade show, the Elkhart RV Open House, was cancelled due to lingering pandemic concerns, most RV builders pulled out all the stops for this September’s event, which is typically “the place” for new debuts.

“We could have expanded the overall list even further — there were that many 2023 model year units worthy of such consideration,” said RVBusiness Executive Editor Rick Kessler.

To be as transparent as possible, there is no set criteria to RV of the Year — although innovation, differentiation, marketability and a genuine “Wow, that’s something we haven’t seen before!” impression also come into play. Of course, the look and feel, as well as function and performance, also are part of the equation.

Forest River —
Palomino RV Pause Hiatus

Palomino RV
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem

The Pause extreme overland trailer from Forest River’s Palomino RV division is, quite frankly, new, different — and groundbreaking. Available in two models — the 26-foot Hiatus XC20.2 and Hiatus XC20.3, with two more models coming soon — both are adorned with overland-specific features, right down to a boot rack on the exterior where a consumer could hose off muddy boots and then move the rack to an interior mounting bracket to let them dry.

The side of both angular-styled units features a stylish Pause logo with the words “Reboot” and “Restart” as a nod to the onboard Garmin O.N.E. Control technology that not only ensures travelers find their way on off-grid adventures where there are no roads, but also controls the trailer’s systems, including one-touch leveling.

Fleetwood RV —
Frontier GTX 37RT

Frontier GTX 37RT
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
There are a lot of things to like about Fleetwood RV’s luxury diesel-pusher Frontier lineup, but its GTX models capitalize on the success of last year’s Frontier 36SS with a number of new features.

One of two GTX floorplans — the 39TA features no passenger slides in its 1.5-bath configuration — the 37RT is a 37-foot motorhome with three flat-floor slideouts that deliver plenty of interior room. The highlight of the 37RT, though, is the optional “Corner Office.”

Located at the rear of the coach so it’s away from daily life activities, the Corner Office has been designed to deliver the space, technology, convenience and privacy needed by those working or learning from the road.

Ember RV —
Touring Edition 20FB
Ember RV COO Chris Barth and CEO and President Ashley Bontrager with the new Touring Edition 20FB
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
Ember RV COO Chris Barth and CEO and President Ashley Bontrager with the new Touring Edition 20FB.
For the second year in a row, Ember Recreational Vehicles has landed another model to RVB’s list of “RV of the Year” finalists. The Touring Edition, the all-new luxury light-weight laminated travel trailer product line, joins the company’s Overland Series, which made the same list last year.

Obviously, the Bristol, Indiana-based towable manufacturer is doing a lot of things right.

Highlighted by the 20FB, the Touring Edition — which Ember RV CEO and President Ashley Bontrager describes as a “more street version” of its Overland Series — features 10 tandem-axle floorplans in lengths from 26 to 34 feet, with a mix of both family friendly bunkhouses and options for couples.

Newmar Corporation —
Dutch Star 4325
interior view of Dutch Star 4325
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
Three brands in Nappanee, Ind.-based luxury motorhome builder Newmar Corp.’s lineup — the Bay Star, Dutch Star and Essex — underwent complete lifecycle changes for the 2023 model year. The one that really caught our eye, though, is the all-new Dutch Star 4325. The Dutch Star, by the way, is the No. 1 selling Class A diesel brand in the U.S., according to Statistical Surveys Inc.

The classic Dutch Star has a totally new look inside and out for 2023, said John Sammut, vice president of sales and marketing. Changes to the 2023 Dutch Star line include new front and rear cap designs, headlights, exterior graphic designs and paint colors. Inside there is new flooring, backsplashes, feature ceiling, slideout fascia designs, bedding, window treatments, as well as four new interior décor packages.

Jayco —
Jay Feather Volare
three quarter view of the Jayco Jay Feather single axle Volare travel trailer
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
Iconic RV maker Jayco brought an all-new design to market for 2023 under the Jay Feather brand — the single-axle Volare travel trailer.

John Fisher, directory of product development for lightweight towables, said dealers and retail customers “wanted to see something a little bit different from Jayco and we’ve heard that feedback over the last year-and-a-half, so we decided to delve into a more ‘European’ design. It has a different profile, a very European interior design — and it’s got a lot of unique bells and whistles on it, too.”

Top features on the Volare include eight-sided composite and aluminum construction — including the floor and ceiling — with a one-piece roof, rubber torsion axle, the new Jayco “Rock Solid” stabilizer jacks, full fiberglass front cap, automotive-style windshield, panoramic camp-view windows and the JAYCOMMAND control system with voice-control capability.

Brinkley RV —
Model Z
the Brinkley RV Model Z sits in full view as a large audience attending a promotional event listen to three spokesmen from Brinkley RV
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
Startup OEM Brinkley RV actually unveiled its first prototype — the upscale “Model Z” fifth-wheel — prior to Open House during a Sept. 25 reception in a leased facility not far from the expansive 252-acre complex the company is building on the south side of Goshen, Ind.

The Model Z, the company’s initial model, features the three-quarter-ton towability of a mid-profile fifth-wheel line along with some of the luxury aspects of an upscale full-profile towable — and features a lengthy list of industry “firsts.” Its “Coastal Farmhouse” interiors feature taller ceilings, upgraded flooring, brass fittings, a 54-inch entry handrail, adjustable pantry drawers, a spice rack built into a galley drawer plus an articulating ottoman.

inTech —
inTech sales manager Keith Fishburn with inTech’s rugged new O-V-R travel trailer.
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
inTech sales manager Keith Fishburn with inTech’s rugged new O-V-R travel trailer.
It has been a busy year at Nappanee, Ind.-based OEM inTech RV, with the company recently moving into a brand-new, 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and coming out with a brand-new three-unit line of adventure travel trailers: the O-V-R.

According to Keith Fishburn, inTech sales manager, the company has been developing this product since the beginning of the pandemic but didn’t have the room to build it. Parts shortages also delayed launch of the new travel trailer — but inTech made good use of the time: What started out as a single-model brand grew into three different models, including a toy hauler, in the Expedition, Navigate and Adventure.

East To West —
Della Terra LE 175BH
Exterior of Della Terra LE 175BH camper
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
East To West RV, a division of Forest River Inc., introduced a new entry-level, conventional-built series for 2023 model year: The Della Terra LE. The smaller, lighter LE line is offered in six single- and tandem-axle floorplans, but at a more attractive price point than the standard Della Terra line.

The 175BH is a familiar double-over-double bunkbed floorplan with a Murphy bed up front. A three-piece bathroom and dinette slideout opposite the galley and entry door complete configuration. Pass-through storage, a 14-foot awning and a 10.7-cubic-foot two-door refrigerator are among the features.

Tiffin —
Allegro Bus 45FP
Exterior of Allegro Bus 45FP
RV Business Top 10 2023 Finalist RV of the Year emblem
While Tiffin Motorhomes has branched out into Class C and even Class B motorhomes of late, the Red Bay, Alabama-based builder is renowned for manufacturing well-appointed and classy luxury Class A coaches — and the Allegro Bus 45FP doesn’t disappoint.

The inside of the coach positively gleams with natural light, as large windows give way to sparkling tiled floors even in the three slideouts that make up the living area and rear bedroom. Built on a proprietary Powerglide Chassis, the 45-foot tag-axle motorhome has a gross vehicle weight rating of 51,000 pounds and has no need for propane. All systems are electric or powered through the bus’ diesel fuel supply, including the Aqua-Hot Heat Exchanger system that provides hot water and internal heat for the coach.

Alliance Valor 31T13

Exterior of Alliance Valor 31T3
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem

In its third year of production, Alliance RV is offering up its first travel trailer — a new toy hauler under the Valor brand with a 13-foot garage and an industry-first three slides, according to Jeremiah Dumka, general manager. The debut floorplan for the new Valor is the 31T13.

“This is the industry’s first triple-slide travel trailer, while still in the same weight class as what our key competition is,” Dumka said. “We’ve done that by using a lot of composite materials to keep it light. It’s right in line with everything else out there — but it’s got an additional slide and the first island kitchen in a toy hauler.”

Forest River R-Pod 203 ‘Beast Mode’
Interior of Forest River R-Pod 203
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem

Brand new for 2023, the New R-Pod 203 from Forest River Inc. offers a number of segment “firsts,” according to Cody Schade, R-Pod product manager.

For the first time, an R-Pod travel trailer has been equipped with the CURT Beast Mode suspension system, a completely independent and adaptive suspension. It also is the first full-size bunkhouse in the R-Pod series.

“This is the first family-styled adventure camper on the R-Pod side,” Schade said. “You’ve got two double bunks inside. Our new cosmic graphite interior and exterior is really cool.”

Keystone Arcadia Super Lite 293SLRD
Arcadia RV
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem

Keystone knew it had a hit on its hands in 2022 with the Arcadia. It was, in fact, named the “2022 RV of the Year” by RVBusiness magazine. But even with that success, designers didn’t quite have what they wanted.

District Sales Manager Dustin Tavernier said the original idea of the Arcadia was to come in with a half-ton towable fifth-wheel. So, with the award-winning initial model under their belts, engineers went back to the drawing board. The result is the Arcadia Super Lite with the 293SLRD model earning Top Debut honors. Checking in at 29 feet, 3 inches long, the model weighs only 7,400 pounds.

Encore RV ROG 16RB
Encore RV on grass lawn
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem

In only its second full year of existence, Elkhart, Ind.-based Encore RV continues to add to a growing lineup with the ROG 16RB, an adventure trailer that offers a unique floorplan and feature set uncommon to smaller lightweight trailers — including a kitchen and kitchenette.

“The rear slideout kitchen is just like our 12RK or 12BH,” explained Rich Schnippel, CEO and founder of Encore RV. “You’ve got a 12-volt refrigerator, a two-burner Dometic cooktop with cast-iron grate and a Dometic flip-up sink and faucet.”

Grand Design Imagine AIM 15RB
Grand Design Imagine AIM 15RB on grass lawn
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem

With an eye toward the smaller tow vehicle segment, Grand Design RV has introduced the Imagine AIM — Adventure In Motion — as a smaller, lighter, single-axle version of its popular Imagine line of laminated travel trailers.

With four new floorplans — two bunkhouse models and two couple’s coaches — and dry weights ranging from about 3,500 to 3,750 pounds, company officials said AIM “welcomes more consumers to the road.”

The AIM 15RB is a perfect example: the rear-bath, non-slide, Murphy bed unit checks in at 19 feet, 11 inches and 3,594 pounds (UVW), yet offers a 1,201-pound cargo-carrying capacity thanks to an upgraded axle.

Soaring Eagle Camper
Soaring Eagle Camper hitched to back of truck on grass field
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem

Scott Bradshaw and Scott Tuttle of Soaring Eagle Campers.

The product of the imaginations of four poker buddies and an industry veteran, the new Soaring Eagle Camper line fills a niche for the outdoor adventurer just looking for a place to sleep and keep his/her things stored securely for a few days.

Scott Bradshaw, Troy Andrews, Shawn Balentine and Travis Cameron are being mentored in the effort by veteran Scott Tuttle, who said he knew a number of dealers who, spurred by consumer requests, had been asking for small, lightweight aluminum truck campers. Since inTech RV, another company Tuttle is currently affiliated with (he also previously co-founded Heartland RV and founded Livin’ Lite RV) wasn’t interested in campers, he decided to help his friends get started.

Coachmen Entourage Super C
Coachmen Entourage Super C RV in the parking lot
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem
The Coachmen division of Forest River has a long history of offering well-appointed and affordable Class C motorhomes. The introduction of the company’s first-ever Super C, the Entourage, appears destined to add to that reputation.

“When we sat down around the table to discuss what we wanted this product to be, it was to fill a void in the Super C segment,” explained Coachmen General Manager Luke Handyside.

Handyside’s team surmised that Super C’s had gotten so expensive that many buyers were being priced out of the market. What’s more, to get to a lower price-point, manufacturers were now starting to “de-content” their products — removing or opting for lesser certain components to lower the price. That’s not the case with the Entourage, he said.

Entegra Coach Accolade XT
Picture of an Entegra Coach Accolade XT in the parking lot
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem
The all-new Accolade XT from Entegra Coach (a division of Jayco) is aimed squarely at the adventurous off-grid crowd.

“The Accolade XT is new for us and I’m excited about it because it’s on the Ford F-550 or F-600 4×4 chassis (depending upon model),” said Corey Weatherton, director of motorized product development. “If you look at the market over 2020 through 2022, the Super C market has pretty much doubled — and a large percentage of the growth has come from the use of this specific chassis.”

The goal, Weatherton said, was to build a unit where the whole package matched the 4×4 badging. “We wanted it to be rugged in appearance — and just tough overall,” he said.

Forest River Wildcat ONE 28BH
A picture of a Forest River Wildcat One 28BH
RV Business 2023 Top RV Debut emblem
While parts and people constraints due to the pandemic have forced many RV manufacturers to bump prices, most are doing everything possible to maintain price points. At Forest River’s Cardinal and Wildcat divisions, they’ve taken it one better with the Cardinal RED and Wildcat ONME fifth wheel lines — which, said brands GM Mike Terlep III, are more affordable fifth wheels that don’t sacrifice the type of amenities RVers want.

“The $35,000-to-$55,000 price point used to be 51% of the market in 2018 and 2019,” Terlep explained. “In 2022 we have inflation and a lot of things going on in the world with COVID and everything affecting the price, and that segment has now grown to be essentially $60,000 to $80,000. Now that $35,000 to $55,000 price point is 7% of the market. It’s not because the retail buyer left it — it’s because there’s no brand left in that segment.”

Going P(V)C typography, a roll of PVC material sits to the left
adhesive to the OSB roof deck
How to replace the roof membrane on your RV with strong, energy-efficient, durable and eco-friendly PVC
By Bruce W. Smith / Photos by the author

t’s a fact of RV life that many RV roofs which utilize a membrane-type roofing material will need to be replaced at some point in time. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the biggest worries RVers have related to their home on wheels — while camping, that thin membrane is the only barrier between them and Mother Nature. Long-term exposure to UV rays, severe heat and cold, rain, snow, hail and other elements wreak havoc on membrane-type RV roofs, which will eventually deteriorate and lose their ability to keep moisture at bay. Left untreated, moisture intrusion quickly breeds mold, rots wood, delaminates sidewalls, creates exterior stains and destroys interior ceiling and wall paneling.

A damaged, deteriorated or leaking RV roof is also an expensive item to have replaced, whether it’s a newer model RV that has suffered some type of roof damage, or the roof on an older RV that has come to the end of its natural life.

Teresa Carrier, co-owner of Carrier RV Service with her husband, Tom, replace and repair RV roofs every month at their Eugene, Oregon, RV repair center. She told RV Enthusiast customers come in on a regular basis after having purchased a well-used RV only to realize afterward that their unit has a serious roof issue. That’s when they learn a cold, hard fact: Replacing an RV’s membrane roof material is a costly fix because the job is very labor-intensive.

Smooth Operator title
Smooth Operator title
hand reaching for a control panel in an RV

Like most systems in an RV, when you push a button you expect things to work. When that button controls a slideout room and nothing happens, whatever is preventing its operation can usually be rectified — carefully — by the owner with time, patience and knowledge.

Slideout rooms improve livability by leaps and bounds — but they seem to always refuse to extend or retract at the most inopportune times. The Schwintek system, found on many RVs, can be repaired in the field with a little knowledge and right parts on hand.

By Bill Gehr / Photos by Bob Livingston

here’s no denying that RVs are complex and require a certain amount of understanding of how systems work as well as a commitment to perform necessary maintenance procedures to assure longevity and trouble-free function. Avoiding slideout-room failure is especially important when on the road — pushing the slideout retract/extend button when nothing happens is one of those sinking-stomach situations that all owners dread.

There’s nothing worse than trying to vacate an RV site only to find that the slide-out will not retract and the park manager is grinding on you to leave to make way for the next renter. While most slideouts have override provisions to manually retract the room, the Schwintek is a different animal, requiring more basic measures: pushing by hand. And, of course, Murphy’s Law dictates that the slide failure occurs where there are obstructions that can prevent you from physically pushing in the slide out — which in the best circumstances can take two or three strong people. Trying to push in bedroom slides that are out of reach can be even more problematic.

Snow covered truck and RV camper trailer
"The Joy of Winter Camping" title
While snowbirds run from the cold, there are those RVers who relish the solitude and beauty of places less traveled. Preparing your RV for more demanding service will turn any extreme-weather trip into a memorable adventure.
By Bill Gehr

amping during the winter months definitely has its challenges, especially in areas where it’s not uncommon to see temperatures dip below 20 degrees F every night. Throw in periodic snow and rain that turns to ice, and the mettle of even the most seasoned RVer will be tested.

Not all RVs are created equal; if you’re in the market for a new RV and you tend to go camping year-round, think about purchasing a well-insulated RV with a package that offers protection in cold weather. These packages usually have additional insulation in areas that are prone to freeze-ups, heated underbellies to include protection for the holding tanks and, in many cases, dual-pane windows, which are a “must” in cold weather — and can also improve cooling efficiency in hot climates. Even without these factory-added protections, however, with a little knowledge and preparation you can overcome many of the mysteries — and fear — when setting up your RV in areas where the thermometer dips below freezing.

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