RV’ING FOR BEGINNERS
Back from Rental
In 1998 a two year old Safari RV is purchased for what seemed like an outrageous price.
Personally I had never really wanted to join the ranks of “caravaners” or “RV’ers” as I would
sooner stay in a nice hotel …… however I’m persuaded and the “thing” is parked outside.
From an engineering standpoint you have to marvel at the construction and design of these
vehicles and when you see what goes into them it is no surprize when you look at the price tag.
Equally amazing is that you don’t need a special licence to drive one and you can be on the road
with 40 feet of metal and house with no formal training or any idea of what you have let yourself
To be honest the salesmen give you a 1 hour walk through explaining all the functions and
capabilities but as its all completely different only about 5% of the info sticks and unless you are
using the thing on a regular basis that 5% will also be forgotten.
It gets little use as every time it is taken out the Driver is being constantly yelled at and after 2
runs I am not prepared for any more and a divorce is sought to remove the major problem. I get
left with the “White Elephant” and it sits and sits. Eventually it goes to a RV rental company who
have it for a year and despite it being rented just about every time it goes out something else
has to be replaced and my net profit is a big fat ZERO!
After 18 months the rental company goes bankrupt and the vehicle comes back…… it sits and sits.
It sits, and sits
Brenda suggests we start using it for some long distance trials so it gets cleaned and “smudged”
… a new term to me but I’m led to believe this will remove “old presences and ill feelings” Sounds
like Voodoo!…and I’m now told it welcomes in good energy.
Brenda studies the owner’s manual which is a bit like a public library with books on every subject
and appliance. Meanwhile I purchase a Haulmark trailer and fit it out for multiple bikes and we are
getting ready for the maiden voyage when it starts to rain. Time to fire up the fridge ….. nothing!
4600 times the button is pressed and after 10 seconds each press the system quits. Meanwhile
water is going on board but on this rig there is no auto shut off so a lake is developing which we
don’t see as its pouring with rain. Switch on the hot water and the red light comes on and stays
on for 10 seconds then goes off! Multiple attempts to reset this and nothing until after some
library reading we discover it is the way it is designed? Why put a ****ing light on it then??
The Fridge still won’t play ball and now with telephone numbers, flashlights and umbrellas all
panels, fuses, circuit breakers, gas lines and anything else you can think of are consulted. Finally
Brenda rings a mobile RV expert and explains all the problems and she tells him the 4600 saga.
He suggests 4601 and she trys it and…….. yes, it works! Don’t ask!
We now turn off the water as the coach is now pumping it overboard and turn our attention to
the mysteries of running and non running water. With the pump on again the faucets cough and
splutter and now water is available and is also HOT!….V Hot!
The Microwave/fan cooker has no power, no lights …… the game continues, circuit breakers,
fuse boxes, inside outside? in the engine bay? in the front? behind the bed? in the bathroom?
……. consult book…… nothing, but on opening the cupboard above the unit there is the 3 pin plug
which some kind soul has undone.
Trailer ride height looks good and being a single axel I can lift it up and connect it without a
double hernia. Being a new trailer it has a 4 pin flat and the coach has a 5 small round… great!
Yet another visit to U-Haul and true to form they know what I want but don’t have one. Eventually
end up making my own.
It’s only raining a little bit
Off we go down I10 and so far its dry but the forecast is more rain. All is well until the visor
suddenly falls down obliterrating the view and Brenda has to reglue the velcro to keep it out of
my way. The rain starts, the wipers do their best but the windscreen starts to mist and now a
leak appears right in front of the drivers vision. Oh, oh, the fuel guage still says full? and now the
demister doesn’t work for any heat. Brenda ends up wiping the inside of the sheild and as fast as
she finishes on one side its time to start again on the other. By now the rain is getting worse,
and to add to the fun we are entering California so the driving is also getting worse. By the time
we get to Palm Springs the headlights are covered in road filth and I can barely see through the
screen. The following is unfortunately true so we pull off the road and Brenda takes a stool and
armed with Windex cleans the outside windshield in the pouring rain….. please say nothing, it will
We arrive in the dark at our scheduled night stop and as far as I can remember nothing else
broke or went wrong or failed to work through operator error or lack of knowledge.
The next morning I park the rig (where I am told and it sinks up to the axels) ……. after breakfast
the washing up and now the floor is wet and you can hear running water like you are in a Disney
attraction. All the taps are closed but the noise is still present and finally on opening the washing
machine/dryer compartment there is the water coming down the back wall like the Angel Falls.
Now I had seen a panel outside with knobs and tits for everything so diving into the plumbing
game I find a “source valve” and stem the flow a bit like damage control in a submarine and I’m
feeling like the Captain in “Das Boot”.
No more problems while I’m riding and then Brenda’s son comes along and rewires the
entertainment center which wasn’t doing things the right way. You would think in this day and
age that would be simple… but no! 2 TV’s, cable, Satellite, radio, DVD, and VCR all with their own
hand controllers and cock all guidance on how to get it to play. Not forgetting that the front TV
also doubles as the rear view camera but in color.
Extracted from the mud and on our way again the “fix it” list gets bigger and bigger but we make
it home remembering the fuel guage doesn’t work.
In for repairs and service, the fridge, cooker and anything else that runs on gas are cleaned,
blown through, plumbing checked for leaks and get the ent system up to scratch! Can’t fix the
fuel guage as the front axel has to be dropped, no you can’t watch a DVD in the bedroom, only
This is fun ?
Now some long distance driving to Diamond Don’s in Texas and all the fun of freeway travel with
a 60′ long rig and slab sides competing with the 18 wheelers. This is fun but can also be
exceedingly frightening and you need all your schoolboy physics to understand what is happening
as you rocket along and try and stay on the road.
Doof says “Dam this is tricky and that bloody visor is falling down again”
Phase 1, the 18 wheeler approaches in the mirrors……..
Phase 2, as he or she passes the air between the two of you is compressed and you are gently
pushed towards the hard shoulder…… you apply steering commands to stay on the road
Phase 3, as the semi rockets past Mr Benouli sucks you in towards his back wheels… you apply
steering commands then as he clears you enter the wake turbulence zone and fight the crosswind
yet again! Dam this is fun.
STUCK Again….. Don said he’ll pull her out
Diamond Don’s…. park here….. stuck in the mud again! bus performs well enough until the way
home when we find one of the a/c cowls is no longer with us! dread to think what that must
have been like if you were following and that came off in front of you.
Other delights of driving these things….. establish a check list or you too will join the ranks of
Robin Williams in “RV” and believe me that film is essential viewing for all would be RV’ers as all
that you see has, or will happen!
Don’t forget to put the awning away
So with everything lashed down, secured, TV aerial down, leveling jacks up, shower door closed
and all pretty ornaments put away you are ready to take to the road. Remember it’s 60 feet long,
doesn’t go round corners easily, probably won’t go under some gas stations awnings, is fitted
with air brakes and with the motor at the back is going to overheat everytime you go uphill. Not
only that as the eng o’heat caption comes on the rev limiter clicks in making uphill progress even
slower! What goes up must come down and try and find the “jake brake” switch before the
descent, a bit like reverse thrust on a modern jet.
All working at Alto Pit
Towards the end of the Safari’s trips round USA we are coming down I17 when I keep getting
little bits of something in my coffee and then things start appearing in my lap followed by bigger
bits hitting me on the head as the TV surround has shattered and is breaking up on re-entry.
Towels, anything, is shoved in to stop 40lbs of TV falling on my head….. so by now you will have
learnt that RV’ing requires a resourceful stewardess/co-pilot to ensure the captains safety as
well as sandwiches, candy, coffee on the hour and half hour and a regular supply of fresh ashtrays.
“TV’s Keep Falling on my head……Dah, da, da,di, dah”
In to service again, and No they don’t make that TV any more but they will fit another one. Collect
vehicle and set off but as I pull out onto Bell Road I notice that in the rear view camera/TV the
median is on the wrong side of the coach?????………. some one is overtaking but HE is in the
other MIRROR! Shaking the mechanic warmly by the throat he tells me they can’t get the camera
reversing sensor to work.
Sometime later a RV comes up on E-bay and this looks like it might be worth a drive to Mesa to
A “Newbie RV’er”
Starring TONY DOWN as Robin Williams in RV…… a must see!
This RV is available as a rental at www.cozycomfortrvpark.com
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