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Old 04-09-2014, 01:17 AM   #1
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A handful of newbie questions

This is a great forum, and I am very glad that I found it. I am a total newbie (never been inside of an RV), but I am planning on renting a C25 or C30 for our family at the end of June 2014 for 2 weeks.

Although I’ve spend many hours reading this forum, furiously taking notes, and am very thankful for this community, there are still a great deal of very, very basic questions that I have. I collected many of these into this post.

As a way of background, although my wife, three preteen/teen kids, and I, do not know anything about RVs, we are experienced travelers and campers, jumping busses, planes, trains, ferries, and cars in North America, Caribbean, Europe, Central America and elsewhere. We typically travel light (a 10-15 lb daypack per person for a week trip is our norm when not driving to our destination from home). But on our upcoming trip we seek the prototypical RV experience, though we wont have any toys or toad, nor will we spend more than 1 or 2 nights in a row.

To frame the questions below, we will be flying into SLC from the East coast, renting a C25 (advertised as a “standard RV”) or C30 (“a large RV”) from a very large RV rental company, and for 2 weeks we plan on circumscribing Wyoming, hitting the classic western US sites, such as Salt Lake City, Craters of the Moon, Yellowstone, Cody, Little Bighorn, Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore, Chimney Rock, Cheyenne, Denver, Rocky Nt'l Park, Arches, and like (how many of these we visit remains unknown; we typically plan to see 3 times as much than there is time, being flexible, so that when something is closed, undergoing repairs, there is a strike or a landslide, we’ll just move onto something else without much ado).

My newbie questions:

(1) Size recommendations -- C25 or C30 for a family of 5? From everything that I’ve read here and on the rental company’s website, we do not see any clear winner, and we think that would have a very positive and comparable experience in either RV. The C30 has a bigger engine (V10 vs V8) on a larger chassis (F450 vs F350) than the C25; presumably much poorer gas milage; sleeps 7 vs 5; is a little bit larger inside (though the advantage is marginal -- a sofa vs a chair, a queen sized bed vs a double bed, a split-up bathroom); is presumably harder to drive/park (some road allow C25 but not C30); etc. The price is about the same. Any further consideration that I have missed?

Would you strongly recommend C25 over C30 or C30 over C25, or is it pretty much a toss up?

(2) How is the driving of an RV on a dirt road? Easier (larger tires, stronger engine) compared to a sedan, or harder (more weight, not as nimble)?

(3) Levelers. The RV does not come with levelers. According to the rental information, the RV needs to be on a level ground in order for fridge to work. I am thinking of picking up some scraps of dimensional lumber from a lumber yard or Home Depot, to put under any low wheel. Is that too naïve? Any other suggestions?

(3) Vehicle provisions. Because we are flying to the place where we will rent the vehicle, we are planning on renting the $100 “vehicle provisioning kit” RV Office - Motorhome Dealers - RV Inventories , containing mostly routine cookware and dining ware. Do you see anything that it is missing, which I should bring with us or buy locally?

(4) Electricity. It is my understanding that the rental RV has a 12 V system (lights, water pump, and fan) from the engine battery and aux battery, and a 120 V system (household plugs, microwave, AC, fridge) from the shoreline or the generator. When I am driving on the road, is the 120 V system shut off? Can I run the generator when we are in motion?

(5) Refrigerator. According to the rental RV information, the refrigerator runs on shoreline, generator or propane, cools down to balmy 60 °F (15 °C), and takes a long time to cool down after it is opened. Can I run the propane while we are in motion? Or is the fridge pretty much inoperable while on the road (assuming that we are on a level road)? Should I drag a cooler with us, and refill it with bags of ice as needed?

(6) Shore hookups. Is the electricity metered at the campsite, so that at the end of stay we’d have to pay some set amount? Is the water?

(7) Waste. When hooked up at a campground, the drain valve on the grey water tank and the black water tank are suppose to be closed. When I flush or take a shower, do I set it so that the waste water is directed to the waste line, or does the waste water run into the grey and black tanks respectively? If the waste water runs into the waste tanks, then is the waste hose there only to collect the overflow from the waste tanks? If so, then presumably over a longer period of being hooked up, the black water tank collects progressively more solids; would so much solid be problem when the black water tank is finally drained?

Thank you for any help that you can provide. It looks that it is much longer than I originally wanted.
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Old 04-09-2014, 06:29 AM   #2
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It sounds like you have quite an adventure scheduled for you and your family for this summer.

A friend on mine from work did something similar with his family. They flew west and rented an RV. They bought an inexpensive charcoal grill, cooler and a few miscellaneous pieces of equipment at Walmart when they got there, and left them on the picnic table for someone else to take after their last night.

1) With regard to size, I don't think you will see much difference in fuel mileage between the two motorhomes. We have a 37' Class A, and we get around 7 mpg. A lot depends on how you drive -- faster = lower mileage.

Our old rule of thumb is an RV sleeps half as many people comfortably as the manufacturer says it does. That doesn't mean you can't sleep as many as the manufacturer says, it just means they won't be as comfortable. Even though you will undoubtedly be doing a lot of your living outside, more room = more comfort IMHO. If it were me, I would take the bigger one since there is little difference in price.

2) Motorhomes don't do well on rough roads because of their weight. As you mention, they are not as nimble as a sedan so you will have more trouble avoiding ruts and potholes.

3) Get a stack of pieces of 2x8s or 2x10s to carry for leveling. If putting boards under the rear tires, make sure you put pieces under both duals.

4) The provision kit looks like a good idea. The only thing I see missing is a coffee pot. Also get a long-handled butane lighter for lighting campfires and the charcoal grill.

5) There are 2 schools of thought on running the fridge on propane while driving. One says that's what the refrigerator was designed for so go ahead. The other says turn the propane off for safety. I'm in the first group.

Regardless of what you decide to do with the propane, I recommend taking a cooler or buying one when you get there. RV refrigerators are notoriously inefficient, and you will need extra space for food for 5 people and for extra ice.

6) Most campgrounds do not meter electricity. There are exceptions, especially for longer stays, but very few charge extra for utilities.

7) If the RV has separate tanks for gray and black water, the waste lines will be plumbed to the appropriate tank.

The valve for the black tank should be kept closed until the tank is at least 2/3 full before dumping. Use plenty of water when flushing the toilet. That helps things flow out better when you dump.

When dumping, open the black valve first. When the tank is empty, open the gray valve while keeping the black valve open. This allows some of the gray water to back up into the black tank to help rinse it.

If you have full hookups, the gray valve can be kept open, although some recommend keeping that closed, too.

The waste hose is used to dump your tanks either at the dump station or to connect to the sewer receptacle at your site if you have full hookups. If you don't have full hookups and you fill one of your holding tanks before the end of your stay (gray tanks fill extremely fast if you have teenage girls), you will have to drive off to the dump station to empty your tanks.

Since you say you won't be staying long at each destination, filling the holding tanks prematurely may not be much of a problem since you can just stop at the dump station on your way out in the morning if your tanks are near full.

Have a great trip.
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Old 04-09-2014, 06:41 AM   #3
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Hello and welcome! 1. You stated your would have a "very positive and comfortable experience in either size." If that is true for you and your family, I would go with the smaller size. 2. Driving a 25 ft. class C on a dirt road will not usually be a problem. It will get stuck in mud or sand easier than a car since it is heavier so be aware of the road's condition. 3. Many people use wood to level their RV's. There are a lot of threads here about leveling on blocks safely. I recommend doing a search. 4. How the electrical systems work is different on different rv's. Make the rental company go over the systems and the limitations carefully with you before renting. 5. There are different opinions on running the fridge on propane while travelling. Many here do this all the time. I try to save the propane and when necessary run the generator while travelling. But mostly I find that if the fridge is cold when I unhook from shore power in the morning, it will stay cold all day as long as I don't open it during the day. 6. Some campgrounds meter electric and some don't. They almost always include this information in their rates on their website. Most of the time adding electric to the fees is for monthly rentals. The majority of campgrounds include electric in the daily rates. 7. On most rv's the grey and black tanks are separate tanks and have a separate valve for each. Empty the black first followed by the grey. That way the grey water will rinse out the hose before storing. Keep water in the black tank when it is being used. The water is what keeps the odors down and keeps things from becoming clogged. When I am staying only for a night or two, I keep both valves closed and empty both right before leaving. When I am staying for a longer period in one campground, I keep the grey open (hooked up to the sewer of course) and the black closed. A couple of days before departing I close the grey so that I will have water in the grey tank to flush the hose when leaving. Never keep the black continuously open to the sewer! That will keep the water out of the tank and the solids will remain behind to clog everything.
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Old 04-09-2014, 07:38 AM   #4
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My only comment (The above seem OK) is to not schedule too much in the trip. I try to limit my driving to 200 to 300 miles per day, or about 5 hours, whichever is less. The first day or 2, going further seems fine, but the stress of driving and how tired you get earlier will cause your and your families sight seeing to really decrease. Do not go too far each day! Plan on set up and tear down each day to take about an hour and plan accordingly. This set up and tear down includes both outside hookups and inside preparing to travel. Things move around inside so prepare things to protect them.

I guess I lied, I do have a couple more suggestions. The black tank will take longer to fill than the grey tank. When the black tank is nearing full (approx. 3/4) close the grey tank valve to allow it to fill enough to give you some flush water. This is how you will flush the hose after the black tank dump. It is also advisable after dumping the black tank to fill it with fresh water to flush out remaining "stuff" from the black tank, then close the valve and dump the grey tank to flush the hose. I usually do this black tank flush at least twice before I flush the hose, but remember you are only going to be in the coach for a short time so this black tank dump will probably only need to be done once.

I have never found a park that meters electric for short stays. Usually this occurs with monthly or longer stays at the park.

Get the bigger coach!!!! Did I say yet, GET THE BIGGER COACH!!!! Remember there is no guarantee that you will have nice weather during the entire trip. Can the 4 of you spend all day in the available space during a rain storm???

I guess the last advice is GET THE LARGER COACH!!!!
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:04 PM   #5
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Thank you, paz, sadrand, and Medico! These are the kinds of answers I was looking for. I really, really appreciate your time in answering these questions. Should our paths cross (I’ll do the above itinerary the last 2 weeks in June 2014), please allow me to buy you a dinner.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:31 PM   #6
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Great advice from everyone, although I wouldn't worry to much over leveling boards. When you make your reservations ask about level sites. Let them know you don't have levelers. I would also work out a system with your spotter for backing up. Search backing in the search function above. Have fun! Set one more plate for dinner? Oh, don't hesitate to ask other campers for help if needed, most will jump right in.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:30 PM   #7
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Looking at the website mentioned for the "vehicle provisioning kit" it seems that the rental might be coming from CruiseAmerica. They offer 4 levels of Class C RV's:
Cruise America: RV Rental Models

All Class C's are a van cab/chassis carrying the RV box. Class C's are very nice to drive and would be a good first venture into RVing. These will have a V8 engine in the smaller RV's and a V10 (bigger engine) in biggest size RV. More power = easier acceleration/control on the freeway, but generally lower MPG.

The only point I will offer advice about is question #2 "How is the driving of an RV on a dirt road?" Be sure to check your rental agreement...any venture off a paved road (except to park) might be prohibited.

Best luck and safe travels
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Old 04-18-2014, 05:00 PM   #8
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Get the bigger RV with the biggest motor you can if your going to Rocky Mountain Nat. Park. The road thru the park goes up to something like 14,000 feet. I hope all those bicycle riders have made it to the top by now. We went thru there eight years ago and I suspect they may not have all made it by now. For two weeks what do you care about a mile or so less in the mpgs. I don't think there will be much difference in driving around in a 30 footer than a 25. We went all the places your planning in a 40' MH pulling a pu truck. 65 foot total length. Custer was the most fun, take some food for the donkeys or they won't let you pass. It's also quite a good climb up to Mt. Rushmore.
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Old 04-26-2014, 12:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdmlynek View Post

(3) Levelers. The RV does not come with levelers. According to the rental information, the RV needs to be on a level ground in order for fridge to work. I am thinking of picking up some scraps of dimensional lumber from a lumber yard or Home Depot, to put under any low wheel. Is that too naïve? Any other suggestions?
Long story short. An experienced RV-er showed me an excellent way of leveling the RV. If you are going to park on a paved or concrete surface the RV will likely be very close to level and only require a small board or two.

If you are boon docking or parking on a gravel pad it may take a bit more to get to level. Instead of using blocks take a trenching shovel along and dig a hole for the high side wheels to drop into. It will be easier and the RV will "settle in" providing slightly better stability.

Don't forget to fill your holes when you leave as a matter of courtesy.
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Old 04-26-2014, 01:20 PM   #10
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Unless I missed it,,,, before departing any camp site,,, MAKE SURE you have everything unplugged and stowed away !!! Make at least 2 trips around the rv checking on hoses, electrical cords, open storage bays,,, etc.... Your steps to the door, although may be automatic to retract ,,, make sure !! Your Awning,,, (sp?) , make sure it is locked in place... (I use velcro straps ) But in a rental, make sure it is stowed away properly... Check your tires everytime you stop... I bump them with a hammer, but I'm a truck driver so I'm used to that... Get a tire pressure gauge.... Only takes a minute.... On gas stops, check oil, antifreeze, any leaks ??? Only takes a minute.... Hope you have a Fantastic Vacation !!!!
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Old 04-26-2014, 01:59 PM   #11
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When you rent an RV the first rule is - go over it carefully, write down anything that is damaged or does not work (no matter how small) and be sure your list is attached to the rental company's contract. Reference the list on the contract. Take pictures (dated) of the RV and any damage prior to leaving the lot. Better safe then sorry. If the rental company does not want you to do this - find a different company.

Document the rental company's walk-through. Make sure you understand what they tell you.

Read the contract carefully.


I've rented once and my son rented once. I had no trouble but boy o boy did he. His rental company tried to bill him for damage that had been documented as prior to his rental. Took him about a year to get it cleared up. That company went out of business.
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:37 AM   #12
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Instead of using blocks take a trenching shovel along and dig a hole for the high side wheels to drop into. It will be easier and the RV will "settle in" providing slightly better stability. Don't forget to fill your holes when you leave as a matter of courtesy.
What a GREAT idea! One I would have never thought of.
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Old 04-27-2014, 12:38 PM   #13
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My advice would be not to take on to much each day and stop before it gets
dark. Nothing is more nerve racking than trying to find your way around a strange place in the dark, in a big moving box. Leave yourself plenty of time for setup, meals and relaxing. Again try not to schedule to much, better to see the sites you really want to see.
Have a great trip and drive safe.
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Old 04-27-2014, 04:45 PM   #14
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I will take SOME of the questions.. The rest I do not feel qualified to answer.



Quote:
Originally Posted by pdmlynek View Post

(4) Electricity. It is my understanding that the rental RV has a 12 V system (lights, water pump, and fan) from the engine battery and aux battery, and a 120 V system (household plugs, microwave, AC, fridge) from the shoreline or the generator. When I am driving on the road, is the 120 V system shut off? Can I run the generator when we are in motion?


Yes you can run the generator while rolling down the road, On a class C there should not be a television where the driver can watch it so I won't bore you with the law on that issue... IF the RV has an INVERTER, some devices (IE: Television) may continue to work on battery power.. Else you can run the genny, also if the dash A/C is not enough the Roof A/C can be used to augment.. This will also operate the fridge for you.

Quote:
(5) Refrigerator. According to the rental RV information, the refrigerator runs on shoreline, generator or propane, cools down to balmy 60 °F (15 °C), and takes a long time to cool down after it is opened. Can I run the propane while we are in motion? Or is the fridge pretty much inoperable while on the road (assuming that we are on a level road)? Should I drag a cooler with us, and refill it with bags of ice as needed?
Well, I carry a cooler in my car (For transporting cold food from store to RV) but the fridge is good for eight to 12 hours door closed power off.. Or if you are running the genny it's good for.. as long as the fuel holds out plus 8-12 hours.. I run mine on propane when traveling... I have weighed the risks and feel that the danger is not much different. But I did a lot of research before I made that decision.

Quote:
(6) Shore hookups. Is the electricity metered at the campsite, so that at the end of stay we’d have to pay some set amount? Is the water?
Depends on the RV park,,, Most all the transient parks I have stayed at (Day/week/month) do not meter but resident parks (Six month or annual lease) it is a mixed bag, Some meter electricity, some do not. Water I have never seen metered water, You do pay for Propane though.

Quote:
(7) Waste. When hooked up at a campground, the drain valve on the grey water tank and the black water tank are suppose to be closed. When I flush or take a shower, do I set it so that the waste water is directed to the waste line, or does the waste water run into the grey and black tanks respectively? If the waste water runs into the waste tanks, then is the waste hose there only to collect the overflow from the waste tanks? If so, then presumably over a longer period of being hooked up, the black water tank collects progressively more solids; would so much solid be problem when the black water tank is finally drained?

Thank you for any help that you can provide. It looks that it is much longer than I originally wanted.
On the waste... Shower should go to the gray tank, Toilet (only) to the black tank, sinks go to gray, NOTE this is how it should be, there are exceptions.

I keep all the dump (2 or 3") valves closed till I need to dump. I do check to insure the tanks do not overflow.

Gray water usally overflows into the shower (my rig is an exception in that I have 3 tanks so when gray fills, the sink will not drain) Black,, Overflows onto the bathroom floor.. So you watch.. IF you flush and the toilet "Burps" odds are you need to dump.

Dump black, then gray, then close it off.

When you go back home Dump and RINSE black, then gray then close it off, Disconnect the 3" hose from your RV and rinse it (NOTE: I like to use a DIFFERENT hose for this, but then I have a well protected rinse hose,, paranoid as I am it has both a spring check and a vacuum breaker on the end of it.. NO way is there going to be any back flow on that hose).

Then disconnect from hole in ground and stow hose.

Remove portective gloves, wash hands and secure your wet bay.
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