A look at snowbirds: 15 tips, Part 3

The Iceman Cometh

Whether you’re a snowbird heading south for the winter or preparing for a weekend jaunt, there’s always a concern that you forgot to pack all the essentials? How do you know that everything you’ll need is in the RV?

A host of dining opportunities await the Snowbird in Cedar Creek, Florida, and other southern destinations. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The previous two posts detailed the first six tips for planning your next road trip and to help ensure your safety while on the road. Today, we continue with tips eight to 13.

8. Loading tips

DO NOT load heavy items in upper cabinets.

Secure and brace items so they won’t move during travel, thereby shifting the load.

DO NOT load heavy items near either end of the RV.

Adjust cargo storage to keep the side to side wheel loads as equal a possible.

Carry only as much water as needed for travel use.

Whenever possible, empty the holding tanks before traveling.

9. Know your weight

Hummingbirds are common at many Snowbird destinations in Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we travel and talk to other RVers, we are amazed at how little attention snowbirds pay to cargo capacity. Too many people think that cabinet, closet, and basement space equals cargo carrying capacity. Many coaches out there have considerable storage space, but the chassis will only support several hundred pounds of cargo.

Proper loading of, and weight distribution in, your recreational vehicle can prevent premature tire failure, suspension problems, broken axles, transmission failure, and other serious breakdowns. Weighing your motorhome is critical to ensuring that no ratings limitations are exceeded.

DO NOT risk traveling in an over­loaded vehicle. Not only does extra weight accelerate wear and tear on your RV, but in case of an accident an overweight vehicle may void any insurance claims. Use a scale that permits you to place individual wheel positions on the scale independently, while keeping the vehicle level and all wheels in the same plane.

The RV Safety & Education Foundation (RVSEF), provides this service for a small fee at major RV rallies in the U.S.

10. Controlling your weight

Keep in mind that everything you put in your RV has weight. The average couple carries approximately 2,000 pounds of “stuff,” and many full-timing couples carry as much as 3,000 pounds.

The following are approximate weights of the liquids that RVs commonly carry:

Water—8.3 pounds/gallon

Gasoline—6 pounds/gallon

Diesel fuel—6.6 pounds/gallon

Propane—4.5 pounds/gallon

11. Proper Weight Distribution

Proper weight distribution is important when loading the RV. Each manufacturer has taken into consideration the location of appliances, cabinets, propane tank, and additional components for proper weight distribution from side to side as well as front to back. When loading your RV, be sure to distribute heavy items evenly throughout the coach. They should be placed in such a way that they do not shift during travel. Improper weight distribution and heavy items shifting during travel can have an unfavorable effect on the handling, ride quality, and braking ability of your RV.

12. Toilet paper test

Numerous Snowbird roosts can be found along the Colorado River in both Arizona and California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is NOT necessary to buy special RV toilet paper. Most biodegradable toilet tissue will break up in holding tank solutions. To test your favorite paper, add several sheets of tissue to a small container of water. If it breaks up in the container, it will also disintegrate in your black water tank. If not, try another brand.

13. Safe use of propane

Propane valves must ALWAYS be in either a completely closed position or totally open—never part way open. Since the valve has a seat at the top and bottom, it may actually leak at other positions.

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not to travel with the refrigerator operating on propane. Many RVers see no danger in running the refrigerator on propane while on the road. They say they have traveled for years without encountering problems. They point to the safety of propane powered vehicles and argue that we travel with tanks full of gasoline which is more dangerous.

In some jurisdictations it is illegal to travel with the propane on. Most ferries and some tunnels and bridges have restrictions too. Also keep in mind that it is illegal to have any open flames while near a service station fuel pump.

Other RVers claim that traveling with the propane on is a disaster waiting to happen. If you drive with appliances operating, you are traveling with an open flame. If you run over a chunk of wood or other debris on the highway you run the chance of that debris hitting your propane line or fitting. In an accident a broken propane line could trigger an explosion, a fire, or both.

We feel that the only safe way to travel is with the propane turned OFF at the tank.

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

To be continued tomorrow…

Worth Pondering…
Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot


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