Know the Height of Your RV

Here’s a simple tip: Know the height of your RV.

A customer came in the other day a couple hours early for their appointment and they asked the receptionist where they could go get a bite to eat. They had come in from West of San Antonio and they were deathly afraid of driving in the big city. Ann nicely gave them the restaurant list and then they asked her “which of these overpasses on the freeway was high enough for their RV?”. That was a new one for us to hear. These people had traveled thousands of miles in the 5 years they owned their motorhome and they had always made it a point to avoid the overpasses. Years ago they had seen a big class A peeled back like a sardine can and they were determined it was not going to happen to them. Well, this made me think. How many of us actually know the height of our RV? At PPL we’ve replaced many AC units that were destroyed by an overpass or overhang at a service station.

Of course, RV Nana started doing some research. How do you measure your RV? The most common way I’ve heard is to get on the top of the unit and measure from the highest point on the AC or antenna down to the ground. I’m not a big fan of climbing on the roof, so I happen to like the article I read about measuring from the ground to the top of the RV and then adding 18” to 2 feet to that measurement. Another person preferred being on the safe side and suggested a 3 foot addition. Regardless of how you establish the height, write it down. I like putting it on a sticker on the dash area to remind myself. The clearance height is normally posted on overpasses, bridges, buildings, etc. And, don’t forget to measure your fifth wheel when it is hooked up to the truck. Hopefully, this will save you a headache and a lot of money.

Knowing Your RV’s Turning Radius


OOPS : Diana Leblanc
OOPS : Diana Leblanc

I bet many of you have recently purchased an RV that is new to you. Please take time to learn your new RV. Every unit is different and unique in it’s own way. Even if you’re like me and you have been driving a 20-24’ and you’re going up or down in size, you need to make sure you are aware of how your new RV handles. The most important thing is to “turn wide”.
Now, if I had only written this blog post last week, RV Nana wouldn’t have had the adventure and excitement when the weekend arrived.  I’ve written about knowing the height limits of your RV. I even went as far as to suggest that you keep it written in plain view on your dash so you can always see it. However, I’ve never written about getting comfortable with your turning radius, where to start your turn and when you should start it…until now. So, last weekend, RV Nana had a little close encounter with a yellow pipe bollard – and I must say, yellow is not my color. It doesn’t match my RV!
I was making a left hand turn when I heard it, and then saw it. I had just kissed the bollard and now RV Nana 3 was paying the price of my incorrect calculation of her turn radius. Of course, my first thought was to not tell a soul that this happened and just take it to the body shop. Bing-Bang-Boom, no one would ever know what happened. Then I thought, “Hey, RV Nana 3 is still relatively new to me and even RV Nana can make a mistake! Plus, this mishap may have just given me an opportunity to help someone else”.

Here is what I would strongly suggest: Practice!
It’s just like when you were learning to drive.  Of course, not all of us can remember back that far, so think back to when you taught your kids, or grandchildren to drive. Go out to an empty parking lot and mark off a couple soft turns. I should have done this and used a couple of pop-up trashcans and practiced. I should have practiced enough to where I felt I knew where to start my turns, both right and left, forward and reverse. Then I should have done it a few more times, just to be sure. Again, I should have done this and I wouldn’t have a big yellow mark on the RV.
I strongly recommend that you learn from my mistake.  Go out and practice this, especially when you get a new RV. I’ll tell you from experience, running over the trash can while practicing is way better that getting a giant yellow mark on you RV, big body repair expenses and a dented ego.
Of course, RVing is all in the name of FUN, so have a little and live to learn!





Fifth-Wheel Pin Weight Is Essential To Stability And Control

PPL Motorhomes knows that towing a trailer of any kind can be a stressful task at times for both newbies and seasoned RVers. One of the most important factors in towing a fifth-wheel is understanding how hitch weights can effect the stability of both your truck and your trailer. Larger hitch weights make the truck itself heavier, but less agile in abrupt maneuvers. It is recommend that fifth-wheel pin weight should be in the range of 15% to 25% of the trailers weight. With the center of gravity more forward, the trailer itself is more stable with a higher hitch weight. With lighter hitch weights, the center of gravity is located closer to the trailer axles and this makes the trailer less stable. However, with a lower weight the truck is more agile. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. You see, the combination of a more agile, lighter truck, and a less stable trailer can actually cause the trailer to skid and swing widely and possibly jackknife.

In the simulation in the video below, they show a double lane change at 65 miles per hour. This essentially simulates an accident-avoidance technique where the driver temporarily enters the adjacent lane and then returns to his original lane. This simulation was calibrated at just s 3% pin weight.

This is something that need to be thought about when you are purchasing your first consignment RV. You have to get the ratios right, or you could end up in a nasty accident. Give PPL Motorhomes a call and we can help you figure out the math, it’s not really as difficult as it sounds. We just want you to be as safe as possible so your RV adventures are filled with wonderful memories and not near accidents.

How to Handle a Blowout in Your RV
Daniel Oines/Flickr Creative Commons


Nothing is more scary than traveling along in your RV enjoying the scenery and then experiencing a sudden loss of tire pressure. Believe me, a tire blowout is something that even the most seasoned RV vets don’t want the surprise of dealing with. When handled improperly, a tire blowout can be extremely dangerous…even catastrophic…resulting in a possible extreme damage to your RV

So, how do you handle a blowout successfully?

Stay cool:

Don’t jerk the steering wheel and resist the urge to jam on the brakes. There are a lot of forces already at work, why add two more?

Accelerate, but only just a bit:

When you accelerate a little, it’s actually easier to maintain control of the vehicle. Hopefully you are already holding the steering wheel firmly at 10 o’clock and two o’clock on the wheel, if not, now would be the time to do that. The idea here is to keep going straight. Now is a good time to focus on breathing too…try to remain calm.

Decelerate & Coast:

Now that you have complete control of your RV, you are going to be slowing down to a coast. While the RV slows, check your mirrors and assess your traffic situation and start thinking about moving to the right.

Apply brakes:

Be gentle here, you have control, keep it by not braking too hard.

Turn on right turn signal:

Why the right? If at all possible, don’t ever stop on the left side of the road. That’s the fastest traffic and is the most dangerous place to be. It’s also the law, so you sort of have to.

Pull over and pat yourself on the back:

Pull your RV off to the side of the road, pat yourself on the back and breathe a sigh of relief…you’ve just survived a blowout.


Sounds simple enough, right? Well those of us who’ve experience it would beg to differ. It’s always a shock and it’s always scary. Be prepared and you’ll be less likely to make a mistake when dealing with a tire blowout in your RV.

Do you have any harrowing stories of tire blowouts? Leave me a comment and tell us about your experience.

RV Technical And Roadside Assistance Is A Must


For all of the prep work we do before we actually hit the road to go RVing, nothing is more frustrating than to have all of it virtually come undone because of a technical problem, or an unforeseen need for roadside assistance. If you own your RV long enough and consistently travel,  your chances increase for the need of reliable RV technical and roadside assistance.

That’s why RV Nana uses Coach-Net. They are the leading source for 24-7 RV roadside assistance and technical support. They’ve been around since 1987 providing the highest degree of service, assistance, and mechanics to tackle virtually any problem you may encounter on the road.

There are many obvious reasons you should choose Coach-Net for your RV support service, but there are also some reasons that you may not think about. First of all, your RV is a complicated machine; after all, it is basically a house on wheels. So let’s say you have a plumbing issue at your house—more often than not, you are going to call a plumber—but what do you do when it’s your RV’s plumbing system that needs some help, or it’s electrical, or it’s your LP system? Are you going to tackle these issues by yourself? Maybe if you were a Certified RV Mechanic, but let’s be honest, you are probably going to scamper to find an RV mechanic somewhere. Of course, there’s no way of telling if you are going to find one, and, if you do, is he worth his salt? Why take the chance. By having a service like Coach-Net in your back pocket, you can easily contact them with your problem and have a solution in a matter of minutes. Maybe it’s something you can take care of yourself, but, if it isn’t, Coach-Net will have you covered for all sorts of technical and mechanical problems.

At PPL Motorhomes, we offer Coach-Net services and feel that is more than worth the minimal cost associated in getting total roadside coverage. I like to just factor it into the cost of owning an RV, as we are all well aware of , there are a few costs that you cannot do without, such as refilling your LP tank, and adding chemicals to your black water system… it’s just the way of the road. So, when you are out on the road, you’re probably already taking many measures to make sure you have a great time: go one step further and look into adding the coverage of Coach-Net today!


What Do You Do If Your Motorhome Hydroplanes

I got to thinking. I know we got some recently foul weather across the state this year. I wonder if there are any special articles about what to do if your motorhome hydroplanes? I looked and didn’t really find anything, so I’m going to write one. Everyone has heard about the possibility of a hydroplane for any vehicle, and that includes motorhomes. Personally, I have not been exposed to that scenario so this “advice” is subject to correction by any reader at anytime. If you can offer advice, or even correction leave it in the comments section below. It is more than welcome.

The way I would approach a motorhome hydroplaning incident would be the same as I would if I were driving my car. Now I know the weight differential poses a significant variable, but physics is physics. I mean let’s dissect it. Why does it happen? Where does it happen?

It happens on roads that are seeing rainfall for the first time in a while. If your area hasn’t seen significant rainfall recently, dust, dirt, oil, and sand all build up and form a thin, slick, slime on road surfaces. Add water on top of that and you have the perfect condition for the rubber of your tires to lose contact with the pavement. That’s one way. The other is on roadways with poor drainage. In both cases speed can play a role.

Here’s a vintage video on hydroplaning that is pretty descriptive:


So, slow down in the rain, or just after the first rainfall in a while. Try not to hit the brakes hard, or at all even. DON’T OVER-CORRECT!!! It’s a waste of effort when your tires aren’t even touching the ground. When they finally do, then you careen in the direction you are steering into.

I hope that no one has ever had to handle a RV or Motorhome hydroplane. If you have, leave me a comment and tell me what you did, or didn’t do, in your particular situation. `


Fire Prevention Inside and Out Of Your Consignment RV

Fire prevention in you RV is something that I’ve written about before and take very seriously. I know all of you know that a fire in your RV is never a good thing, but do really know how combustible your RV can be? Aside from a myriad of fuels and accelerates housed within your RV, the walls of your rig are made from wood and acts as tinder. If a fire does break out your RV can be consumed in a matter of minutes.

Let me reiterate, a fire inside your RV is no laughing matter. If there is a fire on board, your best course of action is to get out and call the Fire Department. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you be surprised at how many people believe they can control a fire. There are hundreds of fires each year due to carelessness and accident. One of the easiest ways for your RV to catch fire is during stove operation especially when using grease to cook. A grease fire can turn into a 5 foot exploding column of flame if not extinguished properly. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before, but if you have a grease fire on your hands NEVER EVER EVER throw water on it because this is what will happen.


All I’m asking is for you to be careful when you are using fire for anything. Grilling, campfires, cooking inside etc. The damage you can cause by carelessness won’t necessarily be confined to just your RV or your campsite. Fire can spread uncontrollable in a matter of moments and consume your RV or the woodlands/park around it.

Always have a couple of fire extinguishers on board your rig and know where they are at. Just another friendly anti-fire reminder form your PPL Motorhomes and RV Nana.

Cold Weather RVing
Daleus, Curmudgeon-at-Large, Flickr Creative Commons

This may be wishful thinking on my part, what with all the hot and humid weather we’ve been having here on the Gulf Coast, but i thought today we’d chat a bit about what to expect if you’re driving your RV in cold weather. I know you snowbirds are probably rolling your eyes at this, but we Texans politely listen to you talk about how hot it is, so please bear with us. Everybody knows that the weather here in Texas can get….unpredictable. Not only that but there are portions of our state which will be getting heavy snowfall at the same time other areas are experiencing beach weather, so here are four tips for dealing with ice and snow on the road.


Granted you’re in an RV, but don’t do anything in a hurry. Don’t accelerate quickly. Don’t stomp on the brakes quickly. Don’t feel like you need to get where ever you’re going in 5 minutes either. Slow and steady wins the race, especially on slick roads in reduced visibility.

Fill That Tank

Most vehicles have fuel tanks near the rear wheels, and if yours does as well, keep it topped off. The extra weight of the fuel in the tank presses down on the rear wheels aiding in keeping traction. You still don’t want drag race starts away from traffic lights, but you’ll have less slippage when you apply the gas than if the rear was lighter.

Rest Up!

Driving in adverse conditions requires more attention and focus than regular driving and it can wear you out. Make sure you aren’t fatigued before you start!

Pack Cold Weather Gear

Nobody plans on getting stuck, but just like you pack water when traveling through a desert..pack some blankets and cold weather gear if you’re traveling through the snow. Also make sure you phone is charged and handy in case of a break down or if you get stuck. for all your parts and accessories

Nana’s Recipes: Fall Cocktails
ctj71081, Flickr Creative Commons

Fall here in Texas is one of my favorite times of year y’all. The edge comes off the heat, the humidity rolls back…just a little bit, and you know the days will eventually get cooler. Another great thing about fall is the beginning of football season. Everyone knows how big High School, College, and yes even pro football is here in Texas. For those big-time fans that means tailgate season is here as well. So today I thought maybe we could talk about Fall Cocktails. They work especially well if you’re not as big a fan of the game as everyone else at the tailgater!

Apple Cider Mimosa

There’s something almost Martha Stewart-meets-Texas with this drink. You have that Northeastern apple cider flavor and I don’t know very many people down here who don’t enjoy a Mimosa. So here’s what you do: wet the rim of a champagne flute…or heck a keg cup will do…and then dip the rim into a sugar/cinnamon mixture (2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon mixed together). Fill the glass about a quarter full of apple cider and top off the glass with champagne and enjoy the game!

Apple Pie Bourbon

Now lets mix together two great symbols of America: Apple Pie and Bourbon! This drink requires a little bit of dwell time so plan accordingly. What you do is get yourself a Mason jar and put a cup and a half of Bourbon in it. Then chop one green and one red apple and put the pieces in the jar. Add 4 cinnamon sticks, 3 sugar cubes, 1 slightly shaved nutmeg, and a one inch piece of fresh ginger and let it sit for two to four days. Yes, please taste it after 2 days to see if it is ready. Once it had achieved the level fall flavors you prefer, pour the bourbon through a strainer and into as many different glasses as folks you have whom you are willing to share it with. Then…enjoy!


Summer Fuel Economy Tips
Darlene Hildebrandt/Flickr Creative Commons

Do y’all remember the lines at gas stations during the 1970’s? Do y’all remember President Jimmy Carter coming on TV to explain how tire gauges work? Well we’re going to talk fuel economy a little bit today. The summer driving season is upon us and granted, RV’s aren’t like driving a Prius…but…there are several things you can do to squeeze more miles out of a tank of gas and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.

Oddly enough one of the biggest influences on the range of your fuel tank is your right foot. For those of y’all who are lead foots or think your RV is a dragster, I’ve seen figures that show a negative effect on your range from five to thirty three percent! For the same reason, use your cruise control whenever possible. That constant speed, and constant RPM equates to a more efficient way of converting your fuel to miles. On the other side of the same coin, don’t just let the RV idle for long periods…just shut off the engine if it’s going to be more than a few minutes.

Sometimes an increase in economy can be achieved just with regular maintenance. Something as simple as a broken oxygen sensor can impact you by forty percent. And the same goes for the rest of the emissions systems, remember these engines are basically air pumps so anything that affects the air flow through the engine will affect your gas mileage. So with that said, air filter maintenance is also a key component to maximizing your mileage. Keep it clean or replace it often especially if you’re driving out west where there is a higher level of airborne dust.

So to recap…by all means check your tire pressures, don’t drive like a teenager, and keep up with the maintenance on your RV and the cost per fuel stop won’t be any higher than it needs to be. Also, we can help you get down the road with parts and accessories over at the website, so come say howdy!