Snowbird Safety Towing Checklist

The Freightliner Chassis Owners Club had an article in their Winter 2017 publication of RV Soul on the importance of having a towing checklist. They credit the list to Blue Ox, a company that specializes in products for motorhome owners to flat tow their vehicles.

Here is the list:

  • Inspect the tow bar, dolly or trailer for loose bolts and worn part – tighten or replace before hooking up. If you have bolts that are consistently coming loose, use Loctite® or put on a double nut to keep them tight.
  • Hook up on a flat, smooth surface.
  • If you have a coupler-style tow bar, check the fit of the coupler on the ball. Adjust if necessary.
  • Hook up the tow bar.
  • Set up the towed vehicle’s steering and transmission to tow.
  • Check your parking brake to ensure it is off and disengaged.
  • Latch the legs on a self-aligning tow bar.
  • Attach the safety cables. Cross the cables between the vehicles and wrap the cables around the tow bar legs to keep from dragging.
  • Attach the electrical cable and tow brake system connections.
  • Check the function of all lights on both vehicles.
  • Locate your spare key and lock the towed vehicle’s doors.
  • Drive with care and remember your vehicle will be about 25 feet longer while towing.
  • Each time you stop, make sure to check the tow bar, baseplate and safety cables to ensure they are still properly attached. Pay particular attention to the hitch clips and pins that secure your tow bar or drop hitch to the motorhome hitch. Many breakaways occur because a pin clip has been removed and the pin drops out, allowing the toad to be dragged on the safety cables. Check the tires of the towed vehicle to make sure they are not going flat. If you are using a dolly or trailer, check the wheels to make sure they are not hot to the touch. If the wheels are hot, it may indicate a brake or bearing problem.
  • Before you start each day, check the lights to make sure they are working properly.
  • Between trips, clean the tow bar and cables to keep them in good shape. Also, clean and lubricate the tow bar as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions (usually by applying spray silicone lubricant).
  • Have a checklist. It’s just too easy to get distracted and forget something (like ignition position, emergency brake, breakaway hook-up, transmission in wrong position, etc.).
  • Make sure you have a second key to the tow vehicle. That way you can leave your rig parked and hooked up without having to worry about unlocked doors.
  • Check all the connections every time you fuel up or make a rest stop.
  • Never let yourself be interrupted when hooking up. Keep your mind on your work.

There were a few items that stood out for me. Making sure that we have a second key to the tow vehicle safely stowed. Checking hitch clips and pins. And having a thorough checklist.

I remember reading about Nina and Paul, the couple behind the popular Wheeling It blog, when they had their first RV accident in 2016: their tow car came loose while in transit. They avoided a potentially devastating accident although they did incur a fair amount of damage to their toad and some damage to the rear of their coach. One of the big lessons that they learned through the experience:

More Regular Checks On The Road: It’s possible we could have avoided all this by implementing more checks on the road. When we first hook-up we follow a pretty rigorous process where both of us double-check each others’ work (4x check), so we know without a doubt that the cotter pins were firmly on there when we started driving. But once we start driving we generally don’t check again. In this case we took a ferry (we were stopped for a while) and then had some bumpy driving thereafter and admittedly we did not double-check the tow connections after either of those events. I honestly have no idea if this would have helped (we really don’t know exactly when we lost the cotter pin), but I think that getting into the habit of walking around the rig and doing a double-check of tow connections whenever you are stopped (or things significantly change) is a good idea.

One thing I do think about when getting ready to travel is to treat every trip as a new trip and to be disciplined in running through our circle checks. Sometimes I just want to hop in and get started as quickly as possible. Easy to do in a car. Not safe to do in a large motorhome.

Campground of the Year

We stay at KOAs. But only when we don’t have a choice. I find most of them to be too expensive for the experience which is generally very tight sites, gravel pads and, for big rigs like ours, tight access and issues with clearing trees.

Every year, KOA selects a campground of the year. For 2018, the winner is the Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA Holiday.

This would be one of their sites:

If that was the campground of the year, I was curious to see one of the worst KOA campgrounds. I didn’t have to work that hard to find it. Acton/Los Angeles North KOA. A typical review on tripadvisor:

Disgusting rat hole of a campground

This is the worst place ever… with the sewer smell from the septic tank… ants crawling all over the walls and toilets in the bathrooms and the laundry room is a joke and the prices this place charges you can go up to the rv resort on Sierra Highway for the same price you have cell phone service and WiFi and a beautiful view of the valley and a swimming pool that is taken care of properly …. so people if you are passing thru the Acton area this is not the place to stay. Again go to the rv resort on Sierra Highway for top of the line camping experience

Pretty brutal comments all around.

The sites there appear to have no boundaries. They look to be offered on an unpaved parking lot with very little separation.

It makes me appreciate some of the beautiful spots we have found in our travels to date. Especially in the Petoskey, Michigan area.

And I am certain that we will find many more beautiful spots for our coach in the years to come. If that means the occasional stay in a more rustic KOA setting in transit, so be it. All part of the experience.

Top 100 RV Blogs

Just in case some of my friends in the United States have never seen a Canadian hundred-dollar note. Canadians generally do not carry large bills. The hundred-dollar note is the highest-valued and least-circulated note in Canada.

Perhaps a Feedspot with the title “Top 100 RV Blogs Every RV or Motorhome Travel Enthusiast Must Follow” is a bit like the Canadian hundred-dollar note. It takes the highest-valued websites using metrics like Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Alexa Rank and evaluates sites to score the top 100 RV blogs. And, perhaps like the Canadian hundred-dollar note, few people make use of this particular Feedspot.

I spend a lot of time following the RV community on the web and I haven’t visited most of the top 100 blogs on this particular list.

The number 1 RV blog according to Feedspot?

RV Travel.

You can take a look through the complete list here. There were a few familiar ones for me like RV Daily Report, Technomedia, Wheelingit, RV Love but most were not. I checked out a few of them. Some Canadians were on the list like the Bayfield Bunch and Full Time Canada. A large number of the sites on the list were nothing more than storefronts for RV dealers.

And no, our blog was not in the top 100.

RV Of The Year

RV Business recently named the RV of the Year. And the winner?

A Winnebago.

Interesting.

The Winnebago Horizon is a Class A diesel and it seems to be comparable in price and features to coaches like the Newmar Ventana although there are no tags available in the 40-foot model of the Winnebago.

My concern would be the quality of this product. When I read David’s experience with his Winnebago, I thought to myself, life is too short for dealing with way too many build issues. And, my goodness, what an experience he had with his new build. Eventually the sale did not go through. His story, unfortunately is not unique. You can download this couple’s pdf and get a sense for the anger and frustration caused by the lack of quality control.

Quality was one of the reasons why the Winnebago product never made its way to our short list.

The RV industry is certainly under pressure to deliver. Record demand puts a lot more strain on the manufacturers. Hopefully this Horizon is a better built coach. It is one thing to get an award from an industry publication. It is another to build a solid reputation with customers.

Entegra Qwest

Not quite what I expected.

Entegra has now started posting some details about their new lineup of Class C coaches on their Facebook page and on their website.

Looks like the Entegra web team haven’t spent much time on building up a slick marketing presentation for the new product. No dedicated page for the Qwest as yet. Even the QWest brochure looks a bit, well, anemic. You can download the pdf here.

The brochure contains no photo gallery of the exterior or interior. A couple of small thumbnails and a couple of floorplans. And a fact sheet. At least with their coach brochure, you get a sense of excitement about owning their product.

Doesn’t come across to me that they are all that enthused about their new class C lineup.

Maybe someone forced them to do it against their will? The Qwest looks very close to the Jayco class C.

I guess I was expecting better. Looks more like a nameplate change to an existing platform with some minor refinements.