How Fast Is Too Fast In An RV?

Speed. Gotta get there. Faster.

If you drive a motorcoach, I’m sure you have seen this happen on the highway. A large diesel pusher races past you, travelling at least 75 to 80 mph.

Why would anyone think it safe to travel that fast in a motorhome?

This question was raised on social media from an owner of a Newmar Dutch Star:

2021 DS 4310 OBSERVATIONS: We just picked ours up, and there are a couple things I’d like to know if others have experienced and found a fix for:

1) Speeding Reminder – Around 73 MPH, it says speed warning, and with cruise set at 75MPH, this is super annoying because it says it nearly non-stop.
2) Cruise Max Speed 75MPH – How can I get this re-programmed to allow whatever speed I want?

Here is the fix: SLOW DOWN!

Most RV tires have a maximum rated speed of 75 mph. If you flat tow a vehicle behind your coach, you may also have a maximum speed limit from the manufacturer. In our case we have to limit our maximum speed to 65 mph when we flat tow our Lincoln.

Every time I see a thread about highway speeds, the majority of motorcoach owners comment that they travel between 60 and 65 mph on the Interstate. We set our cruise to 62 mph when cruising the Interstate.

Cruising over 75mph?

Way too fast.

The tires will build up a lot of heat. Braking distance will increase. Fuel efficiency will decrease. Control of the vehicle in the event of a tire blowout will be compromised.

We remain locked down in Ontario, Canada with the coach in storage for the winter. Hoping that life gets somewhat back to normal come May and that we can travel about the country again.

When we do, we won’t be in any rush.

62 mph is about right for our coach. Reasonable fuel economy. Safe highway speed.

How To Replace Lights In A Newmar Dutch Star

Let there be light. But what happens if your lights fail to light?

Let there be dark.

A common issue with Newmar coaches is the failure of the ceiling LED lights. We’ve been fortunate. We have yet to replace any of our ceiling lights. I should emphasize the word yet.

Some owners have had to replace all of their ceiling lights. Some owners have had to replace just a few.

I know it is just a matter of time before we have to replace those lights. Like many things in our coach, they were not built to last.

Removing the existing light is a bit of work. This video shows the process:

And this thread on the iRV2 forum gives a bit more detail.

There are many sources for the replacement lights. M4 comes up frequently as a good supplier of replacement lights. For our coach, we would probably go with this specific product.

We have our coach in storage for the winter as we are stranded in Ontario due to COVID-19. I will probably wait until we have a fixture fail before dealing with the ceiling lights. I might do them all in one go which would be a pretty major project.

How To Wash A Coach

Time to give the coach a wash. It is a big job. At least for me. Roughly 5 hours to give it a good cleaning not including dressing the wheels.

We had the coach professionally detailed in March of this year and I opted to coat the coach with an expensive ceramic treatment.

The detailers spent 3 full days on the coach and they did an awesome job. When cleaning the coach, I don’t want to introduce scratches or swirls into the finish even though the ceramic coating provides a significant amount of surface hardness.

For a coach this size, it can be a bit of a challenge to wash it well and to preserve the finish.

Here are the tools that I use when washing the coach.

The list includes:

  • Pressure washer
  • Simple Chuck Spotless Water Deionizer
  • Foam cannon
  • Buckets with grit guards (one for soap, one for rinse)
  • Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam soap
  • Sheepskin wash mitts
  • Dozens of high quality microfibre cloths
  • Ladder

I tackle one side of the coach at a time. I use a day that I know will be relatively mild and not too hot. I follow the sun and always work on the side that is in the shade or on the side when the day approaches dusk.

The coach gets a thorough foam bath first. I attach the foam cannon to the pressure washer and lather the side thoroughly. I let the soap settle for at least five minutes and then I provide a very light agitation of the surface with a sheepskin wash mitt. Working on a relatively small section of the coach, I will use one bucket to rinse out the wash mitt and the other bucket to load the wash mitt with soap. That part of the process entails a lot of ladder work.

The surface is thoroughly rinsed by switching the water source of the pressure washer to route through the deionizer. The deionizer will provide a spot-free rinse although I do use microfibre clothes to soak up most of the excess water on the surface.  Depending on my level of enthusiasm, I may just let the water dry off the surface. That saves time. But yesterday I towelled off most of the coach.

Keeping a clean, largely swirl-free finish is important to me. The coach looks as new today as it did when we first took delivery four years ago.

Few motorcoach owners invest the time and effort into washing their coach this way. Many will hire the job out to a mobile wash service. Some of them do good work and some do not.

For me, I enjoy the process and the outcome. And I put in a quality effort.

Dutch Star With Broken Windshield Wipers

A broken windshield wiper on your Newmar Dutch Star? It hasn’t happened to us. Not yet. But it will. The windshield wiper system on the Newmar Dutch Star is so poorly designed. The windshield wiper system on this coach is a safety hazard.

The root cause? The wiper arms are steel and the part that bolts to the motor post is steel but the insert that the arm tightens against is aluminum. The nut that holds it together can come loose and when that happens, the arm will rotate around the insert and the arm might snap off. Or you could get lucky and the arm will wrap itself around some part of your coach.

Like what happened to this person:

You can check on the arms to see if they are loose. If you happen to have a long torque wrench, you can bring the arms back to the proper torque which varies between models and year of manufacture. For our coach it is 65 foot-pounds.

I come across so many posts on social media from Dutch Star owners that run into this problem. And they often run into this problem multiple times. A recent example:

So frustrated! In Kimball, TN and the windshield wiper is broken again! 2017 Dutch Star. Rain all night and all day tomorrow in the forecast and the nearest place to fix it is 50 minutes away. Anyone have that problem with wipers coming over windshield into the driver’s mirror? This is the second time that we have been stranded like this on the side of the highway and we could have been killed. Might take a class action suit to wake them up? Limped without wipers to safe area finally.

It is not a question of whether the windshield wipers will fail but when. The arms will come loose. Best to check on them before heading out on the road.

From our own experience, we only use our windshield wipers when we absolutely have to use them. And that means avoiding travel in bad weather conditions and treating the windshield with a water repellant coating.

It is a bit of a project to clean and treat such a large windshield. Far more effort than required for an automotive windshield. If you are wanting to go all in with your windshield, do what Pan The Organizer does. He is a detailing machine.

There is always RainX. Less work. Easier to apply. And RainX seems to repel water better than the windshield wipers that Newmar installs on their coaches.

Faster Is Better

Fast Internet. Faster is better. Every time I refer to the speeds that we achieve in our coach, I get a flurry of emails asking me questions about my setup. Within those emails are usually comments about the poor quality of park WiFi.

I do feel for the owners of RV parks and resorts. In many cases they spend a substantial amount of money to deploy a WiFi service for their guests only to receive a constant stream of complaints.

This past winter I helped assess the WiFi service at a Class A Motorcoach Resort in Florida.

On paper, the infrastructure was high quality. And yet there were so many complaints about the service. I, on the other hand, was having no difficulty achieving high-speed on the resort’s WiFi. I could easily obtain 50 Mbps and faster depending on the time of day and the number of guests in the park.

In Canada, the exact same issue. Complaints about the park WiFi. Where we stay, the park WiFi is throttled. The maximum throughput is managed to 7 Mbps per connected device.

When I connect to the park WiFi this is what I consistently achieve using some basic networking equipment:

Close enough to the managed bandwidth limit. Things change dramatically when I am on my private network accessing the Internet via my high-speed, unthrottled and unlimited cellular plan:

What I use for achieving a high-speed Internet is not for everyone. It is expensive and it is somewhat complex.

Let’s deal with why so many people have issues with their park WiFi. It usually comes down to a few basics. If those basics are not resolved, it really won’t matter if the park has decent WiFi. The Internet will still be bad. Often really bad.

Get an antenna and a router

First and foremost? Signal strength. We can think of the WiFi signal as being similar to a radio signal. If the station you are attempting to tune on your radio is too weak, all you hear is static.

The vast majority of people that connect to a park WiFi do so without using an external antenna. They try to connect directly with their smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops.

If the antenna in the device that they are using to connect to the park WiFi has a low signal strength then the result will be the equivalent of tuning to a weak radio station: static. The speed of the Internet will be slow to unusable.

Signal strength is measured using the dBm scale and it only takes a small amount of change to the signal strength to have a dramatic and negative impact on the speed of the Internet.

A mere 3 dB of loss halves the signal strength. A park WiFi may try to achieve a standard of -65 dBm to every site which should allow for reliable and timely delivery of data packets. But if that signal strength drops below -70 dBm then so much for reliable packet delivery. And so much for decent Internet performance.

A basic minimum for getting the best performance out of any WiFi service? A good signal. And within any RV park setting, the best way to get a good signal? An external antenna. And a network router to distribute the signal. Check out this video for a decent, low-cost option:

Avoid congestion

More people, less available bandwidth, slower Internet. But what if there are traffic management protocols in place? Poor Internet may have more to do with channel congestion than available Internet capacity. The second major issue is that too many people connect to the WiFi using the same channel.

Here is a current scan of the networks that I can reach from my coach:

Keep in mind that the park has very few guests given the COVID-19 situation. On the 2.4GHz WiFi, what is the most commonly used channel? Channel 6. And what happens when dozens of people connect to the Internet using the same channel? Congestion.

Most park WiFi services run on both the 2.4 and 5GHz spectrum. Go for 5. Far less congestion and so many more channels. But to get a decent signal on the 5GHz spectrum? Yes, an external antenna. Makes a big difference.

Deal with complexity

Mobile Internet is not easy for the vast majority of RVers. The marketplace has yet to offer a simple, straightforward solution without some form of compromise. There are resources available to the RV community and I highly recommend the Mobile Internet Resource Center.

Likely the best online resource for Mobile Internet. There is a cost to become a member and, more importantly, there is a learning curve.

If you are looking for a simple and cheap way to get high-speed Internet in your coach, well, be prepared to be disappointed. Whenever I describe what I have going on in my coach the reaction is twofold: too expensive and too complex.

That said, there are many people, including myself, that are determined to have reliable and fast mobile Internet either because they are still working and they need to be online and productive, or because much of their time is spent using online resources in their hobbies, volunteer efforts or Internet-based activities.

One day soon we may have satellite Internet as a viable option for the RV community. It looks like we are getting close to a product launch. Possibly even this year.