Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Our first month with the Holiday Rambler 5th wheel: What we've learned

Friday, May 1, 2015

Our first month with the Holiday Rambler 5th wheel: What we've learned

March 12th was a very busy day for us.  We took delivery of our new fiver, a 2006 36ft Holiday Rambler Presidential.  This was a huge change for us! Going from the 23ft Weekend Warrior toy hauler to something nearly twice the length - with slide-outs! The new trailer is just like a mini apartment!  During our search we had a few must haves... A rear living room with room for two recliners, a center kitchen, hookups for a washer/dryer, and a front bedroom.  Lots of slides would be a plus after the several week long trips we took in the toy hauler (read: no slides and two Great Danes).

We must have looked at (what seemed like thousands) both travel trailers and fifth wheels both online and in person.  While we found several we liked that would have been comfortable, but when we chanced upon this rolling mansion, we found the only one that just felt like "home".  It had options that we didn't even know we wanted!  Not only did it meet every one of our must haves, it also had a desk (we both work remotely), but also central vac, separate washer and dryer, four slides, air suspension, and a generator!  It truly was perfect for us and our wants/needs.

The first and most obvious thing that is new to us is towing a fifth wheel trailer!  Neither Eric or I had ever done this.  It's a little intimidating, but we both have been towing trailers for years and of all kinds and lengths.  Our first order of business was choosing the fifth wheel hitch to be installed in the back of the truck.  After much searching, asking around, and brain storming, we went with the Demco Hijacker Auto-Slide.  Since we have a short bed pickup truck, we needed to ensure that we had a sliding hitch.  With a short bed pickup, there is not ample room in the truck bed when making tight turns for the trailer to maneuver without hitting the cab of the truck, so some type 
Our thoughts were that while it's a more expensive option, but the single biggest attraction is the neither of us would ever have to worry about if the trailer was in highway mode or not when we started taking corners. If you don't have an auto-slide option, this means you have to pull over, get out of the truck and change the position of the trailer so you can go around corners without the trailer hitting the truck (aforementioned).  Living in Florida all these years has taught both of us that a rain storm can happen at any time and having to get out to make adjustments is not always desirable. We have now towed the trailer several times and have found that it's not scary at all! Although it is a little freaky watching the   trailer literally slide forward and back as you turn, the peace of mind that it brings is well worth it! The ease of hookup, ability to nearly pivot it in tight quarters, and the feel while driving are all huge pluses versus your standard bumper pull trailer.

Next comes the slides (and my seeming inability to close them properly!).  There is nothing difficult about pressing a button and holding it down until you hear the clicks - for most people...  So far, every time I have been on "slide duty", I have forgotten a step, a very important step.  You absolutely must walk around the outside and clear any potential obstacles before closing the slides!  The first time we closed up the slides, we didn't have the housing for our water filter yet so we had it sitting on the bottom inside rail of one of our sides. Unfortunately,  the water filter got caught under the middle slide, but we was lucky and nothing bad happened.  The area under the slide was open enough that the filter housing got caught, but only pinched the hose - no damage.  The second time it was the same water filter (you would have thought I'd learn after the first time) and this time the slide was knocked off completely off track.  Fortunately, a campground neighbor saw our dilemma (we had no idea what to do) and kindly came over and showed us how to jack it up so we could get it back on.  Lesson learned!!  Of course, I haven't put the slides in or out since, but I have started a RV Departure checklist (we will be adding this and keeping it updated).  Rest assured, you can be sure that walking the perimeter before closing the slides is at the top of that list!

Care for our new home on wheels was also something new for us.  We'd only had the toy hauler for about 6 months and used it for short trips so maintenance wasn't something we worried about because we just took it to the shop and they did it for us.  We didn't use it long term nor were there many things we were unfamiliar with since we had owned boats before and most of the systems are similar if not the same.

The roof of the RV is one of the most important elements of your rig that you will want to keep in tip-top condition.  Most Rvs have rubber roofs that must be checked/resealed every 6-12 months. You can extend the amount of time between resealing/repairing by doing ongoing maintenance on the roof - this includes keeping the roof clear of any debris that may come in contact with it.

This includes tree branches and leaves, especially if those are allowed to stay on the roof.  Not only can they stain the roof, by having debris, any water that is on the roof will have a much more difficult time draining if the path where water normally flows is obstructed by debris. Standing water is surely to cause intrusion if left alone. The easiest way to clear the roof is with a leaf blower. Since being neighborly in a campground includes being quiet (especially in the morning), we opted for a cordless battery-powered leaf blower.  It's very light and easy to carry on to the roof.  Safety first though, make sure that you are very careful getting on the roof and when you finish, doing the same when you get back down.  I use a light rope and a makeshift pulley system on the top of our RV ladder so that I can raise the leaf blower to the top of the RV without having to carry it up and climb one-handed.  Always practice safety when doing any work on the roof of your RV!

Other regular maintenance items include replacing the smoke and CO2 detectors every 5 years.

Normally, this just requires replacement of the battery in the detectors, but, for safety, they should be checked every 30 days or less to ensure that a battery isn't faulty.  It's not worth your home burning down because you failed to keep fresh batteries in your alarms.  If you have a smart phone, make yourself a reminder to check all the units in your RV every 30 days.   In addition, the LPG detector should also be checked routinely and replaced if faulty operation occurs.  You may have to take this to an RV repair facility as we are not familiar with how these are tested.

In addition to the regular safety items that should be checked, preventative maintenance such as changing the oil and cleaning or replacing the air filter on the generator.  As a rule, you should service the generator once a year or every 200-300 hours, whichever comes first.  This is ensure safe and reliable operation of your gen set when shore power is not available.

If your RV has slides, you'll want to make sure that you lubricate the seals by using automotive silicone spry on the gaskets surrounding the slides.  This should be done, at a minimum, two times per year.  This will keep the rubber seals flexible and pliable enough to make a good seal when your slides are both open and closed.  Another good item to have (though most would not consider it maintenance) is the use of slide jacks to help hold the weight of the slide and any additional weight the slide may hold.  These jacks are relatively inexpensive but most likely will pay for themselves by way of not having slide outs break down or jump off-track.

Keeping everything clean, well-lubricated, and properly tested on an ongoing basis should help to ensure a trouble-free time on the road and at your campsite.  These are a lot of the things the gentlemen doing our walk through pre-delivery inspection informed us about.  There were a lot of things that were completely new to us, others that we already had a good working knowledge prior to delivery.  We know this is by no means a comprehensive list, so please, if you have additions or recommendations, we would LOVE for you to leave us comments!

Disclaimer: We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions. We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback.

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