Building an RV Knowledge Base

One of the toughest parts of waiting to go mobile is being aware of just how much there is to learn, without any opportunity to do any hands-on. We placed our deposit on our 5th wheel last month, and are hoping to take delivery in December. This means we will miss the best of the 2014 warm season, but in actual fact the summer here in Canada has been pretty lousy. It has never been really hot at all this year.

So I sit and read, as I have been doing for 2 years now: reading books, reading online websites (my favorites are for its sheer variety and DoItYourselfRV for all the great DIY ideas) and reading blogs of other mobile writers (one of my favorites being How I Wrecked My Life, a quirky and humorous account of real life on the road – the good and the bad).

I review all of this material with great enthusiasm rather than fear. Somehow I find the idea of wrestling with black-tank sewer pipes strangely compelling. I look forward to crawling under the rig with a head-mounted flashlight to inspect the tires. And the notion of having the view outside my window change every few days or weeks is most attractive of all.

But simply reading about it is a little like buying a book on “how to swim.” Sooner or later you just have to get in there and start to do it.

But there’s the conundrum.There are so many things to know about how to drive the thing, how to park it, level it, hook it up… I find myself wondering how I am ever going to get it off the dealer’s lot and into its first campground? So I was thinking maybe I should just pay the RV dealer a couple of months’ rent and drive it back and forth across the lot – living for a couple of weeks on the west side, and then hooking up and venturing 100 yards to the east side, to nestle in among the huge diesel pushers, like Thomas-the-Tank-Engine at the diesels’ shed.

To keep my wanderlust and RV stage fright at bay, I have started to consolidate the best of what I have found into a Microsoft Word Knowledge base, with all the stuff about tires, heating, connections and boondocking all available and stored on the desktop to avoid reliance on wireless internet signals.

I picture myself that first evening after taking delivery, scurrying around with levelling blocks and latex gloves, while my laptop sits, Yoda-like, on the hood of the truck, dispensing its wisdom. “Use chocks, you must! Hmmm!”

I take solace in the fact that many thousands of RVers have gone out there before me. I have never yet seen a fifth-wheel trailer glide past me on the highway, uncoupled from its owners’ truck, and I feel I am at least as capable as most of those who are already out there.

My knowledge base grows daily: a checklist for arriving, a checklist for departing, a checklist for winterizing, a checklist for keeping unwanted critters out of the rig, and one for finding great out-or-the-way campsites.

The only problem is, I cannot use any of these lists until actually get the rig in my hands. So I wait and I study and I plan and I study some more.

I just can’t wait to get on the road.


3 thoughts on “Building an RV Knowledge Base

  1. Hi fellow Canadian Rv’er. In BC if the rig is > 10,000 lbs we require a special licence, so I found an instructor. Best money spent on the RV, as he also covered hooking up, etc. Like you, I researched for many years, but nothing prepared us better than actually completing the tasks, with somebody in the know.

    Enjoy the coach when it arrives.


    1. Andy & Judi – Thanks for commenting. Your blog is very interesting and I look forward to following it. Thank you for the advice. Our 5th wheel is 8500 lbs dry, so I am not sure if the 10,000 lbs refers to both truck and trailer together. However we will do the research, since BC is high on our list of destinations.
      Enjoy your travels, and please keep in touch.
      Best, Steve and Liz.


      1. Steve & Liz – the weight is based on the trailers GVWR, or max weight, as specified by the manufacturer. Our dry weight ex factory was 13,500 and our GVWR is 16,500 lbs. Provided you are licenced correctly for your home Province you are good in all Provinces and US States.


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