Monday, December 31, 2012

Santa Barbara RV park offers stays in vintage Airstream trailers

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., (Dec. 31, 2012) -- A new RVing experience awaits here with the opening of the SB Auto Camp, where visitors stay in smartly renovated Airstream trailers.

For the past month, neighbors have been admiring the re-landscaped park entrance that features four vintage Airstreams. The SB Auto Camp is part of an existing RV park that houses 30 other trailers from varying manufacturers. Several dozen local residents live full-time at the park.

The SB Auto Camp is a 15-minute walk from the historic Santa Barbara Mission, and a short bike ride southeast of Santa Barbara’s bustling downtown shopping district. Major shopping centers are within a half mile, and quaint local shops, services and eateries are next door and across the street.

The Airstreams were hand-renovated by local architect Matthew Hofmann’s custom renovation firm HofArc. “Each Airstream has been uniquely designed to connect yesterday with today without giving up modern comforts,” said Hofmann.

Each trailer comfortably sleeps four and features all new, all electric appliances, home-style fixtures and creature comforts found in luxury lodging. Each one also comes with its own outdoor barbecue grill and complimentary use of two retro-styled Huffy beach cruiser bicycles and riding helmets.

Nightly rates are $118 during a grand opening special at

(permission to reprint granted if credit provided to

Thursday, December 27, 2012

RV park chairman Jim Rogers of KOA to appear on TV's Undercover Boss.

Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc., will assume the persona of Tim Bickford, an out-of-work accountant from San Francisco on the CBS TV series “Undercover Boss,” Friday, Jan. 11 (8-9 p.m., ET/PT).

Rogers said he welcomed the chance to go undercover, taking on the persona of a “front line” KOA employee. “’Undercover Boss’ is great entertainment, but it also does a great service by taking the general public behind the scenes of popular companies,” Rogers said. “Every episode is a case study in business management.
“My front line assignments on ‘Undercover Boss’ affirmed the importance of creating KOA systems that maximize the time that campground staff members can spend with guests,” Rogers said in a news release. “I learned that the great people we have on the front lines can always use more time to better know and serve our campers. Genuine engagement, ultimately, is what it’s all about. KOA campground owners and their staffs are the real heroes of KOA.”

Rogers has been at the helm of KOA for 12 years. The company has 489 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Each week, "Undercover Boss" follows a different executive as he or she goes an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their companies. While working alongside their employees, they see the effects their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering and rewarding the unsung heroes who make their companies run.
SOURCE: Kampgrounds of America, Inc, and

Friday, December 14, 2012

Motorhome owner association FMCA announces 2013 rallies

The Family Motor Coach Association, FMCA, has announced its rally dates for 2013. FMCA is the largest national association of motorhome owners and is based in Cincinnati.

During FMCA area rallies and family reunions, motorhome owners socialize and enjoy seminars, entertainment and other scheduled events. Motorhome manufacturers and RV display product, giving attendees the chance to shop for a variety of motorhomes and RV-related merchandise all in one location.

FMCA’s 2013 Area Rally dates and locations include:
• Western Area Rally, Jan. 9-13, Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival grounds in Indio, Calif.
• Southeast Area Rally, Feb. 6-10, Hernando County Airport, Brooksville, Fla.
• INTO Area Rally (International Area), March 20-23, Lazydays, Tucson, Ariz.
• Midwest Area Rally, July 24-27, Delaware County Fairgrounds, Manchester, Iowa.
• Northwest Area Rally, Aug. 8-11, Linn County Fair & Expo Center, Albany, Ore.
• South Central Area Rally (Six-State Rally), Sept. 11-15, Missouri State Fairgrounds, Sedalia, Mo.
• Great Lakes Area Rally, Sept. 18-22, 2013, Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, Goshen, Ind.
• Eastern Area Rally, Oct. 9-13, York Expo Center, York, Pa.

In addition to the area rallies, FMCA’s 88th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase will be held June 19-22, at CAM-PLEX Multi-Events Facilities in Gillette, Wyo. This will be FMCA’s first visit to Gillette for an international event and it is especially significant, as it will mark the culmination of FMCA’s 50th anniversary celebration. The association was founded in July 1963 by 26 “house car”-owning families.

SOURCE: FMCA news release and

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

RV refrigerator maker Norcold subject of class action lawsuit

December 12, 2012 -- Consumers in California and Florida have filed a lawsuit alleging that the manufacturers of Norcold brand gas absorption refrigerators, used in RVs and boats, knowingly sold defective refrigerators that posed a serious fire risk but hid that information from the public and federal regulators. The class action lawsuit, filed today in Orange County, Calif., seeks relief on behalf of all persons who purchased or owned RVs or boats in California and Florida equipped with three models of Norcold-brand gas absorption refrigerators. The complaint names Norcold, Inc., Thetford Corporation and Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation (DKM) as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges that since 1999, Norcold’s refrigerators have caused at least 2,000 fires resulting in millions of dollars in property damage, personal injury and death. The refrigerators contain flammable gases under high pressure, including hydrogen. The gases are heated by electricity or propane to circulate and provide the refrigeration effect. Fires are caused when defects in the refrigerator design release the flammable gases, which can then explosively ignite and spread quickly through the refrigerator compartment and into the passenger area of the RV.   

The lawsuit alleges that the companies knew of the potential fire hazard associated with its refrigerators, but rather than eliminate the design and manufacturing defects or provide an adequate warning of the potential safety risks to users of the product they tried to conceal and minimize these dangers through a series of limited manufacturer-initiated product safety recalls through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), beginning in 2000.  

In each product safety recall, Norcold represented that there was a single failure modality in a limited portion of their product population. They provided a retrofit that would fix that defect, rendering the refrigerators safe to use. But in truth, the lawsuit alleges, the refrigerators had a number of different failures that were common to all of the product lines, information that was never adequately disclosed to NHTSA or users of the product, nor remedied by the retrofit campaigns. Further it’s alleged that the devices provided by the companies to “fix” the defects were not only ineffective to remedy the propensity of the refrigerators to cause fires, but were designed, when triggered, to render the refrigerators inoperable and unrepairable, requiring users to purchase new refrigerators that contained the same design and manufacturing defects as the originals, and which had the same propensity to cause fires.  

According to Caleb Marker, one of the attorneys who represent the RV owners, "One of the fundamental purposes of this litigation is to hold Norcold and its co-defendants accountable for putting an unsafe product into the marketplace when they were fully aware that the product posed a serious risk of devastating fires that cause property damage, injury or death to consumers.  It is also unfair for defendants to force consumers to bear the cost of remedying the design defects inherent in their products.”   

Consumers can get more information or a copy of the complaint at

Florida RV resort talent contest has $5,000 prize

RVers who sing, dance and play musical instruments might want to consider staying at a Carefree RV Resort in Florida this winter. There could be a hefty payoff.

The RV resort chain, with 30 properties in Florida, will host its second annual Carefree's Got Talent competition in March. Participants who stay at any of the resorts during the winter snowbird season will have a chance to compete for a $5,000 grand prize.

Preliminary competitions will take place at each Carefree RV Resort property in Florida in February and early March. The winners will then advance to a final competition.

The talent competition will be followed by a rally on the evening of March 20, which extends into the next morning. The cost of the rally is $35 per RV and includes dinner on the 20th and breakfast on the 21st.

Last year’s competition brought together 1,200 snowbirds from all over the state. Kenny Channels from Riptide RV Resort in Key Largo took home the $5,000 grand prize by performing hits from George Strait and the Zac Brown Band.

Details on the talent show and the rally will be announced at each Carefree RV Resort after the first of the year. Only Carefree residents who stay at a park for three months or longer during the 2012/2013 season will eligible to participate. However, all are encouraged to attend the show and participate in the rally.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Carefree RV Resorts offers a variety of RV parks throughout Florida, Texas, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts. For more information, visit Carefree online at

SOURCE: Carefree Resorts news release and

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top RV parks announced by

LAS VEGAS, Nev., Dec. 4, 2012 – Forty-two campgrounds, RV parks and resorts earned all around “A” grades in the fourth annual consumer satisfaction survey of campgrounds, RV parks and resorts. The top parks were announced Friday during the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’  annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

More than 30,000 camping and RV enthusiasts participated in the online survey, which evaluated guest experiences at 3,200 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are affiliated with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

“Consistently earning an overall ‘A’ grade from guests is difficult, and our 42 winners this year represent less than two percent of all of the nation’s campgrounds. But what is even more impressive is that nine of this year’s winners have also received this award for five years in a row,” said Bob MacKinnon, president and CEO of, the Murrieta, Calif.-based company that conducted the online survey on behalf of ARVC.

The national online survey program was launched in February, 2008 in collaboration with ARVC. Consumers are invited to submit their own reviews of campgrounds and RV resorts they have recently visited by finding the park’s page on

The 42 parks earning “A” grades this year are listed below. They include:
    • Ashland Resort, Northfork, W.V., a three-time A grade winner,
    • Cross Creek Camping Resort, Delaware, Ohio, a two-time A grade winner,
    • D & W Lake Camping and RV Park, Champaign, Ill., a three-time A grade winner,
    • Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort, Plymouth, Calif., a first-time A grade winner,
    • Kalyumet Camping & Cabins, Lucinda, Penn., a two-time “A” grade winner,
    • Meadowcliff Lodge & RV Resort, Coleville, Calif., a four-time “A” grade winner,
    • Misty River Cabins & RV Resort, Walland, Tenn., a five-time A grade winner,
    • Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S.C., a five-time “A” grade winner,
    • The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course, Borrego Springs, Calif., a three-time “A” grade winner,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fleetwood RV shows off motorhome changes for 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky, Nov. 29, 2012 -- Fleetwood RV, Inc., a leading producer of Class A and Class C recreational vehicles, has highlighted new floor plans for three of its Class A Diesel models, the Discovery, Expedition and Excursion, at the 50th Annual RVIA National RV Trade Show in Louisville.

The Excursion, a low-profile, mid-entry diesel pusher, offers new 35B and 35C floor plans, which feature a wrap-around galley with counter extension, a mid-coach 18 cubic foot residential refrigerator and an extendable dining table credenza with ample storage. The bedroom features a wardrobe slide-out and a 32 inch Sony LCD HDTV.

The popular 40X floor plan is now available in the Expedition which includes a mid-coach 40 inch Sony LCD HDTV entertainment center. The coach offers multiple furniture options, including an L-shaped sofa, a side-aisle single bathroom and an available king bed.

The high-end Discovery 40E floor plan offers a bath and a half with a "Super Shower," a Villa L-shaped transformer sofa, a large galley Corian backsplash and spice shelf and ultra-wide pantry storage and display cabinet. The 40E also includes a freestanding dinette with a hide-away 46 inch Sony LCD HDTV and an available king bed.

SOURCE: Fleetwood news release and

Monday, November 19, 2012

Feds list free access days for 2013

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Department of Interior has published its list of free entrance days for 2013. On those days regular gate fees will be waived for public lands.

January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 
Agencies participating include National Parks, Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service.

April 22 - 26, National Park Week.
All National Parks.

June 8, Great Outdoors Day.
All US Forest Service locations.

August 25, National Park Service Birthday.
All National Parks.

September 28, National Public Lands Day.
Agencies participating include National Parks, Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the US Forest Service.

November 9 - 11, Veterans Day weekend.
Agencies participating include National Parks, Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Holiday Rambler RV celebrates 60 years, introduces three new models

1954 Holiday Rambler travel trailer
LISLE, Ill., November 15, 2012 – Navistar RV, a subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation (NYSE), will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its Holiday Rambler brand at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) National RV Trade Show, November 27 to 29 in Louisville, Ky.

It will also introduce three model-year 2014 vehicles. The new Presidential will reestablish Holiday Rambler’s presence in the luxury fifth-wheel category, and the company will continue to build and sell motorhomes with the reintroduction of its Augusta B-plus class B vehicle and its new Vacationer, an entry-level class A gas coach.

“We are very pleased to mark the 60th anniversary of Holiday Rambler, a preeminent brand in the history of recreational vehicles,” said Bill Osborne, president, Navistar RV. ”

The first Holiday Rambler was a travel trailer introduced to the public in 1953. In 1961, the brand’s introduction of aluminum body framing ushered in an era of lighter, stronger and more durable RVs. This aluminum frame (Alumaframe) became the standard for RVs for 40 years. Holiday Rambler was also responsible for many firsts, including built-in refrigerators, holding tanks and aerodynamic radiused corners. As Holiday Rambler moved into motorhomes, it was the first with tag axles, and its kitchen slide-out revolutionized interior engineering in the field. Holiday Rambler was sold to the Monaco Coach Corporation in 1996, now a part of Navistar.

“While we are proud of Holiday Rambler’s rich history, we aren’t stuck in it,” Osborne added. “We continue to introduce new designs, exciting new options and features.”

THE NEW PRESIDENTIAL is a maneuverable and roomy fifth-wheel that offers the appointments of a luxury motorized RV. A wide body design, combined with a unique chassis platform, provides industry-leading exterior storage with both front and rear pass-through storage. Premium construction methodologies include a 100-percent gel coat exterior (no metal skirt), thicker laminated walls, composite structure panels, frameless windows and arched roof trusses.

Notable interior features include Lane-brand leather furniture, a fireplace and pull-out desk, flatscreen TVs in the living room and bedroom, a walk-in shower and tiered bathroom vanity with vessel sink, and available dishwasher and stack washer/dryer. Storage is plentiful, with a full-size pantry, and custom dinnerware and glassware drawers.

The new Vacationer SE offers customers the high-end features of a diesel coach — Smart Structure chassis system, ergonomically designed cockpit, soft-touch ceiling and generous pass-through storage — at the lower price of a gas vehicle. The new Augusta B-plus is a maneuverable and compact motorized RV with maximum space and inventive design features including a Murphy bed that folds away to allow for a larger living area.

SOURCE: Holiday Rambler news release and

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

China beefs up RV tourism

CHINA -- Chinese officials looking for tourist dollars have designed five new tour routes for motorhome use though the Yangtze River Delta area. One of the most densely populated areas of the planet, the delta is home of Shanghai, China's most populous city of 23-million inhabitants.

wikimedia commons
The newly-designed routes will shepherd visitors to major tourism sites and at end of day, to appropriate RV parks. Government authorities are working on plans to build RV-appropriate infrastructure along the routes. Plans call for 400 to 500 RV parks to be built by the year 2020, including dump stations, fuel pumps, and electrical connections. High-level RV resorts with "recreational activities" are planned for Shanghai. Tourist attractions along the routes are in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.

Officials hope that by 2020 the region will see upwards to five and a half-million motorhome tourists. Most of the estimated 8,500 motorhomes in China are owned by private companies who rent them out for about $240 a day.

Source: Global Times

RV products on display at new Dicor Facebook page

What does a Norman Rockwell painting, a table dancer, R2D2, a roll top desk, tan and black lager, and a thermos bottle have in common? They’re all part of a whimsical and fun Facebook page started by Dicor Corporation. The online site provides a sneak preview of new products at the Dicor “Center of Amazing” booth during the National RV Trade Show in Louisville.

For RV manufacturers, the page previews new Vixen FRP sidewall and external panel options, new tan-colored EPDM roof material, a table with a four-way moveable top, and an exclusive robotic window sealing system that promises amazing manufacturing gains as far as leaner inventory, production efficiency and consistent quality.  These and other new offerings are from what Dicor calls its “Center of Amazing” research and innovation.

RV dealers who don’t usually visit the Dicor booth can view some of the attractive new products at this year’s display, including a heat-reducing roof coating, specialized lap sealants, roof cleaning and coating systems, shade repair and cleaning products, and more.

The page also shows the new roof care and repair videos that Dicor Products is currently producing as part of its expanded consumer communications.

Videos and iconic pop culture photos of robots, tables and people, among other things, liven up the page while highlighting product features. New postings are made daily.

“We want it to be a fun place for people to visit, and encourage the informal exchange of ideas and feedback between us and our visitors,” said Gregg Fore, Dicor Corporation president. “It’s another channel of communication for those interested in what we do.”

The new Facebook page is at

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Navistar RV to debut 2014 models at RV trade show

Navistar RV, a subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation (NYSE), will showcase a number of new products at this year’s Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., from November 27 to 29. The display will include the model-year 2014 Monaco Monarch SE, as well as the new Holiday Rambler Vacationer SE and Augusta B+.

“These ambitious products represent the next generation of RVs from Navistar and our brands,” said Bill Osborne, president, Navistar RV. “We’re excited to have our industry unveiling at the RVIA show, then to roll the models out to the public at events later this year and next.

“The overall mix of products in the market has shifted, with a larger preference for gas as compared to diesel in Class As,” he added. “Also, amenities that were previously only available in diesel have now made their way into gas coaches.”

The Monarch SE and Vacationer SE address these changes by delivering the high-end features of a full-size diesel coach — Smart Structure chassis system, ergonomically designed cockpit, soft-touch ceiling and generous pass-through storage — at the lower price of a gas vehicle. The RVs also emphasize the company’s striking new exterior style and incorporate new floor plans to suit individual needs.

“Our gas products were previously on the higher end of the price segments,” said Osborne. “These new products allow us to offer customers a gas Class A unit with deluxe amenities, and because they’re affordable, first-time buyers and part-time enthusiasts can now enjoy a great, luxury coach.”

During its product line evaluation, Navistar also determined there was an opportunity to add a B/C category unit to its portfolio, addressing the needs of first-time buyers and enthusiasts who want to be in a small but self-contained motorized RV.

“Holiday Rambler hasn’t introduced a new vehicle in this product class for some time,” Osborne added.

The new Augusta B+ is a maneuverable and compact motorized RV with maximum interior space. Inventive design features include a Murphy bed that folds away to allow for a large living area with skylight, plus a pop-up TV for enhanced counter space and work area. Storage is plentiful, with a mega-locker that can be accessed from the inside and outside. The vehicle is available on a gas Ford E-350/450 chassis.

SOURCE: Navistar news release and

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kits for RV refrigerators allow low temperature operation

To extend the camping season as well as support full-time RVers and others using recreational vehicles for worksite living in the winter, Norcold is now producing cold weather kits that allow RV refrigerators to operate in ambient temps down to 0°F. RVers previously needed makeshift solutions to maintain proper refrigerator operation at temps below 32°F.

As of October 1, factory-installed Cold Weather Kits are standard on Norcold's popular N641.3 and N841.3 gas absorption models. The kit is also available separately to allow current Norcold refrigerator owners to retrofit their Norcold 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- and 17-cubic foot models.

Based in Sidney, Ohio, Norcold is America's leading maker of gas-absorption refrigerator/freezers for the RV, marine and truck markets. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thetford Corporation, which is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

SOURCE: Norcold news release and

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Open Range, dealer, sued over 'lemon' RV

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- An Alabama woman has brought suit against RV manufacturer Open Range, Co., and a local RV dealer in an 'RV lemon' case. Karen Lockhart of Lacey's Spring, Alabama says her brand new Open Range fifth-wheel hasn't been right from the start, and still isn't fixed after eight visits to the dealer.

The suit alleges that Lockhart bought the fifth wheel from Madison RV in October 2010 for $64,000; she also received a $29,000 credit for a trade-in. With the new unit came a warranty registration form indicating the dealer had inspected the unit's systems and found them to be OK. Within two days Karen Lockhart had the rig back to the dealer, complaining of problems with electrical, plumbing, and other issues, including "significant water leaks," and damage related to those leaks.

The suit says Madison RV's work order on the returned fifth-wheel included, "replacement of coupler coax, application of sealant, water line, repair floor, seal shower, adjust latch, repair trim, repair wiring, adjust door, repair hinges, leaking underbelly, ice maker water line is leaking, entrance door is not working, black tank is draining into underbelly, floor in underbelly is warped, leveling jacks lift rear wheels off the ground, leakage of propane."

The dealership turned the serviced fifth-wheel back over to Lockhart in November, but according to her suit, the plumbing still leaked and other mechanical problems manifested themselves. Adding apparent insult to injury, Lockhart says the black water system leaked into the trailer's underbelly. Back went the trailer. The trailer was returned. The entire process repeated itself on through 2011 and 2012, alleges the lawsuit, with Ms. Lockhart continuing to make payments on a unit she describes as, "totally unfit for any reasonable purpose for which it was intended."

Lockhart is asking for damages and a jury trial. Neither the dealer nor manufacturer had commented on the case, according to news outlet

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New RV "makeover" show to feature "Poison" singer

CHEVY CHASE, MD- Bret Michaels, the former lead-singer to the "glam metal" group, Poison, has put down his microphone and picked up a new trade: Re-designing recreational vehicles on a new make-over TV show called "Rock My RV." Production starts for the eight half-hour series shows next month.

What has a rock-and-roller got to do with RVs? The Travel Chanel thinks that Michaels is just the guy to star in the new show. Michaels will lead up a group of skilled RV designers and fabricators who will transform run-of-the-mill RVs into "the most outrageous, badass, hooked-up mobile mansions on the road," according to a news release.

"For the past 25 years, Bret Michaels has spent at least nine months out of the year in a tour bus that he personally designs from top to bottom," said Andy Singer of the Travel Channel. "We couldn’t think of a better front man than Bret for the series. He lives and breathes life on the road and undoubtedly holds the record for most hours logged in a custom coach. Bret jumped at the chance to share his passion for travel and the RV experience through this fascinating, obsessive world of customizing RVs"

"Between touring and travelling, I spend a lot of time on the road and my tricked-out, custom coach is my home away from home," adds Michaels. "I crisscross the country and live in my tour bus, and I know how to take an RV from ordinary to extraordinary. I can’t wait to put my expertise to use and show people how to make their RVs rock."

The rocking will commence on your TV screen in 2013.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

RV editor returns from long road trip with mixed feelings about RVing

Woodbury at work.
EDMONDS, Wash., Oct. 16, 2012 -- editor Chuck Woodbury has returned from a two-month, 26-state coast-to-coast RV trip. Along the way he visited the FMCA rally in Indianapolis and America's Largest RV Show in Hershey, Penn.

"I had hoped that in attending the events and talking with RVers in campgrounds that I could gain some insights into the current state of RVing," he said. "What I learned is that RVing is as popular as ever, but the way we do it is changing."

He was hosted at Thousand Trails preserves and by some KOAs, but spent much of his time in independent parks. "Most KOAs and virtually all Thousand Trails are catering to RVers as a destination where they can spend days, even weeks at a time, with the park entertaining them," he said. "It's not just 'come, stay and entertain yourself' like the old days of public campgrounds, but 'come, stay and we will entertain you.' The list of facilities and social activities they offer is longer than ever -- jumping pillows for the kids, hot tubs, evening movies, ice cream socials, more sophisticated playgrounds, free WiFi, fishing and paddleboat lakes, mini-golf, swimming pools, and special events for holidays keep their customers busy. KOA, in particular, seems to be beefing up its visitor offerings and is pushing its cabin rentals, where a customer does not even need an RV.

"Independent parks, the mom and pop ones in particular, are all over the place in quality and need to get their act together," he said. "Some are very nice, but too many are unkempt or offer mediocre facilities. I drove a few miles off the highway to one park that looked attractive on its website. But at the entrance there were two junked cars, weeds a foot high, and a weathered mobile home for the office. I turned around. At another park, I paid $38 and was led to a site that was way off level. People don't pay to sleep on a slope; they deserve better. In a park that I pulled into after dark, I nearly poked a hole in my thumb hooking up the water hose: a part of the round faucet handle was broken off leaving a sharp pointed edge. When I told the employee in the office, she didn't express any concern or even note my campsite."

Woodbury never stayed in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but came to appreciate why so many RVers do. "A typical one-night stay at a commercial park by the highway is $30 to $50," he said. "I can understand why RVers, no matter how well-off, choose to stay free in a parking lot rather than spend that much money just for a place to sleep for a few hours."

24 Express park sign along I-90.
In tiny Wasta, South Dakota (pop. 72) along I-90, he found the small, no frills 24 Express RV Park that charges $5 a night for a gravel pull-thru site with water and 30 and 50 amp electric hookups. "They make money off their automated gas station and a family-run military museum and they have no employees," he explained. "The RV park is clean and popular with overnighters. There's a demand for other low-cost parks like this and I think an opportunity for a visionary entrepreneur." is in its 11th year of publishing a weekly online newsletter and next month will debut a daily edition, RV Daily Tips. More than 200,000 RVers a month read and its network of about four dozen other websites and blogs.

SOURCE: news release.

Friday, October 12, 2012

RV park doing just fine charging $5 a night

The eight site campground. All pull thru sites.
By Chuck Woodbury

WASTA, South Dakota -- Along Interstate 90, about 10 miles west of the town of Wall and its mega tourist attraction Wall Drug, is Wasta, population 72, and its 24 Express Campground. In an era when most RV parks along a highway routinely charge $30 to $50 a night, the 24 Express Campground charges $5. It's been in business for three years and is turning a profit.

Small billboard along I-90
Its father-son owners Arley and Tom Rancour also operate the 24 Express Mobile gas station and the Armed Forces Military Collection museum. The gas (and diesel) station is fully automated, the first totally self service station to open in South Dakota. The campground is also self service. Pay your $5 and then take a campsite. The dump station is free if you stay a night.

All eight campsites accommodate the largest RVs and offer water along with 20, 30 and 50 amps electric hookups. RVers can use the toilets in the gas station, but there are no showers. Only fully self-contained RVs are allowed in the park.

To keep costs down, the business has no employees. The property was cheap to buy and the overhead low. "Most RVers come in late in the evening and leave early in the morning," said Arley. "Maybe it costs us a dollar or two in electricity. We don't make much money on any one of the things we do individually, but when you add it up we do fine," he said.

"Our biggest problem is growing trees," he said. "We've planted a thousand, but they all die." Tom said they keep trying to find trees that can survive the clay soil. "Look around, he said. "None of the trees around here look very good."

Seven signs along I-90 advertise the park, but that's it for the marketing effort. Yet, in the busy summer season, it fills regularly. "Business is picking up every year," said Arley, noting that the down economy has many RVers looking for a bargain.

Yet even at $5 some RVers complain. "They want WiFi or a sewer hookup," said Arley. Most of those RVers just turn around and leave.

Arley and one of his home-built soda pop planes
The Armed Forces Military Collection  displays firearms, uniforms, a tank and two mint-condition Jeeps, plus posters, newspaper clippings and other miscellany from World War I through the present. Individual displays are dedicated to the military services of the United States, Germany and Japan. The collection represents a 27-year effort by the family along with some donations. Soon to arrive from Texas is a Navy A-4C Skyhawk jet which saw service from 1964 to 1974. The plane will be displayed outside in front, where it will be highly visible from the highway.

The museum gift shop sells t-shirts, model planes, books, DVDs and more. Arley makes model Corsair airplanes from soda pop cans and sells them for $20.

Tom said the store sells more Vietnam-era related merchandise these days, now that most of the World War II vets are gone. "When Grandpa comes in with a grandchild, he's a Vietnam vet nowadays," he said.

The 24 Express campground, gas station and military museum are at exit 98 off I-90 west of Wall and east of Rapid City. Telephone first for museum hours, (605) 993-3007. The campground is open year round.

Quartzsite RV show gets ready for year 30. Claims "largest show" title

Quartzsite RV show
Aerial view of the huge show tent.
Quartzsite, Ariz., Oct. 12, 2012 – This tiny desert town just east of the California border, is preparing to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show, which its promoters claim draws the largest crowds of any RV show in North America.

The show takes place in and around a 70,000 square-foot tent a half mile south of I-10 on U.S. 95. This year's event runs January 19 to 27. Admission and parking are free. The attendance for the 2011 show was estimated at well over 100,000 with more than 400 exhibits inside the huge tent and surrounding it. "There will be hundreds of new and used RV's on display in 2013 and over a dozen service bays will be offering immediate installation, repairs and service on many of the items that will be exhibited at the show," said promoter Kenny King.

Many tourism-related exhibits from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe will onsite, as well as representatives from dozens of RV resorts and campgrounds. Some will offer information about seasonal job opportunities for RVers, commonly called "workampers."

While some of the RVers who visit the Quartzsite show stay in local RV parks, most hole up for free on government lands just outside the small town. Information for visitors and exhibitors is available at or by calling 714-377-7940.

SOURCE: and Quartzsite show news release.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Deer plows through trailer (graphic content)

STURGEON BAY, WI -- A Greenleaf, Wisconsin man broke in his new travel trailer in a most unusual way. Last weekend Thomas Richart was towing his new travel trailer northbound on Highway 42/57 when an eight-point buck deer tried to get between the tow vehicle and the trailer. The results were fatal for the deer, and caused serious damage to the new travel trailer.

Evidently impacting the trailer head-first, the buck traveled through the front of the Coachman Catalina trailer, partially through the interior of the rig, and ending with its head coming through a compartment door.

The accident occurred at 7:00 pm, less than an hour after sundown. Local police took the occasion to remind drivers to slow down, as the deer rutting season is now in progress.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four out of 10 RV enthusiasts report leaks in roofs

EDMONDS, Wash., Sept. 26, 2012 -- There are a lot of leaky roofs on the RVs of America according to last weekend's reader survey at Of the more than 1,600 RVers who responded, about 43 percent reported their RV's roof had leaked, 20 percent more than once.

"I'm not sure these people know how serious this can be," said editor Chuck Woodbury." The cost to repair the damage can easily run into thousands of dollars."

Gary Bunzer, better known as the RV Doctor (, knows full well what it means. "A 43 percent leak rate doesn’t surprise me," he said, "and that just reflects the RVers who actually know they had a leak!

"Lack of maintenance is the main cause of roof leaks on RVs and because the roof is 'out of sight, out of mind,' many RVers never think about the importance of regular roof inspections and maintenance. The racking and twisting an RV goes through while driving down the road, the various temperature and weather extremes we travel in, the deterioration of sealants over time, the lack of a roof ladder or a method of getting up there, all contribute to an inevitable water intrusion event. Left unattended, it will only worsen."

Bunzer said that by the time an RVer sees a stain on the ceiling, damage may have already occurred. "Water intrusion, in my estimation, is the number one cause of RV structural damage, leading to expensive repair and restoration. The proactive RVer will subject the roof and all the attachments up there, to a detailed inspection at least once per camping season. Early detection and a little maintenance, using the correct products, will guarantee every RVer a leak-free roof. It’s been an on-going training effort of mine for many years."

The up-to-the-minute results of the survey can be found at the website.

SOURCE: news release. Permission to reprint granted.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

America’s Largest RV Show reports record attendance

Camp Hill, PA, Sept. 25, 2012 -- America’s Largest RV Show, held last week in Hershey, Penn., attracted a record attendance with a turnout of 43,131 consumers. Attendance for the September 10 through 16 event was up 29 percent from last year. The show featured 1,092 new RVs on display, 172 booth vendors and 45 manufacturer exhibits.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the increase in both show space and attendance,” said Rebecca Lenington, Executive Vice-President of the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA). “We sold out of booth vendor space inside the Giant Center and extended the manufacturer space further into the parking area.”

The first two days of the six day show were open only to members of the RV industry, allowing dealers one-on-one time with manufacturers and the opportunity for a sneak peek at their 2013 products.

The 2013 show will be held on September 9 to 15. For more information visit

SOURCE: and news release.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Winnebago RV brings back Minnie Winnie motorhome

FOREST CITY, IA, -- Winnebago Industries, Inc., has re-introduced its iconic Winnebago Minnie Winnie with an emphasis on value on the once highly popular Class C motorhome. The targeted MSRP on the 2014 model starts at about $60,000.

The Minnie Winnie is debuting with the 31K at Winnebago Industries Dealer Open House event this week in Elkhart, Indiana. Its floor four floorplans range from 25 to 31 feet. The longest offers a large u-shaped dinette, full-featured galley, a 32-inch LCD TV, flexible sleeping options and ample storage including a large rear trunk.

The product will also be available in the new Itasca Spirit line according to Scott Degnan, Winnebago Industries’ vice president of sales and product management. “The new 31K Minnie Winnie and Spirit are value-packed and perfect for entry-level buyers or for rental applications," he said.

“It’s great to see it back on a product that looks great, even better than I expected at this price point,” said Steve Jung of Cincinnati's Colerain RV.

Winnebago Industries, Inc., is a leading U.S. manufacturer of recreation vehicles, which are used primarily in leisure travel and outdoor recreation activities. The company and its subsidiary build motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheel products under the Winnebago, Itasca, Era and SunnyBrook brand names.

SOURCE: Winnebago news release and

Monday, September 17, 2012

RV park game rooms no longer a big draw

The RV park game room is headed the way of the dinosaur according to a weekend survey by

"Only three percent of the more than 1,500 readers who responded were interested in a game room," said editor Chuck Woodbury. "Seventy percent said it was not important to them in choosing one park over another, and 27 percent said they would "rather a park did not have one."

"We are amply entertained with our computers and our Kindles if it comes to indoor fun," one reader commented.

"To be fair, most of our readers tend to be older, avid RVers and not young families," so that partially explains the high negative results," said Woodbury. "Still, RV park owners tell me that RVers and their children are bringing their games with them now on their computers and mobile devices and don't need to visit a game room. KOA does not even require its new franchise owners to have one."

The up-to-the-minute results of the survey can be viewed here.

SOURCE: news release.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where to look for fall colors

R&T DeMaris
Leaf peepers--it's time. The Forest Service is doing its part on behalf of Uncle Sam to make your peeping mileage productive. To that end, the spokes-folk for the Service had this to say: "Autumn is a wonderful time of the year to plan a trip to see the beauty of your national forests," said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. "As tree experts, we have incredible resources on our website to help you plan a great adventure this fall season."

What sort of resources? The Forest Service’s Fall Colors 2012 website includes clickable maps that link to forest-by-forest fall color information and to state tourism and fall color websites. Some of our most popular family friendly features include locations of scenic drives and trails, coloring pages for kids, the science behind the season, and links to a tree database. Photographs from visitors nationwide will be added to the site.

If you're away from the Internet, you can make a phone call to the Fall Colors Hotline at 1-800-354-4595. The hotline provides audio updates on the best places, dates and routes to take for peak viewing of fall colors on national forests.

Stock up the RV refrigerator, get plenty of batteries for the digital camera and make this a memorable autumn.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Daisy Duke" takes center stage at Brit RV show

It's a long way from Hazzard County to Birmingham, but Bo and Luke's cute cousin, Daisy Duke, is taking her stardom to the RV world. Come October 16, actress Catherine Bach who made "Daisy Dukes" synonymous with severely short-cut blue jeans appears at the opener of The Motorhome and Caravan Club 2012 in England.

Known for fast car chases in a Plymouth Road Runner, Bach traded in her southern-tried four wheelers for a motorhome or "caravan" leaving the "Dukes of Hazzard" fame, now acting on a regular soap, "The Young and the Restless." She's taking a quick break from her American television filming to make the appearance at the RV show.

While RVing may not be in her blood, Bach has spent plenty of time in RVs, having them available for her to get away from the stage and to relax. As a child she spent plenty of time in the out-of-doors, being a ranch-raised girl in South Dakota.

As Daisy Duke, Bach had the distinction of  having her legs insured for a cool million dollars. At age 58 Bach still has the ability to turn a head or two. Perhaps male British "caravaners" should be advised not to get their knickers in a knot: Catherine Bach is the mother of two and happily married.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Daily RV consumer newsletter to debut in November

EDMONDS, Wash., Sept. 10, 2012 -- The publishers of the weekly newsletter, now in its 11th year, will debut a new daily newsletter in mid-November. The Monday through Friday online publication, RV Daily Tips, will include concise, helpful advice to RVers. publisher Chuck Woodbury will oversee operations with long-time contributor Russ De Maris as editor.

"We are still refining the format, but our plan now is for one brief lead article each issue with advice that will enhance an RVer's experience, whether it's about lifestyle, maintenance, safety, towing or anything else about RVing," said Woodbury. "In addition, we'll embed one 60- to 90-second video tip in each issue from an RV expert. We already have two month's worth ready to go that we videotaped at the recent FMCA rally in Indianapolis and we'll be adding new ones this week at the RV show in Hershey.

"We're looking for other video submissions from people in the RV industry who have something of value to say to our readers," he said. "There's no charge for appearing in the videos unless we have to travel to record them. I expect that each one, depending on its topic, will eventually receive 10,000 to 50,000 views through its archives on several websites and blogs, so it would be good exposure for a company." The YouTube channel, where the videos will be hosted, has garnered 1.7 million views to date.

The free newsletter will debut with about 6,000 daily subscribers. "We've solicited sign ups in our newsletter and Facebook page for a couple of months now," said Woodbury. "But once the new newsletter is underway we'll push harder and I expect it to grow fast."

RV Daily Tips will be supported by advertising and from sales at's e-commerce site More information is available from Woodbury at

SOURCE: news release.

Monday, August 27, 2012

California town parking ordinance singles out RVs

Blythe, California city council members are mulling over a proposal to restrict RV parking on the town streets. Blythe lies in close proximity to the snowbird "Mecca" of Quartzsite, Arizona--just 20 miles to the east. Some have noted an oddity in the proposed ordinance: Purportedly written with public safety in mind, the law would single out RVs while other vehicles would seem to create similar safety hazards.

The brain-child of town mayor, Oscar Galvan, the law if passed would limit the parking of recreational vehicles on the street to just two days. The proposed law declares its purpose to be of a benevolent nature: "WHEREAS safety issues, such as sight distance from driveways and intersections, result when such vehicles are parked on public streets or rights-of-way in the City."

Granted, when a large vehicle is parked on the street next to a driveway, the line-of-sight when looking out for traffic can be obstructed. However something that has nothing to do with safety also pops up: "WHEREAS, the parking and/or storage of recreational vehicles and trailers causes visual blight in the City."

A close reading of the ordinance reveals the only vehicles which come under the two-day parking restriction are these, defined under California law: "A motor home, travel trailer, truck camper, or camping trailer, with or without motive power, designed for human habitation for recreational, emergency, or other occupancy." Nowhere in the proposed rule are there limits to how long boat or utility trailers may be parked on the streets of Blythe.

A drive through the town streets does reveal a large number of boat trailers, many of which are loaded up with large pontoon-style boats. These large (and popular) rigs likewise tend to restrict the line-of-sight of drivers and pedestrians. Just how much "visual blight" either boats or RVs create is in the eye of the beholder. Evidently in the eye of Blythe's mayor, RVs must be ugly.

Should the ordinance pass, park your RV on the streets of Blythe in excess of 48 hours and find yourself guilty of a misdemeanor, subject to a citation, and the vanishing of your RV by towing. The first reading of the proposed ordinance will be this week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Class B van conversion RV features slide-out and more

Class-B "camper vans" have come a long way since the days of the old "hippie conversion." Now comes an upstart idea from Canada: A Class B with a slide-out and a dry bath. Leisure Travel Vans announced  the release of their "Free Spirit SS" on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis.

For RVers who don't mind a minimalist space environment, there are a few things almost just too good to be true: Picture getting 19 to 22 mile-per-gallon. Need a little fresh air while napping? Just open the sliding door at the foot of your bed for a bigger-than-life view of the outdoors. Need to head off to 'powder your nose'? Stand ready for a porcelain toilet, shower--even a vanity.

The Free Spirit SS adds a few other features:

- V6 turbo diesel
- Rack and pinion fiberglass slideout--just to the rear of the driver's seat
- Leather sofa bed, folds down to 54" x 80" with memory foam topper
- Under the sofa bed, a pedestal table, 'erects in seconds'
- Corian countertop, stainless sink, cabinets, refrigerator/freezer, convention-microwave oven equipped galley
- 16,000 Btu furnace
- 600 watt inverter
- Full width sliding screen door.

Expect sales to start this fall at less than $120,000 (US). 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

RV maker Monaco changing its name to Navistar RV

LISLE, Ill., Aug. 6, 2012 – Monaco RV, a manufacturer of motorized and towable recreational vehicles, today announced that it is changing its name to Navistar RV.

Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision brands will remain distinct and intact under the Navistar RV subsidiary of Navistar, Inc. “The integration of Navistar and Monaco RV has resulted in better products and higher efficiencies,” said Daniel Ustian, Navistar chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Navistar, Inc., producer of industry leading school buses, commercial trucks and defense vehicles, acquired Monaco RV in 2009. Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision have been part of the Navistar family of brands for the last three years. Since the acquisition, the company has streamlined operations and appointed a new executive management team. Navistar has also fully integrated the design, development, testing and validation of its RVs with the company’s commercial truck and bus product development organization.

The company maintains manufacturing operations for its R-Vision and Holiday Rambler towable units in Harrisburg, Ore., and Elkhart, Ind. The company’s Monaco and Holiday Rambler brand motorized RVs are produced in a fully integrated manufacturing facility located in Wakarusa, Ind., with powertrain, chassis and body assembly in one dedicated facility.

“Navistar brings more than 100 years of vehicle development and design experience to the Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision brands,” said William Osborne, president of Navistar RV. “With a foundation of Navistar’s business and design excellence, we’ll continue to produce some of the best recreational vehicles in the market.”

SOURCE: Navistar news release and

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

RV full-timers to hold September rally in Oregon

Howard and Linda Payne of the website will stage their inaugural western rally next month, Sept. 18-23, at the River Bend Resort in Harrisburg, Oregon, just north of Eugene. RV campsites and hotel rooms are available to attendees.

The rally will include a dozen or so seminars taught by the Paynes geared mostly to new RVers and those considering full-timing or just getting started full-timing. Rally registration will also include three catered meals, entertainment, open RV walk-throughs and free minor repairs and service from Guaranty RV.

The Paynes, full-timers themselves since 2005, will conduct seminars each day beginning Tuesday, Sept. 18 through Saturday. The cost is $280 per couple or $140 for a single (not including RV sites or hotel). Discounted rates are available for prior RV-Dreams Rally attendees. More information is available at the website.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Forest River expansion in works.

GOSHEN, IN -- After thousands of layoffs in the heart of RV manufacturing country, a bit of blue sky is brightening the employment picture. RV builder Forest River says it will be hiring new workers for two of its Indiana plants.

Forest River foresees the need of 120 employees at its Millersburg plant, and 40 more for its operation at Middlebury. To help grease the ways, the RV firm is looking for property tax breaks and state initiatives for both these locations, and one other Elkhart County plant in Goshen. County officials will take up the topic of tax breaks next month.

If Forest River has its way, it says it could end up adding as many as 445 new jobs.

Monday, July 16, 2012

RV owner group set to gather in Indianapolis

The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization for families who own and enjoy the recreational use of motorhomes, is finalizing plans for its August 27-30 rally at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana. Approximately 2,500 motorhomes and 8,000 RVers are expected for the event dubbed “Formula For Fun.”

Convention activities will include a motorhome exhibition by motorhome manufacturers and dealers from throughout the United States and Canada, as well as displays and commercial booths by manufacturers and suppliers of RV accessories and components.

Other activities include seminars on a variety of topics related to motorhomes and RV travel, local tours, evening entertainment and many social gatherings. While the convention is organized for Family Motor Coach Association members, the organization also invites members of the public to attend and provides various admission options.

Admission to the motorhome exhibition only is $7 per day; children 12 and under are admitted free with an accompanying adult. Those with an active military ID are admitted free also. A daily passport for all exhibits, seminars and entertainment is available for $65 per person ($55 for FMCA members).

RV OWNERS ARE INVITED TO HOLE UP at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The price for non-FMCA members is $240 per RV (with two people). The non-member fee automatically grants a one-year FMCA membership or Family Motor Coaching magazine subscription to the RV owner. The FMCA member price is $190.

The Family Motor Coach Association was founded in 1963 by a contingent of "house car" owners who decided to term their then-unusual vehicles "motor coaches." Today the association has nearly 90,000 member families. One of the primary benefits of FMCA membership is a subscription to the monthly Family Motor Coaching magazine. Other benefits include trip routing; mail forwarding; a fuel discount program; full access to; a tire purchasing program; and group rates on an emergency roadside assistance plan and member-only RV tours and caravans.

For more information, visit or call the FMCA national office at (800) 543-3622 or (513) 474-3622.