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.