- Driving Your RV
- Making the Move to RV Living Full Time
- Taking Care of your RV
- Choosing Your RV
“Hi – can you do an article on slides? I own a 2018 24 ft Freedom TT with a slide and I’m not quite sure what I should be doing to maintain it so it operates well. Recently during a long trip in the rain, I discovered a leak when I opened the slide so a general article would be very helpful. Thanks.”
I hope the information I have written below helps you to understand how to maintain your slide(s). I may have told you more than you care to know, but just skip over the parts that you are not interested in. Lol!
In the early days of RVs, the living space in a trailer or motorhome was determined only by the actual length and width of the RV. Manufactures did their best to make use of the space with built in cabinets,and lots of fold out innovations like shelves and even beds.
In the late 90s that began to change when the first slide outs began to emerge. Gradually over the years, the numbers of slide outs in RVs increased from 1,2,3 and now 4 is very common. Some RVs have even more. I have seen a couple of very large fifth wheels with 5 and 6 slides. A recent trend is to make a slide called a “wall slide”. This very large slide can run almost the entire length of one side of the RV and makes for an incredibly roomy feel.
Many RVers have a “love-hate” relationship with their slides. The love the added room and incredibly spacious feel, but hate the fact that slides can be a problem sometimes. They either won’t go our or won’t go in! Slides can also leak.
It is best to give you a brief explanation as to the different kinds of slides and how they work. There may be other variations that I am not detailing here, but the principles will be similar.
Slides in RVs are basically of two types: mechanical and hydraulic
So that now you have a general idea of how slides work, how do you maintain them?
Here are some tips:
IMPORTANT UPDATE – MARCH 16,2021
At the conclusion of the “Cellular Router with External Antennae” section of this article, I mentioned that we were currently with Gypsy Wireless and that we had not been with them long enough to reach a conclusion as to their viability. I want to report that they ended up demonstrating that they were as unreliable and as poorly managed with non existent customer service as Nomad Internet. Our service simply disappeared one day and after countless emails and pleas for help, there was no response whatsoever. We canceled our service and made sure that our credit card company did not pay any attempt to collect any additional funds. We strongly recommend staying away from both Nomad Wireless and Gypsy Wireless. At this point we have gone with another company that has a phone number. The service has not been flawless, but anytime there has been a glitch, I have been able to call or text them and have been able to get a real person, the same person immediately. They have always been able to fix the issue. I will update this when we have had several months worth of experience with them.
In the recent RVlivingfulltime Topic Survey, “Internet Access” got the most votes to be the topic of the next article. So, here goes.
Usually I plan to explore a topic, give some background, some possible ideas to pursue and then give a well documented recommendation.
I want to start off by saying that I will not have a specific, solid recommendation at the end of this article as to a specific source for internet access. This topic is very complex and we have had a several month history of trying to come to a good solid way of accessing the internet. We think we have found it, but it is too soon to give a solid, hands in the air, recommendation.
I want to begin by stating that we are not your typical internet users. We would be called, at minimum , “power ” users. Having said this, we do, however, feel that even the normal internet user can gain from the information we have detailed here.
One of us is an engineer working from home. His main task is working in computer-aided design. For those who might not know what that is, it means that he draws very, very complex detailed designs in 3D using the computer. This type of work requires incredible amounts of bandwidth. The pipeline to the place where this information is drawn from and is saved to, needs to be very wide. Speed is therefore very important as is the amount of data that we can use in a month. We have estimated that we use between 200 and 300 GB per month.
So lets talk about where we have been in searching for this kind of internet service. I am going to start from least viable in our experience to most viable.
It is important to note that we are talking about internet service that is portable, one that will go with you. It goes without saying that no cellular solution will even approach a cabled solution in speed and in amount of data. If you are going to be in one spot for an extended period of time, and you are in an RV park that has it, then cable internet is by far your best choice. Cable internet is also getting cheaper and a month to month agreement rather than a long term contract is very much the common practice. Installation is a snap; just a wire to your RV and to your router. A router costs around $125. and can be used for all sorts of different suppliers, depending on where you are and what is offered. We recommend you buy one rather than “renting” one from the cable company. This makes more sense economically. This is the one we purchased.
Satellite internet still has quite a ways to go before it is an economical solution in several ways. First of all you have to buy the equipment which can run upwards of several thousand dollars. The service itself can run from $50 to $500 a month. One of the problems is that the technology is changing and you could spend $4000 for a really beautiful automated roof satellite dish, only to discover that it is obsolete in a couple of years. Also the speed at the present time is not that much better than cellular and there are of course limits on how much data you can use. We have a beautiful satellite dish on our roof that came with our motorhome. It is fully automated and raises up off the roof on command. Totally useless. It is for Direct TV which we do not use. It cannot with any modification be used for satellite internet.
This solution, we have found through lots of experience, is the least reliable and the poorest in quality. To be honest, we have only been in one RV park in lots of travels that had a somewhat decent WIFI and internet access. This park was the KOA in Petaluma, California. It was truly amazing and unexpected. Use of “Tango Internet” hot spots we find to be a complete wast of time and money as were Xfinity or Comcast public hot spots.
First of all, let’s start with the two lowest common kinds of mobile internet cellular service; the hot spot on your phone and the portable hot spot “hockey pucks”. Both of these two services rely on your phone service and are limited in speed and in amount of data. In our exploration, the speed, if there is a good connection, is workable and perfectly fine for the average user. It is not great for online gaming, or downloading movies. It is passable for our power user. The biggest downside is the data limit. Most of the more expensive plans offer a maximum of 40GB per month. Obviously I don’t have time here to explore all the different cell phone carriers and their plans. They change very frequently so trying to do so would be foolish anyway. Here are our conclusions on these two choices, the phone hot spot, or dedicated portable hot spot, as a solution for internet access:
This ended up being our final choice after months of struggling with the alternatives. The engineer in the family was now working from home and we really wanted to travel and explore but he needed to be able to work. He decided that cellular service speeds could work with some patience. Most importantly we found a company that offered an unlimited, unthrottled data plan.
So we contacted this company in Virginia. This resource was recommended by a fellow RVer on a Tiffin Facebook page. We did considerable additional research regarding this company before we contacted them.
They sold us a Peplink Router and external antenna and an unlimited and unthrottled plan with T-Mobile. The hardware was about $900. and the monthly plan was $99. with two months deposit. We installed the small, round antenna on the roof and ran wires down to a front- located cabinet where we mounted the router. Some observations:
Below are the Peplink Router and Mobile Mark Antenna that we purchased. Amazon has them at a good price.
As a result of the unsatisfactory coverage, however, we terminated our services with the Virginia company, as at the time, they did not offer another unlimited, unthrottled plan. As a side note, I called the company today to get an update on their services for this article only to find that they no longer offer an unthrottled plan from any carrier.
So that is the main challenge, it appears that if you go direct to a major cellular carrier, none will sell you an unthrottled plan.
I continued to research before we terminated T-Mobile and found a third party company that offered 3 unlimited, unthrottled plans with each of the major carriers. I researched and researched and this company appeared to have a very good reputation. The company is Nomad Internet.
At this point we are now with Gypsy Wireless, again recommended by another RVer. I had purchased a prepaid At&t sim card from Amazon a while back, and was able to sign up with them on the internet just giving them the card number and the IMEI number of our router. Their plan is $75 a month, is unlimited and unthrotted and appears to be the exact same signal as the At&t that we had with Nomad. So far, Gypsy Wireless has responded very quickly to all my questions and emails ,even after we signed up. They don’t have a phone number.
As a final word we wanted to give you a recommendation for television. This recommendation is more useful if you have an unlimited, unthrottled data plan.
Use this generalization as a guide. An hour of standard definition streaming TV or video uses roughly 1 GB of data. An hour of HD video or TV can use around 3GB. So you can get an idea of how much TV you can stream from your hot spot or phone if you have a 40GB per month plan.
At some point in my RV career I had Direct TV with a big dish on the roof. This was some time ago and i would never do it again. The cost is prohibitive as far as we are concerned. We have for some time now been streaming our video using an Amazon Fire Stick. It is an inexpensive product you purchase outright. Our observations:
Directory of Posts:
Right now many roofs have lots of ash from our many fires, do you have any specific cleaning advise for getting ash off of roofs and coach without damage. I believe ash may be very abrasive?
“What is the best wax to use for our 5th Wheel. The body is fiberglass.”
“I am having problem with my suburban sf30 furnace I have checked gas valve the wires are good but it won’t fire an heat the board is new igniter is to.”
“I found some greasy grey powder in the back of the drawer under Norcold fridge in our 1996 Itasca Sunrise. Any ideas about what it could be? Fridge is running fine on electric mode and don’t often us gas.”
“How and when to change seal on toilet ?? Small amount of water noted on floor around toilet”
“This has developed over the last 3 weeks but I need a reliable second opinion. I live full time in my RV and am at an RV resort with full H/U. I keep my black tank closed until I empty it, which I do weekly. The handle has gotten extremely hard to push/pull and I looked at YouTube today for some help. One recommendation was to use “3 in 1” silicone spray so I ordered a can. The video showed the man spraying the rod of the handle and THEN he sprayed the inside of the black tank outlet and the “gate” part of the valve. I’d prefer not to disconnect my sewer hose. Another video showed pouring vegetable oil down the toilet when the tank was empty. I was sort of leary of that because U wasn’t sure about the sensors. Please give your expert advice!! Thanks in advance!”
“Our GFCI in the bathroom works at times and then will not work. Recently the television in the bedroom stopped working as well as the GFCI. Could the GFCI not working be related to this? If so, how can we check or change the GFCI? Can it be a DIY?”