by Paul and Kerri Elders
This month, we’ll take a quick look at something virtually invisible that quietly keeps our RV’s rolling happily down the highway: our wheel bearings. We’ll give you a few quick and easy tips to make sure those little soldiers keep reliably doing their job, day after day. We’ll also give you some tips on fuel economy and how to improve blackwater sewer hose connections. Let’s get going!
Blackwater Connection Tips: The humble sewer hose is actually a very important part of your RV’s utility system. The sewer hose gets the unenviable job of carrying effluent (sewage) and wastewater from your RV’s blackwater and greywater tanks to a convenient sewer dumping connection, either at a campsite or a dump station. Sometimes, successfully securing the fittings to the end of the flexible hose can be challenging. Since most fittings merely screw onto the hose itself, this connection point can occasionally be a source of leaks and spills. Just adding a little duct tape around the perimeter of this connection can effectively eliminate most leaks.
After you’ve made a good, secure connection to your RV’s dump valve, it’s a good idea to use a ninety-degree, right-angle fitting on the portion of the hose that connects to the campsite’s sewer line. This fitting usually successfully seals off odors from the sewer line, keeping both you and the neighborhood happy.
If you don’t get a good, odor-proof seal, there’s a simple Old School trick to insure the sewer fitting stays tightly sealed to the sewer line. Just fill a quart-size ziploc bag with gravel or sand. Position this bag directly on top of the ninety-degree fitting. This simple, flexible little weight can be easily stowed along with your sewer hose for future use. Better yet, just empty the Ziploc bag when you decamp, then refill with fresh gravel or sand at your next stop. And remember to ALWAYS wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after handling your sewer hose or blackwater valves. Simple. Easy!
Improving Fuel Economy: Here are a few simple tips to help you save a little money at the gas pump:
- Check your tires before leaving on any trip. Fuel efficiency will be reduced if your tires aren’t properly inflated.
- Travel light. Don’t carry unnecessary heavy items in your RV or tow vehicle. Whenever possible, avoid carrying a full load of fuel or a full load of freshwater. Dump your holding tanks before leaving camp to save weight. Remove accessory racks when not in use.
- When possible, drive on interstate highways. Remember that the stops and starts at stop lights and stop signs can cost fuel mileage. It takes more fuel to BUILD momentum than it does to maintain momentum.
- Shift gears smoothly and appropriately. Stay within your engine’s RPM power range and don’t overuse your brakes. Generally speaking, the higher the gear you travel in, the less fuel you’ll use.
- Avoid excessive braking, because it also wastes momentum and costs you some fuel mileage. Excessive acceleration away from lights as they turn green also wastes fuel.
- If your schedule permits, always feel free to take the day off from travel when headwinds are high; wind resistance costs a surprising amount of fuel mileage.
- Take your time and keep passing to a minimum. Just by pacing your driving to the flow of traffic, you’ll conserve momentum and save fuel.
Wheel Bearings Make The Wheels Go Round: Have you ever thought about how your gorgeous home on wheels depends on some components that are vitally important, but virtually invisible? Surprisingly, even the most luxurious motorhome on the market depends as much on the viability of a tiny wheel bearing as it does on its massive Caterpillar engine.
We seldom think of it this way, but in reality, the entire weight of your RV is supported not just by your tires. Wheel bearings, tiny little round steel balls, smaller than half the size of a marble, continuously roll around and around as you drive. Wheel bearings, small as they are, help reduce friction as your wheels rotate on their axles. We take them for granted till they freeze or seize, but these little guys serve us well, mile after mile. Just a little care and maintenance (particularly important for trailer wheels), will keep them rolling reliably for many thousands of miles.
If you’re on a long road trip, it’s a good idea to check your wheels at each stop. This is a quick, easy task you can perform whenever you take a break to stretch your legs. Slowly and CAREFULLY place your hand over the hub of each wheel at least once a day to check for excessive heat. If the area around the wheel’s hub is excessively hot, you may have a dry wheel bearing and should have this remedied at a service center ASAP before continuing on your journey. It’s also a good practice to have your wheels repacked and adjusted annually by a qualified mechanic. Happy trails, road warriors!