Monday, October 22, 2018

President's Message


Jim & Susan Buelow
PRESIDENTS MESSAGE                    10.18 by Jim Buelow


Hello Dogwood Family,
Susan and I are recently back from a 6 week trip to the Northeast, home a week, then back to GEAR for a week. Our travels included Penn State Univ., Niagara Falls, Montreal, Canada, 2 weeks in Maine, and a week rallying with Dogwood at Boothe Bay, where we had a great time. From there on to Boston, Cape Cod, and New York City. And as we pulled in to Mystic, CT, we fulfilled our goal of traveling through all of the lower 48 states in our coach. We had wonderful time and one thing is certain. America is Beautiful.
Now for a little Dogwood business and I will be brief as there are quite a few articles in this newsletter for you to read and enjoy.
Good news. Thanks to Rob Hill, Dogwood will be the featured chapter in the December issue of the FMCA magazine. I was interviewed by one of the editors and Paul has provided pictures for the article. We will be FAMOUS (LOL). Check out the article, you may see your picture.
Elections for the 2019/2020 term will be held at the Christmas Rally. The nominees are listed in the Secretaries minutes later in the newsletter. We have nominees for all positions with the exception of 2 nominating committee members. Buck is working on filling those positions. Thanks to all of you who have stepped up serve Dogwood for the next 2 years.
Susan and I will be at both the Urbanna and Christmas rallies and we look forward to seeing many of you there.
Thanks to all of you for making Dogwood the Great chapter that it is. And a special thanks to Paul Cummings for producing an outstanding newsletter.We think you will enjoy it very much.
Regards and SAFE TRAVELS,
Jim

Rally Report

RALLY INFORMATION    10.18              by DONNA HILL
Donna and Bob Hill


Dogwood has had exciting rallies in 2018.  This quarter was the International Rally in Gillette, WY, the Dogwood's Booth Bay, ME rally and the GEAR rally in York, PA. (Summaries are below.)

We will finish the year strong too with the following:
2-4 NOV - Oyster Festival Urbana, VA
The following have signed up to the Oyster Fest:, Buelow, Bonewsitzs, Fishers, Greenwoods, Schoolars, Tilmans and Alexanders.  If your name is not on the list and you wish to attend, please call Berkley Alexander at 804-754-1308.

Ed's Garage, Urbana, Va,














30 NOV- 2 DEC - Christmas Rally at American Heritage Campground in Williamsburg, VA (Herbert’s, Kuiken’s, Thorpe’s)


IMPORTANT NOTE: Per Patty Kuiken, the cutoff date for the Christmas rally was October 18 due to the fact that American Heritage would only hold our sites until then. There are currently 44 members signed up to attend. If you have not yet signed up for the Christmas party and are interested, call the campground and see if you can get in. If you are able to get a site, send your registration form and rally fees to Jean Herbert no later than October 31. That is the final date.
 
Our hosts will send out an update in November with attendees, schedule, etc.
We will also be conducting a food drive for the needy at the rally. Please bring can goods, pasta, peanut butter etc to donate to a very needy cause.


Remember to consider where we might rally in 2019 and bring your ideas to our December meeting during the Christmas Rally.


Safe travels and hope to see you soon,


Donna

Maine Rally


MAINE RALLY HIGHLIGHTS        10.18     by Rich Bonewitz

The Maine rally was held Aug 28th to Sep 5th at Booth Bay, ME and what a rally it was. Attendees included the Alexander, Allen, Bonewitz, Buelow, Gilbert, Greenwood, Groves, Schoolar, Sohles, Tilman, and Wolfe families, a real good showing considering the distance members had to travel. Meals included lobster, lobster, and more lobster. The weather was great and the campground was close to Booth Bay and very accommodating. Happy hours and heavy snacks were held daily along with delicious steamed clams. One of the major highlights was a clambake on privately owned Cabbage Island. Took a ferry on a 1.5 hour tour of Booth Bay harbor and then on to Cabbage Island where we were greeted by Mrs. Moore, the 97 year old matriarch of the Moore family. We were then treated to a delicious dinner including 2 whole lobsters, 1 pound of clams, onions, potatoes, corn on the cob, along with blueberry cake for desert. Yes, that was per person. Great meal and no one left hungry. After dinner, back to the ferry and an enjoyable ride back to Booth Bay harbor. Booth Bay is a beautiful area to visit with a lot to see and do. We had so much fun this year; we are going to do it again next year. Contact me for dates and details. Rich

GEAR Rally

GEAR RALLY HIGHLIGHTS    10.18     by Jim Buelow


The GEAR Rally was held Oct 3-7, 2018 in York, PA. Dogwood attendees included the Alexander, Buelow, Greenwood, Gutttridge, Hill, Kuiken, Meyer, Sohles, Tilman, and Thorpe families. Due to bad weather the week before and the hurricane in the Carolinas, attendance was down, but there were still about 292 coaches attending.
We participated in the Chapter Fair and took 3rd place out of 18 competitors, which won us a $10.00 check, a white ribbon, and a lot of pride. Thanks to all Dogwooders who made this fun and possible. We also signed up 3 new couples during the rally. Their information is included under the New Member section of this newsletter.
We had a Dogwood chapter get together on Saturday evening and had a crowd of around 36 people including new members and invited guests from FMCA and EAMA. As usual, we had delicious and plentiful food and lots of fun. Thanks to Nancy Wolfe and Connie Tilman for the facility to gather in. As usual, our members had several informal get togethers and outings at the rally and in the York area. I think it safe to say that a good time was had by all.    
IMPORTANT NOTE: There will not be a GEAR Rally in October of 2019. The primary reason is that EAMA has been tasked as the Area to provide primary support to the FMCA National Convention at Perry, GA in March of 2019. This effort will require several hundred volunteers from EAMA which we are part of. Please consider attending Perry and volunteering. Sign up info can be found on line or in the FMCA magazine. Come on down.

Bill Mallory, President EAMA



EAMA News

EAMA NEWS       10.18                                   by JIM BUELOW
Bob and Donna Hill


EAMA which stands for Eastern Area Motor Home Association, and is the Area in which Dogwood is a part of, recently made several announcements.
Dogwoods own ROB HILL was elected to the position of Central Region Vice President for EAMA at the Governing Board meeting. Rob brings a tremendous amount of energy and commitment to his new position. CONGRATULATIONS ROB. We know that you will do a super job and we look forward to working with you.
Jerry and Millie Cohen are selling their motor home and retiring. Many of you know the Cohen’s as they have attended many of our functions over the years. Jerry was the Central Region VP of EAMA for 10 years and did an outstanding job. Jerry and Millie were also deeply involved in volunteering and supporting both National and AREA rallies. Jerry ran the Handicap Trams at GEAR for many years. Millie ran the Community Donations Program at GEAR for a long time. Jerry and Millie also were in charge of the 50/50 raffle, and over the years, collected thousands of dollars for the needy. They did whatever was asked of them to make things happen. Thank you so much Jerry and Millie. We will miss you. Good luck in all you do.

Secretary Minutes

SECRETARY’S REPORT          10.18                    by PAM PHILLIPS


Dogwood Minutes                                                                                                                 September 02, 2018
President, Jim Buelow called the meeting to order at 10:15 a.m. at Shore Hills Campground in Boothbay, Maine.
Jim thanked Richard and Elle Bonewitz, Berkley and Karen Alexander, and Fairleigh and Cil Schoolar for hosting rally. 
Guests Dick and Nancy Wolfe and Bill and Peggy Groves were welcomed.
Old Business:  
Jim announced the outcome of vote allowing non-motorized RVs into Dogwood.  Vote was 18 yes and 10 no. Dogwood by-laws will be changed to reflect the new policy.
Election of officers will be held at the December meeting. 
The slate of officers for 2019-20 is as follows:
President Jim Buelow 
VP of Membership Pat Allen
VP of Rallies Reed Saul
VP of Communication Paul Cummings
Secretary Patty Kuiken
Treasurer Pat Allen
Non-voted positions:  
Safety Chairman Butch Jones
Care Person Susan Buelow
Two positions on Nominating Committee still need to be filled.
New Members    
Dave and Nanette Meyer
Jim and Bonnie Spain
Roland and Brenda Joiner
Scheduled rallies:
GEAR in York, PA, October 3-7, 2018
Oyster Festival, Urbanna ,VA , November 1 -4 2018
Christmas Rally, November 30-December 2 at American Heritage in Williamsburg ,VA.


Care report: 
Carol Chuilli had double knee surgery
Paul and Nancy Cummings daughter has had several hospitalizations with heart problems.
Millie Cohen had double knee surgery. Jerry Cohen is retiring position of Regional FMCA VP.
Dogwood  T shirts. 
 Anyone interested in ordering a T shirt or sweatshirt, see Jim Buelow.
Anyone interested in attending rally at Shore Hills Campground 8/25/19 – 9/5/19 , make reservations early.   They fill up quickly in August.
There was a motion regarding freezing dues for Charter Dogwood members. The discussion was tabled  for the December meeting when there is a quorum.
Pat Allen reported that there is approximately $2300.00 in treasury.
Jim opened discussion and asked question as to whether club wants to use some of the Dogwood Treasury funds for our 25th Anniversary. We will have further discussion at December meeting. Several suggestions were made for next year’s rallies: DC rally, Cass, WV, Myrtle Beach, Maine and Urbanna Oyster Festival. Dogwood Secretary was unable to attend this rally. Karen Alexander graciously accepted to take the meeting minutes.  Motion was made to adjourn at 10:45 a.m.
Respectfully submitted, 
Karen Alexander,  acting secretary

Care Person Report

CARE PERSON REPORT               10.18      by Susan Buelow
Susan Buelow and The Lobster
Hello Dogwood Friends,
Just wanted to share an update with you on some of our Dogwood family members.





Bob and Carol Chuilli: Dogwood charter members Bob and Carol are having a very difficult time. They lost their daughter Lisa in May, Carol had double knee replacement a few months ago, and Bob was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Jim spoke with both Bob and Carol on Oct. 14.  Carol is still in rehab for her knees and doing all she can to help herself and assist Bob. Bob is at home and doing all he can to take care of himself and assist Carol. Hospice comes in several times a week, and per Carol, they are a great help to both of them. They are taking things one day at a time, and hoping and praying for the best.

Butch Jones: On Oct 19, he was working on his truck on a lift in his garage. While Butch was under the truck, the lift let go and the truck and lift came crashing down, but he was able to get out from under the truck and lift before it came all the way down. Per Butch, “My only injuries are some stitches for a cut over my right eye, a golf sized lump on the back of my head, tire rash on the right side of my face and nose, bruising on my chest, and sore arms and legs. I thought I was a goner. In fact, I was surprisingly calm as I accepted my fate, only to still be alive. I believe we all have a purpose and many like me have several.  So thank God for every day because life on earth can be over in a second, or not.”This is a very short version of what happened. If you are on his face book, you can see the entire story and pix.
Terri Johnston:  Terri was recently diagnosed with a bone abscess and a serious infection.  She is in the hospital on medication and is awaiting surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the near future.
Please reach out to our friends, and keep those thoughts and prayers coming.
Susan   


National Director Report

NATIONAL DIRECTORS REPORT   10.18 by DONNA HILL
           Donna Hill


Ed Fisher was unable to attend the Gillette rally, and I was asked to sit in for Ed as the Dogwood representative.


On July 18, 2018 the FMCA Governing Board Meeting was held in Gillette, WY. President Jon Walker reported that the state of FMCA is good, membership has had 18 months of positive growth, and 5423 members have signed up for the new Roadside Rescue Program. Treasurer’s/Finance Committee report presented by Treasurer John Reynolds was accepted for file and the 2019 Budget was approved. Chris Smith presented the executive director's report which was accepted for file. Bob Mills presented Constitution and Bylaws. It was approved to allow membership to vote online (this is on page 37 of the FMCA Family RVing, October 2018 magazine). Other changes are mostly administrative and can be viewed on the website. Policy and Procedure Report was presented by Ross Boyer, most changes were replacing 'motor coach' with 'RV' or updating the name of the magazine. Gay Young presented the Education Committee Report which was accepted for file; FMCA University Library was launched in Gillette. There was a lot of discussion concerning locations of National Rallies. The 2019 International Winter Rally will be held in Perry, GA and hosted by the Eastern Area Motor home Association. The 2019 International Summer Rally will be held in Minot, ND. Incoming officers include Don Schleuse (wife, Barbara), Northwest Area National VP and George Schremp (wife, Maxine), International Area National VP.

Jim Buelow New Members

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS       10.18 by   Jim Buelow

Great news, we gained 4 new members at the GEAR Rally.
Maxine and George Schremp: Maxine and George are from Fredericksburg, VA and have been big supporters and involved with FMCA and EAMA for many years and are friends of several Dogwooders.  Many of you have seen and met them. Maxine is the current Senior VP for EAMA and George is the Area VP for the International Area. Great to have you as members of Dogwood Maxine and George.
Nancy and Dick Wolfe: Nancy and Dick are from Bradenton, FL, but spend a lot of time on the road and also are deeply involved as volunteers at FMCA and GEAR. Nancy is the GEAR Seminars co-chair and Dick is the GEAR Campground co-chair. Nancy and Dick are friends of a number of Dogwooders, have attended numerous past gatherings, and we have considered them part of our family for quite some time. They made it official at GEAR. Welcome Nancy and Dick.
Ron and Connie Corey: Ron and Connie are from North Potomac, MD and attended GEAR. As a result of a conversation with new Dogwood members Dave and Nanette Meyer, the Corey’s liked what they heard, attended our Dogwood gathering and joined on the spot.  Welcome Ron and Connie, we think you will enjoy our chapter.
Gary and Carol Chadwick: Gary and Carol reside in Moseley, VA, are happily retired and enjoy being on the road. We met Gary and Carol at the Chapter Fair, had a great conversation, and invited them to the Dogwood gathering. There, they met and socialized with numerous other members and obviously liked what they saw, as they joined our chapter a few days later. Welcome Gary and Carol; we look forward to having you as members of Dogwood.   
We look forward to seeing all of you at our rallies in the near future. Again WELCOME TO DOGWOOD.   

Jim Buelow Members

MEMBER NEWS        10.18                 by JIM BUELOW


Thomas Newton
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a 10 year old young man by the name of Thomas Newton in this newsletter. Thomas is the grandson of Ed and Connie Tilman, and many of you have met him at past Christmas rallies. He is currently enjoying the time of his life with Ed and Connie. They are home schooling Thomas on the road where they have been for several months. They have been out West, and then all the way to Maine and GEAR where Thomas warmed the hearts of many people. He was everywhere and was really enjoying himself. Among other things, he stuffed goodie bags, worked the ice cream social, presented door prizes, helped set up the Dogwood gathering, and accepted the chapter fair prize for Dogwood. We need to sign this young man up (LOL). Kudos to Ed and Connie for what they are doing, and a big THANK YOU to Thomas for hanging out with us.


Robert and Nancy Greene
Robert and Nancy Greene have been without their coach since early July. They were on a trip out West with the Hill’s when the engine blew up near Seattle, WA. After much discussion with diesel technicians, the Greene’s made the decision to put in a new engine. Fast forward to October 18. I spoke with Robert and Nancy today. The new engine has arrived and is in the process of being installed. Robert and Nancy are in Denver, CO on the way to Seattle. They are hoping to pick the coach up on Monday Oct 22 and head home, but are not real confident the coach will be ready. I asked them to keep us posted. Good luck Robert and Nancy and SAFE travels.


There She Goes!
Pat and Bubba Allen had a breakdown returning from the Maine rally. Bolts broke on the alternator bracket causing the belt to come off. They lost cooling, power steering, and charging systems. They were towed to a shop in CT, left the coach and came home. Eight days later, they picked up the coach and had a safe trip home. All is good.

Safety Article

Motorhome Driving Safety,
By Butch Jones


 In this issue we will talk about some safety items in the driving of the motorhome. Since most of us will be driving the motorhome sporadically, there are some things that we need to address each time we drive the coach.
 Since driving an RV of any description is a bit different for most RVers, preplanning is a term that we should become familiar. Preplanning begins with knowing which routes you will be using to get to your destination, even if you are using an RV GPS unit. Make sure that your vehicle can be accommodated on the routes you choose. Consider bridges, back road sizes, which can vary from interstates with a width of 14” to some secondary roads that are 10’ or less wide. Speaking of bridges, there are two basic things to consider, first is the height under an overhead bridge and second is the weight capacity of a bridge you may be crossing. I had a neighbor that drove a Suburban which weighed in at 6500 lbs. A bridge near both our homes had a weight limit sign which read “Weight Limit 3 Tons”, I knew that he crossed that bridge every day going to work. I ask him about the bridge and he said “Oh my truck only weight 6500 lbs. the bridge weight limit is 3 tons”. When I was in school 1 ton was 2,000 pounds and therefore 3 tons would be 6,000 pounds. Now I know why McDonalds prints “Caution Coffee May be Hot” on their coffee cups.
 While preplanning we should also preplan fuel stops. Getting gas in a car is fairly simple but an RV of any description presents some things to consider. Most diesel pushers and some gas class A coaches have the fuel fill inlets on both sides of the vehicle or in the center of the rear. This makes getting to the pump easy just remember what is behind you if you are towing a car or trailer. Many quick stop gas stations sell diesel fuel as well as gas so it is tempting to use them to refuel. This can get a bit tricky when the building is perpendicular to the pumps. Your turning radius when leaving the pump just dropped to almost nothing. And if a vehicle is parked in front of the store you may not be able to make the turn without taking out a pump or metal post at the end of the fuel island. So preplan, can I get the complete rig into and out of the station. If you are in a pick-up towing a trailer you may be able to back up and get out, however in a motorhome towing a car backing up is not an option. We must consider the thing being towed every time we think of doing almost everything while driving an RV.
 Preplanning continues during the drive as well. If you miss a turn you must look ahead to a suitable place to turn around or an alternate route to get you back on track. While maybe not true preplanning it falls into the same category, more of looking ahead. Looking ahead is also necessary when making turns.  Making left hand turns is fairly simple as there is usually a wide area for the RV to maneuver. However making a right turn is more difficult. First, you are turning into your blind side. Next there can be obstructions which are ready to jump out into the side of your vehicle. Things such as fire hydrants, power poles, street signs, ditches and storm drains to name a few are there just waiting for the side of your RV or towed vehicle to make contact. As you approach the turn, access the area; make sure that there is enough room for your RV and towed vehicle to make the turn without hitting anything on either side of your vehicle.
 Something to remember when driving a class A coach is that your seating position is a foot or so further to the right than it is when driving your car or pick-up. This tends to cause you to drive a bit more to the right. Not bad in a car but in a 102” wide vehicle the right shoulder comes up very fast. Remember a 10’ wide road is 120” wide. So you have 18” to play with and that is divided by 2 so there is about 9” on each side that you can use to maneuver.
 When you are approaching an entrance or exit from a fuel stop or anywhere, look at the intersection of the drive and the roadway. Is there a dip? If so you need to determine if you are going to drag the tail end of the vehicle when you move thru this area. If you think that you might, try to move into the dip at an angle, this will potentially lessen the amount of rear overhang that drags or it may not drag at all. Also take these dips SLOWLY. Remember most of the front and rear fascia on a motor home are made of fiberglass and trailers are fiberglass and or aluminum so take your time. On a motorhome there is a trailer hitch and tow bar that may drag as well. If you are driving a truck pulling a trailer, the rear of the truck may be a bit lower than when not towing so consider this as well.
 The next item to consider is performing a thorough check of the coach. This includes tire pressures, looking for leaks under the vehicle, checking engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, transmission and brake fluid if a gas powered vehicle or if your RV has hydraulic brakes. Look for anything hanging loose under the chassis as well as inspecting the condition of the tires. Look for cracks and splits in the entire tire. It may be necessary to move the vehicle a bit to ensure you can see the entire circumference of the tire. Make sure the lug nuts are tight. Start the vehicle and check for unusual noises, smoke or leaks. Check for exhaust leaks. These checks are especially needed if your state does not have an annual state motor vehicle inspection.
Check all of the lights for proper function and the condition and operation of the windshield wipers and washers. Inspect the windshield for cracks as well. Make sure all windows in the RV operate properly especially the Emergency Exits.
 Once the vehicle has been checked move to the generator. Check engine oil level and coolant level. Test run the generator and listen for unusual noises and for leaks. Listen for exhaust leaks. Make sure that all of the generator control switches function properly and that it is producing the proper current. It is good idea to run the generator with a load. This exercises the generator and allows you to ensure that it is operating properly. I have a voltmeter plugged into a 120 volt AC outlet inside the coach that allows me to check 120 volt current.
 The next thing is to make sure that you are familiar with all of the dash switch functions. Since many of us do not drive our motorhomes on a regular basis take a few moments to reacquaint yourself with all of the dash instruments and switches. Make sure that you learn the location of the engine gauges and indicator lights. Most likely your dash does not look like photo 1. If it does you may need a few days of refresher training before getting behind the wheel. However if your dash looks more like photo 2 then just a review may be all that is needed. It is important that you know where the indicator lights are located before they light alerting you to a potential issue with the engine, drivetrain or brakes. Learn where the individual engine gauges are located so that in an instant you can see air pressure, temperature, oil pressure or fuel level.
Photo 1 Dash Complex   
      Photo 2 Dash Simple
 Recently I was asked to assist a neighbor backing their class A coach into their port. When I got into the driver’s seat I noticed that the mirrors were mounted on the front face of the coach and they did not extend much past the side of the vehicle. This presented me with a problem. I could not see the sides of the coach. I found myself hanging out of the window to ensure I was lined up straight as I backed into the port. When I had finished I asked the owner if she had problems driving and she said that she used the smaller convex mirrors to see the side of the coach. I asked her if she had any issues seeing cars coming up on the sides and she said that they disappeared for a second from the convex mirror before appearing in the flat top mirror. I looked at the mounting of the mirrors and realized that the mirrors could be moved outward and the owner said that the previous owner kept the coach in a barn that was narrow. So I surmised that the previous owner had moved the mirrors to prevent them from hitting the door or walls or to make getting past the coach easier when in the barn. This got me thinking about other vehicles. So make sure that you can see down the side of you vehicle as well as the lane on either side when adjusting the mirrors. Remember that most mirror support arms can be adjusted so that you have good side vision. I spoke with another owner who said that his mirrors were in the same position when the coach was delivered to him. He asked the dealer if they drove the coach before he took delivery and the dealer said that they did not. He moved his mirror arm outward to give him a better view.
Photo 3 Coach with Front Face Mirrors
 Newer diesel engine may be equipped with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and/or diesel particulate filters (DPF) and/or exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems. These will have indicator lights (photo 3) on the dash to let the driver know when the DEF needs to be refilled and when the DPF needs to be cleaned. The cleaning process is called “regeneration” and can occur while driving down the highway. These filters also need a periodic manual cleaning. This is best done by a dealer.
 If the vehicle has an EGR system and is driven for long periods in stop and go traffic it may need a manual regeneration which will require pulling off of the road and stopping the vehicle or driving at highway speeds for about half an hour to complete this process.

Photo 4 Emission System Warning Lights

Many motorhomes have a number of switches in the driver’s seat area. Some are necessary for the operation of the vehicle on the road and others are used primarily when the vehicle is stationary. Some can be used in either situation. You will need to be familiar with the location and function of these switches. Pay particular attention to the “Generator Start/Stop” and Emergency/Auxiliary Start as these switches may be beside each other and you do not want to confuse them.  The photos below show some types of side consoles. You will note that some coaches have a lot of switches and some have very few. Make sure that you are familiar with any of these that you may need while driving and note any that could cause a problem if activated by mistake. The photos below are examples of more complex switch consoles.

        Photo 6 Console Switches
 Before pulling out make sure that all of the rear view mirrors are adjusted so that you can see properly. If you have any additional mirrors (I have one so I can keep track of Mitzi in her seat belt) make sure that they are adjusted so you are not tempted to make adjustments while under way. Check your seat position to ensure it has not been moved since your last trip.
 I have created two checklists. One I use when moving the coach if the slideouts have not been deployed and one if the slides have been deployed. This has more than once kept me from forgetting something important (i.e. expensive).
 Most towed vehicle connections are fairly simple but if it has been a few months since you have made the hookup you may need to review the steps.  Once connected, have your spouse or significant other check all of the lights on the coach and towed vehicle. It is not a bad idea to move up a few feet and then check everything one more time to ensure that everything is properly connected and the tow bar arms have extended and locked properly.  
Once you are on the road, check your gauges often. This can help you see a rise in engine temperature (transmission temperature and exhaust temperature if your coach has those gauges), changes in oil pressure, voltage and any other functions that are monitored by gauges. When the warning lights come on it is usually time to pull over and shut it down.
Most back-up cameras only come on when in reverse but can be turned on and left on. When I am towing a vehicle I turn my camera on all the time. This allows me to monitor the towed vehicle. I look for smoke and anything that indicates a problem with it as I am traveling.
 I also use the camera when passing a vehicle.  As I see the towed vehicle pass the other vehicle I begin to count. I count “one, one thousand, two, one thousand and so on to the five, one thousand. This will usually get the coach and towed far enough to check my mirrors and safely move back into the lane. Many times if passing a tractor trailer the driver will flash his lights when it is safe to pull in head of him/her. If they do that it is good road etiquette to flash your emergency flashers or rear marker lights (if your coach has a switch) two or three times once back in the travel lane to thank him/her for the consideration. This is becoming a lost tradition with many younger drivers. I usually give them a couple of flashes even if they did not signal me to come over. Some older coaches may have a “Flash to Pass” or “Marker Light Flash” momentary switch which activates the rear marker lights when moved, usually to the up or on position. The photo below is a Freightliner switch to flash the rear marker lights
Rear Marker Light Flash Switch on some model coaches
Photo 7 Rear Marker Light Flash Switch


It is generally an accepted practice that emergency flashers are not used while traveling on interstate highways unless you are traveling more than 20 mph under the posted speed limit for your vehicle. Some highways will have a lower speed for trucks. So in that case it would be 20 mph less that the truck speed limit. It is not a bad idea to use the emergency flashers after entering a highway until you get to your traveling speed if the entrance is not visible for long distance. This will allow vehicles in the lane you are entering to realize that you are not getting up to speed very rapidly and they can adjust as needed. Remember that if your coach may use the same bulbs for turn signals and emergency flashers so if they are the same, do not use them together.  I also use the emergency flashers when all traffic ahead of me is slowing down. I use them until I see traffic behind me slowing or there are a few vehicles behind me at my same speed.
 Something else to remember is that most coaches are considered to be truck with regard to highway speed limits and other limitations. If you are towing a vehicle and your coach has one rear axle the total number of wheels in your combination is 10 so if you see a sign that says “vehicles with over 6 wheels must use right lanes” this means you. If you have a tag axle you have 12 wheels so the same applies. When driving a car many people do not pay attention to signs for trucks and thus don’t realize when driving on a highway with three lanes in each direction that many times trucks are not allowed to use the left lane. So if you are driving below the speed limit in the middle lane and there is traffic in the right lane a truck coming up on you is not allowed to use the left lane to pass you so you either speed up a bit and pull over to the right lane or pull over to the right lane as soon as safe to do so. If you don’t have a badge, it is not your job to control traffic. Traveling is much safer and easier if we remember that. My wife, Liz used to say that she enjoyed riding in the coach because I was calmer driving it. She may have been right.
 As far as I know there are no states that require motorhomes to go thru truck weigh stations. And most states exempt motorhomes from agricultural inspection stations. However, some tunnels require you to stop and turn off your propane tank. Some have inspection stations to verify that the tank is off before you enter the tunnel.
 The Global Positioning System is a wonderful thing. But unless you have a unit that is designed for motor homes or big rigs it can be frustrating. Many of these units now allow the inputting of the vehicle length, width, height, and weight so it does not route you where you should not and cannot go safely, most of the time. Even using a GPS unit, it is important to know where you are going. More than once my GPS has gotten me into a situation that I had to unhook the towed vehicle and back up and/or turn around.
 When driving a motorhome especially when towing a vehicle or trailer you must plan many of your moves well in advance. Planning fuel stops and side routes can help prevent some sphincter tightening situations. Most interstate highway and U.S. highways have bridge heights that will accommodate motorhomes, however know what your coach height is to the tallest roof attachment and watch the height signs on overpasses. I have found that railroad overpasses can sometimes be a problem as some do not have height signs or they may be faded or obscured.
 If you have a problem on the road, use caution when pulling to the side of the road. Make sure that the shoulder can support your vehicle. Most states require flares or reflective signs to be displayed if your vehicle is disabled.
Safe Travel Distance between You and the next Vehicle
 While on the subject of state laws, most require trailer (or towed vehicle) brakes for anything 3,000 pounds or more. In addition, although your state may not require a breakaway switch, most adjoining states will require them. An interesting fact I found is that 28 states allow triples. That is pulling two trailers. This would allow you to two a car and a boat.  Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Florida are among those that do not allow this type of towing.
 If you are traveling with other motorhomes in a caravan try to leave enough room for other vehicles to get between you and the motorhome in front of you. This will help prevent an impatient driver from trying to squeeze in between two motorhomes especially when nearing an exit.
 When driving a large vehicle it is helpful to drive well ahead of your vehicle. This means look at what is well ahead of you (where the horizon would be is a good position) not just the vehicle directly in front of you. You must also keep an eye on that vehicle also, but looking ahead will allow you to see traffic issues developing so you are not reacting to the taillights of the car in front of you. It will also help you keep your vehicle centered in the travel lane. Looking at the road directly in front of you tends to pull you toward the dividing lines which cause you to make constant corrections.
 Our goal is to have an uneventful drive and arrive ready to get set up and relax.  So until the next issue, Keep Safe and Get Back on the Road Again.

Butch Jones

Safety