On this week's show, we take a look at some of the new trends and changes we're seeing in RV design for 2019 and beyond. From new exterior color trends to upscale yacht-type interiors along with creative uses of canvas pop-ups, pop-outs, and extensions, RV designers are getting creative and breaking new ground.
Also, we'll take a look at a new prototype travel trailer from KZ RV that epitomizes what RVs of the future will be offering.
Later, we'll visit Thetford and learn all about Aqua-Kem and what goes into making this number-one selling holding-tank deodorant.
And with spring finally here, Mark and Dawn Polk from RV Education 101, show us what's involved in a good RV spring checkup.
RV Trends for 2019 and Beyond!
As we attend the 2019 RV industry shows, a few things have become apparent, and that is that RV designers and manufacturers are getting bolder and more creative in their thinking, thus giving us some exciting new RVs to choose from.
For example, this year we're seeing a lot more black and gray RVs, along with some other very unique colors, and if you notice, many of these trailers are a solid color without stripes and decals. Is this the look of the future?
When it comes to RV interiors, we're seeing more designers leaning toward the yacht or European style and look. Gone are the wood-panel walls and wood-finish cabinets. Instead, we're seeing clean-looking white or off-white walls and cabinetry with occasional wood trim for accents. I think the best way to describe this new look is clean, luxurious, and practical.
We saw many examples of these canvas extensions on everything from camping trailers, to Class-B motor homes, and even Jeeps.
In some cases, the look is strictly cosmetic, and in others are, in fact, designed for rugged off-the-road use. Either way, it's an interesting new look.
Aram Koltookian of KZRV: "This is a Sonic-X, and we were challenged to build something new and exciting for the RVX here in Salt Lake City, and got the team together, and I had a dream of "Let's build something that's gonna work any time you wanna go camping," We saw some different samples, you know, a little while back, of some carbon fiber from Lamilux, and I said, "Man, we've gotta make this thing carbon fiber," so that's the most dramatic thing.
When you walk up to this coach, the carbon fiber exterior is absolutely stunning, and kind of morphed from there. We said, "How would you go camping--" or "What do we want this coach to do? When you say you wanna go anywhere, anytime, what does that mean?" So that's when the wheels started spinning. I'm an off-road enthusiast. I'm an outdoors person, and a lot of our team are, so we just got together and it just kept building, and the hardest thing about building this coach was saying, "No," 'cause we pretty much said, "Yes," to everything.
The outside of this coach is completely unique. From the ground up, obviously, the carbon fiber is what you see first, when you walk up to it, but you also see the real aggressive off-road stance. We put torsion axles on it with 30-inch tires, off-road tires, to give it a nice, high ground clearance. It also gives you a great entrance and departure angle, so that was all part of the design that we said, "We wanna go anywhere." We meant it.
As you look around the coach, there's actually nerf bars completely surrounding the coach, 360 degrees. With carbon fiber, you wanna make sure that you protect, you know, a valuable asset like that, so we wanted the nerf bars to take the hit. As you kind of walk around the coach, there's a lot of nice things to take a look at. Up front, we have a custom, fully adjustable BAL bike-rack system that will carry four bikes up front, and then on the back, we have not only a place to carry wood or your coolers, but you can carry two kayaks on the back, so four bikes and two kayaks, plus extra coolers and gear on the coach, you immediately notice that right away.
One of the things that you don't really see right off the bat are the solar panels. We have nine 110-watt solar-- flexible solar panels up top, feeding down into a completely controlled nine lithium-ion batteries in its own compartment, so this thing has virtually endless power. So if you wanna go out at night, you wanna keep your lights on, you've got more than enough power to go days, even in partial sunlight. The thing will keep charge. It'll charge whether you're pulling it down the road with your car, it'll charge if you plug it in or into a generator.
The other thing you'll notice in the back is actually we did an Infinite Water System, which is kind of neat because what we wanted to do is, we put two 40 gallon holding tanks in it. Normally a coach this size, you know, would have a 40 or a 45. We wanted it to have more than that, so we're carrying nearly a hundred gallons of water, and if you're dry camping for a week, "a hundred gallons" sounds like a lot, but it's not that much, so we put in an Infinite Water System that allows you to take a hose, put it into a stream or lake, a bucket of water that you got from somewhere else, and refill your water tanks. And a lot of people are thinking', "What? From a stream?" Well, if you just wanna fill your water tanks for flushing your toilets or anything like that, it actually has a five-micron water filter system that can be expanded to any type of water system filtration that you want, so no matter where you are you can find some water, and get it back into your coach and refill your tanks, so that was a real important aspect of it.
You know, as an outdoor person, one of the things that you're gonna be doin' is you have gear with ya, and sometimes gear breaks, so on the front and on the back, each, on the front there's two 40-inch, and on the back, there's two 40-inch LED lights that are producing over 64,000 lumens of light, so we wanted to really light up the back or the front of the coach so that if your truck breaks down, if your bicycle breaks down, or if your fishing rod needs to be repaired, you've got enough light to sit out there under the stars and get it done.
We had a lot of fun on the inside of the coach. Not only does it have a Murphy bed, which has been done. We do that in our current Sonic lineup, but all of the furniture is custom-made. We worked with a boat furniture manufacturer to really make the furniture soft, custom density foams, but it's also very, very durable--you know, it's meant to be out on a punting boat that can just withstand sun and spills and everything-- with midnight black accents, which tie into the, you know, to the exterior, so we wanted to be really comfortable so that, if you are a couple and then you got some friends out in the tent and you have a bad couple of days of rain, you can get in, you can watch a movie. You can watch a movie on the outside as well."
Like we said, the Sonic-X is an experimental prototype, but who knows? We just may see it or a version of it in the near future. Learn more about KZ-RV here.
What goes into making the #1 RV Toilet product.. Aqua-Kem!
You've seen their ads on our show, and you see RVers everywhere using it in one form or another. That's probably why Aqua-Kem is the number one-selling holding tank deodorant of all time. Like most folks, we were curious as to what goes into making Aqua-Kem, so we headed over to the Thetford facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to learn firsthand about the operation.
Besides Aqua-Kem, Thetford also makes a lot of other RV products at this location, from toilets, to a large array of RV cleaners, protectants, polishes, and waxes.
When it comes to making any type of chemical product, it all starts in the lab, where formulas are developed and tested. And with today's environment, there are a lot of things to consider, as Thetford's chemical manager, Paula Dumont, explains.
Paula Dumont: "Well, RVers today want to make sure that they are very conscious of the environment. The EPA makes sure we're conscious of the environment, so when we're designing products for RV use, our first and foremost concern is that the products are being used outside, and when you clean your RV, any runoff from that has to be compatible with the environment that it goes in, the campground, so our products are all designed to be direct release, so that means that you can wash your RV with the product and not worry about the runoff because it's completely biodegradable, and even our non DFE products are all biodegradable as well. Some might take a little longer than others, but most of them are readily biodegradable."
Paula: "Right now, we have four scents for Aqua-Kem, and we are constantly innovating every year. We surveyed the marketplace with our fragrance suppliers about what consumer trends in home air care are, and we target the ones that smell the best to us in the lab, and then we take them to our fellow employees, and we have them evaluate and vote on the scent that they like the best."
Now let's head out to the factory and see what the process is for making Aqua-Kem. The one thing that's obvious is there are a whole lot of tanks here, and each one holds a different ingredient that goes into making Aqua-Kem. The tanks are constantly monitored and controlled. When it's time to mix a new batch, the formula is input into the computer, then the proper amount of each chemical is piped over to the mixing vessels. Once everything is mixed, the finished product is stored in these large holding tanks until it's time to be piped over for packaging.
To make the dry form of Aqua-Kem, the dry chemicals are put into these large rotating drums, along with the liquid scent, and mixed for a specific amount of time. Then the powdered mix is put into some very large bags to be transported over to the packaging department. Here, in the dry-packaging line, you'll see the large holding bag on top of the hopper. The dry ingredients are dumped into the hopper, which then feeds the product into the packaging machine. On this line, the ingredients are put into individual packets. The packets are then put into boxes, cased, and they're ready for shipping.
In liquid form, Aqua-Kem is available in various-sized containers. It so happens, the day we were there, they were doing gallon-sized bottles. The empty bottles are dumped into a hopper, where they are fed onto the line. The bottles next go through a unique machine that senses what direction the bottle is facing, and spins the bottle so that they're all facing in the same direction. Now the bottles head to the filling station, where six bottles get filled at once. Next, the caps are put on, and just to make sure the caps are tight, they go through a re-torquing machine. Next, the labels are put on, and the finished product is boxed and ready for shipping.
Now, the next time you open that bottle or take out that packet of Aqua-Kem, you know exactly how it was made and why it's still number one after 50 years. By the way, Thetford has come out with a whole new Aqua-Kem product called Aqua-Kem Shotz, the industry's first micro-concentrated holding tank deodorant. Click here more information on Aqua-Kem and the new Shotz,
RV Education 101 and your RV Spring Checklist
Mark Polk: "When your RV sits in storage for a period of time, lots of unexpected stuff can happen to it. Batteries that were fully charged when you parked the RV are discharged. Tires that were properly inflated are under-inflated, and seams and sealants crack and separate.
There are other concerns too, like where the RV was stored and how it was prepared for storage. If the RV was stored outside, exposed to the elements, the exterior and the roof can suffer the brunt of Mother Nature's harsh winter conditions, and if you did not properly winterize the RV water system, there could be damage to the plumbing.
We can't undo how the RV was prepared for storage, but we can prepare the RV for another adventure-packed camping season.
Let's take a look at five important RV spring checks. Every spring when the threat of freezing temperatures dwindle, I head to the garage to perform some important RV spring checks. There are probably 50 or more checks we could make on our RV, but today I wanna discuss five RV spring checks I consider absolutely essential.
Check number one, RV battery.
The condition of your RV batteries depends on how well they were cared for when they were in storage. A battery in storage can lose up to 10% of its charge every month. If you checked and recharged the battery periodically during storage, the battery should be ready to go. If you did not check and recharge the battery, the first step is to fully charge the battery. After the battery is fully charged, check and add distilled water as required. If the battery was removed for storage, reinstall the battery and make sure it is connected properly.
The next check is the RV water system.
If the water system was winterized, it needs to be de-winterized. There are three important tasks we wanna accomplish when we de-winterize the RV water system. We want to remove the RV antifreeze from the plumbing system, check the water system for leaks, and sanitize the RV water system so it's safe and ready to use. If you used nontoxic RV antifreeze to protect the water system from freezing, you need to run fresh potable water through the entire plumbing system until all traces of the RV antifreeze are removed. To do this, connect the potable-water drinking hose to the city-water connector on the RV, and run freshwater through the entire plumbing system to include the sinks, shower, outside shower, toilet, and washing machine, if applicable.
After all traces of the RV antifreeze are removed, you can reinstall any water filter cartridges that were removed for winter storage.
The RV antifreeze that was in the plumbing system is now in the gray and black water holding tanks and can be emptied when you have access to a suitable waste disposal site. After the antifreeze is flushed from the water system, it's a good idea to sanitize the water system. Make sure all the drains are closed and any drain plugs are reinstalled.
Take a quarter cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water your freshwater tank holds. Mix the bleach with water into a one-gallon container and pour the solution into the freshwater holding tank. Fill the freshwater holding tank completely full of potable water.
Turn the water pump on and run water through all hot and cold faucets until you smell bleach at each tap. Close the faucets and let the solution sit in the freshwater holding tank and the water lines for at least 12 hours. Drain all the water and refill the fresh water tank with potable water. Turn the water pump on, and open all faucets, running the water until you no longer smell any bleach.
Check number three, RV tires.
Tires lose a percentage of air pressure, sitting in storage. Your RV tires can lose two to three psi a month. This means they could be dangerously low on air pressure. Check the tire pressure on all tires with a good tire inflation gauge and adjust the inflation pressure to the manufacturer's recommendation, based on the load. Don't forget your spare tire. Remember, failing to maintain correct tire pressure, based on the load, can result in fast tread wear, uneven wear, poor handling, and excessive heat buildup, which can lead to tire failure.
Tire manufacturers publish load and inflation tables that should be followed for proper inflation pressure.
Check number four, RV roof, seams, and sealants.
Caution: Whenever you work on the RV roof, be extremely careful. A fall can result in serious injury or death. Every seam on your RV, and anywhere the RV manufacturer cut a hole in your RV, has the potential to leak.
It's important to take your time and thoroughly inspect all of these seams and sealants on the RV. I recommend inspecting and resealing the seams and sealants on the RV at least twice a year and possibly more often, depending on storage conditions. During your inspection of the RV roof, seams, and sealants, look for signs of cracking or lifted sealants.
It's important you consult your RV owner's manual or your local RV dealer for sealants compatible with the different types of materials you are attempting to seal.
Check number 5, RV safety devices.
When your RV sits in storage, it's quite common for dry-cell batteries and safety devices to die. Replace the batteries in all safety devices, and test the operation of the carbon monoxide detector, the LP gas leak detector, and the smoke alarm. Lots of RV owners are not aware that safety devices in RVs have expiration dates. I recommend you write the expiration down on the front cover so you remember to replace it when it reaches the expiration date.
Inspect all fire extinguishers to make sure they are full charged. If you have a dry chemical fire extinguisher, turn it upside down and tap the bottom several times to release any powder that settled to the bottom. Review how to properly use a fire extinguisher in the event you need to use it.
Carbon monoxide gas is called "the silent killer" because you can't see it, taste it, or smell it. If you have an older RV that does not have a CO detector, you need to purchase and install one designed for use in RVs.
Test all the safety devices in your RV prior to each trip, and make sure everybody understands what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are and what to do if you're exposed to CO gas.
I mentioned earlier there are many more checks that can and should be made to your RV, but these are five spring checks I consider essential to prepare your RV for travel this camping season. Happy camping." Learn more about RV Education 101.
These stories and more on this's week's Rollin' On TV!