In honor of April Fools Month, Let’s RV is inviting all RVers to describe the biggest, dumbest, most boneheaded things they have done in, with or to an RV. One good sport could win a $250 Amazon gift card and up to nine finalists could earn a $25 gift card.
“As a reporter covering the RV industry for 14 years, I thought I knew it all,” said Let’s RV Editor Greg Gerber. “But, when I bought a motorhome and started RVing for real last year, I learned quickly how little I really knew about the RV lifestyle.”
Gerber considers himself lucky that he didn’t cause a major accident when unhooking his towed vehicle at KOA in Omaha, Neb., last summer.
“I had just arrived at the campground and the staff had escorted me into the site and made sure I got all plugged in. Then, after getting the RV level and the slides extended, I went outside to unhook the towed vehicle,” he explained. “But, the couplers were really bound tight and I could not get them to budge.”
Being an RV newbie, Gerber didn’t recognize that the reason the pins would not come out of the couplers was due to the stress being put on them by the weight of the Jeep, which was on an slight incline, pulling on the tow bar itself.
“I grabbed my hammer and started banging out the pins. At one point I even got a screwdriver and started banging on the handle to force the pin from the coupler,” he explained. “Once the final pin was removed, the Jeep started rolling away.
“I quickly grabbed the bar on the Jeep and held it from rolling as I assessed the situation,” he added. “There was nobody in the vicinity to pull the emergency brake on the Jeep, and the vehicle was getting very heavy to hold.”
If Gerber had let go of the vehicle, there were two travel trailers and an electrical box directly in the Jeep’s path. Already facing one problem, Gerber elected to compound the issue with an even dumber plan.
“Sweat pouring from my forehead, I realized that I never took the vehicle out of neutral and I never removed the supplemental braking system from the drivers area of the Jeep. But, I figured if I could get the door open, I could simply press the test button on that system and it would apply the brake,” he explained. “Riiiight!”
There were two problems with that solution, which he discovered immediately after letting go of the Jeep and racing to open the driver’s door. First, there was a few second delay between pressing the button and the brake activating. Second, the brake would depress and release just three times — which would not be enough to stop and hold the vehicle.
“As the Jeep was gaining momentum toward the travel trailers, and the supplemental brake was in the way of simply pressing the brake pedal, I realized disaster was imminent,” Gerber explained.
“I jumped sideways into the Jeep and turned the steering wheel as far to the left as it would go,” he added. “It swung around and traveled down the road about 40 feet before I was able to bring it to a stop with the emergency brake.
“When I looked at the tire marks on the road, I suspect I came within 10 feet of hitting one of the travel trailers. I didn’t stop shaking for several hours.”
Okay, so what did Mr. Bonehead learn from the experience?
First, before unhooking the towed vehicle, be sure to remove the supplemental braking system and put the car into park. It could easily roll the other way, pinning a person between the motorhome and the towed vehicle.
Second, there is a ring at the front of the Jeep that is tied into the supplemental braking system. When the ring is pulled out, it signals a brakeaway event and immediately activates the emergency braking system to deliver maximum braking pressure, which would stop the vehicle.
Third, if the couplers are jammed up and the pins won’t come out easily, there is a reason for that — and it probably means the towed vehicle is still in neutral or tow mode. Putting the vehicle in drive and inching it forward generally clears the problem and allows the pins to be easily removed.
Share your story
In honor of April Fool’s Month, Gerber is inviting all RVers to share their dumbest, most boneheaded things they have done in, with or to an RV. To enter, simply provide a brief description of the situation experienced, and the lesson learned as a result.
All entries need to be submitted by the bonehead himself or herself. No, kids, you can’t nominate your dad without his permission.
The entries will be published in the daily edition of the Let’s RV newsletter throughout the month. The Top 10 most-viewed stories will be listed in a the May 2 weekly edition of the Let’s RV newsletter. Readers will be able to vote for their favorites, and the story getting the most views will win the $250 Amazon gift certificate.
As a consolation for being a good sport, the nine runners up will receive a $25 gift certificate.
Some of the entries submitted may be selected for publication in an e-book, which will create a permanent resource to help new RVers avoid making the same boneheaded mistakes.