What We Use

 Posted by at 12:14 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 232016

I get a lot of e-mails from readers asking for recommendations or advice about various RV products. Over the years many manufacturers have provided us with products to test. Some of them we have liked a lot and others we have passed on for something we consider to be better. So I thought today I would talk about some of the things we use.

GPS – We have tested several GPS units, including models made for truckers and RVs. The one we settled on and use is the Rand McNally 7720 RV GPS. It has a big, easy to see display, I can program in the length, height, and weight of our motorhome and it directs us to the best routes for our rig, and it includes lots of RV specific information.

Tow Bar – We started out using a Roadmaster Falcon tow bar and always found it difficult to disconnect if our dinghy and motorhome were not lined up very straight because the release buttons were so hard to push. Then we upgraded to a Blue Ox Avanta and life got a whole lot easier. It’s quick and easy to connect and disconnect, even if the dinghy is at an angle. And we have found that Blue Ox really stands behind their products.

Auxiliary Brake – Anybody who does not use an auxiliary braking system is just asking for trouble, no matter how big your motorhome is and how small your toad. We found that out when somebody ran a red light in front of us and I had to make a panic stop in our MCI bus conversion. The little Toyota Tacoma pickup we were towing behind us ended up on top of the motorcycle rack on the back of the bus (fortunately, there was no bike on it at the time). We started shopping for an auxiliary brake and went through a couple, including a Brake Buddy that overheated and almost caused a disaster, before we settled on an SMI Air Force One. We have been using it for over ten years now and have never had a problem with it. It’s a great product, it’s quick and easy to connect and disconnect, and the company has very good customer service.

Satellite TV Dish – We spent the first twelve years or so of our fulltiming life using manually pointed TV dishes, and then stepped up to a Winegard Trav’ler automatic rooftop dish. Unless we are parked under heavy tree cover, all we have to do is push a button and wait a few minutes and we’re locked onto the three satellites and watching our favorite shows.

Electrical Management System – If you don’t have an electrical management system (EMS), it’s only a matter of time before you have a problem that could cause a lot of damage to your RV’s electrical system and components. In our opinion, the only EMS to even consider is the Progressive Industries unit. We had one in our bus conversion, and as soon as we bought our Winnebago we had one installed in it. More than once, our EMS has saved us from both high voltage spikes and low voltage, as well as open grounds. And the folks at Progressive Industries have gone far above and beyond the call of duty to take care of us on several occasions.

Batteries – We used to do a lot of dry camping. A LOT! Our longest stint was over seven months without being connected to a campground’s umbilical cord. During that time all of our electrical needs were supplied by solar panels and our generator. Having a good battery bank was essential, and we found the Lifeline AGM batteries to be bulletproof. They are maintenance free and seem to last forever. Though we don’t do much dry camping these days, when it came time to replace our current rig’s house batteries I went with Lifeline AGMs, just in case we ever need them.


Vacuum Cleaner – When you’re married to a slob like me, you need good cleaning tools. Miss Terry has tested quite a few vacuum cleaners, both rechargeable and plug in models. She has found the Shark Rocket TruePet Ultra-Light Upright model to be the best for her needs. It is powerful, has a long cord, and really does the job!

Tires – I’ve always been a Goodyear man and have usually run Goodyear tires on all of my vehicles, though I have had Michelins a few times. I have not been pleased with the last two sets of Goodyear tires I have had on my motorhome and switched to Toyos two summers ago. They cost a lot less, give us an excellent ride, and after close to 20,000 miles I don’t have any complaints.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System – Again, we have tested just about every tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on the market, and the one we kept to use is the TireTracker TT-500. It’s easy to set up, works great, replacement batteries are inexpensive and easy to change, and I don’t know of any company in the RV industry that is more committed to customer service after the sale.


Toilet chemical – There must be a thousand different products you can use in your RV black tank and a million theories on what factory or home grown product works best. In over 17 years of fulltiming we have tried them all and the one we found to work as good as anything else, for less money, is Doctor Drain, which we buy at WalMart.


Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Point Taken, book #10 in my friend Ben Rehder’s popular Blanco County mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


Thought For The Day – Why does everybody my age seem so much older?

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “What We Use”

  1. Do you find the Doctor Drain product in the RV or household section at WM?

  2. Debbie, it’s in the household section with things like Drano and Liquid Plumber.

  3. Ok, thanks, Nick. & by the way, congrats on your new home!

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