new rv'r here need some tips

well just like the title says i just purchased my first rv and im picking it up this saturday. i can't wait me and my dad have been looking for a few months now and im so happy we finally found one. we bought a 31' class a fleetwood bounder 1996 model. can anyone give me some tips and hints on the normal uses of the rv and using the tanks and everything. also can anyone give me some good tips on hauling a 24 foot overall length enclosed trailer behind the rv? thanks for the help in advance.
new rv'r here need some tips

Hmmmmm! Let's see a newbie, boy I could have some fun here but I can't do that. :laugh: Welcome to the world of the not so simple life, just kidding it is well spent time. :)

First off we always drain and flush our gray and black water tanks at the campground. Then we add some chemicals and a little water to our black tank so it will slosh around on the way home. If you don't dump and prep your black water tank you will have a stinker :dead: when you decide to use it again.

As to the fresh water tank, if the home has been setting a while, you may want to put a cup or two of plain clorox in it then fill it up . Let it set for a few hours and then turn on the faucets to flush out the sytems. Then drain the tank. If you use city water normally you have enough chlorine in the water to suffice unless you plan on laying it up for some time then you need to add some.

Fuel, always fill up when you come back home, one it helps keep condensate from forming and two when you get the urge you are ready to go. :bleh: For a long layup you should add some stabilizer to the fuel.

Hoses, get a couple sections of potable water hose from Wal Mart. Normally a 10 foot section works well but we carry a 10 and a 20 just for grins. :laugh:

Sewer hoses keep two lengths handy with a coupler. Rinse them when through. Keep a pair of rubber glove handy when fooling with them cause a small scratch can get infected from the poopee :( .

Electrical make sure you have the adapters to get from 50 amp to 30 amp and 30 amp tp 20 amp. most camp grounds have 30 or 50 available but you never know.

Not knowing how you are set up as far as frig, heat, A/C can't make any suggestions :question: .

Keep a good Atlas, a magnifying glass and trust me get a good compass because sometimes you will get on some back roads in this beautiful country of ours and get turned slap dab around :dead: . a dash mount works fine.

Get ready to enjoy your self and don't get in a hurry to get some where. Plan your trips on the easy side. Several reasons, you get in a hurry and you miss so much, take the senic route. The other resaon is the difference in 55 MPH and 70 MPH is probably 1 1/2 to 2 miles per gallon difference and when you only get 5 to 7 on a good day it means you can travel more. We went from 4 miles per gallon on a gas burner at 65 MPH to almost 7 miles per gallon at 55. Let the hot rods go, you will be passing them up everytime they stop to fuel up.

As for the tow trailer, make sure you have a good hitch and watch for the semi's passing their draft will cause some swing and sway. You may look into a sway stabilizer ofter a few trips.

Again welcome
new rv'r here need some tips

wow that was alot of info. what kind of chemicals do you put in the black tanks? and what is the easiest way of putting water into the black tank? just flush the toilet a few times? as far as fridge it is both lp and electric. a/c is ducted thru the roof, i really don't know what ur looking for here? as far as the trailer it does have a sway control on it already and also weight distribution. also is it common when u go to undo the cap on the end of the drain tanks to have a little water come out of it? and will any hose like a cheap garden hose work? what kind is best? anymore help is appreciated
new rv'r here need some tips

welcome jkill2001. just some thoughts. chemicals are available at walmart, kmart, camping stores. general brand for black water tank. you will need more than just flushing the commode to fill the black water tank. use a garden hose and you can even buy a "stick" adapter at (same as above) for use in dispersing water in the black water tank to loosen any paper, etc that may be stuck. just stick the hose down in the toilet and fill to nearly full and then open the outside levers to drain the tanks. i usually do it a time or two. when the unit is setting for a spell, i usually leave the fridge and freezer door cracked a little for ventilation and keep it smelling fresh. dont use a regular garden hose for your water supply. get the while with blue stripes potable water hose for that. (again at w-mart, k-mart etc.) it is not unusualy for a minor amount of water to drip (notice drip) out of the drain when you remove the cap. any more than a drip, check your valves out to be sure they are closing correctly. as poppa said, the one trick with an RV is plan ahead and don't hurry a trip. good luck and happy camping.


Senior Member
new rv'r here need some tips

If ya have the owner's manual for your unit, read it. If you don't have one, get one. It will cover just about everything you need to know and then you can start asking more questions as you go and enjoy.
Welcome to the forum..... :) :laugh: :cool: :bleh: ;)
new rv'r here need some tips

yea it does include the owner's manual. thanks guys for the info. guess i gotta take a trip to walmart. i guess when i go tomorrow to measure for my trailer i'll snag the owner's manual and start reading.


Senior Member
new rv'r here need some tips

Another suggestion I would offer is to keep a small notebook in the unit so that you can take notes while getting ready to go, while your gone and when you get back home. Makes it real easy to keep track of the good/bad/ugly, cause if your like me, I just can't remember everything like I use too. I also print good/great suggestions from this site and put them in a folder for reference and keep them in my unit. Don't forget stuff for pets (if you take um), like shot records, leash, poop scoop or plastic bags to pick it up and of course food/med.
You will learn something new each time you go out so enjoy. Oh, you might consider road assistance type policy (like Good Sam's emergency road service). Enjoy ;)


Senior Member
new rv'r here need some tips

quote:anyone give me some good tips on hauling a 24 foot overall length enclosed trailer behind the rv?

There has been some good advice thus far, but there is a very serious issue that no one has addressed. That issue is weight! Have you looked at the weight ratings of the Bounder yet? I very highly doubt that your Bounder had the needed towing capacity to pull a trailer of that size with much of anything in it. There are several ratings that you need to consider. The first is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). While you don't say what chassis you have, all Bounders were gas powered in 96 so it has to be either a GM or a Ford chassis. The gross weight of either one for that year is 16,000#, if memory serves. The next issue is to weigh your Bounder with all tanks full and people in it as if you were about to travel. That weight must not exceed the GVWR.

The next issue is Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). That is the weight of the Bounder and the loaded trailer, combined and it too must not be exceeded. If you do, you may not be able to stop it in an emergency and the running gear & drive train will likely have problems.

Now, take a look at the axle weight ratings as you need to know what the loaded weight of each axle is when ready to travel and the tongue weight of the trailer should be on the RV when you do this as that weight will be added to the weight already on the rear axle, along with even more weight that the leverage of the distance your hitch is behind the rear axle will transfer to it. You can assume that the rear axle will see at least 3X the weight that is added by the tongue weight, and more if the overhang of the RV is long, which most Bounders are. There may also be a weight limit by Fleetwood on the hitch load, due to the fact that Fleetwood adds an extension to the frame rails of the chassis when they build the coach. (all builders do this) The strength built into that extension is an issue that can effect the soundness of the coach construction.

And there is one more limit to be concerned about. Your trailer hitch has two weight ratings. One is the total tongue weight and the other is the total towing weight. Most gas chassis of the age you purchased have a max. towing weight of 3500# and the load limit is usually 10-20% of that.

Be aware that the gas chassis Bounder is well known for eventually developing "tail droop." That is when the extension of the chassis begins to sag due to the excessive weight. The Bounder has a long history for innovation and for a lot of RV for the price, but there are trade-offs. They are things like very low carog weights to stay within the ratings, "tail droop," and a few others. I strongly suggest that you get these weights first, as safety is a serious issue and while many RVs travel seriously overloaded, that is probably one of the reasons that when they do crash it is often spectacular.

As to the operation of the RV, ask the seller to walk through with you and show you all of the opperation. He will probably be happy to do so. And there is a book, "RVing Basics" that was written by Jan & Bill Moeller and available from Trailer Life Press, that will answer most of your questions and would be well worth your time.

Good luck with the "new" motorhome!
new rv'r here need some tips

Hey, Guy Archer's suggestion for a note book is a great one (I suffer from CRS :dead: )as most travelers have one on board. We use one with dividers in spiral binder then tuck it away in a loose leaf binder, that way pages don't disappear unless you want them too.

On the dividers ours are separated as follows: Section 1 for things to do when I get home before the next trip, things I need to buy, fix or what have you and also ideas on what I need to have to make my trips more enjoyable. Section 2 is my mechanical history, on oil changes fuel milage checks and most importantly part numbers on filters, plugs belts, type oil engine specifications such as timing . Just the good quick reference section you think you may need.
( :laugh: OH I FORGOT the things you need to include in your motor home Stash a set of fan belts, couple bottles of extra oil, trans and brake fluid, it may come in handy on the road in the middle of nowhere and they won't spoil. :) ) Section 3 is for the Precious Lady to write down things she needs to remember to bring to make things smoother and also that is where she has her trip plans on where to stop, etc. The last section is out trip diary again because I have CRS. It is nice to look back months later and see what you did and whether you might change things somewhat if you made the same trip again.

As fars as planning trips, we use Rand Mc Nally's online plan a trip guide which can be found at As far as the camp grounds there is a campground directory put out by Trailer Life and also Woodall's, cost about 20 bucks but worth the money.

Hope this helps out some.
new rv'r here need some tips

ok kirk how or where should i look for all those weights. i can tell u any info that u need. such as as follows

chassis is a ford powered by 460
trailer im towing is a pace american spirit edition
it will have a 94 s-10 extended cab in it
1750 is the weight it said on the side of the trailer.
new rv'r here need some tips

I also doubt that that short Bounder has the capacity or rating to haul that trailer. You are asking for trouble with that combo. :(
new rv'r here need some tips

your van and/or pickup is not pushing near the weight of the Bounder alone.I had a HR Alumalite motorhome with ford 460 and we had trouble pulling a boat behind it (3000 lbs) on anything but flat lands. good luck to you and by all means be safe.
new rv'r here need some tips

Welcome to our world. It's a wonderful world too. Poppa has tons of information and well seasoned in what can and cannot be done with what and when. He's a good resource.

In the mean time - drive safely and remember that you will be blown around by the side winds and semi's pritty bad - slow down and hang on.

God Bless

Bill & Judy

new rv'r here need some tips

well im definately not planning on speeding at high speeds but i will definately make sure the bounder can handle the weight. thanks for the heads up.


Senior Member
new rv'r here need some tips

Hey Bill,
Mind taking the picture of your rig off your posts? It is really nice, but I'm getting tired of seeing it every time you post a note. I'm sure your proud of it and should be, but print a picture of it and put it in your wallet..... :)
new rv'r here need some tips

Jon -

Read! Read! Read! Read everything you can get your hands on!

One of the books that I particularly liked was THE RVERS BIBLE by Baker and Baker. You can get it at some RV dealers, by special order from just about any bookstore or over the 'Net from places like or About $15 and worth every penny!

Also monitor, if not contribute, to several RV forums on the 'Net. Besides this one I particularly like these:




Careful: If you subscribe to every forum you run across you'll choke on the sheer number of postings!

As far as words to the wise: There are only few things about RVing that will kill you real fast. One of the most important is the proper handling of sewage (my not-so-favourite topic!). I'd strongly urge you to follow these few simple rules:

1. ALWAYS fill your freshwater tank first.

2. NEVER fill your freshwater tank from a faucet that's closer than about 50 feet from a dump station.

3. Keep two separate hoses of completely different colour so they can be easily and positively identified. One for filling your fresh water tank. The other for flushing and cleaning your sewage tanks.

4. DO NOT keep your freshwater filling hose in the same basement storage bay as your sewage dumping supplies. At least keep it in a neighbouring bay or on the other side of the coach.

5. ALWAYS use disposable rubber gloves when dumping the sewage tanks and throw them away as soon as you're finished. (They can be purchased from medical supply stores for remarkably reasonable prices in boxes of 100.) Learn how to put them on and take them off without contaminating everything within 30 feet! (There's a trick and an art involved here that not even many paramedics know!)

6. ALWAYS dump the black water tank first. Then do something to flush it.

7. ALWAYS dump the gray water tank last. (Flushes out the sewer hose with relatively non-stinky water.)

8. ALWAYS wash your hands with soap immediately after playing in the sewage.

9. Many people keep soap and paper towels in the same basement storage bay as the sewer hoses. That's a *REALLY BAD* idea because of the chances that you'll contaminate them while you're working and then recontaminate your hands in an effort to clean up. Keep them in a neighbouring bay or on the other side of the coach.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen somebody with bare hands dump their tanks, rinse their hands with water from the dump station service hose (once, I saw a guy actually drink from it!), then drag a dirty garden hose out from under the sewer hose to fill the fresh water tank, all in that order!

One of my most serious complaints about the way that RVs in general are built is that the manufacturers persist in putting the sewage drains and hoses and the freshwater fill-hardware in the same compartment. BAD! BAD! BAD! Talk about a preprogrammed disaster!

The bottom line to this whole discussion is that you must make every effort, regardless of how macho or immortal you think you are, to separate sewage and everything that comes near it from your fresh water and everything that comes near it.

Trust me. Thus is EXTREMELY important!
new rv'r here need some tips

ok well i just found out something interesting the hitch on the bounder is rated at 3500lbs and my truck alone is 3200 and the trailer is 1750 i do believe so that is puttin me at just shy of 5000 lbs. i need to know if this will work or not since i will be trailering with it soon. first thing i know i need to do is upgrade the hitch to a 5000lb hitch
new rv'r here need some tips

Snooping around will make for more work and expense sometime but the safety of you and your loved ones is of the utmost importance, let alone the safety of those who pass you by.

The tow capacity and sway bars are really important. Down here in Louisiana, on I-12, which is a flat straight strech I have seen several Motorhomes on the side of the road with their trailer a half a mile back in the ditch :8ball: . Being nosey I have inquired about several and semi's blowing by at 70 mph plus when they were doing 55 caused severe sway that becams uncontrolable, which brings up a point.

Being you will be pushing the limits of your Bounder, check and see if it is equiped with and aftermarket steering stabilizer. This helps you ccontrol your Motorhome when something goes amiss from a semi blowing by to a blow out on the front end. :bleh:

Speaking of which ALWAYS maintain the full load air pressure in your tires. A lot of folks will run them a little on the low side for a smoother ride but all that will end up doing is to make the side walls run hot from too much flex and they will go poof sooner. :dead:

Also keep in mind if you have a flat on the front witout a spare you can take a rear tire off and put it on the front and limp into a town and get something fixed instead of setting on side of the road wanting for an expensive road service to come out. :cool:

Also check the lug nuts and make sure that you can loosen them with hand tools, most tire shops put them on with impact wrenches and overtighten them to where King Kong can't get them off. :(

Hope the comment of the forum have helped. most of the guys check it daily, and have a lot for scars from mistakes. :dead:

Again welcome to our world. :laugh:


Senior Member
new rv'r here need some tips

quote:eek:k kirk how or where should i look for all those weights.

Sorry to be so slow in getting back. The answer to this question is that there is a sticker somewhere in the Bounder that lists all of the weight ratings of the chassis, and some very rough weights for the Bounder, but they are just approximations and are not to be trusted. If you look inside of the cabinet doors, that sticker is usually on the inside of one of them. It is occasionally near the driver's seat, but not usually because of it's size. Bounders are well known for being very close to the gross weight limit, when empty. I strongly suggest that you weigh the RV at some truck stop where you will get at least the individual axle weights, and one with seperate wheel weights would be even better. The axle weights will give you someting to compare to the ratings. You don't say what chassis you have but in 96 all Bounders were gas chassis, so that means either Ford or GM. The gross weight for either was 16,000# as I recall and you probably have axle ratings of about 5K for the front and about 11K for the rear. Most gas chassis have a lot of the excess on the front axle. Keep in mind that the tongue weight will be far behind the rear axle and so the effect on the axle's weight will be 3 or 4 times the actual weight added to the hitch. Basic physics says that leverage multiplies the effect, depending upon the distance behind the axle. The extra weight is removed from the front axle and added to the rear.

For safe towing you need to have at least 10% of the trailer weight on the hitch, and 20% is more common, so that must be kept in mind.

quote: 3500lbs and my truck alone is 3200 and the trailer is 1750 i do believe so that is puttin me at just shy of 5000 lbs. i need to know if this will work or not since i will be trailering with it soon. first thing i know i need to do is upgrade the hitch to a 5000lb hitch

Before you do that, check to see about your axle ratings. If you greatly exceed the axle rating you will probably have many problems with bearings and u-joints and such and you may break an axle from time to time. Also, when Bounder set the limits for towing, one consideration was the frame of the motorhome. If you crawl under the rear of the coach, you will see that the chassis frame rails have extensions welded to them to support the rear of the coach. These extensions are a major part of the limits of what you are allowed to tow. If you exceed it you are very likely to bend the extensions and cause the rear of the coach to droop. Bounders are well known for developing that problem anyway, due to the materials that are used for those extensions. If you upgrade to a 5K hitch, and then tow what looks as though it will be more like 7K total, you will very likely find that the rear of the coach soon droops by at least an inch or two and it will keep getting worse, once it starts.

Be very careful!