BOVs – Recreational Vehicles

What To Do with RVs?

An RV can make an excellent BOV for some. Consider that most RVs come with storage for fresh, gray and black water, food, clothing and other supplies. All but the lowest budget units will also have heating and cooling. You’ll also likely have a kitchen, or some other cooking means, and a bath room of sorts. Each of these systems will come in a configuration suited for the type of vehicle in which it is installed. A tent trailer, or “pop up”, might have all of the above, but the shower will be a combination of lower hard side walls, and a tented upper section. Its shower will also probably include the toilet. (It’s how the designers save on space and weight in those units.) Give or take this or that option, all RVs have something to offer. With bigger floorplans come options and appointments more in line with an actual home.

An RV-based BOV is a multi-purpose vehicle. At a minimum, it provides BOV capability, but its primary mission is something just about everyone can enjoy – camping out. Merging the two, it serves as a home once you have reached your BOL. (Technically, only a motorized RV, a class A or C coach, qualifies as a “vehicle” capable of bugging out. Trailers are towed behind a BOV, and can be abandoned if need be. But grant me this point for the purposes of this article. I’m considering trailers as an extension of the tow vehicle, assuming that where the head goes, the tail will follow.)

I classify RV BOVs into several groups. There are variations of each theme, such as bed-mounted tents for pick up trucks, which will fall under the camper classification, and hard-bodied fold-up trailers that group with tent trailers, or pop-ups.

 

  • Campers
  • Van conversions
  • Tent trailers. Pop-ups. Hard bodied A frames like the Chalet Alpine
  • Travel trailers
  • 5th wheel trailers
  • Motor homes

 

Safety

Before discussing these further, I need to make a few points regarding safety.

Cargo weight is important to watch. An overloaded RV can suffer from brake or suspension failure, and prove to be unstable under harsh maneuvering. Each class of RV has specific load restrictions  and practices. I’ll get into those later. For now, keep in mind that, while you can transport more than you might expect, there are limits. Learn what they are and heed them.

Fuel storage is designed into the unit from the factory. Any modification to these systems needs to be done either by a trained technician, or in a manner approved by the industry as a whole. An example of an approved modification is the addition of a tee adapter to the propane plumbing. These tees provide an alternate point of connection, usually for a flexible extension hose for an outdoor stove. Since these parts are sold by retailers, and meet safety specifications for those systems (and come with instructions), they are user installable. A propane leak is dangerous in any terms, but one inside the RV is very dangerous. Propane detectors come on the newer models, and can be added to any RV. If one fails, though, and the gas collects within the RV, an explosion can happen. Be sure that any fuel system repairs or modifications are done properly.

Propane, CO (carbon monoxide), and fire detectors should be installed in any RV that used a gas powered option. Test them regularly.

Tires on RVs are rated for the RV in question, and rarely will you find an automobile type tire specified. Do not use car tires on a trailer unless the manufacture specifically says it is ok. They often can not handle the heat and stress generated by RVs, and will fail on the road. At best, you are inconvenienced. At worst, you are dead. Be smart.

Trailers, must have proper connections to the tow vehicle. Tonge locks, cotter pins, emergency electric brake switches and electrical connections must be checked every time the unit is attached. Proper usage of these items is generally taught to new owners are dealerships. If you buy used, be sure you have access to the owners manuals for each piece of equipment on the RV, or have the previous owner teach you about them. Even if he does teach you, do your best to learn from whatever sources you can.

I’ll cover some of these items here, and on the blog.

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