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Legends of America's RVJUST FOR RV'Rs

RV Terms & Acronyms

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120 AC/12 DC/LP-Gas - The power sources on which RV refrigerators operate; 120 AC is 120-volt alternating current (same as in houses); 12 DC is 12-volt direct current (same as in motor vehicles); LP-gas. Some RV refrigerators can operate on two of the three sources, others on all three.

 

Anode Rod - An anode rod, when used in a water heater, attracts corrosion causing products in the water. These products attack the anode rod instead of the metal tank itself. The anode rod should be inspected yearly and changed when it is reduced to about 1/4 of its original size. The rods are used in steel water heater tanks - an aluminum tank has an inner layer of anode metal to accomplish the same thing. Anode rods should not be installed in an aluminum tank!

 

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boon docking rvAxle Ratio - The ratio between the pinion and ring gears in the differential that multiply the torque provided by the engine. It is the number of drive line revolutions required to turn the axle one time. As an example, with a 4.10:1 axle the drive line turns 4.1 times for each full axle revolution. The higher the number, the more torque and thus more towing power. However, the higher the number also means less speed.

 

Backup Monitor/Camera  -  A camera in the back of a motor home, with the monitor positioned somewhere on the dashboard for the driver, to aid in backing up the motor home. It is also used while driving to see the traffic behind and to keep an eye on the towed vehicle.


Ball Mount  -  The part of the hitch system that supports the hitch ball and connects it to the trailer coupler.  Ball mounts are available in load carrying and weight distributing configurations.

Black Water - Disposal water from toilet system, held in holding tank until you dump it, in large tanks or dumping station available at most campgrounds.

Black-Water Tank  -  
The black water tank on an RV holds the sewage water from the toilet. This should always be dumped at a campgrounds dump station or into the campsite sewer connection.

Boon docking  -  Also known as dry camping, boon docking refers to camping without any hook-ups, namely camping without hooking up to any electric, sewer or water facilities.  You can still have electric from your RV batteries and water from your freshwater holding tank.

Brake Actuator - a device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle to control the braking system of the trailer. Most Brake Actuators a based on a time delay, the more time the tow vehicle brakes are applied the "harder" the trailer brakes are applied.

 

Brake Controller - a device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle to control the braking system of the trailer. The Brake Controller senses the amount of braking force of the tow vehicle and applied a proportional force to the trailer braking system.

 

British Thermal Unit (BTU) - A measurement of heat that is the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degree F. RV air-conditioners and furnaces are BTU-rated.

 

 

 

 

Break-Away System  -  A system designed to automatically lock the trailer brakes in the event of a hitch failure and the trailer breaks away from the tow vehicle.

Camber - Wheel alignment - Camber is the number of degrees each wheel is off of vertical. Looking from the front, tops of wheels farther apart than bottoms means "positive camber". As the load pushes the front end down, or the springs get weak, camber would go from positive to none to negative (bottoms of wheels farther apart than tops).

Castor - Wheel alignment - The steering wheels' desire to return to center after you turn a corner.

Condensation - Condensation is a result of warm moisture laden air contacting the cold window glass. Keeping a roof vent open helps to reduce the humidity levels. Added roof vent covers help to prevent cold air from dropping down through the vent while still allowing moist air to escape. Using the roof vent fan when showering or the stove vent fan when cooking also helps prevent excess moisture buildup.

Converter - A converter is device that converts 120 volt A/C (alternating current) to 12 volt DC (direct current). The RV devices mostly run on 12 volt DC power that is supplied by the battery, which allows the RV to function independently. When "shore power" (an electrical supply) is available, the converter changes the voltage from 120 to 12 volt to supply the appliances and to recharge the battery.

Diesel Puller  -  The term for a motor home with the diesel engine mounted in the front of the vehicle.  Also know simply as a Puller.

Diesel Pusher  -  The term for a motor home with the diesel engine mounted in the rear of the vehicle.  Also know simply as a Pusher.

Dinghy  -  The term for a vehicle that you are towing with your motor home.  It is also known as a Toad.

Dinette - Booth-like dining area. Table usually drops to convert unit into a bed at night.

Doughnut - A rubber ring that seals one's dump hose and the campsite sewer connection so that gases and odors do not escape. Sewer doughnuts are required in many locations.


Dry Camping  -  Also known as boon docking, dry camping refers to camping without any hook-ups, namely camping without hooking up to any electric, sewer or water facilities.  You can still have electric from your RV batteries and water from your freshwater holding tank.

Dry Weight  -  The weight of the RV without any fuel, freshwater, propane or passengers. 

DSI Ignition - direct spark ignition - this term refers to the method of igniting the main burner on a propane fired appliance. The burner is lit with an electric spark and the flame is monitored by an electronic circuit board. This ignition system is used in refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters. There is now a version of stove tops that light the burners with a DSI ignition.

Ducted AC -  Air conditioning supplied through a ducting system in the ceiling. This supplies cooling air at various vents located throughout the RV.

 

Ducted Heat - Warm air from the furnace supplied to various locations in the RV through a ducting system located in the floor. (similar to house heating systems)

Dump Station  -  A facility for dumping or emptying your black water and gray water holding tanks.

Dual Electrical System - RV equipped with lights, appliances which operate on 12-volt battery power when self-contained, and with a converter, on 110 AC current when in campgrounds or with an onboard generator.

Dually - A pickup truck, or light-duty tow vehicle, with four tires on one rear axle.

 

RV Dump Station

Equalizing Hitch  -  A hitch that utilizes spring bars that are placed under tension to distribute a portion of the trailer's hitch weight to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer's axles.  This hitch is also known as a weight distributing hitch

Fresh (Water) Tank  -  The gallons of fresh water that can be stored for later use.

Full Hookup  -  The ability to connect to all three of the campground's facilities;  electric, water and sewer.

Full-Timers or Full-Timing  -  The term used for people who live in their RV full time, or at least the vast majority of their time.

Generator - An engine powered device fuelled by gasoline or diesel fuel, and sometimes propane, for generating 120-volt AC power.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) -  The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, that can be placed on the axle.  If an axle has a 3500-lb. GAWR and the RV has two axles (tandem axles), then the RV would have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7000 lbs. (see GVWR below)

Gross Combined Weight (GCW) - The combined weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer. 

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) - The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle.  This rating includes the weight of the trailer, tow vehicle, fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) - Gross trailer weight is the weight of the trailer fully loaded in its actual towing condition. GTW is measured by placing the fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale. The entire weight of the trailer should be supported on the scale.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) - The weight of the vehicle.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) - The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle.  This rating includes the weight of the vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Generator  -  An electrical device powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, and sometimes propane, for generating 120-volt AC power.

Gray Water - The gray water tanks on an RV hold drainage water from the sinks and shower. It contains soap and food particles and although not seriously harmful, the common practice of dumping gray water on the campsite ground should be avoided.

Gray (Water) Tank  -  The gallons of gray waste that can be held
Hitch Weight  -  The amount of a trailer's weight that rests on the tow vehicle's hitch.  For travel trailers this weight should be 10% to 15% of the total weight of the trailer.  For fifth wheels this weight should be 15% to 20% of the total weight of the trailer.

Heat Exchanger - A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one source to another. For example, there is a heat exchanger in your furnace - the propane flame and combustion products are contained inside the heat exchanger that is sealed from the inside area. Inside air is blown over the surface of the exchanger, where it is warmed and the blown through the ducting system for room heating. The combustion gases are vented to the outside air.

Heat Strip - A heat strip is an electric heating element located in the air conditioning system with the warm air distributed by the air conditioner fan and ducting system. They are typically 1500 watt elements (about the same wattage as an electric hair dryer) and have limited function. Basically they "take the chill off"

Hitch Weight - The amount of a trailer's weight that rests on the tow vehicle's hitch. For travel trailers this weight should be 10% to 15% of the total weight of the trailer. For fifth wheels this weight should be 15% to 20% of the total weight of the trailer.

Holding Tanks  -  There are three different holding tanks on most RVs:  Fresh Water, Gray Water and Black Water.  The fresh water tanks hold the water you will use for water you will pump into your RV when you are not getting water from an outside source.  The Gray Water tank holds water from your kitchen and shower.  The black water tank holds the water and waste from your toilet.

Hookups  -  The ability of connecting to a campground's facilities.  The major types of hookups are electrical, water and sewer.  If all three of these hookups are available, it is termed full hookup. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV in some campgrounds.

Inverter - An inverter is a device that changes 12 volt battery power to 120 volt AC power. It is used when "boon docking" (camping without hookups) to power certain 120 VAC only devices like a microwave oven. The amount of available power depends on the storage capacity of the batteries and the wattage rating of the inverter.

Laminate - A sandwich of structural frame members, wall paneling, insulation and exterior covering, adhesive-bonded under pressure and/or heat to form the RV's walls, floor and/or roof.

Livability Packages - items to equip a motor home for daily living, which may be rented at nominal cost from rental firm, rather than brought from home. Include bed linens, pillows and blankets, bath towels, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, cutlery.

LP Gas  -  Liquefied Petroleum Gas.  LP gas is used to fuel appliances in the RV, such as the stove, oven, water heater and sometimes the refrigerator.   Often called propane. LP weighs 4.5 pounds per gallon.

Net Carrying Capacity (NCC)  -  Sometimes called the payload capacity, this is the maximum weight of fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers that can be added to an RV without exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).   (see GVWR above)

Part-Timers  -  The term used for people who use their RV more than usual (more than just a few weekend trips a year), but who still use it less than full time.

Payload Capacity  -  The maximum allowable weight that can be in or on a vehicle, including all cargo and accessories, fuel, freshwater, propane, passengers and hitch loads.

Pilot - a pilot is a small standby flame that is used to light the main burner of a propane fired appliance when the thermostat calls for heat. Pilots can be used in furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, ovens and stove tops.

 

Pop up RV

Pop-Out - The term for a room in an RV that pops out for additional living space.

Popup or Pop-Up - Another name for a folding camping trailer.

Porpoising  -  A term used to define the up and down motion in an RV while traveling.

Propane - LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas, used in RVs for heating, cooking and refrigeration. Also called bottle gas, for manner in which it is sold and stored.

 

Puller - The slang term for a motor home with a front-mounted diesel engine.

 

Pull Through - A camping site that allows you to pull through while setting up and leaving the area.  A site where you do not have to back into or out of.

Pusher - The slang term for a motor home with a rear-mounted diesel engine.

Rig - What many RVers call their units.

Roof Air Conditioning - air conditioning unit mounted on roof of RV, to cool the RV when it is parked. When moving, most RVs are cooled by separate air conditioning units which are components of the engine, or they may be cooled by a roof top if a proper size generator is installed.

RV - Short for Recreation Vehicle, a generic term for all pleasure vehicles which contain living accommodations. Multiple units are RVs and persons using them are RVers.

Safety Chains  -  A set of chains that are attached to both the trailer A-Frame and the tow vehicle while towing.  Safety chains are intended to keep the trailer attached to the tow vehicle in the event of a hitch failure, preventing the trailer from completely separating from the tow vehicle.

Self Contained - RV which needs no external electrical, drain or water hookup. Thus, it can park overnight anywhere. Of course, self-contained units can also hook up to facilities when at campgrounds.

Sewer Doughnut - A rubber ring that seals one's dump hose and the campsite sewer connection so that gases and odors do not escape. Sewer doughnuts are required in many locations.

Shore Power  -  Electricity provided to the RV by an external source other than the RV batteries.

Slide-In  -  The term for a type of camper that mounts on a truck bed, because this type of camper slides in to the truck bed.

Slide-Out  -  A room or area in your RV that slides out to make additional space for living.

Thermocouple - A device that monitors the pilot flame of a pilot model propane appliance. If the pilot flame is extinguished the thermocouple causes the gas valve to shut off the flow of gas to both the pilot flame and the main burner.


Tip-Out  - The term used for an area or room in an RV that tips out for additional living space.  The Tip-Out was generally used in older RVs.  Newer RVs mainly use a slide-out.

Toad - A "toad" is an RVers term referring to a vehicle that is towed behind a motor home. Some vehicles can be towed without any modifications - others cannot be towed at all, or at least without extensive alterations.

Toe - Wheel alignment - Toe is the measure of whether the front of the wheels (looking down from the top) are closer (toe-in) or farther (toe-out) than the back of the wheels.

Tongue Weight - Tongue weight (TW) is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler. In most cases, it is about 10 to 15 percent of GTW. TW of up to 300 lbs. can be measured on a household scale by resting the trailer coupler on the scale and placing the scale on a box so that the coupler is at its normal towing height. The trailer must be fully loaded and level.

Tow Bar  - A bar used for connecting a towed vehicle to the motor home for towing with all four wheels on the ground.

Trailer Brakes  -  Brakes that are built into the trailer and are activated either by electric impulse or by a surge mechanism.

Underbelly - The RV's under floor surface, which is protected by a weatherproofed material.

Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW)  -  Sometimes called the Dry Weight, it is the weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.  The manufacturers UVW will not include any dealer-installed options.

Waste water tanks - The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the waste from the toilet.

Weight Carrying Hitch  -  A hitch designed to accept the entire hitch weight of the trailer.  This hitch is also known as a dead weight hitch.

Weight Distributing Hitch  -  A hitch that utilizes spring bars that are placed under tension to distribute a portion of the trailer's hitch weight to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer's axles. This hitch is also known as an equalizing hitch.

Weights – What weighs what?

  • Propane weighs 4.25 pounds per gallon
  • Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon
  • Gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds per gallon
  • Diesel fuel weighs 6.6 pounds per gallon

Wet Weight  -  The weight of the RV with the fuel, freshwater and propane tanks full.

Wheelbase - Distance between center lines of the primary axles of a vehicle. If a motor home includes a tag axle, the distance is measured from the front axle to the center point between the drive and tag axles.

Wide Body  -  The term for an RV exceeding the normal eight feet wide.  Wide Bodies are usually 102" (8' 6") wide.

 

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