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The last reminders of the winter have finally disappeared and all of our brains are thinking CAMPING SEASON! So what better time to make sure your RV is prepared to get you though the season with as few problems as possible. Here is a simple list to get you started and ready for camping!

If you had a cover on your RV, this is a great opportunity to see how the cover lasted through the winter and inspect if the cover moved around and potentially damaged anything. Sometimes if a cover is not on tight, it can catch on protruding objects or even wear a hole thru the cover. After removing your cover or if you didn’t have it covered, start with a visual inspection walk around of your RV.

1) Walk around and look for any signs of damage or rodent intrusion…cracked windows, loose trim, peeling sealants around windows or roof joints, tears or scuffs on the roof, cracked vent covers, etc. This would include any discoloring or staining. Make sure tires are aired up and not cracked or damaged. Propane tanks still intact and turned off. This is a great time to re-install your batteries that you hopefully removed for winter storage(especially in our freezing winters in Montana). It’s also important to check that the power cable is intact and not been damaged or chewed on by rodents prior to plugging in your trailer.

2.) Move to the interior and continue your visual inspection. Most importantly, look for any signs of water intrusion. Nothing causes more trouble and frustration than fighting water in your RV. Water is tricky and can come in from one place and settle in another so check the roof for stains, rippled wall paper is another indicator of leaks as well as of coarse any staining on the floor that appears to have been caused by pooling water. Check the compartments and drawers for signs of rodents and clean up as needed.

3.) If all is still well, move on to plugging in the RV and testing that your lights and electrical system are working and batteries are charging. This includes testing the monitor panel and making sure your indicators for water, batteries and tank levels are all working. This would be a great time to fire up your generator if your RV has one. Make sure your fire extinguisher is still up to date and test that your smoke detector batteries are new as well as testing your on-board LP detector(depending on the age of your RV these are suggested to be replaced every 5 years).

4.) Move on to Summerizing the RV water system. If you have winterized with RV Anti-freeze, drain the antifreeze and put water in the RV. Pressurize the water lines and make sure the water pump is functioning as it should and water lines are not leaking under pressure. Be sure to check the connections under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Make sure your toilet and bathroom shower are working correctly. Don’t forget to check your outside shower or outside kitchen if your RV is equipped with either or both…they are often overlooked in the winterizing process and could need fixing.

5.) Move on to the propane(LP) system and start by making sure the fittings are connected at the bottles and go ahead and turn the tank on. Pay close attention to any sound of leaks at the tank or if you smell the unmistakable smell of propane gas. If a leak is detected, shut off the tank valve and get it in for repair before attempting to utilize the propane system again. If no leaks are detected at the tanks, move your way inside the rv and test fire your appliances on propane. This would include the range, furnace and refrigerator. The fridge takes some time to cool but you can usually hear it ignite and run. Leave it on for several hours to check for cooling function. Start the furnace and make sure it is functioning and ignite the burners on the range. Again, if you hear a leak or smell propane make sure to shut off the propane bottles right away and air out the RV and take it in for repair. Also keep in mind that the lines might take a little extra time to get propane to the appliances after sitting all winter, so don’t be alarmed if it takes slightly longer to ignite the appliances than during regular use.

6.) Maintenance! Remember, like your car an RV requires regular maintenance to perform its best and not last a long time. This includes maintain your rubber roof membrane, roof and window seals, tires, hubs and axle maintenance. Here are a few of the top maintenance items that are often overlooked;

-Roof cleaner and conditioner. This product is sprayed on the roof and scrubbed in to clean and condition the rubber membrane. This will keep the roof clean and prolog the life of the rubber roof membrane.

– Seals and sealant. The silicone and RV specific Dicore lap sealants are another area to monitor and replace. Sealants are subject to the extreme heat of the summer and colds of the winter ad they will degrade over time and exposure. It’s critical that these seals remain strong as they are often the only thing keeping water out of your RV! Inspect them annually for shrinking, peeling and cracking. If water can find a way it..it will!

– Wheel Bearings. Most manufacturers recommend re-packing your wheel bearings every 2,000-3000 miles. If you are a local camper and don’t put many miles on your RV, you can probably get away with a few summers in between bearing services but if you don’t remember the last time you did it….it’s overdue!

This is an abbreviated overview of getting your RV ready for the season and everyone has their own list of items they prefer to check out. But this covers most of the necessities of having your RV in trouble free condition for camping season as well as some RV safety that we like to check. Please feel free to contact our service and parts departments with questions or to arrange for servicing if you are not able to complete some of these tasks/repairs and would like to have one of our certified RV repair techs take care of it for you. Now get out and enjoy your RV!

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It’s never fun to have to admit that summers coming to a close, but unfortunately it always manages to happen!  As we approach the colder months, it’s important to make sure your RV is properly prepared not only to endure the cold weather but also just the fact that it’s going to be sitting for possibly 5 to 7 months?

The first thing I always start with is moving out all the items that can’t take the cold or that just don’t need to ride out the winter in your RV.  This includes any clothes, linens, etc. you might miss if your RV is stored away from your home or other items that you would want to use at your home over the winter months.  I have children, so we always end up with extra toy’s and movies they have brought along on trips over the summer.  Lastly, I always remove all food and drink items. Don’t give a mouse any more reason to want to live in your RV over the winter!

Second thing is take this opportunity to double check your RV for any routine maintenance and or service that needs to be looked at.  This would also include taking this time to give it a good scrub and wax on the outside of your RV.   If you are able to do it yourself, that’s even better but keep in mind that a lot of RV dealerships in more seasonally driven areas will offer a discount for major services and repairs that they can work in over the fall and winter months as they are generally too busy in the summer months to take on large repairs…(like… tire blow out damage, re-roofing, body work, etc.).  Some examples of common maintenance that is often overlooked would be wheel bearing packs(recommended by most manufactures every 2000 miles or annually). Re-sealing windows, compartments, roof vents, etc..  Keep in mind that most of these are all sealed with just silicone caulking or Dicore self leveling sealant and all these products shrink and deteriorate over time and in most cases these are all that keeps water from penetrating your RV.   On the topic of roof, the most overlooked and really pretty easy thing to do is clean and condition your roof.  Most newer RV’s have a rubber roof membrane that works wonderfully to keep mother nature out but it also needs to be conditioned to prevent it from drying and cracking or becoming brittle.  This is literally as simple as wetting the roof, applying the cleaner/conditioner and scrubbing a bit with a brush and rinse it off with water.  This could add years or life to your roof membrane and also a good opportunity to check the seals around all the vents, skylights, etc. on the roof while you are up there.  I know not everyone is comfortable with doing these repairs themselves and please remember that your local dealer can perform all these jobs for you if you’d prefer.

Third would be the actual winterization of the water system of your RV.  There are basically two schools of thought on how to do this properly.  The Air method or the Antifreeze method.   They both start with the same list of to do’s…  Drain water heaters and remove anode rods, drain your tanks and open low point drains, clean and dump black and gray tanks.           The Air Method – Some people prefer to use high pressure air to force any remaining water out of the lines and leave it at that.  This can be accomplished with various fittings that are available to attach to your water system and they allow you to hook an air compressor to them and pressurize the lines with air.  Keep in mind you have to have someplace for this air to go or you will have lines blowing off fittings!  Leave faucets and fixtures open so the air can push water out the openings of the faucets and fixtures.  It is fairly effective but not perfect.  Keep in mind that a match head size drop of water can freeze and split a water fitting?  The antifreeze method differs in the idea that it fills all the space in your lines with antifreeze and thus prevents the lines from being able to freeze up.  This differs in a few areas that are worth noting… You need to make sure your unit has a bypass valve on the hot water heater that can be turned to prevent filling your water heater with antifreeze and you do not have to fill your fresh water tank with antifreeze.  Most dealerships will sell a kit for do-it yourselfers that allows you to utilize your water pump to pressurize the water lines with antifreeze.  In an averaged size travel trailer it usually only takes 2-3 gallons to winterize all the water lines.  Then I’d suggest putting a splash in the pea traps and toilet just to be safe.  Keep in mind this RV Antifreeze  is specifically made for RV water systems… it’s non toxic and safe if you were to drink it.  Again, these are both services that are offered at the dealership and myself, I let them do it!  I don’t want to find out in the spring I did it wrong as water line repairs can add up fast.  It’s easy to forget your outside shower?  Ice Maker in your fridge?  See where I’m going with that….

Fourth, prep for long term storage.  If you live in an area that gets below freezing, it’s a good Idea to remove batteries from your RV and store them someplace warm and even keep them on a battery maintainer or charger from time to time.  If a battery freezes, it never regains it’s full charging abilities and could even be completely ruined and not charge at all.  Motorhomes are a little different story as sometimes it’s inconvenient to remove all the batteries and bring them inside, but at minimum I’d keep them on a charger and/or check and run the unit from time to time.  Batteries are very expensive so I always play it as safe as I can to get the most use out of them as possible. As part of this storage prep I will also fill up the propane bottles and if it’s a motor home fill the fuel and put in fuel stabilizer.

Lastly, find a safe place to store it and tuck it away for a long winters nap.  I would recommend an RV specific cover if you are leaving it outside for months at a time.  They are going to help shed water and snow but also remain breathable so moisture won’t build up underneath and mold or mildew start. They will also keep the wind from being able to take it’s toll on vents, awnings, satellite dishes or anything protruding that could get beat up or torn off by some of the harsh winter storms.  A cover is not necessary but It’s a good investment to protect your RV.  Some people opt for covers specifically made to cover an air conditioner and/or tires and leave the rest of the unit exposed.  It is truly up to you and your preference.

A few last tips or recommendations.   Keep in mind each RV  and storage situation is different, by no means is this the definitive list of all you need to do to assure a safe winter for your RV…Simply tips to help make it easier.  Also, it’s worth checking in on your RV from time to time to make sure nothing has changed be it wind blown, vandals, or just keeping snow pushed off the roof if you live somewhere that get’s a lot of snow.  I’d also suggest people with on-board generators start them up a few times over the winter.  Most people don’t use their generators that often and sitting unused is the number one reason these develop problems.

Have a safe and happy winter!  See you next camping season!

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/498492252498021395/

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If you’re looking for something to sate your sweet tooth while you’re out on the road, look no further than this delicious and decadent chocolate pecan pie recipe! Simple to make and fun to share, this pie will quickly become your go-to dessert while you travel in your RV.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spread the pecans and chocolate chips evenly on the bottom of the pie shell.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Pour over the pecans and chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes then carefully place a pie shield over the crust. Continue baking until the filling is set, about 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Visit Gardner’s RV Center

Stop by Gardner’s RV Center today to tour a new or used RV, motorhome, or travel trailer. If your current rig needs service, schedule an appointment with a service technician or shop the parts and accessories store at Gardner’s RV Center.

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Your RV is your home on wheels, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t feel as comfortable as the brick-and-mortar home you left behind. Follow these three simple tips to turn your motorhome, travel trailer or fifth wheel into a comfortable and cozy oasis.

1. Adjust Your Lighting

Not all RVs come with intelligent and decorative lighting systems. Take the time to find LED lights in a color and brightness that suit your preferences and use them in place of your overhead and reading lights. Additionally, opt for candles or flameless LED candles for mood lighting at night and whenever you don’t want bright lights shining in your vehicle.

2. Decorate Like Home

You don’t have to live with the outdated or unattractive interior that came with your RV when you purchased it. Don’t be afraid to remove undesirable carpeting and replace it with a color or texture you enjoy. RV enthusiasts can also transform RV interiors with simple and affordable additions like new rugs, bedding, towels and throw pillows.

In addition to buying new soft goods, hanging pictures, adding decor pieces and placing a few plants around your RV can really add a touch of home. Just remember to secure your items before hitting the road.

3. Use Quality Dishes

Contrary to popular belief, you can use real dishes and silverware in your RV. Stocking your RV with quality dishes and glasses can make it feel more like you live inside your RV rather than simply use it as a camper.

Use wine boxes from the grocery store to separate your glasses and keep them safe when you’re on then road, then stock your shelves when you arrive at your destination. Non-slip shelf liners and a piece of non-slip lining between each dish will also keep your plates and bowls in place when you’re on the go.

Find Your Dream RV

Not feeling comfortable on your travels? Stop by Gardner’s RV & Trailer Center to find the RV of your dreams for an unbelievably affordable price.

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While you’re bound to bring all sorts of accessories, gadgets, and creature comforts along with you on any RV journey, there are a handful of accessories that Gardner’s RV & Trailer Center considers essential, gear that any RVer on any type of trip is going to want to have stowed on their RV somewhere.

A Patio Grill

Outdoor grilling might be big at home, but on the road a patio grill is under almost constant use. Living out of an RV is almost like living on your porch. Sure you may go inside to sleep or watch a movie, but once you’ve set up at your RV site, the area immediately outside of your door becomes your living room in a way. You’ll appreciate it at meal times when you need to fee a hungry horde of guests.

An Awning

An awning is useful in all weathers, especially when you consider the point made earlier that that area immediately outside of your door becomes your living room. You want to enjoy it, rain or shine, and a good awning makes all the difference in pursuit of that. Whether built in or added later, an awning is indispensable to your outdoor enjoyment, shading you from the hot sun and acting as an umbrella during rain.

A Step and Porch

To complete your outdoor sitting area, you’ll want a step and porch set. It helps to make it easier to get in and our of your RV and reduces the chance of tripping or falling. Creating a porch for yourself is also a great idea and there are many mats that will either attach or mold themselves to a step accessory.

Visit Gardner’s RV & Trailer Center

Stop by Gardner’s RV & Trailer Center to tour any RV on the lot. If you’re looking to upgrade or to find some much-needed (or even a must-have) accessories, Gardner’s RV is the place to go!

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Gardner's RV Blog by Gardnersrv - 10M ago

Okay, when we say “grow” your own bread, it’s not what you may be thinking. You don’t need to farm a patch of land behind your RV site for wheat, build a windmill to grind it, or anything like that. Instead, this is a fun method of making fresh-baked, homemade bread. You’ll be growing (baking) the bread in a clay flower pot!

Flower Pot Bread

INGREDIENTS/SUPPLIES

  • Bread dough, ready-made
  • 1 small clay flower pot
  • Vegetable/olive oil
  • Aluminum foil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Clean out the clay flower pot. Make sure you thoroughly clean it out. It’s recommended that you use a pot that’s never actually held a plant before. Apply a generous coating of the oil of your choice, allowing it to dry. After the first coat of oil dries, apply a thick second coat.
  2. Clog up the hole at the bottom with a wad of aluminum foil. Then place a flat piece of foil over the wad at the bottom of the pot.
  3. Put your ready-made bread dough at the bottom of the pot. Leave about 1/3 of the pot as open space so the dough has room to rise. Gently brush the top of the dough with more oil.
  4. Place a large piece of foil over the opening of the pot, covering it completely. Tent the foil at the top to allow more space for the bread to rise.
  5. Place the pot directly into the hot coals of a campfire or even on top of an outdoor grill. Let the bread bake for about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the baked bread from the flower pot. Be very careful handling the pot and bread; both will be very hot! Let the bread cool completely so that the edges harden and make it easier to pull out of the flower pot.
  7. Slice and enjoy with your favorite foods!
Visit Gardner’s RV Center

Here at Gardner’s RV Center, we’re more than an RV dealership; we’re your home RV parts and service in Kalispell, Montana. If you have any questions about installing or using solar panels and power with your RV, just stop in and ask one of our knowledgeable RV technicians today.

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As RV travelers, we tend to appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors more than others. By following a few simple eco-friendly tips, we can do our part to preserve what we appreciate by living greener year-round.

Buy Quality Products

The fewer items you have to buy, the fewer items have to go in the trash. Make all of your major material purchases with longevity in mind, and you can greatly reduce the amount of trash you put into the Earth.

Ditch the Plastic Bags

Although some areas of the United States have actually banned plastic bags, the trend hasn’t crossed the nation just yet. Make your mark by taking your own reusable grocery bags to the market to reduce the amount of plastic bags that end up in landfills.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Many major companies have started making cost-effective cleaning products that are phosphate free, biodegradable and never tested on animals. Do your part by choosing these products over others that are harmful to animals as well as the atmosphere. If eco-friendly products aren’t available, vinegar and baking soda are two earth-friendly (and extremely effective) cleaning items you probably already have in your RV’s cupboards.

Reduce Your Use of Electricity

Although it feels nice to have the interior temperature of your home at 75 while the snow is falling outside, you can save tons of energy (and big bucks on your electricity and gas usage) by choosing a blanket over turning up the thermostat. Use fans instead of air conditioning (whenever possible) in the summer, and always turn the lights off when you exit a room.

Visit Gardner’s RV Center

Traveling in an RV is the perfect way to live a greener lifestyle, so come down to Gardner’s RV Center to browse our huge selection of new and used RVs for sale or to shop all of our eco-friendly RV parts and accessories.

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After a long winter, the spring RV season is finally here. It’s time to start cleaning and inspecting your RV inside and out. These simple RV preparation tips will help ensure that your RV is road-ready inside and out.

Start with an Inspection

The first step to take after pulling your RV out of storage is to inspect it inside and out. Pull the tarp or cover off of your RV and check the roof for any wear and tear that could have occurred over the winter months. Check the sides and undersides as well to make sure no critters have created holes to take shelter in your home on wheels. Lastly, inspect the interior of your RV for any damage.

It’s Time to Clean

Even if your RV went into storage after a good cleaning, you’ll want to clean away the winter grime once again. Thoroughly wash the exterior of your with an RV washing solution and soft rags or sponges that won’t scratch the exterior surface. Clean the interior of your thoroughly as well, taking out any items that you won’t need on your summer travels (heavy winter coats, sleds, and other winter supplies).

Check Your Appliances and Safety Gear

There’s nothing more disappointing than arriving at the campground to find that your stove is no longer operating properly. Check your water heater, LP tanks, appliances, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and the fire extinguisher to make sure they’re all in proper working order. It pays to get your RV road-ready even if you’re not preparing for a trip, because you never know when an opportunity for adventure will strike.

Let Us Take a Look

There’s no better way to enjoy complete peace of mind on the road than to bring your RV to Gardner’s RV Center before you go. Our certified RV technicians will take all of the necessary steps to ensure your RV is ready for all of your spring and summer adventures.

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Solar panels are essential for travelers who want spend more time off the cord and without running their generators. However, understanding which solar panels to use and how to use them can be intimidating for those who are new to this innovative power trend. The following guide will help you understand solar panels more fully, so you can start easing your negative impact on the environment, saving more money, and enjoying a more convenient RV lifestyle.

The Basics of Solar Power

Solar panels include photovoltaic cells that convert energy from the sun into electricity. Panels are rated in watts of output, and that wattage rating is found by multiplying the panel’s peak power amperage by its peak power voltage. Factors like cell temperature, shade, angle of sunlight and amount of sunlight can affect how much voltage you receive from your solar panels.

The Benefits of Solar Power

The benefits of solar power never cease. You’ll find yourself spending more time in more scenic areas when you’re not tied to power cords. You’ll also give back to those scenic places by harmlessly creating your RV’s power from the sun. Even more, you’ll save money by not having to reserve spaces at costly RV parks and nearly eliminating the use of your generator.

What You’ll Need

A low-power RV solar setup can power your fan, lights and keep your batteries charged while you’re enjoying life off the grid. If this is what you’re seeking, a basic 12-volt system with a 55-watt module should do the trick. However, if you’d like to power your lights, fan, laptop, charge cell phones and watch television, a 12-volt medium system would include two 140-watt modules.

Visit Gardner’s RV Center

Here at Gardner’s RV Center, we’re more than an RV dealership; we’re your home RV parts and service in Kalispell, Montana. If you have any questions about installing or using solar panels and power with your RV, just stop in and ask one of our knowledgeable RV technicians today.

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Ideally, you want to use your RV’s kitchen when you’re out on the road traveling in it. After all, the ability to cook your own food like you would at home was probably one of the major draws of owning your motorhome or travel trailer in the first place.

But when it comes down to actually cooking, you may feel put-off by the idea. It’s admittedly more straightforward and simpler to just head to a restaurant every night and managing your RV’s fridge and pantry stock takes extra work. Not to worry: with just a few simple tips, you can be well on your way to maximizing your RV kitchen’s potential.

Plan Things Out

Planning what you’ll eat and when you’ll eat it helps you to actually follow through on prepping the ingredients you bought. When you plan your meals and buy the groceries, make a promise to yourself to get those meals made even if you’re tired after a long day. If you’ve known for a week what you plan to have tonight, you’ll be in the mindset to make it happen.

Have Alternatives Handy

In the event that you’re absolutely done with everything and you’re bone-weary (hey, it’s going to happen sometimes if you just spent a lot of time outside), don’t resort to eating out. Have some cheap and easy non-perishable alternatives available at all times. We’re talking cans of soup, boxed macaroni, or some canned tuna. They’re not exciting meals, but they’ll still fill you up without forcing you to put forth lots of effort.

Keep Meals Simple

Regardless of whether or not you’re tired, it’s best to keep all meals simple, not just your alternatives. The simpler they are, the more likely you’ll feel up to making them. Simpler means fewer ingredients and steps, not less taste. Find meals that are heavy on flavor but light on prep. Don’t be afraid to use a slow cooker or to prep ingredients ahead of time (including freezing pre-cooked meats).

Cook Outside

Lastly, don’t forget that you’re in some of the prettiest places in the country. You’re RVing and that means that you’re probably at a campground in a National or State Park right this second. What better incentive to cook than to grill outside your rig in the fresh air and natural splendor of your surroundings? Mix some grill recipes into your meal plan and enjoy the evening outside. If those views don’t get you cooking, what will?

Visit Gardner’s RV Center

Stop by Gardner’s RV Center this spring to tour a new or pre-owned motorhome or travel trailer. Learn more about your favorite models and ask your sales associate if there are any sales or specials going on. Get out there and explore the highways in an RV from Gardner’s RV Center!

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