Please Visit Our Sponsors


No announcement yet.

Glossary For Trailer RV Owners

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Glossary For Trailer RV Owners

    Glossary For Trailer RV Owners by The Gardner
    5th WHEEL
    A type of trailer that is connected to the Tow Vehicle (most commonly a pick up truck) via a hitch mounted inside the bed.Due to the type of construction required, they are typically heavier than comparable model Travel Trailers.Because of the location of the hitch connection point over the tow vehicle axel, they are generally more stable and less susceptible to sway.

    7-PIN ELECTRICAL CONNECTORS The connectors used for most 5th Wheel and Travel Trailers to link them with the Tow Vehicles electrical system.The trailer end is a male connector, which plugs into the female connector mounted on the Tow Vehicle, typically on or near the rear bumper.Some pickup trucks have a second female connecter mounted in the bed of the pickup for easier connecting to a 5th Wheel trailer.The wiring is color coded as follows:

    White = Ground

    Blue = Electric Brake

    Green = Tail & Running Lights

    Black = Battery Plus

    Red = Left Turn & Stop

    Brown = Right Turn & Stop

    Yellow = Auxiliary/Back Up Lights

    ACCUMULATOR TANK An air tank used in conjunction with an RVs fresh water system. It is installed on the output side of the RVs water pump.Air inside the tank is compressed by the water pump, and it allows water to be used without immediately activating the water pump.The primary benefit is noise reduction.

    ANODE (also Sacrificial Anode) A replaceable metal rod that screws into the RV hot water heater.It is a piece of readily corrodible metal attached to the water heater in order to protect it from corrosion. The anode corrodes first, and generally must dissolve nearly completely before the water heater will corrode (hence the term "sacrificial").They should be checked annually for deterioration and replaced as necessary.Note: anodes are also used on residential hot water heaters!

    ANTENNA BOOSTER (RV) An electrical device, typically incorporated into a 12v DC power outlet, that amplifies the antenna signal to improve broadcast TV reception.

    AWNING Typically refers to an assembly, mounted on the curb-side of an RV, that opens up to provide a waterproof canopy for protection from the sun and rain.The canopy fabric is under tension on a roller, similar to a window shade, and is retracted when not in use.The awning can usually be extended out and braced from the side of the RV, or the braces can be detached from the RV and anchored to the ground to form a small car port.

    BALL (trailer hitch) the point at which a Travel Trailer (via Coupler) is attached to a Tow Vehicle.Balls normally come in three sizes: 1 7/8, 2" and 2 5/16. The two smaller sizes are used for Tent Trailers and very small Travel Trailers. 2 5/16 is used for most Travel Trailers. BE SURE TO PURCHASE THE CORRECT CLASS OF BALL FOR THE LOAD TO BE TOWED!

    BASEMENT (RV) Typically refers to a large storage area in a 5th wheel under a portion of the master bedroom.On some units, the area extends from one side of the trailer to the other, and can be accessed from either side.

    BATTERY(S) Means of providing power to an RV when it is not connected to Shore Power or to a Generator.Supplies 12v DC to operate the water pump, fans, Slide Outs, lighting, furnace, propane and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as the DSI (Direct Spark Ignition) systems for the water heater and refrigerator.Also used to power some stereo systems and TVs. May also be required to operate electronics controlling newer refrigerators.Larger trailers may have two or more batteries to provide additional capacity.Standard practice is to use Red or Black for the Plus (+) Terminal, and White for the Negative/Ground (-) terminal.

    BLACK WATER TANK Tank mounted under an RV that is used to collect waste water and material from the toilet.

    BOONDOCKING Dry Camping in a remote location (in the boondocks) where there are no external hookups for water, electrical or sewer.

    BRAKES (trailer) Most trailers utilize a system of electric brakes, powered by the Tow Vehicle and actuated by its Brake Controller.

    BRAKE CONTROLLER Most commonly an electrical device that automatically actuates the trailer brakes when the tow vehicle brakes are used. For older tow vehicles, this must be purchased separately and installed.On newer tow vehicles, this may be already included and integrated with the vehicles braking system.The Controller has adjustable settings and should be fine tuned for each trailer.

    BREAKAWAY SWITCH A safety switch installed on trailers and connected to the tow vehicle via a wire cable.It is designed to automatically active a trailer’s electric brakes should it become separated from the tow vehicle.It relies upon the trailer’s battery(s) for power, so it is essential for the battery(s) to be connected and in good working order when towing.

    BULBS Trailers normally use 12 v DC power for their interior lighting.Owners should make sure they have spare bulbs available for replacements as needed.The easiest way to determine what type is needed is to remove an existing bulb and note the numbers stamped or stenciled on it.There may be more than one type of bulb used in an RV (i.e. fluorescent and various types of incandescents).

    CAMPER (or Slide-In Camper) An RV designed to fit into the bed of a pickup truck and carried there.It has no wheels or suspension of its own.

    CARBON MONOXIDE A colorless, odorless gas given off as a byproduct of combustion (from a stove or oven, furnace, propane refrigerator, generator, etc.).Exposure to this gas can cause unconsciousness and death.It is EXTREMELY important to maintain adequate ventilation inside of an RV while using any combustion-causing appliance, and a Carbon Monoxide Detector should be used whenever the RV is in use.

    CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR (trailer) An electrical device, permanently mounted in the trailer, that can detect the presence of Carbon Monoxide gas and sound an audible alarm.They are very similar to Smoke Detectors.They are powered by the trailers 12 volt system, and are turned off when the trailer batteries are disconnected or the trailer power disconnect switch is used. The detector should be on whenever the trailer is in use.

    CHASSIS The steel frame forming the foundation of an RV.The axels are attached below, and the floors and walls attached above.

    CHOCKS Typically blocks of wood or plastic that are placed in front of and behind a trailers wheels to prevent it from moving after it is disconnected from the tow vehicle.There is also a more expensive mechanical type which clamps tandem wheels together and is more secure.Some clamp-type chocks are lockable.

    CIRCUIT BREAKER An electrical protection device that turns off power to a circuit when current draw exceeds pre-set limits.More commonly found on AC circuits, they are ESSENTIAL to prevent overloading and potential fires. Circuit Breakers trip when overloaded.When the source of the problem has been found and eliminated, they can be re-set.The protection devices more commonly used for 12v DC circuits are fuses.

    CITY WATER Water connection (typically a faucet) where an RVs fresh water system can be connected.This bypasses the RVs electric water pump and does not draw upon the water supply in the RVs fresh water tank. Note: RV water systems are typically designed to operate at about 50 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure, and some city supplies are more than double this. A pressure regulator is typically used to reduce the city supply to a more acceptable level.

    CONVERTER An electrical device used to convert 110v AC from Shore Power or a generator to12v DC, to charge RV batteries and to provide power to DC lights and equipment (furnace, water pump, refrigerator, etc).

    DINETTE Refers to fixed bench dining table seating attached to the floor of an RV.Typically, the table top can be lowered to rest on the seats and form additional sleeping space utilizing the seat cushions as a mattress.The seats usually have additional storage underneath.The alternative is a stand-alone dining table with movable chairs.

    DRY CAMPING - Using your RV where there are no external hookups for water, electrical or sewer.Power would typically come from 12v batteries, a generator, or solar panels, or some combination thereof.Fresh water would typically be supplied by the RVs internal tank(s).

    DRY WEIGHT - This is the weight of a trailer with no liquids or options. The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of the trailer will usually be 500-1500 pounds more than this number.

    DSI Abbreviation for Direct Spark Ignition.An electronic system for igniting a propane appliance (refrigerator, furnace, water heater, etc.) without using a match or butane lighter.

    DUMP (the tanks) Process of draining the gray and black holding tanks into a sewer connection.Many campgrounds have sewer connections for this purpose at each site.Some campgrounds may have designated Dump Stations that can be utilized.The Black Water tank should be dumped first so that the contents of the Gray tank can help flush the dump hose.

    DUMP HOSE Large-diameter (3") flexible hose used to connect the RV dump connector (fed by the gray and black water tanks) to a sewer connection.When not in use, the hose is usually stored either within the rear bumper of the RV, or a separate storage compartment located underneath the RV.

    DUMP STATION A spot, typically located in a campground, specifically designed for RVs to dump the contents of their gray and black holding tanks.Usually includes a sewer connection and a source of clean water for flushing the tanks.

    DUMP VALVES Large blade-type valves, located underneath the street side of an RV, that are used to dump the contents of the gray and black holding tanks.They are usually hand-operated, but electric versions are available.


    IMHO In My Humble Opinion

    LOL Laughing Out Loud

    ELECTRICAL ADAPTERS Adapters commonly available for use in connecting RV 30 Amp and 50 Amp power cables to various outlets, or for connecting standard household plugs to RV 30 Amp and 50 Amp outlets.

    EMERGENCY EXIT WINDOW (Escape Window) Window in an RV that is designed to open completely during an emergency and allow the RV occupants to escape.Mainly intended for fires.RV’s will typically have one or more.The Escape Windows in better units also have a screen and can be opened for ventilation.

    ENCLOSED UNDERBELLY A protective cover applied to the underbelly of an RV to help insulate the holding tanks during cold weather.This makes the RV better able to withstand the effects of below-zero temperatures.A drawback to an enclosed underbelly is the difficulty in accessing the tanks and valves should problems occur.

    ENZYME TREATMENT An alternative to the commonly used formaldehyde-based chemicals added to Black Water Holding Tanks to control odors.The enzymes break down the waste and reduce odor.Some campgrounds are now prohibiting the dumping of formaldehyde-based chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment.

    EXHAUST BRAKE A mechanical device used, on Diesel Engine vehicles only, to create more back pressure and help slow the vehicle.Diesel engines do not have much back pressure, so this device can make a significant difference while towing, taking some of the load off of the Tow Vehicle and Trailer brake systems.They are most commonly installed by after-market vendors.

    EQUILIZING HITCH (also Weight Distributing Hitch) A type of Travel Trailer hitch that is designed to distribute trailer tongue loads to the Tow Vehicle forward axle in order spread the load to all four wheels.It accomplishes this through the use of tension bars.Properly adjusted, an Equilizing Hitch can eliminate Tow Vehicle ear end sag and improve towing control.

    EXTERIOR WALLS Most commonly made from either Filon/Fiberglass or Aluminum.Both are effective and relatively trouble free.Advantages of Filon/Fiberglass are: easier to wash and wax, no mid-panel seams, provides more insulation than Aluminum, however, it is heavier than Aluminum and more difficult to repair.May also discolor over time due to exposure to sun.Advantages of Aluminum: easier to repair, lighter than Filon/Fiberglass, less susceptible to sun damage and fading, however, it is not as easy to wash and wax, has mid-panel seams, and is not as good an insulator as Filon/Fiberglass.

    EXTERNAL AC OUTLET A 110v AC outlet mounted to the exterior of an RV, and able to supply power only when the RV is connected to shore power or when the RV is powered by a generator or inverter.By code, they are protected by a GFI (Ground Fault Interruptor) circuit to minimize the possibility of a fatal electrical shock (shock hazard is much greater in outdoor and wet environments).

    EXTERNAL SHOWER A faucet and hose/shower head assembly stored in a lockable compartment built into the side or back of an RV.It is connected to the RV’s fresh water system, and can supply both hot and cold water (assuming the RV’s hot water heater is operating).In addition to showering, uses include cleaning tasks, washing off sand when beach camping, and filling pet water bowls.

    EZ-LUBE AXELS Axels, manufactured by Dexter, that greatly reduce the effort of periodically lubricating them.

    FANTASTIC FAN A brand of vent fan, mounted in the roof of an RV, that has a three-speed 12 v DC motor.They are used to either exhaust hot air from the ceiling area of an RV, or to intake cooler air from outside the RV.

    FLIP THE AXELS A process of unbolting a trailers axels, and re-positioning them underneath the suspension springs instead of on top.This is typically done to increase Ground Clearance and/or raise the hitch height to more closely match a tow vehicle.

    FLOOR PLANS (5th Wheel) Given that the master bed of a 5th wheel is normally at the front of the trailer over the bed of the tow vehicle, there are only three major floor plan types:
      1. Rear Kitchen The kitchen appliances and counter occupy most of the rear living space, and the sofa is located in the central section of the trailer.Typically provides the largest kitchen area.Bathroom is usually in the front of the trailer with the master bedroom.
      2. Rear Lounge (or Rear Living Room) The Living Room occupies most of the rear living space, and the kitchen is located in the central section of the trailer.Typically provides large view windows at the rear of the trailer.Bathroom is usually in the front of the trailer with the master bedroom.
      3. Bunkhouse Bunk beds and bathroom typically occupy the rear of the trailer.Provides more sleeping space for kids.
    FLOOR PLANS (Travel Trailer) In addition to the floor plans typical of 5th Wheels, Travel Trailers offer other options including Rear Bathroom, Rear Bedroom, and variations of each.

    FLUSH SYSTEM A system installed on an RV that routes fresh water automatically to the black water tank to aid in flushing out the contents.Normally requires that a hose be connected from a City Water connection to an exterior connection point on the RV.

    FORMALDAHYDE An anti-bacterial chemical commonly used as an additive to RV Holding Tanks to kill bacteria and control odors.Due to environmental concerns, some campgrounds will no longer allow holding tanks using this chemical to be dumped at their locations.The alternative, which is becoming more common, is an enzyme treatment that is natural.

    FOUR SEASON Manufacturer claim that an RV can be used year round.Of most concern typically is colder/sub-freezing weather.To handle freezing temperatures, manufacturers usually make provisions to enclose and heat the holding tanks.They may also add higher-rated insulation (higher R-value).Some manufacturers also incorporate additional fittings and hoses in the fresh water system to facilitate winterizing an RV for storage in cold climates.An added benefit of the higher-rated insulation is that it helps keep an RV cooler during summer months.

    FUSE A small electrical protection device that turns off power to a circuit when current draw exceeds pre-set limits.More commonly found on DC circuits, they are ESSENTIAL to prevent overloading and potential fires. Fuses blow when overloaded, and cannot be re-used.When the source of the problem has been found and eliminated, a new fuse must be inserted in the fuse panel.Note: IT IS DANGEROUS TO SUBSTITUTE A HIGHER-CAPACITY FUSE FOR A LOWER CAPACITY ONE.The wiring the fuse is protecting is sized for the fuse, and could overheat and cause a fire if the current rating is exceeded.The protection devices more commonly used for 110v AC circuits are circuit breakers.

    FUSE PANEL An electrical panel housing the fuses protecting an RVs 12v DC electrical system.Each fuse is usually labeled in the panel as to what it is protecting (i.e. lighting, furnace, water pump, etc.).

    GARAGE A large storage area with a protective door, typically at the rear of a trailer, that can hold bulky items that would not fit in a standard trailer.Some can hold a full-size bicycle.

    GAW (front or rear): Gross Axle Weight - the amount of ACTUAL weight on that particular axle.

    GAWR (front or rear): Gross Axle Weight Rating: The maximum ALLOWED GAW.

    GCW: Gross Combined Weight - The total ACTUAL weight of everything - tow vehicle, trailer, etc.

    GCWR: Gross Combined Weight Rating - The maximum ALLOWED GCW.

    GENERATOR Mechanical engines of various capacities used to generate electrical current to power RV appliances and charge the RV batteries. There are built-in models as well as portable, and they are available to run on gasoline, propane, or diesel.Built-ins typically use propane (drawing from the RVs storage tanks), while portables use gasoline.

    GENERATOR-READY The RV is pre-wired by the manufacturer for the installation of a generator at some future date.Greatly facilitates the installation.

    GENNY Abbreviation for Generator.

    GFI (also GFCI) Abbreviations for Ground Fault Interrupter and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.These are usually special 110 v AC outlets that are used to protect individuals from a potentially fatal shock where exposure to ground is likely (most commonly around water and outdoors).They are typically used to protect outdoor outlets, as well as outlets in kitchens and bathrooms due to their proximity to water. They are usually daisy-chained i.e. they are connected to other outlets and are wired to protect all of the outlets that they are connected to. If the GFI outlet trips, it will kill power to all the outlets that are wired together.These outlets have Test and Reset buttons on their front, and should be tested periodically, as they can fail.If a piece of electrical equipment continually trips a GFI breaker, it should not be used until checked by a competent electrician.There is a small, inexpensive (about $7.00) electrical tester that can also be used to test outlets on a GFI circuit, and it is available in most home centers. An added benefit of this tester is that is also checks that the RV and Shore Power are wired correctly.

    GFI TESTER A small, inexpensive portable tester that can be used to check that a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) circuit is functioning properly.Cost is under $8.00.

    GOOSENECK HITCH - A Class 5 hitch that mounts a ball in the bed of a pickup truck (either 2-5/16" or 3" in diameter) to engage a coupler on a trailer.

    GRAVITY FILL Fill point for the fresh water system.Usually located on the side of a RV, higher than the fresh water tank.Water is usually added via a hose from a City Water supply, using a special nozzle that fits into the Gravity Fill opening.The fill point is usually protected by a locking access hatch.

    GRAY WATER TANK(S) - Tank mounted under an RV that is used to collect waste water from the bathroom and kitchen sinks and shower.

    GREASABLE SHACKLE FITTINGS The shackles are the nuts, bolts, and other hardware needed to connect the suspension (springs, axels) to the trailer chassis.The standard components do not have grease fittings, which makes it difficult to properly lubricate them.Dry fittings can develop squeaks and wear out prematurely.Greasable components have zerk fittings, allowing them to be properly lubed with a grease gun.Many owners replace their standard fittings with greasable ones to prevent future problems and eliminate squeaks.

    GROUND CLEARANCE The height of a trailers chassis and underneath components above the ground, typically the lowest point.This can be important if the trailer is taken onto more primitive roads, but also is important when a trailer is pulled out of some parking lots or driveways. If not high enough, the trailer can scrape and possibly damage components underneath.Ground clearance is affected by the wheel size, as well as if the axels are mounted above or below the suspension springs.The easiest method of increasing the ground clearance is typically to Flip the Axels re-position the axels underneath the suspension springs from on top.

    GVW: Gross Vehicle Weight - the ACTUAL weight of a vehicle.

    GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: The maximum ALLOWED GVW for a vehicle.

    HEATED HOLDING TANKS A provision to heat the holding tanks of an RV in order to reduce the likelihood of the tank liquids freezing and bursting pipes or damaging other elements of the plumbing systems.Especially useful when camping in colder climates where temperatures drop below freezing.The most common method is to route heated air from the furnace system to the holding tanks.

    HIDE-A-BED A sofa that unfolds in sections to create a sleeping space approximating a normal-sized bed.Differs from a Jackknife sofa that converts by simply folding flat (and is much smaller).Hide-a-beds usually do not have storage underneath as they use the space for the folding mechanism.

    HITCH CLASSES There are four classifications of vehicle trailer (ball) hitches.They are:

    Class 1 - capacity of up to 2,000 lbs gross trailer weight and 200 lbs tongue weight

    Class 2 - weight-carrying rating of up to 3,500 lbs gross trailer weight and 300/350 lbs tongue weight

    Class 3 - weight carrying rating of up to 5,000 lbs gross trailer weight and 500 lbs tongue weight. Also sometimes used to refer to a hitch with any 2" receiver, regardless of rating.

    Class 4 - weight carrying rating of up to 10,000 lbs gross trailer weight and 1,000 - 1,200 lbs tongue weight. Many times any hitch with a capacity greater than 5,000 lbs gross weight is referred to as a Class 4.

    HOLDING TANK DEODERIZER Chemicals added to holding tanks to control odor, particularly the Black Water tank.

    HOLDING TANKS Refers to the Gray and Black-water tanks used to capture waste water from the RV sinks and shower (Gray) and toilet (Black).

    INVERTER An electronic device used to convert 12v DC from batteries to 110v AC, in order to power household appliances and equipment.

    JACKKNIFE - An extreme turning maneuver that can cause damage to the tow vehicle and the trailer when the trailer tongue or body swings into the contact with the tow vehicle. Jackknife accidents usually occur while backing up.

    JACKKNIFE SOFA A sofa that converts to a limited sleeping space by simply folding flat.Differs from a hide-a-bed, which actually unfolds in sections and creates a more normally-sized bed.Jackknife sofas usually have additional storage space underneath.

    JACK STANDS An inexpensive type of stabilizing jack, not attached to an RV, that can be positioned under the four corners of a parked RVs chassis.They are manually adjusted, via a screw-type mechanism, to prevent bouncing and movement of the RV from wind and when people move about inside.

    KINGPIN the hitching mechanism on a 5th Wheel trailer.The part of the hitch that latches into the receiver portion of the hitch mounted in the bed of the tow vehicle.

    KINGPIN BOX the assembly, mounted to the front of a 5th Wheel trailer, which houses the Kingpin.

    LANDING GEAR The two jacks mounted at the front of a 5th Wheel trailer.Similar in function to a Tongue Jack on a Travel Trailer, and are used to raise and lower the trailer while hitching and unhitching, and also to level the trailer from front to back.Normally raised and lowered by an electric motor utilizing the trailers internal battery(s).

    LANDING GEAR MANUAL OVERRIDE Provision, by the manufacturer, to manually crank 5th Wheel Landing Gear up or down in case of a motor or electrical failure.Typically accessed through a small opening in the side of a trailer near the front, and requires a hand crank similar to that used for scissor jacks.Owners should be sure they have the appropriate hand crank on hand.

    LAUNDRY CHUTE An access hatch between the living area of a 5th wheel trailer and the basement storage area.Promoted by manufacturers as a means of depositing dirty laundry into a container placed in the basement.

    LED LIGHTS Solid-state (rather than filament) lights that have the advantages of very low power requirements and near instantaneous transmission of light.For interior lighting, LEDs are particularly beneficial when running off of the RV batteries (Dry Camping) as they minimize current draw.For exterior stop lights, their faster reaction time can provide additional stopping distance to drivers behind.

    LENGTH The overall length of an RV from nose to back.There is a common misconception that the model number denotes the length.For example, a Northwood Arctic Fox 27-5L is actually 27 long.However, their 21-5R model is almost 23 long.Prospective buyers should check the manufacturers literature, or, better yet, physically measure the length if it may be an issue for them (limited space for parking, for example).Another point to consider is that some campgrounds prohibit trailers over a specific length.This varies from campground to campground, and could prevent owners of larger units from staying at some locations.

    LEVELS (Exterior) Typically refers to levels mounted to the outside of an RV to aid in rapid leveling of the rig during setup at a camp location.Prior to installing the levels, the RV should be leveled with reference to the floor of the refrigerator freezer.The exterior levels can then be installed and calibrated to the level position.

    LEVELING The process of making the RV level both lengthwise and from side to side.This is important for two reasons: 1) RV refrigerators are VERY sensitive to out-of-level conditions and can be easily damaged, and 2) for the comfort of the RV occupants.For these reasons, the RV should be leveled to about a half-bubble on a small pocket level.Standard leveling procedure is to level first from side to side by backing (or pulling forward) the low side of the RV onto blocks of wood or plastic blocks.Once the unit is leveled side to side, it should be chocked and unhitched, and then leveled front to back using the tongue jack or landing gear.The leveling should be done in reference to the freezer floor in the refrigerator (i.e. place the level on the floor of the freezer compartment), not to the counters or floor of the RV.

    LEVELING JACKS Jacks typically used at the four corners of a parked RVs chassis to lift the chassis and level the RV.Note: these are NOT the same as Stabilizing Jacks, which do not have lifting capability and are used simply to stabilize an RV and stop it from bouncing/moving from wind and as people move about inside.

    MODS Abbreviation for Modifications.Changes made to ones RV to (hopefully) improve the quality or usability.Can be minor such as changing out a light fixture, or major such as completely rebuilding cabinets.

    MOTOR HOME An RV that is self-driving (as opposed to towed) and has complete living accommodation.These come in three classes:Class A the largest and most luxurious, Class B a van camper (think in terms of the VW camper van) that can fit in the same size spot as a car, and Class C a mini-motorhome built on an extended van chassis and typically has a bed-over-cab arrangement.

    NORTHWOOD OWNERS Wonderful group of people who own one of the very high quality Northwood products: Arctic Fox, Nash, Northwind or Desert Fox.

    NORTHWOOD RV OWNERS ASSOCIATION (NROA) A privately-operated web site for owners of Northwood products, dedicated ¦to help you make the most out of your Arctic Fox, Nash, Desert Fox, Fox Mountain, Snowy River, Wolf Creek & Fox Creek.

    PDI Abbreviation for Pre-Delivery Inspection. Inspection of an RV before officially taking possession/ownership.

    POWER DISCONNECT A high-amperage switch installed in an RV to disconnect the DC power from the battery(s).Note that AC power can be disconnected by simply unplugging the RV from shore power (or turning off the generator), or by turning off the circuit breakers in the RVs service panel.

    PRESSURE REGULATOR (gas) A small mechanical device designed to reduce the high pressure propane from RV propane storage tanks to the low pressure used in the appliances (Furnace, Stove, Refrigerator, Hot Water Heater).An automatic pressure regulator will switch from an empty propane tank to a full tank, to help prevent appliances from running out of fuel.

    PRESSURE REGULATOR (water) A small mechanical device designed to reduce the water pressure found on some city water systems to about 50 psi, which is the pressure RV water systems are typically designed for.

    PROPANE LEAK DETECTOR (trailer) An electrical device, permanently mounted in the trailer, that can detect the presence of Propane Gas and sound an audible alarm.They are very similar to Smoke Detectors.They are powered by the trailers 12 volt system, and are turned off when the trailer batteries are disconnected or the trailer power disconnect switch is used.The detector should be turned on whenever the trailer is in use or the propane system valve is open.

    PROPANE GAS A combustible gas used in an RV for cooking (stove/oven), heating (furnace), and the refrigerator.It is stored in cylinders or a tank on an RV.NOTE: Unlike CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), Propane is heavier than air and will pool on the ground if a storage tank leaks.A scent has been added to Propane to help alert users to leaks. RV owners should periodically check for leaks using either soapy liquid and a small brush, or an electronic leak detector.If a soapy liquid is used, it should be applied to fittings, and will bubble if exposed to a leak.Below is a conversion chart showing tank capacities in pounds and gallons. Propane weights 4.2lbs per pound.

    Cylinder Size (lbs) -Cylinder Capacity (gallons)

    5 - 1.18
    10 - 2.36
    21 - 4.72

    30 - 7.08

    40 - 9.43

    PROPANE STORAGE COMPARTMENT An internal storage location within the skin of an RV typically 5th wheels and Motorhomes for the units portable propane tanks.Propane Storage Compartments are open at the bottom to allow any leaking propane to dissipate (propane is heavier than air and will pool on the ground).Propane tanks on Travel and Tent Trailer are usually stored externally on the tongue.Note: By code, Propane Storage Compartments CANNOT BE LOCKED.In case of an RV fire, immediate access to the propane shut-off valves may be needed.

    REFRIGERATOR (RV) A special refrigerator typically designed to operate from 110v AC or Propane.Some can also operate off of 12v DC from a tow vehicle while the RV is being towed.They come in a variety of sizes, and newer models have automatic Direct Spark Ignition (DSI).

    ROOF RACK A storage tie-down rack permanently mounted on the roof of an RV, and usually accessed by a permanently-mounted ladder on the back of the RV.Typically used for bulkier items that cannot be stored elsewhere.Great care must be exercised so that items stored in the rack do not damage the roof and compromise the waterproof membrane.Note that items stored in the rack may increase the clearance height of the RV.

    RV CONSUMER GROUP ( An independent, non-profit organization that publishes unbiased ratings of RVs.Their ratings include model by model information on reliability, stability, and how well they hold their value.They also provide an overall star rating for each model.

    SAFETY CHAINS Two chains connected between the tongue of a Travel Trailer and the hitch of a Tow Vehicle.They are intended to help maintain control over the Travel Trailer should the ball hitch somehow become disconnected. Not used on 5th Wheel trailers.

    SANITIZING Process of sterilizing the fresh water storage tank of an RV.Typically involves adding 1/4 cup of bleach per 15 gallons of water, turning on each faucet one by one to draw the liquid through the RV water pipes, topping the tank off, and then waiting 3-4 hours.After the 3-4 hours have elapsed, the water is then drained and the tank refilled, and fresh water run through the RV water pipes to wash out the residual bleach.

    SEMI-AUTOMATIC WINTERIZATION The RV fresh water system is pre-plumbed with valves and piping to facilitate the winterization process.

    SERVICE Typically refers to the power capacity, in Amps, that an RVs 110v AC electrical system is equipped to handle.Normally 30 Amps or 50 Amps.Larger RVs typically have 50 Amp service to handle dual air conditioners or other high-load equipment.

    SHORE POWER Typically, 110v AC connection supplied at a campsite by the campsite operator.Usually provided through a three-prong 30 Amp RV outlet (NOT the same as a typical household outlet) or a four-prong 50 Amp RV outlet.50 Amp Shore Power is usually found only in private campgrounds.

    SLEEPING CAPACITY– The number of people an RV has been designed to sleep comfortably.One should assume the following maximums:

    Queen/Master Bed 2 adults

    Each Bunk (bunkhouse model)1 child/young adult

    Hide-a-Bed (Sofa Bed)2 adults

    Jacknife Sofa 1 adult/2 small children (length may be anissue for an adult)

    Dinette Bed1 adult/2 small children (length may be anissue for an adult)

    SLIDE (also Slider and Slideout) A three-sided section of an RV that can be slid out from the side to provide more living space inside the RV.Typically these are electrically operated.Some utilize a cable system while others a gear system, and others a hydraulic system.The quantity of slides usually vary from one to four.While they add significantly to the interior space, they also add significantly to the RV weight.They are available on almost all types of RVs, including motorhomes, 5th wheels, travel trailers, and campers.

    SLIDE AWNING (or Slide Topper) An awning-type mechanism, similar to a window shade, that is mounted to the side of a trailer above the Slide Out.One end is mounted to the top edge of the Slide Out, and the awning is automatically extended when the Slide Out is extended.The purpose is to give added protection to the Slide Out rubber roof from sun, rain, debris, and bird droppings.

    SLIDE HITCH Refers to a type of 5th wheel hitch that can slide on rails mounted in the bed of a pickup truck.These type of hitches are needed only for short bed pickups, and are designed to prevent the cab of the truck from striking the front of a 5th wheel trailer during sharp turns.They come in two types automatic and manual.The automatic type has a cam mechanism which slides the trailer further away from the cab of the truck during turns.The manual type requires that the tow vehicle and trailer first be stopped, and a lever on the hitch actuated, before initiating sharp turns.

    SLIDE MANUAL OVERRIDE Provision, by the manufacturer, to manually crank the Slide in or out in case of a motor or electrical failure.Most commonly accessed underneath a trailer, although some manufacturers make it accessible from the side.Side-accessible units usually require a crank similar to that used for scissor jacks.Units with underneath accessibility usually require a wrench or socket wrench.Owners should be sure they have the appropriate crank or wrench when traveling.

    SLIDING TRAYS A drawer-type mechanism, installed in a storage space of an RV, that can slide out to facilitate access to stored items.More common on Motorhomes than on trailers.They do add considerable weight, and they also take up some of the available storage space.Are also used in some battery storage compartments.

    SNAP PINS Typically an aftermarket accessory added to a 5th Wheels Landing Gear.They are spring-loaded pins, attached to the Landing Gear, that replace the standard pins and clips supplied by the manufacturer.They facilitate easy adjustment of the Landing Gear to compensate for height differences from one side of the 5th Wheel to the other due to uneven ground.

    SOLAR Refers to solar power panels that supply power to an RV.Most are mounted on the roof of an RV.However, some are placed on the ground some distance away to get the best position relative to the sun, and connected to the RV via a long electrical cable.Solar systems with adequate power can keep the RVs batteries charged without the need to connect to shore power or use a generator.

    SOLAR-READY The RV is pre-wired by the manufacturer for the installation of a solar panel(s) at a future date.Greatly facilitates the installation.

    STABILIZING JACKS Jacks used to support a parked RVs chassis to help prevent bouncing or movement from wind and when people are moving around inside.Most are permanently mounted directly to the underneath side of the RV chassis.

    SUPERSLIDE Term used to denote a large trailer slide containing a sofa and a dining area (dining table and chairs, or a dinette).Smaller slides typically contain either a sofa or a dining area, but not both.

    SURGE PROTECTOR An electrical device designed to protect the electrical system of an RV (and sensitive electronic items) from voltage surges (typically from lightning) that could severely damage the system.Available in built-in models that are permanently wired to the RVs electrical system, and in portable models that simply plug in between the RV and the Shore Power outlet.Some units can also protect against incorrectly wired Shore Power Outlets, and high as well as low voltage.

    SWAY CONTROL A mechanical device, attached to a Travel Trailer hitch, that dampens sway of the trailer.Not needed for a 5th Wheel trailer.

    TANDEM Typically used to refer to trailers with two axels and a total of four wheels.

    TANK SENSORS Screw-type devices attached to the fresh, gray, and black holding tanks which enable a sensor display inside the RV to show the fluid levels.On the black holding tanks, they can become fouled with materials which can interfere with the sensor readings.

    TENT TRAILER (also Pop Up) These are generally smaller trailers that fold or crank down for storage and travel.The sides are usually fabric.

    TONGUE JACK Jack mounted on the front (Tongue) of a Travel Trailer.Used to raise and lower the trailer coupler while hitching and unhitching to the ball on the Tow Vehicle, and also to level the trailer from back to front.Models are available with an electric motor in place of the usual hand crank.

    TONGUE WEIGHT The weight the tongue of a travel trailer exerts on the tow vehicle hitch ball.

    TOW RATING - The rated towing capacity of a tow vehicle - generally based upon curb weight plus one 150-lb driver. This number is NOT designed as an indicator of what you can tow under normal conditions, but it is useful for comparisons.

    TOW VEHICLE (TV) The truck, van, or automobile used to tow a trailer.

    TOY HAULER An RV designed to have living quarters and a cargo area for transporting motorcycles and ATVs (toys).Can be either a Travel Trailer or a 5th Wheel.

    TRANSMISSION COOLER A radiator-type device used to reduce the temperature of transmission fluid of a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission.Excess heat is usually the cause of most transmission failures.Most heavy duty trucks come equipped with additional transmission cooling capacity.Light duty Tow Vehicles may not have adequate capacity for towing, and should have an additional cooler installed.

    TRAVEL TRAILER A type of trailer that is connected to the tow vehicle via a ball hitch mounted at the rear of a tow vehicle either to the chassis or the rear bumper.They are typically lighter than comparable model 5th Wheel Trailers.Because of the location of the hitch connection point at the rear of the tow vehicle, they are generally more susceptible to sway.

    UNDER-BED STORAGE Storage area located under a bed mattress.Typically accessed by lifting the mattress and a hinged plywood cover.The plywood cover is usually supported by gas struts to hold it in the open position while the storage area is being accessed.

    VARIABLE SPEED WATER PUMP A newer design in RV water pumps that matches the pump speed to the demand.The result is a much quieter operation and typically higher output.Cost is usually significantly higher for a variable speed pump.

    WASP GUARDS Small, stainless steel screens that can be attached to various exterior openings of an RV to prevent mud-dauber wasps from building nests inside.Most commonly used for the exhaust vent of the hot water heater, and the access panel to the refrigerator.

    WATER HEATER (RV) A downsized version of a residential water heater, used to provide hot water in an RV.They commonly run off of propane gas, while newer models also offer the option of running off of 110v AC as well.Standard sizes are 6 gallon (most common) and a larger 10 gallon.

    WATER HOSE (fresh) A special hose used to 1) fill the fresh water storage tank of an RV from a City Water supply, and/or 2) to connect a City Water supply directly to an RV’s fresh water system (supplying water directly to the sinks, shower, and toilet).The hose should be marked by the manufacturer to identify that it is for use with drinking water, and it is not a standard garden hose.Typically, water hoses are white.The white water hose should NEVER be used with any of the sewer system components or for flushing the sewer system.A separate hose of a different color should be used with the sewer system.

    WATER PUMP A 12v DC electric pump, powered by an RVs electrical system, that provides water to the sinks, showers, and toilet.The on/off switch is typically located in the kitchen area.When the pump is turned on, it pressurizes the water pipes and then automatically cycles off.When pressure drops (for example, when a faucet is turned on), the pump automatically starts again and continues to pump until the faucet it turned off and the pipes are again pressurized.

    WEIGHT-DISTRIBUTING HITCH (also Equalizing Hitch) - A type of Travel Trailer hitch that is designed to distribute trailer tongue loads to the tow vehicle forward axle in order to improve towing control.

    WINDOW AWNINGS Small awnings, attached over an RV’s side windows, that can be extended to reduce the amount of sunlight entering the RV and help keep it cooler.Can also be used to deflect rain.

    WINTERIZING The process of draining water from the RV fresh, gray, and black holding tanks, and filling the fresh water pipes with a non-toxic anti-freeze.Purpose is to prevent freeze damage to the plumbing.

    WIRE GAUGE Measure of the thickness of the conducting wire in an electrical cable.The lower the number, the thicker the cable, and the more current it can carry.Common RV gauges are, from low (smallest) to high (largest), 14, 12, and 10 (for internal lighting and appliances), 6, 4, 2, (battery cables).If a circuit is being added to an RV, the required gauge is determined by the amount of current a wire will carry, and the length of the wire.NOTE: if too small a wire is used in a circuit, it could overheat and cause a fire!All circuits should be protected by either a fuse or circuit breaker.

    Updated 8/10/11

    Last edited by Adam; 08-10-2011, 02:50 PM.
    2007 Dodge 2500 Megacab 5.9 3.73 4X4 4SPD auto
    07 Arctic Fox 31W-BH 35' Hensley Hitch/Brake Smart Controller - Access site with Desktop win10 machine
    07 AF31W Mod's
    Previous trailer 03 Arctic Fox 29V

  • #2
    This is great! Thanks.
    Preston & Teresa
    Traveling dog: Riley; Stay at home watch dog/cats: Jericca/Grayboy and Blackie

    2018 Arctic Fox 27-5L

    2015 Silverado 3500 DRW Diesel


    • #3
      Can anyone direct me to a list for hooking up and unhooking a 27-5L fifth wheel.
      I have towed a 22g for 12 years and have that down. But a fifth wheel is a new one for me.
      2020 27-5L
      2019 super duty 4x4 f250


      • #4
        Tailgate down.
        Make sure you have the jaws of the hitch open.
        When backing up I have the trailer just a little lower than the hitch.
        Depending on your hitch you should hear the jaws close when you are backed up enough.
        Verify the jaws are closed around the kingpin.
        Verify you can see the bottom of the kingpin below the jaws. ( some use reflective tape for these last two steps )
        Raise the landing gear just off the ground.
        Put the truck in drive and pull just a little to verify everything is locked in.
        Connect the breakaway cable, 7 pin connector and Close the tailgate
        Fully raise the landing gear both with the moter and pulling the pin and raising the rest of the way.
        Remove the wheel chocks

        Wheel chocks
        Pull the pins on the landing gear and lower.
        Lower the tailgate
        Use the landing gear moter until you just see it coming off the truck ( I will usually bring it back down to just touching again )
        Undo the Jaws of the hitch, disconnect the safety cable, disconnect seven pin cable.
        Pull the truck clear.

        I think that is everything.
        2018 GMC 3500 SB diesel with pull rite superglide
        2017 Arctic fox 27-5l 50Amp 5.5 Gen, 4 6 volt, 450W solar,ARPrv,michelin xps,built in surge suppressor, Tank Heat Pads and 4 Point Leveling System

        My 27-5l Manual


        • #5
          I towed a Newmar fifth wheel for a few years, and the most important step Art lists, is the step about slightly raising the landing gear, and pulling the truck forward a bit to test the connection. If you do not test the connection, you risk dropping the trailer on the pick-up bed rails. This error can cost many dollars to repair.
          I went back to a bumper pull travel trailer, because I failed to ever learn how to correctly back a fifth wheel. I do not miss my fifth wheel and will keep pulling my 25Y for years to come.
          2016 Ram 2500 6.7L Cummins Diesel, Automatic Four Wheel Drive Crew Cab
          2016 AF 25Y