Glossary of Common RV Terms - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 12-23-2011, 07:58 PM   #1
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Glossary of Common RV Terms

A/C - Air Conditioning.

Anode Rod -A rod that attracts corrosion causing products in the water heater tank. These products attack the anode rod instead of the metal tank itself. The rods are used in steel water heater tanks. Aluminum tank has an inner layer of anode metal to accomplish the same thing. Anode rods should not be installed in an aluminum tank.

Axle 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 and fuel economy.

Black Tank - The Black Tank holds body waste directly from the toilet. It is usually one of the smaller tanks in an RV.

Black Water - Waste contained in the Black Tank. This should be considered as and treaded as raw sewerage. Always wear rubber surgical gloves when dealing with the sewer system.

Boondocking(Dry Camping) - This is a style of camping that refers to having no hook-ups for power, water or sewerage. It was more common in the early days of camping when such facilities were limited. Today it is more of a choice. When Boondocking you are limited to the power in your batteries, the water in your white tank and the capacity of your Gray and Black tanks.

Battery - The battery(Batteries) used to supply 12vdc that are used to power various appliances in an RV.

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

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.

BTU - British Thermal Unit A measurement of heat that is the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degree F.

Bunk House - These are RV's with a section set aside with four to eight bunk beds.

City Water - A generic term meaning water used from an outside source, such as a campground spigot, instead of water held in the Fresh Water Tank in the RV.

Condensation - The result of warn moisture laden air contacting the cold window glass. Keeping a roof vent open helps to reduce the humidity levels. Using the roof vent fan when showering or the stove vent fan when cooking also helps prevent excess moisture buildup.

Converter - An electrical fixture on most RV's. These take 120vac (house type current) from shore power, or your generator, to provide 12vdc for those appliances in the RV that need 12vdc, and to charge the batteries. In many RV's the Inverter and Converter are two parts of one component.

Customer Orientation(Walk-Through) - This is performed when a customer is taking delivery of a product. It is to orientate the customer on the operation and features of a newly purchased product(s). This is usually performed by one of the sales or service staff.

Cut-Off Switch - Most RV's have a switch somewhere that will cut off power to the 'house' portion of the RV. This is to prevent battery drain when you are not using the RV. If you will store it for an extended period, it is best to disconnect and remove the batteries for storage in a cool, dry place.

DSI(Direct Spark Ignition) - A 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 and some Stove tops and ovens.

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 on-board generator.

Dually - A large pick up truck with two sets of side by side wheels in the rear. This gives extra towing capacity and better traction.

Fifth Wheel(FW) - A common RV that is towed behind a truck. A fifth wheel can be distinguished from a Travel Trailer by the fact that the front of the unit extends up and over the bed of the truck and is hitched in the bed, not on the back bumper.

Fiver - Common slang for a Fifth Wheel.

Fresh Water - This is clean, fresh water suitable for drinking or showering. This comes either from the Fresh Water tank or from an outside water spigot connection.

Fresh Water Tank - The tank that holds your potable drinking water. This is usually the largest tank in an RV. This water is used for washing machines, showers, sinks, etc.

Full Hook-Ups - Generally refers to a campsite that has connections for electric, fresh water and sewage. It may include telephone and or cable TV.

Full Timing - This describes a person who lives in an RV all the time, not just a few weeks at a time. This is the case with some retired people who just go on the road for a few years or decades. Some people full time for other reasons, such are a job that moves them about.

Generator - A unit that will provide auxiliary electrical power to an RV. Various size units provide 120 or 240vac. These units are measured in Watts of output. They may be portable or built into the RV. They may run on Gasoline, Propane or Diesel.

Gray Tank - This tank holds the waste water from the sinks and shower.

Gray Water - This is the water that has been used for washing clothes, showers or in a sink. It is not really sewage, but it is not fit for re-use.

Gross Axle Weight Rating(GAWR) - The manufacturers 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.

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 and tow vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating(GVWR) - The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the vehicle plus 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.

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 - See White Tank, Gray Tank or Black Tank.

Hook-ups - refers to facilities in a campground that can supply electrical power or water and provide a place to connect a sewer hose for dumping.

Inverter - An electrical box that takes 12vdc from the House batteries and supplies limited 120vac to selected outlets in an RV. Depending on what you choose to run this way, the batteries will be drained rapidly of power. In many RV's the Inverter and Converter are two parts of one component.

LP Gas(Liquefied Petroleum Gas) - LP gas is used to fuel appliances in the RV, such as the stove, oven, water heater and refrigerator. Propane tanks are usually rated as pounds or gallons.

Military Shower - There are times in an RV when you want to conserve water or there is not enough hot water to go around. In such times people may use the water to get wet, turn off the water, 'lather up' or wash and then turn on the water to rinse. Modern RV hot water heaters are fast, but when four or five have to take a shower, this method speeds things up.

Newbie - a person who is either new to RV'ing, or new to a specific type of RV'ing. Keep one thing in mind, we were all Newbies once.

North-South - This refers to a bed in an RV that runs lengthwise in an RV. For example, the head of the bed is toward the back of the RV and the foot is toward the front. This is different from an East-West bed that goes from side to side.

PDI - This is a Pre Delivery Inspection. It is to be performed on every new product before it is delivered(presented) to the customer. The PDI is done to make certain all systems and features of the product are performing as they are designed to. Details such as mechanical, technical and product appearance deficiencies are to be corrected at this time. PDIs are done on new homes, autos, appliances, recreational vehicles, industrial and farm equipment; and many more.
In the Recreational Vehicle world, this is more often mistaken as a Customer Orientation(Walk-Through). See Customer Orientation.

Pop-Up - This is a camper that is part trailer and part tent. It is towed behind a car or truck as a small, flat topped trailer. When parked it can be cranked open to reveal a tent that is up off the ground.

Propane - A compressed gas used for various purposes in an RV. It us used to heat water, run a furnace and even cool a refrigerator. It is contained in tanks of various sizes.

RV - Recreational Vehicle. Any of the many designs of vehicles or trailers used by people to camp in. The most common are Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels, Travel Trailers, Pick-Up Campers, Vans or Pop-Ups.

Shore Power - Refers to an electrical hook up found at camp sites. When you connect a cable from the campground receptacle to your RV, shore power supplies 120vdc (house current) to your RV. This commonly comes in either 30 amp or 50 amp. Most campgrounds have one electrical "post" with both connectors. The plugs are different, so you cannot connect to the wrong one. After connecting, flip the circuit breaker on. (See Camp Ground Set Up).

Slide - Most modern RV's have rooms or areas that slide out from the main RV body to extend living space. It is not uncommon to see as may as four or five such 'slides' in a larger RV.

Slider Hitch - A fifth wheel hitch that is best for short bed pick up trucks. It allows for tighter turns without letting the side of the fiver damage the cab of the truck.

Super-Slide - This refers to one large slide that can expand the entire living area of an RV.

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.

Tongue Weight(TW) - The downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler. In most cases, it is about 10 to 15 percent of GTW.

Toy Hauler - This style of RV has a partitioned area in the rear with a loading ramp that allows for the storage, loading and unloading of 'Toys", such as motorcycles or ATV's. I once saw a fella with a folded Ultra-Lite airplane in one.

Travel Trailer - A type of towed RV that is distinguished by the way it hitches to the tow vehicle. The hitch is attached to the back of a vehicle, not the bed.

Tow Rating - Maximum weight a vehicle can safely tow. These ratings are set by the manufacturer and should be obtained from the vehicle dealership or owners manual prior to selecting the RV that you are going to be towing.

TV(Tow Vehicle) - The vehicle used to tow a trailer.

TT - Common slang for a travel trailer.

Weight Distribution Hitch - A hitch consisting of two parts. The first part being the receiver hitch that is mounted to the frame of the tow vehicle. The receiver hitch has two weight ratings, one is weight carrying and one is with weight distribution. Weight carrying is the weight that the hitch can safely tow with a standard ball mount and ball. The weight distribution rating is the weight that can be towed with the addition of a weight distribution package.
The weight distribution package pins in your receiver hitch and then two spring bars are attached to the camper and the receiver hitch. There are several manufacturers and methods used but all have the same simple principal. To distribute the weight evenly throughout the tow vehicle and the towed vehicle. Be sure to consult with and RV professional regarding the installation and operation of the proper weight distribution package as well as any other hitch accessory.

Work-Camper (Workamper) - This is a system where people who live in an RV full time can move from place to place and find jobs in RV parks, National or State Parks or other venues. Part of the pay is often free or reduced parking fees. You can visit the website to learn more about this resource.

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

VAC (AC)- Volts Alternating Current. Commonly called House Current.

VDC (DC) - Volts Direct Current.

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Old 03-02-2012, 09:50 PM   #2
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Re: Glossary of Common RV Terms

These are two links that I found that could be helpful for the acronymns/abbreviations that people use.


They sure helped me when I started going on RV forums.

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Old 03-10-2012, 12:33 AM   #3
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Re: Glossary of Common RV Terms

Still interested in what the different sides of the trailer are called.

Does the "Port side", left side, driver's side, normally non-door side have a formal name?

Does the "Starboard side", right side, door side, have a fromal name?

I guess that's why there is a port and starboard side to a vessel. ;-)
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:39 AM   #4
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Re: Glossary of Common RV Terms

I've always referred to the passenger side as the "curb" side. Not sure if that's the correct terminology or not... I guess you could always go with front, back, left and right.... ;-hap
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Old 03-10-2012, 01:32 AM   #5
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Re: Glossary of Common RV Terms

We use my side or slide side (driver), your side or door side (passenger) when I'm talking to my loving wife. (yes I'm trying to accumulate brownie points)
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:53 AM   #6
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Re: Glossary of Common RV Terms

So I guess there is nothing formal? We have used the left and right and door side or slide side, passenger side or driver's side. Makes more understanding to port and starboard, because it is always the same what ever direction you are facing. The wife and I understand each other with port and starboard, it was just a question to use when writing something up on one of these lists. Its all good.

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