Outfitting and upgrades

Outfitting: RV Purchases

We want our RV to feel like home. We want it to work right.  We also need things we buy to be versatile, efficient and not take up a lot of space. This page will breakdown all RV related item we have bought for outfitting our 2021 Thor Tiburon 24RW. Links to Amazon and other dealers for quick access if you would like to pick up these items yourself.  

The items here are pretty comprehensive and the page is actually quite long. Make use of the icons below to jump to a section. We cover the range of all RV specific items we use. From phone apps and webcams to electrical monitoring systems and batteries to toilet cleaner and soap dishes.  We will update regularly on our hits and misses. If we get it  wrong, we’ll let you know by explaining  the update.

All of the categories below are on Outfitting – Page 2.

Electronics

Capture, watch and record all activity outside and inside your RV with a wireless, no subscription security camera system from Wyze.

The Wyze Cam v3 is very easy to install. It continuously records 12-second videos when motion is detected. Videos are stored to the cloud or on an internal micro-SD card. We used it at our home for a year and have now incorporated it into our RV.  Read about the installation and why we chose this over Circle 2 here.

When you combine this tiny, but powerful router with a tethered cell phone hotspot from Visible, you get cell data in your RV, and a wireless router for all your devices for as low as $25 a month.  That is not a typo.  Read about the router and why we chose it over others here

This simple switch allows us to send either item to the TV’s with a simple switch.  Everything stays in the tech cupboard, nice and clean.  Very simple and efficient. We already had a Blu-Ray player in the RV, but wanted to add Chromecast features as well.  

 

Capture and record all activity in front of you while driving or parked. This model has all of the current top-of-the-line features, in a sleek design: 

  • 4K (3840×2160) maximum resolution on Dash Cam, or 1080p (1920×1080) maximum resolution if you use both the dash and inside cabin cameras.
  • 140° recording angle.
  • Parking Mode with 24-hour monitor.
  • G-force mode
  • WiFi  Connect – Send images and video to your smartphone.  View your camera on the smartphone.
  • GPS – (this is a $30 add-on if you buy the Basic package. It’s included on the standard V3 package).
  • Infrared Night Vision
  • Capacitor powered in parking mode (this helps keep it running in extreme weather)

Add $100 and add a rear camera to the package.

We use this as our hard drive backup for all of our data, and store it in a watertight container. It then stays in our bug-out bag so we will never loose our data in case we have to dash out in a quick emergency. 550 Mbps transfer rate, 2 terabytes of storage capacity. Solid State Drive for ultra fast speeds.  Rugged construction with a carabiner clip. 

 

This is our everyday external drive for work files, as well as our audio library and movie server. 120MBps transfer rate and 5 terabytes of space is plenty for us to put a lot of stuff on this!  We have it connected to our GL.iNet750S Travel Router, and it appears as an optional drive on our folders.This is the first external hard drive that I ever owned that just plain connected the first time and everytime.  No drama…. It just works!

 

This 4 port hub comes with a 5th port for fast charging. USB 3.0 transmits up to 5Gbps. It’s used to connect our hotspot phone, our large HDD and thumb drives to our router.

 

We connect the 5TB hard drive into our router hard wired. This adapter allows us to convert from USB to Ethernet.  It provides a stable connection, and allows us to add a static IP address for the drive.

 

A rechargeable battery system is a must for full-timer RV’ers.  There are larger and more elaborate systems on the market, but this one is a great fit for our needs.  The AAA/AA bank can charge 8 batteries at a time, plus one 9V.  The LED display indicates the charge level of each battery.  It also has a discharge feature. Hint:  Make sure you are the display shows “CHG” instead of “DISCHG”, or you’ll find all your batteries drained out when you come back!

We reviewed the battery charger here.

Add rechargeable batteries on to the list of things you shouldn’t buy on the cheap.  mAh, the number of recharges, and percentage of full charge are all important numbers to know with batteries.  Panasonic’s Eneloop Pro series is rated at 2550 MaH, with 500 recharges and will hold 85% of its capacity for a year.  Take a look at my battery test post for a deeper dive.

Take a deeper dive with our tests and review of the Eneloop series of batteries.

This is a great solution so you don’t have to carry heavy D cell batteries.  You just pop a AA battery inside this enclosure and it will work as a D Cell.  We use it for our lanterns that require D batteries.

We need cell phone data reaching us all the time.  Our two phones and our entire internet access rely on a strong signal reaching us from the nearby cellular towers.  When the tower is far away, this system receives the existing signal from the external antenna, amplifies it and sends it from the internal antenna to our phones.  On a day when we’re only getting one bar, this increases it up to two bars.

This antenna is an upgrade of the one that comes in the DriveX package. The truckers spring-mount is able to gather signal from much farther.

With so many switches and so many dials around the house for electrical, slideouts, water pumps, tv coaxial, etc, it only makes sense to have a labeler so each one is identified and you know which position is on and which is off.  There are a number of colors available, so you can find something close to your color scheme.

Everyone’s favorite hobby just got better.  This is a real cool setup.  Set the all-in-one sensor array on a pole on the rear of the RV, connect it to your Wifi and upload to the web, share your data on Weather Underground, view on your smartphone app or on the multi-color display monitor. 

As an added bonus, you can incorporate addtional temperature/humidity sensors around your RV and this system will report those as well. For example: place one near the fresh water tank if you’re concerned about it freezing. It will send a warning when it hits a temperature target. You can even set one in your refrigerator.

We set a couple of these around the RV:  In the cab, bedroom, refrigerator and underneath next to the fresh water tank. Not only will they show you the temperature and humidity at the site, it will relay it to the main system.  If it’s cold and you’re concerned about your fresh tank freezing, this will show you the current reading in the bay.

 

We added this housing around the sensor that we set in the bay to check the tanks temperature.  Protects it against rock damage while traveling.

 

Security is always a concern when your out on the road.  These alarms are designed to be placed on the door handle.  If someone tries to jiggle th door the (very loud) alarm activates.  It can turn off after 30 seconds, or run continuously. You can set a delay (15 seconds) to assist with false alarms. Four sensitivity levels to choose from.

 

Water

This hose beats out all other fresh water hoses for a number of reasons:  The outside housing is his a heavy-duty braided commercial-grade jacket. It will not kink like standard vinyl hoses. It maintains flexibility down to 35°F. It’s 40% lighter and it compacts down to a much smaller size for packing.

A first defense for your entire fresh water system.  Place the filter in-line on your hose from the city tap, and it will pre-filter the water before it enters your tanks and rig water system.  With KDF (microbe) and granular-activated carbon, this filter reduces bad tastes, sediments and chlorine.  Additional filtration is found inside your RV, but this is a necessary first step.
Our RV comes with a whole system filtration system. We plan to investigate and update after more research.

Hard water tastes bad, will destroy your plumbing, and it leaves calcium and scale buildup stains on sinks. This system is also sold by RV Water Filter Store, an industry expert, so it has passed the test of the guys who know. Here’s an overview video from their website on the systems. Recharging is done with two boxes of standard table salt which will handle 11,600 gallons (or about 40 days).

Purogene is used to control harmful bacteria growth in drinking water systems. Using the oxidizing power of chlorine dioxide (ClO2), Purogene eliminates bacteria and odors without coloring the taste of the water like other disinfection products such as chlorine. By using lemon juice as a citric acid activator, it provides a lightly pleasant flavor to the water.

The standard method is to pour chlorine bleach into the tank.  They predictable result is your water tastes like bleach.

Water flowing in an RV is noisy. The pump pumps.  Water coming out of the faucets jitters, stutters and when you close the faucet, it “SLAMS”.  The solution is a tank that has pressure equal to the pressure set at the outside regulator.  This tanks mounts and connect in line very quickly.  Best location is next to the pump.  It’s not a sexy add-on, but it will quiet things down, and remove one more source of aggravation when you’re out on the road.

Placing one of these hose protectors on either side of the above filter will help alleviate the strain and potential for kinking the hose from the weight of the filter.  From the city tap, we first place the regulator, then one of these strain relief protectors, then the blue filter, then a second one of these. RIght before entering the rig, we place the 90 degree elbow. 

This is the last item in the outside hose assembly before entering the inlet receptacle on the RV.  Since the inlet is usually horizontal, and the hose is coming up off the ground, it will kink right at the connection.  This elbow keeps it from doing that.

A good consistent flow is key.  Too much or too little is a bad thing.  On top of that, you never know what you’ll get when you pull up to your site at the RV park.  Too much or too little.  Fortunately, this regulator allows you to set the incoming pressure.  Once set you won’t need to worry about over-sensitive showerheads and trickles and drips coming out of the sink.

Let’s assume your tank is 45 gallons.  We’ll also assume it’s empty, you want to fill it to the top, you can’t see it because it’s underneath the RV and you don’t want to overfill it and have water pouring out.  This water flow meter is the solution. Take the guess work out of filling your tank.

Sometimes it’s difficult to twist on the screw connection from the hose to the city faucet.  By adding these on you can quickly pop on or pop off the hose. Just don’t forget to take the one off the faucet before leaving.  It’s a good idea to have a couple sets on hand.

There is a air vent on the fresh water tank. This allows air to come in, but keeps water from spilling out. You don’t want water spilling out of your tank, ever.

Keep the bugs, dirt and rocks out of the fresh water hoses and any water outlets that may be exposed.  Simple, but effective!

Place this right before your shower head and you can turn on and off  (or control the volume of water) with ease. This is a great feature especially when you need to conserve water while boondocking, and to limit water running off into the grey tank, while lathering.

The biggest issue I have with all RV sewer systems is the flex-coil construction.  It’s bumpy.  That means even after you’ve fully drained the tank and flushed the hose, there is still a ton of stuff trapped in all those inside ridges.  While the Lippert Waste Master hose isn’t completely smooth, it is does move the helical coiling to the outside, making the inside very smooth in comparison.  Another plus is the permanently attached, 90 degree nozzle with shut-off valve. Also, the outer skin is UV protected to ensure longevity.  This video from Lippert provides much more information and features that make this the one to buy.

With the expandable troughs, the Lippert system is far more efficient than the accordion style “stinky slinky”. No sagging, and can be stepped down to a smaller length, if needed.

This hose is great for black tank and sewage hose cleaning.  Just like the fresh water hose, the Zero-G garden hose has a heavy-duty braided jacket, is very flexible, doesn’t kink and is almost 1/2 the weight of a garden hose.  The weight savings alone is well worth the few extra dollars.

This multi-tool should get you through most every sewage dump station.  It will loosen tightened caps of various design.

After you drain your black tank at the dump station, run this spray stick down through the toilet. It will blast the sidewalls and sensors inside the tank for an extra cleaning. Run till the outflow is mostly clear so you know you got most of it.  When you’re finished, it’s good practice to add a few gallons of water back into the tank, to slosh around while driving for additonal cleaning.

This little device does a couple of real good things.  You stick it in the toilet, then set the above swivel stick through the middle when you clean out your black tank.  The prop protects the ceramic toilet from getting scratched.  It keeps the stick from falling into the black tank, it helps keep the valve opening from getting damaged and it keeps back-splash from getting on you.

If your RV is like most others, the sludge and buildup in your black and grey tanks will eventually cause your sensor levels to always read that it’s full.  This upgrade adds Teflon and Delrin protection around the sensor to repel this buildup, giving you a more accurate reading.

A must-have item for the four-season RV’er and full timers.  This self heating electrical cord is designed to be taped on the length of the water hose coming from the spigot to the RV.  Designed to get warm once the temperature reaches 37°, this cord keeps the water in the hose from freezing.  For added insurance, seal the entire contraption in insulated foam tubes and the water coming in won’t turn to ice.

9′ and 12′ versions are also available.

Even though this is an electrical item, I’ve included it with the water items. 

TOOLS

I am trying to be as efficient with tools as possible.  The Black+Decker 20v Matrix system is my solution for a whole tool system approach around one battery pack.  This drill is the center-piece. I have owned it before outfitting the rig, so it was a great starting point.  My original package came with an impact driver and sander.  Below are the additional items we’ve purchased to flesh out the package.  Additionally, in the maintenance section, we also added the B+D Vacuum. All of the B+D items will run on the same 20v battery packs, thus minimizing the need for multiple battery systems on the coach.  

This blower is a useful addition of the B+D Matrix family especially for RV’ers.  A blower is a needed accessory to keep the outdoor rug clean, and it works great to blow needles and leaves off of the roof, awnings and gutters.

Another useful Matrix accessory. This 70 lumen work-light has a run-time of 70 hours on the 20v Max battery. Note that the battery is not included on this item, but then again, at $20, it costs less than the battery.

This is the replacement battery for the entire Matrix system.  Since each main component comes with its own battery, you should have enough, and be able to swap them around as needed.  Just in case, here’s a couple of spares. It also comes in 3 amp hour and 4 amp hour versions.

This is the impact driver attachment for the B+D Matrix drill. If won’t have enough torque to remove lugs, we may need a specific upgrade, but for now this works just fine for me.  It came as  part of the kit/package with the drill.

Just to show you how varied the Black+Decker Max/Matrix system is – they even have a chain saw!  Perfect for clearing small limbs and breaking down for firewood.  And, again… it’s battery powered.  No gas engine to maintain. Just slap on the battery you already have around the RV.t

Completing the Black + Decker line in our rig is this well laid out bit and screwdriver set.  Star, hex, Allen, Phillips, standard and metric options are all included.

Dewalt quality and a lifetime warranty.  Just what you need and not a lot of useless add-ons.

https://amzn.to/35BanE3

Budget Option:  E-Tork’s $70 wrench receives high user marks on Amazon

A must-have tool for any RV trip.  Proper torque is needed to secure lug nuts, and tightend critical chassis mounts including drivetrain and suspension connectors.  Dewalt’s 1/2″ torque wrench sets up to 250 ft lbs.

https://amzn.to/35A9Y4A

Budget Option: AstroAI Multimeter + clamp package: https://amzn.to/2RpYIPU

Fluke is the industry standard for multimeters and clamp meters. You don’t want to ever scrimp on something as important as your safety. This meter measures AC and DC voltage, continuity, (AC) current, ohms, capacitance, true RMS  and frequency.  As an added bonus, both come with temperature sensors that will measure between -40°C~1370°C; (-40°F~2000°F).  Perfect to find out how much heat is on the walls, engine, windows, etc… Though, I guess I’d want a longer lead on the wires if I’m measuring a 2000 degree item!

When the budget can afford it, I’m saving up for this big boy Fluke system.

Buy good tools.You will want this one.  I use strippers in my industry, and Klein sets the standard.

Rather than give an all in one, Klein has three different crimpers for the various gauges. Wires larger than 8 gauge will need a bigger tool

Sometimes you need a softer hammer.  This will get the job done without damaging your vehicle.

It polishes and  cuts and drills and grinds and buffs. and cleans. This Dremel model is  small and wireless. It can get into tight spaces.  You will use this…. a lot.

You want to do your modification cleanly.  No unsightly cables taped and dangling. To get them properly routed and hidden, you’ll need to open up door panels, trim, carpet and upholstery.  DON’T use a screwdriver. Use the tool that is write for the job.  I’m taking Amazon’s advice and picking up this one.  Comes with an assortment of replacements, because you will break one. 

This tool turns on water spigots that the knob has been removed. When you find out you need this, it’s too late.  

I love gaffers tape.  It adheres very well, but does not leave a sticky, difficult to remove reside behind.  The surface is cloth based, so its not shiny like duct tape.  You will also use duct tape for permanent, out-of-the-way taping needs, but if it’s out in the open… trust me. Use what pros use.

Weather resistant duct tape is great for RV’ers especially full timers.  Heavy duty duct tape for the jobs where you don’t want to see the tape.  Like ducts.  It’s a necessary evil, but if you need to tape something that will be seen, use the gaff tape above instead.

This is one of my most important ‘tools’ in my kit.  Every screw will get loose on a motorhome. Every screw.
Locktite “Blue” is not an adhesive, but a thread-locker.  Dip a bit on the end of each screw, let it set, then reset the screw.  It adds just a bit of mass to the screw, allowing it to sit a bit tighter in its hole. Cabinets stay tighter. Switch mounts don’t loosen.  You will find yourself crawling around the RV removing then resetting screws.

Engine, Suspension and Tires

You will have a blow out in your RV. It is inevitable.  Putting miles on your vehicles on rough roads and trails puts wear and tear.  The TireTraker TT-600 system reads each tires temperature and pressure, displaying it in real time on your dash.  Alarms go off when a sensor detects overheating or pressure dropping.  Knowing immediately that a tire may be in trouble will give you time to pull over before bigger damage occurs.
There are pricier systems geared to the trucker market, but this system is used by many long-time RVer’s.  Make sure you order for the correct number of tires (include all trailer tires for your total).

Spare batteries for each of the tire sensors. You’ll never want to run out.  Have a spare set on hand..

This kit extends the valves of the inner tires in back and brings them to the outside tires so you can check pressure, add air and install the TPMS system.

You will add life to your tires by keeping them out of the sun when parked or stored. Sun damage to the sidewalls will cause drying out, cracking and splitting; shortening the tire life. The covers themselves are UV coated, so they’ll last a lot longer as well. 

There are many reasons for a portable air compressor: Daily pressure checks and fills, bicycle tire maintenance, and the need to under-inflate your tires to get out of being stuck in sand or mud to name a few. 
The ViAir 88P connects to your house battery (not your cigarette lighter plug) and packs a powerful motor that can put out up to 120psi at 1.5cfm with a relatively small foot print (10″x7″x6″ @ 4.5lbs).

Accurate, easy to use and an ergonomic handle. The digital read out is bright and makes it easy to see, especially at night.

This convenient kit provides me peace of mind.  It hasn’t been needed – yet –  but it’s only a matter of time before I take a nail puncture down the road. I do carry roadside assistance, but there will come a day, when even  that falls through.  I’ll have this little kit tucked in the back corner of storage to save me and get me back on the road once again.

Of all the addons and upgrades,  this is probably the most important because the shocks that come with your Mercedes Sprinter RV we’re never upgraded by the RV manufacturer. With all the weight and size of the ‘house’, these motorhomes will sway and bounce drastically when caught in ‘truckers wash’ or on rough roads. 

Outfitting


Agile Offroad takes the Fox shock and applies their ‘tune’.  Rather than rocking back-and-forth when coming off a driveway, the van settles down after one rock. You get control and confidence back when behind the wheel. Combine these with suspension springs and you can actually drive without white-knuckling it!

(12 Sep 2020) – Due to COVID-19 interruptions, Agile Offroad shipments on this product are back order 10 to 12 weeks. 

Just like airbags on other vehicles, these springs are manufactured with a micro-cellular urethane.  The are designed to enhance load carrying ability, stabilize sway and improve driver control and ride comfort.  Quite easy to install, they don’t need anything done to them.  Lighter and stiffer options are available in case you want a firmer or softer feel.  Combine with the Fox Shocks above, and you’ve improved your ride ten-fold

Just like airbags on other vehicles, these springs are manufactured with a micro-cellular urethane.  The are designed to enhance load carrying ability, stabilize sway and improve driver control and ride comfort.  Quite easy to install, they don’t need anything done to them.  Medium and stiffer options are available in case you want a firmer or softer feel.  Combine with the Fox Shocks above, and you’ve improved your ride ten-fold.

Update: I’m holding off on buying these until I experience the rear axle upgrade.

Upgraded anti-swaybars are a necessity on all pre-2019 Sprinter RV’s since the stock bars are much smaller.  Hellwig’s upgrade provide a much larger diameter bar, and improves the ride immensely.   It appears that Mercedes paid attention because with the new design, the increased the size of their stock anti-sway bar.  Hellwig’s is 1 1/2″ and the new MBS is 1 3/8″.
Note: Currently I am not adding these to my rig after reading a number of reviews of other new Sprinter owners who noted no improvement.  Again, this only applies to the new, >2019 Sprinters.

The wheel-covers are known to come loose and fall off while driving. This is a common issues with the wheel-covers on Sprinter vans. A great DIY fix is these stainless steel zip ties. Tie the cover to the wheel and they will stay secure.

Leveling

You want your rig to be horizontal. Not sloping to one side.  If you slope, you will slide off the bed.  Your propane refrigerator will not work properly. You will be grumpy because you are tilting to one side!

Even though we have auto leveling jacks on our Tiburon, these are still needed for the times when your site is actually on a hill.

This pad is made of a recycled rubber material and is a great item to place under the leveler feet. It provides cushion. It settles the feet when on uneven surfaces (think roots, rocks) and disperses the load when setting on soft or muddy soil.  They come in packs of two, so buy two packs.

MAINTENANCE

Yet another item in the Black+Decker 20v Max lineup. This wireless vacuum works on the RV’s various flooring types: Vinyl, carpet and wood.  The attachments allow you to clean sofas and upholstery.  Since we have a number of batteries from the other B+D items, we always have a charged battery for the vacuum when needed.

Our RV, the Thor Tiburon 24RW has two slide outs.  Its slideout for the bedroom comes out in the rear of the coach.  The back of the RV is typically where manufacturers mount the ladder to access the roof. Thor does not supply a ladder for our model.  I have to be able to get to the roof for maintenance and repairs, and this nifty find works well for us. When compacted down, it measures 36″x20″; very compact and easy to store in one of the outside storage bays.  When using, it expands to 19 1/2′, which 15 1/2′ is usable.  The smaller (12.5′ size) was just too close to the height of the RV (11′ 2″ ) to make it workable.. There is a bit of flex, but it is quite sturdy and I feel safe using it.

This is the consensus product for black tank odor removal from most RVer’s. There are many chemical options and tricks (ice or soap) but this is the one we hear again and again that people swear by. Add a treatment into the black tank and this organic powder will make the smells of your holding tank disappear. Happy Camper comes in numerous sizes.

This is by far the best septic/RV/marine toilet paper out there. It’s well made, and yet dissolves quickly when wet to minimize clogging in the black tanks.

Keep a box of these around all the time.  They are much more sturdy and easy to put on than latex disposables. I use them as a base layer glove when dumping the black tank. I put a longer pair of kitchen gloves on above these.

Chemical resistant gloves with long arms make your dumping chores a bit more bearable. This comes as a twelve pack.  You’ll probably want to always have at least three on hand, in case you decide to throw a pair out instead of reusing them.

This brush reaches the top of the 11′ tall RV.  It has a flo-thru feature so you can connect the water hose. There is an on/off toggle lever at the base. 

We learned of this glass cleaner years ago, when researching how to clean a glass fireplace panel. It was the only thing that worked, and just as important, it did not leave any streaks.  You’ll love this.

This is a great general purpose cleaner.  It’s actually diluted hydrogen peroxide. it cleans well, doesn’t stain/whiten if it touches colored cloth and doesn’t smell like chlorine or ammonia products.

Cummins official engine oil for the Q3200 diesel generator..

This is the replacement fuel filter for the Onan 3200 Diesel Generator. We always keep a back up ready to install.

replacement air filter for cummins onan 3200 diesel generator.

This is the replacement air filter for the Onan 3200 Diesel Generator. We always keep a back up ready to install.

Peak Blue DEF is the best selling brand of diesel fuel treatment. You can get it in gallon or 4x gallon packs.
DEF is extremely sensitive to contamination — for it to work properly, purity is critical. Contaminants around the fill cap can make their way into DEF and cause damage as well. If the area around the tank and cap isn’t cleaned before the cap is undone and fluid is added, it’s very easy for dirt or dust to fall in and get washed down into the tank. This can cause serious contamination-related issues — and cause unplanned downtime.

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