Episode 171: Clearing up some lingering questions

It’s the week before Christmas, a time when most RVers are staying put, hunkered down to be with family and friends for the holiday. We thought this would be the perfect week to settle some nagging RV questions that have been surfacing all year around.

Chief among them has to do with biodiesel fuel, and in particular, the Sprinter RV. What happens when an RVer is in a state that only sells high percentage bio diesel fuel, like B20 or more?

Is it OK to use occasionally? Or are you putting your Sprinter engine in jeopardy by using high percentage biodiesel fuel? We’ll try to sort that out in this week’s podcast and answer your questions. Plus we have lots of RV news and tips and a great off the beaten path report.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the shownote details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.

Show Notes for Episode #171 Dec. 20, 2017 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:


Christmas Week… we’re at our Michigan home, celebrating with family

We just released a really fun video on dog parks, offering tips and lots of photos from our dog park visits around the country. Our dog Bo travels with us in our RV and dog parks give him and us the exercise we so badly need after a long day’s drive. You can see it on our RV Lifestyle Channel on You Tube at http://rvlifestylechannel.com

Just a warning. Out in Oregon, an RV caught fire after the family dog oknocked over a portable propane-fueled heater that was being used inside the RV. No one was hurt and the local fire department kept it from spreading to nearly vehicles. Fire experts say you should only use electric heaters inside confined spaces..

This portion of the Podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the RVer’s trusted resource for over 50 years, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 19 locations and growing


We get lots of ideas and tips sent in by our audience. Some are too short for a full-length report, but still useful. We’ve saved all the tips you have sent us this year and by combining a bunch of them together, we’ve got a great report. So listen up… here are 8 RV tips that will make your life on the road and at camp a little easier.

1) Wrap a wet paper towel around a bottle and out it into the freezer. In 15 minutes, it will be almost completely ice cold.

2) Use Doritos as a fire starter. Really. They burn better than crumbled up newspaper.

3) Freeze green grapes to chill a class of white wine down without watering it down.

4) Put a small glass of water in the microwave when you warm up pizza to keep it from getting chewy

5) Save your empty Chapstick containers for an emergency cash stash.  Take our the little plunger push up thing and you can store some rolled up bills in it for an emergency  stash you leave in the RV.

6) If your RV has a slide out, use cut a length-long slice of a swimming pool noodle and put that over the sharp edges so you won’t hurt yourself if you accidentally bump into it at camp.

7) Get a small dry erase board and use it to write down the name of the campground, the phone number of the campground, the address and your campsite spot number. In case you need t call emergency help, this will save you lots of time in talking with police of emergency dispatchers.

8) Rub an onion on your barbeque grill to keep things from sticking on it.

So there you go. Hope those tips come in handy!

Meanwhile, be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Roadtreking.com. Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile device to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox. I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping


Here are the email questions we answered in this episode…

It's winter, it's cold, and we're getting ready to take our new (to us) on a trip. Do I need to Winterizing or simply Sanitize and then refill the inside fresh water tank? I can understand Winterizing if our Roadtrek were going to sit in the driveway, but not if its on the road. Perhaps Winterizing the holding tanks might be in order? What's the scoop? I'm confused. Thanks for your help. I just want to take good care or our new Class B as we plan on keeping it for a long time.  Terry, Fresno CA

My wife and I purchased a Roadtrek Zion this year. Your videos were a big part of decision making process. Thank you! Now I am in the process of deciding which Weboost kit to install. I saw that at one point you had trucker antenna attached to your rear door hinge. I thought that was very ingenious. I am wondering: Are you continuing to use that option with your new van, or if you have gone to the newer Weboost RV kit? If you are still using a trucker antenna, are you using the 19″ with the spring base or the 24″ solid rod? Do/did you think the trucker antenna reach up high enough above the van roof? If you are using the newer RV kit antenna, how did you mount it on the roof? Do you know whether the trucker or the RV antenna get better reception? That's enough. Thank your in advance for your consideration of my inquires!  -Ron

(For a complete list of all the products, gear and apps mentioned by Mike and Jennifer on their podcast, YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel and here on the blog, go to http://roadtreking.com/gear)

Hey Mike I am getting into looking at buying a Class B I like the ERA 170x and really am thinking  of a 4×4 one for the snow. If I do settle for a 2 wheel drive how do they do in snow going to ski areas? off road is not as important as snow to me and I could just beef up the shocks and raise it for some off road if I had to- Mike

Hello, I am curious, If I were to order a new fully loaded 4X4 CS EX with the super battery and solar package, along with all the options, diesel, all electric, screen, under mount ac, under hood generator, and so on, how long is the wait? Basically I want a bad to the bone, fully loaded 4X4 cs ex to go travel and find out of the way places to camp and be very comfortable whether desert heat or mountain cold. So is there a possibility of extra insulation or is that something I will have to address after delivery? I live in the Phoenix area. I also love the mountains so a variety of conditions will be encountered. I know it isn't a jeep but 4wd is a nice thing to have to help get unstuck. Thank you, Ron H.

Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV  Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’ RVs with locations St. Louis, Missouri; Las Vegas, Nevada; Kalispell, Montana and now… Colorado Springs, Colorado..


This week, we talk about the use of bio diesel fuel in RVs, especially the very popular Sprinter vans that major RV makers like Winnebago, Airstream, Roadtrek, Leisure Travel Van, Chinook, Coachmen, Pleasure-Way, Advanced RV and other RV manufacturers use for their Class B and B Plus Vans.

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that is reducing U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum, creating jobs and improving the environment. Made from a diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, and animal fats, it is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel in commercial-scale production across the country and the first to reach 1 billion gallons of annual production. Meeting strict technical fuel quality and engine performance specifications, it can be used in existing diesel engines without modification and is covered by all major engine manufacturers’ warranties, most often in blends of up to 5 percent or 20 percent biodiesel. It is produced at plants in nearly every state in the country.

The biodiesel market has increased from about 25 million gallons in the early 2000s to over 3 billion gallons of advanced biofuel in 2016. This represents a small but growing component of the annual U.S. on-road diesel market of about 35 billion to 40 billion gallons. Consistent with projected feedstock availability, the industry has established a goal of producing about 10 percent of the diesel transportation market by 2022

States where biodiesel is showing up include Illinois, Alabama, Colorado , Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. Most are 2 to 5% blends, though more and more states are starting to offer higher blends. Minnesota. starting May 1, will mandate B20 from May through October.

But here’s the rub: Mercedes has discouraged use of any biodiesel fuel above the B5 rating in its Blue-Tec diesel (2010 and later) Sprinters.

As to the B20 standard, Mercedes says: “B20 blends are generally not approved and should be only used on a very limited basis and only if unavoidable.”

Just as we started recording this episode, I received an official statement from Christian Bokich, Dept. Manager, Product & Technology Communications, Mercedes-Benz USA.

He said: “only in certain cases can we recommend B20 but only if it’s (Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel) under 15ppm.  B20 in general is not an approved fuel, especially for prolonged use.”

Note that Mercedes “can” recommend B20 – meaning when that’s all the owner can choose from at the pump. It is prolonged use that  Mercedes discourages.


This story, appearing in the Canadian publication Driving, claims that Mercedes is abandoning the diesel vehicle market in North America because of improper fuel mandated in some states. – http://driving.ca/mercedes-benz/auto-news/news/mercedes-says-goodbye-to-diesel-in-north-america

Best as far we can tell, that premise is not true. Mercedes has big plans for the North American Sprinter market, For proof, just see this story –  https://www.postandcourier.com/business/mercedes-benz-vans-marks-construction-milestone-at-north-charleston-sprinter/article_ad68e0de-04d8-11e7-b53f-5fec2ae1f5d2.html

Here is the official brochure from Mercedes about using biodiesel in its engines, including the Sprinter. https://www.mbusa.com/vcm/MB/DigitalAssets/pdfmb/serviceandparts/biodiesel_Brochure5.pdf

Here is an interesting discussion thread on the issue from the Sprinter forum – https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38965

Our interview is with Scott Fenwick, the Technical Director of the National Biodiesel Board, which is the national trade association representing the biodiesel industry in the United States – http://biodiesel.org

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country


Steve Van Dinter

By Steve Van Dinter

Verizon Wireless

For many of us the holidays evoke strong nostalgic feelings. We search for updated versions of our favorite childhood toys, dust off Grandpa’s pumpkin pie recipe and work hard to recreate that traditional holiday feel for ourselves, our family and friends. For those of us who yearn for holidays past, today’s technology can help you turn back the clock and get in the holiday spirit.

Nothing will get you in the festive mood for baking gingerbread or wrapping gifts than the holiday music classics. With a simple verbal command–“Hey Google, play some holiday music”–your Google Home Mini will get you rockin’ around the tree. If you have multiple google homes in your house you can link them all together so your favorite holiday tunes follow you from room to room.

Feeling the urge to roast chestnuts on an open fire but don’t have a fireplace?  While you may have to imagine the chestnuts, you can still enjoy a high definition virtual fireplace with a flat screen TV and Chromecast Ultra. Or make it a holiday movie marathon by inviting friends and family over to help decorate the tree to classics like Miracle on 42nd Street or Christmas Vacation.

Illuminate your holiday spirit by synchronizing your Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance lights to flash and fade in time to your holiday playlist and create a warm inviting and festive home.

Missing the days when you went caroling with the old gang? Connect with Facetime, Google Hangout or any number of group chat options and virtually walk the old neighborhood together singing your favorite holiday songs.

Here's to an old fashioned holiday!

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.


Here’s a Miami Herald story about the reopening of Shark Valley – http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article190182909.html

Everglades National Park reopened Shark Valley on Saturday, much to the delight of cyclists who have made the park a popular attraction for decades.

Shark Valley had been closed for three months since Hurricane Irma flooded the 15-mile loop road, which draws bicyclists, walkers and tram riders. The park also serves as home to alligators, otters, fish, turtles and birds. A wetter than normal season made water rise thigh-high in the parking lots, said Everglades National Park ranger Kimberly Oppen.

You might not see sharks from the observation tower that gives visitors a 360-degree view of the Everglades, but the park is populated by alligators who sun themselves on the trail during chilly winter days. The tower’s viewing deck overlooks a water hole used by turtles, fish and birds. Shark Valley, in the heartland of the Everglades, is so named because its water flows southwest to Shark River.

Not everything is back to normal, though. Everglades National Park is still working to restore potable water to Shark Valley, so bring your own for the time being. Some portions of the loop road and trails are also still under water, like Otter Cave Trail and Bobcat Boardwalk. The latter was due for renovation and will reopen when the work is completed.

Some areas remain under a few inches of water — near the observation tower, for example — or are slick with algae from the wetness, so bicyclists and pedestrians are cautioned to take care.

The park is open 24 hours but bike rentals and tram tours are from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and vehicles don’t have access to the Shark Valley area after 6 p.m. 

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.