No Longer an Alias! Farewell, “Ross”!

I started this blog under a private pen name. Here’s how I used to introduce myself:

Hey, I’m Ross.*

*Actually, I’m not. But as a professional in the RV industry, I use a pseudonym. Names-changed-to-protect-the-innocent-and-avoid-junk-mail and all that. I’m not cut out for celebrity; the paparazzi give me the willies.

Plus, having an alias makes me sound like a Mission-Impossible agent, infiltrating manufacturing plants and dealer parking lots in pursuit of closely guarded industry secrets, and that sounds a lot more badass than “RV blogger, Anon.”

You can read the details of my personal story below (it’s full of gun runners, scantily clad women, fireball explosions, and other typical how-I-became-an-engineer origin stories).

I wrote under an alias because at the time I was employed by an RV manufacturer, and I preferred to keep my digital life separate. Since then, I’ve returned to self-employment, and I’d rather write under my own name in perpetuity. Living a double life is just so stressful!

Confession: The RV industry has not kept pace with modern design and manufacturing.

I love RVs, and I love the RV industry. But IMHO, the industry has some problems: lackluster reliability of the supply chain, a chaotic distributed warranty network, insufficient dealer technical training, rushed design engineering (cough, cough), and a race for the lowest price.

Now, we can’t point the finger at one or two companies. It’s an organic, cyclical problem. Anyone who wants to crucify a single company is missing the forest for the trees. 

Lots of companies are bucking the trend. They work hard to introduce new technologies and overhaul their supply chains. I’ve worked with (and for) some excellent companies that couldn’t be more honest, hardworking, and customer-centric.

But when the bulk of the industry is controlled by a dozen companies, progress remains slow. We’re toddlers, not sprinters.

Ultimately, it’s the customers who pay.

  • RV salespeople are primarily hired for their ability to close the deal.
  • RV service dealerships have 3, 4, and even 6-month waiting lists!
  • Most RVs are not designed for year-round, long-term use in 4-season climates. Warranty claims are rampant.
  • Your $40 Bluetooth headphones come with more comprehensive instructions than a $40,000 RV!

How did I get into RVs anyway?

I built my first camper when I was 17. I saw somebody selling a homemade teardrop camper for nearly $20,000 on eBay, and I said to myself, “I could do that, and pay my college tuition besides!”

So I borrowed my parent’s jigsaw, palm sander, and corded drill, and I got to work. I built the teardrop camper on a 4×8 “Harbor Freight special,” made every mistake in the book, spent $2,500 and sold it for $4,000 (just a bit shy of my original target) – and then spent the next 10 years feeling bad for selling the harebrained contraption at all. Everyone starts somewhere, right?

Eventually, after a few other jobs, I became a design engineer and engineering manager at a medium-sized travel trailer manufacturer (hence my moniker, “The RV Engineer”). I hobnobbed with dozens of distributors, OEMs, and suppliers. I spent time drawing CAD models and floorplans, maintaining NFPA code compliance, writing CNC programming, working with modelmakers and mechanical designers, and assisting with supply chain management.

In April 2023, I voluntarily left my position to pursue self-employment as an advanced RV service and repair technician (The RV Engineer Goes to Tech School, Part 1). But I keep “The RV Engineer” moniker because, well, rebranding is expensive. Plus, I like to think of myself as more “RV field engineer” than “RV technician” (The RV Engineer Goes to Tech School, Part 2). With that said, being an RV technician definitely keeps me humble! (The RV Engineer Goes to Tech School, Part 3).

Most of my professional design experience is in towables, although as a technician I often work on motorhomes. (Confession: I secretly yearn to convert my own Class B van and become a #vanlife bum). And I’ve camped over a thousand days of my life in everything from a bivy sack to a pop-up, from a travel trailer to a van, from mountains to beaches and everything in between. If you want to know more about what I do/did, you can read A Day In the Life of an RV Engineer.

Over the years, I’ve made many, many mistakes. Some big, some bigger, some shameful. Hopefully, I’ve learned something valuable from each one. Engineers have a reputation for being stubborn as mules (not undeserved, I admit), but as someone both blue- and white-collar, I hope I can share my experiences from both sides of the desk. 

A humble disclaimer

Calling myself “The RV Engineer” is a pretty bold move. Some people ask me if I’m an expert. Honestly, I don’t think I like that word. As Mark Twain said, “An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less.” I prefer the term proficient.

On this blog, we tackle topics ranging from towing capacity to circuit analysis to roofing reconstruction. Am I knowledgeable in all these topics? Yes, I think I am. Am I an expert? Well, honestly, I don’t think I can claim to be an expert in anything! The more you know, the more you know you don’t know …

Just because I’m in the long tail of the bell curve of knowledge doesn’t make me omniscient. The world of RVing is incredibly complicated, and any single topic – suspension, towing, power circuits, plumbing, cabinetry, roofing, generators, slides and hydraulics – is worth a lifetime of study. Even answering a simple question like, “Does my water heater need an anode rod?” leads me down the rabbit hole of galvanic corrosion, electrolysis, and cold welding. When you’re an engineer, the rabbit hole has no bottom!

Noodling on a problem?

Send me an email. I don’t have time to answer every question that comes my way, but I’ll try to assist with your technical issues.*

*There is a catch, of course. I get boatloads of email every day. I’m still training Clone Andy to answer my/his emails correctly, so in the meantime, if you want a GUARANTEED ANSWER to your question …

Just sign up for my email list. You’ll get an email every few weeks:

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  • Stories of successful RV owners like yourself!

And you can unsubscribe at any time. There’s a little blue button at the bottom of every email. You’ll hurt my feelings, but I’ll recover with time and therapy.

How this blog helps you, the RV owner.

  1. You now have direct access to an industry insider! Read my column, my blog posts, or send me an email. I love hearing from my readers.
  2. Secondly, the purpose of this blog is to demystify some of an RV’s workings. Not sure what the difference is between a converter and an inverter? I have an article for that!
  3. Thirdly, as most of you know, RV mods can become an addiction. This is your home away from home; for some of you full-timers, it’s home, sweet home. This blog has a metric tonne of information about popular mods, how-to’s, and product upgrades.

Helpful Links

I know everyone wants to skip over the legalese, but it’s actually really important stuff!

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