Maiden Voyage report
Things are settling down and I'm pleased to report that our maiden voyage was a success. Mostly uneventful, from a trouble standpoint.
We drove just under 3,000 miles over a 2 week period, and crossed 2 11,000+ passes. Pulled the 4 door Jeep Wrangler all the way. I was able to cruise at 70 to 75 on the flatlands without issue.
Crosswinds will slow you down. Got hit with a 50+mph gust going into Pueblo and found the "anti-billowing" mechanisms on slide toppers do have limits. I pulled over, the topper retracted, and I was on my way...
Stayed at the following RV sites:
Fort Amarillo RV park (Amarillo, TX)
Cheyenne Mountain State Park (Colorado Springs, CO)
Snowy Peaks RV park (Buena Vista, CO)
Tiger Run Resort (Breckenridge, CO)
Peter D's RV park, (Sheridan, WY)
KOA (Cheyenne, WY)
I have a couple infernal rattles to chase down; one seems to be related to the microwave/convection mounting brackets, as it is mentioned in threads over the past couple years. That one became a high pitched squeaking that had me reaching for an ear plug. Other than that, I can find zero reason to complain about the comfort or drivability of the rig.
I don't have a steering stabilizer installed, but may add in the future. Most of the time I was comfortable one-handing the rig if required.
DEF, well, that's just a nuisance. I would love to see a contest at the Forest River company picnic where the executives are divided into two teams, one who has to navigate a busy truck stop for DEF and one who has to pour from the 2.5 gal jugs. I suspect a redesign would happen quickly. I grabbed a transfer pump at Walmart and dealt with it that way. If I spotted truck pumps with open lanes, they, without exception, did not sell DEF at the pump. Flying J was handy enough for a fill up and wound up using their dump station on the way home.
M&G braking system on the toad seemed to perform well. I probably had to actually brake hard once the entire trip. I did get to freak out about a "burning rubber" smell when I started my Jeep after pulling it 800 miles. There are 7 years of forum posts that explain the phenomenon; small particles of worn tire from the road collect on the underside of the toad, then burn off when vehicle is started.
The skid wheels I mounted on the trailer hitch worked well; never scraped the hitch itself. I wrestled the )(@#&$(*# rock guard/mudflap in the night hours 2 days before we left. I determined the mounting brackets needed to move back to keep the thing from getting pinned between the skid wheels and the ground, so I scrapped that project for this trip. Zero dings on the Jeep. It may or may not be reinstalled, but the priority is very low.
My wife and I both slept well in the coach. We did have noisy neighbors one night at Tiger Run and just kicked to roof a/c on to drown them out. We had some cool mornings, so I'd turn the living room heat pump on before I went to bed and it'd kick on around 65 deg (my younger son slept on the pull-out sofa)
If I had a worry, it was that the Girard series II hot water heater was going to be a pain in my backside. Thanks to some good threads on this forum, I determined that getting air out of the lines was significantly important to the system working well. If there's air in the lines, run all the faucets, cold and hot. Don't forget the washer and dryer.... Then, when I determined the water temp coming into the coach I'd set the water heater temp gauge in the medicine cabinet (assume the dial is 0 to 45 degrees of heating to start.) I had a pressure regulator on all the time, and so we were never using more than about 40lbs of water pressure. We would run the shower for 90 seconds or so with the hot on full, and if the temp was too warm for a shower we'd adjust the temperature knob and wait another minute. We tried to optimize shower temp using that knob and had good results. We were happy with the installed shower head and its adjustments.
The dash a/c worked well, and I ran the generator and roof a/c's for my non-mountain days. Everything worked as expected.
RhinoFlex sewer hose kit is worth every penny. I had no "Robin Williams" type experiences. Having hoses with caps on each end keeps the job tidy even when you're in a hurry and don't have time to flush and bleach; I never had an end of the hose open for more than a couple seconds. i did rinse with gray water after every dump.
My wife and I entered into this adventure having never owned an RV before. She's not a tent camper by any circumstance, and tends to get carsick if she's not sitting in front paying attention. She had not spent the night in the RV prior to this trip. She enjoyed the trip very much. She rode comfortably with her feet up, dozed here and there, and said riding in the RV was less fatiguing than in her (Infinity) SUV. I call it a win.
Thanks to all of you for your help in my shakedown process over the last 6 months. I owe Earnest917 a cheeseburger. Phil57 got me fixed up on a Pride windshield sunscreen and tire covers. (Didn't use those this trip, but they'll come in handy in Texas, no doubt.) Seeg, you have casually accomplished in a month what I managed to cram into six months. Hang in there.
2014 Berkshire 390RB-60
2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Roadmaster Falcon A/T tow bar