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Old 06-12-2018, 10:53 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2016
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Coachmen Freelander 20CB - 1 Year Later

We have had our Freelander / Ford Transit for 1 year now, and we are still pleased with it.
It is nice having a motorhome that will fit into a normal parking space. And it gets 12 mpg, the best mileage I have ever had in an RV. Although it is less than the 15 mpg that the dealer said we would get. Even though the Ford Transit only has a V6, it seems plenty powerful for this light weight motorhome.
We mostly go to regular campgrounds with no hookups. Many of these campgrounds have a maximum allowed length of 24 feet, and we easily qualify.
It is very small, but just fine for 2 people, but it would get tiresome on an extended trip.
As for complaints, I have a few minor ones:
1. Stove - the Atwood stove works well, but it is extremely noisy while driving. This a common problem on all motorhomes, but I could not find any aftermarket gadgets for Atwood stoves to help relieve this problem. Other brands of stoves have accessories that help relieve this problem.
2. DVD player - I couldn't believe that the DVD player was not Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray players only cost about $10 more than the standard ones. Most of my collection are Blu-Ray and I can't play them. I will replace it soon with a Blu-Ray. Also the TV and DVD player are AC only. I would much prefer 12V, so I don't have to be hooked up to use them. We rarely camp where there are hook-ups.
3. Other minor issues: The refrigerator had a standard incandescent bulb inside. This not only uses more electricity, but it creates heat. I replaced it with an LED bulb that stays cool and uses 90% less electricity - it only cost 2 dollars.
The Ford transit fuel gauge reads the opposite direction of any other fuel gauge I have ever seen - Full is on the left while Empty on the right. Several times I have glanced at it thinking I had a nearly full tank, when it was actually almost empty. If I drove the vehicle every day I would get used to it, but I only drive the motorhome while on trips. Most of the time I drive one of our other cars that have a normal fuel gauge. Luckily, the Ford Transit also has a computer that estimates how many miles to empty.
Getting in and out of the cab was difficult because of the height of the floor. I solved this problem by having some running boards installed on both sides. it was difficult finding ones made for a Ford Transit that were short for both driver and passenger.
Also it was nice having a rear view camera, but the model installed was designed to also have side view cameras, and every time I turned the turn indicator on the screen would go blank. I ended up installing side view cameras, even though the mirrors were adequate. Now when I change lanes I can check both the mirrors and the monitor.
Finally, I wish the Ford Transit had Blu-Tooth, in order to have hands free cell phone use.
Overall, I am very pleased, but Forest River could have spent just a few more dollars to make a better product.
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Old 06-20-2018, 11:28 PM   #2
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Thanks for the nice review. We have a 20CB as well. It is a 2016 and we have about 11K miles on it. Love the size, mpg and layout. It has unfortunately, not been without problems. I have detailed them below.

1 - Somewhere in a wall, the wire feeding power from the panel to 12V items on the kitchen side has a break. It was not in an accessible area. This disabled everything on the panel by the door (tank levels and Hot Water Heater ignition) and the stove vent hood. I added a new feed and fuse panel inside the cabinet and ran individual fuses for each thing. Now, the vent fan blowing a fuse won't take out the HWH ignition.

2 - Converter fan started to get noisy and I replace converter with upgraded model. Model used is know for boiling batteries, so this is an upgrade and a fix.

3 - There was a BIG gap above the black tank where the pipe goes through an inaccessible part of the floor in the raised step area that connects to the toilet flange. It was letting mice get in from outside into the under step area and the area under the bed. Took forever to find it. Had to support the tank and remove the supports and made a custom extension for a can of closed cell spray foam insulation to fill the gap. Filled several other holes in the floor where the factory spray foam was inadequate or missing. Have pictures if anyone needs them.

4 - Rear camera/Middle light mounting came loose as there is no support behind one side. Used plastic expansion anchor and epoxy to fix. To the OP, there is a menu option to use rear camera only instead of getting a blank screen every time you use a turn signal.

5 - Windshield broke sitting in the driveway with no chip at all. Unfortunately 1K miles after the Ford warranty for thermal breaks. This just happened, unfixed yet.


6 - No caulking in areas around shower stall.

7 - Dealer items fixed from PDI - Hole in awning, dining table dented and stove scratched up.

Worthwhile additions:

1 - Added additional outlets (AC and 12V to kitchen and bed area)
2 - Added spare tire back in and made custom tire winch mount.
3 - Added heating element to Roof AC to take the chill off in the morning
4 - Added bedroom TV/DVD (12V) and replaced the front TV/DVD with 12V model as well. We boondock a lot.
5 - Added second battery and battery voltage monitor by door
6 - Got portable solar panel (Renogy) and got matching connector for outside hookup
7 - Put in Maaxair power vent in main living area. Put Heng's vent fan conversion kit in bath.
8 - Replaced Ford Sync radio (no bluetooth) with Kenwood headunit and Metra install kit. Has USB input now too.
9 - Added an automatic transfer switch instead of the goofy plug inside the outer power cable compartment. Mounted it behind the power panel near where the power comes in.




Jay
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:21 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2016
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Of Mice and Drains

Thanks Jay for your input.
I also had a problem with a mouse moving in. This happened while it was parked for an extended time on a dirt storage yard. I have since upgraded my storage lot to a paved and covered space. It also has an electric outlet, so I can keep the batteries charged. I haven't seen any evidence of mice since then. But I may, someday, need to seal the holes like you had to.
One other difficulty I ran into was getting to the main drain. The main drain is under the bed, and the only way to get to it is through the rear outside storage compartment. There is a panel in this compartment blocking access to the drain, but it had an access hole in it. The hole was not big enough for my arm, I could only get it in up to my elbow, and that was not far enough to reach the valve. Also, I cold not see what I was doing, since my arm filled up the hole. I ended up removing the panel, that made it easy, but I don't want to have to do this every time I drain the tank. So when I re-installed it, I didn't put in the bottom screws, I just put in the top screws. Now it swings like a doggie door and gives me easy access. But it will probably fail from metal fatigue someday and break off. To be fixed properly a hinge should be installed at the top, and there should be a latch of some kind too. I thought of just removing it entirely, but then things from my storage compartment may fallout. Also, that would be a major invitation for mice to come in.
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:20 PM   #4
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: NW Minnesota
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A Few 20CB Mods

Good to read your report Tomcod and your reply Jay. Good to know of other owners of this motor home. Here are a few of my many mods to our 2016 20CB. This is our second full season using the rig and are very satisfied with it's overall (house and chassis) performance. Nothing is perfect, right?!

Refrigerator Mod: cutting power to the heated metal condensation strip between the freezer and fridge via a SPST micro switch. That strip sucks a fair amount of battery power (amps) while dry camping. All that you do is to break the fatter ground wire to the light switch that is on the heater strip circuit. An easy mod. See a well done video here:


Converter change out: being that I installed two Trojan SCS 150 deep cycle house batteries (24 size- 27 won't fit) last year, this spring I installed a Progressive Dynamics PD4600 converter that manages the batteries much better than the WFCO unit.

TV &DVD: since we don't watch a lot of TV or DVD's, when we dry camp, but when we do, we just use a simple 150 amp two socket Bestek inverter that plugs into the 12 volt socket by the TV. It works well.

Battery eye: I installed a small digital volt meter, with momentary button switch, on the grill of the fuse panel.

Water Heater Drain: this mod works very well wether you need to drain or burp the tank. See here:

Noisy stove grates: we remove them and the microwave plate and roller ring, wrap them in a towel and place it all in the sink. Just before our one year warranty was up I had to replace the microwave metal face frame as it had cracked due to the fact the the unit was mounted incorrectly, which i corrected.

Engine Throttle Body (TB): engine was tripped into "Engine Fault" limp mode several times on a trip last summer. The TB was replaced under Ford warranty. It is a WELL KNOWN fuel management problem throughout Ford's series of gas engines.
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:27 PM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: NW Minnesota
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Another 20CB Mod

More Room aka Wasted Space: I built a box for added storage. It is under the shelf area that is under the stove. Measures 13" wide, 9" tall, 10.5" deep. it interfers with nothing. By removing three screws it is easily removed for additional access to main control panel wiring if need be.
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:54 PM   #6
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Nice compartment addition. I have had that on my to-do list for a year. I also have a passenger seat swivel I bought a year or so to install as well.


As to the rattling stove, we added the matching stove cover. It is the cover used if the stove is used in an outdoor kitchen. We removed the side wings. My wife uses one of those padded fabric dish drainer folded in half between the cover and the burners and most of the rattle is gone.



Jay
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Old 12-17-2018, 11:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynwhite View Post
Thanks for the nice review. We have a 20CB as well. It is a 2016 and we have about 11K miles on it. Love the size, mpg and layout. It has unfortunately, not been without problems. I have detailed them below.
We are about to take delivery of a used 2017 20CB, looking forward to our time with it and hoping that a lot of the bugs have been worked out. Had a couple questions about some of your additions:

Worthwhile additions:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynwhite View Post
Added heating element to Roof AC to take the chill off in the morning
I assume yours did not come with the 'Heat pump' option or else this would be needed? Can you explain how this is done / what is involved / cost? We don't know if ours has the heat pump yet or not.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynwhite View Post
Replaced Ford Sync radio (no bluetooth) with Kenwood headunit and Metra install kit.
Does it fit a double DIN headunit or just a single? Do you have the Metra install kit part number?

Thanks!
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Old 12-17-2018, 11:31 PM   #8
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Congrats on the 20CB.

I put in a double din Kenwood Head Unit. I went back to my Amazon orders and the Metra parts I used were:

Metra 99-5835G Double/Single DIN Dash Kit For 2015-UP Ford Transit - Gray
Metra 70-5524 Wiring Harness for Ford Fiesta 2011-Up, Power for 4 Speakers
Metra 40-EU10 Antenna to Radio Adapter Cable for Select 2002-Up BMW/Volkswagen Vehicles

My 20CB does not have the heat pump option (would have ordered it with one, but bought unit in stock at a dealer with regular and VERY noisy AC only).
Dometic Brisk Air II Non-Ducted Heat Strip 3314998.000 3314998.000-M
It just plugs into the unit in a pre-made spot for it. Just takes a few minutes to install. It takes the chill off fine and saves propane for when you are hooked to shore power,

Since the review I did some other things have happened/been done:
- Windshield Stress Crack just sitting in the driveway. Happen one month AFTER Ford coverage for this type item. $700ish for an exact OEM windshield.
- Mouse ate part of the engine wiring harness at the back of the drivers side head (cam position sensor wiring) Was just able to strip and extend the wires a little to fix.
- Black handle broke on the Black Tank dump valve. Bought metal Valterra replacement from Amazon.
- Added in a passenger seat swivel I got off e-bay.
- Replaced the Furnace thermostat with an electronic one. The old thermostat was almost impossible to turn on the top switch. Bought the $25 Honeywell Programmable from Home Depot. Hook Red Wire to R and White Wire to W and set the switch on the back of the unit to gas heat and works great. Manual does NOT have these instructions for dealing with a two wire system.
- Bought front Running Boards from RunningBoardsWarehouse. One of the only sets that have two 39" boards. I need to install them if there is ever a non-raining weekend.

Hope this helps.
Jay
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Old 12-17-2018, 11:46 PM   #9
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Thanks for the quick response & update. I'm curious how it is that yours didn't have bluetooth, all the pictures of the factory Transit 350HD chassis I've seen show a 'Phone' button and number keypad as part of the button layout.

This is a random google image search photo but looks pretty close to the images I've seen of the actual unit

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Old 12-18-2018, 08:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynwhite View Post
My 20CB does not have the heat pump option (would have ordered it with one, but bought unit in stock at a dealer with regular and VERY noisy AC only).
Dometic Brisk Air II Non-Ducted Heat Strip 3314998.000 3314998.000-M
[SIZE=2][FONT=Arial]It just plugs into the unit in a pre-made spot for it. Just takes a few minutes to install. It takes the chill off fine and saves propane for when you are hooked to shore power
Very interesting. I'm going to check with the dealer to see whether ours comes with the heat pump (I'm assuming not) - I assume that retrofitting the heat pump is either A impossible or B prohibitively expensive so I may be ordering the heat strip as well. Watching this it seems pretty straight forward. Best price I found is only $51 at "RV Parts Country" - cheaper than Amazon.

Is there an easy way to tell (ie without taking things apart) if the previous owner already installed the heat strip? I have no problem doing that once I take delivery (in early January) but would like to get as much of a jump on things as possible.
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