We took delivery of our first TT, a 2017 Forest River Salem Hemisphere Hyper-Lite 26RL
from dealer Coates RV in Hugo, MN on April 26 after a 2+ hour PDI (dealer installed WDH at same time). Trailer was our compromise over the bigger/heavier Hemisphere 282RK and only felt like we were giving up a little bedroom storage and optional exterior kitchen. Glad I took video on phone of thermostat and water heater operation. One of the first things I did was download and PDF manuals to phone for trailer and every appliance for those times when we have no data coverage. We chose the bench dinette over the free-standing w/chairs for the extra sleeping capacity, optional Whirlpool residential refrigerator, La-Z-Boy leather rocker recliners and outdoor shower (good for muddy paws).
Minor problems mitigated right away at dealership before we signed loan:
- The support rail on dinette bench seats mounted too low for tabletop to line up evenly when converted for sleeping. (moved rail)
- One small trim piece missing from kitchen cabinet (replaced trim)
- Unfortunately it was 40°F and rainy here in MN so we didn't get to really check the AC fully. While sanitizing the fresh water tank at home I tested AC myself, main fan of ceiling AC unit blew cold air like a champ but no movement out any of the 4 ceiling ducts. After some investigation I figured FR may have never punched holes in lightweight aluminum fan shroud for the AC ducts during construction. One 30-minute service appointment later on 5/9 and my suspicions were confirmed, dealer tech cut the two approx. 2" x 6" holes needed with a utility knife and all was good.
We did a shakedown weekend 5/13-5/15 with full hookups about 25 miles from home at Lebanon Hills Regional Park campground
in Apple Valley.
No issues, really nice park, lots of walking trails, corgi-friendly and hosts Don and Judy were super nice. Low temps of 34°F at night but we stayed toasty warm in trailer. I highly recommend campground if you are visiting Twin Cities area, less than 10 minutes from I-35E with easy access to Minneapolis and Saint Paul downtowns and Mall of America.
Last weekend (5/19-5/23) camped at Lamb’s Resort
in Schroeder, MN about 80 miles up Hwy 61 from Duluth right on Lake Superior’s North Shore (475 mile round trip). I knew we’d get a late start after work and didn’t want to drive two-lane highway in the dark so we planned to sleep overnight at the Thompson Hill
rest stop just outside Duluth but at the last minute decided to try Spirit Mountain campground
instead. Early breakfast Friday morning at Duluth Grill
had the Deluxe Biscuits and Gravy with Red Flannel Hash, DW ordered Huevos Rancheros Skillet (we’ll be back!) Leisurely drive up the North Shore, arrived at Lamb’s Resort just after noon, set up at nice flat-well drained gravel pad at campsite with full hookups backed up to Lake Superior. Spectacular view of sunsets over Lake Superior out rear picture window from the La-Z-Boy chairs. Woke up to no heat, determined propane cylinder #1 ran out overnight, switched over and fired right up. Our next-door neighbors were on their inaugural trip with new 2016 Keystone RV Bullet 308BHS. We definitely noticed their furnace roaring when in use compared to our relatively quiet unit. Learned we probably don’t need to turn on gas water heater unless back-to-back showers as the electric water heater kept up just fine all weekend. No strong television signal where we were, glad I brought a stack of DVD movies for at night. I also picked up a RCA to mini plug audio cable so television sound will go through A/B/C overhead speakers when not using DVD. I don’t see us adding satellite any time soon though, but that could change.
I haven’t done much in the way of modding the trailer yet…
To support my 6’5”-ness, we extended the camper queen mattress to 80” length by filling in between the head of the bed and camper wall with foam. I cut three 20”L x 6”W x 8”H high density foam + chair foam blocks using a electric carving knife and DW sewed a pillow case. (total cost <$30 with Joann Fabric 60% off and retailmenot.com coupons). Cut a 59” x 24” piece of sanded plywood with rounded corners to slide under foot of bed to support mattress, push it back when not in use. Added a 4" Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper and bed is *almost* as comfortable as ours at home.
Honestly no mechanical issues the whole trip. We averaged 10.4 MPG towing, top AT fluid temp 204°F climbing bigger hills like Silver Creek Cliff tunnel. Drove into 20MPH winds all the way home but sway was manageable. We have at least 5 other trips planned this camper season including Colorado/Wyoming, and I have it on good authority that Father’s Day will bring a Coleman Road Trip LXE gas grille to my arsenal.
Here is the list of trailer accessories we purchased prior to delivery, mostly from Amazon.com, some from Tweetys.com:
- Progressive Industries EMS-PT30C Portable 30AMP Electrical Management System
- Camco 55165 RV Power Grip Dogbone Adapter - 15A Male - 30A Female
- Camco RV Power Grip Dogbone Adapter 30A to 50A
- Marinco 701 Battery Disconnect Switch
- JawayTool 120 Pieces Car Truck Automotive Fuse Assortment 5,7.5,10,15,20,25,30 AMP
- Camco 22833 Premium Drinking Water Hose (5/8"ID x 25')
- N13-0349 Lead-Free - Water Pressure Regulator
- Camco 40043 TastePURE Water Filter with Flexible Hose Protector
- Camco 22505 90 Degree Hose Elbow
- Reliance Products Desert Patrol 6 Gallon Traditional Jeep Style Rigid Water Container
- Camco 36003 Hand Pump Kit
- Camco 22484 Water Bandit
- E-Z Water Fill w/Shut-Off Valve
- White Body Spa Oxygenics Shower with 60" Hose
- Camco 39741 RhinoFLEX 20' Sewer Hose Kit with Swivel Fitting
- Camco 43051 20' Sidewinder Plastic Sewer Hose Support
- Camco 39847 RhinoFLEX Clear 45 Degree RV Sewer Hose Swivel Fitting
- Camco 39533 Sewer Hose Rinser w/ Shut-Off Valve
- Camco 40325 Bumper End Cap vented 2 pack
- 10 ct Porta-Pak Holding Tank Deodorizers
- Scott Rapid Dissolve Bath Tissue, 4 Count (Pack of 12)
- 50 pack nitrile Gloves
- Camco 42141 Flying Insect Screen - FUR 200 - 2 Pack
- Camco 42151 Flying Insect Water Heater Screen - WH 400
- 50 ct Nitrile Exam Gloves X-Large
- Hand Sanitizer
- Trimax TCP100 Keyed Alike Towing Kits locks Combo Pack with Carrying Case (UMAX100, TC123, and TS32)
- Trimax VMAX6 Multi-Use Versa Cable Lock (6 ft long x 10mm cable) for 30AMP EMS
- Trimax ST30 Trimaflex Spare Tire Cable Lock (Round Key) 36" x 12mm
- 2x BAL 28014 X-Chock Tire Locking Chock - Extended
- 2x Sav-A-Step Braces 7"-14"
- 2x Graduated RV Levels
- 2x Aluminum Stacker Jacks
- Quick Products (QPLSJS) Deluxe Scissor Jack Leveling Socket
- Camco 44595 Stabilizer Jack Pad - 4 pack
- 2x Camco 43981 Aluminum Screen Door Standard Grille
- 1x Camco 42183 Screen Door Cross Bar (Black)
- 2x Prest-O-Fit 2-0205 Wraparound Radius RV Step Rug Black 22" Wide