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Old 09-23-2009, 03:16 PM   #1
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Sv 304

Hi Folks,

We just purchased a new 2009 SV-304 and can't wait until next year to use it. We won't be travelling with it that much, as we have a seasonal space to leave it year round.

Just looking to see if anyone else has some comments or tips and tricks about the trailer.......

We don't get to pick it up until May, so for now, all we have are lots of pictures and tons of ideas on what we want to do with !!!!!!

I look forward to everyones comments.


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Old 09-23-2009, 04:44 PM   #2
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Wow, that's a LONG wait!!! : - )

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Old 09-26-2009, 12:49 PM   #3
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I just picked up the same trailer the beginning of August to replace our 255rks. We've already used it about 10 days. One thing I'm wanting to do is replace the standard AM/FM/CD only Concertcrap player in the front entertainment center with one that plays DVD's as well. Not sure in this day and age why they don't come with that, but they don't. There's really no place for a normal DVD player in that front entertainment center area as it's very shallow (depth-wise). Outside of that, we've really enjoyed ours so far. My only other mod I'm working on is making it very much winter usable so we can use it on our ski trips in Colorado. It's a great camper and the AC works great, even in the 100+ degree Texas heat (was able to keep the camper at 77 even during the heat of the day). I have a half-ton '08 Ram MegaCab we tow with. I did get a reese dual-cam WD hitch (never had one before, but as big as the 304 is I thought it might be a good idea) and you barely notice the trailer behind you. The thing has a TON of storage space which is great. Our 255 was maxed out with stuff. We put everything in this one, bought more stuff and still have so much room leftover I'm not sure what to do. LOL

Anyway, just is, we love the room and the camper.

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Old 10-26-2009, 10:52 PM   #4
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I have a 2009 304 as well, which we just purchased. I have another post on this forum where I was trying to decide between the 291 and 294 - But I discovered that the 304 is right in the same ballpark dimension-wise, and was perfect for our particular needs. And I was able to find one at a dealer somewhat nearby.

We just came back from an 18 day camping trip in the thing and really enjoyed it. We stayed at 3 different campgrounds, and when we came back, we really felt like we had purchased the right model for us. Currently it's myself, my wife, and my 20 month old son. Having the room in back with a door is great. We plug in the baby monitor back there, and sit outside by the campfire after he goes to bed. When we have company, the back room will make a nice private guest room.

Anyway, I'll give you a full review, as we just got back a couple of days ago.

Storage - As Tim mentioned, it really does have a lot of storage. When unhooked, we even use the top bunk in back as a big shelf. There's even storage space under both couches and the dinette.

Awning - Really nice sized for the trailer. The only thing I would suggest is due to the size of the thing, remember to roll it up if it starts getting windy.

Roof - Good and sturdy. Don't think twice about walking around up there. I'm a 260 pound guy, and it really didn't seem to care. When they say it's reinforced, they mean it. If you camp under trees, I think it's a good idea to get up there before you hook up, and spray the debris off the top of the slide out before you slide it in.

Insulation - We had some 35 degree nights. We were sitting out by the fire, and there was an older wildwood next to us. Its heater kicked on at least twice as often as ours. Can really tell its well insulated. We also had some hot and muggy days by the ocean. AC had no problem at all keeping up.

Seals - Had a day of torrential rains and wind - no leaks, or any issues.

Tanks - The only complaint I have is the black tank sensor seems to be right under the toilet. As soon as the toilet is flushed, the black tank shows full for a few minutes. Sometimes if toilet paper gets stuck in there, it stays stuck on full. You can actually look down in there with a flashlight and see for sure, but one thing I found that helps is filling the bowl full to the top of water, and doing a big flush. Also, I have a 5 gallon bucket in the bottom of the bathroom cupboard. When dumping the black tank, I like to dump a couple of buckets of water down the toilet to wash out what's left. Also, for some reason the water coming out of the sinks and tub was kind of soapy at first when we first got it. It had a soapy smell .. took a while to run it through. Not sure what that was about.

Leveling - buy a cordless drill with a socket bit that fits the scissor jacks. Works great - no more cranking. When leveled, there's a little bit of bounce, but it's really pretty sturdy overall. If the leveling is off by too much it will mess with your tank sensors (they may show fuller than they actually are, etc).

Stereo - as mentioned in many places, it's a pretty bad audio system. Very cheap, and the remote is terrible. We did enjoy the outside speakers though.

Kitchen - The stove and fridge are great. Don't forget to turn off the fridge when you leave. I left it on after last trip, and it drained the battery pretty good - even though it was on gas, and the gas was shut off. Don't forget to open up the outside stove vent flap before you use the stove fan, or you'll melt it. Also, the smoke alarm is pretty sensitive. Best way to avoid tripping it when doing major cooking, we found, is to turn on the stove fan and the bathroom fan, and then open the front door. We do a lot of cooking, and found there to be more than enough counter space - especially with the pop up counter extender.

Electrical: The breakers are pretty sensitive. I had to reset one 3 or 4 times. If you find something isn't working - a light, AC power, an outlet, etc.. check the breaker box. Happened to me several times. Also found that AC + microwave + water heater on electric = tripped 30 amp breaker outside.

Hot water - It's really pretty impressive for what it is - though it will run out in a few minutes if the hot water is all the way on in the shower. The shower heads have that shutoff thing, so I found that by turning the hot water on halfway, using the cold to adjust the temperature, then turning off the water at the shower head when not rinsing worked very well, and left more than enough hot water to go around. Also, it heats up pretty quickly.

Lighting - The trailer is very well lit on the inside. Too well, in fact, depending on your tastes. We sometimes like dimmer lighting during the evening, and all of the lights in there are very bright. I went and bought some 5 watt 12 volt bulbs at wal-mart. (I think they're used for running lights in cars). Each room has multiple light fixtures in it, so I replaced the bulbs in a few strategic light fixtures with the 5 watt bulbs, and it really made a nice difference. For example, in the main room, I replaced the bulb over the kitchen counter, and the 2 bulbs in the center light by the refrigerator. Very nice ambiance when running just the 5 watt fixtures. There's still 4 bright light fixtures left in that room (over the dinette, couch, entertainment center, and by the bathroom). So we just have a choice now.

Propane - We went 14 days on one tank, running the heater almost every night (40's at night, generally) and using the stove every day, and sometimes the oven. (Fridge and Water heater were always on electric except while traveling). When we finally ran the one tank out, it cost $25 to refill. Not bad really, and the other tank was still sitting there full.

Other misc -

- Like any trailer, be sure to balance the load when traveling. I found that a balanced load makes a world of difference on this thing.

- Use a water pressure regulator! Best place to put it is right at the connection on the side of the trailer, not at the spicket (according to an rv repair guy I talked to).

- Consider a "t" connector for the outside water. Wal-Mart has them in the RV section, and I found it really useful. I hook a hose up to one side, and the trailer water to the other.

- Maybe an indoor / outdoor thermometer? I used velcro to stick the outdoor sensor to a piece of plastic under the trailer, and then used velcro to stick the indoor display right next to the thermostat. Works great!

- Think about a fan for the back room. We got one that runs on AC or battery (in case we're dry camping). With the couch folded out in there, space is tight, and air doesn't circulate very well. We found a fan to be very helpful to get the air moving back there.

- What I consider must-haves after the trip: Black tank rinse kit, power tongue jack, equalizer hitch, the best brake controller you can get, welcome mats to wipe your feet and put your shoes on.

- If there's a lot of condensation in the bathroom after a shower, run the vent fan for a bit. Will cut down the risk of mold, etc.

- We got a door towel hanger, and hung it on the molding of the bathroom door (the one to the outside).. worked pretty well. We didn't use that door very often anyway - just for maintenance stuff (tank flushing, etc), and the towel hanger was easy to duck under when we did.

- You may need to grease the hitch. I had (still have) a problem where the hitch doesn't want to let go, even when holding up that little lever. I need to pop it off with a crowbar most of the time when unhooking.

- The cupboard above the sink has a power outlet in it (for the microwave). Would make for an easy under-cupboard coffeemaker mount.

-Favorite place to drink coffee in the morning: Open up the shades by the slide out couch. Sit on the couch with your back to the dinette, feet up on the couch, and enjoy the view.

Anyway, that's all I can think of at the moment.. Hope this helps! It really is an awesome unit, and I'm sure you're going to love it. We just got back from that big trip, and I can't wait to get back out with the thing again.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:55 AM   #5
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Thanks Spinner.......

That's an awesome review. We have not been able to use ours yet, as it is still in storage at the dealer. May can't come quick enough.

One really bad part, is now that we are preparing for use of the trailer, there is a lot of stuff we would like to know, but can't find out becuase we don't have access to the trailer !!!!

For example, can you tell me the actual size and depth of the entertainment center where the TV goes??? We wanted to get a TV for the trailer, but don't know the size of the area.

Thanks again for your comments and tips.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:17 AM   #6
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Sure thing.. it's in storage right now, but I'm planning to visit it soon to do a proper clean up of the thing after our trip. If you'd like, come up with a list of the things you'd like to know and I'll bring it with when I head out there and get the answers for you. (Gives me an excuse to spend more time in the thing :P )

One other thing I'm planning on picking up is a solar battery charger. They're pretty cheap ($25 or so). They plug into a cigarette lighter, and you just set them in a window. They feed a small amount of current to the battery to help keep it charged while in storage. There's a 12 volt cigarette-type plug in, in the cabinet under the entertainment center. (presumably in order to plug in a 12 volt capable TV) .. Here's one from Target
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Old 10-28-2009, 05:11 PM   #7
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Great report, Spinner. Lots of great infomation for folks with any kind of Surveyor, even my new little 186 Sport.
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Old 10-29-2009, 10:32 PM   #8
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Glad it was helpful!

So here's more that I thought of after I posted the other one.. Also keep in mind, I'm new to this myself - these are just the things that I noted along the way on my first big trip - I'd love to hear improvements/corrections on what I learned or other ideas.

Bedroom: The bed has a vent above the bed, and the windows on both sides open. Makes for a very nice breeze. When we were on the ocean, it was nice to sleep to the crashing of the waves. Lots of fresh air with everything opened up.

Bumper: I'm sure most people know this, but just to say it - the bumper caps come off in the back, and it's the perfect place for a sewer hose. I'm also going to purchase a couple of metal bumper mount containers. There's a lot of storage on the outside of the trailer, but I'd like a box or 2 for the "dirty" stuff. Sprayer hose, power cord, welcome mats, etc.

Condensation: There was some when it got cold. Opening the bathroom fan on low, and cracking open the top vent at the front of the trailer helped a great deal.

Fridge: It takes quite a while to cool down. Bring ice. We brought a bunch of cheap little tupperware containers and filled them with ice from the cooler when we got there, then put them in the fridge with the food. Helped jumpstart things quite a bit - then we used the bowls for eating.

Kitchen Sink: Bought a britta kitchen faucet filter - worked great. It really needed to be cranked on there in order not to leak, though. And if I remember right, I think I had to mess with the gasket a bit. It was sort of clunky and in the way - ended up positioning the water filter portion behind where the water comes out (instead of to the side, if that makes sense) and it was a very good setup. The only issue is, with the pressure regulator and that faucet, the water comes out of the filter pretty slow. We used regular water for doing dishes, etc.. and for coffee/drinking/cooking, we'd flip on the filter.

Water tank: even if I don't plan on using it, I keep a little bit of water in the fresh tank. Never know when you might need it. For example, on our very first night with the camper, we took so long to get going that by the time we got to the state park the gate was closed. I won't even talk about the fun I had turning around.. but we ended up boondocking in a parking lot. Was very glad there was a bit of water left in the tank for toilet, etc.

Water pump: If you use the water pump, and don't have much water, be sure to listen to it to make sure it's not starting to push air. Can burn the pump out.

Oven: Sometimes takes a very long time to light the pilot. And if I didn't use it for a while, the gas would come out sort of stuttering.. even while it was doing that, I was able to light the thing and get the oven started. But it would take much longer than you'd expect for the pilot to stick. Great little oven though, and loved the range. Has my wife wanting to switch to gas at our house.

Oven + Kids: If you have little kids, the oven knobs pop off pretty easily. We just kept them in the top drawer till we used them. If only the gas water heat switch wasn't toddler-height...

Couch bed: The couches fold out into a bed just fine - but I think the cushions aren't the most comfortable. They are at first, but they sort of sink over time, and you can feel the wood pretty well below. I took a nap on it a couple of times, and used the pad from the top bunk on top of the couch which worked fine. If that's not an option, consider getting a pad for it.

Broom: Behind the living room couch is a great place to keep a broom

Outside shower: The thing works great.. Just wish it was on the other side of the trailer where the doors are, instead of right there with the sewer/electric/water hookups.

Camping without a sewer connection: The tanks fill up a lot faster than we thought they would. Make sure you're good and empty when you get there, and conserve, conserve, conserve right from the beginning. Having that water splitter at the spicket helped a lot. We'd use that hose for washing dishes, and use the outside shower for freshening up, brushing teeth, etc.

Wheel Chocks: Never have a moment where the trailer is not on your hitch that the wheels aren't chocked. I almost learned this the hard way. You may not think you're on a hill, but your trailer may disagree. Chock before you detach from the truck, and only remove them when you're hitched up again. The first time I unhooked, the trailer rolled back a bit after it popped off the hitch. I about had a heart attack, and vowed to always follow the above rule.

Maintenance: The manual has a nice maintenance schedule in it - from "before every trip" to various regular intervals. I made photo copies of it so I could use it as a checklist. Also, just to pass this along - the dealer said not to use regular caulk on the roof. He told me what kind to use, but I didn't write it down. Point though is if you need to patch something up there, it's worth a call to the dealer to find out the best practice.

Slide out: common sense, but always double check to make sure nothing is in the path when going out and in. Also, never step on the slide out portion when it's slid in. In other words, do not walk on anything carpeted. It can crack the wood and break it. If you need to get something in there when the slide out is in, have one of your kids climb over the counter. Also, the dealer mentioned spraying the rubber seals with wd40 from time to time (both from the inside and outside) to keep the rubber healthy.

Tongue jack: Be careful of the emergency brake wire getting caught on the jack when you're lowering or raising it.

Leveling: I picked up a level. When I think it's close, I go inside and check on the kitchen counter, closest to the middle of the trailer. If you have trouble with it tipping too far to the slideout side, try leveling it with the slideout in. If you have trouble with it tipping to far toward the door side, try the opposite - leveling it with the slideout out.

Hooking up: Raise the scissor jacks before hooking up to the truck. Seems like common sense, but I was on a bit of a hill, and forgot to raise the back scissors.. the tongue jack lifted the trailer on to the back scissors, and put a lot of weight on them. I couldn't figure out why it was working so hard to lift the trailer on to the hitch. Just something to keep in mind. Also, as a lot of people have said, do two walkarounds before you leave. Maybe make a checklist. I've almost left things that the second walkaround caught. Also, once the lights are hooked up, turn on flashers and make sure everything flashes back there

Propane tanks: This is probably up to personal preference, but I only leave one on at a time. I'd like to know when I run out of the first and am now on the second tank. The exception of course is if it's cold outside.. don't want to run out in the middle of the night But I'll turn the second one off in the morning.

AC - The fan on high is pretty loud. Low does a fine job, I think, unless it's really hot out, and is much quieter.

Extra Battery: I had bought a cheap 12 volt lawn and garden battery (for a riding mower I think.. 230 CCA or something) for $29 a while back for something unrelated. It's small, and pretty portable. So I decided to bring it along on this last trip, along with some jumper cables. Very glad I did - remember I mentioned that my fridge drained my battery when I left it on in storage? This little battery is what saved my butt. It was enough to power the slideout and the tongue jack so I was able to get things stowed away and hooked up. The dealer had told me that the trailer lights would power the tongue jack, but that was clearly not the case. Was very glad I took that battery. Anyway, for what it's worth. If you're dry camping, you might appreciate having the option. For $29, I mean, hey. It had more than enough power to do the job, and unhook on the other side. Also to mention, when I first plugged in after that, a breaker blew. I think it was the converter -vs- a dead battery. Even with the trailer plugged in, there was no power until I reset the breaker.

Fuses: Buy spares. I didn't blow any fuses - just breakers - but the trailer doesn't come with any spare fuses, so they're worth having around.

I think that pretty well covers it.. if you made it this far, congratulations - my fingers hurt

If I think of anything else, I'll post it.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:57 AM   #9
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Thanks so much spinner..... You do a fantastic job. Forest River should be paying you !!!!!

The information you have provided has been printed off and will become part of my "Trailer Instruction & Log Book"

Thanks again for your valuable information.
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Old 11-15-2009, 09:33 PM   #10
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We have a 2008 sv304 for a little over 2 years now. Its our first TT (had boats before) so far its been good no problems we towed it to Washington DC this June with our 2 kids + one and with the back room it was no problem. All the info you have gotten so far sounds about right. I would add that to help with the TT moving around while your camping is I found 2 wheel locks that fit in between the wheels seen some at camping world mine look a little different but it puts pressure on each wheel if it tries to turn then it puts more pressure on that wheel I found it took a lot of the bounce out at night as me and the wife try to sleep and the kids are jumping from one bunk to the other.

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Old 11-30-2009, 09:28 PM   #11
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HockeyDad the only thing to keep in mind if you are pre-buying things is there were some changes half way through 2009 model years as well as the 2010. The 304 was what we really wanted I just was terrified of the weight. The entertainment center changed mid-year. I have a 2010 294 you asked about my TV in another thread. Some of the 304 have the entertainment center like mine with doors on both sides and some have a full wall with a door to the bedroom by the exterior door. The models with a full wall entertainment center are designed for the tradional style deep televisions. I absolutely love our Surveyor my only regret is that I did not buy the 304!
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:41 AM   #12
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WOW...Way to go Spinner!!! Lots of useful information there...I printed it off...Thanks for that. And I agree with Hockeydad...Forest River should be paying you!!!

I am a first time owner of a new travel trailer...The 2009 Suveyor 304 model. It was just delivered a few weeks ago, and we have never used it yet...but I am in the process of packing it up to go...
Does anyone find that the slide topper makes a really loud noise in the wind??? If so, can it be adjusted? I have looked in the owners manual and couldn't find any info on it. My husband is away working and I am trying to fix these things myself before he comes home.
Also wondering if anyone finds the trailer really "bouncy" when walking around inside...almost makes me motion sick!!!
Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:45 PM   #13
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can anyone with the outside grill post a pic of the quick connect for the propane? i have an 08 sv304LE and im trying to add one. i just cant find one with the rubber cover/protector on it. since it is right behind the wheels, it gets lot of road grime. i have found the quick connect at camping world, but it doesnt have the cover/protector. just wondering if it comes with it from the factory and if so, i will just order it from there.....thanks in advance..

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