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Old 06-14-2011, 10:16 PM   #1
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Finally - our shakedown cruise

I apologize upfront for the length of this post, but we were finally able to go live with our new (and newly repaired) 233S! In all, we had a very successful 3-day trip in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Our experience:

Getting ready: When the TT was plugged into shore power, the household circuit could only handle the A/C or the fridge, not both. Since the heat index was 105+ while I was stowing our gear and finishing a few mods, I opted for the A/C. I wasn't comfortable leaving the TT parked in the street after our experience of having someone smash into it. I took it back to the storage lot overnight and retrieved it the next morning. Being our first trip, I wasn't comfortable with having the fridge running on LP during the 5-hr drive to get a jump start on cooling it down before arriving at the campground. Figuring that the fridge is nothing but a fancy upright cooler, we bought a 20lb bag of ice and put it into 6 1-gallon Ziplock bags, placing two in the freezer and 4 in the fridge, with dish towels in the bottom of each to catch condensation. This seemed to work well. When we got to the site, only about 1/3 of the ice had melted and both compartments were quite cool and dry. Within four hours of being plugged into shore power, the melted ice in the freezer had largely refrozen and everything in the fridge (which we packed in a cooler) was nice and cool. An added benefit was the ready-made ice water that we then placed into a dispenser.

Things that went well: Pretty much everything worked as expected. The only things we didn't try were the outside shower, the gas heating element of the hot water heater (I decided to just use the electric heating element) and the PUGS. We had a total of 5 hours of very heavy rain (and one uncomfortably close lightening strike) over two days and I was very happy to see that we did not have a single drop of rain anywhere in the bunk ends or elsewhere in the unit. We had only minimal condensation inside one of them where the mattress was pushed up against the cover. I used just Calgon water softener for the black tank. Never had an odor issue.

Minor issues: We had hung a collapsible canvass organizer in the tall wardrobe next to the bath and placed all our folded clothes in it. During the trip, I guess the forward/backward momentum of the heavy clothes pulled the rod from the walls (w/ minimal damage), forcing open the cabinet door and dumping our clothes everywhere. The rod mounts are cheap plastic and one of the screw heads pulled right through the hole of the mount. I'll replace them with metal mounts and slightly thicker screws. Minor issue #2: One of the bunk lights had a bad fan switch. Minor issue #3: The dealer didn't completely tighten the connection of the water inlet to the Tornado in the black tank. Minor issue #4: We experienced the short-cycling fridge motor. We checked the forum and read that many people have experienced this same annoyance, but that it really wasn't a problem per se'.

A couple of false alarms: We noticed a small pool of water on the floor at the corner of the fridge. At first we thought it might be condensation, but the more we thought about it, that didn't make sense. So upon further inspection, we discovered that our water dispenser had a leaky spigot. It was in the bottom shelf of the door and the water was slowly running down the little channel inside the weather stripping along the bottom of the fridge door. After we squeezed out what water was in there, we never had another problem. Another scare came at dusk when we were sitting outside enjoying the relatively cool evening when all of a sudden, the smoke alarm went off. After a few seconds of panic, and a couple of snickers from some neighbors, we realized that the wind had changed direction and blew the smoke from our campfire directly through our open screen door and into the unit.

Lessons learned: Making the beds was a royal pain, especially the back bunk. So, slip the linens onto the outter most corners of the exposed mattress before securing the bunk cover. That way, once inside after you install the roof bar, you only need to pull the sheets toward you and under the inside corners of the mattress. Lesson #2: Don't use a cheap water pressure regulator on the utility hose you use for the Tornado (I bought a nice one w/ a gauge for city water and had a cheapo extra one). I couldn't figure out why nothing was happening. Eventually, the DW suggested removing the regulator and viola! The Tornado flushed that tank like there was no tomorrow. Lesson #3: The portable side-kick grill is not to be used for smoking ribs! It was adequate at best for grilling some dogs. Lesson #4: I know it will come with practice, but it took a lot longer to break camp than it did setting it up.

Concerns: The only real concern I had on the whole trip was with my hitch. During both legs of the trip, the driver side L-pin on my EQ 4-point WDH that holds the sway bar on the L-bracket kept getting wedged at an outward angle that notably limited that sway bar's freedom of movement. It wasn't unduly stuck as I was able to use the S hook on the end of my tow chain to rap the pin loose from the bottom. The passenger side pin was just fine. I inspected everything and I couldn't readily see the cause. If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know as I need to resolve the issue before our next trip in two weeks. I will likely post this problem separately in the Tech Talk forum.

Bottom line - we had a safe trip, nothing bad happened, nothing expensive broke and the kids had a blast. Below are a few pics of the set up.
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:32 PM   #2
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Overall sounds good!!

"Minor issues: We had hung a collapsible canvass organizer in the tall wardrobe next to the bath and placed all our folded clothes in it. During the trip, I guess the forward/backward momentum of the heavy clothes pulled the rod from the walls (w/ minimal damage), forcing open the cabinet door and dumping our clothes everywhere."

Been there, done that. Now I put the clothes in the canvas organizer at the campground.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:33 PM   #3
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We just get up and putter away at packing up. Never in a hurry unless it is raining then I work between the drops! In a hurry to get there and not so much to leave is likely the cause of that feeling. We always make up the beds from the outside.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:52 PM   #4
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So glad to here that you finally were able to get out in your new toy! Great picures! The more pictures I see the more I want to get out camping! BTW - is that a surge protector I see in your hookups?

I also learned that nothing will stay hung up in the closet unless I use those special hangers that are a pita to remove. Except for 3 items on those pita hangers everything else will wait to be hung at camp. You are lucky that the clothes on the ground was harmless - I wasn't so lucky on my last trip.

The fridge door came open while traveling and hit a small rubber bumper on a door knob that I just applied a couple days prior to protect the closet door it sometimes comes in contact with. Now I have a small hole in the fridge panel (smaller than a dime). I always make it a habit to check all doors and drawers but looks like I missed one. I might add a small hook to cover the hole but I'm leaning towards replacing the panel since I don't like stuff on my fridge doors. I'm going to see if I can live with the small hook or not.

Hopefully now you can get out in the trailer regularly since it's home safe now.
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Old 06-15-2011, 05:55 AM   #5
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Congrats on the shakedown cruise! Sounds like everything overall went well! We've now had our 2011 233S for a year, and it's still a work-in-progress...and usually something that turns into a learning process Two trips so far this year, 13 nights and several "projects" that follow/continue. We've had everything from freezing temps to 95 degrees. Rain, wind, blah, blah, blah. Through it all, it's been a blast, so far. On our last trip a couple of weekends ago, we had an overnight water leak that soaked the carpet in the front storage, front wardrobe cabinet and all the way into the slideout. Still unsure exactly why or how the city water leaked as I can't duplicate the problem. Bought a small shop vac (now traveling with us), sucked out what water I could in the carpet and put several fans to help dry it out. Also made the mistake of not removing the slideout travel bar. A few finish nails to re-set, but no major damage. Even the brighter colored string for the warning sign and the extra label I added by the switch didn't help We had the same problem of dumping clothes/linens from the canvas organizer. I built some shelves to alleviate that. Also, running the fridge on propane while traveling is the way to go. Works well, never had a problem (knock on wood). Also added the 12v fridge fan...however, with the amount of times the fridge/freezer is opened, don't know how much it's helping. May be better if I had about 10 of them One thing I haven't tackled is the TV mount issue...hate that shelf. Here's a couple of mods/pics of my 233S. BTW...love the aluminum wheels. Wish I had the $ to put them on mine! Good luck on the rest of the season! Sounds like a great start!
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:32 AM   #6
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Nice write-up and pics. I recall your ordeal in May and wondered how things finally turned out for you. Glad to hear all is good.
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Old 06-15-2011, 03:46 PM   #7
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Glad to hear it went well.
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:53 PM   #8
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Terier - yes, I splurged on this surge protector from RVW - http://www.rvwholesalers.com/catalog/auto-30-amp-over-under-surge-19-0415.html. Felt better having it during the 3-hr lightning storm our second night out.

Buckeyecmpr - nice shelves! you do work on consignment?
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:21 PM   #9
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that is the most expanding trailer i have ever seen! very neat!
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:07 PM   #10
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I just got the portable surge protector about 6 weeks ago and was glad I did when high winds came in non-stop during Memorial Day weekend. I used it again on the following trip and had peace of mind again.
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