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Old 11-24-2019, 10:42 PM   #1
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Shakedown camping complete

Decided at the last minute (after noon on Saturday) to take the new truck/trailer out for the first time and do some boondocking with some friends about an hour from here. There was a LOT we didn't do before we left but that was OK. We had the basics covered. Wife had a cold but insisted we go anyway...
Learned a lot, had a great time... Nothing like sitting around a fire with a dozen good friends out in the wilderness... down below freezing at night here in northern AZ but 60+ during the day...
Lessons learned...
First and foremost... I had figured "oh; gas furnace; plenty of propane; we'll be fine.". Did not think for a second about that electric fan that blows the heat through the trailer... SMH... Turned the temp down on the thermostat into the upper 50s instead of the mid 60s... Had several blankets and a down sleeping bag on the bed so we were fine. I was worried about the batteries; by AM, the little 4-led readout was down to 2. Before we left, I checked the batteries after load had been off for a while, and they were at 12.30V so I think we were fine... But it's something I'll need to think about... keeping those batteries healthy at night...
Also going to invest in a good battery monitor... Will think about generator/solar for a while. We won't do THAT much cold weather dry camping right away so we should be fine...
Lesson 2... don't leave the checklists behind thinking "we'll be fine"... forgot a basic... camp chairs. Doh... fortunately there were plenty of extras... Also didn't pack extra fluids for the truck... got away with that one... this time...
We still need to outfit the trailer with stuff but we knew we were only going to be gone overnight and didn't need to cook; someone else was making a turkey dinner for everyone...
Forgot that our electric kettle won't heat water without AC. And the microwave won't heat water without AC either... Had to borrow a pot to heat water for coffee on the stove.
Dumped tanks at Pilot on the way home... nice to get the 25% off with good sam card. Dumping tanks is a breeze... got the rhino flex and it works great, although I did spend some time last week sanding down the fittings so they fit in the slightly misshapen bumper (someone at the factory tightened the spare time brackets a little too much...).
Put what I thought was about 25 gallons of water in the fresh tank before leaving (no water fill up there). Put ballast in the front (4 flats of water from the store) to counter the weight in the back. That worked very well. But... when I dumped the fresh tank before we left to drive home, there was only about 5 gallons in there. So either we used a LOT more water than I thought, or my calculations on the water fill were a bit off... Water management needs to get nailed down a bit better...
The Equalizer 4-point anti-sway hitch was worth its weight. Trucks passing me at 75 didn't even buffet me a little bit... That was very cool... Wife was very happy about that (she's a worrier).
Next lesson... trailers have BIG blind spots in back. A vehicle needs to be about 10-15 car lengths back before I can tell it's there, and I have extended towing mirrors. Rearview camera has been ordered... ;-)
When we got back home, I decided to winterize the trailer as it will be below freezing this week and we won't use it the next weekend or two. I've read a bunch but wanted to know exactly what the manufacturer recommended. I read through all the manuals I had and found the others online and perused them...
This trailer has an antifreeze port on the back. So here's what I did...
1. Put the hot water heater in bypass mode (2 valves at the back).
2. Drained the water heater (opened the spring valve, then removed the anode (wish there was a better drain method, but cest la vie. Note: the low point hot water drain does NOT drain the water heater!).
3. Removed the canister water filter and replaced the housing. A little tricky to remove without spilling but I pulled it off. Next time I'll just put a ziplock around the housing instead of a pan below it.
4. Opened a couple of gallons of pink juice (Wally world still beat everyone else's prices by 50%).
5. Ran a short length of old hose I had laying around from the antifreeze port down to the gallon jug.
6. Put the water pump into winterize mode (turned the valve at the pump to allow the antifreeze in).
7. Drained the low-point valves.
8. Started the pump. It immediately sucked about half the gallon jug into the filter and started sending it out to the lines. This is where things went a little south on me...
I got a lot of air coming out of the faucets and almost no antifreeze. I tried all the faucets, tried gently shaking the filter housing, tried turning the taps off and letting pressure build. No dice. Spent about 10 minutes scratching my head on this... just kept spitting air instead of fluid. Finally looked at the hose again... the end that threads into the trailer was cockeyed a bit. I wiggled it a bit and immediately the pump started sucking fluid again. The old piece of hose had a very worn end and it could move in the fitting, and it was sucking air instead of fluid. I'll be replacing that with a newer piece of hose and a new male fitting this week...
9. At that point, everything started working just fine. As soon as a faucet started spilling pink juice, I caught it in a bowl and then poured it back into the jug. Did all the cold taps (including the outside shower and toilet) and then did the hot taps. Ended up with about 1 1/2 gallons of pink in the lines. I'll trap it when I de-winterize and save it for re-use.
It was fun to figure out how to do all that and troubleshoot it. The walkaround I got at the dealer was very good, but he neglected to tell me about the water heater bypass valves. Glad I found those and figured out what they were for.

We are getting better at setting things up and tearing them down every time. Learned a ton this time and enjoyed it a LOT. Really looking forward to the next trip! Hope this info helps someone else...

Charlie
Kingman AZ
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Old 11-25-2019, 05:52 AM   #2
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Congratulations and Welcome from New Jersey, sounded like a good shake down run. I like the zip lock bag idea over the filter housing.
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:28 AM   #3
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Every time we load the rv up the pile of stuff we added to the other pile of stuff has gotten smaller.

All fun.

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Old 11-28-2019, 02:47 PM   #4
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Did you pour some antifreeze in the p-traps. They will freeze too. Also I don't save and reuse. You are flushing the water that is trapped in the lines and pushing it out. Therefore what you are catching has been diluted a bit. As inexpensive as it is I just use a new gallon every year.
What I do is drain heater, put in bypass, open low points and all faucets, when gravity has done its thing I close everything, set my compressor to 30 psi, hook to city water, open all valves one at a time several times, same with low point drains. When mostly air comes out I close everything, open antifreeze, switch valves at pump to suck from jug not tank, turn on pump and flush toilet till all pink, (this pushed all water out of pump filter, pump and toilet valve. Even a drop in that valve will break it.) Then pour the rest of the antifreeze in the toilet and all traps. 1 gallon and done.
YMMV.
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