2021 248RBS Six Month Review
We have owned our 2021 Coachmen RV Freedom Express Ultra Lite 248RBS for about six months. We’ve trailed it over 5,000 miles. We tow it with a Ford F-150 STX 4x4 with the 3.5 Twin Turbo and the Max Tow package. We use a Blue Ox Sway-Pro system.
All in all, we are quite satisfied with the trailer. But we have had a few problems, and we’ve made several modifications to make it a bit more comfortable.
The first thing we did was replace all four Chinese tires with Good Year Endurance tires. We simply do not trust the OEM Chinese tires. We found the 4” rear bumper sewer hose storage to be woefully inadequate, so we added a 5” square tube of equal length just below the original equipment. We can easily store 100’ of sewer hose and the elbow, too! We added a screen door crossbar handle to make closing the door easier. We installed a second TV on the wall in the bedroom. We use a bungee to keep it in place while traveling. We fabricated two boards to use instead of lowering the dining table to create a bed. We store them on the port side of the bed in the master bedroom. By using them we avoid having to raise and lower the dining table to set up and tear down the second bed.
On our first camping trip, we noticed water accumulating on the bathroom floor after using the shower. We opened the access panel to see if there was a leak under the shower pan. We found that there is no support for the shower pan, and when someone stands in the shower the floor flexes and causes the seal around the shower drain to allow water to leak onto the floor, under the pan. We also found the joint connecting the shower wall panels to the shower floor pan was not properly caulked. We fabricated a floor support and installed it under the shower pan, and we caulked the wall-to-floor joint. This eliminated the leaking and we have had no water accumulation since.
The freshwater input connection on the back of the toilet leaked from day one. We would tighten it, and the leak would stop for a while, but it always resumed leaking after a few days. We disconnected it and found it had been cross-threaded at the factory during the installation of the toilet. We used a single wrap of Teflon tape and carefully reinstalled the connection. It has not leaked since.
The Suburban-Atwood water heater failed on our first trip. It would not turn on in either mode (electric or gas). Using a multimeter we determined the control board had failed. We ordered a new one and installed it. But the performance was still unpredictable. Upon investigation we learned the two thermostats that measure the water temperature do not always make proper contact with the water heater tank, and deliver often inaccurate information to the circuit board. An application of thermo-electric paste to the contact area on each thermostat solved the problem.
The barrel locks on the storage compartment doors used the same 731 key as every other RV in the campground. We replaced them with tubular cam locks.
We don’t have much use for the griddle-grill that came with the 248RBS. We sold it and replaced it with a more versatile Coleman Road Trip Excursion, which connects easily to the propane source beneath the outdoor kitchen.
We added quick-disconnect fittings to the municipal water supply connection, and to the water filter. We also utilize a brass Y connector to give us a bit more flexibility with the freshwater connection.
We replaced the kitchen and bathroom faucets with Moen residential faucets. These are far more substantial and we just like them better than the OEM faucets. We did not replace the faucet in the outdoor kitchen.
We fabricated additional shelving for the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, yielding a significant increase in useable shelf space.
We use an Amazon Firestick to insure we have all of the same TV options as we enjoy at home. Most of the time we connect it to the internet using our cell phone as a hotspot. We did not upgrade the installed Winegard antenna.
Although the trailer has a ducted AC system, we found it to be extremely noisy. We fabricated an AC silencing device, and it worked well, but it caused a 30% drop in airflow to the various vents. So we purchased a commercial AC silencer, which isn’t quite as effective at noise reduction as our own fabrication, but it does not significantly restrict the flow of air. And the noise levels are now quite acceptable.
We added 2” foam mattress covers to both the bedroom and the dinette sleeping quarters. This has made a big improvement in our sleeping comfort.
We carry a 42-gallon portable waste tank strapped to the ladder on the rear of the trailer. If we anticipate several nights of boondocking we carry a Honda 3100 inverter generator in the bed of the F-150. A Lear fiberglass topper keeps everything in the bed of the truck safe and dry. We use a Rack Jack crane to lift the generator in and out of the truck.
We carry 100’ of electric cable to insure the ability to reach any electric source.
We purchased the LevelMate system to help us make sure the trailer is always perfectly level when we unhook the truck. It works with our smartphone and is always accurate. We use semi-elliptical chocks to achieve side-to-side balance, and the tongue jack gets us level fore and aft. The LevelMate system even compensates for the slide weight, even before we put it out.
We use a DeWalt battery-operated drill with a ¾” socket to quickly and effortlessly lower and raise the stabilizer jacks.
We carry a torque wrench to insure the lugs are properly tightened on all four trailer wheels. Usually, they need no adjustment, but every now and then we’ll have to tighten one or two lug nuts. We think of it as cheap insurance.
One item we are less than thrilled with is the window shade that came with the trailer. They are great… until they aren’t. The cords used by the manufacturer tend to destroy themselves during normal raising and lowering of the shades. As they fail, we are replacing them with roller shades, which we purchase at Lowes or Home Depot.
Another less-than-stellar installation is the level indicating sensors in the grey and black water tanks. They are hardly ever accurate, and the black water tank shows full all the time, even after we have dumped. This is because toilet paper and fecal matter tend to stick to the sensors, causing them to give false readings. The trailer has a flushing system that works about 30% of the time. We purchased a Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik which we use every two- or three-days when traveling. It is effective where the factory solution is not.
The Lippert Solid Step entry stairs are fantastic! We like everything about them except for the height adjustment pins. They are knuckle-busters and as the steps get exposed to moisture the detent balls on the adjustment pins tend to corrode just enough to make them nearly impossible to remove. We replaced them with marine-grade pins with large pull rings, which completely resolved the issue.
The retractable awning provides plenty of shade when we need it, but if it gets the least bit damp before we retract it, there will be mildew streaks on the underside the next time it is opened. We don’t like to use chlorine bleach anywhere on the trailer because it is extremely corrosive. We’ve found that a strong solution of sodium percarbonate applied from a spray bottle cleans up the stains and makes the underside of the awning like new. We get it in powder form and mix it as needed.
Cabinet door hinges are another area of construction where the manufacturer should have spent a little more money. The cabinet doors are always out of adjustment. We know how to readjust them, and they are fine as long as we are stationary. But after a few hundred miles of road travel, we always have to readjust them. They are just cheaply made. We will probably replace them sometime in the near future.
We have not bothered to take the trailer back to the dealer. We have not encountered any problem we were unable to resolve ourselves. Of course, we will bring it back to the dealer for the annual inspection, because that is how we maintain the ‘warranty for life’ that came with the unit.
All things considered, we are pleased with our purchase. We will continue to make repairs as needed. And we will likely reengineer some of the components as we think of improvements we want. Based on our experience so far, I would not hesitate to purchase another RV from this manufacturer.