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Old 04-12-2021, 06:55 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 6
Thoughts from our first trip with the Apex Nano 194BHS

We just completed our first, short trip in our Apex Nano 194BHS in my attempt to recreate my childhood experiences camping in our old Go-Tag-Along 18' trailer. I thought I would write down my impressions from this last weekend's experiences.

Overall, we are very happy with the trailer so far. There were a few minor build issues (cabinet doors not quite lined up with latches, a loose wire in the water heater, loose panel covering in the front storage compartment, etc) but nothing that I couldn't fix myself. The full-size dinette in the slider is great, and the interior is quite spacious with the slider out. The full queen bed (60x80) is also great. Other great features are the 50-gallon fresh water tank, roof-top solar, dual propane tanks, larger flush-mount sink w/ sink cover, sink in the bathroom (requirement from my wife), lots of storage, lots of light, 6 cuft fridge w/ separate freezer, a usable tub under the shower and oddly enough the headboard with storage at the top of the bed (we found this to be oddly useful).

Two features present in our trailer that I've not seen in any other pictures/videos are (1) a window for the upper bunk and (2) a plastic/vinyl liner for the shower. These are both awesome and address two of the major concerns I had with this model of trailer from what I had seen in all my various virtual tours of the trailer.

The most significant short-coming is the lack of a range hood. Even worse, one of the speakers is mounted facing down right over the range! This was a very, very poor design decision. I was never able to see this trailer in person before buying it (no stock to be found anywhere) and in the virtual tours, pictures, etc the lack of a range hood didn't jump out at me. The Geo Pro with the slightly smaller window and the range hood is a much better design with respect to the cook top.

A couple other things that I think could have been improved:


a) A better portable range - the grill in the cheap Coleman unit that came with the trailer warped upon first usage.


b) The positioning of the quick-connect LP port isn't great. Would be better if it was behind the wheel and facing backwards (generally speaking, the majority of one's campsite is going to be behind the trailer, not in front of it - would be nice to have the LP port pointing towards the campsite area).



c) The mini-fridge in the rear compartment is 120V, which makes it useless unless one is on a shoreline. A 12V unit (maybe with a switch to cut power if one doesn't want to use it) would have been better. Or a small inverter with a switch to power it from 12V.


d) The 6 cuft fridge/freezer warms up quite a bit while towing with the propane turned off. For a variety of reasons I do not want the propane turned on while towing. What would be better would be to have either a 3-way unit -or- a small inverter sufficient to power the fridge connected via a switch to power the fridge while towing (a manual switch would be fine, doesn't have to be any sort of automatic transfer switch).


e) An external solar port for connecting an external solar panel would be nice. The one of the roof is great, especially while towing. But while camping often the trailer is in the shade, which makes the roof-top panel ineffective. A portable one that could be positioned in the sun would be very useful during camping.


f) The thermostat has a tiny, plastic switch on the top that has to be moved to turn on the heater (appears to be an Atwood 38453). The problem is that the switch is exceedingly stiff and I think it is only a matter of time before it gets broken as a result.


g) Our unit came with a Suburban SDN2U range, which does not have any sort of igniter built-in. An electric igniter would have been nice.


h) The trailer did not come with some pieces that really are required - such as a sewer hose. Yeah, we can just buy them, but really, one cannot use a trailer without having a sewer hose - it should just be a standard package item.


Here are the things that we changed (or are working on changing) that we feel improve the trailer from its original build:


1) Replaced the mattress with a LinenSpa 8" mattress ($179). A little heavier than the original mattress, but far more comfortable.


2) Installed a Solera slide topper. The unit came with the Solera Topper Prep, which was nice, but I ran into two issues. First, the pre-installed mount plates were pushed into the very top right/left corners of the slider wall, which made it impossible to install the bracket in the "upper" position due to the bracket colliding with the 45 degree metal trim that comes down from the outside corners to the slider walls. Placing the mount plates about 1.5" away from the left/right edges would have allowed use of the "upper" bracket mount which would have provided proper spacing between the topper fabric and the top of the frame of the slider. Second, the water gutter installed directly over the slider opening made installation of the slide rail a bit difficult. A shorter gutter, or one that could have been temporarily removed would have made things easier.


3) Rear observation camera. Would be nice if there was a pre-installed mounting for the camera on the back. That would avoid the need to start drilling holes into the walls of the trailer. Without the camera prep I am having to blindly drill holes into the trailer and hope that I do not hit anything.


4) Rope ladder to allow access to the upper bunk. Upper bunk is nearly inaccessible without it.


5) Upgrade for Lithium - replaced the simple 10A PWM controller with an MPPT unit that has a Lithium charge profile, plus a DC-DC charger to provide a Lithium charge profile from the car's alternator input and replaced the power panel with a WF-8735LiS (same as the WF-8735 that came with the unit, but it has a lithium mode). Longer discharge cycle (90% DoD), longer lifespan (2,000+ charge cycles) and less weight (30lbs vs 90lbs for the two lead acid batteries).


6) Installing an external solar port (SAE type connector) so that I can connect a portable solar panel.


7) I am looking at installing a small inverter to power the fridge (with manual switches to change between shoreline power and inverter power) assuming that I can figure out a way to run the wires. Idea is to use it while towing where I can get power from the car's alternator and the solar panel to run the fridge.


8) A battery monitor (AiLi 500A battery monitor) to get better information about battery usage, charge level, etc. Would have liked to install it on the side of the galley by the sink with the radio, but I cannot find a way to route the wire to that location. Will mount on the wall under the bed by the front door.


9) Replacing the thermostat with one that doesn't have an impending risk of breakage due to excessively stiff, tiny plastic switches.


10) Installed insect screening over the external vents for the fridge, water heater and furnace.


11) Looking at installing a Progressive Industries surge protector to guard the trailer's electronics when connected to a shore line.
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Old 05-12-2021, 08:16 PM   #2
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2021
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericbk View Post
We just completed our first, short trip in our Apex Nano 194BHS in my attempt to recreate my childhood experiences camping in our old Go-Tag-Along 18' trailer. I thought I would write down my impressions from this last weekend's experiences.

Overall, we are very happy with the trailer so far. There were a few minor build issues (cabinet doors not quite lined up with latches, a loose wire in the water heater, loose panel covering in the front storage compartment, etc) but nothing that I couldn't fix myself. The full-size dinette in the slider is great, and the interior is quite spacious with the slider out. The full queen bed (60x80) is also great. Other great features are the 50-gallon fresh water tank, roof-top solar, dual propane tanks, larger flush-mount sink w/ sink cover, sink in the bathroom (requirement from my wife), lots of storage, lots of light, 6 cuft fridge w/ separate freezer, a usable tub under the shower and oddly enough the headboard with storage at the top of the bed (we found this to be oddly useful).

Two features present in our trailer that I've not seen in any other pictures/videos are (1) a window for the upper bunk and (2) a plastic/vinyl liner for the shower. These are both awesome and address two of the major concerns I had with this model of trailer from what I had seen in all my various virtual tours of the trailer.

The most significant short-coming is the lack of a range hood. Even worse, one of the speakers is mounted facing down right over the range! This was a very, very poor design decision. I was never able to see this trailer in person before buying it (no stock to be found anywhere) and in the virtual tours, pictures, etc the lack of a range hood didn't jump out at me. The Geo Pro with the slightly smaller window and the range hood is a much better design with respect to the cook top.

A couple other things that I think could have been improved:


a) A better portable range - the grill in the cheap Coleman unit that came with the trailer warped upon first usage.


b) The positioning of the quick-connect LP port isn't great. Would be better if it was behind the wheel and facing backwards (generally speaking, the majority of one's campsite is going to be behind the trailer, not in front of it - would be nice to have the LP port pointing towards the campsite area).



c) The mini-fridge in the rear compartment is 120V, which makes it useless unless one is on a shoreline. A 12V unit (maybe with a switch to cut power if one doesn't want to use it) would have been better. Or a small inverter with a switch to power it from 12V.


d) The 6 cuft fridge/freezer warms up quite a bit while towing with the propane turned off. For a variety of reasons I do not want the propane turned on while towing. What would be better would be to have either a 3-way unit -or- a small inverter sufficient to power the fridge connected via a switch to power the fridge while towing (a manual switch would be fine, doesn't have to be any sort of automatic transfer switch).


e) An external solar port for connecting an external solar panel would be nice. The one of the roof is great, especially while towing. But while camping often the trailer is in the shade, which makes the roof-top panel ineffective. A portable one that could be positioned in the sun would be very useful during camping.


f) The thermostat has a tiny, plastic switch on the top that has to be moved to turn on the heater (appears to be an Atwood 38453). The problem is that the switch is exceedingly stiff and I think it is only a matter of time before it gets broken as a result.


g) Our unit came with a Suburban SDN2U range, which does not have any sort of igniter built-in. An electric igniter would have been nice.


h) The trailer did not come with some pieces that really are required - such as a sewer hose. Yeah, we can just buy them, but really, one cannot use a trailer without having a sewer hose - it should just be a standard package item.


Here are the things that we changed (or are working on changing) that we feel improve the trailer from its original build:


1) Replaced the mattress with a LinenSpa 8" mattress ($179). A little heavier than the original mattress, but far more comfortable.


2) Installed a Solera slide topper. The unit came with the Solera Topper Prep, which was nice, but I ran into two issues. First, the pre-installed mount plates were pushed into the very top right/left corners of the slider wall, which made it impossible to install the bracket in the "upper" position due to the bracket colliding with the 45 degree metal trim that comes down from the outside corners to the slider walls. Placing the mount plates about 1.5" away from the left/right edges would have allowed use of the "upper" bracket mount which would have provided proper spacing between the topper fabric and the top of the frame of the slider. Second, the water gutter installed directly over the slider opening made installation of the slide rail a bit difficult. A shorter gutter, or one that could have been temporarily removed would have made things easier.


3) Rear observation camera. Would be nice if there was a pre-installed mounting for the camera on the back. That would avoid the need to start drilling holes into the walls of the trailer. Without the camera prep I am having to blindly drill holes into the trailer and hope that I do not hit anything.


4) Rope ladder to allow access to the upper bunk. Upper bunk is nearly inaccessible without it.


5) Upgrade for Lithium - replaced the simple 10A PWM controller with an MPPT unit that has a Lithium charge profile, plus a DC-DC charger to provide a Lithium charge profile from the car's alternator input and replaced the power panel with a WF-8735LiS (same as the WF-8735 that came with the unit, but it has a lithium mode). Longer discharge cycle (90% DoD), longer lifespan (2,000+ charge cycles) and less weight (30lbs vs 90lbs for the two lead acid batteries).


6) Installing an external solar port (SAE type connector) so that I can connect a portable solar panel.


7) I am looking at installing a small inverter to power the fridge (with manual switches to change between shoreline power and inverter power) assuming that I can figure out a way to run the wires. Idea is to use it while towing where I can get power from the car's alternator and the solar panel to run the fridge.


8) A battery monitor (AiLi 500A battery monitor) to get better information about battery usage, charge level, etc. Would have liked to install it on the side of the galley by the sink with the radio, but I cannot find a way to route the wire to that location. Will mount on the wall under the bed by the front door.


9) Replacing the thermostat with one that doesn't have an impending risk of breakage due to excessively stiff, tiny plastic switches.


10) Installed insect screening over the external vents for the fridge, water heater and furnace.


11) Looking at installing a Progressive Industries surge protector to guard the trailer's electronics when connected to a shore line.
Very good write up! I ordered my 194 back in February and it was supposed to be completed April 21 but got pushed to May 21. Just got my vin this week, hopefully that is positive news.!

Have you thought about adding a rear ladder? I’m shocked that I haven’t seen anyone do this or speak about it yet.

I am also debating installing a 12v range hood since there appears to be a led light above the range. Haven’t seen a 194 in person yet. I saw a 185 and was impressed with the quality. I knew the the 194 would be a better option for a family of 4.

How is the towing aspect? I haven’t towed anything this large yet, wondering about sway or bouncing since it’s just a leaf axle setup!

Well hopefully l will have mine in the next couple of weeks.
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