Alright, you asked for it.
I'll add, go solar as soon as possible. Your battery woes will be over. I have a whole other diatribe on solar.
Please excuse the book. Brace yourself.
This is the mother of all posts, and some may not apply to your camper. A few items apply only to the FR/RW HW-277 or High Walls in general (e.g. stairs, range top, etc.).
BUT, since we have similar campers, and you're new to this one, I shared a lot.
This is an accumulation of responses to numerous posts in no particular order. If you copy and paste it into a word processor, you can do keyword searches. Anything that is worded strangely may still be in the form of an answer to a specific question. Most of this stuff was learned the hard way.
We store the bathroom door on the dinette. No special effort required.
We stack in this order...from the window wall inward:
- Backrest cushion with collapsible hanging "cabinets" on top;
- Tent pole roof pipes;
- 2 Safety braces for lift poles - nested together;
- Bathroom door - bathroom interior side down;
- Bagged folding aluminum picnic table;
- Extra queen sized comforter on top of the pipes, safety braces, door;
- Then I pull the shower and privacy curtains into the dinette area and let them rest on that pile;
We travel long distances on rough, washboard gravel roads, and nothing is ever out of place when we get to our destination.
One trick for a smoother ride is to soften the tires for low-speed, off-road running. I believe the factory spec for tire pressure is 60 pounds. At low speeds (less than 30 mph) on gravel roads, heat buildup from tire flex is not an issue, so I lower the pressure to 40 pounds, and the trailer doesn't shake itself apart...and stored items stay put.
I have a Viair portable air compressor, and it makes short work of inflating the tires for highway travel.
I have this one https://smile.amazon.com/Viair-93-VI...air+compressor
Note that it does not use a cigarette lighter socket. Due to electric current limitations, cigarette lighter-powered compressors are slow. I have one that I used once, and then put it in storage. This Viair connects to the camper or tow vehicle battery with alligator clips. This enables a much higher amperage draw to run a much better pump. I use my jumper cables as an "extension cord" simply by clamping one jumper lead to the insulation on the other lead then connecting the compressor clips to the jumper cable ends. Works like a charm, and the Viair will add 20 pounds to each camper tire in a couple of minutes.
If you don't have a weight distribution hitch, but your tow vehicle wallows about a bit while towing, I highly recommend the Firestone suspension air bags. My Ram 1500 would porpoise a bit even with my old 2000 pound Viking PUP in tow. When I bought the HW-277, I had the bags installed, and the difference is night and day. With a 400 pound tongue weight and a bed full of 28 gallons of fresh water, a generator, firewood, two coolers, 4 chairs, and so on, I run the bags at 25 to 30 lbs. pressure, and I add about 5 pounds of pressure to my rear tires to accommodate the nearly 1000 pounds combined bed load and tongue weight, and the truck rides as if it's empty...smoothly and level, with no porpoising over undulations in the road. And the nice thing is that you can find the "just right" point by adding or releasing pressure.
Added benefit: you're not shining your headlights at the sky, blinding oncoming drivers and vehicles in front of you.
One recommendation from the installing dealer is to keep about 5 pounds of pressure in the bags at all times so they don't collapse in an odd way.
You don't mention your tow vehicle, but my PUP is about 4000 pounds ready to roll with about 400 pounds tongue weight. The air bags might be all you need. And if your tow is a pickup, those airbags will come in handy for big loads...and you can fill them with your Viair.
Put a towel under the glass cover for the range when on the road. Place the towel so the ends of the towel project beyond the stove. This will soften the ride for that glass cover. Check the plastic bolts that hold the cover together regularly, and check under the stove top and tighten all the screws holding the burners and so on in place. Get some Loctite for these screws and other fasteners, because any kind of rough, washboard road will shake the stove and other parts of the camper apart.
Also watch for loose screws and acorn nuts on all the cabinetry. Vibration is the enemy. The fold-down walls in the bathroom, in particular, have all kinds of hardware that likes to come loose. Two screws into a wood block on the rear bathroom wall stripped out in no time, so I used Gorilla Glue and slightly larger, longer screws to make the repair. No problems since then.
The hanger for stowing the main door - above the door opening - is an angled plate held in place by 4 wood screws in particle board. At the first sign of trouble, skip the larger screw and glue step and go right to stainless bolts thru the sidewall with nylon locking nuts. This plate takes a lot of abuse, and screws in particle board won't cut it. The bolts are sheltered under the bag awning, so leaking isn't an issue. Use "round headed" bolts (say 3/16") with the head outside under the awning, a flat washer in and out, and the locking nuts inside. If you have a Dremel with a cutoff wheel, you can trim the bolts flush inside, but that's not essential, because the aluminum door frame bottom is all that would make contact with the ends of the bolts. If you don't maintain this bracket, when you lift the roof of the camper, the only thing holding the door will be the fabric snap straps at the top of the door. If you rip those out, they are attached to the roof, and the repair will be much more complex.
Get a divided plastic parts container, and stock it with various sizes of screws, nuts and bolts. Puts some tools in a drawer (4-way screw driver/nut driver, slip-joint pliers, water-pump pliers, and a small adjustable wrench.) Even if you carry a full toolbox in your tow vehicle, the convenience of having these tools handy to touch up the inside after you're setup will ensure you attend to business right away. A loose acorn nut today will be a lost acorn nut by the time you get home.
Check the roof caulk, especially at the molded plastic corners. Mine sort of shrunk out of sight, so I just filled the void with more sealant, and no more problems.
Make sure your ceiling fan cover is snug during rain and especially in storage. Ours is outside, and apparently we stored it with the cover slightly loose (locked but not snugged down tight). We thought we had a roof leak, because the rear bed was wet when we opened it up. It turns out that rain can bounce off the roof, up under the cover, bounce off the cover and go down through the fan opening. When the fan cover is snug, no leaks.
There's a little "box"-like item on the positive terminal of your battery. I believe it's a breaker. It's prone to aggressive corrosion. Mine was perforated with holes after corrosion got to it. If it fails, you won't have power. Buy a spare and throw it in your toolbox. The spare I bought has a sturdy plastic case and is less prone to corrosion. About $6.
If you have a heated innerspring mattress, you may not like it. We added a 2" memory foam topper, but that was less than satisfactory, and it made it difficult to close the camper. This year, we have a new 5" memory and gel foam mattress - about $210 delivered. The camper closes easily, and the bed is comfortable.
Got generator? If so, get a 100' 12-3 extension cord, a 3/8" hardened steel chain, and a couple good padlocks. If circumstances allow, you can locate your generator far away from your camper to keep the noise levels low. Lock the generator to a big tree so it doesn't grow legs. (Thieves are known to take them while they are running, and leave them running as they walk away...the running generator gives them cover for their footsteps, and you still hear the generator.) In many cases, moving the generator back into the woods, away from the road, also makes it more difficult for thieves to escape with it undetected. They have to cover more ground to get to their vehicle. And they can't see the shiny red Honda in your campsite.
By the way, Honda’s are pretty and all, but I have a 2 KW Generac that is only a couple of dB louder, puts out 200 watts more power, and has seen me through power outages at home (fridge, freezer, computers and router). Mine’s seen 3 seasons, and I used it for a spontaneous trip to the Pike National Forest in March. It cost about 40% less than a Honda. Generac Power Systems | Portable Generator | iX Series | iX2000 | Generac Power Systems
Hondas are better, but not $400 better.
I keep my generator dry with an industrial 42 gallon garbage bag stretched over the handle and staked down in the shape of pup tent. I leave the exhaust and power distribution ends exposed for cooling and exhaust flow, with about 2” of garbage bag extending beyond each end of the machine. The generator runs cool, and it will stand up to a rainstorm while running. I keep my hammer tucked under the ‘tent’ to pull one stake on the starter-rope side, then replace the stake. I can simply reach under the tent to shut it off.
Back to shaking things apart. The drain pipes under the sink are regular household items. The fittings tend to come apart. 1) Always check them before using the sink. 2) Use your water-pump pliers to snug up the fittings. 3) Apply Gorilla Tape to the "nut" and pipe to hold the nut from turning. Mine came apart several times before I learned my lesson.
Under the floor, the gray water plumbing cracked. This was a "real" problem and a design flaw. Movement and vibration stressed the 1 1/2" pipe enough to break a "T." Solution? Fernco makes wonderful rubber fittings. 1-1/2 in. Flexible PVC DWV Tee-PQT-150 - The Home Depot
I needed a length of straight drain pipe, some couplers (I think 2), some cleaner and glue, and the Fernco "T" with hose clamps. I had to cut out the original "T", lengthen at least two of the remaining pipes to reach the new "T", and install the "T."
This was a bad design, because the plumbing probably would have survived if adequately supported. But my off-road adventures broke it in about one year. A dealer repair would likely have been inadequate if all they did was replace to the factory standard.
Drain your gray water regularly--3 or 4 times a weekend. A 12 gallon black tank is plenty for about 4 or 5 days if you're careful. But a 12 gallon gray water tank will fill up in a hurry. We start with about 25 gallons in the holding tank and 28 gallons in jugs in the truck bed. Do the math. That gray water has to go somewhere.
We camp near lakes a lot, with the door facing the water on a side slope. That puts the gray water dump valve very close to the ground, so I can't get a bucket under it. I have a fitting that adapts from 1 1/2" to hose end, and I use a short length of garden hose into a 5 gallon bucket. https://smile.amazon.com/Valterra-T0...y+water+adaptr
PUPS have been draining gray water into buckets forever. Most don't have gray water holding tanks. You can dump the bucket on a happy tree (boondocking), or into a (pit) toilet (campground). But if you don't drain the gray water regularly, it will fill your shower.
Note that the garden hose adapter will block solids such as coffee grounds from flushing out of the pipe. I prefer this when boondocking and watering trees. So I leave some gray water in the tank to slosh about during the drive home to clean the tank, and then do the last dump without the adapter when I get home. That flushes out the solid residue from dishwashing. You can do this at a dump station, or because this is just sink water, on the ground or storm drain. I have a septic system with manhole covers at home, so I dump black water into the septic, and I can dump gray water residue into the septic, too. (You'll notice that all those tent campers dump dishwater on the ground, too.) But be discreet if you dump on the ground or storm drain at home, because someone may mistake your actions for dumping black water.
I have an outdoor kitchen, so my last step is to open the gray dump valve and run the garden hose straight down the outdoor sink drain to thoroughly flush out the gray tank.
If you want to dump your gray tank at a dump station, many create an adapter that fits a standard black-tank hose. Someone else’s illustration: http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...hmentid=137941
There are a number of similar designs. And these are great ideas.
My concern is having to use separate hose for black and gray water and dealing with the optics of appearing to dump black water into a “bucket.”
But you could also use this hose, 1 1/2 in. Discharge Hose Kit-66000-WYN1 - The Home Depot
and two of these fittings: https://www.zoro.com/lasco-adapter-p...Q&gclsrc=aw.ds
with hose clamps. Cut a short length of hose for one fitting and about 10’ of hose for the other, and you can use this at the campsite and/or the dump station. The sump-pump hose is cheap and, after sanitizing the end from dump station use, it can be stored in the side cubby of the trailer so as not to get contaminated by the black hose in the storage tube or bumper.
There is a somewhat heated discussion on the “ethics of gray water” here: http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...er-133510.html
I use mine to water trees in the forest when boondocking. I RARELY go to state/national park and/or commercial campgrounds.
Hopkins makes the best levels. Why? Because they have a straight lower edge that you can align with the bottom of the frame to make installation easy. Many other levels are just as good or better in other ways, but you must first get the trailer perfectly level with a carpenter's level, and then be sure the bubble levels are installed level, and then install them. With the Hopkins, all you do is get the bottom edge of the plastic aligned with the frame, and you're good. These things break easily - especially the ones on the front cross member - and a quick field repair is important. Forget the bubbles that fit on top of the A-frame and other nonsense. I have one of these, and it never comes close to being right, and it's too insensitive to be of any value. These are much more accurate and easy to use. https://smile.amazon.com/Hopkins-852...r+bubble+level
Bring a small shovel. You should have leveling blocks or wedges for under the downhill tires, but you can also dig a shallow hole and drop the uphill tires into the hole so your downhill side isn't way up in the air. Our favorite spot is lakeside, and none of the sites are level. Before using the hole technique, our bottom stair might be so high that we'd need a step stool on the ground as another stair.
This may have been unique to my camper, but someone at the factory drove a screw through the floor right above the fill tube for the fresh water holding tank. The screw was perfectly aligned with the fill tube (plastic flex line), and it projected through the floor about 3/8". By the end of my first season, I noticed a slight drip from the fill hose after I stopped filling the tank. I thought nothing of it. By the end of the second season, the drip was a small stream! I had to cut the hose and splice in a repair. 1 1/4" plastic or chrome "waste" (drain) tubing for bathroom sinks is a perfect fit. 1 1/4" barbed fittings for plastic pressure line are too big. I cut the pipe, moved some wires and the air vent hose out of the way, and then used the Dremel with cutoff wheel to trim the tip of the screw. Then I slipped hose clamps on the fill pipe and inserted the plastic drain pipe repair. Tip:
Cut the drain pipe to about 6 to 8 inches in length. As soon as you cut the fill pipe, it "shrinks". I cut my pipe to 4", and it was a hell of a struggle to stretch the fill pipe and hold it in place while I tightened the hose clamps.
A longer drain pipe will make that repair easier, and you can stretch the hose once you have some friction from the hose clamps. Then, using a zip-tie with a screw hole anchor, I replaced the factory zip tie to keep the whole mess from sagging below the frame in harm's way.
A lot of work in a tight space for sloppy workmanship at the factory!!
Before this happens, I recommend that you slide under the trailer and CAREFULLY feel around for any sharp points above the fill pipe. Those screws are sharp! If you find something, you could repair it by simply adding some peel-and-stick self-adhesive foam around the screw tip as a spacer - and save yourself a couple hours of work and aggravation.
Ignoring the problem meant that I'd lose about 5 to 10 gallons of water from my 25 gallon holding tank, because the fill pipe enters the holding tank low on the side of the tank.
If you're into boondocking, you have the perfect camper for it! We make it 4 days before we run out of power, water, and black tank capacity. Things that help stretch your time:
~ Make sure all the bulbs in the camper are LEDs...both interior and exterior lights - mine had some incandescent, but there are LEDs that swap in the same sockets.
~ We use a propane mantle lantern and LED lanterns for most lighting. We seldom use the camper lights. A bonus is the mantle heats the interior.
~ This saves the power for the furnace and the water pump and the spark ignition for the water heater.
~ We don't use the stereo. Ours has a removable face plate and that stops parasitic losses. If not, add a line switch to kill power to the stereo/TV. We use a rechargeable Bluetooth speaker for music.
~ In cold, windy weather, the furnace runs a lot - sometimes continuously. We save heat by sealing up inevitable cracks around the door with Gorilla tape. This can make a huge difference. It also helps to eyeball the door frame after setup. Sometimes a turn or two up or down on a stabilizer jack or the tongue jack can square up the door frame in the tub.
~ This year, we are going solar. I just ordered this setup, and I can add up to 3 more panels if needed. Colorado is sunny, so one should do it. https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
After researching a lot, the panels all appear to be from the same manufacturer, there is little difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline, and the key item in the decision is the charge controller. The PWM is adequate. There are better ones. The charge controller must be kept dry. I plan to install mine outside, near the battery box in a weather-proof electrical box. If it works well, we may be less frugal with power.
~ We have 4 x 7-gallon freshwater jugs: https://smile.amazon.com/Reliance-Pr...ater+container
I love these. I got a couple spare caps, and I adapted one cap with a plastic 1/2" pipe thread to 1/2" "barb" fitting and a 12" clear plastic hose held on with a hose clamp. I can push the hose into the freshwater fill and dump a container of water into the holding tank in a couple of minutes. This is all the more important, because on a highwall, that fill fitting is way up in the air. A funnel is a horrible option. We always have water to spare - even for a shower.
~ By dealing with fresh water and power, our only limitation for boondocking is blackwater capacity, and if we are desperate, there are always the bushes...and another use for that shovel. And, because we do a lot of “4-Wheeling” over mountain passes and into the national forests, we are frequently away from bathrooms and pit toilets for many hours. To make life “comfortable” I threw one of these in my truck-bed toolbox. Beats the hell out of squatting or sitting on a log. We’ve never had to resort to using it with the camper, but it’s an option. https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Camp...or+toilet+seat
Speaking of blackwater. This device is worth its weight in gold. The hose fitting and the extra gate valve enable you to dump your black tank, close the 2nd gate valve, turn on the hose, and partially fill the black tank and dump repeatedly. The clear pipe enables you to see when the output is clear. Then you close the gate valve on the trailer drain, turn on the hose, and thoroughly rinse your dump hose. The device will fit in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag and find a home in the cubby in the side of the slide. I added brass quick connects to mine to simplify hooking up the garden hose. https://www.amazon.com/Camco-39062-F...r+hose+adapter
Speaking of garden hose. When filling the freshwater tank at home, connecting to campground water, or cleaning up after flushing the black tank, I use Clorox household cleaner with bleach to clean hose ends, valves, the camper water inputs and so on. I spray cleaner into all hose fittings, put them together, and then flush out everything with fresh water until there’s no cleaner contaminating the water. I also clean my freshwater tank filling hose adapter. https://www.amazon.com/Camco-40003-W...illing+adapter
This eliminates any concerns over contamination of garden hose fittings being introduced into our drinking water.
If you’re in a campground that has limited water spigots – say just one communal spigot for tent campers – and if you have enough freshwater hose, you can hookup your camper to that lone spigot and still share with this: 90 Degree Water Faucet - Camco 22463 - Faucets & Inlets - Camping World
. I have one that’s solid brass, but this illustrates nicely even though the demo hookup in the photo is wrong. The female connects to the campground spigot, and your hose goes to the male. But you see that the extra valve allows others to fill containers, etc. and not get mad at you for tying up the water.
Be sure to have a pressure reducing valve for campground water. With no demand, campground water pressure can blow out your camper’s plumbing, and all the shocks from others turning faucets on and off can be hard on your camper’s plumbing: Standard Water Regulator - Lead Free - Valterra A01-1120VP - Faucets & Inlets - Camping World
If you use campground shore power, a surge protector is a good investment. Portable Surge Guard with Diagnostics, 30 Amp - TRC 44280 - Surge Protectors - Camping World
Some of the CO/Propane detectors seem to be overly sensitive to voltage. The factory documentation says these detectors should work down to 7 volts, but many are experiencing low power warning beeps at 12 volts. There is a whole thread on this topic elsewhere in the forum, so I won't repeat it here.
You need a "ladder." This is what I have, and it fits in the camper entrance with the top "hooked" around the slide for the dinette. https://smile.amazon.com/Rubbermaid-...p+stool+ladder
You'll need this to deploy the bag awning, and on unlevel sites, you'll need it to secure the weather flaps over the lift pipes and the sewer vent line.
Get some cheap knee pads at Home Depot for setup and teardown. You'll be up and down on your knees more often than you realize, and knee pads make that much less painful...and faster.
It's a hell of a climb up into those beds. I bought two of these Rubbermaid steps, cut out the back with a jigsaw to fit the factory bed step. They nest upside down in the bathroom - and hold our toiletries - when traveling. They not only provide two steps compared to just one, they are taller, and the top step gives much better footing. They are very light but sturdy. https://smile.amazon.com/Rubbermaid-...bermaid+stairs
A nice addition to the bathroom is a TP holder. Peel and stick: https://smile.amazon.com/Qiorange-St...peel+and+stick
If you want to shower, put the TP outside the bathroom and this folds flat enough to not interfere with the shower curtain. It doesn't interfere with folding the bathroom walls. One day, when the peel-and-stick gives up the ghost, I'll shoot some screws into the wall to hold it. For now, it's sturdy and took only seconds to install.
If you have a Dometic bag awning, buy some spare sockets for the ball ends on the awning frame. They are fragile, but cheap and easy to replace. https://www.amazon.com/Dometic-Ball-.../dp/B00DV2Z2T8
I think I paid about $15 for 10 of them from the dealer, so they seem expensive at Amazon.
In my opinion, and in windy Colorado, the awning does better when the main pipes are vertical and staked to the ground. I use parachute cord from the awning frame to stakes to further stabilize the awning in the wind. Yes, a trip hazard. But you can position the guy ropes about 18" out from the vertical poles, so tripping risk is reduced substantially. These stakes, but in orange, are great: https://smile.amazon.com/SE-9NRC20-G...ds=tent+stakes
We use them for our 10' x 10' canopy, too.
When traveling, our 10' x 10' canopy (in storage bag) fits nicely in the space between the slide and the cabinets on the other side of the hallway. We buy our canopy at Ace Hardware for about $70. They will be going on sale anytime now. Last year, I bought a spare, but ours has seen about 5 seasons and is still going strong. Our spare is in storage.
In the opening section about storing the bathroom door, I mentioned a folding picnic table. Since we boondock a lot, we have this: https://www.houzz.com/photos/3953909...folding-tables
It will seat four, and it fits in the black bag pictured. These are handy, too. Since they are aluminum, they can hold a Smokey Joe grill without melting: https://www.amazon.com/Camco-51891-A...+camping+table
We keep about 5 old throw rugs in the camper to protect the floor. Colorado has lots of very course (pebbles) sand, so we track in lots of grit. When traveling, I use three or four of the rugs in the open space between the bathroom and the cabinets on the other side of the hallway to protect the walls from the grills (gas and charcoal), grill frame, and grill baskets and wok. I run the rugs up the walls for padding, and they catch charcoal dust, grease from the gas grill, and so on. I also use a “boat seat cushion” to protect the front of the fridge from flip-top tubs, my bucket, the end tables, and other detritus.
We have two incorrigible little dogs, and this outdoor pen is a safe place for them. If we let them loose, they’d chase every other dog, squirrel, deer, coyote, bear, or mountain lion. Not too bright. There are many of these to choose from, but this style folds flat and will stand on edge in the doorway when underway. We use a small folding wire kennel for them at bedtime, too. https://www.amazon.com/PETMAKER-58-6...utdoor+dog+pen
If you have a bigger dog, they come in higher heights, and you can string two together to make a bigger pen.
I also bring an inexpensive Li-Ion dustbuster to clean the joint. Used judiciously, this vacuum will last for days without recharging, and it stores in a corner formed by the Rubbermaid stairs and the shower wall. https://smile.amazon.com/BLACK-DECKE...ion+dustbuster
The best part is that it really sucks.
VERY IMPORTANT. The winch lift for the camper seems to be trouble-prone. There are two key weaknesses:
1) The relays that supply power to the motor do not seem to be outdoor relays, but they are exposed to lots of dirt and moisture. Replacement relays are readily available. I used silicone to seal the relay cases of my replacements. I don't know if that will improve their life or not, but the cases were not sealed, and both relays failed at the end of last season.
2. All use limit switches to stop the motor at max height and minimum height. (You can, of course, just pay attention, but the limit switch accommodates the inattentive.
) Some limit switches are simple. But mine was a bizarrely complex mechanism that only a mad scientist could invent. I spent 22 years in commercial broadcast TV, and all satellite dishes, microwave dishes, and so on have limit switches, but NOTHING like this. My limit switch is depicted in part #2 in this diagram. https://www.tesstools.net/P92001_Pop...rts_s/2463.htm
Mine is an orange cylinder, about the diameter of a banana and 6" long. It had an outer plastic gear that engaged with the main, steel lift gear. The plastic gear failed, AND the "key" and "keyway" that allowed the gear to engage the drive drum sheared off, too.
Since I do pay attention when I raise and lower the camper, and since the electric switches in the limit switch are "normally closed" (always on unless a small plunger is depressed), I disabled the limit switch. A straight piece of wire would be the same. I think it is a poor design, and, at $38 a pop to prevent stupidity, I'd no more replace it than shoot myself in the foot. In the harsh environment on the A-frame of a trailer, it's exposed to dust, dirt, pebbles, water and anything else that sprays up off your tow vehicle tires. I disassembled the device, made sure the numerous gears, shafts and so on were "neutralized" so they would not interfere with the winch operation, used a VOM meter to verify "continuity" through the switch - a continuous circuit - and put it back. I'll buy a new one for installation when I sell the camper one day.
3) The manual override works great so long as you have a good cordless drill (and perhaps a spare battery) to drive it. Hand cranking would take forever. It's easy, but way too slow. Lifting the camper roof with the hand crank might take an hour!! A cordless drill will raise or lower the roof about half as fast as the winch motor. All you need is one of these: https://smile.amazon.com/Camco-57363...er+jack+socket
And you can use your drill and this socket to raise and retract the stabilizer jacks, too.
Useful instruction on lift winches: Wicked Winch - Lift System Troubleshooting for Flagstaff Camping Trailers | Roberts Sales
On blackwater tank cleaning. A box of nitrile gloves is a must have. You can get them at Home Depot, Costco, and so on, or order online. After doing the dirty deed, they pull off inside out for disposal.
Also, pack a crummy old hose and necessary fittings to use at dump stations. Some dump stations provide a regular hose, but many have nonstandard ends or no ends to allow you to connect to that Camco dump valve/flush mentioned previously. An old, 25' garden hose can spend its last days on this dirty job. Add a quick connect on the working end of the hose to connect to your dump valve. Keep the water-pump pliers handy if you need to remove the dump station's hose, because that will be on there tightly. I keep my "nasty" hose in a plastic garbage bag, and store it in the cubby in the slide-out/dinette.
The outside cubby in the dinette area is a big, open cavern under the dinette bench that ends at a cabinet door inside. So, at the outdoor access door, you'll probably have blackwater "stuff". But on the inside cabinet side, you'll have "clean" stuff - towels, pots and pans, whatever. There is no partition to divide those items.
I installed a lightweight partition using some "parting stop" (3/4" by 1/2" mill-work) as "blocking" and a scrap of thin plywood. A little Gorilla glue and a couple of screws will hold the blocking in place. Don't overdo the Gorilla glue, because it expands and is messy. Let it dry, then apply the plywood to the "dirty" side of the blocks with a couple small screws but NO GLUE. If you need to move the partition one day, you can unscrew the panel, leave the blocking, and reposition it to suit your new needs. Also, this way, if you push hard on the plywood with a hose or something, the panel won't get pushed off the blocking. The screws holding the blocking to the sidewalls of the box can be removed after the glue dries. Depending on positioning, you may be able to use a clamp to hold the block in place on the "footwell" side of the dinette to avoid using screws, but if you use screws for this block, small black screws thru the footwell into the block will be unobtrusive. "Automotive" trim screws are nice because some come with a little washer and look very finished. The glue does the work. The screws only serve as temporary clamps.
Decide where your partition goes depending on the space you need for the "clean stuff." The remaining space on the "dirty" side (U-shaped dinettes) will be ample for anything you would care to store with the "dirty" stuff.
I know some of the FR PUPs come with U-shaped dinettes, and some come with booths, and the storage from the outdoor side varies a lot depending on the type of dinette. I have the U-shaped dinette, but even the booth storage can be divided to isolate clean from dirty. In a booth dinette, you may need to prioritize the dirty side and use what's left for clean.
An extended reply on electrical issues posted by someone who had no 12-volt power inside the camper....
First, this is actually a simple problem. Don't be intimidated. If you're not the "handyman" type, a friend or neighbor will be able to help. This stuff isn't rocket science. Have your "helper" read this. It should make perfect sense to a person who understands simple electricity. This is not "electronics." It's household level electricity.
Things to rule out based on your comments:
• Battery. If it moves one way or the other, the battery should at least attempt to raise the roof. Dead silence is the key here.
• Breaker. Same as above.
• Wiring...a remote possibility. A visual inspection will answer. Is there visible corrosion on the connectors? If so, remove, clean (baking soda and water with a tooth brush) and replace. That's very unlikely but possible.
Broken or dangling wire? Highly unlikely, but take a look. It would be obvious from visual inspection.
If you want to rule out connections, get some needle nose pliers and remove and replace each connector to ensure that it's making good contact. Very unlikely to help.
BEFORE YOU TEST, DISCONNECT THE BATTERY.
Based on your comments, my first instinct is that a relay is bad. The relays have a brand (probably Durakool) and a number. You can order them on Amazon, or they may be available from a local car parts store...as well as the RV dealers nearby. I'd give this option about a 90% chance of being it.
Another possibility is that your "limit switch" is broken at one end of the limit of travel. A broken limit switch is fairly likely, but having it be broken at the extreme limit really reduces the chances of it being the problem.
You can use an allen wrench to adjust the limits (and there may be a plastic allen tool in your bag of owner's manuals.
"Rock" the allen screw back and forth about 1/2 turn in each direction, then return it to its original setting. The angled end of the allen wrench will serve as a pointer so you can do this with quite a bit of precision. If the allen screw moves easily in both directions, that limit setting is probably fine. Do the same thing on the other. If you can move one way but not the other, you are at the extreme limit, and it's likely that by adjusting the screw a couple of turns in the direction it moves easily, it will restore power.
Symptoms of a limit switch maladjustment or failure are usually more like the roof goes up but stops 6" short of fully raised. No movement at all points to a relay failure.
While you're in there, if you have the type of limit switch I do, examine the plastic "ring" gear. It may be broken from the sale demo. They are fragile...a poor design. If so, you can simply adjust the limit switch as above, remove the cheap plastic (broken) ring gear to disable the drive mechanism that makes the switches function, and do without the limit switch. Just pay attention (as you should) when raising and lowering the roof. I'll hasten to add, however, that if you have ANY doubts about your ability to manage the roof winch without the safety of a limit switch, replace it. I find it superfluous, but, let's say your teenage kid might raise and lower the roof....get a replacement limit switch!
The way the limit switches work is: The switches are "normally closed". That means that unless the switch is activated, the "lights are on" all the time. When you reach the "limit", a mechanism "opens" the switch, breaks the circuit, and the "lights go off." Thus no power to the winch. The procedure I described above restores power through the switch.
If you don't have one, spend $10 on a modest VOM (volt-ohm meter--a.k.a. multimeter). You can check "continuity" (a complete circuit) through the toggle switch that raises and lowers the roof and through the limit switches. Bear in mind that there are two general types of limit switch. One is the uber-complex model in my winch, and the other is a far simpler arrangement (not covered in my diatribe....and far less likely to fail).
It's easy to test the "raise/lower" toggle switch and to test whether you have a continuous circuit through the limit switches. Here's a long list of instruction on using a VOM (or multimeter). https://www.google.com/search?q=how+...utf-8&oe=utf-8
The VOM can also test your battery voltage...a 12 Volt battery, when fully charged, should be about 12.6 volts - roughly.
More on CO/Propane Alarms: Alcohol and some cleaners will trigger the CO/propane alarm. We learned the hard way that wine has enough alcohol content that, when spilled on the floor, the VOCs (volatile organic compounds – e.g. alcohol, paint thinner, some cleaners, and so on) will trigger the propane alarm. Propane is a VOC.
If you have a propane alarm, first assume it’s propane. AFTER EXHAUSTING all options related to a propane hazard, including turning off the propane at the tanks, ventilating, etc., if the propane alarm persists, look for a spill, out-gassing from beer, wine, and spirits empties in the trash, a paper towel soaked in wiped up alcohol, and out-gassing from the aforementioned cleaning supplies. Clean up a spill AND wash the floor with mild soap, take the garbage outside, ventilate, and see if that solves the alarm. We had a partially consumed bottle of wine in the fridge door. Since it can’t stand up, it was recorked and laying on its side. The cork came out and about 2 glasses of wine flooded the fridge and ran out onto the floor. All hell broke loose, and it took quite a bit of time to deduce that it was wine...not a water leak...and that the VOCs in wine MIGHT trigger the alarm. I reported this in the FR/RW forums, and many have had the same experience.
Essential for boondocking and most campgrounds in the Rockies: https://www.amazon.com/Frontiersman-...ar+spray&psc=1
Don’t leave home without it.
OK, I'm done.
Enjoy your new camper. If you read this book you're a trooper.