RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-19-2017, 12:43 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
First Trailer -- Suggestions?

Just signed the papers for a Flagstaff High Wall tent trailer, HW27SC. It'll have an air conditioner, a furnace, and the large battery. I also negotiated for upgraded tires, because we're planning on taking it to remote areas down gravel roads.

We are very excited about it, but now comes the harder part: figuring it out. We'll get the tutorial in two weeks when we pick it up, of course, but if people can give suggestions and ideas on quirks and maintenance tips, I'm all ears.

At the outset, our attitude is that our enemies are water, and road dust and dirt. One specific question: should I get an anti-sway hitch? It'll be pulled behind a 2013 Ram 3500 pickup with an integrated trailer brake control, but I'm not sure if the truck has built-in sway control.

My gut feel is that I don't need any special sway control features, but I'm brand new to campers so I'm asking. I've towed other stuff weighing about the same, without anti-sway, just not a camper of any kind.

Thanks in advance for any replies.
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 01:21 PM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 61
Even though your truck will easily tow your trailer an anti sway hitch really helps in windy conditions and when being passed by large trucks. I highly recommend one. When picking up your trailer have them turn on everything and test all systems and appliances. Make sure they plug in to 110v to test as well as 12v. We failed to do this and the first night found out we had a defective heater. This forum is a great place to get help when things go wrong or you need any other help.
nicholsm4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 01:24 PM   #3
Site Team
 
bikendan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Camano Island, Washington
Posts: 23,906
Congrats on your new popup!

First, for dry camping/boondocking, a single battery will not last over a weekend. Only one night if you use the furnace.
Unless you requested something different, the dealer will put in a budget group 24 dual purpose marine battery.

So for camping in remote areas with no power, you'll need at least solar to recharge the battery. Also dual 6v golf cart batteries is the best setup.

How do you plan on running the a/c in these remote areas?
You may choose to get an INVERTER generator to run everything and recharge the batteries.

Your truck may need an anti-sway bar.
You shouldn't need a weight distribution hitch.
__________________
Dan-Retired California Firefighter/EMT
Shawn-Musician/Entrepreneur/Wine Expert
and Zoe the Wonder Dog(R.I.P.)
2016 PrimeTime TracerAIR 255, pushing a 2014 Ford F150 SCREW XTR 4x4 3.5 Ecoboost w/Max Tow Package
4pt Equal-i-zer WDH and 1828lbs of payload capacity
bikendan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 01:25 PM   #4
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholsm4 View Post
Even though your truck will easily tow your trailer an anti sway hitch really helps in windy conditions and when being passed by large trucks. I highly recommend one. When picking up your trailer have them turn on everything and test all systems and appliances. Make sure they plug in to 110v to test as well as 12v. We failed to do this and the first night found out we had a defective heater. This forum is a great place to get help when things go wrong or you need any other help.
My truck is going in for regular service, and I'm going to see if anti-sway is either part of the trailer brake controller or can be added via software download. (My understanding is that the truck's anti-sway method would be differential braking on the trailer.)

If I have or can get the brake-based anti-sway program for the truck, do you think I still need an anti-sway hitch? I'm open minded on the issue.
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 02:21 PM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
First, for dry camping/boondocking, a single battery will not last over a weekend. Only one night if you use the furnace.
Unless you requested something different, the dealer will put in a budget group 24 dual purpose marine battery.

So for camping in remote areas with no power, you'll need at least solar to recharge the battery. Also dual 6v golf cart batteries is the best setup.

How do you plan on running the a/c in these remote areas?
You may choose to get an INVERTER generator to run everything and recharge the batteries.

Your truck may need an anti-sway bar.
You shouldn't need a weight distribution hitch.
Thanks for the response. Two recs for anti-sway, and the same from other friends, convinces me. So we'll do that.

The battery will be Group 27.

A/C is a good question. I'm frankly thinking that we'll rarely use it. Where we go -- the high deserts of the intermountain West -- gets hot in the daytime but cools off at night, so I'm thinking fans will be adequate. If that's wrong and we find up needing A/C, then I'd get a generator.

I'm thinking we'll want a second marine battery. Can I charge it off the truck's diesel engine? I can get a solar trickle charger but wonder if I really need it. Why dual 6V rather than a single Group 27 battery? Not arguing with you, but only inquiring.
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 02:42 PM   #6
Site Team
 
bikendan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Camano Island, Washington
Posts: 23,906
Suggest you Google "The 12v Side of Life"

Lots of info on best battery setup and why.
Also should be required reading for all newbies.
__________________
Dan-Retired California Firefighter/EMT
Shawn-Musician/Entrepreneur/Wine Expert
and Zoe the Wonder Dog(R.I.P.)
2016 PrimeTime TracerAIR 255, pushing a 2014 Ford F150 SCREW XTR 4x4 3.5 Ecoboost w/Max Tow Package
4pt Equal-i-zer WDH and 1828lbs of payload capacity
bikendan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 03:02 PM   #7
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
Suggest you Google "The 12v Side of Life"

Lots of info on best battery setup and why.
Also should be required reading for all newbies.
Wow, thanks very much. Lots there, but worth it. Thanks again. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. It really helps, and I'm very grateful.
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 03:32 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
SeaDog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Idaho
Posts: 8,096
Welcome to the forum it a great place to get your questions answered. I said I would provide my take on gravel roads and such. First I would not invest in a sway system until you actually pull your trailer, how you load it will have more effect on things I believe. I would spend my money on a good set of rock tamer mud flaps to keep the rocks of the new rig. Keep in mind that one ton truck needs heavy tires for wilderness also. Not sure what upgraded tires are but for wilderness roads here D rated is minimum and E are better JMHO. I use two yamaha 2000 generators in parallel for my power to run the AC and charge things. You can use blue tape around your cargo hatches and door to help limit the amount of dust, but its going to get in there. Take your time don't rush things when you are of the beaten path. Good luck
__________________
Retired Navy
Jake my sidekick (yellow Lab) 10/04 - 05/20
2017 RAM 2500 CC 4X4 Cummins Diesel
2016 Flagstaff 26 FKWS
AF&AM & El Korah Shrine of Idaho
SeaDog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 04:00 PM   #9
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaDog View Post
Welcome to the forum it a great place to get your questions answered. I said I would provide my take on gravel roads and such. First I would not invest in a sway system until you actually pull your trailer, how you load it will have more effect on things I believe. I would spend my money on a good set of rock tamer mud flaps to keep the rocks of the new rig. Keep in mind that one ton truck needs heavy tires for wilderness also. Not sure what upgraded tires are but for wilderness roads here D rated is minimum and E are better JMHO. I use two yamaha 2000 generators in parallel for my power to run the AC and charge things. You can use blue tape around your cargo hatches and door to help limit the amount of dust, but its going to get in there. Take your time don't rush things when you are of the beaten path. Good luck
Thanks for your reply.

I'm experienced in driving the truck (2013 Ram 3500, Cummins) in the outback. Tires are very important to me, having been stuck with two rental trucks with crappy ones before I bought my rig. Right out of the dealer's door four years ago, I replaced the stock tires with Toyo M/Ts. I replaced 'em at 36,000 miles with Toyo A/Ts because the M/Ts don't last, plus most of my miles are on pavement so mud tires are overkill.

You don't even need mud tires on gravel. I've been in exactly two situations where the M/Ts might have mattered, and I am confident that I won't be in similar situations while towing this trailer.

I totally understand that it's impossible to banish dust in the high desert. Oh boy, do I ever get that one! But you can reduce it. I was thinking about the fitted covers for the "compacted" trailer, to keep a lot of moisture, road grime, and dust out at least while we're towing, especially once we get to the gravel.

I am also thinking of more paint -- another coat, or two -- on the bottom of the trailer before it leaves the dealer. Someone I know who knows trailers recommended that. I wonder if there's a special product out there that would be good. Or maybe this is all overkill. I figure now's the time to be asking, anyway.

Good idea about the mudflaps, thanks. I have excellent ones on the truck, so I presume you're talking about mudflaps on the trailer to keep rocks from damaging the undercarriage behind the wheels. How about a suspension upgrade? It is even possible, or helpful? Again, I'm thinking of as much as I can right NOW, even if it's stuff I wind up not doing.

Thanks again for your reply. If you have any other ideas, this is the perfect time to pass 'em along.
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 04:30 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
SeaDog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Idaho
Posts: 8,096
Installed truck mounted mud flaps are ok. I use the rock tamers in addition to my truck mounted mud flaps to keep the cow poo and rocks off my rig. check this site the best price I found was on amazon. Rock Tamers
__________________
Retired Navy
Jake my sidekick (yellow Lab) 10/04 - 05/20
2017 RAM 2500 CC 4X4 Cummins Diesel
2016 Flagstaff 26 FKWS
AF&AM & El Korah Shrine of Idaho
SeaDog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 05:31 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
rsdata's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Northern KY
Posts: 4,218
I would suggest picking up 4-6 cans of rubberized undercoating in a spray can to coat the underside and wheel wells... I did on mine and I don't even drive on unpaved roads. I would also pick up some wire protecting split plastic (loom) from Harbor Freight in all 3 sizes they carry, (very cheap) and wrap and protect any exposed wiring especially to the brakes and the light wires used on the tank sensors. A roll of black tape and some ZIP ties will help after the wires are covered and protected as then they can be tied up high on the frame instead of hanging down where they can be taken out by a rock or a stick in the road.

I have towed some pretty large trailers carrying cars, not tall travel trailers which catch a lot of wind, with a 3500 RAM before and never needed a sway control... of course tongue loading has a lot to do about sway... you can try it without, then add one if you find you need it.

I'm sure you will luv your trailer
__________________
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. " - Ronald Reagan
Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” – Mark Twain

2014 Shamrock 183
2014 RAM 1500 Bighorn Crew Cab, HEMI, 3.21 gears, 8 Spd, 4X4 TST TPMS
rsdata is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 09:20 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: 8300 Feet - Rocky Mountains
Posts: 1,441
Charlie,
I responded on the other thread. This is the promised (threatened) "book." Remember. You asked for it.

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. http://www.generac.com/all-products/...-series/ix2000 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.

Alternative plan:
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. 

END OF PART 1 - forum has a character limit
__________________
Jim & Renee
2020 Jayco Jay Feather X-213
previously 2014 Forest River/Rockwood HW 277
2006 Ram 1500 4WD Crew with Firestone Airbags
Every weekend boondocking in the National Forests or at Lake Wellington
jimmoore13 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 09:22 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: 8300 Feet - Rocky Mountains
Posts: 1,441
PART 2 - Conclusion. Note that I added a couple more tips in the "off-road" section. Again, this is a composite of answers to others, but the info speaks for itself.

Now on batteries and solar:

Many have covered a broad range of issues, so forgive any redundancy.

1. Your fundamental question was "how long." I boondock almost exclusively with just one Group 24 12-volt battery. It came with my camper in spring 2014. Still going strong. I can get 4 days out of the battery while using: water pump, fridge on propane, hot water heater, liberal use of the furnace (and the fan is a power hog). By day 4 the pump will stop working and I previously had to fire up the generator.
2. What could go wrong with your battery? If you discharge it too much, you'll ruin it. 8 volts is WAAAAAY too much.
3. Off season, remove the battery and store it inside, sitting on a board (not concrete) and charge it occasionally with a "maintenance charger." If you don't have a smart charger...not just any old maintenance charger...charge it every few weeks, but then remove the charger.
4. When installed in the camper, you should either manually manage its charge by connecting the camper to AC for about 70 hours every 2 weeks or so, OR you can disconnect the battery so parasitic losses don't drain it, OR connect it to a sophisticated battery maintainer charger like a battery tender...but not just any battery tender, a "smart" battery tender. There's a difference.
5. Running dry also destroys batteries. Get a gallon of distilled water at the supermarket and a turkey baster to fill the cells. Keep the battery full of water. Check it every month or so...especially when you are working the hell out of it. LOTS of charge/discharge cycles will dry it out.
ALSO, batteries will disgorge water as they rumble over rough roads. It literally can spill out of the vents. Check it after a trip down a rough road.
6. DON'T OVERCHARGE THE BATTERY! Unless you replace your factory converter with a super-duper converter that has a smart charger, your camper charger is a "stupid" charger. It will overcharge the battery if you don't disconnect it and manage the charge manually. 70 hours is the MAX amount of time it takes the stupid charger to fully charge a "dead" battery. DEAD is 10-Volts. You can connect to shore power indefinitely if you are living in the camper and exercising the battery, but if the camper is idle, pull the plug and charge every couple weeks...or get a smart charger so you can set it and forget it.
Overcharging leads to sulfating, and it can be dealt with, but rescuing a battery from sulfation is a poor substitute for not sulfating it in the first place. Sulfation and How to Prevent it - Battery University
7. Camper lights are a waste of power. Get a propane mantle lantern and some good LED lanterns. A mantle lantern is VERY bright, and LED lanterns are about as bright as the camper's interior lights. Leave your camper lights off.
These little babies make an awesome addition for interior lighting: https://smile.amazon.com/EverBrite-C...ghts+with+hook
I hang one on our PUP bed roof pipe, one in the bathroom, and one on either end of the camper outdoors hooked to the bed support poles. Then I use the mantle over the kitchen and one LED lantern over the dinette. Added bonus with the mantle is that it adds some heat to the space during the evening.
These are terrific, too: https://smile.amazon.com/Etekcity-Po...ttery+operated
8. Multiple 6-volt deep cycle batteries are great, but you don't just need the batteries. You need a place to put them. I don't have room on my A-frame for a 2nd battery box. Propane plumbing blocks that space, and I'd have to have a welder fabricate a custom mount for a battery box. You could also throw a 2nd 12 volt battery (fully charged) in your TV, install a disconnect on the + side of main battery, and then use jumper cables to connect the spare to your negative terminal and the camper side of the disconnect switch.
9. Before you go crazy and buy a fancy battery, like an AGM, or really go nuts and buy something like a Lithium Ion, BE SURE THE CAMPER'S CHARGER IS COMPATIBLE WITH YOUR FANCY NEW BATTERY. Most are not. That could be an expensive mistake.
10. If you really want to solve your power problem and boondock beyond your camper's capacity, go solar. More on that below.

On solar: I bought this: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Outstanding! One panel keeps my battery topped off indefinitely. I can use 12-Volt power with "reckless abandon" during the day - running the "car" stereo in the camper, and whatever else, and by the end of the day, the battery is showing 12.8 volts and about 116 amp-hours on the charge controller display...full up! But...as the day wears on, I go into frugal mode and resort to my mantle and LED lights to save power for, wait for it, my electric blanket!!

I also installed this inverter: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
My dual zone blanket needs a total of 360 watts. We run the blanket for about 20 minutes to warm the bed, then turn it off. Zero issues with 12-volt power to run the furnace, fridge, hot water heater, and the occasional pump run to flush and wash hands (I'm 68, and the old guys know what I'm talking about. )

How do I know how long my battery will last with the inverter? Voltage current resistance and electric power general basic electrical formulas mathematical calculations calculator formula for power calculating energy work equation power law watts understandimg general electrical pie chart electricity calculation
Input 12 volts and 400 watts, and you get 33 amps.
The battery at full charge will deliver over 100 amps for an hour (its rated amp-hours).
If I run the inverter at full load for an hour, I'd use up 33 amp-hours of the 100 I have available. If I run it for 20 minutes, I use up about 10 to 12 amp-hours. Negligible if the battery if fully charged.

About solar: As I looked into it, I think I discovered that all comparable systems use the exact same panel, no doubt made by one factory in China. Also, according to Windy Nation, there is little difference between monocrystaline and polycrystaline...except price. Poly used to be inferior, but no longer.

BUT THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE in the charge controllers. You don't need a $200 charge controller, but if you go too cheap, they fail, they're inflexible, they're "stupid," and they might not be expandable. Mine may be the "Goldilocks" controller - just right. It can accept up to 4 panels - massive overkill for one battery - and it has the LCD display to tell you how you stand.

As I experimented with my system, I used a lot of power (the stereo and interior lights) one evening. We listened to music for about 3 hours using the built in Kenwood stereo. This thing has a display that has lit-up, animated LEDs in addition to the amp. It's a power hog. Then I checked the battery status on the LCD display of the solar charge controller. 11.8 volts and about 70 amp-hours left. Great info. A dead battery is 10 volts. Went to frugal mode and woke up with plenty of power to spare, then the sun went to work. Also note that we had a mix of clouds and sun with some thunderstorms. Still plenty of sun to charge the battery.

As I said, I have a PUP. I ran the wire from the panel to the charge controller 'outside' the camper, and I purchased a waterproof box and mounted the charge controller in the box just above the A-frame. I could have mounted it inside, but space is at a premium, and I wanted as few holes as possible in my tub. (There's one to get wire to the 400 watt inverter.)
Your installation could probably save about $50 compared to mine, but all-in, it cost me about $250 to install the Windy Nation kit - panel, connectors, wire, charge controller, and my accessory items - (which I bought during a sale for $150).
All-in, the inverter cost about $55 including longer connecting wire, crimp on connectors and already-open tube of silicone (used for the solar install) to seal up the hole in the tub for the wires to get into the cabin.

So, for $300, I have all the 12-Volt power I need to boondock until I run out of water, supplies and the black tank (all 12 gallons of it) is full. On our maiden solar voyage, we stayed 5 days and 4 nights, and we came home with a full battery.

I also have an inverter generator. It's slightly louder than a Honda, but not $400 louder. There's lot's of good chatter about generators, so I won't repeat. But I WILL say that they suck as battery chargers. Remember that 70 hour charge time through the camper's converter? Who wants to listen to a generator run for 3 days straight??? We use our generator sparingly to fire up the microwave, run an espresso machine, and, during a rain storm, while everyone is inside and we want to listen to music, turn on the lights, and run the furnace, and, and, and - and so on.
Generators hate rain, and they need to be covered. You can blow a bunch of money on a fancy generator tent or you can use a good industrial 40 gallon trash bag (Ace hardware for $10/box on sale) and make an "army tent" over the generator handle and stake it to the ground. Works like a charm. Anyway, generators will charge a battery, eventually, but they are NOT battery chargers.

P.S. as others said, you probably trashed your battery, so time for another.

Bonus: If you boondock a lot, depending on where you are, you may encounter fire bans - a common thing in Colorado. I just love this thing: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Nicer ones have a stainless burner, but this one is awesome. Flames rise about 18" to 24". Heat is tremendous. No smoke. Legal during most fire bans. Four good 2-to-3 hour fires (at minimum) from one 20 lb. bottle of propane.



Last thought. If you're eyeballing something on Amazon, add several examples to a wish list. Amazon will dutifully notify you when anything in that product category goes on sale. That's how I found the sale on the Windy Nation kit. Amazon emailed me.

New 7/19/17
Short list if tips for boondocking. Please forgive redundancy:

1. Get a good Viar or similar tire pump.
2. When you hit the gravel roads, let some air out of the tires. If the correct air pressure is 50 pounds, try 35 pounds. This is a "4-wheeler" trick. The soft tires cushion the ride and conform to small rocks, washboard, and so on.
3. Inflate the tires to the proper pressure when you return to pavement.
4. Keep your speed down. If washboard is rattling your teeth in your truck, it's shaking the camper apart. If you tow with a pickup that has a live rear axle, the truck will keep you informed about the washboard. But if you tow with a "crossover" SUV or a "car," the car-like suspension will not tell you how bad things are in the camper. Your camper is stiffly sprung, and it does not have shock absorbers. That's a recipe for a really rough ride. On the road to our favorite sites (15 to 20 miles into the woods), I was going between 10 and 20 MPH most of the time and occasionally hit 25 MPH...and I had to replace 2 fillings when I got home.
5. When possible...and with great caution, drive on the left side of the road going uphill. The washboard will be less on what is the downhill side. Just be prepared to move over for oncoming traffic.
6. Get a plastic, divided storage container, and lay in a supply of nuts, bolts and screws of all types. You'll need the spares. Estimate sizes and get oversized replacements. Also put a set of drill bits in the camper or your truck tool box. You'll have a drill...see that later.
7. Bring a well equipped tool box. Nothing fancy, but a little of everything from a 4-way screw driver, to mini screw drivers, to pliers, adjustable wrench, vice grips, wire ties, wire cutters, a crimp connector set with some connectors, a socket set (both SAE and Metric), at least a small set of SAE combination wrenches, "water pump" pliers, a multi-tip screw driver that includes torx bits, square bits, an so on, Gorilla glue and Gorilla (best duct) tape ...and whatever else your toolbox will fit. THEN ALSO put a 4 way screwdriver and a set of pliers in the silverware drawer in the camper. When you spot a screw or nut on the floor, you want to be able to take care of it immediately.
8. If you have hardware that routinely comes apart. gets loose, falls out, do one of two things: 1) with screws, get Gorilla glue and put glue in the screw hole and on the threads...follow directions to use water; 2) Get red LocTite for the bolts. These keep things from falling apart.
9. Check all your nuts/bolts and screws on arrival and upon returning home if you open the camper. Things DO come apart, and the best thing you can do is check and fix immediately.
10. Patrol the floor for screws, nuts, and so on. Don't expect to find everything. Some of it will be under the slide, caught in corners, and so on. Look for hardware every trip. If you don't know where it goes now, you'll find out soon enough.
11. Check the screws on your furnace. The interior grill appears to "bolt" thru to the body of the furnace. If you hear odd rumbling from the furnace, tighten the two screws on the front panel. More than likely that will fix it.
12. Use a towel to make a pad between your range cover and range while on the road. This pads the range cover, especially glass ones, from the pounding that ruins them on washboard roads.
13. Get knee pads...you'll spend a lot of time on your knees setting stabilizer jacks, draining gray water and dumping black, and so on....forever. Knee pads. :-)
14. Get a good cordless drill and adapter for the jacks. Guess what? If your lift motor fails, your drill will raise and lower the camper roof. Been there, done that.
15. Watch your stairs. I've bent mine on rocks and so on several times. You can straighten them. A big rock, used as a hammer, will get you through the camping trip. A home, a 6 to 8 pound sledge does a good job of getting them back in shape. FYI, there are times you need two big hammers and a person to hold one against the steel you want to straighten while you hit with the other. This is a process called "backing up", and it's commonly used by body mechanics to straighten dents. The "backup hammer" is placed where you DON'T want movement, and the striking hammer is able to bend steel elsewhere. Whether you need this depends on how much you bent the steps frame. Mine's as good as new, but it's been through the war a few times.
16. If you're going to do a LOT of boondocking, and especially if you're going to go "overland" rather than just on gravel roads, be prepared to clean some important stuff off the bottom of your camper. Best prevention? Raise the the body of the camper by "flipping" the axle. If you have a "torque" axle, ask the dealer. Add larger wheels and tires -but be careful to ensure that the clearance is adequate. You see "offroad" versions of most small campers, and you can emulate that effect by what is commonly referred to as flipping the axle. Again, ask the dealer.
17. Check ALL your gray drain plumbing. If you have a HW, you'll have a sink with conventional J traps. This stuff rattles apart. Tighten it and then duct tape the joints to keep things together. LOOK UNDER THE CAMPER. I had a "Y" connector crack and leak. I replaced it with what's called a "Fernco" adapter. These are rubber and take the shock. It actually took several Ferncos and some spare pipe to do the repair. but the rubber absorbs shock and won't break.
18. Grease your ball and coupler, then clean them if they accumulate dust. Get a rubber ball cover for the hitch ball when it's not in use.
19. Go solar. I repeat...GO SOLAR. It's awesome, and you'll never run out of 12-volt power.
20. Learn all you can about batteries and chargers. MANY people ruin perfectly wonderful batteries by overcharging and/or failing to maintain them.
21. Be frugal with 12-volt power. Even with solar, I use a mantle lantern and battery powered LED lanterns for light. I dedicate my 12 volt power to: a 400 watt inverter to power my electric blankets to warm the bed...I run it for 20 minutes then turn it off. Also to: pump, water heater, fridge, furnace, OCCASIONAL use of lights. If I listen to the radio, I stop early enough to allow the solar to recharge, because the radio is a power hog.
22. Get bear spray and a serious knife for defense. Almost everywhere is bear country.
23. Put your food, coolers, trash and anything else in the truck overnight. Bears can smell food from VERY far away. You don't need visitors.
24. If you have a gas grill or a charcoal grill, MOVE IT AWAY FROM THE CAMPER overnight. Also, unlatch all lids, covers and so on. If a bear wants to get it, it should be easy so that the bear doesn't need to ruin the grill simply to lick the cooking surface. Plus, as the bear takes the obvious route through your site, it will make enough noise to wake you, and it will still be far enough from the camper to give you time to get ready to defend the door if it comes to that.
25. DON'T EVER TAKE A PUP INTO GRIZZLY COUNTRY. To them, you're in nothing more than a tent, and they like the taste of humans.
26. Have AWESOME LED flashlights. About 300 lumens or better, and with zoom if you can get it. These will shine hundreds of yards into the woods and pick out ANY eyes out there no matter how far away...within reason.
27. Reliance (see Amazon) makes great 7-gallon water jugs. I have 4. I also bought several spare caps (Amazon) and converted one to a pour spout. All you need is a conventional ˝” to ‘barb’ plastic fitting from a hardware store, a hose clamp, and about 15” of clear plastic hose that fits the barb. The hose can be shoved into the camper’s fresh water fill pipe, leaving both hands free to wrestle the 60 pounds of water in the jug. A funnel is an awful substitute, and the funnel is the best of the bad options. The DIY pour spout is fabulous, fast, clean, and gets 99% of the water into the holding tank where it belongs.
Again, this is a “stream of consciousness” compiled from many responses on the Forest River Forum.

OK, I'm done.

Enjoy your new camper. If you read this book you're a trooper.
__________________
Jim & Renee
2020 Jayco Jay Feather X-213
previously 2014 Forest River/Rockwood HW 277
2006 Ram 1500 4WD Crew with Firestone Airbags
Every weekend boondocking in the National Forests or at Lake Wellington
jimmoore13 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 10:31 PM   #14
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
Holy smokes! I cannot possibly thank you enough. Without boring you with my pre-retirement biography I will say this much: As long as it's accurate and pertinent, you cannot give me too much detail.

There's a lot to go through, but for now I just wanted to convey my heartfelt appreciation for you taking the time for that brain dump. Truly A+! I'll be back later with comments and questions, but I just wanted to be sure you knew how grateful I am for what you passed along. Wow! I'm overwhelmed, in the best possible way. This is exactly what I was looking for.

If anything else comes to mind, please do not hesitate for fear that you'll be regarded badly. I am part of Nerd America. We are why anything works!

p.s.: Thanks for the redundant post. I almost copied and pasted it here myself, but decided to wait 'n see.
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2017, 11:09 PM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 316
You will be fine with a regular hitch setup. You're pulling a ~4000lbs trailer with a truck weighing over 6000 lbs, and the trailer is a pop-up so it has much less area being subjected to wind etc..

In fact, you may end up doing more harm than good because anti-sway is typically a feature of weight distributing hitches and those hitches are designed for much heavier trailers. See this thread for damage by a WDH: http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...nt-138860.html
TheGerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-20-2017, 12:12 AM   #16
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
Wow, thanks. Something to think about!
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-20-2017, 12:06 PM   #17
Senior Member
 
Restcure's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 967
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharliePl View Post
My truck is going in for regular service, and I'm going to see if anti-sway is either part of the trailer brake controller or can be added via software download. (My understanding is that the truck's anti-sway method would be differential braking on the trailer.)
It wouldn't be differential braking on the trailer, but on the truck... all the brakes on the trailer are activated simultaneously by a single electrical connection.

Our F150 has sway control - it has never self-activated but I'm told that (a) it works with differential braking on the rear brakes of the truck and (b) if it ever does activate, you'll know it!

I'm in the camp that says you probably don't need sway control. Loading the trailer so that the tongue weighs 12-15% of the gross trailer weight is more important and should eliminate most sway by itself.

The best way to do this is to load the trailer for camping and take it to a scale. But if you have a true empty weight (not the fantasy Dry Weight), you can weight the stuff you put in to get the gross weight, and you can set up a beam assembly to weight the tongue on a bathroom scale.

Measuring trailer tongue weight with a bathroom scale
__________________
2012 Rockwood Ultra-Lite 2701SS, Goodyear Endurance LRD, ProPride 3P 1400 hitch
2013 F-150 FX4 7700# GVWR SuperCrew 3.5L EcoBoost 157" WB Max Tow 3.73:1
John, Dawn and Emily... and Bella the camping kitty

visit our website at www.restcure.ca
Restcure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-20-2017, 12:47 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: 8300 Feet - Rocky Mountains
Posts: 1,441
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGerman View Post
You will be fine with a regular hitch setup. You're pulling a ~4000lbs trailer with a truck weighing over 6000 lbs, and the trailer is a pop-up so it has much less area being subjected to wind etc..

In fact, you may end up doing more harm than good because anti-sway is typically a feature of weight distributing hitches and those hitches are designed for much heavier trailers. See this thread for damage by a WDH: http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...nt-138860.html
I agree...depending on the TV.
I have a Ram 1500, and a WDH is completely unnecessary for a rig coming in at about 4000 pounds fully loaded and a hitch weight under 500 pounds. But, I DID buy Firestone airbags.

A typical 1/2 ton PU is designed to be an acceptable family daily driver. The suspension is set for the "ride quality" side of the ride/load-capacity side of the equation. Even with a 2000 pound PUP and all my gear in the bed, the truck would porpoise a bit, and the "sag" in the rear made my headlights blind oncoming drivers. When I bought the FR HW-277, I had the dealer install the air bags as part of the overall package purchase.

When I setup for camping, I increase rear truck tire pressure from typical 35 PSI to 40 PSI. I put about 25 PSI in the air bags. The truck ride is transformed! It's solid, level, and secure. NO amount of wind or passing trucks causes a wiggle.

But, if you're TV is a light-duty vehicle such as a midsized unibody crossover SUV, that's another matter. My Ram has a tow capacity of nearly 8000 pounds. The PUP is nothing. But a TV, say a Honda Pilot (or Ridgeline...same vehicle), is close to its max GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) for the trailer. The all-up trailer is about 4K and the TV can handle 5K. That's a recipe for a WDH, and that also eliminates the need for air bags or other suspension mods.

As they say, "your mileage may vary."
__________________
Jim & Renee
2020 Jayco Jay Feather X-213
previously 2014 Forest River/Rockwood HW 277
2006 Ram 1500 4WD Crew with Firestone Airbags
Every weekend boondocking in the National Forests or at Lake Wellington
jimmoore13 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-20-2017, 01:22 PM   #19
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: White Salmon, WA
Posts: 21
My truck is a 2013 Ram 3500 w/Cummins diesel. It weighs 8,000 lbs and is rated to tow 17,000 lbs. I think I've posted this before, so while I appreciate the discussions about smaller vehicles (and understand that some of the tips are cut-and-paste, which is fine), I think little if any of that applies to my towing a 2,900 lb. trailer.

It's a little confusing, because I'm getting equally heartfelt suggestions to get and to not get an anti-sway hitch.
CharliePl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-20-2017, 01:43 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: 8300 Feet - Rocky Mountains
Posts: 1,441
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharliePl View Post
My truck is a 2013 Ram 3500 w/Cummins diesel. It weighs 8,000 lbs and is rated to tow 17,000 lbs. I think I've posted this before, so while I appreciate the discussions about smaller vehicles (and understand that some of the tips are cut-and-paste, which is fine), I think little if any of that applies to my towing a 2,900 lb. trailer.

It's a little confusing, because I'm getting equally heartfelt suggestions to get and to not get an anti-sway hitch.
I suggest you update your profile and signature to include pertinent details about your TV and your PUP...and anything else that will describe what you're working with.

As for your Ram 3500, it won't notice the camper, and it won't sag under the hitch load. I don't see any reason to use a WDH. It would be like using a booster seat for your 15 year old high school athlete. Your truck could easily carry the whole camper in the bed if you could get it in there.

But...your camper may be 2900 pounds DRY, but it will be close to 4000 when ready to go...with water, food, clothing, dishes, cookware, full propane, and so on. Not that it matters with the beast you have as a TV, but for the rest of us mere mortals, things like that matter.
__________________
Jim & Renee
2020 Jayco Jay Feather X-213
previously 2014 Forest River/Rockwood HW 277
2006 Ram 1500 4WD Crew with Firestone Airbags
Every weekend boondocking in the National Forests or at Lake Wellington
jimmoore13 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
trailer

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Forest River, Inc. or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:46 AM.