Spend 70 nights in the camper now and 14,000 miles

Discussion in 'Feathers & Fur! All about hunting' started by JJHACK, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. JJHACK

    JJHACK Moderator Staff Member

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    We bought a 22' camp trailer in December. Traded in the pickup camper for this one. It's not big by "camper" standards but it's like the Taj Mahal compared to that little pick up model.

    We traveled through 16 states and two provinces, and we are just at 14,000 miles. I've learned a lot about this camper and trailers in general. As well as driving with a trailer this size behind me now! We have been to all the national parks in the western USA and countless state parks too. Some are pretty easy to access and use. Some are a nightmare.

    We have been caught, and rerouted in multiple forest fires, an avalanche, and even a blizzard in Colorado with 20" of snow on the roof! Travel with the little trailer has provided us with a number of great advantages. One that I learned along the way from others has been that Rest Area's, casino's and walmarts are your friend. Free parking, restrooms, and easy on and off the highway in most places.

    Sure it's not " pristine park like" camping, but for the purpose of expedited travel and a place to stop and sleep it's perfect. I'll say this too, I have "camped" at rest areas in Montana and South Dakota,... two that come to mind where the view out the window was absolutely spectacular, far better then most actual camping based locations. It's free and flat as well!

    Long range travel is so much easier when you can say, I need a break and a nap. Then park and have a queen size bed with a memory foam mattress and a 22" flat screen TV to kick back and relax for a couple hours. than make a bowl of soup and a cup of tea before you hit the road again for 5-6 hours. It's amazing how much ground you can cover in a week traveling like this.

    There were definitely some features that were a must have with this trailer, and several I have since added to make it as good as possible, and with the features we needed. I would buy this one again in a heartbeat. Speaking to others in Campgrounds, ....... well there is some real junk on the market that I'm so glad I moved away from. Lucky for us in the PNW one of the best manufactures in the world is in Legrand Oregon too!
     
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  2. JJHACK

    JJHACK Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, one additional thought. If anyone is interested there is a dependable way to get 4-5 days of use from your electrical power with the proper adjustments to your gear, and some minimal easy wiring additions, and a few upgraded parts. I'll gladly share this setup.
     
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  3. Metal_

    Metal_ Well-Known Member

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    Let's see it.
     
  4. JJHACK

    JJHACK Moderator Staff Member

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    See it?....... The Camp trailer? ......Or the process to extend the electrical power? Who would not like to have a dry camp ( no hookups) without the need of a generator for 5 days plus of hunting or fishing?

    First thing that is needed to extend the duration of your power source. Change all the bulbs to LED. Don't buy them from an RV or auto supply, they can be 15 bucks each! Yikes. I found a package of 20 on eBay and on Amazon for 15 bucks! My camper needs 22 bulbs so I bought two packages assuming that I would need a few spares. I have not had one go bad yet in 8 months and 70 nights spent in it.

    One of the original incandescent bulbs draws 2.4 amps, and there are 2 per light. So roughly 5 amps per light. I can now run all 22 at the same time and draw 6 only amps! Not likely that all will be running but the point is that .3 amps per bulb is a huge reduction over 2.4! The bulbs are a high use item that saves a lot more then you think. Especially if you forget to turn the light out when you leave before daylight!

    The big arrangement that really changes the game is the batteries. Single or double 12volt batteries are not the best game in town. Not even close. Interstate sells 6 volt batteries that have a massive capacity used on electric vehicles like golf carts. You need two of them connected in series. I think my big 12 volt trojan 225 battery were something like 65lbs. These 6volt batteries if I recall are about 75-80lbs each and you need two. So imagine with just this data point the amount of additional storage you have with 150-160lbs of lead over the bigger 12 volt batteries at 65lbs!

    Next add a marine battery monitor, it requires running two wires from the battery to the meter. The technical aspect is near zero. The wire routing aspect is going to be the tough part depending on where you want to mount it, and how well built and sealed your camp trailer is. You do need this meter to get the most out of the system.

    Once this is installed you can understand so much about the way you use power. As an example, you can turn everything off and see how much power is used to sit dormant. Find that amount and get it turned off if possible. Then you can turn on one electrical device at a time to see the power usage in real time. As an example turn on the ceiling exhaust fan and you learn that is draws 3-4 amps, one incandescent light at 2.4 amps, changed to LED now it's .3 amps. The slide out depending upon size could be 4-10 amps, same with the electric tongue jack etc etc. Now you have the ability to selectively use things as needed. I have my system programmed with a 50% use ( alarm) showing when I still have 70% on the battery bank. This is easy programing, just answer the questions that the meter asks you when you go through the menu.

    When my meter shows me I'm at 50% I am really at 70%, so I have some cushion to get the generator out or know I have a enough before I leave camp. Switching from the big 12 volt battery, which by the way was almost the same cost as the two 6volt interstate batteries, I have some exact comparisons to trips I have made. With the pickup camper I had in the past, I could stay dry camping for 2-3 days and the battery would be near dead and need the generator to function. This was a very small pickup camper with no frills. Still sucked down the battery in a couple days.

    With this new electrical system on a much more luxurious and bigger trailer, I have been 5 full days and nights With the addition of watching a 12 volt 22" LED flat screen TV and running a DVD player to watch a movie every night. Also adding that I have a "fantastic fan" in the ceiling to pull in cool air as needed. Often running 2-3 hours every evening. With this I have not been below 80% even one time. Usually I'm ready to pack up and move with 82%-85% still remaining. The weak link in the dry camp stay is not the electricity any more, it's the fresh water supply. My 22' trailer holds 80 gallons of water. We have both taken multiple short showers on these dry camp trips and still have water. However by the end of the 5th day it's getting down to empty. I know we could conserve water better if needed, we seem to burn through 15 gallons a day for two of us on average. Taking showers and dish washing is the big consumer.

    Switching to paper plates and cups could feed the campfire and reduce the water use. And of course the big one,... shower with more attention to the water use. One issue anyone that has done this will likely consider. Where is the grey water from a 80 gallon tank going? There is a dump tank cap made with a garden hose fitting. You can connect a section of garden hose to this and water the lawn and trees with the grey water as needed. CLEARLY not the black tank, just the grey! The grey and black on my trailer are both 40 gallons. I've never been anywhere close to full on the black tank. I think that tank is good for a month for two people? Some of the camp grounds in the SW USA ask you to use your grey water for their lawns and trees during your stay. If you have this cap and hose system. Since seeing this I have used it at a number of places. It's also a great way to put out a campfire before you leave a site.

    Another plan, although not implemented yet, might be to add a solar panel to the system. Even in winter with sunshine you can replace a fair amount of power to that battery system while you're gone all day hunting, fishing, or hiking, biking, etc. Winter poses an additional challenge with the furnace fan running while you're gone all day. If you are in the market for a camp trailer, I can suggest some models that are made for winter camping and have 2" foam insulation much like an ice chest. I bought a 4 season camp trailer which might run the furnace about 15- 20 minutes per hour at 20 Deg outside temp. Doing this with a standard camp trailer you might be running that furnace 40 min per hour if not almost constantly. Should also mention that those 3 season camp trailers have exposed water lines that can freeze under the camper as well. A real 4 season trailer has a duct from the furnace heating the areas where water is present, and a fridge and freezer that will work below freezing while on propane.
     
  5. Metal_

    Metal_ Well-Known Member

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    That's some good info. I'm gonna pass this link along to a buddy.
     
  6. GregE

    GregE Well-Known Member

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    Concur on Walmart lots, most have a quiet corner. Rest stops have trucks coming and going or running a generator / refrig unit.
    We got a used 19 Toy Hauler with the 6 volt system plus solar panel. Will be interested to see how the increased amperage works. You can see the taller battery boxes.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  7. JJHACK

    JJHACK Moderator Staff Member

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    I was able to locate a battery box that is a single double length unit that holds both 6 volt batteries in one box end to end. Not that the box itself is a critical part. I did like that the cables are routed inside the box and only the two come out. When I had the double box, the jumpers come out of one box and into the other. Not a big deal, just nicer to do this from the beginning, If you're in the market to make the double 6 volt change, they make a single box for both batteries.

    Greg, your camper is about the same size as mine, I have 22' but not sure how they measure them to get that number. It's 26 feet long from the hitch to the bumper? I have seen 20 footers that are clearly longer then mine? It's not a standardized mathematical calculation by the manufacturer, that's for sure!

    Hey, one additional item that is quite nice and reasonably priced. The dual Propane tank regulator that will switch from the empty tank to the second tank automatically. It's a pain to have a pair of tanks with a manual selector. The furnace fan stays on blowing cold air in because at 2am the tank went empty and did not switch over. Or while driving in 100 deg temps, the tank ran our and your freezer is no longer running while your driving 6-7 hours!
     
  8. GregE

    GregE Well-Known Member

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    Ours is listed as a SR 19, sure that's the box length without the tongue.
     
  9. fishslave

    fishslave Well-Known Member

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    Awesome ideas. I will have to let hubby read this thread.

    We just spent 25 days on the road with our 28 foot toy hauler to attend a family reunion in Florida. We traveled through 20 states, staying in KOA Campgrounds mostly. We did hit several rest areas too. We traveled to Pennsylvania to pick up a cousin. I-80 sucks! Came back via I-70, which was a big improvement.

    Right now, we are in Cheney. Well, I am anyway. Hubby is with his buddies chasing critters. Our 3 seater side by side fits nicely.

    IMG_20150920_142211513.jpg IMG_20150917_125801.jpg
     
  10. SledgeHammer

    SledgeHammer Well-Known Member

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    Nice set up Slave! Looks like a Forest River, am I correct? They make some pretty nice trailers.
     
  11. fishslave

    fishslave Well-Known Member

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    Yes Sledge, it's a Forest River. The kitchen is small, but it does have good size bath with separate shower. There's a Murphy bed up front. The sofa and dinette are supposed to sleep 2 each, but I think that's a stretch. It's pretty versatile though. We could have another queen size bed installed in the back that retracts to the ceiling, but we don't need it.

    We've been over here 5 days and I'm loving it. Hubby got his deer on opening day and is out chasing the bigger beasts now, while I get my crafty stuff done. Life is good!
     
  12. JJHACK

    JJHACK Moderator Staff Member

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    That's quite nice! A camp trailer with a garage!
     
  13. Echo Mules

    Echo Mules Member

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    Good Info JJ.
    Did the LED light thing, huge difference.
    Have 2 12v batteries with a solar charger, haven't run out yet, longest was a 10 day archery trip.
    Need to do the auto propane switch, didn't realize they existed.
    Mine is a 26 but sounds like from the same mfg.
     
  14. JJHACK

    JJHACK Moderator Staff Member

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    Update, I'm now at 20,000 miles and well in excess of 100 nights in 17 months.

    Some additional information:
    Spoke with a fella that parked the camper in the forest on public land. while away from the trailer with his pickup hunting, somebody hooked up and departed with his trailer and contents.

    He called the local police and they said this is not at all uncommon. People with acreage on a private road will steal and install the campers on blocks never to be driven on the road again. Impossible to find for the police or the legal owner. The thief now has a fully equiped home on his property.

    With this I quickly purchased a hitch lock. Youtube is your friend on this. Watch the videos of them being broken off in seconds with ordinary tools. There are only a couple that actually require massive effort or a torch to cut off.

    Next I replaced the shower curtain with an accordian door in an aluminum frame. 80 bucks. Maybe the best idea of all! That shower seems huge now and is 100% spray and drip proof to the floor. Also installed the big rainproof hood over the also added fantastic fan in the bathroom. With the windows open in the bedroom at the other end that fan pulls air through the windows with astonishing power. It will cool down that whole trailer in a couple minutes. Using the built in thermostat in the switch, when you go to bed in the warm summer nights, it cools down very nice, and then somewhere in the middle of the night it shuts off when the temps are too cold.

    It can be used in a downpour or left running to air out the camper while going down the highway. That big weatherproof hood over the fan is brilliant! Also wired in a USB and 12volt outlet combination to the battery mounted in the wall near the bed night table. Now while dry camping we can charge our phones at night. This is probably a standard item on newer trailers?

    Another item to consider, it's a cheap add. The rubber plugs for the QD propane connections. Mine began to get enough road grime that they screwed up the gas flow, and even became difficult to connect to the male hose end. They sell these at various RV places, well worth the 5 bucks to plug a rubber Male ended connction into the female QD.

    New tires were needed at about 17,000 miles. Replaced the C rated 205's with D rated 215's going from 1850 lbs per tire to 2500lbs pr tire. Also going from 50PSI to 65PSI Thats a huge difference in confidence and also much easier to back this into spots. The lighter tires sometimes looked as if they were going to pull off the wheels when making sharp back ins. The heavier tires pivot solidly and work as they should have. One tip, be sure your wheels can handle 65PSI if you are running 50PSI tires. The stock tires on this camper would not. I fortunately had the upgraded alloy wheels which were designed for 65PSI. This was pure luck as the dealer chose the alloy wheel package when they put this on the lot, I did not order them this way.

    My door latch is screwy at times requiring a firm "slam" to shut it. I'm thinking this will require a fix eventually. Also my key locks on the outside storage doors are dirty and gritty from road grime and the amount of back country travel. They are often a PITA to get the key in and lock/unlock at times.

    Lots to discuss, these few things popped in my head..... buy a hitch lock if you leave the trailer alone on the forest service road!