Questions from a first time RV buyer

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MikeinGB

New member
Joined
Aug 16, 2005
Posts
1
Hi!? I am trying to find a camper that best meets my family?s needs.? I am new to the camping world and have many questions.? I am planning on using my camper mainly on weekends, with an occasional week long stay during vacation, and traveling no further than a 150 mile radius from home.? Any input that I can receive would be of great value.

After exploring all of the different models/options at our local retailers I am leaning heavily towards a hybrid.? The 2 main reasons why I favor a hybrid are:

1.? Bed Size.? As far as campers go, it seems that the industry standard for queen size beds is 75? long.? I found a few hybrids that have 80? long beds.? Since I am 6? 8? (80 inches) tall, this is a given.? Plus my kids are big too, and I want something that they will be comfortable in for years to come, as I am sure they will be very tall as well.? Also, with a hybrid I can get 3 ? 80? X 60? queen size beds in a given unit.

2.? Trailer Size.? I?d like to keep it below 25 feet if possible.? I have yet to find anything else with adequate bed size that is less than 25 feet.? Also, I would like for each our 2 boys to have their own bed.? I?ve seen models with bunks, but the bunks are only 72? long and are narrow, which I am sure they will soon outgrow.

The 3 models that seemed to best meet our needs are:

Stampede S-22 TBRG (by Palomino)
Kodiak 23TT (by Skamper)
Rockwood Roo 233 (by Forest River)

Of the 3 I like the Rockwood Roo the best, as the layout is more appealing, and the fact that none of the pop out beds occupies the front side of the camper, allowing for more usable space in front as well as a larger awning.

Some concerns that I have are:

-? Moisture build up on canvas. Internally due to humidity, especially when sleeping, and then dripping down onto the bed.? ?Also externally due to rain, leading to mold/mildew, especially when having to pack it up when it is raining/damp, and the excess moisture eventually leaking through to the inside on mattress, etc before you get a chance to unpack it and dry it out.? (Note: one individual had expressed these concerns to me from his previous experience with a hybrid, although he had admitted that it was an older model hybrid (1999 Bantam I believe) that he claims was one of the first on the market at the time and he felt that it wasn?t very well made.?
-? Equalizer hitch.? I?m not sure if this is necessary in my planned set up 23? 9? trailer pulled by a 2003 Silverado 1500HD.? (Note: I?ve been told by one individual (not a salesman) that this is really only needed on standard size 1500/F150?s and smaller vehicles, and since I have a 1500HD this isn?t necessary at all.? Just his opinion?)
-? Size of water tanks, clean, black, and grey water.? I understand that bigger is better, but what would should I consider to be adequate, given my planned usage?
-? Durability of beds (I weigh 260 Lbs, plus my wife will be in the bed with me as well).? There aren?t any prop rods/poles supporting the bed for underneath/outside, just cables on the inside that hold it open. The underside of the bed is fiberglass (I believe).
-? Use of a hybrid in colder temperatures, given that the beds are enclosed with canvas, versus fiberglass sides.? The model I am interested in comes with heated mattresses & 20,000 BTU furnace.? There is also an option for a heated holding tank ? is this necessary since I am not planning on any cold weather (below freezing during the day) camping?
-? There is a $170 option of a RainKap (http://www.rainkap.com) which ?prevents black streaks and easily replaces common one-inch trim insert (not present on all RV moldings). ?? Is this worthwhile?
-? Buying thru RV Wholesalers (http://rvwholesalers.com/index.php).? Has anybody out there purchased from them or know of anyone who has?? It appears to be a great way to save thousands of dollars, plus you get to set it up exactly the way you want, without having to settle for what?s on the local dealer?s lot or having to pay extra for a ?special order.??
-? Lastly, storing my camper when it is not in use.? I plan on storing it on an uncovered cement slab alongside my house, so it will be outside all year around exposed to the elements ? with Wisconsin winters being the biggest concern.

Sorry about the long post, but I?d rather have my questions answered by experienced campers, not experienced salesmen!? Also, buying an RV is a major purchase, and like anyone else, I?d like to get it right the first time (or at least close).? Any comments in regard to model selection or addressing any of my concerns would be greatly appreciated.
 

Jim Dick

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Posts
7,651
Location
Titusville, FL
Hi Mike,

Welcome to the forum. You've made the first move properly...coming here for the answers. :) I'm sure several people will help you in your quest. I won't begin to try to answer all of your questions but will try some. At first I wasn't sure what you meant by hybrid but finally realized it's what I call a bump-out, a hard sided trailer with popup bunk ends.

You are correct in that it's hard to find a full size bed in an RV. The hybrid is probably the only trailer that will be long enough for you. I won't try to respond to the individual models since I'm not familiar with them.

Most hybrids I've seen have A/C so that should help with any moisture buildup on the inside of the canvas. If it isn't really humid you can unzip the sides and let the interior breathe. Obviously you will run into situations where you will have to fold the unit up when wet. You can always remove the matresses from the end and place them in the middle of the trailer. Then the canvas won't get them as wet. Once home you can open it up and let it dry out.

An equalizer hitch is needed to level the RV and tow vehicle. You may find you need to do some equalizing. It will depend upon how much the trailer, when loaded, lowers the rear of your tow vehicle. Anti sway might also be a nice option but you can always add either at a later date. There are others here that will know more about the hitch work than I do.

I have not seen any hybrids that do not use some sort of support under the bed! I find it difficult to believe the cables alone will hold it up. Usually they are designed to hold the bunk in place while attaching the lower supports. If they truely only use cables it's a new one on me.

The raincap might sound like a great idea but you may find you still have black streaks. It might help to a degree but most likely won't eliminate all of them. Sounds like a lot of money to me but, again, I'm not familiar with this particular model.

I hope others will jump in here and provide more information for you. Keep asking your questions! ;)


 

becky

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
Posts
6
I'm new to the RV world too. I've been trying to buy a Travel trailer. Anyhow, I found a good site to look at www.rvtraderonline.com. Good Luck!
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,584
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Welcome to RVForum.Net!  You're off to a good start and we will try to help answer your questions.

Some concerns that I have are:

-  Moisture build up on canvas. Internally due to humidity, especially when sleeping, and then dripping down onto the bed.  Also externally due to rain, leading to mold/mildew, especially when having to pack it up when it is raining/damp, and the excess moisture eventually leaking through to the inside on mattress, etc before you get a chance to unpack it and dry it out.  (Note: one individual had expressed these concerns to me from his previous experience with a hybrid, although he had admitted that it was an older model hybrid (1999 Bantam I believe) that he claims was one of the first on the market at the time and he felt that it wasn?t very well made.
Back in the days when we had a big pop-up (30 years ago now!) moisture build up was never such a problem that there was any dripping. On the other hand, we usually ended up keeping a window open a bit at each end because otherwise, even in cold weather, it was just plain too stuffy at night otherwise with 3-4 people using the two beds.  Sheets and clothing in the bunk area also tended to get damp without some air circulation.  If you have electic service, a small fan is plenty to move the air around.

If you have to fold up the canvas extensions when wet, definitely get them opened to dry as soon as practical.  But you don't have to worry about it just for overnight or until the rainy weather stops. 

-  Equalizer hitch.  I?m not sure if this is necessary in my planned set up 23? 9? trailer pulled by a 2003 Silverado 1500HD.  (Note: I?ve been told by one individual (not a salesman) that this is really only needed on standard size 1500/F150?s and smaller vehicles, and since I have a 1500HD this isn?t necessary at all.  Just his opinion?)
A 1500HD is just a 1500 with slightly stiffer rear axle springs.  That's probably a good idea for any trailer towing, but may not eliminate the need for a weight-distributing hitch.  What is the tongue (hitch) weight of the trailers you are considering?  Allow a bit extra over the brochure figures because they are for unlade trailers.  And how much weight do you expect to carry in the truck bed when camping?  Bikes, firewood, BBQ, grill, etc.?  All the weightr adds up and if you are getting anywhere near your trucks payload (probably around 1800 lbs) you will want a weight distributing hitch to spread some of the load to the front axle.  At a guess, any total of a 1000 lbs or more should probaly be distributed to preserve the ruck's best handling characteristics.  Besides, if you changeto a larger trailer later, the WD hitch will still be adequate but a non-WD probably will not.

-  Size of water tanks, clean, black, and grey water.  I understand that bigger is better, but what would should I consider to be adequate, given my planned usage?
Impossible to say without knowing your family's water usage habits and how trainable they are.  And how willing you are to use campground facilities for showers and such.  The size of trailer you are looking at won't have any really big tanks anyway, so maybe the question is moot.  Black tanks are usually smaller than gray and most people find that gray fills the fastest.  You can always carry along a "blue boy" portable waste tank for extra capacity.  Will there be an opportunity to dump waste tanks and to refill the fresh water tank at your destinations?


-  Durability of beds (I weigh 260 Lbs, plus my wife will be in the bed with me as well).  There aren?t any prop rods/poles supporting the bed for underneath/outside, just cables on the inside that hold it open. The underside of the bed is fiberglass (I believe).
Many modern trailers don't have extra supports underneath, but they probably aren't designed for a couple of 260 lb people either.  The cables will be plenty strong - tiny braided steel cables can easily support 1000+ lbs each - but the structure they are attached too may not.  It might be worthwhile to inquire direct to the manufacturers on this point.


-  Use of a hybrid in colder temperatures, given that the beds are enclosed with canvas, versus fiberglass sides.  The model I am interested in comes with heated mattresses & 20,000 BTU furnace.  There is also an option for a heated holding tank ? is this necessary since I am not planning on any cold weather (below freezing during the day) camping?

Skip the heated holding tank unless you plan sub-freezing outings.  The heated matress will probably be nice (assuming you have electric power available) when temps dip below mid-40's overnight, but not really necessary. And you can always buy a heated matteress pad or electric blanket later if you want.

-  There is a $170 option of a RainKap (http://www.rainkap.com) which ?prevents black streaks and easily replaces common one-inch trim insert (not present on all RV moldings). ?  Is this worthwhile?
It will probally help, but there will still be places where water runs down the sides and streaks tend to form. The best protection is a coat of a surface protectant like Protect-All or Dri-wash on the sidewalls.  If the $170 is not a budget breaker, fine. If there are other things you would much rather spend $170 on, do that instead.  Again, the rainkap could always be added later if you want - it is easy enough to replace the rubber molding inserts yourself.


-  Buying thru RV Wholesalers (http://rvwholesalers.com/index.php).  Has anybody out there purchased from them or know of anyone who has?  It appears to be a great way to save thousands of dollars, plus you get to set it up exactly the way you want, without having to settle for what?s on the local dealer?s lot or having to pay extra for a ?special order.?
I haven't purchased through them and to me they look like any of the other internet Rv dealers, most of whom claim big savings but in fact are offering fairly typical discounts.  RVs are often steeply discounted, with higher end models sometimes selling for 25% off the MSRP if you bargain well.  You might not get that much on lower priced rigs because a chunk of the dealers cost is fixed rather than price-related, but you certainly should be able to find what you want at 18-20% off MSRP.  Have you obtained a quote from them on "just what you want"?  Is the quote as good a deal as the ones advertised on their web page (about 25% off what they say is "list price").  By the way, don't take the dealer's word ofr "list" - ask to see the manufacturer's MSRP for the base unit plus options.

You can save plenty doing your own shopping and contacting dealers in a broad area rather than just your home town.  There are many dealers who solicit internet sales and at least some will get just what you want for you. Dealers in towns near the RV factories are  a good bet.


-  Lastly, storing my camper when it is not in use.  I plan on storing it on an uncovered cement slab alongside my house, so it will be outside all year around exposed to the elements ? with Wisconsin winters being the biggest concern.

Lots of people do - no problem. You will have to drain the water system before freeizing weather and air it out in the spring, but it's really no big deal.
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
  Equalizer hitch.  I?m not sure if this is necessary in my planned set up 23? 9? trailer pulled by a 2003 Silverado 1500HD.  (Note: I?ve been told by one individual (not a salesman) that this is really only needed on standard size 1500/F150?s and smaller vehicles, and since I have a 1500HD this isn?t necessary at all.  Just his opinion?)

I pull a 23' light weight travel trailer with a '95 Ford Bronco.  I have a weight distributing hitch with anti-sway control.  I would not venture out on the highway without the set up.  I have driven Ford E350 van hauling a  a boat trailer with two tons of boat on it, without a WD hitch or sway control and let me tell you that was a real white knuckler on I-5 -- in spite of the one ton suspension and the 146" wheel base of that van.  Get the WD and anti-sway systems.  Treat it as a safety feature.  A signficant safety feature.

-  Size of water tanks, clean, black, and grey water.  I understand that bigger is better, but what would should I consider to be adequate, given my planned usage?

Four people, all adult sized?  Do you plan a lot of boondocking?  (ie no hookups)  That will increase your need for tank capacity.  We find that with two adults, 40 gals. black water will last 5 days, 35 gals. grey water will last about 4 days with paper plate discipline and no showers.  At full hook up sites, grey tank capacity is immaterial -- you will leave that tank open to the sewer.  However, the black water tank is kept shut until at least 2/3s full and then dumped at one shot -- the rush of water forces paper and crud out and down the sewer.  Thus 40 gals. is still nice for the black tank.

Fresh water tankage is a bit different -- it is easier to fill a fresh tank than dump a dirty water tank.  Nevertheless, I would not go below 40 gals..

 
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