The beginning of a a Keystone Zeppelin Quality Post

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kbfeip

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Posts
148
Location
Discovery Bay, CA
After much consideration, and advice from some of the members and staff here on towing capacity, etc., just today we pulled the trigger on a new Keystone Zeppelin Z303.

I searched the form and read every post I found.  I called several dealers, and also other dealers who did not sell the line.  I could not locate any significant or tangible evidence of a history of consistent quality problems, and thus made the decision to buy.

We're switching from a 1988 Pace Arrow 34L with 83k on the clock.  (See for sale post elsewhere in the forum)  The main reason we switched is due to a purchase of a new Dodge Ram truck, and the realization of how much room we could get in a lightweight slide-out trailer.  With 3 kids, the room is very attractive.

I was given a bad report on the Zeppelin brand by only one dealer.  It is true that they are discontinuing the line (apparently for a redesign, something I'm told RV mfg's do often) but I'm not able to determine if there are any quality reasons attached to this decision on Keystone's part.  The report I received that was negative was in connection with the slide seal and windows leaking, so I asked the dealer I was going to purchase from to pull his statistics report from service and share them with me.  It turns out that they only had Zeppelin models in for minor issues, (screws coming loose from cabinet doors, valance pulled away, etc.)  I'm a pretty good read of character, and I hope that my read here was accurate also.

I crawled around every inch of that trailer today.  (The wife has pictures of two sets of legs stretched out from underneath the TT on the showroom floor, that of mine and the salesman)  ;D  I investigated the slide mechanism, roof construction, frame, underbelly, cabinets, appliances, windows, jacks, torsion axels and suspension, etc.  I think, I think I've checked it out thoroughly and know what I'm getting for my dollar, especially at wholesale dealer cost plus factory rebate.

I've also read some of the other posts within the forum which suggest that lightweights often sacrifice construction integrity to achieve lightweight specs.  After weighing all the issues, including my need tow limitations, I've decided to take the risk associated with purchasing a lightweight, knowing that the construction may be a bit fragile.

I'd like to hear from any others that own lightweights to gain perspective on what the future may hold.  We truly are mostly weekenders, with a week or two during the summer, so we're hopeful that our new TT will provide years of family fun.  I'll tell you this for sure:  If we have no major issues with the new TT for several years to come, the added space (this thing is huge!) and the convenience of towing with our brand new powertrain should payoff big time for our family.

I'll also post any experience that I have after delivery on Thursday ( + or - ) and our shakedown run over the next few days. 

Wish us luck,




 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
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Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,979
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Best of luck with your new Zeppelin. I think you made a sound and well-informed decision and can expect to get good value from it as well as a lot of fun. There is always a certain amount of risk of getting a lemon - the RV industry has altogether too many of those - but that's totally unpredictable and not particular to any brand or model.
 

Trudy

Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Posts
21
kdfeip, wish I had read your post earlier. You need to go to www.keystone-camping.com and go to "Zeppelins". You can read my sad Zeppelin story along with others. But don't dispare, some are thrilled with their Zep. Hope you're one of the lucky ones!
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
I've also read some of the other posts within the forum which suggest that lightweights often sacrifice construction integrity to achieve lightweight specs.  After weighing all the issues, including my need tow limitations, I've decided to take the risk associated with purchasing a lightweight, knowing that the construction may be a bit fragile.

I'd like to hear from any others that own lightweights to gain perspective on what the future may hold.  We truly are mostly weekenders, with a week or two during the summer, so we're hopeful that our new TT will provide years of family fun.  I'll tell you this for sure:  If we have no major issues with the new TT for several years to come, the added space (this thing is huge!) and the convenience of towing with our brand new powertrain should payoff big time for our family.

I tow a lightweight Prowler 23 foot TT and have for 10 years.  You will hit a number of crappy little failures like miswirings, outlet boxes secured by thin air, drawers that get stuck,  and trim that pulls away.  Most all of thes glinches will be repairable with a glue gun, pliers, screw driver, etc..  Let's face it, RV QC is no better than it has to be. 

Let me repeat my trailer mantra:    A trailer is a simple box on a set of dead axles with a stage coach suspension -- in fact, stage coach suspensions are more complex.  The plumbing is positively 19th century.  The box is filled with a number of appliances, all made by the same set of manufacturers like Coleman, Suburban, and Dometic, and all covered by their own warranties.  In short, what you see is pretty much what you get.  Compared to trailers, motor homes are as complex as space shuttles.



 

kbfeip

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Posts
148
Location
Discovery Bay, CA
Trudy,

Did you use the same username (author) on the Keystone forum?  I went 8 pages in, and couldn't locate you under author.

I would like to see your story.

Kurt

 

kbfeip

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Posts
148
Location
Discovery Bay, CA
Quality update:

We knew going into our purchase that the Zeppelin construction might be a bit light in order to save on weight.  No surprises after our first trip in the unit. 

So far, the only quality issues we've found are minor:  One cabinet door that's warped and won't close properly, I'm certain that I will upgrade the sound system, and I wish I had a bit more water pressure in the shower.  (I may try switching the shower wand with my motorhome)

The positive:  Everything else worked without issue, and the coach seems to be very well insulated.  (At least compared to our 1988 Pace Arrow.  We heated almost all the time with a portable "Big Heat" electric heater, and only needed the furnace in the mornings to take off the chill.  Once it came up to temp, it stayed warm with only the electric heater.

So far, so good.
 

Trudy

Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Posts
21
Oops. Sorry Kurt, I forgot to tell you that. Look for posts by "Trulon".  I really think the problem we encountered was a fluke. In all the reading I've done, I've never heard of anyone else having that particular problem with their Zep.

Sound like you got one of the good ones! 
 

kbfeip

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Posts
148
Location
Discovery Bay, CA
I guessed that might the username you were using on the Keystone forum.

I'll not be surprised if we do experience some problems with our new TT, I'm just hopeful that they will be minor.
 

kbfeip

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Posts
148
Location
Discovery Bay, CA
My but it's been a very long time since I've posted here.  I stumbled across my post here and thought that after four years of Zeppelin ownership I'd update my post:

In short....we've loved the trailer.  I've only had one real problem which required a significant repair following a break in one of the slide out cables.  Turns out it was due to misalignment of cable attachment mounting on the slide out which caused downward pressure on the cable entering the coach as it retracted.  After time it frayed to the point of breakage.  Even so, the slide still worked with three corner attachment points.

I did the repair myself while camping after purchasing a $25 replacement cable.  Not difficult, just took some patience to equalize load sharing of all cables after the install.

The trailer still tows wonderfully.  With the 1000 lb. Equal-i-zer hitch system properly adjusted, and only 35 lbs. in air bags which I installed at the rear of the truck, it's very smooth towing.  The tow rating on my Dodge is 7700 lbs. if I recall correctly, and dry weight of the trailer is 4800 lbs., so the setup is really ideal if you wish to camp with a 1/2 ton tow rig.

The trailer is a true ultra lightweight unit.  This requires that the owner be aware of the construction needed to obtain that light weight rating.  You simply don't play football inside the trailer, and use reason/caution with it.  The materials used are just a bit more delicate than you might find in a standard build and as such require a bit more care to insure against damage from any bull in the china cabinet that might enter the coach.

All in all I've been very pleased with the coach.  It's pretty awesome to be able to pull 33.5 ft of trailer well, with a sleeping capacity of 10 people while also having a very comfortable and sporty 1/2 ton truck for use when not towing.

 

COMer

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Posts
1,663
To answer your question about lightweight trailers and their longevity, we have the Rockwood UltraLight and travel and live in it eight months of the year.  It has held up well and I don't see any more problems than other people with higher end rigs, complain about.  None are perfect but ours has not suffered any additional probelms because it is a less expensive model.
 
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