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Post Info TOPIC: Quality of build opinions asked for...


RV-Dreams Community Member

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Quality of build opinions asked for...


G'Day All:

 

We're new to this world and we're researching large fifth wheel toy haulers.  We have three trailers on our short list.  Two of which are offerings by Dutchmen and Grand Design.  There are many opinions on these builders posted on the different forums.  However, there seems to be fewer opinions on K-Z RV.

Does anyone have an opinion of quality of build in general from K-Z that they would share with us?  We tend to favor the the floorplan of the V4012TK.  I've done enough research to know the industry tends to try to confuse the process with the way they organize listing equipment.  K-Z is no different in that respect.  K-Z seems to be less popular in this class than the other two under consideration.  There are many reasons this could be.  Some of which may be very important, some may not be.  All three units on our short list, similarly equipped, will likely start at close to the same MSRPs and actually sell for reasonably the same money.  So money doesn't seem to be in play here.  And on paper, you pretty much can add all the same equipment on any trailer in this class.  The word "generic" comes to mind.

But being anal as I am on specifics beneath the glitter and glitz, I'm more concerned about the quality of build.  Our first major expedition out is tentatively being planned as a road trip to Alaska in the summer of '19.  We certainly want a trailer that will stand up to that trip with reasonable care, caution and consideration.

I appreciate any and all replies, on any of these builders.

 

Dave



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Dave,

I don't know that I can be too specific with your needs, especially since we've not traveled to Alaska with our RV.  Nor are we likely to do so.

Generically, I would suggest that you pay very close attention to the "foundation" of any RV you are considering.  The foundation is made up of the frame, suspension, axles, wheels and tires.  I'd venture to say that those items would be very important when considering one's choice of an RV.  Do the research on the size of an RV's frame in particular.  If the frame has a tendency to twist, that could be disastrous to anything above it, and the frame could be damaged if one were to overload one's RV weight-wise.

Good luck in your research and planning.  I'm sure others will be along soon to give you a lot more information and things to consider.

Terry



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My advise to anyone contemplating the purchase of any RV is to take a factory tour. Fortunately I'm only a couple of hours away from Elkhart so it's not such a big deal for me, but I had my eyes opened wide when I took a tour of a well known motorhome manufacturer. When I took the tours I looked at things like how were the coaches put together. I didn't look so much at the methods but at the care that was taken with the assembly. I saw one manufacturer where I must have looked at 1,000 staples and I think saw one that was not exactly right, a pretty good record. If you can get a factory tour I think it's best. If you can't get a factory tour get a creeper and as Terry said look at the frame. Take a tape measure and measure the frame from the top of the rail to the bottom of the rail, the bigger the better. Also look at how thick the steel is, again the bigger the better. Also look a the quality of the welds, good welds look like it's one piece of metal, bad welds look like it's glued together. Search the Internet for "pictures of good welds" and "pictures of bad welds", it becomes pretty obvious what you are looking at. Inquire about the axle ratings and especially the tire ratings. Make sure they will work for your loads. You might also want to ask if there is an axle upgrade available. I'm big fan of not loading coaches to there maximum. Also ask about the "cargo carrying capacity" or CCC. I know this has to be published on motorhomes and I'm thinking it should also be on trailers although I'm not sure. Also look where any wiring or plumbing penetrates any frame members or the floor of the coach, are there sharp edges where the wiring or plumbing will chafe and wear through? Also make sure that wiring and plumbing are well supported, if you can move it with light hand pressure it will flex moving down the road. When you are inside the coach pull or the drawers, are they plywood or particle board. The quality runs in that order. Looks at the space between the plies on plywood, if there is a dark line it is likely glued together with resorcinol glue which is water proof. Look at the inside of the cabinets are all of the fasteners flush and do they look like they are gripping tightly? Ask if the floor is made of marine grade plywood. If possible try and find a used unit by the same manufacturer and look at the underside of the floor. Has it started to delaminate due to water penetration? Call the manufacturer and talk to them I have found most to be fairly forth coming with information. I don't ask if the floor is made of marine grade wood, ask what it is made of, I think you get the idea, generally if a coach looks like it's put together well it likely is. Just my two cents.

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Thanks so much folks.  Your points are well taken.

Yes, we plan to do more boondocking than seems to be the norm.  The trailers in this class seem to come with only one wet cell battery for demonstration purposes and the buyer is expected to install a battery bank post-delivery.  The builders seem to come up with all sorts of ways to give a lower MSRP to attract buyers only to spring surprises on them after they get their attention.  Then you have to spend another 30 or 40K or more to honestly make it reasonably serviceable for intended purposes.  I would certainly rather pay the extra and get it ready for the road from the factory than have to do it all post-delivery.  It just takes a lot of time.

This getting by on the cheap logic is what concerns me about quality of build.  I would like to read more opinions, the good, the bad, and the ugly, on build issues, but there doesn't seem to be much on K-Z RV on the independent forums.

Thanks again.

Dave



-- Edited by Dave MW on Tuesday 2nd of October 2018 08:00:53 AM

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Dave



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Dave:

KZ built a great trailer in the Escalade. In fact our 2006 was purchased by a friend and it is still going strong after trips to Alaska and Inuvik, NWT and all over the US / Canada.  Lots of miles. But that line was discontinued.  The Escalades were built 2005-2010 and still are a great trailer strength wise.

I'll give opinions and cut to the chase.  KZ, now, builds more "light-er" trailers.  Since they were purchased by Thor they've been re-concentrating on that class of trailers.  Even the large ones are relatively "light."  For some they can be a good choice but read on.

To define "light," look at GVWR and the cargo carrying capacity.  That is what can the rig haul, weight wise, of your stuff including water.  Water is heavy. Your stuff is heavy.  IMO, and its been proven over and over, one needs at least 2,500 in cargo capacity and make sure that number is for the trailer your going to actually purchase with all options on board. (3,000 is a better number but hard to get there without going to a New Horizons type trailer.)  Website specs seldom include the weight of the options, such as air conditioners, which reduce the overall cargo capacity and subtract from the Gross Cargo Weight capacity of the trailer.   GVWR is technically the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating - which is the maximum the trailer can weight including all your stuff and water.  All that said, you don't want to exceed not only the GVWR but also not exceed the hub ratings for each wheel which is one-half the axle's ratings.  That, like the rear axle rating of the truck, is where a lot of people exceed capacity because the galley, for example, is on one side and that's where a lot of the weight come from.

Second, you mentioned Alaska.  Sound like you are actually going to travel and not just "reside" in the rig.  If that is the case the first stop, IMO, after purchasing the trailer, assuming this is not an OEM option, is MORryde for a suspension upgrade to the Independent Suspension (IS) along with G114 "H" rated Tires and disc brakes.  You said you were interested in the important items not just "color and curtains" as I sometimes say.  These are important upgrades regardless of the trailer you purchase.  The MORryde IS actually reinforces the existing frame.   Some OEMs offer these upgrades. Others do not. That said it is not uncommon to see brand new trailers at MORryde, in Elkhart, having spring based suspensions, tires and brakes upgraded.

Strong frames are not light.  So that means a truck capable of carrying the load.  Tow ratings mean little and are not based on real world 5th wheel loading. (They are based on goose neck configurations as the pin weights of that configuration are lower.)  It's the rear axle rating of the truck that many times is exceeded due to the pin weight of the trailer.  Remember, published pin weights are always low because they do not include your cargo.  

There is a lot more to this but those are the highlights.  Continue your research and learn.  Don't make the mistake many do and listen to sales reps either for the trailer or the truck.  Their job is to sell you a trailer or truck.  Anytime one hears, "people do this all the time" run away, IMO.

My 2 cents and opinion.

Edited to correct typo as Terry noticed and clarify GVWR.



-- Edited by Bill and Linda on Thursday 4th of October 2018 08:41:44 AM



-- Edited by Bill and Linda on Thursday 4th of October 2018 01:32:11 PM

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Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2016 RAM 5500HD \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Link Air Ride
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Acraguy's suggestion of inspecting a used RV of the same make and model for structural issues, rust, flooring etc. is crackerjack. If you can, do it.

"I'm big fan of not loading coaches to their maximum." Another wise practice...and so many are over!



-- Edited by LarryW21 on Tuesday 2nd of October 2018 10:00:36 AM

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To touch on Bill's comment, most all of what he says is very accurate.  However, when he spoke of options subtracting from the gross weight of the trailer, he referred to GCVW.  He probably meant GVWR (Gross Vehicular Weight Rating) which takes into account only the total capacity of the trailer.  GCVW (Gross Combined Vehicular Weight) is the total weight capacity of both the truck and the trailer.  I'm sure he just got his fingers on the wrong keys.

As for each trailer's cargo carrying weight, I think that the manufacturer's sticker found on the pin box lists that particular trailer's CCC in pounds.  That sticker should be somewhere on the side.  The sticker on ours is on the off-door side of the trailer, or driver's side if the truck was hooked up to the trailer.

With regards to the MorRyde IS suspension system, there are some manufacturers that are including that system as an option, so you might check around to see which ones do.  Last I knew, DRV Suites is one of the factories that does install them.  Or, they may have MorRyde install the IS system on before they build the RV onto the frame.  I don't know if other manufacturers have the IS system as an option because I haven't researched RV's much since we got ours in 2010.

Terry



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Dave MW wrote:

But being anal as I am on specifics beneath the glitter and glitz, I'm more concerned about the quality of build.  Our first major expedition out is tentatively being planned as a road trip to Alaska in the summer of '19.  We certainly want a trailer that will stand up to that trip with reasonable care, caution and consideration.

I appreciate any and all replies, on any of these builders.

 


 Dave, I've given some thought to your specific comment above and would offer this perspective, FWIW,  If it were me, and it was, I would not make my first major trip in an new, or used but "examined," RV to Alaska.  Again, IMO, that may not be the best plan.  Here's why:

We've been to Alaska twice and the Canadian Northwest Territories and all over the US and Canada.  So that's our background with a lot of travel and RV experience as well as owning a lot of trailers over the years.  We went to Alaska the first time back in 2010 and again in another year to the Canadian Northwest Territories as far up as one can drive, in the summer, to Inuvik.  When we were looking at replacing our KZ Escalade (highly modified with MORryde IS, brakes, tires, etc.) which did a perfect job on those trips, we were looking at New Horizons.  Arguably a trailer with a good reputation, FWIW.  We were to go to Alaska the same year we were to pickup the New Horizons.  Short version, we canceled the Alaska trip.

New Horizons Management asked why we would cancel the trip.  I said, "There is no way I would take a rig to Alaska that I had not had a long shakedown period checking out and waiting for the usual parts to fail."  The service manager commented, "That's smart."

I offer this perspective for any new rig:  We had lots of experience.  The New Horizons is a very good and well built trailer.  But "its an RV."  RV's need road time for things to "settle in."  Remember, as has been commented, "Every time you take an RV on the road it experiences a level 9 earthquake."  That was a very insightful comment.

All of the above FWIW.  Naturally YMMV.

 



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Thank you all for your comments and opinions.

We are going to the RV show in Pomona next week to speak with vendors and factory Reps, and look at trailers. In this setting, what specifically could I look at, or inspect on a unit that might give me that "warm fuzzy" feeling about build quality? I know most builders use pretty much the same common set of components so I doubt that would differentiate one from another very much on the topic of quality of build.

If you install the same equipment on each trailer, that wouldn't do much either. And in this case, I honestly don't see much difference in price. So that's out. There doesn't seem to be much left except how the interior is actually put together. And on that point, what I have looked at has really not impressed me very much, although what I have seen seems to be the industry "standard".

For example: The use of nothing but staples to hold support blocks for the kitchen drawer glides with no glue behind them. I've read stories of draws falling down when staples have just been pulled out. As a hobbyist woodworker, this is predictable from bouncing down the road. Staples would be fine to hold the piece in place until the glue sets. Then the glue would take the load. Today's wood glues are stronger than the wood itself.

I'll be sure to take my flashlight, tape and work cloths to wear at the show to crawl around under trailers to see what I can find. Even if a suspension upgrade isn't listed, I'll certainly ask the factory Reps if they'll do it. I already know that I won't be able to load to MGVWR of 20,000 pounds since that would push me well over the MGCWR on a maxed out GMC/Chevy 3500 diesel.

We do plan to put some miles on the road in the new rig before heading to Alaska.  Your point Bill is certainly a good one for sure.  I doubt we'll get as many miles on it as I would like.  But with some added equipment and upgrades, I think the major components should be okay.  I do know anything new needs a good shakedown cruise, or two, or three, even the new tow vehicle.  To be honest with you, I wanted to take the Harley north this year.  But my spinal surgeon nixed that idea.

I've budgeted three days at the show to devote to three builders/trailers and vendors. And at 64 years old, I freely admit I'm not the final decision maker here. I just hope I can find reasonable quality in something that is acceptable to the boss. So please, if others read this far, do not hesitate to offer any comments, opinions or suggestions on any aspect of build quality. I learn something from everyone.

Thanks again my friends.

Dave



-- Edited by Dave MW on Thursday 4th of October 2018 11:15:20 AM



-- Edited by Dave MW on Thursday 4th of October 2018 11:19:00 AM

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What Bill said.

Factory tours are the way to go…but really if you're not an engineer then it's hard to get a real impression of a lot of things although looking at stuff like basic workmanship should be something pretty much anybody can do. What you need to remember is every time you tow your RV…it's like a 4.5 or 6.0 or whatever size earthquake on the inside. The second thing to remember is…all RVs are pretty much built like crap. They have weight and cost considerations which force a lot of that…but even our top of the line New Horizons is really built like crap compared to most houses. Once you realize that…then it's just a matter of more expensive means being slightly less built like crap…and more expensive also (usually) means better quality materials in some areas and maybe…just maybe…a little better workmanship. Still though…for an engineer the factory tours of 5vers in the 100-120K range was shocking to me…but understandable when you get back to the basics of cost and weight limits and "we need to build 30 trailers this week" pressures. 

We've had amazingly good luck with our NH…we've had issues but mostly it was more minor stuff rather than major failures.

Since you want to do more than the normal expected amount of boondocking…obviously you'll need more batteries than are typically installed…builders don't put in more because (a) most people don't really need them, (b) they increase the cost, and (c) they increase the weight which lowers the CCC. Frequently…CCC is quoted by the builder without the awning and slide toppers installed…so when you add them you use 300 or so pounds of CCC. They also frequently quote the CCC with no propane (50-80 total points per cylinder) and with no water at all…no fresh, gray or black…and you'll probably never tow with no fresh onboard…and you'll tow a lot to and from boon docking with full fresh or full gray/black tanks.

 

 



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"to crawl around under trailers to see what I can find."

If the RV has an enclosed bottom you won't see much...and it should have an enclosed bottom.


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Got to comment on Neil's points about batteries and solar.  Keep in mind that most OEM's do a terrible job of solar installation.  (New Horizons is an exception but one still has to know what to ask for.)  Most OEM's just don't provide the physical space, or many times weight capacity, for a good battery capacity for boondocking.  IF you choose a residential fridge keep in mind (using the 50% discharge rule,) one needs about 300 AH worth of batteries (150AH usable @ 50% discharge) just for the fridge.  So for many that means 900 AH worth of batteries - 300AH for the fridge and the other 600 for "you."  Some can get by on less but many are surprise at how much 12 volt power RV's use, especially with a quality inverter.

Naturally that means 1 watt of solar per Amp Hour (AH) for batteries or something like 900 watts for a 900 AH battery bank.  Batteries and solar and the necessary wiring add weight and the battery weight, and space, are not insignificant.

We choose to use an "RV Fridge" which is electric and LP gas.  That reduces our battery need to only 600 AH along, in our case, with 720 watts of solar.  Naturally a generator is very desirable as solar, alone, seldom with totally recharge the batteries assuming one actually uses them as many do and when the sun's not out . . . I quickly acknowledge most prefer a residential fridge.  Just saying what we have.

I am not saying one can't get along with less battery capacity.  But am just trying to give you information as you seem to really want to know the drill and will be using the RV to travel and not just plugged in.  Totally different experience and equipment needs.  Neil, BTW, travels all over as we do.  He knows what he is talking about and is an ME.

Everyone has their own criteria.  So all of the above are our experience over the last now odd 40 years playing around this RV game.

Good hunting and safe travels,



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Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2016 RAM 5500HD \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Link Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



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Dave,

Many great comments above. I would add that it is a good idea to visit the factory (and make sure your tour occurs when RVs are in production, not after hours), but also attend owner's group rallies. At the owner's rally you will see how that particularly RV brand ages, you will likely gain some valuable insights (i.e., good and bad stuff about the brand), and you also have the benefit of seeing what others have chooses for their "windows and curtains" and other options, affirming or potentially causing you to change what options you might ultimately choose to incorporate within your specific RV. We went that route (i.e., factory tour, owner's rally) and the time was well spent doing both the tour and owner's rally (i.e., big impact on "windows and curtains" as well as very importantly on other key options/customizations).

Lynn



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There is plenty of opportunity to offend here ... I apologize upfront if that happens. I am a current KZ owner and have been full time for two years. Bill is correct that the newest KZ's are built lighter ... they advertise that they are the lightest full profile 5th wheel. I have done many of the upgrades that Bill mentioned (morRYDE independent suspension, disc brakes, Goodyear G114 H rated tires and the required 17.5" high spec aluminum wheels). My trailer is much heavier now than when I bought it ... the IS suspension and wheels and tires were nearly 900 lbs, but this is unsprung weight so while the truck has to pull it, the frame doesn't have to carry it, in fact it carries the frame. At the KZ rally, I was told that KZ intends for it's Durango Gold (top of the current line) to compete directly with Montana, Grand Design and other upper mid range products. Of those that are the intended "competition" I think the KZ is a better value product ... but that is IMO. I'm happy with our Durango Gold (2017 DG 381REF), it has served us very well, but the upgrades were necessary for that to be true. Knowing what I now know, if I had it to do over again, I would buy a DRV Mobile Suites. They are a step up from everything the OP mentioned and a step up from my KZ, without having to add the morRYDE stuff ... because it comes that way from the factory. If I was where you are, I'd look for a DRV that was a couple of years old ... there are plenty of them ... you'd get a great product at a price that would be comparable to buying the new products you are looking at. Hope this helps.

Additional thoughts:

Trailer "manufacturers" are really "assemblers" as most of them use the same vendors (water heaters, stoves, windows, doors, frames, microwaves, refrigerators, heaters, air conditioners, etc.)  What the "manufacturer" does that matters to you is select the frame design, design and construct the floors, walls, roofs, fitment workmanship.  When you visit an RV factory (production RV's not custom builders) you will discover that it's not like an assembly line for cars.  Each RV is essentially hand built ... and no two are exactly alike.  You won't find a reliable wiring diagram for example ... and where the wire for the hitch lights go thru the wall might depend on whether the assembler was right or left handed or tall or short.  It's strange, but true in most instances.  When Bill said "it's an RV" that is much deeper statement than most realize.  Which is why I said "knowing what I know now" which was like getting a "degree in RV" ... it is both knowledge acquired by good advice or personal experience and then learning to manage my own expectations.  RV's aren't houses or cars, but most new people expect them to be "house like", and they aren't.  It's all good, but it was different than I expected.



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 4th of October 2018 03:23:29 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 4th of October 2018 03:42:16 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 4th of October 2018 05:14:14 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 4th of October 2018 08:40:21 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Friday 5th of October 2018 11:12:15 AM



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 18th of October 2018 12:53:13 PM

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Thanks to all again for the great thoughts, ideas and cautions.

I'm certainly leaning towards adding an independent suspension with disk brakes. Some builders of trailers in this class offer it as an option, which I think would be nice to have done pre-delivery if possible.

I plan to install the Onan 7kw generator set since the unit will certainly be power hungry. A 120VAC refrigerator will be installed. Most units in this class, do have facilities to install four batteries. I'll take measurements at the show, but in any case, I will be installing as much battery power as possible. I understand that solar is not a realistic option since I doubt there is enough real-estate to install enough solar panels to really do much good and I'm concerned about weight. The K-Z, for example, has a respectable cargo capacity stated at 3,690 pounds. However, it's not all usable.

The MGVWR and MGCWR of the 2019 Silverado 3500, DRW, diesel is 13,000 pounds and 31,000 pounds respectively. I'm pretty much set on something that can be handled with this class of tow vehicle. I know I'm going to be close to some weight limits and will have to be careful with this. I understand that tanking much water will certainly be an issue.

I'm trying to figure out how to accommodate the lady of the house yet stay in line with maximum weight ratings and balance. The K-Z trailer MGVWR is 19,000 pounds. Most in this class are rated for 20,000 pounds. This is why I asked for thoughts on the general build quality of this builder specifically. Their V4012TK is at the top of the short list in most areas with most considerations. But the book is not closed yet.

The comment that "It's an RV" is certainly well put. And one thing I've learned by reading discussions on a number of forums is to expect the unexpected. I think I'll make drawing an electrical diagram my first major retirement project. I worked most of my life as a radar technician and I like having a good, reliable diagram to work from when there is an electrical issue at hand. Besides, I haven't been across 120 volts in a long time. Yes, radar technicians do have those "Oops" moments. And this is an area where I can be really anal and it's just passed off with "Yeah, but that's his therapy". lol.

Thanks again,
Dave





-- Edited by Dave MW on Friday 5th of October 2018 10:40:07 AM

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"I am not saying one can't get along with less battery capacity."

Instead of doing all we can to lengthen the life of our batteries, we can USE them. The lifespan difference between, for instance, regular 50% discharges, regular 60% discharges and regular 70% discharges, isn't that much. See Trojan's chart at:

www.trojanbattery.com/products/deep-cycle-flooded/signature-line-flooded-2/

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Winnebago TT 2101DS & Tahoe LTZ, 300 watts WindyNation solar-parallel w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state/county campgrounds. 14 year Army vet-11B40 then 11A - old MOS 1542 & 1560.



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Dave, A word of caution about assuming you can make upgrades after delivery ... some such as MORyde IS might not be possible, something you should validate before purchase. For example, we were just at MORryde for annual maintenance and switching bearing (changing from NeverLube to split greasable) ... short story, someone else was their to upfit their RV with disc brakes and the IS suspension ... they departed solely with the desired disc brakes, the position of one of their holding tanks would not allow for the installation of the IS system. Probably not a typical issue ... but it can happen.

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Thanks for the last two tips. I know batteries are like cars, there's about a bizillion models.

Obviously I will have to call MORryde about applying their IS mod before I sign on the dotted line. Thanks so much for pointing that out.

Dave

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One other thing from me, Dave.

When we ordered our trailer, I had the intention of occasionally boondocking, so we ordered our fiver with a 3000 watt pure sine wave inverter option.  That option included two extra batteries, and the factory put in an extra door to allow us to access the two extra.  With a box built to house the batteries, the inverter was set on top of that box so that the cable run from the battery to the inverter was only a couple of feet at the most.

The pure sine wave inverter is important with any inverter, regardless of size.  That will give more protection for computerized components within appliances and elsewhere.  Also, I STRONGLY suggest getting something like the Progressive Industries power protection device installed in your coach.  We didn't do that with our order, and I think that while we were still living in Oklahoma City, a bad electrical source led to two different washing machines going bonkers.  We've since installed the Progressive Industries (2014) and have not had any problems since.

Terry



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I emailed MORryde and asked if their IS with disk brakes could be installed on the three trailers on our short list. There reply was yes. The mod can be applied to any of them. Thanks for the heads up Lynn & ED.

I'm not certain of power protection devices being installed. More research is needed. I am very aware of what a spike from lightening can do to digital electronics, and just about everything being digitally controlled these days can certainly be taken out of action.

I've seen mentioned here, people say they can be emailed with further detailed information on a topic. I've not tried to find anyone's email address. If mine is shown anywhere, please do not hesitate to send me further comments that might be longer than you might want to write here.

Thanks again everyone.

Dave



-- Edited by Dave MW on Sunday 7th of October 2018 10:18:00 AM

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Dave MW wrote:

I emailed MORryde and asked if their IS with disk brakes could be installed on the three trailers on our short list. There reply was yes. The mod can be applied to any of them. Thanks for the heads up Lynn & ED.

I'm not certain of power protection devices being installed. More research is needed. I am very aware of what a spike from lightening can do to digital electronics, and just about everything being digitally controlled these days can certainly be taken out of action.

I've seen mentioned here, people say they can be emailed with further detailed information on a topic. I've not tried to find anyone's email address. If mine is shown anywhere, please do not hesitate to send me further comments that might be longer than you might want to write here.

Thanks again everyone.

Dave



-- Edited by Dave MW on Sunday 7th of October 2018 10:18:00 AM


Dave, indeed there is a serious need for electrical protection and a lot more then "surges."  The Progressive Industries is, IMO, the best product available.  The HW50C can also be equipped with a readout inside the coach to advise of voltage, current (on each leg individually, line frequency and any faults detected.  It will monitor, high and voltage and loss of neutral, among other important things and shut off power if any parameter is exceeded.  When first plugged in if anything is amiss it will not power the trailer.  It also has a delay to protect the coach and air-conditioners from short power interruptions.  There is a manual bypass if needed.  (Use with extreme caution.)  Surges are always protected.

We been using one for 12+ years and it has saved the electrics in the trailer many times.  

Some OEM's provide this unit, most don't because most people don't know they need one and it costs money.  So they omit it to lower the rig price.  It can be installed by any "normal" DIY if one can install a breaker and an electrical outlet.  If not, a professional can be hired.  It works with 50 or 30 amp service equally well.  I recommend one mounted in the RV as the ones used at the pedestal do not have remote readouts and are exposed to not only weather but theft.  A choice.

http://www.progressiveindustries.net/ems-hw50c

Go here and get the manual and read about it.  There is also a lot of useful info on the site above via the tabs. Nose around.

http://www.progressiveindustries.net/installation-guides

Shop around for best price.  The a lifetime guarantee, phone support and a are field repairable.  

There are many threads on this site about this product and the need.  Except for pricing, the old ones are still valid.  Search away.

As to emails:  There is a private email system on this site allowing communication in private.  Click on your name when logged in and look for messages.  If you receive a message your personal email will get a notification that you have a message.

Trust this will help.

Bill

 

 



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There’s only one thing that “scares” me about RVing...plugging in. Protect yourself. Either don’t or buy quality electrical protection.

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I'm glad Bill checked in and spoke of the Progressive Industries units.  As he was saying, the PI systems protect against both high and low voltages.  Low voltages can be damaging to any electric motors that happen to be on 120V electric (think refrigerator fans for instance) and who knows what else.  There have been a number of times in RV parks where there were enough people on the electric that low voltages occurred and our unit shut down the power to protect us.  It comes back on as soon as the PI system recognizes a higher, stable voltage.

One other thing to mention, although it is not a permanent part of an RV, but be sure that you always use a water pressure regulator for your city water usage.  Also, be sure that when you put the regulator inline, hook it to the hydrant and not to the inlet of the city water of the RV.  I've seen places where the water pressure was so high it blew out the hoses running from the hydrant to the regulator on the side of the RV.

Terry



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Since the OP is in “reasearch mode” ... I’ll add the Hughes Autoformer to the electrical protection devices. The most often incurred electrical issue is low voltage ... when everyone in the RV Park is running their AC, the voltage can get low ... this is very bad for appliances that have electric motors. The Hughes Autoformer can increase the voltage a bit to keep it in the safe zone. Google it ... a good addition to any power management arsenal. JMO.

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I’m not an advocate of hooking to city water. I fill my fresh water tank and use the TT pump. A burst water fitting in an RV is a nasty problem.

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You’ve been getting some great info here and I’ll just comment on you’re Alaska trip. We’re fulltimers and spent 3 months on our Alaska trip in our 37 foot Montana. I took it slow so you probably wouldn’t want to be behind me but there is no way to avoid all the frost heaves and bumps when you’re heavy. We ended up with over $2000 in suspension damage and 2 ruined tires. The center hanger between the leaf springs on one side bent inward. Suspension failure is very common with trailers and for motor homes it’s cracked windshields on this trip. We would never take our “home“ on this trip again. If we were to repeat this trip we would buy a good used Class C or truck and camper, beat the hell out of it then sell it on our return. One of our RV Dreamer friends took our advice, stored their 5 th wheel and bought a good used camper then sold it on their return. They now regret selling the camper because they want to do Alaska again.

If it were me I would buy the trailer on my return from Alaska :)



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Thanks again for the continued advice, suggestions and recommendations.

I am aware of how low voltage can damage most things electronic. Motors draw more current and just burn up. What I didn't know is the extent that low voltage is encountered. On surges and spikes, I have repaired more circuit boards in my life than I care to count that were taken out by nothing other than dirty commercial power. I've dealt with equipment that required calibration to be done at 120VAC and verified at 110 and 130VAC. But I've not seen a stable 110VAC commercial power before. That could raise the current draw from 30 amps to close to 33 amps. That's not good. I had not researched power protection devices available on the consumer market until I started reading the RV forums. Thanks for the suggestions on this.

The shore water pressure being an issue certainly would require a regulator at the pedestal. I've read that coarse and fine filters both, along with a water softener are also nice to have in the main water line coming into the house. I'd be interested in knowing how anyone does this, if you do. I know you would see a pressure drop going through all of this, but I have no idea how much. I see many builders of large toy haulers install one filter. While this is better than no filter, I'm thinking a better setup is in order. I just don't know how or where. An adjustable regulator would certainly be great.

Please keep the information coming.

Dave

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LarryW21 wrote:

I’m not an advocate of hooking to city water. I fill my fresh water tank and use the TT pump. A burst water fitting in an RV is a nasty problem.


 Larry,

Even with using the RV's water pump, a fitting can be blown apart.  We had it happen to us, and to make the whole thing a real nuisance, it had to be on the back side of the shower faucets.

Terry



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LarryW21 wrote:

I’m not an advocate of hooking to city water. I fill my fresh water tank and use the TT pump. A burst water fitting in an RV is a nasty problem.


 Pressure regulator 



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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides), MORryde IS, 8K Disc brakes, GY G114  LR H Tires, 27,320 lbs CGVW

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I have seen mentioned that some units are "Not intended for full time living". This suggests that perhaps there is something done differently during the build to units that are intended for full time living. Are these units built stronger somehow? I've seen this in published owner's manuals, but not on the primary pages on builder's websites. Could someone please explain this? I will certainly ask factory Reps I speak with at the show.

Dave

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Dave MW wrote:

I have seen mentioned that some units are "Not intended for full time living". This suggests that perhaps there is something done differently during the build to units that are intended for full time living. Are these units built stronger somehow? I've seen this in published owner's manuals, but not on the primary pages on builder's websites. Could someone please explain this? I will certainly ask factory Reps I speak with at the show.

Dave


 I think it varies, Dave.  In some cases, I just think the manufacturer doesn't want the liability of their RV being used for full time.  Others realize that theirs isn't 4-season or something and don't want to encourage people to buy for that reason.  As for factory reps, let me tell this story:

We were at an RV show in Fort Worth, TX back in February of 2010 and saw a new-to-us brand name, so we stopped to look and ask questions.  When I posed the question as to whether they would warranty their RV for full timers, the salesman said, "Just don't tell us you are full-timers if you need warranty work."  The factory rep was there, so I asked him the same question and got the same answer.  That left me with the thought of "what if an RV tech notices that one is full-timing in their rig, will the service department then "void" the warranty?"

As for the rigs, some just aren't of the same build quality.  We chose to go with our brand because it was a brand that was created specifically for those that wanted to full time in their RV's.  The owners of the brand were also the owners of the Sunnybrook brand, and they started the DRV Suites because of customers asking them to build something for full-timers.

Terry



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Dave MW wrote:

I have seen mentioned that some units are "Not intended for full time living". This suggests that perhaps there is something done differently during the build to units that are intended for full time living. Are these units built stronger somehow? I've seen this in published owner's manuals, but not on the primary pages on builder's websites. Could someone please explain this? I will certainly ask factory Reps I speak with at the show.

Dave


 Dave, IMO, "Not Intended for full time living" is more of a somewhat "legal" protection then anything else.  But to be specific:

One needs to separate "living" in an RV from "traveling and living" in an RV.  RV's, except those custom made, basically all use the same interior appliances and related plumbing, etc. of various sorts depending on the price.  (By custom I'm referring mostly to New Horizons and Space Craft.  Production line built RV's are not custom.) Some use much better quality wood in the cabinets - which naturally mean they are heavier.  Some, like New Horizons, allow for specific upgraded appliances not typically found in RV's. (Residential fridges however are more common place now in almost all coaches which require more infrastructure - batteries - inverters - for travel.  "It depends.")   But, with very rare custom build exceptions, they all use the same air-conditioners, same hot water heaters (all are "RV" hot water heaters) etc., etc.. In fact even custom built units use many of those same basic components.   More expensive production line units ones may use somewhat better grade RV components but overall not a lot of differences.  Higher cost units may have more insulation and dual pane windows - HIGHTLY recommended.  But they weigh more. Actually, usually that's a good thing.

The big difference is in the infrastructure, frame, suspension and overall strength which matter for travel.  No so much if one doesn't travel.  One can take a relatively inexpensive RV and park 99% of the time it and it can be fine for many years.  Put it on the road - not so much, IMO.  That said, many RV appliances, unlike home units, just don't last 10+ years.  Some do, many don't, especially if they are on the road a lot. 

All RV's on the road take a beating and the use of air-ride hitches in the truck (or on the pin box if the trailer is light enough) can really make a difference as to the impact as will better suspensions that don't use springs as the springs system, regardless of the brand or shock absorber between the shackles, transmit road bumps between wheels and that increases the effect of the impact.   Better quality cabinets will hold up better.  I.e. not just stapled together as many are with thin cheep wood.  But they weight more and cost more and more weight means a bigger truck.  (Never purchase a truck till you have selected the trailer and know all the weights.  That mistake is at the top of the list new RVers make. Never believe the salesman as to what they can tow.  Towing is almost never the deal.  It's rear axle capacity and controlling the trailer.  Again, don't believe the marketing hype.  Examine the numbers and understand what they mean.)

What I am saying is the "full-time living" deal is more of a marketing or warranty position then a reality of build IMO.  "It depends" on the build and the coach, not the marketing.  But, as a rule of thumb, if it's really light, be careful.  Weight has to be taken from someplace and the frame, suspension, tires, and cabinets are where much of the weight saving come from.  Pretty curtains don't weigh much if you follow me.

I'm not saying one has to buy a custom trailer from New Horizons or the like to get a good, solid rig. Absolutely not.  I'm saying one has to look closely at the build and pay little attention to marketing.  But that's just my opinion from now some 40+ years in the RV game and my comments are made from the perspective of full-time or almost full-time RVers.  Not weekenders.  Different deal altogether.

Final point of the post:  "Full-time rated" (or not) can be used as a method of disavowing a warranty claim.  But remember most warranties for the trailer from the OEM are for the trailer portion / build only. The rest of the warranties for like AC units, etc. are with their manufacturer / supplier.  You will be filling out many warranty cards for individual items.  At least we have had to do that.  It depends on the dealer as to whether you have to deal with the product supplier in question or the dealer as well as the time factor after the sale.  If you are near the dealer they may be able to help.  If your on the road they may or may not help or be able to help as much.  It really does depend.  There is no hard and fast rule.  This, IMO, is just reality.

Maybe this 2 cents helps some.



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We've looked at the Summit line and neither of us liked any of the floor plans very much. I was told they are carved in stone and the factory would not change a thing. They told me I'd have to go with fully custom. Of course, either way requires a step up to the F450 class truck at least. Well, I'm just not going for that much truck to use as a daily driver for something we don't particularly care for in the first place.  So it requires a fully custom job. We've budgetted $200k, not $275k+ for the hardware out the door. This leaves us at the higher end of production models and as close as we can get to what we want. With a little "consideration", we can get pretty darn close to that. We can in fact, actually get closer to what we like in the floor plan with no "consideration" at all than any of the Summit line.

I know the Reps and sales staff that the local dealer has at the shows just want to sell you an RV. That's fine because we're in the market to buy an RV. But the boss has already told me not to tell anyone at the show we aren't going to buy one there. I'm only allowed to ask questions about specifications and features. I would just like to understand more of build techniques and logic, or lack thereof as the case may be.

Since all the little electrons running all over the place is more my thing, I have actually come to understand the complexity of the full electrical system and think that it may very well be the most well thought out major system in coaches in the class we're looking at, as far as logic goes, if not actual individual installations.

All comments here are absolutely fine food for thought, and most have just pointed out that my research isn't finished yet. And for that, I thank you all very much. That's not to say I'm finished reading. Anything else is appreciated.

Dave



-- Edited by Dave MW on Tuesday 9th of October 2018 01:04:29 PM



-- Edited by Dave MW on Tuesday 9th of October 2018 01:07:46 PM

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"Not intended for fulltime living" may be an escape route for a manufacturer avoiding warranty repairs.

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Dave MW wrote:

I have seen mentioned that some units are "Not intended for full time living". This suggests that perhaps there is something done differently during the build to units that are intended for full time living. Are these units built stronger somehow? I've seen this in published owner's manuals, but not on the primary pages on builder's websites. Could someone please explain this? I will certainly ask factory Reps I speak with at the show.

Dave


 It is a disclaimer that allows manufacturers to deny claims if they discover you are living in it full time.  Generally units labeled "not intended ..." are built lighter and less robust than those that are "intended".  That being said, if you are careful and don't travel too much on bad roads, almost anything can be lived in full time.  Personally, I would stay away from the non full time rated rigs ... IMO.



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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides), MORryde IS, 8K Disc brakes, GY G114  LR H Tires, 27,320 lbs CGVW

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Dave,

Just for an FYI, I'm not sure that any of the manufacturers are really good with the "little electrons" running around.  What I'm referring to mostly is that I don't know if any of the builders (other than New Horizon or Spacecraft, maybe) will have a set-in-stone wiring diagram.  At least in the conversations I have had with RV owners, most, if not all, complain that they don't know where the wiring is located in the RV other than at the switches, lights, and outlets.

Terry



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There are circuit tracers available that will make the job of tracing circuits much easier. They're not necessarily cheap, a couple of hundred bucks for a good one, but they do work. I have also used a telephone circuit tracer to do this, you just need to shut off all of the other circuits except for the one you are tracing and follow the 60 cycle hum. Just remember not to let any of the smoke out or everything quits working.

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Terry, I was recently not getting any 12-volt power. We couldn't find any wiring info in the big bag of info that came with the coach. My brother replaced the house batteries, but still no go. The batteries weren't even receiving a charge. He finally found a wiring diagram (about 2 inches of printed paper) online and found that there was a simple connector somewhere that had come loose. That bundle of diagrams is now added to the satchel with all the other useful stuff.

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Well my friends, the RV show in Pomona is in the history books. I decided on the Grand Design Momentum 394M fifth wheel toy hauler. There are two primary reasons for this. First is it's a matter of details. The nightstands and the supports for electrical wiring to the slide-outs just to mention a couple. The second reason is the people we're dealing with. They were the only, and I do mean only, folks that are even trying to make some things happen.

We stumbled into a fourth brand, of toy hauler, Raptor, and had a look. This brand was never on our list due to their reputation for not building up to par with others in their class. But we had a look anyway. I think they have made a nice step in the right direction, but still have a long way to go on build issues and service. So we just left.

The fellows we are working with from Grand Design are actually thinking about, and demonstrating, their commitment to customer service. I know, surprise, surprise, surprise! I also know "It ain't over until the fat lady sings". But things are looking good at this point. I think the single most important thing for anyone is "DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST"!

More on this later. I just had a minute to jump in here and mention a couple of things about our experience at the show.

Dave



-- Edited by Dave MW on Thursday 18th of October 2018 08:55:03 AM



-- Edited by Dave MW on Thursday 18th of October 2018 08:57:28 AM

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Glad you are nearing a decision. Just some thoughts on the "selling dealer" .. I have found that while buying from someone who is offering "good service" seems important, as a full timer, I am NEVER near my selling dealer when warranty is needed. The selling dealer expects you to "drop off" your trailer while they work on it ... that is never going to happen for me. This is but one of many differences with buying a car ... which many folks think is similar to buying a trailer. As a recommendation, I'd say work hard on the "deal". You should be able to get 30% off MSRP (or more). I have never even been back to my selling dealer for ANYTHING ... and i like them. When you are full time, I think the most likely scenario for service is to call a mobile tech who comes to you. The only shop my rig gets in is morRYDE for the initial installation and for annual maintenance service.



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 18th of October 2018 01:11:28 PM

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Full Timers class of 2016

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