Just suppose you were hired by a major towable RV manufacturer as the vice president of quality. The company said they are tired of customer complaints. They want to change the perception of their company and become the quality leader. What would you do different that is not being done today?
There are many good answers. Here are a few I'd do in addition:
I would see if I had the authority to make a European style model, make it, and from the customer feedback, move the features to the existing model lines.
For example, on all towables, I would not just go completely with Seitz windows, but make sure to have parts on hand. These windows not just open all the way, but offer two pane insulation and excellent sound deadening when close.
Other stuff with CW aside, there is one reason why I will go out of my way to patronize them and GS -- they pay for these forums. On other forums, if they have a life membership or subscription, I'll pay for it. I hate ads, so I rather just support the sites I like directly.
This is what we do for cold boondocking 2 to 3 days only after that run the generator to recharge the battery and have more time.
1 we have kerosen lamps, the ones that get shot in the western movies, light and heat.
2 we also cook on the stove, spaghetti and use the oven for dinner, x-mass simple dinners pre prepaired.
3 limit the amount of water usage, also have an accumulator for water pump saves battery
4 have a small opening on the window of the galley need ventilation while kerosen lamps are lit, do not use roof vent heat loss is faster
5 do not turn thermostat on heater above 68 during day and 60 for sleeping
6 have an outside and inside thermometer, can see both at the same time
7 limit the opening and closing of door going in and out
8 we have front windshield cover and hanging curtain inside, can feel temp diff from window to cabin on both spaces
9 have warm blankets to wrap arround when sitting
10 we lower thermostat at night to 60
11 we have a minus 40 double sleeping bag
12 snugle up with wife, buddy warmth!
13 only turn heater in morning to brake the chill
14 boughht carpet runners, our floor is wood laminate
I found that the biggest source of heat loss is at the entrance door, not even more foam insulation on the oppening helps, those doors are not that good.
We only have one 12v deep discharge gel cell marine battery for the cabin, the whole idea is in conserving the power to run the heater fan when needed and use alernate sources of light, led lamps were not available when we purchased our unit, latter they were a bit pricy so I only installed four, one in the head, one for wife to read, one in the galley and one out side, I can read with my kerosen lamp, and no tv or radio or music from CDs, some times we do not even see the park rangers at all, we mail the payment to the office, we found out that some people steel the payments from the collection boxes.
I might add something to that. I'd look at a Big Buddy heater, making sure to follow instructions in the manual (ventilation, keep away from burnables, etc.) Run it on high for a bit to warm the rig up, low from there on out, and it should last 3-4 hours. Then, in the morning, flip on the furnace. That way, the battery gets used far less. Make sure to use the built in fan for air circulation.
I live about five miles away from SMB Austin, and I have toured the factory a few times. Their QA is very good.
I had a Sportsmobile build for about a year now I was going to get done, but financial items that popped up, put that project on ice until late 2017.
Because they can do custom stuff, I have a few recommendations on your SMB build:
1: They can do a Truma Combi LP gas furnace and water heater. If you are doing propane in your rig, get this, as it will save you a lot of space.
2: Consider the van platform you will be wanting, and get with them before you buy the van. There are some options which can help greatly, for example with a Sprinter, getting a smaller DEF tank. Sometimes buying the factory hitch receiver is a good thing, other times, it may not be.
3: Don't expect to negotiate about upfit prices. SMB's prices are take it or leave it. This is good, since they are reasonable for what you get.
4: I would recommend the option (if available for the model) of a second alternator. That way, one charges the engine batteries, the other is dedicated for the house batteries, and with an inverter, it will (check with SMB to be 100% on this) give you enough power to run an A/C. You can use it with a generator if you want, because the alternator is charging up the 12 volt side, the generator is on the 120VAC side. Because I live in Texas, the SMB build I was doing would have a 3000 watt "hybrid" inverter, so I could run the A/C from the engine, the generator, or shore power.
To the OP: I am sorry about your loss. Hope the stuff shows up soon, perhaps with some perps in the local lockup as interest.
As braindead0 said, security comes in layers. I prefer some type of DIY alarm system that goes to a monitoring station. I also prefer the type of alarm that uses a fog machine and strobe lights. If the burglars can't see anything, they can't take anything, and they are not going to stand around and wait for the stuff to dissipate. I made the mistake before of going with a "free" install service and having to pay some good cash monthly on a long contract. Wouldn't do that again. I'd rather buy a system and pay for the monitoring, so I can upgrade it, and not depend on some alarm tech to fix stuff.
Smash and grabs are very common. Just a few weeks ago, in a matter of seconds, some people were out of their vehicle and trying to lift a generator out of my truck (which they took off quite quickly as soon as they noticed me.) Were it not for the fact that I had multiple security chains and locks imported from Europe (If the lock says "insurance lock", it actually has real security), that generator would probably be sitting in some pawn shop's "wait to sell until heat is off" section by now.
I also use security containers. I wouldn't call them "safes", because when I think of a true safe, I think of something with burglary ratings, glass relockers, actual boltwork, and so on. However, I do keep items of value locked up.
At an extreme, one can do what a friend of mine (who lives several states away) does with his place when he leaves for periods of time. Every door inside his place is reinforced steel, and have "secure classroom function" mortise locks on them. This way, if one is in a room, the door will open to allow exit, no matter what. However, when the owner is away, a burglar not just has to smash the front door, but the hallway door, the door to the kitchen, multiple bedroom doors, and in each bedroom, anything of value is stashed in a secure cabinet. The computer desk has doors that close and lock. Even things that one doesn't think about, such as the external A/C unit are put in metal cages. Of course, this won't stop a determined thief, but combined with an actively monitored alarm system with CCTV, it will slow them down enough for the police to arrive.
Here is my experience:
Peppermint oil and dryer sheets -- just makes the rodents smell better, and does nothing.
Poison -- works, but can kill other animals (owls, cats, dogs, etc.) Use with caution.
Ultrasonic devices (Riddex Sonic) -- they work somewhat. Definitely worth trying.
Sticky pads -- they work, but trap a lot of unintended stuff (pets).
Snap traps -- if you get the wide-trigger snap traps (Jawz brand), you can place these where the mice run along walls, and they will do their job, no bait needed.
Cats -- so far, the best way.
A light in the engine compartment -- for chipmunks and other items, may be useful.
Stainless steel wool (regular steel wool will rust into useless powder + expanding foam) -- effective for plugging gaps.
Fresh Cab, Rat Away, and other stuff -- never tried it.
It all is about trade-offs. I bought an entry level travel trailer new, knowing that it is the "runt of the litter", because it had no slide-outs, and I would have to learn electrical, plumbing, and other skills in order to keep it maintained.
However, if I were to recommend a quality trailer that is not going to leak, or rot into uselessness in five years, I would recommend a horse trailer manufacturer (Bloomer Trailers out of Salado is one place), and have them do the job right. Just the fact that they use a one piece aluminum roof over rubber and aluminum framing will extend the life of the trailer well past almost anything "mass-produced" today.
A friend of mine had a trailer done this way. It has little in the way of plumbing and electrical (mainly an A/C with a heat strip), but it has gone through ice storms and 110+ degree heat easily. The trailer isn't really cared for, so it shows how well built it is when it just sits for months unused, which is a testament to how well Pace American built things.
I like running the generator while on the road, not just for the A/C in summer and heat in winter, but I save on propane by having the fridge on electric while going down the road. Some fridges might get their pilot light blown out while in motion as well, so it is one less thing to worry about.
The cables are soldered on at best. They will tear off fairly easily.
I've not heard about solar panels falling off, mainly because they tend to be parallel to wind forces, so not that much is needed to keep them secure. However, anything can happen. I'd say that if a panel is secured at four points at the minimum, it will stick around.
I do prefer screws or rivets, but if done right, adhesive mounts can't hurt either.
Lone Star is the closest. Crestview is iffish -- pretty crowded. If you can stand the drive, there are a number of very nice RV parks out 71 towards Bastrop, be it the newer ones like Lost Pines or ones that have a bit of character and a small ranch like Bastrop RV park.
Lone star is about $50 a night, but everything in Austin is hyper-inflated when it comes to lodging. Just make sure to get reservations. I'd probably go that route.
There are many ways to boost quality. Since there isn't the economy of scale auto makers have where having everything done by robot helps, the entire RV assembly has to be done my hand, but we have had companies and quality controls for a long time. Best way, have one round of work done, have it inspected and fixed by a different group, once it passes muster, do the second round, repeat. Have everyone on salary so the focus is not getting it done fast, but done well, especially if bonuses were given if warranty claims and sales were up to par.
I read about so many innovative things coming from RV parts makers... it would be nice to see those, be it cutting edge stuff, or just Seitz windows which are better than the common RV stuff we have in the US because they are double-paned.
I have the hybrid inverter in my build for a Transit van, as well as something I plan to retrofit a class "C" if I go that route.
The coolest thing about the inverter is that it handles the locked rotor amps of an A/C start, which is useful if one has a smaller rig and a generator that can handle the steady current, but would choke on the A/C starting. Of course, the fact that it cures undervoltages, especially when combined with the control panel and a generator controller is a nice thing as well.
Here is my experience. Last year, due to various stuff beyond my control, I left gas in my generator, and it got fouled. I decided to try various ways to kick-start it, including a special engine start additive used with a gallon of gas, and B-12, and even though I'm not sure what specific product worked, the generator now is back to starting easily, and putting Star-Tron in it keeps it starting without problems.
SeaFoam hasn't done much for me, in my experience, so I'd say one's milage will vary with it.
It is on the Sprinter chassis, so find a Mercedes or Freightliner dealer that can handle Sprinters, and can handle class "C"s. These tend to be relatively rare birds. Most maintenance you can do yourself like changing the oil, but it is wise to have a place if something goes wrong or the CEL light comes on and stays on.
My big worry would be where did all that acid go?
x2. First thing I'd be doing is spraying/washing out any internal compartments with baking soda in an effort to neutralize the acid before it does damage.
After that, I'd probably consider going AGM. Twice the price, but they can be tipped or run at virtually any angle without worry.