LarryJM, nice work. I did something similar but my artistic skills aren't quite as good. I have had good success with the tape and recently did nearly all of my caulked areas on the roof. Areas I had fixed with Dicor just two years ago was cracked again and needed replacement on my rig so I taped everything I could get too and always have tape with me just in case.
Can't comment on the longevity with the recent repairs but know it was holding well after a few years on our last trailer
If I could have reached all of the wiring that would have been an option, but the black and freshwater weren't easily accessed and I would have had to drop a lot more of the under belly, which was challenging with the cross trailer gas piping.
Either way to run the second display I would have needed to run wire from behind the display back to the basement display. With the very limited room behind the display and switches working with only 2 wires in the fashion I did seemed easy enough.
SeeLevel II Tank Monitoring System
I installed the 709-4 SeeLevel II system on my 2014 Shasta Phoenix 32RE fifth wheel, after becoming so frustrated with the tank monitors. I was a bit intimidated to take on this project knowing I would most likely have to pry up the underbelly of the beast to access my 4 tanks fresh, black, grey, galley. We seldom stay at full hook up sites and with no sewer or water staying for a week or longer can be a challenge when you have no idea of the tank levels.
All in all, it took about 5 hours to install at a very casual pace, I still have to add the second display that I will install in the bay near the controls and freshwater fill. I had some assistance from our camping friends when running the wires, a second set of hands is helpful especially when running fish tape through areas to run wire, but not absolutely necessary.
All of the tanks on the Phoenix needed the included sensors cut to the minimum 6-inch sizing. While the tanks are a bit over 7 inches in height, the sensor is supposed to be cut shorter than the tank and split the difference and to take into account the thickness of the top and bottom of the tank. The black tank rides the furthest forward and is underneath the basement floor, I removed several 10 mm self-tapping screws that hold the underbelly on starting from the front and working back along the street side of the trailer. You will find some insulation and other wiring in this area. I ran 16-gauge wire from the access spot to the area that can be accessed directly behind the removable panel in the basement (area on the Shasta that you would access bypass for the water heater and water pump). The fresh water and grey tank are easily accessed from this location too making that part of the job a piece of cake.
As I did with all of the other sensors I used shrink butt connectors and a heat gun to make what I hope are very solid connections, then pulled the slack out. I rubbed the area on the tank down with acetone saturated rag before applying the sensors.
The galley tank was a bit of a mystery, I used a flashlight and a small mirror and could see the drain tube run towards the curb side of the trailer. Turns out both the grey and galley run the length of the trailer, not across which is what I originally expected. I was never certain since the plumbing in the kitchen is nearly over the front axle. I removed the bolts from the underbelly behind the step and worked forward, this was a more challenging task as the gas line runs right along this area and some of the screws that hold the underbelly retainer also hold the support brackets for this piping. I removed enough under the step area to see the tank but could not move the gas pipe enough, maybe skinny forearms would come in handy here. After debating which way to go about it, I simply cut the underbelly with a razor just behind the gas line that runs across the bottom of the trailer to feed the water heater and furnace on the street side. The gas line that goes across the bottom side of the trailer has a bracket that is screwed to a support member of the frame, the grey and galley are on the side towards the rear of the trailer from this point. I made this opening about 3 inches wide by about 18 inches long which gave me enough room to wire, connect and adhere the sensor to the galley tank. I had 4 inch Eternabond with me and used this to seal the two cuts I made in the under belly. The front side of the Eternabond would be held up by the gas line, which worked well.
With all 4 tanks wiring ending in the same area I combined them with a wiring connector and just made one jumper coming out. This wire will connect with the wire that runs to the display in the trailer. There are two wires for each sensor which can be wired in parallel since the actual display knows what signal it is reading due to the tabs on the sensor and how they are trimmed when you install them. Having this wiring connector behind this area will make it easy to add my second display ($90 option) and use this wiring with the harness that is included.
I then went about installing the display and turned off all power to the rig by turning off the pedestal 30-amp breaker and the 12-volt battery switch just to be safe. The old display pretty much just pops out with a couple of push tabs. The new display is a bit bigger but fits in nicely after drilling pilot holes and using included screws. The SeeLevel display uses a wiring harness with a blue, black and red wire. I just took the red and wired it to one of the positive wires on one of the switches on the backside of the panel. Running the wires back to the jumper was a challenge due to all of the wiring in this area, just takes a little luck and patience to get it to come out of the bottom behind the gas detector which is only held on by two screws.
I turned on both the 120 and 12-volt power to the rig again and was so happy to hit the switches and see the readings which seemed appropriate since we had only been camping two days. All of the gauges seemed to rise as expected and go down when draining tanks on our departure.
As a side note the second display is a nice to have and not really needed. Since I have it I will install it as my water tank is a pain to fill and always burping. Running around to the other side and looking in the entry door at the display is just a pain when all I want to do is fill water when I arrive at the campground. Otherwise the black, grey, and galley can be pressed twice to leave it illuminated for 5 minutes, which was nice when at the dump station as you can stand outside and see the numbers drop.
Overall I felt lucky as everything went well on the install and I had everything on hand I needed. shrink butt connectors, heat gun, 2 x 25 feet of 16 gauge wiring black and blue, wire strippers, fish tape, flashlight (or two when you leave it somewhere and can’t find it), drill gun, 10mm socket, ratchet for loosening extra tough screws, wire connectors, and a little patience.
Knowing what is going on in the tanks will be priceless! We tend to keep our trailers for several years and the $265 for the system is well worth it. Why trailers don’t come with these simple systems is rather mind boggling when you see all of the options put on trailers today.
We used I-65 and I-69 on our return to the Detroit area from Nashville last May and they were both in such poor condition that I would be very hesitant to tow through there again if other options were available.
I thought it was gonna be a great alternative to the I-75 northern Ohio construction zone that runs from Toldeo to Findley with plenty of areas with no shoulders. I'll take my chances with the I-75 route this year to avoid Indiana.
Like others I would go with the 350 and a 4x4. It's a mistake I made and now regret not getting a 3500 in my Ram, but with that being said I would never recommend a Ford diesel around that build year. We have two 2007's and two 2009's on rescue vehicles at work (wasn't aware they went from 6.0 to 6.4's, since they both brake down with similar regularity). They brake down often and have constant issues with the motors which has forced us to purchase replacements at a considerable cost and much sooner than expected hitting our budget hard. It's a shame that Ford put out such a poor product and will not stand behind it. Things just haven't been the same since the very dependable 7.3
Things could still be cool in June areas of the UP may still have ice on Superior in May, so be warned.
If you're coming up from Illinois hit the Door, I still want to see it then you could hit a variety of places traveling along the Lake Michigan side of the UP including Big Springs, Fayette State Park and onto St Ignace. We had friends stay at Straits SP and they said it was real tight. Others here seem to like Mackinaw Mill Creek south of the bridge.
The Soo is nice but you may not have the time, I've met many that like Aune Osbourne on the St Mary's, with the ability to watch freighters from your site and up close. Soo Lock Tours and Museum Ship Valley Camp.
The falls is nice, Whitefish Pointe, and I am partial to Crisp Point Lighthouse since we have volunteered there in the past, but that is too adventurous for some.
Pictured Rocks is a must, Grand Marais is on the eastern end and Woodland Campground is first come first served city campground with water, electric, and cable, no sewer. Small town with a couple of restaurants, not much else but a town we enjoy.
Munising is on the western end and has much more in the way of stores. Munising Tourist Park has some full hookups and sites right on Superior. I believe there early reservations started Oct 1 for 2016.
If you like to kayak, checkout Michigan Paddling or Uncle Ducky's on Facebook, they run 2 for 1 specials in January or February and you can kayak along the Rocks. Makes for a much more personal and up close experience compared to the boat tours. June could be tough due to weather and temps.
I think Mclain State Park is a fine choice and has beautiful sunsets. Great base camp to explore the Keweenaw and surrounding areas, Copper Harbor can be visited in a day with your short schedule from Mclain. Houghton also has a campground on the Portage Canal that may have full hook ups but without the sunsets.
If your into hiking stop at Porcupine Mtns, if not you can easily stop in and see the Lake of the Clouds overlook and stop along the western end along the Black River and see some of the falls, a real beautiful area too.
Keep on trucking and hit the Apostle Islands, I haven't been there as of yet but read some good threads on camping in Wisconsin and possibly the Duluth area.
My last order from Camping World took nearly 3 weeks to arrive for an item listed in stock. I sent an email after 10 days with no updates regarding the order, which I needed for an upcoming trip and never heard back. The item arrived at my house 4 days after I left for our trip.
I returned home and took the item back to my local CW with no issues. I than received an email from customer service a week or two later saying sorry we haven't responded and asking if the order had been taken care of. This was 4 to 5 weeks after my original email.
I don't order much online through CW and I'll be hesitant to order through them in the future.
Which forest service campgrounds?
The only place I had to purchase a pass in the last two years was Sleeping Bear Dunes and that was $10 for the week or $20 for the year.
My visits to NF campgrounds along the Au Sable showed a use fee sign, but where we were at Sawmill Point it was included in the camping fee, from what I was told.
We were also traveling to many spots along the Pictured Rocks and never needed a pass, nor did I see any signage saying Fee Area. I am confused by the entire setup and never certain if I'll need it or not.
Some well regarded campgrounds in the UP, I can't imagine reservations would be needed, unless the town has some sort of event going on,but it would be safe to call ahead.
Aune Osborne in the Soo, allows you to watch the freighters go by on the St Mary's River: http://www.saultcity.com/Page/216
Grand Marais, Woodland Tourist Park. Cute little town and a decent way to see the east side of Pictured Rocks: http://www.grandmaraismichigan.com/woodland-park.php
Munising Tourist Park, beautiful and has full hook up sites right on Munising Bay. Lots of waterfalls and sights to see on the west end of pictured rocks: https://munisingtouristpark.com/
City of Houghton RV park on the Portage River has full hookups and a great home base to see the Keweenaw: http://www.cityofhoughton.com/rec-rv.php
Another great option is McLain State Park on Lake Superior and just a few miles from Houghton/Hancock and Calumet. Only electricity here but the sunsets are beautiful and can be watched right from your campfire.
We enjoy more rustic camping and added solar along with two Group 31 AGM's for a few reasons. The AGM's can take a deeper discharge, where lead acids are said to be okay down to 50%. AGM's charge up faster, and they don't need to be vented and water levels are not an issue either. Probably costing nearly twice as much as 6 volts I felt it was a worthwhile expense, but the 6 volts are popular too.
My trailer uses right around 30 amps per day with the battery switch on and the fridge running while in the storage yard before trips so a two battery setup would be nice to have especially if running the furnace is a regular concern.
Our solar setup is 2 160 watt panels and a 30 amp MPPT charger controller, which has allowed us to dry camp numerous nights without the need of our EU2000 for charging, which hasn't been used camping since our solar install.
Not certain what brand AC you have and can't recall what I have on mine but believe it is a Coleman.
We had a similar freeze up issue with our AC in a new 2014, upon returning it to the dealer for some repairs they found some type of plug that wasn't in place. What this plug looks like or its location is a mystery to me, but I think it was allowing the cold air to recirculate in the unit, causing it to freeze every time I used it. Since the plug was put back in place it has worked great.
We have a few years before we can escape Michigan winters and planned on using 231 for our trip to Port St Joe in May. If you're looking for an overnight spot I have read some good reviews on Deer Run RV Park north of Troy, AL. http://www.deerrunrvpark.com/
I hope to make it that far the first day from the west side of Detroit, leaving a short day of travel on our second day.
Not quite the same animal but after working years in the fire service and having issues with built in generators on our units I found they can be a pain if they develop a gremlin or don't get used often enough. Not sure how they would be filled with a fuel on a trailer since our units are plumbed into the diesel lines for the old systems, the new gen systems we use run off a PTO system from the motor and trans already running.
I have a Honda EU2000 which I can use around home if the power goes out and store it in the garage so that I can run it every month or two, I find it easy to service on my own and if it developed a serious enough issue I could take it to a service center without the issues of having a permanent mount set up.
I'm sure it's convenient to have it built in and that would be a plus if it's used often.
I ordered a set and used them once and found them a bit difficult to get the level right on, of course this was in a loose sandy soil so that may have been part of the problem. I haven't used them since.
Maybe adding a level for side to side that is visible while I back up will help. My wife didn't seem to like using my level on the side of the trailer, like their videos show online.
I have a different perspective on why solar may be the way to go.
While having a generator is real nice, my move to solar has allowed me to leave the generator home or put away. I haven't used it while camping since installing a solar power setup last year. If the weather does go south for more than a few days the generator would be nice when dry camping.
Since you stated that you don't boondock, do you really need a generator if your on the road a few days than plugging in? Dealing with a generator seems like an unnecessary pain, you'll just have to be willing to forget the microwave while on the road, do you really use it that much? Toast, done in the oven. Try it, you'll like it.
Positives for a simple solar setup are once installed it just simply works to keep things charged and ready to go. Permanent mount was made to sound like a negative by some, to me it's a positive. No pulling out a panel running wires etc, which is perfect since it's out of the way and requires, no work on your part and is always ready to work.
My trailer sits at the storage yard all charged up, some trips we need to start the frig 4 or 5 days out due to work schedules and when we show up to load and leave, the batteries are still fully charged. I could not have had this luxury before solar due to the parasitic draws.
We've been fortunate to dry camp for about 20 nights so far this year and our setup has been working great with absolutely no generator use, the only issue we had was in a particularly forested site with good sun only in the morning hours, we had rain one morning and clouds another, so after our fourth night the battery was down to 60%, which isn't going to kill my AGM's, since they can run down lower than lead acid batteries. Either way I didn't have the EU2000 so it wasn't really an issue, we just pay attention to our use.
Our last trip was 10 nights with good afternoon sun for four hours. We watched TV 2 of the nights for a few hours due to weather, using programs downloaded to a Kindle. Ran an ice maker during the day for a few sunny days, and ran a big box fan another night due to a warm and muggy night. While I had the Honda in the bin, it stayed there. I love having it as backup but despise the thought of using it destroying the peace and quiet of others, though I was tempted to pull it out and run it first thing in the morning to wake up the neighbors that partied until 2 am with a lot of loud talk, I refrained since the rain came in and sent them packing.
My system was setup for dry camping purposes, something others don't need for simple charging, so this isn't a recommended setup I'm just sharing what works for us. 2 AGM Group 31 batteries, 2 160 watt panels on AM Solar Adjustable mounting brackets, a 30 amp MPPT charge controller, and a 1000 Watt Pro Sine Inverter.
The 300 watt panel you mentioned would easily keep things charged up and ready to go for your use if that's all you need.