You are going to need to size the trailer to your tow vehicle if you have a TV you are planning to use.
Whatever TV you have selected it will need a tow package. There are several things a tow package has but most importantly it has a transmission cooler and brake controller.
You are still going to need to focus on GVWR and other factors. You want to avoid front wheel drive vehicles.
As you will be on unimproved surfaces 4WD will be essential unless you are looking for frequent tows.
You also need to mention what you are willing to spend. Does it need to be new, or are you willing to go used while be aware a trailer can hide serious problems even from the experienced.
Mission creep can be a real problem. Smaller lighter generally means better MPG. BUT smaller might be much more trying.
Pop-ups can be nice but you have to clear everything off the counter tops before you close up. It also means more setup time and when you are time taking an hour to setup can be exhausting.
You need to decide how you are going to work in your trailer. Is there enough room to work?
FYI, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard UL 2034, the February 28, 2008 edition of the standard requires all CO alarms produced
after August 1, 2009 to have an end-of-life signal. This signal is to activate once the device reaches its projected end-of-life.
CO detectors have a typical lifespan of 5-7 years. So it is possible, based on the June 2014 replacement date, that the CO detector may have been manufactured before the Aug 1, 2009 compliance date. Even so a call to manufacturer may reveal that they were only manufacturing UL 2034 compliant units as they are usually aware of code changes well in advance of the release date.
One trailer I had manufactured in late 2011 had a CO detector fail. They are hard to ignore when they fail.
You have not mentioned what the source of CO was.
1. when researching national parks I've noticed most have 30'-35' spots at best. So does that include my truck or just the trailer, and if it is just trailer would it be a big deal to have a trailer that is 35'8"?While this is both trailer and tow vehicle, in practical terms in many places you can detact the TV park it sideways or sometimes along side without any problems. You mileage may vary, but I have parked a 30' TT with my GM 2500 in the same space.2. Do I need a sway bar?Short answer, yes.
You will probably travel in places you have never been before. Weather conditions may be trickier than you think. You may lose a tire or more than one tire. That sway bar may be thing that keeps your vacation going, or keeps the claims adjuster from giving you the evil eye.3. Kind of an opinion but what brands do you like? We have looked at many new ones so far. Our budget is gonna be around 30k, looking for a bunk house type, with outdoor kitchen, a bed for me(6'2"), durability to go across country, and possibly some "kid space". We seem to like Dutchmen aerolites, keystone premier, and Jayco Jayflights. If you think one has a certain feature the other two don't please let me know or if you like a brand not listed let me know also please.Grand Design Imagine series. Take a good look at 2800BH.
I am partial because I bought one.
If you look at their largest, both you and kid(s) will have a room with a door, but that TT is above what you want to spend.
But let me give you a tip. Learn to negotiate. On my 2800 the spread between my top offer and my bottom offer was $6,000 (3 different dealers within 100 miles). It is possible that had I sold my other TT instead of trading it in, I probably could have gotten even more off.
The less you can act enthralled with the trailer the more likely they will deal with you. Since we knew exactly what we wanted, it was basically a "this will do" so I could keep of the apparent disinterest in the TT facade.
The dealers all know what their competitors can offer so they pretty much know when you are blowing smoke at them.
As long as you are buying new, you have a little less to worry about with defects. They are going to fix them as part of the manufacturer's warranty.
What I like about GD Imagine series are that they are well made, and have excellent customer service. The interiors are well thought out. The materials are aluminum and composite, which has its advantages over tin and wood. The master bedroom has a wood door. They also feature a 47 cubic foot storage bin which is huge for TT. I had a big Puma Toyhauler before, but the bathroom is much larger than the one in Puma, though their footprints are almost the same.
Their 3150 has a walk-in closet, but also has bunk room. The kiddo might appreciate that since it will be the kids room. It will probably be nice when you have several kids over.
The 2800BH is nice as the bunks have black-out exterior curtains, and the curtain to the living area will remind you of a train sleeping car curtain.
The pardette and I do lots of dry camping amd we shoot Cowboy Action Shooting. So we have plenty of space to stow both our long guns, pistols, ammo and costumes.
It has reasonable fresh, gray, and blackwater tanks that are insulated. The other thing that is nice is that you can fill the freshwater tank from the utility station. Very handy.
The 2800 also has 3 roof vents which should make dry camping even easier.
4. Should I get a KOA membership and be done with it?Depends on you. Many campgrounds have KOA, but they may also have AAA rates.
What you really should have is Good Sam's Club. AAA will not tow anything over 9,500 pounds. Good Sam's will. Good Sam's will tow a bus if need be. The only time I had problems with Good Sam's was when I was in Montana and I could not get them on my cell phone.
There are others that do a similar job, and I am sure you will read about them before long.
BTW, may come prewired not for the Furrion Observation and Backup cam. But it on Amazon and save over $200.
I have gotten tired of satellite and its expense for what we get out of it. The new Imagine 2800BH has the Winegard batwing. I have not been that happy with the batwing as we are more than 60 miles from some of the local stations.
Before buying another add-on to improve the bat wing, I want to see if there was anything better. I see Winegard is selling the Rayzar and considering adding a Yagi to my batwing is $25, it might make sense to install Rayzar for $50.
What has stopped me is the lack of any real information showing me the Rayzar is any better than a batwing with the yagi, or how the Rayzar might be better.
I had the Jack on my old trailer but I cannot tell if it was any better than the batwing.
Everything I seeing is too vague to tell what might be a waste of time or money.
Buying used also saves a lot of money. A camper just a few months old will lose 10-20 percent of its sale value.
Buying new or used has its pitfalls. In the used category leaks are a big issue and its impact changes with the type of construction.
The "tin and wood" construction is cheap and heavy. It is also the most sensitive to water leaks. It is also a lot cheaper to fix than composite bonded structures that are both light and expensive.
Water rots wood quickly. In tin and wood trailers it is not always easy to detect. Water might travel a considerable distance from the source to where it may pool. Fixing any leak and the damage can be extensive, but at least for tin and would the skills required are not extreme or that special. Chances are if you repair them yourself, both the materials and repair will be of better quality than the original build.
Detecting such damage can be done with your Mark I nose (you can sometimes smell the rot) and pressure from your hand or foot. Pay attention to surfaces below doors, windows, and other penetrations. You foot may detect a sag. Be sure to walk the roof and check for sags or signs the chalking was not kept up with. Check the decals. Decals can indicate damage.
If you can get dealerships to compete for your business you can save a lot. For any used TT you consider get the wholesale value of the trailer with whatever optional equipment was installed. As you approach that number with the salesman, you are getting about as low as they will go.
When someone buys a new trailer and has an old one for tradein the wholesale value is just about as much as the dealership will sell the unit for. Actually they can sell it it is less than that because they are offsetting possibly buying the used unit for too much in the price of the new unit. Still it is important to know that number so you know who is giving you a deal and who is not.
I agree with the other posters here. The manufacturers will say their unit sleeps X. My old Trailmanor was rated at 5, but with 2 the other three better be gnomes.
I had my daughter and my grandson stay with us once in FL so we had 4 in the Trailmanor (TM). The only reason we got along without killing each other at night is that I was married to the one in the bed with me!
What I am saying is if you think you are going to inside the unit more than outside take a good look at the living space. You have a bed to setup every night, and when you set it up you are going to lose table space.
There is no reason 4 people cannot stay in that unit, but you need to be aware just how tight it may be at night.
We bought an Imagine 2800BH about a month ago. The pardette was sold when she looked at the bathroom and I could not believe how big the front hold was.
We had some small problems, but nothing major. Everything works, one drawer had a missing lock and there wasn't enough dicor on the TV antenna.
I noticed one other item that I am going to report and have fixed, but again it is nothing of consequence.
My major complaints are that the propane bottles aren't bigger and the lack of 12 volt outlets in the bedroom and galley. We dry camp and having 12 volt outlets make it easy to run fans and charge cell phones and tablets.
They also have 3 roof vents with fans which out to make heat removal pretty good.
One oversight on their part is being able to close off HVAC vents especially in the bathroom. The bathroom is easily the coldest room in the TT when the HVAC is running.
It has a fast recovery HW tank. My old Trailmanor had one of those and they are great.
Many of the newer trailers made by several manufactures are pre-wired for the Furrion Backup and Observation camera. Literally all you need to install the camera is a Philips head screwdriver and a ladder. I got my camera delivered for $280. Furrion also make a camera TV model without the hooded head (which you do not need on these pre-wrired units) which will save you another $20 or so.
Small wonder the 2800BH is their most popular trailer.
It is going to be tons better than FRS. Better still if the DW gets one too.
When I am using the RV as man cave it is a great intercom from the house. We also dry camp a frequently. It is nice on those long dog walks in case she needs me for the jail break or a doggie roundup.
Calling for help isn't her speed with Mr. Snubbie in her pocket.
One that small is going to be a crash pad for 4 people. All the RV manufacturers overrate the number of people who can sleep in their product.
RVs are mostly 'thin skinned' so if it is cold outside chances are so will the inside of the RV. A small electric heater helps if you have access to shore power.
You are going to need to install a heater on the water tanks and maybe a skirt. The tanks on most RVs are not insulated and in cold weather are prone to freeze. Bad as that may be for the fresh water to freeze, gray and blackwater tanks could freeze as well.
You might spend a few hundred dollars adding this equipment, but I doubt that will help if the temps start hitting the low single digits.
The unit also does not have a gas oven. So unless you are somewhere with electic power you are not going to be able to use the microwave.
The good news is that 1KW genset will probably run almost everything in the trailer.
My advice is to check with your snowboarding friends that have TT and see what they have or are doing.
Really glad to see you are joining the ham radio ranks.
What a number of the hams telling you the limitations of APRS are true. Like most of the issues for ham radio reliability are due to participation. No one wants you to get into the ham community expecting something the community is not able to deliver.
It is still valuable to have a ham license and some decent equipment. It is amazing how fragile communications are and a major event can absolutely overwhelm the communications grids. Learning how to use your gear properly, participating in ARES drills and Field Days are good practice for an event you hope never happens.
Our ham gear is useful to us because where we go and how limited cell phone coverage infrequently is. These radios are rather simple so don't expect million dollar military performance with a $60 radio.
Ham has been on my radar/to-do list for years. This truck build is just the excuse I needed to stop procrastinating and start working on it...not looking at ham for traffic, but more for emergency communications when out of cell rangeGood reason for ham radio Ham radio gives you some real flexibility, especially when cell is not available. ...my scanner installed I have heard about two nearby wrecks...on CH19. Proof enough to me that these will be more useful than cell alone...I find VB just has too much junk and the lack of professionalism to be worthwhile. It is also annoying to passengars in the cab.
If CB were professional enough to where other CBers would give a concise reports I might change my view. My HF rig certainly has the capability of receiving 11 meter broadcasts (CB), but why bother when you can operate in the 10 meter band?beats a phone app. Especially if you aren't using the phone app for GPS, which I'm not going to do unless Waze comes out with a RV specific mode...Yep, Waze and other apps have their faults, lease of which is sending you down an unfit road. It is better when I have someone playing navigator and then we use "street view" to see what kind of road or gas station is ahead.
Some of the new apps let you avoid gravel roads and such, but nothing like the RV apps that resolve road clearances for your RV.
Yes I like what we can do with ham radio. I certainly have thought about putting in APRS, which would thrill my brother to follow my rig on the road.
Those Baofeng radios are good little radios for what they cost. We have good coverage for the few miles around the RV on simplex. That generally means anywhere on the campgrounds we can find each other, plus with DCS we can filter out the majority of noise or other interference.
Your cellphone is better for traffic than CB or ham radio. GoogleMaps and Waze does a pretty good job of telling you traffic ahead.
GPS is still essential when you get into areas where cell service is spotty.
If you do not have a ham license, FRS/GMRS radios will do all you really need. Both the pardette and I are hams, and the ham radios serve us well when navigating around fuel pumps or backing in. We do a fair amount of dry camping where cell service is barely available.
FRS/GMRS radios can do the same as ham radios the way you will likely use them.
In short, if you have a ham license the available hardware is pretty nice, but I wouldn't knock myself out to get a license. Get a pair of FRS/GMRS radios, that is what they are made for.
I do have say that Grand Design customer service is pretty good. We do not have a fiver, but our 2800H is surprisingly good.
Part II to any purchase is the dealership you buy your rig from. A lousy dealership can magnify problems.
The GD we have is significant better than the Puma we had before, but then it cost about $10K more. We got a lot of good use out of our Puma and it served us well for many years.
Still things like the fast recovery hot water tank are a real plus. I still cannot figure out why all the manufacturers don't want to install 12 volt outlets!
A number of the new trailers are wired for the Furrion FOS48TAPK-BL. It can be had for under $300. This is an observation and backup camera.
The main way an observation and backup camera differs from a backup cam is that it has faster response time necessary to video moving objects. In other words cars and trucks encroaching from the rear. Backup cams cannot process video that quickly.
The Furrion comes with everything necessary to mount it on an unprepared RV, except for sealant.
If you have a newer RV, the manufacturer just plugs the hole where the camera will be mounted. You unscrew 4 screws and remove the blank plate, fish out the power connections, plug in the new camera, fuss a little bit getting the cables out of the way, install 4 screws mounting the camera, power on the receiver, then set orientation (left/right/up/down) and then you are done.
Most of the trailers come with the camera power connections full time hot. The camera draws about 300mA. Not a lot of power, but if the RV is not hooked up to shore power, it will eventually discharge a battery. Some RVers have installed a switch so they can turn off the power to the camera when they are long term storing the RV.
I have installed but not taken the camera out on the highway. At least in the driveway it seems to work well. The range is far beyond 100' spec for the camera.
I wonder about that. It would seem odd for the overflow line to run to the bottom of the tank. It seems it would be difficult to get a siphon action to be maintained unless the overflow ran to the bottom of the tank.
...I've got the blue and red pex tubes for low point drains. There is then a 3rd tube, no valve, I think close to the dump valve...I have a Grand Design Imagine 2800BH. That blue tube is the overflow for the fresh water tank. If your unit has a utility station where you can fill the fresh water tank from city water when the tank is full the water overflows through that blue tube.
The red and blue plugged lines are meant for winterizing. At the end of the year you open those plugs to drain all the water from pumps and such. The single blue valve on the passenger side of the rv is meant just to drain the fresh water tank.
At least on GD owner has reported the fresh water tank draining on its own while underway. I have not comfirmed that either, but i had an empty tank I could not explain (but the unit was serviced so maybe it got drained). It is a little difficult to believe that the tank would siphon dry in a 4 hour trip.
I filled the tank and have monitored levels. Over the last week while stationary everything shows normal.