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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers

 > Self contained... what exactly does it mean?

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Austin, Texas

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Joined: 01/04/2003

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Posted: 05/07/03 04:40pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

No... I'm not a complete idiot. Just new to TT's [emoticon]
I think it means no electrical necessary or outside water supply.
BUT... does a battery run the a/c... generator?

I'm thinking bout a 1992 coachman 26ft catalina series. In general, is this a good trailer? Any things to look for in particular?

Sorry for such a basic question. But I am sure I will be given great advice from what I've seen in other post.




S.E. Lower Michigan


Joined: 10/16/2000

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Posted: 05/07/03 05:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi David and welcome to the forum. You will find lots of good help and advice here. Hope you enjoy it.[emoticon]

Self contained means that you have all the devices and resources necessary to camp without outside hookups. The propane can heat the water, cook your food, keep your refrigerator cold, and heat your trailer in the cold. The battery will run your lights, water pump, and the fan for the furnace. About the only thing you cannot use without hookups, generator or solar panels, is the air conditioner and microwave. Both of these need 110v to run. Everything else will run off 12v or propane. You also have fresh water tank and waste water tanks(both black and grey) so you do not have to have a toilet facility or bath house. In other words, you have everything you need without outside help.[emoticon]
Hope this helped explain a little bit.
You might find our FAQ helpful. Here is a link to them. There is enough reading there to keep you busy for a few weeks!
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*This Message was edited on 07-May-03 05:21 PM by bsmith0337*

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Posted: 05/11/03 07:34am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


That was a very thorough reply. Good jub!

Jack B. Nimble

San Francisco Bay Area

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Posted: 05/11/03 10:10am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


Barney gave you the basic skinny on what "self-contained" means today for TTs. Maybe you would benefit knowing how this term came into being.

In the early years of trailers (long before motor homes existed), they were little more than wooden caves. They had lights (battery or propane mantel type), a stove (propane), a water tank (cold) and a hand pump for the sink. There was no toilet or shower or even hot water. When you went camping in one of these, you were expected to use the pit toilets and go without showers just like tent campers. Those trailers that had toilets were only able to use them when connected to a sewer and a source of water as in a mobil home park.

In the late 50's or early 60's, the idea of having home type amenities in a travel trailer took hold. This meant the introduction of a water heater, a water system (usually pressure type), toilet, shower and the big change was to add holding tanks. Thus these units were called "self-contained" to differentiate them from the ones where you had to go outside to do your business.


*This Message was edited on 11-May-03 10:17 AM by Jack B. Nimble*

*This Message was edited on 11-May-03 10:19 AM by Jack B. Nimble*

Parrothead Mike

SW Michigan

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Posted: 05/11/03 10:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Huntindad, you've gotten some great info about what self-contained means. In reference to buying a used camper I'd make sure that all the main appliances are in good working order. These would be the fridge, water pump, water heater, furnace. Also have the brakes, wheel bearings, and tires checked to make sure they're in good shape. You can have a lot of great camping from a unit of that age, but you don't want to have a lot of breakdowns screwing up your vacation time. Also, since you're in Texas, you'd better make sure the air conditioner works. Have a great time.


Mile High, Lakewood, CO

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Posted: 05/10/03 11:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Many different things to many different people. Some get "it", then park it in a parking lot and plug everything in, like electricity, water and sewer. Others go off somewhere where all they ever see is wild animals. And animals don't usually complain about alittle generator noise. They may not hang around, but they don't complain. I think it originally meant everything was run from onboard systems, 12v or propane. But then 30 in TV and A/C's don't do well on 12v. Great thing about this country is you can pick your own poison.

Cheers, Steve J.

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