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Old 01-18-2018, 02:53 AM   #1
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2017 Hummingbird 17FD

We purchased a 2017 Hummingbird 17FD after considerable shopping and research. I am posting some information that might be useful to other "beginner" RVers like us.

From here on is the TL;DR version, so unless you are curious about the Jayco Hummingbird and/or Chevy Colorado towing capacity, you can skip my post! In any event, it's nice to meet you and I have learned a good deal already from this forum.

Tow vehicle is a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 3.6L V-6 Z71 4x4 short bed on which we have a camper shell.

The Colorado nominally can pull 7,000 lbs. But, that is fairly misleading and so we searched out a trailer that would meet our minimum needs with dry weight under 3,000 lbs.

The Colorado has pulled the Hummingbird "fully loaded" easier than I expected (although we have yet to go seriously uphill, such as the Grapevine or Cajon Pass). So far, averaging about 14.5 mpg. (But that's on limited data and mostly flatland ...)

"Fully loaded" is about 3700 lbs. Our 17FD is placarded at "792 lbs cargo". Tongue weight is right at or about 500-550 lbs. The Hummingbird loads somewhat front-heavy because there isn't a lot of space to put cargo aft of the wheels. The weight distribution hitch assembly and the trailer dolly mount (see below) all directly add tongue weight, so there is some balancing to do.

Without cargo other than my wife and I, our Colorado has about 920 lb additional cargo space. The hitch itself is 50 lbs and the weight distribution bars are probably another 30-40 lbs. So, 920-540 = 380 lbs. left for cargo or people in the Colorado. The Yamaha generators add another 80 lbs., so from my view with various odds & ends, we are right up to the Colorado's limit, plus a little margin for safety.

I would respectfully disagree with all of the sales persons who assured me I could pull a much bigger trailer.

The Hummingbird promotional literature, the owner's manual and our sales person all agree(d) that the Hummingbird is pre-wired for a "customer supplied, customer installed" backup camera & monitor in the bedroom (so that the unit can double as a security camera).

Starting with the one-hour trailer delivery walkaround, the alleged pre-wiring dematerialized. Similar to the experience of 01Tundra (whose posts have been greatly useful to us) neither the dealer nor Jayco could provide any specifics on such wiring. The dealer refused to communicate with me on the subject at all; and Jayco ultimately referred me back to the dealer.

So ... be forewarned, the wiring is vaporware and neither the dealer nor Jayco has anything further to say on the subject. This was greatly inconvenient since I dutifully purchased my camera and monitor pre-delivery expecting to install it to assist in backing into my yard. Had I known the wiring did not exist, I would have approached the project differently, such as having the dealer install a camera as part of the purchase.

So far, all appliances and equipment have functioned correctly.

I can only "sort of" back the Hummingbird into its resting place with the tow vehicle, which I somewhat anticipated. Initially, I ran out and bought a $25 wheel for the tongue jack and managed to manually push the Hummingbird into its place. I then purchased a trailer valet trailer dolly (which one sales person tried valiantly to convince me would be a waste of money). You would not want to use this on an incline (such as my driveway), but since I can back the Hummingbird onto a level pad -- just not quite in the right place -- the trailer dolly has proved to be very useful both to move the Hummingbird into its place and to hook it back up to the tow vehicle. In retrospect, I should have bought the larger trailer valet -- this one is rated at 5,000 lbs / 500 lb tongue weight. I only considered the trailer weight and sort of ignored the tongue weight aspect. So, loaded up the tongue weight is at (or a tad above) the max rating for the trailer dolly. But nevertheless, it helps a lot. I don't keep the trailer dolly on the tongue, I remove it and put in the storage bin -- plus, I'm not entirely sure if I need to take it with me and would like to save the weight. But, I will be definitely sad if I find myself in a tight place and have left the trailer dolly at home.

I solved the camera/monitor problem pretty well -- but not the way others have suggested. I did not want to drill holes in the trailer skin, so I mounted my camera on the spare tire wheel. It's a Camco wireless unit that I got for $60 from Amazon (camera and monitor). The wireless causes a bit of shaking on the monitor and occasionally the picture drops out, but I like having the rear-view as I drive along. I hope to get an Echomaster setup that is [allegedly] made for the Colorado, has 3-4 cameras and runs through the existing Colorado monitor. However, as far as I have been able to ascertain from Echomaster and my Chevy dealer, it is yet another vaporware item. Plus, the Camco is about $1200 cheaper, so there's that.

FYI, I ran my power wire for the camera in through the external shower. There is a fairly large pre-cut slot/hole inside the plastic housing that works perfectly, and all I had to do was [carefully] slam the door on the wire to get it from under the bed all the way out to the camera on the spare tire. The wire then goes into the area of the heater. This is directly accessible under the bed, and on my Hummingbird, the plywood sheet over that area is not even screwed down, so access is easy. I tapped into the 12vdc+ that feeds the dual usb ports. I put in a lighted on/off switch for the camera, next to the usb ports; and I put a 12vdc jack above the switch so I could plug in the monitor. I used a standard 2.1mm dc jack, then I put a corresponding plug on a female "cigarette lighter" receptacle I had, so now there is a 12vdc outlet that will accept either 2.1mm plugs or "cigarette lighter" plugs and I can plug my monitor into that.

Some people apparently access their camera 12vdc from the running lights, but (a) this means you have to turn on the running lights to light up the camera; and (b) you can't use it as a security camera when the tow vehicle is unhooked/turned off. Camera has allegedly a 50,000 hour life, so leaving it running isn't problematic (but adds one more thing to drain the battery when not on tow vehicle power or shore power). Similarly, the monitor has a blue wire lead that presumably turns the monitor on only when you put the tow vehicle in reverse, but I just wired the +/- leads to a cigarette lighter plug I got at Walmart for $2.50 and if I want the monitor off, I turn it off manually.

We specifically selected the 17FD because with the "Full Dinette", it will effectively sleep 4 people, two in the bed and two on the dinette. It has a wet bath -- originally I didn't like the idea, but my next favorite RV had a separate shower on a [tiny] pedestal and it occurred to me the water was not going to stay in the shower. Instead it would end up on the wood pedestal and on the floor, creating a mess. So, it made better sense to have the floor be plastic with a drain in it in the first place. I think.

I would have preferred a regular "large" size refrigerator to the smaller one in the Hummingbird, but if necessary we will meet any additional needs with an ice chest and/or one of the portable refrigerators you can get and which we could stick in the truck bed.

I'm happy to be able to do all this with the Colorado, because it's a really nice vehicle to have when we get wherever it is we are going, set up the Hummingbird as our base camp and unhitch for exploring.

But yes, the Hummingbird looks like a kid's toy parked next to my sister's 5th wheel portable house.

As this is my "first post" here, I hope I have not strained my welcome and that some reader or other will find these comments useful. I've provided the detail here because I spent mega-hours searching the web and visiting dealers to figure out what I wanted, what my truck could reasonably pull, etc. Not to mention the entire "no camera pre-wiring/no dealer support" episode, which quite took me by surprise. (I intentionally elected to purchase from a local dealership in order to have a solid relationship and avoid exactly this sort of problem. Hopefully it will all get sorted out now that I have dealt with the camera install.)
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Old 01-18-2018, 03:00 AM   #2
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Oops, I mistated my camera as "Camco" -- it's "Camacho". (For some reason the editor would not let me fix my post ...)
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:42 AM   #3
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We took delivery of our 2017 Hummingbird 17RB late this summer.

Our first trip was Christmas in Key West.

Our Hummingbird performed great for us. The only thing was a leak in the shower where the manufacturer crossed some threads on the plumbing to the shower knobs.

We will be looking at storage mods this spring.

I've watched a couple of videos about adding a shelf over the bed.

Great little unit so far. We tow with a 2009 Chev Trailblazer.

~ Liz
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:06 AM   #4
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Welcome and congrats on the new Hummingbird!

Glad to know I'm not the only one to find the "camera prep" a bit misleading. By "camera prepped" they mean that you can mount an aftermarket camera anywhere you'd like on the TT and that somewhere within the TT will be a place to hack in for a 12VDC power source........

The only thing we'd change about our 17RK is add a couple more feet to it and simply turn the bed lengthwise. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Jayco will eventually figure this out and offer up a new floor plan.....we could call it 17RKWTBTTRD - short for 17 rear kitchen with the bed turned the right direction

A few trips ago we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of an Rpod rally. I looked in one that the owner had added a shallow shelf across the front above the bed. I keep thinking that I might do this as well, if I can figure out how to make it shallow enough that it won't be a head knocker. As of now, the top of the window shade serves as a shelf to throw the TV remote at night.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:07 AM   #5
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Hummingbird tires

I like the shelf idea -- maybe one on a "sling" that folds up out of the way when not in use. I also considered putting a bar for hanging clothes across the foot of the bed in front of the window. I figure I just need room for my feet at that end anyway.

But ... on to tires. My Hummingbird has nice looking Trail Guide Tires, Baja version. All of the Jayco advertising refers to "Goodyear" tires (even mentions "made in USA), so -- foolish me -- I thought "Trail Guide" was just a model of Goodyear tire.

Well, not actually. "Trail Guide tires are manufactured in China, and are an inexpensive tire for the mass market." (Although mine are clearly stamped "made in Vietnam".)

The owner's manual and the placard state the tires are "SL" speed rating, as in "never exceed 65 mph". I'm pretty much a speed limit driver, but this may lead to getting run off the road by semis in places like Arizona.

On the other hand, I cannot find an "SL" marking on the Trail Guide tires. I'm a novice at reading tire ratings, but the tires are stamped "105S", which I understand to be "2039 lbs" load limit and "112 mph" speed rating.

Revisiting the "camera pre-wire" question, I understand 01Tundra's explanation -- but viewed that "liberally", EVERY RV is prewired for a camera. I lean toward the view that the extensive description on page 46 of the Owner's Manual ought to be meaningful. (It specifies the existence of an on/off switch for the camera, a power jack for the monitor and that the camera/monitor can be used as a security camera as well as a backup camera.) When I went round on this with Jayco, they sent me the "Supplemental Instructions" which are completely consistent with the Owner's Manual description. The only problem is, the "Supplemental Instruction" sheet was for some other Jayco model, not the Hummingbird.

I was directed to open up the center marker light and look for some wiring. Which I did (fully anticipating there would be nothing useful under there). I sent them a photo of the wires found there, to which they replied the 12vdc+ should be the "black" wire and referred me to the dealer. (I pointed out they maybe also should contact my dealer and suggest its service dept. actually communicate with me.) But, given that the 12vdc+ under the bed is the brown wire, if I were to guess I would assume the brown (and not the black) wire would be the one to tap via pigtail for 12vdc+ at the back of the trailer. However, the standard camera install involves drilling an additional hole next to the marker light to run the wire and then screwing the camera mount into the skin of the trailer below the marker light. (The camera they propose using appears to come with a rubber grommet for the wires, to weatherproof the wiring hole.)

I did not want to do either of these things, in any event. Sorry to go on at length about this, but the camera was actually a pretty big deal to me and although I now consider I have the "perfect" solution (and better than the one the dealer would have provided), it took me a week or two of communications and aggravation to get nowhere with Jayco, with their customer service guy saying he was actually interested to see what wiring was under the center marker light as apparently neither he, nor his supervisor, nor the production manager actually knows how the Hummingbird is wired.

Having completed the project, I really like having my 7" monitor sitting on the kitchen counter allowing me to "see" what's behind the Hummingbird (since there is no backwall window.) Another FYI - the wireless feed I have uses a standard yellow RCA plug, so I can also plug the "security camera" into the Furrion TV that comes standard in the Hummingbird and have a really big view (though backwards, because it is a mirror image camera -- the monitor can reverse the picture but the TV can't). The camera has infrared lighting, so there is a picture even in the dark. (Pretty good for a $60 investment!)

I am also happy to have a 12vdc+ port/outlet that I can use for other 12v appliances, so my camera story has a happy ending ...
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Old 01-19-2018, 04:23 PM   #6
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Thanks for the information on the Camacho rear view camera. We picked up our 2018 Hummingbird 17FD yesterday and we do have a camera hookup for a backup camera. Ours has a small black box above the rear window that is made for the Furrion wireless camera. The camera at the RV dealer was pricey at $499 but you just remove the screws on the box at the rear of the trailer, plug in the camera and screw it in place and take the viewer and mount it on the dash or windshield via a suction cup and it is supposed to work great according to the dealer. I would imagine you could bring the viewing part into the trailer at night and you would have your security camera.
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Old 01-19-2018, 04:32 PM   #7
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camera

That's interesting information, because my salesperson said it was set up for the Furrion camera. Except it wasn't (and we don't have the black box). I had many emails between myself and Jayco, they don't seem to know what's supposed to be there ...
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Old 01-19-2018, 04:53 PM   #8
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I'm surprised your tongue weight is 500-550. We are pulling ours with a 1998 Ford Explorer 5.0L V-8. The Ford is rated at 6400#'s and it pulled it easily on the way home but it sorely needs a weight distribution hitch. What WD hitch did you buy? We are going to use the Ford to accommodate our old pets. Once they are no longer with us we will use a 2016 Silverado 1500 with the 4.3L V-6. We also kept the weight down. Dealers were telling us we could pull a much larger trailer but I'm happy and feeling safer with the smaller Hummingbird.
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Old 01-20-2018, 01:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack N Janet View Post
Thanks for the information on the Camacho rear view camera. We picked up our 2018 Hummingbird 17FD yesterday and we do have a camera hookup for a backup camera. Ours has a small black box below
the rear window that is made for the Furrion wireless camera. The camera at the RV dealer was pricey at $499 but you just remove the screws on the box at the rear of the trailer, plug in the camera and screw it in place and take the viewer and mount it on the dash or windshield via a suction cup and it is supposed to work great according to the dealer. I would imagine you could bring the viewing part into the trailer at night and you would have your security camera.
It should have read below the rear window.
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Old 01-20-2018, 02:05 PM   #10
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WD hitch

My hitch is a Husky Centerline -- and this is something I think the dealer got right. (I just purchased what they were selling.) Instead of chains & stuff I see on other ones, it's got spring "bars" that mount to the trailer frame. My bars are marked for something like 350-600 lbs, and I assume if you have a heavier tongue weight, you use heavier bars. (3700 x 15% is 550 lbs and when I loaded up, tongue weight was right at about 500. But, that was without the WD hitch and bars. The hitch itself, the part on the truck -- and without the bars attached -- is 50 lbs. The bars are about 20 lbs. each.)

To remove the bars, you run the jack "up", which releases the tension and they can be pulled off. There is also a pry-tool to help remove and replace the bars.

My Colorado rates at 3500 lbs trailer without WD hitch (and also has anti-sway technology) but I am very happy to have the WD hitch. Trailer has been extremely stable. I pulled a much lighter U-Haul trailer through the Grapevine with my earlier Nissan Frontier (no WD hitch or brake controller) and it was extremely unstable.
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