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Old 05-31-2011, 08:55 AM   #1
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First camping trip in the new camper! 154BH

The set up:
2011 Jayco Swift slx 154bh
2004 Chevy Trailblazer, 2wd dr, 4.2l I6
Friction sway control
Prodigy p2 brake controller

We left Ohio and headed out on our 4 hour drive to Michigan with the new rig for Memorial Day weekend and our inaugural trip with our new rv.

Towing: It towed just fine. The towing capacity of the TB far excedes the weight of the rv and cargo, and it has an auxilliary transmission cooler installed to boot. There was no need for power, and I kept the transmission in D for the level parts of the trip. Third gear was needed only occasionally. As a result, I averages 12.8 mpg -- far better than the often reported 10-11 mpg I was expecting!

A major concern, however, is that the brake controller lost signal. After pulling over and reconnecting, signal was established for just moments, then lost again. I was unable to re-establish the connection, but I was almost at the camp ground, so I just drove it in very slowly and carefully.

Set up was easy, considering my previous experience has been limited to pop up campers. My only mistake was trusting the pad to be level, and unhitching the camper too early. Fortunately, all I needed was one levelcourse of Lynx levelers, and my wife and I were able to push the camper onto the level surface by hand. No need to rehitch to the vehilcle.
Hurray for lightweight campers!!!

Sleeping wasn't quite sound, as can be expected for the first night in a new place, but it was comfortable. The boys slept in their bunks without complaint. The dog (Chi Hua Hua named Drama) protested the night in her kennel carrier.

Breakfast was bacon and eggs, and cereal. Much easier to prepare than any meal in the former pop up experiences. We were able to set off the smoke alarm from bacon fumes, but the smell of fresh bacon cancels out any inconvenience!

I have to say that this camper is more enjoyable in many ways than the two pop ups we have owned. The easy set up and storage alone make it worth while to me. Our first pop up was a bit extravagant with 12 foot box, hot water, cassette toilet, shower, and dual king beds, but I'm still happier with the small TT.

That being said, I can see how this rv wouldn't be for everybody. I am 5'7," my wife 5'2" and children ages 10 and 7 are much smaller of course.
Taller and heaftier people would be uncomfotable on the beds and in the shower. In fact, people over my height might avoid this kind of camper based on the size of the shower alone. It's not just the shower height, but the ceiling height of the rv that is the problem. Very tall people would actually have to duck to move around inside. Also, there isn't much space to relax or have recreation inside the camper -- just the dinette.
But my wife and I prefer that the whole familybe outside, enjoying nature and each other when we camp. So we can't count the smallness aof the rv as a drawback in any way.
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:01 AM   #2
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After the first camping trip reflections...

Mileage was a bit worse on the return trip -- 11.7 mpg. The drive was fine though, and we were all happy with the overall trip.

About the brake controller ... the pig tail has to be forced tightly into the TV receptical. If not perfectly tight, brake and turn signal lights will function giving the illusion of a good connection, but the brake connection will fail.

My attempt at creating a storage system for the sewer hose failed a bit. Upon stopping for a rest room brake on the drive home, I noticed that the end cap popped open, and some fittings were lost. The hose is still there, so I'll be spending some time and money fixing that mistake

Finally, due to high wind, thunderstorm, and tornado warnings in southen Michigan, we had to pull up stakes a day early. Fortunately, we were able to park the RV in a friends barn and stay at their house for the final night.

Pictures forthe coming
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:42 AM   #3
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Sounds like you had a good first trip overall! It does take a little getting used to, but the tight family atmosphere can be good. So often my kids are at one end of the house and we are at the other and dont spent enough quality time together. I'm impressed you moved that thing by hand onto the levelers!

A couple of suggestions of what I like that may help you --

I keep the HVAC fan on all night. I like to have a fan above my head anyway and the sound turns into white noise and drowns out most anything else going on with the kids or dog.

On the brake controller - you might check your TV connection and see if the connections need a little polishing up. If they are original from 2004 they might be a little dirty.

When I cook in the camper, I almost always turn on the vent fan. It will pull all that junk out and not smell up or smoke up the camper nearly as bad. One mistake I sometimes make is to forget to open the outside went locks. If you look outside at the vent there are two little dogs that hold the door closed, they just rotate out of the way. I have also seen on some vent hoods a little latch that you have to pull out up under the vent hood.

Enjoy!
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Old 05-31-2011, 12:46 PM   #4
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Excellent write-up! 'Sounds like a great trip.

Have you had any issues with the trailer jack scraping because of the low ground clearance?
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:58 PM   #5
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Nice report. I could not push my rig up onto the leveling blocks by hand! It takes a Chevy for mine.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrnoyb View Post
Excellent write-up! 'Sounds like a great trip.

Have you had any issues with the trailer jack scraping because of the low ground clearance?
No clearance issues yet.
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:57 PM   #7
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Some pics of the plumbing set up. Really interesting, eh?:





You can see how the end cap came off so easily. I lost the fittings that connect to the sewer.
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:00 PM   #8
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OK - sure I am interested in the pics, but what are those white animals in the background?

PS - looks like a really nice setup! Is that a home made blue tank carrier on the bumper?
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:17 PM   #9
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We got to camp near goats!!!! Set up in the dark and didn't know they were there. They made no noise, though, and the kids had fun feeding them

Yes, that is the blue tank carrier. We didn't bring the tank, as we had a full hook up. I'm not sure if it is totally ready to go though. The way it is rigged now, the tank is held snuggly against the back of the camper. I'm not sure I like that idea with what movement and friction might do. But I can't seem to get it away from there. Maybe a mouse pad in between the tank and the camper?
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