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Old 08-11-2013, 07:48 AM   #1
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First impressions as a new owner of the Swift SLX 184bh

So I've owned the trailer for about 3 days and spent our first night at "camp driveway" last night... here are my impressions so far:

- It's got a LOT of storage space, we've pretty much got it loaded with the standard checklist of "all occasion" non expendables (dishes, bed linens, bathroom stuff, basic games, trailer maintenance stuff, etc..) and have plenty of room for trip specific items (clothes, food/beverages, other personal & entertainment items).

- The sleeping location at the front of the trailer in the dining area is a good size for my wife and I (5'10" and 5'6" with healthy BMI's) but the cushioning is god awful, the bed is NOT a "queen" as it measures 54x81 inches which is a "Full XL".. (54x80) which makes finding a mattress topper a bit of a chore (you could cut down a Queen memory foam topper to fit as well). I was able to find a 2.5" memory foam memory topper in Full XL size for $100 shipped via Wayfair (http://www.wayfair.com/Eclipse-Perfe...5-XEC1203.html)... still shopping around as it is probably cheaper to buy/cut a queen down or just settle with a slightly undersized standard full.

- Adding two front stabilizing jacks was a good call, I tried leveling with just the rears that come with the trailer + the front jack and it was significantly less stable when people are moving around inside.

- The dealership installed a group 24 deep cycle Interstate battery (HD24-DP), the manual indicates on page 6-7 that the electrical system is designed for a Group 27, deep cycle battery... Cheesey way to shave a couple bucks off of a big ticket purchase..

- I like the multi-stage battery charger feature on the power converter and verified with a basic DC volt meter that it was switching from Absorbtion (13.6v) to Float (13.2v) mode when shore power was connected and the battery was fully charged without significant load on the 12v system (O2 detector and radio on standby). I still plan to bring the battery inside during the winter months and connect it to a battery tender but will probably leave it connected to shore power when it's parked near the house during camping/hunting seasons.

- Mine was built in December, 2012 and is equipped with a 7000 BTU Frigidare air conditioner which runs fine on "low cool" via a 25 foot 15 amp "heavy duty" extension cord connected to the on-board 25 foot 30 amp cable to a standard garage outlet. On a 90 degree day with 90% relative humidity earlier in the week it cooled the trailer to 75 degrees in about 15 minutes but did leak water out across the window below it.

- The shower/tub is probably designed for a 5'8" person max, at 5'10" my head was inside of the skylight bubble. Still not a bad experience, wet down - use the button on the shower head to pause the water while you lather up, rinse, out you go. The tub is the perfect size for washing kids which is huge for our family.



I've also been testing out system run times on battery alone to start planning for hunting season in November when I'll likely be boondocking for 5-6 days in a row (winterized so no water systems would be active, fridge would not be in use at all). Power draw would primarily be the furnace blower (evening hours only unless conditions are particularly bad during the day) and lights along with some phone/gadget charging from the 12v cigarette style receptacle normally reserved for the TV. I'll likely add a kill switch to the installed Dual radio which seems to be a constant (but minor) drain on the battery in standby.

The dealership installed Interstate group 24 hybrid HD-24dp battery (41 lbs, 11.6 hrs @ 5 amps) that came with the trailer is seriously anemic <see my note above>, assuming I upgrade it to something like the Wal-Mart EverStart size 29, 12v marine deep-cycle battery ($82 at WalMart + $8 for a new box, 62 lbs, 21.2 hrs @ 5 amps) Upgrading to a type 29 will add 20 pounds (from 40 to 60) but double capacity which I think is a pretty good trade off. This should give me 50-60 usable amp-hours to work with each day if I want to avoid going below 50% on the battery. With my portable 100 watt solar panel+battery charger I'm hoping to replenish 5 amps per hour when I've got good sun to work with, likely optimistic in the fall up here but should close to recharging what I use in a day. I'll probably add at least another 50 watt panel at some point but want to see how this one actually performs before throwing down another $100 for the second panel. For now it will be portable and placed in as optimal a location as I can find to gather sunlight but I am thinking a roof install would be nice long term.

If I peel out the fluff and go with essential power usage, the Attwood 7920 II 18k BTU furnace draws 3.4 amps @ 12 volts in operation, the stock #921 interior bulbs draw 1.4 amps each and there are 11 in the trailer interior fixtures plus one in the range hood, my iPhone 5 draws 1 amp when charging. The light bulbs in these trailers are absolute battery hogs and given the many low cost options available on ebay I've already ordered a set of LED replacements (looks like it will cost around $50-$60 for 12 with a warm 3000k / 250 lumen or better light output) which should knock the lighting draw down at least 80-90%. I may also charge up some smaller 18ah, 12 volt AGM cells I have lying around before we depart and set up a stand-alone accessory charging station for things like cell phones to keep the load off the trailer battery.

Aside from the battery quibble (a dealership vs Jayco issue) and commonly reported air conditioning condensation on the window I'm very happy with the trailer. A number of neighbors and friends who have experience camping seem pretty jazzed about the configuration and amenities particularly given the price paid.
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Old 08-11-2013, 02:27 PM   #2
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Glad you are enjoying the TT...keep us updated on the mods & adventures [ATTACH][/ATTACH]
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:49 PM   #3
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Enjoy it. Also Wal-Mart has/had a 2" memory foam pad for $49. You may want to check their site but you will probably need to cut it down a little as well.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:57 PM   #4
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3" memory foam at Costco works well
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:10 PM   #5
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I also have a 2 inch memory foam in my 184. Works well. I replaced my lights with LEDs. I recommend using some silicone when attaching them. The 2 sided tape got hot and didn't last long.

If you get a water tote, get a low profile one.

Did your window below the AC leak at all? I used some cotton 550 chord and threaded some bailing wire down the middle. I use that to "wick" the water away from the window.

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Old 08-11-2013, 10:47 PM   #6
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Thank you so much for your review. My wife and I are seriously considering this purchase instead of a pop up.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:28 AM   #7
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Skysummit, we had a popup for 4 years and moved to the 184. I wish we had just bought the 184 first. The 184 isn't perfect, but for us (family of 4 with 2 small boys), the 184 is perfect. I say go for it!
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:35 PM   #8
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We looked at a number of popups but when the sticker prices started bumping in to the Swift SLX TT's we decided the 184 BH's amenities and sleeping configuration were worth the relatively small difference in price. What surprised me the most with the pop-ups was their weight.. some were actually heavier to tow than the SLX trailers with similar sleep capacity.

One other observation since I've been tinkering with the trailer - the stock battery charger/converter (WFCO WF-8740) is decent for running things on shore power BUT did not fully charge any battery or array of batteries I've connected to test even after sitting on shore power for over a week. Out of curiosity, checked the "fully charged" battery that had a chance to settle with my multimeter and, at best, it was holding about a 70% charge. After throwing the same battery on a 6a multi-stage charger it ran for almost 8 hours before hitting "float" mode when the battery was completely charged up. After doing some reading in the manual I see the standard converter installed in the trailer will only charge the house battery at "bulk" 14.4v for a max of 4 hours before switching to absorb/float mode. In addition, the cable run from the charger to battery seems to inflict a bit of voltage droop (I measured .2 v less at the battery than at the output of the charger in my trailer) which means the batteries are only seeing 14.2v in "bulk" mode further reducing effectiveness of the limited time available. With a new/off the shelf battery or significantly discharged battery I am not sure you'd ever get a full charge without using an external multi-stage charger.

Short of replacing the converter I don't think the on-board house battery charge function can be "fixed" (it's working as designed/installed and, as I am reading from a few sources around the web, fairly common complaint in travel trailer battery charger/converter units) so I'm just going to consider it a "maintenance/float" charger when I happen to be on shore power at a site and plan to hook the batteries to an external multi-stage battery charger instead of connecting the trailer to shore power when it's parked next to the house from now on. I'm getting ready to install a 200 watt solar charging system on the trailer with a Morningstar controller that has much more robust battery charge monitoring and maintenance capabilities as long as it's got enough hours of daylight to work with. I've also decided to add a Trimetric battery and charge monitor to the trailer ($180 for parts and some wiring bits) since it will both help manage the solar charging system and monitor battery health since the on-board system for doing so is pretty crude particularly if you actually plan to boondock and depend heavily on the house batteries for things like heat (until you run out of propane of course).
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Old 08-20-2013, 12:48 PM   #9
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storing this winter

We also have the 184bh and love it. I was considering storing the trailer in a barn/ storage facility to protect it from the snows here in nh. However I was just told by someone that indoor storage is bad for the rubber membrane roof?? Anyone else ever hear of that? I assumed. It would be better to have it under shelter than out in the cold and sun. (Sorry to talk about snow and cold already)
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:44 PM   #10
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I would also be interested in knowing if there are any negatives to storing the trailer indoors during the winter months. That was my plan as well.
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