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  #1  
Old 10-26-2007, 08:35 PM
P and B
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Default New TM Maiden Voyage Experiences

This is my first post. Thought I would relate our experiences in purchasing our TM and follow-up with some things that happened on our maiden voyage.

We had been looking at the TM for some time. We previously owned a 22' Rockwood class C, which we loved. It's been gone for over 10 years now and we just haven't been on any camping trips since. We first had our minds made up to go with the 2720 SL but didn't like the idea of one of us having to crawl over the other one (there are only two of us) to get out of bed. In the end, we purchased the 3124 KS. It was only marginally heavier and had a king sized bed. I should state now that, from the perspective of someone who had never towed anything before, 4 feet is a lot. I don't consider our choice a mistake but the extra size makes it that much more
difficult for me to get it into my driveway, which is steep and has a bit of a wind to it. I manage, with my wife's help, but it is more difficult than I'd like and I'd say a bit scary. Let's just say that putting the TM down our driveway is more difficult than putting it into any campsite you're likely going to want to get in. I'm chalking this one up to experience and consider this TM lesson #1- backing up is really hard.

We bought our TM and the dealer was very good. We were to leave on our maiden voyage the day we picked it up and spent quite a bit of time getting all briefed up on how things worked. It went a little easier since we'd owned an RV before. One thing I think they could have improved on was the whole towing and hitch part. I have no towing experience and certainly no hitch experience. I first realized this when I went to unhitch the TV first
time. I had to call the dealer to get it unhitched and I'm still not sure of how to really get the weight off of the ball to make it easier to flip up the ball release. I usually have to get a hammer out to pry it up. The second hitch mistake was in understanding exactly how the weight distribution bars work. I took them off to back down the driveway once, thinking it would be easier to unhitch, and realized that it wasn't a good idea when the propane tanks scraped the driveway. Did I mention how steep the driveway is? Anyway, don't take the bars off unless you're going to unhitch the car....TM lesson #2.

The plan after bringing the TM home from the dealer and grabbing our stuff was to drive about 2hrs to a campground, spend the night and then head
for Virginia (from Cape Cod) the following morning to attend a family reunion and celebrate both of our fathers turning 80. We arrived at the campground after dark. The guy at the campground looked at our arrangement and despite my telling him that I had just picked the thing up a couple of hours earlier and had zero experience, he put is in a spot about
the size of a shoebox. It was not a pullthrough. The neighbor lady, in a gigantic fifth wheel (in a pullthrough space), came to their door and was giving a blow by blow description of our feeble efforts to her husband
somewhere in their RV. I think at one point my wife asked her if she didn't have television...but fortunately, she appeared not to hear. They popped out to help about the time I got the TM in the site. Crooked but parked.

I didn't even unhitch that night. I think I just had a few drinks to calm down and then went to bed. The bed was very comfy by the way. We were off the next morning. It was a hike to Virginia and I won't bore you with the misadventures en route because I'm sure you've all had them. The big thing that happened was that the factory microwave pretty much jumped out of it's opening, destroying the shelf and cabinet brace in the front. The 1/4 inch shelf was no match for the MW so we replaced it with 1/2 " plywood. The contact-paper-wrapped-balsa-wood the factory uses for the cabinet braces we replaced with a piece of maple. We used threaded rod and a metal bar across the top of the MW to keep it in place. Had to take the stove top out to effect repairs. TM lesson #3- Despite your best
efforts, stuff really bounces around in there when you're towing it.

Other small problems include a stove that won't light with the built in ignition system, shower curtain track didn't meet so neither did the shower curtains - by about two feet.

We managed to fix everything before our next adventure. This was the drive from Virginia to Bar Harbor ME. We took two days and I made sure we had pullthroughs in both places we stopped. This brings me to TM lesson #4- Pullthroughs are usually not the best places to camp. It feels like camping at a drive-in movie.

While we were in Bar Harbor, we unhitched for the second time. That went pretty well really. Here we tried just about everything in the TM. I should report that our battered MW actually did work well. We played the radio...I'm thinking new speakers...and used the TV antenna. The television is just sitting on the TV cabinet for now. Maybe someday I'll get up enough nerve to drill a hole in the wall and mount some spiffy mount all of you have been writing in about. Not yet though.

We did some geocaching while at Acadia and did the usual sight seeing
and shopping, and lobster stew and popovers at the Jordan Pond House - three times! . I should mention that, during our stay in Maine, I
changed the hot water heater to electric....I'll be right back... TM Lesson #5- If you turn the HW heater to electric and bring it home and plug it in, don't forget to turn it back to LP like I just did ;-0

We drove back home with no real difficulties except for the drive through Boston. We got home before dark (smart huh?) and I backed the TM down the driveway. This time we were armed with newly purchased walkie
talkies which helped. I think my wife is getting to be a better spotter
and I'm getting better at following directions. I'm sure there are a couple of TM lessons in there too. Believe it or not, we had a great time.

Phil & Beth
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  #2  
Old 10-27-2007, 06:46 AM
mtnguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P and B View Post
I have no towing experience and certainly no hitch experience. I first realized this when I went to unhitch the TV first
time. I had to call the dealer to get it unhitched and I'm still not sure of how to really get the weight off of the ball to make it easier to flip up the ball release. I usually have to get a hammer out to pry it up.
Congratulations on your new purchase. I enjoyed reading about your adventures and misadventures.

About that coupling. I find that if I make sure the ball is towards the front of the coupling (away from the pawl in back) the latch works much easier. Chock the TM wheels, then pull forward just a little to take the pressure off of the pawl, then try the latch. When rasing, you might have to let the TV drift back a little so the ball doesn't hang up in the front lip. I betcha after a few camping trips, there will be no need for the "hammer" method.

Chap
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  #3  
Old 10-27-2007, 08:05 AM
Shandysplace
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Default Backing Into Tight Spaces

Thoroughly enjoyed your post. We are waiting for delivery of our new 3326 King. Our tv is a 1997 Suburban. We had a boat we pulled w/the Suburban which has since been sold. There are some boat ramps we found which required a tight right angle turn to enter the ramp--not nearly enough room to back straight down the ramp. Very challenging. To dramatically simplify the process we had the same hitch on the back of the burb installed on the front. Making those right angle entries was a snap after that, especially at night with the headlights lighting the ramp. We expect to use it with our TM when things get tight.

w/r,

Shandysplace
3326 King
1997 Suburban 1500 4WD
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Old 10-27-2007, 08:38 AM
wmtire
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Originally Posted by P and B View Post




TM lesson #3- Despite your best
efforts, stuff really bounces around in there when you're towing it.



We did some geocaching while at Acadia and did the usual sight seeing
and shopping, and lobster stew and popovers at the Jordan Pond House - three times! . I should mention that, during our stay in Maine, I
changed the hot water heater to electric....I'll be right back... TM Lesson #5- If you turn the HW heater to electric and bring it home and plug it in, don't forget to turn it back to LP like I just did ;-0

We drove back home with no real difficulties except for the drive through Boston. We got home before dark (smart huh?) and I backed the TM down the driveway. This time we were armed with newly purchased walkie
talkies which helped. I think my wife is getting to be a better spotter
and I'm getting better at following directions. I'm sure there are a couple of TM lessons in there too. Believe it or not, we had a great time.

Phil & Beth
Phil and Beth, welcome to the forums and congratulations on your first trailmanor. There is a lot of information here that will aid in your enjoyment of the camper.

As far as your bouncing, a consensus has been reached here, that the tires need balancing. They come from the factory (as do most all brands of camper trailers) with the tires unbalanced. Balancing the tires will help the trailer ride considerably smoother and keep the vibrations from rattling things loose.

Also, it wouldn't be a bad idea to learn how to take your tires off your camper for yourself, when you get them balanced. That way, you will know how to if you have a flat while traveling.

Learning how to pull (and back) a trailer will take practice. MY advice (and it has been stated here in the forums) is to take your trailer to a big empty parking lot somewhere. Practice trying to back it into designated spots that are marked in the lot. You could also buy you some of those orange plastic/rubber cones to put out, and then try to back in between them. The more you practice, the better you will get. You'll get there.

There are some checklists here in the forums that you can download. They are in the "Trailmanor information you won't find anywhere else" forum. Mike & Kelly have one on the first page and Ed Felker has one on the second page. These checklists will help you go thru the steps in opening and closing your trailer, with the other things. Until you get a good feel for things, this would help you in remembering switching your water heater, etc.

Feel free to ask about any questions or concerns you have. This forum has great people here who will help you, as they have me.

Last edited by wmtire; 10-27-2007 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 10-27-2007, 03:43 PM
P and B
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Beth and I thank all of you for your kind and supportive words. Chap- I'll try you suggestion on hitching and unhitching. I'm pretty sure we've been doing exactly the opposite of what you've suggested.

Bobby, I will indeed check the tires for out of balance conditions. If I don't see any counterweights then I'll know. It will be difficult for me to get the tires off in my scary driveway so I might have to wait until I go out the next time and alert the tire guys that I'm coming. We might go out next weekend for a quickie.

Shandysplace- terrific idea but expensive yes? Maybe you don't have to do all the stuff on a front hitch for the rear hitch. Interesting idea though. I was toying with getting a camera for the back of the TM so I could see behind it. Problem with our driveway is that it goes downhill so once you drop the TM over the edge, you can't see anything at all. If I could just see behind the TM, I think it would be easier- although I'm going to do the practice in the parking lot thing the next time I go out.

I wanted to thank everyone who sent me a response. I know my post was kind of long. I forgot to mention that ML320 towed the TM with no problems. I wasn't speeding up any mountains but I watched my temp guage and it barely increased up the long steep grades. When I went below 50 I just turned my hazard lights on and plowed ahead. It would probably be nice to have a bigger engine but 16 mpg is hard to beat. I remember my class C got 9 mpg, downhill with a tailwind, so this is far superior.

When I fix the MW for good (we kind of did a temp fix) I'll post some pictures on what I did.

We look forward to joining the TrailBlazers (if I get around to filling out the paperwork) and meeting some fellow owners.

Thanks again,

Phil
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Old 10-28-2007, 07:56 AM
mtnguy
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Originally Posted by P and B View Post
Chap- I'll try you suggestion on hitching and unhitching. I'm pretty sure we've been doing exactly the opposite of what you've suggested.
When hitching back up, again make sure the ball is close to the front of the coupling, so that the pawl doesn't hang up on the ball when lowering. Ideally, the TM should move forward slightly as the coupling slips over the ball.

Lord knows it took me awhile to figure all of that out when I bought a utility trailer years ago.

Chap
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Old 10-28-2007, 03:55 PM
P and B
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Chap,

I think we're going to do a short weekend trip next weekend so I'll get another shot at it. While we're at it, I'm going to take it up to my tire place for balancing. Get that out of the way. BTW are there any tricks for keeping the tires in good shape while the thing is just sitting there? I know that sometimes tires go out of round or develop a flat spot. Of course I'm afraid of the answer...hitch it up and move it occasionally ;-)

Phil
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Old 10-28-2007, 04:06 PM
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I'm experimenting with cranking the jacks down while it's garaged, to keep all weight off the tires.
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Old 10-28-2007, 04:24 PM
P and B
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Bill, maybe this and letting some air out of the tires will do the trick.

Phil
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Old 10-28-2007, 06:50 PM
mtnguy
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Chap,

I think we're going to do a short weekend trip next weekend so I'll get another shot at it. While we're at it, I'm going to take it up to my tire place for balancing. Get that out of the way. BTW are there any tricks for keeping the tires in good shape while the thing is just sitting there? I know that sometimes tires go out of round or develop a flat spot. Of course I'm afraid of the answer...hitch it up and move it occasionally ;-)

Phil
The tire balancing is a good idea.....the tire dealer had to add a bunch of weights to get my tires balanced.

Hitching up and moving occasionally is a good option, althougth that is usually inconvenient. When I park mine for the winter, I park on boards to keep the tires off of the pavement. I also recently bought tire covers, to keep the sun from deteriorating the rubber. I also make sure the tire pressure is kept up, so the sidewalls don't flex too much. I am not sure letting the air out of the tires is a good idea, unless you do take the weight off by the jacks. wmtire....suggestions????

BTW P&B.....great avatar!!! If y'all could get the TM down that winding road (driveway?), y'all shoudn't ever have a problem backing.

Chap

Last edited by mtnguy; 10-28-2007 at 06:57 PM.
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