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View Full Version : Set Up and Breakdown by Solo Owners


susynstecchi
06-29-2006, 03:56 PM
Greetings, TrailManor's Owners' Forum!

I have joined your forum because I have been thinking about purchasing a TrailManor 27Ft slideout as my very first RV, and have been reading about it for 3 years or so, but have a major concern that I hope other solo (especially female owners) can answer for me.

When I start my RV lifestyle, it will be a solo one. I will not have any other humans (two dogs and a parrot only) to assist me with the set-up and breakdown. While I am not a weakling by any means, I worry that it may be a bit difficult for me to get the tops up into position -- the video clips TrailManors provide always show two people setting up the trailer. And, more of a concern, I have not ever been able to locate any video clips or even any written description of the mechanisms that are in place and what it takes to snug the TrailManor back down to hit the road again. I feel that this lack of publicity on the breakdown means it is not one of the good points about the trailer, and that I would need help from soneone to snug it back down. I absolutely do not want to have to find someone at every campground help me ready my trailer for the road. If I can't do it all myself, I don't want a TrailManor, because I plan to do some rural camping without anyone else around on occasion, and what am I supposed to do then if I can't do it myself? And who wants to wake up neighboring campers at 6AM for help when I am ready to start the debarkation process?

So, is there anyone amongst you who are females who have had to set up and breakdown the TrailManor all by yourselves? What was it like? Is it do-able? I would hate to spend $26,000 on something that I end up having to sell in a hurry because later I find myself dependent on someone else to help me with it. Men can chime in, too, but unless you are 5'5", 140# and have less upper arm strength than an average man, your personal experience with solo setups and breakdowns probably won't be too valuable to me. But I would still like to hear from anyone who has insight.

Thank you, all!

/s/
Susyn Stecchi

2bcs1jrt
06-29-2006, 04:04 PM
I am 5' 9" and 125 lbs with so so upper body strength. We have a 2518 (no longer made) I am the sole setter upper, and tearer downer (all words I just made up) We travel with 3 dogs and I send hubby off to walk the dogs when we reach our destination to keep him out of my way so I can set up. He will usually do the leveling for no other reason than he thinks he's better at it. My TM is 10 years old. The only thing I can't do is back it up just cuz I haven't had to. Set up and tear down is no problem at all.
Cheri

Bill
06-29-2006, 04:40 PM
There was a discussion back in April from a woman in a similar situation. You might PM her. I don't know if we reached any conclusions, but you can look at the thread here.

http://www.trailmanorowners.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4073

Actually, there is a procedure for making opening a lot easier. I have recommended for people who are a bit frail, but the situation is quite similar. If you use it, you'll find an electric tongue jack to be useful, but that is an easy upgrade.

Check out this thread
http://www.trailmanorowners.com/forum/showthread.php?p=14319

I am encouraged by Cheri's response. But if everything went into the proverbial handbasket, I imagine that closing could be assisted with a lever.
1. Close the shells as far as you can.
2. If you can't get that last inch or two, to make the pin snap into the latch, I'm sure you could put a piece of hardwood dowel (closet hanger rod, for example) through the stirrup and use it as a lever to get that final inch.

Bill

2bcs1jrt
06-29-2006, 06:20 PM
I have a problem latching the rear shell because I don't have the weight when I step in the stirrup. So I push the shell in and go around the front, climb up on the front bed which is already slid into close down position, and push the shell down from above. It is very easy from above. Sometimes only one latch will lock but once one is latched, I can do the remainining one by stepping in the stirrup. I do it that way every time and it always works without a hitch (so to speak)
Cheri

Factor
06-29-2006, 07:37 PM
I'm a fairly strong person and do not think it's practical for one person to set up and take down.
It can be dowe, but, it's not like opening a car trunk as the commercial says.
John
I had the 3023

B_and_D
06-29-2006, 11:09 PM
No problems for me to set up and take down by myself (I actually prefer to be left alone to do it). If you have doubts, go to a dealer and ask them to let you set one up and then close it down by yourself. I just wish that I was better at backing up and parking; this is something I usually leave to DH. I suppose that with practice it would be easier.

Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses; you won't know yours until you try it for yourself.

Denny_A
06-30-2006, 12:19 AM
Also, the opening/closing forces can be adjusted until everything is just-right for the owner. Best done by a dealer followed by a functioanal test by the owner. One can make it very easy to close at the expense of being more difficult to open. And vice-versa. The opening/closing mechanism (torsion bars) can be tweaked to suit just about anyone.

I've done it myself several times to suit my preferences.

Denny_A

coulter
06-30-2006, 08:44 AM
I have a dh but he travels with me less than 50% of the time.. My 5'5", 115 daughter and I (5'8'' average weight, average strength) can both set up take down our new 3023 easily in just a couple of minutes. I know this because we have been racing each other each time :) just to help us learn the process. Of course this applies to only things that unique only to the trailmanor, it takes longer to hook up water, electric, etc but you have to do that with all rv's. Taking it down is no harder, and doesn't require any more strength than set up.

Leesa

2bcs1jrt
06-30-2006, 09:24 AM
No problems for me to set up and take down by myself (I actually prefer to be left alone to do it). If you have doubts, go to a dealer and ask them to let you set one up and then close it down by yourself. I just wish that I was better at backing up and parking; this is something I usually leave to DH. I suppose that with practice it would be easier.

Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses; you won't know yours until you try it for yourself.

Same here. I ALWAYS do the entire set up and tear down. I prefer it that way. I think my closing issues would be easily taken care of with some torsion bar adjustments. I just haven't gotten around to it. I think the best thing for a prospective buyer to do is find one on a lot and try it.
Cheri

Jim-NY
06-30-2006, 09:29 AM
Susyn,

From the above messages and reading the link that Bill provided it would appear that your TM can be adjusted to work for you. I am pretty confident that it will work, but if it doesn't there are other options.

In my opinion your physical strength is not going be a problem, your lack of weight is. I doubt you want to go on an eating binge and gain weight yourself, but you could hang a weight of some kind on the stirrup as you close it. A filled water jug would do. 3 gallons will bring your weight up to mine. My 165 lbs and a small bounce will close my 2720SL without a problem. That is almost a worst-case scenario because my torsion bars are adjusted so it almost opens by itself but closes harder.

If you are boondocking and use up your water, you may have something else heavy you will be taking along anyhow like a small generator that could be suspended from the stirrup.

Better yet, you could store some heavy stuff in a backpack and just put it on when you take the TM down.

Now let me digress. You are wise to make sure you can do it by yourself for all the reasons you mentioned. On the other hand, even if you donít need it, I suggest you consider welcoming help when it is offered. I am not saying this represents you, but I have observed employees of mine, of both genders, who for there own reasons avoid asking for help. If I asked if I could help, they would respond saying they could do it by themselves. I usually knew that they could do it by themselves, but it was also obvious that it would be easier with my help. Many people like myself get a kick out of being able to help others. You could make their day. Itís also a good way to meet people. Some of them will turn out to be interesting and may add to your enjoyment of the RV lifestyle experience.

Jim

Simon3xUD
06-30-2006, 09:38 AM
I suppose this is one of the few times where additional height (5'11") and/or weight (no comment :D ) can be an advantage. I have done several trips solo (or with someone who was best not involved in set-up/tear-down ;) ) and had no problems doing either. As others have suggested, your best bet is to see if you can find a TM to try out on.

wwjam
06-30-2006, 10:34 AM
I agree with trying it out first. Everyone's body strength is different. For me, the hardests things would be hooking it up to tow, towing, backing up, doing the jacks and leveling it once it's opened, and taking care of the grey and black tanks. Opening it, setting up the inside, and closing it down again, I can do, even though my husband calls me a whimp. The one thing I do have trouble with is getting my foot into the stirrup to close it all the way and catch the locks. But I could do that too if I had to, and used a step stool.

Jo Ann

Speckul8r
06-30-2006, 11:13 AM
Cheri, Have you tried experimenting closing one side b4 the other? My 2720 closes much easier if I close/latch the drivers side first. Maybe this is just an idiosyncrasy of my unit.
When we picked the unit up from the dealer, he insisted that my wife do most of the work. Just to show off how easy it was. She's 5' 4" and <125#.

2bcs1jrt
06-30-2006, 11:28 AM
Cheri, Have you tried experimenting closing one side b4 the other? My 2720 closes much easier if I close/latch the drivers side first. Maybe this is just an idiosyncrasy of my unit.
When we picked the unit up from the dealer, he insisted that my wife do most of the work. Just to show off how easy it was. She's 5' 4" and <125#.
Yes I have. It actually worked fine when I got it last summer (from a private party) but since I was the 3rd owner and it was 9 yrs old, I took it to a TM dealership for a once over and they adjusted it in such a way that I could no longer close it in the traditional manor (at least not the rear shell). I had a bad experience with that dealership and it is 2 hrs away so I have not gone back. It's no problem for me. If something more major occurs, I'll take it in and take care of that while Im there.
Cheri

Freedom
06-30-2006, 04:12 PM
Here is a very simple cure to the closing problem. You just hook the hook on the stirrup and put the shorter end of the board on the frame - up underneath. Step on the long end of the board. Board is about five feet of 1X4 with a 1/2 inch hole about 2 feet from one end. The hook is one of those little ratchet down straps pushed through the hole and knotted through a big washer on the under side.

susynstecchi
06-30-2006, 05:54 PM
I feel much better after reading everything posted by you experienced TrailManor owners. Thanks for responding with such good experience descriptions and tips. I'm saving all of them for when I get my own TrailManor.

Jim, I am not trying to be a snob when I say I don't want to ask for help. I am very independent, and would be working full-time in a compact mobile office setup with satellite internet in my TrailManor, and would be looking to stay in places fairly far away from civilization and other humans to help me. That is part of the allure of the travel for me. So I just want to be able to do it all myself sans homosapiens. I like the idea of climbing up on it to bounce it down -- that could be sort of fun -- I used to drive a 2-1/2 ton troop carrier (deuce-and-a-half) when I was a soldier in the Army and I couldn't shut the hood on that monster without climbing up on the front fenders and bouncing on it -- it was kind of fun, sort of. The weighted backpack idea is a good suggestion, too. The closing was the largest concern for me, and I feel better about it now.

I'm going to check all the other threads you posters have given me, as well. The TrailManor would become my full-time home, when I get it, so I want to spend my money wisely. Thank you again, every one!

/s/
Susyn

fcatwo
06-30-2006, 08:06 PM
Susyn

You haven't said how often you'll be moving, how many miles you'll be covering or what kind of tow vehicle you have but IMO the biggest advantages of a TM are when you are actually towing it on the hwy or storing it aroung your home. Once it's set up for camping it's not that different from other trailers and unfortunately some of those differences are minuses -- like the recirculating toilet, small liquid capacities and small appliances. Our 2619 is just what we need at this stage of our lives (easy to tow and fits in the garage) but it would not be my choice for full-timing. I assume you are considering other options. Just my $0.02.

Bill
07-01-2006, 06:54 AM
Susyn -

If you are going to be working a mobile office in remote locations, you might want to search for posts by RockyMtnRay on the subject of cell phone amplifiers/cell phone internet connection, and so forth. Ray runs his own business and Internet access from remote areas is of prime concern to him.

Or send him a PM. He don' come 'round much anymore, but I know he would be glad to comment if you feel the need of experienced comment in this area.

Bill

Leslie & Nick
07-01-2006, 07:36 AM
Susyn,

Had to chuckle a little. I saw your reference to driving a "deuce and half" in the Army. I drove one of these trucks while at Ft Benning in the late 60's. I loved that truck! It would run on most any kind of fuel - diesel, gas, and maybe some others! My old platoon sergeant got great joy out calling me his "college truck driver" - it made him feel good I guess :) Driving that truck got me out of some other nasty "details", so I didn't mind.

Anyway, I see you have gotten a lot of responses regarding setting up and taking down the TM by yourself. I'll add my $ .02 too. We have a 2619 which is the smallest TM, but I'm not sure that matters anyway (those torsion bars on all TMs do most of the work). I'd say I'm of average build and strength, and I can put up/take down the trailer my self. I find it easier to make sure I pull the shells up from the centerpoint as opposed to one side. And as someone already said, it's also easier if the trailer is fairly level before you start. I've never had a problem "locking down" the shells after lowering them.

It is certainly easier to raise/lower with two people, but one person can indeed do it too. As others have said, the best thing is to try it yourself at a dealer, if there are any near you. Unfortunately, your chances of seeing a TM at a campground are slim - there just don't seem to be many out there yet. So that's probably not a good avenue for talking to a TM owner and maybe trying to assist, while the owner is setting up or taking down.

Nick