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Bigcats1
05-17-2007, 02:20 PM
Hi....so glad I found this forum. :)
We love camping and have been tent camping for the past 2 yrs. We have decided to "upgrade" to trailer camping. There are only 2 of us (and our poodle) so we would only be looking at something that is comfortable just for us.
We have been looking at and searching on the internet for information on 2 types. One is pop-up campers (mainly Fleetwood) and the other is Trailmanor.
We like both and both seem simply to set up and easy to tow. (we have a Mercury Mountaineer for tow vehicle). We have been to dealerships, walk around in them, asked the salesperson questions and have loads of information on paper. But what we are really looking for is info from owners.
Seeing that all on this forum are TM owners, we were hoping to get advice, suggestions, and information.
My greatest concern is about the TM leaking at the seal between the 2 shells. I read on this forum about leaks around windows, A/C, and some leaks around roof. Most of the leaking has been on pretty new trailers (which concerns us...) but what about long term.
How do the seals hold up ??
What is the biggest complaint ??
What are your opinions on TM vs pop-ups??
We would love to hear from everyone....any comment would help us decide.

Thanks.....

grakin
05-17-2007, 03:04 PM
I have a fairly new TM - only about 10 days of camping in it so far. No leaks at all yet. I have no idea how people are able to say they can set up or tear down in the rain without getting the inside wet though - perhaps other people's rain isn't like mine. Of course I think I'd prefer a little rain to wet canvas any day, so the TM beats a pop-up there (think about mildew).

Disadvantages:

1) More moving parts to break. I expect a latch to break at some point, there's a lot of force getting concentrated in a few spots. But so far it has been trouble free.

2) You have to set it up. This goes for a pop-up too. Takes about 15 minutes to set up, including unhitching, levelling, etc. You can skip some of the steps in a bind (or in the rain) if you have to and set up much quicker in a pinch.

3) You have to close it down. This also goes for a pop-up. It takes me about twice as long to tear down as set up.

4) Not being able to access the sewer hose storage compartment (in bumper on new models) while closed down (you don't have to set things up, just lift the back shell a bit to get to it - but still a pain).

5) Not being able to fill water while TM is shut down

6) Those darn steps! If you close down with the steps out, you have to set back up to pull in the steps!

7) Cost is much higher than most travel trailers with similar ammenities but which don't fold down. I think it's worth it, but higher cost is a disadvantage.

8) Factory A/C is *very* loud. Fortunately I don't plan on using it more than 1-2 weeks per year, as it would drive me nuts. I really wish I had the dealer demonstrate how it sounded before I bought the unit - it might have made me consider other options - it's that loud. It doesn't make much cycling noise though so some might prefer it over the quieter furnace which cycles on and off.

9) Snow camping. While you'll be warm enough, I have no idea how to get the shells down easily in the snow. You really don't want the weight on top when you lower them, and snow can be quite heavy.

10) No access to anything except the electrical plug, propane tanks, and batteries while it's closed. There is no accessible storage - at all - when the unit is closed. You can't get to the fridge with it closed. Kids aren't going to be able to easily get to the toilet when in the middle the desert in Nevada - you'll have to pop the thing up and set up the bathroom walls.

11) Some of the ruggedized popups would handle some of the gravel and dirt roads in the mountains much better than I think the TM will. I try to stay to paved roads, but am willing to use well graded gravel roads occasionally. I wouldn't even think about trying to get the TM into some of the best tent camping areas in my area, even though I had no problem getting a Geo Metro into those areas when I was a student.

12) Watching the tire shop take the wheels off my TM to balance them (WHY doesn't the factory buy a wheel balancer and spend 5 minutes extra and just balance the tires???), I know there is no way at all I'd want to try to do that on the side of an interstate. I'm going to need a new rim if a tire goes on my TM, because I'm going to drive it to the next exit.

13) Single axle on all but the largest TMs, with tires speed rated to 65 MPH and loaded near capacity.

Things I like:

1) Lightweight compared to a 26 foot trailer (I have an '07 2619)

2) Low profile, does great towing in 60 MPH+ side-winds (yes, I've tried that already)

3) Seems safe when towing. I've never feared the trailer getting away from me, but I have a full size truck - others may differ if they don't have a big tow vehicle.

4) I like the bathroom. It isn't a class A motorhome bathroom with full tub and 50 gallon black water tank - it's a very small bathroom, with a recirculating toilet. But it is a dry bathroom (toilet doesn't get wet when showering), and much nicer than anything I saw in a pop-up.

5) Has provisions for truly dry camping - it's self contained. Some pop-ups have gray water drain out an opening, with no gray water tank. That means you have to carry a tote with you to drain into.

6) If you do dry camping (no hookups), the solar panel option (factory or a larger non-factory option if your dealer does it) is nice. I have the 80W factory option, and I can say it extends my camping time.

7) It's well made. Yes, lightweight materials which means it won't take a huge beating, but it's lightweight materials are much better choices than many travel trailers.

8) Well-enough insulated. I've already camped in snow with no problems getting cold. I do make my bed differently in the TM - two comforters, one on the materess, one on top of the sheets. The bottom comforter is to keep some of the bed chill out. I imagine a pop-up could be worse in cold weather.

Things to consider, that I didn't spend much time thinking about:

Think about microwave vs. oven when you consider trailers. Microwave, without a generator, is useless away from hookups. But if you never will use the oven...

I'm already planning on adding an electric tongue jack. Cranking the tongue jack gets very old quickly. Fortunately this is a relatively easy thing for a do-it-yourselfer to add, and not that expensive - or so I say right now before I've done it! :)

I'll add: I'm really glad I bought the TM. You get a lot of space, and a lot of ammenities, in a small space. The tradeoffs I made in choosing the TM have been well worth it for me. I wouldn't recommend a TM if you really want a huge fifth wheel or Class A motor home - you probably won't be happy if that's what you want. Nor would I recommend it if you plan on driving 60 miles each way on bad dirt roads to get to your campsite. But if you plan on staying in semi-developed or fully developed campsites, I think it's about the best thing you can buy if you are comfortable with the floorplan and setup/takedown.

tucsoncarol
05-17-2007, 11:33 PM
We like our bed off the ground. There is nothing like a "real" potty in the middle of the night. I will never make dinner in the rain again. NO CANVAS (i love the smell of wet canvas, not dealing with it). Solid walls mean I can lean back to read.

We dislike the detachment that can happen being enclosed while camping. It's way too easy to stay bundled in bed until the heater warms things up as opposed to crawling out of the tent to start a fire and make coffee.

Bill & Lisa
05-18-2007, 06:30 AM
I have a fairly new TM - only about 10 days of camping in it so far. No leaks at all yet. I have no idea how people are able to say they can set up or tear down in the rain without getting the inside wet though - perhaps other people's rain isn't like mine. Of course I think I'd prefer a little rain to wet canvas any day, so the TM beats a pop-up there (think about mildew).
I have not had a problem with closing up in the rain and no longer care if it rains for 2-3 after I get home. When I had a pop up I ended up opening it up in the rain to keep it from mildewing before I could clean it.
Disadvantages:

1) More moving parts to break. I expect a latch to break at some point, there's a lot of force getting concentrated in a few spots. But so far it has been trouble free.Agree with no problems so far

2) You have to set it up. This goes for a pop-up too. Takes about 15 minutes to set up, including unhitching, levelling, etc. You can skip some of the steps in a bind (or in the rain) if you have to and set up much quicker in a pinch.On our way from Virginia to colorado last year for the jubilee our "end of the day stops" were done without disconnecting the TM from our tow vehicle. I couldn't do that with my pop up

4) Not being able to access the sewer hose storage compartment (in bumper on new models) while closed down (you don't have to set things up, just lift the back shell a bit to get to it - but still a pain).I have no trouble on my 2006 3023 opening the compartment while shut - a slight adjustment in tension could fix that

5) Not being able to fill water while TM is shut downdo a search here on the forum. Someone came up with a simple effective way to do this for under $20

6) Those darn steps! If you close down with the steps out, you have to set back up to pull in the steps!Use of a check list helps but expect that you WILL forget at least once

7) Cost is much higher than most travel trailers with similar ammenities but which don't fold down. I think it's worth it, but higher cost is a disadvantage.No arguement here. They are the cadillac of pop ups. For us, a bathroom was a must. As Texas camper noted when you get to the pop ups with decent bathrooms you are looking at prices in the upper teens anyway. We like the hard walls as we can hang shelves and pictures and it looks more like a real trailer. Can't do that in a pop up as easily

8) Factory A/C is *very* loud. Fortunately I don't plan on using it more than 1-2 weeks per year, as it would drive me nuts. I really wish I had the dealer demonstrate how it sounded before I bought the unit - it might have made me consider other options - it's that loud. The A/C in my fifth wheel isn't a lot quieter. You will know if it is raining though in a TM. we have been in one storm that made it so you couldn't hear the A/C. Wife likes the sound more than I do, I keep looking for the volume switch.

9) Snow camping. While you'll be warm enough, I have no idea how to get the shells down easily in the snow. You really don't want the weight on top when you lower them, and snow can be quite heavy.We have camped several times in the snow. some good tips can be found if you do a search. We enjoyed ourselves. would have never tried it in our pop up.

10) No access to anything except the electrical plug, propane tanks, and batteries while it's closed. There is no accessible storage - at all - when the unit is closed. You can't get to the fridge with it closed. Kids aren't going to be able to easily get to the toilet when in the middle the desert in Nevada - you'll have to pop the thing up and set up the bathroom walls.one of the reasons a TM is not for everyone. everything is a give and take. You can't get light weight, tow profile towing, fit in your garage trailer and have access to everything as easily as if it were set up. Question is, will it work for you?

11) Some of the ruggedized popups would handle some of the gravel and dirt roads in the mountains much better than I think the TM will. I try to stay to paved roads, but am willing to use well graded gravel roads occasionally. I wouldn't even think about trying to get the TM into some of the best tent camping areas in my area, even though I had no problem getting a Geo Metro into those areas when I was a student.I have towed my TM places where I questioned my sanity afterwards and it did fine. If you hit the rough roads at high speeds and try and do evil kinevil stunts it probably will not hold up. Slow and easy it can handle alot.

13) Single axle on all but the largest TMs, with tires speed rated to 65 MPH and loaded near capacity.Note the 3023 and 3124s have larger wheels and higher capacity axle. I haven't had a loading problem with my 3023. I have heard the comments that 2 axles are easier to control than 1 especially backing but now that I have backed with both the difference is not obvious to me.

Things I like:

3) Seems safe when towing. I've never feared the trailer getting away from me, but I have a full size truck - others may differ if they don't have a big tow vehicle. I tow with a chevy trailblazer. Definately use a weight distributing hitch if you are not running with a full size truck.

4) I like the bathroom. It isn't a class A motorhome bathroom with full tub and 50 gallon black water tank - it's a very small bathroom, with a recirculating toilet. But it is a dry bathroom (toilet doesn't get wet when showering), and much nicer than anything I saw in a pop-up.Agree on nicer than anything in the pop-up category. Seat does get cold in the winter though. My 35 ft 5th wheel has a 38 gallon black water tank. It is 3/4 full or better by the end of a weekend. My TM toilet would be about the same. Both "last" about the same length of time for us.

5) Has provisions for truly dry camping - it's self contained. Some pop-ups have gray water drain out an opening, with no gray water tank. That means you have to carry a tote with you to drain into.Also means you can stop for the night in non dedicated RV places (walmart, rest stops, etc)

6) If you do dry camping (no hookups), the solar panel option (factory or a larger non-factory option if your dealer does it) is nice. I have the 80W factory option, and I can say it extends my camping time.I haven't seen solar offered on a pop up yet but it probably is possible.

Things to consider, that I didn't spend much time thinking about:

Think about microwave vs. oven when you consider trailers. Microwave, without a generator, is useless away from hookups. But if you never will use the oven...

I'm already planning on adding an electric tongue jack. Cranking the tongue jack gets very old quickly. Fortunately this is a relatively easy thing for a do-it-yourselfer to add, and not that expensive - or so I say right now before I've done it! :)I did it in about 45 minutes, with a crescent wrench and a screw driver. Makes life much nicer especially with the brand of WDH I purchased.

I'll add: I'm really glad I bought the TM. You get a lot of space, and a lot of ammenities, in a small space. The tradeoffs I made in choosing the TM have been well worth it for me. I wouldn't recommend a TM if you really want a huge fifth wheel or Class A motor home - you probably won't be happy if that's what you want. Nor would I recommend it if you plan on driving 60 miles each way on bad dirt roads to get to your campsite. But if you plan on staying in semi-developed or fully developed campsites, I think it's about the best thing you can buy if you are comfortable with the floorplan and setup/takedown.

I'll add: We enjoyed our TM. It is pure luxury compared to a pop up. That luxury does cost. You can get some real nice TT or 5th wheels for real close to the price of a TM. You also need to have a vehicle that can tow them. We were thrilled to find something this luxurious that we could tow with our 6 cyl SUV. Hi lo was too heavy (at least for the ones with a permanent bed which was a must on our list). Our TM served us well, too well maybe. Instead of our goal of once a month, we are now camping 3-4 times a month and needed something that didn't have "as much" set up and break down. It is A LOT more WORK towing a 5th wheel than towing a TM! While I have done 600 mile days with a TM I would not do more than 350 a day in my 5er. Too much more work towing that beast than my TM.

Good luck in you search. Does your TM dealer have one you can rent and spend a night or two in?

Doug W.
05-18-2007, 09:57 AM
We had a normal trailer when I was young. We also had a tent trailer when I was young. I tried a camper on my truck. I have owned a tent trailer for a number of years. I was also in Boy Scouts as a boy and an adult leader, so I have done my share of tent camping also.

We bought our TM a little over a year ago. We just got back from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I would have hated towing anything be the TM or my tent trailer there. I had plenty of truck, but the cab over camper still made the truck less stable than I preferred and I would have not have liked taking it to Eureka Springs either. The road just has to many 20 or 25 mph curves to close together.

While at Eureka Springs, there was a pretty bad thunderstorm. It was kind of funny the phones were acting up the next day. The ATMs were out of service at the first two banks we tried. Anyway the thunderstorm was bad enough that I am glad I was not in my old tent trailer. I can remember getting in the car a few times instead of staying in a tent or tent trailer for some very violent thunderstorms over the years. Other than the load noise the rain made, we were very comfortable in our TM.

This trip definately proved to the wife and me that the TM was the right choice for us. I will also say that we have used it more in the last year than we did the tent trailer in the last serveral years. It is about as easy as the tent trailer to setup, but is much more comfortable.

I have seen the microwave in place of the built-in gas oven mentioned. I found a good deal on a used TM and had no choice. It had the microwave in place of the gas oven. It is nice to not have to carry a microwave. It functions as both a microwave or regular oven. It is easy to change between regular and microwave. I have used it for both ways and it works. If you always used hookups, it it will work fine. I have used my trusted old cast iron dutch oven when dry camping, but it would be nice to have the gas oven.

One other thing to consider. We wanted a 2720SL, but the one I found used was a 3124KS. I am really glad we got it. I hear people complain about the storage space in the 2619 and 2720s. That has not been a problem in our 3124KS. The king bed is great also. We sleep with our feet towards the back of the trailer and our heads towards the front. That way one of us does not have to crawl over the other to use the bathrooom in the middle of the night. The 3023s and above also have a larger axle and tires. The tires on the larger trailers is not an the upper end of their weight limit like they are on the smaller trailers. Of course you will most likely need a larger tow vehicle to tow the larger trailer.

Bigcats1
05-18-2007, 11:34 AM
Thanks so much for all the replies. They've all been helpful.
From what I read here and on the other topics on this forum, regardless of any problems that people come across with the TM, the problems are pretty minor (no major leaks..) and everyone is still happy that they invested in the TM.
With TM being the "cadillac" of pop-ups, we are glad to hear that the TM holds up throughout the years (of course it all depends on how they are maintained...).
We have a RV Show coming to Tampa in June. Our minds should be made up by then, and hopefully we'll agree to purchase one.
I think we are leaning towards the TM, the 2720sl model.
We will continue reading this forum...all the info is great. Any more suggestions or info will still be appreciated.
Again...thxs.

grakin
05-18-2007, 12:53 PM
Of course most of us have spent a lot of money on our rigs, so we may be a bit biased, too. :) Ask similar questions on some of the pop-up forums - why would you pick a pop-up over a TM? Then evaluate the answers based on what YOU want!

I'm sure you'll enjoy whatever you get - either is a step up from a tent! :)

lnussbau
05-19-2007, 07:07 AM
Our 2006 2720SL doesn't get wet inside in the rain during setup or takedown, nor has it leaked at all, so far anyway. For the two of us, the SL was a much better choice than the straight 2720, since it gives a lot more living space, including an easy chair (granted, it's not a Lazy Boy) -- important if you're stuck inside because of inclement weather.

I find setup and takedown to be about 6-7 minutes, not counting the things you'd have to do with a non-folding trailer, and I can do it in under 4 minutes if I don't use a checklist, but it's a hurry-hurry kind of thing doing that, and I find it's not usually a good idea.

The 2720SL tows fine, under most conditions, with my 2003 Sport Trac, essentially an Explorer, so pretty much like your Mountaineer, using a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH). I do wind up getting slow (35-40 mph) climbing some of the steeper grades (6-7% plus) in the Colorado mountains, but otherwise no problems -- steep downhill isn't a particular problem, other than the extra weight tends to want to push your speed a little higher than it would with no trailer, but brakes work fine and engine braking helps.

DW got me a EU2000 Honda generator (actually an inverter), and it's pretty quiet (but still noticeable in a quiet campground), so with a couple of extra gallons of gas we can have AC in a dry camp. I tried it in my driveway using the air conditioner on low cool, and it seems to work fine (turn off eco throttle, though), but I started with low fan, then to low cool after the fan was up to speed, and I'd not want to run a microwave, coffee pot or toaster at the same time. I do have the high altitude jets, and I'd not really expect it to do this at 9,000 feet, but there'd be less need at that altitude anyway.

Again, the interior won't normally get wet during setup/takedown, though I can see how if you had a strong driving rain from the rear that a little might get in -- there's a LOT of overlap between the two shells, and the seals between the two aren't a problem at all when set up or in towing configuration.

Also, with the swing tongue, I can fit the TM in my garage (7 ft. door, 2" clearance) for storage -- anything larger wouldn't quite make it lengthwise.

Hope this helps.

rpcoombs
05-19-2007, 05:47 PM
Don't forget if you do any camping out in "bear country" many parks won't allow canvas sided trailers to stay!

grill-n-go
05-20-2007, 02:23 PM
On opening and closing in the rain. I concur with Texas Camper, a rain suit is a must have because unlike the Trailmanor YOU will get wet. I've set up and closed down in pouring rain and can assure you, even with the wind blowing, it's very difficult for the water to get in.