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Old 04-18-2012, 10:50 PM   #1
Reyyvin
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Default 'Big,' new RVer with lots of questions

My wife and I are new to RVing and are considering a TM, probably 2720 or Elkmont 24.

A little about us:

We are both in our 30's, with a small child (planning another); both of us are former truck drivers, both currently driving buses 66-70k miles per year, mostly city driving in terrible weather, so we are fine with large vehicles, safe driving, proper stopping distance, etc.

We live in Alberta, Canada, but most of our vacationing will be into the US. That means we will have to go over the mountains each time we enter or leave. We usually take our vacations in October, which means there is a chance of snow, both coming and going. We plan on sleeping/showering each night on the drive, which means traveling with water in the fresh tanks. My wife and I are both 'big people,' 550-600 lbs combined weight. With the rest of our family, figure 700 lbs for future needs. As of now, we don't yet have a TV, so we aren't limited on what we can take. While we would prefer to get a minivan (better mileage), a small to mid size SUV is also ok (we don't want a truck). We don't plan on taking motorcycles/quads, etc; just basics like clothes, food, and maybe bicycles.

As of now, we also do not currently have a garage, but plan on building one in the next 1-2 years.

1) What is a realistic tow weight to look for in a TV? I'm thinking 5k, with 6k to be safe (4100 reported wet weight + gear, 550 extra for us, plus ??). How much extra tow rating would be realistic for the mountain driving expected?

2) Would the beds in the 2720 be sturdy enough? I see the thin bars holding them up and cringe. Would an Elkmont be better?

)

3) On one of our car trips, when we stopped for the night in Sweetgrass, MT (US/Canadian border), there was heavy snowfall and we were stuck there half of a day. How well would the pop-up or the Elkmont (or any other TT), hold up in 0 to 20 degree F weather?

4) Where we live, it snows. Some years, it lasts for 6 months; others we get large dumps that last a couple weeks. How will this affect the moving parts of a pop-up?

5) Most of our trips will involve short durations in any 1 location (1 night to 3 days). On short trips (7-9 days), this would mean setting up/breaking down 4-5 times, with 9-10 times on longer trips (16 days). Is the MPG savings of the popup vs the Elkmont worth the hassle/loss of convenience? As the munchkin(s) get older, this may change, but I figure by then, we will be in the market for another TT.

6) Without hookups, how long does a 20 gal fresh water tank last? How many mins showering, how much does the toilet use when flushing, etc? How long can you run the stove/electricity (assuming no AC)?

7) Both the TT and the TV will be purchased used, and probably in the US. Which States are best to look in, price/condition wise?

8) What modifications are recommended for those of us 'living large,' and what would be a ballpark figure on cost?

Thanks for all your help! This is a great forum and I've already learned a lot!
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:43 AM   #2
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1) Tow rating of 5-6K should be fine. I would be more concerned about the vehicles payload. Most SUV's and small trucks are around 1000#. If you guys are 600-700# and the tongue weight is 500-600#, you will be over. I would look for a vehicle that can handle 1500# payload. Or more, but then you'll probably have to go to a pickup.

2) The Elkmont bed is pretty strong. It's a laminate made just like the walls and roof. If unsure, it would be fairly easy to run an extra support beam down the middle (front to back). Dunno about the others.

3) The main problem we had with our Elkmont in cold weather is condensation on the interior walls. Also the furnace wasn't properly installed but that's been fixed. It's still noisy though. With electricity, a small, quiet electric heater is what we prefer. If the temp drops below 0C, we wrap all the outside spigots and valves in plastic bags and open some of the cupboards to keep the pipes warm. So far no problem. Others have winter camped w/o problems in the folding trailers with a little care.

4) dunno

5) This is why we got the Elkmont. We get about 12 mpgUS with our current TV and with our earlier Tacoma. That's traveling through your part of the world and back and forth to Florida as well. Typical mileage for the folding trailmanors is ~16 mpgUS. If you can find/afford a diesel SUV, you can do better with both.

6) My Ekmont's FW tank is actually 30gal, though I know they advertised it as 20gal. I also upgraded my black water tank to 30gal so we last longer w/o dumping. With care (no flushing at night, use outside facilities when possible, and so on), we use about 2 gal per day flushing. Other's can do much better. And the folding trailers have a re-circulating toilet that uses little or no water. We use more water for washing (grey) than flushing (black), even when we "Navy" wash. So I carry a few 15gal containers to refill if necessary.

Propane is rarely a problem, even with the Elkmont's big propane frig/freezer (another plus for the Elkmont). We only change a tank once a year or so.

7) We bought ours in Texas. The dealer had a form for us to sign so no state tax was paid, and gave us a temporary 30 day license to get it up to Canada. Only a few states will do this. The same applies to TVs. Getting it across the border was simple as long as you have all the paperwork and a credit card ready. After that, in Ontario at least, was a Canadian Tire inspection and provincial licensing.

8) One big guy with an Elkmont complained that the bathroom was too cramped. You might realistically look at bigger trailers?

The early Elkmont's had lots of issues. Our 2010 had roof leaks and poor installation of the furnace, sink and other problems. But they were fixed under warranty. Unless these items have been taken care of ...
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:01 AM   #3
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Elkmonts are not currently in production and a production date has not been announced. There are used Elkmonts on the market and last week I received a note from the new TM owners that there are, if I recall, five new Elkmonts still for sale at various dealers. - camp2canoe
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:51 AM   #4
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Of all the issues you raised, the most important to you just might be the size of the bathroom. Everything in it, from tub/shower to toilet, is just plain small. You would be well off to make the effort to find the model(s) you are considering and checking them out rather than making up your mind and then finding problems you didn't anticipate. And only you can determine what will work...
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:51 AM   #5
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I would think you need a vehicle with tow weight of 6k minimum or possibly 7k. Sounds like you might be packing a lot of gear for these trips. Also, in my opinion, the TM is not a rolling bathroom. It is not something that you can just stop on the road side and use the facilities. Your family might need a little more functionality. Folding and unfolding the TM is easy but 9-10 times in two weeks is a lot. Everything that is stored in the TM has to be below counter height. If not, then its in the TV. Once you start carrying fresh water, waste water and gray water, the proper TV will be important. I currently use a Tundra with a small V8 and tow weight is 7100lbs. With a payload of 1500. More than enough for wife and I for two weeks. Avg MPG is 14 with elevation changes and highway speed.
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Old 04-19-2012, 03:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rvcycleguy View Post
... Also, in my opinion, the TM is not a rolling bathroom. It is not something that you can just stop on the road side and use the facilities. Your family might need a little more functionality. Folding and unfolding the TM is easy but 9-10 times in two weeks is a lot....
One of the disadvantages of the Folding Trailmanors (of any collapsing trailer). With the Elkmont, or any upright, you can pullover to use the toilet, have lunch, or take a power nap while traveling.

And as you mention, the other main disadvantage is that everything is under the counter, including a relatively small frig (compared to the Elkmonts and other uprights). You can get upper cupboards, but you have to lift them up and down when you setup/shutdown. And some people dislike the re-circulating toilet.

IMHO the main Advantages of the Folding Trailmanors are the improved handling and mileage, as well as being able to park it in your garage (smaller models anyway). And, the huge interior space and sense of spaciousness (well, except the toilet area).

I've probably forgotten a few pluses and minuses...

And yes, you really should inspect some different models if you haven't already. They're not for everybody.
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Old 04-19-2012, 03:43 PM   #7
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This is probably heresy on this forum, but I think this is a case where the TM is not the right RV for you. I think you'll have problems with the size of the bathroom and crawling into and out of the bed in the regular TM. Then there are the other weight issues that others here have described. Finally, a TM wouldn't be my first choice for camping in the snow. Frankly, I think you need a larger tow vehicle and a larger trailer. There are what other manufacturers call "light weights" that weigh 4000 - 5000 pounds that have more space than the TM. Seems like that would make more sense given your requirements.

Just my opinion.

Keith
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:23 PM   #8
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I really think that future TM buyers have to think a little before buying a TM. TM is NOT for everyone. TM is not a 40í 5th wheel with 3 slide outs with a huge bath. The TM is for people that just love the trailer and donít worry about all the fancy stuff. All we want to do is go where we want and be self contained in any circumstance, just like full hook ups or no hook ups. The RV world has so much that would satisfy any new RV person with the needs they want.

We are special people with the TM.

Dave
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottie Dogs View Post
I really think that future TM buyers have to think a little before buying a TM. TM is NOT for everyone. TM is not a 40í 5th wheel with 3 slide outs with a huge bath. The TM is for people that just love the trailer and donít worry about all the fancy stuff. All we want to do is go where we want and be self contained in any circumstance, just like full hook ups or no hook ups. The RV world has so much that would satisfy any new RV person with the needs they want.

We are special people with the TM.

Dave
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Old 04-21-2012, 04:11 PM   #10
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I think that one or two members have reported that the factory has told them that the bed slides are rated for 600 pounds.

Several years ago (not recently) we had reports of a soft bathtub floor. If it flexes too much, it will crack. It is not hard to get under it, and you might want to add some bracing underneath - particularly if your total weight is not evenly divided between the two of you.

Make sure you understand the height of the bed you have to climb up into.

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