Valley of the Sun to the Great State of Michigan - CamperCommunity Forums

Join Now!

Go Back   CamperCommunity Forums > Camping > Welcome To Camper Community Forums

CamperCommunity.com is the premier Camper Community Forum on the internet. Registered Users do not see the above ads.

Valley of the Sun to the Great State of Michigan

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-08-2010, 08:31 PM
Camper
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Send a message via AIM to iflyskyhigh Send a message via Skype™ to iflyskyhigh
Default Valley of the Sun to the Great State of Michigan

Hey! I came across your website today while doing my due diligence so I thought I would join and see what I could see.

I'm a professional pilot and I live in Scottsdale, AZ, with my wife and two children. I am currently based in Grand Rapids, MI, and commute back and forth. My family and I have decided that we are going to spend the summer in Grand Rapids to save me the commute and get out of the heat of the AZ.

To do this we've made the decision to GO RVing and I'm trying to gather as much information as I possibly can. Rving is something I have always wanted to do and this was the prefect excuse to take the leap. I have these grandiose images of someday traveling the country with my family seeing all these great places for myself that to this point I have only seen in pictures. You would think as a pilot that I would see all these great places, but in reality I don't see much but the insides of airports and hotels. Furthermore I hate air travel with the family and would much rather take a road trip if given the choice.

I have never owned, used, or towed an RV so I'm looking to learn everything I can before I buy the rig. When I first started this research I was completely overwhelmed, it was difficult to even find a place to start. After three and half months of reading everything I could find and visiting several RV lots I think I'm finally ready to start. I realize that I still, for the most part, don't know much at all so I'm willing to listen to anyone who has anything they would like to tell me. After all the a fore mentioned research I have chosen a used 2010 Keystone Cougar 298BHS. I will be pulling it with a 2007 Toyota Tundra Limited CrewMax 5.7L V8. I still need a weight distribution/sway control hitch so I am looking for advice on this purchase.

We will be staying at the Woodchip Campground on the southwest side of Grand Rapids, anyone with any experience here I would like to hear about it.

After the family goes home at the end of the summer I will leave the trailer in Grand Rapids to use through the winter for the times I can't make it home to Scottsdale. Thus I'm also looking for advice on surviving a MI winter in a travel trailer.

I'm really excited and can't wait to get starting camping!

Last edited by iflyskyhigh; 05-08-2010 at 08:49 PM..
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
  #2  
Old 05-09-2010, 05:42 PM
jeffmue's Avatar
Enthusiastic Camper
Camper Type: Motorhome
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 69
Default

Welcome to the site! I'm still a complete newbie myself but you will learn a lot from everyone here.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-09-2010, 09:06 PM
antigua's Avatar
Camping Guru
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 735
Default

Hello and welcome to the forum! I did a search on your camping unit. Looks great!
__________________
Shane, Michelle, Emily & Liam Harvey
2011 Ford F-150 V6 Ecoboost Super Crew Cab
2010 Evergreen Everlite 31BHS
Reply With Quote
 
  #4  
Old 05-09-2010, 09:12 PM
Camper
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Send a message via AIM to iflyskyhigh Send a message via Skype™ to iflyskyhigh
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffmue View Post
Welcome to the site! I'm still a complete newbie myself but you will learn a lot from everyone here.

Thanks for the words.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05-09-2010, 09:15 PM
Camper
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Send a message via AIM to iflyskyhigh Send a message via Skype™ to iflyskyhigh
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by antigua View Post
Hello and welcome to the forum! I did a search on your camping unit. Looks great!

Thanks for the welcome. I'm really excited to give this RVing thing a shot, as is my 6 year old. My 15 month old doesn't know any better, but my wife is still a little apprehensive about the whole idea. She is quite the little city mouse and isn't interested in "camping". I've tried to tell her that the Keystone Cougar is by no means roughing it.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05-10-2010, 12:47 PM
jackw's Avatar
Enthusiastic Camper
Camper Type: Tent
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 43
Default

Welcome to the site.

A couple of things come to mind. First, if you do not have one, get an electric jack. Plan on not driving over 60 MPH. If the campground does not have a direct sewer connect (dump station only) i recommend a blue tank. That way you do not need to unhook to go to the dump station. A travel trailer with shower etc you must dump at least once a day.

Being you will be in Michigan in the Winter, you need to have the pipes winterized. Maybe electric pipe insulation. When you are not using it, you should drain all pipes to prevent breaking in the cold winter. Also, travel trailers are not well insulated. The heater will run a lot. I recommend keeping an extra bottle of propane handy in case you run out of gas during the nite.

You should enjoy travelilng immensly and looking at all kinds of wonderful sites.

Good luck

J
__________________

JackW
F-250 Superduty
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-10-2010, 01:53 PM
Camper
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Send a message via AIM to iflyskyhigh Send a message via Skype™ to iflyskyhigh
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackw View Post
Welcome to the site.

A couple of things come to mind. First, if you do not have one, get an electric jack. Plan on not driving over 60 MPH. If the campground does not have a direct sewer connect (dump station only) i recommend a blue tank. That way you do not need to unhook to go to the dump station. A travel trailer with shower etc you must dump at least once a day.

Being you will be in Michigan in the Winter, you need to have the pipes winterized. Maybe electric pipe insulation. When you are not using it, you should drain all pipes to prevent breaking in the cold winter. Also, travel trailers are not well insulated. The heater will run a lot. I recommend keeping an extra bottle of propane handy in case you run out of gas during the nite.

You should enjoy travelilng immensly and looking at all kinds of wonderful sites.

Good luck

J
Thanks for the welcome.

More like 55MPH

Don't have an electric jack, but I'll be investing in one.

The campsite does have sewer hook up, but I will be on a site without one. The have a honey pot that comes around several times a week so I shouldn't need to go to any dump station.

I should be in the trailer at least several days every week during the winter. The trailer is fully enclosed with heated underbelly, but I do plan to use heat tape on any exposed pipes. The Keystone is better insulated than many of the other TT on the market which is on of the reasons I'm buying it. I also plane on building some sort of skirting around the bottom of the trailer for the winter. The TT also has dual 30LB LP tanks with auto change over, but I also plan on adding a 100LB LP tank just in case I have to be away for several days the heat will not run out.

Thanks for the help.

Ryan
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-12-2010, 11:18 AM
Camper
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Send a message via AIM to iflyskyhigh Send a message via Skype™ to iflyskyhigh
Default Finally Made a Choice

Thanks for all the advice. I will investigate all your suggestions.

I ended up going with a used 2010 Keystone Cougar 298BHS. It has better than average insulation values, and a fully enclosed and heated underbelly.

I ordered the Reese Straight Line System (WDH/Sway Control).

I'm picking up the trailer next Wednesday and installing the hitch at that time.

I'll then make the final 250 miles of the trek out from Phoenix up to Grand Rapids pulling the trailer.

Thanks to everyone for all their help. I will make sure and let you know how it goes, on all counts (hitch install, hitch performance, and the Tundra towing the big fat TT).

Ryan
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05-20-2010, 09:37 AM
Camper
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Send a message via AIM to iflyskyhigh Send a message via Skype™ to iflyskyhigh
Default The first salvo in the coming flame war....

The Tundra is not a 1/2 ton truck. There I said it.

I don't believe it is a true 3/4 ton truck, but it is definitely more than your typical 1/2 ton. As I said before, the only real weakness (and the term weakness is relative) of the Tundra is its stated payload. More on why I say this later.

I picked up my new TT on Tuesday morning and the whole experience was a hoot.

I arrived at the sellers house around 10 in the morning. I had had the hitch I ordered shipped straight to the sellers house to make sure it was there when I got there, and to save me from hauling the extra weight all the way across the country. We started installing the Reese Straight Line DC WDH/Sway control hitch after he gave me a quick tour of the trailer to make sure it was as describe. Well...Okay... the guy I was buying the trailer from started to install the hitch and I just helped hold stuff. This guy was a pro. It was obvious he possessed this skill set and knew exactly what he was doing. A few disclaimers. This guy was a machinist, a mechanic, and a carpenter. He was completely set up and ready to go when I got there. And he had had the hitch to look at over the weekend, so he had already read the instructions and formulated a plan of action. Not to mention he had every type of professional tool you could think of. He had the whole hitch installed and perfectly set up in about an hour and a half, it may have even been a little less than that. Would I have been able to install the hitch by myself? Yes, but it would have taken MUCH longer and I would have had to buy some new tools. If you plan on doing this yourself, figure out exactly what you need before you start or this could turn into a really expensive hitch by the time you factor in all the new tools you need to buy to install it. Not to mention the time involved running back and forth between the hardware store. Spend some time reading about the mechanics of the hitch and how it works. It will make it seem much more intuitive when you go to install it.

If anyone is interested, I ordered the hitch from rvwholesalers.com. The whole set up (1200/12,000 pound version) cost me $615 to my door. They weren't very helpful, but the price was right and the shipping was quick. If you get the Reese, make sure you order a shank and ball, as neither is included in the kit.

With the hitch installed the front of the truck stayed perfectly level and the rear squatted about a 1/2 inch. There was nothing in the trailer except for some water in the holding tanks, maybe about 60-65 gallons total in the various respective tanks (500 to 600 pounds). The tongue weight of the empty trailer is stated as 715. Logic would dictate that as the trailer weight is increased so does the tongue weight. Using the same ratio, at 8500 pounds, the tongue would be around 800 (realistically probably somewhere between 1000-1100, maybe a little less). The truck, however, was evenly loaded down with all my crap (probably 200-300 pounds) for my extended stay in the trailer. There is also a hard tonneau cover on the bed which I'm guessing weighs 100 to 150 pounds, and the Toyota rubber bed mat (it's a heavy SOB), and a spray in bed liner. What I'm trying to say is I have no idea exactly how much payload I had in the truck. I'm probably estimating on the high side for everything, but again who know for now.

I said I had no intention of violating any of the weights, but I'm guessing I was pretty close on payload if not over a little. I probably would have been better served to move all the crap from the truck into the trailer before I took off, but I didn't. I know I also said I was going to get weighed, but in the short trip up to MI from IN I just didn't get it done. I figured the truck and trailer would probably never be loaded this way again so it wasn't going to do me much good to know the weight in this configuration. What I really want to do is get the truck and trailer weighed when both are empty (except for full fuel in the truck) so I have a jumping off point. It's much easier to determine the exact weight of things you are putting into the truck and trailer so I surmise if I have a jumping off point it will make it much easier to know what I can and can not bring. I also have way more crap with me now than I'm ever likely to haul around for general camping because I'm going to be part timing it on a seasonal lot for the foreseeable near future as opposed to driving from site to site.

On the road, the Tundra, the hitch, and the TT performed perfectly. If I didn't say it already, I'm using the Prodigy brake controller set at 7.5 (it may need a little more as the trailer weight increases) and the boost setting at number 1. The Tundra pulled the trailer effortlessly. It was solid, smooth, and never once did it feel overwhelmed. The braking was superb as well. At one point some idiot talking on her cell phone cut me off as she tried to merge from an on ramp forcing me to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting her. Not even a hint of upset. The Tundra's brakes combined with the brake controller bled off the speed flawlessly, and more importantly, in a straight line. This can also be attributed to the Reese hitch. The Reese is one beefy setup. Yes it adds weight, and yes it's a little more than the Equal-i-zer, but man am I glad I ponied up and got it. After 250 short miles I will tell everyone who will listen to use this hitch. I know I have nothing to compare it too, but I can't imagine anything else would do any better, especially for the price. I drove on paved and unpaved roads yesterday. I drove on highways, city streets, and rural two lane highways and back roads. It was wet, dry, and even muddy at some points. It rained for a little while, and there were moderate wind gusts. I kept watching my mirrors, waiting for this white knuckle trailer sway phenomenon I kept hearing about for the past couple weeks, but it never came. The Tundra, hitch, and trailer just tracked straight as an arrow the whole way no matter what. I do not think I could have artificially created a better test run environment than I had yesterday.

As far as the Tundra goes...what an awesome truck. Great ride, great engine, great brakes. And all combined with the features and options that I want in a vehicle. I think the Tundra is a perfect compromise between the everyday drivability of a 1/2 ton and the function of a 3/4 ton. Like I said before, I'm not telling you the Tundra is a true 3/4 ton truck, but I am telling it is more than a 1/2 ton truck. I can't say enough how impressed I was with power and towing ability of the Tundra, and all in such a refined package. I am still going to make every effort to stay within the limitations of the truck, but I would not hesitate to tow right up to the stated limits of the truck. I would have no probably driving this truck and trailer combination all over the country on a regular basis, even in the mountains of AZ where I live. Without the trailer I was averaging 65.5 MPH in all conditions and on all roads, or what amounted to between 70-75 on the highway most of the time. Once the trailer was hooked up, my average dropped to about 62.5 for the entirety trip. I drove between 55 and 65 MPH on the highway depending upon road grade to try and save a little on fuel. Up to the point I picked up the trailer, I averaged about 17.5 MPG. Once the trailer was behind me, and with the truck in tow mode, my average MPG plummeted to 8.5. But I expected this so it wasn't really a surprise. All this info came from the on board travel computer built into the Tundra.

I will say that if I do plan on getting closer to the max weights, and do start to haul this thing around on a regular basis, I will most certainly invest in some type of suspension upgrade. I haven't really started to investigate that yet, but I'm intrigued by the airbags. I learned so much from people here I would love to hear what they have to say on this issue of suspension upgrades. I will also add the "E" rated tires next time I swap out, which should be another 7000 miles or so.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05-20-2010, 09:38 AM
Camper
Camper Type: Travel Trailer
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Send a message via AIM to iflyskyhigh Send a message via Skype™ to iflyskyhigh
Default The first salvo in the coming flame war....part duex

As for the Keystone, I feel like a kid at Christmas. I kept looking at it in the mirror thinking how cool it was that I was pulling around a little....okay a big piece of freedom. I can't wait to take this thing out west. When I got to the campsite, the nice people at Woodchip took the time to help me get set up since it was my first attempt and I was alone. It was pretty easy, and fun to boot. Having only spent a few hours in it I can't really comment on it yet, but so far so good. It appears to be a very nice well built trailer, and family friendly, but only time will tell. It's helps that it's basically brand new with all the latest features. I'm 6-04 and 270 pounds, but it doesn't feel tight at all. I took a shower last night, and while it was a different experience, I had plenty of room. I'm sure once the rest of the family and all their stuff shows up it will feel a little smaller. Remember I do spend a good deal of my life in a small sealed cockpit, so this make has some effect on my perspective. I am happy I went with the Cougar over the other brands I looked at. I will update on the good and bad as I spend more time in the trailer. I will say right off the bat that the queen mattress sucks. It was like sleeping on a bed of bare coils. I had to leave on a trip this morning, but when I get back on Friday I plan to out and find a more comfortable one to replace it with since I'm going to be spending so much time on it. The trick is to find one that is comfortable and doesn't way a ton. Costco here I come. One other thing that comes to mind is that storage, especially hanging space, is tight. And again, I'm big, which means big cloths. It will be a challenge to find space for everything once everyone gets here. I'm a neat freak, and a little OCD, so I hate clutter. In such a small space everything will have to be put away one way or another.

I think I covered the nuts and bolts of it all. Anything I left out just let me know. I'm not claiming to be an expert because I towed a trailer 250 miles, I just wanted to relate what I have learned over the past few months and my towing experience, especially as it relates to other Tundra owners with similar questions.

Thanks again for all the help. I don't think I would have made it without it.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:17 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.