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The Official Camper and Camping Thread

hickslawns

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#1
After seeing Buckbuster's new camper pictures I thought this would be an excellent thread idea. I wasn't sure where to put it but since many campers do a lot of their own modifications I thought this seemed to fit.

Background on myself: Wife and I tent camped several years. Had a child. Realized tents and cribs and babies was a tough row to hoe. Bought a 1980 Apache hard sided pop up camper. Used it 9 years. No A/C, fridge, or anything real fancy. Basically just a pull behind tent which kept us off the ground and a bit more dry. From here we jumped into a 28' bumper pull camper. A/C, fridge (which ended up not working) and such were very nice upgrades. Then we brought her nephew in to live with us and went to a 24' fifth wheel with a small slide out. It suited our sleeping arrangements but we missed the extra 4' of storage in the camper and really missed the 8' of storage in the truck bed. Sold it and bought a 28' fifth wheel this year which measures 29'6". Not sure where they came up with 28'? It has a super slide and truthfully doesn't feel like we are camping anymore but it sure is comfy.

That said, there are many upgrades and modifications people who camp come up with. I look at campers as resourceful people much like I do when I meet a person who traps. There is generally a wider knowledge of their hobbies than meets the eye. I will post a few to get the thread started.

Safety wise: If you have a bumper pull camper do yourself a favor and get the anti-sway/load distributing hitch. If a camper starts to sway back and forth on the road while hauling it picks up momentum many times. These hitches help reduce this and many times prevent it from occurring.

Safety #2: IF you are driving down the road and your camper starts to sway from the rear, often referred to as "the tail wagging the dog", there is a way to bring it under control. This goes for pretty much all trailers. Let off the accelerator, reach over to your brake controller and manually engage the trailer brakes. Most times this will help bring it under control. What does this mean? If you don't have a anti-sway hitch and brake controller, you are going to have to spend a little more money. It is worth it if your life depends upon it and both items will save needless wear and tear on your vehicle.

Non safety but common sense: Some of this truly is common sense but if you have never camped before you might not think about it until after you screw it up. When dumping your tanks, always empty the big valve first. Often it is labelled but not always. Your poop/sewage tank generally has a larger pipe than your grey water or black water valves. If they are not marked this is a good way to establish which is which. I know this is a simple "no brainer" thing to do but if you have never camped it is one you might not think about. By doing this you empty your TP and waste, and then the grey/black water rinses out your discharge hoses. Lightbulb just went off with a visual didn't it? lol

There are so many of these things we could write a manual. I will throw out a few here and there and we can get this thread rolling.

Awnings: They look simple. They are a pain at times though. Raise and lower a few times at home before you go camping. This helps figure them out. Raise both sides evenly to avoid any binding. Once raised to the level desired, keep one side a tad lower than the other to help water run away from you. If you are having trouble getting your awning to work, don't force it. Inevitably something will break.

Stabilizer jacks: The rear jacks are not intended to raise the back of the camper. They are only meant to keep the camper from bouncing around while using it. Don't try to lift up the camper with them to level it out. You will end up stripping them out and then scratching your head as to how you can fix it at the campground so you can get home. Another trick on stabilizer jacks is to bring a cordless drill to raise or lower them. Everyone we have had has been 3/4" socket. It isn't a necessity but it speeds up the process and saves you from cranking up and down if you have to go a long way to make them hit the ground.

As mentioned, this thread could turn into a novel but I will throw out some other ideas just to let you all know there is no direction with this thread. Simply ideas and things learned over the years.

We could start a list of "must have" items which could be a thread in itself. Some things are simple. Others you don't think about until later. Table cloths and pins to keep them attached to your picnic table for example. Never know if the campground is nice or not until you get there many times. This is a nice "must have" item. Long lighters for grills. Matches for a back up. Playing cards. Wheel chocks for your tires are nice at times. Foot long sections of 2x6 to place under stabilizer jacks can be very handy and take up little room.

Add whatever you would like to offer to the thread. Might be a new idea that I could use on our next camping trip!
 
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hickslawns

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#3
Exactly the stuff I was thinking of. My trucks have them, but my wife always has one for the camper since she is an RN. Same goes for tools. We don't leave without them.

Skewers. Fire starters. Plenty of "must haves".
 

"J"

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#4
Lots of good points guys but with some folks seasons winding down another good topic would be winterizing them as well....
 

hickslawns

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#5
Winterization! Great suggestion J. I am far from an expert here. Only had one with pipes and plumbing to winterize for the last couple years. Two options from what I hear. One I haven't tried is using compressed air to blow out all the pipes. My method is adding RV antifreeze to the holding tank. Usually buy 2-4gallons of it and add about the same amount of water. I then turn on the pump and run it thru the closest faucet until I see pink in hot and cold lines. Run it thru the next closest and so on until I am thru all the water lines running pink. For good measure I then add a swig of antifreeze to each drain to prevent them from freezing.

Anyone have a better way? This only winterizes the plumbing. I suppose there are other things you can winterize as well but this is all I have done the last two years.



Here comes another idea! When we bought our first camper with indoor plumbing it had sat on a lot at Indian Lake most of it's life. Water there stinks. Literally, the water smells bad. I struggled to get the smell out of the lines. Then someone gave me a tip which worked amazingly. White vinegar. I dumped a gallon in the holding tank and did the same thing as if I were winterizing the camper. Worked like a charm. Couldn't believe it. One gallon of white vinegar can take the stink out of your holding tank and lines. Ironic if you ask me. White vinegar doesn't exactly smell like roses.
 

"J"

Dustin’s FORMER fishing coach
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#6
One other thing too add too your winterization Phil, take cotton balls and soak them in spearmint oil and place throughout the iside of the trailer.... It keeps some of the pesky four legged critters at bay.... Been doing this with my boat and haven't had any issues so far.... You can get the oil at the pharmacy or any cooking isle in your local market....
 

hickslawns

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#8
I need to get organized and put together a better packing of stuff like Nickel for tent camping. When I roll in to Strouds, I'll be ready to rock...
Great idea. We can cheat and store things in the camper now. Back in the tent camping and pop up days we were always forgetting something.

Here is another idea: go to Walmart. Buy some silverware if you take a camper camping. My wife picked up some cups, plates, bowls, and silverware for under $20. I think she said silverware was a dollar per set. Ridiculous cheap and save on plastic ware.
 

5Cent

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#9
Great idea. We can cheat and store things in the camper now. Back in the tent camping and pop up days we were always forgetting something.

Here is another idea: go to Walmart. Buy some silverware if you take a camper camping. My wife picked up some cups, plates, bowls, and silverware for under $20. I think she said silverware was a dollar per set. Ridiculous cheap and save on plastic ware.
Or garage sales.

Jesse, it's "LE", not "EL" - not a friggin coin lol!
 

twireman

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#10
We have a 2001 Cedar Creek 5th wheel. My wifes family has about 5 families that camp together throughout the summer and county fair. Honestly I just cant get into it. I'm too ADD to enjoy it really. It will get better for me as our kids get bigger and I can do stuff with them. Hanging at the camper playing cards drives me bugnuts though lol.
 

hickslawns

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#11
We have a 2001 Cedar Creek 5th wheel. My wifes family has about 5 families that camp together throughout the summer and county fair. Honestly I just cant get into it. I'm too ADD to enjoy it really. It will get better for me as our kids get bigger and I can do stuff with them. Hanging at the camper playing cards drives me bugnuts though lol.

I feel you. Can't sit still at the camp grounds or while at the camper. We generally aren't sitting around playing cards. We travel to a destination and it is hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, etc. The camper is there for fires and dinner at night and a place to sleep. I don't get people that travel to places just to park it and hang out. Nothing against it. Just not me.
 

Quantum673

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#12
Winterization! Great suggestion J. I am far from an expert here. Only had one with pipes and plumbing to winterize for the last couple years. Two options from what I hear. One I haven't tried is using compressed air to blow out all the pipes. My method is adding RV antifreeze to the holding tank. Usually buy 2-4gallons of it and add about the same amount of water. I then turn on the pump and run it thru the closest faucet until I see pink in hot and cold lines. Run it thru the next closest and so on until I am thru all the water lines running pink. For good measure I then add a swig of antifreeze to each drain to prevent them from freezing.

Anyone have a better way? This only winterizes the plumbing. I suppose there are other things you can winterize as well but this is all I have done the last two years.



Here comes another idea! When we bought our first camper with indoor plumbing it had sat on a lot at Indian Lake most of it's life. Water there stinks. Literally, the water smells bad. I struggled to get the smell out of the lines. Then someone gave me a tip which worked amazingly. White vinegar. I dumped a gallon in the holding tank and did the same thing as if I were winterizing the camper. Worked like a charm. Couldn't believe it. One gallon of white vinegar can take the stink out of your holding tank and lines. Ironic if you ask me. White vinegar doesn't exactly smell like roses.
Winterization tip.

By a 18" - 24" piece of flex hose, a tee, and a shut off/ by pass valve.
Plumb this tee in between your water pump and your fresh water holding tank. Then put the hose and shut off valve on it. Basically you are bypassing your holding tank.
This way when it comes to winterizing you just open the valve. Put the hose in the gallon jug of RV antifreeze turn on your pump.
I find this TOO be much easier especially when it comes spring time and you are trying to flush your holding tank to get all the anti freeze out.

The other thing to check is that on a lot of campers there are actual water line drains. You pull the caps off open all the faucets and the lines drain.
 

Quantum673

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#13
Couple other items.

Keep two 4ft 2X10's on hand. I keep mine in the front storage compartment. This will help in leveling camper side to side at some campgrounds.

2-ratchet straps and 2-dog tie outs to stake your awning down if you are camping for any extended period. This will help save your awning if a nasty storm blows up.

Add an outside shower if camper doesn't come with it. Makes cleaning up, doing dishes, and such a breeze. Plus the kids get a kick out of showering outdoors.

Outdoor speakers are nice for sitting around the campfire at night.

Make sure any tool kit you have has square bits. Everything seems to be square bit in the camper.
 

buckbuster217

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#14
Great thread Phil, I have read all that's been posted and got a couple tips already, we got a load distribution hitch as soon as we bought the camper, luckily I got a buddy that is really into camping and he has helped out immensely. My water tank already has the "T" on it with the shut off valve so the previous owner must have heard of it
 

hickslawns

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#16
When you say "rock shield" are you referring to something to protect the front windows or the bottom edge of the camper behind the tongue/tool box?

Here is where I am currently. My cousin is coming into town for my brother's wedding this weekend. He is going to pull his tow hauler and camp at my house. This means I need to winterize my camper tomorrow and haul it over to storage at our other property. I will try to remember to take some pics as I winterize.

New tip. I will let you know how it works as well. Last year we bought a bulk salt spreader. Needed a way to keep our bulk salt dry. Had a guy build a custom cover for it for $60 made out of the same material they use for big dump truck tarps. It worked like a charm. Called him back. Got numbers for a cover for our camper. Just about choked on the price but swallowed it. $400 for a tarp 12x35'. It will cover the top and down a foot or two on each side. I look at it as a one time insurance policy. Pricey, but heavy duty tarps this size are also expensive and this one will last a lifetime for me. Should protect our camper from October into May-June annually. That is a lot of time in the elements where the roof will not be exposed. To re-coat the roof is between $300-400. IF you get a leak multiply that by 10 and it MIGHT cover the costs. Just an idea for you. Will keep you posted.
 

hickslawns

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#18
Craigslist is the best I can offer. There are some camper junkyards out there who advertise. I think it is more like a guy with some campers he is parting out though. Might get lucky. There is always ebay too.
 

hickslawns

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#20
Good luck Kevin. Wish I had a better answer to help out.

Winterized my camper today. Non pics. Ended up dumping 6 gallons of 50/50 mix RV antifreeze in holding tank and using water pump. There was no valve. I will have to change that later.