Newby with so many questions. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-11-2019, 12:25 AM   #1
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Name: Sara
Trailer: Currently shopping
North Carolina
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Newby with so many questions.

Hi everyone,
I am a newby. I have made so many rookie mistakes in such a short period of time I may write a "Glamping for Dummies!" book. I am however, excited to learn everything I can, as well as pass the torch to other newbies.

I do NOT understand ANYTHING about power sources!!! This far, I understand that the more something has to put out heat, the more power it needs. Ideally, I'd eventually like to be able to boondock occasionally and have power sources to support an Instant Pot, hair dryer when necessary, a TV, a fridge, etc.. I have a basic battery, to which I added a deep cell marine ion battery which was installed but I have no idea what is connected to it. How can I find this out? I purchased a 3000 watt inverter. Is this enough or too much? The tongue on my camper is waaaay too short. I need more space between the SUV and hitch, as it stands right now, I cannot open the back door because the hitch is in the way. I also cannot back it up because the hitch is waaaay too short. I need to add something to lengthen the hitch. But how?!?!

What's up with the darned door on a Scamp?!? It takes 10 minutes to get the door to properly close and lock?!?!? Why????? It's irritating me on so many levels.

How do you know it's time to empty the grey and black tanks???

Thank you in advance for anyone's helpful information.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:46 AM   #2
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Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 2,003
Sara,

You have put together a very tall order for any electrical system while boondocking and you haven't provided any hints as to how you might charge your battery, in order to make enough 120 volt house current with your inverter, to run the items you mentioned. Start camping in your driveway and understand the difference between 12 volts from the battery and 120 volts AC house current. It looks like a generator is in your future.

A 3000 watt inverter is quite large, but still not enough to run everything at once. But that is not the problem. The battery is the problem. How big is your battery and how do you plan to charge it? How do you plan to wire the inverter? A generator will charge your battery and run your appliances, and it will help you to begin to see how much effort or energy is required to do the things you list. The generator will also save you the trouble of learning how to wire the inverter, the battery, transfer switch, etc, needed to make it all work.

Too many trailers have short tongues and it is a pet peeve of mine. Extending it probably is not going to be a simple matter and will require a welder and some engineering skills. But you can make it somewhat better, in some cases, by installing a longer draw bar in you receiver hitch, if that is the style you have on your tow vehicle. The tongue jack is usually the first problem when trying to open the tailgate on a tow vehicle, as they are commonly mounted on the coupler bracket instead of farther back. You can back up with a short tongue, but you have to be very careful. Extending the tongue won't make a huge difference there, but it might save you from hitting the trailer body. Lots of careful practice will help.

The tanks get emptied when they are full. Do you have a tank monitor that shows how full they are?
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:54 AM   #3
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 2,753
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To get the very best advice, you need to post pictures, particularly of your door and the hatch hitting stuff on the tongue.


You are talking a good sized generator with that list. Generators are not cheap, and often have limitations as far as hours of use. Solar is more friendly to other campers. But a generator gives you significant amount of 120V power (think AC).

When in doubt, you empty the tanks. You will get a feel for the time they last, whether it is a week, or four days, or whatever. As I recall, Scamp has small tanks. Most RVs have tank gauges inside, they are not super accurate.

Lengthening the tongue will lighten your tongue weight, so you will need to get accurate trailer weights, before and after, and perhaps move stuff around to get enough weight up front. Too little tongue weight will induce trailer sway, which can be dangerous. I had too little tongue weight on my Trillium, I added a battery to the tongue, and the problem was solved.

Jack-E-Up is a device that allows you to remove the tongue jack on your trailer. So if the hatch is hitting the tongue jack, you might try that first.


Door? How old is your Scamp? Has the door sagged? Does it fit properly? Do you have a big gap at the bottom? There will be a ton of threads on Scamp doors in the Scamp section. Research them to get some great ideas. Can be as easy as a hinge adjustment, or could be a sign of some serious problems, which could mean rebuilding the entire door. It's all fixable.

Prioritize your list and address one item at a time. Depending on the condition of the door, I would probably put it at the top.

Boondocking = forget 120V stuff, think propane and 12V DC. LED lighting to minimize battery draw. Most typical electric appliances can be replaced by something propane, like a stove top percolator vs electric coffee maker. Hair dryer? Not happening unless you stay at a campground without hookups and use the outlet in the bathroom. Such camping is often called "dry camping" rather than boondocking. I dry camp about 90% of the time, but I rarely if ever boondock. With dry camping for an extended period I use something to recharge my battery: either a generator or more recently solar. Many National Parks are dry camping, as are state parks in my area.

I'd return that big inverter if it's not too late.


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Old 08-11-2019, 06:35 AM   #4
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
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Estimate the black water tank by turning off the water supply or pump, then pushing the pedal down and looking inside.

Gray water tank will overflow under the camper when over filled. Its a pretty big tank so it will take a while unless you are using city water maybe. Learn to conserve. If you are using water only from the fresh water tank (i.e. not using "city water") then you can estimate how full it is by figuring the total amount of fresh water you put in the fresh water tank (how many fills, 1,2 or maybe 3), subtracting the amount of water currently still in the tank (which you can estimate visually), and also subtracting the amount in the black water tank.

I would not be making any changes to your trailer's tongue or the hitch assuming it is all done safely already. Yes there is limited real estate there but you can do a lot with it. Is the jack what stops the SUV hatch door? Can you post a picture? If so there are two options I know of for jacks that "get out of the way." I use one on my Scamp so I can open the van's rear door.

I would strongly consider returning the inverter and planning on using propane for most things that require a lot of energy as well as the fridge (assuming you got a 2 or 3 way absorption fridge). Towels for hair drying. A few hours of TV or laptop can be supported by solar, and a small electric fridge can be supported by a larger solar system if its a "Danfoss" type (in generally good weather). But if you want air conditioning without shore power then you need a generator, and their use seems to be rather regulated east of the Mississippi, and not usually allowed overnight.

I think the best way for someone to learn about using a R/V is to spend some time with more experienced R/Vers, and it does not need to be a Scamp owner because all the systems and things we are talking about are pretty similar among all R/Vs (except for that pesky Scamp door). Are you anywhere near Charlotte?

Speaking of the door.. reports are that a new seal will compress in a few months and the door closing will become easier. If needed some shims can be added temporary. Just be sure to close it properly so as not to damage it:
To close old style door from outside, turn handle and hold open. Push door closed and then push a little harder on the door near the latch, while at the same time closing the handle. Then push again on the door near the latch, but dont force it if the latch did not get engaged. To close from inside use both handles. I guess the new door is a little different however.

Lastly, maybe update your profile so we can see the tug and camper you have... it still stays "Currently shopping." Is it a new Scamp? What size, year, options etc.. again photos might help too.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:50 AM   #5
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Name: John
Trailer: 2019 Oliver Elite II
Texas
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Originally Posted by saracollins View Post
Hi everyone,
I am a newby. I have made so many rookie mistakes in such a short period of time I may write a "Glamping for Dummies!" book. I am however, excited to learn everything I can, as well as pass the torch to other newbies.

I do NOT understand ANYTHING about power sources!!! This far, I understand that the more something has to put out heat, the more power it needs. Ideally, I'd eventually like to be able to boondock occasionally and have power sources to support an Instant Pot, hair dryer when necessary, a TV, a fridge, etc.. I have a basic battery, to which I added a deep cell marine ion battery which was installed but I have no idea what is connected to it. How can I find this out? I purchased a 3000 watt inverter. Is this enough or too much? The tongue on my camper is waaaay too short. I need more space between the SUV and hitch, as it stands right now, I cannot open the back door because the hitch is in the way. I also cannot back it up because the hitch is waaaay too short. I need to add something to lengthen the hitch. But how?!?!

What's up with the darned door on a Scamp?!? It takes 10 minutes to get the door to properly close and lock?!?!? Why????? It's irritating me on so many levels.

How do you know it's time to empty the grey and black tanks???

Thank you in advance for anyone's helpful information.
Well looks like you are about as "Green" as you can get on trailer knowledge, but there's hope, so don't give up yet. You defiantly need someone to help you get started on your quest to get into the travel trailer business. I see there's not really any good way to answer all the questions you asked and if they were answered do you know and understand how to repair and handle what needs to be done, I would think not by your questions you asked. First I would like to say that I admire your wanting to take on a new project that is not common to you and for this your are going to need someone that can help you with your choices and give guidelines for you to follow. I always suggest that you go to a fiberglass rally and talk with other owners of trailers that you might be interested in, or you may own. I find most of these owners at rallies are willing to answer your questions and in many cases might even give a helping hand to some of your problems, that assuming you have a trailer to see, or own. Lets face it, you are going to have to do the leg work on this, I wouldn't expect someone to show up at your door and say, here I am, what do you need. One added thought, I would not go to a RV repair dealer and expect to get service on a fiberglass trailer as most don't work on them and have no idea on what to do, we are talking body work and not appliance repair here. My best advice is the rally thing, if they don't know they might know someone who does. Last, does anyone where you live have a trailer like you want, you might have to knock on there door and talk with them, or they may know someone who you can talk with.

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Old 08-11-2019, 07:14 AM   #6
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
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On energy and power...
When you’re not plugged in, you have two basic sources of energy: the battery(-ies) and the LP tank(s). Both are finite. Batteries can be extended with solar, but only so much. Propane is very energy-dense, meaning propane contains a lot of energy relative to its size and weight. Batteries are very inefficient- they’re heavy and contain relatively little available energy. With conventional deep cycle batteries (flooded, glass mat, or gel) you can only use about half the available capacity before they have to be recharged to avoid degrading their storage capacity.

For that reason, when you don’t have electric power, you need to transfer as much of your energy use as possible to propane. For example, instead of using a hot pot, heat water on a propane cooktop. Run the fridge and water heater on propane. Reheat food in a skillet rather than a microwave (pizza is great that way!). Try to eliminate as many electrical appliances as possible, especially those that use resistance heat.

Where there are no propane-powered options, either find a way to do without, or look for low-power alternatives. Instead of a TV, for example, how about viewing content on a tablet that has its own (more efficient) battery and can be recharged directly from the battery through a USB charge port. Change all your lighting to LED’s.

Bottom line... when you're not plugged into power, you can't really have it all just like home.

Inverters...
The size of an inverter depends on how much you will be running at one time. 3000W is way large because you don’t have enough battery storage to draw that much power very long. Are you really planning to run two 1000W+ appliances- microwave and hair dryer, for example- at the same time? At that rate, a single lead-acid battery will be dead in a very short time. Inverters are inefficient because they consume power to change the power from DC to AC.

Generators...
Rather than pile on batteries and an inverter, consider a small, quiet inverter generator. A 2000W Honda would run run pretty much anything on your list (one at a time) except an air conditioner, which you did not mention, and without battery and inverter inefficiencies. It runs on gasoline, which is another energy-dense source. If you don’t want to carry gas, generators can be converted to run on propane.

Electric only...
There is a movement away from fossil fuels, either because of safety or environmental concerns. Some new RV’s are built with large solar collectors and more-dense lithium battery banks. They can allow for longer boondocking with greater electrical use and have 80% of their capacity available. But they’re very expensive and require special charging and control systems. They’re typically used with different kinds of appliances, such as induction cooktops and 12V compressor fridges, so it involves optimizing the entire trailer. Space heating, hot water, and air conditioning are the biggest challenges with an all-electric unit. Even with the best currently available technology, all-electric means giving up some boondocking capability,

Hitching and towing...
As to the tongue... extending the drawbar will tend to make it less stable (sway) at highway speeds, so that’s not recommended. (If it’s just an inch or two, maybe.) As an alternative to a longer drawbar, consider the Jack-E-Up. It’s a device that allows you to remove the tongue jack when hitched.

For backing, practice, practice, practice. Thousands of people have been towing and backing thousands of Scamps for five decades. It can be done! I have no trouble backing our 13’ Scamp. It’s easier than our small utility trailer because I can see it better.

Biggest thing I learned is this: (1) push the bottom of the steering wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go, and (2) as soon as the trailer starts turning, reverse the steering wheel gradually to follow the trailer back. With a short trailer you have to make the transition quickly, or it’ll jackknife.
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