Vagabond in America 2016 travel blog

My new home

Living room recliners

Kitchen

Master Bedroom

6-point leveling controller

Loading ramp / patio


After more than a year living in a used fifth-wheel trailer, I had learned a lot about what I did and didn’t want in my next home. In addition to all of the criteria that I had used in selecting my first fifth-wheel trailer, I had identified two other features that I had ignored before but now deemed important: (1) a 6-point leveling system and (2) a “toy hauler” configuration.

Six-point leveling is an electronically-controlled system that automatically determines how to level the RV, even when the terrain is uneven. My old RV had standard “landing gear”. In the front, there were two “legs” that moved up or down hydraulically. Although functional, they gave me constant headaches when hitching / unhitching. The two legs moved synchronously meaning that they couldn’t adapt well to the tilt at a campsite. The rear struts had even less capability to level the rig. I almost always had to try several different locations within a campsite to find a place where I could be reasonably level and had room to put out all four sliders. My only recourse on uneven sites was to put out leveling blocks (nicknamed “lego” blocks) and drive the wheels on one or the other side of the RV up onto the blocks. My only recourse on small sites was not to put out all of the sliders, which made portions of the inside unusable.

By contrast, a “six-point leveling system” consists of six landing legs controlled by a computerized leveling computer. Once unhitched, I merely have to push the “auto level” button and the system automatically finds the optimal setting for all six legs. I can even use it in manual mode while still hitched. Now, at a rest area, I just press a few buttons and level my rig right in the parking lot. This makes it easy to make lunch and follow it with a quick nap.

My other new criterion was “toy hauler”. Earlier, I had decided that I didn’t want a toy hauler because I didn’t have a motorcycle, golf cart, or other “toy” that I need to park inside my trailer.

My old RV had three rooms separated by doors. A tiny bathroom contained only a toilet. The front room contained not only my bed but also my shower and the bathroom sink. This was convenient for one person but awkward when I had guests. The only other room was the combined kitchen, dining room, office and living room. The entire unit was clearly designed to look good on the showroom floor. It had wall-to-wall carpeting, drapes, etched-glass cabinet panels, etc.

My new RV has four rooms. The bathroom is much larger than before. It has the toilet, a sink and a large shower. The bedroom has only a bedroom, two closets, four drawers and five cabinets. There’s lots of extra space under the bed. The main room has my kitchen and living room.

The fourth room is called the “garage” but is really a multi-purpose room. In “garage” mode, it is an actual garage that can fit large “toys”, such as two motorcycles, a tiny car, dirt bikes, or a golf cart. I use it to store my eBike. The rear panel folds down to make a nine-foot-long ramp to move “toys” into or out of the garage. In “dining room” mode, two couches lower from the ceiling (using a motorized lift). I can mount a table between the two couches, making a dining area for four (or, if they squeeze together, six). In “guest room” mode, the benches convert to a queen bed and a second queen bed can be lowered from the ceiling, creating a two-bunk bedroom that sleeps four.

I had found a dealer in Colorado who had 30 brand-new, fifth-wheel toy haulers in stock. This gave me an ideal opportunity to compare units. I had been able to purchase one unit that is just what I was looking for. It has nearly everything that my old RV had but it also has six-point leveling and is a toy hauler. It’s slightly smaller (36’ instead of 38’). My new toy hauler has an extra feature in that the ramp can be converted into a patio. There are two cables that lock the 8’ x 9’ ramp horizontally plus an extra set of stairs and folding gates that create a lovely patio. In this mode, my RV is much longer. It’s now 45’ long. But, this extra distance doesn’t exist when I’m not using it.

Also, this unit has only two sliders, whereas my old RV had four sliders. As before, I have a slider in my bedroom. Toy haulers never have sliders in the garage section. Most have two opposing sliders in the living room. Mine only has one slider in the living room. The appliances (fridge, stove, oven, sink and microwave) are not on a slider. I’m actually happy with that. Having plumbing and LP gas that moves constantly is a potential source of major trouble.

I was very happy to have found exactly what I've been looking for. I was anxious to move into my new home.

When my cruise was over, I flew back to Denver. The next morning, I picked up Pooka from the “bunny sitter”. He had definitely put on some weight since I last saw him. I think he’s near his adult weight now. She said that Pooka had been a delight to have around and was amazingly well behaved. At only four month old, he’s traveled more than most adult humans. He was born in West Virginia. He has lived in my RV in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. He lived two months in the home where he was born, lived one month in my last RV, stayed a month with the bunny sitter. Today, at four months, he was moving into his fourth home, my new RV. He is one well-traveled bunny!

We stopped at a Walmart to buy some cardboard boxes to make the move easier.

Once at the RV dealer’s lot, I received extensive training on the operation and maintenance for my new home. We skipped over much of the planned training, since I was already quite familiar with most RV system, such as holding tanks and batteries. I wasn’t able to start moving in until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. We parked my old RV and my new RV side-by-side and I started moving stuff across.

Some of the move was easy. What had been in the old bedroom closet went into my new bedroom closet. Everything on the old pantry shelves fit easily on the new pantry shelves. Since I had not left anything in the old fridge, there was nothing to move.

Everything else was problematic. Although there are many cabinets in my new RV, they are different sizes and in different locations from my old RV.

It was obvious that I would not be able to complete the move by 5pm, which is closing time for the RV dealer. I asked permission to get locked in for the night when they closed the gate. They said that would be fine. As a bonus, it gave me a chance to test all of the systems and ensure that my new home would function well in “dry camping”, that is, when it has no connections to a campground.

Eventually, I had put away as many items as I could. I went to bed in a very quiet RV dealer’s parking lot. In the morning, I pointed out a few problems I had found to the service manager. He quickly arranged to fix all of them. I completed my move by putting any remaining items in the cardboard boxes that I had just purchased. I then moved my new home to a nearby state park and proceeded to finish unpacking. I made a few trips to the local RV stores and to the nearby Walmart to purchase some items that I would need but that didn’t come with the new rig, such as shelf paper, toothbrush holder, etc.

The main reason that I had purchased my new rig was because it has been so hard to set-up/break-down camp every time I moved. My new RV makes this task trivial. I push a few buttons and my home is ready in a matter of minutes.

If I decide to convert the garage into a bedroom or a dining room, then the set-up time is huge. And, it takes even longer if I set-up the patio. It actually takes longer than with my old RV. The important difference is that these are optional extra steps. If I decide to stay just one night, I don’t have to do any of these set-up steps. I just push the buttons to level it then push the buttons to put the sliders out. Done!

I’m going to enjoy my new home!



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