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Old 12-18-2013, 10:58 AM   #1
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Rv reviews

We are looking for a TT and was wondering everyones thoughts on the rv reviews. Do they really help thin the herd? Looking for an rv is harder than looking for an auto. Please let me know. Thanks.
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:37 AM   #2
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Nope.

They won't ever talk about things that really matter like the frame and suspension. Lot's of poor frames on trailers. Dealers can't help you there and even factory rep's at a show may not. Gotta educate yourself and look at and think about things many don't if you want something decent and that will last, and won't need on-going repair.

If you go to a show, the units all start to look the same after a while. How to decide? Best thing to do is ask and check around on the RV forums.

You'll find that a lot of manufacturers are all trying to keep up with each other on the latest flavor of the month features. The latest trend is for things like frameless windows, vaulted (barrel) ceilings and non-white exteriors. They put more emphasis on this than quality control in the plant and trying to build a better product that will last longer.

Don't fall for the bling, the number of slides, the lovely kitchen cabinets, the pretty interior décor, etc. Dig deeper.

It's pretty difficult to ascertain the better quality units. There's no objective Consumer Report or equivalent. Forget the TL ratings. Magazine articles are usually fluff and pretty pics.

Do research on how good the factory/manufacturer is with dealing with issues. Some are great, some are not. Sometimes eligible warranty claims get denied and you have a battle on your hands. One important thing often overlooked is dealer quality. Some are really slow and not good on diagnosing and fixing things. A bad dealer can turn a great TT into your worst nightmare.

Don't put your faith in what dealers tell you. They just want to sell you something. Be aware that "ultra-lite" means less substantial construction throughout and will be over lesser quality/durability. Be wary of the "1/2 ton towable" designation and do your own investigation on what your tow vehicle can handle.

I'm no expert on knowing which are the better quality TTs, but I would consider the 2 manufacturers I know of with 2 year warranties, Jayco and KZ. It can take more than 1 year sometimes for problems to manifest themselves. Don't waste money on an extended warranty. It's my feeling that Outdoors RV makes quality products. They make their own frame which is superior to the competition. Lance is also pretty good (but expensive) and use a non-Lippert frame.

Just don't take anyone's word for it, you need to do your own due diligence. Thank goodness for the internet and google.

Good luck and report back when you've decided!
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:40 PM   #3
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The best place is on RV forums. Some brand specific forums get real defensive when someone comes on bashing their own RV. Others have reps that try and sort out problems. It takes weeks-months to read and get a feel for the bad or good units. You really can't go to a brand specific forum and ask if they like them or not. Reviews are totally bias. It's the weeks of reading you do that eventually shows the issues. I've been reading RV.Net RV and Camping Forum ? RV, Trailer, Camper, Motorhome, Camping and Campground Information for years and have noticed which units seem to be built to a lesser quality than others. Only one that sticks out worse than the rest, in that regardless of which model they bought if it's a Dutchman they seem to have more issues.
My suggestion is to just read as many forums as you can.
Some of the RV review specific sites don't even list all the currant models.

IMO anything from Northwood Mfg or Lance will get you a better built product.
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:33 PM   #4
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The RV reviews in the RV magazines?

They read more like advertisements.

At best they might complain about a fabric choice.

They don't want to offend their advertisers who pay the bills.
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Old 12-18-2013, 05:07 PM   #5
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Thanks all for your input. I've been on several rv forums looking for complaints to help weed out one brand or another. There are two rv reviews, Rv Reviews.net, and Rv Consumer Group. Both $$$,so I wasn't sure if it wasn't B.S. or if they had any good info on brand quality.
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:05 PM   #6
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What size and price range are you looking at?
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Old 12-19-2013, 08:35 AM   #7
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We are looking for a 6000# TT. Have looked at several Dutchman Kodiaks in our area. They look nice, but on the Dutchman Owners forum there seems to be alot of unhappy campers (pun intended). I have no problems crawling around under any vehicle, but with inclosed uderbellies just what would I be looking for in a well built frame ete. I'm mechanically inclined when it comes to autos but don't know much about "kicking the tires" of a TT! We are open to any manufacturer. Thanks again for the great advice.
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Old 12-19-2013, 02:33 PM   #8
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I have no problems crawling around under any vehicle, but with inclosed uderbellies just what would I be looking for in a well built frame ete.
On some ultralites, you will find an I-beam that is made from 3 pieces of mild sheet steel welded together to "look" like an I-beam. Just run your finger along the weld seam between the bottom flange and vertical web to spot them. I've seen these on 5-6 makes/models now. These have much higher flex in them than a forged I-beam or the less common BAL/Norco Ultraframe. It's my option that it's best to avoid the fabricated I-beams as they can cause all sorts of problems down the road. Talking from firsthand knowledge... After a while, you'll learn that some frames are just built better than others. It's the TT manufacturer that provides the specs to the frame manufacturer (eg., Lippert) and not the other way around, so you will find some better Lippert frames than others on different brands.

Frames can cause problems and can eventually suffer cracks and failed welds. Not trying to be alarmist, but the more you learn ahead of time, the better. Just do some internet or forum searches.

If you want to learn about better frames, look into Outdoors RV units who make their own HD frame or Lance who use a BAL/Norco frame.

Some frames have a length of 2x2 square tubing welded to the bottom of the I-beam where the spring hangers are. The greatly strengthens the beam. Some frames have what's called a gusset at the spring hangers. The is a piece of steel welded at about a 45 deg. angle from the outside of the bottom flange up onto the side of the beam. Also greatly increase strength. Some TTs have a 6" tall spring hanger while some have a 4" tall one. The taller ones create more leverage action side to side. I've seen the bottom flanges of an I-beam distorted from all the side to side flex where the is just the spring hangers welded to the I-beam. Eventually, there would be a serious failure.

You're right, an enclosed underbelly doesn't let you see what's in there. Problems can happen with the cross bracing, tank straps, spacing of bracing, the weld quality, etc. Some find the floors to be somewhat soft and it can be because the cross-bracing/joists are too far apart.

Sometimes you'll find welds only partially done and/or not good quality. The proper way to do welds is for the entire joint to be welded, but often it's only partially done. You can try and see how the A-frame is attached and welded to the main I-beam/platform.

Check axle ratings versus the GVWR minus tongue weight. Sometimes, axle ratings are too close to the weight they carry, and a few have found them under-sized. You can also look at tire capacity. If available as an option, you might want to consider upgrading from load range C to D.

Some manufacturers are providing Ultru-Lube and EZ-Lube axles. It's my opinion they're not what they're cracked up to be. Some think they're great. Some trailers will have self-adjusting brakes. I think that's good. Equalizers can be a weak point. If you have the option, Dexter EZ-Flex equalizers are very good, heavy duty and have wet bolts for greasing. The standard plastic bushings are a real weak point and don't last. Ours were totally shot from new, due to the mileage from plant to dealer.

Shock absorbers would be a good idea, and really ought to be a standard item. They're rarely standard on TTs and sometimes are an option. Can be added but is harder on some units than others.

I'd also take a close look at dry weight compared to the GVWR. Sometimes, when you are fully loaded for camping, your actual weight can be close to the GVWR. They may indicate you have a high cargo carrying capacity, but it can be a lot less in reality. On average, you'll add 1,000 - 1,500 lbs to a TT when loaded up for camping. Full tanks of liquid would be on top of this at just over 8 lbs/gal.

Also, when shopping and weight is a concern, don't go by the published factory trailer or tongue weight. It always goes up and some more than others. The safest thing to do is use the GVWR. Our current TT is only 200 lbs away from the GVWR with just ordinary stuff loaded into it and for a short trip. It's also good to weigh your TT at a scale when you first get it. Even better, take it to a scale as soon as you get it before you load it up with anything and do any mods to it so you have a base weight for reference. Sometimes all the factory options you order can add a lot of weight.

An RV show is a really good way to see a lot of different units. At the last show here, I was easy to spot as I was the one crawling under units. A couple of salesmen were wondering what the heck I was doing but I learned a lot.
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Old 12-19-2013, 04:14 PM   #9
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myredracer, thanks for the info. we have an rv show Jan.2014 so I'll be the guy crawling under all the units! Until then I'll be on the different forums asking my questions. That's what I like about these forums is ALL the great people and answers! Thank to all. Hope my newbie questions don't get too old.
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:12 PM   #10
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I think they mean "RVReviews.net"

It's a company that researches RV's and publishes their findings. A lot like Consumer Reports for RV's. We bought their Travel Trailer Consumer Guide last year when we were looking at fifth wheels. Very informative. Not sure what else they have. A Motor Home guide, I think, and individual reports you can get for different makes and models. It was worth it.

Can't remember everything they have. Might dig our stuff out this weekend and post again.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:17 PM   #11
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Go to Northwood site and look over their TTs. They are the highest quality on the mkt. Ours is 10 yr old and inside is really beautiful with real oak and nice countertops. Lots of mirrors give the elusion of a much larger size. Not sure about wts but quality wise, if you want to scare a salesman, just jump up and down inside a TT and they panic. Walk away from those.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:15 PM   #12
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It's a company that researches RV's and publishes their findings. A lot like Consumer Reports for RV's. We bought their Travel Trailer Consumer Guide last year when we were looking at fifth wheels. Very informative. Not sure what else they have. A Motor Home guide, I think, and individual reports you can get for different makes and models. It was worth it.

Can't remember everything they have. Might dig our stuff out this weekend and post again.
I bought one of those review publications, though a bit spendy, it was helpful in getting to know a bit more about TT's. After reading that book pretty thoroughly, the comments on owners forums about quality seem to be in line with the published findings and ratings. If we could afford new, I'd definitely be shopping the Northwoods product line, some Jayco and KZ units would be considered as well.
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