I finally finished up the installation of a Winegard Trav’ler on our 2012 Discovery 36J - and I’m very happy with the conversion. The KVH antenna had to move between satellites, and, although an in-motion system, I wasn’t impressed with its capabilities. We never used it while traveling. Although it may appear as a daunting task, the entire process was relatively easy, although time consuming. Preparation is the key, both logistically and mentally.
I read every article I could find on installing a Winegard system. I got all the equipment, tools and supplies ready well ahead of time, before beginning the installation. The mental preparation was at least as important as actually removing the KVH system and installing the Winegard Trav’ler. At last, I was ready to pursue this adventure.
The most important step - wait for a nice warm day, with no wind. It’s a long way down from atop a motor home.
In all, I used 3 ladders, one 10 foot ladder to easily place tools and supplies on top of the coach, one 20 foot ladder adjusted to the appropriate height used to take the new Winegard system up on the coach, and one 6 foot ladder to gain easy access to the rear-mounted ladder on our Discovery. They all came in handy.
Once ready to remove the KVH system, I used a putty knife to free up as much os the sealant that had been placed around the three base tabs. Each tab had five 8mm hex head screws holding it in place. The front tab was more of a challenge to get to (did I mention it’s a long way down?), so I removed the radome from the KVH antenna to get easier access.
Once the screws are removed from the KVH mounting tabs, and the three cables (one control cable, two coaxial cables) disconnected from the unit, the antenna can be lifted up and away and placed on the roof elsewhere, keeping in mind there is very little “elsewhere” available on the roof due to the air conditioner just behind the antenna. To preclude transferring remnants of the sealer to the roof, I wrapped the three tabs with a sheet of paper towel before moving it - that made it easier to take the KVH antenna down the ladder as well without worrying about trailing the sticky sealer behind me.
With free access to the mounting location, I then cleaned up the area where the Winegard would be placed using denatured alcohol after scraping away the remaining sealer from around the base of the KVH mounting tabs. There is plenty of space to locate the Trav’ler on the roof in the Discovery where the KVH had been.
Fleetwood had sent me two diagrams of the KVH installation, which indicated that there was a reinforced area where the antenna had been installed, sufficiently large that the Winegard would fit nicely. I placed the Trav’ler so that the front of the antenna would be close to the same location where the KVH front mounting tab was attached. Be sure to place the Winegard so that the label saying “front” is pointing to the front.
After temporarily locating it where I wanted, I drew an outline around the base with a Sharpie pen, then removed the Winegard and placed a bead of Dicor sealant about ½ inch inside the outline to provide a proper seal against the weather. Taking your time, place the base of the Trav’ler on the outline so that the base flattens out the sealant.
I then used a very small drill to place one screw through the roof and hold the antenna in place. I then drilled a second hole in the roof on the opposite side, then placed a screw to stabilize the antenna while I drilled the other holes and put the screws in place. There are a total of nine screws holding it down.
At this point, I plugged the system in to ensure it would raise and lower the antenna (it did), and to allow me to install the actual dish on the Trav’ler using 4 bolts and nuts. Easily done.
Now the “interesting” part - pulling the control cable and two coaxial cables through the roof of the Discovery. I chose to use the existing hole in the roof, thinking that Fleetwood had figured it out to make access easy for the KVH installation. I didn’t want to put another hole in the roof.
At first, when I tried pulling the KVH control cable out of the top of the roof, it wouldn’t budge. I had to go inside the coach, and gently move a panel inside the A/V bay over the driver’s head out of the way so I could see what was happening. Turns out that the KVH cable was about 10 feet longer than required, and Fleetwood has coiled it up and taped it and stuffed it back inside the area near the left side of the A/V bay. After pulling the cable out, removing the oh-so-sticky tape, I was able to pull the cable out through the roof by tying some 40 pound test fishing line to it and placing duct tape around it to prevent the cable connector from being entangled inside the roof. Success!
The coaxial cables were a bit easier. Inside the A/V bay, there are two grey coaxial cables attached to a “connection block” on the right side of the A/V bay. Note the location of the cable with RF1 written on it, since that’s where you’ll attach the Winegard cable from connector “A” as marked on the Winegard base. Connector B will go to the other coaxial connection on the block, labeled RF2.
After removing them from the block, I again used fishing line to tie them together, taped the ends with duct tape to preclude their being entangled, went back on the roof and pulled them through. Success!
Pulling the cables from the Winegard through the roof was fairly simple at that point. Yup - use 40 pound test fishing line, connected as previously described, then go back down to the A/V bay and pull the cables through the roof to the bay. The roof has closed cell insulation in it, with a pathway, made by Fleetwood, for the cables.
I ran the three Winegard cables from the passenger side roof back toward the air conditioner, then around to the driver’s side and into the hole in the roof, thereby providing plenty of clearance for the roller arm on the Trav’ler to not hit the cables, and held them in place with Dicor and cable clamps screwed into the roof.
The Winegard control cable is very long (about 30 feet), so I coiled it up with a zip tie, pushed it down inside the left side of the bay wall where the KVH cable was, and left a few feet of cable with the connector end inside the cabinet. Connect the coaxial cables where the KVH cables were, and that’s all there is to hooking it up. I reinstalled the A/V bay front cover access panel using two small drywall screws - Fleetwood had used staples, which made it fairly easy to gently remove the panel for access.
Although I left out a few details involving temporarily removing the DISH receiver, audio amplifier, and removing the shelves to gain access, that pretty much completes the transition.
You’ll need to do a “check switch” on each receiver (we have one in the front and rear of the coach) to ensure it recognizes the Winegard system, per Winegard’s installation and setup instructions. Once done, all three satellites are available, any time, anywhere.
Love the Winegard Trav’ler! I hope this helps anyone interested in a do-it-yourself project. It just takes time, planning, and a nice warm day with no wind.