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Old 10-26-2020, 09:55 AM   #1
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Comparing TT quality and features

So I've decided on a floor plan and narrowed it down to 4 manufacturers. I don't want this to turn into a 'this manufacturer is better because....' so I've decided not to mention who they are.

What I am interested in is what do I look for in terms of better features and quality between them. For example:

- does the unit have a roof ladder(no access to the roof could be a problem)
- dual axle spacing (a little further apart seems to provide more stability)
- are the cabinets screwed or stapled together
- awning covers a slideout (providing less space under the awning)

Please let me know of anything else that I should consider when comparing that may indicate build quality or practicality issues.
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Old 10-26-2020, 10:37 AM   #2
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I am not afraid to mention manufacturers but I like the Winnebago BAL frame that is fastened together with huck bold vs welds.

Also BAL has a leveling system that I like.

I also like Flagstaff/Rockwood trailers with fully laminated sides and roof plus all the modern features like the wifi extender and command center that can be tied to your phone.

I want a PVC roof but might have to settle for TPO.

Lance and Starcraft use PVC roofing.

If I had to buy a RV in an hour I would buy the Winnebago 27 RLTS mid profile 5th wheel as good enough. But I am hoping I find a travel trailer that I like better.
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Old 10-26-2020, 10:53 AM   #3
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Go see each on yourself...
Look at the quality of craftsman ship on the models you tour...
and when I say look, really look. dont just walk thru and look at all the shiny objects and bells / whistles...

I think most cabinets are stapled together.. Dont know for sure... Does it really matter?
Ladder.. Nice to have but how often do you plan on going up to roof in reality?

Awning covers slideout? If the slide out is on passenger side your losing space anyways... does it matter? If so dont buy a TT with a slide out on passenger side...

Axle spacing? Really? Do you plan on riding in the TT?

Best bet is find the floor plan you like and see what each MFG has in that floor plan..... Then compare them down.

Features and Practicality... Nobody can answer that but you...........
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:14 AM   #4
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No ladder would be a sign of a cheap trailer.

Axle spacing is a myth sorta. I've owned 3 TT's and one had the so called spread axles. It handled no better than either of the two other TT's. Spread axles are also really hard on themselves as they tend to really scrub the tires in tight turns.

Staples are inferior obviously. But not always bad. I've found that most MFG's use a combination of screws and staples. You can have poor quality with both if the employee messes up. Of course screws are more secure but in some situations staples are good enough.


For me I look at the RV's cargo carrying capacity and how well the structure is built. Low CCC is a sign that the MFG didn't use higher capacity parts. I also look at what materials are used in the walls, floor and ceiling. I look at how they design the interior and are there any quirks that would be frustrating after several trips.

I wouldn't own an RV trailer that didn't have a fiberglass front cap vs rolled filon/Luan.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:54 PM   #5
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We all have ideas, and areas that concern us the most, so quality can be substantially different, depending on who your talking to.

Materials, methods, and workmanship are all important. Most manufacturers will hit two out of those three, but very few, if any hit all three, all the time.

My current trailer has the BAL frame, Azdel inside and out, PVC roof, and fully laminated with foam board including the roof, and floor.

Plumbing is crimped correctly, and wiring is all neatly ran and installed. Good fit and finish is evident throughout the trailer.

Even though ours has been trouble free, many with the same brand have not. Workmanship is hard to control, and anyone who has worked in a factory setting know things get pushed through.

So that brings me to my last topic.....warranty. I like manufacturers that have their own service center. There are big issues that will get passed through, and many dealers don’t have the expertise to repair. Having a manufacturer that is known to take care of you after the purchase, and even many years down the road is important. Knowing that I can take my trailer back to the factory now at three years of age, or down the road at 10 years was a big factor in my purchase decision.
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Old 10-26-2020, 01:38 PM   #6
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I actually worked on an assembly line. Most of the work I did was good I could not drill out holes correctly when the assembly was off a bit so I would drill a hole crooked and pop a rivit so it held 90%.

I understand how some trailers are good and some not so good.

If you open all draws and cabinets and check all trim that is a start. I look at the CCC if it is low I move on.

I saw a used trailer, the sand I almost bought 5 years earlier. It was junk with spongy laminated floor and basically falling apart. Whew I thought.
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:21 PM   #7
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Striking a balance...

We researched and bought a TT this year... just two of us. Our priorities were as follows:

Suitable floor plan (no extras, all necessities), comfortable (17' - 21-), lightweight (easy to tow), affordable (obviously), like new condition (well kept, everything works), no slides or popouts (keep it simple), no ladder (not using roof for storage), strong, nicely finished and reliable, double axle.

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Old 10-26-2020, 04:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peco View Post
So I've decided on a floor plan and narrowed it down to 4 manufacturers. I don't want this to turn into a 'this manufacturer is better because....' so I've decided not to mention who they are.

What I am interested in is what do I look for in terms of better features and quality between them. For example:

- does the unit have a roof ladder(no access to the roof could be a problem)
- dual axle spacing (a little further apart seems to provide more stability)
- are the cabinets screwed or stapled together
- awning covers a slideout (providing less space under the awning)

Please let me know of anything else that I should consider when comparing that may indicate build quality or practicality issues.
Like most I am always shopping for my "next camper". One reason I participate in these forums is to benefit from the knowledge, experience, and research of other people, rather than rely on just myself.
Not including the names of manufacturers and the reasons you've narrowed the search down to them feels like a bit of a rip off to me.

When I ordered our current unit, in the belief that fewer roof penetrations is better, I had the ladder deleted. I should have let them install a ladder. It can be really hard (even dangerous) stepping from a folding ladder next to the camper onto the roof.

If one wheel was placed under each corner of the camper, it would be very stable indeed. Moving those wheels closer together is going to reduce stability. It's only logic. In my experience, the spread axles do not offer enough difference to have a meaningful effect on stability.

If the cabinets feel solid, then you're probably in pretty good shape. You'll find the facings are screwed together while the panels are very thin and stapled in place. Just make sure the facings are wood and not adhesive vinyl.
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:38 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. Interesting point about the CCC. What do you consider low? A percentage of the GVWR?

I plan on comparing all the manufacturers...hopefully at the next RV show, and I was just trying to get a better feel for what I should look at. I've done a lot of reading on-line and learned a lot but it's a whole different story actually using something.

And just to make everyone happy :-) I am looking at Grand Design Imagine, Northwood Arctic Fox and Outdoor RV Mountain. One problem I have though is that it's very hard to find Northwood or Outdoor RV in southern Florida.

So I may extend my possibilities to others, such as, Forest River Vibe, Gulfstream, and Highland Ridge. In my opinion, these manufacturers quality is not as good as my top three choices....hence my inquiry.

Thanks again for all the information.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:16 PM   #10
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The one thing that strikes terror in the heart of every camper owner is a water leak. An undetected leak can cause absolute havoc - it can destroy the value of a camper or even render it unusable.
My own research has led me to the Keystone Cougar line of travel trailers. They use aluminum framing in the floor and exterior walls. I can't remember if the interior walls are wood or metal, though. Insulation is block foam rather than fiberglass batting which can settle and leave large air pockets in the walls.
The floor does not have any wood. It is a composite material.
The exterior walls, however, are Filon, which makes me nervous.
Interior door frames are wood, rather than very common plastic. In fact, one of the indicators of the "quality level" of a camper is the amount of plastic used in it's construction. Plastic toilet or porcelain, plastic sink or stainless steel. Thin stainless steel sink or thick stainless steel. Faucets look residential but are primarily plastic. The industry has, thankfully, changed to Pex lines rather than the grey PVC of the 1980's. It's much more flexible and less likely to rupture. However, look under the cabinets to see what kind of connectors (elbows and manifolds) are used. Are they plastic or metal? Of course, going through the plumbing fittings yourself and upgrading all the plastic to metal is a reasonably straightforward upgrade for an otherwise great camper.
These days pretty much every camper that is not entry level uses wood stiles to build the cabinet faces with pocket screws. The use of jigs and power drivers has made them economically rewarding to do. Wood lathe is usually screwed to the wall and the cabinet is stapled to that. This can actually be a stronger mounting method than using screws, so don't dismiss it out of hand.
For Forest River the ascending hierarchy is:
Wildwood
Wildcat
Vibe
Sonoma
Flagstaff/Rockwood
Heritage Glen/Hemisphere
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Old 10-27-2020, 07:36 AM   #11
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I agree with most of the comments posted.

But, whether a ladder is mounted on the rig would not be an indication of quality as there are too many variables. The dealer could have ordered it without one. I purchased a 2014 Winnebago Minnie which was an above average trailer in quality (at least the one I got!) but it didn't have a ladder. Being just a days drive to the factory, we went out and had Winnebago install one as it was cheaper than purchasing and paying the shipping cost.
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Old 10-27-2020, 10:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peco View Post
- does the unit have a roof ladder(no access to the roof could be a problem)
Some roofs on cheaper trailers are not designed to be walked on, so that is something to check out.

Quote:
- dual axle spacing (a little further apart seems to provide more stability)
I'm not sure where this idea comes from, but further apart is probably worse. Imagine if the four wheels were at the four corners--what the stresses would be like on the tires around corners. Closer together is probably better, and BTW, many people say you should only use trailer tires on tandem axle trailers because they are designed to handle the cornering stresses.

Quote:
Please let me know of anything else that I should consider when comparing that may indicate build quality or practicality issues.
Checking out the floorplan with sliders closed. Many you cannot open the refrigerator or use the bathroom. On mine I simply cannot use the TV or access one cabinet well.
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Old 11-02-2020, 03:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peco View Post
T

I am looking at Grand Design Imagine, Northwood Arctic Fox and Outdoor RV Mountain. One problem I have though is that it's very hard to find Northwood or Outdoor RV in southern Florida.
I am also looking for a trailer and the Arctic fox and Outdoors RV are at the top of my list. .....haven't looked to hard at the Grand Design. ....so much crap out there. My wife loves the Rockwood Mini-Lite 2506s but I'm having trouble wanting one after spending time with the Outdoors RV....


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