RV Adventures with Bug Smacker

New Keyless Door Lock from RVLOCK

After having a Keyless Door Lock on our previous RV, we were sad to discover that this was not an option on our new trailer. You may not think this is much of a necessity, but until you have one you won’t know how much of a convenience it really is.

We all need to think about security a bit more these days. The news is just full of things that make you fear for your safety. I remember my grandfather once saying “I never used to lock my door, I didn’t want them to break it down”. Well, I actually had this experience; I did lock my door and they did kick it in. I really don’t RVLOCKthink if I had left it unlocked they would have just turned and left me alone. I personally think locks are quite important.

I don’t need to explain how spending time in your RV is much different than living in your house, I’m sure you are already aware of this. But in your RV, the great outdoors is more like an extension of your indoor living area. Everyone travels in and out of the RV quite frequently. Because of this leaving your RV without a physical key is a great idea.

A Keyless Door Lock keypad makes life much easier. Think of going to the beach. Think of having an arm full of groceries. Think of allowing every family member to have their own “virtual” key.

After searching for a solution for our situation I kept coming up with RVLOCK. This company seems to be the hands-down best choice when it comes to upgrading your RV locks.

The product we got from RVLOCK is a solidly made assembly with a heavy-duty steel locking mechanism. The faceplate has a weather resistant powder coated exterior finish with a weather seal. The inside handle is made of plastic. The lock features an integrated 8-digit keypad. This particular model also included a 4 button remote fob. You lock and unlock the door with just the push of a button before you even get to it.

The installation was as easy as described in the product description. It literally took just a few minutes to remove the old lock and install this new one. I would like to note that when fitting the lock assembly into the door opening, make sure that the deadbolt is retracted allowing the assembly to more easily fit. Also, after the installation, the door was a bit hard to close. I discovered that by applying some light grease to all sides of the door latch mechanism, it became much easier.

Overall I think the RVLOCK is a pretty good product and I am glad we installed it on our new RV.

 

Article Courtesy of : www.BugSmacker.com : Copyright © 2018

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Installation of TadiBrothers Backup RV Camera on a Furrion mount

Since we decided to upgrade our RV backup camera from a Furrion to a TadiBrothers system, I had to find out how to mount both the camera as well as the monitor. The whole project sounded much more difficult than it proved to actually be once I figured it out. Let me show you how it can be done.

Let’s start with the camera.

TadiBrothers makes an adapter plate but I found that I really did not need it.

The Furrion mount is secured to the trailer by 4 screws. Begin by removing these screws.

Next, remove the cover on the mount. The bracket for the TadiBrothers Camera with fit right into this mount once the cover is removed.

Now I secured the bracket to the mount using 2 small bolts with a couple of large washers. On the backside, I used a small piece of metal (but large washers could have worked here as well).

mount 

mount

(NOTE: TadiBrothers include a rubber grommet on the cable which they inform me can be made to fit into the hole in the bracket. However, I wasted a bunch of time trying to make it fit so I simply cut it off and tossed it. The Y-split on the cable was also too large to fit through the hole in the bracket so I needed to shave it down a little with a knife.)

I then just pushed the wire into the back of the mount and attached the camera head.

grommet

On the trailer, I wired the pigtail from the new camera to the existing wire coming out of the wall. TadiBrothers also makes an adapter but I found it just as easy to splice the wires together.

wire

wire

After sealing the hole around the wire, I installed the mount with the previous 4 screws.

camera

Now to mount the monitor.

This was actually quite easy. I discovered that this Scosche Magnetic Window Mount works perfectly. The magnet attaches to the metal strip on the rear of the TadiBrothers 7″ monitor.

monitor mount mount

The whole project took a bit longer than it would have if I had used the Furrion camera but it was worth the extra effort to get a better camera.

 

Article Courtesy of : www.BugSmacker.com : Copyright © 2018

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Furrion vs TadiBrothers RV Backup Camera Comparison

Our new RV came equipped with a rear camera mount. The mount was preinstalled at the factory and was provided to the manufacturer by Furrion. The Furrion Vision 2 FOS48TA-BL or a Furrion Vision 1 FRC12TAPK-BL can be easily installed to this mount in just a few minutes. We chose to purchase a Furrion Vision 2 because of its advanced features over the Vision 1 FRC12TAPK-BL.

We have also heard quite a few good things about the TadiBrothers cameras. So we decided to check it out as well. There are a lot of different models to choose from on their website. We got a TadiBrothers model 90113 Digital Wireless Backup Camera with Monitor for RV. We will now compare the TadiBrothers system to the Furrion system we purchased earlier.

Here is a head-to-head comparison between the Furrion and TadiBrothers backup cameras.

Here are the contents of the Furrion Vision 2 FOS48TA-BL:

Furrion Backup Camera Furrion Backup Camera

Here are the contents of the TadiBrothers model 90113:

TadiBrothers Backup Camera TadiBrothers Backup Camera

Here are the specs of the Furrion Vision 2 FOS48TA-BL:
Monitor Size: 4.3”
Display Resolution- 480
Audio: No
Wireless Range: 100ft
Housing Material: Plastic

Here are the specs of the TadiBrothers model 90113:
Monitor Size: 7”
Display Resolution- 720
Audio: Yes
Wireless Range: 100ft
Housing Material: Die Cast Aluminum

Here is a sample rear-view image straight from the camera.

Rear View Image

This is a sample of the same image produced by the Furrion Vision 2 FOS48TA-BL:

Furrion Sample Image

This is a sample of the same image produced by the TadiBrothers model 90113:

TadiBrothers Sample Image

Conclusion: Even though the Furrion would have installed directly to the mount that came with our new RV, we chose to go with the TadiBrothers camera system. The TadiBrothers camera had a better image quality, a larger display and even included audio (that way the driver can hear the obstacle he sees in the camera as he crashes into it).

 

Article Courtesy of : www.BugSmacker.com : Copyright © 2018

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Residential Refrigerators vs RV Type Refrigerators in Recreation Vehicles

Keep it cool!

fridgeAfter we finished deciding on the model of Fifth Wheel that we wanted to purchase, we had to decide on what type of refrigerator to get with it. I had done some research in advance to help us decide which way to go. Should we get a residential refrigerator or go with the common 2-way/3-way RV type refrigerator?

Lately, residential refrigerators have become quite popular. The manufacturers like installing them because they cost less and are easier to install. Customers like them because they are …bigger?

OK, well they used to be bigger but now they’re not. In fact, the model we chose comes with either an 18 cu. ft. RV fridge or an 18 cu. ft. residential style fridge.  So now you can take that argument right back off the table. However, size was the biggest factor when RV manufacturers first started installing residential refrigerators. I think that is why a lot of RVs built with residential refrigerators coming out of the factory are costing more than their RV Type refrigerator counterparts when the units themselves are quite a bit less.

To explain some of the differences between the fridges, I went and put together a list of advantages that each type of fridge has to offer in a typical RV.

Residential Refrigerator Advantages

  • More efficient
  • Repair costs are less
  • No outside vents to deal with
  • Works better in temperatures over 90 degrees
  • No open flames
  • Cools faster
  • Less frost
  • Uses 12v Battery or AC Power
  • Freezes Ice-cream better

RV Type Refrigerator Advantages

  • More durable for traveling
  • No inverter needed
  • Less battery draw
  • Less noise
  • Less weight
  • AC Power or Propane (and sometimes 12v Battery)
  • No icemaker maintenance
  • Built-in door latches

What makes a residential refrigerator the best choice for your home are the exact same reasons that would make it work best for your RV. It is more efficient, it cools better, and it is less expensive to repair. If you don’t plan on traveling much this type would work out great for you.

For anyone looking to travel much in their RV, the 2-way or 3-way RV type refrigerator would probably make better sense. These are more durable, lighter and demand much less power to run.

If you have the room, you can also have the best of both worlds. Our 5th Wheel happens to have a large enough basement that we could put a mini fridge in it. Then we would have both an RV type refrigerator upstairs and a residential refrigerator downstairs. Pretty awesome.

As you can see there is no perfect solution. Your needs will determine the type of fridge that will work best for you.

Article Courtesy of : www.BugSmacker.com : Copyright © 2018

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Why we chose our new 2018 Keystone Montana 3120RL

After spending all of 2017 trying to decide on which RV to replace our Jayco with, we finally settled on the NEW 2018 Keystone Montana 3120RL. I will try and provide you with some of the decisions we had to make that got us to this point. Keep in mind these are things that mattered most to us and “your mileage may vary”. To the best of my knowledge, these factors were true last year. However, in the ever-changing competing RV marking, things could be a bit different by the time you read this.

We use our RV quite a bit although we are still not officially “Full-timers”. We knew that the amount of time we spend in it would justify moving into a higher level of RV. We really loved the floorplan in the 2013 Jayco Eagle 31.5 RLTS and knew that most every new Fifth Wheel would have an island in the center of the kitchen now. We still knew that it was time to move on.

With that in mind, we knew right off the bat that we needed something durable that would last us a while. We started our quest looking at some of the RV brands that were listed as Luxury Models. Don’t get me wrong, we would simply love to drive around in a brand new 45-foot Diesel Pusher, but we knew that wouldn’t be practical for us. So, we limited our search to smaller, lighter and more affordable RVs.

Now that we decided to replace our current RV, we began our search with trying to decide if we wanted to step up to a Class A Motorhome. If we decided to go this route it would make our decision much easier. We both really love the Tiffin brand and have never heard much bad about the product. So, if we choose to go with a motorhome our decision would be easy.

Class A Motorhome vs Fifth Wheel Trailer Advantages

Class A Motorhome Advantages

  • Single Floor Level
  • Smaller Commute Vehicle
  • Easier Fridge & Bathroom Access
  • “WOW” Factor

Fifth Wheel Advantages

  • More Living Space
  • More Kitchen Counter
  • More Windows
  • Larger Sofa
  • Room for Recliners
  • Place for Car Seats (Gotta think of the Grandkids 😉 )
  • Lower Fuel Cost
  • Lower Maintenance Cost
  • Lower Purchase Price

It took my wife and I quite a while to make this decision. We would go to dealerships to look at their inventory and salespeople would look at us like we were Newbies when we would ask to see both Motorhomes and 5th Wheel Travel Trailers. Even though we were tempted by the “WOW” factor of the Motorhomes, my wife and I decided that the practicality of a Fifth Wheel was the better choice for us.

Now that we made it over that hump we had to settle on the best Fifth Wheel model for us. We knew we wanted something easily towable, not too heavy, not too long, yet sturdy enough to live in. We were now looking at the smaller Luxury Type Fifth Wheels. We started like everyone else and looked at floorplans we liked. Next, we looked for features we wanted. The brands we started off with were:

Luxury Fifth Wheel Brands

  • Jayco Pinnacle
  • Keystone Montana
  • Grand Design Solitude
  • Redwood
  • Vanleigh Vilano
  • Forest River Cedar Creek
  • Highland Ridge Open Range

We did a lot of head scratching. We went to a ton of dealerships and looked at a lot of models. We went back and then back again. We narrowed the list by comparing things that we really didn’t care for or features that were lacking. We now ended up with just three models to choose from.

Luxury Fifth Wheel Brands we like the most

  • Grand Design Solitude
  • Keystone Montana
  • Vanleigh Vilano

We were really impressed by the Vilano (from what we could tell without seeing one). That was because there were no dealers within 200 miles of us that sold them. We liked the fact that Tiffin (remember we like Tiffin) was behind it and that they seemed to be put together like a motorhome. We were also impressed by the modern styling we saw in the photographs. It was quite difficult getting facts on how these are built and because we could not actually put our hands on one, made it hard to keep them as a contender.

My wife and I liked a lot of features in the Solitude as well. I liked the fact that they were trying hard to over-take Montana as the top seller. I always tend to root for the underdog. We really loved all the windows. The windows above the bed and kitchen sink were awesome. I know this sounds nitpicky, but we never understood why they had that strange bowl type sink in the bathroom.

Here is a brief comparison of features between Montana vs Solitude vs Vilano Fifth Wheel Trailer RVs.

Keep in mind that these items may change at any time.

Model Montana 3120RL Solitude 310GK Vilano 365RL
Year 2018 2018 2018
Dry Weight 11980 12100 13100
Gross Weight 16000 15000 16000
Load Capacity 4020 2900 2900
Hitch Weight 2400 2350 2800
Length 35 34.11 38.11
Height 13.5 13.5 12.11
Width 96 101 101
Fresh Water 66 93 54
Black Water 49 50 45
Gray Water 88 100 90
Slides 3 3 3
Slide Height 6.5 8
Hydraulic Slides Y Y
Painted Front Cap Y Y
Full Body Paint Option Option
Roof Material TPO TPO TPO
Gel Coat Side Walls Y Y Y
Suspension Equalizer Lippert Lippert Lippert
Pinbox Lippert Lippert Lippert
Solid Entry Steps Y Y Y
Axle Ratings 7000 7000 7000
Frame Inches 12 10/10
6 Pt Auto Level System Hydraulic Hydraulic
Hitch Receiver Y N
G Rated Tires Y Y Y
50 amp Y Y
Electric Power Cord Reel Option Option
Generator Option Option Option
Quiet AC Y Y Y
2 ACs Y Y Y
3rd AC Wiring Y Y
AC Heat Pump Y Option
Dual Pane Windows Option Option Option
Water Heater 12 12 10
Touch-Sensor Tank Monitors N N Y
Tank Heaters Y Y Y
Heated Dump Valves Y Y
Black Tank Flush Y Y
Dual Battery Box Y Y
Rear Fiberglass Cap Option N
Outside Shower Y Y
Door Grab Handle Y Y Y
Electric Awning w/LEDs Y Y
Keyless Entry N N N
Keyed Alike Locks N Y
Rear Camera Option Option
Outdoor TV Y N
Solar Prep Y Y Y
iN Command System Option
No Carpet Main Living Y Y Y
Carpet in Bedroom Y N N
Front Door Closet Y N Y
Wide Theater Seats N N Y
6-foot Sofa Y Y
TV Size 50 50 50
TV Sound Bar N N Y
Fireplace Y Y Y
Furnace 35k 40k 42K
Fantastic Fan Y Y
Roller Shades Y Y Y
LED Lighting Y Y Y
Wall Mounted Dinette Y Y Y
Residential Fridge Option Option Y
Fridge Size 18 18 18
Stainless Steel Sink Y Y Y
Easy Kitchen Sink Access Y Y Y
Convection Microwave Y Y Y
Stainless Steel Stove Y Y Y
Oven Y Y Y
Dishwasher Prep N Y Option
Central Vac Y N Y
Wash/Dryer Hookup Y Y Y
King Size Bed Option Option Y

 

All along as we looked at all these different Fifth Wheel Trailers we would comment on how if Montana just had a floorplan we really liked we could stop comparing it to all the other RVs and buy one. That is the main reason we waited all year to purchase a new RV. We also knew sooner or later Keystone was going to come out with new models.

When we first discovered the Montana 3120RL was out our jaws dropped. Montana hadn’t had that particular floorplan since the 3610RL back in 2016. Now that Montana brought the floorplan back that we liked there were no more excuses. When we discovered the other features that were recently upgraded, the decision was made for us.

Here are a few documents that I obtained during our shopping experience. These are sales brochures on the new 2018.5 Model Year Keystone Montana RVs that you may find interesting.

2018 Montana Fall Product Changes

2018.5 Montana Features

2018 Montana vs Solitude

I am by no means trying to influence your decision if you happen to be in the market for a new RV. In fact, we my not even know if we made the best choice ourselves until we start spending time in our new Montana. I just wanted to share some of the legwork I did in our decision-making process. Guess I’m just showing everyone how anal I can be when it comes to things like this.

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