The most important part of the camping…the televisions.

Of course – its all about getting out to nature, but make sure you have televisions installed and working…
Our dealer speced out the trailer we bough with the factory installed flatscreen TV, located in the central cabin area.

My wife and I like watching movies at night – so we knew that a TV was needed in the bedroom located in the front of the trailer. One of the challenges with this was that the front area has privacy doors that appear to be designed to be open when watching TV. I felt that we needed the option to open those doors while the TV was in use and researched the best way to go about it.

We had a 32″ TV left over from an upgrade and I thought it was perfect for use in the camper. I took the factory TV down and swapped over the factory mount to the new TV. Given that it was a little larger I had to move the factory mound down a little to accommodate the new larger TV. The folks at the factory had cross threaded the fasteners into the back of the TV so I had to spend some time taking the back panel off and repairing the threaded inserts in the tv.

The factory mounts are more than adequate to hold the larger TV and the installation went through without anymore problems.

Using the factory TV in the bedroom required a vary shallow mount. Looking through all the choices on Amazon I found one that was under 2″ thick. I located the studs in the wall where the TV goes and drilled the holes to mount the new bracket. Everything went together without issue, always nervous drilling holes in things that are difficult to repair if you mess them up.

The new setup allows the doors to full close when not watching TV, but more importantly they can open to 90 percent when the TV is pulled out from the cabinet. This lets the kids come and go without have to open and close the privacy doors.

We also added and android TV box and splitter, so that the signal can be sent to both TVs. The factory TV was not a smart one, so if we wanted to watch Netflix or other services we needed a device to handle that. You can use an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV stick or any of the other devices.. We chose the Xiaomi Mi Box S 4K HDR Android TV and added a 64 gb usb thumb drive so we could watch video files I had saved. Both TVs are also hooked up to the factory antenna system to pull in broadcast channels wherever we camp.

I joke about the TV being important when camping, but when its rainy or its night time its nice to have a little entertainment for the family.

Here are links to all the parts I used to put this setup together:

Coffee..How we handle it.

Making good coffee while camping is a must. I have been a fan of percolators for a while and use one at home everyday. The one that we use for the camper is one that I bought a while ago for use on our boat on in emergencies when the power goes out. I bought a Farberware 8 cup stainless unit that has served us well. The great thing about percolators is that they get the water up to a higher temperature than a lot of drip coffee makers. This in my min makes for a much better cup of coffee.

I use store bought coffee and whole beans that I grind myself. The unit has a basket in it, but we still choose to use a paper filter to help keep the sediment out. There is a lot of flexibility on how you use this percolator. It will function on a cook-top, the Blackstone or any propane grill. The percolator can also be used over a campfire (just keep the handle away from the flame). There are two downsides to this particular unit. Being an 8 cup unit, the coffee doesn’t last real long, I tyically find myself making two pots when we have a full crew on the camper. Since this writing, there is a 12 cup version that I have not tried yet.
The other downside is that there is no heating element to keep the coffee warm after its brewed. I just use a Stanley thermos after I make it to keep it warm.

For camping purposes we needed some mugs that would hold up, I found some red enamel mugs on Amazon that have worked well. They won’t break in transit and match that camper in color. They mugs are metal so you do need to be careful that you don’t burn your lips with piping hot coffee as they will absorb the heat.

Is there a better way to start the day?

What are the basics every travel trailer needs?

We bought a lot of stuff for this camper at the onset. Just like any new hobby there is this initial expenditure of stuff you need or want to buy. On this list I am going to focus on a few things that you really have to have in order to protect the camper and to make your outings safe. This list is made up of the actual products we bought and have experience with, you also get some of the rationale behind why we got what we did.

Wheel Chalks
You need to made sure that your camper is not going to move on its own once its unhooked from the tow vehicle. We choose these tandem chalks as they fit inside the wheel and have much less chance of being kicked out of the way. They can also be used just to chalk one of the tires, don’t always have to put them in the middle. You can also use these as a mini ramp. If you get a flat you can pull the trailer up on one using the good tire and lift it up enough to get the wheel with the bad tire off the ground. They are a little bit of a pain to store, but so far have worked out well for us.

Leveling Blocks
You need to make sure that your camper is level when you pull into a campsite. Many high end sites with concrete pads may not need any attention. Some sites may find you leaning to one side and you need to correct that by putting something under the tires. Some people haul wood plans around, we chose a more modular system with these blocks. You stack them up to give you the height you want and they can also be used under the trailer jacks if you need a little more height to stabilize the trailer.

Surge Protector
You never know what kind of shape the electricity is going to be in when you visit a campground. It is essential to your camper that you protects its electrical system with a surge protector of some type. We choose a power watchdog 30 amp unit for our trailer. It was under $100 and offer the protection we wanted. In the event of a surge that unit can be rebuilt, which makes it a little more cost effective. In addition it has Bluetooth capability so you can monitor current draw and system operation from your phone. The app allows you to set alarms if needed for things like low voltage, outages etc. These can also be a value when it comes to determining current draw on your trailer. I was able to see that the A/C was under 20 amps so I could safely power the unit at home without fear of a problem.

Water Pressure Regulator & Disposable Filter
It amazes me the number of folks I see in campgrounds without these two items. The pressure regulator makes sure that you will not blow plumbing fitting apart inside the trailer hooking to water sources with high pressure. The filter just helps to keep debris and garbage out of the water supple that feeds the trailer. We tend to bring bottled water when we camp for cooking, but use onsite water for all the rest of our needs.
I found no need to get an adjustable pressure regulator, let the preset level be satisfactorily for water pressure and use the gauge to make sure things are in spec. Trust me, we have hit a few camp grounds where the water pressure was like a fire-hose.

Adding the basics of cooking

In order to keep the camper smelling as new as possible, we are not going to to any significant cooking inside. That being said we needed a setup that would allow generous meal prep outdoors. We looked at a few options and settled on a Blackstone Tailgater as our main cooking implement.

The unit has a conventional bbq grill on the left and a steel griddle on the right. The large burner under the grill is circular while the burner for the griddle is an H pattern. The setup comes with a hose to connect to a 20lb propane cylinder, we added an 18 foot hose to the unit so that it could plug into the camper propane feed, located under the outdoor kitchen.
Speaking of outdoor kitchens, yes ours was ordered with this option that includes a roll out sink, refrigerator and a small griddle. This setup is really handy for reducing traffic in the camper. Having drinks in the outdoor fridge, keeps folks from having to go inside for a beverage. In addition – having a spot to wash up and cook makes larger meal prep really easy.

The camper has one propane fitting under the outdoor kitchen. I sourced an adapter that splits it into two, this allows both cooking appliances to run at the same time.

Keeping bugs out of the heater

For those that don’t know – this is the vent for the propane furnace. This is an item on the camper the wasps would love to build nests in. Living in Tenneesee we see wasps building nests everywhere.
We used the heater a few times toward the end of the season last year – but it will not get anymore use until the fall. Its a perfect opportunity for those bugs to build a home and mess up the internal works of the furnace.
We added a mesh grill cover to keep the bugs out.

The cover comes with these little spring retainers that are a huge pain to try and install. There is also no gurantee that those fasteneres will keep the grill in place. I went a different route and used some aluminum wire to fasten the grill to the furnace outlet. Being aluminum the wires will not rust will not hold heat after the furnace has been run.
So far so good, the cover has not moved or loosened up and the furnace works like a charm.

Outfitting our tow vehicle to pull the camper

Our current SUV is a 2019 Infiniti QX-80, its rated to tow 8500 lbs. The trailer weighs in empty about 4700lbs so we are well within capacity of the vehicle to pull the trailer. The QX was not outfitted from the factory with a brake controller – so I went about the task of acquiring and installing one.

Doing lots of research online about brake controllers I settled on the Tekonsha line of products. Their controllers employed technology that basically makes a smart brake controller. For those that are not familiar with how they work -the controller feeds electricity to the brakes mounted on the trailer, its the intensity of this electricity that determines how much force will be applied by the trailer brakes. Have a more feature oriented controller gives you a better driving experience & smoother braking.
I went with a Tekonsha P2 controller and mounted it with two screws in existing holes in the vehicles trim panel. The QX-80 is a lease vehicle and I did not want to put any permanent holes in the cars interior. Most Nissan/Infiniti trucks and SUVs have built in wiring for the trailer brakes. Without this you would have to run a line all the way from the controller back to the trailer itself. I ended up buying Tekonsha’s adapter cable to plug the controller right into the car. Otherwise I would have had to take the Nissan/Infiniti pigtail and marry it to the included wiring for the controller. The adapter cable was inexpensive and made the install a plug and play operation – total time was under one hour.

For the trailer hitch itself, we went with a weight distributing hitch and a sway control bar. We went with a Blue Ox BXW1200 round bar weight distributing hitch and their dual pad BX-4024 sway control kit. The dealer mounted the parts to the nose of the trailer and set things up the day we picked the trailer up. So far the hitch has performed great and with a 12,000 pound capacity it will work should we choose to upgrade the trailer later on.

Why we chose a Retro trailer.

In June 2020 we took deliver of a brand new Retro 265RB travel trailer. My wife had been looking at retro style trailers for a while. Her original idea was to pick up and old Scotty or Shasta and restore it. With the onset of Covid and looking for new vacation ideas – we went to a local dealer to look at these campers.
Initially she wanted to get a 193 but I didn’t feel there was enough room for two adults and two kids, and especially with we had guests. There was a customers 265RB on the lot and we took a look at it and liked it. The dealer had two on order and two weeks later we came back, looked it over and started the purchase process.
Why did we choose Retro? Here are a few points:
– We like the styling of the Retro trailers. They would realistically never go out of style as they are based on the trailers of the 50’s and 60’s. The simple birch interiors would wear well and never really need updating. Given the relatively neutral decor it would be pretty easy to theme up the trailer the way we choose.
– They are built on an aluminum frame which makes them lighter than similar sized trailers and prevents and potential wood rot from occurring in the critical frame areas.
– Among the reviews online this brand of trailer seemed to have less issues than most, and better build quality.
– We had a dealer that was close by and was selling these without much inflation beyond MSRP.