How To Make The Camper More Stable At The Campsite

For such a large vehicle – its amazing how much these things move around. We use the factory jacks, usually with additional blocks underneath but we found that we needed more to keep this thing from moving around.

The first thing we added were wheel chocks. These simply fit between the tires and prevent them from moving. These chocks are designed to stabilize not replace proper wheel chocks. In an emergency would these help keep a trailer from rolling away..Yes – but we don’t rely on them for that. The chalks are east to install and come with a small ratchet handle that I ended up using on the factory stabilizing jacks as well.

In addition we found a stabilizer for the stairs. I am usually the first one up in the morning and exiting the trailer would cause it to rock back and forth. We found this stabilizer that mounted directly to the stairs and it took the load of me stepping in the stairs, not creating any movement or shake.

The instructions call for the stabilizer to be screwed into the steps. I am not a fan of drilling holes in fixtures, so I choose a different way to mount the unit. I ended up using wide heavy duty velcro, its works great for a number of reasons.

  • Its not a permanent installation – no screw holes poking up through the steps.
  • It fits well, given the contour of the bottom of the steps is not totally flat and if it was screwed in would great a bit of a gap once the screws were tightened down.
  • The support is removable, no chance of it getting lost down the road if a fastener is lost.
  • Its adjustable and movable, if the spot you put it on originally doesn’t work – you can move it very easily without any permanent marks.

Adding latches to the front storage compartments

One thing that I found to be short sighted on this camper was the front storage compartment doors. The only way to latch them shut was to use the key. We ended up just rotating the whole assembly in the door which pretty much negated the whole idea of having a lock on there.

All of the other compartment doors had a simple turn latch in addition to a key lock to secure the door.
When we got our camper the dealer broke a key off in one of the locks, so I asked them to order some extra thumb latches when they were getting the replacement lock. The dealer came through with two complete lock sets for the camper, it took 8 weeks but we finally got the parts.

The doors come off the camper with one phillps screw. I put them on the bench and took out all the existing lock components so I could get the door marked to drill the hole.

The doors themselves are pretty thin. A very thin sheet metal skin with foam inserts. I was able to use a 5/8″ hole saw on my drill to go right through the door and give me a nice clean hole.

The plastic sleeve that all the locks sit in was rotating in the hole, limiting the effectiveness of the locks. So when I put the door back together I ended up using a white marine epoxy to glue in the black inserts. I went around to all the locks on the camper and gluing the inserts in. Now when we go to lock the doors the cylinders don’t spin. Make sure to just glue in the black insert, do not glue the lock into the door. If you ever have to replace one – it will be a huge pain to remove.

Here are the front doors – reinstalled with the new thumb latches.

Now when we are at a campsite and need to close the front compartments we can do it without a key. When we are in motion we will still lock them up, but it makes it so much easier when you are in and out of them all the time.

As I mentioned we got our locks from the dealer. Our storage doors are make by a company called “Challenger”. They do sell replacement parts – their contact information is below:

Challenger Door
1205 East Lincoln Street
Nappanee, IN 46550
Main: 574-773-8100

For replacement parts:
John Sellers: 574-773-8106

Here is a link to the epoxy I used on the plastic inserts:

Making the small griddle more usable

The small propane griddle that came with the kitchen only had the heavy steel griddle cooking surface. It was great for making small meals but if you needed an additional cooking surface -it took a long time for all that heat to make it to the pan. I took a small cast iron grill and cut it down to fit inside the stove. Using some 4″ carriage bolts I was able to suspend the grill and perfectly match it with the height of the unit. This allows me to put a pan or coffee pot on and have another functional burner for cooking. I can still use the original griddle if I need to, and it stores on top just like it did before.

The perfect camping radio

Ok – the headline is a bit of a generalization, but I think this radaio works great for camping. Our Retro is equipped with the stereo and the outside speakers, but we really don’t use it. The factory speakers are awful sounding and by the time you turn it up the whole campground can hear it.
I searched for a small radio that gave me the following features:
– Good sound quality.
– Excellent FM reception.
-Long battery life on conventional batteries.
-The ability to take an auxiliary input.
– Not be a bazillion dollars.

I chose the Sangean PR-D19BK and bought it from Amazon.

So far the radio has met all my expectations and was a sound buy. Its loud enough and the sound quality is great for those nights by the campfire when you want a little music. I have also added a small Bluetooth adapter so that I can feed a signal direct from my phone to it, without having to use a cable.
The rechargeable AA batteries easily last a whole weekend, it only uses four so having spares is not a big deal.
The only gripe I have is that Sangean doesn’t give you an AC adapter with the radio, you need to buy that separate. So far in my usage it has only run on rechargeable batteries and I really don’t see the need for the adapter. I carry a small batter charger, should I run all my AAs down to nothing.

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:

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.