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Old 04-03-2014, 07:20 PM   #1
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CampLite 21BHS first impressions

Several forum members have expressed curiosity about "how the other half lives".

I promised I would post about our first impressions of our new 2014 CampLite 21BHS. It might also reflect on what issues may be related to Thor, parent company of both Livin' Lite and Airstream.

First of all, this is our first travel trailer, so we don’t know if we had unreasonable expectations. We paid about $27,600 before taxes and tags, making it a bit more than most basic 20’ boxes, yet still less than half the price of a comparable new Airstream.

So far, our impressions have been mixed, at best.

The delivery went well, and the people at Sunny Island RV in Rockford, IL were nothing but professional, courteous and friendly. The price was clearly stated and there were no attempts to gouge us with add-ons or hidden fees. The price was also much less than on a comparable trailer we shopped at a dealer in TN.

Several things cropped up on the PDI:

1 - The stove would not light. New striker installed.

2 - The external hose attachment would not fit. Adjusted.

3 - One wheel had missing clear coat in a patch about the size of a silver dollar. Replaced.

4 - The table in the dinette fit poorly. Stand replaced.

And that was about it. The trailer was winterized, but we did pressurize the system and everything seemed to work. The furnace also kicked on properly.

Anyway, so far, so good.

On the road I noticed two things -

1 - I went to open the outside outlet cover, and the little tongue on the inside just fell off. Snaps back on OK, but is pretty flimsy. May put a dollop of JB Weld on it, and check the other covers as well.

2 - In a suburb of Knoxville, we put the roof antenna switch on “AIR” and could only get two OTA channels, and those very poorly. And only one FM channel on the radio. As a goof, I did a channel scan on “CABLE” and about 17 channels came in on the TV and the radio got LOTS of channels.

Unless I’m totally confused, it seems as though either the switch is wired backwards or the switch plate is reversed.

Now, back home and looking at things closely, I’m a little disappointed with some of the details.

1 - Here’s how the black water pipe is supported:

Come to your own conclusions, but I can’t think of any excuse for that - it looks like someone just grabbed a piece of rusty steel scrap and threw it on there. Easy to replace with either stainless or aluminum strap, but still…

2 - Similarly, went to check the tire pressure on the spare. First, and inexplicably, it was mounted with the valve stem up, and therefore inaccessible. In addition, the hold-down bracket was a simple piece of drilled aluminum stock:

Zero padding to protect the paint on the painted steel wheel.

Ideally it should have a proper mount, but today we got the wheel down, cut some rubber flooring and glued it onto the mount, and reversed the wheel so the valve stem is accessible:

A little thing, perhaps, but disappointing.

3 - I removed the top of the battery box to see about installing a disconnect and a connector for a charger. Both bolts on the terminals were completely loose.

4 - A lot of the “welding” of the aluminum looks pretty rough, but I suppose its meant to be strong, not pretty. Still, these straps supporting the black water tank look pretty haphazardly placed:

Note that the tank is largely unsupported by the nearest aluminum strap. Hope that does not put undue stress on the tank.

5 - Finally, the lefthand door for the passthrough storage, which worked perfectly until we got home, now binds heavily on its bottom edge - as if something “settled”. Can barely get it closed.

In conclusion, we do not yet regret our purchase. And maybe these teething pains and “punch lists” are typical of travel trailers in general. Still, I think we expected a little more.

Will continue to report as we find things. And very much looking forward to SpringStream in Hiawassee in just over a week - in our own backyard, no less!

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Old 08-05-2015, 10:36 PM   #2
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1974 31' Sovereign
Tacoma , Washington
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I see that this is an old thread, but I thank you for publishing your findings. We are looking at at Camp Lite 21BHS. Our vintage Airstream was lost in a fire and there is no way we can afford a brand new one. I don't have the time to put into another vintage project, so we're looking at the all aluminum Camp Lite options. I also like that the Camp Lite is on an aluminum frame and my Airstream frame was rusted before the fire.
Any updates?
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1998 Dodge Ram 2500 QC-LB 4x4 12-valve
1974 Airstream Sovereign
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