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Old 03-03-2014, 10:46 PM   #1
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2014 27' FB International
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A Dark and Stormy Maiden Voyage with a happy ending

So, a couple of weeks ago we took our trailer out for it's first real camping trip. Prime conditions for finding out whether something might go awry: rain coming down in sheets, winds of 30-50 MPH and gusts of up to 60 MPH, with temps in the 40's. So, aside from the potential for getting wet or blown off the road we could look forward to a couple of nights dearly hoping no trees would fall on us!

Towing through that mess was remarkably unremarkable. Our trailer followed the TV like an obedient little turtle, with no trouble at all. We obviously drove more slowly than we might otherwise have done, but the tow was smooth and easy., even though the rain and other things were blowing horizontally across the road.

Even better, throughout the weekend we saw no leaks anywhere in the main body of the trailer. We obviously had a build-up of humidity inside as we lived, cooked and came in from the outside with wet coats and our dog. We were able to vent most of that by cracking open the windows from time to time and opening the fantastic fans between downpours. By contrast, the SOB next door was so badly fogged internally that they couldn't see out at all.

One exception to soundness of our AS was the door to the storage compartment under the front bed. As many have mentioned here, sure enough the door to that compartment had not been properly sealed. As a result, while driving through the rainstorm we got some dampness inside the forward storage compartment. We mopped it out. Then later I realized after dark that with the internal light on in the compartment I could see light coming out around the door in a couple of places, even with the door closed. They could easily have done that check at the factory or at the dealer, but I guess it had to be us doing that check after towing through the rain.

Another moment of oddness occurred when I was sitting at the rear dinette, looking at the entry door with a bit of daylight coming in through the window. As I looked down at the lower corner of the door, I realized I could also see daylight there. The entry door itself was not properly seated into the door frame. The entry door closed and latched properly, but when closed it didn't seal to the body of the trailer at the bottom of the door frame, leaving quite a gap. Again, this is something that could easily have been detected and addressed either before the trailer left the factory, or at the dealer.

Finally, we found that one of the drawers in the pantry was misaligned, making it difficult to latch it after pushing it in.

During a break in the rains, we opened all the windows, each of which was stuck shut. I used the "credit card" trick to gently separate the rubber gaskets from the glass, cleaned both the glass and the gasket, applied 303 Aerospace Protectant to the gaskets, let it stand for a bit, wiped the gaskets down and then closed the windows again.

Otherwise, everything we tried to use worked flawlessly, and despite the weather our weekend with the trailer was a genuine pleasure. We listened to music and books on audio, tried out the heat pump and the furnace, walked the dog between rainstorms, and took every opportunity to relax before towing the trailer back to the dealer for warranty work. The dealer was kind enough to let us drop the trailer off on the way home instead of towing it back to storage.

Warranty repairs made in very short order, thanks to our dealer:
  • Removed and replaced our entry door, aligning it properly so that when it shuts we don't have that ridiculous air gap.
  • Re-adjusted the door to storage under the front bed so that it seals tightly. It's almost too tight, but I think it'll do the job.
  • Took apart, re-aligned and re-assembled the pantry drawers so they close smoothly.
  • Replaced a burned out LED light that we hadn't even realized wasn't working.
On this trip we also learned the signal from our TPMS sensors wasn't strong enough to guarantee reliable reception in our TV. So, we had the dealer install a repeater on the front of the trailer, wiring it to the battery disconnect so it only runs when the battery switch is on. With the repeater on, the signal seems much more reliable, though it still takes a couple of minutes for all tires to register properly with the receiver.

When we parked our AS in storage, we left a huge bucket of damp-rid inside the trailer to ensure that any and all moisture would be absorbed while the trailer awaits our next adventure.

So, at least until the next run everything seems ship-shape, and we look forward to more fun on our future trips!
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:54 PM   #2
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Good adventure. While apprehensive on my first trip I also found that pulling a trailer for the first time was a non event. Still worry about the tires with all the chatter about the GYM's.
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Old 03-04-2014, 12:29 AM   #3
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Thanks. With a TPMS in place and AAA Premier RV, we don't worry. We also set cruise control to ensure that we never tow at more than 60 MPH, even in perfect weather.
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Old 03-04-2014, 05:51 AM   #4
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Best way to find pluses and minuses is to go camping. Also the best way to find out how to camp rather than just use the trailer is to go out and camp in it. You did good and so did your dealer. Jim
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Old 03-04-2014, 06:18 AM   #5
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Excellent report and so reminiscent of our maiden trip in 2011.

Our Airstream performed well that weekend but oh the rain! It beat down on the roof of the trailer all night and I was convinced that we would wake up to a huge flood in the campground, but no, it was just a little muddy.

Like you, keeping the moisture inside under check was our first priority, and we achieved that bay cracking the windows a little, despite the cold, and running the kitchen exhaust fan when the rain stopped us using the roof fans. We were a little more fortunate with the new trailer snags than you, I think because our dealer had been quite thorough before the handover.

That weekend was an omen for the rest of that camping season we only had one camping trip that year when it didn't rain, even when we went south to Florida we experienced rain of biblical proportions. Still, we appreciate the dry days all the more now.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:13 AM   #6
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I keep hearing about the moisture in the trailer due to breathing, cooking and humidity in general. To correct this, some have opened the windows and the roof Fantastic fan. I use the small vent in the bathroom/shower for this. It is smaller, has a fan and can be partially opened.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:30 AM   #7
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Silvery Moon, thanks for sharing your experiences -- you have given me some things to consider. Re: your compartment light showing through the door, I plan to place a flash light in each of our compartments some evening as I've been discussing with my DH the possibility of our compartments needing new seals.

Two items you mentioned I am not familiar with: 303 Aerospace Protectant and Damp-Rid, but I'm certain I'll be checking into them.

Oh my, you really had a first-time out with your new baby! Trees/limbs are a huge concern.

Best of luck and happy travels.

Deb
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:46 AM   #8
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From Fantastic Vent reps, a procedure you can use to keep your vents with rain sensors open in rainy weather is to start a vent opening then grab and hold the manual knob until the motor stops trying to open the vent further. This will still allow airflow through the vent but keep the rain from coming in.

Be sure and check the water heater compartment for pooled water that needs to be removed. Towing in the rain can cause water to enter and pool there

Glad your shakedown trip was a success. Airstreams tow a lot easier because of their rounded shape than nearly all other types of trailers, though you still have to contend with the whipsawing effect from cross gusts because of the trailer length.
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:21 PM   #9
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Thanks, guys. Good tip on the water heater compartment, we'll check it out. I'm hoping it's empty, because it's been in storage since returning from the trip. OTOH, our dealer did a 24 point check when they did the warranty service, and I'm hopeful they would have spotted this if it were a problem.

We'll definitely consider the kitchen hood fan and the shower fan on our next trip where condensation and rain become a simultaneous problem. We did experiment with partially opening the fantastic fan vents via manual mode, and got that pretty well figured out, so one for us! We used the vent hood, but only while cooking. Doh! I don't know why we didn't think of the shower fan this time, except that since we left the trailer winterized we pretty much ignored the bathroom & shower. Yes, that meant an epic trek in the rain for every bathroom journey, in addition to every dog walk. Thank goodness for breathable waterproof fabrics and small ridiculously bright LED flashlights!

The only moment of slightly off behavior came when we got passed by a tractor-trailer on a four-lane section of the road during a particularly gusty moment. Even that wasn't too bad - honestly not much more than a slight wobbly feeling. We just chilled, keeping the wheel straight and taking the foot off the gas while we waited a moment for it to settle. We have all that anti-sway stuff, from the hitch to the electronics in the truck, so we figured a cool head and a little patience would solve the problem, which it did.

Here's some of the stuff I mentioned above, in case anybody wants links:

Safe travels and happy camping!
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