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Old 04-14-2003, 04:10 PM   #1
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Recent Bambi owners wanted!

I can't believe this particular forum ("1999 Bambi and later") is empty! Where are all the Bambi owners?

I know you are out there because I've searched your posts, but how about throwing in some new owner experiences here? There are several of us looking -- er, lusting -- for new Bambis. But there's not a ton of feedback (at least that I've found) on the issues, problems, modifications, and lifestyle of new Bambi life. (I am aware of the flooring modifications some people have made, which was very helpful.)

If you bought a Bambi, there must be a good reason for choosing it over other models. Dollar for foot, it's an expensive Airstream. But it's also a great Airstream IMHO. What have you done with yours? What flaws and modifications? Who uses yours and for what? What's Bambi life like (especially compared to similar trailers and even bigger trailers)?

It would be great to hear from you!

-- Rich "Future Bambi Owner"?
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Old 04-14-2003, 05:51 PM   #2
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OK. Here goes. We have had our Bambi since last June, and have traveled the southern California mountains, beaches and deserts and have had a ton of fun. We have boondocked, and stayed in full hookup sites. I prefer the boondock sites as they tend to be in National Forest, BLM or State Park campgrounds and are mostly less crowded and in scenic areas. We like the Bambi because it allows us to go most anywhere, whereas once you get above 25' or so, some of the National Forest etc. campgrounds can't accomodate.

The Bambi has all we need, double bed, dinette (we play cards/games alot) full bathroom (though I do find the toilet a little cramped to sit on I am 5'11" 200), full kitchen etc. It is very cozy on cold (below freezing) nights in the mountains, and plenty of room most of the time (we have had five for dinner at the dinette). Extras on the Bambi are: Fantastic Fan, Electric Tongue Jack, Screen Door Guards (we have two Maltese) Type 31 Battery, Honda EU2000i Generator.

We have a collection of oldtime radio plays like The Shadow, Inner Sanctum, Jack Benny, Life of Riley and enjoy listening to them when making breakfast or after dinner. My wife says there will never be a TV in the Bambi, and so far she's right. For the most part, unless we had Satellite, we couldn't get reception where we generally go anyway.

I find the Bambi to be really well engineered and the double skin of the Airstream makes it really well insulated for both temperature and sound. Only problem I have is our black water tank is only 6 gals. Newer Bambi's have 18 gals, which I may upgrade to. Definately recommend the Honda generator, which if boondocking about 2 hours run time in the late afternoon/evening gives plenty of battery to last into the next day even when using the heater all night.

Also, I have had occasion to camp in the middle of the desert, no campground, just drive off a dirt road into the desert, and had no problems. Don't think you could do that with a bigger trailer.
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Old 04-14-2003, 07:04 PM   #3
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That's what I was looking for!

Thanks, Rick -- that's exactly the kind of feedback that's worth gold to those of us who are "still looking."

I'm particularly interested in a few of the points you made. We plan to boondock a fair bit, too, and electricity seems to be the major limitation. I am leery of carrying a generator given that we are trying to keep the load light, but the alternative (extra battery) isn't any lighter. My understanding is that without power, several major functions of the Bambi cease: water pressure, refrigeration (even with propane, because of the circuit board), lights, water heating (again, the circuit board), and furnace. Does no power mean no flushing toilet?

Good news also that the insulation holds up against a sub-freezing night. I'll have to check other threads to see if there have been postings about people's experience in freezing weather, since we expect to hit those temps fairly often in our area. If the tanks can survive a 20 degree night without freezing (assuming the furnace is running), that's a huge plus for us. In the north country it means the difference between a four month season and a seven month season.

Also, anyone care to share a "newer" Bambi experience with their small child?

Thanks again,

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Old 04-14-2003, 09:38 PM   #4
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My .02 worth---We purchased our 19' bambi last June, finally fulfilling a life long dream, starting when I begin reading Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, etc. We ( just the wife, Mr. Turbo & myself ) fit into the Bambi very well, with no wish at the present time for a larger unit. We intend, once the wife retires to do quite a bit of traveling, with most of it we hope, to be on the back, back, back roads of America. The Bambi has everything we want ---a bed, a bath, hot water,warmth, & is light to haul, travel narrow back roads, & park. We were fortunate that our unit was made right after a line change & now has a 18 gallon black water tank. We only wish that it did have a black water flush, but then you can't have everything. I am also 5'11 & a little more than 200# & had the small problem of being cramped on the throne. Called A/S & asked if the stool could be turned slightly towards the shower, there by giving me slightly more leg room, & they told me " to just loosen the two flange bolts, lift slightly & turn, as the throne is sitting on a rubber flange & not the typical throne ring". We also took the forum's advice & just ordered a Honda generator from Mayberry's. We wanted the added security of our own power if need be. Another A/S owner told me that when you tow, you want a smaller unit & when you park, you want a larger unit. Probably true, but WE LOVE OUR BAMBI" & I think you would also.
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:36 AM   #5
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Without power when boondocking, you would loose the ability to "flush" in the conventional way as the waterpump would not work. I suppose you could "flush" using a bucket. I am not sure of the refridgerater and water heater problem you mention, though it makes sense if the circuit boards are integral to running the refer on LP. The generator we have is fairly light weight (43 lbs. as I recall, and only holds about a gallon of gas, so maybe 51+ lbs when full, and it will easily provide enough power for a 3-4 day stay).

Again, we swapped out the group 27 battery for a group 31 which adds a bit to the total amp hours available. If you use electricity sparingly, the type 31 could carry you through a weekend trip, beginning Friday afternnon, through Sunday, assuming no heater use. With the generator, I am comfortable that we can boondock up to a week, only real limitation is the holding tanks, but most of the National Forest campgrounds we go to have reasonable clean facilities ranging from pit toilets on up to pretty nice showers and flush toilets. Tend to use the Bambi facilities mainly for late night/early morning needs.

You might also want to look at solar power. My preference for the genset is mainly because in the mountains we are most often under trees, and of course in the late fall, early spring cloud cover also limits solar power use.

Also, we usually carry drinking water in 2.5 gallon jugs, use the fresh water tank primarily for dish washing and toilet/shower needs.

We have boondocked in sub 20's weather in the mountains, been snowed on, and we were warm and cozy throughout the night. The furnace also blows warm air into the belly pan around the holding tanks which keeps them from freezing. I gotta say to me the experience of being in the Bambi on a cold, snowy night was awesome and very romantic.
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Old 04-15-2003, 12:16 PM   #6
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Love the Bambi

We picked ours up 3 months ago and have used it seven times so far, for weekend trips to area lakes, national forests, and the beach all an easy drive from Houston. This Thursday we are taking it to the Little Rock area of Arkansas for a four day weekend. We have not yet boondocked but are planning to do so before it gets too hot.
As others have stated the bathroom is a bit tight I am ( 5'11"/192#). We have been very comfortable in relatively cold weather (25 degrees F about as cold as it routinely gets here) and very stable in sustained 50mph winds.
We don't carry a TV but we do enjoy the built in radio and sound system. We probably will add a CD changer. So far we haven't needed all the storage area that is built into the Bambi.
The kitchen is actually quite adequate, both my wife and I are good cooks. Honestly, you wouldn't believe the gourmet meals that my wife prepares. We have the three burner stove with an oven. We do food prep work sitting at the dinette. We use cast iron cookware so that we can cook on the stove or over the fire ring outside. The cast iron is heavy, but our entire set is a fry pan, sauce pan, dutch oven, and a griddle.
We have mounted a magnetic knife rack on the side of the closet near the stove and carry a stainless steel three knife set by Global. The magnet is strong enough that the knifes are firmly attached even while moving.
A trailer was a big change for us our last two vacations were backpacking trips to remote Alaska. However, we chose the Bambi to serve as our mobile base camp and have been very happy with it. It is really nice to come back from a 14mile hike on the Lone Star Trail in the Sam Houston National forrest and take a hot shower, cook agood meal, and sleep in a real bed.
A small modification was to hang a hook on my side of the bed (near the bath) that I can hang my wrist watch on. This allows me to check the time to see if it is really time to get up when our 7 month old Lab says it is.
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Old 04-15-2003, 02:54 PM   #7
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Water pump,water heater, and all lights are ran from 12-volt power and do work with out 110 volt power.

Yes if you are boondocking you will have to conserve your batteries but they will work. The 5 gallon bicket is not needed to flush your toilet.

Refer is manual light and uses no 12 volt. but has the A/C switch if you choose to use it on the 110 volt side.
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Old 04-15-2003, 03:19 PM   #8
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JPAIRSTREAM

The bucket answer was assuming no power from batteries i.e. dead battery, no generator, therefore no 12 volt to run waterpump to flush toilet, nor any power to run lights, heater etc.
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Old 04-15-2003, 09:57 PM   #9
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Rickk--you said your Bambi worked well in the sub 20's. We haven't used ours in that kind of temps yet, but would like to know if you had any water problems with the water heater or the lines in the back compartment below the bed, or did you not have water in the system. Appreciate your info, as I'm sure living in N.Minnesota we'll someday be using ours in that kind of temps.
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Old 04-16-2003, 10:21 AM   #10
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On three occasions we have overnighted in subfreezing temperatures, and two nights in the local mountains when it got to 17-18 degrees F according to Forest Service temp gauge. Of course we ran the heater, and we did have water, also ran the water heater throughout the night. No problems. Of course, this is southern California, and these temps are not sustained over the course of 24 hours, but will hit the low for a couple of hours before sunup, say between 2:30-5 AM, but was below freezing by 7 PM the night before evidenced by a nice snow fall.

My understanding is that the heater blows warm air into the belly pan, and I would assume a certain amount would make it's way into the underbed outside compartment, at least enough to keep it above freezing under these conditions.
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Old 04-16-2003, 11:27 AM   #11
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Rick, where do you keep the generator and what size are you using. We are taking our first trip with our new Bambi next weekend to to a florida state park

So far, we like every little thing about it!

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Old 04-16-2003, 12:11 PM   #12
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I have a Honda EU2000i generator. I haul it in the back of my Land Rover, it is about the size of a small overnighter type suitcase. Weighs about 43 lbs dry and maybe 51 lbs with gas. I leave it in the Rover when not using it, set it next to the Bambi when in use. I have chained it to a tree if I am using it to charge battery and I want to be away from the trailer, but a guy commented to me at Joshua Tree National Park that he had had the same genset stolen in Alaska, even though chained up with heavy duty chain as I had. So, generally if I am not using it, I unplug it and put it in the back of the Rover. If I am going offroading, then I leave it in the trailer. Rest of the time, it sits in my garage, and has come in handy on a couple of occasions to provide auxiliary power at picnics, and when working on the trailer in storage lot.

This generator has been discussed alot on this forum. If you do a search on Honda or EU2000i you will find alot of information on it. It is too small to run the airconditioner, but you can parallel wire two together which then gives you 4000 watts to work with, which will power the air conditioner. I really like the genset, and it has made our preference for staying in less developed areas possible. End of May we are spending a week along the Big Sur coastline and right on the sand at Jalama Beach, and will be totally self contained. Will have to visit the dump station at state park maybe mid week, and that should do it.
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Old 04-16-2003, 01:14 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info . I did not see in the owners manual where it shows that the heater is ducted, but assuming that your water did not freeze it must work. We just received our Honda 2000 ( from Mayberry's ) today & looking forward to seeing how it works. Should give us some flexiabilty in moving about. Interested to know if you have done any changes with your unit. We unfortunately have not had the opportunity to get out much, but are looking forward to the summer, if it ever comes. Rain, freezing rain & snow in the forcast for tonight thru Easter. Not good!
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Old 04-16-2003, 01:40 PM   #14
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Only real change I have done is gone to a bigger battery. The Bambi comes with a type 27, and I went to a type 31, which adds about 15% more amp hours. Also, I am finding that since I have to leave the Bambi in a storage lot without electricity, it is best to remove the battery, take it home and plug into a BatteryMinder which keeps it charged, equalized and prevents sulfation to the lead plates. Kind of a hassle, but it is supposed to make the battery last considerably longer than it would running down in storage, then being charged, run down, etc. Silver Twinkie has two batteries on his Bambi, and I am considering doing this also.
But with the generator, running it as little as two hours in the late afternoon, early evening will top off your single battery and easily carry you through to the next evening. And the Honda uses such little gas, a full tank will last you a handful of days.

I also looked into having one of those custom air mattresses made for the bed (I think it's called the Bear Bed), but the existing mattress seems to be "breaking" in and is getting more comfortable.

don't envy you in Minnesota, though I really do like snow, but only to play in. We just had a really cold storm blow through which dropped 20" of snow in the local mountains (very unseasonable for here at this late date), which are now white and beautiful.
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Old 04-17-2003, 12:17 PM   #15
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Ducted heat to tanks?

Aha! Rick, you touched on one of my many questions about the new Bambis. The Owners Manual (available on the new Airstream website) doesn't mention ducted heat to the tanks, and I think I was told by a salesman that in fact the Bambi doesn't have that feature.

If anyone can really check, I'd be curious to know. Otherwise, I would assume that heat leakage through the floor provides at least some warmth for the tanks (and hopefully, there is insulation surrounding the other sides of the tanks). Who wants to crawl around under their Bambi to check?

As to the generator issue, I was considering the eu1000 instead, only because I am going for lightest possible overall weight and have no interest in running satellite TV, air conditioning, etc. It would be just for re-charging the battery. I know that charging time is related to the electrical load in the unit at the time (e.g., the battery only gets the surplus power). If I got the eu1000 rather than eu2000, I am hoping the battery re-charge time would be the same if I wasn't loading the DC power with other appliances at the same time. But maybe this is wishful thinking ...

Rick and Rod, you both do the same kinds of trips my wife and I do! Rick, we've been to Anza-Borrego (3 times), Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Yosemite, and Big Basin -- and we live in Vermont! Perhaps we should face reality and just move to California? Or perhaps buy a Bambi in California and fly out to visit it once in a while!

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Old 04-17-2003, 12:43 PM   #16
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According to my guy at C&G Trailer (an authorized Airstream warranty repair mechanic) the underbelly tanks of the Bambi do receive some warm air when the heater is running. I did not ask how this occured. I was at his shop when he and I and the owner of a new International CCD were talking.; The International owner was kinda mad to find out his unit did not have a belly pan, and no warm air to tanks as he had planned to use it in the western mountains in the winter and was now at C&G to look into altering the trailer. Rod (C&G guy) said no, there was no warm air to tanks and showed us the underbelly which was pretty much open, then pointed to my Bambi and stated that it did have this feature, specifically to allow for winter use. I have looked under the Bambi, and the underside generally appears to be enclosed, so you cannot see any plumbing, tanks, etc. I assume just a small amount of warm air flows from the bottom of the furnace into this area.

As for the generator, the EU1000 would bo fine, though I'm not sure how much weight and size you save(actually just looked on Honda's site the 1000 weighs 29 Lbs. and the 2000 weighs 46.3 Lbs). The EU2000i came with a 12Volt cord to connect directly with the battery if all you wanted to do was charge it. I would think the EU1000 would also come with this. The only thing to consider is whether you will ever need, or want to use an appliance such as coffee maker, hair dryer (my wife appreciates ability to use one, even in the forest) etc., in which case, I'd strongly recommend the EU2000i.

Rich, that's a long way, man. Someday, I'd like to Bambi in your area. We are heading up the coast to Big Sur for most of a week next month, and then the local mountains on several weekends over the summer. Back to Joshua Tree in the winter.
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Old 04-17-2003, 01:47 PM   #17
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Well, we have been away for a week or so (the Region 9 Rally), so I am just now picking up on email. We bought our Bambi 19C, new back in Oct. Ours is a bit unusual in that it has the front couch along with the LS Safari Upgrade package. The couch added an additional $675 in the form of a customization fee. We found it on a dealers lot, he had been sitting on it for months and the new '03s were arriving...so we did get a fairly nice discount (spent more than what we saved though on all the upgrades we added after the fact)

The LS Safari upgrade was not cheap ($2700), but it added Corian countertops, the AquaJet water pump, a 13,500BTU A/C/Heat Pump, a blackwater flush system, a spare tire and rack under the trailer (hard to believe that a spare on a single axis should be an option), Fantasic Fan, Electric Hitch Jack, Cast Aluminum Taillights (identical to the taillights on the Classics), the Screen Door Guard (really stabilizes the screen door and helps prolong its integrity) and finally, upgrades to the all the faucets including the integrated Moen PureTouch faucet in the kitchen (filters taste, cysts, etc).

We really hated the bland interior so did a massive makeover (see our pics). In addition we added two, 50 watt solar panels with an MPP controller, a Tri-Metric battery telemetry system (so as to really know what was happening with the battery when boondocking, a second full sized Zip Dee awning (on the road side) and a rear window Zip Dee Awning. At present we are still running the factory battery, but once it reaches the end of its usefullness, I am going to have a custom battery box build to hold two 6V Rolls batteries (over 350 aH total). The '03 Bambi has gone to two batteries in a battery case that drops partially below the frame, just behind the propane cover, so the need for two batteries was recognized even by Airstream. We plan to add a Honda EU2000, but have not done so yet.

Our Bambi came installed with the Sony 10 disc CD changer, and we added a 12V DVD player and a 17" LCD TV. As counter space in the Bambi is at a premium, I mounted the LCD TV on a fully articulating arm in the back corner above the refrigerator.so that it can be swung to face the bed or the couch as well as adjusted in all planes for best viewing.

On the issue of what works with ZERO battery....basically nothing expect the stove and oven. The refrigerator, the water heater, the furnace, the water pump and all the lights require 12volts. As long as you keep the battery charged though, everything except the A/C/Heat Pump works. If you are serious about boon docking, then I HIGHLY suggest you look into installing a Tri-Metric as it monitors all aspects of the battery...not just voltage. With the Tri-Metric, you know exactly how may amps you are currently pulling, the percentage of charge left, the total amp/hrs drawn since last full recharge, the total amp/hours drawn since the battery was installed (or the Tri-Metric was installed), the number of days since last equalization and the number of days since last recharge. There are some other parameters it monitors, but those are the main ones. As I have the solar panels, I really don't have to worry about pulling the battery out and putting it on an external charger. Even in the covered storage, there is enough bounced sunlight in the winter to keep the battery charged.. The solar controller I chose also has an equalization program, so when I am getting the rig ready for a road trip, I simply activate the equalization and let the solar panels to the work. I did add a switch with pilot light so that I can kill the power to the LP gas detector as it can run the battery down all by itself over time (it is the only item that the 12V kill switch does NOT disconnect). Although A/S recommends leaving it connected, I have talked to both A/S and the LP gas detector manufacturer and they indicated that as long as the unit has a few minutes to warm up and it does not indicate a fault after such warmup, there is NO reason to leave it powered.

As for the heated holding tanks, I have been told by Airstream that they are indeed heated by the gas furnace, but there seems to be a lot of confusion on the matter and I have not taken the time to investigate. I do know that the furnace that is used in Bambi can vent hot air to both a single duct as well as to the front(it is documented in the manual for the heater). All the water lines are actually above floor grade so that are in fact inside the trailer, so as long as you keep the trailer warm, the water lines are safe. My Bambi was the 1st to have the 18 gallon black water tank, but a good portion actually resides above floor level under the toilet so it has the advantage of heat from inside the trailer. The grey water tank actually hangs down underneath the trailer (in an enclosure). I have thought about dropping the enclosure and adding one of the 12/110 volt tank heater pads, just to be safe. At the Region rally, the A/S rep indicated that A/S was going to be offering these heating pads as an option starting on the '04 models.

I chose to purchase a Hensley Arrow hitch as it seemed a solid bit of insurance against not only sway, but controlling the rig should a tire blow on the trailer. Hensleys certainly are not cheap, but they work like magic. Absolutely NO hint of anything when a semi passes, even on narrow two lane highways.

We really do like our Bambi. While functional as purchased, it lacked warmth and character, which we provided. Understand that you can buy a 22-25' A/S for almost the same money as a loaded Bambi, but your tow vehicle requirements go way up and you will find that it is more difficult to find parking on the larger units. Contrary to intuition, backing the Bambi is more difficult that backing a longer rig. With only two tires, it is a pretty twitchy rig when backing up, where as the multiaxles have more rubber and therefore more resistance to change in direction. I have found that if the trailer starts to turn in a manner contrary to my wishes while backing, it is quicker to stop, pull forward slightly and then start backing again. It tows like a dream behind our Explorer Sport Trac and the combo is a really nice looking rig (the Explorer is Black, and the lettering and pin striping on the Bambi is black as well). We get about 15 MPG if we stay at 55MPH, at 70MPH the mileage drops to about 10MPG and while on a trip into KS we had the legal opportunity to pull it at 75 MPH which resulted in about 8.5 MPG.

Sorry about this being so long, but lots to say. If you wish you can sent me a PM and we can discuss anything about our rig in more detail.

david

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Old 04-17-2003, 06:29 PM   #18
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Misssed you

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I came by your rig 3 times at the rally and unfortunately I missed you every time. Looks great on the outside, though.

I was on the same row, pretty near the other end. AFAK, I was the only 22' International at the rally.
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Old 04-17-2003, 09:54 PM   #19
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Sorry we missed you

Sorry we did not get to meet at Regional. We did make a few excursion outside of the RV park and the various activities there was not a whole lot of time at the RV. Several times we had open house as once someone saw that we were showing off our Bambi, others would appear asking to see it as well. As you were on our row, we had to pass you traveler a few times ourselves. Maybe we will cross at another rally someday.

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Old 04-21-2003, 09:47 PM   #20
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We have a 2002 model & tonight I did a little exploring ( inside the A/S --took the drawers below the oven out & removed the crossbar. Against the back wall was a gray colored insulated tube, looks to be 1 1/2" to 2" in size. The tubing ran from the top right ( looking at the heater ) side of the heater & ran along the wall to the rear tanks. I could see that the tubing curved down right at the side of the black water tank & I believe it goes directly to the grey water tank area. While I could not see a tee, it might also possiliby tee, one going to the grey water area & the other going to the black water tank area. The black water tank sits partially above the floor, so I think it would get it's heat from the heated area above the floor, with the ducted heat going into the belly pan of the grey water area. At least I feel better to have seen that the holding tank area IS HEATED.
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