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Old 05-04-2016, 02:12 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Frugal build sheet/disabled user questions

Escape 19' 2017 build sheet -

I am asking for your knowledge and advice for our build sheet. I've spent months reading through all of the recommendations and advice in this great forum, but still am a novice and therefore not entirely sure of my choices.

I have a muscle wasting disease, and as such, have the strength of about a 10-year-old girl. I walk with a cane and walker. To solve the step and entrance issue to the trailer, I'm going to use a little stepstool as an adjunct. Also, an extra grab handle on the opposite side of the door. If anyone can think of anything else to help make the use of the trailer easier, please let me know!

Hubby and I don't anticipate Boondocking very much, my main intent is to use the trailer for RV campgrounds, and traveling down south to Snowbird for the winter. So, that involves a four or five day trip staying over night at the Flying J or Walmart parking lots, for example.

Finally, we are trying to keep the cost down as much as possible, and wish to be very frugal in our choices of options and modifications. We would like to only purchase what is necessary for safety and in keeping the trailer in good working order.

So with all of this in mind, could you give me any advice regarding our build sheet? I would appreciate your help so much!

The following is what we are thinking:

Modifications:
External fridge fan - (? Necessary? Why?)
Microwave
Two way hot water tank (necessary ?)
Winterizing T valve
Dual 6V batteries
Pre-wire for solar (purchase our own kit if necessary in the future?)
Surge protector
Removable power cord (? Advantages?)
Air conditioner with digital thermostat
TV cable ready with 120 V outlet (? Necessary? I don't anticipate watching much TV, except what is provided by cable at the campground. Will the wall be reinforced? How much added weight per wall?)
Extra insulation (? Not understanding benefits of frameless versus regular thermal windows)
Opening thermal window in bathroom
Power tongue jack
Cabinet door at end of bench(?)
Cot
Spray foam insulation under trailer
*** is the mattress supplied by ETI comfortable? Or should we get our own? (Such as; Serenia, Lucid, Dynasty Memory-foam mattresses).
Extra grab handle at door opening

Additional options: (unsure of many of these... Please advise as to what is necessary versus not, or advantage /disadvantage to having ETI supply these versus us doing so aftermarket)

Two filled propane tanks
Brake controller for vehicle
Equalizer hitch with sway control bar vs. E2? (which is better, more stable?)
Hitch lock, hitch wheel, leveling blocks, sand pads?
Shut-off valve for toilet
Sewer tube adapter
Water pressure regulator

Additional questions:
For future alterations, should we include any reinforcement of any walls for any reason?
regarding the mattress - What is the best way to avoid moisture/mold problems? Will Dri deck tiles be sufficient?
*** Can anyone think of anything else to modify or add, to render the trailer easier for me to use?

A huge thank you to you all!
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Old 05-04-2016, 02:35 PM   #2
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I bought a set of spa steps to help my wife getting into the 19. Handi step spa step from Amazon. Much more stable than a step stool. They are wide and sturdy and give you 3 equal steps to reach the trailer.
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Old 05-04-2016, 02:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
Additional options: (unsure of many of these... Please advise as to what is necessary versus not, or advantage /disadvantage to having ETI supply these versus us doing so aftermarket)

Two filled propane tanks
The trailer comes with two propane tanks anyway (they're in the Features list) - the only option is to have them filled for you, as part of the Starter Kit. This is just a minor convenience, but could save time on your orientation day, and would allow Escape staff to demonstrate the operation of propane-burning appliances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
Brake controller for vehicle
The Primus IQ listed as an Accessory is a perfectly good modern controller... but the controller is installed in the tow vehicle (not the trailer) so there's fundamentally no reason to have the trailer manufacturer put it in. If you have it done at home before you leave on your pickup trip, you can work with a local installer who will be available if you have any issues later, you can choose a different model if you want (the Prodigy P3 has the most display and control features of current conventional proportional controllers), and you can spend some time to find where you want it installed in your vehicle.

The Primus IQ is very close to being the previous version of the Prodigy, in a somewhat different case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
Equalizer hitch with sway control bar vs. E2? (which is better, more stable?)
Unfortunately Escape still insists of describing one of the weight-distribution systems they sell as an "Equalizer", even though they have never sold the actual Equal-i-zer brand product. The actual choices are described and compared in various discussions in this forum - try searching for "Fastway" (the manufacturer of the E2) and "Pro Series" (the brand name of the other WD system offered).

You can get this in advance, too, but since it must be installed on the trailer and set up for your trailer and tow vehicle combination, I can see a definite advantage of having that done by Escape and their hitch supplier (Trademasters) when you pick up the trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
Hitch lock, hitch wheel, leveling blocks, sand pads?
There's nothing special about their hitch lock, so you can look for one you like and get it before, from Escape, or after... whatever is convenient.

It seems like most people don't use the jack wheel (not hitch wheel, despite what Escape's web page says) wheel, but if you plan to use one getting from Escape means you get one that will definitely fit. If at all uncertain, you can easily just get it later.

You need some way to level the trailer side-to-side. Again there's nothing special about the blocks sold by Escape, but if it is convenient for you to have Escape supply them, why not? If you use a different type of leveler and have the foot pads on the stabilizer jacks then you don't really need blocks at all.

The "sand pads" are the "basepads" listed on Norco's BAL Accessories web page, in the version to go with the style of jacks on the trailer. They're a good idea for soft surfaces (which you can find even in a fully-serviced campground), and if you get them from Escape you get the right ones, presumably already installed for you, at a reasonable price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
... Water pressure regulator
Almost everyone agrees that using a water pressure regulator is a good idea to protect the trailer's plumbing and your hose from excessive pressure found in some campgrounds. Again there's nothing special about the one from Escape, although I'm sure it works as well as any other generic regulator.

I found that these things fail, can do strange things under some conditions (such as oscillating and causing excessive flow restriction), and don't tell you what pressure they are letting through or let you adjust that. I changed to using an adjustable regulator with a gauge (that link is to Camping World, but I didn't actually get mine there), which looks like overkill but works well every time. Again, this is the sort of stuff you can get in advance, or when you get the trailer, or later... from anyone who sells RV accessories.
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Old 05-04-2016, 03:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
If you use a different type of leveler and have the foot pads on the stabilizer jacks then you don't really need blocks at all.
I have the high-lift axle and need the blocks under the rear stabilizers or they won't even reach the ground.
I use them under all four stabilizers to save cranking them down as far.
I also use them under the tongue jack when parked at home on my sloped driveway to level the trailer.
I actually have two sets of ten.
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Old 05-04-2016, 03:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
I have the high-lift axle and need the blocks under the rear stabilizers or they won't even reach the ground.
I use them under all four stabilizers to save cranking them down as far.
I also use them under the tongue jack when parked at home on my sloped driveway to level the trailer.
I actually have two sets of ten.
Good point - for those who have a suspension lift, or other reasons to run out of jack travel. This would be rare if ever for someone with stock suspension height using serviced campgrounds and parking lots.
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Old 05-04-2016, 05:13 PM   #6
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You mention the word frugal a lot. My idea of frugal is a lot different from your options listed. I would not have any options and struggle to decide if I could afford the A/C or not. If not, I would camp accordingly with the stock roof fan to save even that money. Even more frugal than that would be to not purchase at all right now and wait for the exchange rate to go down. Even more frugal than that, Glenn mentions the other fiberglass forum and a member there who thinks owning trailer tires are a hassle. Everyone has a different definition of that word.
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Old 05-04-2016, 06:45 PM   #7
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Everyone has a different definition of that word.
That's true but I know multi-millionaires who I would call frugal. My definition isn't that a person can't afford something, it's that they don't want to buy something they don't really need. They want the most bang for the buck.

Could I suggest to the OP that a more effective way to get answers is to post smaller amounts of questions. Break up the request into different types of equipment etc. It's a rare forum member that will systematically answer every single question in such a large batch.

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Old 05-04-2016, 07:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
Escape 19' 2017 build sheet -


Additional questions:
For future alterations, should we include any reinforcement of any walls for any reason?
.
.
*** Can anyone think of anything else to modify or add, to render the trailer easier for me to use?
I would reinforce any interior walls -- now -- wherever you might want to install a "grab-bar" in the future. When we bought our rig, the reinforced walls were $25 apiece. It will be easier and probably cheaper than reinforcing the walls after you get the trailer.

You might also want to consider Umbra hooks installed on those reinforced walls. It'll be handier to grab a nearby hanging item rather than walking across the trailer and digging it out of storage. You can buy these hooks from, say, Amazon and take them with you on delivery day. I would ask ETI, but I'll bet they'd install them for you.
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Old 05-04-2016, 07:13 PM   #9
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Addie, while we don't have our trailer (yet!), I can hopefully answer some of your questions. Answers in red after your comments.

Also, I was thrilled to read in another thread that you did order a trailer. I mentioned it on that thread, but you might have missed my comment. So, once again - yay on ordering an Escape trailer. I know you weren't having much luck finding a used one that would suit your needs, so I hope the one you order will.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
I walk with a cane and walker. To solve the step and entrance issue to the trailer, I'm going to use a little stepstool as an adjunct.

Besides the 3-step already mentioned, have you looked into some sort of ramp instead? Might be easier than steps. Maybe someone can make one with rough tread stuff on it that can fit over the door frame. Talk to ETI about some dimensions.


So, that involves a four or five day trip staying over night at the Flying J or Walmart parking lots, for example.

Don't forget casino parking lots! However, you may not have hookups, so you'll want to take that into consideration. I also recently read an article about how parking for truckers is getting more and more limited in many parts of the country and they're not very happy when an RVer takes up space at a truck stop. Plus, do you really wanna listen to those diesels all night? I know I don't! Nor do I wanna smell 'em. Yuck.


Modifications:
External fridge fan - (? Necessary? Why?)

When I was at ETI last month I asked Reace about this and he said the new frig they're using doesn't have any sort of internal fan so it needs the external fan, especially if you're going to be in hot temperatures. I don't know if it's needed if you're not - you'll have to ask ETI about that.


Microwave

Although I use the microwave a lot at home to heat stuff up, I opted not to get it in our trailer as I'd prefer the cabinet storage space. If I decide later on to get one, I can find small ones on Amazon or elsewhere for less than what ETI will charge me. It just won't be hooked into the cabinet like how they install it, which is fine by me. There's an electrical plug-in in the cabinet and that doesn't change if you don't get the microwave. And if you don't get the cabinet, they install a cabinet door (there isn't an additional charge for the door).


Winterizing T valve

I was told by others on this list this option makes it easier to winterize the trailer. If it makes life easier for me, it was added to our build sheet.


Removable power cord (? Advantages?)

I went back and forth on this and there's been many discussions on this forum about this option. I opted not to get it when I read that someone was having problems getting it to connect together. I have tendonitis and not a lot of strength in my hands. And Dirk won't always be traveling with me in the trailer. So, I figured I'd have problems with it. However, lots of people don't have problems. So, take my decision thinking however you want.


Extra insulation (? Not understanding benefits of frameless versus regular thermal windows)

The extra insulation is put in the walls. It's some sort of sheet of insulation (forget the name). There's also insulation they spray under the trailer. If you're not going in extreme hot and cold locations you may not need it, as many on this forum have commented on. Look at your needs and decide based on that. I got both as I plan to vend at craft shows throughout the year and figured the temperatures can vary widely.

Re: the windows: For frameless, you'll see just the dark grey window pane from the outside - look at the majority of the stick build trailers and RVs - they use frameless windows. There are frames; they're on the inside. The frameless windows have awning style windows where they open out from the bottom and you can leave them open while it's raining and not get the rain inside (well, depending on how badly it's raining and which way the wind is blowing, I'd imagine). The non-frameless (the type ETI has used for years) have sliders so they open from side to side, and you wouldn't wanna leave those open when it's raining. For the frameless, the back window will open and it's split into two separate windows; it won't on the other style.


*** is the mattress supplied by ETI comfortable? Or should we get our own? (Such as; Serenia, Lucid, Dynasty Memory-foam mattresses).

Lots of discussion on this on the forum. That's a decision only you and your husband can make, regardless of what others say. I didn't like it, so we're not getting it and we got a Select Comfort bed for The Trailer. However, they're not cheap, so if you're being frugal, you won't want to go that route. I'd suggest that you stick with their bed, unless you have a strong preference for a certain style of mattress (like I do). You can always add a memory foam or egg-carton style foam topper if you feel you need it. You can get the egg-carton styles for pretty cheaply at various locations.


Additional options: (unsure of many of these... Please advise as to what is necessary versus not, or advantage /disadvantage to having ETI supply these versus us doing so aftermarket)

Hitch lock, hitch wheel, leveling blocks, sand pads?

We ordered the sand pads as they can be installed by the factory and we don't have to crawl around under the trailer to do it ourselves. However, there were other items we didn't order through them as ETI is charging way more than I can purchase elsewhere (such as Amazon, etc). Find out what model/style number ETI is using on the items you're thinking of and start comparing prices. That will help in your decision making.


Shut-off valve for toilet

We got this as it'll be a huge help if the toilet springs a leak. and I imagine this is something that will be easier for ETI to install during the build as opposed to later on. And it might cost more. We also looked at whether it was easier on us for ETI to install items as opposed to us doing it. And if we weren't keen on doing it ourselves (usually so).


Additional questions:
For future alterations, should we include any reinforcement of any walls for any reason?

If you're going to install something like a TV mount, you'll probably need it.

regarding the mattress - What is the best way to avoid moisture/mold problems? Will Dri deck tiles be sufficient?

Not familiar with this product, so can't tell ya. We got a bunch of the marine hypervent material to put under and around the bed and the dinette cushions.


*** Can anyone think of anything else to modify or add, to render the trailer easier for me to use?

We got the storage box at the front. It seems most folks get this and it's a great place to store things like the chalks and other stuff that you don't want to store in your trailer or tow vehicle. It's expensive, so you'll need to decide where you're going to store those items and if it's worth the cost to you.

A huge thank you to you all!
Another thing to consider when you're deciding on your options. If you think you'll need it and it's easier to have done during the build, then add it on. Some things can't be added later, such as the extra insulation in the walls. I imagine the spray-on insulation underneath can be added later, but it might cost more done by ETI (if you're in their neck of the woods, that is) or by someone else. Reinforced walls must be done during the build.

Good luck with all your decisions!
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Old 05-04-2016, 07:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I would reinforce any interior walls -- now -- wherever you might want to install a "grab-bar" in the future. When we bought our rig, the reinforced walls were $25 apiece.

You might also want to consider Umbra hooks installed on those reinforced walls. I would ask ETI, but I'll bet they'd install them for you.
It's now $100 per reinforced wall. And good idea for getting that if grab bars will be installed. It's 25 bucks for ETI to install the Umbra hooks (customer supplied) during the orientation. I don't know if that's per hook or a one-time fee, as we didn't opt for that.
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