Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Passport 217exp - Modification Summary

This journey with our Passport 217exp all started back in August 2015, when we traded in our first Popup and took delivery.  A sad, and exciting, day all at the same time.  Since then I continue to tinker on the camper making things better for us as this is our long term solution for camping.  One Bed, Two Beds, Three Beds,.. so much flexibility for my wife and I, or all the kids, or kids and friends.

To see the modifications we have done to the 217, you can click thru the history on the right side of the page, or you can follow each link here below to go directly.  If you hold the CTRL key when you click on the link it will open in a new tab so you don't lose this page.

  1. Why we chose the 217
  2. Pre-purchase Inspection Findings
  3. Basic Initial Additions - Battery Disconnect, Reverse Lights Part 1, Other basics
  4. New Additions - Door Handle, Oven Cover, Electrical Trick, Awning Support, LP Switch Access
  5. Winterizing Tips - Using Air to blow out the lines
  6. Rear Hatch Strut - No more holding up with your Head!
  7. Backup Lights - Part 2 - Wheel Well LEDs when in Reverse 
  8. Popup Gizmos for the bunks to keep them cooler and cleaner
  9. Kitchen Backsplash with super easy sticky tile from Home Depot
  10. Kitchen Outlet and Fantastic Fan Installation
  11.  MaxAir Vent Cover on Fantastic Fan
  12. Black and Grey Flush Tank Kits - A very nice addition for that 'job'
  13. Pantry LED lights, just 5 minutes! and $17
  14. Boogie Lights LED Awning Light system
  15. Plumbing fixture upgrades - Bathroom and Kitchen
So,... what will I think of next  :-)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Plumbing Fixture Upgrades

Reasons for upgrading,.... we will be keeping this camper for the long haul,... haha,.. get it!?  And little investments like this will be nice to have.  The bathroom sink drove everyone crazy with the short spout it just made it difficult to really wash up or even brush your teeth.  Many times we have talked about replacing that.  The kitchen was more of a finish factor than a need.  The tall bent spout was loose and couldn't be tightened, at least that I could figure out.  It was made of plastic and definitely wasn't going to last for many years to come.  So, once we found a faucet that we liked for the bathroom we used that as a basis for the finish and form of the kitchen.

Bathroom Sink, notice the short spout

Kitchen

Bathroom was a simple upgrade as it was installed with PEX threaded connectors which are standard for faucets.  Reaching up behind the basin, I could just undo these and then reach the threaded on clamp rings for the faucet.  Undo those, and out came the old fixture.  A few minutes later after cleaning the counter the new fixture fit right into the standard holes and I could just thread on the new bracket and then re-connect the thread on PEX lines.  Literally it only took about 10 minutes total.




The kitchen would take a little longer.  The fixture that we have in the camper already was similar to the bathroom with thread on connections, but the new fixture we purchased had the need for a 3/8" compression fitting.  Since I have done the plumbing in my house I had two 1/4 turn shut off valves already for PEX and the output was the standard 3/8",... coincidence!  So, rather than type it out here I have a short video showing the final configuration for this installation.


Water connected and everything tested,... no leaks.  We will get a better review of this upgrade on our next trip in June after the kids are out of school.  Hard to believe another school year is nearing completion already.

Friday, May 5, 2017

2017 - Trip #1 - Little Red Barn, Quakertown, PA

Hooray!!  First weekend outing with the family and the camper is now completed!  We made a short hop with the camper over to a favorite little spot when we had our popup, Little Red Barn Campground.  This used to be a tent camping facility and the owners have made some improvements over the years to get it better situated for RVs and even some Class As.  But, be sure to bring along an extra 25' water hose or electric line to supplement your normal setup, as many of the sites still have crossed services making you scratch your head for where to place your camper for the best fit to both services.
Standing on Site 74, looking at our site on 73.  Needed 50' of water hose this time.
We were on one of the pull thru sites, #73 this time, which makes you face back the other direction when in line with the other campsites.  This is a little odd, but this time we didn't have anyone on 74 which we would have been directly facing.  #72 is a big pull thru for the larger campers which was also vacant for this weekend.  Setup was rather easy as the site was pretty flat and only required boards under the door side and the height front to back was just right after cranking up off the truck hitch.  Winds were light, so we could leave the awning open and hang our globe light, but more importantly give the LED awning a try.  WOW, those things are BRIGHT!  Since we faced towards other campers I toned them down a few clicks and put on a nice light blue.

The Night Setup 

First Camp S'Mores of the season!  New table with drink holders and Hershey's S'More box!
 Saturday was a relaxing morning and the girls made some new friends at the site a few down from us.  A family new to camping with two daughters.  We all went to the craft for the day which was Pine Cars for the Pine Car Derby later in the evening.  Just the basic kit, the wedges or blocks could be painted and wheels assembled, but to our girls they still thought it was cool.  They each did one car with their own characteristic style.

Ally's Croc, Madie's Snoopy Racer, Bella's #23 (year she graduates)
 After craft, we let all the kids play together again and the dad and I threw some washers while the ladies talked a little.  Found out, he worked for the airlines managing some of the ground crews for nearly 19 years, and he had 17 hrs in training for his Private Pilot before his kids came along.  We chatted a little about aviation and my current flying gig, the Paramotor.  Then, the kids made some noise and came running over saying Ally caught it!  What?  A Frog,... a big frog!  She named him "Bob", which is her current must name everything name.
Internet, Meet Bob.
Shortly after dinner it was time to go and race against the other kids in the Pine Car Derby.  A few rounds of racing in the bracket and the numbers were dwindling.  Bella was called again to race and we found out she won 3rd Place!!  For the one that wasn't super excited, she was now!

Our Globe Light with Camper inserts

Finally a good picture of Rob!

Bella is starting to like Cooking


Each season gets off to a different start.  Sometimes we have everything together and even some extras, and others,... well, we need to make a list.  Becky thought it would be fun to remind me that I forgot the bedding on our trip to Assateague two years ago and we had to purchase it all at Walmart.  At least we did with the new camper colors in mind.  So, here is our list to pack for next trip, where we will be in the woods of Lancaster PA for 4 nights.
Only a few things  :-)

Till next time,...

Happy Camping!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Boogie Lights Awning LED Lighting System

The newer 2016 model of our Passport 217 camper has an LED Awning light rather than a porch/patio amber light.  Our camper has the patio light which is really nice for when we are in a dark wooded campground to leave on at night in case we have to get back from BINGO or just relaxing by the fire.  The LED awning lights are sometimes a little bright at the campgrounds.

Enter the Boogie Lights LED Awning system.  These are available online and also on Amazon, isn't just about everything, and these have more options than a stock system.  These LEDs can change color, and have adjustable brightness, as well as sequences if you would like.  We planned to add these last year but things got in the way so I figured I would order them this year early before the season started so I would have some time to properly get them installed the way I wanted.  The instructions were very clear and even had many tips and tricks to help the installation go smoothly.  So,... grab a drink and watch below.

Pre-planning is always an important part of any project, even more so when looking to wire thru a camper walls and cabinetry.



The Installation begins with cleaning the camper well and then mounting the LED strip with 3M Adhesion promoter as well as high strength 3M tape.

I managed to even get some help on this project!  It is definitely a two person project to carefully clean the camper and also to support the LED.  You need to be sure it doesn't get twisted or kinked, as well as not to add tension to it when installing it.

Wire through the wall, with a slack loop.


Wiring things up inside took some time, but it turned out great and I'm very happy with it.  Here is a video of the installation path of the wires.


Cleaned up Switch Wiring inside the cabnets

Completed Switch Panel Installed


The Final Result!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

KULED Pantry Lighting

Quick and easy addition to the pantry area of the camper today!

I saw some discussion about these little LED lights on the Keystone camping forums and thought I would give it a shot.  For a few dollars on Amazon, you can purchase a 3 pack of these LED light bars that have an integrated motion sensor.  These will act like those motion lights you turn on at the frozen food section of the grocery aisle as you walk past.  Simply mounted with a magnetic strip that 3M tape adhears to the cabinet wall, they provide a nice light to the inside of the pantry to help you find that package of hot coco mix!

Here is a quick little video of the install and how they work.  ( Click here if you have trouble with video )




You can order them on Amazon at this link here: ( CLICK HERE )

More to come soon!

Monday, April 3, 2017

April is here!! Camper is UNCOVERED!

Here we are!  2017 and it is a April.  We finally got through the ups and downs of the February and March weather patterns, including a late March snow, and can finally uncover the camper in preparation for our first camping trip!

The camper cover has had to put up with a lot of heavy winds this winter and the rain gutters are wearing on the cover, with one of the corners developing a small tear.  This happened similar on our popup camper as the cover worn over front jack and we repaired using a canvas cover repair for a boat cover.  That held up really well and I think we will do the same here on all four corners.  To do so, I'll mark off the corners while I"m on the ladder before removing the cover.

Uncovered!!  All looks pretty good, but will check before our next rain.
Another thing that we wanted to accomplish this spring is to install an LED Strip of lights under the awning but in order to do so, I needed to hunt out the wiring route to get to the main switch panel above the sink where I can tap into the power supply for the 12V system easily.  Unfortunately, I removed the microwave (easily) and found some things that I can honestly say, are the first items of quality that I'm not pleased with in the camper.  Obviously, I'm going to fix this.
 
Microwave Outlet Loose in ceiling and over cut hole

Switch wires and splintered wood from the quick cuts that were made.
So here is our initial list of updates and repairs:
1) Front hitch light replacement
2) Microwave outlet proper securing and new wood support
3) Switch control area cleaned up
4) LED Awning light installation and wire route, fused line, and new switch to the wall
5) LED pantry lighting
6) Repair of the Grey Water Flush tank fitting



 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Happy 2017!!

Here we are, in another winter just after the New Year.  This year wasn't going to have a lot of camping, as we were planning to be on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas with the kids in August,... but, as life would have it, our roof on our house just kept getting worse.  So, we cancelled our cruise (got the refund back in full too since we had the time and travel insurance) and selected a contractor to replace our aging and failing roof on the house.  After the past 3 years of work on the house renovating and cleaning things up, to much risk involved in trying to get through another year with the leaking we have had increasing.

So,... instead of this,.....


We got this,......



A cruise will happen in the future when we can save back up for the trip.  Projecting Summer of 2019, so we can go with some friends.

So, while that took place, we emailed and called friends about camping opportunities and calendar openings to try and coordinate some fun times this year. I hope to fill the calendar with a few more dates and possibly a Passport 217 Rally Weekend if we can get schedules to align.  I know of two other 217 owners just in our local area.

So far, we have the following scheduled.  (no particular order, just how I remember them at the moment)

  • Little Red Barn, Quakertown, PA (2 nights)
  • Lake In Wood, Narvon, PA (4 nights) ** Near Shady Maple :-)
  • Assateague State Park, Maryland (6 nights - Dry Camping)
  • Lake Glory Campground @ Knoebels, Elysburg, PA (3 Nights - Summer) (3 Nights - Fall)
  • Mountain Springs Campground, Shartlesville, PA (2 Nights)

So, that's a total of 20 Nights camping, with still lots of multiple week gaps in our schedule.

Also, another winter season gets us thinking about a few minor things we want to add or fix up on the camper.  Besides regular maintenance items that we will have to check in the spring (roof seals, windows, screens, etc.)  we would like to add an LED light strip below our awning.  The newer productions of our model year did away with the amber porch light and have an LED strip, which is nice, but also we like our porch light.  So if we add a LED strip it will give us the best of both worlds for our camping experience.

That's it for now,... back to work.  Counting the days till April!