Shakedown Knowledge / Maiden Voyage Lessons

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Shakedown Knowledge / Maiden Voyage Lessons

Postby McGuffin » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:50 am

Hi There,

Would you any of you like to share your Shakedown Knowledge / Maiden Voyage Lessons?

We’ve just completed a 3,500 kilometre month long trip around France on our new teardrop - here’s a link to our build viewtopic.php?f=50&t=59456 and I thought it would be a good idea to put up a few key lessons I learned …. here goes:

1. I should have tested for leaks. I had big trouble with Fantastic Fan sealing and Hurricane Hinge leaks. I should have tested ofr leaks before I left and tested again just to be sure! Here is my sad running repairs with gaffer tape (that worked OK) that I have to sort out now that I'm home (any suggestions for fixing are welcome):



2. I should have expected to travel slowly. I learned that it is better to travel slowly … everything moves much better, it’s safer and I got further on a tank of gas – eventually averaging 39 MPG (US).

3. I should have thought more about privacy. One disadvantage of a teardrop I found is that when you open the door in the morning you are “on display”. This is not such a big problem if you are boondocking, but we stay in campsites and it is an issue. For my next trip, I plan to buy a 15’ Coleman Event tent with three doors and a solid canvas wall and basically park the thing inside of it.


This will have the added benefit of keeping everything drier in the Irish summer rain (see point 1). Here is a sketch-up of what I envisage:



4. I should have organized my car packing better. After a few days of rolling through France on our maiden voyage I found it hard to keep things organized in the car. This problem is compounded by the fact that because of weight restrictions (I can only pull 750kgs in total because the trailer is unbraked … I’m not complaining here … that is what I wanted to do …to build something maintenance free and simple … but it meant that the car was loaded). Sorting this out will need more thought … I’ll probably invest in a roof box.

5. I should have just brought stuff that I knew I would use (see point 4!). I brought very little clothes … but only used half of them. I heard a round the world motorcyclist say one time about packing that he tries to "... [bring items that do more than one thing”…that is good advice.

6. I needn’t have worried so much about security. I was basically camping in campgrounds so it was all OK.

7. I found that small battery rechargeable LED reading lights and cabin lights work great. They lasted for 3 weeks on one charge and worked great every time.

8. I should have bought a couple of cheap rubber doormats for use outside each door.

9. I should also have brought a pair of rubber “gardening” clogs for the campsite rather than shoes.

10. With regards to cooking and kitchen. My little 9v fridge worked great, I’m going to bring a small icemaker next time (buying bulk ice in France is difficult and gin and tonics without ice are not nice) and I want to bring some kind of electric stove and that I can use on shore power without blowing fuses.

If I had of known some that stuff beforehand I would have had a better time. Since this is the kind of info you can only learn “on the road” I am not beating myself up about it - we had a great time.

The most important thing I brought? ....a roll of gaffa tape ;)

Modification I'd most like to make? ....I'd like to be able to get the fantastic fan running very slowly and silently so we could keep it on all night in hot weather.

Has any body else got some shakedown wisdom they’d like to share? :pipe:


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Re: Shakedown Knowledge / Maiden Voyage Lessons

Postby tony.latham » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:47 am


3500 K is a heck of a shakedown cruise.

I had big trouble with Fantastic Fan sealing and Hurricane Hinge leaks.

Someone once said that the first thing you do with a Fantastic fan is to throw away the seal that comes with it. I use butyl tape and then caulk the edges with a clear polyurethane sealant. No leaks since I installed it in 2013.

The only time my hurricane hinge leaks is when it is nearly level. Water flowing to the rear hits the hinge and starts to run off the overhang --but the surface tension causes it to run under the hinge and inside.

I solved this by gluing an inch of bead-chain to the edge to guide the water off. I think it works.


Privacy? Here's last week's camp. The only neighbors we had were coyotes and pronghorns.



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Re: Shakedown Knowledge / Maiden Voyage Lessons

Postby gudmund » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:01 pm

156749 If you have a leak-it needs to fixed!! -but something I use, is a Max-Air cover over the top of the air vent, at first, I didn't care much for the look but after awhile I got used to it and when it comes to 'function', function out ways looks - having this cover on works great!! even when it's raining out, I can have my vent open and it is very easy to remove for cleaning. just :thinking: (also even if I forget to close it - no rain gets in) something to think about...............
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Re: Shakedown Knowledge / Maiden Voyage Lessons

Postby KTM_Guy » Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:00 pm

That is a really great post. We have started to use our teardrop and have slept 12 nights so far. We are still calling them shake down trips and will do the main voyage in the fall. We camp mostly like Tony and have only camped in real campgrounds twice. And privacy was a concern.

Years ago our ice maker broke in the fridge and we bought a counter top ice maker till we could get it fixed. It took forever to make ice. Not something I would want to do while camping but ice is not a problem to buy here. We have a 12v fridge/freeze we camp with and can make ice in that over night.

We never camp where there is AC power (so far) but if I did I would use and 2 burner induction cooktop. I think that would be the way to go. They can be had for $40-50 for no frills ones or there are very high end ones that give you tons of control. We already have induction ready cookware in the camper.

The door mats are a must, and I have Crocs for around the campground. I also like them for long drive days. But my daughters say I can't wear them in public.

We try to not take stuff we would loose sleep over if it got stolen, except the photo gear that lives in the Jeep.

I like that Coleman tent, not sure if it would work for us. Can't wait to see how it works for you.

Can't help with the water issues, we went with a Maxair and a piano hinge plus I live in the desert so we don't see much rain. It's been a few months since we had rain.

I'm going to pick up a roll of duct tape this weekend for the camp gear bin. :thumbsup:

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Re: Shakedown Knowledge / Maiden Voyage Lessons

Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:54 am

I always recommend 'maiden voyages' be close to home (ours after major modifications is about twenty minutes away), and Take tools.
We have a strip of rubber roof over the galley hatch hinge.
Slowing the FF down is a perennial problem and the solution is either a resistor (which wastes current) or a PWM (pulse width modulation) which does not. Knowing this ahead of time we have the FF hatch and no FF fan. I substituted two 120 mm Antec three speed case fans and a DPDT switch that lets me select two or one fan. I just replaced ours after ten years.
I went with tarps attache to Kedar rail on the tear.
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