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RV USER
REVIEW:
ARKANSAS:
AMERICA S
SIX PRODUCTS TO
ENHANCE YOUR
RV ADVENTURE
HIDDEN
GEM
WE TEST
GRAND
DESIGN RV
SOLITUDE 379FL
WINNEBAGO
VISTA 36Y
PLUS
Vol. 43 No. 7
$4.95
RV Tips
The Cooking Ladies
and much more!
1121 Invicta Dr., Unit 2, Oakville, ON L6H 2R2
Publications Mail Agreement #40010957
EIGHT GREAT
DIESELS
TO GET YOUR
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©2014 Winnebago Industries, Inc.
Contents
FEATURES
36 AMERICA’S HIDDEN GEM
DEPARTMENTS
6 HITCH HINTS
~ Andy Thomson
Andy discusses and tests electronic sway control
systems.
~ Craig Ritchie
Explore South-western Arkansas and everything
it has to offer.
ROAD TESTS
24 GRAND DESIGN SOLITUDE 379FL
10
18
Visit the grand Peabody Hotel in Memphis,
Tennessee to take in a unique tradition.
A beautiful design and optimum functionality
highlight this fifth wheel.
WINNEBAGO VISTA 36Y
~ Norm Rosen
With its series of luxurious features, the Vista is a
Family friendly touring Class A.
COOKING LADIES
~ Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay
~ Norm Rosen
30
RV TIPS ~ Garth Cane
GM rolls out the 2015 Yukon and Suburban.
42
RV USER REVIEW:
Six RV-friendly products to enhance your touring
experience this season.
ON THE COVER
Be sure to check out our test on the luxurious Grand
Design RV Solitude 379FL fifth wheel featured on
page 25.
Photo by Norm Rosen/RVL
Arkansas is the only
diamond-producing site in
North America, and perhaps
the world, that is open to
the public and so easily
accessible. See page 36
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Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
3
Publishers MESSAGE
It’s RV
Touring
Time!
volume 43 number 7
Publisher: WILLIAM E. TAYLOR
bill@rvlifemag.com
Associate Publisher: MELANIE TAYLOR
melanie@rvlifemag.com
Editorial Director: NORM ROSEN
nrosen@rvlifemag.com
Editor: STEVE FENNELL
steve@rvlifemag.com
Technical Editor: GARTH CANE
W
ith the warm weather
just over the horizon,
RV enthusiasts across
Canada are shifting
into high gear to plan
their adventures for the spring and summer seasons.
At RV Lifestyle Magazine we like to
kick the year off with a few short trips to
the warmer destinations, and then settle in
to a pattern of discovering the many sights
and attractions of Canada. In this issue
we feature one of our favourite southern
destinations – Arkansas, a state that many
Canadians drive past on their way to the
sunbelt – but our travel specialist Craig
Ritchie suggests that for a wide range of
outdoor sporting activities, this is one of
the hidden gems of North America.
When it comes to planning a trip,
many of our readers map the shortest
or fastest route from their home base to
their destination, without taking the time
to explore the many attractions along
the route. Our Road Test teams look at
their travel schedules from a different
perspective, researching the interesting
destinations that are located just a few
miles off the typical routes, and planning
side-trips to explore the historic and scenic attractions that transform a long RV
journey into a true family adventure.
We had the pleasure of meeting many
of our readers at the recent wave of RV
shows across Canada, and we will be
incorporating some of their suggestions
into the coming issues of the magazine. If
you have ideas on interesting destinations,
4
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
or questions on the care and enjoyment of
an RV, please let us know – reach us at
info@rvlifemag.com or visit one of our
social media sites.
If this is your first encounter with RV
Lifestyle Magazine, we thank you for
sharing your leisure time with us. If you
enjoyed your reading experience, please
take a minute to check out our special
subscription packages, featured on page
41 in this issue.
As Canada’s leading RV publication
for more than 40 years, we have a wealth
of information to share with readers –
many of our favourite destination features and RV tips columns are available
on the website at www.rvlifemag.com
– but there is so much more to enjoy RV Lifestyle Magazine subscribers have
FREE access to our growing library of
digital editions – now encompassing
more than 25 complete issues. If you are
a subscriber who has not yet discovered
this multi-media portal to RV adventures, please drop Norm an e-mail at
editor@rvlifemag.com and request your
access information.
Enjoy the issue – I will look forward to
seeing you on the RV roads to adventure!
William E. Taylor,
Publisher
Visit our website at
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Hitch HINTS
by Andy Thomson
Testing Electronic
Sway Control
A unique system
that allows extreme
maneuverability for
your trailer when you
need it.
With the two high center of gravity vehicles
we used for testing, you’ll notice the trailer is
still leaning to the right (from turning around
the last cone) while the tow vehicle is already
leaning to the left for the next one.
6
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
n the 1970s Airstream and Holiday
Rambler were the best selling, highend trailers. The Airstream was
similar to today’s Airstream, while a
Holiday Rambler was a conventional,
square trailer with better construction
and appointments. It also had a suspension system that rode smooth, but did
nothing for handling. Consequently,
if you wanted a trailer that handled
well and towed easy you bought an
Airstream. If you wanted a trailer with
maximized interior space you bought a
Holiday Rambler.
In order to answer the handling
objection, Holiday Rambler resorted to
the expertise of manufacturer KelseyHayes to develop an automatic braking system that would actuate the
I
trailer brakes on the right and left side
only. This unit was about one-foot in
diameter, 16 inches tall and had to be
mounted at the center-rear of the trailer. Essentially, it was a pendulum that
detected side-sway in order to apply
the individual trailer brakes. While the
system worked if you were in serious
trouble, it did nothing to improve driving feel the rest of the time. It was also
very expensive, so few people selected
the option.
Today, electronic systems are made
much smaller and less expensive. Last
year, Tuson RV Brakes, a company that
manufactures several high-end braking
components for trailers, introduced a
modern version of electronic sway control. The unit is a small 4x6-inch box,
continued on page 8
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Hitch HINTS continued from page 6
which is located on the trailer chassis
eight feet behind the ball and the cost is
much less, only $499. It can be installed
on any trailer with electric brakes in
three to five hours.
I feel tall trailers is where this technology is most likely to save the day.
So, to test the system we selected a
34-foot Tracer trailer weighing 7,200
pounds with opposing slide outs.
We connected the trailer to a
Mercedes GL SUV that has been modified for towing. The modifications
amounted to strengthening the hitch
receiver and changing the tires to a more
optimal size. For a large SUV, this is
a quick handling vehicle that delivers
pretty good feedback. It also has a fairly
sophisticated electronic stability program. For specific purposes of the test,
we ran wires from the right and left trailer brakes to two lights mounted on the
windshield, so we could see when the
unit was actuating.
We generally do two tests for handling. The first is to run through a 100foot slalom course (set out by using traffic cones) and the second is a series of
sudden lane changes, using two 12-foot
lanes with a 50-foot opening. One concern I had was that the system might
be too sensitive and intrusive when
not needed. However, it ran smoothly
through the slalom and never actuated.
During the lane change, the trailer
swung out and took out a few cones, and
then the system briefly actuated to line it
back up. There was no secondary swing.
Next, we took the combination out
on the open part of the track, which
doubles as a runway. We had a convertible running in front with a cameraman
On two wheels and still in complete control thanks to electronic sway control
shooting back at the combination and
another camera man in the Mercedes to
video the lights.
On the track, I yanked the wheel one
way and then before the trailer could
completely change direction, I yanked
it back the other way. This will cause
almost any trailer to start to sway and
a tall trailer such as the Tracer will
tend to continue to sway. Even in the
vehicle, it was a very abrupt maneuver
despite being belted in.
Although, the cameraman braced
himself, he could not hold the camera in position on the lights. However,
when we stopped to look at the footage
it was almost boring as the sway control system took out all the drama.
I thought, well if this is going to
look like anything, I am going to have
to really toss it hard. I kicked the cameraman out so I would not put him at
The Mercedes handles the big Tracer nicely with a proper set up of the hitch. You’ll notice
how close the ball is to the bumper and the correct ball mount angle.
8
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
risk and not worry about a camera flying around. On this run, I pushed it so
hard at one point that some of our staff
watching from 300 feet away said they
could see the whole white roof of the
trailer. In the video you can see the
smoke come off the left trailer tires
where they locked-up when actuated
by the system. In the car, I felt like I
had complete control and the video still
looks nowhere near as dramatic as the
experience was.
I was very impressed with the
results and suggested to some industry
leaders that they should make it standard on all travel trailers. That is not
likely to happen, but the system is well
worth considering for anyone that does
substantial towing. I certainly would
not have been able to do what I did
without it. Even someone with far less
towing experience than I have could
also do it.
Like the system of the 1970s you
will rarely, if ever, feel it actuate in
normal driving circumstances. It will
only be noticeable in an extreme
maneuver. In that instant, it can save
your trailer and tow vehicle. It’s similar to your car’s air bag system - you
hope you never need it but should the
occasion arise, you will be very glad
it’s there. This system doesn’t replace
a proper hitch set up or conventional
sway controls, but think of it like a belt
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RV TIPS
by Garth Cane
Towing Smart
With GM’s SUVs
General Motors rolls
out the red carpet
for 2015 with the
impressive Yukon
and Suburban.
The Suburban incorporates new technologies to include radar, which contributes to
360 degrees of crash avoidance and occupant protection.
10
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
eneral Motors has made a
commitment to improving the
quiet ride in the Yukon and
Suburban for 2015. With new inlaid
doors fitted into the body side openings instead of over the top of the body,
this significantly improves the quietness
of the interior cabin and contributes to
improved aerodynamics – an attribute
that helps the vehicles slip through the
air on the highway with less drag for
greater efficiency. What’s more, the
lightweight aluminum hood and lift
gate panels enhance efficiency through
reduced overall mass.
This is the 80th anniversary of the
introduction of the original Suburban
and the 12th generation of the venerable sport utility vehicle. It’s designed
for today’s active families who require
the ability to haul their RV or boat in
comfort as they travel across the country.
The Suburban continues to offer legend-
G
ary roominess, unmatched functionality,
connectivity and first-class amenities. A
more-efficient, direct-injected EcoTec3
powertrain coupled with improved aerodynamics combine to offer greater highway fuel efficiency based on GM testing
while preserving overall performance
and capability.
The Tahoe and Suburban incorporate new technologies to include radar,
which contributes to 360 degrees of
crash avoidance and occupant protection. Standard and available features
include Forward Collision Alert, Front
Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning,
Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic
Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Chevrolet’s Safety Alert Seat is available
and offers directional vibrations to alert
the driver about potential crash threats.
In the interior, premium materials and
enhanced ergonomics clearly define the
continued on page 12
RV TIPS
continued from page 10
The Yukon supports
up to six USB ports
and six power
outlets – including
a 110-volt threePremium materials and enhanced ergonomics clearly define the Tahoe’s blend of sophistication, craftsmanship and function.
prong outlet – to
support electronic
devices of all kinds.
The Suburban continues to offer legendary roominess, unmatched functionality, connectivity and first-class amenities.
Tahoe and Suburban’s blend of sophistication, craftsmanship and function. A
new instrument panel houses an available eight-inch colour touch screen radio
with next-generation MyLink connectivity and a secured storage bin behind the
motorized screen.
The Yukon supports up to six USB
ports and six power outlets – including a
110-volt three-prong outlet – to support
electronic devices of all kinds. The compartmentalized centre console is large
enough to store a laptop or iPad and
the suburban models have an available
rear-seat entertainment system with dual
screens and a Blu-ray DVD player.
We were able to test the new
Suburban and Yukon in true Canadian
12
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
travel conditions. Nine of us flew into
Gaspé, Quebec aboard a Beechcraft
King Air 100, a twin-engine turboprop
and at times we felt we were battling
waves of wind gusts as we flew into the
clouds. Gaspe Bay is considered to be
the second largest natural harbor in the
world. Surrounded by three of the most
beautiful salmon rivers in Quebec, fly
fishing is an important economic activity
for the region and attracts anglers from
across the world. Our base of operations
was the Hotel La Normandie in Percé
Village with a clear view of famous
Percé Rock. We drove through Forillon
National Park and along the seacoast
from Gaspe to Percé, down the coast
to Chandler and then back through the
rolling hills and forest for a lunch stop at
Auberge la Coin du Banc on Hwy 132.
The Yukon and Yukon XL feature
a standard 5.3L engine, rated at 355
horsepower (265 kW) and 383 lb.ft. of
torque (519 Nm) that enables a fuel efficiency rating of 14.9 L/100 km in the
city and 10.1 L/100km on the highway
on 2WD models – efficiency increases
nine percent on the highway and seven
percent in city driving, compared to previous models.
The Tahoe and Suburban’s standard
EcoTec3 5.3L V8 features state-of-theart technologies, including direct-injection, cylinder deactivation, continuously
variable valve timing and an advanced
combustion system, which is designed
to provide the most power, torque and
efficiency across a broad range of operating conditions.
“The GMC Yukon’s powertrain
represent the rare instance where more
power is delivered with less fuel consumption, giving customers the confidence of power on demand for any
situation and the benefit of greater efficiency,” said Sheryl Balsley, assistant
chief engineer for Small Block engines.
“The capability of the engines to instantly switch to four-cylinder mode, for
example, improves efficiency when less
power is required, but delivers full eightcylinder power whenever it’s needed.”
continued on page 14
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continued from page 12
With new inlaid doors fit into the body side openings (rather than over the top of the body)
this significantly improves the quietness of the interior cabin.
Of course, there’s ample storage in GM’s series of SUVs for 2015.
In certain light-load driving conditions, half of the injectors stop spraying
fuel, effectively turning the engine into a
V4 to help increase efficiency. This cylinder deactivation technology, also known
as Active Fuel Management, is standard.
It uses oil pressure, controlled by the
powertrain control module, to deactivate
the lifters on selected cylinders, closes the
valves for those cylinders, and seamlessly
reactivates the cylinders when the driver
demands greater power. This transition
14
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
takes less than 20 milliseconds and is virtually imperceptible.
The Yukon Denali and Yukon XL
Denali models feature an exclusive 6.2L
V8 that’s rated at 420 horsepower (313
kW) and 460 lb.ft. of torque (623 Nm).
No other full-size SUV offers as much
power and torque. Denali models have
a fuel efficiency rating of 16.2 L/100km
city / 11.4 L/100 kg highway (4WD
models) and the 6.2L V8 that’s exclusive to the Yukon Denali and Yukon XL
Denali delivers nearly 19 percent more
horsepower and about 20 percent more
torque. It shares the same architecture,
but features larger, 103 mm (4.06-inch)
cylinder bores, compared with the 5.3L’s
96 mm (3.78-inch) bores. However, the
6.2L has a “larger” camshaft that produces
more valve lift and greater duration – the
amount of time the valves are held open allowing the larger-displacement engine to
process the greater volume of air required
for more power at higher elevations.
During one section of the trip we
towed a 3500-pound Sea-Doo 230
Challenger jetboat on a trailer with the
Yukon, which has a tow rating of 8400
pounds and a 3.42 axle ratio. The 355
horsepower standard 5.3L engine with
383 lb.ft. of torque had no difficulty on
the steepest hills or pulling the boat out of
the steep launch ramps at low tide.
A Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission is paired with both
engines and contributes to efficiency with
reduced engine speed on the highway. It
also features TapShift control, Tow/Haul
mode and Auto Grade Braking.
The Yukon has all-speed traction,
with front coil-over-shocks, twin tube
shock absorbers and a 36mm hollow stabilizer bar. LTZ models have Magnetic
Ride Control. The rear suspension has
a solid axle with five-link location and
coil springs and a 28mm hollow stabilizer bar. Electric power-assisted rackand-pinion steering is standard and it has
power-assisted, four-wheel disc brakes
with ABS, vented Duralife front and rear
rotors. The second and third row seats
enhance cargo convenience including an
optional power folding feature.
The new four-wheel-disc brake system
with Duralife brake rotors offers up to
double the service life, along with brake
pedal revisions that improve pedal feel
to provide more-confident braking performance. Eighteen-inch standard wheels
are a half-inch wider to reduce tire flex
for improved cornering performance and
20- and 22-inch wheels are available.
Every retail GMC model (including the Yukon and Yukon XL full-size
SUVs) is now available in Denali luxury trim. Details on all GMC models are
available at www.gmc.gm.ca; on Twitter
at @GMCCanada; or at www.facebook.
com/gmccanada. Alto 1723
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RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
Inspire Your Creativity
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LX100
The Cooking LADIES
by Lamont Mackay
and Phyllis Hinz
The March of the
Peabody Ducks
This grand hotel is
a Memphis gem with
a unique tradition.
At precisely 11:00 a.m., we watched five
North American mallards march out of the
elevator to the fountain. Every day at 5 p.m.
the performers return to their roof top palace.
The first duck master coached the ducks
to parade to the fountain to the tune of Da
Sousa’s King Cotton March. The tradition
continues 80 years later.
18
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
very day, the Peabody Ducks
leave their palace on the roof of
the Peabody Hotel in Memphis,
Tennessee, waddle into an elevator,
descend to the main floor, and parade
along a red carpet to the hotel’s grand
fountain under the tutelage of Anthony
Petrina, the current Duck Master.
Anthony is fifth in line to be in charge of
everything duck related.
The March of the Peabody Ducks
began in the 1930s when the hotel general manager was a duck hunter. Live
duck decoys were legal at the time. Jack
Daniels was not legal but the manager
and his friends took it along on their hunting trips. Returning to the hotel after one
particular outing, the manager forgot to
leave his live decoys at the farm. Under
the influence of Jack Daniels, he snuck
the ducks into the hotel fountain for the
night. In the morning, he went down to
the lobby to find the ducks still paddling
contentedly in the fountain, entertaining
his hotel guests.
The general manager decided that as
long as guests were enjoying the ducks,
the ducks would stay. The first Duck
Master coached the ducks to parade to the
fountain to the tune of Da Sousa’s King
Cotton March. The tradition continues 80
years later.
At precisely 11:00 a.m., we watched
five North American mallards march out
of the elevator to the fountain. Every day
at 5 p.m., the performers return to their
rooftop palace.
Duck is not served on any of the
menus in the Peabody Hotel so there will
be no Duck à l’Orange in this column. We
recommend this easy recipe for Orange
Chicken Drumsticks. E
Please visit The Cooking Ladies’
website at www.thecookingladies.com
or email them at
info@thecookingladies.com
HOT ORANGE
CHICKEN
DRUMSTICKS
(Makes 2 to 3 servings)
We recommend this easy recipe for
Orange Chicken Drumsticks.
INGREDIENTS
6
2 tbsp (30 ml)
2 tbsp (30 ml)
2 tbsp (30 ml)
1 tbsp (15 ml)
1/2 tbsp (7.5 ml)
chicken drumsticks
orange juice
hot sauce
olive oil
orange marmalade
hot sauce
DIRECTIONS
Trim the drumsticks of any excess fat and
place them in a bowl.
Combine the orange juice, hot sauce, and
olive oil in a small bowl. Mix well.
Pour the marinade into a re-sealable plastic
bag or airtight container. Add the drumsticks
to the marinade and place in the refrigerator
for 12 to 24 hours.
Combine the orange marmalade and hot
sauce. Set aside.
Oil the barbecue grate and heat the barbecue
to medium-high.
Turn the heat to low and place the marinated
drumsticks on the grate.
Close the lid. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
Turn the drumsticks once or twice through
the cooking time and baste with the marmalade-hot sauce mixture.
If cooking with an oven, pre-heat to 350°
F (177° C). If using a frying pan, cook over
medium heat. In either case, cooking time
will be approximately 30 minutes.
No matter what the cooking method, the
drumsticks will be ready when the internal
temperature reaches 175° F to 180° F (80° C
to 82° C).
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to UHaU Lt·s OLNH a JHoJUaSKy cOass
on ZKHHOs
The travel possibilities are endless.
Contact us today at 1-888-ROADTREK (762-3873)
to Ànd out PoUH ZZZUoadtUHNcoP
%HcoPH a SaUt oI tKH RoadtUHN
IaPLOy and sHH IoU youUsHOI ZKy
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Letters
Choosing
Diesel Power
by Garth W. Cane
Responding to our
reader’s questions
and concerns.
Send us your
questions
Attention: Letters
RV Lifestyle Magazi
1121 Invicta Drive, Unit 2
Oakville, Ontario, L6H 2R2
or email
gcane@rvlifemag.com
20
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
Hi Garth,
We are looking at purchasing a fifth
wheel in the range of 13,000 pounds and a
¾-ton truck as a tow vehicle. The RAM is
one of the vehicles I am looking at (due to
the Cummings diesel reputation). During
my research, I noticed that the RAM
2500 equipped with a HEMI can also do
the job. With the higher price of diesel
fuel, maintenance cost, not to mention
the added $9,000 premium for the diesel,
should I consider the HEMI as an option?
Our plan is to park the trailer at a
campground for the summer months and
drive to Florida and stay at a campground
for three to four months, returning in the
spring. Is the added investment of a diesel
worth it considering as I will not be pulling the trailer on a regular basis?
I am asking this question because all
my research I have done so far on the
Cummings in particular points to problems due to lack of work for the diesel
engine (not being used as a workhorse but
rather as a city commuter). I understand
the torque difference may make my drive
(or anywhere else for that matter) more
enjoyable. However, I don’t want to run
into expensive repairs because I am using
the diesel engine for light duty work (simply driving around).
Is the difference in fuel economy that
much different? I understand this is a difficult question to answer, but I can’t find
anything anywhere that touches this subject directly. Your feedback would be
greatly appreciated.
Claude Sevard
Hi Claude,
The Ram is a very popular tow vehicle.
For RVers like yourself who won’t be
towing a lot of miles during the year,
the 2500 series with the Hemi is a great
choice. Diesels are an expensive option
that are worthwhile if you are towing
large toy haulers in mountain areas.
Diesels that are not worked very hard are
prone to problems with service. If your
fuel pump gave you trouble, it is a very
costly replacement. The diesel may help
you get up steep hills a bit easier, but on
a trip to Florida you would not notice the
savings in time.
_________________________________
Hi Garth,
As an owner of RVs only since 2007, we
traded our Daybreak in on a 2013 ACE
by Thor. I have not yet towed a vehicle
behind either RV. My question is about
the vehicle that we want to tow. It is a
1995 Honda Del Sol, front-wheel drive,
five-speed manual transmission.
It has very low mileage and has never
been winter-driven. Should this car be
towed on a dolly, or a trailer, or with all
wheels on the ground? My concern is the
wearing of original equipment on the car.
Some people tell me it’s no problem not
to use a dolly or trailer. What are your
thoughts? The reason for a two-seat car
like this is you don’t have to take anyone
else along shopping or sightseeing. If it is
towed four wheels down, then what do
I need? I read your column every issue
and appreciate the input you give to all
the questions you are asked. Thanks in
advance for your input and suggestions on
my situation.
Garry Mozes
Hi Garry,
Normally a vehicle with manual transmission is easy to tow with all four wheels
on the ground with no modifications. I
contacted Al Cahoon at Remco and he
agrees that your vehicle is safe to tow
four-wheels-down. Before towing, you
should shift the transmission through
all the gears and then shift from drive
continued on page 22
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Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
21
Letters
continued from page 20
to neutral before shutting off the engine.
Blue Ox offers several base plates to
attach your tow bar to the motorhome.
Civic BX2213; Accord (not V6) BX 2214;
Accord V6 BX2216; Passport BX2402;
and the Odyssey BX2215. The holes in the
base plate match holes in the car’s frame.
_________________________________
With a 50-amp power system in a motorhome or
large RV, there are two live 120 volt wires
connected to the outside world. Each line
provides current to operate different sections of the RV
Dear Garth,
We recently subscribed to your magazine
at the fall RV show in Toronto.
We received our first issue and are pretty
excited about buying our first RV. We
haven’t yet purchased it as we are still in
the searching stage and thought we could
get a little advice from the experts.
A four-season trailer is our number
one priority. We are looking for a “couples” trailer and are open to a travel trailer
or a fifth wheel – a four-sleeper or less
with a maximum outside length of 31 feet.
Money wise, we would like to keep it
under $50,000. We are concerned with
the height of a fifth wheel and fitting it
into the parks’ campsites. Should this
be a concern? Do you have any suggestions on four-season travel trailers or
fifth wheels so we can start looking in
the right direction? Thanks for any help
you can give us.
Toni-Lynn and Allen
trailers. The longer the length of the trailer, the more comfortable the layout is for
extended living, but there is more area
that the furnace has to heat. Many large
fifth wheels have two furnaces. Shorter
trailers are easier to manoeuvre in campgrounds, but you have less room for storage and to move around inside. There
is not much trouble with the height of
most-31 foot fifth wheels as the trees are
trimmed in most campgrounds.
With a 31-foot travel trailer, it’s wise
to tow with a larger SUV or a 4x4 truck,
although Andy Thomson of Can Am RV
Centre has had great success with several cars towing larger trailers. Today’s
trucks are more luxurious than some cars.
A fifth wheel trailer towed behind a truck
is actually shorter on the road than towing the same length of travel trailer since
part of the trailer overhangs the bed of
the truck. There are several RV Shows
this spring, so you can compare different
brands and layouts to find the best choice
for your family.
_________________________________
Hi Toni-Lynn and Allen,
One of the questions is what do you consider a four-season RV? Do you intend to
camp in the snow and below zero-weather
or are you interested in driving to the
sunny south travelling for a few days
through Ohio and other Northern states
before you arrive in nice weather?
Trailers have adequate insulation for
living for short times in cold weather, but
they are not intended for living for extended times in the cold. If you are buying
a fifth wheel, look for double-pane windows, these are not often found in travel
Dear Garth,
I always read your articles and letters
before getting to the rest of the magazine. Now, I find it necessary to get your
advice. We always have our motorhome
plugged in over the winter with two pest
deterrents plugged in and have not had
a problem. This year, however, we have
had three episodes of the Onan generator
making a clicking noise. The switch has
been turned off, but the light switch on the
genie continues to come on intermittently.
What are we missing? We bought a 50 to
15-amp cord that is attached to a heavy
Trailers have adequate insulation for
living for short times in cold weather, but they
are not intended for living for extended times in the
cold. If you are buying a fifth wheel, look for
double-pane windows.
22
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
duty extension cord. I am confident that
you will know exactly what to do. Thanks
and keep the advice coming.
Donna Steele, Brantford, ON
Hi Donna,
Most 50-amp motorhomes that have a
generator factory installed, have a transfer switch that prevents the generator
from operating if the coach is connected
to power in a campground. As soon as
the transfer switch senses 120 volts coming from the campground it shuts off the
generator for about 20 seconds before
connecting to the outside power source.
Conversely, if there is a source of 120V
available from the campground that suddenly drops out, the generator will not
start for about 20 seconds.
With a 50-amp power system in a
motorhome or large RV, there are two
live 120 volt wires connected to the outside world. Each line provides current to
operate different sections of the RV. One
of the live wires usually runs most of the
low demand circuits like lighting, furnace,
microwave, radio, and the front air-conditioner, etc. The other live wire is used
to operate heavier current devices such
as the second or third air conditioner, hot
water heater, or washer/dryer. When
you use a cheater cord from a 15A outlet
in a campground or at your home to your
50 amp plug, your RV is only receiving
power to one of the lines.
Your transfer switch is looking at the
lines to see if the outside power is connected. It may be sensing the line that
now has no power, therefore it tries to
start the generator. As soon as the generator starts, there is now power on
both lines coming from the generator.
The transfer switch may sense that the
generator is running and there is also
outside power coming in, and therefore
disconnects the shore power to prevent
damage to the generator. Do you have an
Onan Command Control System installed
on your generator? I am sending you
an operating manual for the Command
Control System. Ever use your truck
when you’re not
towing? Of course you do.
It’s why you chose the
B &W Companion
Precious Cargo,
Critical Situations,
Why Skimp on the Hitch?
We worked hard to design a hitch that gives you
your truck bed back. When you’re not towing, you
can remove the B&W Companion in just a few minutes.
This leaves your bed completely free, with none of those
aggravating mounting rails to work around.
turnoverball.com
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
23
Road TEST
Hitch your Solitude 379FL to a three-quarter
ton or one-ton pickup and you are ready to
hit the road!
With the appliances in a slide-out section, the Grand Design
galley provides a clever and spacious environment.
24
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
The rear master bedroom features a full-wall wardrobe.
Grand Design RV
Solitude
379FL
Fifth Wheel
Text and photos by Norm Rosen
T
This floor plan is spacious for families or to
entertain several guests.
he RV Lifestyle Road Test Team takes great pleasure to
introduce readers to the Grand Design RV line – one of
the newest names in the RV industry.
This company, created in 2012 by Don Clark and
brothers Ron and Bill Fenech, has rocketed to the forefront of
the RV industry by focusing on a single goal – to bring customers “more features and superior value for your dollar”.
This may seem like a lofty goal for a new company, but RV
enthusiasts familiar with the industry will recognize the owners,
who each bring more than 25 years of experience to the new
company. The trio has an impressive track record of success in
RV manufacturing – they were part of the ownership team that
led Keystone RV to become the largest travel trailer and fifth
wheel manufacturing company in the world.
The management team takes great pride in their “hands
on” approach to building recreational vehicles. The owners
spend time in the 400,000 square foot manufacturing facility in
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
25
Road Test GRAND DESIGN
The entertainment centre across the front of the trailer features a hide-away LCD TV.
Middlebury, Indiana, and enjoy meeting
with customers – this personal contact,
combined with their extensive experience in RV manufacturing, distinguishes
Grand Design RV Company.
Grand Design RV delivered the first
Solitude fifth wheel in January 2013,
and the initial response was overwhelmingly positive. As the company grew
and developed a dealer network that
has expanded to cover all of Canada,
the units have become showstoppers
in every region of North America. The
2015 model that we reviewed at Outdoor
Travel in Burlington, Ontario, embodies the company’s design philosophy in
a trailer that is definitely on the leading
edge of the RV industry.
CONSTRUCTION
Grand Design RV refers to the
Solitude line as “affordable luxury in
an extended stay RV”, and the build
quality certainly reflects this goal.
Engineers have created a trailer with
an aluminum frame on a Mega-Frame
26
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
chassis platform, incorporating all of
the state-of-the-art features: oversized
storage compartments, enclosed and
heated basement including heated and
enclosed travel centre with “whole
house” water filtration system and winterizing kit, and Weather-Tek™ thermal technology insulation for extreme
climate protection. This trailer is well
prepared for our Canadian climate
with R40 roof, R45 floor and R11 wall
insulation, heated holding tanks, and
optional dual pane windows.
The construction technology is beautifully enclosed within high-gloss fiberglass sidewalls with Kinro frameless
windows, and topped off with a onepiece seamless rubber roof.
Many of the features on the Solitude
fifth wheel are the latest in RV design
and engineering, from the steel “slam
shut” baggage door handles to the
Tread-Lite aluminum entry step, colour
matched fender skirts, and powder coated heavy duty rear ladder.
We were impressed by the quality
control standards set by the company –
their pre-delivery inspection is more rigorous than the majority of RV manufacturers – and it certainly shows in terms
of fit and finish.
ON THE ROAD
At 42’ 6” and tipping the scales at
13,800 pounds dry weight, this is a large
fifth wheel trailer that is best towed by
a one-ton pickup. The touring experience is exceptional, thanks to a range of
ride enhancing features. From the Trail
Air Roto-Flex pin box to the Equa-Flex
suspension, Correct Track alignment
system, and 16” aluminum wheels with
eight lugs, it is obvious that the engineers have applied years of RV experience to this project. The ride is smooth,
the trailer tracks perfectly, and the balance is excellent. There is an under-carriage spare tire – standard equipment.
IN THE CAMPGROUND
When you arrive at your campsite
it is a five minute process to set up the
trailer for an extended stay. Step one
is to extend the stabilizers, chock the
wheels, and level the trailer. Step two
is to connect the water, sewer, electrical
and cable TV hookups. Step three is to
extend the slide-out sections, Step four,
extend the 20’ patio awning. The reason
why we connect the hookups prior to
extending the slides is that it is sometimes awkward to run the wires and
hoses, and when you extend the slides
after hooking-up, it is easier to conceal
the wires and hoses under the slides.
There are a few optional features that
we strongly recommend - if you plan to
travel on a regular basis, the optional
six point leveling system is a wonderful addition to your trailer – it makes
setting up a breeze and it enhances the
stability of the trailer. The slide-out topper awnings are optional on the 379FL
model – these protect the top of the
slides from dirt and debris, reducing
slide-out maintenance tasks and enhancing the long-term resale value of the
unit. You can also spec your trailer for
generator prep wiring – this customizes
one of the storage compartments, and
gives you the option to easily install a
generator at a later date. You can also
specify pre-wiring for satellite TV at
each of the TV outlets – a definite plus
if you enjoy large screen TV entertainment on your camping excursions.
COMFORT
AND CONVENIENCE
The Solitude fifth wheel has a very
ingenious and spacious floor plan, with
a 101” wide-body enhanced by five
slide-out sections. With tall ceilings
and 6’8” of headroom in the slide-out
sections, this is a unit that provides
residential-calibre comfort for serious RV travellers. In addition to the
tall ceilings, the wide body structure
facilitates the use of deep cabinets, and
Lots of cupboard space, a full pantry, and quality appliances highlight the galley.
the trailer is equipped with two-zone
climate control that easily handles
the full range of weather throughout the year. The standard furnace
is a 35,000 BTU model – you can
order a more powerful furnace as an
optional upgrade.
For comfort in warm climates, the
Solitude features Dometic Premium Air
Conditioning with dual zone thermostat – the front A/C unit is 15K BTU,
the rear unit in the master bedroom is
a “mandatory option”. You can specify
an AC with heat pump – some people
prefer this for cool summer evenings
because it runs on electricity, and you
don’t have to use the furnace to take the
chill out of the trailer.
Road Test GRAND DESIGN
Top to bottom, front to back, this is a
very impressive trailer!
IN THE GALLEY
The Solitude 379FL has a very interesting galley floor plan, with an oversized kitchen island featuring two-tier
Corian® countertop and a built-in curio
cabinet. In the galley slide, there is
a very spacious pantry, double-door
refrigerator, and lots of storage space.
You can order an optional 12 cu. ft.
refrigerator, or an 18 cu. ft. model –
larger than most residential models.
The gourmet chef will be thrilled with
the 22” traditional oven, the 30” OTR
microwave, and the gas cooktop. A
microwave convection oven is optional.
IN THE LOUNGE
The large bathroom includes a shower,
toilet, vanity and linen closet.
The free-standing dinette table and
chairs are nestled into a dedicated
slide-out section.
INTERIOR OPULENCE
The Solitude is an upscale fifth
wheel at a surprisingly affordable price.
Finished with high quality materials
and the expert craftsmanship that the
Middlebury, Indiana area is famous
for, this trailer is a rural residence that
you will be proud to call your own.
Every detail is selected for both form
and function, from the hidden hinges
on the hardwood cabinet doors to the
modern switches and control panels.
28
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
As you might expect from the FL
designation, the Solitude is a front
lounge floor plan, and it is one of the
most luxurious in the industry. This
is the focal point of the unit, with an
electric fireplace, a fully equipped
home entertainment centre with a 50”
home theatre HD TV that rises out of
the cabinet, and supremely comfortable seating for 8 adults. We listened
to the AM/FM/DVD/ CD player with
Bluetooth capability as we did our interior photo shoot, and the sound quality
was impressive.
In the evening, the front lounge
becomes your guest room - the facing tri-fold sofas provide an interesting
sleeping arrangement for two to four
adults, and the foot-to-foot sofa bed
arrangement becomes a marvelous area
for children to relax in front of the TV.
IN THE BEDROOM
You can relax in comfort on the
standard 60x 80” queen size bed,
or upgrade to a 70 x 80” king bed
– either way, the residential grade
Everpedic mattress is top quality,
and there is plenty of room to move
around the bed in this large fifth wheel
trailer. The master bedroom is part
of the dual-zone climate control system, with roof air, Fantastic Vent fan
and ducted heating. The bedroom is
prepped for an optional TV, and stackable washer/dryer combo.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Grand Design RV builds trailers
with the goal of creating customers for
life – and the 2015 Solitude certainly
impressed our Road Test Team with
outstanding features, clever design, and
excellent craftsmanship. Dealers assure
us that the company stands behind the
product with unparalleled customer support. The annual Recreation Vehicle
Dealers Association (RVDA) Dealer
Satisfaction Index survey of hundreds
of RV dealers in the U.S. and Canada
has awarded Grand Design RV with the
prestigious Quality Circle Award for
the second year in a row for all of the
company’s product lines, scoring Grand
Design RV at the top of the list in Sales
Support, Vehicle Reliability/Quality, Parts
Support, Dealership Warranty Support,
Dealership Communication, Perceived
Brand Value and Overall Rating Score
Distribution. SPECIFICATIONS
GRAND DESIGN
SOLITUDE 379FL
Overall length
42’6”
Slides
5
Width (Slides in)
101”
Height
12’ 11”
Dry weight
13,800 lbs
GVWR
16,000 lbs
Hitch weight
3,000 lbs
Cargo carrying capacity
2,200 lbs
Square feet
430
Axles
2 x 7,000 lb
Tires
16” / 8 lug / E rated
Shocks
Equa-Flex suspension
Fresh water
54 gal.
Grey water
90 gal.
Black water
45 gal.
Water heater
12 gal
Furnace
35K BTU
Fireplace
5K BTU
LP tanks
60 lbs.
Electric
50 amp
Converter
65 amp w/ battery charger.
MSRP (as tested)
F.O.B. Burlington, ON.
$109,047 (CDN)
Many thanks to the crew at Outdoor Travel in
Hamilton, Ontario, for their assistance with this
road test project.
Old Dog. New Tricks.
ENHANCE YOUR TOWING EXPERIENCE
“I can’t believe how much nicer it is towing that trailer.
e.
It almost drives like I don’t have the trailer back ther
-Karl
This is something I should have done years ago.”CENTER
LINE customer
Long Beach, MS
CENTER LINE™ Active Sway Control… New Technology in Weight Distribution Towing.
Weight distribution hitches were introduced more than forty years ago, and not much has changed until now. CENTER LINE,
the industry’s first self-centering sway control system, employs compression cylinder technology to counteract trailer sway
before it ever begins. The result is the smoothest, safest towing system on the market today. So bring on the cross winds,
truck traffic, ruts and curves… Husky may be an old dog, but CENTER LINE is his new trick.
RUGGED IS STANDARD EQUIPMENT.
Husky manufactures a comprehensive offering of innovative, leading technology
towing products including 5th Wheel Hitches, Brute Power Jacks, and the Husky
10 Composite Glider, all designed to enhance your towing experience.
LEARN MORE: huskytow.com
®
Road TEST
Full body paint gives the Vista 36Y an elegant presence, while the Ford F-53 chassis
delivers a smooth touring experience.
With the power StudioLoft™ front bunk in the lowered
position, and the LCD TV raised in the dinette area, you
are ready to relax after a long day on the road.
30
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
The galley features an island concept with a two-tier countertop.
Winnebago
Vista 36Y
Family Friendly Touring
Text and photos by Norm Rosen
W
The standard queen size bed leaves enough room
for nightstands.
ith many of the new motorhome models sporting a drop-down bunk over the driver’s and
navigator’s seats, it was only a matter of time
before someone incorporated this popular feature into a full size class A motorhome.
The Vista 36 Y from Winnebago is a new triple slide-out
floor plan for 2015, with a curb side aisle that lets the designers create a very comfortable front living room configuration
and a full size bathroom with shower. The open floor plan
accommodates six adults in comfort, and entertains ten or
more for dinner or special events. The Winnebago engineers
have perfected the concept of the drop-down front bed, creating an option that they call StudioLoft™ - guaranteed to be a
hit with the kids and the young at heart. This front bunk configuration has more headroom than typically found in similar
concepts from other manufacturers.
We first encountered this model at the Louisville RV Show
in December, and arranged to road test the motorhome when
the first unit arrived in Canada. A quick call from the crew at
Sicard RV in Smithville, Ontario, and we were on the QEW
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
31
Road Test WINNEBAGO
With the two front slides extended, the Vista provides a spacious living room area.
behind the wheel of a beautiful class A
motorhome finished in the Black Garnet
full-body paint motif with Sonoma
Copper interior décor.
ON THE ROAD
The Vista 36Y is built on the Ford
F53 motorhome chassis with a 362hp 3-valve Triton® V10 engine with
SEFI, TorqShift™ 5-speed automatic
transmission with tow/haul mode and
175-amp alternator. The motorhome
rides like a limo, smooth and confident
over a variety of road surfaces. Steering
is precise and braking is smooth and
secure thanks to the hydraulic brakes
with ABS. The Vista 36Y has stylized
aluminum wheels with 22.5” tires,
and our test unit was finished with the
Cayenne motif full-body paint option,
with optional lower front protective
mask to reduce the effect of road debris.
Comfort is a major imperative for
our road test teams, and the Vista came
through with top marks in this category.
Ultraleather™ swivel cab seats are easy
to adjust, the dashboard controls are all
32
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
within easy reach, and the view from
the captain’s seat is unobstructed.
Winnebago includes a rearview monitor that makes driving a motorhome as
easy as touring in a family van.
We tested the Vista 36Y on the winding roads of the Niagara Escarpment,
cruised the QEW, and explored the back
country routes to get a “feel” for the
ride, and throughout our road test the
Vista came through with flying colours.
This is a vehicle that is well worthy of
the Winnebago name, and an excellent
example of value for your RV dollar.
While we did not tow a car on this test,
the Vista is equipped with a trailer hitch
that accommodates a 5,000-lb. drawbar
and is rated at 500-lb. maximum vertical tongue weight. A 7-pin connector is
integrated into the hitch area for your
convenience.
IN THE CAMPGROUND
When you arrive at your campsite,
parking is a breeze thanks to the video
camera system, and once you have positioned the unit in the site and set the
parking brake, it only takes a minute to
activate the automatic hydraulic leveling
jacks, extend the triple slide out sections,
and roll out the powered patio awning.
All of the RV system hookups are
located in a convenient compartment,
making campsite arrival and departure
a quick and easy operation. Your RV
electrical system connections include
a cable TV input and portable satellite
dish hookup. The compartment containing your plumbing system Service
Center is very well laid out with colored labels to keep you organized. The
center includes your pressurized city
water hookup with diverter valve, drainage valves, and an exterior wash station
with lighted pump switch. The Vista
has a heated holding tank compartment and a TrueLevel™ holding tank
monitoring system, so you never have
to wonder about your water supply. The
Winterization Package features a water
heater bypass valve and siphon tube.
LED lighting in the storage compartments is a very convenient feature.
For the ultimate in campsite enter-
tainment you can order the optional
exterior entertainment center, which
includes a 32” HDTV w/remote, AM/
FM stereo, CD player, removable TV
table, and speakers in a lockable compartment.
CONSTRUCTION
Winnebago engineers motorhomes
to deliver top quality on the road and in
the campsite, and the Vista certainly carries this tradition with pride. The choice
of materials, components, and overall
fit and finish are excellent for a class A
motorhome in this price range.
The Vista frame is the latest evolution in Winnebago’s unique approach
to motorhome construction – for a fascinating insight into state of the art RV
technology check out the website www.
betterbuiltrvs.com
The premium high-gloss fiberglass
exterior sidewalls and front cap are easily maintained, and the tinted windows
give the vehicle a very smooth exterior
appeal. Dual pane windows are available
as an option. The Vista 36Y includes an
exterior roof access ladder so you can
inspect the upper realm of your campground castle – we like to climb up to
take scenic photographs from a bird’s
eye view.
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
The Vista 36Y features an AC/DC
electrical distribution system with
55-amp. converter/charger, PowerLine®
Energy Management System, 50-amp.
power cord, and shoreline/generator
automatic changeover switch for the
optional 5,500-watt Cummins Onan
Marquis Gold gas generator. The vehicle
is equipped with four deep-cycle Group
31 batteries to handle the draw when you
have the large residential refrigerator.
There are two deep-cycle Group 31 bat-
teries when your motorhome is equipped
with the standard 4-door refrigerator/
freezer with icemaker.
Automatic dual-battery charge control with coach battery disconnect system and an auxiliary start circuit are provided, and the 36Y has a 2,000-watt AC/
DC inverter with remote panel.
COMFORT AND
CONVENIENCE
Full climate control is at your fingertips with a residential style thermostat. Winnebago’s Energy Management
System is engineered to provide cozy
comfort in all weather conditions. There
The side aisle floor plan concept results in a large galley, plus a bathroom with tub, toilet and storage cabinet.
Road Test WINNEBAGO
coach bathroom with a spacious interior
layout. A full size shower, a large storage cabinet, vanity and toilet are well
placed, and two entrances let you utilize
the bathroom as an ensuite from the
master bedroom or as a guest bathroom
if you use the door from the aisle.
The Vista 36Y has a 10-gallon 110volt/LP water heater with motoraid,
which we have found to be quite capable of providing ample hot water for
three average length showers per hour.
A powered roof vent helps keep the
steam from the shower under control,
and effectively cools the bathroom on a
warm sunny day.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This Vista is a dream to drive with a 362 hp Triton® V10 engine, TorqShift 5-speed automatic transmission, and power steering and hydraulic ABS brakes.
are two high-efficiency air conditioners
with ChillGrille to keep you cool during
the warm seasons, and a 40,000 BTU
low-profile furnace takes the chill out of
cold weather camping. A/C units with
heat pumps are available as an option.
The interior of the motorhome
incorporates the latest innovations
in RV electronics, including LED
ceiling lights, MCD blackout roller
shades, and Winnebago’s OnePlace®
systems monitor.
The Vista 36Y is ideally suited
to sleep four to six people, with the
new sofa/sleeper in the front lounge
providing a very comfortable seating
position thanks to the integrated footrest, and converting into a double bed,
and the StudioLoft™ accommodating
two adults.
IN THE GALLEY
The Vista 36Y features a unique galley design with residential refrigerator,
two-tiered Corian® galley countertop
and plentiful storage. The floor plan
features a dining table/buffet with four
free standing chairs and a unique cabinet that houses a 39” HDTV on a power
lift – touch a switch and the TV rises
out of the cabinet, lower the TV and
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RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
you can enjoy the view through the
large dinette window. The amplified
digital TV antenna system brings high
technology to your campsite.
The galley is equipped with a three
burner range with oven and a microwave convection oven. The 4-door
refrigerator/freezer with icemaker is
ideally suited for a vehicle of this size,
and you can order a larger refrigerator
as an option.
IN THE BEDROOM
The master bedroom features a walkaround queen bed or an available king
bed. You should take a look at both
options to determine if you can move
around the bed easily enough – the king
bed option reduces the space between
the bed and the rear wall, and the space
between the bed and the bathroom wall
– some people may find this to be a bit
tight. A large wardrobe fills the slideout at the foot of the bed – our test unit
was equipped with the optional washer/
dryer combo, a definite convenience for
the active family.
IN THE BATHROOM
The curb side aisle floor plan lets
Winnebago designers create a mid-
For RV enthusiasts interested in a
high quality yet affordable full size
class A motorhome, the Vista 36Y offers
a very attractive combination of features, quality, and exceptional value at
an affordable price. SPECIFICATIONS
WINNEBAGO VISTA 36Y
Chassis
Ford F53
Engine 362-hp 3-valve Triton® V10 (Gas)
Transmission
5 speed automatic
Fuel Capacity
80 gal.
Length
37’
Wheelbase
242”
Width (Slides in)
8’5.5”
Exterior Height
12’5”
Dry weight
22,000 lbs.
GCWR
26,000 lbs.
GAWR - Front
8,000 lbs
GAWR - Rear
15,000 lbs
Exterior Storage
145 cu. ft.
Awning Length
19’
Interior Height
6’8”
Interior Width
8’0.5”
Fresh water
76 gal.
Water Heater
10 gal.
Black water
48 gal.
Gray water
60 gal.
LP gas
18 gal.
MSRP as tested
F.O.B. Smithville, Ontario.
$162,899
Many thanks to the team at Sicard RV for their
assistance with this road test project.
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
35
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Hi
Arkansas is the only diamond-producing site in North America,
and perhaps the world that is open to the public and so easily
accessible.
By Craig Ritchie
robably the best reason for
owning an RV is the opportunity to get off the beaten
path and see amazing things no one
else does. An RV is an escape from
the crowded tourist traps most people flock to on their annual vacations, and the best way to experience
a new, unique destination that most
people miss.
When it comes to hidden gems,
few can compare to south-western
Arkansas. When most Canadians
think of heading south, it’s Florida
that comes to mind. However, I prefer to point my wheels toward the
P
36
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
beautiful hill country of southwest
Arkansas – and in particular, the
Ouachita Mountains (pronounced
WASH-it-taw). Once a range of
peaks as high as the Rockies, the
mountains here have weathered and
worn over the centuries, shrinking in
height but exposing their inner cores.
That’s significant, and makes southwestern Arkansas one of the best
places in North America to collect
gems – from semi-precious stones to
stunningly pure diamonds.
Indeed, Arkansas is the only
diamond-producing site in North
America, and perhaps the world
that is open to the public and so easily accessible. People find diamonds
there almost daily, along with other
semi-precious gems such as amethyst,
garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite,
barite and quartz. Just a few weeks
before my own visit, a 14 year-old
girl named Tana Clymer found a
3.85-carat diamond valued at more
than $20,000 while visiting Crater of
Diamonds State Park, near the community of Murfreesboro. She talked
her family into visiting after reading
about a 5.16-carat diamond being
found there the year before by a 12
year-old boy from North Carolina.
With its colourful history and
unique opportunities to search
for diamonds and gems, southwestern Arkansas is a hidden
destination for RVers
Perhaps visit the town of Washington,
where Historic Washington State Park
provides a look at life in the state
through the 19th Century.
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
37
AMERICA’S
Hidden Gem
“…Most diamonds found
today range from .25
to .75 carats, but
diamonds weighing
more than 2 carats
are still discovered on a
fairly regular basis…”
People find diamonds in Crater of Diamonds State Park almost daily, along with other
semi-precious gems such as amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite
and quartz.
Park interpreter Waymon Cox gave
me an introduction to the park and a
demonstration of how to sift for gems
at the Crater of Diamonds’ 37-acre
property. Diamonds were first discovered at the site in 1906. It was acquired
by the State in 1972, and developed
as a state park. The largest diamond
found here — and the largest found
anywhere in North America — was the
Uncle Sam, a 40.23-carat, golf ballsized monster discovered in 1924. Most
diamonds found today range from .25
to .75 carats, but diamonds weighing
more than 2 carats are still discovered
on a fairly regular basis.
The process of sifting for diamonds
is dead simple – you head out into what
looks like a plowed farm field, and start
sifting through the earth. The best time
to visit, says Cox, is right after a good
rain, when the resulting runoff exposes new layers of strata. Some people
arrive with shovels and wooden boxes
A blacksmith at Historic Washington State Park.
38
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
with bottoms made of wire screens, to
more easily sort the sand from the rocks
(you can also rent these from the park’s
visitor center). Take any likely-looking
gems you find back to the park’s visitor center, where experts will tell you
exactly what you have and, if you come
up with any diamonds, weigh them for
you at no charge. Best of all, you keep
whatever you find.
Crystal Clear
While diamond hunting can be a hitor-miss proposition, crystals are always
a sure thing in south-western Arkansas.
If you don’t find diamonds, then head
over to Wegner Crystal Mines and
Museum in nearby Mount Ida, where
it’s almost a sure thing you’ll find any
of a number of incredible natural crystals. For a rock hound, it’s heaven on
earth and, of course, you get to keep
whatever you find.
Don’t feel like working too hard at it?
The on-site museum and gallery sells
gemstones and crystals in a wide range
of sizes, along with a range of jewelry
making equipment.
As an interesting aside, one aspect of
the business is supplying stones for educational or industrial use. Owner Richard
Wegner ships barrels of gemstones to
China, for example, where they’re used
to make up gemstone identification kits –
“which they probably sell back to buyers
in the States,” he laughs.
PLANNINGIT
YOUR VIS
CRATER OF DIAMONDS STATE PARK
209 State Park Road
Murfreesboro, AR 71958
(870) 285-3113
www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com
WEGNER CRYSTAL MINES
AND MUSEUM
82 Wegner Ranch Road
Mount Ida, AR 71957
(870) 867-2309
www.wegnercrystalmines.com
Waymon Cox demonstrating the process on how to find diamonds.
ARKANSAS MUSEUM OF NATURAL
RESOURCES
3853 Smackover Highway
Smackover, AR 71762
(870) 725-2877
www.amnr.org
HISTORIC WASHINGTON
STATE PARK
P.O. Box 129
Washington, AR 71862
(870) 983-2684
www.historicwashingtonstatepark.com
The Original Oil Patch
Of course diamonds and gems aren’t
the only things of value to be found in
the Arkansas soil. This part of the country is also known for its oil.
Oil was first discovered in Arkansas
near the community of El Dorado in
1921. The following year, the adjacent
town of Smackover had its own oil discovery. Originally a farming community, Smackover had a population of
93 people when the first oil was found.
Ten months later that figure had swollen to more than 25,000 as it became
the first of countless boom towns that
sprung up across Arkansas, then later
Texas, in the wake of subsequent oil
discoveries.
The best way to learn about Arkansas’
oil history is to visit the Arkansas
Museum of Natural Resources in
Rhene Meyer’s 1926 Ford Motorhome.
Smackover. Besides the exhibits relating to the State’s oil heritage, additional
exhibits explore the equally lucrative bromine industry.
Among the museum’s exhibits is a
unique 1926 Ford motorhome that was
owned by a woman named Rhene Meyer,
who performed as a one-woman band
with a traveling circus. When the circus
went bust in the Great Depression, she
parked her mobile home in Smackover
and gave concerts to make ends meet.
Pioneer Days
While the Natural History Museum
offers a fascinating peek into Arkansas’
past, to gain a deeper perspective make the short drive over to the
town of Washington, where Historic
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
39
AMERICA’S
Hidden Gem
“…The best way to learn
about Arkansas’ oil
history is to visit the
Arkansas Museum of
Natural Resources in
Smackover…”
Washington State Park provides a look
at life in the state through the 19th
Century.
Washington was established in 1824
as a convenient stop for pioneers traveling west to Texas. During the Civil
War, after the Union Army occupied
Little Rock in 1863, Washington served
as the Confederate capital of Arkansas.
But when the new railroad bypassed
Washington in 1874, the town began
to see its fortunes decline. Preservation
efforts began in 1929 at the urging of
members of the United Daughters of
the Confederacy, who convinced the
Arkansas Legislature to appropriate
funds to help preserve Arkansas’s onetime Confederate Capitol. In 1973, Old
Washington Historic State Park was
created to care for the 40 historic properties on the site, and keep them in pristine condition.
Probably the best place to begin your
visit is at the 1874 Courthouse, which
functions as the park’s visitor center and
gift shop. Or pop in across the road at the
1832 Williams’ Tavern, which still operates as a restaurant today, serving lunch
from 11:00 am till 3:00 pm daily. Don’t
be surprised to see park interpreters in
full period dress, as they discuss daily life
in 19th Century Arkansas.
With so much to see and do, the
toughest part of any Arkansas trip is
deciding where to start.
40
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
GO FISH
Fishing guide Chris Darby with striped bass.
During my visit, we caught a half-dozen
striped bass plus a couple of bonus walleye
in a period of approximately an hour.
Heavy overcast and the threat of imminent rain kept the sun from making much of an impact as dawn broke over southern Arkansas’ Lake
Ouachita. However, the conditions were absolutely perfect to the experienced eyes of fishing guide Chris Darby. “With the dim light there will
be all sorts of small fish feeding just under the surface,” he explained.
“And the big fish we want will be feeding on them.”
To demonstrate his point, Chris fired out a long cast toward a point
on the shoreline, and began slowly retrieving his seven-inch lure along
the water surface in an erratic, twitching motion. About halfway back to
the boat, a yard-wide boil right abruptly shattered the morning calm as
a striped bass took the bait. It was a great start to the day.
Over the next hour we caught a half-dozen more striped bass plus a
couple of bonus walleye, before we felt the wind shift and saw the distant shoreline fade away behind a wall of rain. With the storm advancing, we quickly stowed our gear and we beat it back to Chris’ covered
slip at the marina for some breakfast.
Lake Ouachita is an impoundment created in 1953 when the US
Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Ouachita River. The resulting
lake is now the largest in Arkansas, spanning some 16,000 hectares
and with more than 1,100 km of shoreline. More interestingly, the area
was not clear-cut before it was flooded, so a full, mature forest still
stands beneath the lake’s glassy surface. This provides ideal habitat
for wide variety of fish. The best fishing takes place from September till
April, when the big ones feed in shallow water.
Harbor Mountain Resort, located near the town of Mount Ida,
offers comfortable accommodation right on the lake and a large, fully
equipped marina that that’s home to the only floating Subway franchise in the world. They offer two boat launch ramps, gas, boat rentals, tackle, fully equipped guides and non-resident fishing licenses.
Lake Ouachita lies within Lake Ouachita State Park, with more than
100 different campsites with different facilities.
For more information, visit
www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakeouachita Tech Tips Road Tests Destinations Hitch Hints and More!
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SIX PRODUCTS
TO INCREASE YOUR
RV EXPERIENCE
The 360 Siphon
Most RVs have it, yet owners usually don’t talk about it.
I’m speaking of sewer odour. My motorhome had a bad
case of it last winter. When you boondock, tanks don’t get
emptied often, and in the southern winters, the contents get
quite warm. All you need is a downdraft at the vent pipe,
a leaky toilet seal and WOW. We used some of the most
recommended odour control additives we could find, but
they didn’t work. When we moved the RV and churned
everything up, it became really bad. This year, I tried the
360 Siphon in the same conditions as last winter, except we
did not add any odour-control chemicals.
So far, I’m really pleased. I have not had one whiff of
the sewer tank. The 360 Siphon replaces the regular cap
on the vent pipe and is designed somewhat on the venturi effect. Slight air movement across the top of the vent
sucks fumes upward, dropping the pressure in the tank so
that any seal leaks you might have are pulling air from the
coach, not sending sewer fumes out into the room.
www.360productsnorthamerica.com
Chandelier
Some RVs are poorly lit in the living area, unless you
turn on the big ceiling lights. However, if you are living off your battery, you don’t want to use those lights
for long, especially if they are the old incandescent
bulbs or fluorescent tubes. While The RV Chandelier
has been featured in the pages of RVL in past issues,
this ideal product is suitable for almost any RV as it
consists of a rectangular strip of LED lights that can
illuminate your unit very well. It replaces the trim
around the ceiling vent fan and gets its power from
the 12-volt wire going to the fan. I’m impressed with
the amount of light it gives off to the room, and it uses
only about ¾ amps. Be sure to order for a square vent
or rounded vent depending upon your RV. You will
likely have to trim the Chandelier so it will go flush
with the ceiling.
www.astscanada.com
42
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
There are countless of products that are available in the RV market
place. Some are good, some are great. RV Lifestyle showcases
six “must haves” to make your travel experiences more enjoyable.
By James Stoness
Winegard Rayzar
Automatic Antenna
Samlex Solar charge
controller
If you are using solar panels to charge your batteries, then you
want to get the maximum charge from the sun. Old fashioned
voltage regulators bring the charge up, but don’t fully charge
the battery bank. A solar charge controller such as the Samlex
30-amp charge controller is designed to protect the batteries from
over-charging, and at the same time top up to a full charge. The
controller uses PWM, or pulse width modulated charging to constantly assess the charge in the battery in order to determine how
much more charge to push into the battery to fully charge it, and
then maintain it at the best level. The controller can be set up to
do automatic, or manual equalization of the batteries. An optional
battery temperature sensor should be used in the installation to
make sure that the battery temperature is compensated for during
the charging.
There are eight charging profiles to permit the controller to
be used with most batteries in use today. The wall mounted LCD
monitor allows for a display of any fault messages, as well as
providing a view of the charge coming in to the batteries, and the
voltage of the batteries.
This is a new product by Winegard and is
an efficient way of scanning the horizon for
watchable ‘over the air’ TV signals. Its small
dome is screwed to the roof and inside, a motor
rotates the antenna searching for TV station
signals. It selects the position that represents
the most viewable stations and has red lights
marking the direction of other signals, which
you can select by pressing the search button
again. The kit includes new coax cable to run
from the antenna to the inside of the RV, but
I successfully used the existing coax from the
old TV antenna. Simply place the control panel
inside the RV somewhere handy to the coax
to the TV and the coax to the roof antenna. A
source of 12V power is required at the control
panel. When the RV moves to a new location,
you press ‘search’ and this automatic antenna
quickly locates the TV signals. It is necessary
to use the television’s built-in scanner to find
all the channels that it sees. The Rayzar sure is
a big improvement over the ‘crank it up, pull
the collar, and rotate the roof antenna’, and it
works great.
www.winegard.com/rayzarauto
www.samlexsolar.com
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
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SIX PRODUCTS
TO INCREASE YOUR
RV EXPERIENCE
Blue Ox Avail Class
IV Tow Bar
Blue Ox has a winner with their new Avail. The company well known for producing innovative tow bars. Smart
designs continue in the new Avail, which has non-binding
latches, a feature motorhome owners who tow a car or
sport utility have been waiting for. How great it will be to
unhitch your car without fighting tight latches that won’t
let go, to relax the tension in hitch, so you can get the pins
free. It’s important to put on the dingy emergency brake
when pushing these latches. If you are on a downgrade,
the car can move towards you. The new tow bar is a little
longer than older models, thus accommodating the wider
hitch points on some new vehicles. This allows better turning radius keeping the car and motorhome farther apart on
sharp turns around the gas pumps. This is a strong towbar
capable of towing 4500 kilograms (10,000 pounds). The
Avail is painted in an attractive bronze, with raised gold letters, setting it aside from older black models.
www.blueox.com
Brake Buddy Stealth
The Stealth is one of the best innovations in years for
managing the brakes in your towed dingy. It uses a cable
system and a pulley fastened to the firewall to pull the
brake pedal, producing a braking action. This leaves the
floor space free of any encumbrances. Once it’s installed,
it’s always ready for action. Hitch up the car, put the
vehicle in towing neutral, connect the umbilical cord to
the motorhome and you are ready to go. An attractively
designed controller sits on the dash of the motorhome,
providing a digital read-out of the integrity of the connection. You can also manually apply the brakes of the
dingy using a button on the controller, a feature that can
be used when leaving a campground to rub off the nightly
accumulation of rust on the brake rotors. The Flex-Coil
connecting cable can also carry current for your dingy’s
signal lights and tail lights. If the tail lights are activated,
the end of the Flex-Coil will glow, indicating the connection is good.
www.brakebuddy.com
44
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
OWASCO RECREATIONAL VEHICLES
SALES, SERVICE, RENTALS
Exclusive “Gold Circle”
Jayco Dealer
EXPERIENCE
THE OWASCO DIFFERENCE
Canada’s #1 Volume
Roadtrek Dealer
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Proven to Serve You Best Since 1972
Full Line Selection from Jayco and Roadtrek
Large Selection of Quality Pre-Owned Units
Large Luxury Rental Fleet
Massive Parts Inventory
Full Range Service Department
“Come and see why we are an Award
winning Jayco and Roadtrek Dealer”
Experience the Owasco feeling Proven to serve you best
since 1972
2000 Champlain Ave.,
Whitby, ON L1N 6A7
401 and Thickson just east of Toronto
(905) 683-CAMP (2267)
Toll Free: 1-866-579-2267
www.owascorv.com
Volume 43 Number 7 | RV Lifestyle
45
Ad INDEX
B&W Trailer Hitches ............................................................... 23
Bayview RV Trailer Sales ........................................................ 16
Big Pine Key and Florida Lower Keys ....................................... 7
BrakeBuddy............................................................................ 35
Can-Am RV Centre ................................................................. 15
Earlton RV .............................................................................. 46
Fiamma .................................................................................. 16
Heartland RV .......................................................................... 13
Husky Hitch............................................................................ 29
Kitchener RV Show ................................................................ 21
Koolatron ............................................................................... 35
KZ RV..................................................................................... 48
Layzee Acres Park & RV Sales ............................................... 29
McPhails of Harriston ............................................................ 46
Outdoor Travel ....................................................................... 21
Owasco Recreational Vehicles................................................ 45
Panasonic .............................................................................. 17
Pleasure-Way Industries .......................................................... 5
Pro-Lite .................................................................................... 9
Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc. .................................................... 19
RVL Subscription ................................................................... 41
Sicard RV ............................................................................... 23
Swordfish Towable Watersport .............................................. 45
Thor Motor Coach .................................................................. 11
Winnebago ............................................................................... 2
Yamaha .................................................................................. 47
McPhail’s
of Harriston
IN THE HEART OF ONTARIO
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Take a little drive to the country for big savings !!!
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Phone (519) 338-3422 or Toll Free 1 (888) 665-2025
Fax (519) 338-2770 E-mail: mcphails@wightman.ca www.mcphails.on.ca
46
RV Lifestyle | Volume 43 Number 7
VIKING
HARDTOPS
YAMAHA, FUEL-EFFICIENT, QUIET, PORTABLE POWER.
ANYTIME. ANYPLACE.
///
EF4500iSE
/// YAMAHA-MOTOR.CA
KZ takes the phrase ‘favorite vacation spots’ to a whole, new level. Simple finishes, soothing neutral tones and
natural wood provide a peaceful backdrop conducive to relaxation. Living spaces are creatively thought out.
Storage areas are generous and multi-functional. Floorplans are imaginatively planned.
Durango fifth wheels are presented in three lines, and all offer casual, yet sophisticated, style.
All in all, we think you’ll find each of our Durango fifth wheels to be the perfect family getaway package.
G380FLF
QUALITY
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INNOVAT
kz-rv.com
G366FBT
G366FBT
G372BHF
D315RKD
D325RLT
SOME
FAVORITE
VACATION
SPOTS...
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