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Old 12-05-2021, 09:58 PM   #1
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Newbie to RV life, Full timer

Hi, I purchased a used 2011 Dutchmen Voltage 3900 to live in full time. This is a test to help me decide if I can handle the lifestyle, constant maintenance and responsibilities that are required for RV living, so I've read. Living with me in my RV will be two large, old dogs, and an assortment of cats. I chose my RV because it has a garage, when I measured it, is 16 feet in length, despite the specs saying it's 14. The layout is incredible. I plan to get a proper porch slash dog ramp, add a 3rd AC, (external 110, air dump) in the garage, setup a washer and dryer, setup a portable dishwasher, remove the large couch in main slide and put in my own couch, replace existing AC units as needed, and maybe install new flooring if possible without removing the kitchen island. I'm sure there will be many learning opportunities going forward. Just getting to PDI, next week, has been an effort in searching the VIN for recalls, four of which resulted in fires and or explosions. But I'm still excited. Cautiously optimistic, but excited ��.
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Old 12-05-2021, 10:48 PM   #2
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ATC Tom is your man. He has the skinny on living full time in a Voltage.
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Old 12-05-2021, 10:54 PM   #3
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Thanks, appreciate your input! I'll search for that username and read some of his posts.
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Old 12-05-2021, 10:56 PM   #4
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Ha! Well, I’ve got some experience… but not sure about ‘the skinny’.

But speaking of ‘skinny’ I’ll just say this: be mindful of the weight of all of that stuff you’re planning on adding. These things aren’t ‘mobile homes’… they’re recreational vehicles’…. and I’ll leave it at that.
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Old 12-05-2021, 11:10 PM   #5
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Hi ATCGuy, I was just searching for your posts. Good point on the weight. The portable dishwasher is a small countertop unit. My washer is huge but I want to use it. Maybe I can compromise by not having a dryer in the rv, and use the dryers at my local laundromat around the corner from my spot. The 3rd AC is a must due to extreme heat in my location. The flooring isn't that important. I'll leave that off. I was also planning to get a small storage shed for lawn and home care items like leaf blower, shop vac and basic tools. I'm already paring down from a 1500 Sq foot, 3 bed 2 bath home. Almost everything I own, after donating some, will be in a climate controlled storage unit until I figure out if this life will work for me.
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Old 12-05-2021, 11:57 PM   #6
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Oh, ok… disregard. If you’re not going to use it as an RV, but just sit it on a lot and use it like a mobile home…. then weight won’t be an issue. I thought you were going to use the RV for it’s intended purpose… in which case weight becomes a factor as you tow it around the country.
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Old 12-06-2021, 12:29 AM   #7
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Good points. I'm going to commit to a year in one location in my rv to decide if the life is for me or not. At that time, I'll sell one or both of my SUV's, and the Voltage, and purchase a similar, but newer toy hauler, towing vehicle, and small car that fits in the garage for towing ��
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Old 12-06-2021, 08:35 PM   #8
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Your garage should easily be able to handle a couple thousand pounds constant. I keep my 4 seat RZR in mine all the time. I just use the hydraulic levelers to take the load off of the suspension (which I already upgraded from the garbage it came with—your is likely a three axle so you should be better off with the suspension capability.
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Old 12-08-2021, 11:22 AM   #9
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Thank you dsol, for the advice. That's something I hadn't thought of, hydraulic levers to lighten the load on the suspension. Yes, mine is a three axle. I'll still keep it as light as possible until I know more about the rig's suspension. So much to learn. I'm grateful for your help.
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Old 12-09-2021, 04:15 PM   #10
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My rig came with the hydraulic leveling system which is an upgrade over electric landing jacks and what I assume would be manual levelers in the back. I don’t think I would upgrade to this system if the rig did not come with it as it would require a ton of labor and parts plus engineering and installation of hydraulic lines to 6 locations.

If you have either electric or manual stabilizers I would just always extend them when you are parked to keep the load off the suspension.

I like knowing the only time my suspension is really working is when I am in transit so that means 99% of the time my suspension has virtually no weight on it so when I do tow at 65mph plus my suspension is in much better condition as opposed to before I bought my new suspension and my suspension carried the weight of my trailer 99% of the time unless I was camping because when I used to store it I didn’t lower the stabilizers.
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Old 12-13-2021, 03:50 AM   #11
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Thanks dsol this is great info. I think mine has the electric leveling. I'll find out when I do the walk through in a couple of days.

I'm having it transported 150 miles Wednesday, the day after the walk through, and setting it up on a lot I've rented, which has a concrete pad. I've been reading about leveling and stabilization. I still haven't bought wheel chocks. Everything I've learned on this forum, regarding leveling and stabilization points to using the built in jacks without pads and additional levels, and basically letting the rig do its thing. Some owners with auto leveling, which I don't have, said it caused a wheel to lift up from the ground, at level. Like myself, they thought the chassis was supposed to carry some of the load when parked, and having a wheel off the ground would definitely confuse me. One owner said he recieved hand written instructions from the dealership that directly opposed the instructions on the "sticker inside" something I guess I'll learn as I go forward. I thought the Jack's were for stability only, and not to support the rig. I'm confused.

I'm a little slow to respond due to packing and shopping shopping for rv essentials, etc., but I'd appreciate any directions regarding leveling and stabilization when time permits
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Old 12-13-2021, 06:28 AM   #12
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Stabilizers and leveling can be separate or combined. As my rig has the hydraulic leveling it is rather easy and it is not uncommon for a wheel or two to lift completely off the ground. Nor is it uncommon to have no real weight on the wheels either. Mine is a 6 point system with two points being the front landing jacks then two more in front and behind the trailer wheels for a total of 6 contact points with the ground.

A friend told me he didn’t think it was a good idea to have the trailer weight solely on the jacks but when I spoke to a tech at Lippert he said it was totally fine. The tech said the main issue was to clean the rod when extended for a long period of time to remove any dirt and then use a dry lube when clean.

However, if you have electric stabilizers they might be just for stabilizing and not for leveling. If that is the case you need to level the wheels with leveling blocks first then use the stabilizers only for stabilizing and not for leveling.

If they are for stabilizing then they are not designed to support the weight of the trailer alone but just to stabilize it against shaking or rocking once already level. But again, I am not sure and on your model so hopefully another forum member can help.

And you definitely want to chock your tires before unhooking your trailer. Sometimes what you think is level ground might not be and you don’t want your trailer moving around on its own! If your landing jacks are down then it shouldn’t move but still not a smart thing to do without chocking first.

Good luck.
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Old 12-13-2021, 02:49 PM   #13
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Thanks again dsol! I'll buy leveling blocks today, and wheel chocks as well. I did read the thread about someone's rig moving forward whilst not chocked, on level pavement. It was frightening to imagine what might have happened. Runaway train. I'm really excited about my rv, even though it's older and doesn't have some of the bells and whistles. The layout is great and it was barely used. The interior is original and looks brand new. Here's to hoping the internals are as good as the visible things, and many thanks to everyone on this forum!
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Old 12-13-2021, 03:41 PM   #14
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These things are expensive but they are really supposed to help with motion while your RV is parked.

https://tweetys.com/andersen-3608-m-...RoC634QAvD_BwE

They keep your jacks from extending too far out to prevent motion.
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Old 12-13-2021, 08:06 PM   #15
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Thanks, the website says "currently make take up to a week to ship" so those are off the table for now. They look good though. I'm curious, what are some of the problems with fully extending the jacks?
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Old 12-13-2021, 08:15 PM   #16
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They tend to wobble when you walk in the Rv. These keep you from extending too much and give a much more stable platform on the stabilizers
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Old 12-14-2021, 03:59 PM   #17
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You might want to give it a go a few nights before you try to add things for more stability because it’s possible you could be satisfied as is.

Frank is clearly correct that shorter extension on the jacks should be more stable but you might not think necessary.

In my experience the movement is most noticeable when I am in bed and someone else is moving around in the rig. I never notice anything during the day when up and around. And some of that really slight vibration and motion is about impossible to stop. I added JT Strongarm stabilizers to my 6 point leveling system and I still feel vibration. I am not even sure they even helped and they were expensive with a decent amount of install time.
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Old 12-15-2021, 03:10 PM   #18
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Thanks dsol, I had my walk through yesterday. I learned I only have two sets of stabilization jacks. The landing gear at the front, and Jack in the back. That's it. The service technician, who is a full time rver, suggested getting two more jack stands to put on either side, in front of the wheels, or at the very least, wood blocks to go under all the touch points, to provide more stability. He emphasized the importance of what he called the "half and half rule" of stabilization jacks. Half "solid" steel support of the jack legs, and half "hole-y" or "wood" or "other" block under the solid part of the jack. This must be what people are referring to about fully extending the jacks? Because the bottom half is full of holes (for high adjustment)? The transport guy had to reschedule the delivery, which is awesome for me personally. I've got until Monday to get wood blocks, 12 to 18 inches thick, cut for the landing gear and back jacks. Or just buy leveling blocks.
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Old 12-19-2021, 04:14 AM   #19
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My last comment is don’t get too hung up on trying to get it perfect before you start using it. You can always make tweaks as you go. What works for others might not work for you.
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