Trailer Modifications - Escape 21
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1996 Trip Across the USA
2011 Trip Across US & Canada
Trailer Modifications - Escape 17B
Here are some modifications & Additions I've made to my Escape 21 Travel Trailer. For those not familiar with the Escape, they currently manufacturer an Escape 17B (which I had for 6 years), an Escape 19, an Escape 21, and an Escape 5.0TA, a 21' fifth wheel. All are trailers constructed with a 2 part fiberglass shell (top & bottom) that produce lightweight, pretty near leak free trailers. There is no frame - insulation & aircraft vinyl is added to the inside of the fiberglass skin. For those interested in how fiberglass trailers are constructed, I have a page of Build Photos for my 21. Escape sends them a couple times a week as the trailer is built.
Like my former 17B, the 21 has all the "stuff" found in a larger stick built trailer, and the additional 4' let me have some features that just wouldn't fit in the 17. Still a wet bath (the shower and toilet are in the same space) but I now have a built in microwave, a real gas oven, a 6 cubic foot 2 door, 3 way refrigerator, a full size bed and a 4 person dinette with wrap around seating.
While many of the modifications I did to my 17 are either now standard or available as options on the 21, I still end up doing modifications to make the trailer better suit my needs.
I has Escape install a cell phone antenna, a WireNg Marine cell antenna that is the same model I added to the 17, and a XM Radio antenna that has more gain than the stock magnetic antenna that comes with the XM Radio (and which doesn't stick to fiberglass all that well!)
|WireNg Cell Antenna||XM Antenna||XM Radio & Outside Thermometer|
A couple of other additions were made during my orientation session at Escape so that they were positioned where I wanted them. They added a Springfield table support, and three Umbra hooks, cutting 2 of them to fit the spaces I chose.
|Springfield Adjustable Table Mount||Umbra By the Door||Umbra On Bathroom Wall||Umbra On Refrigerator Wall|
Another minor addition was a paper towel rack. I like this model, combined with Viva paper towels (Viva because they rarely unroll while traveling).
One of the first modifications I did was to install a battery monitor. The Bogart Industries TriMetric TM2030-A monitor consists of two parts, a large shunt through which all the battery current (in & out) runs, and the monitor itself. The advantage of the battery monitor is it measures amp hours in & out, a far more accurate indication of the state of charge of the batteries than the indicator built into the solar controller, or the meter built into the trailer.
|The Shunt||The Monitor|
Another early addition was LED lights in the upper storage cabinets. Escape won't install the lights, but will add electrical drops in each cabinet which made the process much easier than in the 17. Like the 17, I used manual switches rather than magnetic or other "automatic" switches. I prefer to be able to leave the doors open during cold weather without the lights on.
I would have liked to have sent them the JVC radio I installed in the 17, but it is no longer made & the FM sensitivity specifications on the closest replacement were not as good. Since that was the main reason for buying the JVC, I looked else where. I sent them a Kenwood KDC-BT765HD, which looked good on paper. Unfortunately, in actual use, it was worse than my truck radio (which is worse than the old RAV4 radio) picking up distant stations. So, one of my early projects was to change the radio for a Pioneer DEH-X8800BHS. Better than the Kenwood, but still not up to the JVC. Boy do I miss that radio! I like to listen to NPR radio & classical stations, both which are usually low power & far between. Now if I liked country, that seems to be available anywhere...
Since I often use my iPhone as a internet radio, I added a phone holder next to the head of the bed:
|Cell Phone Holder|
I ordered the 21 with 2 160 watt solar panels on the roof, and a Zamp (SAE) connector for my portable 160 watt panel. One of the modifications that will be helpful during the winters I spend at Quartzsite is to make the roof panels tiltable. The flat panels work fine during the summer when the sun is overhead (and the days are longer) but even with the usually clear winter skies at Quartzsite, the low angle sun doesn't put much energy into the flat mounted panels other than an hour or two around noon.
The plan was to tilt the panels perpendicular to the trailer length, however to do that and keep the mounting hardware installed by Escape, I'd need to find 2" heavy duty aluminum hinges, preferable with at least 1/4" removable hinge pins. So, at least for now, they are going to tip towards the back of the trailer.
|Tilting Details||Tilting Details||Rear Panel & Ladder||Both Tilted|
Like my 17B, I wanted to carry a ladder to reach the roof for cleaning, adjusting the solar panels, etc. Since the 21 is wider, I was able to purchase a 6' folding ladder rather than the 5' I added to the 17. Essentially, the same storage; a 5" vinyl fence post bolted to the trailer frame. The 6' ladder is sturdier than the 5' since it was available as a two sided ladder.
|Ladder Storage||The Mount||The Mount||Lag Bolts to 2"X2"|
|The Cover||4"X4" Blocks||Glow Ball Mount||Glow Ball|
I added a mount to the rear bumper for an 8' adjustable pole (a paint roller extension) that I use for either my glow ball or a external WiFi transmitter/receiver. Since I am using an AT&T Mobley unit for my internet connection here at Quartzsite, I put the glow ball on the post.
That is it so far, but I will be adding to this page as I add things to the trailer.
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Last Update: March 12, 2018