The new Helium way to keep your cool Pennsylvania RV owners

Atwood Heliem RV Refrigerator at Pennsylvania RV dealer

Atwood’s new helium-charged gas-absorption refrigerator

I recently saw my first Atwood ‘He’ RV Refrigerator in a new Keystone Passport.  It is a very sharp-looking RV refrigerator. The doors easily open and close, and the lay out of the shelving is nice.  With this being a brand new refrigerator technology that will be available in newer unit, I wanted to share with you this article from RV Business that I read a month ago or so.  The new Helium technology is quite interesting and should provide a stable product for many years to come.

The basic design of gas-absorption refrigerators — the type most often used in RV applications — hasn’t changed all that much since they first went into commercial use almost 90 years ago. Sure, they’ve been frequently upgraded with features that make them nearly the equivalent of compressor-driven residential units, and they’ve been restyled to today’s standards.

Operationally, however, they still employ the same original concept, using the same basic components — ammonia, hydrogen gas and water — in a closed system to create a chemical reaction that cools by way of evaporation.

That will change — to an extent — in August when Atwood Mobile Products plans a controlled roll-out of its new RV refrigerator because the new Atwood reefer incorporates helium instead of hydrogen.

According to Kip Ellis, vice president of sales and marketing for the Elkhart, Ind.-based supplier, the company wanted to focus on the technological side of it and what could be done to advance the refrigeration product that’s used in the RV segment today.

Helium, as Ellis explained, is a product that has been used for quite a long time in cooling — in hotel minibars, for example — and it has, from a cooling and gas-absorption standpoint, several similar properties to hydrogen.

“The challenge has been in how to adapt that technology effectively to the RV market,” he added. “The refrigerators are bigger units and they are subject to temperature swings and vibrations. Also, helium is a different element than hydrogen, so we had to reconfigure the system to accommodate the distinctions in helium versus hydrogen.”

Additionally, Atwood’s new reefer incorporates a state-of-the-art “anti-tilt system” built into the unit that shows the consumer on a lighted panel if the refrigerator is level. If it’s not level, it allows them to work to get to the point where it is. If they continue to operate it in an out-of-level position over the life of the unit, it has a counter built into it that will prevent the unit from getting to the point where it could fracture.

“If it’s used over and over in a manner that induces some sort of trauma to the system it will go into a lockout mode that requires the consumer to take it to a dealer for service work,” Ellis said.

Other aesthetic and functional features include two-way power system (AC and LP-gas), LED lighting, a door-ajar alarm, modern digital display and “cool crisper bins” that, Ellis noted, “use blue-hued light to further enhance the cooling aspect of the refrigerator in terms of a look and appearance for the consumer.”

Atwood is currently showing the refrigerator to RV OEMs — it will also be ultimately available as an aftermarket replacement — and plans are in the works to debut the unit with a “managed rollout” in mid-August. At least initially, the new reefer will be available in 6- and 8-cubic-foot models.

Making an old RV new again. RV Restoration.

1948 Westcraft Sequoia:the Redux

Unique Design Gets Modern Amenities

The Westcraft Manufacturing Company of Los Angeles and later Burbank, California, manufactured two different lines of trailers: Westwood and Westcraft. The earlier Westwood brand models included the Coronado, Montecito, Monterey, Tahoe and Sequoia. The Westcraft series included the Coronado, Montecito, Shasta, Sequoia and Yosemite models.

Westwoods were only built by Westcraft during the period from 1946 through 1948, and designs for each of these three model years were different and unique. The earlier Westwood series had a plain “bread loaf” appearance. The Westcraft company discontinued the Westwood models and began focusing exclusively on the “Pullman” roof Westcraft models by 1949.

westcraft travel trailer, RV, Lerch RV, camper, restored camper, RV restorationBoth types were top-quality trailers that used aircraft-construction methods with aluminum frame ribs, but they used heavier-gauge aluminum skin panels than many contemporary brands. All Westcraft models had painted exteriors, many in handsome two-tones. During the late 1940s and early ’50s, Westcraft trailers were considered to be among the highest quality trailers on the market. Thanks to their excellent construction, they rarely leaked at the outer seams, vents or windows, areas where many other trailers had problems. Unfortunately, production had stopped by 1955.

The 1948 Westcraft Sequoia featured here is owned by Justin and Anna Scribner of Bend, Oregon. Anna told us: “We found this trailer just outside of Vancouver, Washington. It was in pretty rough shape, but we instantly fell in love with it.”
To return it to its former glory, the exterior was stripped of its many coats of latex house paint, polished, etched primed and professionally painted. All windows were removed, all glass was replaced and window frames were all stripped and either polished or repainted. All window gasket and rubber was replaced. Both front, rear and all “trolley” or clerestory windows were re-screened with original-style copper screening.

westcraft travel trailer, RV, Lerch RV, camper, restored camper, RV restoration

The all wood interior turns the Westcraft Sequoia into a homey cabin on the road. Several modern amenities were added, all the while retaining the vintage look. A new awning was made, using Sunbrella fabric. All light bezels were rebuilt with new bases, but the original glass lenses were retained. Brand-new wheels were installed and painted to match with new white-wall tires. For safety, an entirely new LP-gas system was installed. The under carriage was prepped and cleaned, and rubberized under coating was applied.

The interior had to be gutted, with all existing cabinetry removed from the coach, repaired and re-skinned as needed and then refinished. Wall and ceiling panels were removed, and the trailer was reinsulated and completely rewired. The interior was then re-paneled using 1⁄8-inch birch, as would have been used in 1948. Expandable insulation was also shot into the floor, and a new sub floor was installed.

westcraft travel trailer, RV, Lerch RV, camper, restored camper, RV restorationEven the furniture stays anachronistic in the new Westcraft Sequoia.

Period-correct Marmoleum was installed with a border on each side with an inlaid Westcraft “W” at the entryway. A hidden surround-sound system was installed with a Blu-ray player and two 20-inch LCD screens, which are on motorized linear actuators that move up and down out of the cabinets. All of the appliances, including the stove, refrigerator and kerosene heater were dismantled, reconditioned and refinished to match; however the kerosene function of the heater was disabled for safety reasons.

Two forward cabinets were combined to make a bathroom, and a new toilet was installed. New stainless-steel counter-tops and a back-splash were fabricated and installed along with a new sink and faucet. An on-demand LP-gas water heater was added and vented through the roof. All new plumbing and drain lines were then installed.

Anna added, “We searched long and hard to find an original click-clack couch and finally found one in amazing original condition. All of the inserts for the trolley windows were re-manufactured on a CNC router; they are now better than the original with decorative metal trim. All cover plates, trim rings, etc. were also copied with a CNC machine and installed to match. Additional light fixtures were added in a tasteful way with several on a dimmer switch.”

westcraft travel trailer, RV, Lerch RV, camper, restored camper, RV restorationFor retro trailer campers, this is picture perfect.

Brand-new wooden blinds were installed with thick period-correct chocolate ribbons. Aluminum blinds were installed on the two doors and the original screen doors were reconstructed and refinished.

The final result is a great exciting travel trailer that looks like it did the day it rolled out of the factory, but includes some subtle creature comforts and safety features that weren’t available at the time.

Are you doing your own restoration project? Do you need RV parts?  If you do, give you central Pennsylvania RV Dealership a call at 800-722-1236.  Our RV parts and service teams will help guide you in the right direction.

Portions of this article are re-posts from Trailer Life Magazine.

See the advantages in the new Keystone RV Vantage.

“From the moment we pulled the cover off the trailer Tuesday morning, until the end of the show Thursday afternoon, dealers were talking about the new Vantage,” Matt Zimmerman, Keystone RV General Manager in charge of the new trailer and product line, stated at the recent unveiling of the Vantage.

Vantage travel trailer by Keystone RV

The Vantage was recently introduced at Keystone RV's Open House in Elkhart County, IN

The Vantage embodies a new concept in RV travel trailer styling that evokes timeless design while incorporating cutting-edge construction technology, according to company President Bob Martin.

“The Vantage was the brainchild of our senior operations group,” Martin said. “They wanted to do something that looks different, that uses a different construction process, and that was unlike anything on the market today.”

Vantage incorporates vacuum-bonded radius walls both inside and outside, unique front a back molded caps, LED lighting throughout, and for its size is surprisingly light weight.

“It’s not intentionally an ultra-lightweight but due to some of our construction techniques—vacuum-bonded side walls, laminated construction—it comes in fairly light,” he said.

The model that was on display at Keystone’s open house, and the recent RVDA Convention in Las Vegas, should be the largest the company builds – 34 feet in length and about 6,400 pounds, according to Martin.

“Ultimately we will offer it in an entire range of sizes, down into the smaller 20-foot lengths,” he said.

Keystone describes the look of the new Vantage as a “timeless beauty.” Cool-tone grey, high-gloss fiberglass covers the exterior accented by black bumper, wheel wells, and windows.  The look is includes exterior graphics highlighted by a silver Vantage logo on each side of the coach.

While the manufacturer suggested retail price has yet to be determined, the company expects the Vantage to fall within the “sweet spot” and appeal to a broad market, from baby-boomers to young families, according to Keystone. And that sweet spot may just put the new Vantage travel trailer  in price competition with other Keystone brands such as Outback and Sprinter.

This light weight travel trailer brings the Airstream flair to a lower price point.  The Vantage combines distinct styling with a European caravan feel, to produce a very rich, very open design in a modern camper.  The Vantage is loaded with interior storage options as well as an upscale feel in every aspect of the design.  The stainless steel kitchen appliances coupled with the plush furniture, bring a five-star feel to an affordable tow behind trailer.

Interior picture of the bedroom of the new Vantage by Keystone RV

An ultra modern and unique design awaits you in the new Vantage.

Ultra light, ultra modern and ultra hip, the Vantage is going to turn some heads while being towed to your favorite campground or resort.  Especially while being towed on the standard  Mor Ryde suspension.   The vantage sits lower to the ground than other Keystone products which should help with less wind resistance and equate to better gas mileage.  Especially with the rounded design of the front and rear caps.  The curved sidewalls, exterior and interior, create a 101″ wide body and provides a 7′ interior ceiling height.

There are many big advantages built into the new Vantage travel trailer.  You can see them all for yourself by visiting Pennsylvania’s first Vantage dealer, Lerch RV.   For more information on this brand new RV, please give us a call at 800-722-1236.

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!