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Northern Lite Pros & Cons ??


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#1 OFFLINE   tooldude

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 08:26 PM

Shopping for my second truck camper. Have inspected a 1999 model "TEN 2000". It seems very clean & well taken care of & I plan on going back for a second long look.

This is the one & only Northern Lite I have ever seen so I am looking for any insight I can on this brand. As I said before it looks very nice and at this point I'm most concerned about the age of the camper, 11+ yrs. old makes me wander what kind of issues I could looking at in the future.

#2 OFFLINE   canyonwren

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 08:58 AM

We liked our NL when we had it. The construction was good and we never had a problem. I have read that there may be problems with the carpeted walls and ceilings. Some condensation in cold weather and some say it holds smells. I didn't experience either. I was a bit tall for ours, had to make sure I took off my shoes and never wear a hat. Ours was a 8' 11" classic queen, so the bathroom was a bit cramped. I liked the windows, the vent above the bed, and the quiet interior it provided. Probably would still one it if my wife didn't want more room. Hope that helps and starts the conversations.

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#3 OFFLINE   Retired Mech.1998

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 10:35 AM

We had a Northern Lite 10 2 RR over all it was a very good camper.a few items were not so good. The drawer supports broke at the rear on all but 1.& it developed a water leak driping out around the front driver side tydown. We sold it before i could find the cause.Also the storage for the drain hose was a joke. Kurt
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#4 OFFLINE   RichConley

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 11:49 AM

mjgcamper use to post a lot on this forum and he had a Northern Lite.
At first he complained a lot about leaks. . .the usual camper type leaks. . .through-roof-fittings where the caulk had failed. Same as every camper.
I talked with him a couple years after his initial problems were fixed and he was very satisfied with his camper.

I would place the Northern Lite in the top three of my camper selections.
The down side is that it doesn't have a slide. I'm also worried about the passenger side windows (acrylic I believe) because we do a lot of highway "brushwacking" where the early spring growth on trees intrudes into the roadway. The passenger side of our camper has many many faint brush marks - I'm not sure that I could polish out acrylic windows if we had them.

The owner of Northern Lite was savvy enough to avoid the recession fate of many of his competitors (all great camper manufacturers) of bankruptcy. That alone says something about management's positional thinking.

#5 OFFLINE   tooldude

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 05:14 AM

With the added basement height, 14" I think, does that make the effort getting in & out a challenge? It does have the swing out handle & scizzor like steps but it is on the off the truck now so i didn't get to use the steps.

Also it does not have air, do they stay cooler in heat? My old camper I didn't run air much, really just to cool it off before going to bed.

#6 OFFLINE   kerry4951

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 07:12 AM

My experience with RV's tells me they all got hot inside if they are in the heat. I think it depends on where and when you camp. I personnaly would not own an RV without AC, since we spend alot of time down south and in the south-west. In the summer time I could not stand being inside my TC without AC, atleast at night while sleeping.

#7 OFFLINE   canyonwren

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 08:29 AM

With the added basement height, 14" I think, does that make the effort getting in & out a challenge? It does have the swing out handle & scizzor like steps but it is on the off the truck now so i didn't get to use the steps.


Tooldude, now that you mention it, I didn't like the scissor steps either! Don't remember what the NL 2000 has, but our new steps are much more substantial.
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#8 OFFLINE   Hopper

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 07:15 PM

Got to say We love our Q Classic 9-6
A few minor bugs but thats with every camper I think.
I agree that the storage for the 3 " black hose was a bit rinky dink but I replaced that with rigid abs plumbing pipe.
Our unit has the folding steps attached to the bumper, their great !
Going to Florida again with the rig in Feb. and looking forward to it.

Good luck
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#9 OFFLINE   mjgcamper

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 09:43 PM

In 7 years of ownership I have fixed a total of 4 plumbing leaks and 18 other leaks. I can account for each one. Not many will believe this, but, In general I thank NL campers for teaching me to be a very good leak detector and repair technician.

The things I've found in general are over cut window openings and compartment door openings on the fiberglass body so the exterior flanges (Window and hatch frames) did not have much sealing surface or overlap on the fiberglass . Another issue is lack of proper bedding and sealing of any of the exterior mounted hardware between the body and mounted frames.

Most of my leaks happened in the first few years of new ownership so it does not necessarily come under the list of maintenance. Anyhow the way they don't seal the bolts and mounting screws, the perimeter hardware caulk encourages water to funnel thru/ into the bolt and screws holes. I found that they do not bother to pre tap the bolt and screw holes. They just drive in the screws and bolts with a cordless drill. This goes to shattering the fiberglass around the screws and bolts. this further ruins any chance for a good seal around the fasteners.

Look under 'Camper Sag' on this forum. You will see Pics on how my NL basement (this can get deleted off the forum at times by now) is being crushed upward from weak basement structure and virtually non existing structure in the heaviest area of load coming off the rear end of the bed or rear camper overhang. It took me all of 2 days to restructure this part. It's a lot better now, more still needs to be done. NL campers offered to do a repair for free but, most of the work was done by then. I must say they did this after 7 years of ownership which is commendable.

There is still another problem too and that is the shower will drain very slow when the grey tank is 1/3 full. It's very annoying. This is even when the camper is leveled.

Sometimes I feel like leveling it with a stick of dynomite instead, but, love to go camping too much. I do enjoy it. I guess I got the lemon. I'm used to the taste by now.

I must say that Keith has a chance to build a hell of a good camper with just a few changes in quality control. It would add about a thousand in manufacturing perhaps but, a lot better camper then.

Oh..... if you like to winter camp the mattress is ice cold so you'll need to change that out to a solid foam mattress for the insulation factor there. BigFoot already does this.

If the person that posted above about the water coming out of the tie down bracket, I know exactly what is wrong there. You can pm me if you wish or I can fix it for you.

Edited by mjgcamper, 30 December 2010 - 09:55 PM.

To go see the Northern lights, Alaska, Queen Charlot Islands, all of B.C., Alberta too, To travel every back road inside the American and Canadian Rockies. Not a 'Grand Potentate', just grand while in the mountains, fire going, bears all around, no work to do.

#10 OFFLINE   tooldude

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 02:50 PM

MJG, thanks for reply.

I have read all your previous postings & you must of really got cursed with a lemon. Thanks for sharing your hardships because they have directed my inspection to places I might not of looked before hand.

Looked for the second time at the unit I'm considering. Very clean, solid unit. It's the only Northern Lite I've seen & it seems well built. It's ten years old & I found no evidence of leaks. I had drawers/panels open or out to look a every square inch I could see.

My only concern is the headliner has a couple sag spots. Any insight on repairing this?

#11 OFFLINE   mjgcamper

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 06:39 PM

MJG, thanks for reply.

I have read all your previous postings & you must of really got cursed with a lemon. Thanks for sharing your hardships because they have directed my inspection to places I might not of looked before hand.

Looked for the second time at the unit I'm considering. Very clean, solid unit. It's the only Northern Lite I've seen & it seems well built. It's ten years old & I found no evidence of leaks. I had drawers/panels open or out to look a every square inch I could see.

My only concern is the headliner has a couple sag spots. Any insight on repairing this?



I have not yet pulled down the headliner to see what they have behind the fabric. I think it is an open cell 1/4 inch foam backing cause you can feel the small amount of cushion while pushing on it. If that's the case and the foam is also loosened then the foam would have to be repaired with a new piece, especially if it is split by deterioration or acute tearing. It's possible you could adhesive it back up and then the fabric later, but, you'll need to make sure that the adhesive won't react with the foam and melt it or damage it. This is less of a problem with closed cell foam. Closed cell you can use the non water base contact cement without a problem. The 3M spray stuff actually is a contact cement, usually the very hot stuff and works fairly fast.

Contact cement requires that you get a coating on both mating surfaces and it must be dry to the touch first. Then they'll stick together well. Now there are two types of contact cement where one is a water base. While not as strong, it will not affect the foam. If you poke a hole in the loose area and spray in the 3M, you'll need to stick it back together while it is still wet in order to spread it to both surfaces. You may need to pull it back down for a few minutes to get the air to the two surfaces for some drying first and then stick it back up permanently. Alot of times I will pull up and down to sort of waft the air around the Contact cement surfaces. AS you get it to dry this way you will positivly be able to tell that it is getting stronger with each time you pull it down and reset it back up. At some point you'll be able to tell if you got it right as you will not be able to pull it down much with a good setting/ drying time. Some reacts very fast and others like the water base takes longer. Be sure you have heat. Better still if the fiberglass body is in warmer weather because you want both surfaces to be somewhat dry. Once it is getting a positive strength don't keep wafting it another time by pulling it loose again. It will set stronger as time goes by. The main thing is that it does not sag back down when you are all done and walk away from the job.

You can practice with it using a couple pieces of fabric first to see how things react with time and temps. I would wait till you know there is no condensation going to the fiberglass body. In other words a warm day in which you will not need heat to accomplish this. Cold weather is okay with the non water base cement, will take longer, but, heating the cabin on a cold day may cause moisture to build on the cold fiberglass body and may not stick well.

Sorry for the lengthy post. I seem to know it better with 'hands on' than explaining something like this. I hope it goes well for you.

Side note...... if the sagged fabric is loose at or near a separate seam, that would be an advantage to be able to look back there and get better access. Don't cut anything to do that as the fabric is probably stretched. Esp. in compound curved areas and would be difficult to get it back together again. I personally prefer to use the real stuff... the hot contact cement. If it does react with the foam, i.e. melting or whatever it would be very smart to not use much glue nor press it into place with your fingers. Rather use something that would not depress finger tip depressions in the foam.

You may find this to be easy to do and come out very well.

Mike

Hope this helps...

Edited by mjgcamper, 01 January 2011 - 06:49 PM.

To go see the Northern lights, Alaska, Queen Charlot Islands, all of B.C., Alberta too, To travel every back road inside the American and Canadian Rockies. Not a 'Grand Potentate', just grand while in the mountains, fire going, bears all around, no work to do.

#12 OFFLINE   RichConley

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 06:50 AM

Don't apologize for a lengthy thread. . .that's a good updated report and overall synopsis.
Someone hunting for this information in the future maybe grateful for it.
Thanks!

#13 OFFLINE   mypops

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 02:50 PM

We have a 2002 10-2000 which we purchased used in 2003. Overall it has been a very good camper for us. It is not a perfect camper but I suspect the perfect camper has yet to be built.

I think I know why the original owner sold it though. We bought it from a dealer and it was sitting on the jacks. After we had it a while we noticed that where the countertop meets the wall of the long cabinet (back end of the countertop) would open up about 3/16 of an inch when the camper was sitting in the truck bed. A few years later the wall below the long cabinet would buckle slightly when the camper was on the truck. Shortly after that a crack appeared in the fiberglass above the refrigerator. I called the factory about the crack to see if there was a major structual problem causing the crack that I needed to be worried about and they said what I was describing was indicitave of the camper having received major blow to the roof. When I took the camper to a boat shop to have the crack repaired the boat shop said when they started grinding out around the crack they could tell that someone had made a 'bond-o' repair in the area. So I suspect the original owner wanted to get rid of it before these problems showed. So far the flexing of the interior has not caused any problems. I guess that is the beauty of the NL contruction. Since reading about mjgcampers sagging problem I have cheched and double checked ours and do not have this problem.

After saying all of this what I am driving at is look for exterior fiberglass repairs. If there are areas that are yellowing that may indicate a repair has been done in that area. Of coarse all repairs might not indicate a major problem but it is at least something to look deeper into.

As for the AC we do have AC and do not use it very much but when it is really hot it is very nice to have.

A couple of years we wintered in AZ with the camper as home so we have used it as much or more than most campers get used.

Good luck
mypops




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