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rv Product Review

Palomino River Ranch, a True Pedigree in the Fifth Wheel Category

Jeff Johnston:  After years in the industry, we finally purchased our first RV, and it’s pretty exciting for us. This is a Palomino Model 1240 fold-down truck camper. Now, my wife, Pam, and I have spent decades in all kinds of RVs, everything from fold-down tent trailers to giant motor homes, and we knew early on that this is the kind of RV that we would want eventually. We’ve been in several different kinds of fold-downs from different manufacturers over the years. Every time we were in one, we had a better idea that, yes, this is gonna be right for us. We like the fact that it’s a little bit lighter weight, which is better for the truck and better for handling. The low center of gravity with the top down means it drives and handles well. It just feels really, really good on the road. It’s a little bit pushed around when you’re out on the prairie like in Nebraska, and you got that crosswind, but, otherwise, you know, it works pretty well in that respect. Again, it’s a little bit lighter weight, and that means a lot when it comes to matching a truck and a camper without overloading the truck. 

Well, there’s no getting around it. The Palomino is right at the bottom end of the truck camper price scale. We had the option of using other brands, but Palomino was one of our show sponsors, so it made sense to use their product. And also, we specifically chose something on the lower price scale like this to demonstrate that you don’t have to spend the maximum amount of money in order to get an RV that will provide a lot of fun and adventure. And this is just a preview of some of the things that we’ve done to the camper so far.

One of the great, fun parts of owning an RV is customizing it to suit exactly your preferences in camping and travel style. That’s what we’ve been doing, and we’re gonna tell you all about it. Regular viewers will remember the segment we’ve recently ran on adding the full-body graphic wrap to the camper. This one was done by Graphix Unlimited in Bremen, Indiana, and a graphic wrap like this is a terrific way to make your RV stand out like none other on the road and give it that wonderful touch of personality.

Now, there are some parts of the Palomino that are just fine as they are. We’re not gonna tear it down to the bones and put it all back together again. We’re not a home-improvement show, so we don’t have to do that. For example, up here in the cab-over part of the camper is the mattress, and even though this is a lower-priced unit, the mattress is wonderfully comfortable. We’ve slept on it just great over the last few nights that we’ve been in it. It’s long enough to accommodate my height, wide enough for both my wife and I, and it takes our Travel Sack sleeping bag wonderfully.

Now, at the factory level, one of the things that we added was the Truma AquaGo water heater. This is one of those tankless, endless-supply water heaters. Works really well. We’ve used these before in previous RVs, and they’re really wonderful. Another equipment device we’ve added that’s kind of part of the system is the VarioHeat furnace. The VarioHeat is compact, very fuel-efficient, very electrical-efficient, and it’s quiet, so you can run that inside of a small vehicle like this without driving yourself out in the middle of the night. We have a complete segment coming up on the VarioHeat, including a test in an environmental test chamber.

Now, back here is another example of something you can do to dress up your RV. We had Herb Martinez, a friend of mine, do a little bit of pin-striping on this. Herbie’s been doin’ this a long time, and it doesn’t take much pin-striping to add a real touch of interest to an RV.

Boondocking is definitely in our camping plans. To help accommodate that, we installed a Go Power Solar Elite solar-charging system with a 2,000-watt inverter. The solar panels go up on the roof. There’s plenty of room for them. That was great. And we were able to build a cabinet inside to accommodate the inverter. There’s not a lot of extra cabinet space inside of a fold-down camper like this, but we came up with what we think is a pretty good solution for that.

For the sake of full disclosure, when Palomino built this camper, they did not do anything special other than the equipment installs based on us being a television show and putting this on the air. It’s pretty much just like anybody else would get it. The flip side of that is we’ve already had some problems with it, mainly up here where the fabric attaches to the wall. We’ve had that come loose
a couple of times, which has called for us having to do some repairs in the campgrounds. We don’t wanna have to do that anymore, so we’re gonna figure out something to do with this. The dealer told us we could come in somewhere in about three months before they could look at it, let alone repair it. Three months to wait for a dealer is not gonna cut it in this case. We’re gonna see what else we can do.

One of the standard features on a 1240 is it comes with a flush toilet, a black holding tank, and I guess, worst of all, the dump valve, which is right out here on the back wall of the camper, seriously ugly out there, so we deleted that at the factory. They didn’t install the toilet or any of that hardware. We opted to be able to use our porta potty instead. The advantage there is we can dump the porta potty anywhere we want to where it’s legal, a pit toilet or a regular RV dump station. If we have the black tank installed here, then we have to use an RV dump station. We’ve gotta carry an extra-long sewer hose in order to reach the station over there, and we don’t have enough extra storage space in this rig. So the porta potty really solved the problem for us, and the porta potty also sits on a raised platform we built out of plywood that brings the porta potty up closer to our level that we want it, and it’s a cool spot underneath to be able to store some shoes.

Getting your RV dialed in is a long-term project, but it’s great fun, and the result, when you’re finished, not like you’re ever really completely finished, is a rig that is exactly the way you want it with the equipment and hardware and accessories that provide the kind of camping and traveling adventure fun and comfort that you want. We’re having great fun with this, so we’re gonna continue showing our destination stories, what we’re doing with the camper, as well as the hardware and the pieces of equipment and details about those, about what we put on the camper, so stay tuned. We’ll bring you more of the Palomino project on, “Rollin’ on TV.”