Almost 5 years ago we purchased a 2013 Winnebago Sunstar 26HE, which we affectionately call our Big White Box (BWB).
Over the years we have enjoyed 51 RV trips, mainly short trips to the beaches and the mountains close to the San Francisco Bay Area. However, we have also travelled along the Oregon Coast all the up to Portland, and also all the way to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.
Over the years, we’ve made a few upgrades that made dry-camping easier and more enjoyable. Here’s a list of our mods:
- MCD solar shades to the interior – The RV came with MCD night shades, which provide privacy at night, The solar shades allow you to see out the windows even on a sunny and hot day, and obscure the view into the RV.
- LP Connections inside and outside – The outside connection enables us to use the large onboard LP tank for grilling. The indoor connection enables us to connect a catalytic heater, which uses much less LP and electricity than the furnace on cold nights.
- 3-stage converter/charger – This enables us to keep the RV plugged in while in storage, so the batteries were well maintained and the BWB ready to go on a trip at a moments notice.
- Trik-L-Start Charger – This extended the benefits of the 3-stage charger to the chassis battery, too.
- AGM batteries – I increased the size of the batteries to Group 31, and used AGM batteries because they are maintenance free and charge faster,
- TPMS – To ensure a safe drive, we added a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which provides a warning ahead of time of unsafe (too hot, rapid pressure loss, etc.) tire conditions.
- Dually Valve Stems – Since the TPMS sensors are mounted to the tire valve stems, I upgraded them from rubber to metal for durability and safety.
- Scan Gauge – Provides much more information on gas mileage and engine conditions than the factory trip computer.
- Apple TV – I connected an HDMI cable from the built-in TV so I could connect an Apple TV. Since the Apple TV can connect peer to peer, we can watch photos and videos we’ve taken during the day on the large screen. It’s also good for watching movies on a rainy day.
- Kitchen faucet – Replaced the original kitchen faucet with a metal faucet that pulls out for ease of use.
- Tap lights – These illuminate the inside of cabinets and closets and storage compartments.
While the BWB worked well for us, there were things that Winnebago could improve on.
- First, the ride of the Sunstar on anything but smooth roads could be noisy and bumpy. While improvements they have made to the suspension made traveling in windy conditions good, a smoother ride would greatly improve comfort for longer drives.
- The Lippert hydraulic leveling jacks always worked for us, but they could be a bit finicky at times. Several times when leaving a site, the jacks down light and alarm would suddenly come on and I would have to stop and “retract” them again, even though they were already retracted. Spraying them with silicone spray before retracting them helped some, and I read that Lippert has recommended an additive when you have this condition.
- The standard electrical system that came with the coach was, let’s just say, basic. The items I mentioned adding in the list above helped a great deal, but it should have come from the factory with at least a 3-stage charger/converter.
- The front cap is not insulated, which made the A/C work extra hard on hot days, with a noticeable temperature different between the front and back of the RV.
However, for it’s few faults, we really enjoyed the BWB. When you have a motorhome, the drive is part of the fun. We loved sitting high above the traffic, with a great view of the road and sometimes breathtaking view of the scenery. We loved having a motorhome fully equipped and ready to go at a moments notice. We loved the overall quality of build that Winnebago provided, even for it’s entry-level class A motorhome. We loved taking our home with us on 51 memory making camping trips. We will miss the BWB.
On the other hand, we are also really looking forward to our new 2017 Winnebago Adventurer 35P. The Adventurer line is the best gas-powered Class A motorhome that Winnebago makes, as we are looking forward to some of the new amenities and additional room. I also like the name as we look forward to many more RV trips in our future.
Adventure is out there!
Al & Debbie
Congratulations! Bittersweet, I’m sure. Found my way here RVillage! Glad I stopped by. Safe travels, Dawn
Thanks, Dawn! Yes, it is bittersweet. RVs seem to take on a personality, which is probably why so many people name them. I’m hoping the next owner takes good care of it and has many great memories as well. At the same time, we are REALLY looking forward to the new, as yet to be named, RV! RVillage.com is a great way to connect. Thanks for finding us there!
Did you look at the Winnebago FORZA 34T?
I did look at it pretty thoroughly, and I can see why it’s so popular. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for in terms of amenities and trim, but looks like a great motorhome.
I also decided that I wanted to stay with gas for the foreseeable future. I average less than 4000 miles per year of driving.
I’m doing 20,000 per year with my 2015 ERA and Coast Guard duties. FORZA will probably be my next purchase. Also, I’m camping this month with the Winnebago factory at the Sea Otter bike classic at Laguna Monterey and at Salt Creek state beach at Jenner. Any recommendations at either?
We’ve stayed at Wrights beach close to Jenner. Our favorite close to Monterey is the Moss Beach KOA.
A Forza would give you quite a bit more room! :-). The Nomadic Natives on YouTube have a Forza and could be a good source on info on it. Take care!
Can you provide details on how you installed the 3 stage converter/charger in your 2014 26xe. I have a 2012 Vista 26p but do not know how to get that done.
I wish I could! My mechanic did all the work and I never though to document it back then. I think I paid about two hours labor for the work, in addition to the converter/charger. It was really worth it, though, as I was able to keep the RV plugged in while in storage.