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A few pre-purchase, Bobcat buyer questions...

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#1 michael13

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 02:38 PM

I'm close to pulling the trigger on a Bobcat shell, but looking for some info from owners about their experience with some of the options.

 

1. If you got the roof fan, are you happy with it's performance and did you place it fore or aft? Is  a second vent a worthwhile investment? I will be in desert heat as well as cooler mountain areas.

 

2. Do you find it's bright enough inside to not need the optional small rear window?

 

3. Are you happy with the furnace/cooktop's performance, and what size tank comes with it?

 

4. If you had solar mounted, does it work well with the supplied controller? Do you wish you'd had more panels added?

 

5. Your experience with the couch/bed - just OK for occasional bed use, or really comfy?

 

I appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences with me!  This deciding how to build it out is the most nerve-racking journey I've had in quite a while, maybe you went through something similar when you bought?

 

I will speak with Marty again before placing my order, but I wanted to hear from owners - thanks!


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#2 ski3pin

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 04:10 PM

I'm close to pulling the trigger on a Bobcat shell, but looking for some info from owners about their experience with some of the options.

 

1. If you got the roof fan, are you happy with it's performance and did you place it fore or aft? Is  a second vent a worthwhile investment? I will be in desert heat as well as cooler mountain areas.

 

2. Do you find it's bright enough inside to not need the optional small rear window?

 

3. Are you happy with the furnace/cooktop's performance, and what size tank comes with it?

 

4. If you had solar mounted, does it work well with the supplied controller? Do you wish you'd had more panels added?

 

5. Your experience with the couch/bed - just OK for occasional bed use, or really comfy?

 

I appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences with me!  This deciding how to build it out is the most nerve-racking journey I've had in quite a while, maybe you went through something similar when you bought?

 

I will speak with Marty again before placing my order, but I wanted to hear from owners - thanks!

First congrats on your camper order! Enjoy the ride.

 

1. We put one fan over the cooking area of the counter. No need for another hole over the bed. If it's hot we have two big windows in the sideliner on both sides. We sleep north/south with the slider pulled out so our heads are close to the one fan anyway.

 

2. No rear window. Too small for much light and with our side dinette configuration, Julie's back is against that wall anyway. We have never found it dark and gloomy in the camper. Plenty of light for us.

 

3. We have the Atwood furnace installed at the time by ATC. It works well. I installed a simple digital thermostat. I installed a SMEV surface mount stove. Both work well and the 20lb. tank. You will learn to read the poor tank gauge and get experience with use and remaining supply.

 

4. I installed 200 Watts on the roof to support a 100ah AGM battery. I use a Ctek dual controller. It handles charge from the alternator and from the panels.

 

 

5. Don't have a long couch/side bed.

 

Best of luck with your decisions and I hope I've helped.

 

Say Hi to Marty for me. :) Been toooooooo long since we've been down for a visit.

 

 

For reference - Building Our New Camper


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#3 JeffWright

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 04:21 PM


I'm close to pulling the trigger on a Bobcat shell, but looking for some info from owners about their experience with some of the options.

 

1. If you got the roof fan, are you happy with it's performance and did you place it fore or aft? Is  a second vent a worthwhile investment? I will be in desert heat as well as cooler mountain areas.

 

I have the Fantastic Fan above the bed and then the metal vent above the center.  I really like the setup and would definitely recommend it.  Really great for cooking or cooling it down in a hurry.  Cross flow is key.  

 

2. Do you find it's bright enough inside to not need the optional small rear window?

 

I don't have the small window.  I think the normal big window is enough.  

 

3. Are you happy with the furnace/cooktop's performance, and what size tank comes with it?

Works great.  My only criticism is if I'm using the slide out extension on the bed it covers the stove.  I think I'd rather have the sink covered and the stove free (for the morning coffee).  

 

4. If you had solar mounted, does it work well with the supplied controller? Do you wish you'd had more panels added?

Depends on your power needs.  If you're camping in the winter in the Northwest you're power generation is going to be much different than the southwest in the summer. I'd say get yourself a compressor DC fridge and skip the 3 way propane fridge.  (don't ever use the DC function on the 3 way fridge as even when you're driving you're running at a loss and if you forget about it when you stop you're down to 50% in an hour or two.).

 

If you do this you're going to need more power.  I'd have Marty run you heavier gauge wire from the roof just in case.  I think I'd also have him put a port somewhere that is reachable to run a portable solar panel (much more effective especially in the winter when you're normal panel is pointed straight up).  If you go with the compressor fridge I'd maybe step up to a victron system with a shunt to monitor the in and out on your power (remember you only have 50% usable power if you are using AGM batteries and if you run them below that you'll damage them.)

 

5. Your experience with the couch/bed - just OK for occasional bed use, or really comfy?

 

Never use it for sleeping.  Rely too much on the other resources (stove etc) of the camper to use it much with the top down.  the couple of times I've used it have been when I've had friends staying and I think the leg system is mediocre.  

 

 

Marty is the man!  

 

I appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences with me!  This deciding how to build it out is the most nerve-racking journey I've had in quite a while, maybe you went through something similar when you bought?

 

I will speak with Marty again before placing my order, but I wanted to hear from owners - thanks!


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#4 jimjxsn

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 05:06 PM

I'm close to pulling the trigger on a Bobcat shell, but looking for some info from owners about their experience with some of the options.

 

1. If you got the roof fan, are you happy with it's performance and did you place it fore or aft? Is  a second vent a worthwhile investment? I will be in desert heat as well as cooler mountain areas.

 

2. Do you find it's bright enough inside to not need the optional small rear window?

 

3. Are you happy with the furnace/cooktop's performance, and what size tank comes with it?

 

4. If you had solar mounted, does it work well with the supplied controller? Do you wish you'd had more panels added?

 

5. Your experience with the couch/bed - just OK for occasional bed use, or really comfy?

 

I appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences with me!  This deciding how to build it out is the most nerve-racking journey I've had in quite a while, maybe you went through something similar when you bought?

 

I will speak with Marty again before placing my order, but I wanted to hear from owners - thanks!

 

Hi Michael,

Congratulations, I went round and round when our ATC Panther was being built.  We had plenty of time after putting in the order to make changes in the build.  

 

1. Roof Vents - I went with both vents, with the fantastic fan in the rear.  We seldom use the one over the bed and in hindsight might have left it out.

 

2. I would have gotten the rear window but opted for a right rear cabinet for extra storage.  That extra pantry is fantastic but you loose the back window and they had to shorten the couch to fit the pantry.

 

3. The propane tank is 20lbs and for us lasts more than a year per fill.  The furnace works great for us.  We swapped out the factory stove for a SMEV sink/burner combo which works great.  We actually seldom cook inside and I wanted to have more counter space.

 

4. Solar - I added my own solar.  I have the stock AGM battery and a 180w panel.  We have a Truckfridge TB51 that the combination seems to keep up with just fine. 

 

5. Couch/bed - The couch is comfortable but see #2 above.  The negative is that with a small camper it takes up much of the isle when folded out.  I don't have that problem with the 84" wide Panther but it was a problem in our old FTC Ranger.  And in our case the Truckfridge sits in the isle so we can't easily fold the couch down anyway.

 

You can see my setup here - https://www.wanderth...anther-is-born/

 

Best of luck with your new camper!


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#5 Wandering Sagebrush

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Posted 10 June 2020 - 07:15 PM

I'm close to pulling the trigger on a Bobcat shell, but looking for some info from owners about their experience with some of the options.

 

1. If you got the roof fan, are you happy with it's performance and did you place it fore or aft? Is  a second vent a worthwhile investment? I will be in desert heat as well as cooler mountain areas.

Yes on both vents.   The fantastic is good, but needs more speed control.  Ask for an upgrade.

2. Do you find it's bright enough inside to not need the optional small rear window?

I didn’t want one, but it was bright enough.

3. Are you happy with the furnace/cooktop's performance, and what size tank comes with it?

I opted to use a camping stove to leave more counter space, no sink either.  A plastic tub was fine.

 

4. If you had solar mounted, does it work well with the supplied controller? Do you wish you'd had more panels added?

I had a 150 watt, and it was fine.  I’m not sure about the controller, but it seemed to do the job. 

5. Your experience with the couch/bed - just OK for occasional bed use, or really comfy?

I had a side dinette.  If doing it again, I would not have a dinette or couch, as I felt it took up too much floor space.  I’d go with a long narrow cabinet to sit on and store gear.

I appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences with me!  This deciding how to build it out is the most nerve-racking journey I've had in quite a while, maybe you went through something similar when you bought?

 

Consider a shell with a furnace and counter on the driver side.  I found I didn’t have enough room for me, my pointing dogs and gear.  
 

Marty and team are the best.  If I get another pop up, it will be another ATC, and it will be a larger shell.  Think about Yakima tracks.
 

I will speak with Marty again before placing my order, but I wanted to hear from owners - thanks!


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#6 michael13

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 12:06 PM

Thanks West, Ski, Jeff, Jim, and Sage! A lot of good info there to help me decide which way to go. I will look into the SMEV stove, I like the flush mount idea, that will look and function better. And I guess I can do without the small rear window, and maybe even the couch. I need to think about alternatives for seating if I go without. I will get the 150 watt solar panel mounted and upgrade to a lithium battery. And now leaning toward getting 2 vents, one with an upgraded fan. Thanks guys!


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#7 Missing Link

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 02:17 PM

We had the small rear window, not so much for light but it does enable you to see what's going on behind your camper (traffic-wise) a bit better than just the side mirrors and the rear door window.   


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#8 takesiteasy

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 02:33 PM

We have a Bobcat shell and like it. You can see our camper in our blog linked in the signature. As others have said, i would be sure to get upgraded wiring to the solar panel- 10 ga. min. We have 160 watts on the roof which is sufficient but bigger wiring would improve it. Don't have the small rear window and don't miss it. We got 2 power vents and would only get one if doing again. We went with bench seating and like it - no kitchen, cook outside. We got the furnace and like having that.

 

Good luck with your camper purchase. ATC is a good company.


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#9 Ronin

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 03:08 PM

First of all I'm giving you feedback based on my Panther shell.

 

1 - I have a power vent above the stove to exhaust co2 as well as cooking odors to some extent. I also have a non 

     powered vent the bed for additional ventilation. I don't know if it's really necessary but we open it on really hot 

    nights.

 

2 - I do not have the small rear window as I opted to go with an AT can holder and Rotopack on each side. I like a 

     of lot of light so I added a drivers side window installed in addition to the passenger and front windows.

 

3 - The cooktop works ok, but I wish it was bigger. It's a tight fit for a 10" pan and a small sauce pot. I also carry 

     my Jetboil when I just need water for coffee or something instant to eat.

 

4 - I don't have solar. I use a portable 120W flexible flat panel solar charger. Marty pre-wired a plug-in on the roof 

     and one near the passenger side. I'm very frugal with my power use and my 100AH battery has lasted 4 days in 

     98* heat without charging. I pack the charger but seldom ever use it as I'm generally on the move. The charger 

     is handy at home since my camper is parked several 100' ffrom my home.

 

5 - I have a modified side dinette and the couch/bed is very comfortable.

 

6 - You didn't ask but if you're going to have a furnace consider a Propex. Marty prepped the cabinet for mine 

     including the exhaust port, gas line, and electrical so that I could do the final install at home.

 

    Marty will build you a great camper. PM me if you'd like some pics or maybe see my rig before going to the ATC

    factory. I'm about 45 east of ATC.

 

    Congratulations!!


Edited by Ronin, 11 June 2020 - 03:18 PM.

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#10 rando

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 04:24 PM

One point for both ATC and FWC - if you are handy just get the 'solar prewire' so that the wires are run to the roof and then get the solar yourself.   You can get a much better system for less money.   Another option to consider are the yakima tracks (I assume ATC offers these) for mounting panels and other accessories.   Better to have the factory install these just so they will deal with any roof penetration issues.   
 

I have a FWC not an ATC but got two vents, both with fans.   I wouldn't do that again, we almost never turn on the forward fan (the one over the stove provides plenty of air) and only crack the for airflow.   I would certainly only get one fan, and and maybe only 1 vent total. 


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