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Mmoren

Under the Spell!

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Fuel cells are a cool concept but the Efoys don't create a lot of current.  They're more like a battery charging mechanism than a direct power source if that makes sense.  So it doesn't really replace a generator if you want to run an air conditioner, for example.  But it could replace / supplement solar panels.

 

OTOH if you consider lithium batteries to be too bleeding-edge, fuel cells definitely are.

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2018 OLEII #344   |   2018 Ford Expedition


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We have solar. We have the Zamp controller. Evidently it was changed and put in because it is simple to use. I like that and it works very well.  I do not plan on going into any controller and squeezing the last amp out. We had it put in so that solar would work for us, not the other way around. Guess the KISS principle at work.

 

We went with the standard counters. The "upgrades" are the same material just prettier and sit on top of the standard. I figure the wood panels can be refinished by me if I cut or burned them by accident. We just take extra care to protect our counters with cutting boards.

 

If you notice, any Oliver put on the classified area, doesn't stay unsold long. With that in mind we wanted to make sure that we maintained its greatest resale value. We figured the best way was to maintain standard items of the most demand. Instant hot water sounded great, but we have never run out with a standard unit. $$$ saved. Standard toilet has never let us down.. more $$$ saved. Standard counter. $$$ saved. Standard fabrics have served us and our traveling companion very well. Choices we guess would depend on how you plan to use the unit.

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In reference to solar options, for those outside the box, I’ve been following this thread and reading the associated literature, it’s very interesting and seems promising, especially size and weight.

 

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/the-fuel-cell-experiment-175300.html

 

 

That's a very interesting thread. Thanks

I'll follow it to see what real world use reveals.


2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4


2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

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Welcome Mmoren!

 

Well I'm late to this party. Congratulations on your choice of an Oliver and especially the Elite!! Not many of us out there to be sure.

 

We have two seasons experience in ours now. We seem to do most of our traveling in the shoulder seasons so we've had all kinds of weather and have been always so very comfortable and amazed at the shelter our little egg provides. After years of hunkering down under a tarp in pouring rain or blowing snow, I almost feel guilty being in there...I said almost!

 

Options I am really glad we got:

 

1. Solar. OK this is a source of debate here, but our 200 watt PV/service has given us all the power we need. Yes the panels are fixed to the roof and not adjustable, but this really hasn't been too much of an issue for us. We aren't big energy users. The lights are LED, so the only other power need is the water pump (minimal) and the furnace fan (that can draw some power). Maybe a DVD now and then. We don't need extra power for medical or other needs. On my short list, however, is to add some remote panels like what Reed has done. Reason is that often we will be parked in the shade to stay cool, but there is full sun just 20' away, so a remote panel really makes sense. One thing to consider about solar is that the charge controller should be as close to the battery bank as possible for best efficiency. So if your remote panels have a built in controller, they are quite a ways away from your batteries and there will be power loss. Perhaps someone who knows more about this could chime in. If you get the solar package, with the plug in for remote panels, you will be operating at much greater efficiency. You also wont have to have to be pulling out your batteries and putting clamps on them every time you want to charge up. AM Solar sells a nice Zamp suitcase PV panel with no charge controller which is the way I will go. You'll find a ladder very helpful to brush the snow off your panels if you travel in the off seasons!

 

https://amsolar.com/rv-solar-panels/solar-z120-f

 

2. Batteries. If you get the solar I would highly recommend upgrading to the AGM batteries. They have greater charge acceptance than the std batteries (charge quicker) and much greater capacity. They are a very high quality battery. The two fit like a glove in the battery box. Very glad I bought them!

 

3. Fabric upgrade. I found the commercial spec fabric Oliver offers a bit scratchy. So Anita told me how many yards they needed to do our Elite...16 yards IIRC. We went down to the local upholsterers shop and looked at many different materials. After we selected what we liked. They rolled it up and sent it off to Oliver's upholsterer. Couldn't have been easier! Then Oliver credited us for not using their fabric. In the end, the upgrade cost us an extra 75.00 and, really, I would have paid more. We love the feel and the look. The Oliver is pretty Zen inside, very simple, some may say stark. So don't underestimate the importance of the fabric you choose.

 

Lots of other options we choose are now std., like the reading lights, which we use more than anything else. Porcelain toilet is now std. as well.

 

We did spring for the Wifi and Cell booster. These have worked well. But when you are really out in the boonies the cell booster won't help you. Does work well in the fringe areas however.

 

Did not spring for the counter tops. We were already over budget. Figured I could install something later if I felt the need. So far I haven't!

 

If you can live without a microwave, absolutely delete it!! You will get a very useful cabinet in its place, and in the Elite, this is especially helpful as there is no real pantry like in the Elite 2. Can't imagine what a PITA it would be not to have that cabinet!

 

Finally, get a fridge button guard for your Dometic fridge: http://www.rvwidgetworks.com/Photo-Gallery.html  The Elite is narrower than the Elite 2 and sooner or later, you will bump the on/off button. Happened twice to me before I finally installed one. Luckily, I discovered the fridge was off before the ice cubes melted...God forbid...!

 

You're going to like your Elite. Very easy to tow and back up. A pleasure to camp in, and you can put them just about anywhere where the big rigs can't fit. We sure like ours. Good luck!!

 

Dave

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2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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Dave,

 

Great post. Thanks. One update I wanted to add to your great ideas regards the choice of upholstery fabric. Due to some problems with previous buyers the option to provide your own fabric no longer exists. The person Oliver uses now refuses to provide this service due to a bad experience with one (or more?) new owner who provided their own fabric and ended up not happy. Therefore, the choices my wife and I had for our new Elite were restricted only to what Oliver offered. We, though a bit disappointed, ended up going with the brown leather vinyl.


roguebooks

2017 Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

2018 Legacy Elite, Hull #309 

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Ok, one of the old school elite wnwrs checking in.

Yes, we have found our 200 watts of solar to be more than adequate for our needs. Especially since we upgraded to agm batteries, but even before that, we were ok.

Everyone has different camping styles and comfort zones, and needs. Our style is cool weather camping, so ac is pretty much irrelevant.the furnace is far more important to us, and in the summer, if the fan can't keep us comfortable, we just have to go further north, or higher elevation.

That said, we use our solar power sparingly. As in, we don't run a lot of lights or tv at night. We don't have to run medical devices like cpaps. We used to have a small inverter to charge the laptop, but since changing over to tablets, we don't need the inverter anymore.

We routinely spend five to fourteen days on our property with no power, five or six times a year, in the filtered shade. If we have a string of rainy days, we might have to break out the Honda 1000 to charge the batteries. We used it once or twice this year. But, it's great insurance for gloomy and cold weather.

Travel camping will charge your batteries from the truck/ and/ or the solar, if we drive long enough....

Solar on the trailer is silent, uses no fossil fuels, allows us to enjoy remote campsites, and cheaper campsites in the road. In our travels, we've often found better views in unserviced sites.sometimes free, sometimes lower priced, sometimes just available because the sunblocker motorhomes want full service...

Were I to order a trailer today, I'd have only a few options on the must have short list. Solar is number one.

 

Our microwave died from lack of use... Looking forward to replacing it with a cabinet.

 

Full disclosure. At home, we also live on solar. It's not complicated, it's just sensible, for us. So, I'm a huge fan of solar/clean/ renewable energy. I look at it as prepaid electric bill... And good for the next generation. And, for us, too.

Sherry

 

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4


2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

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That's disappointing about the fabric.  I was hoping that the available options wouldn't be too bad but even in the photos they look coarse.  I'm not a fan of vinyl seats in general because they get sticky in the summer and cold in the winter.

 

In a previous life I re-covered the cushions in my sailboat myself.  Wasn't too bad as I used the existing (nasty worn out) covers as a template.  Although that was pre-wife-and-kids so I had a lot more free time. Hopefully the upholstery is good enough for a few years.


2018 OLEII #344   |   2018 Ford Expedition


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It is sad to hear about the changes in choices, but I haven't personally heard complaints about the new fabric selections from owners

Since most people leave the beds set up all the time, changing out covers would be four cushions in the small dinette, for most.

Fwiw, if Oliver is using the same guy as 2008, his work is outstanding. No cheap zippers or cheap thread. My cushions still look new, 9 years and ten months later.

Sherry


2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4


2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

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Still the same guy in Fulton Mississippi.

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 


 States Visited Map     Map of Provinces I Visited

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Ok, one of the old school elite wnwrs checking in. Yes, we have found our 200 watts of solar to be more than adequate for our needs. Sherry

 

Hi Sherry :)

 

What Solar controller came with your 2008? Is it the Blue Sky?

 

We really use our solar because it more or less is free energy. We use the microwave quite a bit, plus we cook with an induction cooktop when we have the batteries charged up enough to do it. Full charge tops out at 12.7vdc for us and generally after dinner, because we have plenty of solar, this time of year when the sun sets around 5pm, we pull the batteries down to around 12.2vdc on most evenings, while cooking. We already use more propane for heating and hot water this time of year, and being able to use the solar for cooking really saves on our propane use. We use the Cobb Grill outside most every day; and that coupled with the induction burner and microwave cooks all of our dinners, unless it's raining. During the summer we prefer to park in the shade because that way we don't need a/c, so the Solar Suitcase over the last 3 years has proven itself to be the most important tool that we have in our solar set up. When we have the power to use, we use it, if not... then we use propane and a generator to charge the batteries. Because we park in the shade, an MPPT system will give us the "Maximum Power Point Tracking" that we need, which is why we chose the Oliver in the first place... Then Oliver switched over to the cheap and common "Pulse Width Modulation" Zamp system after we ordered ours and we were told that it would come with the Blue Sky System... The old school PWM systems came around in the 80's, while the MPPT is state of the art. Both the Blue Sky and the Zamp systems price tags from Oliver was $2800 for the Elite II. Once again, it's just my opinion and many other sob campers... Zamp is overpriced for being old school 1980's technology. Having a Blue Sky system prewired by Oliver and then installed elsewhere after picking up your trailer will give you the best Solar package out there.

 

But... If you are on a budget, for $300, a 100watt Renogy Solar Suitcase or 2 will be cheaper and out perform either Zamp system used in the Oliver models because you will be able to put them in the sun and angle them for maximum Solar input.

 

When Oliver installed the Blue Sky System they didn't even offer an external side port for adding more panels because it wasn't needed. Now with the Zamp they sell, it's and option that needs to not be passed up... Unfortunately, this needed external port being offered these days by Oliver speaks for itself... They are guiding you into adding more pannels because generally people with a PWM or Zamp system can match the MPPT system by adding a 3rd pannel. So the Blue Sky needed 320watts to make a great system, which is what fits on the roof - 160watts x 2 = 320. Or now 160watts x 3 = 480 watts needed for the Zamp. They give you an external port for a reason now... If you buy the Zamp, you Will need it...

 

Reed


Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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We have an English Golden Retriever. Our last two automobiles have had leather upholstery which has proven the easiest to keep clean and is more durable (we do cover the back seat with a dog protector). We opted for the Oliver leather vinyl for the same reason. The pseudo leather seems to be very similar to the real deal and feels soft to the touch. I am not expecting it to sweat but instead perform same as the seats do in the truck. Of course, my wife was very disappointed that she could not choose her own fabric for the Ollie. When we first went to visit the factory last May of 2017 we were told we could provide our own fabric. It was when we decided to take the plunge and order a hull in September of 2017 that Anita told us we could no longer have the option of using our own fabric. There is a video on YouTube that has an Oliver owner complaining about their hand-picked fabric and the quality of the final product.  I believe previous complaints were instrumental in Oliver's decision to no longer let us have our way. It is possible that the upholsterer has changed his mind by now, but the good ones we know back in Louisville, Kentucky are a bit eccentric and operate similar to Seinfeld's The Soup Nazi. If we do hear that Oliver is again allowing the buyer to provide their own fabric my wife will not be a happy camper. And as you know, Happy wife, happy life. :)

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roguebooks

2017 Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

2018 Legacy Elite, Hull #309 

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roguebooks:

 

Question... you do not go into production until December 21, yet you have a hull #? How did that happen? Ours was started about a year ago and we had to wait and wait, and call and call to get the VIN # around week 11. Insurance companies, State DMV, and such require them. Maybe with custom options being limited they know the weight? It was a good thing Tenn. issues 30 day temp. tags (it still wasn't long enough for us)...

 

Let the wait begin. It is almost fun as you gather "things" to outfit and decorate your unit. We had labeled totes, stoves, and tons of supplies. There was almost not enough room in the back of the truck to close the tailgate. That has changed. We have paired down immensely. The one thing we found really really helpful was those suction cup hooks. And the suction cup hook and squeegee to clean the shower. And, I am sure you know, paper plates don't weight anything, you don't have to wash them, and they are great to start a campfire with. I hate them too, that is why we carry Cornell too.

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Anita told me that the upholsterer was not doing any custom work.  So doesn't sound like anything has changed since you ordered yours.

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2017 Ford F-150 2.7 Ecoboost


2018 Oliver Elite (production start date, Feb 14)


Traveling with my Sheltie, Tucker


 

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@canoe12  I not only got my hull number (309) but I have a Vin number which afforded me an insurance quote. I believe once we were slated for a production date we got a hull number and vin. Helps to have paid the down payment too, I guess. Our Ollie is supposed to be ready for pick up March 6. Maybe the sales team has evolved since you purchased your rig?


roguebooks

2017 Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

2018 Legacy Elite, Hull #309 

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@canoe12 I not only got my hull number (309) but I have a Vin number which afforded me an insurance quote. I believe once we were slated for a production date we got a hull number and vin. Helps to have paid the down payment too, I guess. Our Ollie is supposed to be ready for pick up March 6. Maybe the sales team has evolved since you purchased your rig?

 

A lot has evolved this year and most for the good :) We had already left for Howenwald before our hull # could be given to us as it came off of the line. Oliver has had lots of growing pains this year, but from what I've seen, each trailer has a lot less problems :)

 

Reed


Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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I have paid my initial deposit and have a production date of Feb 14 but no hull #.  Makes me a little nervous when you say they have had some growing pains this year.....Should I be worried?


2017 Ford F-150 2.7 Ecoboost


2018 Oliver Elite (production start date, Feb 14)


Traveling with my Sheltie, Tucker


 

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The hull # is ( or at least was) the last three digits of the VIN#. The person assigning the # would not (or was not allowed ) to assign the number until the unit was weighted. And the unit could not be weighted until it was complete. Evidently the weight was part of the criteria to assignment. The factory had under gone growing pains as it ramped up from a few units a year, to ( from your number) almost 100 units a year.  That involved training new employees, promoting some into different position, and such. The new sales manager seems to have stopped some of the say anything for a sale talk that a sale clerk was using.  From on the conversations I have seen on the forum, they have things well in hand. One thing to know, if you should happen to have a problem the factory will take care of it. A couple of small issues I have had  was able to handle myself, but they offered for me to take to any dealer and they would have paid. Sounds more than fair to me. I only have one water/design issue left to deal with and plenty of time to Spring to think about how I am going to handle it. I usually have more issues with new vehicles than the Oliver..

 

 

 

 

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Thanks.  That makes me feel better.  I am having a little difficulty committing that much money (more than my first house)!  Just don't want to make any mistakes...Or at least minimal mistakes!


2017 Ford F-150 2.7 Ecoboost


2018 Oliver Elite (production start date, Feb 14)


Traveling with my Sheltie, Tucker


 

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Don't understand what the problem is - write a fairly good sized check to a privately held company and wait a couple of months before you see anything in return?  Add to that the problem with getting financial information on that company and the anticipation of getting a camper that one hopes will last them a long while.  Finally, when one reads the sales contract there is little there that would tend to give the buyer any sense of protection.

 

Having said that - this really is one "stand up" company.  Unfortunately that is all too rare in today's world.  What little financial information that is available is solid.  For me, the single thing that made me feel a bit more comfortable was the virtually unanimous glowing reports that current owners kept giving Oliver and its people.  Once you take delivery and/or get to meet more of the people that are associated with Oliver I'm sure that you will wonder just where did all that concern come from.

 

I too took delivery of my Elite II in mid-February.  Those long winter months seemed to make the wait even longer.  I bet I watched Windcrasher's YouTube video (all 1 hour and 20 minutes of it) 50 times!  However, before you know it you will be watching the weather reports and praying that it doesn't snow anywhere near your delivery date.

 

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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@Mmoren I would think that if you have a production start date then you already have a hull number as well as a VIN. Just ask Anita or Heather for it. They are not on your PO or your quote. And yes, the last three digits on VIN is hull number. You are doing due diligence and therefore minimizing your mistakes, we hope. We are in the same boat. In addition to other good folks here talk to Skalywag and Dave Phelps (they have the same size trailer) to get even more good ideas and problems solved.

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roguebooks

2017 Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

2018 Legacy Elite, Hull #309 

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I spoke to Anita on Thursday about a few things and she mentioned our hull number was 305. I did not think we would get the VIN until it was closer to delivery. We are suppose to pick up February 5. I will give her a call next week and see if I can get the whole VIN for insurance.


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Tom & Cheryl 

LE II #305

2018 GMC 2500HD SLT Duramax

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...So the Blue Sky needed 320watts to make a great system, which is what fits on the roof – 160watts x 2 = 320. Or now 160watts x 3 = 480 watts needed for the Zamp. They give you an external port for a reason now… If you buy the Zamp, you Will need it… Reed

 

Reed, this is not completely accurate.  You can easily install 3 x 160 watt panels on the roof.  Back in 2013 when I designed the solar setup for our Hull #050, I used the Blue Sky equipment but the largest affordable panels available were 100 watt.  We went with two because that's what "everybody else" was doing and all the early builds had this 200 watt configuration.  Soon, the 160 watt panels became cheap enough that Oliver switched to them giving their trailers a total of 320 watts.  I then added another 100 watt panel to my array to give me 300 watts.

 

I like all my panels on the roof. I don't have to store, transport, deploy and worry about the theft of an "extra" panel.  Best of all, it simply works. In full sun, 300 watts has proven to be more than enough to fully charge our batteries every day by 1400. Parking in the shade expectedly decreases our ability to charge, but the areas we typically travel to (Western USA) usually don't have shade anyway.

 

An added benefit of the three panels is that now I have a large enough area to land our helicopter on the roof!

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 


 States Visited Map     Map of Provinces I Visited

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As to insurance,i remember buying mine on delivery day, February, 2008, via cell phone, on the way to the factory. We check each year, but good Sam's is still best/ most reasonable for us. They allow layup periods at home and in storage with greatly reduced rates .

 

Reed, as far as I know, we have 2 x 100watt panels, with a 2008 blue sky controller, which is available today for $160 on Amazon.

I was not addressing your situation, but mine.

Our tiny system takes us to wonderful campsites, but we are careful. no microwave, no big power suckers /inverter.

We camp. We don't use much electrical, other than a few led lights, the fan, the power for the fridge, etc

Fwiw, our best camping friend was with us in her Casita in November for three nights.. lows in the 20 s.

With a battery monitor, she managed three nights in the twenties, without solar.yes, she deployed an extra blanket. She has one group 27 battery. We never had to deploy the Honda generator, for us, or her.

But, she's a lifelong camper.

Back in the day, when she taught camping at our school, I went along to chaperone her trips with the high school kids. We had a lot of fun, in tents, with very limited resources.

In the Oliver,We just try to manage our resources. It's another little fun challenge. After ten years, it s pretty easy....and second nature after the first year in our trailer. Happy tenth birthday to our little Oliver.

Sherry

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4


2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

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And sometimes, those high school camping trips were challenging. One night, we had snow in April, Frost in and out of the tent, and , yes

After we thawed ourselves and the kids, we got to teach a full day. My boots smelled like last night's campfire... Lol

Sherry


2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4


2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

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We opted for the Oliver leather vinyl for the same reason. The pseudo leather seems to be very similar to the real deal and feels soft to the touch. I am not expecting it to sweat but instead perform same as the seats do in the truck.

 

So would you say that the "psuedo leather" feels more like the "leather" material typically used on the sides and backs of modern leather car seats?  Versus the old skool straight vinyl seats?  Does your skin stick to it in hot weather?


2018 OLEII #344   |   2018 Ford Expedition


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