RV Recommendations

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luxagraf
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by luxagraf » Wed May 16, 2018 3:45 pm

I've been living on the road for the last 18 months or so, here's my two cents on a couple things:

There is no such thing as the perfect rig. I have an RV, there are times when I wish I had a separate tow vehicle I could use to run to the store, but then I watch trailer/5th wheel people trying to hook/unhook/backup/navigate railroad tracks and so on and I think, I'm okay with an RV. An RV capable of pulling a car, now you're talking. But I'm one of those people who has certain aesthetic standards so I had to go get a vintage RV.

Buy used. For the love god do not ever buy a new RV.

Emptying the black tank is not a big deal. I've done it every couple of days for the last 18 months, never spilled, never had any problems at all. And don't be one of those guys putting on rubber gloves at the dump station, you'll look like an idiot. It's just black water, wash your hands when you're done. It's no different than changing a diaper.

You are massively underestimating the amount of money and more importantly, time, it will take to maintain an RV. Maintenance is neverending. Everything leaks, RVers who tell you they don't have leaks are just telling you they don't know where their leaks are. No matter what you get it will leak and you will have to track down the leaks, fix them and any damage that happened before you became aware of them. Every electronic system in your rig will break, the only question is when. the fewer you have the better off you are, I have none and save myself massive headaches because of it. On the downside, I have to light my hot water header by hand every time we stop, but I can live with that slight inconvenience in exchange for the convenience of a system that can't fail. Except that you do need to check your propane system for leaks every now and then, exp if you're driving it a lot (everyting rattles loose eventually).

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Wed May 16, 2018 4:16 pm

@luxagraf

Thanks for the fine input. I would be looking at buying something 10 years old, never mind new.

I honestly don’t know how much driving I would do in the RV, the Civic would do the yeoman’s share of driving (to work, to the grocery store, on dates, etc.). The RV would be more like a mobile HQ.

@laura

Already looking at these:

https://montanacanvas.com/product-category/wall-tents/

Laura Ingalls
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Laura Ingalls » Thu May 17, 2018 8:01 am

I was thinking more of two person backpacking tent (Big Angels, Marmot) from the clearance page of Sierra Trading Post :lol: Less than $150 and about 5lbs.

The wall tents are cool, but are you going to get one plus stovepipe in a civic?

Curious if you have ever camped?

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C40
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by C40 » Thu May 17, 2018 8:46 am

If you're somewhere with cold winters, one of those thick/durable tents with a stove would be nice. If it's not all that cold, you just need enough room in there (I'd say get one you can stand up in, have a table in, etc.)

You'd have to sort out where you can stay. Are you near BLM or National Forest land? How strict are the rangers there about making people moce? (there are some areas where a lot of people live in their camper permanently on those types of public land - so many that it has become a problem and the rangers get strict about making people move on after two weeks... in some areas of public land, you could set a up a tent and live for years without issue).

Staying in campgrounds is of course a possibility, but in some areas they can add up to cost as much per month as a cheap apartment.
Last edited by C40 on Thu May 17, 2018 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Thu May 17, 2018 8:48 am

@laura

I’ve camped, never longer than a week. But I was younger and spryer. So if it’s going to be a longer time I want to be able to stand up, stretch out, and perhaps even endure the cold Northeast winter.

A colleague spent a week in -20F temperatures in that tent. Said with the stove it was 100F inside.

I’m sure there’s a way for me to do it and not spend oodles of money.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Thu May 17, 2018 9:07 am

@C40

I’m looking into it but I’m working in a metropolitan area and I may have to go at least 40 minutes away to get to a campground. I would have to calculate a distance after which the increased time/gasoline expenditure for commuting makes it not worth it.

The cost of some campgrounds is what had me also thinking about RVs- I wouldn’t be able to set up a tent in the Walmart parking lot.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by jacob » Thu May 17, 2018 9:23 am

What luxagraf said. We lived in an almost always stationary RV between fall 2008 and winter(*) 2011.

(*) ... which in the east bay meant 32F lows in the winter. I saw snow once and people were running around taking pictures of it. The worst part was "monsoon"-season where it would rain constantly (22hrs/day) for three weeks straight in the spring.

If you're stationary (i.e. full hookups in a mobile home park), dealing with blackwater is just a matter of going out once a week (obviously depending on tank size and the number of people) and pulling a handle. This sends it all into a hole in the ground. Then close that handle and open the gray water tank. This flushes everything "clean". Of course on can do any number of stupid things such as pulling both handles or not securing the hose. I've never done that nor do I know anyone who has every done that, but I did see it in a movie once. Incidentally, when hooked up you can leave the gray water handle open to flush directly into the sewer. Don't ever do that with the black water. You need to retain the piss to move the shit so to speak :P

+1 to avoiding electronics and fancy solutions as much as possible. I have the same low opinion of house electronics, but RV electronics is worse. RVs are not designed for full time living so doing that will be wearing them hard. Also, RV appliances are 2-4x more expensive than domestic ones. Ditto marine stuff. Go to campingworld.com or westmarine.com and see what a fridge costs. For example, our RV came with gray/blackwater tank indicators that showed how full they were. Fancy fancy. Within a few months there were fouled. Of course you can buy a solution for that. Tank wands and sprinklers and all kinds of chemicals every time you empty the tanks. Or you can just say screw it and realize that it's possible to tell how full the tanks are by the sounds they make when running the plumbing. This is a good argument for building your own RV out of a van. You know exactly how it's wired. You can get a simple/practical solution.

Avoid a flat roof. I repeat, avoid a flat roof. Water will pool on top of it and once it does, it'll sound like you're living in a submarine when it rains. You must get a curved roof so water will run off!! Pooled water makes leaks worse. The more "holes" you cut/have in your roof, the higher the risk. This goes with the "convenience electronics" too. We had 2 A/Cs, 2 skylight/fans, a CB antenna, and TV antenna. Having nothing or just one A/C would have been better. IMHO, holes (if you must have them) are best made in the side of the RV. Hunting for leaks is somewhere between annoying and impossible. Water will find a way, so water might be coming down the front while the actual hole is in the back. Eventually we bought two billboard tarps on ebay (search "used billboard tarp"), hammered in some grommets and strapped them over the roof. We used those during rain season and winter. It cut our heating gas usage by 75%!. IIRC we were advertising for AT&T + some cheap credit company to the sky. You could tell on google satellite :lol: I once had to battle those tarps in 60MPH gusts. That was not fun.

Leveling jacks are awesome. Unfortunately ours came with a fancy automatic push-a-single-button system that never worked. (Refer to comments about fancy electronics above.) Get manuals (permanently installed scissor jacks). They're much cheaper and there's not much that can go wrong. This also avoids rocking the boat in the wind.

If you park under a tree, you'll get shade which is nice. Without it and without A/C, the interior will get real warm. We once had a power outage in CA in the summer and interior temps rose to 140F! Careful about leaving pets home. However, if you park under a tree you will also get sap on the roof which is very hard to clean off! Add dust to sap and it turns black.

If you park on soft ground (boondocking) over vegetation, the dew will eventually rust out your bottom. Also oils leaks, etc. Hard top is better.

Size matters. Most people err on the large side (same with boats) rather than the small side. Ours was 34' long. This meant planning the approach/ingress on gas stations because there were some turns we couldn't take. We once had to drive the damn thing through downtown for a smog check. That was a high stress situation. Keep in mind that our 34' size was a compromise. DW wanted something around 38' (because she "needed" the space). I wanted something around 26-28'. Today we both agree that something around 21-23' would be better because we don't really need the space and we "want" the mobility. There's a lesson here :mrgreen:

Living in a motorhome, it means that when we had to take the "motor" to the mechanic, it also meant taking our home to the mechanic. This meant means losing both your vehicle and your home until they get it fixed. That's a strong argument for keeping those two separate i.e. truck+TT/5th. Also, few mechanics will take RVs (you have to look for an RV mechanic) but everybody will take a truck or a van.

Some people get three-way fridges + washer and dryer. That's insane! Don't. Always follow the KISS principle. The final S is what costs $$$$.

So why didn't we sell the car back then and buy a truck and a TT? IIRC, the main reason was that gas prices in CA at the time were $5+ and DW had a commute. Why didn't we move closer to her work seeing as I was retired? Because the local and only RV park in that town didn't allow dogs. And because of the size "requirements" mentioned above. Also we hadn't learned the above lessons yet. If we had to go back and do it again, we would have done the truck and the TT even as gas prices were above $5/gal.

On my http://earlyretirementextreme.com/frequ ... -questions I mention the wall tent. We've done quite a bit of car camping in a three person tent (cheap dome tent) while cooking on an MSR whisperlite. A "small" wall tent weighs ~60 pounds. If you want a stove, that's another 40 pounds. However, what this gets you is the ability to sleep on cots which is certainly nicer than sleeping on pads. It also gives you the ability to bathe inside the tent. You can sit upright on a small chair. Having been rained out in a dome tent, the wall tent sounds like a more "comfortable"(*) option when you have the car/horse to carry it. An alternative to the wall tent would be a teardrop trailer.

(*) Yes, I hate/resent it when comfort is used to justify something ... so I guess it's just a matter of degree :oops:

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theanimal
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by theanimal » Thu May 17, 2018 10:08 am

There was a guy a few years ago who lived in a wall tent full time in Virginia, iirc. He kept a blog of his lifestyle and musings on tent living for a while. I think he had a friend with vacant land who let him put his tent there. His whole set up looked really nice. If I lived in a warmer area, I'd give serious consideration to doing something similar.

Here's the blog:http://dshillingtentliving.blogspot.com/2012/04/

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by jacob » Thu May 17, 2018 10:19 am

@theanimal - Excellent, thanks!

I think I was sold on the "big tent" idea some years ago when I watched Dave Canterbury's Journal of the Yurt.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by C40 » Thu May 17, 2018 10:25 am

Thanks for posting that, theanimal!

I may end up doing something quite similar.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by jennypenny » Thu May 17, 2018 10:35 am

That's very cool. I think I would build a big greenhouse and put the tent inside it. It would help with climate control and give me a place to garden year-round.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by C40 » Thu May 17, 2018 11:16 am

ERE TENT CITY!

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Augustus » Thu May 17, 2018 1:28 pm

All the people touting the benefits of having more intimate encounters with feces aside, I just potty trained my kid, you'll have to excuse me but it's not high on my list of priorities to add more contact with feces into my life. I'm not waking up every morning thinking.. something is missing in my life... oh I know! I really miss cleaning up a big steaming pile of shit! I'll hire that out, ERE be damned.

Tent would be a cool solution. Dump all the annoying maintenance/risks of system of an RV. Are you able to find campgrounds near your worksites? Sounds better than an RV/camper. But again, TRY IT FIRST. See how you like it before sinking any money into it. Different strokes for different folks, obviously...

Edit, just saw your notes that campgrounds are 40 minutes away, nope, nonstarter. You're trading too much of your time in that scenario. I lean back to camper. I personally think these ones are bad ass: http://alaskancampers.com/ They have a manual hydraulic system for raising and lowering, I also distrust RV electronics in general. The more old school manual the better. IIRC the alaskan campers haven't changed much since the 1950s, they are supposed to be very reliable because of their nonreliance on poorly build electrical systems. Plus they look AWESOME.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by jacob » Thu May 17, 2018 1:50 pm

I think the biggest issue with the wall tent is that you'll likely only be allowed to build a platform on private land lest you can convince the camp-manager that you can dismantle the whole setup in an hour (maybe pallets or a bunch of 8x4' plywood that's kreg jointed together and which you burn when you leave?), lest it look like you're building a permanent installation. AFAIK, wall tents don't have bottoms, so you'll be in direct contact with the wildlife (think ants, ticks, snakes).

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Stahlmann » Thu May 17, 2018 5:50 pm

theanimal wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:08 am
There was a guy a few years ago who lived in a wall tent full time in Virginia, iirc. He kept a blog of his lifestyle and musings on tent living for a while. I think he had a friend with vacant land who let him put his tent there. His whole set up looked really nice. If I lived in a warmer area, I'd give serious consideration to doing something similar.

Here's the blog:http://dshillingtentliving.blogspot.com/2012/04/

My fellow students used to "live" (squatting style, on campus) in tents in Hamburg when they traveled for Erasmus exchange. They changed mind as winter started, though.

I heard this as the joke yesterday during millennial's exchange on cost of rent (good to live with parents near work; #rentistheft), anyway experienced peak in HR). Of course, I wanted details and didn't laugh, because I was mentally like: "Bringing 200 EUR for each month from this project to home country. Wow, nice trick!". They spent it on alcohol probably, so - meh.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by jacob » Thu May 17, 2018 5:55 pm

#students :)

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luxagraf
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by luxagraf » Thu May 17, 2018 7:12 pm

Mister Imperceptible wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 4:16 pm
Already looking at these:

https://montanacanvas.com/product-category/wall-tents/
Met a guy in Utah, or maybe Colorado I can't remember now, but he traveled on a Harley with one of these (or very similar). His name was the Lonesome HillBilly. He stopped by our fire one night for a while, really nice guy. He wrote some books on motorcycle camping if I remember right.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by SavingWithBabies » Fri May 25, 2018 9:45 pm

Another thing to consider with wall tents is that they aren't exactly insulated. My brother has one and he has one of those stoves. He uses it to camp up in the mountains in Colorado when the goes Elk hunting. I went one year. It was really nice and warm when we went to sleep on our cots with our sleeping bags and the fire going. When I woke up in the morning, the water bottle right next to me on my cot was frozen (I think solid, don't recall). Point is that light stove might not be quite enough. Maybe a pellet one would be better?

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Sat May 26, 2018 12:15 pm

I’m RV hunting. In the end I value the fast mobility and the FU factor that comes with it.

Regarding tents, I have an aversion to insects akin to Augustus’s aversion to fecal matter. It’s perhaps because I perspire a lot, but one such camping trip involved me serving as a kind of bug magnet. We compared and while everyone else had a few bites, my entire back seemed to be covered. My colleague’s friend who stayed in the tent nearly froze to death and got sick in winter.

Looks like it’s on someone else to be ERE’s resident Tent Man.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Jean » Sun May 27, 2018 5:36 am

I lived one year in a car like this
Image
It was ridiculously easy, but the coldest I had was around -15°C. It was smaller than most modern car, but I had the room to sleep comfortably in it and move my friends stuff around. I was and am still in a relationship the whole time. With such a car, you can park anywhere, and no one will suspect you of sleeping in it, you'll have a reasonable mileage, it will be easy to drive.
I don't see any reason to upgrade to a RV, you will only get more trouble

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