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RE: Throwing in the towel

Well, as usual ... the CA bashing in this thread contains a lot of myopic viewpoints. CA is WAY MORE than Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Sacramento, and it's Voting Ballots. As a point of reference I left a small Michigan town (and the "thinking" that went along with it) that was surrounded by green rolling wooded hills and dozens of small fishing lakes - along with it's mosquitos, frigid winters with constant snow shoveling, humid summers, and low paying jobs - for CA 58 years ago and have never looked back. The Sierras and it's foothills, the rural parts of the CA coastal ranges, and just about all of Northern CA are spectacular places to live in, retire in, and RV in year round. In general CA is so large that one can find just about any kind of niche bubble to live in that they might want, including the Holy Grail of moderate weather that can be off the charts wonderful on average. If you currently live here, be patient - 2020 will be over soon. ;)
pnichols 10/23/20 10:42am Toy Haulers
RE: Rechargeable Spot Light

Any recommendations? Looking for a strong spot light we can use when boon docking just to spot deer and other critters around the camp site. When I was a kid we used to go out late at night spotting deer and I loved it. Back then everything was rated in candle power. Now with the shift to LED it's lumens. Anyone have one they really like? Thanks! We live on acreage close to forested areas, so we have a lot of wildlife at times walking around close by at night. Over the years, I've gone out a lot at night walking the dog or checking things out, and I've discovered an outstanding way to spot animals at night: I wear an LED headlamp that is adjustable from flood to spot with a twist of it's lens tube. I start out with it in flood setting and have discovered that - with a light source shining out from a position real close to your eyes (like a headlamp) - animal eyes reflect right back at your eyes from the light source mounted just above your eyes. I then reach up and twist the light's lens into the spot beam position so as to direct a high intensity bright beam right at the glowing eyes in order to see the animal's dark body (that may be many yards away) so as to determine what animal the glowing eyes belong to. The headlamps I use cost only about $13 each, and they use only 3 AAA batteries for powering the LED bulb. I have two of them for backup in case one ever fails. This technique is almost magical in how well it works - looking down at the ground I even see tiny bug eyes glowing brightly back up at me. If I bend down to take a closer look, I can see what tiny creature was looking back at my glowing headlamp!
pnichols 10/21/20 08:59pm Public Lands, Boondocking and Dry Camping
RE: I'm hooked!

Boondocking is our preferred way to camp, followed by FS CG's. We use Campendium to find sites and Freecampsites.net. In our home state we often set out on day trips using our Jeep to scope out sites. We never break camp in a new area, but that is the rule of boondocking, to never do that. Always camp only in areas that have previously been camped in to preserve the terrain. We are blessed to have a lot of areas here. It's not hard to find boondocking sites when traveling to other states by using the resources out there on the internet, including this site. The reminded me of the actual rule number one of real boondocking: Do not take your RV down that unknown road unless you check it out first. Driving down a FS road to find a dead end in a place that you cannot turn around in, is to be avoided. Of course that rule doesn't necessarily apply to a small enough non-towing motorhome that can do a multi-point U-turn on a narrow road, or worst case ... back out if necessary. ;) We RV with relatives that RV with a TT. They sometimes ask us to while they wait explore on ahead in our small Class C and then come back and let them know if they should take the road!
pnichols 10/21/20 08:36pm Public Lands, Boondocking and Dry Camping
RE: Class C Pros and Cons

We went from a motorhome to a travel trailer. Couldn't be happier. Much simpler to own. Not that a motorhome is a bad thing. It's way more maintenance. Would I get a motorhome again? Only if our lives drastically changed. For what we do the travel trailer is far superior. That is, we hook up, go to our destination, stay a few days. Then maybe move to another destination, stay a few days, then head home. If we were going to be traversing the US a motorhome would be the better choice. It was nice to have all the amenities of home while rolling down the interstate. I do miss the generator, microwave and bathroom. Of course we have bathroom now but, we have to pull over. The front of the motorhome, where the drivers and passenger seats are is mostly wasted space when camping. In the travel trailer we use all the space, and we have a big slideout, which is solid gold. We had an older class A with the huge windshield. I would freeze up there while driving in the winter. The heat would keep the house warm enough but, it was cold in the very front. Two oil changes, big bucks for tires, insurance, other repairs, etc.. Motorhomes cost way more to own. But, can be worth it. It's nice to get to the campground in terrible weather and not have to get out in it till the morning. We pulled into a campground, in the dark, in East Tennessee in a driving rain. I disconnected the toad, backed in the motorhome and called it a night. The trailer requires more work. There is no perfect. I'd say that if you plan to do a lot of moving and driving get the motorhome. If you plan to get to your destination and spend time there, get the travel trailer. Towing isn't bad at all as long as you have enough tow vehicle and the hitch is set up correctly. In fact, towing the travel trailer is less stressful for me than driving the motorhome and pulling the toad. I don't really feel the trailer back there 95% of the time, and out trailer is 30 feet long. However, backing a motorhome into a tight space is easy. I never had an issue with that, in the dark, and rain. Backing a 30 foot trailer into a tight spot is more difficult (for me anyway). Either way you'll be OK. I met some kind folks from Canada that were hauling a travel trailer all over the US. My sister's in-laws pulled a travel trailer from the West coast the the East coast and North and South about every year (with a Dodge 2500). If I were traveling that much I'd rather have a motorhome. They preferred the trailer. Well, I guess I don't understand why a Class C motorhome cost more to maintain than a TT-plus-tow-vehicle combination. Why doesn't the combination setup have all of the same maintenance considerations in total as a Class C motorhome? The ONLY advantage I see to the TT-plus-tow-vehicle combination is one has the tow vehicle to use for other things when not on RV trips (but note my last sentence below), and the tow vehicle can be used to run around in when camping at a spot long enough to justify the unhook/hookup efforts. Just as reference points: We're fortunate to live close enough to a full-service RV repair and maintenace shop that will take care of the whole Class C for us -> all coach issues plus all Ford chassis issues. I also like the fact that the usage mileage of our motorhome's chassis is kept low due to it only being used and worn out when on RV trips.
pnichols 10/19/20 05:02pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: The price of new trucks is beyond comprehension!

You've got plenty of good reasons to stay, however, but the mass exodus from the state that we have all been reading about says something about the overall desirability of it. I know you can buy homes there pretty cheap, right?? :W This coming from a realtor on the coast? I guess that it is all relative but I just saw an add down the beach from you a bit in Mexico Beach for a 0.1720 acre lot on the canal. $64,900! No structures! That is $377,325 per acre! I would sell 20 whole acres for that price where I live. That is why I don't live on a coast. Yup, people can ASK whatever they want to, but what will it really SELL for, if at all? The stories I could tell you!! Around here, much like about anywhere, acreage that's not on the coast is very reasonably priced. Yeah ... and a lot of the acreage that's on the coast better be a bit above the coast if you want your grandkids to inherit acreage that's not underwater. ;) For long term living it's all a tradeoff ... so pick your poison: 1. Do you want land that will eventually have water on top of it? OR 2. Do you want land that may wind up all black because the green stuff on it burned up? OR 3. Do you want land that may wind up at crazy angles because the ground got all shook up? OR 4. Do you want land this right in the middle of busy roads, other dwellings, close fire and police stations, crime hotspots, and only enough square inches in size to plant a dandelion plant on it? OR 5. Do you want land with high winds, lightning storms, no obtainable underground water, rattlesnakes, scorpions, sagebrush, and desert bluffs for a view? OR 6. Do you want land that's most of the time too hot to go outside during the day? OR 7. Do you want land outside a small town - with none of the above - but otherwise often inhabited by too many folks on drugs or messed up with other downside issues? I guess that's the most wonderful thing about RV'ing with or without a toad ... one can change "the land they're on" whenever they want. :)
pnichols 10/19/20 12:34pm Tow Vehicles
RE: The price of new trucks is beyond comprehension!

Of course The State of California keeps sending me enticing mailers offering to buy it off me for around $1000 so as to "get it off the road" You live in a state that forcibly removes money from taxpayers and then hands it over to others causing more demand and higher prices on new trucks? How is this theft legal? Why do people live there? Well, we kindof keep on living here because - not considering forest fires and earthquakes - we have: 1. A home worth into 7 figures, but with a mortgage left on it of only 2-3 new Ford 1-ton dually pickups. 2. Property taxes based on our home's value 41 years ago that are allowed by law to increase only around 1%-2% a year. 3. Several beautiful 100+ year old redwood trees surrounding our well and spring water sources. 4. Several decades-old fruit trees we eat off of. 5. Temperatures so nice that we never have to winterize our RV. 6. An old spring water filled swimming pool that we exercise in -> kept toasty warm by solar panels. 7. A wonderful blue sky forest filled rolling hills view I'm looking out at as I type this (until the trees maybe burn down). 8. An orchard area often occupied by coyotes, turkeys, deer, and wild boar ... in addition to various wild hawks in the sky above. 9. A country store two miles away where they know us by name and that is stocked with every food item we need if we don't care to drive into town to save a buck. 10. A state government that watches after the little guy instead of the big guy - so long as the little guy will eventually be content to sign their life away to make the payments on a battery powered Ford 1-ton dually pickup. 11. A polling place one mile away located in the recreation room of a decades-old still operating white country church with a bell tower that still chimes. 12. Our kids living close by - one in our back yard and one only a few miles away. 13. World class medical care minutes away. 14. A home insurance company that - at no additional premium charge - will dispatch a private fire fighting company to protect our home should those forest filled rolling hills ever start coming towards us in flames. All that being said, for some strange reason we still love leaving our home to go on RV trips! :h ;)
pnichols 10/17/20 03:32pm Tow Vehicles
RE: The price of new trucks is beyond comprehension!

Uuuugggggg! :S This whole thread is what keeps me asking my mechanic how much longer can he keep my 1995 GMC Z71 4X4 running well and reliably. So far he says "no problem" on keeping my baby in relatively good shape. Of course The State of California keeps sending me enticing mailers offering to buy it off me for around $1000 so as to "get it off the road" ... I haven't yet asked them to give me a newer GMC at an across-the-board trade as a replacement truck in order to "get my 1995 off the road". I have no interest whatsoever in paying almost half what I have left on my home's mortgage for a new truck!!!!! (Of course I could raid my IRA for a new truck, but then again dog food and reuse of disposable diapers in a rest home dump later in life isn't a very attractive alternative.)
pnichols 10/16/20 03:51pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Lift

The best way to lift everything (suspension, transmission, engine, shock mounts, etc.) higher is by installing taller tires. I did this on our Class C years ago to provide more clearance when we occasionally go on dirt/gravel backroads. Our Class C's chassis is the Ford E450, so it has plenty of extra fender tire well room for tires that our larger in diameter than what came stock on it. pnichols, has “nailed it”! The chassis/frame/body are generally the contact points on irregular terrain.....the only way to address all of these is taller tires! Awaiting my newish ( on unit when we purchased) tires to wear out or “date expire”.....will be going taller, for sure! memtb What tire size ? Will you need to adjust the speedometer ? Will they fit the wheels already on the truck ? You will need to upgrade the spare too. 7 tires and maybe wheels ? How much height is the expected gain ? On Ford E350 and E450 based Class C motorhomes, it's real simple to go to larger diameter tires: Our E450 Class C came with 225/75R16E tires. By just changing out to 215/85R16E tires I was able to increase ground clearance by 0.6 inches (the 215's tire diameter was 1.2 inches larger), keep the stock rims, and keep the same rated tire loads and pressures. The speedometer reads about 1.2 MPH slower, but this is of no concern. I didn't want to go to any larger diameter tires so as to keep the step-up into the cab from being much higher. Some Class C owners posting in the forums change to 235/75R16E tires to gain even more ground clearance without changing rims or losing load capability. I'm not absolutely sure, but maybe even 245/75R16E tires could be fitted onto the Ford E350 and E450 chassis to really gain ground clearance without rim, loading, or pressure changes. Probably speedometer error can be corrected by Ford dealers or 3rd party ECU tuning equipment suppliers, if one is concerned with speedometer errors. Phil, did you notice any increase in your MPG with larger dia tires? I don't track MPG, so I don't know. It did reduce engine RPM just a bit when cruising on the highway, so maybe in those conditions MPG would/should be improved. Of course it does change the difference in overall drive ratio between the Ford E350 chassis and Ford E450 chassis due to their rear differential gearing (4.10:1 on E350, and 4.56:1 on E450). FWIW, larger diameter tires also improve tread wear somewhat because each square inch of tread surface contacts the road surface less times per mile.
pnichols 10/16/20 03:30pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Up grading my Class C

Hello, I currently have a 2002 Minnie Winnie Class C 31ft with 79,000. I love this rig however its getting old. I would like to get another class C in the 50,000.00 area. Any suggestions on a newer Rv. Thank in advance. Vic Your choice sounds easy to me ... look for a 2006-2007 Minnie Winnie Class C in good shape! Those years are close enough to your 2002 such that you're likely to get the same quality -> before the post 2008 decline in quality that some folks talk about. ;) We love our 2005 Itasca (Winnebago) Class C. I read the RV forums a lot and study Class C specifications and features of many models ... and so far I only very rarely come across newer Class C models from various manufacturers that come close to or exceed what we wound up with in our Class C.
pnichols 10/13/20 09:13pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Lift

The best way to lift everything (suspension, transmission, engine, shock mounts, etc.) higher is by installing taller tires. I did this on our Class C years ago to provide more clearance when we occasionally go on dirt/gravel backroads. Our Class C's chassis is the Ford E450, so it has plenty of extra fender tire well room for tires that our larger in diameter than what came stock on it. pnichols, has “nailed it”! The chassis/frame/body are generally the contact points on irregular terrain.....the only way to address all of these is taller tires! Awaiting my newish ( on unit when we purchased) tires to wear out or “date expire”.....will be going taller, for sure! memtb Yep ... taller tires provide more clearance for everything in one swoop ... a very simple way to do it ... assuming wheel wells provide the clearance and assuming that the front suspension allows it with no rubbing on full lock turning! Another plus in raising ground clearance this way is that it keeps raising of the vehicle's center of gravity to a minimum - which is always good for several reasons.
pnichols 10/11/20 04:56pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Lift

The best way to lift everything (suspension, transmission, engine, shock mounts, etc.) higher is by installing taller tires. I did this on our Class C years ago to provide more clearance when we occasionally go on dirt/gravel backroads. Our Class C's chassis is the Ford E450, so it has plenty of extra fender tire well room for tires that our larger in diameter than what came stock on it. pnichols, has “nailed it”! The chassis/frame/body are generally the contact points on irregular terrain.....the only way to address all of these is taller tires! Awaiting my newish ( on unit when we purchased) tires to wear out or “date expire”.....will be going taller, for sure! memtb What tire size ? Will you need to adjust the speedometer ? Will they fit the wheels already on the truck ? You will need to upgrade the spare too. 7 tires and maybe wheels ? How much height is the expected gain ? On Ford E350 and E450 based Class C motorhomes, it's real simple to go to larger diameter tires: Our E450 Class C came with 225/75R16E tires. By just changing out to 215/85R16E tires I was able to increase ground clearance by 0.6 inches (the 215's tire diameter was 1.2 inches larger), keep the stock rims, and keep the same rated tire loads and pressures. The speedometer reads about 1.2 MPH slower, but this is of no concern. I didn't want to go to any larger diameter tires so as to keep the step-up into the cab from being much higher. Some Class C owners posting in the forums change to 235/75R16E tires to gain even more ground clearance without changing rims or losing load capability. I'm not absolutely sure, but maybe even 245/75R16E tires could be fitted onto the Ford E350 and E450 chassis to really gain ground clearance without rim, loading, or pressure changes. Probably speedometer error can be corrected by Ford dealers or 3rd party ECU tuning equipment suppliers, if one is concerned with speedometer errors.
pnichols 10/11/20 04:43pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: The price of new trucks is beyond comprehension!

Just as another point of reference, here's my present vehicle list: - 1995 GMC 4X4 PU, with somewhere over 175k miles on it. - 2002 Lexus sedan with close to 200k miles on it. - 2005 E450 based motorhome with over 81k miles on it. I can't forget what one of my college professors once told me ... the least expensive way to own a vehicle in the long haul is to use it as long as you can keep it maintained such that it is still safe and reliable. How right he was.
pnichols 10/11/20 01:01pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Lift

The best way to lift everything (suspension, transmission, engine, shock mounts, etc.) higher is by installing taller tires. I did this on our Class C years ago to provide more clearance when we occasionally go on dirt/gravel backroads. Our Class C's chassis is the Ford E450, so it has plenty of extra fender tire well room for tires that our larger in diameter than what came stock on it.
pnichols 10/10/20 11:51pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Best portable generators advise I have seen for years

There is a way to be completely safe inside an RV while it's built-in, or an outside portable, generator is running: Pressurize the interior so no fumes can enter. I turn on the reversible roof fan with it set to push air in. This keeps a slight but very important amount of air pressure inside the coach. Hence, so no generator fumes can enter. No "real breeze" is felt if all other coach openings are left closed (so this method can be used in cold weather, too). The fan is "trying to" bring air in but can't if everything is closed up. However, the internal coach air is raised just enough in pressure over the outside air pressure so as to block any outside fumes from entering. This works great for us ... and is good way to also keep road dust from entering the interior when traveling on gravel or dirt roads.
pnichols 10/10/20 09:40pm Truck Campers
RE: Class C Pros and Cons

When it comes to any kind of motor home, there is a delicate balance between "excess weight capability" and "quality of ride" which sometimes can influence "handling". Generally speaking, the more excess weight capability, the more harsh the ride will be, and the better it will handle. Less excess capability makes a softer ride, but might handle worse. An empty heavy duty van or pick-up truck, the harsh ride exists too, but you are not driving a house. There is a huge difference shaking up a house and it's contents, versus an empty heavy duty van or pickup. That's why I put Koni Frequency Selective Damping shocks in the rear of our small E450-based Class C. I wanted a shock that was extra stiff for better sway control of a big RV box, but I didn't want a shock's stiffness added to leaf spring stiffness otherwise (i.e. making the jolts from cracks and potholes worse). To accomplish the above required a shock that automatically adjusted it's stiffness in real time depending upon the speed of the vertical forces being presented to it at the time. That's why a plain "heavy duty" shock with a constant amount of stiff damping in all situations would never have provided what I needed. I have yet to add the automatic shocks to the front of our E450, however. For some reason the stock front shocks are still good and the ride in the front has always been fine - maybe that's just due to the difference in leaf springs and coil springs - I'm not sure.
pnichols 10/01/20 12:46pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Class C Pros and Cons

I wonder if an F450 is a completely different animal from an E450 chassis? A F450 chassis is definitely a completely different animal than an E450. How so? Why isn't a "400 series" chassis a "400 series" chassis, regardless of it's configuration? What kind of games is Ford playing, anyway? I bought a small Class C MH on an optional E450 chassis because I wanted a 400 series chassis under the coach even though it wasn't required raw-weight-wise ... but in a van configuration for minimum overall length and maximum compactness.
pnichols 10/01/20 12:24pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Anyone using Lithium batteries? Comments?

VA-Apraisr, Optima have about 40% less space for active plate material. About the only thing they are good at is vibration resistance. In all other cases, a more conventional design may be a better choice. I guess I'm an Optima customer with a rare bird: I have an Optima battery that I occasionally use for backup. It's at least 15 years old and still charges well and holds a charge. It's a Yellow Top Optima battery that is in Group 31 size (but only ~90 amp hours due to it's cylindrical cells) and was manufactured by the original European company. About 6 months after it was released, the U.S. military contracted with Optima to buy all production output of that model. I got one at an auto parts store just before that happened ... and it was $$$ even way back then. What a battery it's been!!! By the way, does whoever now owns the Optima brand still offer Yellow Top batteries? Their AGM Yellow Top batteries were/are supposed to be for deep cycle use.
pnichols 10/01/20 12:10pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Anyone using Lithium batteries? Comments?

Phil, The charge rate hardly is an issue. Yes a single Li will recharge faster. But very few of us have only 100 amp-hours. How many inverter/chargers can do more than 127 amps of charging? I don't know of any at all. My plans are for 400 to 600 amp-hours of SiO2. 400 may draw 100 amps of charging, and 600 would be 150 amps. So a 400 amp-hour li bank would only charge about 20% faster than SiO2. Thanks Don, that's about what I would have guessed. Do you happen to know if SiO2 batteries are made up of a few (3 or 6) big cells like AGM and liquid acid batteries are? I'm really not a fan of vehicle batteries made up of a whole bunch of little cells that have to be mounted and attached together in a bundle with a bunch of inter-connections -> that you have to trust will remain intact mile after mile, year after year.
pnichols 09/30/20 01:01am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Anyone using Lithium batteries? Comments?

The SIO2's dont look much better stat wise then a agm and way more expensive. Then find me a battery that can be charged at -40 and can also survive being discharged totally 620 times before it degrades to 80% of OEM capacity? Cycle life cost is cheaper than AGM. Don - excellent points!! Studying both SiO2 battery and LiFePo4 battery performance specs, I'm not quite sure I see LiFePo4 benefits head and shoulders above SiO2. By the way, a lot of LiFePo4 RV battery fans seem to not know that AGM batteries charge much faster (due to their low internal resistance) than good old liquid acid batteries do, too ... just like they claim for LiFePo4 batteries in an RV. For instance, Lifeline AGM batteries are advertised to accept huge charging currents - well beyond liquid acid batteries. The purchase cost versus lifetime performance difference between the two battery technologies seems to me to be vanishingly small ... or maybe weighted in favor of SiO2 (discounting battery weight - which is not a performance issue).
pnichols 09/29/20 10:28pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Class C Pros and Cons

Of course the F550 chassis is a completely different animal from an E-450 chassis. I wish smaller class C's were made on smaller truck chassis rather than on the cut out van chassis. Larger Ford based Cs, 30 feet and longer, often have lousy payload, I saw some with under 1000 pounds. That's not entirely correct anymore. Check out the Thor Omni/Magnitude on the F550 chassis. I wonder if an F450 is a completely different animal from an E450 chassis? You may be making a point that, for best handling, any Class C should be based on a chassis that is designed to have a much larger weight carrying and handling margin than what many Class C motorhomes wind up being built on. In other words, an F550 (or an "E550", if it was still available) chassis probably would deal with Class C motorhomes from around 30 ft. on up much better than an F450 or E450 does. For instance, our 11,800 lb. fully loaded Class C is built on an E450 chassis and it handles and drives "like a van" due to - what I'm guessing - is the chassis being required to deal with a coach weight way less than the chassis design maximum.
pnichols 09/29/20 09:19pm Class C Motorhomes
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